Mining Magazine Awards 2019: Final voting

The shortlist for the 2019 Mining Magazine Awards has been announced and final voting is now open

Staff reporter
Mining Magazine Awards 2019: Final voting

Each year we celebrate excellence in the mining industry by inviting our readers to nominate people, companies, groups or projects that they feel have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing the state of play in mining over the past 12 months.

This year, we received a record amount of nominations of a very high calibre, which meant we had to expand some of the more popular categories to four nominees. Please find the list of shortlisted finalists below.

Votes are limited to one choice for each category per person, and voting will close at midnight GMT on December 6, 2019.

The winners will be announced in the January/February print issue of Mining Magazine, and on on January 24, 2020.

Voting has now closed.


Category: Exploration

George Salamis, Integra Resources

Integra Resources acquired the DeLamar gold-silver project in Idaho, US, a past producing asset, with the view that it would be amenable to heap leaching. The operation had processed via mill and was not viewed as a large-scale, heap-leach opportunity. George Salamis, president and CEO of Integra Resources didn't believe this.

Through extensive metallurgical work, the team demonstrated the project's amenability to heap leaching and, as a result, released a successful preliminary economic assessment that takes advantage of the low-cost heap-leaching process. Former operators did not run induced polarisation (IP) at the project either. This was a major priority for the company when it acquired the asset, and it was critical in identifying new targets and expanding the resource to 4.4Moz AuEq. IP helped identify Sullivan Gulch, the first discovery adjacent to the existing resource at DeLamar. Sullivan Gulch has massive potential and returned impressive drill results, including IDM-18-59 (2.53g/t AuEq over 109.73m), IDM-18-046 (1.41g/t AuEq over 144.78m). In late 2018, Integra Resources acquired the Florida Mountain Project, located adjacent to DeLamar.

The projects were historically considered two distinct deposits. Yet again, Salamis and his team sought to challenge the old way of thinking. They increased the land package and now approaches DeLamar as a mining district, not a series of independent deposits. And they have brought it into the 21st century. The team began to digitise everything - from 19th century maps to 1990s blasthole data from the Kinross. Integra combed through the data extensively and proved their theory that DeLamar was indeed a mining district. A perspective further validated by two of the world's most renowned epithermal geologists, Dick Sillitoe and Jeff Hedenquist. Salamis and the team at Integra Resources - or ‘Integra 2.0' as it is playfully called - are currently focused on growing the DeLamar resource through brownfield and greenfield exploration, while commencing feasibility studies designed to advance the DeLamar project towards a construction decision.

Exyn Technology: Advanced Autonomous Aerial Robots

Exyn has created a technology that it says is revolutionising data collection for previously closed mines, leading to re-exploration. According to the company, the use of A3Rs (Advanced Autonomous Aerial Robots) for data collection is a win for all stakeholders: investors can reduce costs, companies can reduce environmental impacts and make better data-driven decisions, and people working in challenging environments are safer. Eyxn believes that the combination of hardware, software and AI is the future of robotics. 

Henry Marsden, Yamana Gold & GoldSpot Discoveries: Artificial Intelligence

Henry Marsden, senior vice president for exploration at Yamana Gold, undertook mineral exploration through the application of artificial intelligence (AI) at the El Peñón mine site in Chile. According to Yamana, this was the first time AI was used on a large scale to determine drill targets. Partnering with GoldSpot Discoveries, Marsden and the team led a four-month collaboration exercise that helped identify several high probability targets.

Category: Software

Uptake Technologies

While many mining companies are looking to new technology as an effective way to stay competitive, efficient and sustainable in challenging times, success stories are rare and many investments don't produce the desired results.

Over the past several years, Uptake has used data to solve some of the most critical challenges facing the mining industry, including rising costs, declining ore grades, increasing operational complexity and the ability to successfully use data to improve operations.

A leading heavy equipment dealership used its software to improve productivity, availability and operating costs with industry-leading data science solutions. For one case study Uptake processed 365 million data points from a fleet of 44 haul trucks and found that the insights could deliver a 3% downtime reduction and a 5% improvement in haul truck utilisation.

Uptake also works with several mining companies to build and execute their digital transformation across all their operations and assets.

Coldelco, the world's largest copper producer, is leveraging Uptake's AI software to improve the performance, availability and operating cost for its mobile and fixed assets across their operations in Chile.

