All posts by Paul Moore

Xerotech & Agder Gruppen partner to electrify a fleet of 200 mining & construction machines

Xerotech, a leading manufacturer of lithium-ion battery systems, and Agder, a total supplier to the construction and mining industries, announce that they will be electrifying over 200 units of construction and mining machinery over the next 5 years using Xerotechs scalable Hibernium™ battery platform. The collaboration represents Xerotech’s entry into the Scandinavian market as well as Agder’s strong move into battery-electric equipment.

“The partnership with Agder Gruppen is very exciting for Xerotech as their equipment portfolio is exactly what we designed our Hibernium™ platform for. Until now, it has been virtually impossible for construction and mining equipment suppliers to electrify these low-volume high-diversity machines. We are providing Agder Gruppen with a complete common platform solution across all machines eliminating bespoke engineering and development per machine,” said Dr Barry Flannery, CEO and Founder of Xerotech. “The Scandinavian market is at the forefront of heavy-duty electrification worldwide and our partnership with Agder will enable both of our companies to lead the market’s transition to zero-emission machinery,” said Thomas Tomaszewski, VP of Business Development at Xerotech.

The non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) is widely being recognised as the next frontier of electrification. “The industry is changing and we have worked intensively over the past year to come up with solutions for fossil-free machines. It is important for the industry that we as suppliers take responsibility, and take guidelines and political decisions seriously. We will soon come up with more products that are both electric and battery powered,” said Kjell Vidar Hamre, Agder’s CEO.

Sandvik Group to acquire South Africa-based mine screens & feeders major Kwatani

Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions and Kwatani have confirmed that an agreement has been signed for the multi-national Sandvik Group to acquire the shares of this leading African OEM of custom-engineered vibrating equipment including screens and feeders. The transaction is expected to be finalised around the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary conditions.

Kim Schoepflin, CEO of Kwatani, says not only is this a complete game-changer for the vibrating equipment industry, but customers will benefit enormously from the combined resources of Sandvik and Kwatani. Both companies are technology leaders in their own rights with Kwatani having operated its world class production facility in Johannesburg, South Africa, for more than 45 years.

“What is most significant and exciting for the South African economy is that our facility is set to become the global engineering and manufacturing base for vibrating screens and feeders for both local and international customers,” Schoepflin says.

This collaboration is not only a major milestone for the South African engineering industry; it is also in line with the South African government’s industrialisation strategy. Schoepflin is also quick to point out that Kwatani will continue with its commitment to transformation and compliance with the South African Mining Charter.

Commenting further, Schoepflin says that the internationally recognised Kwatani brand will remain unchanged. “Known for our brand promise of being engineered for tonnage, we will continue to use the Kwatani brand across Africa and products sold internationally will be sold through the Sandvik sales channels under the Kwatani product name.”

Sandvik will further develop the Kwatani vibrating equipment brand globally with increased access to the product through its global distribution network. Schoepflin explains that customers will benefit further by having access to a vastly increased customer service network.

Speaking about future developments, Schoepflin says that Sandvik, through its global technology resources, will provide access to monitoring and automation processes as well as access to its extensive R&D facilities which include simulators.

“This will provide opportunities for driving efficiency arising from the advance of artificial intelligence in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and will significantly empower the process of cost effective customisation,” she says.

Putzmeister’s Mixkret 6 underground concrete mixer successfully completes tests at Chuquicamata Underground

Following the 2020 launch of Putzmeister’s new higher capacity low-profile underground mixer, Mixkret 6, which offers a mixing and concrete capacity of 6 m3, and after several weeks in the field, the model has completed a series of demanding tests at Codelco’s Chuquicamata Underground copper mine in Chile. Like the entire Mixkret family, the OEM says the equipment is characterised by its robustness and manoeuvreability, making it ideal for mining projects where conditions are very tough.

“In addition, with 6 m3 of concrete capacity and its powerful engine that reaches 25 km/h, it completes the Mixkret range of equipment for those mining projects where the demands are greater. On this occasion, Polpaico, one of the main concrete suppliers in Chile, was commissioned to assist Putzmeister in these tasks. Mainly, retention tests were carried out on the long downhill slopes at Chuquicamata, testing different configurations depending on the slope level both with the machine loaded and empty.” The successfully tested Mixkret 6 retention system has different automatic modes, all thanks to its continuously variable hydrostatic transmission, configured with an ICVD motor and electronically controlled hydraulic pump. In addition, the operator constantly displays the speed, slope and mode the equipment is in via the control panel in the cab.

