Every year, Mining Magazine celebrates excellence in the mining industry by inviting our readers to nominate people, companies, projects and technologies that they feel have demonstrated outstanding commitment to advancing the state of play in mining over the past 12 months. The shortlisted candidates are then put to the vote.
We also have a special Editor's Award for a company or group that MM's editorial team feels has been particularly innovative over the past year.
Congratulations to this year's winners, who are listed below; and thank you to our readers, who took the time to nominate and vote for them.
And the winners are:
Exploration: Exyn Technologies
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.
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.
Load and Haul: Metso
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.
Drill and Blast: Teck and Maxam
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.
The HxGN MineProtect Operator Alertness System Light Vehicle (OAS-LV) is a fatigue and distraction edge computing detection unit. Using computer vision AI, it provides real-time monitoring of operator alertness inside the cab of all auxiliary and medium-sized mobile equipment, as well as in light vehicles, buses and semi-trucks.
In the event of distraction, drowsiness and microsleeps, drivers receive real-time notifications, allowing them to act, thus preventing an accident.
The in-cab device is easy to install and works in both light and dark conditions, and through prescription glasses and/or lenses. The OAS-LV device communicates and integrates seamlessly with the OAS-HV Analytics server, enabling full heavy- and light-vehicle fleet monitoring. It provides the most advanced remote operator alertness monitoring within a proven intervention framework, as well as performance measurement for pro-active decision-making and reporting.
Environmental Excellence: Komatsu
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.
Mineral Processing: Clean Mining
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.
Bulk Handling: FLSmidth
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.
It has 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 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.
The MineHub Platform offers comprehensive functionality by allowing miners to capture mineral digital contracts with buyers and streamline post-trade operations, including document flow, financing and logistics. In addition, MineHub provides project-financiers like royalty-holders and streamers with real-time visibility mine-production, sales and receivables. It provides one platform, connecting all the key parties involved in buying, selling, and moving minerals from mine to market.
MineHub can be used by a wide variety of company types and sizes including SME and large corporate miners, trading houses, financial institutions, alternative financiers, streamers, logistics companies and assayers. MineHub provides benefits across industry verticals including mineral concentrates, bulk metal and fertiliser.
Service and Support: Stantec and Stratalis
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.
Editor's Award: Inmarsat and Knight Piésold
In early 2019, Inmarsat joined forces with Knight Piésold UK with the aim to deliver highly accurate tailings dam monitoring, analysis and real-time management capabilities for the mining industry.
Inmarsat's satellite-enabled IoT solution was combined with Knight Piésold's industry-leading consultancy to enable smarter decision-making, improved safety standards and support regulatory compliance; offering a new approach to the way tailings dams are currently audited and managed.
Mine tailing audits are typically carried out at infrequent intervals, with employees and third-party consultants making long distance trips to collect data and audit the status of the dam. The solution makes data available between site visits to any accredited users, anywhere in the world.