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Case Study

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Mining company gains 14 tonnes of gold from waste

Kazakhaltyn uses integrated architecture to ensure the success of its production expansion programme

Challenge

  • To ensure its production expansion programme was timely and efficient, mining company needed to ensure its architecture was fully integrated across sites.

Solutions

Results

  • Improved efficiencies - Significantly cut down on time spent on manual system changes and maintenance.
  • Increased connectivity - Downtime has been significantly reduced.

Going Beyond Milestone Achievements

MMC Kazakhaltyn JSC is a gold mining company based in Kazakstan focused on exploration, mining and processing of gold ore, production of gold products, and the processing, storage and sale of gold and other precious metals. It is one of Kazakhstan’s oldest gold mining companies, and was founded in 1932. Recently the company reached a milestone of 400 tonnes of gold extracted since its inception, but also wanted to deal with the issue of growing waste.

Over the 85 years, Kazakhaltyn had accumulated more than 25 million tonnes of gold-containing mineral waste on production sites, made up of ores and tailings that were too costly or not feasible for refining. Not only did this mean that mineral waste was continuing to mount, but the opportunity to gain more from it was being missed.

To maximise yield from this waste, in 2015, Kazakhaltyn launched its production expansion programme, involving the implementation of state-of-the-art beneficiation plants designed to extract additional gold ore from tailings at three of its sites – Zholymbet, Bestobe and Aksu. The first two sites utilised the carbon-in-leach (CIL) process to keep other carbonaceous materials from absorbing the gold, with the output transported to the third plant for the elution and electrowinning processes to extract the gold from its ores, before being melted to obtain the Doré bullions. The aim was to process and obtain 14 tonnes of gold Doré bullions in three to five years.

Building for Success

In order to achieve its ambitious target, Kazakhaltyn needed to ensure its new plants were operating as efficiently as possible with new technologies.

Kazakhaltyn required a fully unified and high availability control system and a flexible infrastructure that managed all aspects of automation including; field sensors, power distribution, smart motor control, operator HMI panels, EtherNet/IP network management and Data Historians.

Efficiency by Design

As the programme was focused on the typically complex time-intensive task of mining tailings, ensuring that the process was set up to succeed from the outset was of upmost importance for Kazakhaltyn.

Silumin-Vostok LLP, a Recognised System Integrator in the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork™ programme was selected to deliver the solution, due to its vast experience with similar integration projects. Prior to this, the control system was planned to be designed on equipment from other vendors, but when specificiations were near completion, Rockwell Automation’s offering was chosen as the most appropriate solution due to its vast experience in the sector.

Silumin-Vostok deployed Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture under a single EtherNet/ IP network so all devices on the network could be configured centrally through ControlLogix 5570 controllers. This not only meant that Kazakhaltyn had visibility of the entire control system environment, but if any unit or part of the architecture needed to be replaced, it could be configured and set up automatically once connected to the network, saving time and resource. 

Rockwell’s Software Studio 5000® automation system was also used to design, configure, program and maintain the controllers and Silumin-Vostok integrated an Application Code Manager (ACM) tool to streamline workflows, reuse library objects and enable auto content generation. The controllers were also fitted with POINT I/O™ modules.

Further to this, all devices were organised within four device-level rings (DLR) - each for a particular production area, and there was also a dedicated redundant controller for the elution process at the Aksu plant.

DeviceLogix™ Smart Component Technology and E300 Electronic Overload Relays were included as part of the integration to reduce the risk of motor failure by protecting the motors and providing diagnostics information, as well as define any built-in adaptive logic. PowerFlex 753 and 755 AC Drives were installed to ease programming and configuration, as well as reduce set-up time, training and operation.

For workers, the connected infrastructure provided the support needed to day-to-day.

Kazakhaltyn plants were equipped with new effective process automation systems which could enable further scaling and integration at an enterprise level.

Thus, the plant is ready for further improvements on the journey to the Connected Enterprise.

Making new milestones

As a result of Rockwell Automation’s integrated architecture, Kazakhaltyn achieved its target of extracting 14 tonnes of pure gold within three to five years. With devices on the network configured centrally, the organisation was able to significantly cut down on time spent on manual system changes and maintenance, reduce downtime and spend valuable resource on progressing the programme. This in-turn has also created a more collaborative ethos and environment within the organisation.

“Investments in the construction of new factories amount to $102.5 million. Technological processes at the new factories are automated and fully fit into the framework of Industry 4.0”, Sergey Shulga, Acting Chief Power Engineer, Kazakhaltyn notes. “New factories, commissioned in 2018 with ready control systems of the Connected Enterprise, are paving the way for us to digitalise production, taking into account current market requirements.”

With Kazakhaltyn’s plants now equipped with an effective process automation system, it can be scaled as the enterprise continues to grow and continue to maximise on the opportunity to grow, and produce more gold from the new mines.

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