Tag Archives: Brazil

Vale and Wabtec to optimise maintenance processes for EFC loco fleet in Brazil

Vale and Wabtec have announced a master service agreement (MSA) to further increase the efficiency and operations of the Evolution Series (EVO) Locomotive fleet on the Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC), in Brazil.

The strategic 10-year deal, valued at R$1.8 billion ($341 million), will optimise the maintenance services for Vale’s fleet increasing availability, reliability and the potential for expanded freight transport on the EFC connecting the southeast of Pará to the capital of Maranhão, São Luís, Vale says. The EFC is around 1,000-km-long, covering 28 municipalities. The railway branch is around 100-km-long and connects EFC to the S11D project, in Canaã dos Carajás.

Carlos Medeiros, Vice President of Operations at Vale, said: “This long-term strategic agreement means a new standard of reliability, availability and safety for EFC locomotives, reinforcing our commitment to consistently invest in the quality and technology of our railway operations and promote the technological development of the railway sector in Brazil.”

Wabtec will analyse locomotive performance data from the last three years at EFC. The company also will provide real-time monitoring on 5,000 parameters of the EVO locomotives operating on the railway. Wabtec’s Global Performance Optimisation Centers will evaluate the data and identify opportunities for continuous performance improvement and optimization of maintenance cycles, reducing towing and failure rates.

Danilo Miyasato, President and Regional Leader of Wabtec in Latin America, said: “Wabtec has a proven history of providing integrated services designed to maximise reliability and availability of customers’ locomotives at optimal operating costs. This contract reinforces our long-standing working relationship with Vale to drive sustainable and efficient growth of EFC’s railway operations.”

In addition to planning and supplying parts for preventive maintenance, the agreement foresees the creation of specialised jobs in São Luís, contributing to the local economy and strengthening regional infrastructure, Vale says.

Vale and Wabtec have worked together for almost three decades to supply locomotives, materials and components for the EFC. In July 2023, the two companies also announced an agreement for the purchase of three FLXdrive battery locomotives, which will operate for the EFC, which represents an important step in its journey towards decarbonisation.

STEINERT sensor-based sorting solutions helping Ferbasa adopt ESG practices in Brazil

The use of sensor-based sorting (SBS) technology is allowing Companhia de Ferro Ligas da Bahia (Ferbasa) to avoid unnecessary processing by separating a fraction of the high-grade material from the metallurgical process feed in advance, a recent case study from STEINERT has revealed.

Ferbasa is in Ipueira, a municipality in the state of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil. It operates one of the largest chromite mines in Brazil and is considered a pioneer in the use of SBS technology, STEINERT says. The company processes chromite obtained from an underground mine, with the extracted material pre-concentrated using sorting technology that employs sensors, and is later used in the production of specialised steel alloys.

With a processing capacity of 12 Mt/y, the company has been using sensor-based sorting for 10 years, in a completely dry process that separates waste from high-grade chromite.

Eriberto Nascimento Leite, Mining Director at Ferbasa, says the ability to avoid unnecessary processing by separating a fraction of the high-grade material from the metallurgical process feed in advance through the use of SBS removes the requirement for any additional processing. In that way, particles which are not economically viable are eliminated from the process beforehand with only valuable material undergoing the follow-on concentration steps.

At Ferbasa, the use of SBS technology has enabled an increase in production, in addition to reducing costs in the subsequent processes, such as comminution and the use of inputs, such as reagents.

“Today, at Ferbasa, sensor-based sorting technology helps us adopt ESG practices, reducing waste, maximising production efficiency and contributing to the conservation of natural resources,” Nascimento says.

Nowadays, it is not only the mined ore that is processed, but also the stockpiles, which contain considerable amounts of chromium. The treatment of these stockpiles is only possible thanks to process automation and its high-capacity levels, which reach up to 180 t/h. Stockpile treatment has the potential to increase productivity in the mine. In terms of resource use, there is potential to reduce the consumption of water, energy and chemical reagents primarily because SBS is a dry separation process, unlike other pre-concentration processes such as dense media separation.

