Tag Archives: Agnew

IMARC ready to explore the race to decarbonise the energy sector

The global effort to decarbonise the energy sector is underway, and the race to net zero is shaping up to be an investment opportunity to define the decades to come, the organisers of the IMARC conference report.

Research suggests that as the price of adopting green energy continues to fall, so will the global demand for fossil-fuelled energy sources. Eventually a tipping point will be reached, and fossil fuel dependent energy companies’ assets will become ‘stranded’ unless they can adapt or pivot toward new sustainable energy practices.

As nations in the first world expand and those from the second and third world modernise, their energy needs will do the same, meaning more electricity, more hydrogen, more nuclear and more yet-to-be-discovered energy sources will be needed than ever before.

For the companies participating in Australia’s biggest mining conference, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022, staying in the race to decarbonise is essential.

Tipping point

Research suggests the tipping point for fossil-fuelled energy providers will come when costs for renewables reach parity with the lowest-cost traditional fossil alternatives, and this could be much sooner than 2050.

For such companies, demonstrating the long-term value to investors in a soon-to-be stranded asset class is becoming an increasingly hard sell. But it does not have to be. By pivoting toward renewable energy and investing in a low-carbon future, companies can ensure their survival after net zero.

EDL CEO, James Harman, said the industry was making the slow but sure transition to decarbonisation.

“The world has long relied on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to power economies,” Harman said.

“In the early 2010s, EDL started looking to solar and wind generation as alternatives to fossil fuels across our portfolio, particularly for off-grid customers in remote Australia who were largely dependent on diesel- or gas-fuelled generation.

“In recent years, we have enjoyed great success with our hybrid energy solutions, helping our customers reduce their carbon footprint, but importantly maintaining and improving reliability whilst holding or reducing price. For example, our Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid at Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine provides the mine with energy that is an average of 50-60% from renewable sources, with 99.99% reliability.”

“EDL was one of the pioneers in the Australian landfill gas sector in the 1990s and, today, we are leading the way in high renewable energy fraction islanded microgrids. We are also exploring the introduction of landfill gas to renewable natural gas/biomethane technology to the Australian market, and the economic production of green hydrogen.”

ESG reinvigorating investment

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks are, at their core, risk assessment tools that consider the effect climate change will have on investors’ value creation opportunities. In June 2021, research and advisory experts, Gartner, released some jaw-dropping facts about the growing importance of ESG credentials.

According to Gartner, more than 90% of banks monitor ESG, along with 24 global credit ratings agencies, 71% of fixed income investors and more than 90% of insurers. Media mentions of ESG data, ratings or scores grew by 30% year-over-year in 2020, and 67% of banks screen their loan portfolios for ESG risks.

Harman acknowledged that it was important for attitudes and practices across the energy sector to change.

“Given that electricity generators are some of Australia’s biggest carbon emitters and most of the product generated is carbon intensive and derived from fossil fuels – the most important ESG themes for energy companies are climate change action and environmental stewardship,” he said.

“This includes investment in research and development into zero emissions technologies such as distributed energy solutions, energy storage and alternative renewable fuels as well as carbon capture & storage.”

ABB Australia Head of Mining, Nik Gresshoff, is encouraged by the innovation and progress he’s seeing in electrification and hydrogen technologies. ABB Australia is a Gold Sponsor of IMARC in 2022.

“The challenge for mining companies now is to map out their own journey, and to weigh up the gains that can be achieved now through automation, along with the investment required to get to net zero,” Gresshoff said.

Gresshoff recommends companies first define what their carbon footprint is, and what falls within their scope for decarbonisation, before beginning a net-zero journey. “Are they focusing on direct and indirect emissions initially or including the whole supply chain from the outset?” he asked.

“The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise. Having a clear understanding of where the company assets are in their lifecycle is critical, as well as an understanding of what technology is available and what technology could fit with the current operation.”

