All posts by Paul Moore

Tata Communications launches dedicated Private 5G Centre of Excellence in Pune

Tata Communications, a global digital ecosystem enabler, has launched a dedicated Private 5G Global Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Pune, India to accelerate Industry 4.0 applications and capabilities for enterprises. This new CoE is an agile, secure and indoor facility to test and trial industry use cases. Tata Communications has developed use cases including in metals and mining, and says it will be “well positioned to enable and empower global enterprises to seamlessly progress into the hyperconnected world.”

With trials underway, Tata Communications will be able to demonstrate private 5G use cases such as automated quality inspection of equipment using video and image analytics, inventory management and asset tracking, warehouse theft detection, and AR/VR-based remote worker collaboration, to name a few. The company says it is following robust measures, including interoperability tests, to assess compatibility of the company’s private network with different devices and, rigorous monitoring and testing to ensure stable connectivity throughout the test duration at the CoE.

Speaking on the occasion, Mysore Madhusudhan, Executive Vice President, Collaboration and Connected Solutions, Tata Communications, said: “5G has the transformative power to be a game changer for all. We are encouraged and excited about leveraging this technology to enable the future of enterprises and economies. Early test results in our Global Centre of Excellence have proved to be very positive providing an evolutionary path towards Industry 4.0 scenarios to varied industries. We believe this Centre is well poised to empower enterprises for a hyperconnected tomorrow.”

As outlined in ‘5G the 5M way’, Tata Communications envisions the 5G era to focus on automating the interplay between Man-Machine-Material-Method-Market to enable a holistic ecosystem. “This ecosystem will enable enterprises to achieve business goals, unlock new revenue sources, business models and have the ability to address new markets through secure and digital experiences.”

In addition, Tata Communications already has two Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in Delhi and Mumbai, India engaged in designing, building and demonstrating multiple Internet of Things (IoT) use cases.

Core Resources partners with resources group on Toowong Process for Cu concentrate impurities removal

Core Resources has announced that its proprietary Toowong ProcessTM Technology has been acquired by “a leading resources group.” The process safely removes arsenic, antimony and other impurities from copper concentrates. At the heart of the process is a patented Alkaline Leaching (AL) step that selectively solubilises key penalty impurities. The process produces a clean premium concentrate which is highly desirable for copper smelters.

The company argues that Toowong Process is a significant breakthrough in arsenic leaching, which has until now required large and expensive quantities of sulphide reagents, and management of large sulphate waste streams. “In the Toowong Process, Core has developed process chemistry that is self-sustaining, allowing most of the reagents to be generated from the concentrate in situ in the leach, or recovered downstream and recycled.”

It adds: “Copper operations globally are facing increasing challenges with arsenic. As clean copper ore bodies are depleted, increasingly dirty ore bodies – with higher grades of deleterious elements – are being brought into production. The increasing presence of arsenic in concentrates is a sign of the global challenge facing the copper industry to meet global demand arising from the renewable energy transition.”

Arsenic has huge environmental and health issues for smelters, with many situated near high density populations. “Globally, the smelter industry is responding to this by restricting the level of arsenic they will accept in concentrates. This has mainly involved blending, which does nothing to reduce the global arsenic load in smelters. Since 2014, arsenic in concentrates has exceeded the global smelting capacity to treat it.”

The Toowong Process Core says enables operations to manage arsenic in ore bodies at or near mine site. The product from the Toowong Process is a clean premium concentrate that can be shipped directly to smelters. “Using the Toowong Process, arsenic can be fixed in an environmentally stable form at source. The benefits of this are enormous – instead of shipping arsenic across the globe to densely populated areas, it is safely and permanently stored at source.”

Core has been developing the Toowong Process since 2009. “This latest development provides outstanding recognition for the commitment and hard work from the Core team over the many years it has taken to advance this innovative and industry-changing process.”

Lachlan MacDonald, Core’s Toowong Process Technology Manager, had this to say about this latest important development: “we are delighted to be collaborating with our strategic partner and are excited to embark on the next stage of technology development. This acquisition represents a significant milestone in commercialising the Toowong Process Technology.”

