King of the quarry – use of machine control in mining
February 1, 2019
On a cloudy day in October, we drive past Sodankylä and turn onto a road with an uncommon amount of traffic coming the other way, given our northern location in Lapland. The reason for the busy road is the Kevitsa mine, where we are visiting a customer of Novatron, Jorma Vainio. One of the many excavators belonging to Jorma’s company, Maansiirto Jorma Vainio, is at work 200 metres below the mine’s surface.
Located north of Sodankylä, the Kevitsa open-pit mine was commissioned in 2012, with 7,900,000 tonnes of ore being enriched there in 2017. Our customer, Maansiirto Jorma Vainio, was one of the first to arrive in the area in 2010, when it was still covered in forest. The firm’s first contract at the site involved excavation.
Now, over eight years later, the area is dominated by a 500-metre deep pit and Jorma’s machines have moved 200 metres underground. But, before we talk about how machine control and mining are connected, we’ll fill you in on Jorma Vaino’s background. On the basis of Jorma’s life story, you could say that he has built Finnish Lapland.
Company, Maansiirto Jorma Vainio
Jorma Vainio runs an excavation business, which he founded precisely 50 years ago, in Kittilä. He first sat behind the controls of a machine when he was 15 years old, establishing his own company upon obtaining a driving licence in 1969. Jorma has accumulated many years and huge experience in excavation. During those years, all of his construction sites have been located between Utsjoki and Kemi. In the 90s, Jorma mainly worked on Road and Water construction administrations (now called Destia) sites in the province of Lapland, and was strongly involved in the construction of the Levi ski resort. At Levi, Jorma’s company used up to 40 machines at a time to landscape the slopes and construct building foundations, streets and municipal infrastructure. The company now has over 80 excavators and 4 crushers, and 90 employees.
After an illustrious career, Jorma handed the firm over to his children in autumn 2018. His son, Janne (pictured on the right) is a familiar face at the Kevitsa mine. Artturi Siivola, Jukka Pajari and Marko Velkanmaa, who are employees of Vainio, are also in the picture.
High expectations of machine control
Ten of Jorma Vainio’s machines have been fitted with Xsite PRO ® 3D machine control systems. The systems have been installed in seven excavators, two dozers and one wheel loader. These machines are being used at locations such as the Lapland airport site, and at Kevitsa where they are engaged in clearing the rims of excavations, building clearings at the mine, and creating structural layers for access roads.
One of Jorma’s most recent acquisitions, a 85,000 kilo Hitachi 890, is operating 200 metres underground at Kevitsa. When purchased, this machine too was fitted with Xsite PRO 3D machine control system. Jorma has always adhered to the principle that each and every system is bought to fulfil a need and that none lie around gathering dust. This is also true of the most recently bought Hitachi. The machine was taken straight from the seller to Kevitsa when purchased. It has been engaged in clearing the walls of the open-pit mine, something which larger machines, weighing over 200,000 kilos, cannot do. The 3D models for the machine are provided by the mining company. These models enable a machine operating in the mine to load ore based on its precise location.
The machines work in the midst of rock, crushed stone and dust. This is highly demanding on the components. Jorma praises the durability of Xsite PRO’s G2 sensors and the high quality of the machine control system.
The mine is an interesting environment in terms of machine control. The machines work in the midst of rock, crushed stone and dust. This is highly demanding on the components. Jorma praises the durability of Xsite PRO’s G2 sensors and the high quality of the machine control system. There has been no need to change the sensors and satellite positioning has worked, despite the greater distance to the satellites compared to surface construction work.
Hitachi 890 clears the rock face of the mine. This would not be possible with larger excavators.
Machine control system markedly improves safety at construction sites like Kevitsa; the site supervisors have no need to check on the results of work done by a machine equipped with a machine control system.
Moving around close to huge machines is always risky. Xsite machine control system markedly improves safety at construction sites like Kevitsa; the site supervisors have no need to check on the results of work done by a machine equipped with a machine control system. Machine control also improves efficiency. This is important, since unnecessary delays must be avoided when working for a mining company. Systems must therefore work flawlessly. That is why Jorma once again put his trust in Novatron. “When the price-quality ratio is right, why change?” Jorma explains.