• AAEngineering Group

    Digital Twin of AKSU Plant: From Concept to Startup

    Aksu, Akmola Region, Kazakhstan

Project Summary


Expanding Gold Ore Processing Production

When drilling and geological studies in Kazakhstan confirmed the presence of gold ores in the surrounding Akmola region, gold producer Altynalmas invested in expanding resource extraction and annual ore processing production up to 5 million tons. The USD 230 million dollar project included construction of a new processing plant, a dam, accommodation camp, water pipelines, and a 220-kilovolt electrical substation that required an upgrade of the existing energy infrastructure. AAEngineering Group was tasked with overall design, procurement, and construction works, requiring digital deliverables that aligned with the client’s digital mine program. They faced strict environmental regulations and integration requirements with existing gold plants, compounded by a limited footprint, a short timeline, and coordination challenges during COVID-19.

Visualizing Infrastructure Options, Streamlining Execution

AAEngineering wanted to present several conceptual models to enable the client to visualize the infrastructure design options and make the most informed decision for implementing the project. They sought to demonstrate their commitment to the client’s digitalization efforts, providing seamless integration with three existing factories and their operations systems using digital twins. To reduce construction time and meet the tight schedule, they also proposed simultaneously executing design and construction works. However, to achieve these deliverables, meet the client’s smart mining initiatives, and manage the remote project team during the pandemic, AAEngineering needed integrated BIM and digital twin technology and an open, connected data environment.

Open Applications Provide Integrated Solution

At the conceptual modeling stage, AAEngineering established a collaborative design environment using ProjectWise. With ContextCapture, they processed laser scans and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) captured images of the existing facilities and new construction site. They assessed earthworks and generated a digital terrain model in OpenRoads. Using OpenPlant, they digitalized existing and new pipeline layouts and equipment connections to develop several conceptual 3D models for the client. The detailed design and architectural modeling was performed using OpenBuildings Designer, and the information model was synchronized with SYNCHRO 4D for construction simulation and scheduling. LumenRT facilitated visual clash detection while iTwin Services provided the cloud-based platform to establish a digital twin and seamless integration with the client’s operating system to support intelligent mining processes and management.

Digitalization Revolutionizes Industry   

Using Bentley’s open 3D and 4D modeling applications and digital twin technology, AAEngineering performed concurrent design and construction works that resulted in plant commissioning ahead of schedule, reducing construction costs. Working in a collaborative digital environment and updating the development model with unmanned aerial vehicle surveys saved 30% in design time and cut travel expenses by 75%, optimizing remote coordination and construction management during the COVID-19 quarantine. Through accurate modeling and visualization, they reduced material quantities by 15% and eliminated clashes during construction. The digital twin enables the client to train operations staff prior to commissioning and promotes automation and digitalization of processes that are revolutionizing the mining industry.

Project Playbook: AutoPIPE, Bentley Raceway and Cable Management, ContextCapture, gINT, iModel.js, iTwin Services, LumenRT, MicroStation, OpenBuildings Designer, OpenPlant, OpenRoads, OpenSite, PLAXIS, ProjectWise, Promis.e, ProStructures, SITEOPS, SYNCHRO 4D
  • AAEngineering relied on Bentley’s 4D collaborative modeling and digital twin technology to overcome challenges when delivering a gold ore processing plant amid the COVID-19 quarantine.
  • Establishing a coordinated design environment reduced design time by 30% and ensured compatibility with existing nearby gold facilities.
  • Conducting weekly UAV surveys and construction simulation with SYNCHRO 4D reduced the construction period, enabling plant commissioning ahead of schedule.
  • Developing a digital twin improved quality control and decision-making, supporting digital mine initiatives.
  • “To sum it all up, Bentley Systems enabled us to improve our own design, construction, and operations solutions.”

    Andrey Aksyonov Director of Information Modeling Department AAEngineering Group