Tag Archives: Brisbane

BluVein charges into mine electrification space

BluVein, armed with its “dynamic charging” philosophy, is pitching a different option to miners looking to electrify their underground operations over the long term.

While battery-electric machines such as light utility vehicles, mobile mining support equipment, and low-to-medium tonnage LHDs and trucks have spread throughout major mining hubs like North America, Europe and Australia, the next step is electrifying the machines with the heaviest duties in the underground mining space.

If the sector settles for battery-electric options in this weight class for uphill haulage scenarios, they will need to leverage bigger batteries, more battery swapping or some additional charging infrastructure to power vehicles up ramp.

Two of the leading mining OEMs in the electrification space are considering all the above.

Sandvik, through its wholly owned Artisan Vehicles subsidiary, is developing a 65 t payload battery-electric haul truck with a bigger battery than its 50-t vehicle (the Z50) that will see quick battery swapping employed on uphill hauls, while Epiroc is weighing the potential of fully-electric operation with a battery and trolley combination in its larger payload class trucks.

BluVein is intent on laying the groundwork for multiple OEMs and mining companies to play in this space without the need to employ battery swapping or acquire larger, heavier batteries customised to cope with the current requirements placed on the heaviest diesel-powered machinery operating in the underground mining sector.

It is doing this through adapting charging technology originally developed by Sweden-based EVIAS for electrified public highways. The application of this technology in mining could see operations employ smaller, lighter battery-electric vehicles that are connected to the mine site grid via its Rail™ and Hammer™ technology and a sophisticated power distribution unit to effectively power electric motors and charge a vehicle’s on-board batteries.

This flexible technology is set for a trial later this year, with the company – a joint venture between EVIAS and Australia-based Olitek – already busy behind the scenes enlisting a number of funding partners to push forward with a collaborative pilot aimed at demonstrating the next generation of trolley assist technology.

With this aim in mind and knowledge of previous trolley projects at underground mines, IM put some questions to BluVein Founder, James Oliver.

IM: What input does Olitek provide within BluVein? Do they produce customised prototype battery-electric machines?

JO: BluVein is a new company formed through a partnership between EVIAS and Olitek. While we are a new venture, unlike traditional start-ups, BluVein is backed by two highly experienced long-standing companies and is seeking to enable the fully-electric mine of today.

The biggest need for electric mining vehicles is in heavy-duty load and haul applications on inclined roads. In this instance, batteries on their own are not up to the task – not even close. Dynamic charging is the game-changing technology that will enable fully-electric heavy-duty load and haul on inclined roads.

In the partnership, Olitek provides the mobile vehicle, robotics, electrical and mining environment expertise to enable BluVein to operate safely and reliably in a mining environment. BluVein is currently working with a number of mining vehicle OEMs to integrate the BluVein system to suit their on-board battery and motor architecture, enabling safe dynamic charging from a standardised slotted rail system.

The joint venture does not produce customised prototype battery-electric vehicles or battery machines, and we are vehicle OEM-agnostic; we are open to working with any battery-electric vehicle manufacturer enabling standardised dynamic charging.

IM: What companies are involved in the collaboration mentioned? What is the aim of this collaboration (timelines, goals, etc)?

JO: Currently we are not able to disclose which mining companies and vehicle OEMs we are working with – it will be revealed in the not-too-distant future. They are, however, a selection of very well-known major companies from Sweden, Canada and Australia. We are open to other like-minded, early adopters to join the BluVein collaboration.

Our aim is to commence building our industry-backed technology demonstration pilot site in Brisbane, Australia, by late 2021 in a simulated underground environment. This will involve a section of BluVein rail and at least one electric vehicle fitted with the BluVein hammer system to demonstrate dynamic charging whilst hauling loaded up an incline.

IM: What are your overhead systems (BluVein Rail) providing that your typical underground trolley systems are not providing? How does the infrastructure required compare with, say, what Vale has in place at Creighton and Coleman in Sudbury for its Kiruna trucks?

JO: Existing trolley assist systems that utilise exposed high voltage conductors cannot be used in many mining jurisdictions globally due to safety concerns and an inability to comply with mining regulations. This is particularly the case in underground mines where clearance above mobile fleets is limited. The BluVein rail system is unique as all high voltage conductors are safely housed within ingress protection (IP) rated slots. This effectively mitigates against risks of accidental contact by mining personnel or the vehicles.

The safe and standardised systems allow for the charging of a vehicle’s batteries whilst simultaneously powering the electric-drive motors. This gives a battery-electric vehicle almost unlimited range and eliminates the requirement for battery swapping, downtime and charge bay infrastructure requirements.

