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Data collection mining

How Data Collection and AI Will Change The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability

How Data Collection and AI Will Change The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability

Data collection mining

1.  Safety in Mines

Data collection and analysis, especially with the availability of AI algorithms, makes it easier to foresee possible risks that can arise in underground mines, and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with a 9% reactive maintenance rate had a recordable incident rate of .1%, while those with a 64% reactive maintenance had a recordable incident rate of 4.3%.

These statistics highlight how having reliable equipment is safer.  Interpreting real-time data on your equipment and how they interact in the mining environment keeps everyone safer in the mine.  These algorithms are preparing today for the future needs of safety compliance in safety and prevention.

2.   Mining Productivity and Profitability

Productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, and working underground creates a gap of knowledge transfer between supervisors of different areas of the mine in real-time.  Decisions are made while there are still variables which are unknown. Data collection and analysis however, makes it possible to have a global view of situations for better decision making. There are serious cost savings when you can make important decisions with a full and clear picture in mind.

— Download the Slide Deck to Learn How Use AI on Mining Data To Create Value In Less Than 3 Months —

Download the AI Slide Deck To Learn More

This AI Slide Deck prepared by Newtrax VP of Artificial Intelligence, Michel Dubois, shows how to create value with data collected in underground mines using Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

3. Data collection for Mining

Mines have started digitalizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax for example, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Being able to have the full context of any piece of data will bring more possibilities and using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines can help predict events in any given mine.

Mining will be much more calculated in the next 5 – 10 years, this means knowing exactly what is going on under the surface from to make the mine safer, more profitable and understanding how all of these elements interact with each other to have the most productive operation possible.

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT AI

How to Calculate ROI for IoT and AI Solutions in Underground Mining

How to Calculate ROI for IoT and AI Solutions in Underground Mining

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT AI

What value can a mine expect to receive from the costs associated with IoT and AI solutions? How does a company like Newtrax calculate this ROI prior to adding a thorough analysis of current data streams from the mine?

To help answer this question, we turn to Guy Gosselin, Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Newtrax to help describe his approach to ROI.

“You need to have a really good understanding of the mining process and how it functions underground. It’s important to fully understand the mine planning because everything is related.” says Gosselin.

Any company will see a return on investment all throughout their mine when digitizing their fleet and incorporating safety technology.  Some of the main areas that Newtrax can calculate tangible ROI are through:

1) Improved Processes

2) Improved Safety delivers production

3) Improved Maintenance Practices

Newtrax Technology Enabled, IoT, AI

Improving Processes Deliver large ROI

Gosselin provides a great example of an ROI calculation that was related to production drilling. ‘’We demonstrated that by getting just 10 more minutes of active drilling per shift per drill could increase net revenue by more than 1.2 million dollars a year” reflected Gosselin. These ten minutes can be easily added to each drill site by minimizing the need to access and leave the work site at the beginning and end of each shift, or by optimizing drill patterns which reduce the set up time.

Another example of ROI was calculated on the haulage process. By cutting off 60 seconds per trip for each truck (only 2 trucks were used in this calculation) there is also a potential savings of over 1 million dollars per year. An example of opportunity for cost-saving on-site is where an access loading point was cut at 90 degrees and each truck was taking 20-30 seconds on arrival and departure, wasting 1 minute per cycle per truck. Improving this represents a huge ROI over the span of a year. Many truck drivers may say their load appears full, but if there is an opportunity to improve that load with more weight within the truck’s full capacity, this will continue to add value to the investment.   

Improved Safety delivers production ROI

ROI from Newtrax proximity detection solutions, despite being a bit less obvious, can also be effectively established. The main priority of proximity detection is improving safety for both workers and equipment. This same system designed for improved safety adds production value in its inclusion of a right-of-way prioritization for ore loaded equipment.

By improving the number of loaded trips each truck makes throughout the day, in correlation with its optimized payload of ore, the ROI of Newtrax proximity detection systems can also be established.

Most importantly, by mitigating any downtime and improving safety standards with proximity detection solutions from Newtrax, costs associated with mine operations stoppage can also be lessened, leading to more efficient shifts.

