Dragline excavation prototype develops 3D vision
Global mining technology company MineWare continues to lead the way in dragline mining innovation, recently completing stage one of its ACARP project in collaboration with CRCMining and the University of Queensland.
Funded by an ACARP grant of more than $600,000—as well as in-kind support from MineWare and CRCMining—the joint R&D project aims to develop futuristic dig sequencing technology.
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MineWare CEO and project co-leader Andrew Jessett said that this stage of the project has focused on the design of the dragline excavation sequencing system, underpinned by a sophisticated algorithmic approach combining real-time DTM scanner technology, 3D mine plan profiles and operator feedback.
“Leveraging MineWare digital terrain mapping capability, the dragline excavation sequencing system will act as an on-board supervisor that can continually monitor the state of the excavation and guide operators to compute the optimal dig sequence,” he said.
“Using two boom-point lasers, the dragline swings as part of its typical operation across the terrain to create a 3D map of the pit, providing an effective formula for future sequences including where to position, where to dig and where to dump.”
The prototype’s algorithmic approach effectively creates a strategy for excavating material along the strip to reduce cycle times, improve utilization of spoil and the rate of lineal advance, as well as maximise productivity.
In stage two of the project, the team will trial the algorithm on a fully operational production dragline, integrated into MineWare’s Pegasys Dragline Monitoring system.
“During this stage, operator visualization and supervisor report tools will be developed to analyze operator-based sequencing of excavation against the sequencing algorithm,” Jessett continued.
“From there we can then move towards developing algorithms that sequence dragline excavation operations applicable to low-wall extended-key/chop with in-pit bench operations, under a range of circumstances, with a future application in dragline automation.”
Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech
Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.
ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production
ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.
The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.
The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.
The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.
ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.
ELYSIS technology at a glance:
- The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
- The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
- In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
- ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.
Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.
ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.
Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.
Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”
Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”