One of the world’s biggest mines, Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, is switching to MineSight technology. MineSight products Axis, Atlas and Schedule Optimizer are all in different stages of implementation at the copper-gold mine.
Earlier this year, MineSight specialists, Kristin Trappitt and Verne Vice, travelled to Mongolia from Mintec’s Perth, Australia office. Kristin helped install and set up MineSight Axis, the essential tool for mine operations. MineSight Axis manages, tracks and communicates drill and blast data, and optimizes material classification.
Verne, meanwhile, presented customized training and implementation of MineSight Atlas. Introduced last summer, Atlas is a complete package for manual scheduling and stockpile blending. Fully integrated with MineSight’s 3D toolkit, Atlas offers a resource-based, true-calendar approach to scheduling and manages all material movement and reclaim. Despite being less than a year old, Atlas is already at work in several mines.
A temperature swing of some 60 degrees Celsius only added to the upheaval of a long and circuitous journey: Perth to Kuala Lumpur to Beijing to Ulaanbaatar for an overnight rest and then a morning flight from Ulaanbaatar to Oyu Tolgoi.
“Leaving Perth and a balmy 35 degrees to getting out at Ulaanbaatar and minus 25 was certainly a shock to the system,” says Kristin. “I had a travel buddy in Verne so the long layovers weren’t boring for a change.”
Oyu Tolgoi LLC is building and operating the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine in southern Mongolia. It will be Mongolia’s largest copper and gold mine, and one of the largest in the world. It started commercial production in 2013. Oyu Tolgoi LLC is a strategic partnership between the Government of Mongolia, which owns 34%, and Turquoise Hill Resources, (a majority-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto) which owns 66%.
The Oyu Tolgoi operation consists of open-pit and underground mines, a processing plant and supporting infrastructure. It produces high-grade copper and gold concentrates. The open-pit mine will be a large tonnage operation, including shovel/truck combinations, production drills, ancillary services and other support equipment.
Oyu Tolgoi replaced its previous script grade control system with MineSight Axis. While the mine’s open-pit geology team uses alternative software for its primary geologic modeling, the mine planning, survey and geotechnical teams use MineSight for their daily work in short, mid and long range planning, drill and blast designing, mine progress updates, ore control activities and reconciliation calculations.
“This created a break in geological information flow as data moved from grade control to mine planning,” explains Kristin. “Implementing MSAxis allowed for an information system that is fully integrated, thereby reducing operational risk and improving efficiencies.
“After arriving it was straight into a quick site induction before spending the rest of the day installing and setting up MSAxis and the corresponding project onto the Oyu Tolgoi network and related computer. They want to run the Ore Control process from a single desktop to help reduce discrepancies in the programs involved in the process.”
During the week, Kristin helped update the model to include new items as well as the OC project to account for the latest information from the new MineSight project being created at MineSight-Perth.
“We made updates to the process and spent more time training the main users,” says Kristin. “This led to improvements in the processing options selected, as well as allowing fine-tuning to the process. This included adding a Penetration Rate as part of the assay extraction step and interpolating this value into the model with an IDW run.”
Since Oyu Tolgoi’s production geology group would now be collaborating with the Ore Control engineers in the MSAxis Grade Control project, Kristin embarked on a new round of training. This ensured the production geology group became familiar with MineSight Axis, MineSight installation, MineSight 3D CAD, grids, plotting, model and drillhole views and MineSight Interactive Planner.
During Kristin’s second week on-site, staff was treated to a glimpse of what MineSight Performance Manager can offer Oyu Tolgoi. The newest, fully-integrated addition to MineSight’s operational product suite, MineSight Performance Manager features consolidated reporting and true mining analytics. It quickly answers the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of mine production via dashboards that offer streamlined displays for intelligent decisions. With a window on operational costs and production goals, it saves time and money.
“The demonstration via the Perth office allowed the ore control and planning engineers to see that there is a positive way forward for monitoring and analyzing the different information streams from around site that affect and are affected by production,” says Kristin.
The last few days were spent finalizing the site requests for details to be included in the MSAxis Grade Control process, as well as additional training with the geology group, says Kristin.
“Somewhere in this we even found a little bit of time to head out with the senior ore control engineer to have a look at the site, particularly the pit and stockpile locations. It was good to see how the actual process takes place on the ground compared to the computer version of mining.”
Verne Vice’s trip to Oyu Tolgoi began with Atlas training.
“This way the future Atlas users had an understanding of the capabilities and potential of Atlas before thinking of ways to implement it to suit their needs,” says Verne.
A group of largely experienced MineSight users spent three days training on Atlas.
“Once the trainees had a grasp of Atlas they began to ask questions related to their current scheduling process, which we would address during the implementation.”
During the following days, Atlas was implemented and after some customization, Verne created time-saving plans to replace Oyu Tolgoi’s current workflow.
“In the final three days I conducted a separate training session with much of the same group,” says Verne. “In this session we looked at MineSight Schedule Optimizer and the potential for it to be used to replace current monthly and longer term schedules. The last day was spent mentoring a couple of users in setting up a real monthly project.”
Both Kristin and Verne are back in the Perth office, following up on Oyu Tolgoi’s feedback. One request – that of adding the option to target reserves in the MineSight Atlas auto-slicer plug-in – will be accommodated in Atlas 1.6, to be released this spring.