Barminco Holdings and Independence Group have established a Technology Development Committee at the same time as the two agreed to extend the services contract at the Australian miner’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in Western Australia.
The committee’s aim is to identify and implement innovative methods and technologies to advance safety and productivity in underground mining. According to Barminco Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, this will initially target projects such as the early stage development of electric vehicles, enhanced mine control systems, machine vision and proximity detection.
In the meantime, a four-year contract extension for underground mining services at Nova will see Barminco pocket some A$240 million ($170 million). There is an option for a two-year extension within the contract.
Muller said Nova was an important project for the company, with Barminco delivering 29 km of development and extracting 2.4 Mt of ore since development started in 2015.
“Barminco has supported the Nova project’s transition from development, starting with excavation of the box-cut on Australia Day 2015, to production, delivering a successful first year of commercial production in the 2018 financial year.” The 2018 financial year saw the operation produce 22,258 t of nickel and 9,545 t of copper.
Muller added: “We now look forward to working closely with IGO under a formal arrangement to drive further productivity and safety improvements at Nova.”
Peter Bradford, IGO’s Managing Director and CEO, said: “Barminco has been an important partner in the development of Nova. With the majority of the capital development completed at Nova there is a focus on incremental operational and productivity improvements associated with stope mining activities.
“The four-year term, with the option to extend by two years, allows us to work together to unlock this value.”
He added that both companies are committed to mapping and implementing these productivity improvements through new technologies, with the establishment of the technology committee representing an important step towards this objective.
Just last week, Barminco, which is in the middle of being taken over by Ausdrill, was awarded two four-year contracts at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia.
On the same day the Nova contract extension was announced, Ausdrill confirmed its shareholders had signed off the deal for Barminco. The offer values Barminco’s equity at A$271.5 million. The deal is now expected to be completed by the end of the month.