Volvo FMX Electric with BluVein

And BluVein Rail does not need to be installed in all parts of the mine – only in the heavy-duty cycle zones such as mine declines and pit ramps. When tramming/hauling on flat gradients, mining vehicles operate on their own internal batteries. This dramatically reduces the system installation complexity and installation cost. Where the BluVein Rail terminates, the vehicle automatically disconnects and reverts to its on-board batteries for power, without stopping.

Ease of maintenance is one of our focus points for BluVein. The BluVein system is developed to handle typical mining drive terrain conditions so no special maintenance is required to cater for conductor contact relative to the vehicle. Our BluVein Hammer, an all-terrain trolley, takes care of this. This provides the connection between the mobile machinery and the BluVein slotted rail. As the vehicle moves through an inclined underground tunnel or along a pit ramp, the Hammer maintains the electrical connection even over rough road conditions. Operator assist controls, such as smart auto connect and disconnect functionality, are also incorporated.

BluVein is the ‘next generation’ of trolley assist technology with all the benefits and none of the negatives of the old systems.

IM: How long and steep an uphill climb is required, on average, to make the business case work in the favour of BluVein technology over your typical battery-only system? When does the TCO equation tip in favour of your solutions over other trolley systems on the market?

JO: Typical battery systems are super high cost when you consider the full impact of charge bay infrastructure, numerous large operating batteries per vehicle and rapid battery life decay. BluVein, however, has a relatively low capital cost in comparison as it enables smaller, lighter and lower power on-board batteries to be used that never require swapping or static charging.

Therefore, from day one, the TCO for BluVein will likely be favourable compared to typical battery-only systems, regardless of haul length.

IM: Are BluVein Hammer or BluVein Rail already installed at mine sites around the world? What models of machines have they been integrated on?

JO: The underlying technology for the BluVein Rail and Hammer has been developed over the past 11 years with EVIAS for electrified highways. BluVein is the adaptation of this technology specific to the harsh conditions found within mining.

The BluVein system has been designed to suit nearly all current mining battery-electric vehicles so that a single BluVein Rail installed in a mine can power the entire fleet, even if that fleet is comprised of mixed OEM machinery.

A working EVIAS system has been installed in an open highway setting in Sweden, but no mining applications exist at this point. As mentioned, BluVein will have a pilot site underway by the end of 2021.

IM: Given a Volvo TA15 all-electric hauler is pictured on your website, are you also working with open-pit miners on this collaboration?

JO: BluVein is not just suited to underground applications, however, initially that is the focus given the urgency around eradicating diesel emissions and particulate matter and its carcinogenic properties.

BluVein pilot site concept – simulated underground

BluVein has strong application in open-pit mining and in quarry environments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve productivity and costs. The technology can leverage all the same advantages seen underground in open-pit applications. The bonus with underground is we have free infrastructure to hang the rail from.

A number of our partner mining companies are assessing the BluVein system for both surface and underground deployments.

Komatsu to boost Australia East Coast supply chain with new Wacol distribution centre

A major new distribution centre that, Komatsu says, will significantly increase customer satisfaction by improving parts and components availability, further reduce order turnaround times and streamline ordering efficiency, will be opened by the OEM in the June quarter of 2021.

Komatsu’s new Wacol distribution centre – which will also include elements of its Brisbane parts and components Reman operation – will consolidate four existing distribution and storage centres into a single facility.

Construction of the new Wacol centre, which is currently underway, is scheduled to be completed by May 2021, in time for Komatsu’s global centenary celebrations.

According to Russell Hodson, Komatsu’s General Manager, Supply Chain, the key driver of the new facility is to improve customer satisfaction across its Queensland, New Zealand and New Caledonia operations.

“Customers in these regions – which includes large mining customers – are currently serviced from our various Brisbane facilities, and by consolidating them into a single operation, we anticipate a marked improvement in customer satisfaction,” he said.

“The new facility will also be much safer for Komatsu employees and service providers, making use of the latest warehousing technology and systems, including anti-collision systems and full worker/machine separation throughout.

“In addition, we’ll see improvements in quality by bringing storage of all parts and components under cover, while a one-part/one-location approach will eliminate the chances of binning and picking errors – further contributing to improved customer satisfaction.”

Komatsu will also see some significant efficiency and cost benefits through consolidation to a single facility, maximised space utilisation, and lower transport costs, it said.

“We’re also going to in-source our warehousing operations so all staff will be Komatsu employees, which will better enable us to continue our ongoing program of continuous improvement,” Hodson said.

