Tag Archives: Bowen Basin

MES dual- and tri-fuel tech to equip miners with decarbonisation tools

Leading mining contractor Thiess is looking at diesel abatement options across its fleet of haul trucks, which is where the company’s recent agreement with Australia-based Mine Energy Solutions comes into play.

This tie-up will see the use of locally sourced methane gas to displace significant proportions of diesel in large mining trucks using MES’ “currently available and proven” dual-fuel technology.

The agreement to bring lower emission, dual-fuel technology to Thiess’ mining fleet represents a first for a mining services provider in the industry, according to the company.

The partnership has commenced with the planned conversion of a fleet of six 240-t class mining trucks and seeks to source coal seam gas from coal seams on site in the Bowen Basin of Queensland to allow the removal of the equivalent B Double diesel deliveries from local highways. Thiess said that, longer term, it and MES will seek to expand to full fleet conversion before exploring further opportunities both within Australia and Internationally.

MES’ CEO, Adrian Abbott, said in the announcement last year: “We’re proud to partner with Thiess and apply this technology in the Bowen Basin. Our focus is to use locally-sourced gas through the capture and use of fugitive methane contained in the coal resource to enable the average mine site to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint by more than 550,000 t of CO2-e per annum.”

MES’ High Density Compressed Natural Gas (HDCNG®) technology was previously trialled at the New Acland coal mine in Queensland, Australia, with help from New Hope Group and well-known heavy equipment specialists, Hastings Deering Group. This saw a Cat 789C haul truck converted from diesel use to dual-fuel operation using natural gas as the dominant fuel through sequential gas injection.

Graham Box, Business Development and Project Facilitation Lead at MES, says the project at New Acland enabled the company to develop an “industry-ready product” that was safe, reliable and delivered equivalent performance to full diesel operations while also driving reductions in the carbon footprint of the truck.

“There are a number of process and procedures taken from almost two years of the New Acland work related to safe and efficient operations as well as regulatory compliance that have formed the basis for establishing an execution plan for this Thiess project,” he told IM.

“The equipment we are using has evolved to a further level of sophistication resulting in a most efficient and robust solution.”

While the truck and engine models might have changed compared with the work carried out at New Acland – Thiess and MES are installing the dual-fuel technology on Cat 793F trucks with C175-16 engines, while the New Acland trial involved Cat 789s and Cat 3516B haul trucks and engines, respectively – the objectives remains the same.

“We’re continuing to demonstrate the pathway to decarbonisation and the steps that can be achieved with current technology,” Box said.

The plan with the Thiess project is to have a “familiarisation truck” up and running in August to allow all site personnel to get trained on the new system, with the five follow-on trucks coming online before the end of the year.

At the same time as Thiess and the mine site owner are familiarising themselves with this technology, MES will be running haul truck engine simulations with tri-fuel technology.

This solution – which incorporates diesel, methane and hydrogen – will see the “green” hydrogen blended into the methane, providing a “zero emission component” of the gas blend, Box said. With both tri- and dual-fuel, more than 70% of energy will be derived from non-diesel sources.

The company plans to start running simulations with this technology on its 3,500 hp (2,610 kW) dynamometer fitted to a large-format engine in the September quarter.

Image capture of an operating dyno simulating mine circuit operations using a circuit data file provided by one MES client

Box expanded on this: “We have a state-of-the-art dyno facility where we are able to operate the engine to its full rated power as if someone is physically operating the truck. We oversee that from a control room and run simulations based on actual circuit data that our mining clients provide us. This includes the haulage cycles their trucks are running, the grades and declines experienced, load profiles and many other operating parameters and conditions.

“All of our development work is carried out with this circuit simulation capable dyno and we then put it into a field-operations environment as we are about to do with Thiess.”

MES intends to field test its tri-fuel program in the first half of 2023.

Bis to provide tailored equipment solution for Anglo American Capcoal contract

Australia-based Bis has secured a new multi-year contract for Anglo American’s Capcoal operations near Middlemount, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland.

The off-road haulage, materials handling and site services contract is the latest in an ongoing relationship between Anglo and Bis that spans more than 20 years.

The contract will see Bis supply a tailored high payload equipment solution for the operation’s rejects haulage. Additionally, the company will deliver site services including road maintenance, dust mitigation and run of mine equipment feed, as well as haulage of topsoil, rock and run of mine coal as required.