Ferbasa has always used a pre-concentration process with the aim of separating lump ore, which has a high chromite content, from the low-grade ore that goes to the concentration plant. However, this used to be a manual separation process. Bartolomeu Fonseca, the former Processing Manager at Ferbasa, discovered an article about sensor-based sorting technology from STEINERT. In 2012, he prepared material to be sent for tests at STEINERT’s Test and Development centre in Germany, and these were deemed successful.

A STEINERT KSS XT L in the chromite preconcentration setup

Ten years ago, when the first equipment was being installed, Ferbasa’s employees were sceptical about its capacity to support the adverse conditions in the mine. This is why STEINERT Latinoamericana, a subsidiary of STEINERT GmbH in Germany, offered a “try and buy agreement”. Over the years, the equipment’s high level of durability has been verified, resulting in the first unit still being in operation today, with a total of 34,000 hours of runtime.

“Looking back, it was not easy to apply the technology, but I decided to move forward because I believed that the technology could be effective,” Fonseca says. “Now, already retired, I am very proud of the legacy that I have left to the company. I had the full support from the mining director at that time, Wanderley Lins, but it was my responsibility to make it work.”

In 2014, during the commissioning of the first sorting system, a STEINERT XSS-T, STEINERT Latinoamericana started a partnership with Ferbasa.

Alonside this, STEINERT currently has a team of 30 collaborators who serve several mining clients in Latin America, in addition to having a test centre near the office in Brazil, enabling tests to be carried out with more convenience and efficiency for local clients.

Ferbasa started operating its first equipment in 2014. By 2019, it already had six units installed for the processing of run of mine and low-grade stockpiles.

The production benefits from flexibility of the sorting systems, which generate waste material, pre-enriched material and high-grade material. The processing capacities are up to 120 t/h for particles of 1- 3 in (25-76 mm), reaching up to 180 t/h for particles from 2-5 in. In terms of the sizes processed, the combination of sensors facilitates the separation of particles up to 5 in; a feature that, STEINERT says, reinforces the robustness and efficiency of the equipment for the detection and ejection of extremely coarse particles. In total, recoveries reach values of up to 90%, with upgrades of up to 1.5-3 times the feed levels.

Currently, Ferbasa applies SBS technology to process 100% of their run of mine, using two units from STEINERT, the STEINERT XSS T and STEINERT KSS | XT L, in a two-step process. In the first step, waste material is rejected, and, in the second, pre-enriched and high-grade materials are generated. The high grade-material meets the content specifications to be sent to the metallurgic plant, while the pre-enriched material is sent to another plant to follow other concentration procedures. Furthermore, the technology is applied in the processing of low-grade stockpiles, using two STEINERT KSS | XT L units – which combines the X-ray transmission sensor with three other additional sensor options (Induction, 3D laser, and Colour) – in two steps to separate waste, pre-enriched material and high-grade material. As a result, the low-grade stockpiles are processed in an economically viable way and with high sustainability gains.

Samarco sets monthly iron ore pellet production record with Metso unit

Samarco Mineração S.A. has set a monthly production record during August 2023 of 824,829 t of high-grade pellets in a single pelletising line with its 816 sq.m Metso Pelletizing Plant Indurating Machine #4 at its Ubu site in Brazil.

On an annalised basis, the production is equivalent to approximately 8.8- 9 Mt/y of pellets from a single machine. Samarco has installed three additional Metso Pelletizing Plants at its Ubu site.

Pedro Sousa, Sales Manager, Ferrous & Heat Transfer, South America, said: “We’re very excited to see Samarco breaking their monthly iron ore pellet production record and would like to congratulate the whole team for this great achievement. It makes us proud to see how our solutions are helping our customers improve their pelletising operations while simultaneously supporting the journey toward decarbonisation.”

Currently, only the Plant #4 is in operation, with Samarco and Metso discussing the revamp of the three other plants to continue increasing pellet production and decarbonising the steel industry processes using sustainable technologies, according to Samarco’s gradual production revamp plan. Related test work and studies are currently being performed at Metso’s R&D facility in Frankfurt, Germany.

