Tag Archives: BHP Mitsubishi Alliance

BHP to cut Queensland coal operation emissions with CleanCo deal

BHP has signed an agreement that could help it reduce emissions from electricity use in its Queensland, Australia, coal operations by 50% by 2025.

The renewable power purchasing agreement to meet half of its electricity needs across its Queensland coal mines from low emissions sources, including solar and wind, is with Queensland’s state-owned clean energy generator and retailer CleanCo, which has a target to support 1,000 MW of new renewable energy generation by 2025. The pact will run for five years from January 1, 2021.

“This will effectively displace an estimated 1.7 Mt of CO2e between 2021 and 2025 – equivalent to the annual emissions of around 400,000 combustion engine cars,” the company said.

BHP owns 50% of the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (Mitsubishi holding the other 50%), which operates several coal mines across Queensland.

The agreement is the first of its kind signed by BHP in Australia and follows the company’s shift to 100% renewables in its Chile operations at Escondida and Spence from the mid-2020s. It will also support the development of new solar and wind farms in Queensland – the Western Downs Green Power Hub, due for completion in late 2022, and Karara Wind Farm, due for completion in early 2023.

BHP’s President Minerals Australia, Edgar Basto, said: “This is an important step forward in BHP’s transition to more sustainable energy use across our portfolio, and a first for our Australian operations. It will diversify our energy supply, help to reduce our energy costs, and reduce BHP’s Australian Scope 2 emissions by 20% from FY2020 levels.”

He added: “This is a prime example of prudent business decisions going hand-in-hand with social value, strengthening our business and benefitting the community.”

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Asset President, James Palmer, said: “This contract will help our operations across Queensland to further increase their sustainability through reducing the greenhouse gas emissions we generate from electricity use by half. It will also support two greenfield renewable projects that, in turn, are expected to generate regional jobs in Queensland.”

Over the five-year agreement, power will be provided via the grid, and predominantly contracted from a combination of solar, wind, hydro and gas generation, according to BHP.

For the first two years, power will be contracted from CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio which includes hydro and gas generation assets. From late 2022, the newly operational solar and wind farms are expected to progressively contribute up to half the electricity requirements, with the remainder supported by CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio. Combined with large-scale generation certificates, this will enable BHP to reduce Scope 2 emissions from its Queensland operations by 50% by 2025, based on the company’s 2020 financial year levels.

The contract will contribute to BHP’s medium-term, science-based target for the reduction of Scope 1 and Scope 2 operational greenhouse gas emissions – due to be announced shortly.

BMA to invest in autonomous haul trucks at Daunia coal mine

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has announced a A$100 million ($69 million) investment and new jobs as part of the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks at its Daunia mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The first retrofit trucks will begin working from February next year, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of 2021, it said.

The 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine opened in 2013 and has a truck fleet that includes Cat 793Fs.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said this was a multi-generational investment in the industry and  state at a time when it is needed.

“We acknowledge the important role our business and industry can play in supporting Queensland communities and the local economy during this time,” he said.

“This announcement is a vote of confidence in Central Queensland. At least 10 regional and indigenous businesses will be employed to support the rollout, with contracts worth A$35 million. This will result in 150 additional project roles for BMA people and contractors. This is on top of 56 new permanent roles on site.”

He reiterated that there would be no job losses as a result of the decision and anyone who currently works with the company – as an employee or labour hire worker – would be given the opportunity to continue to do so.

Hastings Deering’s Central Queensland operations will see an additional 30 jobs required to assist with truck and ancillary fleet conversion.

Hastings Deering CEO, Dean Mehmet, said: “This contract is a huge boost to our local business and the region. We will need 30 additional people to support the work that is required to convert the trucks and ancillary mining fleet into autonomous vehicles at Daunia. It’s exciting work to build on that allows us to grow and develop local talent to deliver technology solutions into the resources sector.”

Other examples of local businesses that will directly benefit from this decision include NB Industries, who will complete the light vehicle fleet conversion, and Radlink who will install wireless communication hardware across the mine.

