Barrick Gold isn’t alone in their plans to make their mining operations more automated and ecological. The plans to go green are not a secret, but Denis Gratton, vice-president of automation, spoke at the April 19 meeting of the Sudbury chapter of the Canadian Institute of Mining to elaborate on the company’s strategy.
Their plans include everything from chemical leaching to autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence in a ground-up approach to change how the company does business.
For starters, Gratton said the company had to look at innovation as a whole, rather than merely changing a few machines or methods of working. To do that, the company established its own innovation team to work on projects in house and explore third-party partnerships.
“It’s not like we hadn’t innovated. In the processing of gold, we are proud we have led in that area for many years,” he said. “There are places where we had to create a process, because one didn’t exist.”
They had discussions and invited operators to try and identify where the problems are. They came up with five categories: global ore body intelligence, autonomous and electric mine and what can be automated, predict the precision extraction and new methods to recover gold, symbiotic development and sharing the wealth with host communities and countries, and disruptive technologies and value gold in non-traditional ways.
Gratton explained there are three levels of innovation at the company. The first is general improvements to the mine operations, or continuous change.
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