All posts by Paul Moore

Vast Resources begins commissioning Mantis underground drills at Baita Plai equipped with Doofor drifters

Vast Resources PLC, the AIM-listed producing mining company, has announced an update from its producing Baita Plai polymetallic (copper-gold-silver-zinc-lead-moly) mine in Romania. The first of two Mantis CMR4 production drilling rigs equipped with the latest Doofor rock drills has successfully completed functional drill testing underground.

The Mantis is made by South African company Fabchem, through its subsidiary, Conax Machine Solutions in Springs, Gauteng, which manufactures, refurbishes and repairs roof bolters and hydraulic rock drills, with its flagship manufactured products being the Mantis bolters and drills.

Drilling with a Doofor DF530S hydraulic drifter resulted in penetration rates of up to 1.05 m per minute which significantly outperforms the standard pneumatic rock drills which typically achieve penetration rates of up to 0.3 m per minute. The use of the Mantis drilling rig will result in drilling efficiency improvements of up to 3.5
times with a reduction of labour at the drilling face, thereby allowing additional faces to be worked.

Formal operator training is underway and the preparation of the area on 17 level for initial long hole stoping ahead of production in this area in June 2022. The second of the two Mantis rigs is expected imminently and will be put into service to develop infrastructure from below 18 level on the Antonio Skarn, to a planned 21 level elevation. With the two new Mantis drills and the transition to mechanised mining, together with the implementation of long hole stope mining, significantly increased production output is expected from the end of Q2 onwards.

Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer of Vast Resources PLC, commented: “Our planned ramp up at Baita Plai is now on course. The implementation of long hole stope mining is expected to deliver a significant increase in production volumes, and together with our additional operational improvements, including the introduction of of molybdenum flotation circuit, Vast is in a strong position to lift production, output and revenues from the end of Q2 and into Q3. I look forward to sharing more operational developments in the coming weeks as the additional elements of our mechanisation and optimisation plan at Baita Plai are rolled out.”

Vale and CSN beginning deployment of Chinese wide body battery electric mining trucks for trials in Brazil

On May 18, XCMG Brasil, part of China’s Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co Ltd (XCMG), one of the world’s largest construction and mining equipment suppliers, signed a contract for supply of its mining machinery to iron ore, nickel and copper mining major, Vale. The signing ceremony took place at the XCMG Brasil site in Pouso Alegre, Minas Gerais.

In addition to development and cooperation for the manufacture of mining machinery, the agreement establishes the following points: product development aimed at decarbonisation, electric lines of machinery and development of autonomous products.

The signing of this first contract is an important step, building on the Memorandum of Understanding signed in October 2021 for potential equipment supply. XCMG says it is committed to serving global customers by providing mining solutions, a sustainable product line and zero carbon emissions. The MOU included two electric battery-powered mining haul trucks of 72 t capacity with zero emissions – these are XDR80TE units which are set to arrive in early June 2022 and will operate in Vale’s Minas Gerais state iron ore operations. IM understands that they will use in-pit charging stations as opposed to battery swapping.

Elsewhere, in its Q1 2022 results released on May 4, fellow Brazilian iron ore mining major CSN Mineracao stated: “In Q1 2022, CSN Mineracao signed an important agreement with Sany to become the first mining company in Brazil to use 100% electric trucks in its fleet. Already in the second quarter of 2022 two trucks that will make up the fleet to transport mining tailings come into operation.” These two trucks are 60 t class SKT90E models which arrived in Brazil in mid-May 2022. This Sany model is also autonomous-ready.

While the use of wide body mining trucks has been increasing in Brazil in recent years, these developments show that it is now extending to battery electric versions. The pilot testing of these smaller class battery electric trucks will serve as valuable experience in Brazilian mining for later introduction of larger class rigid battery electric mining trucks. The earlier XCMG MOU with Vale included mention of another electric truck up to 240 t class with zero emissions will also be tested at a date to be defined. This is likely to be a battery version of the XDE240 truck which is already equipped with electric drive.