Can dinosaurs survive the Ice Age?

Fossil fuels may be going the way of the dinosaurs that created them, but economies of the future will still require the massive infrastructure frameworks and operational capacities to meet current and future energy needs.

In fact, economists have suggested an overnight collapse of the energy giants could result in massive job cuts and instability leading to a global economic recession.

As was made clear at the Glasgow COP 26 Summit, there is a ‘wall of money’ that will be available for the energy companies of the future – whether that is retrofitting existing gas pipelines for transport of liquid hydrogen or utilising closed coal mine sites for new nuclear power sites, or any number of ways that energy companies can and are pivoting.
EDL believes there is an opportunity for many technologies to play their part.

“There won’t be a one-size-fits-all energy solution that achieves affordability, reliability and sustainability for our diverse country,” Harman said.

“Large conventional power stations are and will continue to be replaced with lower emissions plant with support to make them more dispatchable, allowing cheaper renewable energy to be scheduled when available.

“For shorter-term storage, batteries are feasible but longer-term storage is currently uneconomic. There are a few potential options to resolve this including pumped hydro, new kinds of batteries and hydrogen.

“Based on our experience in the USA, we also see the potential for renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane, to play a significant part in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables in the industrial, heating, power and transport industries. RNG production is a technologically mature, ready-to-scale product that is deployable now.”

EDL’s James Harman will be sharing further insights on net zero at the upcoming IMARC in Melbourne, Australia, taking place on January 31-February 2, 2022.

IM is a media sponsor of IMARC

Barminco bags A$200 million contract extension at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine

Perenti’s hard-rock underground miner Barminco says it has been awarded a A$200 million ($153 million) contract extension at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Leinster, Western Australia.

The extension is for full underground mining services, driven by an increase in development and production “physicals” at the mine, Perenti said, adding that Barminco has been operating at Agnew since 2010.

Perenti Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Norwell, said: “We are delighted to be extending our relationship with our long-standing client, Gold Fields.

“Part of our 2025 group strategy is to organically grow this part of our business. The recent achievements of Barminco in this regard are a result of the strong relationships we share with our clients and the value we create for them through our world-class underground mining capabilities.”

Perenti Mining Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “We have been providing safe and efficient underground mining services at Agnew for more than 10 years and we are very pleased to be supporting Gold Fields with their increased development and production requirements. This extension will take our current term out to December 2023.”

COVID-19: the catalyst for driving sustainability in the metals and mining sector

COVID-19 has been a game-changer for many industries, with an inconceivable amount of companies closing or temporarily stopping their work, report Pat Lowery and Dr Nick Mayhew*.

The metals and mining industry has been no exception. By April this year, almost 250 mine sites in 33 countries had been disrupted by the virus with government-mandated shutdowns and hundreds of thousands of workers sent home either because they had contracted the virus or for their safety.

While the global pandemic has proved to be a severe crisis for the mining industry, severe crises force change, and the mining industry has been forced to commit to change and to new goals to survive.

At first, it seemed that companies might give up complying with sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) goals. However, the outcome was in fact the opposite. The pandemic has demonstrated that sustainability is now a permanent, key driver across the world, which will not be forgotten by governments nor the private sector.

Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American

The European Council made this clear by highlighting that it will not abandon its ‘Green Deal’ as part of its fiscal response to COVID-19. While in the US, New York State passed legislation which accelerated the construction of clean energy facilities as a way to spur economic recovery and fight climate change. As for investors, according to the COVID-19 Investor Pulse Check report, published by the Boston Consulting Group in May 2020, 51% of investors say they want CEOs to continue to fully pursue their ESG agenda and priorities.

COVID-19 not only set the records straight on a commitment to sustainability, but it provided a much-needed stimulus to spur the innovation required to achieve this desired goal. The metals and mining sector traditionally had a reputation for being slow to embrace new technologies – it ranked 30th out of 53 sectors in terms of R&D investment in the 2018 Global Innovation Study 1000 – however, it had no option but to react quickly to the crisis.

