All posts by Daniel Gleeson

Trevali taps EMESCO for solar power contract at Rosh Pinah mine

Trevali Mining has entered into a 15-year renewable Power Purchase Agreement with Emerging Markets Energy Services Company (EMESCO) for the supply of solar power to its Rosh Pinah zinc-lead-silver mine in Namibia.

Trevali has committed to achieving an overall greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 25% by 2025 from its 2018 baseline, with the PPA anticipated to deliver 30% of Rosh Pinah’s power requirements during the life of the agreement and reduce GHG emissions at the company level by 6%.

EMESCO will be responsible for the design, permitting, financing and implementation of a solar energy system on a neighbouring property at no cost to Trevali. EMESCO will then sell the power generated to Trevali at a fixed rate that is expected to reduce energy costs by 18% over the 15-year term of the agreement.

EMESCO was chosen based on a variety of factors, including expertise in the field of renewable energy, an understanding of the scope of work required, the ability to execute and deliver on Trevali’s requirements, and pricing, the miner said.

If Trevali makes a positive investment decision on the RP2.0 expansion project, which could see output rise to 3,600 t/d from 2,000 t/d, EMESCO will increase the delivery of power to Rosh Pinah to remain at 30% of the mine’s annual energy consumption as regulated by the Modified Single Buyer framework in Namibia, it added.

Ricus Grimbeek, President & CEO, said: “Our sustainability program commits to significant reductions in GHG emissions, and with the signing of this agreement with EMESCO we have taken a major step towards delivering on our commitment by securing renewable energy while also reducing our expected energy costs.

“The agreement with EMESCO has been designed to scale with the output of the mine so that when we are ready to make the decision to build the RP2.0 Expansion project, the delivery of power will increase to match our requirements.

“We are extremely excited by this partnership at Rosh Pinah and continue to study ways to reduce Trevali’s GHG emissions and deliver on this and our other sustainability targets.”

Telson Mining ready to experiment with metallurgical innovations at Campo Morado

Telson Mining, following a strong quarter of production from the Campo Morado mine, in Guerrero State, Mexico, is making plans to boost throughput and recoveries through the potential use of grinding, leaching and flotation technologies from the likes of Maelgwyn Mineral Services, Core Group and Glencore Technology.

The mine’s throughput averaged out at 58,100 t/mth in the March quarter, with total throughput for the quarter of 174,400 t being 4% higher than the December quarter. Some 11,013 t of zinc concentrate and 1,907 t of lead concentrate was produced over the period, compared with 9,974 t and 1,916 t, respectively, in the previous quarter.

Gold, silver, lead and zinc recoveries all improved, quarter-on-quarter, in the first three months of the year, the company added.

Ralph Shearing, Telson CEO and President, said: “These strong first quarter results continue to reflect our steady progression of improving the throughput and recoveries at Campo Morado. To this end, management intends to initiate a rigorous metallurgical testing program to advance through second phase testing the Leachox™ Process of Maelgwyn Mineral Services and the Albion Process™ of Core Group, both of which returned positive test results in first phase testing.”

He said this metallurgical testing program will also study the ability to increase base metal recoveries at microfine grinding with flotation recovery using Imhoflot Flotation (also Maelgwyn) and Jameson Cell (Glencore Technology) flotation technologies, both designed for such purposes.

“We are confident that additional recovery improvements are available utilising these exciting modern technologies which, if successful, can provide increased revenue streams,” Shearing added.

Maelgwyn’s Leachox Process consists of several Maelgwyn proprietary processes linked together including Imhoflot G-Cell flotation technology, ultra-fine grinding using the Ro-Star mill, Aachen Reactors and Aachen assisted cyanide destruction.

The Albion Process, meanwhile, is a combination of ultrafine grinding and oxidative leaching at atmospheric pressure. The feed to the Albion Process is refractory base or precious metal concentrates, where the sulphides in the feed are oxidised and liberated, allowing the target metals to be recovered by conventional means.