The continuously variable hydrostatic transmission system is characterised by its simplicity, optimum performance and ease maintenance, obtaining the advantages of reduced consumption, less noise, less pollutants and lower maintenance and operating costs. During this test period, Putzmeister Mixkret 6 also performed front-end discharges on the robotic shotcrete equipment.

BELAZ all electric 90 t 7558E prototype mining truck starts testing in Zhodino

Back in June 2020, IM exclusively reported on BELAZ’s plans for an all battery electric 90 t class haul truck, the 7558E, the first unit of which was to be ready by the end of the year. With the pandemic the project has slowed somewhat but the prototype was duly built, using 15 lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) battery modules (total 765 kWh) manufactured in South Korea by Enertech International.

According to recent reports in Belarussian automotive publication, Autobusiness, the power reserve on a single charge will be at least two hours with a full load of 90 t and uphill slope of no more than 10%. After several haulage cycles, it will be necessary to recharge within 20-25 minutes from a special charging station. The same report adds that work on the commercial version of the electric dump truck, including the entire test cycle, should be completed in Q4 2022 and in 2023, it is planned to start serial production of the model. The estimated cost of the 7558E is quoted at $1.62 million. At the same time, the estimated savings from the operation of a mining electric dump truck, taking into account the cost of energy and energy carriers, reducing the cost of its maintenance, delivery and storage of diesel fuel, will be about $68,500 per year.

Continuous improvement adding up to big savings & throughput boost at Kinross Tasiast

Kinross Tasiast gold mine continuous improvement (CI) and mobile maintenance departments have teamed up to develop and implement two new CI initiatives that are saving the mine in Mauritania approximately $250,000 per year. In 2019, the mobile maintenance team noticed that replacing halogen lights on the Cat 793D trucks had contributed to 146 hours of down-time over the course of the year. The lights were designed to have a battery life of 1,000 hours and the team needed to find a solution to reduce downtime. They worked together and found an alternative LED light that has a battery life of 50,000 hours – 50x longer than the halogen lights. They began implementing the new lights in January 2020 and are expected to save the operation $150,000 per year.

After the LED lights were installed, the teams began analysing additional ways to reduce downtime on trucks. The reliability team identified mirror failures among one of the top reasons for lost-time, as operators would need to visit the maintenance shop for adjustments. They then worked on developing an alternative design that installed hand-adjustable brackets for operators to make changes without support of a mechanic. This initiative is expected to reduce down time and save the mine approximately $100,000 per year, with 63% of trucks already utilising the manual adjustment unit and the remaining trucks expected to have the unit installed by Q3 2021.

Tasiast’s current estimated mine life runs to 2033 and the mine set some new records set in 2020: Q4 production of ~111,000 oz, annual production of ~407,000 oz and cost of sales per ounce of $584/oz. On a bigger scale the Tasiast 24k project also takes a continuous improvement approach, in this case to increase throughput, which is expected to ramp up to 21,000 t/d by the end of 2021, and then to 24,000 t/d by mid-2023. Throughput increases are  being achieved through minor upgrades and debottlenecking initiatives in the plant. The project includes modifications to the existing grinding circuit, adding new leaching and thickening capacity, as well as incremental additions to onsite power generation and water supply. It is advancing on schedule as both mechanical work on the processing plant and construction of the power plant proceeding well.

Michelin introduces XDR 250+ tyre for 250 ton haul trucks with improved wear resistance & optimised wear

Michelin North America, Inc has introduced the next generation of its mining tyre for 250 ton rigid dump trucks – the MICHELIN® XDR® 250+ – that features “improved wear resistance, optimised wear and increased aggression resistance.” Available in a 50/80R57 size, the MICHELIN XDR 250+ tyre it says improves wear resistance and increases tyre life by 8% for MB4 and MB compounds, with no tradeoff in ton-miles per hour (TMPH) compared to the MICHELIN® XDR® 250 tyre.

“With rigid dump trucks playing such a critical part of open-pit-mining operations, the tires are key to meeting mine profitability targets through lower operating costs,” said Sarah Robinson, Mining Marketing Manager, Michelin North America. “As our most productive surface mining tyre for 250-ton trucks, the XDR 250+ tyre provides up to 15% more TMPH for the MB and MB4 compounds versus the competition.”