Core and its unnamed partner will now complete the final stage of technology commercialisation. This will include the design and operation of a fully integrated continuous demonstration plant of the complete flowsheet at Core’s laboratories in Brisbane. The objective of this final stage of development is to deliver engineering data to allow the design of a full-scale commercial treatment plant.

Eriez to meet mining demand with direct owned & operated Australian sales & service centre

Eriez has announced the opening of its newest sales office in Western Australia, replacing its long-time sales representative organization Western Process Equipment (WPE) with an Eriez-owned and operated sales and service centre in Perth. WPE has served Eriez customers in Perth for more than five decades, offering an extensive line of Eriez equipment, most notably in the mining and minerals processing industries.

Eriez’ Western Australia office will continue to provide suspended electromagnets, flotation equipment, metal detectors, magnetic mill liners, vibratory screeners, and other equipment for the mining market in addition to products for other markets like food, packaging and recycling.

“Eriez is expanding its offerings to customers in Western Australia through its new Repair and Service Center in the Perth facility, expediting the turnaround time for repairs conducted out of the Perth region,” says Eric Nelson, Eriez Vice President of International Operations and Business Development. “The Service Center can handle suspended electromagnets, wet drum separators, eddy current separators and other larger pieces of equipment.” He adds: “We will build upon the foundation that WPE established and add new capabilities going forward that customers will appreciate.”

Longtime WPE employees Daniel Kerry and Amanda Ferguson will continue in their roles as part of the Eriez Western Australia office, joined by new team member Narishka Naidoo, who was recently hired as Flotation Process Engineer. WPE founder Brian Packer will now serve as an Eriez consultant. Packer worked as an employee and agent for Eriez for 55 years, originally at Eriez in Melbourne, then spent time in Sydney before opening WPE.

Eriez-Australia Managing Director James Cooke says: “Brian and his team have become entrenched in the mining industry over the past five decades and played an instrumental role in developing the drum separator technology for the mineral sands industry, which helped Eriez become a global leader in developing rare earth rolls. We are forever grateful for the WPE team and their tireless dedication to improving processes and efficiencies for all our customers.”

Rio Tinto starts spodumene concentrate production at RTIT in Quebec

Rio Tinto has started producing spodumene concentrate, which is used in the production of lithium for batteries, at a demonstration plant at its Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium (RTIT) Quebec Operations metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy, Canada.

The plant will demonstrate at industrial scale a new spodumene concentration process that provides lithium oxide (Li20) grades and “recoveries well above the industry average.” The process was developed by researchers at Rio Tinto’s Critical Minerals and Technology Centre and tested on spodumene ore samples from various countries. It offers the environmental benefit of not using chemical products and generating only dry, inert residues.

RTIT Managing Director Stéphane Leblanc said: “Rio Tinto is exploring new, sustainable ways to extract battery materials for the energy transition. We are seeing strong interest in the market for a North American supply of spodumene concentrate to support production of lithium batteries. Our demonstration plant will allow us to further validate the innovative spodumene concentration process developed at our Critical Minerals and Technology Centre as we consider moving to commercial scale production.”

The demonstration plant was commissioned in June after successful laboratory testing of the new process and produced its first ton of spodumene concentrate in July 2022. It will test ore from various local suppliers including Sayona, an emerging lithium producer with projects in Quebec and Western Australia.

TAKRAF supplying two conveyors for CBG Phase 2 bauxite expansion

In a fast-track EPC project, TAKRAF says it is supplying two conveyors for Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée’s (CBG) bauxite expansion project in Guinea. This conveyor system package has been brought forward from the Phase 2 expansion project and TAKRAF’s award follows the successful delivery of an EPC contract, awarded in late 2016, for Phase 1 of the expansion project.

The EPC order was received earlier this year, with one of the conveyors to be commissioned at the end of the year and commissioning of the second expected to follow shortly thereafter.

