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Mikko Koivunen Product Line Manager - Mine Automation, Latin America Sandvik Mining and Construction Corp Av. Presidente Edo. Frei Montalva 9990, Quilicura, Santiago, Chile Tel. +56977484480, +5626760218 Email: email@example.com Martin Pierola Jefe de Unidad Pipa Norte Codelco Chile – División El Teniente Millán 1020 Rancagua, Chile Tel. +56 72 296863 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper gives an overview of AutoMine®, Sandvik´s solution for loading and hauling automation and presents the benefits it provides. The paper continues by giving an introduction to the semiautomated loading system at Codelco´s El Teniente mine Pipa Norte mining area. Furthermore the paper shares Codelco´s views and experiences on mine automation, expected benefits and challenges faced in semi-automated loading operation. It also highlights important points to consider when planning automation in order to maximize the benefits automation offers in an underground mining operation.
. Access Control System (ACS). The whole production sector consists of fourteen production tunnels of which nine are automated currently and the rest of the area is planned to be automated during the first half of year 2008.Increased fleet utilization resulting in increased production capacity.Improved working conditions. The system permits fully automated production cycle in case of a truck fleet. • Benefits of the system . . . . Mission Control System (MCS). AUTOMINE TECHNOLOGY AutoMine® is an automated loading and hauling system for operating automated LHD and truck fleets. the cycle consisting of automated tramming and dumping.Optimized tramming speed in each cycle. One operator can manage more than one machine. seven days a week throughout the year. present the benefits it has provided to the underground mining operations and further discuss the challenges automation poses in these conditions. The LHDs are semiautomated meaning that the production cycle consists of automated tramming and dumping but the bucket loading is done by the operator via teleoperation. .Improved production control with the ability to follow production in real time. MineLAN Communication System and Machine Onboard System. The system architecture is depicted in Figure 1. The fleet consists of three semiautomated Toro 0010 Load Haul Dump (LHD) that are operated by one operator located in a surface control room approximately 10 km from the underground operations. . The system permits one operator to manage several LHDs and trucks from a control room located remotely from the production area. AutoMine Sub-Systems AutoMine system is composed of several sub-systems: Operator station. The operation is run in three shifts.Increased safety as personnel are removed from hazardous production areas. The objective of this paper is to first introduce the AutoMine® technology and its configuration in Pipa Norte.INTRODUCTION The AutoMine® automated hauling and loading system has been operational in Codelco El Teniente mine in Pipa Norte production sector since June 2004. The automated production area is isolated by an Access Control System to ensure safe and continuous operations.Lower operating costs.
The system . The Access Control System conforms to this safety concept using both physical and electronic means and has the following main functions: restricting entry. production and fleet condition monitoring. Mission Control System The Mission Control System is the interface to external systems and it is responsible for the automated production execution and for visualizing the production area activities. provide controlled access for autonomous machines and controlling the limits of the autonomous area. In addition it has the following main functions: traffic control permitting several machines to use the same production areas.Maintenance Planning System Production Planning System SCADA External Systems Operator Operator Station(s) Station(s) Mission Mission Control System Control System Control Room Access Control Access Control System System MineLAN Communication MineLAN Communication Access Access Gates Gates Backbone Production Area Figure 1: AutoMine system architecture Operator Station The operator station is the user interface for the operator visualizing the operations via Mission Control System and Access Control System user interfaces and providing real time video and audio via monitors. The operator chair has all the needed controls for comfortable teleremote operations for bucket filling and other operations. visualizing machine positions and statuses. MineLAN Communication System The MineLAN system provides the communication links between the automated LHDs and trucks in the autonomous production areas and the equipment located in the control room. detecting unauthorized entry. prevent unplanned machine exit. Access Control System The fundamental safety concept for autonomous operations is to provide an area for automated machines which is totally isolated from manually operated machines and personnel. showing machine alarms and autonomous area statuses.
