Working at 4400 metres and -40º Celsius high in the remote Kyrgyz Tien Shien mountains on China’s north west border, Kumtor gold mine presents a unique set of challenges for systems and people.
Kumtor’s freshly implemented fleet management system (FMS) from the innovative Mine Sense for Miners (MS4M) has met these challenges, delivering outstanding results. MS4M is currently the second largest FMS supplier in Peru, which shares a similar mountainous mining environment in many areas.
The productivity benefits of fleet management are well proven throughout the industry. Kumtor’s previous FMS solution had, with significant efforts, reached the absolute limits of productivity and did not align with its continuous improvement strategy. With this, Kumtor underwent a thorough review of the technology including a full cost/benefit analysis that contemplated safety, operational effectiveness, plan compliance and ongoing cost to support before any commitment to new investment was made.
With 100 Cat 785C and 789C/D trucks matched with 13 x Hitachi EX-3600 & Liebherr 9350 shovels, Kumtor moves more than 500,000 tonnes a day, at a strip ratio of more than 25:1 over a vast area (vertically and horizontally). It is a substantial operation with many inter-dependent value chain activities including maintenance, operations and planning that demands effective fleet management solutions to support ongoing safety and optimisation efforts.
Thorough analysis of current market solutions showed several key differentiators between products. Kumtor wanted to improve on some significant limitations and pain points with any new investment – particularly in the areas of safety, balancing truck or shovel resources in this difficult mining environment, and provision of reliable support, which the selected solution was able to provide.
Given its high altitude and corresponding difficult terrain, equipment on equipment incidents can be all too frequent. To address this, proximity awareness has been seamlessly integrated into the solution providing real-time alerts to the operator.
Optimisation algorithms are very dependent on accurate data inputs. Given this criticality, the traditional operator input of some load cycle activities has been eliminated by fusing multi-sensor signals – including HPGPS.
With this, the advanced genetic algorithm (ControlSense) is able to make better real-time decisions which honour: production objectives (cost or productivity), operational requirements (such as blending) and plan compliance (including priorities, sequencing, and digging limits).
Kumtor was looking for a highly engaged vendor who embraced evolving technology, thereby reducing costs and accelerating benefits. This would mean a rapid product life-cycle with frequent improvements and close customer engagement, mimicking the rapid advancement and cost reductions seen in modern IT technologies.
Although MS4M is a newer provider in the FMS market, it currently employs 130 engineers, technicians, and programmers and has demonstrated its level of support to be a key point of differentiation. Additionally, and given that is was founded by mining engineers and managers with extensive global hands-on mining and FMS experience, MS4M is able to understand and address requirements from both mine operator and technology provider perspectives.
Kanybek Jumaliev – Kumtor mine manager
“Improved material blending and stockpile control through a geology grade control integrated block model are well supported with an optional high precision solution.
A key differentiator with MS4M is requiring no truck operator inputs. This results in higher levels of algorithm accuracy, as a critical source of errors has been removed, resulting in over 90 per cent input data accuracy. The rapid development lifecycle has allowed MS4M to deliver integrated vehicle proximity awareness on the same platform. Using commodity hardware significantly reduces costs, and allows leveraging commodity equipment features such as video calling, voice over IP calling and accelerometers to monitor road design. MS4M utilised an agile development methodology to rapidly developed customisations to handle our specific lunch and shift-change processes effectively.
We have achieved production KPI Improvements of 3.6 per cent directly attributable and a further 7.2% per cent indirectly attributable to the new dispatching solution. Kumtor’s maintenance department has welcomed the MS4M system delivering vehicle health data in real-time.”
Pierre du Plessis – FMS consultant
“If you sweat your assets, you will reduce production costs and increase productivity. MS4M keeps expensive assets such as shovels well utilised with a next generation optimisation algorithm that honours any restrictions such as blending. The multi-tier configuration provides the mine with the power to manipulate outcomes. Although hauling distances increased by over 9 per cent, shovel hang time has decreased by 19 per cent and truck queuing by 17 per cent. Our full/empty travel ratio has increased by 3 per cent, which can be directly attributed to MS4M optimisation.
The changeover period from the legacy system to MS4M had potential to result in production losses if not highly coordinated, planned and executed. Co-existing two systems in one pit results in significant inefficiencies for both systems. With high fixed costs, any tonne lost cannot be reclaimed, with cost per tonne directly impacted. Trucks and shovels were pre-cabled and networks equipment prepared during planned maintenance. Final cutover needed 1.5 hours per machine, resulting in a complete changeover in just over a week!”
Nikita Forikov, Platforma Networks – Pit communications provider
“Our experience has shown that installation had a huge impact on FMS availability and reliability. Pit equipment is renowned for being a harsh environment, and heavy-duty mechanics not having a gentle touch. Some simple design changes for installation have resulted in significantly improved availability and simplified maintenance.
Fleet management systems are critically dependent on real time communications. Wi-Fi technology is most commonly deployed for this function. A much better fit solution would be technology designed for long distance outdoor roaming such as 3G/4G/LTE, if this technology can be licensed in the specific region.
MS4M pit equipment utilises signification buffering to reduce impacts experienced in real world data communications.”
Dan Desjardins – Kumtor president and Centerra acting COO
“The factors we considered most important in making the decision to replace our fleet management system were improvement to safety, increase in productivity and the rapid return on investment.
Integrated proximity awareness made the decision to invest in this technology self-apparent, yielding immediate safety benefits for heavy vehicles working in complex restricted benches. Since implementing on our haul truck fleet, our site has gone six months without an equipment on equipment incident, while previous averages were approximately one per quarter.
MS4M has delivered outstanding outcomes in productivity. The Kumtor mine has averaged $1.10 per tonne year-to-date in 2019, much lower than the 43-101 LOM average of $1.45. This while achieving higher tonne per day, therefore allowing us to access higher grade ore sooner.
Overall, due to the professional approach shown by MS4M and their dedicated consultants we were able to switch from the old system to this new state of the art system without losing any time. This fact therefore assured us an immediate return on investment and the foundation for continuous improvement long into the future.
I am looking forward to our continued relationship with MS4M focusing on their rapid development and enhancements being deployed including additional productivity detection, fatigue monitoring and high precision monitoring therefore directly benefiting our business. This approach is in line with the fact that we operate Kumtor with a target of zero harm and a continuous improvement mindset.
Overall I have found MS4M and their consultants to be valuable partners and look forward to embracing their technology into the future.”