Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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VENTILATION 52 E&MJ • JUNE 2018 lar diesel fleet are estimated at $620,000. When combined with projected fuel and maintenance cost reductions, the total an- nual savings are almost $855,000. Lister, the company's director of mar- keting, explained that by using a 140% capital pricing assumption for the listed EV equipment compared with diesel, "…a high-tramming unit like a battery boom truck can make up the premium within the first few years of its commissioning. And it delivers those cost savings while improving underground air quality as well as opera- tor comfort, benefits that speak for them- selves but aren't as easy to quantify in a cost savings modeler." There's another im- portant aspect, Lister pointed out, arguing that: "…they will be the reason that the question 'to EV or not to EV' won't sole- ly rest, in the long run, on the operational costs savings question - it will be based as much on workers' expectation that the die- sel-free mine should be the new normal." Borden Lake is part of a new genera- tion of underground mines that are either being revamped or designed from the be- ginning to take advantage of technologies that enable enhanced communications, data collection and analysis, and tracking of both machine and labor assets in real or near-real time. In many instances these technologies, which range from RFID tags and sensors to high-speed fiber optic data transmission systems, fit hand and glove with mine operator goals of higher levels of automation, reduced operational costs and risks and improved decision making – and they're a vital requirement for achiev- ing tight, mine-wide control of a ventila- tion-on-demand (VOD) plan. Goldcorp said this was the impetus behind the deployment of a Cisco-de- signed multi-service, secure IP network at its Éléonore mine, enabling Wi-Fi con- nectivity underground. The Wi-Fi com- munications network provides improved visibility of the mine's operations through continuous tracking of equipment, peo- ple, operations, and air quality, enabling mine managers to monitor, manage and fine tune processes and operations in near- or real-time. Goldcorp said it initially engaged Cis- co during Éléonore's construction phase to provide an IP network that would en- able real-time production visibility and control to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve safety. "The primary business case was worker safety, provid- ing visibility on where workers were in the mine and tying that to Ventilation on Demand," said Alex Smith, account man- ager at Cisco Canada. "It's an open stan- dards network, so supporting applications can be built on top of it." At Éléonore, Goldcorp worked with tur- bine and fan manufacturer Howmet to de- velop a comprehensive ventilation control system using VentSim CONTROL, How- met's VOD solution formerly marketed as SmartEXEC. In a case history presented by Howmet, the company explained that the mine has a fresh air capacity of more than 900 kcfm (425 m 3 /s). The principal ventilation system consists of two How- den Alphair 12300-AMF-6600 exhaust axial fans with a nominal power of 2,000 h (1,471 KWh) each, configured in paral- lel. There is also an exploration shaft that has two Howden Alphair 11200-AMF- 6600 main intake fans with a nominal power of 750 hp (551.62 KWh), again configured in parallel. The mine also has more than 140 auxiliary and booster fans operated in conjunction with seven damp- ers and air regulators, and a heating sys- tem fueled by propane. Howmet said it devised an automat- ed system covering all the ventilation equipment in the mine, including the main fans, underground auxiliary fans and airflow regulators. Thirty Ventilation Monitoring Stations (VMS) were installed to determine the quantity and quality of fresh air at various points underground. Each VMS included a flow sensor and three gas sensors to detect CO, NO X and C 3 H 8 , and is an integral part of the VentSim CONTROL system. The mine's asset tracking system de- tects the presence of vehicles and per- sonnel underground. Each of 144 vehi- cles was fitted with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag that indicates its position in the mine and whether the engine is operating. Everyone working underground was also given a unique RFID tag that connects to one of 254 zone-based Access Points. The data from the tracking system allows ventilation re- quirements for each zone to be calculated by the VOD logic software. This informa- tion is then used to automatically modify the speed of each of 140 underground auxiliary fans, to ensure that each zone of the mine receives enough fresh air. According to Howmet, the mine initial- ly reported a 43% reduction in mine heat- ing costs, a drop of 56% in underground ventilation electricity costs and a 73% decrease in the cost of surface ventila- tion electricity. Potential savings, said the company, were expected to increase even more as the mine reaches full capacity. Based on Éléonore's experience, se- cure IP networks are being rolled out at Goldcorp's Peñasquito, Red Lake and other mining operations. Cisco said it hopes to "bring new insights" to Gold- corp's Borden Lake mine to support the mine's connectivity and future automa- tion initiatives. Automation, battery-powered mobile equipment and higher levels of connec- tivity also enter into the plans for other underground development projects in Canada's Sudbury mining district that total an estimated $1.43 billion. Vale plans to initiate early-stage development of its Copper Cliff Deep project at a cost of $760 million. After receiving full cor- porate approval in early 2018, Glencore is moving ahead with development of the Onaping Depth project, which will cost an about $700 million. Glencore said it will employ a ful- ly electrified underground mining fleet at Onaping Depth and has been testing various models of battery-powered equip- ment at its other mines. Vale, likewise, is planning for a battery-powered under- ground fleet at Copper Cliff Deep and is testing equipment in advance at a near- by operating mine. Spokesmen for both companies said expanded equipment te- lemetry capabilities, mine-wide Wi-Fi and automation initiatives will be important elements in development plans. Choices Within Choices Howden's VentSim CONTROL, the VOD solution implemented at Éléonore and a number of other mines, is one of several VOD solutions offered by vendors that also include ABB, Bestech and others. Although VOD has gained operator interest and men- tion in the technical press and scientific literature in recent years, it's not a new con- cept: For example, GEFA System, a small Swedish company, has been providing VOD support to iron ore producer LKAB's under- ground operations for almost 20 years. Most of these solutions are scalable, allowing customers to acquire only the level of sophistication needed for current operations and resources yet permitting future updates as needed. ABB's Smart-

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