Graph representing the monitoring of the Caterpillar AD45 engine condition
Graph representing the monitoring of the Caterpillar AD45 engine condition

ROI for improved maintenance Practices

IoT and AI solutions provide the most easily quantifiable ROI with countless cases demonstrating clear cost savings with preventative maintenance practices.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Research Engineer in machine learning presented a case where Newtrax sensors detected a shift in a Caterpillar AD45 truck engine condition allowing us to notify the mine that something was wrong. They found a faulty bearing, probably from manufacturing which is hard to predict and could have gone without notice otherwise. Catching the issue in the engine ended up costing only a few hours of the mechanics time and $5,000 for the bearing instead of what could have represented over $100,000 for the engine as well as a far greater loss in production time.

Every mining operation is different, therefore calculating ROI needs to be determined case by case. Even two mines utilizing the same mining method would have different variables to calculate what their ROI would be.  A competitive strength of Newtrax is having a company filled with personnel from both product engineering and mine engineering, people like Guy who are very familiar with mining operations and know how to study the mine to find opportunities for improvement and relay those to the Newtrax product teams.

Guy Gosselin was able to estimate costs associated with a truck engine fail in the middle of a shift for a specific mine. It turns out that with conservative estimates, depending on where the equipment breaks, it can cost an average of 50 000$ dollars in production loss and as much as 82 000$ in the worst case scenario. A real case study performed by Guy showed a truck experiencing a major failure in the only access road of an underground unloading point. This resulted in all of the other trucks having to go to the surface to unload, which increased wasted time threefold (x3). The mine lost ⅔ of the planned production during the period of time needed to clear the access.  

When wondering what adding IoT and AI services to your mine’s digital roadmap will offer, consider the benefits of being able to track and maintain performance, keeping your mine safe and having the ability to anticipate and handle machine failures. The added value can extend to shift plan optimization and using the collected data for targeted strategies. Contact a Newtrax expert to find out how we can work with you to achieve your goals.  

[Video] Newtrax Helps Casa Berardi Mine Exceed Production Objectives by 4% in 2018

VIDEO: Newtrax Helps Casa Berardi Mine Exceed Production Objectives by 4% in 2018

Hecla Casa Berardi, an underground gold mine in western Quebec, has engaged Newtrax to integrate its OEM-agnostic mobile equipment telemetry system (MET), delivering some major results through the data.

The gold mine has focused its digital transformation on a few key areas, including autonomous vehicles and mobile equipment telemetry, to better manage machine downtime and operator abuse. Some key improvements to the mine include:

1) Increased operating times

2) Reduced maintenance costs

Increased operating times

Since implementing the Newtrax MET system, the Casa Berardi mine has been able to quantify an increase of an hour per day of operations, meaning as much as 30 minutes per shift.  Prior to their telemetry project with Newtrax which started in 2017, they would have to wait days before addressing intermittent equipment issues.  With real-time equipment diagnostics, the technicians in the control room can connect directly to the computer of the machine and can complete an immediate diagnosis by comparing it to other machines in operation.

Reduced maintenance costs

“One of the types of data we were looking at was transmission abuse, and we started seeing that some operators did not know why they were causing these alarms,” said Sonny Melancon, Control Room Operator at Hecla Casa Berardi, “The operators were trained and the change in practices have resulted in hardly having any transmission abuse at all. There has been a decrease of 50%.” After 9 months the mine is saving 7.8% in maintenance costs per ton of material hauled.

Mobile Equipment Telemetry is just one aspect of what can be a full and complete digital integration. Contact us to find out how we can work with your KPIs to plan your custom integration.

How Newtrax can help your journey with AI in Mining

How Newtrax can help your journey with AI in Mining

Image courtesy of Mining Magazine, "Live and Learn" article by Carly Leonida.

Michel Dubois, Vice President AI for Newtrax has been making waves in Artificial Intelligence for the mining industry.  He will be speaking in Quebec City about real-time data validation through artificial intelligence in underground mines.

When:             Wednedsay, November 21, 2018

Where:            Centre des Congrès room 306-B

Time:               2:50 PM

The Quebec Mines and Energy conference is an exciting platform for industry professionals to come and learn about AI in mining.  It’s an emerging topic, getting a lot of attention as the market is adopting technologies to improve safety and processes for the future of the industry.

The following is an excerpt from Mining Magazine called “Live to Learn” by Carly Leonida, Mining Magazine Editor on why machine learning and predictive analytics are so important to the mining industry. Carly explores algorithms, quality data, where to start and lessons to learn.