Gerdau is one of the largest steel producers in the Americas. Uptake's AI software is being implemented across its steel mill operations in North America to improve productivity and minimise production downtime. Moreover, Uptake will optimise its overall preventive maintenance activities to reduce maintenance costs and maximise reliability.

A leading potash mining company has contracted Uptake to implement AI software that will deliver optimised preventive and predictive maintenance to its underground mining and processing assets.

Uptake software uses proprietary machine learning engines to aggregate various data sources including telematics, work orders, alerts and fluid analysis and combines them with contextual data sources such as geolocation and weather for delivering highly reliable predictive insights.

RPMGlobal: UGMS Optimiser

RPMGlobal recently released its Underground Metals Solution (UGMS) Optimiser edition for mine planning customers to the market. UGMS Optimiser marks the first edition of RPMGlobal's agile design software offering.

RPMGlobal says it is the first company to combine and incorporate the three big underground optimisers (Stope Optimisation, Underground Network Optimiser and Decline Optimisation) into one enterprise enabled design product. RPMGlobal leveraged the most advanced technologies for the design solution, including the very latest parametric design capabilities that support rapid scenario generation, long-term planning and optimal mine design. This ensures miners continue to drive efficiency and productivity improvements in a visually orientated environment.

Mobilaris Mining & Civil Engineering: Mobilaris Onboard

Mobilaris Mining Intelligence is a software solution that can be easily installed on a mine network and becomes the eyes and ears of the operation. It has allowed mines to track people and assets during emergency evacuation, making sure they are accounted for and located to a safe area.

Mobilaris is also used to track people and assets to manage processes, for example when mucking out a stope, it allows tracking of the different processes and allows the operations to look for waste that may gain extra tones or hours of operations.

With the newest member of the Mobilaris Mining Intelligence portfolio, Mobilaris Onboard, the company has taken on the logistical problem of traffic management in underground mines.

With Mobilaris Onboard inside in a vehicle, users will have a mobile ‘radar' showing any incoming traffic - enabling operators to avoid traffic congestions and highlighting the best route. The Mobilaris Onboard acts just like a car navigator but without any need for a dedicated tracking infrastructure. This is possible due to Mobilaris Hybrid positioning.

Dingo: Trakka Predictive Analytics

Dingo's Trakka Predictive Analytics solution utilises artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict impending equipment failures, allowing users to proactively perform corrective maintenance actions to minimise downtime and optimise asset life. These proven anomaly detection and failure prediction models were built by uniting failure data from actual equipment, Dingo's industry expertise, and data science to address common component specific failure modes and boast greater than 85% accuracy.

Dingo spent the last 12 months developing and refining machine learning models, in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology, to detect anomalies in condition monitoring data in Dingo's OEM independent global asset health database. These models highlight anomalous behaviour in the data and are available to users of Trakka.

Trakka users have access to analytical information about the probability of failure and degradation indexes. These models are built by Dingo subject matter experts for common asset specific failure modes, e.g. final drive gear wear failure. They are designed with scalability in mind and can be easily retrained to work with a broad range of asset/failure mode problems experienced by real mining operations, making them reusable without further development.

Category: Load & Haul

Komatsu & Nokia: FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System over LTE

This past year, Komatsu's FrontRunner Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) qualified to operate on private long-term evolution (LTE) mobile broadband technology. This is the mining industry's first AHS enabled to run on private LTE in commercial operations, making way for ultra-high system availability and reliability.

Nokia is a leading provider of private LTE communication solutions for the mining industry; private LTE networks improve security, capacity and overall performance within a multiapplication environment. Komatsu completed a year-long qualification programme at its proving grounds in Tucson, Arizona, US, conducting extensive testing of the FrontRunner AHS on Nokia's Future X infrastructure.

Metso: Hybrid truck body

Leaning on decades of experience from rubber-lining truck boxes, Metso came up with its own unique ‘one-piece' Metso Truck Body to fit directly on a truck. It is designed to increase hauling capacity and revenues while at the same time lowering OPEX and downtime for service. An optimised and lighter construction in high-strength steel allows for big savings in weight, while the module-based rubber lining takes on the lion share of the impact from hauling. The weight savings equals more payload and also contributes to a lower the fuel consumption of the truck.

Boliden: Electric trolley project

Boliden is expanding an electrified transportation route at the Aitik copper mine in northern Sweden, as well as implementing similar technology at the Kevitsa polymetallic mine in northern Finland.

