Gold Fields to digitise its Granny Smith gold mine

ABB collaboration on AMIRA P1208 project will enhance interoperability for mining operations management and process automation test project brings enhanced information exchange to Gold Fields Australia’s Granny Smith gold mine.

ABB has linked with the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) new Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (ERDi i4.0) TestLab, run by Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP), to advance Industry 4.0 open process automation standards.

This includes collaboration on AMIRA Global’s P1208 Interoperability Enablement for Natural Resources project which is designed to realise the digital mine. This project aims to develop and implement interoperability standards for mine planning, mine scheduling and execution so that equipment and applications for mine operations become ‘plug and play’. 

Building on the University of Western Australia I4.0 ERDi Test Lab, this initiative will enable an offsite test laboratory to evaluate efficacy of interoperability of technology without disrupting ongoing mining activities.

Gold Fields is a globally diversified gold producer with nine operating mines in South Africa, Australia, Peru and West Africa (including the Asanko JV), as well as one project in Chile. The company has total attributable annual gold-equivalent production of 2.2Moz, attributable gold-equivalent Mineral Reserves of 51.3Moz and Mineral Resources of 115.7Moz.

Separate to the AMIRA project, ABB is also working closely with ETP on an integrated systems project at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith Mine 740km northeast of Perth in Western Australia. It is one of the largest and highest producing gold mine operations in the country.

The project will enhance ABB Ability™ Operations Management System (OMS) Platform – Fleet Management Software Module to support the latest in reliable messaging and Industry 4.0 interoperability standards; ISA-95 (IEC 62264) via B2MML V7.0This advancement will enable the mine to connect and coordinate mine operators, workforce, equipment and all mining activities in real-time, from face preparation to crusher. “In 2019 Gold Fields Australia launched the Integrated Systems Project to increase production throughput of the Granny Smith gold mine. To achieve the objective of a fully connected mine, we are working with ABB and ETP to build an integrated business process and system architecture that will enable visibility of operational activities in near real-time via automated information exchange between various mining systems,” said Michael Place, Technical Service Manager, Gold Fields Australia.

“The system architecture has been designed to allow deployment across various operations both open pit and underground. This deployment will be the major phase of the technology strategy for the Granny Smith mine and will be a pilot for integrated platforms across Gold Fields Australia, which aims to create one of the most innovative, digitally connected mines in the world. This project and partnership will be key to achieving this,” continued Place.

 “ABB’s investment, both in financial terms as well as time, together with their expertise, is critical for this project to support the re-engineering of products that are often required to deliver a reliable, performant and standards compliant software package,” said ETP Managing Director, John Kirkman.

“The performance requirements of a software package that exchanges and processes granular events with rich information in real-time, when compared to a software package designed for periodical manual entry, are like comparing chalk and cheese and that’s where ABB plays a big role,” said Kirkman. “Industry 4.0 and digital transformation are huge opportunities for the Australian mining industry with automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) generating insights and accelerating greater productivity and efficiency,” said Stuart Cowie, Head of Industrial Automation Process Industries, ABB Australia.

“This partnership underlines ABB’s commitment to ensuring Industry 4.0 concepts influence its product roadmaps into the future, and demonstrates the significant value that can be delivered to customers through interoperability and automation across both processes and systems.  It will give ABB valuable insights into digital transformation and Industry 4.0 concepts for mining. Through our work with the ERDi TestLab, the OMS platform has become an even more powerful tool with reliable real-time access to operational data through ISA95 standardised messages,” Cowie said.

As part of POC 1, ABB will showcase ABB Ability™ Operations Management System and FleetManagement System software to AMIRA P1208 project sponsors, automatically exchanging information with scheduling and materials tracking software packages via i4.0 standard interfaces.  

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