Forward Thinking: Focusing on Innovation and Technology for our Future

A Q&A with George Burns, President and CEO, Eldorado Gold

George Burns on a site visit in Greece.

Contrary to popular belief, mining is an industry at the forefront of technological innovation.

At Eldorado Gold, leading-edge technologies are enabling our mines to operate with greater energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, while also creating a healthier and safer environment for our people.

We caught up with our President and CEO, George Burns to talk technology, innovation and operating sustainably.

What do new technologies do for the industry?

At Eldorado, we use technology to try and engineer-out the risks associated with the work we do – to minimize any potential negative impacts on the environment and to improve the health and safety of our people. We invest in continuous improvements and adapt new technologies to make our business more sustainable.

I come from a family of miners.  I can honestly say that the technology and tools we have today are vast improvements from those my grandfathers and great-grandfathers had to work with.  Tremendous advancements have been made over the past four decades that I’ve been in the industry, and improvements will continue to be made.

What technologies are enabling Eldorado to operate more sustainably?

There are a number of initiatives underway across our sites to ensure we are using technology and innovation to operate more sustainably.

Automation team members from Lamaque, Efemçukuru, and Olympias meet to share best practices and technology advancements in their operations.
Automation team members from Lamaque, Efemçukuru, and Olympias meet to share best practices.

Tagging and Tracking of Personnel and Equipment

Our open pit mine uses dispatch systems to keep track of people and equipment, and we are starting to implement this technology at our underground sites too, including at our Olympias mine in Greece and the Lamaque mine in Quebec, Canada.

At Efemçukuru, in Turkey, we tag and track both equipment and people to collect data that can be used to implement strategies that reduce risk. We have seen tremendous benefits in energy conservation, optimizing the running of the mine, improving productivity and efficiency and, most importantly, improving the safety of our miners.

Ventilation on Demand (VOD)

VOD uses software and sensors, which relay real-time information regarding air quality, vehicle use, and personnel location to a central computer with specialized software.  This allows us to realize substantial energy savings while maintaining air quality standards.

For example, if we know where people and equipment are in an underground setting, we can adjust the ventilation accordingly.  We can increase ventilation where our people are working and reduce the ventilation in areas where they aren’t. This reduces energy use without compromising safety.

Dry-stack Tailings

Although dry-stack tailings is not a new technology, it has recently become more economically viable and more widely adopted across the industry. Modern dry-stack methods remove excess water, resulting in a sand-like material that is then stacked and compacted.

Dry-stack tailings have a number of environmental and safety advantages, including a reduced environmental footprint, reduced water usage, and better ground-stability. We have already adopted dry-stack tailings at three of our mines – Olympias, Stratoni, and Efemçukuru. We are looking to implement dry-stack at Skouries, pending permit approval, and are assessing the possibility of dry-stack at Lamaque.

Where do you see technology evolving in the next 20 years?

Innovative technology supports sustainability, and that will help the mining industry. There is a wave of young people entering the business who embrace new technologies in a way that people of my generation struggle with. I think the more people we bring into the industry that understand what technology can deliver, the faster the change will happen.

If we fast-forward 20 years, I believe technology will continue to be a big driver of sustainability – we will continue to find ways to engineer out the risks associated with the work we do and to minimize our impacts on the environment.

I don’t know what that technology will look like, but I’m very confident there’s going to be significant progress made, and I’m excited to work for Eldorado, who is embracing these opportunities.

Upcoming Blog Posts

Look forward to an upcoming post where we will dive deeper into the ways Eldorado is using technology and innovation with the implementation of dry-stack tailings at our mine sites.

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