It says this next generation, benchmark tyre for rigid dump trucks includes the following upgrades:

  • The tyre incorporates the second generation of two revolutionary compounds, MB4 and MB, that provide improved wear resistance. An exclusive new mixing process with a superior level of carbon black dispersion creates a much more homogeneous mix that leads to a slower wear rate
  • Michelin® multilayer technology provides optimised wear on front and rear axles. The outer layer is optimised for front axles for the first cycle of the tyre’s life while the inner layer underneath is optimised for rear axles for the second cycle. Tyres are designed to be rotated to the rear axles to increase tyre life.
  • With an optimised contact patch, there is increased aggression resistance due to lower tire pressure for the same load capacity compared to the MICHELIN® XDR 250. Less pressure on ground delivers an improved wear profile and protects the equipment.

ICMM launches two new resources to support continual improvement in the safe and transparent management of tailings

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has launched two new resources to support continual improvement in the safe and transparent management of tailings facilities: Conformance Protocols for the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management (the Standard) and a Tailings Management Good Practice Guide (the Guide).

When ICMM launched the Standard alongside the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), members committed that all tailings facilities with ‘Extreme’ or ‘Very high’ potential consequences will be in conformance with the Standard by August 2023, and all other facilities by August 2025. To support this timeline, ICMM has developed a set of ‘Conformance Protocols’ to help operators and independent third parties assess implementation of the Standard’s requirements across tailings facilities. The 219 clear and concise criteria in the Conformance Protocols map to the Standard’s 77 requirements, enabling conformance against all applicable requirements to be assessed.

ICMM has also launched a Tailings Management Good Practice Guide that aims to promote good governance and engineering practices that support continuous improvement in the management of new and existing tailings facilities, and to strengthen the ‘safety culture’ within companies. It provides comprehensive guidance on tailings management, covering a broad range of technical and engineering elements, including improved engineering practices across the whole tailings lifecycle: from project conception and design to construction and operation, closure and post-closure. It integrates stronger governance around four key areas: 1) corporate policy, accountability and responsibility; 2) operation, maintenance and surveillance activities; 3) information management; and 4) oversight and emergency preparedness. It also reinforces the importance of engaging with local communities and regulators. It is the first guidance that clearly details the roles of board directors and executives relating to tailings management.

The Guide includes a performance-based, risk-informed approach advocated by Professor Norbert Morgenstern, a world leading expert in tailings management, who was actively engaged in its development. This approach centres on continuous monitoring to confirm that a tailings facility is performing as intended which provides a rigorous technical basis for decision making and proactive management.

Aidan Davy, COO, ICMM said: “ICMM and our members have an unwavering commitment to the safe management of tailings facilities, and the publication of our Conformance Protocols for the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management and Tailings Management Good Practice Guide are an important step towards achieving our ambition of zero harm.

“The Standard established clear expectations around global transparency and disclosure, including requirements for independent oversight. Effective assessment of conformance to the Standard through the Conformance Protocols will help to demonstrate to all stakeholders that responsible practices are being applied across the tailings lifecycle. And we hope that they are widely adopted as a basis for assessing conformance by all those who share our commitment. The Guide provides a comprehensive resource that will help companies to continually learn and improve, raising the bar to make all tailings facilities safer.”

Adam Matthews, Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Church of England Pensions Board (who acted on behalf of PRI in the process of developing the Standard) said: “As investors in the mining industry, the safety of tailings facilities is a major priority for the Church of England Pensions Board. Now that we have a Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, we are very supportive of practical resources like those published today that seek to bridge the Standard and implementation.

“We have been clear, along with many other investors, banks and insurers, that poor tailings management poses a significant risk to life and the environment and companies that do not demonstrate conformance to the Standard will find themselves at odds with their shareholders, banks and insurers. It is crucial for industry to get this right and to continue to improve. In that context, we welcome ICMM’s Conformance Protocols as an effective means of demonstrating conformance. This is another important foundational piece of the puzzle being put into place in advance of the establishment of an independent Global Tailings Institute later this year.”

Professor Norbert R Morgenstern, Distinguished Professor (Emeritus), University of Alberta  (who supported the development of ICMM’s Guide) said: “The construction and operation of a tailings storage facility is a highly dynamic process. Therefore, reliable confirmation of safety requires an equally dynamic process applied to the full lifecycle of the facility so that it can, in turn, reassure all stakeholders. Progress in this regard has already been made by the publication of the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management. While the task of determining the cause of failure is simpler after the event, I have evaluated ICMM’s Tailings Management Good Practice Guide in terms of my experience with a significant number of tailings dam failures and related serious incidents and concluded that had this Guide been available and adopted, these incidents should not have occurred.”

