South African Instrumentation And Control South African Instrumentation And Control  


Electronics Buyers' Guide

Technews Industry Guide - Wireless 2013


Case study: Mogale Gold
July 2010, Control Systems Design

Mine tailings are the crushed and milled rock residue that remains after mineral extraction. These tailings must be deposited for storage in a cost effective way that also meets environmental guidelines and mandates. Dams, dumps, and other types of surface piling are some of the more common tailings deposition methods used today. However, these all pose serious environmental concerns, as tailings often contain trace and sometimes substantial quantities of the metals found in the host ore, as well as certain amounts of chemicals and compounds used in the mining processes. As a result, establishing and maintaining tailings dumps represent a significant cost for mining companies.

A New Strategy: Tailing reprocessing

Historically, mineral separation processes have been somewhat inefficient because after the required crushing, grinding and metallurgical treatment, some amount of valuable metal is left behind in the residue. But recently, improved mining technologies and the ever-increasing price of gold in the marketplace have opened the opportunity for mining companies to purchase old mining dumps and treat the tailings in order to recover residual gold. South African miner Mintails is currently focused on exploring, evaluating, and processing hundreds of millions of tons of surface gold bearing tailings in the Witwatersrand area of South Africa. These types of gold reclamation efforts are never 100% efficient, and automation and control plays a significant role in improving the metallurgical processes. With the help of systems integrator Opto Controls, each month Mintails is collecting significant amounts of the valuable metal. In the process, the company is positively impacting the environment by clearing away mountainous, land consuming, and unsightly dumps.

Opto Controls

Opto Controls has been a supplier and integrator of hardware and software for industrial automation, remote monitoring, and data acquisition applications for more than 10 years. Specialising in solutions utilising Opto 22 components and systems, Opto Controls’ broad project and industry expertise includes access control and security, print production monitoring, and factory automation. Company president Mike Harrison and process control and programming engineer Adam Carless, head a team contracted by Mintails to assemble and configure an automation system for Mintails’ Mogale Sands Plant This system connects to, monitors, controls and acquires data from a large assortment of field devices, equipment, and instrumentation and also manages the many mechanical and chemical processes used to remove the gold from the tailings.

The Opto Controls system’s key components are Opto 22 rack mount and standalone programmable automation controllers (PACs) and I/O housed in containers located at various areas of a processing plant situated between the gold mine and the dump. “Initially, these controllers were to be networked via fibre-optic cable, but Mintails management later decided to go with a wireless solution from MikroTik so as to avoid having to dig trenches and lay conduit for the cabling,” explains Harrison. The MikroTik platform features a Linux-based operating system, omnidirectional antennas, and wireless communication capabilities utilising all four of the 802.11 standards (a/b/g/n), as well as frequency ranges within the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands. The system also has meshing capabilities, data transfer speed of up to 350 Mbps, and a range that easily bridges the average distance (about 150 metres) between the Mogale site controllers.

Readers wanting to find out more about the Opto Controls solution architecture for the Tailings Processing System can visit:

For more information contact Mike Harrison, Opto Controls, +27 (0)11 792 5232,,

Supplied By: Opto Controls
Tel: +27 (0)11 792 5232
Fax: +27 (0)11 792 1987
Share via email     Print this page  

Further reading:

  • Control system modernisation at Constance Water Works
    April 2014, Beckhoff Automation, Control Systems Design
    At Constance Water Works located in Germany, outdated automation technology was recently replaced with Beckhoff control components. The new, fully automatic control offers a wealth of added value beyond ...
  • Smart combustion from Emerson
    March 2014, Automation & Control Solutions, Control Systems Design
    No matter if it is just optimising one section of the process, or the entire powerhouse, there are a number of benefits to working with Emerson.
  • Building management solutions that fit
    March 2014, Royal HaskoningDHV, Control Systems Design
    Royal HaskoningDHV implements a new control strategy to centralise Unisa’s operational requirements.
  • Petrocity keeps Kenya moving ­forward
    March 2014, Honeywell ACS South Africa, Control Systems Design
    Honeywell engineers the safety and control at Africa’s most technologically advanced oil terminal.
  • Control loop - Case history 135
    February 2014, Michael Brown Control Engineering, Control Systems Design
    The dancing valve.
  • World-class vodka from Russia
    February 2014, Metso Automation, Control Systems Design
    Upgraded automation from Metso.
  • LabVIEW and CompactRIO keep power plants online
    February 2014, National Instruments, Control Systems Design
    Mechanical vibrations can be detrimental to rotating mechanical components and, in many cases, severely reducing a machine’s operability and longevity. The continuous monitoring of vibrations and other ...
  • The future of affordable water
    January 2014, Royal HaskoningDHV, Control Systems Design
    Aquasuite from Royal HaskoningDHV.
  • Case history 134: Having fun with a positive lead on an integrating process
    December 2013, Michael Brown Control Engineering, Control Systems Design
    One of the most interesting dynamics that can be found in the industrial control world is what is known as a first order lead on an integrating process. A positive lead integrator responds to a step change ...
  • Rockwell Automation addresses mining investment risks
    November 2013, Rockwell Automation, Control Systems Design
    According to Ernst & Young’s Business risks facing mining and metals 2012-2013, the following were the top 10 investment risks facing the industries in 2012:    * Resource nationalisation * Skills shortage * ...
  • ISA-108 intelligent device management focuses on work processes
    November 2013, Control Systems Design
    A new standard committee, ISA108, will define standard templates for best practices and work processes based on information derived from intelligent field devices, including models and terminology, implementation guidelines, and detailed work processes.
  • Right the Concordia
    November 2013, Technews Publishing, Control Systems Design
    SA master mariner leads the salvage operation.

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


      Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.