The scope of the contract covers the replacement of two existing conveyors to cater for the upcoming and planned Phase 2 expansion, which aims to increase bauxite production capacity to 5,400 t/h. Both conveyors are being supplied by TAKRAF as complete new installations from head to tail end, complete with a variety of other unique features.

“The award of this important fast-track contract is indicative of CBG’s recognition of TAKRAF’s capabilities and of our experienced specialists that we can make available right across our project management, engineering and field services,” says Norbert Neumann, TAKRAF Germany: Sales Manager. “Congratulations to the team on winning this project and to the team responsible for executing and managing Phase 1, the success of which undoubtedly contributed to the continued trust this supportive client places in us.”


Metso Outotec relaunches ColumnCell with superior flotation performance

Metso Outotec is introducing the next generation of its ColumnCell™ flotation cells to the market. The new Metso Outotec ColumnCell™ leverages the company’s legacy technologies, as well as state-of-the-art best practices, it says “delivering superior metallurgical flotation performance and energy efficiency for a wide range of applications and duties.”

“In designing the new ColumnCell™, current and future customer needs were carefully studied. Optimised grade is especially important in cleaner circuits and can lead to significantly higher throughput for the entire flotation circuit. Flotation of fines requires specific features: high collection with smaller bubbles to guarantee good recovery, a less turbulent regime and good slurry distribution to avoid bypass, as well as a thicker and more selective froth to generate better product quality. We have designed ColumnCell™ to provide all these features, while also taking into consideration the ore type and the specifics of each project,” explains Antti Rinne, Flotation Vice President at Metso Outotec.

For optimised performance of column flotation, Metso Outotec offers three sparger technologies: Microcel™ Static mixer, SonicSparger™ Vent and SonicSparger™ Jet. All three sparger options can be replaced online to maximize equipment availability and production rate and to reduce energy consumption due to fewer shutdowns and startups.

Metso Outotec has one of the widest portfolios of flotation solutions on the market. The company says its extensive experience in process planning combined with its installed base “enables Metso Outotec to design and deliver complete optimised flotation circuits catering to all types of applications and ores.”

Over the years, Metso Outotec has delivered close to 300 flotation columns worldwide. It says its comprehensive service portfolio extends from spares and wears to advanced life cycle services and is backed by a global network of industry-leading service expertise. “The wide variety of upgrades enables the restoration of outdated existing technology for optimised flotation performance and the achievement of sustainability targets.”

With the introduction of the new ColumnCell™, Microcel™ flotation cell sales will be discontinued.

Global Atomic signs integrated DCPL-Lycopodium EPCM team for Dasa Mine uranium plant

Global Atomic Corporation has announced the signing of Development Consultants Private Ld (DCPL) of Kolkata, India, and Lycopodium Minerals Canada Ltd to commence the basic and detailed engineering, procurement and Project Management of the Dasa Mine processing plant in the Republic of Niger.

These engineering and project delivery firms were selected to form an Integrated EPCM Project Team “synthesising proven uranium processing plant design experience with West African project management and construction experience.”

DCPL will focus on the Basic and Detailed Engineering required for the design of the Dasa Process Plant, with the initial phase of Basic Engineering now underway. Lycopodium will prepare the Project Execution Plan, provide input for constructability in West Africa and provide project services during this phase with the intention of continuing on to manage plant construction.

All EPCM activity will be guided and supervised by Global Atomic Owner’s Team headed by Dr Santiago Faucher, Chief Technology Officer at Global Atomic. Global Atomic and Dr Faucher’s company, Insight R&D, have now integrated metallurgical, mechanical, and electrical engineering experts with DCPL’s team in Kolkata and Lycopodium’s team in Toronto to direct work on the Dasa Project.

Together, this Integrated EPCM Project Team will develop the detailed design and complete the project delivery, of the Dasa mine processing plant; building on proven results from the 2020 Insight R&D pilot plant trials and the findings of the 2021 Dasa Phase 1 Feasibility Study.

