By Michael McCrae
Barrick Gold said it plans to make its automated underground Kibali Mine the model for digitisation across its group, the company announced today.
Barrick Gold updated its automation and innovation initiatives in its 2Q filing. The company’s adjusted net earnings were $154 million or 9 cents per share for the second quarter, up compared to $81 million reported in the second quarter of 2019.
The company said that its Kibali’s underground operation, a gold mine located in Democratic Republic of Congo, is managed by Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleetsystem. Operations are supervised by a single operator.
“In a world first, [Sandvik’s Automine Multi Fleetsystem] allows a fleet of up to five LHDs (Load, haul, dump machines) to be operated autonomously, 750m below the surface, within the same 6m x 6m production drive while utilizing designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes,” the company said today.
Other innovation work highlighted by Barrick was retrofitting an autonomous system to a 20-year-old fleet of ultra-class trucks.
“Initially none of the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) wanted to engage in the project, due to the mammoth task…and the technological limitations that come with that age of machine,” said the company.
“Barrick found another partner that specialized in autonomous solutions outside the mining industry and has now successfully completed a proof of concept (POC) utilizing five haulage units that have delivered over 5.5 million tonnes, faster than any other similar POC in the industry.”
With data from autonomous operations pouring in, the company is attempting to integrate operations.
“Real time data is key for the effective management of every function from parts procurement to predictive equipment maintenance,” said CEO Mark Bristow.