Foraco bags A$80 million exploration & evaluation drilling contract at BHP Olympic Dam

Foraco International SA, a leading global provider of mineral and water drilling services, has been awarded a major contract with BHP Olympic Dam. This contract is for exploration and evaluation drilling services near the Olympic Dam underground copper-uranium mining complex, involving diamond drilling and is signed for three years firm plus two optional years extension.

It will involve a total of five rigs, most of them being remotely operated, and has a total face value of A$80 million, or US$60 million, excluding options. If the two year options are exercised, the face value could reach US$90 million.

“We have been working hard to market our technical expertise in deep diamond directional drilling services around the world for nearly a decade now and are very excited to start a new relationship with BHP. This is a great reward for all our employees, field crews and support teams,” said Daniel Simoncini, CEO of Foraco. “We believe long term relationships with leading global companies like BHP are an efficient way to increase our profitability resilience, while providing good quality professional life to our employees with who we can share a decent time horizon long enough to develop them, train them and make them safer and happier.”

Schneider Electric launches new scalable IIoT and AI solution for mining and cement industries

Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has launched the latest solution to its EcoStruxure™ Plant Advisor platform specifically for the mining and cement industries. EcoStruxure™ Plant Advisor – Process Intelligence uses Artificial intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and an open platform philosophy to improve sustainability and operational effectiveness in mining and cement enterprises.

These industries are under increased pressure to adapt process workflows to reduce their carbon footprint, while also increasing throughput and optimising value chain efficiency. According to McKinsey, mining alone is responsible for 4-7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, with about half coming from the comminution process and the other half from the fleet.

Schneider Electric has developed “an open, scalable, and natively cybersecure solution to support data-driven, multi-site operations, providing a range of benefits. From real-time AI-based, application-specific analytics to optimize (sub) processes, to a service bureau expert function able to determine the root causes of (potential) issues, EcoStruxure™ Plant Advisor – Process Intelligence directly addresses the key challenges of sustainability and efficiency in mining and cement enterprises.”

EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Process Intelligence helps to improve asset and process efficiency – targeting areas with payback time under one year; empower the workforce – through the reporting function, incidents can be resolved 2 to 4 times faster; and implement an agile value chain – productivity improvements of up to 5% have been seen in pilot projects.

“Plant controllers can now simultaneously manage multiple control variables to optimise the plant’s performance. EcoStruxure Plant Advisor – Process Intelligence goes beyond a standard business intelligence (BI) dashboard by incorporating self-learning to recommend appropriate actions to help optimize a process. As a result, mining and cement plants can improve their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and water and energy consumption, while also increasing throughput.”

Rob Moffitt, President of Mining, Minerals and Metals, Schneider Electric, said: “We are delighted to incorporate Process Intelligence within our EcoStruxure™ Plant Advisor platform. We have a strong track record of working with our customers to deliver tangible results through solutions and services in mining, minerals and metals operations. Process Intelligence represents the next generation of digital tools for the industry.”

“We are constantly striving to develop a set of valuable and repeatable process models that can be used to predict and improve future process performance in key markets like mining or cement. The industry is striving to meet sustainability targets, and this solution is designed specifically to help mining and cement companies meet those challenges,” Moffitt continued.

Finning to deliver 13 Cat 798 AC electric drive trucks to Codelco’s Ministro Hales copper mine

In Chile, Finning has announced that it will deliver 13 Caterpillar 798 AC electric drive off-highway trucks (410 ton/372 t class) to Codelco’s Ministro Hales open pit copper mine and support the fleet under a 10-year maintenance and repair contract. It expects to start delivering the new trucks in the second half of 2022. These trucks will expand Ministro Hales’ existing Caterpillar truck fleet and are expected to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

Codelco’s Ministro Hales copper mine has also been making steady progress with ultraclass autonomous haulage implementation that will see four autonomous 363 t 797F trucks in production starting in May 2022. The Command for hauling system has been implemented at the mine through collaboration between Codelco, Caterpillar and Finning Chile, with the AHS being managed from a new Autonomous Operations Center.

