JV Article: Hexagon’s legacy of mine technology solutions powers the future of the industry

Hexagon’s (STO: HEXA-B) mining division grabbed news headlines over the last year as it acquired Canadian automation technology company Hard-Line, was recognized […]
Hexagon’s collision avoidance system. Image from Hexagon.

Hexagon’s (STO: HEXA-B) mining division grabbed news headlines over the last year as it acquired Canadian automation technology company Hard-Line, was recognized twice at the 2023 Australian Mining Prospect Awards and partnered with Saudi Arabian mining company Ma’aden to launch the Middle East’s first digital mine.

Hexagon’s life-of-mine technology solutions will be deployed at the Mansoura Massarah mine, combining sensor software and autonomous technologies to enhance efficiency, productivity, and safety across the operations.

While chief product officer Dave Goddard says the company’s automation technologies are powering the future of mining, he points out that Hexagon’s solutions have a historical legacy in the industry.

“Hexagon MinePlan began as MineSight, which was the first ever product in the early 1970s that used a computer to analyze a mine plan and was founded by Dr. Fred Banfield, who is widely considered the godfather of mine planning,” Goddard said, adding that one of Hexagon’s current fleet management staff developed the industry’s first fleet management system in 1981.

“We have a rich legacy of these early stage and really disruptive products in the marketplace that have fundamentally changed how mining is done,” Goddard said.

Solutions in the suite of Hexagon mining technologies help mining companies optimize scheduling and sequencing with an eye to maximizing lifetime asset value and also help optimize the daily activities in a mine to ensure that the potential value is captured as actual value. 

“Hexagon has an extensive set of solutions that can optimize these subprocesses in the mining value chain, and we are now looking at how we can orchestrate across these subprocesses with a view of maximizing the value and lowering energy consumption across the entire value chain,” Goddard said.

“For example, optimizing a blast is going to have an impact downstream on how easy it is to dig, the amount of energy it requires to dig, how easy it is to haul the material, and how much energy it takes to crush it. 

So, if you get the blast right, then there is a tremendous amount of value that can be unlocked in downstream processes.  Likewise, accurately measuring the blast movement allows dig blocks to be optimized for minimal dilution and delivery to the processing plant in a manner that maximizes ore recovery.”

The modern world needs the commodities the mining industry extracts, but the reality is mines are aging and ore grades are declining globally, making it harder and less economical to extract these needed materials.

“The higher quality, easily accessible deposits have been largely depleted, so now the question becomes how do we get more efficient so that those less attractive deposits, those marginal orebodies, become economically viable,” Goddard pointed out.

“And this is where Hexagon’s breadth of offerings help our customers tie all those things together with powerful analytics tools that allow them to optimize across the entire value chain—enabling the mining industry to deliver the raw materials the world needs while reducing costs and improving safety.

“That is what we call ‘The Power of One’.”

Fatigue science evolved

Hexagon won twice at the 2023 Australian Mining Prospect Awards for its operator alertness system (OAS), the company’s solution to improve mine safety by preventing vehicle accidents related to operator fatigue and distraction.

Hexagon's award-winning Operator Alertness System (OAS). Image from Hexagon.

Hexagon OAS can be deployed in both surface and underground environments. With machine-learning image processing, it enables operators to take corrective actions as soon as the system has detected compromised alertness, minimizing would-be accidents and incidents from occurring.

“It’s very common that people will get fatigued, their eyes will start to close, and they'll drift off and have microsleeps,” Goddard said. “Too frequently this can result in the vehicle impacting a wall, a berm, or another vehicle.”

Hexagon OAS infrared cameras create a 3D map, or model, of the face and also look at the eyes and can detect the eyes closing if an operator begins to drift off.

“Our systems detect those eye closures and the fatigue levels of those operators, and when those events occur, we provide a warning alarm and vibrate the seat underneath the operator and wake them up,” he said.

Mines are also enhancing safety with Hexagon’s Collision Avoidance System (CAS).

Goddard said what makes Hexagon CAS stand out is that the operator warning can be used to drive a Vehicle Intervention System (VIS), which can take control of the machine and apply the brakes automatically if the operator doesn't take the appropriate steps to avoid an accident.

“Our VIS solution can also be deployed to remote controlled and teleoperated equipment, providing that additional envelope of safety, preventing the equipment from moving when there are objects or people in the way that the human operating at a distance might not see,” Goddard said.

“The most important thing that comes out of a mine is the miner, and we are relentlessly focused on providing solutions to ensure that, at the end of every day and every shift, everybody goes home.”

The preceding Joint Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored Hexagon and produced in co-operation with he Northern Miner. For more information visit Hexagon.com.

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