Bis Chief Executive Officer, Brad Rogers, said the company’s ability to provide a tailored haulage and logistics solution, specific to this operation, was a key factor in securing the new contract.

“We have a long history of integrating customisable OEM innovations and existing solutions to deliver against specific customer objectives. This competency continues to drive operational efficiencies and reduce costs for our customers. It’s a formula that works.

“For instance, the specific higher payload capacity solution put forward for this project delivers significant advantages for Anglo American. It means a reduction in the total equipment required, vehicle movements and fuel consumption; all three of which directly contribute towards improved safety, sustainability and productivity outcomes for the customer.”

The range of tailored equipment incorporated to deliver the project includes double trailer configuration haulers, wheel loaders, graders, water trucks and a compaction roller.

The fleet is fitted with the latest Bis safety and productivity management systems, including Trifecta, which is a new in-cabin artificial intelligence driver and vehicle monitoring software developed with EDGE3 Technologies. The system collects and analyses data in real time to improve both safety and productivity. The system collects, analyses and reports driver behaviours such as drowsiness, mobile phone use, smartwatch use, smoking, seatbelt and other violations. Trifecta then ‘learns’ over time to pre-empt high risk incidents in real-time through alerts to drivers and supervisors. Bis says it has exclusive rights to use and sell the system across a range of markets.

On site mobilisation for this new contract is expected to commence from August.

Blue Energy investigates potential to power Isaac Plains fleet on hydrogen

Blue Energy Ltd says it has executed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stanmore Resources Ltd that could see mine gas converted to hydrogen to power Stanmore’s Isaac Plains Complex equipment fleet.

The latest MoU relates to future pilot production activities at Stanmore’s ATP 814 tenement in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia, but it builds on a previously announced non-binding MoU for the commercialisation of mine gas from Stanmore’s proposed underground operation adjacent to ATP814.

The gas used by Blue for conversion to hydrogen will be pilot gas which would otherwise be flared, and this trial project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Blue’s activities and also reduce diesel fuel usage by Stanmore which, in turn, reduces the CO2 produced by the combustion cycle of their fleet of vehicles, Blue said. The company is currently investigating off-the-shelf modular hydrogen generation equipment that is portable and able to be installed either centrally or at the well head, with the hydrogen generated transported in purpose-built cylinders to Stanmore’s Isaac Plains Complex site for use in their vehicle fleet.

Blue Energy’s Managing Director, John Phillips, said: “Being able to avoid flaring of pilot gas production by converting it to hydrogen is a step forward in reducing emissions prior to gas developments, and, in this case, has the added bonus of also lowering emissions from neighbouring mining operations.”

Blue is in the process of establishing technology partners for this hydrogen trial and, now with a foundation hydrogen offtaker secured, is confident the use of blue hydrogen from its pre-development activities is a positive step toward lowering the greenhouse gas emission footprint of the Bowen Basin coal mining precinct.

Macmahon banks coal mining work with Foxleigh joint venture

Macmahon Holdings confirms it has been selected as the preferred tenderer to provide equipment hire and maintenance services at the Foxleigh joint venture operation in Queensland, Australia, from March 1, 2021.

The Foxleigh mine is an open pit, truck and excavator operation in the Bowen Basin, which produces low volatile PCI coal for Asia steel mill customers.

The proposed scope of work for Macmahon involves the hire and maintenance of 21 large capacity dump trucks and other ancillary equipment over a five-year term, together with the maintenance of client-owned equipment.

Macmahon estimates this work will generate around A$250 million ($177 million) in revenue and require capital expenditure of circa-A$50 million. Most of this capital expenditure will be to acquire 220 t dump trucks, which are expected to have a useful life of 10 years, Macmahon says.

Michael Finnegan, CEO and Managing Director of Macmahon, said: “We are very pleased to be selected as the preferred equipment and maintenance provider for the Foxleigh project, and we are looking forward to delivering for a new client in Queensland. This selection highlights our expertise in sourcing and maintaining large scale mining equipment and our ability to offer a range of service models to our clients.”

Foxleigh is jointly owned by QMetco, POSCO Australia and Nippon Steel Australia.

Queensland set to welcome Olive Downs project to coking coal ranks

Queensland looks like adding a new coking coal mine to its ranks after the state government approved mining leases for Pembroke Resources’ Olive Downs project.

The granting of the leases follows approvals from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in early 2020, and the grant of the Environmental Authority by the Queensland Government in 2019.

