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Gold Fields is continuing to innovate at the Granny Smith gold mine in Western Australia, this time through the use of Mobilaris' digital solutions.
The underground mine, located almost 750km north-east of Perth, is three years into a five-year plan to modernise operations.
The plan looks to increase cost-efficiency, productivity and safety levels at the mine, while also providing benefits in environmental sustainability – a key value of the company.
Gold Fields have implemented both Mobilaris Onboard and Mobilaris Situational Awareness, which can be used to ease and understand traffic congestion while remaining safely above ground.
Granny Smith mine manager Michael Place said the mine is functioning better than ever.
"Mobilaris Onboard allows us to navigate to all locations underground quickly and efficiently. It will improve our productivity and decrease inactive time by reducing traffic congestion and finding equipment and machines faster," he said.
Place said communication advancements have also been a major win for the mine.
"We have dedicated three full-time personnel to work on the modernisation program. We have also employed external consultants and contractors to assist with the integration. Together, we integrate an underground LTE system to have full connectivity in the mine," Place said.
Time management has also improved at Granny Smith, where previously up to four hours was lost to blasting in a 24-hour period.
Place commends new remote technologies for an increase in not only workplace safety, but productivity.
"Integrating technology into the mine allows us to look at options to reduce the inactive time. We can increase efficiency through autonomous equipment, remote operations, and digital solutions. The expected outcome is a five-15 per cent increase in productivity," Place said.
On top of its increased efficiencies in cost, productivity and safety, Granny Smith is also gaining environmental benefits from its innovation.
Such benefits are a key value to Gold Fields, as the South African company's website states in regard to sustainability: "If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine."
Place said technology helped to effectively document their environmental impact and saves time in later nullifying it.
"Moving into a more digital world is going to make sure that we are sustainable long-term. For instance, we can maintain our cost profile during expansion and follow up on our environmental footprint," Place said.
Granny Smith Mine has a history in technological innovation, thanks to Gold Fields efforts to maximise sustainability and efficiency.
In 2019, Gold Fields contracted energy services company, Aggreko, to install a renewable energy microgrid which included over 20,000 solar panels.
The grid was completed late last year and is hoped to reduce the mine's fuel consumption by up to 13 per cent.
Gold Fields executive vice-president for Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the new solar installation is a representation of the company's values as a whole.
"Here in Australia and globally our company is committed to addressing climate change impacts by transitioning towards an energy mix that increasingly embraces renewables and lower carbon fuel sources," he said.
"The Granny Smith microgrid is a clear demonstration of the innovative steps we are taking to ensure the ongoing sustainability of our operations."