INVESTORS AND MEDIA In the news
Global distributed energy producer EDL’s Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project in Western Australia has edged out competition from around the world to be named Engineering Solution of the Year at the 2020 Global Energy Awards.
The ground-breaking 56MW microgrid at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine incorporating wind, solar and thermal generation and battery storage has recently chalked up wins at the 2020 Asian Power Awards (Innovative Power Technology of the Year – Australia) and 2020 Australian Engineering Excellence Awards (WA Division).
EDL CEO James Harman said the company was honoured to be recognised for its innovative approach to delivering reliable, renewable energy for remote, off-grid industrial operations. Mr Harman said:
“Congratulations must also go to our customer, Gold Fields—their vision to be a leader in sustainable gold mining inspired EDL and our suppliers to explore the boundaries of existing technologies, resulting in this remarkable hybrid renewable energy system. The microgrid has surpassed EDL’s target of providing Gold Fields with energy that is more than 50% from renewable sources, with 99.99% reliability—a 50% renewable energy fraction abates 46,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to taking 12,700 cars off the road each year.”
Gold Fields Australia Executive Vice-President Stuart Mathews says the Agnew hybrid renewable microgrid reflects the company’s strategic objective to strengthen energy security, optimize energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint through innovation and the adoption of new technologies.
“This is a significant project for Gold Fields, EDL, and the broader mining industry, and we are honoured to see this recognised by this award. We are proud to showcase this project with EDL as an outstanding example of the capacity of the hybrid renewable energy model to meet the dynamic power requirements of remote mining operations.”
The Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project’s demonstrated success in facilitating high renewable energy penetration without compromising reliability or quality, while reducing the remote mine’s exposure to fossil fuel prices and supply interruptions, paves the way for the global mining sector to transition to renewable energy.
Mt Carlton is located 150km south of Townsville, Queensland. Operating a 500-metre by 400-metre pit and a 600-metre by 600-metre tailings dam, the company opted to introduce advanced deformation monitoring technology to deliver real-time status updates and alerts to its team.
Evolution opted for Senceive’s GeoWAN solution, a long-range transmission system capable of covering areas up to 15-kilometers. It incorporates several sensors placed along the tailings dam and/or pit walls to measure for minute movements in the surface. The sensors are wirelessly connected to a solar-powered gateway, positioned near to the pit, where data is transferred live to the web-based monitoring software.
Depending on the application, different sensors can be used in combination to deliver accurate geotechnical measurements, including tilt, pressure, vibration, temperature or optical displacement.
The setup at Mt Carlton
At Mt Carlton, Evolution Mining has more than 20 triaxial tilt sensors positioned around the tailings dam to measure for any movement. The team is also rolling out live monitoring of piezometers that measure changes moisture levels within the tailings dam walls.
In the open pit, there are numerous sensors monitoring pit walls, waste backfill and survey pillar movement.
Senior Mine Surveyor for the company, Callum McNaughton, said the solution has enabled his small team to provide accurate, viable monitoring data to the departments that need it. He said:
“The wireless monitoring platform has been perfect for us. It dramatically reduces the need for us to manually survey these areas, saving us time and increasing safety by removing surveyors walking these areas on foot.”
One of the key advantages, Mr McNaughton explains, is the ability to set different tolerances and time triggers for each sensor and/or area. He said:
“In the tailings dam we have a slightly higher tolerance before any alerts are triggered, because you do get some movement in the dam and swelling from rain. Inside the pit and in one area where there is a crack in the wall, the tolerance is much tighter and the sensors are triggered more frequently. The sensors are also firing measurements every 10 minutes in the pit, whereas they monitor every half an hour on the tailings dam.”
The monitoring data is used by multiple teams at Evolution Mining, including surveyors, geotechnical engineers, pit supervisors, and the control room. Mr McNaughton said:
“We can configure who gets the alerts and the escalation process so that different teams can receive different levels of alert if need be.”
In addition to alerts, if movement outside of tolerance is detected, the team uses the monitoring information for various reporting requirements. Geotechnical and survey teams use the data in their monthly reports, and it also forms part of the company’s quarterly compliance report for the tailings dam. Mr McNaughton said:
“It’s great that the monitoring data is helpful to so many different stakeholders at Evolution. The geotechnical engineers can pull out any relevant information for their reports and dashboards, and the pit supervisors can instantly receive any alerts if there are changes detected by the system.”
Support from Position Partners
Technical support and product training is provided by Senceive distributor, Position Partners. The deformation monitoring team offers comprehensive advice, installation, onboarding and support throughout Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. Mr McNaughton said:
“Having a local team was crucial for us to ensure that any technical issues could be actioned quickly. The Position Partners team has provided excellent communication and fast turnaround times whenever we have needed help. Initially we relied on the support team a lot as we learnt how to configure and use the technology, but once we had everything setup the way we wanted it was more a case of configuring our internal processes and escalation procedures if alerts are received.”
Complimenting a surveyor’s work
Mr McNaughton said that the wireless monitoring system did not replace traditional survey methods, but instead complimented them with ongoing monitoring data that enables early intervention and proactive management of the pit and tailings dam.
“The platform doesn’t take away from a mine surveyor’s work, it acts as a pre-warning system and enables us to track trends over time. In my opinion, the reliability, longevity and accuracy of the system we have in place at Mt Carlton would be hard to beat,”