Tag Archives: Anglo American

Thungela to acquire Anglo American’s South African thermal coal operations

Anglo American has agreed to demerge its thermal coal operations in South Africa to a new holding company called Thungela Resources Limited.

The separation deal, which is subject to the approval of Anglo American’s shareholders on May 5, 2021, will be implemented through the transfer of Anglo’s South Africa thermal coal operations to Thungela, the demerger of the Thungela shares to Anglo American shareholders and the primary listing of Thungela’s shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and standard listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Thungela had 16.5 Mt of attributable export production to its name in 2020, with its operations close to an established rail network with secure access to export markets via the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. It has 137 Mt of reserves and 756 Mt of resources, along with seven operations (four open-pit and three underground).

Anglo’s operations, meanwhile, are derived from three wholly owned and operated mines – Goedehoop, Greenside and Khwezela; Zibulo (73% owned, pictured); as well as from Mafube colliery, a 50:50 joint operation. It supplies around 19 Mt/y of export thermal coal from these mines.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “Anglo American has been pursuing a responsible transition away from thermal coal for a number of years now. As the world transitions towards a low carbon economy, we must continue to act responsibly – bringing our employees, shareholders, host communities, host governments and customers along with us. Our proposed demerger of what are precious natural resources for South Africa allows us to do exactly that.”

He added: “We are confident that Thungela will be a responsible steward of our thermal coal assets in South Africa, benefiting from an experienced and diverse management team and board. While representing just a small proportion of Anglo American today, we are laying the foundation for South Africa’s leading coal business, setting it up for success to deliver value for all its stakeholders. Looking forward, we believe the prospects for long-term value delivery are greatest as two standalone businesses, each with their own strategy and access to capital.”

July Ndlovu, CEO of Thungela, said: “Thungela is a leading South African producer of high quality, low cost export thermal coal, well positioned to benefit from improved market conditions, and providing a reliable and affordable energy source to our customers mainly in developing economies. We have significantly repositioned and upgraded our portfolio in recent years into a highly competitive producer of export product, with established access to world-class export infrastructure.

“As an independent business we will continue to contribute significantly to our host communities and South Africa’s development objectives. As part of our commitment to creating an enduring positive legacy, we are establishing an employee partnership plan and a community partnership plan, with each holding a 5% interest in the Thungela thermal coal operations in South Africa, thereby enabling employees and communities to share in the financial value that we generate.”

The proposed demerger recognises the diverse range of views held by Anglo American’s shareholders in relation to thermal coal and therefore provides Anglo American’s shareholders, including those with specified investment criteria, with the choice to act on such views and, following the implementation of the proposed demerger, to either retain, increase or decrease their interests in Thungela, Anglo explained. The proposal also allows Thungela to attract new shareholders and to access new sources of capital as an independent company offering direct exposure to thermal coal.

Anglo American says it is committed to setting up Thungela as a sustainable standalone business, including by providing an initial cash injection of ZAR2.5 billion (~$170 million) and further contingent capital support until the end of 2022 in the event of thermal coal prices in South African rand falling below a certain threshold.

Following the implementation of the proposed demerger, and in line with Anglo American’s responsible approach, Anglo American’s marketing business will continue to support Thungela in the sale and marketing of its products for a three-year period with an additional six-month transitional period thereafter, the company said.

“This transitionary arrangement ensures that customers receive a consistent service and supply of thermal coal while Thungela concentrates on enhancing the performance of its operations while continuing to receive optimal value for its products in the market,” Anglo said. “The three-year term, and the additional six-month roll-off period, also provide time for Thungela to build its own global marketing capabilities should it choose to do so.”

For the proposed demerger to be implemented, Anglo American shareholder approval will be sought at a general meeting and court meeting, both expected to be held on May 5 following Anglo American’s Annual General Meeting. If it is approved, it is expected the demerger would be effective on June 4, 2021, with Thungela’s shares being listed and admitted to trading on the JSE and LSE on June 7, 2021.

