Engineering & Mining Journal

JUL 2018

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Page 44 of 75

HEALTH & SAFETY JULY 2018 • E&MJ 43 • Putting analytics in the hands of man- agers helps them make preventive main- tenance decisions more quickly. For ex- ample, instead of reviewing tire truck pressures on a weekly basis, team leads can view real-time sensor data to under- stand the pressure of every tire on every piece of equipment at any time. • Using intelligent machines to conduct mining processes and managing multi- ple operations remotely enables miners to achieve faster growth and the ability to scale. Barrick Gold is an example of a min- eral producer aggressively pursuing a company-wide digitalization plan. Its Digital Transformation initiative calls for weaving a "digital fabric" throughout its operations, aimed at achieving full capa- bility by 2019-2020. Barrick described Barrick Digital Fabric (BDF) as an "en- terprise-grade, big data analytics platform that provides a unified data management environment to support flexible processing of workloads at a low cost-to-serve." Key features and enhanced capabilities of the system include a highly secure data envi- ronment; scalability; real-time integration of large data sets from disparate systems; and flexible support for streaming, mi- cro-batching and long running workloads. In addition to the operational and fi- nancial advantages Barrick intends to reap from implementing BDF, the system is also designed to provide live operation- al insights and to issue alerts and alarms when necessary. Using AI principles, BDF will generate operational recommenda- tions using auto-generated prompts and responses, along with data-driven simula- tions and what-if scenario testing. To achieve maximum effectiveness, BDF needs "connected" mine sites — and Barrick is moving quickly to reach that ob- jective. At the Pueblo Viejo gold operation in the Dominican Republic, for example, the company intends to improve safety and operational efficiency through the use of digital information. After achieving a 97% reduction in "fatigue management events" by using Cat's Driver Safety System during 2017, the company is targeting digitally based concepts such as Wi-Fi to the work- place, conversion to e-forms for training as- sessment optimization and QR code-based license and competencies information im- mediately available for on-site verification. At its Turquoise Ridge underground mine in Nevada, Barrick said it had Wi-Fi available at 79% of the mine's headings in 2017, with 100% availability targeted for 2018. Mine employees are equipped with iPads and apps for Short Interval Control, Digital Work Management and Predictive Maintenance information exchange. The mine's digital safety objectives for 2018 include operator fatigue management, re- al-time dust monitoring, digital lifesaving controls and development of a pilot system for collision avoidance. Barrick's competitor, Newmont Min- ing, also is intent upon expanding mine- site digital technology. In March, the com- pany announced that a newly established Operational, Technology and Innovation group will focus on IT/OT integration ar- chitecture and infrastructure throughout "connected" operations. Mine monitoring and control teams will work to implement wearable technology for safety and oper- ational efficiency, while machine control and automation crews will aim at improv- ing equipment performance, safety and consistency through AI and other tools. Meanwhile, Goldcorp is looking close- ly at possible applications of virtual and augmented reality (VAR) at its mine sites, with the goal of improving worker effi- ciency and safety. In a recent posting on the company's Above Ground blog, Gil Lawson, Goldcorp's vice president, geol- ogy and mine planning, said the compa- ny sees tremendous opportunity for VAR technology in the areas of mine planning, training and safety. "Using virtual and augmented reality to transport people to the face of the mine to address an issue in a high-risk area without them having to physically go underground would go a long way toward making our operations safer," Lawson said. Lawson also sees potential for savings by reducing travel. "Cerro Negro mine is our most remote mine site. It's a 20-hour trip just to get to the mine. If we can use this technology to virtually do an inspection or share information in real-time without having to send people to the mine site, that would improve efficiency significantly." Trainers could also instruct miners glob- ally, he said, without having to travel, by combining step-by-step instruction with ho- lographic images providing a more engag- ing and immersive learning environment. Making Choices Although AI, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are the hot-button concepts current- ly dominating the industry's conversation concerning digitalization, it's clear that in order to optimize the safety and operational benefits of these technologies, major mine- site functions and systems are going to have to be digitally linked — and mine operators are going to need to judiciously choose the digital tools and concepts that best serve their needs. Those choices are constantly ex- panding as major industry vendors upgrade their existing product lines with enhanced digital capabilities, while new entries in the supplier ranks are introducing devices and systems that not too long ago were mostly fodder for science-fiction stories. As an example of the former, Epiroc recently announced it upgraded its exist- ing Serpent mine ventilation system to a higher level by incorporating automatic functionality. Serpent Automatic, as it is now known, is claimed to optimize air After years of relying on a paper-based system and radio communications to relay vital information to underground equipment operators, Goldcorp's Musselwhite mine recently implemented a digital management system for underground vehicle dispatch that helped improve productivity and enhanced safety.

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