Alvaro de Soto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Western Sahara, will hold consultations with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and senior Government officials during a two-day visit to Rabat starting on Monday.Mr. de Soto will then meet the leadership of the Frente POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro) on 12 September.UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today that Mr. de Soto is also in contact with the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Mauritania about when he can hold talks with their government officials.In June Mr. de Soto’s responsibilities grew after the resignation of James A. Baker III, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, known by its French acronym MINURSO, has been in place since April 1991, when it was installed after years of fighting between Morocco and Frente POLISARIO following Spain’s withdrawal from the territory in 1976.MINURSO’s mandate is due to expire at the end of October, and Secretary-General Kofi Annan is scheduled to report to the Security Council on the mission’s progress that month.
JSC Sokolov-Sarbai Mining Production Association (SSGPO), owned by Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a leading diversified natural resources group, has launched a ‘Smart Mine’ project at the Kacharsky iron ore mine site in Kazakhstan for a total cost of $10 million. This will use cutting edge monitoring and AI technologies to integrate the iron ore production cycle at Kacharsky. It will deliver complete transparency to the mining process, enabling managers to gain comprehensive insight into site performance. Kacharsky currently produces 50% of all SSGPO’s iron ore to produce pellets and concentrate.As part of the project, a new modular automated system for production processes was integrated with Kacharsky’s existing Geographic Information System (GIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System. The operators can build an optimal production scenario via GIS MineSched and GIS Surpac and use US Modular Mining Systems to plan the despatch and delivery of products. This development will allow the mine to be monitored in real time by sensors that can detect where changes should be made in the mining process to improve productivity. The computer system will then make the necessary adjustments, including by allocating mining vehicles and equipment. Operators will monitor the ‘Smart Mine’ to ensure its smooth operation.ERG will now be able to record live data and obtain a complete and accurate understanding of how equipment is being used at Kacharsky. These insights will support investment decision-making, minimise failures, eliminate unscheduled equipment downtime, expedite the movement and allocation of equipment and optimise costs. The Group aims to be able to increase equipment productivity by more than 10%.ERG plans to roll out ‘Smart Mine’ projects at other enterprises during the course of 2018.Commenting on the developments, Bereke Mukhametkaliyev, the President of SSGPO, said: ‘The introduction of cutting-edge technologies will enable us to implement cost-effective projects and strengthen the competitive position of Kazakhstan’s mining and metals sector. This is why we will continue to seek new ways of integrating Industry 4.0 technologies into our mining operations.”In the past five years, as part of the implementation of Industry 4.0, the Group has invested over $250 million to modernise its IT systems. Throughout its production chain ERG uses more than 90,000 sensors and 237 automated process control systems to ensure efficiency. The total investment for the implementation of Industry 4.0 at ERG plants in Kazakhstan for the period to 2025 will amount to $1.8 billion. This, it says, “puts the Group on track to increase its productivity by 10% per annum.”