Pembroke Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Barry Tudor, thanked Minister Anthony Lynham for the mining lease approvals, saying they were the final approval hurdle to commence the first 6 Mt/y stage of the project.

Olive Downs is expected to create over 1,000 new jobs in the region as the project is developed to produce up to a forecast 15 Mt/y of saleable coal over its 79-year mine life.

CIMIC Group companies Sedgman and CPB Contractors will carry out the design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the operation’s coal handling and preparation plant, which will have sufficient capacity to process the first phase of annual production of up to 6 Mt of run of mine coal from Olive Downs, according to Pembroke.

“We are extremely pleased to have been granted the mining leases, having consulted extensively with the local community over the past four years,” Tudor said. “In addition to our commitment to the environment, we have focused on creating local jobs and proactively engaged with all stakeholders, including establishing a strong relationship with Barada Barna as the traditional owners of the land, with whom we have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Cultural Heritage Management Plan in place.”

With some 838 Mt of JORC resources and 514 Mt of open-cut JORC reserves of coking coal, Olive Downs is widely acknowledged as a potential Tier One steelmaking coal project, Pembroke says. Strategically positioned in the Bowen Basin and with access to infrastructure, the project will supply steelmaking coal to markets globally and continues to attract strong interest within the industry across Asia, including Japan, Korea and China.

Olive Downs has already assembled the key elements required to commence construction following the grant of the mining leases, including securing access to power, water, rail and port, even as finance and offtake partners are finalised.

Olive Downs is 100% owned by Pembroke, an Australia-based specialist steelmaking coal company and is backed by its major shareholder, Denham Capital, a leading global energy and resources private equity firm.

Macmahon extends stay at expanding Byerwen coking coal mine

Macmahon Holdings is to help increase production at the Byerwen mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin after securing an expansion and three-year extension of its work at the coking coal operation.

Macmahon has been providing open-pit mining services at Byerwen since the establishment of the mine in November 2017 and employs more than 430 people on site. The mine is owned by Byerwen Coal Pty Ltd, a joint venture between QCoal Group and Japanese steel manufacturer, JFE Steel.

The new contract significantly expands production to 10 Mt/y of hard coking coal, and applies from June 1, 2020, until November 1, 2023. The expected revenue over the contract period will be A$700 million ($483 million), with full capacity expected from July 2020, Macmahon said.

There is also an option to extend the contract for a further two years after this period. If this option is exercised, revenue from the contract could exceed A$1 billion, according to the company.

The expansion will involve capital expenditure by Macmahon of A$16 million on ancillary equipment. The contractor has also procured two additional 800 t hydraulic excavators for the project worth A$37 million, it said.

Macmahon CEO and MD, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this expansion and extension at Byerwen, which is one of our cornerstone projects in Australia. Byerwen Coal is an excellent partner and the project has been very successful since its inception. We look forward to continuing to work with our client on the development of this premium asset.”

QCoal Group Managing Director, Christopher Wallin, said the production increase at Byerwen was testament to the favourable economics of the project and the work of the QCoal staff and contract partners involved in developing the mine over several years.

“The development of the Byerwen project is a great success story for the industry, with the mine now emerging as a very low-cost producer of hard coking coal,” he said. “I am very proud that this expansion will enable us to further contribute to the Queensland economy with additional local employment and opportunities for regional communities.”

LDO Group looks to accelerate away from Australia BEV competitors

LDO Group of New South Wales is looking to capitalise on the push toward reducing diesel emissions in underground mining operations in Australia by supplying Rokion battery-powered crew and utility vehicles that not only decarbonise mining environments, but also potentially boost mine productivity.

LDO has held the exclusive distributor mantle for Canada-made Rokion battery-powered vehicles in Australasia since 2018. In that two-year period, the company has seen interest in electrification gradually increase.

In South Australia, BHP has trialled light electric utility vehicles at Olympic Dam with Voltra’s LandCruiser conversions. In Victoria, Safescape’s Bortana EV has built up four months’ worth of usage data from Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine; the vehicle has also had a brief outing in Western Australia’s renowned Kambalda nickel district. Other mine-ready utility vehicles have also made an appearance in Australia such as the Tembo 4×4 Electric Cruiser and Electric HLX.

These come on top of the battery-electric ST14 LHD Epiroc has delivered to the Glencore-owned CSA mine at Cobar in New South Wales, plus the interest logged from the recent tour of Sandvik-owned Artisan Vehicle Systems’ Z50 battery-electric haul truck.