The 798 AC Cat says delivers “high speed on grade, easier maintenance, and excellent electric retarding and brake performance. The result? Improved productivity, high availability and more confident operators.” Better serviceability is provided by engine walkways, service platforms, modular components and ground-level, grouped service point. A first overhaul life of 25,000 hours drives lower cost of ownership. The engine (C175-16 or C175-20 for high altitude operations) and dual bearing drive alternator can be serviced separately, eliminating shimming. Modular wheel motors and final drives enable service on individual components.


Next generation ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control 

ABB has launched ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control, an automated, digital hoist control system evolved from ABB’s reliable and proven past generations of hoist control systems, to enable mining companies to operate hoists with high levels of performance and safety using a standardised platform worldwide. The company says it brings new levels of reliability, flexibility and ease of use to smaller companies on greenfield projects or upgrades as well as global companies where standardisation of control systems delivers improved efficiency and reduced costs. ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control is adaptable to any type of hoist and can be used in upgrade projects even with third-party control systems. It has intuitive operation via a human machine interface system (HMI) and provides access to ABB expert technical support at all times.

ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control can be easily integrated with other market leading ABB technologies including ABB Ability™ Safety Plus for hoists – the first fully SIL 3 certified hoist solutions which ensure the highest level of safety – which was first commissioned in 2019 on the world’s largest friction hoists. It is also compatible with advanced digital service ABB Ability™ Performance Optimization for hoists, a digital monitoring service that continuously tracks the status of a mine hoist and improves uptime, availability, performance and productivity of mine hoists by providing actionable information on KPIs.

“This exciting new launch follows the recent introduction of ABB Ability™ Safety Plus and is another milestone for greater levels of reliability, optimisation and protection for mine hoists,” said Oswald Deuchar, Global Product Line Manager for Hoisting, ABB. “With ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control mine operators benefit from reduced downtime and lower maintenance requirements, including round-the-clock support and the ability to manage hoists for greater optimisation. By implementing the same control system across plants OPEX can be further improved.”

On the background to the solution, Deuchar told IM: “When we look at our customers, they are increasingly global, but traditionally the engineering for our hoist control systems has been conducted more regionally. All the solutions were good, it’s just that the look and feel could be slightly different due to differences in electrical controls and software, for example between Asia and North America. The Tier 1 miners have staff moving around regularly to manage different sites or to assist with new project execution – we wanted to make sure we could offer our customers a platform that is consistent and that they will instantly recognise every time they see an ABB hoist. Going forward as more mines start to be managed from Integrated Remote Operations Centres, it will also streamline hoist management for global miners.”

Deuchar also said that internally in ABB, it is more efficient for its hoist control engineers not to have to deal with slightly different platforms across different countries, so their expertise can also be utilised on a more global basis. “It also reflects what was done with ABB Ability™ Safety Plus SIL 3, which is also standardised, and we had many learnings from going on that development journey. With ABB Ability™ NGX Hoist Control we have taken the best that we have from over 130 years of experience around the world in hoist control and brought it all together.”

Looking at the mining hoists market, some customers tender separately for the mechanical side (drums, ropes, brakes etc) and the electrical side (control systems, automation). Other customers tender for a total installed hoist solution. Ideally ABB looks to provide the whole package but very commonly also works with other mechanical suppliers to supply the electrical system as that is the customer preference. Tim Gartner, ABB Global Product Manager – Hoist Electrical Systems told IM: “The revamp or upgrade business is also very significant in mine hoisting, and we are very active there. The lifecycle of the mechanical components is actually often very long – we quite often see hoists from the 1940s or even the 1920s still in good shape. Many projects involve taking older hoist mechanicals and upgrading the drive and control system with ABB solutions. This can even happen several times over a long mine life of 40 years or more. Many customers in fact insist on ABB electricals and controls, no matter what mechanical solution they have opted for.”