Tamara Johndrow, Director of Tailings, Crushed Leach and Water, Freeport-McMoRan and Chair of the ICMM working group that developed the resources said: “Effective implementation of the Standard is a top priority for ICMM members and a group of member representatives worked collectively to produce the ICMM’s Tailings Management Good Practice Guide, which can be used to improve tailings management, governance and engineering practices across numerous types of tailings facilities and geographies. The Conformance Protocols for the Standard provide both operators and independent third-party assessors access to the same criteria to measure progress towards conformance against all applicable requirements and avoid misinterpretation of the Standard. Collaboration between experts across ICMM’s membership allowed for the capture of practical experience from companies operating in diverse geographies, commodities and regulatory systems, helping to make these resources strong and powerful tools.”

Charles Dumaresq, Vice President, Science and Environmental Management, Mining Association of Canada, who contributed to the development of the Guide said: “As global demand for metals and minerals continues to increase, and the transition to a low carbon economy brings increased demand for critical minerals, the volume of tailings produced by mining will continue to increase. Past failures of tailings facilities, including the tragic 2019 failure of a tailings facility near Brumadinho, Brazil, underscore the importance of integrating good governance and engineering practices for tailings management, based on a foundation of a strong safety culture that reduces the opportunity for human error. Every mine site in the world needs to prioritise the safe and responsible management of tailings, and it is imperative that both industry and regulators drive continual improvement in tailings management to achieve this goal.”

These two resources are publicly available on ICMM’s website for use by the wider mining and metals industry. ICMM will continue to promote the education of tailings professionals by adapting the Guide into training material to support knowledge building and training at the site level. In addition to focusing on management, ICMM’s comprehensive approach to tailings includes driving progress towards a longer-term goal of reducing or eliminating tailings.

Antofagasta Minerals’ Minera Centinela advances Integrated Ops Centre with full operation set for end-2022

Construction and implementation of the Integrated Operations Centre (in Spanish Gestión Integrada de Operaciones or GIO) of Antofagasta Minerals’ Minera Centinela copper operation in the city of Antofagasta continues to advance. The project covers the digitisation and remoteisation of the operation and the integration of information systems to enable operation of all processes from a single location and in real time. The compnay says the initiative will allow it to leverage its competitiveness and future development.

“The start-up of the GIO covers a total investment of $63 million, including the digitisation of equipment and applications on site. This is a milestone for Antofagasta Minerals because it represents a leap in innovation and technology. It is located in Antofagasta because we want to make the community a part of the positive impacts of the future centre. In turn, given its capabilities, we are giving the possibility of generating a technology development hub for the region,” says Iván Arriagada, Executive President of Antofagasta Minerals.

Minera Centinela says it was the first company of its kind in the world to use thickened tailings on a large scale, a much more environmentally friendly technology that is possible thanks to the fact that it is also one of the few companies that uses seawater ​​without desalination to produce copper. Added to these, among other innovations, is the creation of the GIO. The project, whose physical operation centre will be located in the regional capital, is one of the key steps in the innovation roadmap of the Antofagasta Minerals group.

Along the same lines, the General Manager of Minera Centinela, Carlos Espinoza, explains that: “Unlike the other Integrated Operations Centres in our country, Centinela’s will be located in the city of Antofagasta, because we want it to also be a contributor to regional development in employability, innovation and talent attraction.” Regarding the benefits that this will bring to the operation of Minera Centinela, Espinoza explains that by having all operations connected remotely and in real time, it will be able to have better control of the processes, making them more stable and secure.

Regarding the impact that this new way of managing the mining process will have on the company’s production, Espinoza clarifies that: “It allows us to have more predictable processes with less variability, which facilitates timely decision-making and provides greater efficiency and productivity. In other words, all the business indicators are improved. Finally, we are aiming to increase the competitive position of the company.” Currently the GIO project is in the construction and implementation stage and already has the physical facilities where it will be located in the city of Antofagasta. To date, it has a ‘One Room’ that allows remote viewing of the entire operation of Minera Centinela. Based on project planning, it is expected to be 100% operational by the end of 2022.