NB Industries is also involved in completing the fit out of ancillary equipment for the AHS rollout at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside mine, in Central Queensland.

Palmer highlighted the employee engagement and training that is central to this decision.

“We have engaged with our workforce at Daunia over the previous 18 months on the possible rollout of autonomous haulage. Our people have told us that they are eager for new job opportunities and skills. That is why we are confident this is the right decision for Daunia.

“It will further increase safety and performance and help the mine remain competitive over the long term.

“We understand this decision represents some change. But it also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new, highly valued skills that will create additional opportunities for growth into the future.”

To help prepare for Daunia’s autonomous future, it is estimated over 30,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

In addition to pledging to bring autonomous trucks to Daunia and Goonyella Riverside, BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia shortly.

Electronic blasting demand sees Dyno Nobel boost manufacturing output

Demand from customers for Dyno Nobel’s electronic blasting technology is, the company says, boosting manufacturing in regional Queensland, Australia.

The Helidon plant, in southeast Queensland, has expanded to increase electronic detonator production, helping boost regional employment, it said.

Since the plant expansion late last year, the number of employees has grown to 103, up 63%, with more people needed at the plant to manufacture the company’s premium technology, which Dyno Nobel says has seen continued growth.

A business of Incitec Pivot, Dyno Nobel’s half-year results released in May showed a 14% increase in electronic initiating systems sales in Asia Pacific, compared with the same time last year.

Incitec Pivot Managing Director and CEO, Jeanne Johns, said: “Dyno Nobel’s overall mining volumes continue to be supported by our premium technology offering. We are seeing strong demand for our technology from customers who want to improve their productivity and safety outcomes, while also reducing the impact on the environment.

“We tailor our premium technology solutions to manage specific sites requirements and issues and, as a result, our customers are getting better blast outcomes.”

President of Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific, Greg Hayne, said Australia’s mining sector was continuing to operate well.

“We are continuing to invest strongly in our technology pipeline, assisting our customers and supporting the Australian economy with local jobs in manufacturing,” he said.

Looking forward, Dyno Nobel is focused on rolling out its DigiShot®Plus.4G system to further improve safety and productivity at mines across Australia. Released in 2018, DigiShot Plus.4G is designed to help reduce overall costs and increase productivity by reducing blasting delays and introducing programming speeds seven times faster than existing systems.

It was this technology that produced a world record blast at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Caval Ridge Mine in Queensland last December.

Dyno Nobel’s record blast saw 8,144 DigiShot Plus.4G electronic detonators fired in single blast event that took 14 days to prepare and involved loading 2,194 t of bulk explosive into 3,899 blastholes.

“As we continue to develop our technology road map, it’s nice to see these types of outcomes, which reinforce the way our technology aligns with the needs of our customers,” Hayne said.

McConnell Dowell to bring marine construction expertise to BMA project at Hay Point

McConnell Dowell says it has signed an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) contract with the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) for its Shiploader 2 and Berth 2 Replacement (SABR) project at the Hay Point Coal Terminal, in Queensland, Australia.

The SABR project scope encompasses replacement of one of the three berths and shiploaders at the terminal. The wharf and shiploader being replaced have reached end of life, according to McConnell Dowell, and the SABR project will see replacement of both facilities. At the same time, it will improve operability (with a berth extension) and storm immunity (by raising of the berth).

In collaboration with BMA and its design engineer Aurecon, McConnell Dowell will work in an “integrated project delivery environment” to optimise the facility design and construction methodology, so the project can be completed in 2023, the company said.

The scope of the contract includes the “provisions of constructability input”, advice, and preparatory work for construction, including assisting with facility design; construction execution planning; and estimating and planning assistance, McConnell Dowell said.

Back in 2015, BMA opened the new third berth at its Hay Point coal terminal, which lifted the export capacity from 44 Mt/y to 55 Mt/y.

“McConnell Dowell is thrilled to be partnering with BMA once again and bringing our leading marine construction expertise to drive innovation and project certainty.”

