An ideal approach to achieving sustainable mining is implementing the Kaizen philosophy, which is also called the continuous improvement cycle. Utilising this approach, the areas that need improvement are identified, new processes or equipment are developed and put into place, and the changes are constantly reviewed to find new opportunities to improve.


Role of Normet in driving continuous improvement for sustainable mining. (Credit: Normet)

For mining technology company Normet, innovation starts with finding out where waste can be cut down, whether that is through reducing water waste and optimisation of shotcrete applications, or by reducing energy usage. In contrast to its rivals, Normet does more than simply provide environmentally friendly machinery. It also works with clients to help continuously improve their sustainable mining efforts.

Normet equipment offering and new technology vice president Mark Ryan said: “It’s not a ‘sell and forget’ scenario for us. What we’re really selling is a result, and the machine is only one part of that.

“One of the clear differentiators when it comes to Normet is not only having the technology, but also having the people to help our customers get the absolute best from that technology and to be able to achieve their safety, sustainability and productivity targets.”

The field and audit services of Normet are part of this continuous improvement initiative to minimise waste while enhancing safety.

Ryan said: “We do audits on the equipment to ensure that it’s safe and compliant with regulations, but also from a sustainability viewpoint, we do a fair amount of process audits for our customers.

“We’re able to go in there, analyse what they’re doing, help them improve their processes, reduce waste, introduce tools and technologies, and help them with the management of these changes. We’re also helping them to implement a continuous improvement process with the data that we provide through our IoT systems.

“For example, we’ll look at their sprayed concrete approach and work out how we can improve the process, such as altering the concrete mix, changing the ways of working, or revising underground logistics.”

One manner by which Normet can assist customers to update their sprayed concrete methods is through the implementation of the SmartScan solution. This software provides automated calculations and monitors the thickness of sprayed concrete to be applied to enhance efficiency and bring down wastage. Besides, the sustainable mining solution also gives the ability to operators to remotely inspect areas where repairs or concrete application could be needed.

Another intelligent solution for sustainable mining offered by Normet is SmartDrive which works in conjunction with the company’s collection of batteries electric cars (BEVs). The advantages of BEVs are far more extensive than the usual benefits of electrified vehicles. For example, being able to travel without the consumption of fuel.

In the absence of the harmful exhaust fumes produced by diesel engines, the air quality inside underground mining operations is dramatically improved. This in turn significantly reduces the infrastructure needed for ventilation systems, as well as the energy usage associated with it.

Normet collaborates with its mining customers to avoid pollution or impacts on the local environment. Through its Charmec systems, Normet creates a cleaner reaction in the course of explosive charging to decrease how much gas is generated. This is not only essential to prevent the pollution of the environment caused by mining, but also crucial to meet the sustainability goals which allow mining to continue. Additionally, its selection of green materials used for ground conditioning and cleaning tunnelling equipment reduces the impacts on the environment.

The mining technology company helps its customers achieve sustainable mining targets prior to, during, and after the implementation of the solutions. One method to ensure their products can be utilised efficiently and safely is with training programmes.

Ryan explains: “Training is one of the core things that we pride ourselves on. You can have the most brilliant machine that’s ever been conceived, but if people don’t know how to use or get the benefit from it, it’s pretty much a doorstop.

“We really pride ourselves in being a master of the processes that we provide our customers. So, masters of sprayed concrete, explosive charging, scaling and logistics, as well service and global benchmarks.

“We are one of very few companies that provides this equipment that also provides cost-per-hour service contracts. It all comes back to making sure the customer gets the maximum value of the product that they have bought from us, and training is really key to making sure the customer is able to maximise the productivity and safety of the machine.”

Normet’s training courses are state-of-the-art, which use simulators to let workers learn without any chances of danger or risking damage or the loss of costly equipment.