Tag Archives: carbon emissions

MaxMine Carbon to help mining sector’s ‘net-zero’ transition, du Plessis says

As miners chase their mid- and long-term ‘net-zero’ ambitions, MaxMine’s CEO, Coert du Plessis, says they can start cutting their open-pit carbon output by 5-20% today with MaxMine Carbon.

MaxMine’s sensors and cloud-based processing system (MaxCube) extract and process 10,000 times more data from mining equipment and operator behaviour than incumbent systems, according to the company.  It is this platform that MaxMine Carbon is leveraging to reduce operations’ carbon emissions.

“MaxMine’s secret is providing highly accurate, trusted data that is automatically converted and contextualised into practical measures that mines can take to significantly reduce their carbon emissions,” it said. “Covering mine, machine and operator performance, urgent actions and decisions are communicated directly to operators, improvement leaders, and mine operators.

“In just 12 months, MaxMine has also increased site productivity by up to 12% at mines all over the world.”

MaxMine Carbon leverages trusted, high-quality data and operator behaviour that helps customers understand and manage their carbon footprint, according to du Plessis. “Our customers will be able to leverage the MaxMine Carbon Driver Tree and our new online MaxMine Carbon Calculator to provide a baseline of their current carbon emissions,” he said.

Backed by over 5 million hours of machine asset and operator data, the Carbon Calculator helps mines build their case for change, according to the company, allowing sites to quantify their current carbon emissions and then make critical trade-off decisions towards reducing emissions, while maintaining and even improving productivity.

“The MaxMine Carbon Calculator really is a first for the industry,” du Plessis said. “The first step in reducing carbon emissions, is being able to accurately quantify your current starting point.”

MaxMine Carbon measures a highly detailed carbon footprint across the entire mine, from every piece of equipment to each individual operator’s behaviour, according to the company.

“There are many operators in the mining chain with vast variations in behaviours,” du Plessis says. “An example might be one worker who drives fast and another slowly who holds up both trucks whilst producing unnecessary diesel CO2 and nitrous oxide. Or both trucks are loaded but not filled.

“Had they been fully loaded, only one carbon-free trip would have been required.”

MaxMine Carbon generates significant $/material tonne cost savings and early mover CO2/tonne of material savings, according to the company.

du Plessis said: “Clients can expect MaxMine Carbon to pay for itself in just 20 weeks from fuel savings alone. When combined with the broader MaxMine suite, this figure drops to less in 10 weeks.

“The average mine site is 150,000 t/y of carbon from the diesel fleet, and we can save up to 30,000 t of that CO2 right now every year.

“If we don’t reduce carbon every year, raw material prices will rise significantly across the supply chain, hampering net-zero for the world.”

Hindustan Zinc accelerates growth plans as it partners with industry leaders

Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), a Vedanta Group Company and the world’s second largest integrated producer of zinc and lead, is in acceleration mode, embarking on aggressive expansion and collaboration plans with technology and innovation partners from across the globe.

One of the first mining companies to commit to going “Net Zero” by 2050, it has a strong focus on ESG reinforced by plans to deploy battery-electric vehicles, tap into more solar and wind power potential and recycle waste heat from its captive power plants. Such ambitions are being delivered with up to $1 billion of finance in the next five years to “go green” and, by 2025, achieve focused sustainability goals.

At the same time as it is looking to become an ESG leader, it is boosting its mine and metal production by leveraging “smart mining” and an extensive resource and reserve base.

IM put some questions to Arun Misra, Hindustan Zinc CEO, to find out how the company intends to deliver on its lofty ambitions.

IM: HZL’s 2021 financial year to March 31, 2021, was characterised by record production volumes and profitability; how were you able to achieve such results given the COVID-19-affected constraints on your operations?

AM: The uncertainty has evolved continuously. If I give you an example, we started the year with the uncertainty of COVID only; that is people getting infected leading to absenteeism. It was so contagious, it spread so fast, half of our workforce were down. So, that struck us heavily, but, nevertheless, because we had experience of last year, and this time there was no lockdown of industry, we were able to figure out how to manage and we did manage well, compared to last year’s same quarter, which was also COVID-affected. We had introduced various measures to change the way of working to ensure a safer working environment for the employees. We also got our workforce vaccinated along with their families to further minimise the risks associated with the pandemic.

