Tag Archives: Brucejack

Newcrest’s Brucejack mine set for full fleet battery-electric transition in Q4

Newcrest’s Brucejack gold-silver mine in British Columbia, Canada, is set for a full battery-electric fleet transition by the end of the year, the gold miner said in its financial year 2022 results.

Following a successful site trial, seven underground battery-electric trucks are being commissioned at Brucejack, replacing the existing diesel fleet and abating approximately 65,000 t of CO2 emissions through to 2030.

The new fleet will improve truck productivity, lower unit costs and enhance operational efficiency from planning to production, according to Newcrest. Three of the Sandvik 50-t-payload Z50 battery-electric trucks are already in production, with the full switch over expected to be completed in the December 2022 quarter, it noted.

Sandvik and Pretivm previously noted that seven Z50 haul trucks would be supplied to the operation as part of the planned fleet transition.

The project is being partly funded thanks to a C$7.95 million ($6.1 million) investment from The CleanBC Industry Fund.

Brucejack, which became wholly owned by Newcrest when the acquisition of previous owned Pretivm Resources completed earlier this year, is currently the subject of Newcrest’s EDGE program, which aims to drive a culture of innovation, high performance and continuous improvement. The program has identified additional opportunities of approximately C$15-$25 million/y, with improvements in stope turnaround time and more efficient mine operations as the initial focus areas, the company said.

Run-rate benefits from this effort are expected to be fully realised by the June 2024 quarter, Newcrest says.

Newcrest said in the financial results that it was also assessing ore sorting technology at the mine, which aims to classify and separate mineralised material from non-mineralised material to deliver more consistent mill feed grades and increase operational flexibility.

Sandvik outlines its emission-free mining journey at The Electric Mine 2022

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions President, Henrik Ager, got The Electric Mine 2022 Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, off to a bang earlier this month, with a major product reveal that will set a new benchmark in the battery-electric underground mining space.

After reflecting on a journey that saw him escape a broken lift on his way to the Radisson Waterfront that morning, Ager announced the company would soon release the largest-capacity battery-electric truck for underground mining to the market, the TH665B.

With a 65-t-payload capacity, this machine will be measured against the largest underground diesel-powered underground trucks for productivity, speed and cost. Interest is expected from major contractors and miners alike, with one of the bigger markets being the Australian underground hard-rock segment.

The prototype TH665B is currently completing factory testing, but it turned heads in Stockholm, with conference attendees witnessing a video of the machine in action on the company’s test track in California, USA.

Blending proven Sandvik design and advanced technology built around electric drivelines and battery systems, the TH665B will get its first mine site runout at AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam gold mine in Western Australia. This trial is expected to prove its viability in a long ramp haulage application before commercial truck production commences in late 2023.

The Sandvik TH665B comes with an electric drivetrain that delivers 640 kW of continuous power, which equates to 858 horsepower

While displaying said video, Ager said the vehicle could haul a 65-t load up a 14.3% grade at 11.5 km/h. This, he said, was 30% faster than Sandvik’s 63-t diesel truck, the Toro TH663i, with which the TH665B shares a state-of-the-art cabin. An electric drivetrain that delivers 640 kW of continuous power, which equates to 858 horsepower, and significant torque, is behind such numbers.

Following the introduction of the Sandvik TH550B 50-tonne battery-electric vehicle at MINExpo INTERNATIONAL® 2021, last September, this latest vehicle launch shows, once again, how the company is betting big on its battery- and hybrid-electric loaders tackling the challenge of operating underground mines today and tomorrow.

Ager at the event outlined the three main drivers for the electrification move, namely: worker health, mine economics and sustainability. Sandvik’s battery-electric solutions, he said, hit all three criteria, providing safer, more productive and sustainable ways of moving the tonnes the industry needs to keep up with global commodity demand.

The primary driver for electrification came from ventilation and refrigeration constraints, followed closely by environmental, health and safety concerns over diesel exhaust emissions. At the same time, Ager said there was significant room for operating costs to fall with the adoption of battery-electric equipment given 40% of total mine operating costs were related to energy and ventilation, and electricity use was often cheaper than transporting and using diesel fuel underground.

