Mastering big data in mines

Chapter 1: Three challenges to overcome

Mastering big data in mines

Author: Fabiano Moura, May 2016 

Three years ago, Mexico’s Cobre del Mayo (CDM) was attempting to solve common, yet complex issues at its open-pit copper mine in southern Sonora, 21 kilometres from the town of Alamos. That’s when the company started using Hexagon Mining’s fleet management solution. The results are impressive.

Three challenges to overcome

The geology of the mine presented CDM with its first mining challenge. CDM produces grade-A copper cathode, supplied as refractory, and vein-type ore for processing into concentrate. The mine is a copper porphyry system, structurally controlled by shear faulting with mineralisation stockwork, disseminated and variable depth ranging oxidation.

Oxidation is from the surface up to 430 metres, with chalcocite from 40 to 430m. The challenge lies in two types of minerals that cannot be processed the same way. The dominant alteration is quartz-sericite and sporadic areas with intense argillic alterations, meaning that close control is essential in the dilution and the selectivity of the ore.

The next challenge to overcome was fleet management.
CDM’s fleet comprises the following:

  • Three hydraulic shovels, Komatsu and Terex
  • Two retro excavators, Komatsu and Caterpillar
  • Three loaders and three high-precision first loaders
  • 26 haul trucks (20 789s and six 777s)
  • Three drills, Sandvik, D75KS and a high-precision dozer
  • Auxiliary equipment, including dozers, graders and water trucks
  • Retro excavators, which are roughly the size of the ore polygons (deposit areas)

The potential 2,000 tonnes in one polygon make a system for dilution control essential.

Finally, tracking and reporting can be an overwhelming task.

CDM must deal with waste in various forms, from low-grade to medium- and high-grade. Constant awareness of waste type is important because the loading equipment can be working with three or more polygons simultaneously, requiring frequent changes from truck to truck. So, like any mine, fleet management is important to CDM. The complicated ore distribution means CDM’s teams of operators must use the best tools to avoid dilution and improve selectivity.

Even great systems and great tools can fall short, however, if reliable and accurate reporting is not part of the process. Since CDM began commercial production in 2006, operators had compiled reports manually in the absence of an automated reporting process. Truck operators would include their cycles from origin to destination, and the dispatcher would capture all the information from the operators by hand and compile them. CDM tracked usage times and equipment delays by hand and by radio. Real-time alerts of delays were unavailable and receiving reliable data from the drill operator was difficult. Without a system to automate tracking and reporting, valuable time was being squandered.

Explore next chapter: Hexagon mining solution selected

Story: Mastering big data in mines
Chapter 1: Three challenges to overcome
Chapter 2: Hexagon mining solution selected
Chapter 3: Real-time information for better decision making

Reporter 74 - May 2016

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