Metso’s traveling grate pelletising process produces uniform pellets, ensuring high performance and quality with low investment and operating costs, as well as decreased energy consumption and emissions, according to the OEM.

Samarco is a joint venture owned by Vale and BHP. Samarco’s principal place of business is in Belo Horizonte, with units operating in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. The company’s main product is iron ore pellets, the raw material for steel production.

TOMRA Mining talks sulphide ore sorting in copper, zinc, lead space

When processing sulphide ores to extract copper, zinc or lead, the focus is on ensuring that the mill is always operating at full capacity. The challenge is to optimise the process by eliminating waste in the early stages and maintain a high recovery rate, TOMRA Mining says.

This means that less barren or low-content rock will be processed, consequently increasing the metal content in the input of the mill. The result: significant cost savings and reduced environmental impact per produced tonne of metal.

In the case of copper, the mineralogy and lithology of the ore will affect how effective sorting can be at removing waste. When sorting copper sulphides with a non-disseminated texture, the focus is on waste removal to maximise recovery. However, three quarters of global copper production come from porphyry deposits, where very small grains of the metal are disseminated, making detection particularly challenging. Zinc and lead sulphides present similar sorting challenges to non-disseminated copper, although the metal content in the mineral is typically higher, so the focus will be on waste removal while maintaining the recovery levels.

The technology to sort copper, zinc and lead sulphides effectively to optimise the process is available from TOMRA Mining, it says. Its X-ray Transmission (XRT) sensor-based sorting technology can effectively detect sulphides in mineralised run of mine materials as they carry elements with higher atomic densities than non-mineralised waste rocks. After crushing, the ore in a size range from +8 mm to 80 mm is fed into the sorters and the barren and low content rocks are eliminated, resulting in a higher head grade of the mill feed. In addition, the eliminated waste can be replaced in the mill with more upgraded sulphides, increasing the efficiency of the mineral process.

However, in order to maintain the capacity of the mill, it is necessary to increase the amount fed to the crusher. This will have an impact on the mine and extraction planning. Due to the lower processing costs of sensor-based sorting, it is also possible to bring this in the calculation of the resource evaluation and the final pit design, according to TOMRA Mining.

TOMRA’s XRT sorters scan the individual rocks fed into the machine on a conveyor belt with overhead X-ray sources. At the same time, detectors located inside the belt collect data from the ore. The position of sensors, close to the rocks, combined with the strong X-ray power sources result in extra high-resolution images. This enables TOMRA’s XRT sorters to effectively process even most of the challenging porphyry copper disseminated deposits. Waste rocks are ejected by high-precision, fast pneumatic module, which adds to the sorter’s efficiency.

In copper sulphides with disseminated texture, a TOMRA XRT sorter can achieve an upgrade ratio of copper content in the mill feed ranging from 20% to 100%, while separating 20%-45% of mass as the waste material. With porphyry copper, the cut-off grade is typically 0.5%, but in view of the surging demand, it is now often as low as 0.2-0.3%. With TOMRA’s XRT technology, it is possible to achieve high recovery rates even at the lower grade, as shown by the tests conducted on run-of-mine samples from at OZ Minerals’ Antas Norte mine, in Brazil, the company says. The sorter demonstrated its ability to achieve recovery rates of at least 90% or reduce the waste grade down to 0.3% copper.

Heitor Mesquita Carmelo, Plant Manager at OZ Minerals Brazil, explains: “A bulk test was conducted to evaluate TOMRA’s XRT technology, and subsequently, the company decided to test it continuously in a pilot installation at the Antas Norte site. The results were consistent in both tests, demonstrating that the technology is effective for industrial application. TOMRA’s technology holds significant potential for OZ Minerals Brazil’s strategic plan, with the possibility of making deposits with lower ore grades viable, reducing operational costs, enhancing transportation safety for pre-concentrated ore, as well as decreasing the CO2 emission resulting from this activity.”

