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Zinc
Base Metals  
28 November 2017

Zinc major invests US$4-million on new technology

Vedanta Zinc International (VZI) announced a greenfields digitization initiative that will see a ‘Smart Ore Movement’ system built into its flagship Gamsberg project.

The Gamsberg zinc project, undertaken in collaboration with GE South Africa, will see the implementation of breakthrough systems in the development phase of the project, as opposed to waiting for the project to come online and then attempting to retrofit the systems.

The US$400 million zinc project is currently under development in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, with production schedule to begin in mid-2018.

The Gamsberg zinc project is VZIs flagship project, and one of the largest greenfields mining projects currently underway in South Africa.

The concept of ‘Smart Ore Movement’ centres on the need to ensure that all available information about the state of the mine, the quality of ore, the conditions of the processing plant and the value of the output product are not only made available to the mine management team in real-time, but that the information is presented in such a way that it allows for minute-by-minute decision-making.

GE, as a leader in the digital industrial space, will take the strategic leadership role in the partnership and with their Predix platform for the industrial internet.

This will form the integration layer for Smart Ore Movement and further initiatives such as Cyber Security, Asset Performance Management and Operations Performance Management solutions. GE will use the expertise gathered in other industries to provide seamless integration in a ‘one stop shop’ type of environment.

MineRP will be focusing on enabling real time decision making.

Firstly, through visibility by providing immediate access to information in relevant context; and secondly through insight into conditions, relationships, and trends that are not otherwise apparent.

For example, the ability to adjust the blending strategy based on real time grade reconciliation will ensure a constant feed grade to the plant.

This is achieved through the MineRP 4.0 product-set, that ingests spatially oriented data like the geology and mine designs from their source systems along with the shovel, trucks and stockpile positions from GE’s collision avoidance systems.

MineRP 4.0 will do live calculations and optimisation of the blending and grade models, to guide the contracted fleet, and provide early warning to the plant, through GE’s PREDIX platform.

"A core philosophy at Vedanta is to embrace new technologies and practices, and we welcome the opportunity to become part of the disruption revolution," comments VZI CEO Deshnee Naidoo.

"As mining companies we need to offer our employees, our communities and our investors a different future, and people-centric technology has the potential to be part of that process," she continues.

"We are delighted to work with VZI as our partners," says CEO of GE South Africa Thomas Konditi.

"Mining in South Africa remains an important industry, and as a digital industrial company, we are focused on providing integrated solutions across all sectors and mining is no exception.

"We leverage solutions from one sector or industry and apply them to another. We have deployed a similar approach in digital industrial mining.

"The objective is more than just efficiency, the quality of the ore produced is also important. Together we are transforming the entire industry and building sustainable mining and contributing positively to the economy of South Africa and the region.

"We are confident that this partnership will meet the scale, speed, complexity and other requirements of the mining industry," notes Konditi.

"The MineRP Platform is foundational to digitally transforming mining. Furthermore, the company has worked very hard over the past years to develop value-driven partnerships for digital transformation with global companies such as GE, and we’re proud to participate in this project with them," comments MineRP CEO Pieter Nel.

“This initiative is about helping the VZI on-mine teams to become more efficient and effective – it’s a story of growth and development.

"We know what challenges we need to solve to operate optimally – this partnership is about addressing those. The VZI digitalisation journey starts here - there is so much more to come," Naidoo concludes.

Feature image credit: Wikimedia

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