Tag Archives: Antofagasta

Metal and mining companies collaborate with WEF on blockchain solutions

Seven leading mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to experiment, design and deploy blockchain solutions that will accelerate responsible sourcing and sustainability practices, the WEF reports.

The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will pool resources and cost, increase speed-to-market and improve industry-wide trust that cannot be achieved by acting individually, according to the forum.

“It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardisation and improving efficiency,” WEF said, adding that the intention was to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry.

Among the seven companies represented in this initiative are Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Tata Steel Limited, De Beers and Anglo American.

The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform, which, over time, could help the industry collectively increase “transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions”, it said.

The WEF explained: “In many cases, blockchain projects to support responsible sourcing have been bilateral. The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability.”

The new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry, according to the WEF, with members examining issues related to governance, developing case studies and establishing a working group. Key areas of collaboration and development could include carbon emissions tracking and supply chain transparency.

“They will work to use blockchain technology to increase trust between upstream and downstream partners, to address the lack of industry standardisation and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods,” it said.

Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry at the WEF, said material value chains are undergoing profound change and disruption. “The industry needs to respond to the increasing demands of minerals and materials while responding to increasing demands by consumers, shareholders and regulators for a higher degree of sustainability and traceability of the products.”

The WEF has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology, it said. “It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.”

The move was welcomed by industry partners, including Ivan Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals: “We hope this collaboration and pilot will give us practical examples of how blockchain can increase efficiency of the supply chain management and improve interoperability; address certain supply chain management risks such as transparency and consumer trust; and unlock opportunities including integration of key data such on environmental impact such carbon emissions.”

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, meanwhile, said the collaboration around blockchain technology would help industry efforts to enhance responsible sourcing. “By working together, our goal is to develop solutions that can be adopted across the industry and value chain,” he added.

Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said the development of this technology can facilitate industry reporting to improve compliance across the supply chain.

TV Narendran, CEO of Tata Steel, said: “As a responsible player in the mining and metals industry, we are committed to build a sustainable future.”

Jim Duffy, CEO of Tracr (representing Anglo American/De Beers), said the company looked forward to collaborating with the consortium as Tracr begins to roll-out its connected supply chain platform for the diamond industry. “Lessons learned creating Tracr are highly relevant to the sustainable sourcing of all mining and metals,” he added.

Twin Metals looks to avoid tailings dam concerns with dry stacking plan

The developer of the Twin Metals project, in the Iron Range region of northeast Minnesota, USA, has announced plans to use dry stacked tailings at the underground copper, nickel, platinum, palladium, gold and silver asset as the company looks to eliminate the perceived risk of a dam leakage or failure.

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM), a company owned by Antofagasta, said the dry stack method eliminates the storage pond and dam associated with conventional tailings facilities and has been successfully used in four mines in the northern US and Canada with similar climates to Minnesota.

In 2018, an update of the prefeasibility study for Twin Metals outlined a 18,000 t/d ore project, producing an average of 42,000 t/y of copper, plus nickel and platinum group metals as by-products, the equivalent of some 65,000 t/y of copper.

TMM, like many other potential mine developers, said community concerns about copper-nickel mines have focused on fears of tailings dam failure or leaks that could threaten both nearby surface water and groundwater. This comes after several high profile dam failures in North and South America.

If all goes to plan, the company will use the dry stack method to store the leftover rock from its proposed underground mine on a lined ground facility near the plant site. This will allow reclamation of the tailing site to occur in stages, with the site capped or covered with natural vegetation.

Kelly Osborne, Chief Executive Officer of Twin Metals Minnesota, said: “Dry stack tailing storage is the most environmentally friendly tailings management approach for our site. The first key is that there’s no dam, no risk of dam failure. The moisture content of the filtered tailings is reduced to a material that we can compact and manage seasonally.

“Because there’s no risk of a dam failure, dry stack is considered the best available technology for tailings storage and, after a decade of study and consultation with concerned voices in our community, we determined that it will be an effective choice for our project.”

Equally important, TMM said, is the fact that the tailings from the Maturi deposit at Twin Metals will be non-acid-generating.

“The common concern about sulphides points to a basic misconception about our project,” Osborne said. “The geology of the Maturi deposit provides us with confidence that we can mine here safely and sustainably. The rock sandwiching the layer of copper, nickel and platinum group minerals in the deposit is almost completely free of sulphides. When the targeted minerals are removed during the concentration process and shipped to customers, only a minute amount of sulphides will remain in the tailings.”

Extensive testing over the past decade shows that Maturi deposit tailings will be non-acid-generating, the company clarified.

Dry stack tailings storage has been an option under consideration since Twin Metals began mine planning in 2010, the company said. “As technology has continued to advance, and the application of dry stack in cold, wet climates has proven successful at multiple locations, Twin Metals made the decision to move to it as the best available option,” TMM said, adding that The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy hailed the advantages of dry stack tailings in a statement earlier this year.

Osborne concluded: “Dry stack is one of the ways we are making a 21st century mine that will be the most technologically advanced mine in Minnesota’s history and a model of how copper mining can be done safely and sustainably.”

