All posts by Daniel Gleeson

Nordic Iron and VB Elnät look to engineer mine power access solution at Blötberget

Nordic Iron Ore has entered an engineering agreement with VB Elnät to determine the required measures for connecting its Blötberget project in Sweden to the electric grid.

In order to re-start mining activity in Blötberget, Nordic Iron Ore needs access to a maximum capacity of 20 MW. The company has previously signed a letter of tntent with Hitachi Energy regarding installation and operations of a permanent 50/10 kV power station, which will supply the mining area with electrical power.

During construction of the mine and the power station, access to temporary power supply will be necessary to make preparatory work such as construction of ramp, lighting, ventilation and drainage of water.

In order for Nordic Iron Ore’s facility to connect to the power grid, VB Elnät must evaluate required measures in its own electric grid and prepare documentation for applications for necessary permits, partly for the temporary usage of electrical power and partly for the permanent connection of the 50/10 kV power station, the company said.

The indicative time plan for this planning is that Nordic Iron Ore will be able to use 1 MW during the autumn of 2023 and gradually increase its usage to a maximum capacity of 20 MW during 2024-2025.

Nordic Iron Ore was formed in 2008 with the main aims of resuming mining operations in Blötberget and Håksberg and conducting exploration of the expansion potential of the Väsman field, together forming the Ludvika Mines, in southern Dalarna.

MacLean ready to highlight growing African presence at Mining Indaba

A MacLean EV Series™ carrier fitted with a third-party emulsion charging plant is part of the company’s expanded presence at this year’s edition of the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa.

MacLean Africa will be showcasing this latest battery-electric mining vehicle (BEV) offering outside the CTICC in front of the Cullinan Hotel during the event, which runs from February 7-10.

The Sudbury-based company has had an established, in-country presence in South Africa since 2001. This was the company’s first ever international branch and, since that time, the local sales and support team has grown in line with the expansion of the MacLean fleet deployment across the continent. The company now supports MacLean mining vehicles at customer operations across South Africa, as well as in Namibia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali.

MacLean Africa General Manager, John-Paul Theunissen, said: “Our message to the African mining community at Indaba is simple and I hope, resonant – MacLean is manufacturing and supporting mining equipment that is custom designed for underground mining on this continent, supported by an in-country team of skilled engineers, product managers, field service technicians, and repair and rebuild mechanics. We are here for the long haul; we have the critical mass of talent and parts and manufacturing capacity and we have your full fleet of production support mining vehicles, ready to get to work.”

MacLean President, Kevin MacLean, added: “I’m excited by what MacLean Africa has already done in terms of building out the MacLean fleet footprint across Africa and I’m even more excited by what the future holds for us in this crucial mining region. We can walk with customers as they explore options for the rollout of a battery-electric, automated, and data-rich mobile fleet that will drive the ‘no boots on the ground’ mining of the 21st century. We have it all – the present and the future of underground mining mobile equipment, technology, and services. We are above ground where your fleet is underground in Africa.”

This year is an important one for MacLean as it marks the company’s 50th year of operations. What started out as a niche, custom equipment solutions provider for the Canadian industry in the 1970s has evolved to what it now claims is now the world’s largest Canada-based manufacturer of underground mining vehicles, with a worldwide staffing contingent that surpasses 1,000 employees across four continents.

Simon Atkinson commences CEO role at Bis

Bis’s new Chief Executive Officer, Simon Atkinson, has formally commenced following his appointment by the Bis Board in December 2022.

Atkinsons joins Bis from Pacific National, Australia’s largest privately-owned rail logistics business, and prior to that, Incitec Pivot Limited, where he ran the Asia Pacific downstream business in Commercial Explosives and Fertilisers.

Bis Chairman, Graeme Hunt, said his appointment represents the latest significant milestone in Bis’ century-long history.

“Simon is an esteemed safety, customer and people focused executive and we are delighted to welcome him to Bis,” he said. “He has an exceptional track record in strategy, HSE leadership, people development, process optimisation and value creation through execution excellence. Bis is in good hands with Simon at its helm.”

Hunt also conveyed his unreserved gratitude to Michael Porter, who has been serving as Acting Chief Executive Officer since mid-2022.

“Michael has made a significant contribution during this time and I thank him for his continued steady leadership, open engagement and deep industry experience,” he said. “With Simon coming onboard, Michael will resume his position as Chief Operating Officer and, in so doing, will continue to provide invaluable oversight and executive support to the business.”