Heitor Mesquita Carmelo, Plant Manager at OZ Minerals Brazil

In lead and zinc sulphides, tests conducted by TOMRA have shown that it is possible to achieve an upgrade ratio of two to three times lead or zinc in the output of the sorter. Here the mineralisation plays an important role and can dramatically affect the upgrade ratio, TOMRA Mining says.

TOMRA’s XRT sorter delivers multiple benefits for copper, zinc and lead mining operations, beginning with its uniquely high capacity, which can be as high as 150-200 t/h per sorting width meter – a differentiator of TOMRA’s which also meets the requirements for medium- and large-size operations, it says. The sorter’s operational efficiency can be further improved with TOMRA Insight, a cloud-based subscription service that turns the sorter into a connected device that generates process data. It enables mining operations to monitor and measure performance in real time and optimise the process as well as tracking faults to improve maintenance and keep the plant always operating at its best.

Another important benefit of the sorter is the capacity to lower operating costs through its efficiency and energy saving features such as its ejection module that uses compressed air to eject the particles – up to 80% less compared to other ejection systems – dramatically reducing energy consumption compared to conventional sorting machines.

Optimising the process also reduces its impact on the environment. In addition, TOMRA’s XRT technology is a dry process, so that the overall use of water and chemicals is also reduced.

Vale gears up for low-carbon iron ore briquette production in Brazil

Vale has started load tests of its iron ore briquette plants at the Tubarão Unit in Vitória, Brazil, as part of a project it believes could eventually reduce steel industry CO2 emissions by up to 10%.

The load tests are part of the plant’s commissioning and are one of the last stages before production begins, it said.

Vale’s CEO, Eduardo Bartolomeo, said: “This is a historic moment for the steel industry. After several years of development in Brazil, we are offering an innovative product that will support our clients in the challenge of decarbonising their operations and we are meeting demands from society to fight climate change.”

The briquette is produced from the low-temperature agglomeration of high-quality iron ore using a binder technology solution, which gives the final product high mechanical strength.

Announced by Vale in 2021, the briquette has the capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in steel production by up to 10% compared with the traditional blast furnace process by eliminating the carbon-intensive sintering stage. This reduction is significant when considering that the steel industry is responsible for around 8% of the world’s emissions.

The product also reduces the emission of particulates and gases such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as eliminating the use of water in its production. The briquette can also be used in the direct reduction route, replacing the pellet.

The first briquette plant in Tubarão (pictured, photo: Rafael Coelho) is scheduled to start up this year and the second plant at the beginning of 2024. They will have the capacity to produce 6 Mt/y of briquette. The two units were originally dedicated to the production of pellets and were converted for briquettes. Investment in the project amounted to $256 million and generated 2,300 jobs during construction.

Vale began developing briquettes around 20 years ago at the Ferrous Technological Center in Nova Lima (Minas Gerais). It is part of the evolution of iron ore products offered by the company throughout its history, the result of significant investments in research and innovation. Until the 1960s, the basic product was high-iron lump. As the supply of lump fell, the first pelletising plants were set up in Brazil, which allowed the use of fine ore (pellet feed) and continue to be important for the steelmaking chain. The briquette, as well as pellets, are part of Vale’s portfolio of high-quality products. The company expects to expand its production capacity to 100 Mt/y of briquettes and pellets after 2030.

The briquette is also included in Vale’s strategy to reduce its Scope 3 emissions, related to the value chain, by 15% by 2035.

The company also aims to reduce its net direct and indirect carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 33% by 2030, as a first step towards becoming a zero-carbon company by 2050. Vale has already signed more than 50 agreements with clients to offer decarbonisation solutions, which account for 35% of the company’s Scope 3 emissions. Among the proposed solutions is the construction of briquette plants co-located on the premises of some customers.

Among the agreements signed, three aim to set up “Mega Hubs” in Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman) to produce “hot-briquetted iron” (HBI), in order to supply the local and transoceanic markets, with a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. It is expected Vale will build and operate iron ore concentration and briquetting plants at the hubs, supplying the raw material for the HBI plants, which will be built and operated by investors and/or clients. Vale is also studying the creation of similar hubs in Brazil, though no location has yet been defined.

