To coincide with ‘Chile Day’ and Chilean President Bachelet’s visit to the UK as a guest of the government, the Newton/Prosperity Science and Innovation Program held a showcase of its innovative projects with their partners at the University College London on Friday, May 13. This flagship event was attended by Chilean government ministers including the Minister for Mining, Aurora Williams, among other guests representing the Chilean Senate and scientific and development agencies.Cambridge, UK-based analytics technology specialist IntelliSense.io and Chilean mining major Antofogasta Minerals showcased their project, supported by the Newton-Picarte Fund, to deploy a instrumentation and predictive optimisation application that will increase efficiency and sustainability at the SAG mill and grinding circuit of Minera Centinela in the Antofagasta mining region in Chile. The project will deploy Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and simulation modelling to reduce energy consumption.IntelliSense.io Founder and CEO Sam Bose and Non Executive Director Mark Mathias were joined by the AMSA team of Antofagasta PLC CEO Ivan Arriagada; Diego Hernandez, Advisor to the Board; Andrew Lyndsey, Director of Antofagasta PLC’s London office; and Marubeni MD Mokoto Toromoto, for the showcasing the project and greeting of the Chilean government delegation. The joint project was received with much interest from Williams, who expressed interest in learning how the innovative solution could be deployed on a wider scale in the Chilean mining industry.“We were delighted to attend Friday’s event to demonstrate as a company our commitment to invest in innovations that yield greater efficiencies, reduce operational expense and encourage greater sustainability, not only across the Antofagasta Minerals mining portfolio, but also throughout Chile,” said Arriagada. “This project exemplifies our efforts to be industry leaders in sustainability and optimised operations through our ‘Mine to Mill’ operational efficiency program.”IntelliSense.io technology is used to optimise processes and systems through a combination of sensors, software and simulation delivering “Optimisation-as-a-Service” with no upfront capex, fast deployment and continuous solution upgrades delivering rapid return on investment to mining operations across the world.For the project, the Minera Centinela team, led by AMSA Development Manager Cesar Jimenez, will work closely with the IntelliSense.io team to provide technical knowledge by aiding IntelliSense.io with their existing technical and working knowledge of the SAG mill, coupled with assisting the modeling team in evaluating the mathematical models to ensure the end solution meets the project objectives.“This project will allow Minera Centinela to run their SAG mill with greater accuracy in an continuous optimised state, based on the predicted material type,” said Bose. “Minera Centinela will reduce operational variability, improve energy efficiency and extend liner wear rate through the application of real-time diagnostics, simulations and predictive controls.” He added, “To have such great feedback from the Chile delegation for our work in mining innovation reinforces our belief that modern computing, communications and advanced data analytics can make a fundamental change in the operational economics of the mining industry that is critical in an ever changing commodity market landscape.”The SAG Mill Optimisation and Innovative Instrumentation Development (SMOID) project for Antofagasta Minerals, Minera Centinela Operations, is funded by the Newton-Picarte fund. The Newton-Picarte fund is a joint fund between the UK and Chile to promote scientific research and innovation in order to contribute to the economic development and social welfare of Chile. There is a designated budget from CORFO, the Chilean funding agency and through Innovate UK, the UK funding agency, to support partners.
Despite sluggish global commodity prices that continue to cause an ongoing slump in the mining industry – skills transfer and job creation have been empowering local employees at the Mopani copper mine in Zambia, thanks to a joint venture between Redpath Mining SA and Rig Resources Zambia.Since officially entering into the three-year joint venture (JV) in March 2015, employment at Rig Resources has almost doubled from 217 employees to 433. Rig Resources Managing Director Anthony Kabaghe points out that this is an impressive feat in current market conditions. “The formation of this JV is clearly the beginning of more positive things to come,” he explains. Although still employed by Rig Resources, the employees now form part of the JV partnership, which is currently comprised of 421 locals and 12 expats, who are all working for Mopani on its various shafts. “The advantages that this JV can offer Mopani go far beyond mining solutions, and will positively impact both the Zambian economy and local communities,” says Kabaghe.Redpath Mining SA MD Ockert Douglas indicates that both companies were working as independent contractors for Mopani, but it was clear that the client and the companies could benefit by combining their years of experience and resources. “Redpath Mining SA has been involved with Mopani since 2012, and is currently executing some of the mine’s capital projects.” Douglas adds that mining operations across Africa, such as Mopani, are looking to increase the use of local labour and skills. “This benefits the communities in which we operate and, in turn, the country. The opportunity arose for both companies to create a suitable business venture with many of the elements that the mining operation and Zambian government were looking for.”According to Kabaghe, the JV currently covers the Mopani project at four sites – Mindola North, Mufulira, South Ore Body and Central. “Rig Resources provides local labour and Redpath SA brings in experts to train local staff. Another major benefit that Redpath SA brings to the JV is its impeccable safety record, which currently stands at 448 days incident-free at Central shaft.”International contracting skills and expertise will be transferred during the course of the three-year contract, as Redpath SA provides Rig Resources’ local employees with hands-on training. The finance function will continue to be provided by the local team with support from South Africa, while all future capital required to meet increased production capacity will be borne by Redpath.Apart from the initial $5.4 million invested by Rig Resources, Douglas states that all future capital will be funded by Redpath’s international head office in Canada. “Our technical expertise in terms of contracting, maximising the use of mechanised trackless equipment, and the provision of a resource base of international professionals are also part of the deal,” he continues. Douglas adds that Rig Resources brings local skills and knowledge of the Mopani Mine as well as business relationships in Zambia to the table, thereby creating a full-circle joint venture that has benefits beyond just the two companies. He continues: “We believe that we need to build the current JV to a respectable level, where we fully meet all the needs of the current client. Once this is bedded down, the opportunity may arise for us to undertake additional work together.”Douglas acknowledges that the downward commodity pricing cycle has negatively affected the global mining sector, including Zambia, which is currently not earning the desired foreign exchange that it used to. “These pricing cycles come and go, and I am confident that prices should move upward in the not-too-distant future. Zambia is a country with many years of upcoming mining projects. These mining projects have assisted in growing the country and will continue to do so.” Kabaghe is upbeat about the future outlook for the JV. “Expansion continues to take place at Mopani, which is drilling more shafts in order to be sufficiently prepared for an uptake in production when commodity prices recover.”