Hindustan Zinc CEO, Arun Misra, says Hindustan Zinc has been at the forefront of ensuring personal health, be it of its employees or local communities

Furthermore, the automation and digitalisation efforts at Hindustan Zinc are equipped to better withstand these testing times while ensuring quick revival to a normal level of operations.

IM: During the height of the pandemic, HZL – like other socially responsible mining companies – supported communities within or close by to its operations. Can you highlight some of the actions you took over this period and what impact they had?

AM: We at Hindustan Zinc have been at the forefront of ensuring personal health, be it of our employees or local communities. We have gone beyond and extended our support to the state of Rajasthan and the nation at large by contributing significantly to the PM Cares Fund and Rajasthan Chief Minister Relief Fund.

To meet the requirement of oxygen during the second wave of the pandemic, we had set up an oxygen bottling plant at our Dariba unit (Rajsamand district) in a record time of five days and had supplied over 14,000 cylinders of medical oxygen. We even arranged 500 oxygen concentrators to be imported and distributed for use across the state.

We had provided an insulated vaccine van to the Udaipur district medical health office to support a smooth vaccination drive and extended support to the local health administrations, by disinfecting villages by spraying and fumigating with sodium hypochlorite solution and providing medical gear like masks, sanitisers and PPE to local communities.

We even constructed an 8,000 sq.m air-conditioning dome hospital, based on German technology, which has a capacity of 100 beds – including 20 ICU beds – to accommodate patients and provide them with essential COVID treatment and medical facilities.

IM: ESG is obviously a major focus area for HZL, as these examples illustrate. Where specifically are you investing in your mining, power and smelting operations to make them more environmentally friendly?

AM: As a COP26 business leader, we have always been active in tackling the repercussions of climate change and have a strong focus on reducing carbon emissions. We are pioneers in India, declaring our ambition to convert all our mining equipment to battery-operated electric vehicles and will invest $1 billion over the next five years to make our mining operations environmentally friendly.

We are continuously expanding our renewable power of 274 MW of wind and 40 MW of solar under our greenhouse gas reduction goals by converting 50% of our total power to renewable forms in the next five years. We are among the only two metal and mining companies globally – and among four Indian companies – to be part of the coveted CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) ‘A List’ 2020.

Furthermore, we have even published our first Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) Report this year and have also joined the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) forum to understand nature-related risks and opportunities and accelerate the transition towards a nature-positive and carbon-neutral future.

We have set Sustainability Development Goals to 2025 for ourselves where we are aiming towards sustainable operations for a greener tomorrow.

Hindustan Zinc has embarked on a major growth push at its mining operations with six ongoing expansion projects that will see over 100 km of tunnels developed for underground infrastructure and ore access

IM: At the same time as this, HZL has embarked on a major growth push at your mining operations with six ongoing expansion projects that will see over 100 km of tunnels developed for underground infrastructure and ore access. How are you able to balance your sustainable expansion plans with pledges to reduce your overall footprint?

AM: We strive for operational excellence and cost efficiencies and continue to stay on the growth track while being equally cognisant of our environmental, social and governance commitments, as well as our sustainability goals. We are leveraging more digitalisation and automation than we ever have, as well as engaging with technology leaders to do ‘more with less’.

The SmartDrive equipment we plan to use enables higher productivity, lower operating costs and, most importantly, zero local emissions, featuring in-built energy recuperation technology to make the most of regenerative braking energy during downhill driving and deceleration.

Being a power-intensive business, our key focus is always on reducing dependence on non-renewable sources of energy and enhancing our renewable power base.

IM: How important has it been to partner with like-minded technology and solution providers to ensure you meet these ambitious goals? Can you provide some examples here?

AM: We always look for partners who align with our philosophy of running sustainable operations to achieve company goals. We don’t need one-off solutions from companies to meet our targets; we need companies that will engage throughout our medium- and long-term projects and provide an element of customisation that factors in the realities of operating in our underground mines. We look for global partners to work with us where we exchange ideas, insights and knowledge with them in our growth journey.

We believe in providing opportunities to our business partners to leverage collaboration on technology, innovation and digitalisation, for long-term value creation and mutual growth.

