Tag Archives: Wi-Fi

Anglo American Platinum’s modernisation drive to continue into 2021

Anglo American Platinum says it is looking to deliver the next phase of value to its stakeholders after reporting record EBITDA for 2020 in the face of COVID-19-related disruption.

The miner, majority-owned by Anglo American, saw production drop 14% year-on-year in 2020 to 3.8 Moz (on a 100% basis) due to COVID-related stoppages. Despite this, a higher basket price for its platinum group metals saw EBITDA jump 39% to R41.6 billion ($2.8 billion) for the year.

As all its mines are now back to their full operating rates, the company was confident enough to state PGM metal in concentrate production should rise to 4.2-4.6 Moz in 2021.

Part of its pledge to deliver more value to stakeholders was related to turning 100% of its operations into fully modernised and mechanised mines by 2030. At the end of 2020, the company said 88% of its mines could be classified as fully modernised and mechanised.

There were some operational bright spots during 2020 the company flagged.

At Mogalakwena – very much the company’s flagship operation – Anglo Platinum said the South Africa mine continued its journey to deliver best-in-class performance through its P101 program.

Rope-shovel performance improved to 26 Mt in 2020, from 15 Mt in 2019, while drill penetration rates for big rigs increased from 15 m/h, to 16.7 m/h. Alongside this, the company said its Komatsu 930E truck fleet performance improved to 298 t/load in 2020, from 292 t/load in 2019.

These were contributing factors to concentrator recoveries increasing by two percentage points in 2020 over 2019.

During the next few years, the company has big plans to further improve Mogalakwena’s performance.

In 2020, the mine invested R500 million in operating and capital expenditure, which included commissioning a full-scale bulk ore sorting plant, coarse particle rejection project and development of the hydrogen-powered fuel-cell mining haul-truck (otherwise referred to as the FCEV haul truck).

First motion of the 291 t FCEV haul truck is still on track for the second half of 2021, with the company planning to roll out circa-40 such trucks from 2024.

Anglo Platinum said the bulk sorting plant (which includes a Prompt Gamma Neutron Activation Analysis and XRF sensor-based setup, pictured) campaign at the Mogalakwena operation is due to end this quarter.

The company’s hydraulic dry stacking project is only just getting started.

This project, which involves coarse gangue rejection before primary flotation for safer tailings storage facilities, is expected to see a construction start in the June quarter, followed by a campaign commencement and conclusion in the September quarter and December quarters, respectively.

On another of Anglo Platinum’s big technology breakthrough projects – coarse particle rejection for post primary milling rejection of coarse gangue before primary flotation – the company plans to start a campaign in the December quarter of this year and conclude said campaign by the end of the March quarter of 2022.

The company also has eyes on making progress underground at Mogalakwena, with a hard-rock cutting project to “increase stoping productivity and safety” set for Phase A early access works this year. This project is set to involve swarm robotics for autonomous, 24/7 self-learning underground mining, the company said.

Lastly, the company’s said the digital operational planning part of its VOXEL digital platform had gone live at Mogalakwena. VOXEL is expected to eventually connect assets, processes, and people in a new digital thread across the value chain to create a family of digital twins of the entire mining environment, the company says. Development is currently ongoing.

Looking back to 2020 performance at the Unki mine, in Zimbabwe, Anglo reflected on some more technology initiatives related to R26 million of expenditure for a digitalisation program. This included installing underground Wi-Fi infrastructure, as well as a fleet data management system to track analytics on primary production equipment. The company says these digital developments will enhance real-time data analysis, improve short-interval control and overall equipment effectiveness.

To step up mechanisation of its PGM operations at Amandelbult, Anglo American Platinum is also investing in innovation.

This includes in-stope safety technologies such as split panel layouts to allow buffer times between cycles, creating safer continuous operation and reduced employee exposure; improved roof support technology and new drilling technologies; a shift to emulsion blasting from throw blasting; and safety enhancements through fall of ground indicators, 2 t safety nets, LED lights, and winch proximity detection.

Meanwhile, at the company’s Mototolo/Der Brochen operations, it is working on developing the first lined tailings storage facility at Mareesburg in South Africa to ensure zero contamination of ground water. The three-phase approach adopted for construction of this facility will be completed this year.

Mobilaris’ new devices to leverage latest communication, machine-learning tools

Intent on “mastering the latest technologies” in its domain, Mobilaris says it will focus on the use of next-generation communication technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and artificial intelligence, to build out its new safety solutions in 2021.

Mobilaris says it is building a device using 5G technologies that will be used in a new offering for Mobilaris Industrial Solutions.

By leveraging these new technologies, it will bring Industry 4.0 digital workforce safety to all its customers, it said.

To ensure this new device is “truly world-class in terms of safety, performance and resilience”, Mobilaris has partnered with Sigma Connectivity and Ericsson to leverage their expertise in this domain. It says it is the first company to use the new reference cellular IoT design from Ericsson called Ardesco.

The company said: “5G and cellular IoT are technologies that will open up new possibilities, but they need connection to existing public mobile networks, or private networks. Therefore, Mobilaris has partnered with Telia to bring our new solution to the market.”

Earlier this year, the company joined Telia’s 5G program as a new member and, after that, secured a commercial partnership to bring solutions to the market while at the same time tailor its use of the Telia network to maximise performance and efficiency.

Another key technology for next generation communication solutions is Wi-Fi 6.

Mobilaris has been deploying Wi-Fi-based solutions for many years, with 2021 representing no change to the status quo.

“Many of our customers have Wi-Fi networks, and we are continuing to invest in this technology to secure our capability to meet all customer demands and to innovate, leveraging the new additions coming in Wi-Fi 6, 6E and beyond,” it said.

This is where a partnership with Aruba will bring best-in-class, real-time situational awareness to industry customers around the globe, Mobilaris said.

The use of artificial intelligence is also nothing new for the Sweden and US-based company. It has already deployed its Mobilaris Onboard product in several mines across the globe and, at its core, machine learning is creating “value for our customers” that would not have been possible just a few years ago, it says.

It concluded: “Moving ahead, we are continuing to invest in AI to further accelerate our products and solutions and we expect to announce several new research partnerships here within the near future.”

MICROMINE makes a software splash at Diggers & Dealers

With Western Australia one of MICROMINE’s key markets for its Micromine and Pitram products, it is hardly surprising the software leader chose this week’s Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie to reveal a host of new updates for the 3D modelling and mine design/mine production and fleet tracking solutions.

Across the company’s product suite, MICROMINE has been readily engaging with customers throughout the world, with users providing feedback to form its product roadmaps.

One of the results of this consultation process is a move to a six-monthly release cycle to enable its software to grow and adapt with clients’ operations.

Another is providing networking options to expand usage of its software across a wider number of users – the free Micromine Effects reader enabling anyone to view, share and interrogate Micromine output files without needing access to a full software licence.

“We’ve also introduced subscription offerings which our customers have quickly adopted because they provide a flexible and scalable option for large teams to access more functionality across our product suite, with less upfront cost compared to the traditional perpetual model,” Adam Brew, MICROMINE Australia Manager, told IM.

Shifting any capex item to the opex column is bound to go down well with the mining community, as MICROMINE has shown.

Having occurred in August 2019, the move led to almost nine months straight of subscription-only sales, according to Brew. “It surpassed our expectations,” he said. “The ability to have a subscription model allowed us to then launch the Free April campaign.”

The “Free April” campaign – which saw MICROMINE offer miners complimentary access to its general mining Micromine package during April as COVID-19 started to bite – led to around 4,000 new people interacting with the software, according to Brew.

MICROMINE has been busy on updates during the pandemic, but it has also delivered its first fully remote implementation of Pitram at a mine operation in Greece, leveraging the experience from its global Pitram support desk to fully deploy a Pitram FMS and Material Management solution.

This Greek project is well advanced with Pitram playing a crucial role in a major refurbishment and expansion of existing operations. The solution at the mine is aimed at helping improve development and production mining cycles; accurately track materials from source to processing; provide Online Analytical Processing reporting and analysis; enhance reactions to, and minimise the impact of, unplanned events; and increase equipment availability and utilisation.

Yet, those attending the MICROMINE booth at Diggers & Dealers this week will have even more to talk about.

Something new

“Micromine 2021 is scheduled for release later this year and attendees of Diggers and Dealers will be the first to get a pre-release reveal of our flagship software offering,” Brew said.

Australia, in particular, has bucked global trends in terms of exploration expenditure, and the Micromine value proposition has been central to the company capitalising on this resurgence in exploration activities, according to Brew.

It is no wonder then that the company has put significant efforts into updating its flagship product.