The Swedish miner initiated a pilot project for the electrification of in-pit truck transport at Aitik in 2018. As part of it, the company constructed 700 metres of electric trolley line and converted four mining trucks for the system.

At Aitik a further three kilometres of electric trolley line will now be built and another ten trucks will be converted for electric trolley lines.  At Kevitsa, 13 mining trucks are converted for electric trolley lines at the same time as the 1.8 kilometre long electric trolley line is being built.

The electric trolley installations are being deployed in stages until 2022. Boliden is calculated to reduce diesel consumption by 5,500 cubic metres per year when the investment is completed.

Applied Fiber: Shock damping pendants for electric rope shovels

Metal fatigue cracking and ongoing welding maintenance have always been an accepted norm for electric rope shovels, until now. Applied Fiber's shock absorbing pendant system reduces machine peak loads by up to 50% with substantial reduction of vibration throughout the system minimising the impact of general use and boom jacking.

The system has been made possible by the development of Applied Fiber's unique synthetic fibre terminations coupled with the viscoelastic properties of DyneemaDM20. Compared to steel wire pendants the system is lightweight and easy to install. Vibration in the controls can lead to numbness and fatigue in the operators' hands, fibre dampens this vibration providing smoother operation and improved ergonomics for the operators.

Shock loads and vibration are key contributors to metal fatigue and cracking of the main shovel components including the boom, A-frame and associated structure which translates in high maintenance costs and lost production time. Increased machine uptime, productivity and reduced welding all help to extend overall shovel life. The shock damping system is available for all large Komatsu and Cat electric rope shovels.

Category: Drill & Blast

Dyno Nobel: ΔE2 (Delta E2)

Explosives company Dyno Nobel is using the power of its in-truck control panel DynoLogix as the supporting base for its new software system, ΔE2 (Delta E2), that allows targeted placement of energy in blastholes.

The ΔE2 system uses data from outside sources, such as drills, face profiles and other data, that characterises rock properties to allow blasters to target placement of energy in a blasthole. In addition, it can send loading instructions to a pump truck control system directly to ensure the loading of boreholes as designed.

Teck & Maxam: Reducing release of nitrate from blasting

Canadian miner Teck, as part of its efforts to improve water quality in the Elk Valley region in British Columbia, is piloting a new blasting process to prevent nitrate from entering the environment. The research project is supported by explosives provider Maxam and liner supplier Friesen Plastics.

In order to prevent the nitrate from interacting with water during the blasting process (as nitrates can leach out of blastholes into the natural environment), the project team is using plastic liners in the blastholes.

The emulsion in a liner system involves using the charging hose on the explosives truck to place the plastic liner in the bottom of a dynamic blasthole. The hole is then loaded with water-resistant explosive from the bottom up, both filling the liner and keeping it in place. Once complete, the end result is a lined blasthole with the explosives protected from the water.

In order for the plastic liner to be effectively placed down the blasthole, a hydraulic arm and funnel were added to the explosive bulk truck hose and the traditional borehole plastic liners had to be compressed into an accordion shape. The hydraulic arm allows for the hose to be placed directly over the blasthole and the funnel removes the wrinkles from the compressed plastic liner as it unfolds and is pushed to the bottom of the hole. This ensures consistent lining of every blasthole while meeting our needs of durability and functionality.

The process has now been successfully field-tested on more than 400 blastholes, and the plan is to implement it across all of its steelmaking coal operations this year.

Orica: FRAGTrack

Explosives and blasting systems provider Orica added automated rock-sizing measurement tech to its digital blast-optimisation platform.

FRAGTrack, the automated fragmentation measurement device, is designed to capture real-time data to help optimise drill-and-blast operations and downstream unit productivity, while tracking operational performance. It is delivered as part of the Orica BlastIQ suite.

The device can be mounted on both shovels and conveyors, and it uses binocular cameras and a proprietary hybrid 2-D/3-D image-processing algorithm for measurements.

Category: Safety

BHP: Nickel West Kwinana Laboratory Automation project

The BHP Nickel West Kwinana Laboratory Automation project group commenced a study aimed at identifying ways to reduce manual handling and hygiene exposures for the team at the laboratory in Western Australia. In conjunction with FLSmidth, the Kwinana team identified that the installation of five automated modules would eliminate many of the health and safety risks that much of the team had been managing over 20-30 years.

