Readers can nominate their clients, colleagues or even themselves for a variety of reasons. It could be for the development of a new technology, or the innovative application of an existing one. It can be for their involvement with a particular project that has seen amazing results, or for an initiative that has helped to change the industry’s mind-set towards a certain challenge. It can be for their research efforts into areas such as safety or energy efficiency, or for their approach to environmental stewardship.
2014 truly was a year of innovation, as the industry rose to overcome the huge challenges it faces. As always, there were many deserving people, companies and projects nominated and competition was extremely fierce.
Congratulations to this year’s winners who are listed below and, of course, thank you to you, our readers, who took the time to nominate and vote for them.
For more detail on the winners, check out the January/February issue of Mining Magazine, or download the iPad app.
And the winners are...
Gold Road Resources: Gruyere gold deposit
Gold Road Resources in 2014 discovered the 3.8Moz Gruyere gold deposit in Western Australia, taking its gold resource to more than 5Moz. This maiden resource was achieved in August, within 10 months of the initial discovery in 2013, and at a low cost of less than A$2/oz (US$1.76/oz) discovered. The discovery has placed Gold Road in a group of just 10 ASX-listed companies with more than 5Moz in gold resources in Australia.
Mine planning/resource modelling
RungePincockMinarco (RPM) released three solutions in 2014 as part of its XPAC scheduling software suite. The Oil Sands XPAC Solution (OSS) was launched at CIM in May, followed by Open Pit Diamonds XPAC Solution (OPDS) later that month and Open Pit Metals XPAC Solution (OPMS) in June. The solutions, which are configurable to the specific requirements of the mine types and commodities, join the Underground Coal and Open Cut Coal XPAC solutions that were released in 2013.
Surface mining – hard rock
Strata Worldwide: HazardAvert
HazardAvert is a proximity-detection and collision-avoidance safety system designed to prevent accidents and injuries by detecting when a person or vehicle enters a specifically marked area, or zone, around an operating piece of machinery. A large global gold-mining group selected the system for a pilot test project, using 130 pieces of machinery. By analysing the reported collision incidents at the site, the system helped to reduce slow-speed machine accidents by as much as 66% in 2013 compared with 2012.
Surface mining – soft rock
Boart Longyear: sonic coring
On June 17, 2014, a Boart Longyear crew in eastern Australia successfully completed the deepest hole drilled in Australia using a sonic rig. The LS600T rig drilled a record 212m using the 4.75in (12cm) conventional coring system and overriding with 6in (15.2cm) casing. The borehole was drilled at Nhill, which is 374km from Melbourne. The previous depth record for this sonic drill was 206m, which was accomplished at Menindee near Broken Hill in New South Wales using the same drilling method.
Underground mining – hard rock
CRCMining’s oscillating disc cutter (ODC) is a technology for efficiently excavating hard rock to +250MPa. It combines a number of rock-breakage concepts into a single technology – enabling the excavation of hard rock using comparatively small and lightweight equipment as a continuous mining process, in both surface and underground mining applications. The technology has been successfully trialled by Joy Global, and could potentially replace batch drill-and-blast processes with dynamic continuous rock cutting. CRCMining stated that broad predictions for productivity improvements are in the order of 20% plus up to 20% reduction in total mining costs.
Underground mining – soft rock
TEC Systems: Lyons Salt automation
Lyons Salt Co introduced automation to its mine in Kansas, US, with the help of TEC Systems Group. TEC’s solutions included upgraded electrical controls throughout the facility, increased underground power, a high-voltage electrical infrastructure upgrade project, improved communication systems and automation of the surface processing mill and the underground conveying-crushing circuit. The solutions increased efficiency at the mine by 35% and increased production output by 32%.
Rio Tinto: Processing Excellence Centre
Rio Tinto opened its Processing Excellence Centre (PEC) in Brisbane, Australia, in March 2014 as part of its Mine of the Future programme. The first-of-its-kind PEC examines processing data in real time from seven operations, and an expert mineral processing team shares technical initiatives and solutions to colleagues on mine sites in Mongolia, the US and Australia about how to maximise productivity and improve performance. Rio Tinto worked with JKTech, Schneider Electric, Metso CISA, iGATE and the University of Queensland to develop the centre.
Maptek: I-Site 8820
Maptek previewed its I-Site 8820 long-range laser scanner at the Australian Institute of Mine Surveyors (AIMS) conference in Sydney, Australia, in August. Compared with the previous model, it offers a 20% increase in range, twice the data-acquisition speed, 25% better range accuracy and a new modular design. It can quickly survey pits and stockpiles, and data is transferred to the Maptek I-Site Studio software to generate surface models and volumes.
3D Laser Mapping: ZEB1
ZEB1 is a hand-held, rapid laser-mapping system developed by CSIRO and commercialised by 3D Laser Mapping. It comprises a lightweight laser scanner mounted on a spring mechanism, which continuously scans as the operator walks through the environment, using robotic technology called simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM), and converts 2-D laser measurements into 3-D fields of view. ZEB1 was put through a rigorous testing process at Anglogold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine in South Africa, which extends over 3.8km below the surface, with excellent results.
Cipta Kridatama, one of Indonesia’s leading mining contractors, has improved its haul-truck fuel efficiency using simulation-based training from Immersive. A comparison of fuel records from before and after training showed an improvement of 6.3% in a month, and on-site fuel usage went down each subsequent month. The site now operates 5.8% under the budgeted L/h fuel consumption. Cipta Kridatama estimated that it can save US$500,000 per year as a result.
AngloGold Ashanti Technology Innovation Consortium
The ATIC was set up with the aim of developing safe and reliable technologies for gold extraction. Aside from the huge strides that the team has made technologically with projects such as reef boring in South Africa, the MM team was particularly impressed with the open-platform approach used to tackle key challenges facing the mining industry, such as extracting ore from very narrow veins and mining at extreme depths. It is refreshing to see a global miner championing open innovation, and we hope that other mining houses will follow the ATIC’s lead and adapt their innovation strategies in the future.