“The first thing clients will notice is a completely redesigned user interface that provides easier access to the critical functions of the software, transforming the whole user experience with responsive design and efficient workflows,” Brew said.

Delivering this transformation has been a focal point for the business for more than a year, according to Brew, with developers reviewing customer requests most commonly received from the support team, analysing how users work with the array of Micromine functionality, and modelling interface scenarios to optimise the presentation of key functions within the software.

“By providing easier access to these functions and a smart interface that responds contextually, Micromine 2021 anticipates and supports workflows in a genuinely intuitive way,” Brew said.

The Micromine update has more than a new look.

It also includes new tools for importing and working with as-drilled drill-hole data, Brew explains.

These provide faster and more intuitive control over underground ring drill and blast design – also a focus of the earlier Micromine 2020.5 update – enabling designs to quickly adapt to changes in the field, identifying drilling inefficiencies and improving design protocols.

“We are also introducing intuitive tools that mirror the terrain of a blast face and speed up the process of creating blast-hole patterns within the bounds of the dig block,” Brew said. “Users will be able to accommodate polygons/blast masters of varying shapes, reducing the need for manual adjustment.”

The new grade control capabilities in Micromine 2021 provide dynamic updating of grade control reports to enable faster design preparation and reserve evaluation, according to Brew. This can allow miners to explore variations in dig block configuration and evaluate the ramifications of design changes on the grade – a function bound to appeal to opex-focused companies mining complex orebodies.

An integrated scheduler, meanwhile, enables planners to build and visualise an optimised schedule through configurable templates, scripting capabilities and scenarios built from real-world constraints, Brew said.

While the new and intuitive interface is likely to capture the immediate attention of users, MICROMINE has evidently not scrimped on updated and upgraded features.

Getting to the core

With the release of Pitram 4.17 earlier this year, there were improvements to the Materials Movement and Shift Planner modules, but Pitram 5, to be released later this year, goes above and beyond that.

“Stockpile management is now part of your end-to-end process and not managed as isolated assets within Pitram,” Brew says of Pitram 5. Geologists can work with data up- and down-stream to manage and react to material mismatches. Such data validation and accuracy is key to the value proposition Pitram drives in MICROMINE’s global implementations, according to Brew.

“Pitram is at the core of any mining operations ecosystem,” he said. “Our ability to accurately track Last Source, Destination Moved, Quantity and Grade as well as set individual depletion models across the various stockpiles across the mine, makes it a more flexible offering while maintaining data integrity.”

This near real-time tracking ability has previously failed on occasion from connectivity issues.

Not anymore.

“Pitram 5 is a huge leap forward in how we deploy our solution from a connectivity point of view,” Brew said. “Many of the mines we work with have limited or varying degrees of underground Wi-Fi and communications available. Our Peer to Peer solution bridges the gap where communication back to the server is not available at the face, for example.”

The Peer to Peer software can be installed on light vehicles which move around the mine encountering heavy equipment and collecting data in areas of no network coverage before moving back to a Wi-Fi-enabled area to sync the data back to the main server and into the control room. This allows miners developing new areas of their operation to keep up the communications flow without the need to immediately install or expand a communication network.

Such a solution has been successfully deployed at several sites globally, with Independence Group’s Nova nickel operation, in Western Australia, being the company’s reference site.

“Additionally, we have driven more R&D in how we can better leverage our Pitram Restful Integration Service (PRIS) to communicate shift planning data back to the shift bosses and mine managers in near real time,” Brew said.

The free Pitram Connect application, downloadable from the Apple or Google Play store, will show users real-time shift data as well as give them the ability to make updates to the shift, such as equipment or location allocations.

“Our ability to deliver on short interval control is a common requirement we are measured against and providing this planner to key users underground unlocks considerable value for an operation,” Brew said.

Pitram 5’s machine-learning update in the 2021 release leverages the company’s learnings from earlier deployments at some Central Asia mines.

“Utilising the processes of computer vision and deep machine learning, on-board cameras are placed on loaders to track variables such as loading time, hauling time, dumping time and travelling empty time,” he said. “The video feed is processed on the Pitram vehicle computer edge device, with the extracted information then transferred to Pitram servers for processing.”

Reflecting on the product updates and more than six months of pandemic-affected upheaval, Brew concluded: “Our business is extremely fortunate to have powered on through the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our renowned ability to work, support and deploy our solutions remotely.

Diggers & Dealers is the pre-eminent event for the Australian region of our business, with representation from all our customers, so it represents a fantastic opportunity to show how we continue to drive value to our existing customer base as well as connect with new customers.”

Revolutionising operations through the ‘Connected Mine’ of the future

With mining operators under growing pressure to perform in the face of falling ore grades, the need to drill deeper in search of new resources and an industry-wide skills shortage, the ability to leverage reliable and flexible communication systems is growing in importance, writes Martin Killian*, IoT Solution Architect at Speedcast.

Leading mining operators have already started on a digital transformation, as they look to create the so-called ‘Connected Mine’. Building on the necessary communications required for every day workings of the mine with layers of applications and systems such as sensors and surveillance systems, this concept will transform their overall performance. In fact, the World Economic Forum forecasts that $425 billion of value will be added to the industry over the next five years through digitalisation.

As the industry looks to improve efficiency and worker safety, several technology trends have emerged – three of which we explore below:

Digital twins for optimised production

NASA introduced the concept of creating a digital replica of an asset or system to help enable operations, maintenance and repair of physical assets in space. When applied to mining, data from operations can be harnessed through different technologies to create a replica in which certain scenarios can be tested. Operators are beginning to adopt this technology at a rapid rate and are harnessing the benefits of eliminating errors and hazards before on-site implementation, while enabling the ultimate predictive maintenance to minimise downtime of any equipment.

Environmental monitoring for occupational health and safety

Using sensors, such as those which detect combustible gas levels, airflow velocity, and temperature variations for example, to check environments are safe to work in is not new. But the increasing use of sensors on a range of devices, such as when Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is embedded into miner’s safety helmets, puts strain on the networks that support them.
When RFID readers are deployed within the mines, the connected mine then becomes aware of who is in different locations at a given time. This data can be combined with data from environmental sensors to identify exposure to a potentially hazardous condition. The key to extending the range and applications of environmental monitoring solutions is the introduction of new sensors and technology which are compatible with the wireless solutions being used.

Martin Killian, IoT Solutions Architect at Speedcast

Private LTE enabling big data connectivity

Unlocking the power of the connected mine takes more than just the technology involved – it requires a shift in connectivity. Due to the mission-critical communication in mines, any service must be reliable and able to flow at high volume with no interruptions. For years, the staple of on-site connectivity has been Wi-Fi supported by point-to-point microwave, but now LTE technology is being rapidly adopted, bringing advantages such as wider and deeper coverage, more predictable performance for multiple users, and military-grade security using SIM authentication and E2E encryption, as well as providing one network for all applications. It also provides a roadmap for future upgrades to 5G which will drive productivity to new heights with super-low latency and high bandwidth.

Mining operators must also consider integrating multiple communication technologies, which deliver high-performance connectivity to remote locations. Incorporating key elements such as multi-mode terminals, a dedicated global network and intelligence that identifies the best transmission routes and automatically switches services for best performance at lowest cost will deliver the best return.

Theory put into practice

One of the world’s largest gold mining company, Australia’s Newcrest Mining, collects data from over 100,000 sensors to create digital twins and to build predictive maintenance models. The company’s CIO estimated these data initiatives will have saved the company over $50 million in 2018. Being able to diagnose problems straightaway has also reduced machinery downtime at one of Hecla Mining’s operations in Canada and added an extra hour per day to its operations.

Huge advantages for efficiency were seen when Goldcorp (since acquired by Newmont) incorporated environmental monitoring remotely controlled underground ventilation at one of its mines in Canada. This created better control of potential ventilation hazards and more efficient energy usage, which saw its electrical consumption cut in half.

While a private LTE deployment by Telstra at the Lihir mine in Papua New Guinea has improved levels of safety, remote operation and automation thanks to the connection of equipment, such as excavators, bulldozers and excavators. The network’s reliability, speed and latency has delivered significant performance improvements and is designed to meet Lihir Gold Ltd’s long-term plan.

The future

Mining is an industry which will remain cyclical in nature as commodity prices, productivity levels and access to reserves change. However, the connected mine puts predictability within the grasp of operators, helping to make mines safer and more responsive to changes within the market. The deeper insights afforded to managers bring many benefits, which signal a bright future for the sector, by making best use of assets and employees and being able to best manage safety and environmental impacts.