For instance, BHP created a COVID-19 tracking app and its Atacama mine in Chile developed a tool to remotely check stock levels for critical site materials – ensuring employee safety as well as a quick response.

Now, according to the Axora Insights COVID-19 survey, despite a significant drop in revenue after the pandemic caught the industry off-guard, experts expect the metals and mining sector’s investment in digital innovation to grow about 10% year-on-year. By using innovative technology, the industry will overcome the challenge of converting traditional mines into smart, sustainable ones with social commitment, responsibility and care towards their workers and their rights.

Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Rio Tinto’s vast iron ore operation in Australia’s Pilbara region, for example, is the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous trucks, having announced last year that 50% of its entire haulage fleet was automation-ready, providing safer and more cost-efficient sites. In Chile, Teck Resources is using remote smart sensor technology to gather data on the local water and identify hourly fluctuations in water quality, enabling the company to share 24/7 real-time water quality data with the local community. Nornickel in Russia is installing data transmission devices on load-haul-dump vehicles and self-propelled drilling rigs to enable remote-controlled operations, as well as developing drones to take video deep inside the mines and robots for high-quality 3D mine surveying.

Meanwhile, the Borden gold mine in Ontario, Canada, and the Agnew mine, in Western Australia, have faced their environmental challenges head-on by introducing electrification and renewable energy to their sites. The Borden mine’s electric and battery-powered fleet has eliminated diesel emissions completely and is expected to halve the total emissions on site by around 5,000 t of CO² a year. Whilst the Agnew mine met up to 60% of the site’s energy needs by running remote, off-grid operations with solar, gas, wind, and battery power, proving that such operations need not compromise reliability or productivity.

COVID-19 has escalated the need for a more sustainable and resilient metals and mining sector. There is a need to protect in the longer term, for example, against future pandemics, to ensure worker’s safety, to implement rapid recovery systems and to de-risk operations. Shifting global priorities are putting a greater emphasis on health, social and community issues; responsible partnering with the government; and pressure on companies to demonstrate fast and responsive action to current issues.

The global pandemic has provided metals and mining companies with the downtime to improve their innovative solutions and enable ‘smart’ and sustainable mines. From being a vague term, sustainability has become a real goal as COVID-19 has pushed companies to put the priorities and goals in the right order and to drive forward their businesses.

*Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American, and Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Saft tech helps Gold Fields make the renewable energy switch at Agnew

A Saft lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) is playing a key role in helping Gold Field’s Agnew mine make the switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar power, according to the Paris-based company.

In Saft’s first project for EDL, the BESS has been installed within a hybrid renewable microgrid with an installed capacity of 56 MW. This is the first microgrid to incorporate wind power on a large scale at an Australia mine, the company said, with the energy storage critical in enabling the EDL microgrid to maintain power quality as it integrates an increasing level of volatile and unpredictable renewable energy.

EDL Chief Executive Officer, James Harman, said: “The Agnew hybrid renewable microgrid was completed on May 1, 2020, and has proven to be a great success – under the right weather conditions, the microgrid has delivered up to 85% of the site’s power requirements with renewable energy.

“The BESS is critical to this success. That’s why we selected Saft’s Li-ion technology – it offered a complete solution with a proven track record. We’d be happy to work with Saft again.”

The Agnew gold mine is an underground operation 1,000 km northeast of Perth in Western Australia. The site covers over 600 sq.km and has the capacity to process 1.3 Mt/y of ore.

The remote off-grid location means the Agnew site must generate its own electricity, with Gold Fields committed to sustainable and innovative power solutions. It engaged EDL in a 10-year agreement to build and operate Australia’s largest hybrid renewable energy microgrid.

The first project phase involved the construction of a 4 MW solar farm and a 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant. This was followed by five wind turbines for 18 MW of generation, a microgrid controller and Saft’s 13 MW/4 MWh energy storage system.

