Epiroc says the world’s first Batteries as a Service (BaaS) agreement has been finalised in Canada, with Vale and the mining OEM partnering on this new approach for utilising battery technology in mining operations.
Along with the BaaS agreement, Epiroc will be providing Vale with 10 battery-electric vehicles for two Canadian mine sites. These machines will include four Scooptram ST14 loaders, two Boomer M2C drill rigs, two Boltec MC bolting rigs and two Minetruck MT42 trucks. The miner will also acquire three of Epiroc’s charging cabinets and seven charging posts for equipment support, the company said.
As mining companies continue to strive for sustainable productivity and zero emissions, the fast evolution and development of different options within the field of battery technology can be extremely challenging, Epiroc says.
With BaaS, Epiroc works directly with the customer to define a battery plan that suits the needs of their operation. The lifespan is guaranteed and the battery status is carefully monitored to ensure predictive maintenance with reduced downtime, according to the company. If a customer wants to increase or decrease their capacity, they can adjust their plan and the service will be tailored to meet their requirements.
As part of an ongoing sustainability commitment, Epiroc will remove old batteries from site and replace them with new batteries. These older batteries are then used for secondary applications and will be recycled at the end of the process, the company says.
The delivery of the battery equipment to both sites will occur over the course of 2020 and into the March quarter of 2021, according to Epiroc.
“A key component to the success of this offering is the flexibility it allows our customers,” Shawn Samuels, Product Manager Rocvolt, Epiroc Canada, said. “We take ownership of the battery itself and automatically replace and update the units as needed, which means the mine site can breathe easier and continue to focus on heightened production.”
Jason Smith, General Manager Epiroc Canada, said: “We value and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Vale as we move towards a zero emissions future in mining together. We both recognise the positive impact a successful battery service implementation can have on operations, so our mutual confidence in one another is well placed.”
Alamos Gold says it has completed the lower mine expansion at Young-Davidson, in Ontario, Canada, with the successful commissioning of the Northgate shaft.
The lower mine expansion project was designed to boost underground production at Young-Davidson from 6,000 t/d to 8,000 t/d as the existing mid-mine infrastructure was replaced with the new lower mine infrastructure.
The project involved Cementation using large diameter raiseboring technology to establish the new shaft at Young-Davidson as part of an engineer, procure and construct contract.
Alamos Gold says the newly constructed lower mine infrastructure is larger, highly automated and more productive, with the transition expected to drive gold production higher and costs lower starting in the second half of 2020.
John A McCluskey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alamos Gold, said: “This marks a significant milestone for Young-Davidson and turning point for Alamos as we transition from a reinvestment phase to a period of strong free cash flow growth.
“I would like to congratulate the entire team at Young-Davidson for this historic achievement, which will unlock the full potential of the operation. With a 13-year mineral reserve life, large resource base, and significant exploration potential, Young-Davidson is well positioned to deliver solid free cash flow over the long term.”
In addition to the Northgate shaft (pictured), the underground crusher and conveyor system have also been successfully commissioned, Alamos Gold said. Mining rates are expected to ramp up through the second half of the year to 7,500 t/d by the end of 2020.
The mine produced 188,000 oz of gold in 2019 at mine site all-in sustaining costs of $1,047/oz, Alamos said.
Granada Gold Mine has retained the services of Tetra Tech to begin a gap analysis to amend the company’s current Certificate of Authorisation for an on-site mill at its namesake project, in Quebec, Canada.
The engagement of Tetra Tech, a leading provider of consulting and engineering services, follows the discovery of at-surface mineralised structures with significant visible gold at Granada during a stage-one surface stripping program, Granada Gold President and CEO, Frank Basa, said.
“As such, the company has decided that the local mills for custom milling would not be able to process this mineralised material without a significant modification of the process flowsheet to recover this amount of visible gold,” he said.
This has led to the company pursuing the option of building an on-site mill at Granada.
The current resource at the company’s Granada gold project in Rouyn-Noranda includes 22.3 Mt of measured and indicated resources grading 1.06 g/t Au for 762,000 oz of gold and 6.9 Mt of inferred resources at 2.04 g/t for 455,000 oz of gold.
The property includes the former Granada gold mine, which produced more than 50,000 oz of gold at 10 g/t in the 1930s before a fire destroyed the surface building, according to the company.
Some 120,000 m of drilling has been completed to date on the property, focused mainly on the extended LONG Bars zone which trends 2 km east-west over a potential 5.5 km mineralised structure. The highly prolific Cadillac Trend, the source of 50 Moz-plus of gold production in the past century, cuts right through the north part of the Granada property on a line running from Val-d’Or to Rouyn-Noranda, the company says.
Granada is in possession of all permits required to commence the initial mining phase known as the “Rolling Start”, which allows it to mine up to 550 t/d, capable of producing up to 675,000 t of ore over a three-year timeframe.
When it comes to pumping slurry, there can be very few applications that are more challenging than the hydro-transport of heavy duty slurries in oil sands production.* Not only do the pumps have to contend with the highly aggressive nature of the fluid being pumped, they are also expected to operate in some of the harshest environments in the world.
In January 2020, GIW Industries commissioned its largest ever heavy duty centrifugal slurry pump for operation in Canada’s oil sands, namely the TBC (Tie Bolt Construction)-92. Named after its 92-inch (2,337 mm) impeller, the TBC-92 is the largest and heaviest slurry pump available in the oil sands industry and emerges as the latest in a line of powerful high-pressure pumps offered by GIW (Fig.1).
In mining, dredging and oil sands production the biggest challenge is to accommodate high density slurry and highly abrasive grits. It is essential that the slurry passes through the pump with the minimum amount of wear to the pump casing, impeller, shaft and sealing mechanism. Furthermore, they must be capable of delivering high flows and withstanding harsh operating environments.
The province of Alberta, Canada, has the world’s third largest oil reserves and these are in the form of oil sands.
Extracting and processing the oil from the sands and bed rock is a challenging process involving the removal of bituminous ore to be transported to a crushing plant. The crushed ore is then mixed with warm water to form dense slurry that can be transported in the pipeline toward extraction, where the bitumen is separated from the sand and rock. After extraction, the remaining solids (or tailings) are often transported via different pumps to settling ponds.
The processes require extensive use of slurry and water transportation pumps capable of handling vast quantities of liquids at high pressures and high temperatures.
Drawing on its many years of designing slurry pumps for mining, GIW has custom-engineered slurry pumps that combine advanced materials, hydraulics and patented mechanical designs, the latest of which is the TBC-92.
Meeting the customer’s challenge
“Our client needed a higher-capacity pump which was capable of 10,000-11,000 cu.m/h of output at nearly 40 m of developed head and a maximum working pressure of 4,000 kPa,” Mollie Timmerman, GIW Business Development Manager, reports. “The pump also needed to be able to pass rocks of approximately 130 mm in diameter (with a total passage size requirement of 10 in or 254 mm) and handle slurry densities in excess of 1.5 SG (specific gravity). In addition, the customer was targeting a maintenance interval (operational time between planned maintenance) of around 3,000 hours. They had expressed an interest in maximising the maintenance intervals and based on initial wear indications, they are currently hoping to achieve around 6,000 hours between pump overhauls (ie six to eight months).”
The immediate application for the first batch of GIW’s TBC-92 pumps in Alberta is in hydro-transport service where they are used to move bituminous ore from the crusher to the extraction plant. The liquid pumped is a mixture of water, bitumen, sand, and large rocks. Screens are in place to keep these rocks to a manageable size for the process, but the top size can still often reach up to 130 mm in diameter (or larger). The abrasive nature of the slurry is what separates a slurry pump apart from other pumps used in the industry. Wear and erosion are facts of life, and GIW has decades of experience in the design of slurry pumps and the development of materials to help extend the service life of these critical components to match the planned maintenance cycles in the plant.
“GIW already had a pump capable of the output requirement, this being the MDX-750, which has been a popular size in mill duties for nearly 10 years throughout Central and South America,” explains Timmerman. “However, the customer’s application required a pump with higher pressure capabilities and the capability of handling larger rocks so we responded with the development of the TBC-92 which provided the best solution for maximised production.”
The construction style of GIW’s TBC pump range feature large, ribbed plates held together with tie bolts for very high pressure service and maximum wear performance. First developed for dredge service, then later introduced into the oil sands in the 1990s, the TBC pump series has grown into a fully developed range of pumps serving the oil sands, phosphate, dredging and hard-rock mining industries for tailings and hydro-transport applications. The pumps are often grouped together in booster stations to build pressure as high as 750 psi (5,171 kPa) to account for the pipe losses encountered over such long distances. The robust construction of the TBC pump is perfectly suited to do the job, while ensuring maximum availability of the equipment under heavily abrasive wear.
Capable of delivering pressure up to 37 bar and flows in excess of 18,200 cu.m/h and temperatures up to 120⁰C, the TBC range is a horizontal, end suction centrifugal pump that gives maximum resistance to wear. Simple to maintain, the pump’s tie-bolt design transfers stress loads away from the wear resistant white iron casing to the non-bearing side plates without the use of heavy and unwieldy double-wall construction. The TBC-92 combines the best elements of earlier TBC models, including the ground-breaking TBC-84 oil sands tailing pump, also known as the ‘Super Pump’. The pump also incorporates features from GIW’s cutting-edge MDX product line, which is used in heavy-duty mining circuits throughout the world of hard-rock mining.
In total, the TBC-92 weighs about 209,000 lb (95,000 kg) – roughly equivalent to a fully-loaded Airbus A321 aeroplane. The casing alone weighs 34,000 lb (15,500 kg). Key features of the pump include a slurry diverter that dramatically increases suction liner life by reducing particle recirculation between the impeller and the liner. The large diameter impeller allows the pump to run at slower speeds so that wear life is enhanced. The lower speed also gives the pump the ability to operate over a wider range of flows in order to accommodate fluctuating flow conditions (Fig.2A).
To make maintenance easier, the pump is fitted with a special two-piece suction plate design which helps to reduce tool time and provide safer lifting. Customers receive pump-specific lifting devices to facilitate the safe removal and installation of wear components. The pump also features a long-lasting suction liner that can be adjusted without needing to shut the pump down.
The commissioning of the TBC-92 marks an important milestone for GIW, which now has pumps in service at all operating Canadian oil sands plants for hydro-transport applications. The TBC-92 has been designed to tackle heavy-duty slurry transport while providing a low total cost of ownership. Minimal labour and maintenance time helps to maximise production and profit.
“This new pump incorporates the lessons learned from operating in the oil sands over many years and features our latest hydraulic and wear technologies,” says Timmerman. “Because this is the heaviest TBC pump we have ever designed, particular attention was given to maintainability, as well as material selection and construction of the pressure-containing components.”
That GIW has established itself as a significant force in pumping solutions for the oil sands industry is far from surprising given that it has been developing pumping technologies and wear resistant materials in the global mining industry since the 1940s.
These pumps have had a considerable impact on the way that the excavated sand, rock and bitumen are transported to the upgrader plant. By adding water to the excavated material it becomes highly efficient to pump the slurry along a pipeline to the upgrader. The pipeline agitation assists in separating the bitumen from the sand as it is transported, plus there is the additional benefit of removing the use of trucks. GIW has estimated that the cost of moving oil sand in this way can cut costs by $2/bbl, and its far more environmental friendly. These pumps also play a major role in transporting the coarse tailings to the tailings ponds. GIW supplies pumps used in the extraction process and other areas of production (HVF, MDX, LSA, etc).
Understanding the nature of slurries and how they behave when being pumped has been fundamental to the development of these products. GIW has been obtaining slurry samples from customers over many years for testing hydraulics and materials both for pumps and pipelines (Fig.3). Research & Development facilities include multiple slurry test beds on the campus, together with a hydraulics laboratory that is dedicated to pump performance testing.
These activities are central to the company’s pump development programs. If companies are experiencing problems the GIW R&D personnel can see where the problem lies and offer advice for remedial action. Experience does indicate that in many cases the problem lies not with the pump, but in the interaction between the pipeline and the pump.
Feedback from customers on applications helps in the development of new tools and pump designs. By bringing together customers and academics from all over the world to share their experience and research with in-house experts, the massive investment in research, development and manufacturing has advanced the design of all of the GIW pump products, materials and wear-resistant components.
“There is a clear trend toward larger pumps in mining and dredging, and the oil sands are no exception,” Leo Perry, GIW Lead Product Manager, says. “The first TBC pump in the oil sands was the TBC-46 (46 in being the diameter of the impeller). Customers are designing their facilities for higher and higher production, and demanding the same of the equipment that keeps their production moving. While these larger pumps demand more power, they also allow for greater production with less downtime required for maintenance. Overall, the efficiency improves when compared to the same output from a larger quantity of smaller pumps.”
In conclusion, he says: “Larger pumps go hand in hand with larger facilities, larger pipelines, and increased production, all of which continue to trend higher year after year. Other customers and industries have also shown an interest in this size, and it would be no surprise at all to see more of these pumps built in the near future for similar applications.”
*This story was written and submitted by GIW with only minor edits
IAMGold has provided an update on its majority-owned Côté gold project in Ontario, Canada, which included confirmation of a key approval and the mention of studies on implementing autonomous haulage and drilling technologies.
The late 2018 feasibility study on the project demonstrated its potential to produce 460,000 oz/y of gold at all-in sustaining costs of around $700/oz for the first six years of a 16-year mine life.
It said this week that the project has received approval for its application under Section 36 of the Fisheries Act (Canada). This is a key milestone in attaining permits relating to impacts on fish habitats and tailings management, according to the company.
Since the feasibility study was published in late 2018, IAMGold says it has been very active in “de-risking” the project.
As of the end of May, the company says it has:
Completed additional resource and geotechnical studies, and advanced mine planning;
Completed over 60% of detailed project engineering, including the tailings facility;
Following this level of engineering, obtained firm bids and secure prices on all major equipment. To date, 55% of project cost has firm pricing, further reducing technical and cost risks for the project leading to a refinement in costs and metrics as IAMGold works toward a construction decision;
Completed a pre-construction camp on the adjacent Chester site;
Completed all tree clearing needed for initiating construction – work was carried out with a First Nations partner firm earlier in 2020, before standing down in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic;
Carried out detailed implementation studies on technology, including automated truck haulage and drilling, and commenced discussions with regulators regarding the use of automated equipment;
Advanced development of construction protocols in consideration of COVID-19; and
Completed 4,700 m of drilling at the Gosselin Zone, a potential satellite pit 1.5 km northeast of Côté.
The company has also signed Impacts and Benefits Agreement with First Nations partners, approved the Environmental Assessment and Closure Plan, and advanced permitting.
The 2018 feasibility study envisaged a truck-shovel operation, assuming 220 t autonomous trucks and 34 m3 shovels, and a 36,000 t/d mineral processing circuit incorporating primary crushing, secondary crushing, tertiary high pressure grinding roll crushing, ball milling, vertical stirred milling, gravity concentration and cyanide leaching, followed by gold recovery using carbon-in-pulp, stripping and electrowinning.
Gordon Stothart, IAMGold President and CEO, said: “A key part of the future of IAMGold is our organic growth pipeline, starting with the Côté Gold Project in northern Ontario.
“The transformative impact of Côté Gold on IAMGold’s production profile and global cost structure, in addition to its long mine life in an attractive jurisdiction, establishes clear and compelling reasons for this project to proceed.
“Our current financial position supports our proposed growth plans, with over $800 million in cash on hand, access to a currently undrawn $500 million committed revolving credit facility, and expected stronger operating cash flows from our current mining operations, including anticipated contributions from Saramacca at Rosebel and steady performance from Essakane and Westwood.”
A formal decision on the construction of the Côté Gold Project will be made in conjunction with IAMGold’s partner, Sumitomo Metal Mining, given a satisfactory environment for construction to proceed with appropriate work protocols in light of COVID-19 and without risk of interruption.
IAMGold said: “The company is currently working with SMM toward a formal decision. A decision in the coming months would allow construction to commence later this year with a targeted completion date of mid-2023.”
Vale says it has moved from care and maintenance into a planned maintenance period at the Voisey’s Bay mine in Labrador, Canada as a first step to resuming operations in early July.
This move includes restarting critical path activities related to the Voisey’s Bay Mine Expansion project, which could see annual production increase to around 45,000 t of nickel, on average, about 20,000 t of copper and about 2,600 t of cobalt, in total.
Production is expected to resume in early July and to reach full capacity by early August, it said.
“In line with World Health Organization protocols to test, remove, track and treat positive or suspicious cases, Vale is partnering with a private testing lab in Newfoundland & Labrador to provide extensive polymerase chain reaction testing of all employees entering the site,” Vale explained.
“The enhanced testing capacity enables the early identification, tracing and stopping of the spread of any potential COVID-19 cases.”
Vale noted that there have been no cases of COVID-19 to date at site.
Barrick’s Hemlo gold mine in Ontario, Canada, is lining up the arrival of a new Sandvik autonomous drill and eight Sandvik haul trucks as its underground-only contract miner strategy takes hold.
The company said it is expecting eight new Sandvik TH545i 45 t haul trucks to arrive on site in the near term.
These trucks moves more rock and material than its current fleet and are equipped with an ejector box, which means operators do not need to lift the box to dump material – it pushes it out the back – making it easier to work with in smaller areas, the company said.
“Let’s not forget to mention the reduction in emissions from this Tier 4 engine, improving worker safety and lessening the environmental impact,” the company added.
Earlier this week, a Sandvik DL432i fully autonomous drill arrived at Hemlo too. Its fully integrated software allows this machine to drill holes on its own, even between shift changes, according to Barrick.
“Engineers are now able to upload plans and designs for day-to-day operations,” the company said, adding that the cab is enclosed and comes with climate control to cool operators in warmer climates underground.
RPMGlobal says its leading mining simulation product has brought Arianne Phosphate a step closer to bringing its Lac à Paul phosphate project in Quebec, Canada, into production after enabling the company to optimise key haulage routes for its development.
Arianne Phosphate selected RPMGlobal’s HAULSIM during its critical engineering study phase so it could evaluate several haulage scenarios and effectively link the Lac à Paul project in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region to port facilities 240 km away.
HAULSIM is a 4-D Discrete Event Simulation (DES) tool which enables the user to build a digital twin of any mining operation to evaluate different scenarios, fleet options, haulage routes, stockpile and dump placement and much more, according to RPMGlobal.
“The solution delivers an accurate representation of haulage operations within a mine site and provides capability to quantify the impact of changes,” the company said. “The model reflects the complex and dynamic nature of a mine site in its entirety; including the variability, interactions and dependencies that occur in these systems.”
Using HAULSIM, Arianne Phosphate was able to gather critical insights on the optimal operating conditions for the haulage routes within the Lac à Paul project, according to the company.
By modelling, analysing and enhancing different scenarios for the ideal haulage network, Arianne Phosphate now has confidence in its recommendation to invest capital in its mine to port haulage route with a clear view of predicted outcomes, RPMGlobal said.
Jean-Sébastien David, Chief Operating Officer of Arianne Phosphate, said: “RPMGlobal’s commitment to improving efficiency and value of our mining operations through cutting-edge solutions made the decision to select HAULSIM a natural one.”
He added: “Partnering with a global leader in the development of leading mining and haulage systems enabled us to demonstrate the attractive returns that the Lac à Paul project is set to generate.”
Arianne is looking to process 55,000 t/d of ore at Lac à Paul to produce 3 Mt/y of phosphate concentrate (apatite) over a 26-year mine life. Once development is complete, the project is set to consist of an open-pit mine, a concentration plant and deepwater port facilities.
Sandeep Sandhu, RPMGlobal Americas General Manger, said: “It has been great to work with a passionate company like Arianne Phosphate and it has been very rewarding to see our solutions making a valuable contribution towards advancing the Lac à Paul phosphate project.
“RPMGlobal has more than 40 years’ experience in mining and haulage systems and adds value at all stages of the mining value chain. We’re proud to be able to contribute to the Lac à Paul project and achieve results through the use of HAULSIM that will create positive social and economic impacts for all stakeholders.”
The feasibility study on Ascot Resources Ltd’s Premier and Red Mountain gold projects in the Golden Triangle of British Columbia, Canada, has shown off some compelling economics, as well as indicate potential future upside using an emerging mining method called the shallow angle mining system (SAMS).
SAMS, similar to Alimak mining, according to Ascot, is a new technology system focused on the mechanisation of ore extraction developed by Quebec-based Minrail. The system cropped up in the “value enhancement opportunities” section of Ascot’s study.