“Another company making waves in the machine-learning space is Canada-based Newtrax Technologies. The firm is developing an expertise in data quality for machine learning (specifically for underground mining) to improve predictive maintenance and shift optimisation with techniques for detecting and measuring problems with unstable input variables like sensor failures, data integrity, conflicting data, biased data, sparsity, business conformity, outliers, high cardinality, or out-of-order and out-of-date data.

Michel Dubois, vice president of QA at the company, and his team believe that one of the main lessons that miners could learn from other industries is about the value of collecting quality data for training machine-learning algorithms.

“We have seen many other industries, like the internet companies for example, where data collection started much earlier, build enormous value out of the information collected through time. By starting data collection now, miners are building up value for tomorrow,” he says.

Newtrax’s solutions collect data across customers’ underground operations using an IoT-enabled sensor network to create what it calls “an underground mining nervous system“. This includes measuring KPIs in real time for drills, trucks, bolters and LHDs with coverage all the way to the face and without the need for operator input. This passive method of data collection enables the identification of productivity bottlenecks and early warnings for safety, health and environmental hazards. The power of machine learning lies in connecting real-time data from vehicles, personnel and the underground environment. Customers host their data in a Newtrax server on their premises before passing it to Newtrax for processing.

Dubois, who is currently studying data quality for machine learning as part of his PhD in engineering, explains: “Scalability and precision [in machine learning] depend mostly on computing power and quality of data since a large number of algorithms are shared publicly. Also, it is common to hear in the machine-learning industry that 75% of the effort involved in a project is spent on data gathering, cleaning and transformation (the remainder effort is spent on algorithms and infrastructure). That is why Newtrax has decided to specialise in data quality for machine learning.”

Since March 2017, Newtrax has been working with the Institute for Data Valorisation (IVADO), Canada’s largest researcher consortium in data science, artificial intelligence and operations research. Their combined focus is on machine-learning pilot projects for underground mines using open-source algorithms.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, research engineer at Newtrax, explains: “Newtrax has constant interactions with IVADO. For example, one project that we are currently working on with Professor Samuel Bassetto is about the visualisation of complex data to help understand trends and logics in apparently random data.

“An example of an application of this is in predictive maintenance where, given the input of a hundred sensors, we are trying to find out signs of defects in different mechanical parts. This kind of project helps us figure out which sensor combinations are more indicative of the different possible failures, so that machine-learning algorithms can predict more types of vehicle failures.”

Another key area of research for Newtrax lies in harnessing the benefits of machine learning for short- to long-term planning at underground operations.

Campeau is leading the project. “The mathematical model for underground mining that I have developed during my PhD studies provides the tools for optimisation of mine planning given fixed inputs,” he explains. “The combination of machine-learning techniques with such a model will allow for a greater precision and reliability in these fixed assumptions.”

“For example, say that a round has to be drilled in the next shift in a given ramp. A fixed assumption could be to plan for the drilling activity to last the average drilling time of 3.5 hours. Machine-learning techniques on the other hand could use information like the level of experience of the miner drilling the round or the rock conditions in the area to predict that the drilling will actually last closer to five hours. In turn, this prediction could be used to optimise the whole planning accordingly.”

To read the rest of the article click here. Be sure to sign up to Mining Magazine for the relevant news for the mining industry!

Mine Evacuation Best Practices

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Best Practices for a Safe Underground Evacuation

Mine Evacuation Best Practices
Photo Credit: https://www.workplacesafetynorth.ca/news/news-post/mining-safety-report-new-heat-stress-standard-released-ontario

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations face is visibility of events happening underground from the surface. When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

Newtrax recently spoke to Michael Place, Unit Manager at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, about the best practices to follow during emergency evacuations. Michael has spearheaded the implementation of the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system at Granny Smith and will be speaking about the benefits of this digital system at the upcoming IMARC 2018 conference in Melbourne.

***

Newtrax: What types of dangers are miners exposed to underground that  could trigger an emergency evacuation?

Michael Place: When it comes to dangers facing miners underground, the most terrifying would be fire. Operating diesel powered equipment in a confined space can deplete oxygen when fire and smoke break out. Some other triggers of an emergency include, but are not limited to, seismicity (underground earthquake), fall of ground, unintentional initiation of explosives, any personnel medical emergency, gas intersection, water inrush, vehicle vs vehicle collision and so on.

 

Newtrax: What are the first 3 things personnel working underground should do when an emergency has been announced?