“DCPL and Lycopodium have excellent and extensive work histories throughout Africa including technical studies, project reviews and EPCM contracting for over 77 engineering projects in mining and other industries. Additionally, DCPL has designed and built several uranium recovery and process plants and is currently the foremost engineering company in India developing that country’s nuclear and uranium sectors. Lycopodium has been actively engaged in 60 mining projects across West Africa and brings recent hands-on project delivery experience in the region.”

Global Atomic President and CEO, Stephen G. Roman stated: “Following Global Atomic’s announcements regarding our initial off-take agreement, the formation of a banking syndicate to finance the Dasa Project and the incorporation of our Niger operating company, SOMIDA, the commencement of the EPCM phase is our next important milestone to stay on schedule to become one of the world’s newest uranium production companies. Similar to most multinational firms, who source specialised engineering from India today, Global Atomic has identified DCPL as having the world’s most compelling experience and track record in the design of uranium processing plants. DCPL’s uranium experience will reduce project technical risk, while its ability to deliver highly detailed engineered designs will reduce in-field work and enable good project cost control.”

He adds: “After an extensive selection process, DCPL and Lycopodium emerged to form the best team to undertake the EPCM phase of the Dasa Project. This Integrated EPCM Project Team is committed to completing the project on time and keeping the Dasa Project on schedule to deliver yellowcake to utilities in Q1 2025.”

Sayona contracts L. Fournier & Fils for NAL hard rock lithium mining operations

Emerging lithium producer Sayona Mining Ltd is advancing the restart of production at its North American Lithium (NAL) hard rock spodumene lithium operation, awarding a four‐year, approximately C$200 million contract to Québec company L. Fournier & Fils for mining operations.

One of the largest such contracts signed in Québec’s mining history, the agreement will deliver significant economic benefits to the region of Abitibi‐Témiscamingue. This includes the creation of 120 new jobs, mostly recruited from the region and from the First Nations communities of Pikogan and Lac Simon.

Under the agreement, Fournier will be responsible for the supervision of all stripping and drilling, blasting, loading and transportation of ore and waste rock, the maintenance of mining roads, and all other services related to operations. Drilling and blasting work will be conducted by another local Québec company, Dynamitage Castonguay.

Sayona Québec CEO, Guy Laliberté, said the agreement marked another important step in the restart of operations at NAL: We are very happy to have found a partner of the calibre of Fournier & Fils for our mining operations at the North American Lithium site in La Corne,” Laliberté said.

“We are thrilled that this commercial agreement is not only a win‐win solution for both parties, but that it also allows us to work with a local company. This partnership with Fournier therefore helps fulfil our promise to ensure that the success of our projects deliver genuine benefits to the local community.”

Jérémi Fournier, President and CEO of L. Fournier & Fils, commented: “It is with great pride that Fournier & Fils positions itself as a partner of choice for major mining projects in Eastern Canada. Our company’s vision, strategy and service offer are once again highlighted through this major operation. We thank Sayona for the trust shown in our team, and more particularly for allowing us to occupy a leading position in the battery sector in Québec. It is a partnership that will benefit an entire industry.”

Operations will begin in October 2022, with work to be carried out continuously, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The fleet of equipment mobilised on‐site will include more than 10 trucks with a capacity of 100 t, and two excavators weighing 125 t.

The agreement follows recent progress at NAL towards the recommencement of production, with permitting and procurement largely completed and construction ramping up, among other achievements.

Sayona’s Managing Director, Brett Lynch commented: “We are delighted to further advance NAL towards the recommencement of production in the first quarter of 2023, with the selection of a skilled and experienced mining operator being a crucial step in this process. With both demand and pricing for lithium currently at all‐time highs, we are well placed at NAL to become the first supplier of spodumene in North America, paving the way to becoming the region’s leading supplier of lithium carbonate/hydroxide.”

Antofagasta’s zero emissions mining truck agreements with Caterpillar and Komatsu

The group of leading global miners forming co-operation agreements with the leading mining truck OEMs on development and testing of zero emissions models is growing all the time. Last month, in an announcement discussing ESG requirements for suppliers, copper miner Antofagasta PLC stated that: “Antofagasta is working closely on ESG performance with suppliers of strategic products…for example, it has signed a collaboration agreement with Caterpillar and Komatsu on the transition to zero emission trucks.”

