Newcrest Mining bins lengthy disruptions with cloud, IoT, and big data

Melbourne-based gold producer Newcrest Mining, together with Microsoft and Insight Enterprises, has rolled out cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies at its underground Cadia Valley gold mine in New South Wales to monitor and manage crushed ore bin levels.

The decision to deploy the monitoring technologies was made as a means to remove the manual effort that required workers physically monitor the underground crushed ore bins to ensure they did not overfill, due to the previous sensors being unreliable. Newcrest staff were also required to manually empty the bins if they ended up overfilling.

According to Newcrest digital and data science architect Gary Slater, the traditional methods that the company relied on resulted in lengthy and expensive production delays.

“The hard sensors in our crushed ore bins were failing at a rate of two or three times every month per crusher, and it often took hours to get the process up and running again,” he said.

“Over a period of six months, our Cadia Valley mine experienced 4,780 minutes of downtime due to sensor failure in one of the crushed ore bins, which equates to a significant dollar value in lost opportunity.”

See also: Microsoft Azure: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

However, since implementing Microsoft Azure IoT platform, Newcrest said an underground crushing circuit with built-in intelligence has been developed, allowing it to access data to predict the level of crushed ore in the bin and prevent the bins from overfilling or depleting at its Cadia Valley gold mine.

As a result, Newcrest boasted it was able to automate bin monitoring and achieve 85% accuracy within the first three months of implementation, reducing risk for workers and keeping production on track.

“Having continuous, accurate information about the amount of ore in the crushed ore bin is a critical component of our operation,” Slater said.

“If the level of ore in the bin drops too low, then too little ore is being fed onto the conveyor. If the bin gets too full, then we need to stop the crusher and empty the bin in what amounts to a manual process. By always knowing how much ore is in the bin, we can regulate the level to keep production high and avoid shutdowns.”

In addition, Newcrest has used Microsoft Azure to implement an open data platform that ingests data from 100,000 machinery sensors, and approximately 40 billion records, from across its international mine sites in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Canada.

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