The approach will be outlined in detail in TMM’s Mine Plan of Operation, to be submitted to state and federal regulators in the coming months. Regulatory review, including hearings for public comment, will cover compliance with regulations to protect water and air quality, drinking water, wetlands, endangered species, plant life and cultural resources. While the MPO is being reviewed the company will advance the feasibility study.

After reaffirming Twin Metal’s right to renew its two federal mineral leases, the Department of Interior reinstated the leases to TMM in May 2018. Antofagasta expects these to be renewed during 2019.

FLSmidth responds to north Chile mining demand with opening of new service centre

FLSmidth says it has launched a new service centre for customers in the north of Chile focused on timely delivery of mining equipment to customers and component maintenance.

The opening event, held last week, was attended by a number of key customers and representatives from local authorities, according to FLSmidth.

The 8,000 m² facility, in Copiapó, is geared towards meeting the high demand for mining service and technical support in the region.

FLSmidth said: “The service centre has a primary emphasis on supplying solutions that extend the asset’s life cycle, such as repairs and rebuilds; equipment and components upgrades; parts and consumables strategic stocking programs; tailored training programs; technical assistance; and customised service packages.”

The facility ensures customers receive the required knowhow to optimise their operations, as well as support when it comes to inspections, process audits and technical issues, the company added.

Andrés Costa, President FLSmidth South America, said: “This is a significant milestone for the company, since Copiapó represents an important part of our operations in Chile. The huge mining industry potential in the area and our large installed base requires an infrastructure like this so we can work closer with our customers, get to know their challenges and deliver sustainable productivity solutions to their operations.”

Carlos Sagredo, Plant Manager North Chile, said: “This new service centre will deliver extra availability and reliability to our customers, improving their productivity and uptime, reducing total cost of ownership and extending their equipment lifespan.”

Copiapó Service Center joins other FLSmidth service facilities in South America region, such as São Paulo (Brazil), Arequipa (Peru), Iquique, Antofagasta and Santiago (Chile).

Antofagasta backing ‘digital transformation’ of operations

Antofagasta, in its 2018 financial results, has promoted its innovation focus, saying it is critical to creating long-term value and being “a key enabler of safe, sustainable competitiveness and growth”.

One of the ways the company is seeking innovative solutions is through the increased use of data and technology, which it calls “the digitalisation of operations”.

Antofagasta said it is investing significantly in this area, which has an implementation budget of $40 million, to strengthen its technological platform, including critical operating systems and connectivity.

The company has also applied advanced data analytics at its processing plants to better understand and improve their performance.

In the meantime, it said work was underway on the design of a Remote Centre that will allow integrated operations management at its Centinela operation in Chile. Service provider Wood is currently preparing a prefeasibility study for this technologically-advanced integrated operations centre, which includes cloud data storage and information management for its operations, easily accessible from anywhere in the world.

Antofagasta continued: “It’s not just at the operating level that there are benefits of improved data.

“Los Pelambres constantly monitors its tailings deposits and, as part of the Programa Tranque project, expects to start releasing the monitoring results online early next year. This will provide the community with real time information, helping to build trust between ourselves and our neighbours,” the company said.

Programa Tranque contemplates the development of an online monitoring system of tailing deposits to transmit, process and broadcast, in a user-friendly way, updated physical and chemical indicators of the deposits.

It incorporates the best available technologies and innovative mechanisms for the measurement of critical parameters and variables, as well as an information management platform to communicate information to authorities, mining companies, and the community, allowing an early warning system to be activated ahead of potential emergency situations.

In addition to Antofagasta, BHP and Codelco are partnering on this five-year programme that seeks to position Chile as the leading country in information transparency related to the performance of its tailing deposits.

Thiess builds on South America first with Antofagasta contract extension in Chile

CIMIC Group’s global mining services provider, Thiess, has been awarded a A$420 million ($303 million) contract extension by Antofagasta Minerals (AMSA) to continue operations at the Encuentro open pit in northern Chile.

Thiess will continue to provide mining services for another four years as part of the contract with a scope of works comprised of drilling, load and haul, mobile equipment maintenance and mine services.

The original 2015 contract with AMSA was Thiess’ first in South America.

Douglas Thompson, CIMIC Group Executive Mining and Mineral Processing and Thiess Managing Director, said: “Since commencing operations in 2015, we have moved over 70 million cubic metres, a first for Thiess in South America. This has been possible through the team’s focus on efficiency and productivity and working collaboratively with our client.”

Planned future improvements at the mine include investment in maintenance infrastructure, a fleet management system and transfer to Thiess of short-term mine planning responsibilities, CIMIC said.

Earlier this month, the Thiess Centinela operation was announced as winners of the ‘National Geology and Mining Service Award’ for safety performance by the Chilean government.

The Encuentro Oxides deposit came into production at AMSA’s Centinela mine in the last quarter of 2017. It is expected to produce an average of approximately 43,000 t/y of copper cathode over an eight-year period, using the existing capacity at Centinela’s SX-EW plant.