Engineering & Mining Journal

JAN 2019

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AUTONOMOUS HAULAGE JANUARY 2019 • E&MJ 37 www.e-mj.com crusher on the surface from many mine levels. We expand this adaptation of man- ual tasks to automated tasks for many ma- chines, such as drills, rock breakers, plate feeders, trucks, and loaders, resulting in cost saving and less time loss throughout the operation cycle of the mine." Riku Pulli, vice president, automation, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, isn't reading an unpublished Isaac Asimov nov- el from the mid-20 th century. Instead, the description encapsulates a system current- ly being commissioned in an underground mine in Mali, West Africa. Sandvik will "fully automate" Reso- lute's large-scale Syama mine according to a partnership framework agreement announced by the supplier in June 2018. Per the agreement, Sandvik "will devel- op" the "underground gold mining opera- tion" around "a fully automated Sandvik production system." The system will leverage Sandvik's space-age AutoMine, supporting and re- lated systems and infrastructure, and the equipment that will harness it all, to "increase profitability, reduce costs and improve safety," Pulli said. AutoMine is Sandvik's family of automa- tion system packages that enable varying degrees of automation, from "teleremote or autonomous operation of single pieces of equipment" to "full fleet automation," the company reported. On the market for nearly two decades, AutoMine was featured in a video released in September 2018 of a driverless 38-metric-ton (mt) LH514 loader navigating a literal glass maze, nonstop, at a clip, and halting on a dime. The compa- ny reported AutoMine enables loaders and trucks to "learn," meaning map out and re- cord, "the safest and most efficient route the first time they enter a tunnel." Tapping those capabilities and others will ensure Syama's system is "the most advanced autonomous system that has ever been developed and deployed for under- ground mining," Pulli said. "This system will allow Resolute to assign direct opera- tive missions to machines from the surface without any human intervention for the driving of vehicles. One operator can control and assign missions for multiple machines in full autonomous mode, with newly im- proved Mission Control systems, reducing an immense amount of OPEX throughout the value chain of the operation." Additionally, "we will be controlling all the mine operations including day-to-day tasks via our OptiMine task and mission plan management modules," Pulli said. "This will include machine- and da- ta-monitoring, operation SMART sched- uling, spares and maintenance activity optimization and more." OptiMine is the supplier's gateway Industry 4.0 solution. Beyond the afore- mentioned features, it offers mine scan- ning and visualization, equipment loca- tion tracking, scheduling, and task and case management. "The solution provides transparency of underground operations and enables joint development of mining process efficiency supported by our ex- perts," the company reported. The agreement is the latest between Resolute and Sandvik for mine design work at Syama with the goal of full auto- mation. Company reports state the part- ners collaborated early on on equipment selection and the design of the under- ground infrastructure. The mine was first commissioned in 2009. Since then, "we used the latest simulation and design packages to simu- late the entire production operation with various mine models," Pulli said. "To keep it as close as possible to reality, we used actual machine data with many other pa- rameters such as road conditions, haulage dimensions, machine passing bays for optimal traffic management and more. By using this anonymized, real-time data that we gather throughout our journey in opti- mizing mines around the world, Sandvik, in collaboration with Resolute, created the most optimized mine development and design concept that will easily digest the automation implementation." Syama, with 7.5 million ounces (oz) in resources, 2.9 million oz of reserves, and a 12-year mine life, is the "mine of the future," Pulli said. "This is a story of two pioneering companies following a unified route toward more intelligent mining." It is also a story with a prequel and a likely sequel. In December 2018, Hecla Mining Co.'s Casa Berardi mine in Quebec adopted a second automated Sandvik TH540, which will leverage the underground mine's Au- toMine Truck-based haulage system. The truck is marketed as a high-performance, 40-mt dumper for use in 5-m x 5-m drifts. When announced in 2012, it was pitched as offering "a higher payload ratio, clean- er air, and enhanced productivity." Casa Berardi "will benefit from the in- dustry-leading traffic management capa- bilities of the AutoMine system, allowing them to run two TH540 trucks in a single heading transfer level in a productive and safe way," Pulli said. "In the future, the truck haulage level can be easily be ex- panded as required to connect new pro- duction areas to the hauling level." The numbers reveal the impetus for the purchase. The miner reported running a single automated TH540 improved avail- ability by 30%, reduced the cost of main- tenance by 30%, and upped productivity in terms of hours by as much as 40%. "The improved availability for the TH540 truck comes from automation and means more hours available for operation In September, Sandvik released a video of an unmanned loader navigating a glass maze. (Photo: Sandvik)

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