Mining development: digital technologies and mining

Anton Kuranov, Deputy Director for Science and Innovation of the Scientific Center for Geomechanics and Problems of Mining of the St. Petersburg Mining University, held an exciting webinar on the digitalization of the mining industry. During the online event, the expert spoke about the main trends in the mining industry, the level of digital maturity of enterprises, the role of geomechanics as researchers and prospectors and the importance of technology Dassault Systèmes for the digitalization of the industry.

Saint Petersburg Mining University is a Dassault Systèmes academic and commercial solutions partner with deep industry expertise.

Scientific Center for Geomechanics and Mining Problems

The Scientific Center for Geomechanics and Problems of Mining of the St. Petersburg Mining University widely uses digital technologies in its activities, says Anton Kuranov. This center is the largest in the Mining University, it includes seven specialized laboratories. The main activity of the center is the fulfillment of orders from mining enterprises for research and exploration work. He works in conjunction with the staff and teachers of the departments of the university.

According to the deputy director of the scientific center, it has the widest range of customers. Over the past five years, they have become about 150 organizations. Among them are mining companies, design and consulting organizations, construction companies and manufacturers of various materials. The largest customers are Norilsk Nickel, Polymetal, Metalloinvest, Fosagro and others.

Defining trend

In view of the constant growth of the planet’s population and the need to provide it with various material benefits, there is a need to increase the extraction of mineral raw materials, and therefore – in the development of mining enterprises. The development of mining production is, first of all, the development of the resource base: the opening of new horizons, the involvement in the development of reserves that the existing technologies did not allow to use earlier, the development of new technologies. All this requires projects. Each project is preceded by a feasibility study, pre-design work and a whole range of surveys.

And such exploration work is becoming more and more, since the development of production, first of all, is associated with the complication of the conditions for conducting work. In this regard, the first trend can be distinguished, which is defining: the need to ensure the required production rates requires tools that allow you to make the best decisions in the shortest possible time

Natural trend

Where can I get a tool for optimal decision making? Of course, the tools of the 4th industrial revolution can improve the efficiency of enterprises. There are examples of foreign experience. Notable leaders – Newmont (Borden mine), I2Mine, LKAB 5.0 mine, Dundee Precious Metals (Chelopech mine), Rio Tinto.

Today, Industry 4.0 tools are big data, artificial intelligence, simulations and digital twins. Anything that allows you to increase productivity and reduce the operating costs of the enterprise. These technologies make it possible to implement the so-called “smart” mining – Smart Mining, provide prompt decision-making in industry, including mining.

The implementation of digital technologies by organizing communications, installing various sensors on equipment, accumulating and processing data in enterprises leads to key positive changes, mainly to an increase in productivity while reducing operating costs.

Thus, the need for tools for quick decision making creates a demand for digital technologies. Digital technology request Is a natural trend.

Digital technologies for practice

“Over the past five to six years, Russian enterprises have made significant progress in the field of digitalization,” says Anton Kuranov. “Some already correspond to the world level or even surpass it, but digitalization processes are proceeding unevenly, although this unevenness is gradually disappearing.”

For example, Polymetal was one of the pioneers in the implementation of many solutions and made significant progress in the field of digitalization. Apart from digitalization of geological, mechanical, and mine surveying, Apatit company is introducing full-fledged Smart-solutions into production, which are related to remote control of drilling and unloading. A powerful dispatching system has been introduced in the production. The company invests heavily in the development of the resource base and ore mining.

Another example is the Bashkir Soda Company (BSK), a real chemical giant with a huge territory. A whole staff of programmers is engaged in the creation and development of an automated control system.

One of the most striking examples of digitalization in the industry is the Technological Breakthrough program of the Norilsk Nickel group of companies. One of its stages is “Smart Dispatching Office”. This is an example of a planning and control system in the mining industry. Digital transformation is now also carried out by Alrosa, Polymetal, Severstal, Uralkali and many others.

Digitizing Industry and Technology Dassault Systèmes

Recently, employees of the Mining University were trained in the “3D Experience Academy” by Dassault Systèmes. The University understands the need to implement automation tools. Mining companies, especially large enterprises, are also aware of the need to implement similar solutions, including platform solutions such as 3D Experience from Dassault Systèmes

The users of this platform are scientific, design and consulting organizations. There is a consensus across the industry that it is necessary to implement these automation tools and handle the growing volume of data. With the help of digital tools, hydrogeological, structural, resource models are built. The industry understands the need to implement automation tools, including platform solutions such as 3D Experience.

