“Does it add value or reduce risk to the business?” is a question we ask every time we make an investment at Newmont. It’s what we asked ourselves in 2017 when we undertook digital assessments at our Boddington and Twin Creeks operations – assessments that helped us identify six technology and innovation strategic pillars that Scott P. Lawson calls Newmont’s “Critical Few.”
As Newmont’s Chief Technology Officer, Scott helps drive sustainable competitive advantage and performance through digital mining solutions. He believes full integration of the Critical Few has benefits beyond cost savings. In fact, the Critical Few represent the “front line for safer mines of the future.”
Fleet automation is just one of the Critical Few technologies helping our people stay out of harm’s way.
With Caterpillar’s Command systems we are moving operators above ground at our Leeville and Carlin portal mines. From the safety of an office – 2,000 feet away from the underground activity – operators can now control two underground loaders simultaneously. That decreases potential injury and risk, as well as exposure to dust and debris, which is common in underground mines. A plan has been underway to expand the automated fleet at Leeville to five units, a move that will enhance safety for even more people.
Caterpillar’s MineStar system includes other safety features, such as an authorization process that requires employees to punch in a code before operating heavy machinery. This added safety verification step ensures that only properly trained operators use the equipment, and it brings an extra layer of caution – similar to a pilot’s preflight check – to the process of working heavy machinery.
Caterpillar’s MineStar Health is another valuable tool in the suite of technologies that Newmont has embraced. It uses sensors on loaders and haul trucks to feed operators data and alarms in real time – either to the operator or office depending on content. With this information, the health of equipment can be readily assessed. Maintenance crews can make preventative repairs before major component failures occur, reducing the risk of injury stemming from machinery malfunctions and periods of decreased productivity because of operational disruption.
Innovative technologies such as MineStar and Command systems are helping us optimize the capabilities of our teams – while enhancing productivity, sustainability and safety. “The mine of the future isn’t about replacing humans with machines,” Scott explains. “It’s about creating better jobs for our people by leveraging their talent in new ways.”
“The mine of the future isn’t about replacing humans with machines. It’s about creating better jobs for our people by leveraging their talent in new ways.” — Scott Lawson, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
Next in this series, we take a look at other Critical Few initiatives driving value across Newmont’s mine lifecycle.