The last 12 months has been a busy period for LDO, with initial interest from the Australian market being converted into trials (more on that later) or much more advanced discussions, according to LDO Managing Director, Peter Ross.

“There has always been an interest since we started looking into this in 2015, but, in the last year especially, we have seen it spread right throughout the coal industry,” he told IM.

It is the Australian coal sector the company is currently focused on, a market that, until now, has been further down the pecking order for battery-electric vehicle producers. Most have homed in on the country’s hard-rock mines.

Underground coal mines are also a new environment for Rokion’s trucks, which are currently proving their worth at Vale’s Sudbury nickel operations in Canada.

Alan Ross, Sales Manager at LDO Group, says the Rokion battery-powered vehicles are prepared for the challenge of operating in an underground coal mining environment.

“Most of the tailoring is from an Australian regulatory perspective,” Alan Ross said. “The machine has already been specifically designed for underground environments, so will be able to cope with these conditions.”

While acknowledging the “serious competition” from other electric vehicle suppliers, Peter Ross said the Rokion products are second to none in their class: “Rokion trucks are engineered from the ground up for mine use, and built by an OEM with significant mining pedigree – these vehicles are not conversions.”

He added: “It’s all well and good having battery-powered machines, but they have to be able to deal with the realities of operating in an underground mine, protecting personnel while navigating roads and ramps that can deteriorate from one hour to the next.”

The benefits of improved drive ergonomics and environmental conditions are often overlooked while focusing on vehicle performance, according to Peter Ross.

“Our trucks produce no emissions, generate less heat and less noise than all other mining vehicles,” he said. While difficult to measure, it is expected that an improved working environment would allow mine personnel to perform to their potential, boosting overall mine performance.

Drive ergonomics and employee performance are not the only selling points.

Rokion trucks are equipped with lithium iron phosphate batteries – the safest battery technology currently available, according to Rokion. Battery modules are (re)charged on ramp descent thanks to the vehicle’s regenerative braking capacity, which contributes to longer operating times without charge. Other benefits include reduced brake and drive wear, extending the duration between maintenance intervals, Rokion says.

The vehicles can also navigate mine sites with 20% grade at a full gross vehicle weight and full speed while travelling more than 70 km per charge – typically more than enough to get the battery through a full shift.

On top of this, Rokion has manufactured its battery-powered vehicles for simple and easy maintenance.

The modular change-out options – which extend to both the battery and drive system – are “ideal for remote mining locations where the priority is to have dedicated service personnel with expertise in production mining equipment rather than in electric vehicle technologies”, Rokion says. This will come in handy in the coal mining hub of the Bowen Basin, in Queensland, where maintenance staff with battery-electric expertise are in demand and in short supply.

Broadmeadow baseline

It is this region where LDO has made some serious headway of late with the Rokion vehicles.

The BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) is in the process of preparing a Rokion R400 to go underground at the Broadmeadow mine, near Moranbah in the Bowen Basin. This follows an above-ground trial of the smaller Rokion R200 at the same mine.

BMA is a 50:50 joint venture between BHP and Mitsubishi Development Co that operates seven metallurgical coal mines in the Bowen Basin, plus the Hay Point Coal Terminal near Mackay.

Paul Wyatt, Electrical Engineering Manager, Governance & Technical Stewardship Superintendent at BMA Broadmeadow, said the company initially visited Rokion in Canada back in 2017. At this time, the Rokion range included the R100 that came in a two-passenger utility or four-person crew configuration and the R200, built on a slightly larger four-passenger vehicle platform with double the battery capacity (44 kWh).

On the lookout for a battery-electric personnel carrier vehicle to test at its Australian mine sites, BHP agreed to trial an R200 at Broadmeadow. This was part of a group-wide project to reduce health impacts from diesel particulate matter exposure at BHP underground operations.

In 2018, the R200 then took part in an above-ground trial at the underground Broadmeadow mine.

Wyatt explained to IM: “We mapped the underground RLs (Reduced Levels) and we did a series of trials around the surface of the mine to get a grip on the dynamics of the machine, its performance in this replicated environment, the charging time, and how it coped with the extreme heat of Australia compared with Canada where it had previously worked.”

This trial proved successful on all fronts.

“That surface trial laid the platform for us to move into the underground environment,” Wyatt said. “We then knew the vehicle was capable of working underground, and we also knew it could be charged on the surface ahead of a shift and would not need charging again.”

