These eight nominees beat the field to make it to our select list of finalists in the 2013 PACE Zenith Mining, Minerals and Exploration Awards proudly sponsored by Schneider Electric Australia.
Expand Gold Mine Processing Plant
Akara Mining wished to update their SCADA assets at its Chatree Gold Mine site in line with expansion plans, in order to take advantage of rising gold prices. The site has been running Wonderware's InTouch SCADA system for 11 years.
Akara chose Ausenco to implement the expanded system. Ausenco partnered with Wonderware Australia as a consultant on this project.
The emphasis was on the communication failover strategy, intuitive operation and easy maintainability. The upgraded system had to be maintainable by local personnel, since most of the mine sites are in remote locations and it takes more than 24 hours to travel to the site.
Another important request was the implementation of Wonderware's ArchestrA HMI system, which needed to comply with the existing InTouch HMI graphic's standard, but at the same time use current industry practices and technologies.
Because the legacy system ran on a single communication channel network, Chatree Mining was experiencing some latency as the inter-PLC data exchange and HMI values were not updated rapidly enough. Ausenco upgraded the solution to a redundant GigaBit Ethernet network with redundant I/O servers.
Ausenco applied object oriented programming (OOP) to the PLC program, boosting efficiency for the batch sequences used for the chemical processes involved with leaching gold. According to Ausenco, it designed the control system for future expandability.
The control system network backbone is designed to allow future operators to insert additional network nodes and cables without downtime. The communication load capacity allows for a large number of additional PLCs and HMI stations. This expansion has delivered improved production effectiveness.
Major coal mining company in Queensland
Supply Chain Improvement Project
A major coal mining company in Queensland was looking to improve its operational effectiveness, and predict the quality of the coal product for profitable marketing.
Destined for deployment at multiple coal mine sites and ports, the solution was based on the combination of two Schneider Electric products: Ampla Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and SolveIT Software (owned by Schneider Electric) Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS) system.
The customer wanted to improve the visibility of their operations value chain from mine to port, eliminate inefficiencies in their processes and logistics and boost profitability.
To achieve this, the customer sought to capture data more accurately from the operations, attain an integrated operational overview and provide decision support for optimising their value chain. In particular, it identified the logistic chain as a bottleneck in the business.
The solution addressed the customer needs by feeding data from the mining operations in real time into Ampla, allowing accurate management and reporting of inventories across the whole pit-to-port supply chain.
The solution integrated to SCADA, Truck Haulage, Trains and Port Systems either directly or via exported data. It uses smart rules to cross-check the data from different parts of the system, to prevent data errors from entering the system.
The Ampla MES Inventory solution captured all movements of coal through the whole inventory chain. This inventory data is then passed on to SolveIT APS, where it is used to schedule movements from mine to port to optimise operations.
According to Schneider, the project is unique because a single company provides the technology suite from the control systems (SCADA) through to the enterprise-level business systems.
Mining company in the Pilbara
Rail Downtime Accounting and Reporting System
Schneider Electric worked closely with a mining customer in the Pilbara to deliver a Rail Downtime Accounting System which adapts to the users' evolving businesses.
The customer, a large iron ore producer, wanted a reliable rail downtime solution, in order to investigate opportunities for productivity improvements across the rail network from mines to port.
It wanted to replace a cumbersome and expensive to maintain internal application while retaining and improving the key performance assessment models. The new solution also had to seamlessly integrate with a variety of data gathering interfaces.
Schneider Electric's Ampla product was chosen as the core of the solution. While Ampla is usually used by miners primarily for fixed plant solutions, the company assembled a team to adapt the solution for rail systems.
The project team worked with the customer to help refine the requirements and design an effective yet flexible solution. The team focused on implementing as much functionality as possible using only standard Ampla product features in order to improve the reliability and maintainability of the final system.
The customer was able to identify equipment and/or processes that cause sub-optimal materials throughout the network.
Ludowici Reflux Classifier
FLSmidth Ludowici partnered with R&D partner Professor Kevin Galvin of the University of Newcastle to develop the Reflux Classifier, which separates fine particles on the basis of either density or size.
Intended for coal and minerals processing, the gravity-based Reflux Classifier technology has been proven with operating units in Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. With a unique tilted design, the Reflux Classifier further improves the efficiency of the recovery process.
The technology has succeeded in solving an existing processing problem by achieving the sharp separations essential in the recovery of premium, high grade metallurgical coal.
FLSmidth Ludowici expects the improved particle recovery and energy savings achieved by the Reflux Classifier will save the mining industry billions of dollars.
The Reflux Classifier was developed by combing a conventional fluidised bed with a system of inclined channels to achieve enhanced rates of segregation of high density particles, and enhanced conveying of low density particles.
The Reflux Classifier can be applied to a relatively broad range of particle sizes, and achieve higher recovery of valuable material than other water-based technologies.
In addition, Reflux Classifiers are more efficient and more compact than competing fine coal and mineral processing equipment.