Following completion of the proposed demerger, 100% of the issued share capital of Thungela will be held by Anglo American shareholders who will each receive one Thungela share for every 10 Anglo American shares they hold. Each Anglo American shareholder will also retain their existing shareholding in Anglo American. Thungela will hold 90% of the thermal coal operations in South Africa with the remaining 10% held collectively by the employee partnership plan and the community partnership plan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anglo American to collaborate on ‘hydrogen valley’ study in South Africa

Anglo American has announced a collaboration agreement to complete a feasibility study to develop a “hydrogen valley” anchored in the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in South Africa.

Spearheaded by South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the collaboration agreement also includes energy and services company ENGIE, the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI) and clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy.

The proposed hydrogen valley will stretch approximately 835 km from Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine (pictured) near Mokopane in Limpopo province in the north of South Africa, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban.

This collaboration follows the launch in 2020 of the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap, aimed at integrating hydrogen into the economy by capitalising on the country’s PGM resources and renewable energy potential to revitalise and decarbonise key industrial sectors. The study will be conducted by ENGIE Impact and will identify tangible opportunities to build hydrogen hubs and explore the potential for green hydrogen production and supply at scale.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said: “The transition to a low carbon world is an opportunity to drive the development of cleaner technologies, create new industries and employment, and improve people’s lives. Anglo American was an early supporter of the global potential for a hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport. Our integrated approach includes investing in new technologies, supporting entrepreneurial projects and advocating for policy frameworks that enable a supportive long-term investment environment for hydrogen to deliver that potential.”

The regional PGMs industry will be central to such a hydrogen valley, with PGMs playing an important role both in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane electrolysis used to produce hydrogen at scale and in fuel cells themselves, Anglo says.

Anglo American is already investing in renewable hydrogen production technology at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine and in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell mine haul trucks – the world’s largest to run on hydrogen.

Dr Phil Mjwara, DSI Director-General, said: “The Department’s hydrogen valley partnership with Anglo American, Bambili Energy and ENGIE is an example of leveraging investments made in the Hydrogen South Africa Programme to create mechanisms for the uptake of publicly financed intellectual property. The hydrogen valley is among the projects that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector to support the Platinum Valley Initiative, which is aimed at supporting small, medium and micro enterprises to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy in support of a just transition.”

The public-private partnership is aligned to the South Africa Government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plans, with science, technology and innovation playing a key role in supporting the country’s plans to revitalise its economy.

Sebastien Arbola, ENGIE Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation and Energy Supply activities, said: “ENGIE is delighted to be part of the hydrogen valley study. We are keen to share our knowledge and expertise encompassing the entire hydrogen value chain to accelerate hydrogen solutions’ deployment in South Africa and beyond. We already have a demonstration project under way to supply the hydrogen for the world’s first hydrogen mining truck being developed by Anglo American at the Mogalakwena PGMs mine.”

Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO Bambili Energy, said: “The initiative to develop the South African hydrogen valley and the collaboration between Bambili, Anglo American, ENGIE and the South African government is significant as it will build material public awareness, confidence and support for the hydrogen economy. This collaboration is illustrative of Bambili’s view that a public-private partnership is critical in the development of this industry in the South African economy.”

Macmahon to start mining Anglo’s Dawson South met coal mine

Macmahon Holdings says it has been selected to provide surface mining services at Anglo American’s majority-owned Dawson metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, Australia, starting from July.

The work at the Dawson South operations, which forms part of the Dawson Mine, an open-pit met coal mine owned in a joint venture between Anglo American and Japan’s Mitsui Group, will generate around A$200 million ($153 million) in revenue over the three-year term, Macmahon said.

Signing of the mining services agreement is expected to occur in the near future, the company added.

Macmahon’s CEO and Managing Director, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are very pleased to be selected for the Dawson South operation by Anglo American, a leading global mining company. We look forward to working very closely with our new client to ensure a smooth transition period and continuity of safe operations. This new project further strengthens our growing east coast presence.”

Mastermyne’s Aquila coking coal contract extended by Anglo

Anglo American has extended the stay of Mastermyne Group at its Aquila coking coal project in Queensland, Australia, with the ASX-listed contractor set to continue development of the underground mine for at least the next 12 months.

Mastermyne has been engaged since August 2019 to undertake roadway development in the mains and gate roads, and all outbye related services for the establishment of the new longwall operation at Aquila.

The contract variation will extend the current contract to March 2022 and includes the operation of an additional roadway development unit.

Mastermyne currently employs 178 full-time personnel under the contract, with a further increase of around 60 full-time personnel required for the operation of the additional roadway development unit. Up to half of the personnel for this third development unit at Aquila mine will be relocated from Anglo’s Moranbah North coal mine (currently suspended), following the completion of planned activities. Mobilisation of the additional workforce at Aquila will be completed by March 2021.

The contractor says it continues to supply development equipment from its fleet, including a continuous miner and ancillary development equipment for the project.

Total revenue generated from the variation and extension to the mining contract is expected to be approximately A$60 million ($47 million).

Mastermyne CEO, Tony Caruso, said “We have been working to deliver major underground infrastructure and roadways safely and efficiently, and we look forward to continuing our work with Anglo American to deliver their new longwall project, producing premium high-quality hard coking coal.”

Anglo’s 70%-owned Aquila project will extend the life of its existing Capcoal underground operations by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree mine approaches end of life, Anglo says. The project is scheduled for first longwall production of coking coal in early 2022.

Siltbuster delivers modular water treatment system to Anglo’s Woodsmith mine

Siltbuster, the water treatment specialist, says it has designed and installed a surface water treatment solution for Anglo American at its Woodsmith polyhalite mine on the North Yorkshire coast of England.

The polyhalite deposit can only be accessed from within the North York Moors National Park, so extensive steps have been taken to limit the environmental impact of the mine, using innovative design solutions and engineering ingenuity, Siltbuster says.

The mine infrastructure has been designed to be sympathetic to its location: the number and size of the buildings has been reduced to a minimum, which, together with extensive landscaping and planting, will ensure the site is screened and blends in with the surrounding area. At the same time, mined ore will only be transported underground, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, in a 37 km tunnel to the materials handling facility on Teesside, eliminating the need for surface transportation.

“This careful stewardship and protection of the surrounding environment has also extended to water management on site,” Siltbuster said. “During construction, the collected surface rainwater via the on-site collection drainage system can contain an elevated level of suspended solid particles which require removal prior to discharge back into the natural water courses to ensure there is no environment impact. The collected surface water passes through a series of lagoons to remove the gross solids, but the water can still contain elevated level of suspended clay particles that do not settle under natural gravity.”

Anglo American has, therefore, invested in a treatment system, with a high degree of system automation, located within a structure that blends in with the surrounding scenery, in line with the overall project design, the company says.

With the new modular treatment system in place, including 2no. HB200R Lamella Clarifiers with Mix Tanks, over 5.7 million litres of water can be treated each day. Continuous online monitoring of flow, pH and suspended solids of the treated surface water ensure discharge criteria are being met consistently before releasing back into the natural water course, Siltbuster explained. If any of the monitoring parameters are above the trigger level, the system will shut down automatically with an instant text alert submitted to the site operators.

Rob Staniland, Manager for Environment and Permitting at the Woodsmith Project, said: “It is essential that we have robust, reliable systems and partners to help us meet our stringent planning conditions and environmental safety targets. Siltbuster have proven to be just that, providing us with a great solution to helps us deliver on the minimal impact ethos of the whole project.”

Louis Pang, Project Manager, at Siltbuster, added: “The new treatment plant has not only provided an effective and easy-to-operate system, with the system design being modular and built off-site, the on-site construction and installation time was kept to a minimum, thereby minimising the environmental impact, an important environmental criteria set by Anglo American.”

Anglo’s Quellaveco to receive the coarse particle recovery treatment

Anglo American has approved the construction of a coarse particle recovery (CPR) plant at its in-development Quellaveco copper project in Peru.

The announcement came within the company’s 2020 financial results, which showed Anglo generated underlying EBITDA of $9.8 billion and a profit attributable to equity shareholders of $2.1 billion for the year.

CPR, Anglo says, is one of many significant breakthrough technology initiatives that has the potential to increase throughput and productivity, while simultaneously reducing environmental footprint, through rejection of coarse gangue (near-worthless waste material), dry stacking of sand waste, minimising the production of traditional tailings and reducing overall water consumption.

The CPR plant signoff at Quellaveco follows a full-scale demo plant installation at the company’s El Soldado mine in Chile – which is ramping up to full capacity by mid-2021 – and the decision to construct a full-scale system at the Mogalakwena North PGM concentrator in South Africa.

The El Soldado plant used the HydroFloat™ CPR technology from Eriez’s Flotation Division. Here, a single 5 m diameter HydroFloat cell, the largest in the world, treats 100% of mill throughput, with the objective of proving the waste rejection process at full scale.

Anglo said of the Quellaveco CPR plant: “This breakthrough technology will initially allow retreatment of coarse particles from flotation tailings to improve recoveries by circa-3% on average over the life of the mine. This investment will also enable future throughput expansion which will bring a reduction in energy and water consumption per unit of production.”

The capital expenditure of the CPR project is around $130 million, with commissioning of the new plant expected in 2022. DRA Global previously carried out a feasibility study for the CPR plant at Quellaveco.

In terms of Quellaveco project progress, Anglo said today that, despite the COVID-19-related slowdown, first production was still expected in 2022. This was, in part, due to the excellent progress achieved prior to the national lockdown, and based on optimised construction and commissioning plans, Anglo said.

Key activities in 2021 include the start of pre-stripping, which will see the first greenfield use of automated hauling technology in Peru; progressing construction of the primary crusher and ore transport conveyor tunnel to the plant; completion of the 95 km freshwater pipeline that will deliver water from the water source area to the Quellaveco site; completing installation of the shells and motors for both milling lines; and completion of the tailings starter dam.

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

Kumba plans Sishen UHDMS iron ore project kick off

Kumba Iron Ore, energised by a record annual EBITDA of R45.8 billion ($3.12 billion) for its 2020 financial year, has made plans to extend the life of its Sishen iron ore mine in South Africa out to 2039.

The R3.6 billion ultra-high dense media separation (UHDMS) project was approved by the Kumba board late last week. It is expected to enhance the operation’s product quality and extend the life-of-mine by four years to 2039.

Kumba’s total iron ore production for 2020 came in at 37 Mt, down from 42.4 Mt in 2019 as both COVID-19-related events and weather-related headwinds impacted output. The company said reduced equipment reliability and availability also played a part to a lesser extent.

In line with this, total tonnes mined decreased by 14% to 256.3 Mt (2019: 297.9 Mt) and total waste stripping by 16% to 204.8 Mt (2019: 244.3 Mt) in 2020.

Owner fleet efficiency (OEE) reduced to 63% of benchmark for the year, compared with 68% for 2019.

“A number of interventions have been implemented to mitigate these impacts,” the company said. “We have enhanced our high rainfall readiness and associated recovery plans to manage through such weather impacts going forward.

“Our focus on improving equipment uptime through the implementation of defect elimination and work management programs, as well as artisan and supervisor skills development programs, is also delivering results and we are seeing improvements in equipment reliability across the fleet.”

The company is continuing to focus on improving operational efficiency through its P101 productivity improvements and various efficiency programs at both Sishen and Kolomela through the implementation of technology such as guided spotting, adaptive controls, truck speed digital twin and real-time condition-based monitoring.

Kumba’s total shovel fleet OEEs came in at 55% during 2020, but the company has a plan to hit the 80% mark in 2022. At Sishen, Kumba has six rope shovels consisting of Komatsu P&H 4100XPCs and Komatsu P&H 2800XPCs, while, at Kolomela, it has two Liebherr R996 hydraulic shovels.

Its total truck fleet OEEs came in at 82% in 2020, with a 100% target for 2022. At Sishen, Kumba has 100 Komatsu 860E and 960E trucks, while Kolomela has 36 Komatsu 730E trucks.

Meanwhile, at the UHDMS project, Kumba expects to break ground in the second half of 2021. This is ahead of commissioning in the second half of 2023.

Kumba, majority-owned by Anglo American, says the project will lower the strip ratio at the operation, extend the life-of-mine, as well as reduce its carbon footprint due to the reduction of waste material at the end of the operation’s life.

