Tag Archives: BHP Nickel West

Australia’s FBI CRC backs Mine Electrification project

Experts led by the University of Adelaide are looking to help the mining industry find a pathway to more efficient, green, sustainable and safer mining operations by transitioning to battery-supported electric vehicles (BEVs).

In a new project funded by the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBI CRC), researchers are providing the Australian mining industry with a suite of decision-making tools and guidelines that will aid their transition towards BEVs and associated stationary machinery in their mining operations, the FBI CRC said.

“About 30-50% of the total mine site energy usage is related to diesel-powered mining vehicles,” Dr Ali Pourmousavi Kani, the University of Adelaide’s, Lecturer, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said. “This represents a significant proportion of current mining operational costs, and the prevalence of diesel fuel usage presents significant health and safety concerns.

“Mining is a critical industry in Australia. It is great to see a growing movement in this industry to reduce their carbon emissions in line with the global transition to renewable energy and electric transportation. Electric vehicles and machinery, combined with partial or standalone renewable energy powered microgrids, will provide a pathway to more efficient, sustainable and safer mining operations.”

Dr Pourmousavi Kani will work on the project, named ‘Assessment, Design and Operation of Battery-Supported Electric Mining Vehicles and Machinery’, or Mine Electrification for short, with Associate Professor, Wen Soong, and Associate Professor, Nesimi Ertugrul, who are also from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The project was developed in conjunction with and funded by the FBI CRC and its participants which are: BHP Nickel West, IGO Limited, Energetics Pty Ltd, Galaxy Resources Limited, Multicom Resources Limited, the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining, Queensland’s Department of Energy and Public Works, the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and the University of Western Australia.

The project, which has a budget of approximately A$2.76 million ($2.02 million), of which A$1.16 million is in cash and the remainder in-kind support, and lasts for 3.5 years, will, the FBI CRC says, enable the resources sector to:

  • Reduce the costs and improve the reliability of energy;
  • Improve occupational health and safety; and
  • Reduce the carbon footprint of production.

“The project will allow mining companies to understand the benefits and technical risks and costs of implementation,” Dr Pourmousavi Kani said.

“It will also assist equipment, technology and service providers to service mining companies during the transition to BEVs. End users will benefit from a de-risked strategy to transition, reduced production costs, reduced energy costs, reduced emissions and an upskilled work force.

“Overall, this project will help the Australian mining industry to remain competitive globally by greening their production and lowering their operational costs.”

Dr Jacques Eksteen, a Research Director of the FBICRC, said: “This project is highly significant for the FBI CRC as it serves as an important development and demonstration project of the uptake of battery technologies in mining vehicles and mobile equipment.

“This application of battery technology offers significant potential benefits to industry, and we are keen to invest in developing and enhancing capability in the field of mobile mine electrification.”

South Australia’s Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, added: “Sustainable mining operations is a focus for South Australia, and the Mine Electrification project demonstrates our leadership and ability to collaborate as we work towards reducing our carbon emissions.”

JordProxa crystallises battery chemical market potential with Albermarle, Terrafame orders

Australia-based JordProxa Pty Ltd has recently delivered crystallisation plants for two major battery metal producers, solidifying, it says, its position in the growing new energy market.

JordProxa designed, fabricated and dispatched several large-scale orders to site, including an evaporator and two crystallisation plants to lithium producer Albemarle, in Western Australia, and nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and ammonium sulphate crystallisation plants to Terrafame, in Finland. The modular plants are now being installed in Western Australia and installation is underway on site in Finland with the last modules in transit (pictured above), JordProxa said.

The most recent crystallisation plant deliveries follow, in 2019, the arrival of a JordProxa nickel sulphate crystallisation plant at BHP’s Nickel West operations in Western Australia.

JordProxa Managing Director, John Warner, says the rapid uptake of battery-electric vehicles has led to a surge in demand for battery chemicals and associated technologies.

“Battery chemical producers need a technology provider that can meet and exceed the demands of product purity, with a focus on continued process improvement, to keep up with changing product specifications,” Warner said.

“JordProxa understands the process fundamentals that influence product quality through evaporation and crystallisation. We combine the project delivery skills and global footprint of Jord and Proxa and are perfectly positioned to deliver state of the art plant solutions for ultra-pure battery chemicals at large tonnage scales.”

He added: “We leverage an established network of fabrication alliances and modular design capabilities. This allows us to deliver key assemblies that are tested in the workshop before they are dispatched and installed on site. Our aim is to optimise project delivery time while minimising project risk.”

