Gold Fields and ABB pioneer digital mining in remote Chilean desert

ABB is installing its enterprise-grade digital platform ABB Ability Genix industrial analytics and AI suite to enable Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project […]
Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project, currently under construction, will use ABB Ability Genix industrial analytics and AI suite. Credit: ABB

ABB is installing its enterprise-grade digital platform ABB Ability Genix industrial analytics and AI suite to enable Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project in Chile to drive efficient, sustainable, and remote operations.

The gold and silver mine is in the Atacama Desert, among the highest peaks of the Andes Mountains with elevations of between 4,200 and 4,900 metres. It is 1,300 km from the Chilean capital of Santiago where the ABB Ability Genix suite is in a remote monitoring center for the mine.

With the technology, Gold Fields will gain data insights that will help them to increase industrial productivity and operational excellence while reducing costs. Remote connectivity will help reduce the number of people needed at the actual mine location, thus improving safety.

ABB Ability Genix combines the power of industrial analytics and artificial intelligence to integrate 25 engineering, operational, and information technology systems across different functional areas, including the mine, processing, geology and exploration, asset management, finance, legal, and human resources.

 Starting with data capture and integrating cross-functional data, ABB Ability Genix connects operational, business, and engineering systems. It then collects, contextualizes, and converts data through advanced analytics into meaningful information to unlock productivity improvements by driving smart business decisions.

 ABB Ability Genix will help visualize and analyze all information required to support Gold Fields’ reporting and drive its environmental commitments, helping the company to make a world of difference by achieving its vision of becoming the global leader in sustainable gold mining.

 “Salares Norte deploys a high level of digital industrial software and technology. This is critical to this project due to its remote location – the nearest town being Diego de Almagro, 180 km away, the altitude of the project and adverse weather conditions which make site access and fieldwork challenging,” said Max Combes, project director of Gold Fields.

“ABB will deliver a comprehensive integrated electrification, automation, and digitalization solution at Salares Norte,” said Iván Villegas, ABB’s hub product marketing manager automation, South America “ABB Ability Genix, set to be fully commissioned in record time, will help Gold Fields to use their data from operations better by combining it with engineering and information technology data for multi-dimensional decision making.”

 ABB has already deployed the ABB Ability MineOptimize solution to supply an integrated power and automation system at Salares Norte comprising six electrical rooms and a suite of process and power controls, all under ABB Ability System 800xA distributed control system (DCS). These include Power and Process Control Library and Camera Connect (the ABB video system embedded in the control platform for optimized process monitoring). ABB Ability knowledge manager is also used to manage information production through plant information management system (PIMS), alongside ABB Ability Asset Vista condition monitoring.

 ABB’s scope includes dynamic process simulator, which reviews plant control logics, reducing commissioning times and allowing Gold Fields to train operators to acquire the skills required to achieve high-quality operations.

Salares Norte is expected to produce 3.7 million oz. of gold over an initial mine life of 11 years. The open pit mine will supply 2.0 million t/y to the mill.

ABB’s Process Automation business is a leader in automation, electrification and digitalization for the process and hybrid industries. Visit go.ABB/processautomation to learn more.

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