Over the last year, a joint effort between Barrick Gold Corporation, a Nevada-based gold mining company, and Cisco Systems have incorporated various technologically advanced aspects within the Cortez gold mine in Nevada. Inspired by the monitoring technology used by Researchers and Developers in Silicon Valley in California, Barrick hopes to advance the gold mining industry in a way that will produce numerous benefits for every aspect of the mining process.
Richard Williams, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Barrick, was first inspired by his previous experience as an officer in the United Kingdom’s Special Air Service to create this interconnected mining network. During his time in Iraq, Williams gained first-hand knowledge and experience on how the electronic networks present in and around a given battlefield allowed commanders to make immediate life or death decisions.
The C0deM1ne Software
Barrick’s digital transformation team has created the C0deM1ne software, which is the programming computer code that is dedicated to advancing the various aspects of the gold mining process. To integrate this software into the daily maintenance of mining activities, Barrick first placed thousands of sensors around the mine, specifically on the equipment and other tools that are used each day by the mining workers. By wiring the mine with underground WiFi to transmit any information obtained by the sensors back to their unified operations center, Barrick’s team can record virtually all activity that takes place in a typical work day.
Large Scale Advantages
At the macro level, all data that is collected by the sensors around the Cortez mine provides information on the overall production of the mine to executive workers in a precise and reliable manner. By immediately detecting any possible depletion of materials or chemicals within the mine, Barrick’s executive officers can contact suppliers to replenish these items, as well as gain a better understanding as to why supplies are depleting so rapidly.
As the system generates a specific list of the required quantities of supplies, it simultaneously investigates every possible factor that attributed to this specific issue. By recognizing how supplies are used up in a rapid and efficient manner, Barrick can better plan how they use their resources in future endeavors.
Barrick’s sensor technologies have also proved useful in the daily monitoring of water quality in and around the mine, as the release of cyanide that is used during extraction techniques can cause devastating toxic effects to people in the surrounding areas.
The implementation of sensors on the various equipment and handheld technologies carried by workers provides Barrick with real-time information on the daily performance of workers. If a worker is underperforming, for example, the integrated sensor technologies can determine if their cessation in production is a result of employee error, fatigue that results from the hard labor associated with everyday mining, or if the rock the worker is handling is particularly difficult to work with. In the event of a mining emergency, such sensor technologies could also provide headquarters with all the necessary information needed to immediately address such a situation.
Changing the Mining Process for the Future
The digital mining solutions proposed by Barrick have already provided their operators with the necessary tools to integrate all aspects of the mining process into one common network. As technology is constantly evolving, the integration of robust systems are expected to continually transform the traditionally paper-based record system employed in the mining industry into an interconnected system that saves a great deal of money for the company in the end.
The advancement of gold production that has been developed by Barrick is a profitable solution that will revolutionize the mining industry as rival companies around the world will soon discover its usefulness.
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“Gold Mining Gets Wired” – Bloomberg Businessweek