Weir ESCO takes advantage of expansion opportunities in Utah, Quebec

Weir ESCO’s growth trajectory has continued in 2021, with the ground engaging tool (GET) major capitalising on two fast-moving expansion opportunities in western USA and eastern Canada in the March quarter.

The acquisitions represent exciting new platforms for sales and brand recognition growth in the two regions, according to the Weir subsidiary.

With one of ESCO’s largest dealers, based in the Western US, set to retire last year, Weir ESCO decided to fill the void.

The company explained: “Without the dealer to represent us, our future with a significant mining operation in the region – a mine that generates approximately 11% of annual copper production in the US – was at stake.”

The mine’s cable shovels are outfitted exclusively with ESCO GET and multiple other pieces of equipment, including hydraulic machines and front-end loaders, are also fitted with ESCO products.

The company’s teams jumped into action to secure the business, with the new Salt Lake City branch becoming operational in early January. It got right to work establishing a direct service relationship with the key customer, Rio Tinto Kennecott, and expanding market share with other mining and infrastructure companies customers in the territory, the company said.

Up north in Canada, the launch of Weir ESCO’s Quebec branch resulted from seizing a timely, high-stakes opportunity, as well, the company said.

Quebec is home to Canada’s largest operating open-pit gold mine, Canadian Malartic. The mine employs more than 2,000 workers around the clock and many pieces of equipment are outfitted with ESCO GET, according to the company.

“When changes in the local distribution channel occurred, Weir ESCO began considering how to parlay the situation into market expansion opportunities,” it said.

Weir Minerals, a division of the Weir parent company, already had an established presence in the area, presenting additional synergy opportunities.

By the end of January, Weir ESCO’s new Quebec team was on board and sharing office space with the Minerals branch (office pictured).

As in Salt Lake City, the Quebec branch will focus on growth through a direct service approach with customers, it said.

Pete Huget, Managing Director for North America, said: “This is an energising time for us as we move with more speed and agility to take advantage of market opportunities to grow the business. We are looking forward to capitalising on these opportunities to service our own customers directly. No one can service a customer like an ESCO employee.”

HYBRIT partners start building underground fossil-free hydrogen storage facility in Luleå

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have commenced building a rock cavern storage facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas on a pilot scale next to the HYBRIT pilot facility for direct reduced iron in Luleå, northern Sweden.

This is an important step in the development of a fossil-free value chain for fossil-free steel, the companies said, with the investment of just over SEK250 million ($29 million) divided equally across the holding companies and the Swedish Energy Agency, which provides support via Industriklivet.

As part of the SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall joint HYBRIT initiative, Hybrit Development AB is starting the construction of a hydrogen storage facility in Svartöberget to develop the technology for storage.

Fossil-free hydrogen, which will replace coal and coke, is a crucial part of the production technique for fossil-free iron and steel production, where emissions of carbon dioxide will be virtually eliminated, the companies said. Hydrogen can be produced cost effectively through the electrolysis of water using fossil-free electricity. The hydrogen produced by the electrolysers can be used immediately or stored for later use.

Hydrogen storage is predicted to play a very important role in future power and energy balancing, and in large-scale hydrogen production, according to the companies. The storage facility is expected to be operational from 2022-2024.

Andreas Regnell, Head of Strategy at Vattenfall and Chairman of the Board at HYBRIT, said: “We’re really pleased that HYBRIT is continuing to lead the development of efficient production for fossil-free steel, as we’re now also building a pilot storage facility for large-scale fossil-free hydrogen in Luleå.

“Storage provides the opportunity to vary demand for electricity and stabilise the energy system by producing hydrogen when there’s a lot of electricity, for example in windy conditions, and to use stored hydrogen when the electricity system is under strain.”

Martin Pei, Technical Director of SSAB and Board member of HYBRIT, said: “By developing a method for hydrogen storage and securing access to fossil-free electricity, we’re creating a value chain all the way out to customers where everything is fossil-free – from the mine to the electricity and to the finished steel. This is unique.”

