Monitoring the Heartbeat of Mining and Metals Production

Published: December 15,2021



• Kanmantoo Copper Mine, owned by Hillgrove Resources in South Australia
• This mine used smart sensor technology to increase production potential by raising ROM bin
capacities and to reduce maintenance costs by reducing operator time on site.
• To optimize fill levels, existing radar level sensors had to be relocated to new positions and
modified to include a simple self-cleaning system using compressed air.
• The mine installed self-regulating sensors to successfully detect and remove dust via air purge
from sensor antennas before measurements are compromised

Self-Monitoring of Devices to Reduce Costs

Imagine a mineral production process where devices have their own heartbeat: they would realize when there is the occurrence of dust build up and would signal the need for cleaning or run an automated sanitation process. Or imagine large tanks full of biomass fuel, used to lower carbon footprints and burned in smelters and kilns: the heartbeat of the sensors monitoring the media levels, pressures, temperature and flow would recognize typical handling problems and changes in the media
like excessive foam, sticky build ups (all which would affect accurate or repeatable measurements) and start immediate countermeasures.

If your technical sensing equipment has self-verification functionality, it behaves like an additional and experienced maintenance team with a sublime knowledge of the mineral production process and the ability to react to production anomalies to reduce costly downtime. Sensors capable of monitoring their own performance against initial calibration and setup remove the uncertainty that there is a process problem or sensor issue. If a sensor knows that it is working against initial specification, only then, will a process problem and not a sensor malfunction be detected.

Self-monitoring measurement sensors create a trust in the process and enable the maintenance and production teams to run processes smoothly while reducing time spent checking for malfunctioning sensing equipment. The devices will tell you directly if a problem occurs. This is a first step from smart Sensors to the Internet of Things. As a first step from smart Sensors to the Internet of Things, the devices will tell the user directly if a problem occurs.

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