. This method of underground mining consists of at least four sets of tunnels distributed in different levels. operates using the Panel Caving Mining Method. “nivel de producción” (PL). Machine Onboard System Autonomous LHDs and trucks are equipped with the InfraFREE™ navigation system. through a vertical excavation known as an ore pass. The highest set is known as the Under Cut level (UCL).000 of the 140. No external infrastructure is needed in the production area for navigation. The InfraFREE™ navigation system is responsible for executing the missions it receives from the Mission Control System. The purpose of the UCL is to destroy the base of the mineralized block in order to cause the solid rock to crumble by gravity. Figure 2 (a) shows a general view of Panel Caving Method and (b) the typical levels in a operation with Panel Caving in El Teniente Mine: “nivel de hundimiento” (UCL). “nivel de traspaso” and “nivel de transporte”. Figure 2 gives a visual representation of the technique as practiced at El Teniente Division. have two entrance points or draw points where the Load Haul Dumps (LHD) collect the mineral and transport it towards the emptying points that connect. in turn. These draw bells.11g standard. a video/audio system and MineLAN Communication equipment. as well as all of the DET.transfers data. with the transfer level and subsequently with the main transport level that carries the mineral to the treatment plant. The Pipa Norte area. This mine is planned to contribute approximately 10. The MineLAN Communication System is based on IEEE 802. Real time video image and audio are transmitted to the operator station via the MineLAN Communication System during the automated and teleoperated operations. IMPLEMENTATION CASE: PIPA NORTE AREA – EL TENIENTE MINE CODELCO CHILE Introduction Pipa Norte is one of the mining areas that make up the underground operations of the El Teniente Division of Codelco. MineLAN Access Points (base stations) are installed in the autonomous production areas and provide radio coverage in the production tunnels for the Mobile Terminals located on the automated machines.000 tons of copper ore per day produced by the Division El Teniente (DET). audio and video in real time. all the needed equipment is located onboard the machine. The second level known as Production Level (PL) has a set of mineral draw bells that capture the mineral that begins to fall by gravity. The navigation system drives the machines from point A to B in autonomous mode by controlling the steering and speed and performs any necessary boom and bucket or box movements.
the implementation consists of a “semi-automation” because the loading of the bucket of the LHD is carried out by remote operation (from the control room located outside of the actual mine) and the transport. unloading. and the return to the mineral extraction activities are done automatically. The main process that takes place in the production level is the “mineral extraction with LHD”. and it is this exact activity that has been automated in the Pipa Norte area. Quality of Life From the occupational health and safety point of view. Figure 3 (a) shows the operator station. (a) (b) (c) Figure 3: The Pipa Norte area Semi-automation mineral extraction process with LHD Benefits of the Automation at Pipa Norte Safety. currently and in different ways for what occurs in different productive areas of El Teniente mine. Occupational Health. Typical hazards such as: . the automation applied to the LHDs executing the extraction process has had a substantial impact for El Teniente mine. 3 (b) a camara view of a draw point as seen by the operator and 3 (c) visualizes the laser scanner wall profile reading principles.(a) (b) Figure 2: Underground panel caving mining method. In practice. The Pipa Norte area LHD Operators have reduced their exposure to the typical hazards of this area to zero.
one worker can operate up to four pieces of equipment simultaneously.). with zero accidents and no hours lost during four years of operation.• • • • • • Collisions with miners and equipment Exposure to gases and dust caused by ground movement Exposure to falling rocks from ceilings Tunnel collapses Fires within the mine Exposure to bursting rocks Furthermore. permanently since: • • • • • It isolates the service personnel and equipment from the LHD operation area. the Access Control System (ACS) provides a maximum control of “Collisions with miners and equipment”. the adverse conditions of the underground mine and the limited space of the compact cabin. Without a doubt this is attributable to learning and understanding how to maintain complex electronic components and lack of any background in regards to how this technology functions in industrial scale operations. It is possible to detect a non-authorized entrance to an LHD operation area. the possibility of taking advantage of this improvement in operation hours depends on machine availability when it’s necessary. Nevertheless. It controls the access to the independent areas by means of a restricted entrance. That is to say. the risks of contracting typical underground mining occupational illnesses (Silicosis & Acoustic Trauma or Deafness) are reduced to a minimal occurrence. It avoids an unplanned exit of a machine. during the twenty hours of production there must be a maximum number of the LHD fleet operating. For personnel that carry out support and service activities in the production level. In terms of machine productivity. These benefits have allowed Pipa Norte to be considered as the safest production area. This point without a doubt is a great opportunity of improvement for this technology. the idea of LHD independent navigation in this system is that it can maximize effective work time. the Pipa Norte automatic operation has shown substantial improvements in comparison with manual operations. v/s 12 hrs. . In the four years of Pipa Norte operations. Indeed. That without a doubt generates great motivation to work and satisfaction of their labor. Four times less than what a non-automatic operation needs. There is controlled access to the independent machines. The Pipa Norte LHD operators changed. automatic LHDs have registered periods of low availability. In terms of quality of life. since it eliminates interruptions because of shift changes and time losses associated with other human interferences. for their own air-conditioned office. In fact. daily operation hours can be increased up to 66% in comparison with manual operation (20 hrs. Productivity Benefits In terms of worker productivity.
the most significant example mentioned in the prior paragraph is the LHD semi-automatic system production capacity. Finally. which is a critical aspect in the mining method for Panel Caving. with the arrival of new competitors in the distributor market and the improvement/standardization in maintenance practices. In terms of productivity.Mine Process Management Benefits The LHD automatic system has allowed Codelco to make use of precise information of the operation and vital signs of the equipment in real time. Having only one entrance to the area leads to a system standstill whenever there is need to let personnel pass through the area to perform manual activities such as secondary breaking or road cleaning in the production tunnels. Pipa Norte Automation Improvement Opportunities According to what was indicated in the prior section. which is what takes away from the competitiveness of operating an extraction process with LHD. the benefits of applying semi-automated LHDs to the ore extraction process are clear and indisputable. which depends on the machine availability. The experience has also shown the importance of having the flexibility to be able to split the area into at least two smaller zones to make it possible to perform manual activities in one zone while continuing automated production in the other. In regards to the last point. Nevertheless. On the other hand. The price of the electronic components included in the loader automation is high. avoiding eventual deviations because of human influence. Eventhough this can be compensated by longer daily operating hours the future modifications of this parameter will considerably increase automatic loader system productivity. An uncontrolled mineral extraction can generate instabilities that contribute to mineral reserve collapses and losses. which can be separated by gates from the automated area without causing interference in the whole production area. Identifying these opportunities should be a joint effort between the manufactures and the mining companies. the mining companies and distributors should focus their efforts in the maintenance and repairing cost of this production system. Challenges with Automation in Pipa Norte The isolation of the automated production area by a safety system and the safety rules prohibit entrance of personnel while operating in automated mode has posed a challenge to obtain high utilization of the automated fleet in Pipa Norte. In regards to LHD operation costs. there will be more elements to consolidate this technology. Currently. An important learning is the importance of rear entrance to the area which makes it possible to get people into the production tunnels. Information that can construct indicators to start the cycle of continuous improvement applied to the current management of the Codelco operation systems. Both . the current Pipa Norte loaders reach maximum speeds that are 25% less than a situation with an operator on board because of the system’s sensitive response to instabilities during the LHD mineral transport. use and yield. this technology turns out to be more costly than the option of having an operator on board. Ideas should be brought up to increase the competitiveness of this type of production system. there is room to improve. the Mission Control Systems (MCS) has allowed Codelco to control the execution of the production plan in a precise way.
The mine design plays a very important role in maximizing the benefits of automation and it should be taken into account when considering automation. In regards to the automation of LHD as a competitive option to apply in new mining projects. In mining automation the co-operation and partnership between the system provider and customer is vital. As a conclusion. Therefore. the benefits are maximized when automation is adapted to mining process and the mining process to automation. With the arrival of new competitors in the distributor market and the improvement/standardization in maintenance practices. which is what takes away from the competitiveness of operating an extraction process with semi-automated LHD. this technology turns out to be more costly than the option of having an operator on board. The price of the electronic components included in the loader automation is high. the current operation cost is the main obstacle to overcome. CONCLUSIONS The experiences in Pipa Norte production clearly show that automating underground mining operations can bring benefits to the operations. which affects directly the utilization of the system. there will be more elements to consolidate this technology. Also the mining processes and activities need to be well planned and coordinated to avoid any unnecessary interference.the mine layout and technical solutions from the flexibility point of view play a very important role in achieving high utilization and obtaining the benefits automation has to offer. Currently. . the mining companies and distributors should focus their efforts on the maintenance and repairing cost of this production system. It is also clear that the mind set and skills of the people have to be right to achieve the objectives with automation since the restrictions and challenges with automated production are different to the ones in manual production.
ANEXOS Anexo 1: Automine references .
Anexo 2: Automated production area in Pipa Norte .
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