The total capital cost of the project of R3.6 billion is expected to be paid back with an after-tax internal rate of return of circa-30% and an EBITDA margin of around 40%.

Kumba already has a dense media separation plant that processes low-grade, non-DSO ore and separates it to higher grade iron ore at Kolomela (pictured).

CRC ORE simplifies complexity for value

“There are a lot more variables to bulk ore sorting than just the technology,” Jon Rutter says.

The Principal Geologist of the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE), Rutter knows his stuff. He has worked underground in both narrow-vein and mass-mining operations, as well as at large scale open-pit mines; in the base and precious metal arena.

During a presentation at International Mining Events’ IPCC Virtual event in early-February, he shared a slice of this knowledge while reviewing a recent installation project CRC ORE had been involved in at a platinum group element (PGE) operation.

“The intrinsic value of bulk ore sorting comes from the delivered heterogeneity,” Rutter said. “We have got to be able to sense and divert a higher-value pod of material versus an adjacent pod of lower-grade material on a conveyor.

“You essentially want to put more material into the mill that adds value – and not what destroys value.”

Looking at the wider bulk sorting opportunity in mining, Rutter explained the sensor diversion units (SDU) in bulk ore sorting were smaller than what the mine itself can typically offer in the form of a selective mining unit (SMU), which may be comprised of a dig block totalling around 15,000 t.

A truck offers a 100-300 t opportunity, while a shovel typically comes with a 50-100 t opportunity.

Even with a modest conveyor running at a 2,000 t/h rate, an on-board sensor (eg PGNAA or PFTNA) running at a 30 second integration time (the time to analyse one grade) would provide an SDU of 16.7 t. A sensor with lower integration time (eg XRF at 10 seconds) comes in at 5.6 t.

The ability to provide analysis down to this level has enticed several major companies into testing bulk ore sorting solutions.

Anglo American has trialled bulk ore sorting solutions at copper and platinum group metal mines, while BHP recently engaged CRC ORE to examine deployment of cutting-edge preconcentration techniques under its Grade Engineering® platform at the Olympic Dam mine, in South Australia.

The SDU with bulk sorting may be that much smaller than the SMU of a typical mine plan, but lab-level precision is not required for these solutions to work, according to Rutter.

“What I need is the ability to measure the metal content adequately,” he said. “When I say adequate, this incorporates the entire error bar of the system. That system includes the inherent geology, the mineralisation style and heterogeneity. We also need to consider the precision, accuracy and integration time – which is the technology constraint; but we also need to include the weightometers, the flop gates, the diversion gates, as well as that entire mining and materials handling process right from the start – from blasting, loading, hauling and dumping to the plant.

“But for bulk ore sorting what I end up requiring from this combined data is usually a binary decision: am I above or below a certain threshold?”

He expands on the bulk ore sorting (BOS) assessment process: “The other way of looking at this is simply considering it as planned ore loss and dilution. If we go back into that dig block, in that 15,000 t of material, I’ve already incorporated planned ore loss and dilution decisions or parameters into that SMU decision. So, if we look at bulk ore sorting, I am just talking about those different attributes – the error bars of a BOS system – as the inputs or parameters for BOS planned ore loss and dilution – it’s now just at a smaller and more precise opportunity.”

The company took a two-phase approach to the BOS opportunity at the PGE operation in question.

The first phase involved carrying out heterogeneity analysis of the orebody; correlation analysis of PGEs to base metals; selection of sensor technologies (XRF and PGNAA were selected in this case), design, layout and equipment selection for the bulk ore sorting plant; natural deportment analysis of the orebody; development of a preliminary business case; the ore type selection and sampling strategy; and project planning and management.

CRC ORE and the company in question settled on a solution where a Caterpillar 992 wheel loader dropped material off to a system using a combination of grizzly, feeder, sizer, conveyors, diverter, stackers and associated equipment from MMD, used in conjunction with an ore sensing system equipped with both PGNAA and XRF sensors to continuously measure the elemental composition. The PGNAA sensor provided a “penetrative” analysis calculation whereas XRF provided a “surface” sensing calculation, Rutter explained.