“At this new facility, we’ll employing 50 new people into Komatsu; we see this as a great opportunity to build a fantastic team that can deliver extraordinary results for our customers in a new and exciting facility.”

The development of this new facility was part of Komatsu’s broader East Coast supply chain strategy, according to Hodson.

“This strategy aims to improve the flow of our goods and information to our customers,” he said. “And there’s much more to come as we strive to continuously improve our operations for the benefit of our customers.”

Being constructed on a 3.8 ha site adjacent to its existing Queensland head office, service, training and customer support facility, the new centre covers nearly 17,000 sq.m, with an order picking storage area of just under 14,500 sq.m, and an extra large parts/components storage area of over 2,000 sq.m, it said.

“When it opens, our new Wacol DC will also fully integrate our mining and construction operations for Queensland, NZ and New Caledonia,” Hodson said.

GHH and STE team up to take on eastern Australia mining market

GHH, a specialist in civil engineering and mining machinery, has set its sights on the Australasian region after signing a partnership agreement with Sydney-based Specialist Tunnel Excavation (STE).

With its loaders, dump trucks and utility vehicles for rock logistics above and below ground, GHH has long been represented on many continents. Now the manufacturer, part of the Schmidt Kranz Group, is adding to its sales office in Brisbane, Australia, by joining up with STE.

“We want to shorten the distance to our customers in Australia,” GHH Global Sales Manager, Ken Stapylton, said on the agreement. “Contact before, during and after the purchase is important to us – after all, we are happy to supply tailor-made solutions”.

STE will help GHH cover eastern Australia. With 25 years’ experience on the Australasian continent, STE, like GHH, supplies turnkey solutions: for bulk and detail rock excavation using surface mining, tracked trenchers and specialist excavators for applications across tunnelling, road, rail, civil, mining and pipeline projects throughout Australia and New Zealand, GHH says.

Lee McCourt, Director of STE, said: “GHH completes our range of high-quality machines for almost everything in the field of rock logistics that drives on wheels.”

McCourt’s business was established to provide target industries with a more efficient and safer method of excavation of rock geology, through use of the latest equipment and technology available anywhere in the world, according to GHH.

“The German machine technology fits in perfectly as it is characterised by a driver-friendly, ergonomic design, robust and safe construction and high economic efficiency,” it said. “And, when it comes to ‘going green’, most of the GHH equipment is available in Tier 3, Tier 4 Final and Stage V engine emission packages. Only recently, GHH won an international prize for its product design.

A first joint project is already being planned between the two companies, but GHH says a whole range of vehicles from other co-operations are being put into position for eastern Australia.

BHP consolidates digital project offering with new Brisbane facility

BHP, to more effectively ramp up its use of digital technologies, has opened the first of its ‘digital factories’ in Brisbane, Australia.

Instead of having digital projects delivered by multiple parts of its business, the factory will create a unified ‘community of practice’ among technical roles, according to Rag Udd, BHP Acting Chief Technology Officer.

“The new hubs will abandon the traditional hardware-centric approach to innovation and will help us maximise the use of cloud technologies for rapid digital development in an enhanced digital environment,” he said.

An example of that comes from the company’s coal business where it is launching its “first digital factory”.

Udd explained: “The coal mined from Caval Ridge needs to go through a processing plant. Typically, for every 100 t that enters the plant, around 58 ts of sellable product comes out the back-end. In our digital factory trial, we set the team a challenge of improving this yield using just 12 months’ worth of historical data.”

The team quickly created an algorithm that told the company what the optimal setting for the plant was, based on the blend of coal coming from the mine, according to Udd.

“There is more to do, but this will help us improve our yields and increase the utilisation of our processing facility,” he said. “This is the very definition of productivity: a low cost way to markedly improve an output.”

In the future, BHP hopes to see much more of this type of innovation, according to Udd.

“Our sites are expected to benefit from the rapid deployment of reliable solutions that make their lives easier, minimising variability and unplanned outages,” he said. “The factory will focus on projects that can be delivered quickly, where minimal onsite infrastructure is required and where the return on investment is many multiples of the initial outlay.”

While BHP has started in coal in Brisbane, it plans to also launch digital factories in Chile, North America and Western Australia, according to Udd.

“They will partner with our operations to help solve asset-specific problems,” he said. “Struggling with a well performance issue in the Gulf of Mexico? Speak to your local factory and see if machine learning can provide some insight. Conveyor belt reliability issues in Chile? Let’s see if your ‘digital foreman’ can run some advanced analytics over data from the sensors.”