The latter factor was important for the Broadmeadow team as the establishment of underground charging infrastructure would have added complexity to the project.

A zonal system coordinated through RFID tags on the R200 and underground mine infrastructure meant the non-explosion-protected vehicle could roam around 80% of the underground mine without entering hazardous areas close to the working face. Modifications to the gas monitoring capabilities of the machine also meant it ticked the regulatory box required for underground coal mine use.

More testing ensued, with the results, again, proving positive.

“The operators liked the quietness of the machine, the reduced heat generation and the fact you could have a conversation with other people while operating the vehicle,” Wyatt said.

The Broadmeadow team were still keen to see how the newest Rokion machines would perform at the underground mine considering the product advancements the Rokion Engineering team had made since the 2018 R200 was delivered for testing, hence the latest R400 trial.

The R400 platform allows for a diverse range of vehicle configurations from three or six passenger utility up to nine or 12 passenger crew variants, Rokion says. It also comes with 100 kWh of battery capacity and a much smoother ride, according to Wyatt.

Wyatt said the R400 was only weeks away from going underground at the mine after arriving at Broadmeadow earlier this year.

While using the same underground blueprint the R200 had in place – coordinated through the RFID tags equipped on the machine and mine – the R400 will be used as a “development support” vehicle in this latest trial, taking people close to the working face, but staying within the ‘non-hazardous’ zones of the mine as the R400 is not yet explosion-protected, something Rokion and LDO are working toward changing.

The two companies are expecting to release the explosion-protected version of the R400 sometime in 2021.

This is not the only battery-electric machine set to be tested at Broadmeadow in the medium term, with a battery-electric LHD trial also being eyed up, according to Darren Wood, BMA Broadmeadow’s Project Manager of Mods & Small Projects.

In the meantime, the R400 trial will allow Broadmeadow to gain a better understanding of how it could eventually use battery-electric utility vehicles for crews of up to 12: the number it currently transports in diesel-powered personnel carriers at the mine.

Rokion says it is well positioned to meet this demand as development of a 12-passenger R400 is now complete while development of an explosion-protected model is well underway.

The BEV race

LDO hopes the progression of the R400 trial at Broadmeadow will generate further interest in battery-powered technologies in Australia.

BMA’s reviews to date will help this cause, with Wyatt saying the advancements in engineering from the R200 it had on trial to the new R400 waiting to go underground at Broadmeadow were impressive.

LDO will be hoping to make the most of this opportunity, ensuring it retains its lead over battery-electric competitors only now starting to look at Australia’s underground coal market as a lucrative proposition.

CIMIC’s UGL to service Alcoa alumina refineries, Bowen Basin clients

CIMIC Group says its services specialist, UGL, has been awarded new contracts worth A$180 million ($123 million) with Alcoa, in Western Australia, and “multiple clients” in the coal-rich Bowen Basin of Queensland.

These new contracts will be executed over a three-year period, providing mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and access services for maintenance, shutdowns and sustaining capital projects, it said.

The work with Alcoa is across the Wagerup and Pinjarra alumina refineries and involves “multi-discipline services” over three years.

In Queensland, UGL is due to carry out maintenance, shutdown and project services across multiple sites and with multiple clients in the Bowen Basin.

UGL Managing Director, Jason Spears, said: “We are excited to be leveraging our 30 years of experience in the mining industry to support key organisations in the resources sector. Our strong working partnerships with leading mining organisations support UGL’s reputation for solid performance and safe delivery of maintenance and shutdown services.”

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.

Downer receives two-year extension at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside coal mine

Downer EDI says it has been awarded a A$200 million ($134 million) contract extension to provide mining and related services at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Goonyella Riverside coal mine, in Queensland, Australia.

The two-year contract commences today and replaces an existing agreement that commenced in 2016 and expired on September 30, 2019. It also has provisions for it to be extended for up to a further three years.

The scope of work to be carried out by Downer under the contract is pre-strip overburden removal, with Downer intended to use existing capital equipment to carry out this task.

Chief Executive Officer of Downer, Grant Fenn, said: “Downer has been working closely with BMA at a number of mine sites for many years and we look forward to continuing to provide safe and productive services at the Goonyella Riverside coal mine.”

Downer is providing similar services in Queensland at the likes of Blackwater, Goonyella, Commodore and Meandu mines.