*Martin Killian has more than 16 years in the satellite communications industry and is currently the IoT Solutions Architect at Speedcast.

RCT’s autonomous mining equipment-specific Wi-Fi hits its stride

RCT says its new specialised Wi-Fi network for autonomous mining equipment is generating strong and positive feedback from industry.

The first ever mining communications system created specifically to support all underground autonomous mining equipment, RCT Connect is flexible in that it is designed to engage with any third-party systems and can enhance the performance of any mining automation and control solutions available on the market, according to RCT.

Since the network’s launch in 2019, it has been deployed at multiple active mines around the world – including Kazzinc’s Tishinsky mine, in Kazakhstan – and has generated strong and positive feedback from site personnel, RCT says.

Brendon Cullen, RCT Automation and Control Product Manager, says RCT Connect is the best underground communications network option available.

“The system is inexpensive and very user friendly so it can be set up quite easily by mine site technicians who do not need specialised training in order to establish and maintain this technology,” he said.

“RCT Connect is designed to be agnostic, and so can integrate with all of the commercially available automation and control solutions offered by global manufacturers.”

He added: “The network is designed to deliver very stable performance and low, consistent latency between operator stations in secure, remote locations and the machine located in production areas.”

Customers will be able to cheaply scale RCT Connect to suit their needs as underground mining operation evolves, according to the company. The network can be adjusted to suit various tramming distances and can ensure effective machine operation over shorter – as well as longer – runs.

Cullen said one key aspect of RCT Connect is its smart roaming feature, which means it is always searching for new wireless access points as underground mining equipment auto trams between certain locations.

“Many commercially available communications networks are configured to access certain nodes for too long and as mobile mining equipment continues to traverse a site, it can result in communication failures,” he said.

Mincor to leverage new EV, teleremote and production drilling tech at Kambalda

Mincor says it plans to incorporate some of the most modern mining technology to enhance safety, boost operational efficiency and reduce costs at its integrated nickel re-start project in the Kambalda District of Western Australia.

Having released the definitive feasibility study on the project, the company is now awaiting a positive final investment decision from the Mincor Board. It hopes this will be made early in the September quarter. Should all go well, this could result in first nickel-in-concentrate production being achieved in the second half of 2021, it said.

The “Mincor Nickel Operations” DFS confirmed the potential to develop a five‐year operation producing 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million). This could see the project, which is likely to feature a contract mining model, generate a post-tax internal rate of return of 88% based on the company’s estimates.

Mincor said: “Importantly, the DFS reflects a starting position only as potential extensions to the life of mine have been identified at Cassini, where recent diamond drilling returned a significant intersection of 17.6 m at 5% Ni, which is outside the current mineral resource boundary and has been excluded from the DFS.

“At the Northern Operations, underground drilling is planned once mine development commences targeting extensions and new discoveries in this well-endowed nickel mining area.”

Despite this remaining potential, Mincor has already kicked off an early works program at the operation, which has seen Hampton Mining and Civil Services begin a “discrete two-month program” focused on site clearance activities for infrastructure and services, plus the excavation of the box-cut at the high-grade Cassini orebody, Mincor said.

The mine plan at the project involves scheduling production from three distinct mining operations, Cassini, Miitel and the Northern Operations (Durkin North and the Long mines). The mine design physicals and associated costs for the three all feed into individual mine models, with the outputs from each model forming part of an integrated mining and processing plan to optimise mining and processing schedules. This is all geared around delivering annual average throughput of 500,000-600,000 t of ore to the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator, in line with a toll treatment pact Mincor has in place with BHP Nickel West.

With the start-up of Cassini and the re-start of the mines previously under care and maintenance, Mincor said it plans to incorporate some of the most modern technology at the operation.

An important aspect of the DFS, which the company has previously talked about, is the use of electric light vehicles underground.

Mincor said: “The use of these vehicles has been considered to improve air quality and reduce primary ventilation power costs within each of the mines.”

The company has tested this out recently with a trial of Safescape’s battery-electric Bortana EV at its Long mine.

In addition to this, underground Wi-Fi is set to be used in development and production areas for control of equipment and real-time monitoring of ventilation, pumping and fleet activity. Related to this, teleremote control and laser guided technology on loaders is likely to be employed.

And, lastly, production drills will be fitted with Minnovare’s Production Optimiser to ensure longhole drilling conforms to design, thereby minimising dilution, Mincor said.

