Xstrata Zinc is working with MIPAC on improving production at its George Fisher mine, an underground zinc/lead mine located about 20 km north of Mount Isa in north-west Queensland. The mine currently generates 3.5 Mt/y of ore; a P49 hoisting system accounts for 2.9 Mt/y of primary crushed ore, with remaining ore trucked to the surface. “A feasibility study has found that the operation can be expanded to 4.5 Mt/y by increasing production at the north end of the mine,” MIPAC managing director Eddie De Rivera says.“We are helping to achieve this increase by introducing a new materials handling system which includes underground crushing, conveying and storage, an L72 hoisting shaft, surface conveying and surface crushing facility. The facility is also required to alleviate current operational limitations within the existing secondary and tertiary crushing facilities.”As part of configuring, testing and commissioning the PLCs and SCADA systems, MIPAC engineers are using an RSLogic 5000 PLC system and Wonder Ware InTouch.The control system will control the surface crusher facility including one of the largest cone crushers on site, the Metso Nordberg HP5 Cone Crusher, as well as supporting systems such as feed conveyors, and interface to the stockpile conveyor system.“We will invest more than 2,500 hours of design work in this system, which will be installed in March 2012,” De Rivera says. “We are delighted that our work will play its part in achieving operational excellence for Xstrata Zinc, leading to increased productivity, improved production quality and boosted profit margins.”The mine is broadly divided into two areas; George Fisher North (GFN) and George Fisher South (GFS), which are separated by about 2 km. Currently 3.5 Mt/yof ore is mined from the ML8058 resource with the P49 hoisting system located adjacent to GFS accounting for 2.9 Mt/y of primary crushed ore, with the remaining ore being transported to the surface via trucking.A feasibility study has been completed, which investigated the expansion of the current operation to 4.5 Mt by increasing production from GFN and maximising the value of the zinc/lead operations in Mount Isa. To achieve the production increase, a new materials handling system needs to be installed at the north end of the mine, including underground crushing, conveying and storage, L72 hoisting shaft, surface conveying and surface crushing facility (SCF). The SCF is also required to alleviate current operational limitations within the existing secondary and tertiary crushing facilities.MIPAC is configuring, testing and commissioning the PLCs & SCADA systems.Using an RSLogic 5000 PLC system and Wonder Ware InTouch, the control system will control the surface crusher facility including one of the largest cone crushers on site, the Metso Nordberg HP5 cone crusher, and supporting systems such as the feed conveyors and interface to the stockpile conveyor system. After 2,500 hours of combined design work, the system is scheduled to be installed in March 2012.Systems being interfaced with include:• Product sampler• Tramp magnet• Cone crusher• Apron feeder• Ploughs• Stacker• Dust fogging system• Weigh meter• Power factor correction• UPS• Water pumps• Fire system.