Mastering Big Data in Mines
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.
Hexagon Mining solution selected
Hexagon Mining’s fleet management solution, Jigsaw, was among six systems evaluated by CDM to help solve these issues. After careful analysis, CDM selected Jigsaw.
“The best option was Hexagon Mining,” said CDM’s Dispatch Manager Victor Rodriguez. “The evaluation process was done in the form of a cost evaluation, as well as with a group of people who visited various mines. Most of them were in Chile and observed firsthand the Jigsaw system working.”
Less than two months later, initial hardware and software were deployed and CDM went live with Jigsaw. CDM began officially logging reports with Jview, Hexagon Mining’s business intelligence suite shortly after.
The system installation included a room for the dispatch in the highest part of the mine. This offered a full view of mine operations via visual controls. Three 52-inch screens were installed to display different dashboard views of the mine. Each dispatcher was supplied with three additional 32-inch screen displays. The smaller screens manage the roads on Jview and allow for realtime reports. The other dispatcher handles control of the operation and production equipment, including loaders and trucks.
For CDM, the core implementation timeframe from first installment to go-live was roughly three months. Like most mines, CDM’s overriding objective is to produce more while lowering costs. Armed with Hexagon Mining’s fleet management solution, CDM was quickly able to increase safe mining operations and production output, while managing cost, quality and control.
Real-time information for better decision making
Now CDM has designated maintenance dispatchers equipped with the proper notification systems, preventing maintenance issues from draining time and resources. Operators needing support or experiencing problems with equipment can speak directly with maintenance or text messages from the system, thus reducing radio frequency demands.
The primary crusher is now monitored in real time. Any delay generates an immediate alert, avoiding the need for phone calls or radios, which can sometimes be unreliable. Individual dumps in the crusher, waste, leach pads, and stockpiles are monitored and reported on. With multiple destinations, every truck is unloading exactly where and when it needs to be.
“Prior to partnering with Hexagon Mining, it had been extremely difficult for us to achieve precision in our extraction, given the size of our equipment,” said Rodriguez. “Since the implementation, significant improvements have been achieved in our ore control, as can be seen in our current production increases.
“The solution provides reliable and flexible and automatic reporting, for production, productivity, availability, drilling information, and many other aspects of the mine operation,” concludes Rodriguez.
Written by Fabiano Moura