Using RFID to track ore and save costs at Stobie mine
Now that you are comfortable with a barcode scanner recording the correct prices at your grocery store, a related technology is already in use, monitoring ore being mined and sent to the mill plant. The Stobie mine, one of Vale Inco’s underground nickel-copper producers near Sudbury, Ont., is home to the first deployment of a radio frequency identification (RFID) system for tracking the movement of ore and waste. The result is automatic collection of information on ore/rock movement throughout the entire extraction line, which is available in real time to personnel across the organization.It collects process data 24/7, as field engineers monitor its day-to-day progress.
Eddie Ng, project manager at Ship2Save, describes the tracking system. “Underground you see geologists using RFID mobile handheld scanners to associate the tags that they are holding to a particular blast location. [The sturdy plastic tags weigh 100-300-g and range in length from 2.5 to 20 cm, and thickness from 2.5-to 7.6-cm.] They then throw these reinforced tags into the muck, ore or rock. Across the extraction process you see strategically positioned RFID antennas. These antennas are able to read the tags despite the fact that they are between rock, as they use a wireless form of communication to extract identification numbers from the tags.”
This sophisticated system was developed through the co-operation of mine personnel with three suppliers: Avery Dennison Corp. ultra-high frequency (UHF) RFID tags, Motorola, Inc.mobile and fixed UHF readers, and Montreal-based Ship2Save Inc.’s RFID raw material tracking software. “Our sustaining objectives at Stobie are to leverage technology systems to improve our operations,” said Mark Palkovits, senior geological technologist at Vale Inco. “The RFID system delivered by Ship2Save provides a unique ability to monitor ore throughout the extraction process. This system will allow us to better understand this process and make more timely decisions in this regard.” Dilution can be minimized and ore processing optimized because people have current rather than forecasted information.
The integration required the careful analysis of the processes involved to blast, survey, excavate and extract nickel. Ship2Save field engineers performed onsite field tests to assure that both readability and structural integrity of the tags were maintained through various read points along these processes. They also performed various RF fingerprint analysis and tested various RFID antenna configurations to determine the optimal infrastructure setup.
Sam Falsafi, Ship2Save’s director of RFID strategy & business development, says that, “This type of data streamlining is the future of industrial mobility solutions. It is a scalable, flexible, and proficient architecture that allows for an unprecedented organizational value.”
“Ship2Save has been an important RFID partner for us and is continuing to make headway with innovative applications of our UHF RFID inlays,”comments Rick Bauer, director of RFID global program development at Avery Dennison. “The system deployed for Vale Inco is a quintessential example of how this technology continues to deliver new, exciting and innovative value to organizations worldwide.”
Ng adds:”What makes the mining application of RFID unique is that it is only possible in this day and age. The system is now practicable because of advancements of UHF technology in the past one to two years and the decrease in price, the reading accuracy through the debris that is inherent with ore extraction, and the price point of tags.” It can be used in either underground or open pit applications.
The cost of the application software for such a system is $50,000, according to Amninder Singh (chief software architect at Ship2Save), plus $5,000 per read point and $5,000 per mobile handheld device, and additional service and installation charges. “Whether or not a mining operation would benefit from installing such a system depends not on the size of the organization, but on the total processing cost and market value of the ore,” says Singh. “If it produces a return on investment within a reasonable time-frame, then it’s a viable solution for an organization.”
For more information call 866-222-0001 ext.2262 or visit www.ship2save.com.
Miller Technology of North Bay has been selected to represent Champion equipment for mining applications, including graders for underground applications. Champion’s regional Canadian dealers serve traditional customers in paving, construction, landscape and municipal markets.
Miller handling Champion products
Champion’s first underground grader, a C86C compact model, is already on the job maintaining haul roads for a high-grade gold mine in Red Lake, Ont. The machine operates 1,500 m underground between the mining faces and the crusher. The wet, rough condition of the roads have exacted a cost to the mine as a result of ore spillage en route, and wear and tear on haul trucks–not to mention wear and tear on their drivers.
The Champion C86C grader is a tandem-axle 82-kW (110-hp) all-wheel-drive unit that weighs in at 7,030 kg (standard configuration) over a length of just under 6.4 m. Its compact length is an advantage for the confined underground work spaces. The articulated frame and a newly engineered front axle give it the tightest turning radius in its class, at just 5.8
m. The new “C-Series” front axle also allows 50 of steering angle left and right and 560 mm of ground clearance.
Cummins quiets diesel sets
Cummins Power Generation of Minneapolis, Minn., has found a way to quiet its Tier 3 generator sets with advanced sound-attenuation enclosures. The 100-kW version has a sound level of only 67.5 dB(A), one of the industry’s quietest.The same technology is also applied to 125-and 150-kW Tier 3 generator sets.
Generators can be ordered in steel or aluminum enclosures with either of two levels of sound attenuation.The extreme low noise levels are achieved in part by forcing the cooling air to make two 90 bends, thus reducing high-frequency sound. The enclosures also have convenient access doors for access to the engine and alternator.
Go to www.CumminsPower.comfor details of these quieter generator sets.
Partnership to develop next-generation geophysical survey
Gedex, a private corporation based in Toronto, Ont., and London, U.K.-based Anglo American plc, which is one of the world’s largest mining and natural resource groups, have established a multiyear strategic alliance aimed at developing and exploiting Gedex’s next-generation resource exploration system.
The new proprietary, multi-axis Gedex high definition airborne gravity gradiometer (HD-AGG(TM)), which is expected to be a breakthrough airborne survey technology, is already gaining international recognition from major resource companies seeking enhanced refinement and effectiveness in exploring for precious metals, minerals, and oil and gas.
Anglo American plans to fund airborne test work and to help develop applications for mineral exploration. If these tests are successful, the company plans to deploy the Gedex system among its geographically diverse group companies, with interests encompassing copper, nickel, platinum, coal, diamonds, zinc, iron ore and other metals.
The prospective scope of the Gedex technology continues to expand from diamonds to other minerals and into the energy sector following introduction of its unique oil sands application, which is expected to help identify oil pockets, understand potential reserves, and increase production and cash flow, while greatly reducing costs.
ex’s next generation AGG system is expected to provide images of subsurface density that, independently and in conjunction with other data, will provide valuable information in exploring for and delineating subsurface resources.The Gedex HD-AGG system has been designed to operate year round and be environmentally friendly.
New retread manufacturing plant in North Bay
Due to increasing demand for off-the-road retreaded tires in the construction, mining, forestry and recycling industries, Goodyear Canada Inc. announced in December the building of a new retread plant in North Bay, scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008.
The 7,400-m2 facility is designed using Lean manufacturing principles to support continuous flow of production. According to the Tire Retreading Information Bureau, approximately 18.6 million retreaded tires were sold in North America in 2006, with sales in excess of $3 billion.Retreads provide reliable service equal to, and in some cases better than, new tires. The casing of a tire is a highly engineered structure, designed to carry very high loads, which can readily outlast the original tread moulded onto it. Putting a new tread onto the original casing greatly extends a tire’s lifespan and helps to divert thousands of scrap tires from disposal each year.
Goodyear Canada is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio.