Tag Archives: Byrnecut

Sandvik delivers 100th automated loader in APAC region

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it has delivered its 100th loader connected to the AutoMine® platform in the Asia Pacific region.

A Sandvik LH621i loader was delivered to Byrnecut Australia in March, making it Sandvik’s 100th automated load and haul unit to be delivered in APAC.

Sandvik has 30 AutoMine systems installed across Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, with customers including Barminco, OceanaGold, Redpath, and Byrnecut, who now have 11 sites in Australia connected to AutoMine. The first AutoMine system in the region was delivered and commissioned in 2008 for Mount Isa Copper Operations, now owned by Glencore.

AutoMine is Sandvik’s automation system for autonomous and tele-remote operation for a wide range of Sandvik and non-Sandvik underground and surface equipment. It provides a safe and controlled process to increase mine productivity and profitability, as well as protect operators and other mine personnel in underground and surface operations.

AutoMine can be scaled from tele-remote or autonomous operation of a single machine to multi-machine control and full fleet automation with automatic mission and traffic control capability. Operators can simultaneously control or monitor multiple machines from the comfort and safety of a remote control room, Sandvik says.

Sandvik recently demonstrated this capability with the successful trial remote operation of a LH621i loader at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The LH621i was successfully operated from the Remote Operating Centre in OZ Mineral’s Adelaide office, taking OZ Minerals a step closer to realising its goal of remote operations from home.

“The digitalisation field has developed significantly over the years and we have adapted to meet the industry needs along the way,” Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Technical Support Manager – Mine Automation, Ty Osborne, said.

“We have seen our customers change their mindset from ‘this technology is nice but won’t work in our mine’, to, ‘what do have to do to make this work in our mine?’. Our customers are now seeing the value of including digitalisation in their mine planning and recognise the tangible benefits an automated fleet can bring to their operation.”

Byrnecut partners with AusIMM to support, mentor and up-skill workforce

AusIMM says it has officially launched a three-year major partnership with renowned underground mining contractor Byrnecut.

Introduced as part of AusIMM’s Underground Operators Conference in Perth, Western Australia, which hosts an audience of 1,200 mining representatives and professionals, the partnership will focus on supporting, mentoring and up-skilling Byrnecut professionals, as well as engaging in prominent diversity and inclusion initiatives for the industry, AusIMM said.

Byrnecut Mining, established in 1987, has developed a reputation for professionalism and reliability, growing to employ thousands of people and operate a multimillion-dollar fleet of specialised underground mining equipment, it said.

AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin (left), welcomed the opportunity to combine efforts with Byrnecut to better support mining professionals as their careers grow.

“In taking a consolidated approach through our partnership with Byrnecut, we are excited to rollout a well-planned and strategic series of initiatives to provide greater advantage, impact and value for professionals at Byrnecut and the wider industry,” Durkin said.

Byrnecut Group Executive Chairman, Steve Coughlan (right), said that the organisation was looking forward to using their extensive experience and knowledge of the sector to work with AusIMM in supporting, mentoring and up-skilling their workforce.

“We’re pleased to be partnering with Australia’s peak body for the resources sector,” Coughlan said. “Building long lasting relationships with our employees and our partners is a key part of our culture and Byrnecut are looking forward to working with AusIMM over the next three years.”

Byrnecut and Wiluna Mining strengthen ties with five-year alliance

Wiluna Mining says it has formally agreed to enter a five-year alliance with contractor Byrnecut Australia Limited for the performance of underground development and production mining services at the Wiluna Mining Complex in Western Australia.

Wiluna Mining has commenced a three-year, staged development plan that will see it capable of treating all ore types at Wiluna through four processes including an existing 2.1 Mt/y carbon-in-leach process plant; a 750,000 t/y flotation and concentrator, commencing construction this month with commissioning due in October, scaling up to 1.5 Mt/y capacity by the 2024 financial year; gravity circuit; and tailings retreatment plant.

On conclusion of the staged development plan, which is being developed to match the rate of the underground mining development, Wiluna Mining says it will be capable of processing all its ore at the Wiluna Mining Operations and will be producing some 250,000 oz/y. Most of the gold at this stage will be produced as a concentrate, however gold doré produced on site in parallel to concentrate sales will be continued to improve and optimise operating margins.

Wiluna said back in October that Murray Engineering had been contracted to supply and maintain mine fleet for current production, associated development and stoping at the operation, while Byrnecut would provide equipment and personnel for existing development rehabilitation and new development for resource-reserve drill out programs and production from new mine areas.

Byrnecut, following the most recent agreement, will be responsible for development and eventually the mining of the underground mine at the Wiluna Mining Centre, Wiluna Mining said.

The Byrnecut pact will also allow Wiluna Mining to amortise significant agreed mine capital and establishment costs over the five-year alliance period and provides the framework and certainty to a long-term seamless integrated approach to both mine planning and mining services execution to ensure the best outcomes and risk mitigation, it said.

Milan Jerkovic, Wiluna Mining’s Executive Chair, said: “We are pleased to enter into the five-year alliance with a world-class mining contractor in Byrnecut. We see great synergies and efficiencies as well as cost and capital benefits through the alliance. It provides, with a great degree of confidence, that the underground development and ongoing mining will be executed with the highest standard of efficiency, safety, timeliness, and profitability.

“We look forward to working with Byrnecut to transitioning the Wiluna Mine, once again, into one of Australia’s biggest and most profitable gold mines.”

This agreement is conditional on the completion of the final contract documentation, which is underway, and respective board approvals.

Full speed ahead for Wiluna Mining sulphide gold project

Wiluna Mining’s board has approved the staged development of its sulphide project at the Wiluna gold operation in Western Australia, enlisting GR Engineering Services to build the 750,000 t/y concentrator required to process the ore.

The development will see the company transition from its current production profile of producing 62,000 oz/y from mining free milling ore through the current 2.1 Mt/y carbon-in-leach processing facility, initially producing 100,000-120,000 oz/y of gold and gold in concentrate.

This will be implemented using the current, recently refurbished crushing circuit, the previously expanded mill circuit and a new 750,000 t/y concentrator by October 2021, the company said. This forms Stage 1 of the project. Wiluna then intends to increase production of gold and gold in concentrate by, at a minimum, doubling the mining rate and the concentrator to produce circa-250,000 oz/y by the end of 2023/early 2024. This is Stage 2.

Of the A$81 million ($58 million) capital cost estimate of the sulphide project, of which around A$20 million has already been committed, the concentrator is expected to cost A$26 million, pre-production underground mine activities/infrastructure development is estimated at A$37 million, drilling comes in at A$9 million and the feasibility study had a A$2 million price tag. A 10% contingency of A$7 million was also calculated.

Wiluna said Murray Engineering has been contracted to supply and maintain mine fleet for current production associated development and stoping, while Byrnecut Contractors have been engaged to provide equipment and personnel for existing development rehabilitation and new development for resource-reserve drill out programs and production from new mine areas.

To complement the current equipment and development work, the first development crew from Byrnecut is expected to be mobilised in the December quarter with further development crews to be mobilised during June 2021 to maintain the required work program, the company said.

GR Engineering has been appointed as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor by Wiluna for Stage 1 works relating to the concentrator development, the engineering firm said, adding that it expects to commence work in early December with commissioning scheduled for October 2021.

Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik achieve teleremote drilling first

Contract miner Byrnecut Australia has become the first underground operator in the world to successfully use a new automation and teleremote package for Sandvik development drills.

Byrnecut introduced a Sandvik DD422i development drill featuring the package to OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill gold-copper mine, southeast of Coober Pedy, South Australia, in March.

With COVID-19 travel restrictions preventing Sandvik staff from attending site, Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik experts collaborated via phone, teleconference and email to complete remote commissioning of the rig.

The two-boom rig, which can be monitored and controlled from the surface and features a sophisticated boom-collision-avoidance system, has now been in operation for three weeks, according to the companies.

Byrnecut Australia Managing Director, Pat Boniwell, says the new automation features allow for enhanced drill operation across shift changes – a period when, historically, development drilling has stopped or been significantly reduced.

“We’re conservatively looking at a 10% increase in productivity with this machine through being able to drill extra holes and the machine being used more consistently,” he said. “It picks up on the deadtime, and if it does stop for any reason we’re able to remotely reset it.”

