Tag Archives: Bill Johnston

Western Australia puts money behind ‘net zero’ emission mining pledge

Western Australia has committed to its “net zero emission” mining pledge by committing up to A$1.5 million ($1.17 million) in funding for research and development geared towards decarbonising the sector.

Today, Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnston, launched the first actions of the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia’s (MRIWA) Net Zero Emission Mining Challenge.

This MRIWA challenge aims to reduce the carbon footprint, lower overall energy costs and improve the energy efficiency of the Western Australian mining sector through harnessing collective efforts, enabling decarbonisation to become an opportunity for the sector, not a cost, the MRIWA says.

MRIWA has identified three priority themes representing cross-cutting issues in the mining sector that would benefit from a collaborative approach to addressing the challenge. This includes data-driven decisions, mining and processing technology, and energy utilisation.

A A$1 million competitive funding round opened today to co-fund research proposals that address challenges to reducing emissions in the mining industry.

Additionally, expressions of interest opened for small to medium businesses in the mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector to participate in CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow online program.

The free 10-week program will commence in July and help METS leaders develop innovative solutions to business challenges related to net zero emission mining in Western Australia, the government said.

The Western Australia Government (through MRIWA) is offering A$500,000 (A$20,000-$50,000/grant) to eligible program participants to develop their solutions. These grants require matched funding and will be subject to an application process after the program’s completion, it explained.

Johnston said: “Today’s funding announcement will support the diversification of our state’s economy, and progress research on overcoming the challenges to decarbonise the mining sector. METS are a vital part of the resources sector supply chain, and I encourage all eligible small businesses to apply and play a role in the McGowan Government’s commitment of net zero emissions by 2050.”

Applications for CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow program close on June 28, 2021, and applications for the A$1 million competitive funding round close on July 7, 2021.

Fortescue puts first tonnes through Eliwana iron ore processing facility

Fortescue Metals Group is celebrating first ore through the ore processing facility at its Eliwana mine and rail project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, and Deputy Chairman, Mark Barnaba, celebrated the official event on site at Eliwana with Bill Johnston, Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy; Industrial Relations, representatives of Fortescue’s native title partners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People, and members of the Fortescue Board of Directors and the core leadership team.

Gaines said: “Eliwana is the next important stage of development of Fortescue’s world-class, integrated operations. Exploration commenced in this area in 2006, and we have now delivered a new 30 Mt per annum dry ore processing facility and infrastructure, along with 143 km of rail which is in the final stages of construction.

“Eliwana will see us maintain our low-cost status and provide us with greater flexibility across our product mix. Construction of the mine, village and infrastructure was completed safely over a 12-month period, in line with budget and schedule.”

Eliwana will help Fortescue maintain its overall production rate of a minimum 170 Mt/y over 20 years, the company has said.

Rio and Hitachi Rail STS celebrate AutoHaul achievements

Rio Tinto and its lead technology partner on the AutoHaul™ project, Hitachi Rail STS, joined together today to celebrate the successful deployment of the world’s first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network.

AutoHaul trains, which deliver safety and productivity benefits for Rio Tinto’s iron ore business, have also firmly positioned Western Australia and its heavy-haul rail industry as a global leader in the joint development and application of rail technology, Rio said.

Today, 2.4 km long trains, monitored remotely from an operations centre in Perth, travel across a network of 1,700 km of track, delivering iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert in Western Australia. These trains have now safely travelled more than 4.5 million kilometres autonomously since they were first deployed last year.

“This world-first was made possible by the close collaboration with project partners from Japan, US and Australia,” Rio said. “These include Hitachi Rail, Calibre, New York Air Brake, Wabtec and others who provided the necessary expertise, innovation and software to make AutoHaul a success. Several of these partners maintain a strong presence in Western Australia and have committed to continuing to invest locally.”

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director Rail, Port & Core Services, Ivan Vella, said: “The success of AutoHaul would not have been possible without the expertise, collaboration and dedication of teams within Rio Tinto and our numerous partners. I’d also like to commend our train driving workforce for their support and professionalism during the transition period.

“This project has cemented Western Australia as a leader in the heavy-haul rail industry and has attracted interest from around the world. The successful deployment of the world’s first heavy-haul long distance rail network demonstrates the potential for significant further improvement in such operations with others around the world looking to replicate.”

Western Australia Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston, who also joined in with the celebrations, said the AutoHaul project is a world-first and an example of the strength of Western Australia’s resources industry, which continues to excel in technology and innovation.

“I’d like to congratulate Rio Tinto, Hitachi and all the other project partners for their hard work and dedication over the past decade to delivering this project, which really cements our State as a global leader in rail technology,” he said.

“AutoHaul has brought the rail freight industry in this country into the 21st century and is rightfully the subject of global interest. I’d also like to mention that the development of the world’s biggest robot is such a success because of the contribution from Western Australia’s skilled engineers and innovative workers.”

Michele Fracchiolla, President Americas and APAC Business Unit, Hitachi Rail STS, said: “Hitachi Rail STS is extremely proud of the lead technical and delivery role it played in enabling the deployment of the world’s first fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance rail operation.

“This is a new technical benchmark for the freight rail industry worldwide and the result of a long-established and collaborative partnership between Rio Tinto and Hitachi Rail STS. Now that the trains are running autonomously, the levels of continuous improvement that can be achieved in safety, operational efficiency and sustainability are endless, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with Rio Tinto to enhance the AutoHaul system.”

Early results from the deployment of the $940 million AutoHaul program highlight the technology’s potential to improve productivity, increase flexibility and reduce bottlenecks in Rio Tinto’s iron ore system, the miner said. “Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations are being transformed to flex in line with market conditions and AutoHaul is a vital component in increasing flexibility and safety in the system.”

Rio operates about 200 locomotives on what is the largest privately-owned rail network in Australia and, in December, the deployment of software on Rio Tinto’s locomotives was completed.

“Autonomous trains improve safety through reduced risk at level crossings and automated responses to speed restrictions and alarms,” Rio says. “AutoHaul also removes the need for almost 1.5 million km of road travel per year previously required to transport drivers to and from trains mid-journey.”

All locomotives are fitted with AutoHaul safety systems including collision detection systems, automatic train protection technology – which controls train speed to ensure adherence to speed limits – and an on-board video camera to record the front view from the train.

The average return distance of these trains is about 800 km with the average journey cycle, including loading and dumping, taking about 40 hours. All public rail crossings on the network are fitted with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded to the highest safety standards, according to Rio.