Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

Mining New Value From RFID

Mining companies worldwide have been using RFID to track assets, vehicles and workers above and below ground. Now industry pioneers are adopting new applications to further streamline production and reduce costs, as well as improve safety.
By Elizabeth Wasserman
Aug 09, 2010—For the past two years, Vale Inco has been using radio frequency identification technology to track the grade, or mineral concentration, of ore as it is mined in real time. Geologists at the company's Stobie mine, on the south side of Ontario's mineral-rich Sudbury Basin, inspect the ore at each blast site, then encode the grade to disposable RFID tags using handheld devices. They put the tags into the ore piles, which are picked up by large vehicles called "scoops" and transferred to chutes that lead them to a conveyor system. From there, the ore goes to a "crusher" that reduces it to 8-inch rocks, then to an elevator that takes it to yet another conveyor system, which deposits the ore in rail cars that transport it to processing mills.

Along the way, strategically placed RFID interrogators read the plastic-encased RFID tags, which are designed to survive the crusher. The information from the tag reads is transferred to a database designed for this project through a system of fiber optic cables that run through the mine.

Photo: iStockphoto

The RFID system, which replaced a manual, paper-based process, allows the company to more accurately forecast which type of ore it mines and provides visibility into how long it will take to haul the ore to the surface. It also enables Vale Inco to provide the mills with better information regarding the ore blend they should expect, so they can prepare the proper chemicals to process the ore into metals, including copper and nickel. Once the solution is deployed in all of Vale Inco's Canadian mines, and mine operators can supply the processing mills with a consistent ore mix to maximize metal production, the company expects to save $30 million to $70 million a year, according to Mark Palkovits, a geologic technologist who supervises the project.

The RFID program is one of several at Vale Inco's Ontario mines designed to gain efficiencies and insight into ore production, transport and refining. The company has been using RFID since 2005 to track containers, drills and vehicles in its mines over existing wireless access points, originally set up for voice communications, to ensure equipment is readily available when needed. Earlier this year, the company started using active RFID to track rail cars from its Creighton and Stobie mines to mills, to provide an audit trail of shipments to customers.

"RFID has helped us automate the ore movement from underground to mill processing," says Peter Cunningham, Vale Inco's superintendent of process automation. "It helps us know how much each mine is producing, track the blending of the ore and track the transportation."
To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 2,261 words and 5 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations