Tag Archives: ARENA

AVL examining ‘green hydrogen’ potential for vanadium project

Australian Vanadium is making plans to incorporate “green hydrogen” into its mine operations in Western Australia as part of a carbon emission reduction strategy.

Vincent Algar, Managing Director of Australian Vanadium, thinks the use of green hydrogen could allow the company to reduce its carbon footprint and leverage both the economical and environmental benefits of what is a growing market.

“The green steel opportunity is one that Western Australia should particularly embrace, with the potential for many jobs to be created and a globally competitive steel industry,” he said. “This strategy can assist with environmental approvals and in attracting finance partners with an environmental, social and corporate governance focus, for AVL to bring the Australian vanadium project into production.”

The Australian vanadium project is around 40 km south-east of Meekatharra and 740 km north-east of Perth. The proposed project includes open-pit mining, crushing, milling and beneficiation at the Meekatharra site and a processing plant for final conversion to high-quality vanadium pentoxide for use in steel, specialty alloys and battery markets, to be located at a site at Tenindewa, between Mullewa and Geraldton.

The company’s strategy to incorporate hydrogen into the project includes the following areas:

  • Introducing a percentage of green hydrogen into the natural gas feed for the processing plant. The purpose of this is to reduce carbon emissions. This will be analysed fully in the company’s bankable feasibility study;
  • Offtake of ammonia from green hydrogen production for use in the final vanadium precipitation step of processing. The CSIRO is working on an ARENA (the Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency) funded project to develop a production process that does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Powering mine site or haulage vehicles to move material from the mine site to the processing plant with green hydrogen. Hydrogen generation could be undertaken at the mine site and at the processing plant for refuelling. “This is a new area of development for Australia and will need to be fully assessed for its financial implications,” the company said, adding that it is keen to work with the federal and state governments and haulage companies who have a forward plan for this technology;
  • The use of green hydrogen for steel production in the ore reduction step. AVL is seeking partnerships with companies interested in this area as it would be a “noble and efficient use” for the Fe-Ti co-product that the company plans to produce, it said; and
  • Through AVL’s 100% owned subsidiary, VSUN Energy, integrating hydrogen electrolysers in plant design, combined with energy storage utilising vanadium redox flow battery technology. To support the Government of Western Australia’s plans for a green hydrogen economy, AVL has submitted a formal response to the request for expressions of interest for the Oakajee Strategic Industrial Area Renewable Energy Strategy. “Having a project located in the Mid-West region, with a variety of ways for AVL to incorporate green hydrogen means that the company is well-positioned to leverage the emerging hydrogen economy and its financial and environmental benefits,” it said.

AVL says its project is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally with 208.2 Mt at 0.74% V₂O₅, containing a high-grade zone of 87.9 Mt at 1.06% V₂O₅, reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

Kinross Gold and acQuire collaborate on new blasthole sampling app

Kinross Gold has collaborated with acQuire on the development of a new mobile data capture solution for its GIM Suite 4.2 release.

The gold miner was looking for a mobile solution for blasthole sampling it can trust and, as a long-time GIM Suite user, it welcomed the opportunity to work with acQuire on this new development, acQuire said.

“It meant Kinross Gold could provide direct feedback on how the acQuire Arena mobile app was enhanced for blasthole sampling for open-pit grade control,” the company said.

For acQuire, meanwhile, the collaboration resulted in an industry-specific solution geared towards the data challenges experienced in every day mining.

A team from Kinross’ Round Mountain open-pit grade control operations, in Nevada, USA, participated in the project. This team consisted of key stakeholders involved in the site’s data systems. The team not only provided input into requirements but also engaged in the beta testing phase of GIM Suite 4.2 and the Arena mobile app to ensure the solution worked for grade control requirements, acQuire said.

Round Mountain mine site in Nevada, USA (Credit: Kinross-Gold)

Ian Dickie, Senior Geologist at Kinross Gold, said: “Working with acQuire offered a unique chance to provide feedback directly to acQuire developers regarding the design of this application.

“This created an opportunity for Kinross to provide insight into real-world requirements for both the application design and the user experience.”

Steve Mundell, acQuire’s Director of Product, said having a collaborator like Kinross Gold provided guidance from an industry perspective during the product development phase.

“We took their needs into consideration along with all the other knowledge we have gathered around the problem of sampling open-pit blastholes,” he said. “Having a real-life application of the Arena mobile app as part of our testing showed us firsthand what worked well and where we needed to refine the software.”

Challenge: data capture for open-pit grade control

The Kinross Gold team wanted to move to a better way of working when capturing blasthole samples. It currently logs on paper, a method deemed inefficient and prone to error, acQuire said.