Jord International CEO, Angus Holden, said he was pleased the group is demonstrating its technical and operational expertise in the new energy market.

“Our track record over 50 years of business demonstrates that we can successfully design and build reliable plants with tangible process benefits,” he said.

“This important crystalliser work from JordProxa delivers on our goal of supporting clean energy technologies and is generating a new long-term, sustainable revenue stream. It has helped our group achieve a record revenue for the 2020 financial year, aided by other new areas of business, including enhanced minerals beneficiation and topside modules for offshore gas fields.”

BHP Nickel West puts forward renewable hydrogen project for ARENA funding

BHP’s Nickel West division is among seven companies to have been shortlisted and invited to submit a full application for the next stage of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) A$70 million ($49 million) hydrogen funding round.

In April, ARENA opened the Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round to help fast track the development of renewable hydrogen in Australia. The funding round is expected to play a significant role in supporting commercial-scale deployments of renewable hydrogen in Australia and commence the pathway to achieving the Australian Government’s goal of ‘H2 under $2’, ARENA said.

Nickel West is a fully integrated mine-to-market nickel business where all operations (open pit and underground mines, concentrators, a smelter and refinery) are in Western Australia. The integrated business adds value throughout the company’s nickel supply chain, with the majority of Nickel West’s current production sold as powder and briquettes, BHP says.

In addition to BHP Billiton Nickel West Pty Ltd, the other shortlisted applicants are APT Management Services Pty Ltd; ATCO Australia Pty Ltd; Australian Gas Networks Ltd; Engie Renewables Australia Pty Ltd; Macquarie Corporate Holdings Pty Limited; and Woodside Energy Ltd.

The total grant requested across all seven is over A$200 million, with a total project value of almost $500 million, ARENA said.

“All applicants have well developed projects that involve deploying 10 MW or larger electrolysers, made up of various end uses including transport, gas injection, renewable ammonia production, power and industrial use,” it said.

ARENA aims to support two or more of the shortlisted large-scale renewable hydrogen projects, with these projects expected to be among some of the largest electrolysers in the world.

“Each project will need to be powered by renewable electricity, either directly or through a contracting approach,” ARENA explained.

During the initial application stage, ARENA received 36 expressions of interest, totalling more than A$3 billion of renewable hydrogen projects.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said: “We’re excited to be able to invite these seven projects to submit full applications for ARENA funding. Our ultimate goal is to bring the price of renewable hydrogen down to be competitive with other forms of energy and be at the forefront of renewable hydrogen production. The best way to help build a hydrogen industry is to support projects that will help demonstrate the technology at scale, and share the lessons learned to help the industry as a whole reduce risk and costs as well as increase efficiency.”

Applicants invited to the full application stage will have until January 2021 to prepare their application, with ARENA expecting to select the preferred projects by mid-2021.

Successful projects are expected to reach financial close by late 2021 and commence construction in 2022.

All applicants may also be considered for financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) under the CEFC’s A$300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund.

ARENA says it has already committed over A$55 million for renewable hydrogen projects including $22.1 million towards R&D projects, as well as feasibility studies into large-scale projects and smaller-scale demonstrations looking at renewable ammonia, power to gas and hydrogen mobility.

Chevron to supply gas to BHP Nickel West operations

Chevron has announced the signing of a domestic gas sale agreement with BHP’s Nickel West division that will see a total of 22 Pj of equity domestic gas delivered to the operations in Western Australia over a 3.5-year period.

Chevron will supply the natural gas from its Wheatstone domestic gas facility from July.

Chevron Australia Managing Director, Al Williams, said the agreement highlighted the important role of natural gas in powering critical industries, such as mining, across the state.

“As a reliable and cost-effective way to generate electricity, natural gas is a vital energy source for current and future energy needs of Western Australian industry,” he said.

At full capacity, the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas facilities will produce 500 tj/d of domestic gas for the Western Australia market – enough to generate electricity for 4.3 million households, according to the company.

Nickel West is a fully integrated mine-to-market nickel business with over 3,500 employees and contractors, BHP says. All nickel operations (open pit and underground mines, concentrators, a smelter and refinery) are located in Western Australia. The integrated business adds value throughout the company’s nickel supply chain, with the majority of Nickel West’s current production sold as powder and briquettes, the company added.

The division is currently in the middle of construction of a nickel sulphate plant at the Kwinana nickel refinery. Stage 1 is expected to produce up to 100,000 t/y of nickel sulphate.

Pit N Portal to help revive Mincor’s Kambalda nickel operation

Mincor Resources has awarded underground mining services and equipment hire group Pit N Portal with the underground mining contract for its 100%-owned Kambalda nickel operations in Western Australia.

The contract encompasses a five-year pact for the new Cassini nickel mine, where early surface works were recently completed, and a three-year contract (plus one two-year option) at the Northern Operations (the brownfields Durkin North and Long nickel mines – both of which are on care and maintenance having previously operated). These two assets (Cassini and Northern Operations) make up the planned nickel operation.

Pit N Portal was awarded the contract following the completion of a competitive tender process and a due diligence process led by Mincor’s Chief Operating Officer, Dean Will, examining safety, Kambalda underground experience and performance, capabilities, equipment availability and cost, the company said.

All key components of the contract are in line with the parameters set out in the Nickel Restart Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) completed in March 2020. This was based on an initial five-year operation from two production centres with all ore processed at BHP Nickel West’s Kambalda nickel concentrator and the resulting nickel concentrate sold to BHP. The DFS envisaged 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate output for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million at the time).

Mincor has executed a binding contract with Pit N Portal subject to a Notice to Proceed being issued by Mincor before March 31, 2021.

The development company says it is targeting the commencement of mining operations at Kambalda in the second half of 2020, subject to board approval and a final investment decision on its Nickel restart plan. It said previously first nickel-in-concentrate production could be achieved in the second half of 2021, subject to COVID-19-related restrictions.

Established in Kalgoorlie in 2002, Pit N Portal has expanded its capacity and capability to encompass total, whole-of-mine solutions across Australia, and has significant underground mining contracts in Western Australia and Queensland. It was acquired by Emeco Holdings earlier this year.

Mincor’s Managing Director, David Southam, said the award of the contract to a Kalgoorlie-based business was consistent with the company’s commitment to maximise local content, to support local businesses and communities, and to create opportunities for a residential workforce wherever possible.

“We selected Pit N Portal based on a wide range of criteria including safety, performance, contract cost, experience and capability, ability to meet our mobilisation timelines and the size and quality of their contract fleet.

“Their equipment fleet suits our proposed style of mining and, as one of Australia’s largest hard-rock underground mining equipment solutions providers, we will have access to a large range of equipment options and high-class maintenance and rebuild capacity – giving us significant operational and strategic flexibility, which is important when operating a number of underground mines.

“This includes having access to the Emeco operating system, which could add significant value to future operations, as well as having a contracting partner that is willing to embrace the very latest in mining technology and data management and usage, including the proposed use of underground electric vehicles, which we have already trialled.”

Mincor has also completed – on time and budget – all works associated with the Early Works Contract at Cassini project. This work, carried out by Hampton Mining and Civil Services, included clearing of the Cassini site area, excavation of the box-cut (pictured), construction of the site office pad, magazine and waste areas and construction of the surface settling dams and haul road.

Babylon expands equipment and service offering to BHP Nickel West

Babylon Pump & Power says it has secured a new power generation and dewatering contract with BHP’s Nickel West division, in Western Australia.

The ASX-listed company has provided dewatering services for BHP since October 2018 and this contract expands on the equipment and services to be provided while securing the existing business for a further three‐year term – from February 1, 2020 to January 31, 2023 – it said.

Last year, Babylon Pump & Power established a rental service base on the East Coast of Australia with the completion of its acquisition of Primepower Queensland. This made it one of the largest independent and diversified engine re-builders in Australia, it said.

Alliance and BHP Nickel West extend air charter services agreement

Alliance Aviation Services Limited has extended the air charter services to BHP Nickel West for a further five years.

This service, which has been operational since November 2006, was Alliance’s initial service in Western Australia and has become the cornerstone for the company developing a large presence in the state, the company said.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s CEO, said: “Alliance has worked with BHP Nickel West as a partner in the provision of these services accommodating changes during the resources downturn and now we are experiencing growth of up to 17 charters per week as economic conditions continue to improve.

“As with our other resources customers throughout Australia, we are seeing growth in the number of charters as the current demand for resources is maintained and production increases.”

In July, Alliance won a three-year extension to its aviation services contract with St Barbara’s Leonora gold operations in the state.

BHP Nickel West, meanwhile, has recently signed a mining services contract extension with Thiess, part of the CIMIC Group, to continue operations at the Leinster underground mine.