He concluded: “Other industries have shown us that this model works. With the right people and the right operating model set up, I am confident that we can bring an exciting new element to the way we solve operational problems, and in doing so rapidly create real and lasting value for BHP.”

Mineral Resources adds crushing wear parts expertise with acquisition of MWP

Mineral Resources Ltd says it has completed the acquisition of Mining Wear Parts (MWP), a privately-owned company that provides specialist parts to the mining, quarrying and recycling industries across Australia.

MWP, based in Brisbane and with operations in Western Australia, was established by David Macfarlane in 2016. Since then it has grown to become a leading and profitable national supplier of replacement parts used in crushing, milling, slurry pumps, mobile equipment and various consumable products such as castings, according to Mineral Resources.

As part of the transaction, Macfarlane will continue to lead MWP, which will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mineral Resources’ CSI Mining Services business (CSI). It is the company’s intention to retain the Mining Wear Parts trading name.

“Under its new ownership structure, MWP will have access to CSI’s financial, strategic and operational capabilities to execute the next step-up in its national growth plans,” Mineral Resources said. “In addition to accelerating MWP’s growth, MRL will incorporate the MWP business into the company’s Kwinana workshop as a first step towards establishing a fitting and services arm for the parts supplied by MWP.”

Mineral Resources Chief Operating Officer, Mike Grey, said: “As a leading provider in the mining services sector, with a significant footprint in crushing, in particular, the acquisition of Mining Wear Parts is a logical addition to the Mineral Resources Group of Companies and will allow us to further vertically integrate our supply chain.

“Mineral Resources, through CSI Mining Services, will be a significant client of Mining Wear Parts but we also look forward to introducing and expanding Mining Wear Parts and its quality service offering to our client base to deliver value-adding opportunities for all.”

Macfarlane, meanwhile, said: “With the support of Mineral Resources, Mining Wear Parts will be able to morph very quickly into a larger business with the ability to significantly increase our range of stocked parts and products and build a large technical and experienced base to better support and service our national client base.

“Importantly, Mineral Resources aligns with the culture we have established at Mining Wear Parts of being innovative and delivering value-adding solutions for our clients.

“Together, we will be able to grow Mining Wear Parts’ presence in the repairs and service markets by bringing the best service people, backed by premium wear and spare parts, the most advanced workshops such as Mineral Resources’ Kwinana facility and tooling for the best outcome for all of our clients.”

Rema Tip Top lays the groundwork for Australia expansion

Rema Tip Top has opened a “Centre of Excellence” in Brisbane, Australia, as it looks to expand its material processing capabilities into the future.

This facility will be the home of its east coast surface protection hub, extending on the expertise of its Perth surface protection operations to provide increased local and national services for its customers, the company said.

“The facility, based in Northgate in Brisbane’s inner north, is strategically positioned on the east coast to provide more agile service to new and existing customers and will offer increased support to the company’s largest clients, many headquartered in the area,” the company said.

It features dedicated workshop and office space with close proximity to transport hubs including Brisbane Airport and Brisbane Port, providing Rema Tip Top with the ability to “strengthen its approach to servicing its customers across the entire country”, the company said.

“A key component of Rema Tip Top’s focus on diversification, the centre is also poised to provide access to new materials handling operations in the region, including cement and food processing industries,” the company added.

Karsten Bartnicki, CEO Rema Tip Top Industry Australia, said that the new Brisbane Centre of Excellence will create an immediate economic impact in the region, providing a range of new employment opportunities and also underpins Rema Tip Top’s commitment to investment in infrastructure to drive sustainable growth.

thyssenkrupp boosts Australia mining service offering with new Brisbane facility

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions says it has opened a new service centre in Brisbane, Australia, which is ideally located to support its customer base on the East Coast of Australia as well as clients in Oceania using major logistics channels through the Queensland capital.

The facility, opened on May 14, is the result of a roughly A$1 million ($1.1 million) investment, the company said. It includes a 350 sq.m office and 1,000 sq.m of warehouse and workshop space with room for 30 employees. “The portfolio includes, among others, the warehousing and servicing of wear and spare parts, equipment refurbishments, engineering and field services and revamps,” the company said.

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions says it offers mining companies “tailored, cost-efficient and responsible solutions for mining, processing, handling raw materials”.

Donald Weir, CEO of the Service business unit of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, said the company is continuously expanding its service offerings in these regions in order to offer the best possible service to its customers.

“Through our investment in Brisbane, we make sure that also our customers on the East Coast of Australia profit from the knowledge and experience thyssenkrupp’s global service network offers,” he said.

Andrew Howie, CEO of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Australia, said the new facility enables the company to co-locate its engineering and project staff with service personnel.