The turnkey BESS at the Agnew mine comprises six of Saft’s Intensium® Max+ 20M, 20 ft (6.1 m) containers together with a power conversion system, transformer and MV switchgear installed in three 40 ft containers. Its main role is to provide power quality support for the microgrid to maximise the usage of variable renewable energy, according to Saft. It also provides “ultra-fast reacting spinning reserves” to help maintain grid stability and minimise the need for fossil fuel-based generation units to run idle for this purpose.

The Intensium Max+ 20M design meant no modifications were required to ensure a long operational life in the demanding dusty and sandy desert conditions, where peak temperatures can reach 48°C, Saft said. To maintain maximum uptime and availability for the BESS, Saft is providing remote monitoring together with a service contract including yearly on-site maintenance.

The Intensium Max+ 20M is fully fitted out and tested by Saft at its manufacturing hub in Jacksonville, Florida. As a result, the containers were delivered to site ready to ‘plug and play’.

Santos and Gold Fields agree on new gas deal to supply WA mines

Santos says it has entered into a new gas supply agreement with Gold Fields for its three gold mines in the state.

The company, Western Australia’s biggest domestic gas supplier, will supply nearly 5.5 PJ of natural gas from its Varanus Island gas plant (pictured) over three years, starting on July 1, 2020, as part of the agreement.

In Western Australia, Gold Fields owns and operates the St Ives open-pit/underground mine, the Agnew underground mine and the Granny Smith underground mine. These have throughput capacities of 4.7 Mt/y, 1.3 Mt/y and 3.5 Mt/y, respectively.

The 56 MW Agnew Hybrid Renewable project recently got up and running at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine. This includes five 110 m wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 140 m, delivering 18 MW; a 10,710-panel solar farm generating 4 MW; a 13 MW/4 MWh battery system; and an off-grid 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant.

Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Gallagher, said: “We are delighted Gold Fields has come back to Santos after a short hiatus, reinforcing our position as Western Australia’s biggest supplier of gas to the local market.

“Santos supplies around 40% of the state’s total domestic demand, and we are committed to ongoing investment in developing new gas supplies in Western Australia.

“In these challenging economic times, we are focused on ensuring local gas prices remain competitive for Western Australian businesses over the long term.”

EDL brings 56 MW hybrid renewable energy project online at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine

Global energy producer EDL says it has successfully completed the 56 MW Agnew Hybrid Renewable project for Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia.

All five wind turbines are now up and running and successfully integrated into Australia’s largest hybrid renewable microgrid, and the first in the country to power a mine with wind-generated electricity, it said.

In favourable weather conditions, the project has delivered up to 70% of Agnew’s power requirements with renewable energy, according to the company. This is significant as the Agnew mine consists of two underground complexes and one 1.3 Mt/y processing plant consisting of a three-stage crushing circuit, two-stage milling circuit, gravity circuit and carbon-in-pulp circuit.

Upon announcing the project in June 2019, Gold Fields and EDL said the A$112 million ($78 million) investment would help create a “world-leading energy microgrid combining wind, solar, gas and battery storage”.

The project comprises four key components controlled by an advanced microgrid system. This includes five 110 m wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 140 m, delivering 18 MW; a 10,710-panel solar farm generating 4 MW; a 13 MW/4 MWh battery system; and an off-grid 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided A$13.5 million ($8.7 million) in funding to the project as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

EDL Chief Executive Officer, James Harman, said: “We applaud Gold Fields for their vision in embarking on this journey with us, and their role in leading the Australian mining industry’s transition to clean, reliable renewable energy.

“We also acknowledge the incredible achievement of the EDL project delivery team and our contractors. We faced transport challenges during the bushfires and impacts on personnel from COVID-19 restrictions, as well as geographical, logistics and technical challenges to safely construct this innovative energy facility in the remote WA Goldfields region.”

