Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC

Leading underground mining services provider Barminco, a subsidiary of Perenti, has successfully piloted a new operations centre that allows it to remotely operate underground equipment on a client’s mine site anywhere around the world.

In what the company believes is a world first, Barminco operated a machine, working underground, from its head office in Perth at a client mine site in the Goldfields. 

The innovation was made more impressive given the remote operation occurred via the internet, instead of through a fibre-optic cable, which is the method that mine owner-operators have historically used.

Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Operating remotely from Perth
Operating remotely from Perth

Barminco Chief Executive Officer Paul Muller announced the momentous achievement at the third annual Sandvik Digitalization in Mining Event in Brisbane.

“Barminco has cemented its place as one of the world’s leading underground mining service providers through the use of technology and automation,” Mr Muller said.

“A key strategic initiative under our parent company, Perenti’s, 2025 strategy is to deliver a ‘technology driven future’, and our ability to remotely operate underground machinery from our head office is a significant achievement in delivering on that strategy.”

The Barminco Remote Operating Centre or BROC was successfully trialled in collaboration with Sandvik and Independence Group NL (IGO) back in July of this year.

The new system was trialled in the early morning at Barminco’s Head Office in Hazlemere (Perth, Western Australia) for a machine located at IGO’s Nova Minesite, almost 1000 kilometres away.

Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Map PerthToNova Distance
Map Perth to Nova – Distance
Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Remote operations onsite at Nova 1
Remote operations onsite at Nova

Barminco General Manager Technology and Innovation Darren Kwok said the trial was a great success.

“Whilst many mine sites have operators remotely operating equipment from the mine’s surface, we are one of the first, if not the first service provider, to operate underground equipment on a client’s site from a much greater distance,” Mr Kwok said.

“BROC enables us to connect multiple sites and operators at the same time, meaning if there is an issue at any point, we have contingencies in place.”

Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Barminco Remote Loader Operator
Barminco Remote Loader Operator

Barminco’s first trial involved the remote operation of a Sandvik LH517 loader being operated in Perth by Barminco employee, Guy Gilbert and Mr Kwok said Barminco was now working with IGO to make BROC a permanent fixture at their Nova mine site.

“The advantages in improving the safety of our workplace and the efficiencies for our clients are enormous,” Mr Kwok said.

Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Surface Remote Operations at Nova
Surface Remote Operations at Nova

Independence Group Chief Operating Officer Matt Dusci said the Company was thrilled to be part of the successful trial.

“At IGO, we continually look for ways to improve how we do business and deliver operational excellence. By integrating innovative SMART solutions at our operations, such as working with Barminco on BROC, we improve the safety and wellbeing of our people, realise step change opportunities, and optimise efficiencies and productivity,” Mr Dusci said.

“Our future plan is to have a dedicated remote operating centre manned 24/7 where our team and our client’s people can work collaboratively side by side to deliver a world class mine-site,” Mr Kwok said.

“Clients who work with Barminco should expect more from our business along with the broader Perenti group of companies and BROC is one such example of how we are delivering on this promise.”

Barminco successfully pilots Remote Operations Centre – BROC • Underground remote set up at Nova
Underground remote set-up at Nova

The Sandvik event concludes tomorrow and showcases best practice examples of industry leaders integrating digitalization into their operations across the mining, construction and quarrying industries.

The announcement comes just over a week after Barminco was awarded Large Employer of the Year 2019 at the National Australian Training Awards in Brisbane.

The award acknowledges a company which is focused on upskilling and advancing its employees and we were recognised for our leading focus on ensuring our employees are the best they can be.

Barminco named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the Australian Training Awards

Barminco named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the Australian Training Awards • L Brian Finlay Group Mgr Training and R Patrick Bourke GM Safety and People accepting the...
Brian Finlay, Group Mgr Training and Patrick Bourke, GM Safety and People accepting the award

Barminco was named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the National Australian Training Awards in Brisbane. This award recognises a company which is focused on upskilling employees.

Barminco Chief Executive Officer Paul Muller said it was an honour to be recognised.

“Our vision is to be the world’s leading hard rock underground mining service provider, and our people are at the core of that vision”.

“We are aiming to significantly increase the size of our business in the next five years in what is a highly competitive labour market and our focus is firmly on training and our integrated people strategy.”

“It is wonderful to be recognised nationally for our work in this area”, Mr Muller said.

Barminco was established in Coolgardie 30 years ago with just 30 employees and today has 3,900 employees across 22 projects in 8 countries and 4 continents.

Key elements of Barminco’s training strategy are the Barminco Training Centres, the first of which has just opened in its Hazelmere head office in Western Australia, with a second facility being replicated on a larger scale in Botswana that is due to open shortly.

“These unique facilities replicate what it is like to be underground. There is a focus on operational skills and they utilise technology to offer customised virtual reality scenarios for all the different underground jobs”, said Barminco’s General Manager, Safety and People, Patrick Bourke. 

“This is a game-changer for us as it ensures new employees go to site with a much better understanding of the underground environment so they are safer and can operate more efficiently.”

“Barminco’s focus on training people extends to several other programs, including its successful apprenticeship program that has been running for more than 20 years and its unique leadership program designed to provide career progression for employees, a key retention tool to develop and progress staff into management roles.”

Mr Bourke said Barminco’s rapid growth was down to the people the Company employed and therefore investment in their training was essential.

“We are extremely proud of our innovative training programs and it has made an enormous difference to our business.”

Barminco was one of three named finalists for the 2019 Australian Training Award – Large Employer of the Year, following a win for the same category at the WA Awards in September.

Barminco named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the Australian Training Awards • Barminco has sucessfully operated apprentiship programs for more than 20 years
Barminco has sucessfully operated apprentiship programs for more than 20 years
Barminco named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the Australian Training Awards • The new Barminco Training Centre replicates the underground environment and provides an authent...
The new Barminco Training Centre replicates the underground environment and provides an authentic training experience
Barminco named ‘Australia’s Large Employer of the Year 2019’ at the Australian Training Awards • Virtual Reality blended for effect
Virtual Reality – blended for effect