“For our clients in the mining, cement and chemical industries, this means they benefit from an integrated project lifecycle approach, incorporating the latest products and technologies,” he said. “After having worked successfully with our customers in Australia for many years, this investment was a logical consequence.”

MICROMINE to offer Austmine attendees a preview of Micromine 2020

Mining software solutions provider, MICROMINE says it is preparing for what will be a busy few days at the Austmine 2019 convention on May 21-23.

The theme of the biannual event is “Mining Innovation: The Next Horizon” and product specialists and experts from MICROMINE will be on hand to demonstrate the company’s leading mining software solutions and answer technical questions, the company said.

Micromine Product Strategy Manager, Mark Gabbitus, said: “Austmine is Australia’s premier event for the mining industry, with insightful presentations, interactive workshops, networking opportunities and the chance to find out about the latest innovations and technology on offer from exhibitors.

“With representatives of dozens of global mining and exploration companies gathered specifically to hear about product innovation and developments, MICROMINE will showcase its range of software solutions, detailing the latest innovations and enhancements and providing expert guidance on how users can achieve the best results and outcomes from our products.”

Product specialists on the MICROMINE stand at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre will be demonstrating the Geobank (geological data management), Pitram (fleet management and mine control) and Micromine (exploration and mine design) solutions, according to the company.

“Our experts will be on hand to discuss how our applications, which cover the entire mining process, can help delegates meet and exceed their business operation objectives,” Gabbitus said.

Interest in the just-released Geobank Mobile 2019 is expected to be high, MICROMINE said, with the field logging solution boasting an enhanced user interface control, data capture, camera integration, offline help and file exchange functionality.

The team will also be demonstrating the latest innovation in the Pitram solution – with the help of a Lego toy truck!

Using artificial intelligence, the latest advance in the software takes loading and haulage automation in underground mines to a new level. Computer vision and deep machine learning are tapped to enable the on-board video cameras to track variables such as loading time, hauling time, dumping time and travelling empty time, which can then be analysed to identify efficiencies.

A Lego toy loader will be connected to the Pitram mobile device to showcase the new functionality, having its trips around the MICROMINE booth recorded and then using the software to process the data.

With the launch of Micromine 2020 set for October, conference attendees will get a sneak peak at the latest version of the 3D modelling and mine design solution. Software enhancements include new charting tools, a new unfolding tool for model interpolation, a new Scope Optimiser, an improved scheduler and advances in the Implicit Modelling and Pit Optimiser modules.

Austmine 2019 to showcase global mining innovations

“Mining Innovation – The Next Horizon” is the tag line for the fast-approaching Austmine conference in Brisbane, Australia.

Taking place at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from May 21-23, the program for Austmine 2019 has been developed specifically for those driven by innovation and working within mining companies, mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies, as well as relevant academia and government, according to the event organisers. Over 800 attendees are expected at the bi-annual event.

“The Next Horizon for the industry will see fundamental shifts in mining technology which will alter the entire value chain, placing an emphasis on current planning decisions to ensure optimal future outcomes,” Austmine’s organisers said.

The three-day program contains over 40 presentations featuring more than 50 experts drawn from six continents, as well as hands-on workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities, held in conjunction with the sold-out exhibition, featuring over 90 of the industry’s foremost companies.

Austmine Chief Executive Officer, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said: “This is now the leading mining innovation conference in the world; there are a lot of conferences out there, but nobody is as sharply focussed on innovation as we are.

“We have brought together the premiere thought leaders around innovation, which is quite exciting for us; the fact that we have so many international speakers and attendees is a credit to our previous conferences.

“It demonstrates that overseas miners are interested in what is happening in Australia, and they see Australia leading the way with some of the new innovations and technologies that are entering the market.”

Current confirmed speakers include Rag Udd (Vice President, Global Transformation, BHP), Natascha Viljoen (Global Head of Processing Operations, Anglo American), Marco Orellana (CIO, Codelco), Rob Labbé (Director of Information Security, Teck Resources), Rafael Estrada (CIO & Manager of Information Systems, Telecommunications and Process Control, Antamina Mining), John Welborn (Managing Director & CEO, Resolute Mining), and Frans Knox (Head of Production, BMA Coal, BHP).

The conference themes range from new machinery technology and techniques, including automation and artificial intelligence, as well as the human element of mining, the use of analytics and big data, digital connectivity in mining, and finally sustainability for the industry, encompassing renewable resources and resource management.

The event features the Austmine Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards on May 22, which will also celebrate the association’s 30 years of advocacy for the Australian METS sector.