The new boom collision avoidance system means both of the rig’s drill booms can be left in operation during shift change – something that was previously not possible. In the first few weeks of operation, the drill has been able to drill 60-70 holes while being operated autonomously and remotely from surface, the companies said.

General Manager of OZ Minerals Prominent Hill operations, Gabrielle Iwanow, says when Byrnecut approached her about trialling the upgraded development drill, she was immediately interested.

“OZ Minerals is a modern mining company,” she said. “We’re interested in innovation and looking for safer, faster, and more efficient ways of doing our work.”

Iwanow said the commissioning of the drill in such trying times is a true credit to all those involved and the positive working relationship between OZ Minerals, Byrnecut and Sandvik.

Byrnecut Drill Master, Noah Wilkinson, says a solid working relationship with Sandvik and good communication contributed to the success of the commissioning.

“People from the Sandvik factory in Finland were able to remote into the machine over the internet and adjust settings that were stopping some of the functions from working,” he explained.

Sandvik’s Global Account Manager for Byrnecut, Andrew Atkinson, paid credit to Byrnecut’s openness to adopting autonomous technologies in areas including development drilling, loader operation, production drilling and ore trucks, which are all engineered for compatibility with Sandvik’s AutoMine® and OptiMine® products.

In addition to the collision avoidance and teleremote capabilities of the DD422i, the new automation package allows for semi-autonomous bit changing.

Another handy feature of the setup during the current period of social distancing has been the virtual network computing capability that allows the control panel of the drill to be viewed remotely on a tablet. This means that during operator training, the instructor need not be in the cabin with the operator.

Rhino raiseborer has Raising Australia reaming ahead, Sandvik says

The arrival of the Rhino 100 mobile raiseborer has seen Raising Australia, part of the Byrnecut Group, slash slot-raise production times, improve productivity for its customers and significantly increase its own revenue, according to Sandvik.

‘Slot raises’ play a crucial role in the development of many underground mines in Australia, Sandvik says. Created by raiseboring machines, these wide-diameter holes provide void spaces in the stope into which blasted ore can expand, improving fragmentation.

The problem is traditional raiseboring machines used to drill slot raises are cumbersome to transport and have high demands for labour and time, according to Sandvik. “It can take two to three days of preparation before drilling begins, resulting in potential bottleneck and delays in production.”

In 2014, a team from Raising Australia travelled to Finland to inspect the Rhino 100, developed by TRB-Raise Borers and distributed by Sandvik. Mounted on rubber tyres, the Rhino 100 could travel under its own power within a mine, required just one operator, and could begin boring within 45 minutes of arrival on site, Sandvik said.

Raising Australia initially went down the route of developing and trialling its own mobile raiseborer, but, in 2016, General Manager, Mark Hanigan, inspected the latest generation Rhino 100 and realised it was what the company needed, Sandvik said. After working with TRB to tweak the borer to allow for additional drilling angles, Raising Australia took delivery of its first Rhino in September 2017.

“That first Rhino went straight to [Saracen’s] Carosue Dam Operation, near Kalgoorlie, and it’s been there ever since,” Hanigan says. “The previous contractors were drilling 150 m/mth, and we have achieved up to 400-m-plus a month. Between October 2017 and December 2019, we drilled just under 5,000 m, so we’ve doubled their output.”

After the initial success, Raising Australia ordered another two Rhino 100s. The first arrived in August 2018 and was sent to Northern Star’s Jundee gold mine, in Wiluna, Western Australia. The next was delivered in October 2018 and has been a campaign machine, travelling to a range of customer sites. The company has since ordered a fourth and fifth machine, which are being delivered in 2020 and are expected to be immediately put to work on major mining projects, according to Sandvik.

One of these rigs was recently commissioned on a 36 m long hole at Gold Fields’ Invincible operation.

Hanigan says the impact of the Rhino 100 on Raising Australia’s business has been significant. “We have significantly increased our revenues since 2017 when we took delivery of the first Rhino, and we’re hoping the next two Rhinos will help us grow again,” he says.