Gartner added: “For example, a customer in Australia who for whatever reason could not access an ABB hoist service engineer locally can now call and get access to expert technical support from anywhere globally, including our Collaborative Operation Center in Europe. The safety circuit will now always be on the same page of the digital drawings and in the same place in the software. We have always followed the latest PLC and other developments with our platforms, this is just another way of making sure we serve the hoist market in a better way. In the past functionality may have been added for a particular region to meet a local customer need – this means these will be available to all worldwide.”

What about applying the technology to third party mechanicals or replacing another third party control system? Deuchar commented: “Yes, we can now go not only into our installed hoist base but also our competitors’ installed base and meet the sizeable retrofit and upgrade market. The standardised offer will also make us more competitive in the market for smaller hoist control systems than we have been in the past. We have always been very successful in what we call the premium segment, with all the biggest customers and hoisting installations and are also competitive in the ‘mid-segment.’ But when you get to smaller man and service hoists, the competitive environment is different with a lot of small system integrators – but NGX will enable us to compete better in at least some of those markets and at the same time give those customers the value add that they get with ABB.” Gartner added: “Already in North America we are involved in upgrading other hoist brands with our systems, and this just gives us the ability to extend that success globally.”

Cat Trial 12: No Hands puts a soccer player & 794 AC autonomous mining truck on the same team

Caterpillar’s series of Trials are films designed to put its products, services and technology to the test in innovative, imaginative and often lighthearted ways; and as such they uniquely bring the capabilities of the equipment to a much wider audience outside of just construction and mining.

Trial 1 back in 2014 saw Cat® attachments fitted onto wheel excavators, telehandlers and multi terrain loaders; displaying their high precision by “playing” the world’s largest game of JENGA®. The most recent Trial 11 in 2021 saw Caterpillar team up with Hot Wheels® to talk STEM and create an epic playground with Next Generation Cat Wheel Loaders and other Cat machines with life-sized versions of Hot Wheels® cars, highlighting a combination of high production with low-cost performance.

IM spoke to Caterpillar Creative Director, J. Archie Lyons, about the concept. “When we do Cat Trials, it is primarily for three main audiences – first, of course, our owners and operators; getting the word out and showing how Cat products, services and technology can help them – Cat Trials help do this in a different way. Secondly, we have a group we call influencers – friends and family of our customers, that help with spreading the positive message of the Caterpillar brand by word of mouth. And then third, of course, the wider world.”

Lyons argues that what really sets the Cat Trials apart – and part of their magic – is the fact they speak to three things. “Of course, we talk about Cat products, services, and technology. Then we want to link it to a relevant business topic. But the top of the pyramid is how to create the interest – and link it to pop culture. That is what has given the Cat Trials the relevance, interest and engagement that you don’t get with ‘normal’ product videos.”

But the focus has mainly been on construction class machines and on operator skills – until now. Cat Trial 12: No Hands, started like any other Trial project – in that it had the “head, heart and gut check.” It had to hit all three of these. “On the gut, this was part of what was highlighted by Caterpillar at MINExpo 2021, that with autonomy, customers realise complimentary growth in safety and productivity – they go hand-in-hand. Cat® Command for hauling has achieved both, often in double digit percentages over a staffed operation,” shared Lyons. “The Trial also reflects the fact autonomy is growing beyond mining in other parts of the Caterpillar business – such as in the construction market. The heart then is the emotional connection – which was brought by the soccer/football link – a sport loved and watched by Caterpillar customers and the wider public globally. Players on the field have finesse with agility – we wanted to juxtapose that with a large autonomous mining truck to show that it can be just as precise.”