“Practically all of the company’s decarbonisation challenges involve working with suppliers,” says Antonio Velasquez, Corporate Procurement Manager, pointing out the company’s reliance on suppliers for mine haulage trucks. The company told IM: “Antofagasta has agreements with Caterpillar and Komatsu in relation to collaboration on developing emission reduction technologies for zero emissions trucks.”

The exact nature of the agreements were not indicated but Caterpillar’s main thrust currently is its Early Learner program for introduction of initially battery-powered mining trucks, with Komatsu’s focus being the GHG Alliance, where partners work directly with the OEM to actively collaborate on product planning, development, testing and deployment of the next generation of zero-emission mining equipment and infrastructure, centred on Komatsu’s power-agnostic truck that can run on a variety of power sources, including battery.

To give an idea of how far things have come already – Caterpillar zero emissions truck partners include Freeport McMoRan, Antofagasta, Newmont, BHP, Rio Tinto, Teck Resources and Nouveau Monde Graphite. Komatsu’s partners include Rio Tinto, Antofagasta, BHP, Codelco, Kinross, Freeport McMoRan and Boliden.

The Antofagasta agreements are not related to the HYDRA consortium, a separate project Antofagasta is involved in, which will see an FCEV powertrain trialled on a mining truck at the Centinela operation – already a fixed prototype of the hydrogen-battery hybrid powertrain is being tested at the minesite. Other HYDRA partners include ENGIE, Mining3, Mitsui & Co (USA) Inc, Liebherr, Thiess, Reborn Electric Motors, Ballard and Hexagon Purus.

Antofagasta’s Climate Change Strategy commits the company to reducing Scope 1 (direct emissions from its own or controlled operations) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of electricity) by 30% by 2025, and to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Its four mining operations – Los Pelambres, Centinela, Antucoya and Zaldivar – have renegotiated their power purchase agreements and by April 2022 all of them had switched entirely to renewable sources, meaning Scope 2 emissions have largely been solved.

The focus is now on Scope 1 emissions, caused mainly by the use of diesel in mine haulage trucks, and Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions that are related to the company’s activities but caused by upstream (suppliers) or downstream processes that it does not control or own. In 2021, the company made an initial calculation of its Scope 3 emissions, which it is currently refining, with a view to setting a reduction target for these emissions next year.

On Scope 1, in addition to the mentioned agreements with Cat and Komatsu plus HYDRA, it is developing a trolley assist line at Los Pelambres and for Antucoya has a feasibility study in development on the introduction of a battery truck fleet, estimating energy consumption and the dimensions of the charging systems.

The company is also preparing a Circular Economy Strategy for its procurement area that would address matters such as the packaging, pallets and general logistics of how goods are transported, as well the potential reuse of products like tyres and steel, says Velasquez. It is also preparing a Sustainable Procurement Strategy and Code of Conduct for Suppliers, containing the minimum standards expected of companies that provide the company with its goods and services.

Freeport commits to electric future with Cat and Komatsu zero emissions truck cooperation agreements

Global copper, gold and moly miner Freeport McMoRan has just published an updated version of its Climate Change report for 2021, in which it firmly outlines its commitment to an electric future for its mining fleets. Entitled “Electrifying the future” in the opening statement, Richard C. Adkerson Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer says that Freeport “is advancing important initiatives to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, improve energy efficiency, evaluate and integrate the use of lower carbon and renewable energy and enhance our resilience to future climate-related risks.”

Freeport now has four 2030 GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) reduction targets, which help it to manage relevant, climate-related risks and support the decarbonisation of our business globally. The first target, established in 2020, seeks to reduce the GHG emissions intensity of its Americas copper operations by 15% by 2030 from its 2018 baseline. The second, established in 2021, seeks to reduce the GHG emissions intensity of its PT-FI operations by 30% from its 2018 baseline. The third and fourth targets, established in 2022, are both on an absolute basis and seek to reduce the GHG emissions of its Atlantic Copper smelter & refinery by 50% and of our primary molybdenum sites by 35%, both by 2030 from its 2018 baseline year. These four 2030 GHG reduction targets collectively cover nearly 100% of its global Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions.