Dyno Nobel helps BMA Caval Ridge become electronic blasting leader

The Caval Ridge coal mine, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia, now holds the title of the world’s largest electronic blast completed using Dyno Nobel DigiShot technology.

The BHP Mitsubishi Alliance-owned (BMA) mine completed a blast in December that saw 4.7 Mcu.m of overburden shifted in a blast fired with 2,194 t of bulk explosives across 3,899 holes.

Back in October, BHP Mitsui Coal’s Poitrel mine, in Queensland, became the holder of the title of world’s largest blast using wireless technology after successfully completing the third blast in a trial series to test Orica’s WebGen technology. The blast saw 1.3 million cu.m of overburden shifted in a strata blast fired with 1920 WebGen 100 units across 534 holes, BHP Mitsui said.

Caval Ridge Drill and Blast Superintendent, Dallas Gostelow, said the electronic blast was loaded over 14 days, involving engineers, schedulers and the E and F Blast crews. It involved a combination of four related blast patterns, using 8,144 detonators – a significant number that Gostelow said the company had never set before at the one time.

He said there were significant safety, efficiency and cost improvements to be made using the electronic technology.

“Timings for the detonators are fully programmable and each blast hole is physically connected to the surface by a wire, but the systems is less complicated and fully digitised, which means higher fidelity of tie in to reduce misfire potential,” he said.

Dyno Nobel launched its DigiShot Plus 4G electronic initiation system back in 2018. The system, developed by Dyno Nobel’s joint venture partner DetNet®, was designed to help reduce overall costs and increase productivity by reducing blasting delays and introducing programming speeds seven times faster than existing systems.

The ability to fire larger blasts, or multiple blast patterns in one event, means downtime for equipment is kept to a minimum, according to BMA.

Jason Smith, Principal Category Management TCO, Drill Blast & Geology, said the successful outcome of the blast was down to the collaboration across asset, function and supplier.

He said the commercial team and Caval Ridge worked with Dyno Nobel to deliver improved technology that would provide bigger and more accurate shots with significant improvements to safety, productivity and cost.

“The significance of it is the precision timing you can get from using electronics rather than pyrotechnical blasting, which requires thousands of metres of on bench tie-in work, and can lead to poor blast fragmentation,” Smith said.

“With the collaboration between Dyno and BMA, it is allowing Dyno to improve their product and giving BMA the advantage of better blasting and fragmentation and larger shots.

“This is a perfect example of the commercial teams working in the background to strengthen a supplier relationship and the site and supplier working together to deliver superior results.”

BMA Blackwater coal mine starts up new gen Cat D11 dozer

The first Caterpillar new generation D11 dozer in the world has started work at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Blackwater coal mine in Queensland, Australia, according to mining, resources, transport and logistics group National Group.

National Group secured the first of these dozers earlier this month from Cat dealer Hastings Deering as part of an order that would see six of these machines hauled by its National Heavy Haulage subsidiary, the company said.

While the specifics of this new dozer are not yet known, Cat did plan to launch an update to its D11 earlier this year. This would have seen the machine receive new load-sensing hydraulics and new drivetrain components among other additions.

BMA’s Blackwater coal mine, in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, produced close to 2.1 Mt of coal in the most recent September quarter, according to BHP.

In a Hastings Deering release in mid-December, National Group’s Managing Director, Mark Ackroyd, said: “The D11 is the industry’s best large dozer so it was a logical choice for us to bring in six new dozers to add to our expansive fleet.”

Along with load sensing hydraulics reducing fuel burn, the new D11 will extend out component life from fuel burn to overhaul, according to the company. Caterpillar has developed this machine to ensure faster cycle times to produce more dirt at a lower cost per tonne, National Group added.

Ackroyd said the contribution the dozers will add to production and efficiency will boost overall performance on site. “We expect to lower maintenance and repair costs by up to 5% thanks to a new case and frame design, improved bearings, redesigned pin joints, and a 30% larger oil pan.”

Jason Garea, Mining Account Manager at Hastings Deering, said: “There is a single frame now used between both the D11 standard dozer and the carry dozer applications. It’s a beefed-up frame that now does both.”

National Group has lined up all six dozers to be fitted with the new Reclamation blade, or XU Blade, which takes the dozer from a 34 cu.meter blade, to a 42.2 cu.m, according to Garea. “The best thing here is that it still handles like a U-Blade and can go into the same applications. They are far, far more productive which reduces the cost per tonne.”

The second D11 dozer is expected to be commissioned onsite at Blackwater in January.

Golding and BMA strengthen ties with Blackwater civil works contract

Golding Contractors has been awarded a contract by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) for civil works at the Blackwater coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

The NRW Holdings’ wholly-owned subsidiary’s scope of works to be undertaken included establishing alternate access for heavy vehicles outside of the mining footprint; providing civil infrastructure to enable the relocation of a communication mast; relocating critical mine infrastructure (HDPE pipeline, high voltage power lines, fibre optic cable); constructing the drainage structure, to remove water flows from the proposed mining area into an existing creek system; and providing flood protection (levees) for the new and existing mining pits.

As part of this project, around 1.2 Mm³ of earthworks, 4 km of HDPE pipelines, 22 km of fibreoptic cabling and 21 km of overhead cabling is expected to be installed.

The works have an approximate value of A$35 million ($23.7 million) and contract completion is anticipated to be in January 2021.

NRW’s CEO and Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said it was pleasing to be awarded this contract following work secured in July for the same client at Goonyella, with a value of circa-A$34 million.

Those works, also being undertaken by Golding, include around 950,000 m³ of earthworks and 10 km of new pipework, with completion scheduled in August 2020.

BMA Saraji team awarded for mobile equipment transport solution

Josh Leppard, an Overburden Supervisor at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Saraji mine, has won plaudits for an alternative mobile equipment transport solution he and his team came up with at the Queensland coal mine.

Leppard was recently named the 2019 Innovation Award winner at the 2019 Queensland Mining Industry Safety and Health Conference for his and the team’s Synthetic Lightweight Couplings (SLC) development.

SLC is a clever alternative to the ~110 kg combined weight of a pull ring and metal shackles routinely used to pull mobile equipment across the mining industry, according to BMA.

Leppard, who worked on the project for the past six months, is a competitive sailor on his days off and used his knowledge of the marine industry to develop a practical solution to engineer out a manual handling risk, the company said.

“Being a yacht racer for many years, we moved away from using metal shackles four or five years ago and now only use synthetic couplings that are made specifically for marine purposes,” he said.

“These couplings are lightweight but provide exceptional strength as you would expect to be needed on offshore race yachts.”

Leppard and the team worked with the marine coupling manufacturer in New Zealand to “super-size” the technology to suit the mining industry and created Saraji’s ‘soft couplings’, BMA said.

The soft couplings weigh around 8 kg and are made of Dyneema, one of the world’s strongest and most reliable fibres available, BMA said. It is then braided with Technora, which gives it high heat and chemical resistance as well as protecting against chafe – the same product used for bullet proof vests and firefighting clothing.

“We hope that by creating the ‘soft couplings’ we’ll not only reduce the risks associated with heavy lifting and manual handling, but also remove the physical barriers that may prevent some men and women from completing the task,” Leppard said.

“I’m really proud that we were able to deliver this for not only Saraji and BMA, but also for the industry. By presenting at the Queensland Mining Industry Safety and Health Conference and now overseas in a few months, I hope that I’ll be able to share our learnings with others and make our industry safer.”

The team worked with independent testers to verify and strength test the shackles so they could be used on site. Saraji is now in the process of getting soft recovery shackles and soft recovery couplings certified so they can be used in lifting operations which will substitute the existing heavy weight lifting shackles. The team is also working though and obtaining a ‘FRAS’ rating so they can be used underground for longwall moves.

Strata Worldwide achieves HazardAvert proximity detection first in Australia

Strata Worldwide says it has accomplished the first ever application of proximity detection on underground shuttle cars in an Australia coal mine.

