Goldcorp’s Red Lake Gold Mines (RLGM) achieved another wave of innovation milestones in 2017, supporting Goldcorp’s innovation strategy.
RLGM’s first milestone was to implement tele-remote operation of scoops from the surface in 2015. As of September 30, 2017, the scoops have now moved a total of 70,000 tonnes of material (ore and waste tonnes) equating to an average of 257 tonnes/day.
Then in June 2017, from surface level, RLGM successfully implemented the operation of an underground loci (locomotive engine used to transfer ore and waste rock material). The benefits are similar to that of operating a tele-remote scoop – improved safety by allowing the operation of loci from the surface versus underground, and improved material handling productivity, where ore and waste can now be transported between shifts. In all, this provides greater capacity for moving material, resulting in more flexible scheduling and less bottlenecking.
RLGM’s next significant achievement was transitioning one of their existing tele-remote scoops from surface into “semi-autonomous” operation in July 2017. This allows the scoop to run in auto-pilot, without an operator at the controls. An operator is still required to load the scoop bucket at the draw-point and unload the material at the drop-point, but once the operator loads the bucket, the scoop operates on auto-pilot and drives itself to the dump-point.
It may seem as if there is limited benefit to running a scoop in semi-auto tele-remote mode, as an operator is still required to oversee the operation at each end of the process – loading/unloading of the mucking cycle. However, there are ample advantages, explains Kent Cook, RLGM’s Operating for Excellence Project Manager. “There is less equipment damage because once the scoop is set in auto, it drives the exact same pattern as it’s been programmed to drive and therefore, there’s no contact of the scoop against walls during its drive from point A to B. Additionally, since the operator isn’t required on the controls when in semi-auto mode, the operator can perform other tasks from the same tele-remote station on surface.”
“And that’s just what Red Lake is planning to do,” continues Cook. “The operator will be able to run a rock breaker from the same chair, or potentially another scoop or loci as more semi-auto applications are installed. The productivity benefits will be substantial.”
Bill Gascon, RLGM Mine General Manager, is extremely happy with the recent accomplishments and continues to reinforce that RLGM can’t sit still when it comes to innovation. The need to constantly improve safety and safe production through innovation ultimately supports long-term sustainability.
RLGM will continue to look at automation and tele-remote operations to provide a more innovative mine site that enables a safe, responsible and more productive future.
To embrace the need for step-change innovation to stay competitive and deliver greater value, Goldcorp is pleased to present the second #DisruptMining accelerator challenge and live finale event on Sunday, March 4, 2018 during the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference. To learn more, visit www.disruptmining.com.