3D software helping to discover higher grade of minerals deposits

Rio Tinto said the launch of new 3D mapping technology will give the company an advantage in the recovery of mineral deposits, while reducing costs and improving the efficiency of mining operations.

In a world-first under the next phase of its Mine of the Future programme, Rio said that system has proven it can precisely identify the size, location and quality of ore in real time by retrieving data from automated trucks and drills operating on mine sites.

The RTVis 3D software will provide the miner with accurate mapping which improves efficiency of mining activity by ensuring it is tightly focused on removing high value ore, significantly reducing both waste and operational costs.

RTVis creates 3D images of mine pit activities that previously could not be measured, with the system already leading to greater ore recovery through sharper boundary identification, more accurate drill blasting, reduced explosives, improved waste classification and enhanced dig rates.

RTVis also provides rapid feedback on the impact to equipment while another important benefit is in the area of mine planning, providing much more certainty about the nature of the ore deposit at an earlier stage of the process.

Rio’s head of innovation John McGagh said the technology would give the company a foot up in the recovery of minerals, and fits in with its drive for productivity improvements and cost reductions across its high-quality, low-cost diversified portfolio of assets.

“This technology allows us to quickly and easily view, compare and evaluate data to paint a picture of what’s under the ground – it’s like an ultrasound image of the deposit delivered in real time, something that we could never do before,” McGagh said.

“RTVis is a low-cost application that complements existing group-wide data technology in a way previously never available to enhance our mining operations. It quickly brings information to a much broader audience – from a single operator in the field to an expert team in the Rio Tinto Operations Centre in Perth.

“Armed with this detailed information, our operations to recover the ore bodies will be significantly more efficient and effective.”

The new 3D technology is undertaking work at Rio’s West Angelas iron ore mine in Western Australia and trials are also underway in other Rio product groups including copper, energy and diamonds and minerals.

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