Operating Strategies - June 2017

Survey: Miners Plan to Spend More on Digital Technologies

Four out of five mining and metals companies expect to increase their spending on digital technologies over the next three years, with more than one-quarter (28%) planning significant investments, and almost half (46%) citing digital as the biggest contributor to innovation, according to new research from Accenture.

Based on a survey of approximately 200 mining and metals executives and functional leaders worldwide, the Digital Technology in Mining report shows that the convergence of information and operational technologies (IT/OT) and the adoption of cloud computing are advancing the digital agenda, prompting the need for more-stringent cybersecurity measures.

Mining and metals executives said their companies have applied and will continue to apply digital technology over the next three to five years predominantly in mine operations, but also in exploration, mine development and other areas. Most of the investments in mining operations target robotics and automation, named by 54% as a top spending area, along with remote operating centers, drones and wearable technologies, each at 41%.

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Operating Strategies - May 2017

Breaking Boulders in Top Burden

Stemming is widely used to ensure that a loaded borehole achieves optimum blast results, but the practice can leave large boulders unbroken in the upper layer of burden. The authors explore several proven methods for boulder-busting using explosives.

An explosive detonation releases a large amount of gas pressure in a borehole that, with proper design, is contained and forced to do maximum work horizontally away from the borehole. The main method to ensure the blast does not lift upward, causing minimal fragmentation and up to a 6 decibels (dB) increase in air overpressure, is through the use of proper stemming material and length. Stemming is a double-edged sword leading to better fragmentation of the face, but also with increased boulders from the top burden (see figure below) in the stemming zone of the blast. This can cause problems if the boulders are too large to be handled with the digging equipment or cannot be effectively cast with the overburden.

There are many ways to break these boulders with explosives; however, it is always better to break the boulders in the blast or prevent these boulders from forming during the blasting process rather than having to break them in the muck pile after the blast.

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Operating Strategies - April 2017

All-in Gold Costs are Coming Down, and Here’s How Technology Can Help

During the three months to end-December 2016, most of the major gold mining companies reported a reduction in all-in sustaining costs, or AISC, compared with the previous quarter. Supported by the implementation of asset restructuring and improvement initiatives throughout the year, the gold majors managed to reduce AISC on the basis of both a quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year analysis.

The top 19 publicly listed gold companies that reported AISC produced gold at a weighted-average cost of $868/oz, slightly lower than the $889/oz in the third quarter, according to data from the SNL Metals & Mining database, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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Operating Strategies - March 2017

Making a Dust Control Investment

Since it was established in 1991, Golden West Industries has steadily built a business solving dust problems, and it’s now recognized as a leading provider of custom chemical solutions for the mining and material handling sectors. The company specializes in dust control products for stockpiles, open areas and unpaved roads. They also have specialty chemicals for freeze conditioning and to improve material flow.



Before and after photos demonstrate the importance of dust control programs, which improve regulatory compliance and save money.

“Essentially, we have grown to become a turnkey dust control solutions provider including all facets of products and services and personnel either located on site or off site,” said Jason Pierce, vice president-global markets, Golden West Industries.
Today, Golden West Industries has five offices and warehouse facilities in various parts of Chile and Peru. “We have expanded our presence in the Pacific Rim with new offices in Mongolia, and a sales team working with miners in Russia and China.” The Golden West client roster is impressive, Pierce explained, and it includes many of the large metal/nonmetal, coal and industrial operations worldwide. They have acquired a number of new customers in Africa and Asia.
Miners have experienced remarkable success with the Chem-loc 200 series product around crushers and conveyor systems, while the company’s Chem-loc 400 series product works well for stockpiles and open areas. For haul roads, Golden West recommends it flagship product, Pennz Suppress D. They also have dust control/stabilization products for non-active areas. Today, the company is developing new products for the mining business.

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