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the completion of the project was an important milestone for Gold Fields, EDL and the broader mining industry.

“We are proud to be able to showcase this project with EDL as an outstanding example of the capacity of the hybrid renewable energy model to meet the dynamic power requirements of remote mining operations.

“For our people and our stakeholders, this is a very clear demonstration of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint whilst strengthening our security of supply.

“Having built our internal technical capability and developed strong relationships with our business partners, we are well placed to continue to implement renewables solutions elsewhere in our business.”

Siemens and juwi push forward with microgrids for mining systems

Siemens and renewable energy developer juwi have joined forces to enter into a strategic technology partnership to focus on microgrids for the mining industry.

An agreement, signed this week, will see the two companies aim to roll-out and continually develop the advanced microgrid control system that enables the seamless integration of power from renewable energy to a mine’s off-grid power supply, they said.

The Siemens Sicam based microgrid control platform, a proven and tested technology Siemens says, is the basis for juwi´s Hybrid IQ microgrid controller. juwi, meanwhile, brings industry-specific domain knowhow and a track record of planning and executing renewable energy projects at mine sites.

Juwi says: “The solution adapts to changing orebodies, processing and power requirements whilst providing detailed reporting and analysis to operations teams and management. Together, the strategic partners create a unique, standardised solution for the mining market.”

This will simplify the use of renewable energy for mines and help provide a cost-effective and reliable power supply, especially for mine sites that operate off the grid, according to the companies.

Robert Klaffus (left), CEO Digital Grid at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, said: “Microgrids can bring high levels of reliability and improved energy quality to energy-intensive industries such as mining; and are an attractive alternative when autonomous power supply is needed.

“We are looking forward to the technology cooperation with juwi on microgrids and believe it will boost the commercial appeal of renewable energy to the mining industry.”

Stephan Hansen (right), a Board Member and COO of the juwi Group, added: “Renewable energy will not only future-proof mining operations, but reduce cash operating costs today. The centrepiece to this is the juwi Hybrid IQ system. It enables us to provide hybrid power that goes far beyond what has been industry practice until now.”

The co-operation between juwi and Siemens has already resulted in the successful delivery of the solar power plant at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Australia, the companies said. A renewable and low-carbon energy project at the mine is being developed by global energy group EDL. juwi is working with EDL to deliver 4 MW Single Axis Tracking PV installation together with cloud forecasting and an advanced microgrid control system to enable integration with the mine off-grid network at Agnew.

The partnership has also provided hybrid power to Australia’s largest and oldest marine research station on the Great Barrier Reef of Queensland. Heron Island now uses juwi Hybrid IQ to combine solar with a redox flow battery to replace diesel fuel.

“Both projects showcase the next generation of hybrid systems and enable mine sites to significantly lower their carbon footprint and their cash operating costs,” they said.

Gold Fields goes for low-carbon energy solution at Agnew gold mine in Australia

Gold Fields says its Agnew gold mine, in Western Australia, will become one of Australia’s first mining operations to be predominantly powered by renewable and low-carbon energy following a deal with global energy group EDL.

Gold Fields and EDL have agreed on a A$112 million ($78 million) investment in what the gold miner says is a “world-leading energy microgrid combining wind, solar, gas and battery storage”.

The Agnew mine consists of two underground complexes and one processing plant, with a capacity of 1.3 Mt/y consisting of a three-stage crushing circuit, two-stage milling circuit, gravity circuit and carbon-in-pulp circuit.

The microgrid will be owned and operated by EDL, which will recoup its investment via a 10-year electricity supply agreement with Agnew.

The project, which is already under construction, has the backing of the Australian Government with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) contributing a recoupable A$13.5 million to its construction, according to Gold Fields.

