Epiroc recently brought in its Mobilaris Situational Awareness and Mobilaris Onboard systems to improve the traffic flows at Oz Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold mine, one of the largest mining projects in South Australia.
The ore at Carrapateena requires haulage from production levels to the crusher level via a short decline with limited passing areas. This challenge is what lent itself to the possibility of optimising haulage flows, and the two opted to implement Mobilaris Mining Intelligence to digitise the mine.
"We saw potential to remove some of the constraints we have underground,” superintendent Daniel Bruce said.
“You can’t see around corners, and you can’t see through rock, so understanding where things are – where people and machines are – is a lot more difficult than in a typical workplace on the surface.
“Real-time data and superior 3D visualization make it possible for everyone everywhere to know what is going on underground.”
Carrapateena commenced production in December 2019, and that same year Oz Minerals rolled out the first feature: the Mobilaris Situational Awareness solution for surface control room operators.
Mobilaris Onboard, a solution for underground operators in vehicles, followed in 2021. Thanks to real-time 3D visualization, anybody with access to a tablet or a PC can quickly understand where machines are operating.
“Mobilaris Situational Awareness allows you to see, live, at any point in time, where all the equipment and people are in the mine. It also allows you to navigate to locations, equipment and refuge chambers,” said Bruce.
Oz Minerals initially installed Wi-Fi tags on all vehicles, providing accuracy to around 150 metres; the addition of Mobilaris Onboard allows for accuracy to 5-10 metres without any extra infrastructure – only basic OBD2 adapters or a Doppler radar.
Implementation began with trucks and loaders. The mine now has equipped its entire underground fleet, allowing for a significant improvement in real-time position information.
"Everyone at the site operations center – dispatchers, mine controllers and haulage control – is now using Mobilaris Situational Awareness. Previously, it could take quite a bit of time to search for a piece of equipment, but it only takes seconds now to see its last location,” said Amelia Schmidt, senior technician in the site operations team at OZ Minerals Carrapateena.
The system has also helped with fleet management, to determine where trucks are for instance, thus becoming a tool in the decision making process.
“For those who are perhaps new to the mine, we’ve been able to insert points of interest on the map, for example where it is best to hold. Cycle times are well managed, despite underground operations becoming a lot busier,” added Schmidt.
Oz Minerals went on to implement a second Mobilaris feature: Mobilaris Onboard, a tablet in a vehicle that acts just like a car navigator but without any need for a dedicated tracking infrastructure. This provided everyone underground with a tool that enabled them to easily understand how equipment was positioned around them.
“This is another piece of information that the operator can use to make a decision – and all of these minute decisions add up to a more productive and safer workplace,” said Bruce.
Oz Minerals now has around 200 tablets in vehicles underground, in light vehicles as well as trucks, loaders and face drill rigs.
Based in Adelaide, Oz Minerals was formed by the merger of Oxiana and Zinifex. It has three primary operations: Carrapateena and Prominent Hill in Australia and Carajás East in Brazil.