Going digital has streamlined how Barrick tracks and reports environmental performance and improved compliance related to air quality at its Goldstrike mine in Nevada.
“It used to take weeks to compile data from spreadsheets into reports showing compliance with air quality operating permits under Title V of the U.S. Clean Air Act,” says Keshab Simkhada, Senior Environmental Engineer at Goldstrike.
Title V permits regulate air pollutants such as mercury and sulfur dioxide in the U.S. The permits extend far into mine operations, regulating everything with a potential to emit, from silos to ore crushers to autoclaves. Goldstrike has more than 60,000 monitoring requirements per year as part of its air permits alone.
By automating data captured in OSIsoft’s Pi system, the previously complicated reporting, which took weeks, is now done in just two days. The system improves data accuracy and reliability, and an increasing amount of Barrick’s environmental performance is available in real time.
“I used to compile data from an Excel sheet, look through paper log books, and call people to verify numbers,” says Marsh Flint, Metallurgist at Goldstrike.
The new system solves that by instantly collecting, analyzing and sharing information from multiple sources. Employees can use the Pi system to access statistics from 10 years ago or the last 10 minutes. The system continually evaluates compliance and sends out notifications about potential deviations through email or SMS text messages to key operations and environmental people. While the system significantly improves monitoring and reporting efforts, the role of operational and environmental staff remains critical to ensuring compliance.
The change has taken nearly two years, from early brainstorming ideas to streamlining the process to testing and finally the full launch at Goldstrike. “Now I can devote more time to improving environmental processes,” Flint says.
Work to streamline the compliance reporting systems at other sites with Title V permits continues, including at the Cortez and Turquoise Ridge mines in Nevada. The plan is to eliminate manual data collection and automate as much as possible.
“We have a real opportunity to standardize our Title V reporting in the U.S.,” says Felicia Douglas, Environmental Analyst at Barrick. “Even sites that don’t have the same permits could use the framework, pulling compliance data into the Pi system for more consistent monitoring and reporting of air data across the Company.”
“Despite working with all those spreadsheets, Goldstrike has always had strong environmental compliance, so they could have continued doing things the same way for years to come,” Douglas adds. “It took creative energy and a huge commitment to being innovative to find a better way.”