Michael Place:

  1. Park up equipment off main travel ways
  2. Make their way to the nearest refuge chamber
  3. Maintain radio silence to allow the airways to be clear for communication to the incident scene

 

Newtrax: What are the most important things to think about during an emergency underground?

Michael Place: Accounting for all personnel and if there is an injured person, getting them to the surface as quickly and as safely as possible.

 

Newtrax: How are emergencies in underground mines different from any other emergency alarm?

Michael Place: The sheer size of an UG mine adds a layer of complexity to an emergency. Accounting for personnel and communicating from above ground to underground are some of the hardest things to manage. Generally, the assistance required in an emergency comes from above ground through the form of a medical professional or the emergency response team (ERT).

 

Newtrax: How does technology enable emergency evacuation to be safer?

Michael Place: Accounting for personnel underground without the use of the radio allows the radio to remain clear for communication to the incident scene. Allowing real time tracking of personnel gives the incident controller data like never before to focus on the incident at hand.

 

Newtrax: What kind of advice would you give to other underground mines about best practices regarding safer emergency evacuations?

Michael Place: When it comes to enhancing safety UG during emergency evacuations, the most important aspect is getting all personnel out from UG or to a safe location in a safe manner, as quickly as possible.

Best practice now combines multiple technologies including stench gas, voice over alarm and the Newtrax Evacuation system to ensure communicating to all personnel that an emergency in in place is done as fast a possible. Investing in technology to enhance safety in UG mines ensures everyone goes home safely every day.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Underground Mine is the Future

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Will underground mining replace surface mining in the future?

Underground Mine is the Future

A wave of influential factors – including economic, political, environmental and technological advances – strongly suggest that underground mining will be the miner’s method of necessity in the not-so-distant future.

Mineral explorers and project developers are increasingly unable to find economically viable deposits with a proven plan for open-pit mining operations. Many companies currently operating surface mines will be looking towards brownfield underground operations to expand operations and extend mine life.

This, however, is not the entire foundation for the future of underground mining.

Emerging economies across the globe are growing their middle-class populations in bustling urban centers, putting ever-increasing demands on mining operations to produce the raw materials that make modern society possible, from infrastructure to consumer goods.

However, while consumers want a new car, a television and even renewable energy infrastructure, they tend to no longer accept the environmental and social costs that surface mining has on their communities. Policymakers and neighbors of mining operations vocally reject the visual impact of an open-pit, a waste dump and the destruction of habitat it brings during construction and operations.

“They are unwilling to accept the loss of farmland, the possible impacts on ground and surface water, loss of recreational space or the noise and traffic issues stemming from truck traffic associated with surface mining,” according to the research. “Underground Mining for Meeting Environmental Concerns – A Strategic Approach for Sustainable Mining in Future.”

The pioneering work of Newtrax is eliminating the current digital divide between surface mines and underground mines to make operations safer, environmentally sustainable and more profitable.

Big Data is helping to reach ore deposits more economically

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are helping miners reach underground ore deposits more economically.  Digital twinning, first created by NASA, allows geologists and engineers to develop predictive work models using real-time data from the field to test out production scenarios before they are implemented, leading to productivity and environmental improvements.

Real-time data improving productivity

Rio Tinto generates 2.4 terabytes of data every minute from mobile equipment and sensors at its  16 mines, 1,500km of rail, three ports around the globe. Data-driven precision mining powered by machine learning will make the mining industry more profitable.  The data helps miners know how much of the ore has been extracted and which direction it has traveled – key performance indicators vital to driving improvements in the mine. This can be especially helpful in block caving, an efficient underground mining method that uses gravity to force ore to strategic draw points below. Other miners are reducing fuel and energy costs by using smart machines to sort mined material based on set criteria defined by real-time analytics.

IoT technology is making underground mining safer

Working deep within an underground mine is dark, wet and inherently hazardous. Having initially adopted a ‘fast follower’ approach to IoT technology, the notoriously risk-averse sector is finally waking up to the fact that data is now, arguably, its most precious commodity, with 40% of mining businesses now expecting to leverage the technology within the next 12 months.

IoT has the potential to improve safety, automate machinery operation, facilitate predictive rather than preventative maintenance, improve traceability and harness real-time data and analytics.