The Agnew microgrid is initially forecast to provide 55-60% of the mine’s energy needs, with potential to meet almost all energy requirements at certain times, Gold Fields said. The Agnew microgrid will consist of five wind turbines delivering 18 MW of power, a 10,000-panel solar farm contributing 4 MW, a 13 MW/4 MWh battery energy storage system, and a 16 MW gas engine power station to underpin supply when required.

EDL said stage one consists of a new off-grid 23 MW power station incorporating 16 MW gas and 3 MW diesel generation and 4 MW photovoltaic solar, which is on track for completion in mid-2019. Stage two includes 18 MW wind generation, a 13 MW battery and an advanced micro-grid control system, with construction recently started and due for completion in 2020.

The hybrid microgrid at Agnew follows the announcement of a microgrid at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine, featuring 20,000 solar panels and a 2 MW/1 MWh battery system planned for completion in the December quarter.

Gold Fields Australia Executive Vice President, Stuart Mathews, said the Agnew hybrid microgrid project reflects the company’s strategic objective to strengthen energy security, optimise energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint through innovation and the adoption of new technologies.

“The ARENA contribution supports and encourages our efforts. We are making staged investments across our mines in Western Australia to significantly ramp up the innovative use of renewables to meet our dynamic and growing load requirements,” Mathews said.

The funding is part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Programme. ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the project marks a growing shift in the mining sector’s thinking around powering mine sites.

“The project Gold Fields is undertaking will provide a blueprint for other companies to deploy similar off-grid energy solutions and demonstrate a pathway for commercialisation, helping to decarbonise the mining and resources sector,” Miller said.

Gold Fields says it is embracing innovation and technology across all levels of its mining operations and Mathews said this also extended to its approach to power supply and demand management.

“At Agnew, we will be using instrumentation to detect approaching cloud cover for solar and, potentially in the future, detect changes in wind velocity. Based on this data, the gas power station will have forward-looking systems in place to schedule gas generators in response to forecast changes in the renewable energy supply,” he said.

EDL CEO, James Harman, said the company has seen increasing momentum towards hybrid energy solutions, particularly in remote, off-grid locations. “EDL is pleased to be an active contributor to Australia’s transition to sustainable energy,” Harman said. “Our knowledge and experience from our successful hybrid renewable projects will enable us to provide Agnew with greater than 50% renewable energy over the long term, without compromising power quality or reliability.”

Mathews said: “The configuration of Agnew’s hybrid solution is a first for Gold Fields and is an excellent example of using innovation and technology to improve efficiencies and lower costs. We are fast sharing lessons from this project with our other regions, as part of our global strategic initiatives to improve our security of supply and reduce carbon emissions.”

Gold Fields is the third largest gold producer in Australia. It currently owns and operates three mines in Western Australia and is completing the construction of a fourth, Gruyere, in joint venture with Gold Road Resources.

Barminco gets another four years at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine

Barminco Holdings has been awarded two four-year contracts at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia, extending its existing underground mining services and diamond drilling agreements through to 2022.

The contracts are worth some A$335 million ($238 million) and include options for a further 12-month extension. They cover underground mining services at Agnew, including development and production activities and associated services at the Waroonga mine, and diamond drilling at both Waroonga and New Holland.

Barminco CEO Paul Muller said the contracts extended Barminco’s long-standing relationship with Gold Fields to 12 years, having commenced operations at Agnew in 2010.

“Over that time, we have completed approximately 50 km of development and 2.5 Mt of production,” he added.

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Matthews said: “The Agnew mine continues to be a strong performer in the Gold Fields group, exceeding both production and cost guidance last year, whilst also increasing revenues.

“We are committed to ongoing investment to maintain its life and production profile, with a further $25 million exploration programme underway at Agnew this year, and investment in key infrastructure projects, including the new accommodation camp for our employees and contractors.”

Agnew regularly produces over 250,000 oz of gold a year.

Barminco is currently in the middle of being taken over by Ausdrill in a deal that values Barminco’s equity at A$271.5 million.