Geomechanical problems

The critical trend for today is geomechanical problems as a significant real constraint on productivity… What is the reason for this? The rock massif is a complex block hierarchical structure with variability of properties and variability of the stress field acting in it. Why is this becoming a problem now?

If you look at the data model diagram of a mining asset, the results of the work of the Scientific Center for Geomechanics and Mining Problems or another specialized scientific organization can be used in the “Regional Geomodel” area. But in this area, problems may appear that are often impossible to quickly solve.

In order for the data on geomechanics, geology and hydrogeology to be relevant and used in making technical decisions, a large amount of research is required to study the massif, both at the design stage and at the stage of field operation. Only in this case, geomechanical problems as a factor holding back the development of the enterprise can be leveled.

Today, work on collecting and processing data, forecasting the development of processes, is carried out in specialized programs for geological, geofiltration, numerical modeling of the stress-strain state.

Numerical Simulation and Smart Mining

Numerical modeling allows you to take into account the process of developing reserves, take into account schedules in order to obtain adequate values ​​of rock pressure parameters. Based on the results, a block model can be built that includes grade parameters, disturbance parameters and stress state data, as well as other data on processes in the rock mass, which are critical for a particular field – for example, geodynamic, hydrogeological. This is the best approach to solving geomechanical problems.

But for this, each mine must have a separate geomechanics service. Many enterprises in Russia have such services; their conceived tasks are performed by the Service for Forecasting and Prevention of Rock Bursts, the creation of which is regulated by federal rules and regulations.

“These services are also engaged in innovations in the field of mine workings support, the selection of materials for filling massifs, and so on. Most likely, at every enterprise, especially a large one, such a service will soon have to work,” says Anton Kuranov.

Mining Safety and Regulatory Framework

“The main problem is the lack of a unified technological environment for calculations and design,” says Anton Kuranov. “That is, we cannot immediately send all the data received from geologists to the computational environment. Painstaking work is required: format changes, export-import, etc. Why this problem has arisen now, why this trend has become noticeable today? It seems to me that this is primarily due to the rapid obsolescence of our regulatory framework in the field of geomechanical safety. If digitalization, technology is developing by leaps and bounds, then our methods are lagging behind. will be, if we do not begin to work in some unified information system. “

“There is a need for safe mining instructions. If the customer realizes that he needs to start such work in order to maintain the pace of production, then he comes to specialized organizations,” he continues.

Help platform

The geomechanical situation will deteriorate continuously. The figure shows one of the open bases of earthquakes, namely, earthquakes caused by human activity.

It can be noted that earthquakes caused by the development of solid minerals – red marks on the map – account for 25% of all those recorded in this database, and most of them are earthquakes from hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas production.

And despite the development of technologies and means of ensuring their safety, various geodynamic risks in the extraction of minerals and other forms of subsoil use do not decrease due to a number of reasons:

  • an increase in the density of the development of underground space, the qualitative and quantitative development of forms of subsoil use;

  • development of deeper, complex deposits in difficult mining and geological conditions;

  • general growth of geodynamic and seismic activity on Earth in the 90s and 2000s;

  • intensive technologies for the extraction of minerals and the creation of underground and buried structures give less time for the rock mass to relax the stresses and “get used” to the new geomechanical situation;

  • In the old mining areas, a number of factors are at work, first of all, the large volumes of extracted and displaced rock mass. Significant changes in hydrogeological regimes contribute to the release of the regional geodynamic situation from equilibrium, the growth of new faults, and an increase in seismic activity.

To remove this trend, it is necessary to work ahead of time; this requires a qualitatively new approach to geomechanical problems.

A unified geotechnical model is a model that “understands” new data, their sufficiency and insufficiency for drilling, according to the description, allows you to systematize the best experience.

“Geomechanical problems are becoming a deterrent, which occurs due to the complexity of the rock mass, which require study, but we can change the situation,” says Anton Kuranov. “It is necessary to create an integrated model of the environment, it is necessary to normalize all calculations, create guidelines, systematize all the best experience. This is the path we must go. “

New rules for sustainability are also being created, where the gaps in the existing rules are eliminated. Thus, today the defining trend in the development of mining enterprises is tool makingaimed at reducing the decision-making time. In this regard, the demand for digital technologies is natural, however, the development of digital technologies and mining technologies is limited by geomechanical problems, the complexity of rock massifs. Systematization of data, formation of regulations for calculations and numerical modeling will allow to overcome problems and move to a qualitatively new level.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply