Nick Pauliot and other South Fort Meade Pit Operators began remotely operating South Fort Meade’s slurry pits from the FishHawk Integrated Operations Center on January 4.  

Four Corners’ Pit Operators have some new company in the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) at our FishHawk Office. Pit Operators from South Fort Meade officially began operating South Fort Meade’s slurry pits remotely from the IOC on January 4 following months of collaboration, training and testing. Eight Remote Pit Operators – two per shift – are now working in the IOC, more than 50 miles away from the physical pit car locations where they used to work near draglines in South Fort Meade’s mining areas.   

“Two remote pit workstations were set up at South Fort Meade last year that allowed on-site remote pit operations for several weeks prior to the transition to the IOC,” explains Aaron Flint, Sr. Manager, Maintenance and Engineering – South Fort Meade. “These workstations will be used to train employees who are interested in qualifying as a Remote Pit Operator and serve as a back-up if needed.”   

Aaron says the Four Corners Pit Operators and Logistics Coordinators who have worked at the IOC over the last year blazed a trail for the South Fort Meade Team, and he credits collaboration and communication as instrumental to the project’s success. “Successfully meeting our target start-up date of January 4 was only possible because our South Fort Meade operations team, NextGEN Change Agents, 814C Union Committee, contract partners and many others here at Mosaic all worked together to make it happen,” he says. “Transparent, frequent communication with our South Fort Meade personnel and Union Leadership helped make sure we all knew what we were working towards and why it was important.”   

“Having the South Fort Meade Pit Operators at the IOC gets us one step closer to full integration of our Florida mining operations,” explains Chelsea Kucharsky, Sr. Manager, Operations. ”Along with reducing potential risk and providing better working conditions for our employees, this brings synergy across the sites and will allow us to make better, faster, data-driven decisions.” 

Remote Operators: Bridging the Distance

Pit Operators used to drive miles over unpaved, often times muddy terrain to work in small trailers that were very carefully moved around with draglines. This presented potential operational hazards and impacted dragline runtime as the trailers were repositioned.   

Inside the new Integrated Operations Center at our FishHawk Office, they work a 12-hour shift in state-of-the-art remote operations stations that can be adjusted based on their individual preferences and ergonomic needs. They also have direct access to Logistics Coordinators and others who manage the mine plan and to real-time information about dragline, beneficiation plant and pumping system performance that helps them work efficiently.

Four Corners and South Fort Meade “slurry” pits are now being remotely operated from the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) at our FishHawk office. Operators use state-of-the-art remote operations stations to control high-pressure water guns near the draglines that “slurry” the matrix we mine so it can be pumped through pipes to the beneficiation plant where it is separated into phosphate, sand and clay. Watch this video that was shared back in February 2020 when the Four Corners’ Remote Pit Operators first moved into the IOC.