Preliminary tests of the Ludowici laminar high shear rate enhanced reflux classifiers (undertaken at the University of Newcastle's RC Laboratory) have increased coal yield by up to 80% when using a laminar high shear rate regime in the inclined channels.
By increasing the recovery of fine particles, the systems developed by FLSmidth Ludowici and Professor Galvin reduce the rate of increase in energy intensity in mining, helping increase the product yield.
Adelaide Control Engineering
PhosEnergy Pilot Plant
The basic requirement was for a pilot uranium processing plant to extract uranium in the form of U3O8 from a phosphate deposit where it constitutes an undesirable impurity when the phosphate is to be processed into fertilizer.
The pilot plant was to process the ore using ion exchange methods and have a capacity of 300 tpa. The process for extracting the uranium was developed by Uranium Equities and is a world first.
The plant was modelled and designed using 3D CAD to be built within two 40-foot side-opening containers arranged side by side with a raised access way between them.
The first unit contains the reagent storage tanks and transfer pumps while the second contained the ion exchange columns and associated equipment.
Electrical and control switchboards were distributed between both containers and located to minimise field wiring. The 3D modelling enabled the plant to be designed to reduce the number of connections between containers.
This enables the containers to be unloaded side by side on any levelled area and interconnected ready for operation in minimum time.
The control system is integrated from the field to the control room, and also allows secure access by engineers in Adelaide wherever in the world the plant may currently be located.
The instrumentation in the field can be directly and securely accessed by an engineer by through Allen Bradley Flex I/O, which is connected to a ControlLogix PLC via a redundant ControlNet interface.
TiRO Pilot-Scale Facility
The conventional method of titanium metal production is a batch process that leads to up to 30 percent loss of metal as alloyed byproducts, and delivers a solid ingot product that is difficult to work without further significant metal loss.
The resulting high cost of production has prevented titanium from being deployed to mass markets such as automotive engineering and biomedical devices, despite its known and obvious applications in these fields.
The TiRO process addresses many of these issues. It uses a Fluidised Bed Reactor to significantly decrease the unwanted reactions between titanium metal and the materials of the containment vessel.
This also allows the reaction to be run as a continuous feed, rather than as a batch process.
The end product is a fine titanium powder that is well suited to working through powder metallurgy techniques that significantly reduce the costs and metal losses associated with conventional working.
T. W. Woods
Time-saving Compact Coal Transfer Chute
T. W. Woods Group has manufactured a smooth flowing low-height transfer chute being used at a busy Hunter Vallery colliery. The chute is incorporated into conveyors handling the throughput at the underground coal mine, which produces more than 1.6 million tons of coal a year.
According to T.W. Woods, the transfer chute overcomes space, spillage and conveyor bulking problems common in coal mining and coal handling facilities.
The mine team leader responsible for the chute's use and maintenance noted its advantages: simplicity, ease of installation and robust design. Installation requires four hours over just one shift to complete.
The chute is built from tough hardened steel, capable resisting wear and outlasting conventional units.
The low-height transfer chute features a conical head developed by mining specialist designers to maintain high volume high flow rates (up to 2000 tons an hour) when conveyors change direction either underground or on the surface.
The simple but tough design allows it to stand up to heavy usage: the customer has produces about 1200 tons an hour, and the throughput contains lumps up to 300-400mm.
In underground mines, as conveyors emerge from one shaft and transfer to another within a tight space, the quick 90 degree turns result in spillage and bulking up on the conveyor belts.
The chute's compact design allows it to be fitted into lower overall heights than conventional designs, operating with a separation distance between belts of 1200-1500mm.
The conical head provides a smooth transition through the turn for coal moving at typically 3m a second and dropping up to 1500mm onto a belt below.
The chute's capabilities is proving itself in the customer application, where it is used on left and right hand 90-degree turns.
Bonfiglioli Transmission Australia
Alignment-free drives benefit Papua New Guinea gold mine expansion
Bonfiglioli Alignment-Free Drives are being deployed by ThyssenKrupp at a major gold mine expanding production in Papua New Guinea.
ThyssenKrupp Materials Handling contracted Bonfiglioli to supply drives for discharge and spillage conveyors involved in the mine’s process plant expansion.
The application consists of two Jaw crushing lines operating in parallel. Each line has two conveyors; one for discharging and one for spillage.
The discharge conveyors have a design throughput of 1200 tph, while the spillage conveyors receive a small fraction of that throughput in finer ores from spillage.
The general needs of the application were for operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks per year,.
Discharge conveyors were specified with right angle bevel helical drives incorporating rigid flange couplings, backstops and fluid couplings. Spillage conveyors were specified to be shaft mounted gear motors with torque arm, with bearing L-10 life to be greater than 60,000 hrs and gear life to be 100, 000 hrs.
Bonfiglioli supplied drives of its Alignment Free Drive (AFD) configuration which cost-effectively integrates motor and gearbox.
The 2013 PACE Zenith Mining, Minerals and Exploration Awards are sponsored by Schneider Electric Australia.
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