Around the same time as MINExpo, Ager outlined that electric mining equipment could account for more than half of the company’s equipment sales in underground mining by 2030. In Stockholm, he added some colour to that statement.

The company’s generation three battery-electric vehicles have clocked up more than 500,000 operational hours with its Artisan™ battery packs and electric drivelines, with 22 active BEV units. This experience makes Sandvik an industry frontrunner, Ager said.

The machines out in the field include the 4-t-payload and 10-t-payload Artisan A4 and A10 LHDs, the Z40/Z50 (40 t/50 t payloads) haul trucks, the Toro™ LH514BE – an AutoMine®-compatible cable-electric loader, boosted with battery technology – plus the 18-t-payload battery-electric Sandvik LH518B LHD and 50-t-payload battery-electric TH550B truck.
This year will see the company officially release the LH514BE, which will be followed in 2023 by the TH665B and – judging from the preliminary nomenclature – a 15 t battery-electric and AutoMine-compatible LHD.

Three other battery-electric and AutoMine-compatible units are in the preliminary stages of development, scheduled for release in 2024-2025.

This comes on top of plans to electrify its full i-Series drilling line by 2030, drill rigs which tram on battery and plug into the grid while drilling/bolting.

Launches for the DD422iE-DC (development drill) and DS422iE (rock bolter) are expected in 2022, with the DL432iE (longhole drill) and the DT923iE (jumbo drill) coming to market between 2023 and 2026.

Since the rollout of the first battery-electric drill in 2016 – the DD422iE – 2.8 million metres had been drilled and 12,500 km had been trammed with these electric machines, Ager acknowledged.

It is not just product releases that are on the Sandvik roadmap, with Ager stating plans to develop different drivelines (battery-electric, hybrids, cable, battery-cable), quantify the value and beat the economics of conventional drivelines, expand into other applications such as narrow vein and narrow reef mines, and continue to develop 100% electrified, energy efficient mechanical cutting for soft- and hard-rock applications.

He also said the company would look to address the capital expenditure gap with diesel machines, aiming for cost parity from a total cost of operations perspective.

The company, at the same time, is planning to further its global capabilities to serve the electrified fleet throughout its entire life cycle, while building out battery optimisation expertise and developing global application knowledge to support customers in designing, planning and executing electric transition strategies.

Real equipment for the real world

This might look like a long ‘to-do’ list, but Ager’s colleague, Brian Huff, VP of Technology and Product Line for the BHEV business unit with Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, was able to outline several real-world wins from machine deployments later at the conference that showed how far the company has already come in addressing industry pain points.

Huff, a co-founder of Artisan Vehicle Systems, relayed some observations from field trials of the company’s LH518B and Z50 battery-electric vehicles, summing them up in series of snappy statements such as: “everything will be serviced, whether it was intended to be or not”; “battery cells are consumable, but the driveline is not”; “damage is expected, resilience and serviceability are required”; “isolation fault monitoring is more than shock hazard prevention”; “availability improves with each ‘opportunity’”; and – one of the more important ones – “operators prefer BEVs”.

“They take a beating and keep on working and, despite what people may think, these batteries are not fragile,” Brian Huff told delegates at The Electric Mine 2022 Conference earlier this month

Delving into specifics, Huff said real-world trials had proven the opinion that electric drivelines came with dramatically longer life and less maintenance. He also acknowledged batteries had become the new ‘consumable’ in this equation.

“Maintenance requires parts, but comes with very low labour,” he said, explaining that battery modules can be replaced underground and then rebuilt at the factory with new cells, making rebuilds both quick and painless. At the same time, refreshing the battery brought opportunities to use improved cells as they are developed – a reflection on the accelerated winds of change in the battery market.

Battling early market perceptions, Huff said these machines were far from “experimental”, having been used and proven to work at many hard-rock mines. “They take a beating and keep on working and, despite what people may think, these batteries are not fragile,” he said.

