SETTING THE BAR HIGH

Turkey 2020 | MINING & INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

As the first mine in Turkey to introduce a fleet management and mine control system, Çayeli Bakır is leading the sector with investments in technology and sustainability.

Murat Güreşçi
BIOGRAPHY

Murat Güreşçi joined Çayeli Bakır in 2003 and since then he has held a number of positions in the engineering, planning, operations, and management departments of the underground mine and the ore processing plant. He became general manager and a member of Çayeli Bakır's board of directors in 2018. Güreşçi graduated from Hacettepe University as a mining engineer in 1999.

What recent investments has Çayeli Bakır made to improve the production and safety of its mine?
In the last few years, we have invested in the safety of our shaft hoisting system. It is an underground mine and the hoisting system corresponds to 50% of our production; therefore, the shaft is a critical element of the mining process. The mine has been in production for 25 years, so the system requires constant maintenance. This has been the focus of our investments. We have started using new safety systems to keep in line with the latest technology, such as new communication systems. We have also invested in equipment, as some of our equipment is 15 years old.

What automation techniques are you planning to introduce?
Ours is the first mine in Turkey to introduce a fleet management and mine control system. This improved the efficiency and productivity of our underground operations. After seeing the benefits of it, we cannot imagine a mine without a fleet management system now. We have also equipped our auxiliary ventilation with remote control systems to increase efficiency, reduce fan maintenance costs, and save energy costs. It enables us to operate and shut down remotely from the surface. Notably, it has reduced our ventilation energy costs by approximately 15%, which corresponds to USD250,000 per year. The third thing to mention is the personal tracking system underground. We implemented it before it was made mandatory.

What investments have you made to increase the energy efficiency of your mining operations?
We have an energy management team that consists of engineers from the mine, maintenance, mill, and finance departments. They meet every month to look for opportunities to reduce consumption. Underground, ventilation is our main energy consumption, while on the surface, it is the milling side. At present, we are processing increasing amounts of low-grade material, which consists of clay, and when the clay comes into contact with water, it becomes hard to crush. We are working hard to improve the crushing equipment so that we can feed the running circuit as much as possible so that the energy consumed per ton falls. We have also engaged in campaigns outside of the production process to reduce energy consumption. We have replaced roofs with transparent roof covers to use sunlight instead of artificial light. Similarly, we have installed higher efficiency bulbs ones to further reduce our energy consumption.

Can you outline how your water recycling techniques work?
Our water recycling begins with underground drainage water, which is collected and pumped back to the surface. This water then accumulates in a large pond and is recycled to be used in other plants around our production facility, primarily the grinding circuit. Rainwater and runoff water are also collected in the same pond. The third thing we have done successfully on the flotation circuit is the copper overflow. After doing necessary tests, we found that using the grinding circuit does not affect the flotation. We recover, recycle, and restore the water at our facility. We use the rainwater for our processing needs and ensure that no water is discharged to the environment. It is not only about efficiency but also about making sure water from our site does not leak out.

What is your operational and business plan leading up to 2022, when Çayeli Bakır's reserves are predicted to be depleted?
The ore is currently depleting, and as it depletes, we are back filling the mine at a rate of around 20,000 tons of backfill a week. This process goes on 24 hours a day, as we aim to replace the extracted ore with backfill soon after the production. Once the mine is completely depleted by 2022, we will have to look at the service facilities. Turkish mining laws say we need to return the mine site to as it was before the mine started operation. Beyond that, we want to do something more and leave a legacy if we can. The mine has been in production for 25 years, and we plan to generate socioeconomic benefits for the environment and local communities. We do not want to leave a gap once the mine closes down. We have plans to do something that would bring some income to the community once we leave. Quantum Minerals, which owns Çayeli Bakır, is actively looking for opportunities all over the world. The plan is to find a project that can be beneficial for the company and operate it once the mine goes offline.

What are your primary objectives over the next 12 months?
We want to deliver budgeted revenue numbers and give return to our shareholders. In order to do so, we need to set targets and achieve them. Our target for 2019 and 2020 is achieving higher safety standards. Our second target is to acquire the right tones and grade from the underground. We also aim to reduce the operating costs of the mill.