Saturday, 15 August 2020
Presentation Review: Natascha Viljoen, Group Head of Processing, Anglo American
Austmine Limited
/ Categories: Articles & Editorials

Presentation Review: Natascha Viljoen, Group Head of Processing, Anglo American

Austmine was pleased to welcome Natascha Viljoen, Group Head of Processing at Anglo American to the Austmine 2019 ‘Mining’s Next Horizon’ Conference & Exhibition.

Natascha is responsible for Group Processing, a global function which provides specialist technical support and service for safe and sustained operational performance, to optimise resource and capital utilisation and to realise value from Anglo American’s endowment through implementation of step change technologies and processes.

Natascha’s presentation focussed on ‘Executing Innovation: Going Beyond the Ideas’ and she presented the programs and priorities that Anglo American are implementing to reach their purpose – to ‘re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives.’

She began by inviting people into a new world of the future, where communities comfortably co-exist with mining, as they do now with farming. In order to reach this utopian outcome, the underlying theme throughout Natascha’s presentation was the need to understand the multi-dimensional nature of various technologies coming together, and to utilise this to its full capacity.

Natascha then presented Anglo American’s building blocks for the future, emphasising that collaboratively we can reach these outcomes. Throughout her explanation of these areas, she mentioned that much of the technology exists, but the key is integrating it into one efficient system.

Anglo American's FutureSmart Mine

Anglo American's FutureSmart Mine

The Concentrated Mine
This aims to bring about a step change in capital intensity, utilising precision mining techniques to use minimal energy and water, and create greater efficiency for operations. Such programs Anglo are concentrating on in this space include:

  • Coarse particle recovery to reduce energy and water usage, while not diluting grade
  • Bulk ore sorting to eliminate waste early
  • Precision classification to reduce re-work and open up additional capacity
  • Ultra-fine recovery, as they still lose up to 15% of recovery due to mineral particles being too small

The Waterless Mine
Natascha introduced the next building block by imploring that we must look at the world through a lens that the public often does, categorised by mining’s negative impacts, such as the recent tailings dam tragedy in Brazil.

To tackle this challenge Anglo American are engineering a stable dry stack from wet tails using an engineering and construction methodology, rather than a placement style approach. This approach utilises CPR sand to create channels for drainage. The water can then be recovered for additional use, while the construction can also be designed for future repurposing of land use.       

The Modern Mine
The first part of the modern mine approach introduced by Natascha focused on delivering value through smart energy, focusing particularly on renewables. They quickly realised that considering renewables in isolation doesn’t stack up financially or practically, but as a system it does.  

The next is working towards zero harm and re-defining the risk profile of operations. Anglo is 102 years old as a business and in each year of their operation someone has died underground. This isn’t good enough and change is needed.  They are approaching this challenge through a technology lens, modernising and mechanising many parts of the underground environment. This includes remotely operated explosives and equipment, continuous cutting hard rock machines and swarm robotics (small, self-organising intelligent machines).

Natascha finished by saying that initially they didn’t realise how much value their current FutureSmart Mining initiative could create for communities, to tackle environmental and social impacts of mining.

They now understand that they are here to change the nature of mining and to take their constituents on this journey with them. Strength will come in partnerships and the realisation of the multi-dimensional aspects of technologies coming together.

View Natascha’s presentation slides in the member self-service portal. If you require assistance with login details contact

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