Cat Trial 12 was filmed earlier in 2022 at the Tinaja Hills Demonstration & Learning Center near Tucson, Arizona, with IM present, and has just been released. It features an autonomous 297 t (327 ton) class Caterpillar 794 AC autonomous mining truck and semi-autonomous 299D3 Compact Track Loader (CTL). The house-sized mining truck negotiates a soccer (football) field of obstacles including flags, other vehicles, and even dining tables laid with tablecloths, glasses, and china plates. Not only that, but to enforce the ‘no hands’ theme common to both soccer and autonomy, Caterpillar brought in former professional soccer player DaMarcus Beasley – the only US man to play in four FIFA World Cups as well as stints with teams including LA Galaxy and Manchester City – to “play” with the truck, dribbling and chipping a ball through his own set of obstacles. He then works together with the 794 as a team to chip the ball in the truck body of the 794, while it is still driving autonomously. Its truck body is then raised to finally “score” a goal in a set of goalposts, which the CTL had the honour of autonomously delivering.

While the filming was a lot of fun, it also served as an insight to what Caterpillar equipment and Cat® MineStar™ Command for hauling are capable of. The 794 AC truck was being controlled from a Cat MineStar Command Center by Joel Godfryt, a Caterpillar Automation Engineering Specialist. Godfryt was able to make small, incremental changes to the truck’s pre-determined route between each take aneeded by the production crew. Yet everything was done ultra-safely and efficiently.

Equally, the Semi-Autonomous CTL represents a new era for Caterpillar autonomy in construction class and smaller mining class machines. A Cat 299D3, it is the first machine to be equipped with a new “lighter” automation system, can deliver and return a load with no interaction and no further network input needed, as it has all the necessary information onboard. One operator can manage and operate up to four CTLs this way. Joe Forcash, Electronic Engineering Manager, Autonomy & Automation at Caterpillar, was at the Cat Trial 12 filming and told IM: “This lighter weight approach to autonomy with the CTL allows Caterpillar to bring autonomy to operations with a different cost structure. Quarries and construction sites don’t operate with the same cost approach to big mines. Mines generally have the network infrastructure already in place, so that every machine on the site can be connected relatively easily. The CTL can run semi-autonomously without any network, so it is a lot easier for a quarry application from a long-term point of view. And where it makes sense, we will also drive the best elements of this technology into mining.”

Rio Tinto and bp sign one-year trial of marine biofuels

Rio Tinto and bp have agreed to work together on a one-year biofuel trial to help reduce carbon emissions from Rio Tinto’s marine fleet. Under the trial, bp is supplying Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for approximately 12 months. The fuel will be trialled on Rio Tinto’s RTM Tasman vessel on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes, in one of the longest-duration marine biofuel trials to date. The results of the trial will help Rio Tinto study ways to reduce its carbon emissions from its marine fleet and inform its future biofuel strategy.

Rio Tinto Head of Commercial Operations, Laure Baratgin said: “Sustainable biofuels have the potential to be an important transition fuel on the way to net-zero marine emissions and we are pleased to be working with bp to carry out this long-term trial. A longer-duration trial will provide important information on the potential role and wide scale use of biofuels, and aligns with our goals to reduce marine emissions across our value chain and support efforts to decarbonise the maritime industry. Our ambition is to reach net-zero emissions from shipping of our products to customers by 2050 and to introduce net-zero carbon vessels into our portfolio by 2030. We know that we won’t meet these ambitions alone and along the way will need to work with capable and experienced companies such as bp.”

Sven Boss-Walker, Senior VP Refining & Products Trading, bp said: “Sustainable biofuels are important to help decarbonise the shipping industry in the near- and mid-term as we transition towards longer term net zero solutions. We’re proud to be working with Rio Tinto to support their work to decarbonise. These trials are part of our ongoing efforts to help accelerate the shipping industry’s energy transition.”

The extended trial agreement follows a successful journey on the RTM Tasman after it refuelled with biofuel in Rotterdam in March 2022 for the first time and then picked up its first load of the trial at the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s Sept-Îles port in Quebec in April. All biofuel refuelling during the trial will be at Rotterdam.

The trial is using a bp-manufactured B30 biofuel blend composed of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). This B30 biofuel blend can reduce lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 26% compared to standard marine fuel oil.

