Tag Archives: bauxite

MICROMINE’s Pitram solution takes control at Greece mine

MICROMINE says it is making a strong foray into Europe’s mining sector with its Pitram fleet management and mine control solution now operating in Greece.

Already used at more than 50 mining operations across six continents, the installation at the Greece mine is Pitram’s third deployment in the Aegean region, following installations at two production projects in Turkey.

“Greece has a wealth of mineral and ore deposits including gold, silver, lead, zinc, copper, nickel and bauxite – and a history of mining that dates back to ancient times,” Pitram Product Strategy Manager, Chris Higgins, said. “Turkey also has abundant source of industrial raw materials, rare earth minerals and precious metals including gold, copper, zinc, chrome, nickel, iron, lead, mercury, tin and magnesium.

“As a result, international operators and miners are developing projects across the Aegean and Pitram is providing the data insights needed to ensure the operations are well controlled.”

More than 10 mining operations in Europe are currently using Pitram to record, manage and process mine data in real time, according to the company. The scalable solution has now been deployed at the three underground gold, copper and zinc mines in Turkey and Greece.

The Greece project is well advanced with Pitram playing a crucial role in a major refurbishment and expansion of existing operations, the company says.

“Comprising 11 modules – including materials management, OLAP analysis, shift planner and fleet management – Pitram is a sophisticated mine control and management reporting application enabling the miners to capture data, make quicker, evidence-based decisions and allocate resources more effectively,” MICROMINE says.

As production ramped up at the Greece underground mine, the operators chose Pitram, according to MICROMINE, because they needed a solution that would enable them to:

  • Improve development and production mining cycles;
  • Accurately track materials from source to processing;
  • Provide OLAP reporting and analysis;
  • Enhance reactions to, and minimise the impact of, unplanned events; and
  • Increase equipment availability and utilisation.

The implementation of Pitram voice and materials management modules ensured these objectives were met by adapting the solution to meet the specific needs of the site, the company said.

Higgins added: “At MICROMINE we committed to working with our mining clients to deliver the tailored software solutions they need to meet local requirements.

“This includes providing our solutions in the languages needed – that’s why Pitram has been translated into Turkish and Greek. So, with the functionality to switch between English and the local language, all staff on-site can use the application.”

Multotec provides Guinea bauxite verification with sampling equipment

Multotec Process Equipment’s high-precision sampling equipment has found a home in Guinea, with bauxite producers in the West African country using the South Africa-based company’s tools to verify the quality of mined material before it is shipped overseas.

The company has recently provided two tariff sampling plants to a major bauxite producer in the country, including what is possibly one of the largest hammer samplers in the world, it said.

One of the plants is located at the bauxite mining operation itself, while the other is at the export facility where the high-grade bauxite is loaded onto ships.

According to Willem Slabbert, Sampling and Magnetics Specialist at Multotec Process Equipment, the samplers serve a vital role in representatively measuring the quality of the material mined and then exported, as well as its physical characteristics.

“At the mine, the sampling plant gives the mining company and their third-party mining contractor a scientific basis on which to check compliance with their contractual requirements,” Slabbert says.

“Similarly, the plant at the export facility assures the end customer of the quality of bauxite they are purchasing.”

The solution designed for this specific application includes hammer samplers, double-roll crushers, rotating plate dividers, feeder conveyors and barcoded carousels to link the sampling plant’s hourly performance to the indexed samples produced, Multotec explained. There is also protection equipment – a moisture analyser, overbelt magnet and metal detector – and inter-sampling plant conveyors.

“The plants were designed as a holistic solution, to deliver measurements in line with the international standard ISO8685 – ensuring that both sides of a contractual agreement can feel confident in the results,” Slabbert says. “They are also fully automatic and PLC-controlled for maximum efficiency.”

He highlighted that the sampling and materials handling solution was based on extensive test work carried out at Multotec’s facilities in Spartan, near Johannesburg. Crusher tests were also conducted on the specific bauxite, which comprised a substrate material with very hard embedded nodules.

“We identified custom-designed, heavy-duty, double-roll crushers as the optimal solution to deal with the extreme hardness of the nodules in the material,” Slabbert says. “The abrasiveness and stickiness of the Guinean bauxite also required low-friction liners to be designed into each plant.”

Multotec also has a West Africa branch in Ghana to supporting its installations. This branch also sources local components for customers.

Multotec Process Equipment has experience in sampling bauxite in Guinea, says Slabbert, with a sampling plant installed two decades ago for another bauxite producer.

Worley to help sustain Alcoa of Australia’s mines, refineries and smelter

Worley says it has been awarded a three‐year services contract with Alcoa of Australia for the company’s integrated mining, refining and smelting operations.

Under the contract, Worley will provide engineering and project delivery services for Alcoa’s site‐based sustaining capital program of works.

The contract continues the existing relationship between Alcoa and Worley, and establishes Worley as the preferred engineering services provider for baseload works across the Wagerup, Pinjarra and Kwinana alumina refineries, Bunbury port terminal and the Willowdale and Huntly (pictured) bauxite mining operations in Western Australia, it said. Worley will also support Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria, Australia.

The services will be executed by Worley’s Australian teams in Perth and Geelong and supported by its global integrated delivery team, the company added.

Chris Ashton, Chief Executive Officer of Worley, said: “As Australia’s leading energy services company, we are pleased to continue supporting Alcoa’s Australian operations. This portfolio is one of the largest in our mining, minerals and metals business and includes our specialist alumina, bauxite and aluminium teams.”

Motorola Solutions keeps essential services running at Rio Tinto aluminium ops

Motorola Solutions says it is helping Rio Tinto’s aluminium business continue supplying its customers while protecting people and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two companies partnered to design and roll out a back-up communications solution for Rio Tinto Aluminium’s Integrated Operations Centre (IOC), in Brisbane, Queensland. The system enables continued critical communications between mines during an emergency and was developed and deployed in just five days, according to Motorola.

The existing IOC provides 24/7 monitoring of all safety, production and quality aspects at bauxite mines in Weipa, Queensland, and Gove, Northern Territory, and is essential to coordinating Rio Tinto’s bauxite supply to Australia alumina plants and export markets, the company said. Rio’s Weipa operations include three bauxite mines, processing facilities, shiploaders, an export wharf, two ports, power stations, a rail network and ferry terminals; while Gove produced 12.2 Mt of bauxite last year.

“If the IOC becomes inaccessible for any reason, Rio Tinto can continue tracking mine production movements via its mission-critical TETRA digital two-way radio communications system, which feeds directly into the mining organisation’s Disaster Recovery Centre,” Motorola said.

Rio Tinto uses a combination of TETRA DIMETRA™ and MOTOTRBO™ radio handsets and dispatch consoles across the mine sites to monitor and manage field operations safely and efficiently, it added.

“The solution forms an important part of Rio Tinto’s business continuity plans to keep operations running safely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling commercial supply chain continuity and planning for future eventualities,” Motorola said.

Martin Chappell, General Manager of Energy and Natural Resources for Motorola Solutions Australia & New Zealand, said: “Any communications equipment used in mining must adhere to the highest standards to keep workers safe and maintain security and reliability across the entire operation.

“Through a combination of rugged radios, purpose-built dispatch consoles and essential back-up links, we are providing Rio Tinto Aluminium with effective protection for its people and assets to ensure business continuity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Miners need to do more in climate change, decarbonisation battle, McKinsey says

A report from consultancy McKinsey has raised concerns about the mining industry’s climate change and decarbonisation strategy, arguing it may not go far enough in reducing emissions in the face of pressure from governments, investors, and activists.

The report, Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know, from Lindsay Delevingne, Will Glazener, Liesbet Grégoir, and Kimberly Henderson, explains that extreme weather – tied to the potential effects of climate change – is already disrupting mining operations globally.

“Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries pledged to limit global warming to well below 2.0°C, and ideally not more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels,” the authors said. “That target, if pursued, would manifest in decarbonisation across industries, creating major shifts in commodity demand for the mining industry and likely resulting in declining global mining revenue pools.”

They added: “Mining-portfolio evaluation must now account for potential decarbonisation of other sectors.”

The sector will also face pressure from governments, investors, and society to reduce emissions, according to the authors.

“Mining is currently responsible for 4-7% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally. Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions from the sector (those incurred through mining operations and power consumption, respectively) amount to 1%, and fugitive methane emissions from coal mining are estimated at 3-6%.

“A significant share of global emissions – 28% – would be considered Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including the combustion of coal.”

While there have been a number of high-profile mining companies making carbon emission pledges in the past 18 months – BHP pledging $400 million of investment in a low carbon plan being one notable example – the authors say the industry has only just begun to set emissions-reduction goals.

“Current targets published by mining companies range from 0-30% by 2030, far below the Paris Agreement goals, which may not be ambitious enough in many cases,” they said.

Through operational efficiency, and electrification and renewable-energy use, mines can theoretically fully decarbonise (excluding fugitive methane), according to the authors, with the disclaimer that building a climate strategy, “won’t be quick or easy”.

Water/heat

Water stress was one area the authors homed in on, saying that climate change is expected to cause more frequent droughts and floods, altering the supply of water to mining sites and disrupting operations.

The authors, using McKinsey’s MineSpans database on copper, gold, iron ore, and zinc, recently ran and analysed a water-stress and flooding scenario to emphasise the incoming problems.

The authors found that 30-50% of the production of these four commodities is concentrated in areas where water stress is already “high”.

“In 2017, these sites accounted for roughly $150 billion in total annual revenues and were clustered into seven water-stress ‘hot spots’ for mining: Central Asia, the Chilean coast, eastern Australia, the Middle East, southern Africa, western Australia, and a large zone in western North America,” the authors said.

The authors continued: “Climate science indicates that these hot spots will worsen in the coming decades. In Chile, 80% of copper production is already located in ‘extremely high’ water-stressed and ‘arid’ areas; by 2040, it will be 100%. In Russia, 40% of the nation’s iron ore production, currently located in ‘high’ water-stressed areas, is likely to move to ‘extreme’ water stress by 2040.”

And, mining regions not accustomed to water stress are projected to become increasingly vulnerable, according to the report.

By 2040, 5% of current gold production likely will shift from ‘low–medium’ water stress to ‘medium–high’; 7% of zinc output could move from ‘medium–high’ to ‘high’ water stress, and 6% of copper production could shift from ‘high’ to ‘extremely high’ water stress.

The authors said: “Depending on the water-intensiveness of the processing approach, such changes, while seemingly minor in percentage terms, could be critical to a mine’s operations or licence to operate.”

Mining executives in these regions are acutely aware of the water issue, according to the authors.

“For instance, Leagold Mining recently shut down its RDM gold mine in Brazil for two months because of drought conditions, even though it had built a dam and a water pipeline,” they said.

Even in areas with low water stress, certain water-intensive mining processes are jeopardised.

“In Germany – not a country known for being vulnerable to drought – a potash miner was forced to close two locations because of severe water shortages in the summer of 2018, losing nearly $2 million a day per site,” they said.

“The frequency and severity of these conditions are expected to increase along with the current climate trajectory.”

To improve resiliency, companies can reduce the water intensity of their mining processes, the authors said. They can also recycle used water and reduce water loss from evaporation, leaks, and waste. Mining companies can, for example, prevent evaporation by putting covers on small and medium dams.

In the long term, more capital-intensive approaches are possible, according to the authors. This could involve new water infrastructure, such as dams and desalination plants. Companies can also rely on so-called “natural capital”, like wetland areas, to improve groundwater drainage.

The authors said: “The option of securing water rights is becoming harder and can take years of engagement because of increased competition for natural resources and tensions between operators and local communities. Basin and regional planning with regulatory and civic groups is an important strategy but cannot alone solve the underlying problem of water stress.”

On the reverse, flooding from extreme rains can also cause operational disruptions, including mine closure, washed-out roads, or unsafe water levels in tailing dams, with flooding affecting some commodities more than others based on their locations.

The authors’ analysis showed iron ore and zinc are the most exposed to ‘extremely high’ flood occurrence, at 50% and 40% of global volume, respectively.

“The problem is expected to get worse, particularly in six ‘wet spots’ likely to experience a 50-60% increase in extreme precipitation this century: northern Australia, South America, and southern Africa during Southern Hemisphere summer, and central and western Africa, India and Southeast Asia, and Indonesia during Southern Hemisphere winter,” the authors said.

Companies can adopt flood-proof mine designs that improve drainage and pumping techniques, the authors said, mentioning the adaptation of roads, or the building of sheeted haul roads, as examples.

Moving to an in-pit crushing and conveying method would also help alleviate potential floods, replacing mine site haulage and haul roads with conveyors.

When it comes to incoming extreme heat in already-hot places – like China, parts of North and West Africa and Australia – the authors noted that worker productivity could fall and cooling costs may rise, in additon to putting workers’ health (and sometimes their lives) at risk.

“Indirect socioeconomic consequences from climate change can also affect the political environment surrounding a mine,” they said.

Shifting commodity demand

Ongoing decarbonisation is likely to have a major impact on coal – “currently about 50% of the global mining market, would be the most obvious victim of such shifts”, the authors said – but it would also affect virgin-ore markets.

“In a 2°C scenario, bauxite, copper, and iron ore will see growth from new decarbonisation technologies offset by increased recycling rates, as a result of the growing circular economy and focus on metal production from recycling versus virgin ore,” they said.

At the other end of the spectrum, niche minerals could experience dramatic growth. As the global electrification of industries continues, electric vehicles and batteries will create growth markets for cobalt, lithium, and nickel.

Emerging technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture would also boost demand for platinum, palladium, and other catalyst materials, while rare earths would be needed for wind-turbine magnets.

The authors said: “Fully replacing revenues from coal will be difficult. Yet many of the world’s biggest mining companies will need to rebalance non-diverse mineral portfolios.

“Many of the largest mining companies derive the bulk of their earnings from one or two commodities. Copper-heavy portfolios may benefit from demand growth due to widespread electrification, for example. And iron ore- and aluminium-heavy portfolios may see an upside from decarbonisation technologies, but they are also more likely to be hit by rising recycling rates.”

According to the authors, the mining industry generates between 1.9 and 5.1 gigatons of CO2-equivalent of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Further down the value chain (Scope 3 emissions), the metals industry contributes roughly 4.2 gigatons, mainly through steel and aluminium production.

To stay on track for a global 2°C scenario, all sectors would need to reduce CO2 emissions from 2010 levels by at least 50% by 2050, they said.

To limit warming to 1.5°C, a reduction of at least 85% would likely be needed.

“Mining companies’ published emissions targets tend to be more modest than that, setting low targets, not setting targets beyond the early 2020s, or focusing on emissions intensity rather than absolute numbers,” the authors said.

To estimate decarbonisation potential in mining, the authors started with a baseline of current emissions by fuel source, based on the MineSpans database of mines’ operational characteristics, overlaid with the possible impact of, and constraints on, several mining decarbonisation levers.

The potential for mines varied by commodity, mine type, power source, and grid emissions, among other factors.

“Across the industry, non-coal mines could fully decarbonise by using multiple levers. Some are more economical than others – operational efficiency, for example, can make incremental improvements to the energy intensity of mining production while requiring little capital expenditure,” they said. Moving to renewable sources of electricity is becoming increasingly feasible too, even in off-grid environments, as the cost of battery packs is projected to decline 50% from 2017 to 2030, according to the authors.

“Electrification of mining equipment, such as diesel trucks and gas-consuming appliances, is only starting to become economical. Right now, only 0.5% of mining equipment is fully electric.

“However, in some cases, battery-electric vehicles have a 20% lower total cost of ownership versus traditional internal-combustion-engine vehicles. Newmont, for example, recently started production at its all-electric Borden mine in Ontario, Canada.”

The authors said: “Several big mining companies have installed their own sustainability committees, signalling that mining is joining the wave of corporate sustainability reporting and activity. Reporting emissions and understanding decarbonisation pathways are the first steps toward setting targets and taking action.”

Yet, these actions are currently too modest to reach the 1.5-2°C scenario and may not be keeping up with society’s expectations – “as increasingly voiced by investors seeking disclosures, companies asking their suppliers to decarbonise, and communities advocating for action on environmental issues”.

They concluded: “Mining companies concerned about their long-term reputation, licence to operate, or contribution to decarbonisation efforts may start to consider more aggressive decarbonisation and resilience plans.”

De.mem to put the BOOT in at Metro Mining’s Bauxite Hills mine

Water and wastewater treatment company, De.mem, says it has received new orders worth a minimum A$470,000 ($317,202) of revenue from Metro Mining for work at its Bauxite Hills mine in Queensland, Australia.

The orders include the delivery of wastewater treatment equipment, plus a contract award to supply equipment in combination with the provision of operations & maintenance services under a build, own, operate, transfer (BOOT) agreement.

Bauxite Hills, which produced 3.5 Mt (wet) of bauxite in 2019, is currently carrying out detailed engineering and design work related to a stage two expansion at the mine, which could see annual operating capacity reach 6 Mt (wet) by 2021.

De.mem CEO, Andreas Kroell, said: “We are pleased to provide our customers with a complete water treatment solutions offering, which includes the flexibility of either purchasing or leasing equipment from De.mem. Our build, own, operate/BOOT solutions are a key part of our services business, whereby we are engaged by leading players from mining and other industries under long-term agreements for the provision of water treatment equipment and ongoing operations and maintenance services.”

This is not the only Queensland bauxite mine De.mem is currently working on. Back in February 2019, the company secured a 12-month A$780,000 operations and maintenance contract to manage potable water and sewage treatment plants at Rio Tinto’s Amrun bauxite mine in the state.

Woodside Energy to supply Worsley Alumina with gas

Woodside Energy says it has entered into a long-term gas sale and purchase agreement with the Worsley Alumina joint venture (JV) for the supply of around 40 PJ of pipeline gas to the integrated mining and refining complex in Western Australia.

The gas is being supplied to the JV from Woodside’s portfolio of domestic gas facilities, including the North West Shelf, Pluto and Wheatstone, Woodside said.

The Worsley Alumina JV is held by South32 (86%), Japan Alumina Associates (10%) and Sojitz (4%), and includes bauxite mining operations, near the town of Boddington, 130 km southeast of Perth, and a refinery near the town of Collie. The alumina is then transported by rail to Bunbury Port, where it is shipped to smelters around the world, including our Hillside and Mozal aluminium smelters in Africa.

Woodside Executive Vice President Marketing Trading & Shipping, Reinhardt Matisons, said: “Over recent months, we’ve commissioned the Pluto pipeline gas and LNG truck loading facilities and started domestic gas production at Wheatstone, building on our foundation domestic gas business at the North West Shelf.

“Our agreement with Worsley Alumina, which makes a significant contribution to jobs and prosperity in its local community, is a further demonstration of Woodside’s commitment to supplying domestic gas to consumers in Western Australia from our diverse supply portfolio.”

Tenova TAKRAF passes railcar test at Guinea bauxite expansion project

Tenova TAKRAF says a 48-hour performance test for bauxite-carrying trains at a major expansion project in Guinea was successfully completed on July 1.

During the 48-hour period, starting June 29 at 00:28 and ending on July 1 at 00:28, more than 1,560 wagons, equating to 12 individual complete trains, carrying bauxite were successfully unloaded.

Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinée (CBG)’s Bauxite Production Expansion project, in Kamsar, Guinea, aims to increase bauxite exports to 18.5 Mt/y. TAKRAF, in late 2016, was awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract worth around €100 million ($112 million) for a greenfield railcar unloading and primary crushing station, as well as a secondary crushing station and a brownfield conveyor system, at the project. The railcar unloading system was designed in collaboration with Ashton Bulk, the company said.

TAKRAF sizers, one primary and two secondary, were are also included within the crushing stations at the project, the company noted.

The bauxite expansion project hit its first ore goal back in February.

Andreas Papst, Tenova TAKRAF Senior Project Manager, said: “I would like to personally thank all colleagues, including our partners on the client’s side, for their strong willingness to collaborate and solid discipline in the successful achievement of this important milestone. TAKRAF’s successful delivery of this important project is an important reference for us in and is a true testament of our ability to operate in complex environments, overcome challenges and deliver!”

Rio’s productivity and innovation capabilities on show at Amrun bauxite mine

Rio Tinto says it has completed commissioning of the $1.9 billion Amrun bauxite mine on the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, Australia.

This follows the company completing the first shipment of bauxite back in December, six weeks ahead of schedule.

The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine, also in Queensland, and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 Mt, the company said. This move comes at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally, Rio added.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive, J-S Jacques, said: “Amrun was completed early and under budget, demonstrating Rio Tinto’s productivity and innovation capabilities. By applying fresh thinking we also delivered safety, environmental, cost and timing benefits.”

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured right), said: “Weipa’s bauxite will be used to make aluminium for mobile phones, aeroplanes, vehicles and many other applications around the world. The Amrun project is one of the sector’s proudest achievements and I am delighted to be visiting this amazing mine and its workers once again.”

In an industry first, according to Rio, Amrun’s 1 km-long export facility was built in modules off-site and then brought to Amrun and connected. “This reduced over-water construction and painting in the culturally significant and environmentally sensitive region and reduced construction time by a year,” Rio said. It also increased safety by removing the need for 300,000 work hours that would have been spent at height and over water.

Rio Tinto Growth & Innovation group executive, Steve McIntosh, said: “Game-changing innovations and collaborations such as these are vital for advancing the future of the mining and metals industry globally in a safe, cost-effective and replicable manner.”

Amrun is about 40 km south of Rio’s existing East Weipa and Andoom mines. The mine, plant and export facility were approved in 2015, with a targeted start date of 2019.

At full production, Amrun will have capacity of 22.8 Mt/y, with options to expand.

thyssenkrupp Barge Loader delivered to EGA bauxite project in Guinea

The final major piece of equipment for Emirates Global Aluminium’s in-development bauxite mining project in the Republic of Guinea has arrived in the West African country, the company reports.

The Barge Loader was shipped to Guinea from thyssenkrupp’s fabrication facility in India. It will be installed at the end of the project’s 1.5 km pier, where it will load bauxite ore into self-propelled barges for transport to waiting bulk cargo ships offshore, EGA said.

The Barge Loader is the last in a series of massive pieces of equipment for the project to arrive in Guinea, which includes some of the largest ever installed in a mining project in Africa, according to EGA.

Abdulla Kalban, EGA’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said: “All the major pieces of equipment for our Guinea project have now safely arrived, completing a series of challenging engineering and logistical feats. Construction overall is very well advanced and we look forward to its safe completion and the start of bauxite exports later this year.”

The project is being developed by EGA’s subsidiary, Guinea Alumina Corp, and has a total budgeted project cost of around $1.4 billion. First bauxite exports are expected during the second half of 2019.

Just last month, the company loaded the first batch of bauxite from the project.