Robotized mineral mining technologies germinating under the umbrella of Skolkovo Innovation Center

D.A. Klebanov, Director, Department of Development, VIST Group LLC, Moscow

M.A. Makeev, Project Manager, VIST Group LLC, Moscow

From year to year, the geological conditions and climate become more and more unfavourable for mineral mining.

Mineral deposit development in conditions of the Extreme North, deserts and mountainous areas with insufficiently mature social infrastructure makes the involvement of people in the processes of mineral mining more problematic and aggravates the employment of skilled personnel and some other aspects. In this situation the Intelligent Mine Project acquires particular importance, as it is aimed at the development of the system of automated and robotized mineral mining providing such a level of mine transport machinery fleet automation, when the machinery is able to partially or fully operate in the absence of drivers and operators. Today, with ever increasing frequency the need arises in robotized unmanned machinery for mineral mining and transportation.

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Only several yeas ago the advance of wireless data transmission technologies, global positioning systems and microprocessor engineering made possible the development of robotized mining machinery prototypes with remote or onboard control systems.

The Intelligent Mine Project is a new stage in the development of automated control systems for mineral mining and transportation machinery. VG KARIER Mine Fleet Management System designed by VIST Group (Russia) with a scientific and methodological support of FGBUN IPKON RAS can be named among such systems. For more than 10 years it has been successfully operated by iron-ore, coal, gold and non-ferrous metal ore mining companies in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. In 2009, the Prize of the Russian Government for scientific and engineering advancements was awarded to the VG KARIER system.

The Project reflects a global trend of mining technology development. The Intelligent Mine System will facilitate the accelerated development and wider-scale aggressive application of advanced technologies of GLONASS/GPS high-precision satellite navigation, wireless high-speed data transmission, software, robotics and industrial electronics that in its turn will result in the scientific and engineering capacity building in Russia. The Intelligent Mine is an integrated innovation project, which implementation requires joint efforts of the research community, mining machinery manufacturers, mining companies, Ministry of Energy, ROSTEKHNADZOR (Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Supervision), local authorities of mining regions. As of today, the basic philosophy and main stages of the Intelligent Mine Project implementation have been formulated. Contracts have been signed with BelAZ Plant to set up the testing ground to refine robotized technologies for mining and transport machinery. A similar contract has been signed with IZ-KARTEX mine shovel manufacturer. In 2011, the first demonstration tests were carried out of a remotely controlled mine dump truck. For the Project coordination and scientific advising the Intelligent Mine Inter-Agency Task Force has been established within the Scientific Council for Mining Issues of the Russian Academy of Sciences under the directorship of Prof. K.N. Trubetskoy, Member of the RAS. In 2011, the Intelligent Mine Project has been granted the support of Skolkovo Foundation, in the Information Technologies cluster.

Pilot projects have been approved on the implementation of robotized freight traffic lines for SUEK OAO and KhK SDS-Ugol OAO, a pilot project for AK ALROSA OAO is in the process of negotiation. At the pilot project stage the implementation is planned of ROM robotized transportation by dump trucks along the fixed route connecting a permanent loading station and a stationary bin of the preparation plant (see Figure).

The next stage is the implementation of ROM robotized transportation by dump trucks from shovels to discharge points (mine dumps) without furnishing of shovels and other machinery with remote control features. In this case, in contrast to the first stage, dump trucks are loaded by shovels, dump truck are discharged at mine dumps and storage yards; the digital model, road graph, loading and discharge point coordinates are continuously being altered. A dump truck moves automatically along permanent roads, maneuvers and approach to loading and discharge points are remotely controlled.

The closing stage is the implementation of ROM robotized transportation from shovels to discharge points (mine dumps) with the remote control of shovels, dozers and other mine machinery.

Software is one of the most sophisticated and knowledge-intensive components of the Project. The efficiency of the whole Project depends on the efficiency of the software architecture and operation. That is why the Intelligent Mine system algorithm and software design project is implemented in Skolkovo. The development of the system software for the Intelligent Mine Project in many respects is based on the software tools of the mine transport machinery fleet automated management and monitoring system, where the automatic dispatching system for optimization and on-line control of mine machinery is the core software module. This software package in the optimum distributes dump trucks at the beginning of a work shift according to the desired strategies (a set of criteria with weighting factors, for instance, performance – 0.6, quality – 0.2, minimal queue length – 0.2) and available capacities of mine transport machinery. It automatically redistributes the dump trucks during a work shift in case of any change of mine/equipment working conditions, failures, etc. It provides for dump truck operation in an open cycle with automatic control and allows timely mineral quality management and control at reloading yards. An operator receives voice messages from the system instructing him towards which shovel to move after discharge. It should be noted that many technologies are already in the process of development, and implementation of the Project stages will have their application at mines. Today, radar- and video camera- based collision prevention systems, as well as GLONASS/GPS high-precision navigation systems for drill rigs and shovels now being implemented serve a basis for the Project implementation.

An integrated solution has been implemented for efficient and safe railway transportation management based on the VG KARIER Mine Fleet Management System software and a microprocessor- based management system (VG Railway) for signaling and interlocking devices and blocking units of railway stations and spans, so has been the Common Railway Dispatch Center Project. A system has been also implemented for automation of work orders system, industrial safety system, occupational health and safety management system, and for risk analysis and management. The above described achievements and developments are already being implemented in Russian companies, thus holding out a hope of the Project successful implementation in the shortest possible time, and the Russian mining industry will enter a new stage of efficiency and safety-in-mining on the basis of national innovation findings and developments.

Mining Industry Journal №2 2012, p.132