One of the new solutions to have come out from these real-world trials is the introduction of a new battery cage design that aids serviceability, Huff said. Coming with removable side covers, an improved locking system and structural design, this battery cage incorporates the company’s AutoConnect function, which, when combined with AutoSwap, facilitates quick battery swapping without the operator having to leave the cabin. The new cage would be available on the TH665B as well as other models, Huff said.

He then put some names and numbers behind earlier statements, highlighting a trial of a Z50 truck at Pretivm’s Brucejack gold mine in British Columbia, Canada, that saw more than 90% machine availability, exhibited speeds of 9.5 km/h on a 15% grade with a 42-t load, and observed battery swap times of less than 10 minutes. This added up to a 42% increase in tonnes hauled compared with a diesel-equivalent machine and a 22% boost in speed.

The trial at New Gold’s New Afton gold mine, also in British Columbia, saw a 56% mucking cycle time beat over a diesel-powered-equivalent, a plus-70% ramp speed improvement (on a 17% ramp), and decreases of 80% and 90% in energy use and heat generated, respectively.

Referring to another LH518B trial where the machine only clocked in a 74.9% availability, Huff was quick to highlight that all the problems/failures that caused the reduction in availability were correctible.

And, channelling his engineering DNA and the leading role Sandvik is willing to take in the industry’s pursuit of the zero emission, electrified mine, he reflected on all these real-world trials with: “a failure isn’t a failure, it is an opportunity to improve.”

Newcrest to expand presence in BC’s Golden Triangle with Pretium buy

Newcrest Mining Ltd has entered into an agreement to acquire all the issued and outstanding common shares of Pretium Resources that it does not already own by way of a Canadian Plan of Arrangement.

The Pretivm Board of Directors has unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the transaction, which valued Pretivm equity at $2.8 billion, and have entered into voting support agreements with respect to all the Pretivm shares that they own or control. The transaction is targeted for completion in the March quarter.

Pretivm is the owner of the Brucejack operation in the Golden Triangle region of British Columbia, Canada. Brucejack began commercial production in July 2017 and is one of the highest-grade operating gold mines in the world, according to Newcrest. The Pretivm Technical Report of March 9, 2020 estimated gold production of 311,000 oz/y at an all-in sustaining cost of $743/oz of gold over a projected 13-year mine life.

Brucejack is some 140 km from Newcrest’s majority-owned and operated Red Chris mine, located on Tahltan territory.

Newcrest’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sandeep Biswas, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our presence in this highly prospective region in British Columbia. Brucejack is a Tier 1 mine in a Tier 1 jurisdiction and will deliver immediate production, free cash flow and earnings diversification to Newcrest and will fit seamlessly into our long life, low-cost portfolio.

“Following this transaction, Newcrest will have exposure to six Tier 1 orebodies and a portfolio of organic growth options of unrivalled quality.”

The combination of Newcrest and Pretivm will create the leading gold miner in British Columbia’s Golden Triangle, operating both the Brucejack and Red Chris mines, according to Biswas.

“Following due diligence, we believe that as the owner and operator of Brucejack we can build on the strong foundations established by Pretivm and deliver significant additional shareholder value by leveraging our experience in operating epithermal gold mines and applying our exploration and innovation expertise to realise potential resource and reserve growth. Resource and reserve growth and our commitment to investing in the area will underpin the success and longevity of mining in the region for the benefit of the First Nations people, host communities, British Columbia and Canada.”

Pretivm’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Jacques Perron, said: “With this acquisition, Brucejack will join Newcrest’s portfolio of Tier 1 assets, mitigating the inherent risks associated with ownership of a single-asset mining company. Moreover, Newcrest has the financial means and the intention of maximising the long-term potential of the Brucejack mine and the district-scale opportunities in the surrounding Brucejack property.”

Newcrest believes that its concurrent operation of both Red Chris and Brucejack mines will provide enhanced opportunities for both workforces, allow for aligned and optimal engagement with the First Nations and the broader community, and will provide the foundation of ongoing future investment in the region, it added.