Tag Archives: automation

Ferrexpo to decide on trolley assist-backed haulage project by year-end

Ferrexpo’s decarbonisation and electrification plans in Ukraine are continuing to accelerate, with the company confirming it will make a decision by the end of the year on the selection of a provider for the installation of pantograph network to enable trolley assist haulage at the group’s iron ore mines.

The iron ore pellet producer previously said it was embarking on scoping studies investigating trolley assist technology at its Poltava mine in Ukraine, as part of its plans to reduce both C1 costs and Scope 1 carbon emissions.

In its first half interim results, Ferrexpo said the installation of the network of overhead power cables will enable haul trucks to ascend from the group’s open-pit mines using electricity rather than diesel fuel.

“This technology is expected to provide a significant reduction in each truck’s diesel consumption whilst driving up haul ramps, which will directly reduce the group’s Scope 1 emissions footprint per tonne,” it explained.

In the first half of the year, the group achieved a 6% reduction, year-to-date, in Scope 1 and 2 emissions combined. Following upgrade work on its pelletiser in this period, the group expects production volumes to increase in the second half of the year and, as a result, lower the group’s CO2e footprint on a per tonne basis.

Alongside the company’s latest electrification plans, Ferrexpo also updated investors and interested parties on its progress deploying autonomous haul trucks at the Yeristovo iron ore mine. These were the first large-scale haul trucks to be deployed in Europe when they were introduced in 2020 as part of an agreement with Epiroc and ASI Mining.

Ferrexpo said it now has five Cat 793D haul trucks operating in production areas in autonomous mode, with the conversion of the group’s remaining 793Ds planned as this project advances.

“Fleet automation represents a significant advancement in modern mining techniques, removing individuals from potentially hazardous production areas, whilst also providing benefits in terms of productivity and maintenance,” it said.

Highlights from the company’s first half results included a 74% year-on-year rise in revenues, to $1.35 billion, reflecting positive market conditions and investments in increasing pellet quality. It also increased its underlying EBITDA by 147% ($868 million) compared with the first half of 2020.

Siemens looks at the future of mining in Africa as it launches SIDRIVE IQ

Siemens has launched its SIDRIVE IQ industrial IoT monitoring solution for drive systems at its Virtual Smart Mining Forum, seeking to showcase how the solution can increase drive uptime to improve mine site productivity.

The SIDRIVE IQ Suite has a powerful dashboard to minimise unplanned downtime with automated failure notifications, improve data transparency with easy access to recent and historical data, and troubleshoot faults.

The Virtual Smart Mining Forum the company is using to launch SIDRIVE IQ will explore new trends and the impact of technology on the African mining sector.

Taking place from August 3-5, the event brings together the mining community, industry experts, decision makers, thought leaders, technology providers, consumers, users, engineers and designers to discuss topics affecting the mining industry, with all participants exploring ways in which technology can drive effective change in the sector, Siemens says.

“COVID-19 has prevented the industry from having progressive conversations about how to move the mining sector forward,” Tim Walwyn – Head of Mineral Solutions, Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, said. “This three-day event is an opportunity for us to bring the mining community together to reignite the dialogue and share knowledge to help us sustainably transform the future of mining in Africa. As a partner to African mines, our electrification, automation and digitalisation portfolio offers a combination of deep understanding of the mining industry with state-of-the-art technologies.”

Sabine Dall’Omo, Siemens CEO for Southern and Eastern Africa, says: “Our main objective with this event was to initiate a forum for knowledge transfer to the industry and raise awareness of the opportunities created by technology. We’re excited to bring this collaborative forum, where we can showcase the latest technological innovations for the industry and explore their effects on the African mining landscape.”

Siemens has invited various South African universities and will introduce them to Mendix, a low-code rapid application development platform that enables users to build and continuously improve mobile and web applications at scale. During the forum, Siemens will launch a hackathon using the Mendix platform.

As part of the company’s commitment to enterprise and supplier development, Siemens will also provide 10 industrious SMMEs that deliver solutions and services to the mining industry a chance to showcase their companies and expertise in a separate virtual showroom.

Dall’Omo said: “The future of mining and the transformation of the mining industry depends highly on staying abreast of advancing technology and industry trends. It also depends on the sustainable development of new enterprises, collaborations, and ongoing conversations among relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector and educational institutions. Now is the time to contribute to small business growth, promote job creation and develop critical job skills required for the transformation in the mining industry.”

Jeffrey Dawes looks forward to a sustainability-focused MINExpo 2021

As the world’s largest mining event, MINExpo INTERNATIONAL is used as an industry barometer for the health of the sector. While this year’s event will be a little different given the impacts of COVID-19, the anticipation continues to build for an in-person gathering that will highlight the biggest and best mining has to offer.

Ahead of this year’s event, sponsored by the National Mining Association (NMA) and due to take place on September 13-15, in Las Vegas, IM put some questions to Jeffrey Dawes, MINExpo INTERNATIONAL 2021 Chair. Dawes is also VP of Komatsu’s Global Mining Business Division and President and CEO of Milwaukee-based Komatsu Mining Corp.

IM: How will this MINExpo be different to previous editions? How are companies planning to ‘open up’ their exhibits and presentations to the widest audience possible considering COVID may restrict some of the in-person international attendance seen in previous years?

JD: MINExpo offers the mining industry the unique opportunity to experience, in person, the newest mining equipment and talk directly with the technical experts behind the most innovative technology and solutions. NMA has done a great job adapting plans this year as COVID restrictions have evolved, so they were prepared for a very different experience if need be, but fortunately it looks like we will be able to have a fairly normal show experience, albeit from a North American perspective – we will be missing some of our international friends who cannot join this year’s event. Part of what has always made our industry great is a strong sense of community, so it will be great to be able to get together in person after such a long time.

To accommodate our friends and colleagues who won’t be able to make the show in person, exhibitors this year have plans to utilise the latest in virtual technology to showcase what will be at the show. Exhibitors will also be able to upload product information, videos and other materials to the online directory, which will be available and open to anyone for a year after the show. Finally, the Opening Session will be live streamed.

Jeffrey Dawes, MINExpo International 2021 Chair

IM: What will be the big innovation themes at the event and what do these themes say about the future direction of the mining industry? 

JD: Digitalisation, electrification and automation will be the big innovation themes this year. Full enterprise optimisation can only be achieved by connecting tasks, processes, systems and people across the value chain. Solutions that leverage digitalisation, electrification and automation are the key to that full enterprise optimisation. They also play a crucial role in creating sustainable systems that support society’s growing needs in the most environmentally responsible ways.

IM: In a general sense, what positive impacts do you think COVID has had on the mining sector’s innovation/technology uptake? Has it accelerated the rate of innovation through necessity (remote working, increased HS&E considerations, shift to cloud-based network infrastructure, etc)? Is this likely to shine through at MINExpo in terms of what companies are showcasing and talking about?

JD: COVID really gave the mining industry a chance to reflect on its goals and take a deeper look at the tools now available to help it reach those goals. I think it also helped us gain a better understanding of the importance of aligning our business objectives – to extract the minerals needed by society – with society’s need for us to do that in the most sustainable, efficient and least intrusive ways possible. I’m certain that the products and solutions presented by the exhibitors at MINExpo this year will centre on the innovations and technology available now and in the near-term future that will help mines meet both their own and society’s needs.

IM: How do you see Komatsu’s contribution shaping/influencing the event? Are your solutions likely to be the ‘talk of the show’?

JD: We think so, yes. This year at MINExpo, Komatsu will focus on the power of smart technology and connected systems, the freedom of interoperability on an open platform, and the equipment and solutions that will help our industry move forward toward a more sustainable future. I’m particularly looking forward to sharing our newest haulage concepts, which are designed to help meet our customers’ needs for autonomy and the drive toward zero emissions. We’re also excited to give attendees their first in-person look at our newest surface blasthole drill, with 122,000 lb (55,338 kg) of pull-down force, the ZR122. Also, our newly branded WE1850 Gen3 wheel loader with switched-reluctance hybrid drive technology, with a bucket capacity of 60 tons (54 t), and our latest offerings for underground hard-rock and soft-rock operations.

Ultimately, at Komatsu we believe in providing our customers with the technology, solutions and flexible support they need for the lifecycle of their equipment and mining operations. Our customers need a reliable partner they can trust with whom to invest for the future of mining. We aim to be that partner.

IM: Aside from being a topic of discussion on the stands and in the conference rooms, how will sustainability be on show at MINExpo? Will this be the most ‘sustainable’ MINExpo yet in terms of organisation, emissions, etc?

JD: Mining has always been an essential part of keeping modern society moving forward. As we say, if it’s not grown, it’s mined. As an industry we have to focus on how to evolve to continue to meet those needs sustainably. The mining industry is already finding new ways to extract the minerals needed to meet the requirements of the world’s more energy conscious and environmentally friendly future. I am sure that many of the exhibits at this year’s show will showcase those new sustainability-focused solutions.

IM: Are you able to provide any preliminary expectations of attendee numbers?

JD: Varying country restrictions – and the US’ own restrictions – are obviously making this a year unlike any other, placing unusual limitations on attendance. However, we were pleased to have nearly 90% of our 2020 planned exhibitors re-book for this year and new exhibitors are booking space every day. We’re looking forward to welcoming representatives from 32 countries as both exhibitors and attendees. We hope to see even more attendees register as vaccination rates continue to rise, case numbers fall and an increasing number of countries lift travel restrictions as evidenced by recent changes in Canada.

International Mining is a media sponsor of MINExpo INTERNATIONAL 2021

Yamana Gold retains electrification path for Wasamac in new study

Yamana Gold has reiterated a plan to minimise the amount of carbon emissions generated with the development and operation of the Wasamac gold project in Quebec, Canada, in its first study since acquiring the asset from Monarch Gold.

Monarch, prior to being taken over by Yamana Gold, had laid out plans for an underground mine at Wasamac producing 6,000 t/d, on average, with an expected mine life of 11 years. It expected to use a Rail-Veyor® electrically powered, remote-controlled underground haulage system in addition to an almost entirely electric fleet of production and development equipment.

The December 2018 feasibility study by BBA indicated the Wasamac deposit hosted a measured and indicated mineral resource of 29.86 Mt at an average grade of 2.7 g/t Au, for a total of 2.6 Moz of gold, and proven and probable mineral reserves of 21.46 Mt at an average grade of 2.56 g/t Au, for a total of 1.8 Moz of gold. The study forecast average annual production of 142,000 oz of gold for 11 years at a cash cost of $550/oz.

With drilling, due diligence and further studies, Yamana Gold, in studies forming the new feasibility level studies, has come up with baseline technical and financial aspects of the Wasamac project that, it says, underpin the decision to advance the project to production.

This has resulted in a few changes to the Wasamac plan.

For starters, the company plans to use the extract the now 1.91 Moz of reserves quicker than Monarch’s strategy, with a rapid production ramp-up in the first year followed by sustained gold production of approximately 200,000 oz/y for at least the next four years.

Including the ramp-up phase, average annual production for the first five years of operation is expected to be 184,000 oz, the company said, with life of mine production of 169,000 oz/y. Mill throughput has been increased to 7,000 t/d, on average, but the plant and associated infrastructure were being sized for 7,500 t/d. Production could start up in the December quarter of 2026, the initial capital expense was expected to be $416 million and all-in sustaining costs over the life of mine had been calculated at $828/oz.

The use of a conveyor is still within this plan, but a company spokesperson told IM that Yamana was now considering a conventional belt conveyor rather than the Rail-Veyor system.

Yamana explained: “The optimised materials handling system uses ore passes and haul trucks to transport ore from the production levels to a central underground primary crusher. The haul trucks will be automated to allow haulage to continue between shifts. From the underground crusher, ore will be transported to the crushed-ore stockpile on the surface using a 3-km-long conventional conveyor system in two segments.”

Yamana added: “Using a conveyor rather than diesel trucks to transport ore to surface reduces CO2 emissions by 2,233 t/y, equivalent to taking 500 cars off the road. Over the life of mine, the company expects to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 20,000 t.”

The aim to use electric vehicles wherever possible remains in place.

“The Wasamac underground mine is designed to create a safe working environment and reduce consumption of non-renewable energy through the use of electric and high-efficiency equipment,” the company said. “Yamana has selected electric and battery-electric mobile equipment provided that the equipment is available at the required specifications.

“Battery-electric underground haul trucks are not yet available at the required capacity with autonomous operation, so diesel trucks have been selected in combination with the underground conveyor. However, Yamana continues to collaborate with equipment suppliers with the expectation that the desired battery-electric equipment will be available before Wasamac is in operation.”

In tandem with this, the company plans to use a ventilation on demand solution and high-efficiency fans to reduce its power requirements. This will likely rely on an underground LTE network.

“Heating of the underground mine and surface facilities is designed with the assumption of propane burners, but an opportunity exists to extend the natural gas line to the project site,” it added. “Yamana has initiated discussions with the natural gas supplier and will study this opportunity further as the project advances.”

The site for the processing plant and offices is confined to a small footprint strategically located in a naturally concealed area, and the processing plant has been designed with a low profile to minimise the visual impact as well as minimise noise and dust, according to Yamana.

The primary crusher, previously planned to be located on surface, has been moved underground, with the crushed material transported to surface from the underground mining area using conventional conveyors and stored on surface in a covered stockpile to control dust.

Several design improvements to the previous Wasamac plans have also been made to reduce consumption of fresh water to minimise the effect on watersheds, according to Yamana. Underground mine water will be used in the processing plant, minimising the draw of fresh water and reducing the required size of the mill basin pond.

The Wasamac tailings storage strategy is designed to minimise environmental footprint and mitigate risk, it added.

“Around 39% of tailings will be deposited underground as paste fill and 61% of tailings will be pumped as a slurry to the filter plant located approximately 6 km northwest of the processing plant and then hauled to the nearby dry-stack tailings storage facility,” Yamana said.

Strategic phasing of the tailings storage facility design allows for the same footprint as previously planned, even with the increase in mineral reserves, the company clarified. Also, the progressive reclamation plan for this facility minimises the possibility of dust generation and expedites the return of the landscape to its natural state.

Epiroc drilling, bolting, electrification innovations set for MINExpo 2021

Epiroc’s MINExpo 2021 line-up is set to include a variety of innovative and productive offerings including its latest Pit Viper blasthole drill rig, its recently launched Boomer underground drill, new rock bolters and a host of aftermarket products geared to mine electrification.

Making its MINExpo debut in Las Vegas, September 13-15, will be the Epiroc Pit Viper 291 (pictured above). This rig is designed to tackle larger diameter drilling in soft-to-medium ground conditions in both rotary and DTH drilling. The new addition to the Pit Viper range is capable of 171-311 mm diameter holes with a 16.76 m clean hole single pass with the drill bit above the table. It is also available with an 18 m option.

The Pit Viper 291 offers more than 100 different options to configure the rig to a client’s specifications. With Epiroc’s Rig Control System (RCS), the Pit Viper 291 can be configured with scalable automation features, including fully-autonomous drilling, the company said.

The new generation SmartROC D65 XLF will also be highlighted. This rig is packed with smart features such as automated drilling and rod handling, and is equipped with an intelligent fuel-saving system that reduces fuel consumption by 20% compared with the FlexiROC D65 drill rig, according to the company. It is available in three feed beam sizes to carry 5-, 6- or 8-m pipes, and has the capacity to drill down to a depth of 56 m.

The smaller SmartROC T45 will also be discussed. This tophammer surface drill rig for quarrying boosts productivity, reduces fuel costs and offers smart options and features such as Hole Navigation System, AutoPos and ROC Manager.

Epiroc’s Boomer M20 with battery option, launched earlier this year, will also receive the MINExpo 2021 treatment.

With protected hydraulics, sensors and cables, the new Boomer M20 is the next generation in underground mining, the company says. The world’s first face drill rig with internal hydraulics, the Boomer M20 is designed to minimise unplanned stops and maximise uptime and performance even in the toughest conditions.

High precision and performance are ensured with on-board automation features, tele-remote capabilities and digital drill plans to provide higher reliability and quality of the full drill cycle. The Boomer M20 comes with a battery-electric driveline option where, with the on-board charger, charging automatically happens while connected to the grid for drilling.

The Boltec M10 and E10 bolting rigs also come with a battery driveline option.

This next-generation rock reinforcement rig is available in two versions – the Boltec M10 and E10 – with the Boltec E10 showcased at MINExpo 2021. Designed for increased productivity and quality bolt installation, the rigs feature a new operator control panel, reduced noise levels, better visibility and improved operator ergonomics, according to the company.

The Boltec M10 and E10 can handle different types of bolts, mesh and installation methods, as well as optional battery-electric driveline or diesel hydraulic, radial and face bolting capabilities and extension drilling capability. Optional tele-remote operation is available, as well as single bolt auto installation with self-drilling anchor bolts in combination with pumpable resin.

Epiroc will be exhibiting several products from its tools range including the COP 57P, a versatile DTH hammer range. It is based on a modular design platform unique in today’s market, according to the company. The customisable hammer is available in 19 variants specific to mining, quarrying, water well drilling and geotechnical drilling.

To highlight Epiroc’s commitment to continued customer support, it will showcase several aftermarket products at MINExpo 2021.

Electrification solutions from Epiroc support mining customers in their transition to battery-electric vehicles, with several products and services in the battery field:

  • The Epiroc battery system is designed with modularity and safety in mind, ensuring each individual part of the battery can be monitored and controlled separately;
  • Batteries as a Service eliminates the risks of owning batteries and the solution provides all the benefits of electrical power;
  • Battery conversion kits from Epiroc will speed up the switch from diesel-powered equipment to battery-electric vehicles;
  • The electrification offering from Epiroc also includes a wide range of charging products; and
  • With the recent acquisition of Meglab, Epiroc has strengthened its capacity to provide customers with the infrastructure required as mines transition to BEV.

Apart from the electrification offering, Epiroc will display service products, upgrades and programs, including the COP MD20 hydraulic rock drill and programs in the areas of “Remanufacturing and Live Work Elimination”.

During MINExpo 2021, Epiroc will showcase automation and information management solutions as part of its 6th Sense capabilities. 6th Sense is Epiroc’s answer to the mining and construction industries need for digitalisation as an enabler for safety and productivity gains.

Epiroc prepared for more order records after strong Q2

Record orders received, high revenue growth and improved profitability were all part of Epiroc’s June quarter financial results as the OEM also made significant headway on its diesel-to-battery-electric retrofit plan to help electrify the mining sector.

Orders received increased 37% to a record high of SEK11.07 billion ($1.27 billion). This corresponds to 45% organic growth compared with the June quarter of 2020, the company said, noting that the 2020 three-month period was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this, equipment had the highest organic order growth of 76%, supported by a few large orders, such as an underground mining equipment order from Mexican contractor CoMinVi for use at several mines throughout the country.

The aftermarket also had a strong development, with organic growth of 26% for service and 42% for Tools & Attachments, Epiroc noted.

On the electrification front, Epiroc also highlighted that the June quarter had seen the company win several orders for battery-electric equipment, including one from Ivanplats for the Platreef project in South Africa, while receiving the first orders for its diesel-to-battery retrofit solution. The latter is starting with the conversion of diesel ST1030 loaders to battery-electric versions.

Revenues increased 15% to SEK9.733 billion in the June quarter, while operating profit and operating margin rose 54% and 22.4% to SEK2.182 billion and 22.4%, respectively.

The period was also characterised by several acquisitions, including the purchase of Australia-based Kinetic Logging Services, Canada-based 3D-P, and South Africa-based MineRP. Chile-based Mining TAG and Meglab, based in Canada, also came into the Epiroc fold in earlier July.

Speaking to IM just after the results came out, Helena Hedblom, Epiroc President and CEO, said the company had seen the automation, digitalisation and electrification trends observed across industry accelerate in these regions, among others, since the emergence of COVID-19.

“We see that different regions are ahead in terms of different capabilities,” she said. “We have seen a lot around digitalisation and automation in Australia, and, in Canada, when it comes to electrification, there are a lot of things happening. South Africa is strong when it comes to software and, on top of that, there are some regional players serving the sector like Mining TAG.

“We, as Epiroc, can come with our global footprint and help these regional players go abroad and roll out the technology on a global level.”

These acquisitions have seen the company’s staffing contingent swell in the last year. At the end of June, Epiroc said it had 14,569 employees across the globe, compared with 13,967 a year earlier, tied mainly to these acquisitions. Indeed, the three companies acquired during the June quarter came with 430 employees in total.

At the end of 2019, prior to the global onset of the pandemic, Epiroc had 14,268 employees on its books.

While Hedblom acknowledged much of the staffing increase was on the back of acquisitions, she did say the company was ramping-up additional workforce in “manufacturing, in supply chain and in service”.

And looking back to the rationalisation carried out across the company during the height of COVID-19 worries – which saw a notice of termination provided to 425 employees in Sweden and the consolidation of the manufacturing of exploration drilling tools in Canada – Hedblom said the company had since repositioned itself for the type of growth it was now experiencing.

“When we did the correction last year, we addressed a lot related to, mainly, admin and back office. With these acquisitions coming on board, of course, the majority of employees are technology-related people…software developers and service people to manage the technology out in the field.”

And, lastly, when it comes to the capacity to keeping up with record orders, Hedblom said: “We have a very flexible manufacturing setup where we do the final assembly, in house, and a lot of the pre-assembly is done by some external suppliers. That is how we are – and have always – managed swings in order volumes.

“We can also add more capacity if needed in our assembly lines. We are not regionally limited there; being able to use the different facilities we have in both the US and Sweden, in addition to China and India. We can balance that demand between the sites.”

Liebherr plans interoperability, scalability and zero emissions announcements at MINExpo 2021

Liebherr will showcase its latest innovative equipment, technology and services for the mining industry at MINExpo 2021, with a world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio and announcements related to its ‘zero emissions’ program likely to provide the ‘headlines’.

Covering a total area of more than 2,600 sq.m, Liebherr’s booth will present advancements from its Mining, Mobile Cranes and Components product segments during the Las Vegas show on September 13-15.

Liebherr Mining will display the R 9150 Generation 7 (G7) 130 t excavator, the next generation of excavator cab from the recently announced R 9600 G8, the PR 776 70 t mining dozer with LiReCon teleoperation system, the newly introduced T 274 305 t haul truck along with a display from Liebherr Components, and the LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane from Liebherr Mobile Cranes.

New developments and exciting announcements will be presented from Liebherr Mining’s new technology portfolio, as well as the pathway forward into low and zero emission mining, it said.

Attendees will be able to interact with new technologies through a virtual reality (VR) booth and discover Liebherr’s technology at daily masterclasses held with Liebherr experts. Those who cannot attend in person will not miss out, with all exhibits, announcements and showcases from the expo also delivered on Liebherr’s website and social media channels.

Liebherr will introduce three new excavators at MINExpo: the R 9150 Generation 7 (machine showcased on the booth), the R 9200 Generation 7, and the brand-new R 9600 Generation 8 (cabin showcased on the booth).

These three machines establish the new naming strategy based on technology levels for Liebherr machines, with this approach designed to achieve a common and long-term logic within the earthmoving and mining product ranges in a clear manner, Liebherr said.

All three excavators are equipped with the latest innovations including Liebherr Power Efficiency, Assistance Systems and Bucket Filling Assistant.

LPE (Liebherr Power Efficiency) is a specific engine and hydraulic management system, which drastically reduces fuel consumption by up to 20%, the company says.

Assistance Systems are advanced on-board applications designed to support the operator to become more efficient through analytics and actionable insights. These will be presented physically in the R 9600’s cabin and on tablets displayed on the booth. Visitors can also discover the Assistance Systems through an immersive experience in the VR area.

BFA, meanwhile, is the first automation product of the Liebherr hydraulic excavator portfolio, which allows the operator to realise the bucket filling process automatically.

T 274 mining truck

Liebherr has recently extended its product offering with the T 274, a class-leading 305 t haul truck. This new truck bridges the gap between the T 284 and T 264.

Designed and adapted from years of experience in mining truck development, the T 274 is a “true 305 t machine” that provides fast cycle times, higher production rates, low fuel consumption and a low cost per tonne, Liebherr said. This new truck follows the same base design as the T 284, benefitting from its decades of field experience. A wide range of options are available including the Liebherr Trolley Assist System and Liebherr Autonomy Kit.

PR 776 dozer and LiReCon teleoperation system

Liebherr will also showcase its flagship mining dozer, the PR 776 Litronic, which, the company says, delivers best-in-class efficiency. The machine will be on display together with the new LiReCon (Liebherr Remote Control, pictured at the top) Liebherr teleoperation system. LiReCon provides additional comfort and safety for operators in tough mining applications, according to the company.

Liebherr components and D98 diesel engine series

Liebherr components for mining applications will also feature at MINExpo. Among the components is the D98 diesel engine series, which is available for both Liebherr and other mining equipment manufacturers, for new and repowered machines. The V-16 engine of the D98 family, the D9816, will not only be on display at the booth but is also at the heart of the exhibited T 274 haul truck. This marks the beginning of the integration of the D98 series into Liebherr machines, Liebherr says.

LRT 1090-2.1 rough terrain crane

The LRT 1090-2.1 90 t rough terrain crane is designed to deliver the highest safety level.

Fitted as standard with an outrigger monitor, which automatically detects the support status and includes the crane control system, it also comes equipped with the VarioBase® variable support base to enhance flexibility on site and increase the crane’s lifting capacity. The LRT 1090-2.1 features a 47 m telescopic boom, which consists of a two-stage hydraulic cylinder with a rope extension mechanism. This has been designed for high telescoping lifting capacities.

New innovations

Liebherr will present the world premiere of its brand-new Mining Technology Product portfolio at MINExpo. This will demonstrate the company’s interoperable and scalable approach to its equipment, technology and service product offerings, it said.

This portfolio, consisting of Liebherr’s Assistance Systems, Machine Automation and Digital Service products, will provide customers with “flexible scope of supply solutions to increase safety and asset operational effectiveness”, it said.

Together, these products will support operator’s performance, optimise diagnostic processes and automate machine functions, while integrating machine data and OEM expertise within the customer’s chosen technology landscapes, the company added.

Zero emissions

Liebherr says it strives for long-term sustainable solutions, investigating different options focused on safety, cost, reliability, maintainability and flexibility. Liebherr Mining already offers a range of solutions to help customers achieve low emissions, including a full range of electric excavators. It also plans to provide a full range of trolley-capable mining trucks.

“Further to this, Liebherr Mining has a clear vision and roadmap to expand its current offering to achieve low fossil fuel solutions in 2022, along with fossil fuel free solutions for the majority of applications by 2030,” it said. “At MINExpo, strategic partnerships with energy and infrastructure providers will be announced, alongside the roadmap for Liebherr to provide these solutions to our customers.”

Ivanplats to trial Epiroc battery-electric drills and LHDs at Platreef mine

Epiroc says it has won a significant order for battery-electric mining equipment from Ivanplats that will be used to develop its greenfield Platreef mine in South Africa in the “most sustainable and productive manner possible”.

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, has ordered several Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs (pictured).

These machines will be trialled during the Platreef underground mine’s initial development phase, Epiroc said, adding that Ivanplats has the ambition to use all battery-electric vehicles in its mining fleet at Platreef.

The order exceeds ZAR150 million ($10.2 million) in value and was booked in the June quarter of 2021.

Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South Africa beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project, with the remaining 10% owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and Japan Gas Corporation.

The Platreef 2020 feasibility study builds on the results of the 2017 feasibility study and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve of 125 Mt at 4.4 g/t 3PGE+Au, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the 2017 study; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mt/y to 4.4 Mt/y, in two modules of 2.2 Mt/y, for annual production of more than 500,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold; plus more than 35 MIb of nickel and copper.

The initial plan is to start at a mining rate of 700,000 t/y before scaling up. An updated feasibility study on the plan is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said it was “encouraging” that Ivanplats is considering going all battery-electric at Platreef.

“Battery-electric equipment is increasingly embraced by mining companies as it provides a healthier work environment, lower total operating costs and higher productivity,” she said. “The technology is now well established, and Epiroc is driving this change toward emissions-free mining.”

Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe Mines’ President and CFO, said: “We want to be at the forefront of utilising battery electric, zero-emission equipment at all of our mining operations. This partnership with Epiroc for emissions-free mining equipment at the Platreef Mine is an important first step towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goals while mining metals required for a cleaner environment.”

Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery loaders are built in Sweden, and are automation-ready and equipped with Epiroc’s telematics solution Certiq.

The equipment will be delivered early to Platreef in 2022. Epiroc will also provide on-site operator and maintenance training to Ivanplats, it said.

Epiroc intends to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025, and its full fleet for surface operations as battery-powered versions by 2030.

Fortescue hits new automation milestone in the Pilbara

Fortescue Metals Group’s autonomous haulage (AHS) fleet has marked a significant milestone, moving two billion tonnes of material, doubling the amount hauled since reaching the one billion tonne milestone in September 2019.

In 2012, Fortescue was the first in the world to deploy Caterpillar’s AHS technology on a commercial scale at its Solomon Hub operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia and the multi-class fleet has since expanded across the company’s operations with a total of 193 autonomous trucks now in operation.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue is a leader in the implementation of autonomous haulage across our iron ore operations. Our fleet represents one of the largest in the world, with 79 trucks currently in operation at Solomon, 74 at Christmas Creek and 40 at Cloudbreak. Moving over two billion tonnes of material without a driver at the wheel is a significant milestone and a reflection of Fortescue’s ongoing commitment to increasing operational efficiency through technology and innovation.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has led to significant safety improvements for our team members, with our fleet safely travelling over 70 million kilometres to date – the equivalent of 91 return trips to the moon.”

The continued expansion of autonomous capability across the business has demonstrated that autonomy doesn’t need to be at the expense of jobs, with the transition to autonomous haulage providing significant new opportunities for Fortescue’s workforce through the provision of training and redeployment to new roles, Fortescue said.

Gaines added: “Significantly, the adoption of autonomous haulage has allowed us to relocate many traditional site-based roles to our integrated operations centre in Perth, providing opportunities for parents and women in particular to remain engaged in our workforce. Today, almost 50% of our workforce in the Fortescue Hive are women.”

Efficient shaft revitalisation with remote-controlled demolition equipment

The benefits of robotic equipment have long been understood in mining applications, however common mining robots tend to be cumbersome and highly specialised – a great tool for drilling in large, open areas, but not much else, according to Raymond Ippersiel*.

Looking to apply mechanised solutions to ultra-deep, narrow-vein applications, some operations are employing a different kind of robot. Compact, highly versatile remote-controlled demolition robots are uniquely suited for the demanding conditions deep underground. These compact machines offer exceptional power-to-weight ratios – on par with classic excavators three times their size – while an advanced three-part arm provides unrivalled range of motion for drilling, scaling, breaking and bolting in any direction.

But there is a lot more these flexible, hard-hitting machines can offer modern mining operations. In addition to ultra-deep applications, the power and versatility of remote-controlled demolition machines makes them an ideal solution for support tasks such as shaft revitalisation and maintenance. Miners are finding employing a demolition robot not only speeds up progress in these situations, but also increases safety by taking on much of the physical work while keeping employees out of harm’s way.

Revitalisation versatility

Mining techniques have changed over the years, and productivity has decreased steadily since the 1960s. For many operations, returning to old shafts with more modern equipment can supplement production. However, getting these shafts in shape to meet modern safety regulations can be a difficult process requiring substantial work. Most are littered with rubble, collapsed supports and downed utilities, making the process of opening them up slow and dangerous.

In these types of situations, the versatility of remote-controlled demolition machines can minimise equipment and personnel requirements for highly efficient renovations. Armed with a suite of attachments, a demolition robot can perform almost any required task.

A breaker, for example, is used for scaling during initial refurbishment work, and a grapple is used to handle rubble and refuse to clear the bottom as well as assist in installing utilities. To dismantle old supports, steel or timber, a saw/grapple combination can be used. This reduces handling and cutting the steel to premium scrap lengths while working off a galloway.

With extensive equipment and attachment options available from innovative manufacturers, there is an opportunity to use demolition robots in just about every high-risk, heavy-labour maintenance situation, Raymond Ippersiel says

Primary and secondary blasting and rock bolting can all be managed with the drill attachments. Miners can then switch to a beam handler for erecting support ribs and installing wire mesh. These dexterous attachments can also be used for setting new services such as rails, pipes, or cables.

Finally, shotcrete attachments are also available.

More efficient maintenance

These attachments also make it easier for mines to maximise productivity for shaft and tunnel maintenance tasks. Replacing large crews with a small team and a demolition robot can result in a significantly more efficient process.

One operation was able to eliminate all manual labour in a shotcrete removal application and advance their maintenance schedule by months. They positioned the demolition robot on a platform that rotated around the core of a shaft boring machine. After the shotcrete was removed, they used the robot to pin and bolt new screening.

In addition to making shaft maintenance easier, demolition robots are increasing safety and efficiency for widening operations. They can be underhung from a galloway stage, hammer, drill and blast, drill and split and replace old clam buckets for mucking out.

The future of mining

With extensive equipment and attachment options available from innovative manufacturers, there is an opportunity to use demolition robots in just about every high-risk, heavy-labour shaft maintenance situation. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination.

*Raymond Ippersiel is a Training & Application Specialist at Brokk Inc. He has 10 years with the company and specialises in robotic demolition applications for the tunnelling, process and demolition industries