Weir Group marks Minerals and ESCO progress in H1 results

The Weir Group has issued its half-year results to June 30, 2023, noting some significant achievements across its Minerals and ESCO divisions.

Headline numbers for the six-month period included a 19% year-on-year jump in revenues to £1.3 billion ($1.67 billion) and a 26% rise in operating profit to £212 million.

Weir Minerals continued to execute on key strategic growth initiatives, and during the first half gained market share in its core mill circuit product categories, it said.

The company said: “We converted 100% of our competitive field trials for large mill circuit pumps, and also rolled-out our latest cyclone technology.”

One highlight in the period came at a large Brazilian iron ore mine, where Weir Minerals upgraded the cyclones to its latest Cavex® 2.0 solution. The new cyclones, which are Synertrex®-enabled, have improved separation and increased mineral recovery by more than 400,000 t/y, according to the company.

Cavex 2 cyclones were launched in 2020, introducing new geometric features to offer performance unmatched by any cyclone in operation at that point, the company claimed. The advanced LIG+ design (patent pending) enables the Cavex 2 hydrocyclones to classify up to 30% more feed slurry, while occupying the same footprint as competitor hydrocyclones, according to Weir.

Weir Minerals says it also made good strategic progress in sustainable solutions during the six-month period and delivered year-on-year growth in comminution. New orders included a pebble crushing plant for a large copper mine in South America and a crushing solution for a potash mine in Canada.

The company also said it saw “very encouraging interest” from customers for its Redefined Mill Circuit, securing orders from large copper mines in South America for coarse particle flotation (CPF) pilot circuits, in partnership with Eriez.

“Through this strategic alliance, we have integrated CPF technology with our latest generation Warman® mill circuit pumps and Cavex cyclones to provide significantly improved recoveries and process efficiencies for our customers,” it said. “Once operational in the September quarter, these plants will be important reference sites for the industry.”

Around a year ago, Weir Minerals and Eriez Flotation announced a cooperative agreement to design and develop CPF systems. This allows both companies to better connect the Eriez equipment with the slurry classification and conveying expertise of Weir Minerals, according to Ricardo Garib, Division President of Weir Minerals.

Weir Minerals also launched its new, proprietary digital intelli-solutions for pumps, cyclones and high pressure grinding rolls which, coupled with its Synertrex 2.0 platform, captures critical machine health data and enables remote condition monitoring.

It concluded: “We continued to invest in research and development of our core technologies including new materials and polymers, and upgrades and range expansions for our industry leading Warman slurry pumps.”

Weir ESCO, meanwhile, reported that the number of mines using Motion Metrics™ AI-enabled vision technology increased during the first six months of the year, with new orders including a package of five ShovelMetrics™ and five LoaderMetrics™ systems to be deployed across all large mining machines at an iron ore mine in Western Australia.

“The division made excellent progress in growing market share in mining attachments, with a 37% year-on-year increase in orders,” it said. “A particular highlight included converting four cable shovel buckets from competitor products to ESCO technology for a large North American copper miner.”

The division also provided an update on trials of its proprietary ore characterisation technology, which has been leveraging the BeltMetrics™ solution from Motion Metrics positioned above a conveyor directly after the crusher in the flowsheet at an unnamed mine. As well as using the rugged vision technology Motion Metrics has previously used, the company is also incorporating hyperspectral imaging into the mix for this trial.

It reported: “Field trials of our proprietary ore characterisation technology were successfully completed during the first half. Tests enabled critical data to be collected and validated the performance of the technology in a real-world environment.”

Development has now progressed to the next phase focused on exploring “novel illumination” technologies to enhance minerals characterisation, it added.

New Motion Metrics capabilities and functions were launched during the six-month period, including an upgraded lens cleaning solution that enhances machine vision capability and improves response times.

“Other technology investments included development of a new series of mining attachments that, once launched, will expand our addressable market,” it said.