As a proactive safety measure, one of the world’s leading mining companies has been undergoing extensive research on Strata’s HazardAvert® proximity detection technology. The mining client and Strata Worldwide have been working together to test and trial the technology in both surface and underground coal mining environments, with the company’s primary goal being to reduce the potential risks to people working in close proximity to mobile equipment.

HazardAvert proximity detection system generators, installed on equipment, form electromagnetic warning and danger zones around the machinery, Strata Worldwide explains. These zones are detected by the HazardAvert Personal Alarm Devices installed into the miner cap lamps or worn on the miners’ belt. When the zones are breached, either by a miner entering the zone, or by the shuttle car approaching a miner, the system alarms and alerts both parties. To overcome situations where reaction time is limited, the system can be interfaced into the controls of the equipment to automatically slow or stop the machinery, the company added.

Following a year of successful surface trials, the mine in question elected to take the technology underground at one of its coal mining operations in central Queensland. Over a six-month trial period, HazardAvert was fitted on two shuttle cars and incorporated into 30 miner cap lamps and used in production on selected development shifts, Strata Worldwide said.

“The mine reported encouraging results and the technology was well received by mining operators,” the company said. “The operation is now eager to expand the trial of the technology into further production panels and outfit the mine’s entire fleet of shuttle cars. This success marks the first Australian underground coal mine to utilise proximity detection technology on shuttle cars in production.”

The company is also considering a test of the systems on other mobile equipment, including personnel transporters, LHDs, shield haulers and a selection of surface equipment.

The head of project execution at the mine site commented that keeping its people safe is always its highest priority, so implementing this technology is a huge step forward in the future of underground mine safety. He continued by saying that the solution opens up the opportunity to use the technology across multiple pieces of mobile equipment and, if implemented correctly, can impact human behaviours in a positive way.

In a separate blog post back in May, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance said it had achieved an “Australia coal first” with a shuttle car proximity detection trial at its Broadmeadow coal mine, in Queensland.

BMA’s Palmer talks up potential for autonomous haul trucks

James Palmer (pictured), BHP Mitsubishi Alliance Asset President, said this week that autonomous haulage systems (AHS) could become a much bigger part of the company’s operations in the future.

Speaking to attendees at a Bowen Basin Mining Club lunch in Mackay, Australia, Palmer said there was potential for 500 autonomous trucks to be introduced at BMA’s open-pit coal operations and BHP’s iron ore mines in the future.

This number of autonomous trucks first came up in a strategy briefing presentation delivered by Chief Financial Officer, Peter Beaven, in May.

Under a list of “projects in feasibility” in the appendices of Beaven’s presentation, the mining major detailed a staged haul truck automation plan that could cost less than $800 million to deliver, with the first of several investment decisions expected this year. In terms of the delivery of the project, BHP said it was estimating a staged rollout between 2020 and 2023, with AHS decisions made on a “site by site” basis.

This move follows a successful rollout of the technology at BHP’s Jimblebar iron ore operation in Western Australia, where the company, since implementation of the fully-autonomous solution, has seen significant incidents involving trucks decrease by almost 90%, according to Palmer.

It is this experience that has led to BMA and BHP Iron Ore studying widespread autonomous haulage at its operations.

“Through the study, which spans both BMA and BHP’s Iron Ore business, there’s potential to for up to 500 autonomous trucks to be introduced in our open-cut operations,” he said.

“It’s an ambitious target – that would see about a tenfold increase to BHP’s existing fleet of autonomous trucks already operating at Jimblebar today. But, like I said earlier, the results from Jimblebar – particularly the safety improvements – continue to make a strong case for change.”

In addition to talking up potential AHS operations, Palmer also spoke about the BHP Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC), a centre set up just over two years ago that has “created an extensive suite of training and upskilling opportunities for our people”, he said.

“Over 50% of the IROC’s mine control team have formerly operated heavy vehicles,” Palmer said. “Now, they’re helping drive our entire coal supply chain – from pit to port.”