The 100 cu.m hydrogen storage is being built in an enclosed rock cavern around 30 m below ground. Building the storage facility underground provides opportunities to ensure the pressure required to store large amounts of energy in the form of hydrogen in a cost-effective way, the companies said.

The technology used is adapted to Scandinavian bedrock conditions and will be further developed to handle the storage of hydrogen.

The storage facility is based on proven technology and the hydrogen is used in the plant’s direct reduction reactor to remove oxygen from iron ore pellets, the companies said. The fossil-free sponge iron resulting from the process is then used as a raw material in the manufacture of fossil-free steel.

Industrialisation of fossil-free steel under the HYBRIT initiative is intended to start with the first demonstration plant, which will be ready in 2026, for the production of 1.3 Mt of fossil-free sponge iron in Gällivare, Sweden. The goal is to expand sponge iron production to a full industrial scale of 2.7 Mt/y by 2030 to be able to supply SSAB, among others, with feedstock for fossil-free steel.

Felix equips Macmahon with tools to manage supply chain risk

Felix Group Holdings Ltd has been awarded a three-year enterprise software contract with Macmahon Holdings for its Vendor Management and Sourcing solutions that, it says, is intended to be rolled out across the contract miner’s global operations.

Felix’s enterprise solution enables organisations to create efficiencies and manage supply chain risk by transforming and digitising the way they manage and engage with their third-party suppliers and subcontractors, it says.

The resources sector Macmahon operates in is an important part of Felix’s strategy as it continues to expand its platform into sectors beyond engineering and construction.

The contract is effective from July 1, 2021 and will run for 36 months, Felix says.

Felix CEO, Mike Davis, said: “We are very pleased to have won this contract with Macmahon, a market-leading mining services contractor. While not financially material, this represents an important milestone for Felix as we continue to expand our platform into new sectors.

“Macmahon undertook a comprehensive process to select a suitable solution to digitise their source-to-contract processes and create efficiencies across their operations. We look forward to partnering together and delivering sustainable value to Macmahon.”

IMDEX on the importance of cyber security in the digital age

As the resources sector is adopting innovation, in particular digital technologies, at an increasingly rapid rate, mining companies should consider the cyber-security risks inherent with leveraging this innovation, according to mining technology company IMDEX.

Paul House, CEO for IMDEX, says the take-up of new technologies is happening on a scale that has not been seen in the past – a confluence of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to replace depleted existing mineral reserves.

“This is partly by necessity, to enable remote working, and partly by opportunity, as these technologies will enable faster drilling, more efficient drilling, and better decision making,” he said.

But every tool and technology that is added to a mining company’s arsenal – from exploration to production – increases the attack surface for hackers, according to the company.

IMDEX says it has countered this by achieving the “gold standard” in data security – certification against the exacting standards of ISO27001, an international information security standard recognised in 161 countries. The company received recognition for this information security standard in early 2020.

House said increasingly clients were asking for such security protocols to be in place.

The threat of cyber attacks intensifies as competitors, organised crime, and “state-based actors” seek to gain advantage by malicious means – searching for vulnerabilities in business systems that will allow them access a company’s most important secrets, according to the company.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has warned that the likelihood and severity of cyber attacks is increasing because of the growing dependence on new information technology platforms and interconnected devices and systems.

“Cyber crime is one of the most pervasive threats facing Australia, and the most significant threat in terms of overall volume and impact to individuals and businesses,” the ACSC said in its annual report last year.

Global communications company Inmarsat, in a 2020 report examining the rise of IoT in mining, said the majority of mining organisations were struggling to meet the security challenges presented by the IoT.

The report found that while respondents in their research were aware of the damage a cyber attack could trigger, the response so far to the threats had been minimal.

IMDEX Information Security Manager, Sameera Bandara, said cyber threats come from various sources, including hackers doing it for fun, criminal enterprises, competitors, and nation states.