Vale hits ICMM’s GISTM target for tailings storage facilities

Vale says it has implemented the Global Industry Standard for Tailings Management (GISTM) in 48 of its 50 tailings storage facilities (TSFs), with plans to bring the two remaining TSFs into conformance by August 2025.

The GISTM was developed after the tragic failure of a tailings facility at Brumadinho, Brazil, in 2019, through an independent process convened by ICMM, the United Nations Environment Programme and Principles for Responsible Investment.

The standard sets a high bar and contains 77 requirements integrating social, environmental, local economic and technical considerations which strive to achieve the goal of zero harm to people and the environment, according to ICMM.

Vale says of the 48 TSFs now in conformance with the GISTM, 35 are in the Iron Solutions business unit in Brazil and 13 in the Energy Transition Metals business unit (11 in Canada and 2 in Brazil).

“The two remaining Iron Solutions TSFs in Brazil have a lower consequence classification and will be in conformance with the standard by August 2025, following the criteria of the Conformance Protocols defined by ICMM,” Vale said.

The 48 TSFs in conformance meet the GISTM requirements, and some of them have action plans in place according to the Conformance Protocols, according to the company. In addition to meeting the 77 standard requirements, a TSF in conformance with the GISTM means that the oversight, monitoring and transparency of information have been and will continue to be improved, according to Vale. The focus is on the safety of people and the environment throughout the entire TSFs life cycle.

When the GISTM was published in August 2020, ICMM members committed to conform with the standard for tailings facilities classified as ‘extreme’ or ‘very high’ consequences by August 2023, and all other facilities by August 2025. Members are due to publish their progress towards conformance with the GISTM by August 5, 2023, for tailings facilities with the highest potential consequences in the event of a failure.

The ICMM said earlier this week that it anticipated some companies will not achieve full conformance with the standard’s requirements.

Implementing GISTM for Vale’s TSFs represents only one part of the company’s efforts to become safer and more sustainable, the miner says. Vale has been improving the management of its mining dams by conducting an in-depth technical analysis of the historical, current condition and performance of each structure. The preventive, corrective and monitoring actions have also been intensified, being increasingly integrated with social movements and updated according to legislation.

Vale also continues to progress de-characterisating its upstream tailings dam structures in Brazil. As of 2019, out of the 30 dams of this kind included in the program, 12 have already been de-characterised, representing 40% of the total. The program is expected to be completed in 2035. The de-characterisation of upstream facilities in Brazil is Vale’s commitment, in addition to being part of the current Brazilian federal and state legislation on dam safety.

Multotec expands Brazilian presence with new manufacturing facility

Multotec has recently expanded its operation in Brazil with the opening of a manufacturing facility that, it says, enables the company to bring its manufacturing capabilities closer to its customers in the country, increasing its speed to market and enabling it to better serve the local mining sector.

Located in the city of Contagem, in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais, the manufacturing facility is within close proximity of a multitude of iron ore mines that require an extensive range of mineral processing equipment for their plants.

Multotec Brazil Country Manager, Anthony Artin, explains that with Brazil being the world’s second-largest iron ore producer, Multotec had identified the country as a potential area of growth many years ago.

Artin says that, initially, Multotec Chile was overseeing the full South American region, with the company deciding to open a sales office in Brazil in 2019, giving focused service to Multotec’s customers here.

“The dynamics of Brazil are very unique as it is the fifth biggest country in the world, with the sixth largest population,” Artin says. “It has strict and complex import regulations.”

The feedback from clients emphasised the importance of localised sales and manufacturing in Brazil, according to Artin. Commercial and legislative requirements prompted a shift in Multotec’s approach, transitioning from a sales office to establishing a manufacturing facility in the country.

He said: “Our clients highlighted the significance of Brazil for Brazilians, emphasising the need for local manufacturing facilities to cater to the Brazilian market.”

The new facility focuses strongly on screening media, using compression moulding for the production of rubber screen panels and also hand-casting polyurethane (PU) panels. However, customers are increasingly requesting other products too, such as samplers and spirals that are used in mineral processing and separation.

