Resolute Mining Ltd, an Australian gold mining company, operates a remote mine site at Syama in Mali, Western Africa. The company had an ongoing project with Metso Outotec involving process equipment modifications on a fluid bed gold roasting plant, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. Remote expert support, which had been included in the contract, was quickly rolled out and proved its worth by helping to avoid unnecessary service delays.
With the travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic in place, the site was inaccessible for Metso Outotec experts to collect necessary information for conducting the needed engineering work. Remote support allowed the team to collect the required information and to also begin planning for the upcoming shutdown event fast, saving more than a week time and costs.
The remote expert support platform played a pivotal role in connecting the Metso Outotec experts with Resolute’s personnel. The remote support was rolled out quickly and at the agreed upon time. Prior to the actual call, a quick test call was set up to ensure the audio and video connection quality. After verification, five Metso Outotec experts from Germany and Australia as well as Resolute’s Project Manager, Simon Schmid from the field in Mali were able to join a single call. The only thing required from the customer was a smartphone with a camera and an internet connection.
Using video, the customer was able to show in real-time what he was seeing at the plant, allowing all participants to have a virtual presence on-site. Information could be shared by all, including annotation features to the customer for specific areas of interest, discussion of options as well as the taking and sharing of snapshots and documents during the discussion. The text messaging features kept the discussion going from both sides, when audio was less clear due to intermittent background noise. Despite the remote nature of the site, a 3G connection was established with good video quality, with even 2G providing manageable quality.
Having the right experts in the same virtual meeting, allowed the customer to get the right information when they needed it quickly. The upcoming planned shutdown at the plant was also discussed, and covered different aspects and considerations for the work to be carried out at the site. The customer also benefitted from the analysis of the plant’s current condition and from the gathering of additional information for the upcoming engineering work.
Schmid stated: “The remote expert support platform has proven itself to be a valuable tool during these difficult times preventing on-site support. The ability for multiple experts located around the globe to discuss specific scope requirements has been a great experience and was very beneficial for the project timelines. The video call while I was on site was stable, considering that only a 3G connection was available. I can recommend the use of this remote expert support platform.”
“Our remote expert support platform allowed us to save a lot of discussion time with the customer. It let us engage with the customer and cover the exact points of interest without delays. This helped to reduce service costs and accelerate how quickly we could provide support. It is an easy tool to use, providing high value to our customers while allowing us to provide support remotely” summarised Dr Ioannis Chatzilamprou, Metso Outotec’s Product Manager for fluid bed technology services. “It can even be used on the capital side for installation and commissioning work. I see only benefits in using this tool whenever the opportunity arises.”