“The benefits for our customers are also huge. It used to be drilling the slot rises that would hold up the development process. Now, they can bring the stope online when they want and not have to wait for the hole to be drilled.”

In fact, so fast is the process with the Rhino 100, one of the biggest challenges for Raising Australia has been convincing clients that it will live up to its promises, Hanigan says.

“Every time we get a new client, we will tell them how it works and what it delivers, and they will be sceptical. That’s until they actually see it and their minds are blown,” he said.

Jarko Salo, Managing Director for TRB-Raise Borers, says the positive experience of Raising Australia is common among Rhino 100 customers across the globe. In one case, a Brazil miner reported productivity gains of up more than 90% due to more efficient working techniques enabled by the raiseborer.

Salo attributes the success of the rig to the ground-up approach taken during development. The needs of underground miners inspired the creation of the first mobile raiseborer and TRB has continued to be responsive to feedback.

“Right from the beginning here in Finland we have listened very carefully to our customers and produced designs that fit their needs,” he says.

Mark Hanigan says the key advantages for Raising Australia are the time and labour savings the Rhino offers over conventional raiseborers. While it takes a team of two people between two and three days to prepare a traditional raiseborer for duty, a single operator can tram the Rhino into the mine and be drilling within a matter of minutes. As well as slot raises, the Rhino 100 can be used to drill ventilation shafts, drainage shafts, escapeway shafts, ore passes and back fills, according to Sandvik.

Another key advantage of the Rhino 100 is safety. With older-style raiseborers, the operator is generally in the open less than 5 m from the hole being drilled and must drill deep into the rock before erecting a muck chute, according to Sandvik.

“With the Rhino 100, the muck chute opens and closes,” Hanigan says. “You open it up, push through the rod, and when you’re ready to start drilling you can close the chute up. It covers the hole, stopping the dirt cuttings flying out and hitting the operator. The Rhino 100 also removes the exposure of the operator to the risk of flying debris as you’re 6-7 m away from the work area and operate from within a cab.”

Raising Australia has recently begun taking advantage of the plug-‘n’-drill feature of its Rhino rigs, according to Sandvik. This allows for the quick change of drilling modules to permit down-reaming or conventional raiseboring. The module attaches to the borer, allowing for drilling even when access to the lower level in not possible, according to Sandvik.

“We just finished the first hole with that module last week and it was magic,” Hanigan said recently. “It drilled a 1.1 m diameter escape way in one third of the time of a normal raised drill.”

Salo says he has been pleased to witness Raising Australia’s journey with the Rhino 100: “Raising Australia and Byrnecut showed great vision in understanding the competitive advantages that mobile raiseboring provides early on,” he says.

West African a month away from first gold pour at Sanbrado

West African Resources says it has processed the first ore at its Sanbrado gold project in Burkina Faso, putting it on course to produce its inaugural gold product within the next month.

Construction activities have now been completed on all areas of the process plant and tailings storage facility, according to the company.

All four heavy fuel oil generators have been commissioned in the power station and are now operational, while the desorption and gold room circuits are undergoing commissioning in preparation for a maiden gold pour within the next four weeks.

Open-pit mining contractor, African Mining Services, a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, has ramped up mining activities to include both the M5 and M1 South pits, with day and night shifts starting in the past week, West African said.

Currently, over 360,000 t of oxide ore is stockpiled on the run of mine pad at an average grade of 1.5 g/t Au.

Underground development continues to progress on-schedule with mining contractor Byrnecut Offshore, a subsidiary of the Byrnecut Group, having completed the primary ventilation raisebore. The ventilation fan is also currently being installed. First development ore remains on track for late March and first stoping ore is forecast for the September quarter, the company said.

West African Executive Chairman, Richard Hyde, said: “This is a major milestone for West African Resources and testament to the quality of our team and contractors. Commissioning activities will continue over the next four weeks with the first gold pour on track for early Q2 (June quarter) 2020.”

An updated feasibility study on Sanbrado from 2019 envisaged an initial 10-year mine life, including 6.5 years of underground mining, with probable reserves of 1.7 Moz (21.6 Mt at 2.4 g/t gold). The project was expected to have average annual production over the first five years of 217,000 oz gold with all-in sustaining costs of less than $600/oz.

