The OZ Minerals Think & Act Differently (TAD) team and Inspire Resources, together with Unearthed, developed a crowd challenge to find innovators with flexible and modular solutions that could be deployed as part of an integrated mine design. The Scalable and Adaptable mining challenge has enabled exploration of several exciting modern mining concepts including a fully electric, zero entry mine enabled by mechanical cutting technologies. The results of what we have learned from the Scalable and Adaptable Mining Challenge have been released in a White Paper today. (PDF 2MB)

The Scalable and Adaptable cohort, made up of seven teams, were selected in September 2021 and have worked together on a collaborative design exercise, bringing together innovations across the mining value chain.

OZ Minerals’ Head of Transformation and Think & Act Differently, Katie Hulmes, said this is an exciting test case for the way future mines could be designed, and it has led to the Think & Act Differently team employing similar approaches to explore the value of several orebodies. The TAD team have initiated a Concept of Operations work stream to test different sets of capabilities.

‘We are using our Concept of Operations processes to develop novel solutions for specific orebodies. Where we have gaps, we develop work packages and challenges to find or develop technology. We are looking to attract innovators who are interested in working this way.’

‘We are testing sets of capabilities that may be employed to achieve a modern mine. Today’s mining value chain is complex and efficiency-driven. Implementing change demands a systems approach that enables trade-offs and risks to be fully understood and depends on a high degree of collaboration among experts. Think & Act Differently is as much about developing these ways of working as it is about taking advantage of new technologies.’

The Scalable & Adaptable cohort developed a whole-value-chain concept for a flexible operation based on a known satellite deposit. The underground mine design was a novel combination of mechanical cutting technologies in a geometrically regular and repeatable arrangement. This architecture enables a more agile extraction plan, real-time electric power management, enabling the concept to run entirely on variable solar power. This exciting concept points the way to future all-electric, zero-entry, low-footprint mines.

Modular designs make use of relatively small, easily replicated, discrete production modules that can be quickly added to or subtracted from the value chain so that an operation can respond to new circumstances, for example, ore type changes, new metal prices or the availability of renewable energy.

Andy Reynolds, President, Inspire Resources and challenge partner, commented ‘This concept simulation is a ground-breaking first step in designing a modern mine. The team has put aside the traditional mine development template and experimented with a different approach from the ground up which has generated valuable new possibilities for our stakeholders and the industry. The way this has been achieved has been quite extraordinary, with innovators collaborating and learning from one another as we developed the concept.’

Now that we have been able to activate an ecosystem of suppliers willing to go on the journey with us, our next step is to identify new mines where this can be applied and grow our ecosystem.

Think & Act Differently
If the modern mine can be imagined, it can be created. Think & Act Differently (TAD), powered by OZ Minerals, is building an ecosystem of the curious who are exploring and accelerating themes that prioritise social and environmental responsibility for the development of the modern mine. Central to its success is the active participation of a network of people from across multiple industries, organisations, community groups, governments, research organisations and others who want to play a role in solving complex challenges.

Inspire Resources
Inspire Resources is a Canadian company formed in 2019 to develop and ultimately operate a new Mining-as-a-Service business model for community-owned mining projects. It is a social enterprise that will orchestrate mining projects as prime contractor throughout their lifecycles to meet the needs of community development plans; this requires, among other things, a transformed mine design process and modular commercial alliance structure, enabled by advanced digital Systems Engineering tools

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