Coal Age

MAY 2019

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30 www.coalage.com May 2019 material handling continued Geometrica, a Texas, USA-based supplier of domes and space-frame structures, has built a number of freeform and dome bulk-storage struc- tures providing dust control and pro- tection from the elements for mining companies in 35 countries. Some of the benefits that accrue from using their structures, according to the company, include the ability to be erected by local crews without welding requirements or heavy equipment, suitability for loca- tion on slopes or irregular terrain, no requirement for interrupting produc- tion during construction, and various design capabilities such as resistance to high loads on the structure apex or encapsulation of the discharge point. Geometrica said its structures' foun- dations can be fitted to the terrain and can accommodate changes in elevation of more than 140 m. Domes can be de- signed to withstand wind speeds of up to 150 k/h and an ice load of 110 kg/m 2 . Piecing It Together Digitalization's potential for improving overall operational decision-making and risk reduction has drawn stockpile management into a select group of functions that constitute a foundation for future productivity improvements. Skage Hem, vice president, R&D, at FLSmidth, recently explained how the pieces fit together: Noting how digita- lization has the ability to "disrupt con- ventional mining practices in a posi- tive manner, in the last decade, data analytics has become increasingly im- portant in order to optimize process- es," he said. "Advances in connectivity, software usability and capacity to store large amounts of data have created a range of potential applications for dig- italization, all driving productivity. Producers interested in exploit- ing digital opportunities for improved stockpile management can choose from a dozen or so comprehensive mine scheduling software solutions from ma- jor vendors — Hexagon, Deswick, RPM- Global, Datamine, to name just a few — that include either integral or optional stockpile modules; or more-specialized software packages and services that fo- cus on ore tracking and blending, such as solutions from equipment manufac- turers Metso (GeoMetso) or FLSmidth (QCX/BlendExpert–Pile). More gener- alized decision-support software also can be used to solve stockpile-related problems. Australia-based software de- veloper Optika Solutions recently pro- vided an example. Optika was engaged by a large min- ing company to essentially answer two basic ore blending questions while the company's process flowsheet was still in its design phase: How to achieve the best approach to blending, and will the selected blending recipe allow the com- pany to meet its production targets? Of main interest was the potential benefit of establishing a coarse ore stockpile. According to Optika, its Akumen analytics platform proved to be the right tool for this problem through its inbuilt scenario management and exe- cution features. Akumen's Asset Library was a single source of truth for all as- set-related data, helping identify and resolve conflicts in process configura- tions. Based on the final overall mod- el developed by the platform, it was shown that a coarse ore stockpile be- tween crushing and the plant would be beneficial from several aspects such as keeping the grade of the plant feed within the target range more than 95% of the time and enabling the mine to meet operational targets on through- put and utilization, since it decouples crushing and ore processing. Speeding It Up Effective stockpile management de- pends on accurate, timely updates of pile volume and content. Accuracy and speed of completion are necessary to make volume surveys useful, and until recently, these two criteria were often mutually exclusive or extremely cash- and resource-intensive. However, the emergence of stockpile evaluation using sensor-equipped UAVs, mobile and stationary LiDAR equipment, sat- ellite photogrammetry and even smart- phone apps has mostly eliminated the traditional practice of assigning a survey crew to walk the site and climb stockpiles in order to measure them. This reduces the obvious risk factor, dramatically speeding up data collec- tion and analysis, and avoiding the oc- casional need to shut down operations while crews were taking measurements. The latest generation of sen- sor-equipped UAVs, for example, can provide single-digit centimeter-scale survey accuracy, while the convenience and low cost of drone operation allows producers to conduct stockpile surveys far more frequently and eliminate out- side-party involvement in collection and analysis of what might be consid- ered sensitive information. The avail- ability of drones suitable for industrial use and the rising interest from indus- trial customers in drone surveying and inspection has spawned a large num- An RTK module is integrated directly into DJI's new Phantom 4 RTK drone, providing real-time, centimeter-level positioning data for improved absolute accuracy on image metadata. The drone's new TimeSync feature continually aligns the flight controller, camera and RTK module.

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