“There are currently two bays in the manufacturing facility,” Artin says. “One is used for stockholding, assemblies and shipping, while the other is used for fabrication. Fabrication is done in two areas, with presses used for compression moulding of rubber and hand-casting moulding PU tables, alongside a PU preparation section and ovens.”

Artin notes that the facility has the capacity to produce 15-20 t/mth of elastomers and employs trained people in manufacturing and in stores, shipping and receiving. Plans are in place to increase the factory’s manufacturing capability in terms of injection moulding and more compression moulding, he said, adding that more machines will be incorporated into the operations – resulting in more people being employed in the future.

In addition, the premises also contain an office currently staffed by commercial, sales and administrative people. Having the office and manufacturing facility in one location is an added advantage, according to Artin. “It is beneficial having the people who sell the products located in the same space production,” he says. “They can thus understand the intricacies of the product and the processes that are involved in the manufacturing of the equipment.

“The ultimate goal is to have a fully localised branch. We want to have an all-Brazilian team, working for Multotec Brazil. Local partners and suppliers are key to us as we rely on local raw materials to deliver completely locally manufactured products.”

While the company’s focus has been on establishing the manufacturing facility, Artin says it has already applied for an extension of its environmental licence to ramp up its monthly production as it takes advantage of Brazil’s current lithium boom, which presents considerable opportunities in dense medium circuits.

Multotec Brazil will receive support from Multotec’s global industry knowledge and expertise, leading to enhanced operational efficiencies and providing customers with comprehensive solutions over and above a quality product offering, the company says. Furthermore, Brazil will collaborate closely with Chile on the Multotec range of customised samplers. With input from Chile and local manufacturing in Brazil, this collaboration will create a seamless workflow that maximises efficiency, ensuring the delivery of high-quality samplers tailored to the specific requirements of customers, it concluded.

Vale hits solar generation capacity at Sol do Cerrado energy complex in Brazil

Vale says it has reached maximum capacity at the Sol do Cerrado solar energy complex in Brazil, one of the largest solar parks in Latin America.

The project is set to supply 16% of all the energy consumed by Vale in its operations in Brazil, in line with the company’s strategy of achieving zero CO2 emissions by 205o.

Vale reached the full installed capacity of the Sol do Cerrado project, in Jaíba, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, on Tuesday (July 18). On this date, the company received authorisation from the National Electric Energy Agency (ANEEL) for the commercial operation of the last photovoltaic plant of the project, of a total of 17. The project has an installed capacity of 766 MW (peak), equivalent to the consumption of a city of 800,000 inhabitants, Vale says. Operating at full capacity, the solar complex will supply 16% of all the energy consumed by Vale in Brazil.

Sol do Cerrado, whose investments totalled around R$3 billion ($590m), is an important step in helping Vale achieve its climate goals of reducing net carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 33% by 2030 and zeroing them by 2050. The energy generated by the solar park will reduce Vale’s emissions by 134,000 t/y CO2e, which represents the emission of approximately 100,000 compact cars, according to the company. Vale also expects to reach 100% of renewable energy consumption in Brazil by 2025, and globally by 2030.

Vale began operations at Sol do Cerrado in November last year, with the start-up of four of the 17 photovoltaic plants or sub-parks of the complex, and expanded the operation over the following months, according to authorisations from the regulatory body.

The project has 1.4 million solar panels with an automatic tracking system of the sun’s movement during the day, for greater use of the sun’s rays in energy generation. Some 10.2 million metres of cables are used to conduct the energy.

Currently, Sol do Cerrado has about 100 permanent workers of various qualifications, such as electrotechnicians, electricians and general service assistants. During the implementation of the solar park, between 2021 and 2023, about 3,000 jobs were generated at the peak of activities, with almost 50% deemed to be local labour and 16% of the total jobs taken up by women.

Ludmila Nascimento, Vale’s Energy and Decarbonisation Director, said: “Over the past few months, we have been working hard on the ramp-up of the project, which went exactly as planned. We have successfully connected the 17 plants of the solar park and should already reach peak production next summer. Sol do Cerrado is a complex that brings together local development and renewable energy, contributing to our goal of being leaders in sustainable mining.”

