Leading underground mining contractor Byrnecut Australia is in Q2 2018 to trial an underground diesel electric hybrid production loader at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill copper-gold mine which was announced in the company’s Q1 results. The trial is to test production efficiencies, diesel savings and overall costs associated with this equipment. The machine is one of two Joy 22HD hybrid LHDs being supplied by Komatsu Mining to Byrnecut this year and uses the Switched Reluctance (SR) drive to capture and reuse braking energy while also equipped with KESS (Kinetic Energy Storage System).
The 22HD also has a simple control suite allowing the operator to concentrate on maximising productivity. Automated control functions allow operator to perform complex operations at a button press while its “heavy-duty design means less failures and more uptime.” The bucket design allows easy filling and low wear and a central auto lubrication system minimises scheduled service activity and protects critical structural linkages and joints. The hydraulic system with piston pumps mean cooler operation and longer life.
At Prominent Hill underground, the operations delivered 680,000 t of ore in Q1 2018 at 1.81% copper, representing consistent quarter on quarter production. The third decline construction has progressed, with final portal position selection complete and break through expected in Q2. The fourth haulage decline into the lower open pit will commence in Q2 and completion is expected in Q3. Procurement activity for the crusher feed and underground ore rehandle contract is underway with contract execution expected in Q2. The combination of new access declines into the underground and utilisation of the rehandle fleet will lift underground ore production in H2 to facilitate full year guidance of 2.8-3.1 Mt.
Finally, the process to replace the current Cemented Hydraulic Fill (CHF) plant with a fit for purpose Paste Plant, an enabler of future production uplift, is underway. The tender process is expected to be finalised in Q2.