Since 2018 we have been implementing a company-wide program of automation, digital and process transformation we call ADaPT, which is helping us define our journey to operate the mines of the future.

ADaPT is a key feature of our strategy to prepare for operational change as our stakeholders expect us to produce more, waste less, and protect our people and environment. Digital transformation presents an industry-wide opportunity to enhance performance and reduce impact.

What is ADaPT?

We created ADaPT through a high-level collaborative planning workshop that included OceanaGold, Sandvik and MST Global.

The basic principle was to build internal capacity to generate better real time data and use that data to communicate across our workforce, mitigate risk and innovate. Better data enables reduced energy consumption and waste production, and more efficient processes result in producing gold with less rock removed, processed and stored, resulting in less coarse waste and tailings.

Implementation at the Didipio Mine

We strategically selected the underground Didipio Mine to become a flagship site for ADaPT:  an ideal site due to its early stage in the mining lifecycle and resilient workforce with an appetite for change.

The mine will be a model modern operation delivering greater safety, higher efficiencies and increased productivity. To drive this transformation, we are working in partnership with Sandvik for their expertise in mine automation systems, and MST for their experience in the data communications systems required to support productivity and safety processes in underground mines.

Project Manager James Allnutt is leading the transformation program and spoke to us about the process the Transformation Team has led since 2018.

“It started with a thorough review of the state of underground mining technologies, as the team planned to build on industry learning and take a ‘fast follower’ approach. We assessed that ADaPT would help the operation achieve a 10 per cent productivity gain by making the Didipio Mine more connected,” James said.

“In order to better plan for the transformation, we adopted the Idea Management Process, which involves defined steps to achieve sustained and incremental change: diagnostic, prioritise, sign on, implement, track and sustain, and sign off. Benefits from adopting this process of prioritisation were immediately seen – we noticed a clear reduction in frustrations and competition for operations resources. Our first output, a qualitative review of the value and barriers specific to each idea, was used to prioritise these ideas and put them into action.”

Idea management process at Didipio

Two of the projects that resulted from this process were prioritised in the ideas pipeline:

  • Surface remote bogging, which aims to increase the stope production rate and enhance safety by removing personnel from hazardous areas. The team was able to track the progress by measuring daily additional tonnes bogged over shift change
  • Digitised task management, aimed at increasing equipment utilisation and efficiency. The project initially focused on trucks and managed to reduce the idle time significantly. Digitised task management enabled mining supervisors to monitor task progress with real-time and accurate data.

A third project, viewed as an enabler sub-project, was identified as critical to the success of many projects: the backbone and wireless network.

“A fibre optic backbone and Wi-Fi-based network was installed at the Didipio  Mine providing a reliable, mobile and high bandwidth data communication system capable of withstanding the harsh underground environment. The open connectivity allows data-hungry applications, such as mine automation and fleet management systems to be supported by single network infrastructure. Personal safety beacons monitor mine employees’ locations in real-time, enabling rapid accounting for personnel in emergencies and smart management of refuge chamber capacities and fixed plant operations,” James said.

“The implementation of the Idea Management Process to sequence, prioritise and manage transformation ideas at the Didipio Mine improved the integration of the transformation project objectives with the operating teams. Learnings were invaluable. One of them was the importance of having a communication strategy to manage expectations, engage stakeholders and reduce the risk of ineffective implementation.”

“ADaPT has already changed the way we operate. Experience to date has shown existing jobs are becoming more interesting as repetitive work is removed and people are being empowered to enhance their roles. Our workforce welcomed the change and saw the benefits in their day-to-day jobs through technologies that connect them with each other and protect them from the typical hazards associated with the mining environment.”

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