Over the past few years, BHP has been progressing the Jansen Potash Project approximately 140 kilometres east of Saskatoon. Jansen is planned to be the first conventional greenfield potash mine in Saskatchewan for some decades, and this presents the rare competitive advantage of incorporating new technology to build the safest and most efficient potash mine there is.
The BHP technology purpose is clear: to enable productivity through innovation and technology. This is done by relentlessly pursuing the basics, delivering projects that drive business value and creating future options. It is an approach that covers the company’s entire value chain, from resource exploration and optimisation, to production, processing, transport, and marketing. The Jansen Project embodies this.
Jansen has the opportunity to take advantage of technology in every aspect of its design.
“BHP’s vision is to design Jansen to ensure that is a friendly and welcoming operation to everyone,” said Giles Hellyer, vice-president of operations for potash. “A reflection of who we are and how we want to feel; it will be visibly different from any other mine. Technology will enable us to place our integrated operations centre in Saskatoon, so the people who staff it do not have to travel. We are building Jansen for the future workforce, and this means being more connected throughout every aspect of their job. Innovation effectively enables us to ‘design out’ implicit gender requirements, including for operational roles. For example, robotics and automation can cut the requirement for heavy lifting in a maintenance workshop (heavy tools can be suspended from the ceiling). People of different physiques would now be able to perform roles that may have been implicitly restricted in the past.”
The team at BHP is applying innovative thinking to the design, construction, and future operation. For example, BHP is bringing new ideas to construction, starting in the design office. All of Jansen’s design reviews are done using integrated 3D models and virtual reality driven by what is essentially gaming software. The “pink” rooms traditionally used for drawing review do not exist and mark-ups are done collaboratively in a “team of teams” approach – working digitally at BHP is about new ways of working. This allows for efficiencies and enhanced engagement across many dimensions.
“This is the first step to reducing future construction costs and adding significant value,” said Hellyer. “We have identified common pain points in the construction process, and we are piloting the use of leading-edge technology to monitor construction progress and building in software that allows us to manage schedule optimization.”
Jansen operations are planned to be supported from the Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) in Saskatoon, which will enable the mine to be safer, more productive, and host a more diverse workforce. Multi-disciplinary teams will work together from the IOC, and will be connected to the operation both surface and underground, in real time. Here’s how it could work:
“Hammad” identifies a machine health issue in the process plant and validates his findings using other software. He also pulls historical data to analyse the time of failure and evaluates if a break-in plan is needed. From his remote position at the IOC he is able to generate a notification for corrective action and identify site personnel to support, all while referencing the Original Equipment Manufacturer Troubleshooting guide. The next day, the maintenance planner creates a job plan with Job Hazard Analysis (JHA), identifies the strategy to be planned and engages the planning team to secure necessary materials and resources. After maintenance execution completes the job plan, Hammad provides feedback and arranges a condition assessment. By re-designing how we work, BHP is able to create exciting roles for diverse backgrounds.
Designing for the future is exciting and BHP is designing the Jansen Project in three mindsets – manufacturing, digital, and diversity – which are complementary and which together will deliver sustainable value. The Jansen Project is well positioned to improve its operations for safety and performance.