and engineering work to reach their ultimate netzero goals , with Trapani expecting more miners to incorporate such thinking in mine design going forward .
Against this backdrop it is hardly surprising Ventilation on Demand ( VoD ) platforms and related iterations thereof have continued to be spoken of in mine ventilation circles .
According to Trapani , interest around these solutions – which can adequately ventilate areas of an underground mine only when required , therefore , saving energy and costs – has remained steady over the last few years .
At the same time , she sees plenty of opportunities to apply the technology right now .
“ The power cost for ventilation or refrigeration has always been a significant percentage of the overall power consumption , so I anticipate that we ’ ll continue seeing steady interest ,” she said . This opinion is shared by total ventilation solutions provider , Howden .
The company recently added Cooling on Demand ( CoD ) functionality to its Ventsim CONTROL software , which reflects this market demand .
Ventsim CONTROL uses intelligent software connected to Howden or third-party hardware devices to remotely monitor , control and automate airflow heating and cooling to deliver safer , more productive , and lower cost ventilation for mines , the company says . The Ventsim CONTROL solution also offers a 3D modelling capability within the software , which helps users to better predict and control air flows based on what is evidenced in the simulation .
In the case of CoD , this means users can monitor temperatures at deeper levels and push back cooled air more efficiently .
Upon release of the solution last year , Howden said the CoD update aligned with trends it was seeing in the industry towards deeper mines requiring cooled air to achieve higher standards of health and safety for workers .
“ Currently , many mines put a cooling plant at surface level and cool air regardless of its destination or where it ’ s needed as there aren ’ t intelligent controls to pinpoint the localised need , which is often at deeper levels ,” Howden said . “ These new controls ensure the cool air goes where it is required , saving operating and energy costs .”
The company is currently in the process of lining up a trial of this new functionality with an existing Ventsim CONTROL customer .
Howden has also won several Ventsim CONTROL contracts across the globe , including in South America , Asia Pacific and Europe , of late . Jose Pinedo , Ventsim Sales Manager , said most of these contracts reflected the mining sector ’ s ongoing focus on cost control , as well as those ‘ net-zero ’ commitments .
“ All the different sites had a payback target in mind , but some of the sites also wanted to know what the implementation of the system would do for their CO 2 emissions ,” he told IM .
Within Ventsim CONTROL , there is an in-built energy reporting tool to show clients their ongoing energy consumption . Following customer requests and in-house development work , Howden has been able to adapt this to generate a rolling CO 2 emission indicator that clients can monitor .
“ The reduction in energy correlates directly to a reduction in tonnes of CO 2 emissions ,” Pinedo said of the reporting tool . “ This means , in addition to what the system will provide in operational terms and operating costs , it can also outline to clients how it will assist them in meeting environmental goals .”
Leo Botha , Ventsim General Manager , said the ability for Ventsim CONTROL to reduce the energy consumption associated with ventilation and the direct correlation between these savings and CO 2 emission reductions is allowing Howden to assist miners in hitting their environmental goals .
“ Up front , when you are having the discussion and talking to mines about energy savings , you are also directly talking about CO 2 emission reductions and how this can be used in ESG reporting ,” he said .
This increased carbon emission visibility , plus expectations of stricter regulations in key mining jurisdictions , is likely to lead more clients towards the use of VoD solutions , according to Pinedo .
“ For instance , with Australia adopting stricter diesel particulate emissions , the industry is facing two options in terms of keeping up with legislation : either you retrofit your fleet so you ’ re running more efficient and ‘ cleaner ’ diesel engines ( US Tier 4 F / EU Stage V ) or electric equipment , or you increase your ventilation flow to meet the new emission requirements ,” he said .
Howden recently added Cooling on Demand ( CoD ) functionality to its Ventsim CONTROL software
Even if a mine chose Option A – retrofitting their fleet – the ventilation flow requirements may still need to increase , Pinedo explained .
“ Without a VoD system , you must have a ventilation system set up based on the required air for x number of vehicles and personnel , regardless of if they are operating at all times ,” he said .
A VoD system , however , allows mines to push air only to where it is needed based on the vehicles , personnel and infrastructure in place and operating at that given time .
With more mixed fleets of mobile mining equipment expected in the future made up of battery-electric , hybrids and diesel-powered equipment , the benefits of a VoD system able to tap into existing infrastructure for telematics and positioning will be highlighted further , enabling mines to ventilate based on the type of engine / battery the machine is powered by and if there is an operator in the cab .
“ What we ’ re offering through Ventsim CONTROL is to use all these existing tools and optimise everything to comply with where legislation is heading and the evolution of ‘ net zero ’ mining ,” Pinedo said .
Agnico Eagle ’ s Fosterville mine is looking to do exactly this in what Howden says is an Australian mining first .
The operation , having already installed Ventsim CONTROL Level 3 ( scheduling and flow control ), is progressing to an installation that will see the mine ’ s tracking system integrated to Ventsim CONTROL Level 4 . This will provide realtime feedback on the vehicle locations in Ventsim CONTROL to adjust the ventilation automatically based on demand .
Ventsim CONTROL software also continues to gain appreciation from customers for its safety capabilities .
58 International Mining | JULY 2022