Hatch-Glencore Technology Venture

Digital underground mine management solution

Glencore - Onaping Depth | Sudbury, Ontario, Canada | 2017

Improved safety

24/7 visibility of underground activities

25% increase
in productivity


Glencore needed to improve the daily development rates at its Onaping Depth mine. The goal was to obtain the highest possible advancement rate by minimizing the time needed to access the ore body and providing the tools to support a connected-worker paradigm.

The daily face advancement was highly variable and impacted by many different factors. Unfortunately, conventional underground operational-management practices did not provide the means to manage and address this variation problem.

Today, traditional mechanisms have issues and limitations. They don't make it possible to visualize in-shift activities. The data collected is not acted upon, and opportunities to use performance data to improve the operation are lost.


Hatch teamed with Glencore to conduct trial operational-management-system philosophies aimed at reducing in-shift variability.

We created a digital underground operational management solution to more closely plan and manage in-shift performance, from the start of shift stand-up meetings to monitoring in-shift performance to handover at the end of shift.

The project centered on creating a connected worker who has full knowledge of the schedule, the workplace status, and in-shift performance disturbances. Underpinned with at-the-face communications connectivity, mine operators will know when their next face task starts and what equipment they have been assigned along with full work instructions.

This was accomplished by:

  • designing and installing a robust underground-communication network for data and voice;
  • procuring and installing an underground tracking system for people and equipment;
  • designing and implementing a mobile-based work management system to support real-time monitoring and in-shift decision-making; and
  • creating a repository of operational performance metrics to support continuous process improvement.

As a result, Glencore has been able to increase mining intensity in a safe and cost-effective manner.


In-shift visibility: The operation has newfound visibility into underground operational activities enabling faster, more-informed decision-making.

Data driven improvements: Glencore is empowered to continuously improve its operations through the analysis of historical performance data.

Significant reduction in process variation: The implementation of the digital underground-mine operation management solution enabled new insights.

Step change in productivity: The reduction in process variability is anticipated to deliver a 25% increase in productivity.

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