FAME is a renewable alternative fuel (biodiesel) largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has physical properties similar to conventional diesel, and is a ‘drop in fuel’, requiring no modifications to the engine or vessel. The origination and production of the feedstocks used to produce the FAME is certified for its sustainability to internationally recognised standards.

Working with bp and the ship managers Anglo Eastern, the trial will analyse a series of engine and fuel performance factors, including engine efficiency and fuel consumption, corrosion and degradation, microbial growth, temperature impact, fuel switching impacts and fuel stability.

Rio Tinto is also accelerating the delivery of its climate commitments on shipping. It has delivered a 30% intensity reduction on its owned and time-chartered fleet from a 2008 baseline, and is on track to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s 2030 targets of a 40% reduction in emissions five years early, by 2025.

bp is working with companies in key industrial sectors such as shipping, that have significant carbon emissions to manage, supporting their work to decarbonise.

Ironbark Zinc MOU with LNS for equity position plus construction & mining contract for Citronen project, Greenland

Ironbark Zinc Ltd has announced that a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been executed between the company and Norwegian group Leonhard Nilsen & Sønner (LNS) regarding a possible equity investment in, and contractual arrangement for services to, the company’s flagship Citronen project in northern Greenland which will see 2.5 Mt of zinc metal produced over the life of mine averaging ~130,000 t/y.

Citronen will be a 3.3 Mt/y combined open pit and underground operation treating an average grade of 4.7% Zn and 0.5% Pb, over an initial 20 year mine life. Ironbark is supported by its major shareholders Nyrstar – a major global zinc smelter group, and Glencore International AG – the world’s largest zinc trader, major zinc miner and smelter.

The MOU contemplates LNS taking, or earning, an equity position in the project in return for preferred contractor status on three key elements of the project: civil construction contractor during the construction phase; mining contractor during the operations phase; and logistics management for both phases.

IBG Managing Director Michael Jardine: “This is beginning of what I anticipate will be a fundamental, long term and valuable relationship between Ironbark and LNS A/S. With their background in Arctic and Antarctic construction and mining, there are few – if any – groups anywhere in the world better qualified to help execute the vision we have for the Citronen Project. The challenges of undertaking an Arctic project for Ironbark would be significantly reduced with the project support and participation of LNS. This MOU potentially marries together the world class Citronen deposit with the LNS team’s extensive experience in building and operating high latitude projects. I am personally very invested in making this MOU a success and look forward to working closely with LNS in taking Citronen from concept to reality.”

LNS President Frode Nilsen: “The Citronen Project is unique, and this MOU opens for LNS to contribute with our knowledge and competency in the further development of the Citronen Project. The Arctic is our home turf, and our experience fits very well with what Ironbark is requiring. I’m looking forward to continuing our cooperation and good work into the next phase of the project.”

In addition to the three specific elements identified above, the MOU also contains a provision allowing broader commercial arrangements to be contemplated between the parties for their mutual benefit. The MOU will be executed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 – confirmatory due diligence by LNS on the Citronen Project, including provisional agreement on terms to proceed to Phase 2; and
  • Phase 2 – subject to Phase 1 successfully concluding, agreement of a Term Sheet relating to an equity investment by LNS A/S in the Citronen project

The MOU as currently agreed between Ironbark and LNS is non-binding in nature and has an initial term of 12 months from signing, subject to any further date being agreed by the parties.

LNS is a wholly owned family business based in Risøyhamn, Norway. The group currently owns and operates mining businesses in both Greenland and Norway and specialises in high latitude civil, construction, mining and logistics businesses. Notable successes in LNS’ portfolio include the construction of the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard, groundwork and infrastructure for the Norwegian Troll research station in Antarctica, mining operations and civil works from the late 1990s up until today at Svalbard, and a range of large and complex mining, civil construction and tunnel projects.