Equipment performance and maintenance

Unplanned downtime is very costly to mining operations. Mobile equipment sensors give miners real-time health checks of their equipment, including temperature, speed, and vibration. This allows operators to predict when to schedule planned maintenance. In underground room and pillar settings, this can keep an operation in continuous production, avoiding costly shutdowns.

The ability to access this data empowers mining companies to understand the precise manner in which their machines are being used, how well each individual machine is functioning, and can offer predictive suggestions to increase both productivity and profit.

The data mining of today is literally setting the groundwork for the next-generation underground mine that will be powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning capable of producing incredibly productive operations that protect human life and the environment.

Learn how Big Data, IoT, and Predictive Maintenance can help you?

Contact a Newtrax Expert to answer all your questions on how our custom solutions can integrate seamlessly with your underground mining operation.

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

Using Technology to Increase Safety during Mine Evacuations

One of the biggest challenges underground mining operations deal with is visibility of events happening underground from the surface.  When monitoring an evacuation situation, this limitation is even more pronounced when ensuring miner safety during an emergency.

The team at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine recently decided to change this by using technology to increase safety.  Newtrax was engaged to provide an underground personnel tracking system using their enabled cap lamps.

Through the Newtrax enabled-cap lamp technology, the Granny Smith Mine was able to improve:

  1. Safety
  2. Performance
  3. Profitability
  1. Improved Safety

The technology incorporated into the Newtrax enabled cap lamps transform the lamp into more than just a Personal Safety Device, it is an integral part of a mine evacuation system. Where the limitations of communication through two-way radio make it difficult to be 100% sure of the miners’ safety during an emergency, the Newtrax Evacuation Notification system is able to position each team member underground in real-time.

All existing Cap Lamps at the Granny Smith Mine were replaced with the Brando Corded and Cordless Cap Lamps with Newtrax Safety Features and a High-brightness Light. This allowed Granny Smith to integrate with the Newtrax Evacuation system which sends an emergency message underground to every cap lamp. When activated from the surface, the lamp lights flash, notifying all employees that an emergency has been initiated. They set up their system to work in parallel with their stench gas system and their voice over alarm.

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows Supervisors and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to quickly determine the location of all employees below the surface, improving safety.

  1. Improved Performance

Emergency drills are important, and they take time and resources to effect, ensuring that all personnel are accounted for while handling the incident. Mines rely heavily on two-way radio for communication, and in an emergency visibility can be lost when the understanding is only as good as the radio calls made to and recorded on the surface.  

The first ever Newtrax Evacuation test was conducted at Gold Fields’ Granny smith mine on July 31st, 2018 through an underground mock emergency exercise. This is the second time worldwide that the Newtrax Evacuation system was adopted in its full capacity, and the hardware functioned seamlessly.

These systems allow the Emergency Rescue Teams (ERT) to know exactly which miners are in which refugee chambers in the mine, and refocus their energy on those who have not yet made it to their chamber.

  1. Increased Profitability

The Newtrax Evacuation system allows for effective and accurate safety drills. Using Newtrax technology reduces the time and resources needed to effectively execute and complete the drill, leaving more time for production.

The result of setting up the Newtrax Evacuation system in the Granny Smith mine was evident: improved safety, performance and profitability during an evacuation drill. Due to the safety features that the Newtrax enabled cap lamps offer, additional features can be added on to the software as required. These include vehicle proximity detection and full mine employee tracking and positioning through an expanded Newtrax Minehop network.

Talk to an expert today on how to best implement the safety measures your mine requires today.

Improve Safety, Performance and increase Profitability.

Have a Newtrax expert contact you to learn how our Custom systems can integrate into your current infrastructure.

Future of mine safety

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

The Future of Mine Safety and Profitability through Data Collection

Future of mine safety

“I think that what we are doing right now at Newtrax is defining the future needs of the mining industry.” Louis-Pierre Campeau, an AI expert with Newtrax Technologies said while describing his role and its impact on mining.

Campeau was the subject of our recent blog on  “How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s biggest Challenges”.  Since his role and expertise will have such a huge impact on how the mining industry will conduct business in the future, we took some time to sit down with him and talk about his personal journey, and where he sees his work impacting the mining industry over the next 5-10 years.

  1. Future of Safety in Mines
  2. Future of Mining Productivity and Profitability
  3. Future of Data collection for mining

The Mining Industry is very niche, what inspired you to branch off into Mining Engineering?

“I always knew that I wanted to go into engineering, but I wanted to do something different and unexpected.” Said Louis-Pierre who took Mining Engineering with Polytechnique. He has found the mining industry to have become much more of a passion than expected.

The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them...

1.  Safety in Mines

How will the algorithms you are developing impact safety for the underground mines of the future?

“The new reality will make it easier to foresee possible risks and prevent them.  Predictive maintenance would be the best example of this” explained Campeau. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, companies with a 9% reactive maintenance rate had a recordable incident rate of .1%, while those with a 64% reactive maintenance had a recordable incident rate of 4.3%.

These statistics highlight how having reliable equipment is safer.  Interpreting real-time data on your equipment and how they interact in the mining environment keeps everyone safer in the mine.  These algorithms are preparing today for the future needs of safety compliance in safety and prevention.

2.   Mining Productivity and Profitability

How do you see the shift toward technology impacting the future of Underground Mining profitability?

Louis-Pierre explains how productivity in mines is lower than in other industries, that working underground creates a gap of knowledge transfer between supervisors of different areas of the mine in real-time.  “Decisions are made while there are still variables which are unknown. Solutions like what Newtrax offers makes it possible to have a global view of situations for better decision making.” There are serious cost savings when you can make important decisions with a full and clear picture in mind.

3. Data collection for Mining

Once mines are collecting data and digitizing their systems and fleets, what’s next?

Mines have started digitizing their fleets and collecting data.  This is where data contextualization comes in. Through the fleet and network agnostic systems at Newtrax, the data collected can be connected and contextualized.  Louis-Pierre explains “Being able to have the full context of any data will bring more possibilities. Using trends and algorithms trained by multiple mines to predict events in any given mine.”

Mining will be much more calculated in the next 5 – 10 years, this means knowing exactly what is going on under the surface from to make the mine safer, more profitable and understanding how all of these elements interact with each other to have the most productive operation possible.

Digitally transform your operation today!

Speak to an expert about how with Newtrax you can monitor data in real time, improving Safety, Productivity, and Maintenance.

How Big Data is Solving Three of Mining’s Biggest Challenges

How Big Data is solving three of mining’s biggest challenges

Blog_BigDataSolvingMiningChallenges

Advancements in Industrial IoT systems have made data collection in hard to reach places such as underground mines more accessible than ever before. Thousands of sensors can now automatically upload millions of data points, revealing potential insights that were previously unattainable.

The pioneering work that Newtrax is investing in to collect this data is on the forefront of the digital transformation that the mining industry is going through, helping mining companies around the world solve their three biggest challenges:

  1. Increasing Safety while optimizing productivity
  2. Reducing costs
  3. Reducing waste to increase sustainability

However, while invaluable, all of this data can quickly become overwhelming.

To sift through the data-noise, Business Intelligence (BI) analysts can interpret past data to understand the historical performance of a business, while Machine Learning (ML) algorithms can analyze the past data (trends or patterns) to make future predictions.

Louis-Pierre Campeau, Ph.D. candidate and expert in mining optimization joined Newtrax to help us do the latter.

“If you’re on the sidelines waiting for the right moment to enter the world of Big Data and Machine Learning, you could easily get left behind,” Campeau said. “The bigger the datasets you start building now, the better equipped your Machine Learning algorithms will be five years from now, giving early adopters an incredible competitive advantage.”

For a typical large-scale operation, the mine accounts for a third or more of total operational cost. Some mid- to late-stage mines can expect capital and operational costs to double in the next five years as they navigate geological, operational and regulatory challenges.

That’s why operators of Tier 1 assets are accelerating their investments in data collection and analysis capabilities to be better prepared for the wave of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

The Big Data collected underground through IoT systems will solve mining’s biggest challenges in the following ways:

 

1. Through the data collected from people working underground, Machine Learning algorithms will be able to clearly identify trends in dangerous and hazardous situations based on past behaviour and incidents. This will enable mine management and the Health & Safety departments to take preventive measures to significantly reduce the risk of accidents and fatalities underground.

2. The data collected from mobile equipment, such as tire pressure and engine performance, will enable the prediction of maintenance so precisely that time and cost associated to unplanned maintenance will be significantly reduced, or even practically eliminated. The better we can predict the previously unpredictable, the more productive the mine will be.

