Monday, 13 July 2020
Using real-time data to maximize underground mining efficiency
Austmine Limited
/ Categories: Articles & Editorials

Using real-time data to maximize underground mining efficiency

In underground mines, one of the most common areas where efficiency is lost, and by extension productivity is in the haulage process. Maximizing underground mining efficiency can only be achieved using real-time data.

It’s very difficult to load the bed of a truck or fill a bucket to its maximum capacity simply by eye. Variations in density, rock size, and the differences between development and high-grade ore make the task for loaders nearly impossible to fill a haulage truck to its maximum capacity each and every trip. 

To maximize underground mining efficiency, what is required is data and transparency. 

This is where Newtrax’s Mobile Equipment Telemetry (MET) solutions come into play. Available as both an LHD and a truck productivity solution, the MET gives a live view of loads to make sure equipment is being used to its full capacity by measuring the actual load in every bucket and bed. That information is available to the operators and fed through to the mine office through Newtrax’s IoT Hub. 

“Mines can lose as much as 30 percent of their hauling efficiency attributable to a lack of visibility. By being able to monitor the actual mass of what’s in a bucket or a truck bed, it allows operators to better optimize each load. It also allows management and supervisory staff to keep an eye on emerging trends throughout a shift and make adjustments as necessary.” 

It promotes consistency through transparency, and it allows to maximize underground mining efficiency. When trucks are loaded inconsistently, it means they’re only hauling a fraction of what they have been designed for. The real-time visibility provided by MET solutions means operators can take action to maximize the amount of material loaded into truck beds. 

Not only does it allow for machinery to be used to full capacity, it can prevent damage from excessive loading. Accurate data prevent accidental overuse of equipment, preventing premature wear and excessive equipment downtime. 

Newtrax’s MET systems work by collecting data in haulage trucks through vibrating wire sensors. These sensors work by attaching a wire between two fixed points on the equipment, and then vibrating it at a specific frequency. As the load changes, the length of the wire will change by minute, but measurable, amounts. This changes the frequency the string is vibrating. The sensor works in much the same way as a guitar tuner, where in this case different pitches correlate to different loads. In LHDs, the load is measured through a combination of pressure and angular sensors to monitor payload weight. 

The system works right off the shelf. In addition, the sensors have the advantage of not requiring continual recalibration. This means your fleet can stay in operation longer, lowering your technology staffing and maintenance requirements when compared to other technologies. 

With the high-resolution tracking Newtrax provides, a material movement can be monitored throughout a mine whenever it is loaded or unloaded. Whether that’s from an LHD filling a haulage truck, or from stope to ore pass, it’s possible to keep track of how much of what’s moving from point to point in an operation. MET also enables mines to maximize their loading cycle, ensuring they can meat productivity targets and bonuses.  

Glencore’s Matagami mine makes for a prime example of the value of Newtrax’s MET systems. Matagami has haulage trips more than eight kilometres in each direction. Because each round trip is so far, maximizing every load is particularly critical.  

The underground operations superintendent at Matagami, Christian Ngoma, said with MET, managers are able to see the hard data of what is going on in a shift, and act on that information. 

“The Newtrax system enables us, from a managerial perspective, to make decisions based on facts that are measurable, instead of perceptions,” Ngoma said. 

For the full article visit the Newtrax Website

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