Eriez boosts flotation technology R&D capabilities with completion of Wager Road facility expansion

Eriez recently completed a 38,000 square-foot expansion to its Wager Road facility in Erie, Pennsylvania, giving the company more space to provide full-scale testing of its largest equipment utilised in heavy industries and expand global research and development (R&D) activities to support the continuing development of its state-of-the art flotation technologies.

According to Eriez, the Wager Road expansion was required to support strategic growth initiatives for product testing, global research & development, as well as service and repair. “The greater opportunities and enhanced capabilities afforded by our new space will be particularly significant to customers we serve in heavy industries, especially in recycling and minerals processing,” says Eriez Heavy Industries Market Manager Darrell Milton. The new plant space will also allow for testing of production-scale recycling equipment.

Additionally, a new 10,000 square foot high-bay test area is being dedicated to global research & development to support ongoing development of Eriez’ cutting-edge flotation technology. Mike Mankosa, Eriez Executive Vice President of Global Technology, explains that constantly advancing Eriez’ capabilities is essential to maintain Eriez’ position as a leader in the mining and minerals flotation equipment industry. “The test bay was specifically constructed to provide for full-scale testing of our largest flotation machines,” explains Mankosa.

The expansion also includes a new electronics lab which provides testing and development space for Eriez Xtreme Metal Detectors, new magnetic products and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) product integration. The company anticipates all expanded R&D and testing facilities at the Wager Road plant will be fully operational early in the second quarter of 2021.

RPMGlobal leads effort to decarbonise haulage process with electric vehicle support in both HAULSIM & SIMULATE

RPMGlobal says it is pleased to be playing a major role in the industry’s shift towards a greener future having added electric vehicle support to its haulage simulation platforms, HAULSIM and SIMULATE. The company is already engaged with a global tier one miner to simulate the benefits of haulage vehicle electrification within their mining operation and has completed two haulage electrification proof of concept studies for a major mining company in Australia and for a client in Indonesia, respectively.

The studies assessed the implementation of electric haulage systems via application of hybrid diesel-electric, trolley assist and fully electric battery technologies leveraging RPMGlobal’s haulage simulation software, HAULSIM. “HAULSIM is a Discrete Event Simulation (DES) tool which enables the user to build a digital twin of any mining operation to evaluate different haulage scenarios. With a calibrated simulation model, every question about changes to a haulage system can be tested, answered and quantified before equipment is purchased or works begin.”

Commenting on the new addition of battery electric vehicle capabilities to its software, RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer Richard Mathews said the introduction of the technology presents significant opportunity for the industry. “For a miner or OEM to be able to quickly calculate the environmental and social benefits and considerations, along with the financial and operational differentiators between diesel powered and electric vehicles, will be enormous in the coming years,” he said.

While sustainable mining may sound like a paradox, Mathews said technology enablement and simulation to produce optimal haulage routes that minimise energy use and maximise deployment of electric vehicle alternatives has never been more important. “Playing a role in this important initiative sweeping the industry is a change that RPMGlobal is passionate about leading,” Mathews said.

Underground operations have been leading the charge in this space, driven by additional benefits from reduced ventilation requirements. This new technology also brings benefits such as regenerative braking and finding the best location for charging locations. Modelling processes, such as recharging and simulating how the operations will work is critical for the success of any operation considering electric vehicles.

In addition to RPMGlobal’s upgraded simulation technology, RPMGlobal’s Advisory team are working closely with its clients to navigate the changes in the market through studies in electrification, mine closure and fugitive emission assessments.

A major internal study completed for a tier one miner investigated the amount of trolley infrastructure required to achieve sustainable electric haulage using battery powered dump trucks and employing trolley assist systems. RPMGlobal’s robust analysis was able to prove the efficacy of the electric haulage system based upon a suite of proven technologies.

Highlighting the broader industry focus on sustainability, RPMGlobal has seen more clients requesting modelling of greenhouse gas emissions in mining trade off studies as part of identifying the preferred development profile. “With the industry’s push to adopt a green agenda alongside operating the mine as efficiently as possible, the focus is not only on keeping costs down, but increasingly lowering carbon dioxide emissions,” Mathews said.

“With advancements in technology and with RPMGlobal’s decades of industry experience, we are pleased to be helping the industry realise the true benefits of decarbonising the haulage process. The concept of having a robust and reliable electric haulage system on site is now a viable proposition for the future of the industry.”