An incline conveyor ahead of the diverter gate and the accept/reject stream provided the 30 second integration time the PGNAA analyser required.

Phase two of the project involved online and offline (pre-install) work; sensor calibration; proving the technology; and proving the technology can drive physical separation.

Rutter said the completion of static calibration of the sensors saw the PGNAA sensor 20-30% calibrated, and the XRF sensor 70-80% calibrated.

This outcome harked back to Rutter’s assertion that “bulk ore sorting implementation is not a plug and play opportunity”.

A dynamic calibration in online mode completed under normal conditions was required to get the PGNAA sensor up to speed. This process, meanwhile, solidified the operation of the XRF sensor.

While the two sensors were calibrated in different ways, Rutter showed data that confirmed both were in unison when it came to reading the ore/waste that came through the conveyor (see right-hand graph below).

“The two sensors are independent of each other and fundamentally very different, but they can work well together, or separately,” he said.

CRC ORE was able to prove the technology by running the same sample through the circuit a number of times, as Rutter explained: “We fed 15-20 t of run of mine material into the hopper and repeated the process 15 times, putting the same 15-20 t sample through the system. We could then start to determine the precision and accuracy of the sensors and the system.”

For further verification, the sample was crushed, sub sampled and assayed.

“We wanted a binary response to ore and waste to build confidence,” Rutter added.

Phase three involved the ramp up to production scale, going from, say, 500 t/h to 1,000 t/h; carrying out validation by campaign; and finally integrating with the operation.

There were several lessons all mining companies – and bulk sorting vendors – should keep in mind from such a project, Rutter said.

Operations need to assess the impact of mixing across the entire materials and mining handling process as soon as possible, for one.

“The earlier we can put this data into the system, the better,” Rutter said. “Without a heterogeneity signature, we cannot implement bulk ore sorting.”

He also stressed the importance of timely feedback. Sensor calibration, a secondary crushing/sampling plant and assaying were all required to build confidence in the solution.

Rutter added: “The proper calibration of sensors does require a considerable and ongoing effort…but that is no different from any other process plant or equipment.”

Operators also need to be wary of where they set these solutions up in mines, recognising this heterogeneity dynamic.

“Bulk ore sorting is quite unlikely to be universally suited to the entire deposit,” Rutter said. “The analogue for this is a flotation plant; there are ore types in the mine where you achieve better performance in the flotation plant and others where you get worse performance.”

Water treatment plant starts up at Anglo American’s Aquila met coal project

Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business says it is now operating the first of two state-of-the art reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plants at its Aquila project in the Bowen Basin, Queensland.

The aim of the RO plants is to reduce the use of fresh water in its mining operations.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the A$5 million ($3.9 million) water treatment system was currently treating two megalitres of mine affected water (MAW) a day and supporting construction of the Aquila Mine, near Middlemount in central Queensland.

“A key target in Anglo American’s global Sustainable Mining Plan is to reduce our reliance on fresh water by 50% by 2030 across our mine sites, and I’m pleased to say Aquila is currently sourcing recycled water during construction of the mine,” Mitchelson said.

“A planned second RO plant will to be used to recycle a further 2.4 megalitres of MAW – once Aquila becomes operational in early 2022, more than doubling capacity and helping to reduce the reliance on water from local sources during times of drought.

“Aquila will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced underground mines and will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining. The project is currently supporting 500 jobs.”

Aquila, owned 70% by Anglo and 30% by Mitsui & Co Ltd, will extend the life of Anglo’s existing Capcoal underground operations by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree Mine approaches end of life, Anglo says. The mine will also continue to adopt Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining™ program, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major operational and sustainability challenges, the company said. One of the initiatives the company is working on as part of this is remote operation of the longwall; a process the company has trialled at some of its other Bowen Basin coal mines.

Aquila’s Project Director, Tony Willmott, said the A$240 million Aquila Mine was committed to awarding contracts locally.

“Our Aquila project is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners. More than 90% of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers,” Willmott said. “Aquila’s integrated network of pipes and pumps is securing the distribution of high-quality water which is necessary in metallurgical coal mining for equipment cooling and coal cutting operations.”