To better manage reagent, energy and water usage throughout the upgraded plant, while at the same time improve the quality of mine tailings, South Deep Mine needed a complete control and reporting system upgrade that would integrate all existing field systems with the new ore processing systems. This would have to allow for faster, more informed business decisions at a management level, and help the mine meet its long-term sustainability objectives.
Gold Fields also needed to reduce the risk of unplanned downtime with a control system that could seamlessly integrate all field devices, plant control, visualisation, reporting and overall performance monitoring into a single, simplified system that could also be expanded in future plant upgrades.
The metallurgy plant was originally based on Rockwell Automation RSView®32 component-based HMI and L62 controllers for process monitoring and control. This required further optimisation: all I/O, interlocks, sequences and other process routines needed to be re-evaluated to eliminate unnecessary complexities throughout the new control system.
With the metallurgical plant running Rockwell Automation technology since 2001, Gold Fields directly commissioned Rockwell Automation to perform the control system upgrades. Rockwell Automation became involved with the new processing system via an EPCM contractor at South Deep Gold Mine. These two projects needed to culminate in a single, fully-integrated control, visualisation and reporting system.
The Mining Solution Using PlantPAx
The mining solution using PlantPAx® is based on decades of mining domain expertise which has been formalised into a highly standardised, lifecycle-managed and easily commissioned solution that's capable of reducing control system risks, improving diagnostics and reporting, and reducing system-wide complexities.
A more tailored and cost-effective alternative to a traditional DCS-based (distributed control systems) solution, the PlantPAx provides additional flexibility, managed mining-specific standards and reduced commissioning time and costs. This control system also helps ensure the same, high functional standards of a DCS-based system in terms of standardisation and single-tag databases.
The solution consists of a PlantPAx controller platform, configured to buffer up to 1,000 time-stamped data entries (plant history, events and alarms) to provide uninterrupted data logging in the event of a network failure.
For comprehensive visualisation of plant processes, the PlantPAx visualisation software, based on server-client architecture, was built into the system. ViewTools, licenced to PlantPAx, was also incorporated to provide the benefit of direct client access to the controller without the need for a path through the server.