No turning back on innovation

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Friday, 1 October 2021 |

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Our Australian mines are leading the way in modernising and digitising Gold Fields. Read on to find out more about some of the key programmes we are piloting and assessing for possible global rollout:

Underground production blasting

Together with Australian companies IMDEX and Universal Field Robots, and supported by Government funding, we are developing a remote control/automated vehicle to clean production holes and survey production faces.

Once developed and proven, this technology will assist in removing people from hazardous areas in our mining production areas, and provide essential data to improve production blasting by reducing underbreak and overbreak.

Phase 1 of this project commenced in July and is expected to be trialled at an Australian underground mine in Q4 2022.

Underground survey drone

Our St Ives team is currently piloting an underground 3D survey drone. This technology will enable us to develop a high definition scanned model of our stopes, while keeping our people safe. This technology also leads to greater understanding of the structure and form of our production stopes.

The pilot will continue through 2021, enabling us to assess the benefits and value of the technology, and, if successful, planning the roll-out at our other underground operations.

Mine Operations Centre & underground visualisation

Granny Smith is harnessing its LTE wireless backbone and a number of other technologies to provide full visualisation of its underground operations in a new onsite Mine Operations Centre (MOC). The MOC will be the home for Granny Smith's integrated scheduling, as well as underground fleet and material management systems to be installed and commissioned by the end of this year.

Successful implementation will enable greater productivity and real-time control of development and production operations. The mine controller will have access to a 3D map of the underground mine and will be able to observe and manage the location and activities of all people and equipment underground. This work will benefit all of Gold Fields' operations.

Battery Electric Vehicles

We have also started a number of Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) trials at St Ives and Granny Smith. At St Ives Hamlet North we are commencing a two-year trial of a Sandvik 50 tonne BEV Underground Haul Truck, an 18 tonne BEV LHD and a retrofitted BEV Integrated Tool Carrier later this year.

Granny Smith has partnered with Australian company Murray Engineering to trial a retrofit proof-of-concept BEV Toyota Landcruiser Light Vehicle. The pilot trial also includes a Siemens Fast Charge battery charger to enable the vehicle to be charged within 20-30 minutes, compared to the 2.5-3 hours required for other BEVs on the market.

These trials will enable Gold Fields to fully evaluate the operating performance of BEV technology, while also gaining insight into the electrical infrastructure, maintenance and support requirements of zero emission mobile equipment, as well as skills needed for the future.

We are entering the next phase

"In the past few years, Gold Fields in Australia has focused heavily on deploying surface and underground wireless digital networks, equipment data collection and people location tracking to enhance underground safety. Much of this work is still continuing and we are now entering the phase where we will harness those technologies to enable our Mine Operation and Visualisation Platform pilot projects. Our phased approach allows us to validate and understand the value and benefits of the solutions we are rolling out and how they will impact the next modernisation phase," says Rob Derries, Unit Manager: Innovation & Technology at Gold Fields in Australia.

"We are excited to be piloting and trialling leading technologies in processing, geology, survey, mine operations and zero emission mobile equipment to ensure we optimise our safety and productivity and take our people on this journey," he adds.

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