Atkinson said the opportunity to lead one of Australia’s pioneers in the resources and logistics sector is something he does not take lightly.

“At every turn in Australia’s mining history, Bis has been there. It is a humble company with dedicated, hard-working people who get on with the job of serving their customers, safely and productively in an entrepreneurial way. This is evident in its growing innovation pipeline and its inherent ability to continually help customers solve problems and optimise their operations.”

BHP engages Nyiyaparli-owned ROMS for mine rehab work at Newman

Nyiyaparli Traditional Owner Business, Resource Operations and Maintenance Services (ROMS) has been awarded a A$2.8 million ($2 million) contract to help with mine rehabilitation at BHP’s Newman Operations, on Nyiyaparli Country, in Western Australia.

Work is underway on the eight-month contract for bulk earthworks and mine rehabilitation of two of the overburden stockpile areas at Newman West.

The works involve a fleet of Cat dozers to undertake the bulk regrade work, in conjunction with a fleet of ancillary equipment to undertake topsoil spreading, scarification and fauna habitat construction.

This is ROMS’ first mine rehabilitation contract with Newman Operations, however the company has worked across BHP since joining the South Flank project, also in Western Australia, in 2018.

ROMS Managing Director, Jason Bull, said: “BHP has continued to support our growth and we’re now onsite at South Flank, Whaleback, Jimblebar and Mining Area C delivering our services to operations, sustaining capital and engineering works.

“We have two fully trained and developed Indigenous supervisors at BHP sites, as well as nine young Indigenous people completing a Certificate II in civil construction. This has helped build a solid portfolio of tickets, with strong on-site learning and positive mentoring through our group’s strong culture.”

Newman Operations General Manager, Dan Heal, said the partnership with ROMS was just one of the many partnerships Newman Operations hopes to build upon into the future with Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.

“Supporting our community and working with Traditional Owners towards a common purpose is something I’m particularly excited about growing here in Newman,” he said. “Contracts like this encourage the growth of Indigenous business and create new opportunities for our Traditional Owners to support their own communities.”

Bull added: “We’re extremely appreciative of BHP’s support and look forward to making a positive impact on the local community through our continued partnership with BHP.”

SRG Global banks A$220 million of work with Northern Star in Western Australia

SRG Global says it has secured significant contracts with Northern Star Resources Limited worth some A$220 million ($157 million).

This includes a new five-year drill and blast services, explosives management and grade control drilling contract at its Bronzewing gold operations in Western Australia, along with a two-year contract extension covering the same scope with Northern Star at its Thunderbox and Carosue Dam gold operations, also in Western Australia.

The latter is an extension on the initial five-year contract SRG signed with Saracen Mineral Holdings (the previous owner of the assets) back in 2020.

David Macgeorge, SRG Global Managing Director, said: “SRG is extremely pleased to have secured both the new five-year contract at Bronzewing and the two-year contract extensions at Thunderbox and Carosue Dam. I am very proud of our Mining Services team for their hard work supporting Northern Star’s operations at the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, Thunderbox, Carosue Dam and now the Bronzewing gold operations in WA.”

Blasting and explosives leader BME hits safety milestone with zero RCR

After five years of steadily implementing its Safety for Life brand, Omnia Group company BME says it has successfully achieved one of its key safety targets – a zero recordable case rate (RCR) – for the year ending January 2023.

“We consider our zero RCR over the preceding 12 months as a proud landmark to have reached, based on the positive safety culture that our Safety for Life initiative has fostered within the business,” Ramesh Dhoorgapersadh, General Manager for Safety, Health, Environment, Risk and Quality at BME, said.

The RCR is based on the number of safety incidents which resulted in treatment beyond first aid.

Dhoorgapersadh highlighted that BME’s achievement has its foundation not only in sound policies and systems, but in the committed and practical application of these principles every day.

“Companies’ systems and processes often look very good at face value, but these need to be effectively translated into action,” he said. “A RCR of zero does not happen overnight and requires constant reinforcement from the highest level before it forms part of the prevailing culture in the workplace.”

He explained that BME’s safety protocols were driven by a range of safety interventions. These included working on visual felt leadership, process safety, near-miss reporting, driver awareness programs and fatigue management.

BME Managing Director, Ralf Hennecke, re-emphasised the importance of ‘leading from the front’.