The goal was to find a digital solution to speed up the time it takes data logged in the pit to become available to downstream grade control processes like modelling and ore blocking.

To achieve the broader goal, Kinross was interested in several capabilities:

  • Ability to work offline because connectivity in the pit is unreliable;
  • Reduction of inadvertent errors caused by transcribing handwritten data logs;
  • A way to reduce the lag between users logging data in the pit and capturing the data in GIM Suite; and
  • Speedier availability of blasthole sampling data for downstream modelling and decision making.

acQuire said: “acQuire’s GIM Suite 4.2 was designed to create a seamless interface for grade control so pit samplers could work faster and more accurately. The Round Mountain project provided a real-world application for beta testing and helped improve the overall user experience in the updated Arena mobile app.”

The collection of blasthole assay data is imperative for grade control modelling and creating ore cuts, according to Dickie. “It is the crux of ore handling procedures.”

He added: “We cannot always rely on network access in the field, so the online/offline data entry creates a more robust mechanism to collect information, which regularly determines the economic viability of an ore block.”

Solution: extend capability to include blasthole sampling

Enhancements to acQuire’s Arena mobile app were instrumental in creating a seamless digital experience in the GIM Suite 4.2 release, according to acQuire.

The following new and improved capabilities were put through their paces by the Kinross Gold project team to ensure suitability in a production environment:

  • Working offline in the pit with seamless synchronisation back to the server once network connectivity is established again. This includes the ability to define which specific pits, benches and blast patterns the pit worker would like to take offline with them;
  • A map of the blast pattern within the logging interface so the pit worker can see which holes have been logged and select their next hole to log as they walk along the pattern;
  • Responsive layouts to optimise the screen for a range of different device types and orientations. This provided the ability for views like a landscape tablet layout, with the blasthole map always displayed; and
  • Built-in barcode scanning for entering sample IDs, using the device’s camera to ensure accuracy and speed during data capture.

Results: user-friendly blasthole sampling in open-pit mining

Reviewing and providing feedback on the new Arena mobile app proved to be incredibly useful to the Kinross Gold team to ensure it is fit for the rigours of open-pit mining, acQuire said.

“The interface design has a very user-friendly functionality which allows users to select blastholes quickly and enter sample data efficiently,” Dickie said.

“This creates a smooth workflow in the field, and a more pleasant experience for users. The ability to take data on/offline is very smooth with this new application, which in my opinion strongly mitigates the risk of data loss as well as saves labour, when compared with previous offline data entry processes.”

Mundell added: “It’s exciting to see our product enhancements come to life in a real-life application. Kinross Gold was excellent to work with and provided a lot of thoughtful feedback that helped improve the user experience.

“We’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with Kinross Gold in future releases of GIM Suite.”

Gold Fields Agnew hybrid power project starts up

Global distributed energy producer EDL has switched on its 23 MW power station, which integrates photovoltaic solar with gas and diesel generation, to power Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine, in Western Australia.

This switch-on completes the first stage of one of Australia’s largest hybrid renewable micro-grid projects, according to EDL.

EDL CEO, James Harman, said: “With this project, EDL and Gold Fields are leading the way towards clean, renewable energy to power remote, off-grid mining operations without compromising reliability or power quality.”

Gold Fields Executive Vice President: Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said: “The power station we are officially opening today integrates 4 MW solar generation from our new solar farm and is underpinned by 19 MW of gas and diesel generation. It will soon include other renewable energy technologies coming online in the next stage of the project.”

He referred to the importance of the A$112 million ($76 million) project to both Gold Fields and the broader industry: “This is a significant milestone for both the Agnew gold mine and the broader Gold Fields Group, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to strengthening our energy security, optimising energy costs and reducing our carbon footprint through the adoption of new technologies. We are hopeful that this will also enable other companies to consider the options for decarbonising their operations.”

The second stage of the project, which includes 18 MW wind generation, a 13 MW battery and an advanced micro-grid control system, is currently under construction and due to be completed in mid-2020.

It has the backing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency with a recoupable A$13.5 million contribution to the construction cost of the project.

Once completed, the Agnew Hybrid Renewable project will be the first to use wind generation as part of a large hybrid micro-grid in the Australian mining sector. It will have a total installed generation capacity of 54 MW, with renewables providing over 50% of the Agnew gold mine’s power requirements, with the potential to increase this further by adopting innovative operational practices such as the dynamic load shedding, renewables forecasting and load control management.

As part of the EDL remit, juwi Renewable Energy, the Australia subsidiary of international project developer juwi, delivered a 4 MW Single Axis Tracking PV installation together with cloud forecasting and an advanced micro-grid control system to enable integration with the mine off-grid network.

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.