All posts by Daniel Gleeson

Cat 7495 electric rope shovel on its way to Kinross Gold’s Paracatu mine

A Cat 7495 electric rope shovel originally built in 2012 is on its way to Kinross Gold’s Paracatu gold mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Paracatu, an open-pit mine with ore processed in ball and SAG mills, is Brazil’s largest gold mine, according to Kinross. It achieved record annual production of 619,563 gold-equivalent ounces in 2019, surpassing its 2018 record.

Kinross started an asset optimisation program in 2018, which completed in late 2019 with the successful implementation of a grade control program that led to better characterisation of the orebody, an improved ability to predict and react to ore variability, and better mill efficiency with improvements in throughput and recovery, it said.

Cat said the shovel’s ballast box and revolving frame left Green Valley, Arizona, USA, last week on two heavy haul trucks – one pulling and one pushing the 120 t load. At 61 m long and 5 m wide, the load is being escorted by a team responsible for removing and replacing power lines, traffic signals and signage along the way, it said.

Late last year, Cat updated the AC electric drive system for Cat 7495 and 7495 HF electric rope shovels to, it said, deliver even greater reliability, improved maintenance access, enhanced safety and an expanded ability to perform at high altitudes and in extreme temperatures.

Back in 2018, Kinross welcomed its second Cat 7495 electric rope shovel to its Round Mountain mine, in Nevada, as part of its Phase W expansion plan.

ROXON ups durability with new wear parts line

ROXON, a part of NEPEAN Conveyors, has released a new range of wear protection products for the mining industry.

The global mining conveyor systems and components specialist says ROXDUR uses the latest wear material technology and innovative manufacturing processes to create a truly unique range of wear products.

With operating facilities in Finland, Sweden and Australia, ROXON specialises in conveyor systems and components, and has over 50 years’ experience servicing the global mining industry.

ROXON said ROXDUR has been developed on the back of research and development from its engineering team and uses a unique composite material that combines extreme hardness to minimise abrasive wear and iron-matrix technology to absorb impact. “The metallurgical bond between the cemented carbide and iron matrix gives a composite material with very high-quality adhesion to the cemented carbide,” it said.

The ROXDUR iron-matrix technology is unprecedented in the industry and can extend the life of fixed plant mining equipment up to 20 times longer than other products, according to the company, which added it has three global patents pending for the range.

The product range includes welding segments, edge liners and wear plates and is suitable for all low- to heavy-duty mining applications, according to the company.

ROXON has developed a standard range of wear plates with a thickness of 30-50 mm but there are also opportunities to customise these depending on the application, the company said.

ROXDUR Product Manager, Oskar Larsson, said productivity losses and unplanned downtime due to wear-related breakdowns cost mining companies’ significant amounts of time and money each year.

“The use of wear resistant products is crucial to everyday operations, particularly in hard-rock mining,” he said.

“ROXDUR is a premium product that has the best durability on the market. We started developing it in 2018 and realised fairly quickly that we needed to combine the durable, but relatively brittle, cemented carbide with some toughness to get the best of both worlds in a whole new material,” he added.

“We are really excited with the new product. When compared to a standard plate of 500 Brinell, we have between 10-15 – sometimes 20 – times longer life. This will make a huge difference for our customers.”

Record hole in progress at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde: Master Drilling

Master Drilling says it is in the process of drilling a world record hole at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde platinum group metals mine, in the Bushveld Complex of South Africa.

The contractor has its flagship RD8-1500 raisebore rig on site at Zondereinde and is busy drilling the 4.8 m, 1,420 m deep hole at the operation, it said today.

Master Drilling said: “The project doesn’t just beat all previous drilling benchmarks, but also has very stringent accuracy requirement that requires the latest in Measurement While Drilling technology.”

While Master Drilling did not add any additional details in the news post, Northam Platinum said in its full-year results presentation for the year ending June 30, 2019, that planning and preparation for raiseboring the No.3 shaft at the Western Extension project at Zondereinde was in progress. It added, in a presentation last month, that pilot drilling for the raisebore was at 760 m.

Northam is targeting steady state platinum group metal production of 50,000 oz/y from the Western Extension, which it hopes to achieve in its 2025 financial year.