“Visual felt leadership has been vital in helping to embed the culture of safety in BME,” he said. “This means a daily commitment by senior executives to focus on how safety plans are being applied on site.”

He noted the corporate alignment of BME’s efforts with the Omnia Group’s vision of zero harm and positive impact through responsible business practices. These frameworks also aligned with the stringent standards of mining customers, many of whom are major global players.

Dhoorgapersadh said the zero RCR was not an end point in the safety journey. The challenge of safety, he explained, was to continue finding ways to improve – thereby steadily reducing any risk of incidents.

“In recent years, for instance, BME has placed growing focus on the medical wellness of our employees,” he said. “They often work under very stressful conditions – frequently out in the open or on the road. Our medical surveillance programme has become more intense, to ensure that their physical condition is optimal at all times.”

This intervention also included subcontractors, especially in the transport sector, to ensure that similar attention was paid to the health of all drivers. He said BME’s focus on safety extended beyond people to the natural environment as well. The effectiveness of safety protocols had also contributed to the occurrence of no chemical spillages that could have an environmental impact.

“We are very aware that, to sustain our enviable safety record, we need to be revisiting all aspects of our progress to look for ways to refresh our approach,” he said. “An important aspect of safety management is about doing the simple things better and better. In every task, you need to be identifying where the risks are – and find ways of preventing those risks from becoming reality.”

More Weba chutes set to arrive at Zimbabwe platinum mine

South Africa-based Weba Chute Systems is set to provide 10 more of its custom engineered transfer chutes for the expansion of an underground crusher station at a platinum mine in Zimbabwe.

Overseeing the contract for Weba Chute Systems is Project Manager, Ted Cruikshank, who explains that the design, manufacture and delivery of the units is already 80% complete. Over the past 20 years, the company has installed approximately 70 chutes for this customer.

“The chutes being supplied in this latest contract will feed run-of-mine material from the ore pass to the underground crusher, as well as from the crusher to the outgoing conveyor,” Cruikshank said. “This has involved designing and building chutes ranging in height from two metres to six metres.”

Before the crusher, the chutes take large material of up to 650 mm in size from a vibrating feeder, at a maximum tonnage of 1,100 t/h. Other chutes take the feeder’s undersize, which is smaller than 180 mm in size, at 550 t/h. Some of the chutes will also be used in conveyor-to-conveyor applications; these feed 1,500-mm wide belts with up to 1,350 t/h of material with a maximum lump size of 250 mm.

“The abrasiveness of platinum ore makes our chute design philosophy – based on the cascade system – very important,” Cruikshank said. “Our use of dead boxes on the inside of the chute creates a layer of ore for the moving material to flow over – thereby extending the wear life of the chute itself.”

Replaceable lips on the dead boxes become primary wear parts, which can be easily and quickly swapped out at the necessary intervals. By controlling the flow of the mined and crushed material, the chutes facilitate smoother transition and central loading onto conveyor belts, in turn reducing wear, damage and spillage, the company explained.

“The chutes also include inspection doors for easy access during maintenance,” Cruikshank said. “To promote optimal uptime for the customer, we are also including a spare set of wearing lip liners for each chute. These are vital for securing the material layer, while ensuring that the dead box itself is protected from undue wear.”

Weba Chute Systems’ agent in Zimbabwe, the locally owned firm Hilmax, will supervise the installation of the chutes.

Sandvik completes acquisition of Polymathian, strengths Deswik mine planning offering

Sandvik has completed the previously announced acquisition of Polymathian Industrial Mathematics, in the process becoming a part of its Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Business Unit Deswik.

Polymathian’s solutions for automated decision making and optimisation complements Deswik’s suite of mine planning software and consulting services while remaining OEM agnostic, the OEM said. Deswik, a leading mine planning software company, was previously acquired by Sandvik in April 2022.

Matt Chilcott, CEO of Deswik, said: “We are very excited to welcome Polymathian to the Deswik family. Our employees have been the driving force behind our success. Introducing the talent, experience, and innovative technologies of the Polymathian team will position us to deliver even higher value to mining operations globally.”

The addition of Polymathian to Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions broadens the offering and is another step towards enhancing the productivity of the mining customers’ value chain, it said. Combined with Deswik’s software solutions, the acquisition creates a “unique digital portfolio” that will help customers optimise their data driven operations.

Polymathian’s co-Founders, Dr Ben Hollis, Jonathon White and Steven Donaldson, will join Deswik’s senior management team and continue to lead the development of Polymathian’s software suite and technology platform.