To support our expansion plan, it is crucial for Hindustan Zinc to collaborate with mine development and operation partners who share a similar vision to ours, which is to leverage cutting-edge technology to create a positive impact on the entire mining fraternity. We are currently working with companies like Sandvik, Epiroc, Normet, Barminco, RCT, Siemens, etc as our global partners. We have engaged with them to provide end-to-end solutions rather than sourcing a specific supply or service.

Hindustan Zinc has given an equal platform for women engineers in its mining operations, appointing India’s first female underground mine manager in 2021

IM: You have already stated a goal of 1.5 Mt/y of zinc production in the upcoming years and extending your lead as India’s largest integrated zinc-lead producer; what is your vision for the company to 2030 and beyond?

AM: We are excited about our next phase of expansion to take mining capacity from 1.2 Mt per annum to 1.35 Mt/a. We will surely cross 1 Mt and we should be above our guidance if we achieve the desired run rates in our third and fourth quarters.

While our growth plans are a key part of the company’s future, we are also focused on becoming the leading zinc-lead-silver producer from an environmental, social and governance point of view. Our DJSI Ranking of being among the Top 5 companies in the metal and mining sector is testament to this. We are already winning significant awards for our ESG and CSR efforts, and expect this recognition to continue and grow as we head towards mapping out our 2025 sustainability goals.

Also, the mining value chain is changing across the globe and more consumers are becoming aware of the origins of the products they buy and the emissions that come with their production.

To collaborate with Hindustan Zinc on its green growth mission, email [email protected]

BHP, Minmetals trial MineHub’s blockchain platform for first cross-border copper concentrate shipment

MineHub Technologies says its MineHub platform has been used by BHP and China Minmetals in the first cross-border copper concentrate trial shipment processed on blockchain technology.

Arnoud Star Busmann, CEO at MineHub, said: “The MineHub platform has evolved significantly since BHP, the leading global resources company, completed the first iron ore transactions on it in 2020 with China Baowu. Now another industry-leading innovative company, China Minmetals, working with BHP has used our blockchain platform for secure and transparent inter-company and cross-border data sharing including multiple new use cases like emissions data sharing and a metals assay exchange process.

“We are very excited to complete this pilot transaction with these forward-looking partners. Designing and building with industry for industry is a continuous journey and fundamental to our success.”

At present, the settlement process of copper concentrates is lengthy and complex, suffers from high processing costs, complex pricing mechanisms and vulnerability to errors and fraud, according to MineHub. The information exchange between the two parties of trade execution relies largely on e-mail and paper transmission, involving many parties such as banks, commercial institutions, logistics providers and often government departments. Large numbers of commercial documents are produced as part of the process that need to be exchanged and verified.

As traded volumes of copper concentrate have doubled in recent years in the largest market China, market participants urgently need a safe, stable, efficient, and real-time data sharing system platform, according to MineHub.

“MineHub provides that solution, which has been created to support these complex cross-border commodity transactions,” the company said. “It enables operations teams in companies like BHP and Minmetals to collaborate with each other as well as their banks, service and logistics providers on the basis of shared, real-time data. Data privacy, integrity and control are secured by enterprise blockchain technology.”

The end-to-end post-trade process for this shipment between BHP and Minmetals was completed on the platform, and, according to the company, included the use of several MineHub innovations:

  • Blockchain-based assay exchange, including final assay determination;
  • Carbon emissions data sharing (Scope 1, 2 and 3); and
  • Using MineHub node hosted in mainland China to ensure local data residence.

This was the first transaction of its kind for copper concentrates, and the parties have agreed to continue working together to promote the development and deployment of efficient post-transaction process solutions, create a better customer experience and achieve transparency and tracking of carbon emissions reduction, MineHub said.

MaxMine Carbon seeks to cut emissions at open-pit mining operations

MaxMine has announced the official launch of ‘MaxMine Carbon’, a technology offering that, it says, will enable mining operators to reduce their carbon emissions by more than 10% for no, or limited, additional capital expenditure.

The MaxMine Carbon offering was unveiled last week at the annual Rotto Tech Fest, as part of the West Tech Fest, held on Rottnest Island in Western Australia.