Master Drilling’s RD8 rig has been used at various mine sites across South Africa and is capable of drilling 8.5 m in diameter and over 1,500 m deep, the company said.

Metso invests in Arizona repair facility after stellar 2019 results

Metso has made further investments in its Mesa repair facility in Arizona, USA, in order to, it says, optimise safety and broaden service capabilities.

The facility offers repairs and field services while supporting Metso’s Life Cycle Services contracts. It has seen steady growth since the opening in 2015, with 2019 setting a record for safety performance, revenue and profitability, according to the company.

One of the many upgrades to the facility includes the installation of “a state-of-the-art stress relief oven”. This investment was made to offer a more complete service to customers on large rebuilds, Metso said. “This will improve quality control as well as accelerate the turnaround times for our clients,” the company explained.

In addition to the stress relief oven, Mesa has also invested in other equipment to support the repair of mining screens, Wet Low Intensity Magnetic Separator (LIMS) drums, and babbitted bearings for mills.

A screen test stand has been manufactured and will be operational by the end of March, the company said. This will allow each screen rebuilt at Mesa to be test-run before being sent back out into the field, which will reduce the potential for issues during installation and start-up, according to the company.

Equipment needed to repair LIMS drums was also put in place last year and has seen a steady inflow of repairs coming from mines in the Iron Range of Minnesota, the company said.

Metso said: “In the future, the facility aims to further grow its portfolio of value-added services, to improve productivity and reduce operational costs for its clients in both the mining and aggregates sectors.”

Primero lays foundations for world’s largest rail mounted stackers, reclaimer

Primero Group looks set to hit the June 30 deadline for the pre-assembly of two stackers and one “off-reclaim machine” for thyssenkrupp at the BHP-owned South Flank iron ore project, in Western Australia.

In an update posted today, Primero said it was nearing completion of the pre-assembly and dressing out of 24 machine modules for thyssenkrupp, with the last of these modules being “punch listed” and signed off in preparation for shipment.

The modules will complete the world’s largest rail mounted stackers and reclaimer, which are currently under construction on site in the state. thyssenkrupp said previously that the rail mounted stacker/reclaimer units will have a loading capacity of 20,000 t/h.

Primero has been carrying out the work at the Australian Marine Complex, in Henderson, south of Perth, Western Australia, with the company saying over 10 km of cable, 2 km of piping and 200 m of conveyors had been installed. The project has seen Primero reach 75,000 project hours loss time injury free, it added.

The Primero contract commenced last year and was expected to be completed in the current Australia financial year, ending June 30, 2020.

The $4.6 billion South Flank iron ore project will be one of the largest iron ore processing hubs in the world when operating. It includes an 80 Mt/y crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system and rail-loading facilities. The mine will replace production from BHP’s Yandi mine, which is nearing the end of its life.

Construction began in July 2018 and first production of iron ore is anticipated in 2021.

Sandvik cuts work hours, temps/consultants, spend on COVID-19 concerns

With the COVID-19 virus continuing to affect business operating conditions, Sandvik says it has initiated measures to support savings both in the short and long-term.

The initial focus is on short-term activities with quick impact such as reduced worktime, reduction of temporary employees and consultants, and reduced discretionary spend, it said. Structural changes and reductions in work force to adapt to changed market conditions in the longer term are, in addition, being reviewed.

While the company said business development during January and February 2020 had been in line with its expectations – with the exception of China where the COVID-19 situation led to one week of prolonged closing of its operations around the Chinese New Year (the operations are now up and running and approaching normal capacity) – during March, the uncertainty has gradually increased in many other parts of the world, it explained.

“Most production units in the Sandvik Group have been able to continue operating, however due to government restrictions the production is currently on hold in Italy, India and partially in other regions,” Sandvik said.

“Although Sandvik currently believes that the direct impact on its financial performance during the first (March) quarter will be limited, Sandvik has identified a need to mitigate future effects on our businesses from the rapid spread of the coronavirus.”