Hollis said: “We are thrilled to be joining the Sandvik Group and believe that our combined expertise will lead to great advances in the field of data analytics for the mining industry. We look forward to leveraging Sandvik’s global reach and resources to bring our software solutions to even more customers around the world.”

Robit wins ‘groundbreaking’ DTH drilling contract at Shougang Hierro Perú

Shougang Hierro Perú has recently added Robit drilling consumables to its drilling arsenal, following a string of tests comparing down-the-hole (DTH) tools, the Finland-based company says.

A large share of the drilling and earthmoving operations at Shougang Hierro Perú is conducted by Cosapi Mineria, a subsidiary of Cosapi S.A., one of Peru’s biggest construction and engineering companies and the company that Robit had to impress.

An open-pit operation typically makes extensive use of DTH tools for pre-split and buffer drilling. That’s why Shougang Hierro Perú, an iron ore miner, was an attractive target for Robit SAC to approach with its offering.

José Luis Cisneros, General Manager of Robit SAC, said: “The iron deposit at Shougang Hierro Perú consists of very hard and abrasive materials. You can find competent soils with compressive strengths of 250 to 300 MPa. We contacted Cosapi Mineria and carried out the first test in early 2020 with 7-in (178 mm) bits and a D65 hammer. Since then, we have been working ever more closely with Cosapi, providing them with material innovations to increase performance.”

He added: “In recent months we have been working together with Cosapi in a testing process of the main DTH providers in the market. Thanks to the constant monitoring by our Assistance Engineer, Kevin Salas, and the development of the right products through our DTH Sales Manager, Martín Rodríguez, we have been able to generate new ways of improving the operation and proposing drilling targets with higher standards.”

The open pit operation requires a lot of double bench pre-splitting, performed with D45 HD hammers and 5-in bits, ballistic buttons and a convex face. The bits have obtained an average duration of 1,400 m, and an average speed of 32 m/h.

Recently, Cosapi signed an extension contract for its operations in two of the open pits at Shougang Hierro Perú. Impressed by the tests conducted with Robit, it granted a consignment agreement, trusting Robit with 60% of the consumption of drilling tools over the competition, Robit says.

Cisneros said: “This is the first contract of consumption for DTH tools in Latin America where we will provide assistance and stock for the client’s operation, including technical service, maintenance of hammers and management of drill bits. We hope to show Cosapi Mineria and the market that Robit SAC has the necessary resources to keep exceeding the expectations of our strategic partners.”

Fortuna Silver Mines readies for mid-2023 gold pour at Séguéla

The initial mining fleet has arrived at Fortuna Silver Mines’ Séguéla gold project in Côte d’Ivoire, ahead of planned commissioning in the June quarter, the company has confirmed.

The overall project is approximately 90% complete as of the end of January and remains on-track and on-budget for first gold pour in mid-2023, the company said.

Among the initial fleet are Cat haul trucks, an excavator, dozer and other ancillary equipment. The company says the next tranche of mining equipment is on-schedule for late-February availability. This includes a Cat 6020B 230 ton (224 t) hydraulic excavator, which is delivered and being assembled on-site; four Cat 777E haul trucks being assembled in Abidjan; one 50 ton excavator for rock-breaker, which has a hammer already on-site; one Cat D9 dozer; and two Cat 988 wheel loaders for crusher feed.

Mota-Engil, the mining contractor, has established its temporary facilities on site to support initial mining activities with construction of the permanent mining services area infrastructure progressing well.

With the completion of construction rapidly approaching, operational readiness has increasingly become the focus in preparation for commissioning of the 3,750 t/d processing plant, which is due to commence early in the June quarter of 2023. As a result of the dedicated efforts of the Séguéla management and site teams, the project is well positioned for this transition, which also represents a significant milestone for the company, it said.

David Whittle, Chief Operating Officer – West Africa, said: “Construction activities are nearing completion despite worldwide supply chain challenges. We are pleased to report commissioning remains on schedule for Q2 (June quarter) 2023. Our operational teams are being assembled with an experienced core leadership group already hired and preparing for first gold production. This will mark a significant milestone for Fortuna with Séguéla also exhibiting growth potential given the quantity of inferred resources and the exploration success on the property to date.”

Séguéla has a nine year mine life in reserves, with the initial six years expected to report 133,000 oz/y of gold production.