The Production Optimiser system combines advanced hardware and software that enhances the speed, accuracy and reliability of long-hole production drilling. This leads to improved stope productivity and, ultimately, increased profitability, Minnovare says.

The technology has previously been employed with favourable results at Northern Star Resources’ Kalgoorlie gold operations.

RCT embeds machine automation expertise in new Wi-Fi offering

RCT says it has released the first digital Wi-Fi communications network designed specifically for machine automation and control in underground mining operations.

RCT Connect is designed to be user friendly and portable and can be installed into a production area and commissioned with minimal time and expertise, according to the automation leader.

The company has already made significant headway with RCT Connect, with the network having been tested at a mine site in Western Australia and recently deployed in an underground mining operation outside of Australia.

RCT Connect has been built to withstand the harsh conditions, common in underground mining environments, and can operate in temperatures ranging from -20°C (-4°F) to 60°C (140°F), RCT said.

It uses a coaxial cable able to transfer power and information to access points for up to 1.5 km before additional power insertion is required along the length of a drive, according to RCT.

“This feature offers several major benefits over traditional Wi-Fi deployments such as reduced requirement for configuration, eliminating costly cables to run between access points and a simple installation with only two connections,” the company said.

Once operational, RCT Connect provides a simple connection to a ControlMaster® Area Access Control at strategic locations which then links into the mine-wide communications backbone to transfer information to a machine operator located in a ControlMaster Automation Centre on the mine’s surface, the company said.

The platform operates at 2.4 GHz and is capable of carrying out remote diagnostics, live machine tracking and delivering live health and production data from the machine, according to RCT.

RCT Product Manager Automation & Control, Brendon Cullen, said RCT Connect offers several distinct advantages over commercially available digital communication networks.

“RCT Connect is specifically designed to ensure uninterrupted communication between the machine and the operator regardless of location,” he said.

“The platform has very stable performance with low, consistent latency and so ensures reliable communications between command inputs from the surface station and subsequent machine activities.”

He added: “We have also optimised the platform to enable smart roaming and, therefore, seamless handover between wireless access points so that there is no dropout along the length of the drives.”

In other commercially available communications networks, node handover is configured differently so if the machine is looking for a node or hangs on too long then communication failures arise, Cullen explained.

RCT Connect can be sold as a standalone package or in conjunction with RCT’s ControlMaster automation products.

Severstal’s digital focus paying off at Vorkutaugol coal operations

Severstal’s Strata advanced monitoring system is helping optimise its Vorkutaugol coal operations in Russia through the ability to help with predictive maintenance, gas detection, and people and proximity detection, among other capabilities, CEO Alexander Shevelev said at a media roundtable in London today.

With the company looking to not only improve safety, but increase machine uptime and boost productivity, Strata, installed last year, has revolutionised the operation, in Russia’s Komi Republic.

The system is likely to become even more important in future years as the mine continues to expand to its ultimate 5.4 Mt/y coking coal concentrate capacity in 2022-2023, an expansion that involves $335 million of capital expenditure.

Shevelev said Strata works off a Wi-Fi enabled backbone at the mine to collect and analyse data. This has helped improve service and maintenance, he explained, in addition to enabling workers and machines to know where personnel and equipment are.

Wi-Fi will also come of use when the company brings online two new “remotely controlled” machines at the end of November. Shevelev said these machines would help improve safety within the mine, in addition to improving productivity thanks to a reduction in the time required for shift changes.

All of this is part of the company’s plans to, this year, invest a further RUB1.1 billion ($17.3 million) into safety improvement measures at its mines (almost half of which will be invested into health and safety initiatives – including digital systems – at Vorkutaugol).

The company also previously committed RUB5.7 billion of investment capital in 2019 to digital and IT projects focused on further improving operational excellence and enhancing product quality and customer service, it said.

The two deposits Severstal operates under the Vorkutaugol operations are Vorkutskoye and Vorgashorskoye, which have an estimated life of 28 and seven years, respectively, according to the company’s website. The business consists of five longwall mines, an open-pit mine and three washing plants.

Emerson and Cisco to improve plant productivity, reliability and safety

Emerson has partnered with Cisco to introduce a “next-generation industrial wireless networking solution” that, the Missouri-based company says, can improve plant productivity, reliability and safety.