3. The environment, such as water, ground and gas levels, are also very powerful data points that can enable the mine to significantly reduce waste and mine with precision. By collecting, analyzing and interpreting historical data on the environment, underground mines can increase the safety of their workers and significantly reduce waste for a more sustainable mining operation.

_________________

Is it time to go Big Data?

Big Data is, well, really big. It can be overwhelming for companies to determine where to start. Newtrax is well-positioned to provide the services, the technology, and the coaching to guide mining companies on their Big Data journey. Our staff of engineers, technology experts, and data scientists are here to help you become the industry’s next data-driven underground mining operation.

Using Big Data will help your underground operation.

Get in contact with a Newtrax expert.  Learn more about how Big Data can increase safety, reduce costs and increase overall sustainability.

Shedding Light in Underground Mines

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Shed Light in The Darkest Spots of Underground Mining?

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence: Will AI Shed Light in The Darkest Spots of Underground Mining?

The mining industry is being transformed by technological advances in both standard digitization and artificial intelligence (AI). Digitalization in safety and production allows mines to work more efficiently, saving hours of labor and operating costs. In many of the world’s largest companies, artificial intelligence is currently being utilized and integrated into almost all aspects of the job.

Mining technology is advancing at an exponential rate and proving itself to be irreplaceable in production and operations management. As this technology merges with our daily lives there are a number of common concerns that must be addressed.

Since the introduction of self-driving cars, experts and consumers have questioned the safety of allowing artificial intelligence to replace humans. The consensus seems to have emerged that these technologies can be more accurate at assessing risk than a human being and can even be better at resolving the situation. Despite the benefits, there are a handful of concerns from industry managers and executives about their implementations.

When addressing these concerns, however, we find optimization of productivity as a major benefit of implementing an AI system. It can help by suggesting the most effective ways to manage:

  • Personnel
  • Maintenance
  • Emergencies
  • Geotechnical Mapping

We had the opportunity to interview Jean-Marc Rousseau, the Director of Technology Transfer at the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO), our newest partner.  He gave us an inside look on how AI will progress in the future and how the mining industry can implement these new technologies.

Newtrax: How is AI being regarded within the mining industry?

Jean-Marc: I look at it from this perspective: we are now able to have autonomous vehicles running in cities without a driver. Because of this I certainly can foresee in the future that new mines will be operating completely automatically, with self-driving vehicles. There will certainly be someone in control above ground, but there will fewer miners underground. If a self-driving car can be trusted on the streets of a city, machinery should also be trusted to drive through a mine.

AI is also able to solve many common productivity problems that arise in a mine. For example, there are many hours of work that are lost when a machine breaks down. One thing that AI could do, with enough data, is it could predict when equipment will need maintenance. This will help companies by saving them time and allowing them to fix problems before they happen.

Newtrax: What are some misconceived notions people in the mining industry have about AI?

Jean-Marc: Not everyone understands AI in the same way. Most people have limited knowledge but the most important thing to understand in AI is what we call “deep learning.” Deep learning, simply put, is when the machine learns by example.

An expert in the field can help the AI machines learn by giving them examples of different situations, and then the machine will copy what it was taught. This is how self-driving cars learn how to drive and how Google Translate learns languages.

Deep learning is what will enable mining machines to make real-time decisions. They will learn what to do through simulations and will be able to react appropriately just as an experienced operator would.

Newtrax: What is the ROI that mining companies should keep in mind when considering the implementation of AI technologies for an underground project?  How does the AI help make decisions easier?

Jean-Marc: To start, it possible for AI technologies to learn geographical mapping. It can learn where a company is most likely to find mineralization in exploration phases. It is able to analyze a map and if it has enough data, can learn from where experts were successful in previous attempts.

AI can also help companies by saving them time and money in operations. It will look at the data and make quick, effective decisions. This will help companies cut downtime of machinery, keep productivity high, and help mitigate unpredicted events.

Newtrax: Where does the responsibility lie for researching and providing AI technologies in the mining industry, in regards to the private sector and other academic or research institutions?

Jean-Marc: I think the mining industry must get involved. The software is publicly available for anyone to use. There are even AI scientists that have released their own software and algorithms. The only thing that is not public is the data that these AI machines must learn from. This is how the machines will learn how to be effective and make good decisions through the deep learning the data offers.

So educational institutions can help mining companies if it is a partnership. You can’t have one without the other.  We are able to come up with algorithms that will help these companies but they mean nothing without having the data to implement.