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AUTOMATED ASSIGNMENT OF PERSONNEL TO MINE EQUIPMENT AND VISUALIZATION OF ACTIVITIES FOR SHIFT CHANGE IN TOQUEPALA

Por: Ing. Alberto Paz Benavente e Ing. Richard Manrique, gerente Mina y superintendente de Sistemas Control y Comunicación en Southern Peru Copper Corporation – Toquepala.


Abstract

Southern Copper Corporation (SCC) is one of the world's largest integrated copper producers. It produces copper, molybdenum, zinc, lead, coal and silver. All of its mining, smelting and refining operations are carried out in Peru and Mexico, and the company is engaged in exploration activities also in those countries and Chile.

Its operations in Peru (Toquepala and Cuajone mines, approximately 860 kilometers southeast of the city of Lima) include ore extraction, milling and flotation to produce copper and molybdenum concentrates; the smelting of copper concentrates to produce anodes; and the refining of copper concentrates to produce copper cathodes, west of the mines, in the city of Ilo (Moquegua).

Significant amounts of molybdenum concentrates and refined silver are produced as part of this process. It also produces refined copper using solvent extraction and electrowinning technology.

From the start of operations at Toquepala mine, supervisors would assign personnel to their equipment manually, informing operators about the equipment they would be working with during their shift and the vehicles that would be used to transport them.

Once operators were informed, they would board the mobile units that would take them to their respective equipment inside the mine. The time taken for this activity is approximately 13 to 18 minutes at the beginning of the day or night shift, without the personnel receiving any other relevant information from the previous shift.

The Access Control System and Automatic Assignment of Personnel to Equipment is a tool that optimizes this activity and has a direct impact on boosting production at the Toquepala mine. It is an electronic data transfer where access control systems and the dump truck control system interact, so that, based on the skills of operators, equipment priority, equipment status, absenteeism, location and routes, workers are assigned to their respective positions.

Currently, the positive impact during the first hour per night shift has resulted in an average increased production of 4,824 tons during the day shift, increasing production by 40% (from 12,205 tons to 17,029 tons) and 3,990 tons during the night shift, which is a 30% increase (from 13,180 tons to 17,170 tons); at the end of the day, this amounts to approximately 8,814 tons, thus contributing to exceed the planned daily and monthly production goals. This has allowed for greater order in the assignment of personnel to their equipment, optimizing transport time, as well as reducing the use of radios at the beginning of the shift.

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