“They use proxies and zombies to mask who and where they are and, even if we found them, prosecution would be a problem,” Bandara said.

IMDEX’s approach was that its systems needed to be secure to protect its data and that of its clients.

“IMDEX spends A$20 million ($15 million) a year on research and development,” Bandara said. “If competitors could get access to technology or tools in development by hacking our systems, the financial and reputational costs to IMDEX would be significant.

“But we also needed to protect our clients’ information by making our systems as secure as possible. We can then say if we have your data, then it is secure to a point where an attacker would have to spend considerably more resources to exploit than the value of the data.”

IMDEX supplies a range of technologies and tools that deliver data from exploration through to production, with the data uploaded to cloud-connected management tools and analytic software.

The company addressed the security issue by maintaining an Information Security Management System certified against ISO27001 security certification that covers:

  • Software development processes;
  • The product development lifecycle for its real-time subsurface intelligent solutions;
  • Manufacturing and deployment of products and technologies;
  • Client support processes; and
  • Information technology systems for supporting these activities and digital functions.

Bandara refers to it as the “gold standard” of data security – achieved after an assessment of its information security management system and processes.

“Many companies say they are aligned with the ISO27001 requirements without actually being certified and that’s because a lot more rigour needs to go into getting certified,” he said.

Anglo American and ENGIE agree on ‘green’ electricity supply for Quellaveco

Anglo American and ENGIE’s Peru-based subsidiary have signed an agreement to convert the current contracted energy supply for the Quellaveco copper project to 100% renewable sources, in addition to agreeing on another eight years of energy supply for the mine, starting in 2029, from “green energy” inputs.

The agreement will see Quellaveco, a copper project being developed by Anglo and Mitsubishi Corp, become the first mining operation to promote the construction of a non-conventional renewable energy plant, according to ENGIE.

As part of the pact, ENGIE Energía Perú has agreed to convert the total electricity supply for Quellaveco (187 MW) to 100% green energy, with 150 MW of supply over eight years from 2029 also coming from green energy sources.

ENGIE Energía Perú will source the renewable energy from its Punta Lomitas wind power plant, an in-development wind farm with a joint nominal capacity of 260 MW located in Ocucaje-Ica and a 60 km transmission line connecting the plant with the National Interconnected Electric System. The project has been granted a generation and transmission concession by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, and construction is expected to start in the second half of 2021, the company says.

Tom McCulley, CEO of Anglo American in Peru, said: “We are working from different areas to contribute to a healthy environment. Our goal is to transform the very nature of the industry to ensure a safer, cleaner and more sustainable future.

“By resorting to the use of higher precision technologies, such as those that Quellaveco will have, as well as by focusing on consuming less energy and less water, we will reduce our environmental footprint for every kilogram of copper that we produce, starting in 2022.”

Rik De Buyserie, CEO of ENGIE Energía Peru, added: “Thanks to the renewable energy certificates delivered by the Punta Lomitas Power Plant to supply the demand for the Quellaveco project, we are proud and committed to accompany our client Anglo American and mining in Peru, on their path to carbon neutrality.”

Quellaveco, owned 60% by Anglo and 40% by Mitsubishi Corp, comes with a production blueprint of 300,000 t/y of copper over the first 10 years of the mine, with first production expected in 2022.

EY addresses Americas mining and metals company needs with new Centre of Excellence

EY Canada has announced the launch of an EY Americas Mining and Metals Centre of Excellence that, it says, will offer companies across the Americas access to cutting-edge services and innovation-led solutions that meet the most pressing needs of mining and metals businesses, today and in the future.

“Post-COVID-19 investments in infrastructure, combined with demand to sustain the energy transition, will drive significant growth in the mining and metals sector over the next three to five years,” Theo Yameogo, EY Americas Mining and Metals Leader and the man leading the centre’s charge, said. “But capitalising on these opportunities is going to require a major pivot – and we want to be there to support companies as they navigate the path forward. While working cross-collaboratively with our colleagues in the Americas to combine our business and technical expertise with emerging technologies, the centre will ground us under one unified vision to help companies drive meaningful and long-term growth.”