The “temporary short-term actions” primarily related to reduced working hours, will generate savings of about SEK1.5 billion ($147 million) in 2020. The initiation of long-term “structural measures” imply costs of about SEK1.4 billion reported as items affecting comparability in the operating profit in the June quarter of 2020, with the majority impacting cash flow, Sandvik added. It expected savings of about SEK900 million from these long-term structural measures, which will reach full annual run-rate by the end of 2021, though.

Sandvik said: “Actions to reduce worktime will mean a temporary negative effect on the compensation for many employees. The members of the Sandvik Group Executive Management have therefore also decided to reduce their salary by 10% during this period.”

On top of this, the Sandvik Board of Directors proposes that the Annual General Meeting resolve on a dividend of SEK3/share, compared with the previous proposal of SEK4.50/share.

“It is the Board of Directors’ intention to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting before the end of October this year to resolve on an extra dividend of SEK1.50, assuming that the market has stabilised and the financial position of the company so permits.”

Stefan Widing, who only took up the role of President and CEO of Sandvik on February 1, said the COVID-19 situation had escalated around the world and the company had to adapt to this “dramatic change in global business conditions”.

He said: “Divisions within all three business areas are taking prompt action in order to secure our long-term market leading positions and protect our company.”

Nusantara keeps up Awak Mas gold project momentum with FEED contract award

Nusantara Resources has awarded the front end engineering and design services (FEED) contract for its Awak Mas gold project, in Indonesia, to PT Petrosea Tbk.

The FEED contract is one of three critical path items in 2020, along with tailings storage facility design and permitting, and land access, and forms part of a $30 million capital works program budgeted for the year, the ASX-listed company said. The 2020 capital budget is part of the overall $162 million capital required to put Awak Mas into production, as estimated in the 2018 definitive feasibility study (DFS).

With respect to funding and, as part of a joint venture arrangement, Indika Energy is to contribute up to $40 million of earn-in equity funding. Petrosea, a subsidiary of Indika, will also provide up to $40 million in deferred payments, with up to $15 million of this provided for in this FEED contract. The balance is to be agreed in the future engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contact.

Over the course of 2020, the joint venture partners Nusantara and Indika will look to complete project debt financing and move into a construction and commissioning phase in 2021, it said.

The 2018 DFS on Awak Mas envisaged an open-pit operation producing plus-100,000 oz/y over a plus-11-year mine life.

Nusantara is currently preparing to seek shareholder approval in late April for the joint venturing of the project and related project equity investments by Indika Energy group in the project company PT Masmindo DWI Area (Masmindo). This could see Nusantara own 60% of the project and Indika Energy own the remaining 40%. The award of the nine-month FEED contract addresses a condition of those investments and continues the project development momentum for the project, it said.

Nusantara says Petrosea is a Tier 1 engineering and construction contractor in Indonesia with the capability in major civil construction and mining projects to deliver this FEED and future EPC works.

Nusantara’s Chief Executive Office, Neil Whitaker, said from Jakarta: “This is another significant milestone towards the development of the Awak Mas gold project and, in a favourable environment for gold, bodes well for the future success of the project and its stakeholders.”

Windfall Geotek adds drones to AI-driven exploration tech offering

Mining technology services company, Windfall Geotek, says it has launched a new drone-based solution for artificial intelligence (AI) driven digital exploration in mining.

A services company using AI with a portfolio of gold, copper and zinc properties in Quebec, Canada, Windfall Geotek has been using AI and advanced knowledge-extraction techniques since 2005 in the mining sector. EagleEyeTM leverages this experience, it said.

Michel Fontaine, President and CEO of Windfall Geotek, said: “Our new services have allowed us to bring to market the survey, sensor, and AI-driven software for digital exploration. Our ability, in the mining sector, to find targets is directly tied to the quality of the source data we receive from our customers.

“EagleEye will allow us to work more closely with our customers, generating a better return for their investors with our CARDSTM AI-generated targets.”

Windfall’s CARDS (Computer Aided Resources Detection System) solution consumes open data from around the world to identify a high statistical probability of target identification within known areas of interest, the company said.

Don Moore, CEO of Playfair Exploration, a previous user of Windfall Geotek’s technology, said: “Windfall Geotek’s experience in collecting and analysing data has been proven over the past 15 years. We recently worked closely with Michel and his team on a great project in Finland.”