The project also includes a 15-km-long transmission line, with a voltage of 230,000 volts, connecting the Sol do Cerrado and Jaíba collector substations, from where the energy is discharged to the National Interconnected System.

U&M and Hexagon ready to deploy AHS solution at Brazil mine

U&M Mineração e Construção S/A, as the largest native open-pit mining contractor in the Americas and one increasingly focused on sustainability, is about to embark on a major autonomous haulage project that could prove transformational for all sizes of mine sites across the globe.

The company has been busily working on an in-house Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) for several years, enlisting the help of Hexagon’s Mining division back in 2020 to ensure what it delivered to the market was a commercial proposition with widescale applicability, IM discovered this week at HxGN LIVE Global 2023 in Las Vegas.

Now the companies are ready to deploy their combined OEM-agnostic AHS solution at a mine in Brazil, starting next month, as part of a plan to bring two AHS-enabled retrofitted Caterpillar 777 trucks to the operation.

The collaboration is seeing U&M carry out all mechanical changes to the 100-ton-class payload trucks to make them automation-ready without disturbing the OEM system. The contractor is also in charge of the navigation system and software that the trucks will run on – the ‘autonomous driver’ as it could be termed.

Hexagon, for its part, provides the HxGN Autonomous Mining Mission Manager Solution to optimise the movement of autonomous and non-autonomous vehicles, and mine production activities through one interface; the World Perception solution to enable object detection, operator vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-person awareness; and some additional on-board infrastructure – such as sensors and an antenna.

This, according to the companies, makes for an autonomous contractor solution that can be rolled out anywhere in the world.

“What we are creating is a scalable platform that can be used on any truck,” Mauricio Casara of U&M says

“The first project may involve Cat 777s, but what we are creating is a scalable platform that can be used on any truck,” Mauricio Casara, Commercial Director at U&M, told IM. “We are looking to improve on the legacy AHS solutions by making automation available to any size of mine with any type of trucks.”

As part of the company’s R&D work to this point, it has also retrofitted an autonomous solution on a Komatsu 730E, with that truck running at its proving grounds in Brazil.

Interestingly for this proof of concept involving the two Cat 777s, the plan is to enable the trucks to interact with both autonomous and manned vehicles in the haulage cycle from the off: an interaction that the traditional AHS providers have only just started to work on after more than a decade of industry deployments.

This is just one of the hurdles the solution will overcome, according to Andrew Crose, Vice President, Autonomous Mining, Hexagon’s Mining division.

“The world perception sensor stack that we have on board these machines will allow us to distinguish between trucks, light vehicles, berms, people and many other objects,” he said. “By leveraging this, we can ensure the trucks operate as safely as possible while being as productive as possible. That is key to achieving buy-in from all stakeholders involved.”

While the official partnership for this project was not signed until 2020, U&M has been utilising the GNSS positioning smarts of Hexagon – through the NovAtel business it acquired – for many more years.

This same GNSS solution is being leveraged in the two-strong autonomous truck trial along with V2X, 4D Radars,  ultra-wideband time-of-flight systems and more.

Crose added: “It’s worth mentioning that around 60% of the autonomous machines running in the field have some Hexagon solution on them. We are sometimes providing the positioning, world perception, fleet and mission management, onboard autonomy and by-wire, all part of our interoperable strategy.”

While this initiative is inevitably going to pique the interest of those companies in charge of running these autonomous trucks, U&M has no plans to compete with the likes of Caterpillar and Komatsu when it comes to manufacturing automation-ready trucks.

“There are so many existing trucks out in the field that our clients are running; all of which can be retrofitted with the solution we are working on,” Casara said. “The whole industry talks about sustainability and how to mine sustainably, but the sustainable solution to achieving autonomous operations is not to build brand new trucks and equip them for automation; it is to retrofit the smarts onto them to enable that automation.

“This is the sustainable way to roll out the automation needed across the sector to achieve mining companies’ productivity and decarbonisation goals.”