Boliden is a front-runner when it comes to applying technology and innovation to its Europe-based mines, and the company is now leading an industry move in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance in its process plants.
At its Kevitsa copper-nickel mine, 130 km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, Boliden has been collaborating with the likes of IBM Maximo, OSISoft, SKF and Metso on condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions, according to Sami Pelkonen, Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Boliden Kevitsa.
Expansion in the plans
The mine is in the throes of an SEK800 million ($82 million) expansion that will see plant throughput go from 7.8 Mt/y to 9.5 Mt/y. This involves the addition of a new autogenous mill and peripheral equipment (including a new Metso MF series screen), and a new mill building. Commissioning of the new equipment is expected in 2020, with the mine reaching full 9.5 Mt/y capacity in 2021.
With this expansion going on, plant maintenance has moved up the agenda.
Some 80% of process plant maintenance is currently pre-scheduled, with the Kevitsa mine achieving, on average, 93% availability from its equipment, according to Pelkonen, but Boliden Kevitsa is looking to increase these numbers.
Pelkonen told IM late in October that the Kevitsa mine has been looking to acquire “good quality…and useful data to support our daily maintenance operations and procedures” at its plant. This is all part of the company’s plan to increase uptime and cut costs at the operation.
As part of this initiative, it installed the IBM Maximo asset management system in May of this year. At the same time, the operation has been working with the Boliden Mines Technology Department on a wider asset management program.
When it comes to plant reliability, Boliden Kevitsa has enlisted the help of SKF (for condition monitoring of bearings throughout the plant), OSISoft for process data acquisition, and Metso to ensure uptime of mineral processing equipment is maximised and unplanned downtime is reduced.
Partnering for performance
The partnership with Metso dates back to before the mine was acquired by Boliden in 2016, but in recent years the two have collaborated on crusher and mill uptime projects, with the OEM supplying mill liners and wear parts that can be switched out quickly and cost effectively. The two firms have also been in constant communication about accessing and analysing valuable process plant data during the last three years.
When the mine acquired a new MF screen from Metso in May (pictured), it decided now was the time to trial the new Metso Metrics predictive maintenance platform in this part of the flowsheet.
Pelkonen explained: “After the increase in production (to 9.5 Mt/y), the front end will be even more critical for us, so we have to be aware if any failures are developing in our front end; especially in our screen.”
The remote location of Kevitsa, situated some 40 km by road from Sodankylä, is also behind the need for this type of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.
“If something happens like we have an equipment failure, it takes around one hour for our employees to get to the mine,” he said. “Condition monitoring helps us address the need to get resources to site in the correct time.”
The Metso Metrics test paid off almost instantly, when, soon after installation, the company noticed there was something wrong with the running speed of the screen.
“The indication we received from Metso Metrics helped us map out that there were two broken V belts. We were able to cut the downtime to a minimum thanks to the information coming from Metrics,” Pelkonen explained.
Sami Pelkonen was speaking to IM as part of an upcoming Insight Interview with experts from Boliden Kevitsa and Metso that will be published in early-2020