Vernon Murray
Vice President and General Manager Mexico and North Latin America
View from the Top

Wireless Solution for Safe Lixiviation

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 14:56

Q: What opportunities does Emerson see in the Mexican mining sector?

A: Mining in Mexico offers an important growth opportunity for Emerson. Reliability, safety and environmental stewardship are extremely important for the company and in the mining industry automation plays a key role in all those parameters. Mines are harsh environments and the capabilities of automation and data acquisition today are allowing miners to monitor information and to act on it more quickly and smoothly than in the past.

Emerson recently created a mining center in Chile where Ph.D candidates and specialists work with local industry and universities to develop mining applications for Mexico and the world. For instance, one of our advancements uses wireless measurements in the lixiviation processes. Lixiviation is difficult from a safety standpoint because employees must go into the field to take measurements from a pool the size of a soccer field. It is a tough environment and is located far from the operations center. Emerson partnered with local experts to monitor the lixiviation process remotely with its measurement equipment. Creating a wireless infrastructure by using each of those pieces of equipment as a self-replicating network guarantees the reliability and continuity of the signals.

Mexican miners are some of the most innovative in the world. When we launch new products, Mexican mining companies are among the first adapters. Emerson’s mobile worker concept is a tablet carried by an engineer in the field to ensure essential assets are operating properly. One of the first installations of a mobile worker in the world was done in the Mexican mining industry.

Q: What special needs do miners have and how can Emerson help them solve those needs?

A: Miners handle expensive raw materials. Having a minute of downtime in a mine costs a lot of money so the first and most important application for miners is the use of Distributed Control Systems (DCS) to ensure uptime. Water management is another important piece of Emerson’s portfolio, particularly for flow and water quality. Finally, we do vibration monitoring of essential assets and critical equipment. Vibration is an enemy of the mining industry, so vibration monitoring is critical for miners to ensure reliability and production uptime.

As for security, miners face exactly the same risks as companies in oil and gas. The quality and proprietary nature of the data on mines, including everything from the production rate of gold mines to the quality and quantity of water that is being used, means it is extremely important to manage it in a professional and secure matter.

The mining industry in the past had to spend money on automation and monitoring to reduce costs. Now that prices are recovering we are happy to see that that trend is not disappearing but continuing. Despite the higher prices, we do not see the trend of investing in automation fading away, mainly because companies have seen and understood the advantages of becoming top-quartile by finishing projects on budget and on time.

Q: How has the Energy Reform changed the Mexican market?

A: The Energy Reform has been rewarding. Both national and international players are entering the market, diversifying it and opening it to new opportunities as well as investing more capital. These companies are making significant investments and have an expectation of returns but first and foremost they have expectations for quality, safety and reliability standards.

In terms of reliability, our portfolio for key equipment monitoring is the market leader and in measurement systems our portfolio is one of the strongest in the market with Coriolis flow meters and pressure, temperature and level measurements.