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Gold Fields and ABB pioneer digital mining in remote Chilean desert

ABB and Gold Fields pioneer digital mining in remote Chilean desert

Gold Fields and ABB pioneer digital mining in remote Chilean desert


ABB is installing its enterprise-grade digital platform ABB Ability™ Genix Industrial Analytics and AI Suite to enable Gold Fields’ Salares Norte project in Chile to drive efficient, sustainable and remote operations.

The gold and silver mine is located in the Atacama Desert, among the highest peaks of the Andes mountain range with elevations of between 4,200m and 4,900m. It is 1,300km from the Chilean capital of Santiago where the ABB Ability™ Genix suite is located in a remote monitoring center for the mine. With the technology, Gold Fields will gain data insights that will help them to increase industrial productivity and operational excellence, while reducing costs. Remote connectivity will help reduce the number of people needed at the actual mine location, thus improving safety.

ABB Ability™ Genix combines the power of industrial analytics and artificial intelligence to integrate 25 engineering, operational and information technology systems across different functional areas, including the mine, processing, geology and exploration, asset management, finance, legal, and human resources.

Starting with data capture and integrating cross-functional data, ABB Ability™ Genix connects operational, business and engineering systems. It then collects, contextualizes and converts data through advanced analytics into meaningful information to unlock productivity improvements by driving smart business decisions.

ABB Ability™ Genix will help visualize and analyze all information required to support Gold Fields’ reporting and drive its environmental commitments, helping the company to make a world of difference by achieving its vision of becoming the global leader in sustainable gold mining.

“Salares Norte deploys a high level of digital industrial software and technology. This is critical to this project due to its remote location – the nearest town being Diego de Almagro, 180km away, the altitude of the project and adverse weather conditions which make site access and fieldwork challenging,” said Max Combes, Project Director of Gold Fields. “It demanded a solution for the remote monitoring center in Santiago that could integrate and contextualize information from many systems, including some common to Chile, as well as perform data analytics. ABB is already a proven digital partner and ABB Ability™ Genix will further unlock the power of data at this project.”

“ABB will deliver a comprehensive integrated electrification, automation and digitalization solution at Salares Norte,” said Iván Villegas, Hub Product Marketing Manager Automation – South America, ABB. “ABB Ability™ Genix, set to be fully commissioned in record time, will help Gold Fields to use their data from operations better, by combining it with engineering and information technology data for multi-dimensional decision making.”

ABB has already deployed the ABB Ability™ MineOptimize solution to supply an integrated power and automation system at Salares Norte comprising six electrical rooms and a suite of process and power controls, all under ABB Ability™ System 800xA distributed control system (DCS). These include Power and Process Control Library and Camera Connect (the ABB video system embedded in the control platform for optimized process monitoring). ABB Ability™ Knowledge Manager is also used to manage information production through Plant Information Management System (PIMS), alongside ABB Ability™ Asset Vista Condition Monitoring.

ABB’s scope includes Dynamic Process Simulator, which reviews plant control logics, reducing commissioning times and allowing Gold Fields to train operators to acquire the skills required to achieve high-quality operations.

Salares Norte is expected to produce 3.7 million ounces of gold over an initial mine life of 11 years. The operation involves drilling, blasting, loading, and hauling methods for ore extraction, and has an installed production capacity of two million tons per annum.

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a leading global technology company that energizes the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. By connecting software to its electrification, robotics, automation and motion portfolio, ABB pushes the boundaries of technology to drive performance to new levels. With a history of excellence stretching back more than 130 years, ABB’s success is driven by about 105,000 talented employees in over 100 countries.

ABB’s Process Automation business is a leader in automation, electrification and digitalization for the process and hybrid industries. We serve our customers with a broad portfolio of products, systems, and end-to-end solutions, including our # 1 distributed control system, software, and lifecycle services, industry-specific products as well as measurement and analytics, marine and turbocharging offerings. As the global #2 in the market, we build on our deep domain expertise, diverse team and global footprint, and are dedicated to helping our customers increase competitiveness, improve their return on investment and run safe, smart, and sustainable operations.

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