Mining projects currently executed by LNS include a contract with Elkem Tana AS to excavate quartzite for the ferrosilicon industry around the world. The open-pit and surface mine in Austertana is one of several northern Norwegian mines where LNS is the operating contractor. The project involves drilling, blasting and transporting 1.2 Mt of quartzite per year.

LNS has since 2007 developed six new underground levels, plus access tunnels, for Rana Gruber’s iron ore production drilling. Approximately 8,000 m are developed per level. The transportation drive is drilled 20 m from the iron ore. LNS is also the main contract for Rana Gruber’s surface mines – the operation consists of three open-pit mines with different ore qualities requiring blending for delivery to the mineral processing plant. Kvannevann Øst is the main mine, and there are operations at two satellite mines located further west on Ørtfjellet. In 2018, the open-pit mine switched to a new pattern of operations, with a new and larger fleet of machinery. This included four 100-t tipper trucks, two 100-t main loaders and several smaller articulated dumper trucks, cleaning machines, drilling rigs and various road maintenance equipment.

In 2020, Nussir ASA also named LNS as development & mining contractor for its planned all electric underground copper mine in Finnmark. The contract between Nussir and LNS is for ten years, but with the possibility of extension. The contract value was estimated at some NOK4 billion or almost $450 million and includes development and equipping of a 130,000 m+ tunnel. Mine development is set to begin in 2023 with mine production commencing 2024.

Alongside its mining and contracting arms, LNS has a large and established logistics business based out of Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Given the proximity of Svalbard to Citronen and its likely role as a forward base, as well as the fact that LNS has historically provided logistics services to Ironbark, the scope of this MOU potentially de-risks a broad swathe of operational elements relating to project execution.

Incitec Pivot to separate mining explosives & fertilisers businesses as standalone entities

Incitec Pivot Ltd has announced that it intends to implement a structural separation of its Incitec Pivot Fertilisers and Dyno Nobel businesses to create two separately listed companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). The proposed separation “will establish two customer-focused, technology-driven businesses set up for success in two essential industries.”

Dyno Nobel is a global leader in technical explosives solutions for mining and other industries, with solid margins and advantaged industry exposures. Dyno Nobel features strong customer relationships and partnerships and an attractive technology backed growth outlook. Incitec Pivot Fertilisers is a leading fertiliser and soil health company, with an extensive and vertically integrated network supporting the East Coast market.

The statement said: “Since the strategic review of the Fertilisers business in 2019, IPL has carefully considered the options available to continue to best serve its high-quality customers and create value for shareholders. The decision to pursue a structural separation of IPL is the result of a comprehensive review, with robust underlying market conditions supporting each business to move forward with appropriately strong balance sheets.”

The rationale to separate and extend IPL’s category leadership includes “significant growth potential for both businesses by accelerating our core technology offering to two different essential industries; declining synergy in sharing an ammonia manufacturing core as our explosives and fertiliser customers require specialised and differing solutions.” The company adds: “To extend our leadership each business must dedicate its capacity, resources and focus to developing technology to underpin different customer requirements. Megatrends driving demand and specialisation of IPL’s products are expected to intensify, and a separation will best position our shareholders to capture significant value. IPL’s current balance sheet is strong and has ample capacity to position both businesses for success.”

Under the proposal IPL will become Dyno Nobel Ltd. The Incitec Pivot Fertilisers business will be demerged under a standalone entity, Incitec Pivot Fertilisers Ltd, which will seek listing on ASX. IPL is targeting completion of the proposed separation of the two businesses in the first half of 2023, subject to required approvals and consents.

IPL Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Jeanne Johns: “With the increased focus on providing our explosives and fertiliser customers with technology driven solutions, the synergy of sharing an ammonia manufacturing core has become less meaningful. IPL’s strategy has been to build a sustainable and technology driven company focused on building value for our customers. Dyno Nobel has leading technologies and market positions in the most attractive mining markets in the world. Incitec Pivot Fertilisershas an unrivalled distribution footprint in the large and attractive agricultural sector in Australia and an exciting technology led future in soil health solutions and biofertilisers.”