Everything You Need to Know about Mining Simulators
Mining simulators are all the rage right now. The video game-esque system, which replicates elements of mining operations, is being utilized to provide real-time conditions and operating responses. Used mainly for training and efficiency analysis, simulators provide a comprehensive blend of improvements in safety and profitability for mining companies.
The way they work is simple: the simulated cab provides a highly realistic replica of actual mine equipment, including fully functional simulated instruments and controls. Mounted on pneumatic actuators, these devices are surrounded by screens displaying three-dimensional imagery to reveal real-time situations for operators.
With countless benefits to offer, we break down everything you need to know about mining simulators including benefits like safety, productivity and cost savings.
Improving the safety of miners
The mining industry is one of the more dangerous professions a person can have. Because of this the biggest benefit of simulators in the mining industry is safety. The use of simulators allows for precise training in a safe and controlled environment.
The use of simulators allows operators to focus on reducing the frequency of accidents by concentrating on specific tasks and being continuously monitored. Trainee operators are able to receive accelerated training that improves their productivity as well as eliminates bad habits. Effectively training employees on the potential pit-falls in the industry can alleviate accidents, injuries and deaths.
According to Thoroughtec, the world’s largest providers of simulators, the ability to train on a mining simulator allows trainee operators to learn all the vehicle’s functions and operating procedures in a safe and controlled environment.
“Mine personnel and equipment are not put at risk by rookie operators, while at the touch of a button trainees can be exposed to various emergency procedures such as tire bursts or engine fires, none of which can be safely taught on the real vehicle.”
With mining simulators, trainees can learn techniques that are associated with typical mine site activities, including:
• Mine site familiarization
• Standard operating procedures
• Safety procedures
• Familiarization of new equipments
• Operation under different weather conditions
• Operation in emergency conditions
One of the main benefits of utilizing simulators is increased productivity. Why? Let’s count the ways:
The use of simulators allows trainee operators to get the most efficiency out of their vehicles. By continuously being monitored and recorded during the training process, operator’s faults and inefficiencies can be improved through review and analysis. Therefore, productivity is directly improved by having more proficient operators who are effective at performing their core tasks.
Operators trained with simulators have proven to improve performance in machine function cycles. This means operators are able to improve their techniques for digging, swinging and dumping, which could equate to less time onsite as well as thousands of dollars increased in revenue.
Although not all simulators are created equal, some have the ability to be integrated with mine planning, maintenance and fleet management systems to identify opportunities at site, crew and individual level.
One of the biggest advantages simulators bring to the table is a reduction in cost. Simulators enable operators to be better trained and prepared leading to fewer accidents. This means less maintenance to equipment and less downtime to repair broken machinery. Furthermore, the wear and tear on machinery is diminished as operating costs such as fuel are eliminated.
“Because mine vehicles are being used for fewer training tasks, the associated running costs of training are greatly reduced,” says Greg Lew, Executive Vice President of Global Business at ThoroughTec.
“Damage and wear-and-tear on mine vehicles decreases as green operators are able to familiarize themselves with the controls of the machines and iron out their mistakes on the mining simulator instead of the real machine. This means less unscheduled maintenance and lower maintenance and training costs.”
Simulators remove the need to use real machines for training and significantly reduce operator training times. This also saves valuable working machines for training purposes, which lowers
Overall, simulators are being seen as an important part of mine safety as well as an investment into operator competency. This means simulators equate to increased safety, productivity and profitability.
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.”