The automated laboratory was designed in consultation with the laboratory team and required a number of new innovations in order to meet the team's requirements. The design also incorporated the learnings and best practises from other laboratory automation installations from with Australia and around the world. In addition to delivering the health and safety improvements, the project also increased sample processing capacity in the laboratory and is a key enabler for future expansions in production and alternative products at the BHP Nickel West Kwinana refinery.

ICMM: ‘Fatality Prevention: Eight lessons learned'

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) says this resource represents a milestone in its role and its members' commitment to strengthening health and safety performance and reducing operational fatalities to zero, through collaboration and making the space to undertake very frank discussions on the issues that matter most to the industry.

The eight lesson statements are not an end in and of themselves, but they are conversation starters that all mining and metals companies need to consider and debate. They're designed to help companies improve business and safety culture, as well as leadership, and will form the basis for further in-depth work within ICMM and across the industry. ICMM encourages all in the industry to consider how the lessons can be applied to their own organisation and ask themselves: ‘What else can we be doing to truly get to zero fatalities?'

Hexagon: HxGN MineProtect Operator Alertness System Light Vehicle (OAS-LV)

Hexagon's HxGN MineProtect Operator Alertness System Light Vehicle (OAS-LV) is a fatigue and distraction detection unit that continuously monitors operator alertness inside the cab of light vehicles, buses and semi-trucks. OAS-LV expands Hexagon's portfolio for operator safety solutions, filling a gap to protect light-vehicle operators from falling asleep at the wheel, crashing or other fatigue or distraction-related incidents.

The solution's in-cab device is easy to install and scans the operator's face to detect any sign of fatigue or distraction, such as a microsleep. A machine-learning algorithm leverages this facial-feature analysis data to-determine whether or not an alert should be triggered. OAS-LV works in both light and dark conditions, and through prescription glasses and/or sunglasses.

The in-cab hardware is always connected, and data from the vehicle may be transmitted to the cloud or an on-site monitoring centre. This enables real-time notifications for supervisors and controllers to apply intervention protocol and allow for further forensic analytics.

Category: Environmental Excellence

Komatsu: Reforestation of formerly mined land

Komatsu partnered with Green Forests Work, a non-profit organisation dedicated to restoring mined lands in the Appalachian region of the US, to restore nearly 1,000 acres of forest over the next three years in West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest. The partnership aims to establish healthy, productive forests on the formerly mined land and to improve water quality in the Lambert Run watershed. Komatsu's partnership with GFW includes equipment loans, employee volunteers to plant, money to cover the costs of site preparation and tree seedlings, and shared advocacy of the need for mine reclamation methods that allow growth of natural vegetation and forests.

Lundin Gold: Fruta Del Norte mine

Lundin Gold has managed its project footprint, as well as deforestation, erosion, water, air and noise impacts, in a very detailed manner starting with the project design and construction, as well as operational planning and execution. The result is a very small footprint for a mine that size (3,500tpd) in a very delicate and complex ecosystem lodged in mountainous terrain with a high rainfall regime.

Pure Gold Mining: Madsen Red Lake mine

Pure Gold Mining is demonstrating unwavering commitment to minimising the environmental footprint of its Madsen Red Lake mine in Red Lake, Ontario, Canada. The company is rising to the challenge of reopening a historical gold mine, which was built in the 1930s and made inadequate provision for future mine reclamation. Using a carefully designed operations and closure plan, the Madsen Red Lake Gold mine is being reopened to exceed modern environmental and engineering standards. The carefully considered plan for new operations sees the introduction of detoxification, water treatment, material harvesting and progressive closure and reclamation of the natural environment. At the end of mine life, all surface disturbances will be reclaimed, along with past mining impacts.

The company is partnering with the local communities to solve regional challenges including underemployment and has also established a working group with the municipal and provincial governments and leading consultants to solve a municipal waste management issue. Pure Gold Mining announced on July 29, 2019, that with Wabauskang First Nation and Lac Seul First Nation it signed a project agreement for the mine that will include Pure Gold's commitment to sustainable development and establishes future financial contributions by Pure Gold commensurate with production.

Category: Mineral Processing

FLSmidth: mixedROW flotation

Flotation systems are a vital technology in mineral processing and extraction. But despite their overall effectiveness, particles of valuable ore still get disposed of along with waste material. Additionally, the energy consumption that flotation systems require to function effectively is high. While flotation systems are necessary when recovering ore, making them more sustainable and energy-efficient has been a challenge.

