Towards real-time mining: Integrating production planning with truck-dispatching decisions through reinforcement learning while managing uncertainty


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This paper presents a new truck dispatching policy approach that is adaptive given different mining complex configurations in order to deliver supply material extracted by the shovels to the processors. The method aims to improve adherence to the operational plan and fleet utilization in a mining complex context. Several sources of operational uncertainty arising from the loading, hauling and dumping activities can influence the dispatching strategy. Given a fixed sequence of extraction of the mining blocks provided by the short-term plan, a discrete event simulator model emulates the interaction arising from these mining operations. The continuous repetition of this simulator and a reward function, associating a score value to each dispatching decision, generate sample experiences to train a deep Q-learning reinforcement learning model. The model learns from past dispatching experience, such that when a new task is required, a well-informed decision can be quickly taken. The approach is tested at a copper-gold mining complex, characterized by uncertainties in equipment performance and geological attributes, and the results show improvements in terms of production targets, metal production, and fleet management.

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