The Kairos Mining JV between Honeywell and Codelco is unique in the industry . This shows the integrated remote operations centre of El Teniente mine in Rancagua , 130 km south of Santiago
global miners are now working with Honeywell in Chile and elsewhere to roll out similar systems based on what was learnt through Kairos Mining , including replacement of existing systems .
“ Following the initial tests , Codelco then started some tests focused on APC and remote operational control at Andina in 2010 / 2011 using at ROC in Los Andes . There were some challenges at this project , which was followed by the first big success at Mina Ministro Hales ( MMH ) and followed by El Teniente in 2018 . At MMH it was driven by a contractor strike in 2015 which blocked the roads to the operation so the plant operators could not reach the site . And so with no shift changeover the plant had to shut down . Codelco asked Honeywell initially for a temporary solution to be able to avoid this type of scenario in the future – so at that point it was operational continuity they wanted not just more productivity .” A test was set up in 2016 where MMH was remotely operated from the Honeywell office in Santiago as all the required equipment was there – it worked for a few hours then Codelco allowed it to run for a week , then a month , and it stayed like that until late 2019 when all the functions were moved to an all new Codelco ROC for all Codelco Norte operations in Calama , including Chuquicamata Underground , Radomiro Tomic , Salvador , Andina and MMH .
The main enabler for remote operations centres is to have a plant that is able to run without human intervention rather than just moving the operators to a ROC where they have the same function just located further away . In a true ROC the operators are just supervising the plant not running it . The system is
secure as it is connected via fibre optic cable . Codelco also implemented change management plans so that there was better coordination between the ROC and all the onsite teams so that the operational departments from milling to flotation were no longer running as separate silos . But helping operators understand that APC is not a threat to them is also important .
So what is different technology wise to make a true ROC system work ? “ Two things need to be added . While the basic DCS instrumentation stays in place as there is nothing new there , it is all about the APC layer on top of the DCS . While that has also been available technology for some time , what is new is being able to guarantee that those automation layers are operating the plant most of the time – up to 98 or even 99 % of the time . This is a big difference from having monthly reports that might say APC of the SAG mill was used 76 % of the time . The new system knows when APC has been disabled , and even triggers an alarm plus each incident is logged and investigated . The final piece will be better machine learning and AI within the APC to get further productivity wins especially when the ore nature changes . And this is already happening .”
It makes sense for mining too – in an oil and gas refinery or chemical plant there are digital performance gauges on nearly all of the equipment . In a mineral processing plant , apart from maybe electrical boxes , there is very little visible data in the plant whether on the mills , cyclones or wherever . All this data is only visible in the control room anyway so why not automate its operation ? It is also about reliability – making sure everything is maintained during planned shutdowns and if possible to never have an unplanned maintenance incident . With thickeners , where you have a low water supply , the APC will make sure the thickeners can still operate without torque limits etc being exceeded .
Today , Codelco ’ s approach is still a world leader , with most of its operations being operated remotely , not just monitored remotely . Others have followed – BHP is now operating Escondida from a similar facility in Santiago that opened in 2019 and which has both Honeywell and Emerson technology and its Spence Growth Option ( SGO ) ROC will be its most advanced in the world , which is to use Honeywell systems .
The Codelco set-up includes incorporate remote operation and remote monitoring centres equipped
with video transmission equipment , video IP phones and a large-scale display wall ; testing , development and training laboratories ; and meeting , training and video conferencing facilities .
Honeywell says the ROC facilities used data analytics , predictive maintenance and Honeywell Connected Plant expertise to deliver radically improved production , productivity and increased revenues at Codelco ’ s plants . “ Operators can see production environments clearly through cameras and high-resolution screens , and are better coordinated since they can work together in the same room . Codelco is also able to achieve the full automation of its Advanced Process Control ( APC ) systems , and to manage and exploit large volumes of data to improve production performance . Meanwhile , operations staff are alerted in real time to potential problems , and can modify processes to prevent the loss of continuity .” The Operations Centres have helped Codelco fine-tune production , improve the use and availability of equipment and systems , reduce costs and increase the productivity of its teams .
There are actually eight listed major Codelco Operations Centre functions : Remote Support ; Ministro Hales Remote Operations ; Competency Management ; Connected Assets ; Application Development ; Lifecycle Support ; Advanced Process Control Support ; and Process Support .
There are three business drivers for Codelco ’ s Remote Support Centre function , through which cross-functional specialists support processes , advanced control applications , DCS and communications at all of Codelco ’ s plants : n Sustain automation benefits over time n Overcome the lack of on-site specialists n Reduce downtime and improve operational continuity Connected to the plants through a secure private network , the Remote Support Centre provides centralised access to multi-plant process information and automation resources , plus services to follow-up processes , support plant operators , identify improvement opportunities and facilitate changes in operational practices to sustain automation benefits .
The ROCs include the Honeywell Experion ® Process Knowledge System platform ; intuitive Experion Orion consoles ; an alarm management system ; control operations for SAG , grinding , flotation and roasting processes ; Digital Video Manager ; and remote radio communications .
Honeywell has helped Codelco integrate processes , information and decision making – creating a connected production environment that ’ s delivering $ 45 million in incremental revenue annually through improved production quality and productivity for MMH , and is now doing so for other sites .
Changes in manufacturing process dynamics , technology obsolescence and operational practices can cause control strategies to lose their effectiveness over time unless their performance is periodically evaluated and re-tuned to process conditions . The
JANUARY 2021 | International Mining