Sandvik showcases digital mining developments in Brisbane

Last week, close to 300 leaders from the mining, construction and quarrying industries from Australia, Japan and Indonesia met in Brisbane, Australia, for a two-day summit, hosted by Sandvik, to showcase best practice examples of digitalisation.

The Digitalization in Mining event, on December 3-4, allowed Sandvik to demonstrate its latest digital offering and introduce participants to the latest innovations across its product portfolio, including process optimisation with OptiMine®, information management through My Sandvik digital services and autonomous operation with AutoMine ̶ together with the latest equipment in underground and surface drilling, loading and hauling, crushing and screening and the rock tools management system.

During the event Sandvik also announced two product launches: AutoMine Access API, which gives mines the power to connect non-Sandvik equipment to AutoMine, and its first Stage V compliant underground loaders for hard-rock mining applications.

Jim Tolley, Vice President, Sales Area Australia Pacific, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said digitalisation is helping companies to grow and optimise their operations. “Our partners were keen to join us at this event because they know that digitalisation has a critical part to play in making their mines sustainable for the future.”

Day one of the event featured speakers from mining companies across Australia, as well as leaders in mining technology, process optimisation and automation. They explained the benefits their organisations have gained by implementing automation and process optimisation solutions, as well as the accompanying change in mindset, according to Sandvik.

The following presentations set the program for the day, followed by a panel discussion:

  • Shaping the Industry Digital Ecosystem (Sandvik);
  • Holistic Perspective, Focusing on Productivity, Safety and Optimised Machine Performance (Byrnecut);
  • Developing the Mine of Tomorrow (Barminco Ltd);
  • Machine Learning  ̶  Keeping it Real with Case Studies from across the Mine Value Chain (PETRA Data Science);
  • Capturing Opportunities for Digital and other Product Technology Solutions (Rio Tinto);
  • Automation Technology to Improve Efficiency and Consistency in Longwall Development Operations (Glencore);
  • Direction of Technology and Automation (Newcrest); and
  • Data Privacy, Rights and Control (Sandvik).

Pat Boniwell, Managing Director, Byrnecut Australia, said the industry will improve productivity, safety and optimise machine performance through a more “fundamental understanding” of the individual processes that make up our operations.

“New technology, automation, data transfer and analysis will all assist us in increasing the utilisation of our resources,” he said. “Data is essential, but if it is not being looked at then we are just gathering data for the sake of it. We need to continue to increase the levels of engagement between all stakeholders.”

He concluded: “We are doomed to failure unless we take our people with us and are prepared to question and be challenged.”

PETRA CEO, Penny Stewart, meanwhile, homed in on machine learning, which, she said, powers “digital twin prediction, simulation and optimisation to increase mine productivity, efficiency and yield, by showing engineers and supervisors how to reproduce their ‘best performance’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week”.

She added: “PETRA’s MAXTA™ Suite digital twin applications provide platform agnostic software-as-service operational decision support across the mine value chain ̶ from resource engineering through to processing plant set point optimisation.”

Day two of the event began with a presentation on sustainability by Henrik Ager (pictured), President, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, explaining how critical it is for long-term performance.

“Driving productivity and greenhouse gas efficiency together is going to be key for us at Sandvik, improving productivity and greenhouse gas efficiency will be the best way for us to add value for our customers,” he said. “My view is that the more we link our sustainability targets to normal business targets and find ways to combine them to achieve a common good, the better chance we have to deliver on them.”

Also, during the second day, delegates had the opportunity of a virtual visit to several Sandvik customers, including: Northparkes Mine (Australia), Resolute Mining Syama mine (West Africa), RedBull Powder Company (New Zealand) and Aeris Resources Tritton mine (Australia).

Harry Hardy, General Manager Customer Accounts, Applications Engineering and Marketing, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, Sales Area APAC, said the company often gets asked for reference cases and data to illustrate the value and payback of digital solutions. “Over the two days of the conference, our customers were able to share their own experiences and quantitatively demonstrate how our solutions have helped increase their productivity, reduce their production costs and increase their safety.”

Byrnecut makes training gains with the help of Immersive

Byrnecut has partnered with Immersive Technologies to develop a “world-class” technical training centre in Perth, Western Australia.

The mining contractor is set to achieve measurable in-field cost reductions, productivity gains and safety improvements via changes in equipment operator behaviour due to 350 staff coming through the centre in the past nine months of operation, Immersive said.

Equipment Simulators, a tailored suite of learning systems and curricula have been deployed to align with Byrnecut’s “people first” approach to recruitment, skills development and performance improvement, the company added. As part of this, Immersive has delivered two IM360-B simulators and machine modules for a CAT truck and LHD, Sandvik truck and LHD and Atlas Copco (Epiroc) truck.

Pat Boniwell, Byrnecut Australia Managing Director, said the establishment of the centre fits with the Byrnecut philosophy of investing in industry-leading training systems, processes and infrastructure to assist in the personal and professional development of its employees.

Boniwell added: “This, in turn, ensures that we are providing the safest and most productive work places for employees and our clients.”

Supporting the technology integration is a best practice training process which blends eLearning, classroom and simulator training to optimise the learning process for both new hire and experienced equipment operators, Immersive said. This process is managed through the collaboration of Byrnecut and Immersive Technologies on-site training experts.

Dave Kilkenny, Byrnecut Project Manager, said: “Our world-class Training and Induction Center provides the opportunity for experienced and new hire operators to develop best mining practices in a safe, realistic and tech driven environment. Together with Immersive Technologies’ equipment simulators and specialist personnel, our approach is carefully considered to provide valuable feedback and targeted training to address the impacts of performance variability on our business.”

In June, Immersive announced that Komatsu’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Australia had agreed to acquire the company.

Byrnecut to dig into Orion’s Prieska copper-zinc underground project

Orion Minerals Limited says it has concluded a memorandum of agreement with mining contractor Byrnecut Offshore envisaging an alliancing agreement for underground mine development and production at the Prieska copper-zinc project in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

The agreement follows the announcement of the grant of the Mining Right for the Prieska copper – zinc mine and, Orion says, “paves the way for Byrnecut to bring the benefit of its experience to the development and operation of the Prieska project which is intended as a global-best practice mechanised mining operation”.

Orion has achieved several milestones in the 16 months since the submission of the Mining Right application, including the announcement of a black economic empowerment (BEE) partnership, the upgrading of the Prieska mineral resource to 30.49 Mt at 1.2% Cu and 3.7% Zn and the completion of the Prieska Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS).

While the Foundation Phase BFS demonstrated strong project economics with a post-tax net present value (8% discount) of A$408 million ($273 million), Orion says it has already identified numerous opportunities to improve on the mining plan set out in the BFS and has commenced work with post-BFS field trials, optimisation and refinement studies.

Key terms of the agreement with Byrnecut are that the parties will seek to enter an alliancing agreement related to underground mining at the Prieska project, whereby Byrnecut will undertake to provide underground mine development and mine production services; commit to promoting local employment and skills transfer in support of transformation of the industry; and commit to collaborating with local BEE enterprises.

Formalising the agreement is one of the key project development milestones that follow the release of the BFS for the establishment of high margin and long-life underground mining operations at the Prieska project. The planned foundation phase of operations would result in the mining and processing of 2.4 Mt/y of run-of mine feed for 10 years, to sell approximately 21,000 t of copper and 70,000 t of zinc as differentiated concentrates each year.

Other post-BFS workstreams in progress to prepare the project for execution include third-party peer reviews of the BFS in preparation for funding discussions, the value engineering of components of the BFS, mine-to-market business plan optimisation using the Whittle Enterprise Optimisation process, pilot-scale water treatment field trials of the water accumulated in the underground excavations and the expedition of the various ancillary licences required to operate a mine. The company said substantial progress is being made in all areas.

Orion’s Managing Director and CEO, Errol Smart, said: “We are delighted to include Byrnecut into the list of partners we will be working with to establish what will be another world-class mine in the Northern Cape.

“Byrnecut has an impressive reputation on the African continent both in terms of their operational proficiency and their approach to skills transfer and harmonious relations with local communities. Their involvement in developing Prieska will be invaluable.”