The design of the mixedROW flotation system combines two machines - nextSTEP forced air and WEMCO self-aspirating technologies. It provides the solutions to challenges presented by older flotation systems by combining these two cells to produce a system that is much more than the sum of their individual parts. In short, mixedROW can provide boosted productivity, a reduced environmental footprint and higher profits.

Clean Mining: Cyanide-free gold processing technology

In June 2019, Clean Mining launched a cleaner and safer processing solution for gold miners, which has the potential to transform the gold sector and responsible mining globally. The innovative and cost-effective solution replaces toxic sodium cyanide, used in gold processing since 1887, with an inorganic compound known as thiosulphate, which acts as a reagent when used with Clean Mining's innovative leaching and de-watering processes.

The low-environmental impact solution, originally developed over more than a decade by Australia's national science agency - CSIRO, was proven in trial at an industrial scale before being launched and promoted to miners of all scales this year, although marketing and production activities have since been focused on small to medium miners as existing cyanide-based circuits cannot simply be ‘upgraded' to use thiosulphate.

Since the launch of the new mineral processing solution, Clean Mining has been inundated by interest from the gold mining sector and substantial work has progressed to develop a reliable, ethical, quality and affordable supply and global distribution chain, with a particular focus on refining the design and construction of the tank leaching systems and economical dewatering solutions. This will enable dry-stacked tailings and eliminate the need for tailings dams and the impacts they have on the environment. In addition, when installed as a complete solution, the Clean Mining product also enables the re-use of thiosulphate and water utilising the de-watering process - further benefiting the Earth.

The solution is also scalable and potentially mobile, making it affordable and opening up financial access to miners who may have otherwise been constricted to adopt clean production processes and/or progress their exploration efforts to the processing stage.

Metso: VPX filter

Today, the whole mining industry is looking for cutting-edge solutions to solve complex tailings handling challenges and at the same time minimise freshwater footprint. Metso says its VPX filter development was all about making it ready for the future. With the VPX filter, Metso delivers a total solution operating at maximum capacity at a given moisture content.

Designed from the ground up, the new filter has proven its efficiency in filtering the most difficult to dewater materials, no matter how high the clay content is, while providing high water recovery and reuse. The dewatering tests on the pilot unit have been very successful. During testing, the filter has achieved up to 90% water recovery in a tailings sample, with a cake moisture content below 7%. A unique combination of a fully electro-mechanical drive, with no hydraulics clearly enhances operational safety, speed and reliability, making the VPX filter different not just from the existing Metso filters, but also from other products available in the market. The cycle time and pressure can be easily adjusted depending on the different conditions of the ore.

One of the most noteworthy improvements is the increase in operating pressure up to 25 bars, which is much higher than the industry standard of around 10-16 bars. The new filter is fully equipped to handle up to 36 cubic metre volumes, allowing mining operators to maximise plant availability and performance. In terms of scalability, there is no limit to the length of the filter. The modular design allows adding sections ranging from 60, 90, 120 and even further to the filters. An extra module can be added also to an existing VPX filter to increase its capacity. Easy integration and compact design of the filter parts allow quick and hassle-free shipping in standard containers. The filter is also well-equipped with lots of advanced sensors, load cells and it comes with a state-of-the-art control system to monitor a variety of data.

JSC AK Altynalmas & Digital plant

Altynalmas and the team leading innovation at the company are forward thinking, which is demonstrated by becoming the first mining company in Kazakhstan to implement a digital plant at Altynalmas' Aktogay operation. The grinding circuit is a key process within the operation of the plant and has specific challenges of monitoring liner wear and ball charge, which required production stops in order to check and repair. With's real-time platform in place these variables can now be monitored and predicted for future events in real-time without halting production.

Category: Bulk Handling

FLSmidth: HAB Feeder 

The first of its kind - a hybrid belt-over-apron feeder that delivers the advantages of both technologies, along with a low-profile loading deck and a completely modular design. The Hybrid Apron Belt (HAB) feeder is designed specifically for abrasive materials.

BEUMER Group: Conveying solution for Knight Hawk

The BEUMER team successfully designed, supplied, and installed a creative 6.4km-long overland conveying solution at Knight Hawk Coal's Prairie Eagle mine. This 42in wide, horizontal-curve trough belt conveyor allowed Knight Hawk to directly connect their new underground mine portal to the existing plant, thus eliminating the traffic and high operating cost of trucking. The five horizontal curves designed into the overland conveyor also allowed elimination of costly and environmentally unfriendly transfer towers that would have been required in conjunction with a conventional conveyor system alternative.