Ahead of that, the study, led by Sacre-Davey Engineering Inc, showed off some encouraging results.
Using a base case of $1,400/oz gold, $17/oz silver and a C$ to US$ exchange rate of 0.76, Premier and Red Mountain could provide a post-tax net present value (5% discount) of C$341 million ($242 million) based on initial capital expenditure of C$147 million. Life of mine (eight years) payable production came out as 1.1 Moz of gold and 3 Moz of silver with peak annual production of 180,000 oz of gold-equivalent.
The study’s mine plan generally used a combination of three mining methods: longhole (64%), inclined undercut longhole (14%) and room & pillar (12%). Minor amounts of cut and fill (2%) and development ore (8%) were also included to extract the mineral reserves of 6.2 Mt at 5.9 g/t Au and 19.7 g/t Ag.
The company assumed a “lease to own cost” for the mobile mining equipment, which primarily consisted of two scissor lifts, three jumbo drills, five haul trucks, five LHDs, 15 ventilation fans, and several other smaller supporting pieces of equipment.
Benefitting from an existing processing facility at the Premier gold project, the study envisaged using a SAG and ball milling flowsheet followed by the refurbished carbon-in-leach circuit. Over the mine life, the plant will operate 365 d/y to produce gold doré with an overall plant availability of 92% and an average throughput of 2,500 t/d, according to Ascot. In the latter part of year three, ore from the Red Mountain project will be introduced to the existing mill facility, it said.
While the economics and technical elements of the feasibility study stacked up, the company also laid out some potential “value enhancement opportunities” beyond the scope of the study.
This is where SAMS and Minrail came in.
Ascot said there was potential for reducing mining dilution and development by undertaking further studies and testing of SAMS.
“SAMS is similar to Alimak mining but at a low angle, with a central drive and long holes drilling laterally, offering the potential to significantly reduce dilution, operating costs and mine capital development costs,” Ascot said.
According to the company, the method is currently being tested by Minrail at Eldorado Gold’s Lamaque mine in Val D’or, Quebec.
A press release from Minrail posted around a year ago said Lamaque had ordered a “group of mining equipment” to undertake underground test work using SAMS at the operation.
“After an extensive review of all currently available underground mining methods and available technologies that are suited to narrow, shallow dipping deposits, Eldorado has perceived the great potential of Minrail’s technology to complement its mine development plans using SAMS, which incorporates critical mining innovations focused on safety, productivity and flexibility,” Minrail said in the statement.
The resource model at Lamaque encompasses several shallow dipping lenses that are believed to be amenable to using SAMS, Minrail added.
This test work was due to take place last year, according to the release.
Yet, in January, the Quebec government announced it would provide a C$150,000 grant to Minrail to complete a prototype SAMS system that would be installed at Lamaque.
New underground mining equipment has been arriving at Pure Gold Mining’s Madsen gold project in Red Lake, Ontario, with the company recently taking delivery of a DUX DT-26N articulated truck.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pure Gold has continued to progress the construction of Madsen, with Pure Gold President and CEO, Darin Labrenz, saying at the end of March that underground development had commenced safely and ahead of schedule.
In the same update, the company said detailed engineering was on track to support the completion of the project as scheduled for late 2020.
“To date the company has placed equipment purchase orders representing approximately 74% of the long lead items by value, including electrical equipment packages, key gold room equipment, gravity and intensive leach systems as well as the new ball mill to provide for planned processing rates of 800 t/d,” Pure Gold said.
One of the more recent pieces of equipment to arrive in Red Lake is a 26 t capacity articulated dump truck from DUX Machinery (pictured). This underground four-wheel drive truck is well suited for hauling ore, waste and backfill on level and steep grades, according to DUX. It also has the highest power to weight ratio in its class the company said, adding that it permits efficient chute, side and end loading in narrow drifts with low headings.
From mid-December to late March, some 740 m of development had been completed at Madsen, with Pure Gold saying early initiation of ramp development through the company’s test mining program and, to date, a 50% improvement on development productivity from underground, had provided an opportunity to access key stopes ahead of schedule, optimise the mine plan, and provide a larger ore stockpile in advance of mill start-up.