EagleEye will begin tests in mining sector with the acquisition and analysis of survey data. The company plans to partner with operators of leading surveying companies to obtain geophysical data and generate potential drill targets using drones, modified sensors, and the CARDS AI software system, it said.

COVID-19 pandemic hits Caterpillar supply chain

Caterpillar says the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to impact its supply chain, with the mining OEM weighing up alternative options to ensure it can continue to operate the majority of its facilities at this difficult time.

The company mentioned such a possibility in its risk factors back on February 19.

This week, Cat said it was monitoring the situation closely and supply chain teams had been executing business continuity plans, which include, but were not limited to, being alert to potential short supply situations, and, if necessary, using alternative sources and/or air freight, redirecting orders to other distribution centres, and prioritising the redistribution of the most impactful parts.

“Caterpillar is committed to continuing to execute these plans and will remain in close contact with its supply chain to monitor future possible implications, especially on production facilities,” it said.

While the company is continuing to run most of its US domestic operations and plans to continue operations in other parts of the world, as permitted by local authorities, it said it was temporarily suspending operations at “certain facilities”. It did not name these facilities.

Cat put this decision down to “uncertain economic conditions resulting in weaker demand, potential supply constraints and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions”.

It added: “The company will continue to monitor the situation and may suspend operations at additional facilities as the situation warrants.”

On top of shutting certain facilities in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and other related issues, Cat said it was continuing to implement several preventive measures to protect the safety, health and well-being of employees, customers, dealers, suppliers and communities, while also meeting the needs of global customers, at this time.

This included increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of facilities, social distancing practices, remote working when possible, restrictions on business travel, cancellation of certain events and limitations on visitor access to facilities.

Cat concluded: “The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extent of any impact on Caterpillar’s business, financial position, results of operations or liquidity, which could be material, cannot be reasonably estimated at this time due to the rapid development and fluidity of the situation. It will be determined by the duration of the pandemic, its geographic spread, business disruptions and the overall impact on the global economy.”

Following the factors mentioned above and the continued global economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cat said it was withdrawing its financial outlook for 2020, which previously estimated a profit per share outlook range of $8.50-$10.

Appian offers miners lifeline with credit support

Appian Funds is offering miners short term, flexible financing solutions to help them navigate the choppy markets that have come about as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The private equity firm’s solutions, which include credit facilities, are aimed at helping support mining companies with near-term balance sheet pressures and liquidity concerns, it said.

Appian explained: “The spread of coronavirus has had a profound impact on people’s lives, economies, commodity prices and financial markets worldwide. Although the full impact is not yet clear, Appian is monitoring the situation closely.

“Our first priority is the safety of our people. Our operations around the globe have implemented measures to protect employees, limit the spread of the virus and assist local communities. We will keep these arrangements under review as the situation evolves and will continue to assess how we can play our part in the response.

“We are also conscious that the broader mining industry is already under pressure. There has been a demand shock and prices have fallen. Restrictions on the movement of people have forced companies to change working patterns. Supply disruption could increase further if the virus spreads to key commodity producing regions in Latin America and Africa.

“It is precisely in times like this that long-term capital and through-the-cycle thinking are required to support high quality businesses and management teams.”

To address the challenges presented by COVID-19, Appian said it was expanding its focus and was ready to provide short-term, flexible financing solutions across the capital structure, including credit facilities. This comes on top of its usual direct equity investments.

“The long-term nature of the Appian Funds’ capital base and the flexibility of Appian’s investment mandate allow us to support partners within the range of $50-$300 million of financial support, including equity, bridge loans and other forms of credit,” it said.

Appian has investment experience in both development assets and operating mines across a range of commodities and jurisdictions, with a current portfolio including base, precious and specialty metals in Latin America, North America, Australia and Africa.

Included in its portfolio is Roxgold and Atlantic Nickel (Atlantic Nickel’s Santa Rita operation pictured here).

“We remain constructive on the medium and long-term outlook of the sector and look forward to continuing our engagement with industry participants world-wide,” it concluded.