QUÉBEC, Aug. 17, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - BEAP, a clean technology startup, and Norda Stelo, an established engineering firm, are joining forces to introduce artificial intelligence into the mining industry. The $1.2 million project, supported by Investissement Québec as mandatary of the Government of Québec, seeks to solve a major issue for this industry: how to use artificial intelligence to predict failures and the lifecycle of a series of static assets, such as pipeline networks, conveyor lines and buildings.
BEAP and Norda Stelo thus propose to develop a platform allowing them to perform predictive maintenance of static assets in the mining sector, which have very little, or no data captured in real time.
This platform merges the data gathered during asset inspections and maintenance with human engineering knowledge, which will lead to machine learning models to improve the precision of predictions. Human knowledge and artificial intelligence team up!
For the mining sector, predictive and even prescriptive maintenance of strategic assets may allow a considerable reduction of maintenance costs and favour 20% to 25% production growth, permitting a better return on investment.
This digital innovation could find application potential in 22 mines, 14 smelters and refineries and 16 plants currently in operation in Québec. In the medium term, this solution would be deployed in the energy sector, which already faces the same asset management issues, not to mention the foreign export potential.
"This project is especially dear to us. Our team concentrates on preventing the negative economic, environmental, and human consequences of unexpected failures. We have developed a method for collecting and processing information that provides structured data for artificial intelligence analysis. We can thus improve our understanding of asset health by helping tools already in place. That knowledge enables mining companies to improve asset monitoring and simplify the operational process," explains Benoit Moffet Bédard, President and Co-founder of BEAP.
Digital transformation of mining companies
The mining industry has embarked on an ambitious and strategic path by adopting technology that favours a high level of autonomy. Optimal analysis of equipment data by artificial intelligence allows generation of a large volume of relevant information for sustainable asset management.
Currently, most maintenance operations are based on the knowledge of experienced personnel without being scanned or secure. By using analytical techniques to increase comprehension and scanning of asset data, the mine raises the level of monitoring and comprehension of its operational process.
"With several clients, we find that most of the inspection reports are derived from handwritten forms containing unstructured qualitative data. This data, essential for tracking the health of equipment, is generally decentralized and in different formats that are difficult to consult. This documentary disorganization has an impact on the response time and the quality of the decisions concerning equipment maintenance.
The project, which includes inputting inspection data with a tablet or smartphone, will generate interactive reports that add real value to the data for the client, facilitating decision-making and risk management in servicing and maintenance of its assets." - Sophie Boisvert, Vice-President, Resources and Industry at Norda Stelo.
Major environmental gains
Failure reduction has economic impacts on a mine's production, and it certainly has significant environmental consequences. Due to failure prediction, maintenance interventions are much more targeted. The teams can repair or change certain parts instead of changing an asset completely. This can extend the life of assets and optimize their use. Not only can these industries expect superior performance, but also sustainable development by minimizing spills, incidents and unscheduled shutdowns.
Minerai de fer Québec, as stakeholder in the project, was attracted by the proponents' environmental approach. As the Chief Operating Officer, Alexandre Belleau of Champion Iron Limited, involved in the project through its Minerai de fer Québec subsidiary, declared, "for our fast-growing company, participation in this project allows us to contribute to the development of digital technology and artificial intelligence in our industry. Although we already contribute to the reduction of global GHG emissions, particularly thanks to our high-quality iron ore products, we are constantly looking for projects to improve our sustainable practices during our operations. Since ingenuity is one of our core values, it was natural for us to contribute to the BEAP project."
The BEAP and Norda Stelo project is consistent with the Québec government vision for an innovative, prosperous economy, focused on new technology. "Innovation is the key to competitiveness for all Québec companies, including those in the mining industry. The intelligent platform perfected by BEAP and Norda Stelo will allow them to improve their procedures so that they upgrade their performance. Thanks to this digital innovation, all of Québec will benefit from the inventiveness, creativity and knowhow of these two companies," points out Lucie Lecours, Minister for the Economy.
BEAP was founded in 2020 with the mission to protect what counts with advanced technology. It defines itself as a clean technology company. The young organization offers the business intelligence necessary for industrial asset inventory managers to help them make quick, efficient and well-documented decisions. The analysis of high-value asset health is consistent with an approach based on asset sustainability, while reducing failures that cause harm to people and their environment.
About Norda Stelo
Founded in Québec in 1963 and 100% Québec-owned, Norda Stelo is an independent engineering firm, specializing in integrated projects in the urban infrastructures and transportation fields, as well as various industrial sectors, including mining and metals, energy and manufacturing. Its vision: Mobilizing its collective intelligence towards the sustainability of its partners' assets, the communities and the planet.
Norda Stelo has great expertise in asset integrity and maintenance management. It is proud to partner with BEAP in the development of this project, which will contribute to the mining industry's progress in its digital transformation. In addition to contributing technical engineering knowledge to the development of the new platform, Norda Stelo will act as integrator of the solution for its clients to deploy the technology both in Québec and internationally.
About Champion Iron Limited
Champion Iron Limited, through its subsidiary Quebec Iron Ore Inc., owns and operates the Bloom Lake Mining Complex, located on the south end of the Labrador Trough, approximately 13 km north of Fermont, Québec, adjacent to established iron ore producers. Bloom Lake is an open-pit truck and shovel operation with a concentrator, and it ships iron ore concentrate from the site by rail, initially on the Bloom Lake Railway, to a ship loading port in Sept-Îles, Québec. The Bloom Lake Phase I plant has a nameplate capacity of 7.4 Mtpa and produces a high-grade 66.2% Fe iron ore concentrate with low contaminant levels, which has proven to attract a premium to the Platts IODEX 62% Fe iron ore benchmark. In addition to the partially completed Bloom Lake Phase II project, Champion owns a portfolio of exploration and development projects in the Labrador Trough, including the Kamistiatusset Project located a few kilometres south-east of Bloom Lake, and the Fire Lake North iron ore project, located approximately 40 km south of Bloom Lake. The Company sells its iron ore concentrate globally, including customers in China, Japan, the Middle East, Europe, South Korea, India and Canada.
About the Innovation Program
The Innovation Program is administered by Investissement Québec as mandatary for the Government of Québec. Its objective is to support businesses, with priority to SMEs, in the achievement of their innovation projects and in the commercialization of their innovations, regardless of whether the projects are carried out in Québec or with partners located abroad. More specifically, the Innovation program seeks to support companies at different stages of a product or process innovation project, whether during planning, development, demonstration or commercialization. It thus contributes to accelerating the achievement of such innovation projects and to improving the productivity and competitiveness of Québec companies.
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