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How is technology and automation applied in a mining operation?

Leaders of the digital transformation in mining operations talked about the trends in the sector. How is this process progressing in Peru? During a forum related to technology in mining, the company Hexagon Mining, a supplier of mining technology that works with the main operations in what it calls an autonomous mine presented the benefits of robotization in the mining sector.



Last week, within the framework of the Automation Fair technology trends, there was a forum related to technology in mining and how this has been enhanced as a result of the pandemic that the world experienced this year.

“It is amazing how fast we have moved, now mining is in a recovery phase, and we have the opportunity to return better and stronger than before. With technology there is no turning back,” said Daniel Riquelme, Manager Control Systems of BHP Mining.

Read more about the importance of automation in mining and find the latest mining news with the mining News app, available for free in PlayStore.

Riquelme pointed out that the future of the industry will be accompanied by sustainable growth

“The world needs the resources that we produce, and globally, mining is the most stable industry”. In that line, Riquelme referred to a “technological break” that is already happening with the use of renewable energy, robotization and automation.

This change has also been occurring in Peru, and one of the companies leading it is Hexagon Mining, a supplier of mining technology that works with the main operations in what it calls an autonomous mine. This process is not only focused on drilling, hauling, and other tasks in the mine so that they can operate without human assistance, but consists of integrating the entire ecosystem, from planning to maintenance operation on a platform.

Jorge Garrido, general manager of Hexagon Mining Peru explained that the concept they propose to their clients is that the entire mine is autonomous, not just certain processes. “Let the information flow, let the whole cycle be autonomous. From planning, drilling, flying, loading, transporting and finally arriving at the plant. That process is what we define as an autonomous cycle,” he said.

Another key to the company, based in Arizona, is that it has a solution (software and hardware) for every component of a mine such as planners, trucks, support equipment, shovels, plants, drills, among others. And everything is integrated in the same platform. This allows the manager to monitor in real time everything that is happening with the mine.

In the region, the company is located in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, and the central office is in Lima. It has a presence with its products in a large part of the region, in operations such as Southern Peru, Antamina, Chinalco, Yanacocha, Cerro Verde, Las Bambas, Quellaveco, Prodeco, Cerrejon, among others.

“At the beginning [of the pandemic], we were concerned, in March and April, but then the projects were advanced and we estimate a growth in the order of 10 percent, compared to 2019. This is the result of several beneficial trade agreements between Hexagon Mining and our customers. We are satisfied, we would have liked to grow more, but we must be aware of the moment we are living,” said Garrido.

In addition to the short term sales plan, which is the annual one, they have defined a long term plan. They have a horizon with a growth rate of between 10% and 15%, sustainable for five years. And they see 2021 looking quite promising.

Currently, Hexagon has more than 250 licenses distributed in mines in the region, mainly open pit mines 

Maintenance is another important line of business, since they pay almost half a million dollars a year for licenses of the software they offer.

Ximena Perez Garrido, Business Development Manager of Hexagon Mining Andean Region said that they have clients with whom they have worked for 15 years and the idea is to build loyalty among all the others. To this end, the company implemented a new area called Customer Success Management (CSM), to accompany clients in optimizing the use of their licenses.

Through technical sessions, customers tell what the level of use of the licenses is, a record is made and a specialist works on the optimization. “We seek not only that the client pays for annual maintenance, but also that he can have this accompaniment,” he said. They also have a support platform to follow up on requirements. And they hold monthly or bimonthly meetings, according to the client, to measure the KPI’s (key performance indicators) of the service.

Cintya Moreno, Inside Sales Representative of the company, said that this year they have achieved a greater rapprochement with students by supporting almost all the mining and geology schools of the main universities in Lima and the provinces.

“We have an agreement to provide free licenses to students, so that they can use them in the development of their courses in the academic cycle,” she said. This year they have made different presentations and lectures in different universities with the aim of generating that learning.

He added that since last March they have been making presentations together with specialists developing workshops and demos. “Being close to the universities is a great satisfaction. It is important to be part of the students’ development. So that they can apply that knowledge in a mining company in their professional life”, he argued.


(Featured image by Lenin Estrada via Unsplash)

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First published in Peru21, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Isaac Atwood is a PR and marketing consultant who has worked with respected names in the financial industry. He has also sat down in many sessions with startups aiming to become the next unicorn. Isaac loves working with CEOs, business executives, and entrepreneurs who wish to enter the following markets: artificial intelligence, cannabis, virtual reality, cryptocurrencies, robotics, wearable and smart tech, and even the much-hyped space race. He is currently managing the brand portfolio of an Asian firm planning for its IPO by the end of the year. While his engagements have taken him around the world, Isaac is proud to call Toronto his home.