The combination of the Emerson Wireless 1410S Gateway with the Cisco Catalyst® IW6300 Heavy Duty Series Access Point results in the latest in wireless technology with advanced WirelessHART® sensor technology, it said. The solution, according to Emerson, delivers reliable and highly secure data, even in harsh industrial environments like mining.

Emerson said: “To help enable new digital transformation strategies, this industrial networking solution combines Emerson’s expertise in industrial automation and applications with Cisco’s innovations in networking, cybersecurity and IT infrastructure.

“Driven by the demand for greater productivity, lower maintenance costs and improved worker safety, industrial manufacturers are accelerating investment in robust IoT sensor networks combined with scalable operational analytics tools to improve organisational collaboration and decision making. In these environments, network performance and security are critical for success.”

The new wireless access point supports mobile applications that offer instant access to process control data, maintenance information and operation procedures, enabling improved plant productivity and worker safety.

Liz Centoni, Senior Vice President and General Manager of IoT at Cisco, said a secure connection that scales easily is the foundation for every successful IoT deployment. “By using the power of the intent-based network, Cisco provides a secure, automated, rock solid infrastructure helping IT and operational teams work together to reduce complexity and improve safety.”

This wireless access point provides enhanced Wi-Fi bandwidth necessary for real-time safety monitoring, including Emerson’s Location Awareness and wireless video. These applications enhance personnel safety practices, improve plant security and help ensure environmental compliance, according to Emerson.

“A reliable and fast connection between devices and people streamlines decision making by providing real-time analytics,” Emerson said. “It also enables a mobile workforce to virtually come together, collaborate and resolve critical issues in a timely manner.”

Bob Karschnia, Vice President of Wireless at Emerson, said the need for products installed in industrial plants to last for years – even decades – was a key criterion for this new networking solution.

“This kind of longevity was a critical design and engineering requirement to ensure this new wireless access point was future-proofed to meet a rapidly evolving technology landscape.”

VIST automated solution improves ore quality at EVRAZ KGOK operations

An automated system for monitoring mining vehicles, developed by VIST Group, has been deployed at EVRAZ’s Kachkanarsky mining and ore processing plant (KGOK) operation in Russia, the Zyfra Group subsidiary confirmed.

The iron ore at KGOK is mined in four open pits: the Glavny, Zapadny, Severny and Yuzhny deposits. The ore is removed from the pits by BELAZ trucks and delivered to the crushing plant by rail. Pit machinery includes heavy-duty 130-t dump trucks, modern NP-1 locomotives and 12 m² capacity excavators.

Some 58.5 Mt of ore was mined at the KGOK operations in 2018, which was processed into 3.5 Mt of sinter and 6.5 Mt of pellets, according to EVRAZ.

Work on the autonomous investment project, which required $1.23 million in funding, began in November 2017. So far, 19 communication towers have been installed around all the operations, while 30 excavators and 35 BELAZ trucks have been equipped with sensors and navigation antennae, as well as smart displays in the driver’s cabs, VIST said.

“Thanks to the joint efforts of specialists from KGOK and VIST Group, a sophisticated and up-to-date system for managing mining vehicles has been deployed at the EVRAZ plant,” Alexander Bondarenko, Business Unit Director at VIST Group, said.

“Following Phase 2 of project implementation, which will cover rail transportation and quality control of ore arriving at the plant from the shipping sheds, the system will be the most sophisticated in the Russian ore mining sector,” Bondarenko said.

The VIST Group system tracks and displays real-time information on the locations and operating conditions of dump trucks, dozers, excavators, automatic loaders and “mobile canteens”.

Using the Wi-Fi network installed in four mines, all data on the vehicles’ speed, mileage, fuel levels and rock loads, as well as the locations of the “mobile canteens”, are transmitted in real time to the computer terminals of the plant’s dispatchers and chief specialists. “The data is also seen by the excavator operators and dump truck drivers on smart displays in their cabs,” VIST said.

Thanks to a modular geological model of the ore deposit integrated into the system, it is possible to analyse the quality of the iron ore and control the movements of the dump trucks and excavators, according to VIST.

And, in the event of an unforeseen stoppage, the system redirects the BELAZ truck to be loaded by another excavator.

Denis Novozehnov, Vice President of EVRAZ and Head of the company’s Urals Division, said: “The switch to an automated monitoring system has helped us to reduce ore losses and ensure more reliable quality. We’ve also been able to improve the productivity of the quarry dump trucks.”