Powered by EY wavespaceTM, the centre’s integrated, business-led and technology-enabled approach will, EY says, support the growth ambitions of mining and metals companies by focusing on four key areas:

  • Technical expertise: bringing advanced knowledge and understanding of the unique business landscape, including reserves and resources, mine planning and tailings management;
  • Digital transformation: connecting the dots to link investments to value realisation through strategic roadmaps, prioritisation of initiatives and disciplined execution;
  • Operations management: improving efficiency and productivity in operations through data-driven diagnostics, culture uplift and integrated planning and execution; and
  • Decarbonisation and ESG: supporting adoption of carbon footprint analytics, greater energy optimisation and increased health and safety.

Jad Shimaly, EY Canada Chairman and CEO, said: “The mining and metals industry is an integral part of our Canadian fabric, and is poised to be an increasing contributor to job and economic recovery moving forward.

“We’re excited the centre will allow us to play a role in enabling Canada’s journey in the energy transition, while supporting mining and metals companies as they look to develop innovative and sustainable solutions that deliver long-term value for stakeholders.”

The first Americas Mining and Metals Centre of Excellence will be hosted in Canada, with an additional location operating in Latin America later this year, according to the company.

CSI to carry out load and haul, drill and blast work at Rio’s Brockman 2 iron ore mine

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services has been awarded a mining contract by Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 2 iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The scope of the contract will see CSI conduct load and haul, drill and blast, and short-term mine planning activities for Rio, the company said.

This will involve scheduling, drilling and blasting and then excavating 27 Mt of waste rock and iron ore over an approximate nine-month period, with a fleet of large-scale mining equipment, developing the Lens A/B pit for Rio.

This contract builds on a 16-year relationship with Rio, dating back to when CSI first commenced crushing services at the Nammuldi mine site. It also follows the completion of a 30 Mt load and haul contract at Rio’s Tom Price mine. CSI remains engaged at another Rio Tinto operation, Paraburdoo, where its team is carrying out 13 Mt of load and haul operations.

The Brockman 2 contract will generate around 150 jobs for CSI’s highly skilled workforce, the company said.

Mineral Resources’ Chief Executive Mining Services, Mike Grey, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by Rio Tinto to assist at another of its world-class iron ore mines. Our relationship with Rio Tinto dates back 16 years. Since then, we have been able to establish a track record of consistent project delivery for Rio Tinto, which we are very proud of.

“CSI is the world’s largest crushing contractor, so it is immensely satisfying that this latest Rio Tinto contract includes other mining activities, such as load and haul and drill and blast, to demonstrate CSI’s diverse skills set. We are confident this Brockman 2 scope of work will become the latest chapter of our ongoing association with Rio Tinto.”

Brockman 2 is one of the 16 mines that make up Rio’s world-class Pilbara iron ore operations.

The CSI team has begun mobilising to site, including delivering a new fleet of Komatsu 830E electric-drive dump trucks and a new Komatsu PC4000-11 excavator.

Metso Outotec completes divestment of aluminium business to REEL International

Metso Outotec has completed the divestment of its aluminium business to REEL International, headquartered in France.

The divestment to REEL was announced on December 28, with the divested business comprising equipment and plant solutions to green anode plants, anode rodshops, and casthouses used in aluminium smelters, as well as the related services.

Metso Outotec will continue to serve its customers in certain other parts of the aluminium value chain, such as alumina refinery and petroleum coke calcination technologies, it said.

Jari Ålgars, President of Metals business area, Metso Outotec, said: “I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to the Aluminium team for its contribution to Metso Outotec and for the hard work to ensure a smooth transfer of the business. I wish the team great success under its new ownership at REEL.”