The use of innovative technology such as drone topography capture and 3-D engineering programs allowed the project team and Knight Hawk to fully evaluate all route options and earthwork requirements in three dimensions on top of exact topography simulations prior to commencement of the project. This included careful collaboration in crossing over a wetlands area and a county highway. The new system resulted in the ability to move over 1,500tph of coal from the new portal to the existing plant quickly with no heavy machinery or manpower required.

This automated system has increased efficiency of the mine and drastically lowered operating cost. The entire project was designed, installed and commissioned in less than 12 months after award, proving that innovative technology and a close working relationship with the end user can produce outstanding results.

Fenner Dunlop: Tuff As conveyor belt cover compound

Fenner Dunlop recently assisted a valued client to evaluate its current conveyor belt requirements. The client is currently the largest and lowest-cost manganese ore producer in the world and is located on an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria off the Australian coast. They were experiencing poor performance on their primary feed conveyor belt. If the belt was aligned with the shut cycle, it would make through one shutdown, but not two. Quite often, the belt had to be replaced for ‘run of failure' where a belt rip was evident, even though the top cover was still in excellent condition.

Fenner Dunlop performed QA testing of the belt to confirm product designation and compliance, and the Tuff As Belt was installed and commissioned on-site with zero lost time injury-free.

Tuff As is a fit-for-purpose compound that provides superior resistance against cut and gouge wear typically sustained in high impact applications. As a result, the client improved reliability, throughput and conveyor time ultimately reducing the maintenance cost. Tuff As is 100% more durable than the previous belt, resulting in cost savings. Belt change-out moved from one shut cycle to two with 32.9% belt life increase and zero belt tracking, quality or splicing issues recorded to date.

Category: Technology

ASI Mining: Autonomous haulage

The company is making autonomous vehicle operations more accessible for sites across the world by providing OEM-agnostic, retrofit solutions. They recently completed a successful test of the first autonomous haul truck in Ukraine, as part of a project that will be one of the first major autonomous haulage deployments in eastern Europe.

MST Global: AXON

Early in 2019, MST Global released the next-generation smart network infrastructure. A single platform for different types of wireless connectivity, voice and data communications and tracking of personnel and assets, specifically designed for underground environments. It also has the capability to control and automate various IOT sensor-driven processes such as turning on sirens, ventilation, pumps, traffic lights, etc.

The first installation of AXON was at Dargues Mine in Australia. Dargues has seen an increase in improved safety through the implementation of personnel tracking and environmental monitoring of temperature, humidity and dust. And the productivity improvements in understanding the location of equipment with asset tracking and reassigning equipment if they are not in use.

As digitalisation continues to gain a lot of traction there is a continual need to deliver more. Technology no longer is purchased for the present situation, it is bought for future capability. Technology must be smart, agnostic and enable digital evolution for a mine. AXON does this seamlessly by not only being smart but future-ready, agnostic in nature, robust and versatile and at the core deliver increased safety and productivity improvements.

MineHub Technologies: Blockchain platform

They have built a technology solution with IBM that will help innovation and digitalisation within the mining and metals industry. MineHub Technologies is an innovative technology company focused on improving efficiency in the mining and metals supply chain and bringing trust to the management and trading of natural resources. MineHub's core services digitise the key interactions between participants, bringing automation, cost savings, security, ESG and regulatory compliance to a large set of stakeholders.

Newtrax Technologies: Artificial intelligence at Goldex

Canadian gold miner Agnico Eagle engaged Newtrax Technologies to turn data it had collected at its Goldex underground mine in Quebec into predictive maintenance insights.

This is the first applied case study for machine learning in the underground hard-rock mining industry with a defined ROI.

Category: Service & Support

Haver & Boecker Niagara: PROcheck

Haver & Boecker Niagara knows its customers are seasoned veterans of the industry that have seen a lot and know how their equipment works. However, their equipment still needs an occasional expert check-up to ensure everything is fine-tuned and running smoothly.

Haver & Boecker Niagara recently implemented the PROcheck service programme, combining the engineering expertise of the three mineral processing manufacturers, based in Brazil, Canada and Germany. Conducted by certified engineers, the service programme uses diagnostic tools to help customers maximise plant productivity, proficiency and profits. Each PROcheck comes with an inspection report, screen media audit and performance recommendations.

Proudfoot: Transformation programme

A global player in the mining industry was looking for new efficiencies across four mining sites and integrated concentrator complex. They were facing a number of challenges both from a cost and capability point of view and believed that the future of mining depends on people-focused change, and creating a safe, predictable operation. While there were a number of internal initiatives underway which were making a difference, their early successes lead them to believe that with outside support they could accelerate the transformation they were looking for. They contacted the specialists at Proudfoot to partner with their teams and help them achieve their ambitious goals.

Proudfoot and the client worked together to implement new behaviour models, management systems and processes that streamlined work planning and management. As part of this Proudfoot implemented a transformation methodology which included implementation of management systems supported by a comprehensive education and coaching program with masterclasses for senior teams, superintendents, supervisors, foremen, SMEs and designated ‘change agents'. The transformation programme balanced theory, practical illustrations and direct implementation of pilot programmes to address performance gaps specific to the client's operation. The newly trained change agents led the implementation of new systems and tools at each of the client's sites. Just 22 weeks after the project start date, the company already had major, measurable improvements in working capacity, equipment utilisation and availability, increased advance rates, improved recoveries, throughput, reduced downtime and costs. These included +47% tons/manhour capacity, +79% running metres (blasthole), +13% equipment availability, -21% operational downtime, and -19% employee turnover.

Stantec & Stratalis: Techno-economic twin

Faced with negative yearly cash flows and major capital expenditures over the next five years, a global diversified miner wanted to use technology to improve the situation. The owner sought to understand and model the impacts new technologies would have on the operation. Recognising that the traditional method of applying technologies in isolation wouldn't lead to accurate results, buy-in or change, Stantec and Stratalis, developed an innovative form of techno-economic modelling and digital twinning to maximise profitability and eliminate bottlenecks by applying the Theory of Constraints and ‘technologies suites' to the digital twin.

The study started by understanding the operations' and executives' vision for the future, mapping and modelling the constraints and bottlenecks of the current, and future, mine. An industry-wide technology scan helped understand available technologies and their impacts on CAPEX, OPEX, productivity and time to implementation. This data, observations of the underground environment, the life-of-mine plan (LOMP) and exploration plans, allowed design of a techno-economic twin to simulate mine production from all available zones and model the impacts of technology suites on production, cut-off grade and net present value (NPV). The model then identified how the technologies created new bottlenecks in the quest for maximum NPV-based value (rather than maximum throughput), a shift from the traditional ‘fill the smelter' or ‘maximise tons' view. This sort of technological modelling has only recently become possible, as advances in processing power, scenario modelling and agent-based AI engines have allowed modelling of increasingly complex environments. The modelling showed that focusing on individual technologies was ineffective and did not lead to the highest impact. Technology evolution of impact rarely occurs in isolation; much in the same way that Uber isn't a single app, but a combination of payment, communication and intelligence. The benefits of grouping technologies into naturally occurring suites and assessing the impact of the suites of technologies to the mine was needed to achieve a ‘step change'. The techno-economic model demonstrated that when technologies are applied to an operation as ‘technology suites' NPV improved by 50% over the base case LOMP. While this is impressive, more so is that the dramatic increase in NPV required only a 5% increase in CAPEX over the required sustaining CAPEX from the LOMP. The improvement was achieved due to the impact on mining intensity and face utilisation delivered by the technology suites.

Metso Brazil: Reclaimer maintenance for Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN)

With a critical reclaimer in need of planned maintenance, engineering and planning were key to getting the equipment back up and running in under 14 days. During the planned downtime, the mining company would use an alternative loading system; but its use could not be extended for very long without significantly impacting production. If the maintenance went over the time allotted, production shortfalls could result, so rapid action was required. The execution of this repair required specific initiatives, such as the careful removal of the machine's counterweights, preventing them from breaking.

Metso was asked to assist MRN in the development of the design and technical support for the fabrication of two metal structures - one that was 12 metres in height and weighing approximately 12 tonnes and the other 9 metres in height and weighing approximately 9 tonnes. The structures were to be used to support the crane operator's boom during the execution of the services. The same type of support was provided for the fabrication of the device used in place of the tipping cylinder during maintenance. The job was a complicated repair requiring global coordination of resources and expertise.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining Magazine Intelligence team.

A growing series of reports, each focused on a key discussion point for the mining sector, brought to you by the Mining Magazine Intelligence team.


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