The data goldmine – how Aurelia Metals got smart digging for gold with data
Gold mining is like manufacturing in reverse. Instead of putting things together, you smash them up, mix with chemicals, and dry them out. Every process can be tuned with data, and the result is… a product: pure gold, worth AUS$1,300 per ounce.
The application of data analytics in mineral processing is the same as in manufacturing. The challenge, as with all industrial set-ups, is to get the operational data out of the system securely. Through 2016, Australian firm Convergio worked with Aurelia Metals, based in New South Wales, to optimise its Hera-Nymagee plant and improve its gold recovery, which was 74.6 per cent at the end of 2015. The first step was to join its information (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems, without putting its critical data or functions at risk.
“There was a disconnect between the process control system that ran the plant, and the corporate systems that ran the business,” explains Gavin Strack, executive director at Convergio. His firm deployed OSIsoft’s PI System as a “demilitarised zone” between the two. “PI makes data available to everyone in a way that won’t blow up the plant if someone does something silly,” says Strack.
Before PI, the process to retrieve operational data was labour intensive, and the data was unreliable. “The peculiarities of the system meant data changed, depending on the volume requested, and the period concerned. Worse, it was not always there. “It kept it for a couple of months, and was gone.”
Without data, Aurelia was reliant on intuition and experience. PI gave it new power, by retaining every data point, and making it available in high resolution, in any format. Over four quarters, Convergio put in place a series of data modelling techniques across four processes at the Hera-Nymagee plant, which put the operation on a level with the best in the mining business for industial IoT and data analytics.
This is an extract from an Enterprise IoT Insights editorial report on smart manufacturing, to be published in August 22. The report will be attended by a webinar on the same subject. Convergio is a panellist on the session. Go here to download the report after August 22. Go here to register for / listen to the webinar, with experts from ABI Research, ADLINK, Convergio, Hitachi Vantara, MESA International and PTC discussing seminal use cases and best practices that are setting the digital agenda for the industrial sector.