Kirkland Lake maps out Fosterville technology innovations


The Fosterville mine in Victoria. Image: Kirkland Lake Gold

Kirkland Lake Gold has outlined zero harm and a lower environmental footprint in its requirements for technology innovation at the Fosterville gold mine in Victoria.

As part of the IMARC 2020’s machinery, equipment and modernisation presentation, Kirkland Lake chief mining engineer Rob McLean highlighted a number of areas that the company was looking to advance with new technologies.

McLean said technological advancements would enable the improvement and optimisation of its processes.

“For us, we see that it allows improvement and optimisation of our processes in all areas with the focus being on zero harm, reducing our environmental footprint and improvement value to our stakeholders,” he said.

Kirkland Lake’s digital transformation is largely based around its Wi-Fi to the face project, which involved the installation of 500 Wi-Fi access points through 45 kilometres of tunnels at Fosterville.

“The Wi-Fi project is the enabler for all the other technologies we want to introduce,” McLean said.

It will kickstart Kirkland Lake’s remote operations, which includes the addition of a surface teleremote system next year, to improve productivity.

“Leveraging off our extensive wireless network, we’ll be able to operate loaders and hopefully our production drills from the surface.,” McLean said.

By purchasing a Sandvik DD422i drill, Kirkland Lake has seen reduced overbreak and an improved drive profile.

This has resulted in a reduction in the amount of dirt moved by 3000-4000 tonnes.

The gold miner is also working with Mobilaris Mining Intelligence to use its situational awareness module.

“We’ve got tags on our mobile equipment and caplamps that provide live 3D location of machinery and personnel,” McLean said.

“This allows real time situation awareness and asset tracking and helps avoid unwanted interactions between large mobile equipment and light vehicles.”

Kirkland Lake is also in the first stage of its smart ventilation project at the Fosterville mine, as it seeks to improve efficiency and monitor air quality.

McLean said the second phase of the smart ventilation project would be automated.

“This is a little way down the track for us,” he said. “We will be looking to move to our next stage of our smart ventilation project, which will involve ventilation on demand.”

Kirkland Lake’s vision for Fosterville is to develop it into a fully electric mine, with the company planning to trial Sandvik’s LH518B electric loader next year.

McLean said there was a possibility for Kirkland to adopt battery electric trolly assist trucks and battery electric charges and spray rigs in the future.

“The big advantage of this is obviously the removal of significant diesel emissions and reduced heat because the electric machines will produce a lot less heat than the diesel machines,” he said.

“The advantage of that (is) less ventilation (requirements), the lower power costs that come from that and also the potential to eliminate a need for costly infrastructure upgrades such as ventilation shafts.”

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