Adkerson also outlined cooperation agreements with the leading mining trucks OEMs: “In 2022, we committed to formal collaboration programs with Caterpillar’s Early Learner program and Komatsu’s GHG Alliance, both of which are focused on the development and advancement of zero-emissions mining trucks and supporting technologies and infrastructure.”

More detail is given later on in the report: “Freeport is committed to working collaboratively in order to develop and advance technologies that will support decarbonisation. Equipment electrification offers significant opportunities to decarbonise at both our open-pit and underground mines, by switching from less efficient fuel combustion and leveraging our electricity decarbonisation efforts. We recognise that electrification of our haul trucks and other ancillary and light duty equipment will be critical to decreasing our Scope 1 GHG emissions across our global operations.”

The collaboration programs with Cat and Komatsu are focused on the development and advancement of zero-emissions mining trucks and other potential decarbonisation solutions. “Each program outlines a potential equipment decarbonisation roadmap for haul-trucks, which currently accounts for significant portion of our Scope 1 emissions. The programs are designed to support Freeport and other mining companies learn and prepare as electrified equipment and supporting electrical infrastructure and technologies are deployed at our sites, while simultaneously accelerating the development of viable solutions with a priority focus on safety, cost, production and decarbonisation.”

In 2021, Freeport also joined and participated in the Charge on Innovation Challenge as a patron supporter. It says it recognises the innovation potential that could be created from these innovators, and says it has “initiated discussions with innovators on selected concepts. Through its membership in ICMM, it also participates in the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative which focuses on introducing GHG emission-free surface mining vehicles to minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust and to develop vehicle collision avoidance technology for the mining industry.

Freeport has also joined two consortiums in South America, H2-Chile and H2-Peru, which are both collaborative efforts between public, private and academic entities focused primarily on enabling the use of hydrogen in haul trucks and to support the energy transition more broadly. Its El Abra mine team participates in H2-Chile, which currently has more than 100 members across different industries, and is committed to the analysis, study and development of the hydrogen ecosystem in the country. H2-Peru has more than 50 members to date and its Cerro Verde and corporate teams have participated over the last year to support the development hydrogen technology and interest in Peru.

For shorter term wins, IM has already reported on Freeport switching to electric drive diesel trucks at its operations, and more detail is also given on this, in addition to consideration of IPCC and trolley assist going foward – for now this is all focussed on the Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru.

At our Americas operations, we are evaluating diesel-electric, ultra-class haul trucks to potentially integrate into our decarbonisation roadmap for our open-pit mines. These high-payload-capacity, diesel-electric haul trucks can add value through reduced fleet sizes which can support improved operating efficiencies and reduced unit costs. As part of our evaluation process, we have commissioned seven 400- ton class diesel-electric trucks – four from Caterpillar [798 AC] and three from Komatsu [980E] – for use at our Cerro Verde operations in Peru. These trucks use an electric drive versus a traditional mechanical drive. All of the trucks were operational by July 2022 and have been deployed as part of a two-year trial, with an objective to better understand performance and quantify the value potential.

Freeport adds that as the trucks operate and generate critical data on haulage variables such as fuel efficiency and timing, it is leveraging learnings for itself “and we are sharing the data and learnings with Komatsu and Caterpillar to provide direct customer feedback on their equipment performance at the mine. These trials will help inform future models, drive continued innovation and may enable an interim step change in our GHG emissions reduction efforts not only for ourselves but also the industry. The diesel-electric trucks can also provide us with a more flexible platform for the future as we evaluate and consider enabling technologies, such as trolley assist. When diesel-electric trucks are coupled with these technologies, we estimate fuel consumption could be reduced by 20% to 30%, which is significantly lower than mechanical-drive trucks and could meaningfully support a decrease in GHG emissions.”