MaxMine Carbon is a mining productivity tool which captures, processes and analyses vast amounts of data, then translates that data into pragmatic solutions for clients that deliver significant carbon emissions reductions and productivity gains at open-pit mining operations, specifically in load and haul operations, the company explained.

The technology platform harnesses cutting-edge automation capabilities and advanced data analytics to capture up to 10,000 times more data at open-pit mining operations, relative to the industry standard fleet management system products, according to MaxMine.

During extensive trials of MaxMine Carbon at various open-pit mining operations, miners were able to accomplish an average minimum carbon emissions reduction of 10% within just one month. This is the equivalent to replacing more than four trucks in a fleet of 40, with zero-emissions vehicles, for zero capital expenditure, the company estimated.

MaxMine Carbon also allows companies to quantify their carbon emission savings for inclusion in ESG and sustainability reports.

Furthermore, miners experienced an average payload increase of 7% at the operations where the MaxMine Carbon beta product was implemented.

This additional production output, while using the same resources, also translates into significant cost savings and efficiencies for the mine site operators.

“In fact, from a client perspective, MaxMine Carbon is on average expected to pay for itself in just 12 weeks from fuel savings alone, and, coupled with the broader MaxMine suite, this figure drops to six weeks,” the company said.

MaxMine Chief Executive Officer, Coert Du Plessis, said the company’s new offering provides resources companies with a cost-effective solution to achieve emissions reduction targets, as regulators, investors and the broader community increasingly focus on reaching a net zero emissions world.

“Emerging renewable energy solutions for miners that are commercially viable remain at least 5-10 years away, but many mining operators have emissions reductions targets to meet in the short term and medium term,” Du Plessis said.

“This is where MaxMine comes in, as a revolutionary technology offering that can overcome this challenge by empowering miners to reduce their carbon emissions right now and also potentially boost their bottom line. It also enables miners to quantify their carbon emissions reductions.

“Net zero mining starts here.”

The launch of MaxMine Carbon coincides with MaxMine being crowned a winner at the Extreme Tech Challenge Australia last week for its data analytics proficiency and work on MaxMine Carbon.

Since its inception in 2015 in Adelaide, MaxMine has grown from five to 50 people, and expanded its corporate presence to also encompass Perth, Brisbane and Sydney in Australia, as well as Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa, with further international expansion planned.

Over the past five years MaxMine has achieved revenue growth of between 70-100%/y.

Du Plessis said MaxMine Carbon would underpin sustained growth for the company.

“The demand for tangible solutions for miners to meet ESG criteria is growing by the day, with the cost of capital for miners with the lowest ESG scores up 20-25% higher than those with high ESG scores, so we anticipate strong uptake of our new product,” he said.

BHP and POSCO to collaborate on low-carbon steelmaking technologies

BHP and South Korea’s POSCO have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly explore greenhouse gas emissions reduction technologies in integrated steelmaking.

As part of the MoU, the parties intend to undertake pilot and plant trials to lower carbon in the steelmaking process, including optimising coke quality and assessing carbon capture storage and utilisation (CCUS) options to lower carbon intensity in the blast furnace.

POSCO and BHP also intend to share research on hydrogen-based direct reduction technology, the use of biomass in steelmaking, as well as the potential to leverage BHP’s carbon offsetting capabilities in the development of carbon neutral steel products.

BHP intends to invest up to $10 million over the next five years under the MoU, with the opportunity to increase investment in technologies under the trial. BHP’s investment will be drawn from its $400 million Climate Investment Program, announced in 2019 to support projects, partnerships, research and development to help reduce Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

BHP and POSCO also intend to collaborate on the reporting of carbon emissions through the steel value chain to further progress consistent, transparent and robust global standards.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “The pathway to net zero for steelmaking is not yet clear but we believe that, by working with industry leaders like POSCO, together we will find solutions more quickly to help reduce carbon emissions in steelmaking and along the value chain. BHP recently announced a goal to pursue net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2050 and we are committed to working with industry leaders in steelmaking to address this hard-to-abate sector.

“Steel is a critical product for the world to grow and decarbonise, and we must work hard together to enable greener steel, reducing carbon intensity in the blast furnace and testing new technologies for steel production.”

POSCO’s Head of Steel Business Unit, Hag-Dong Kim, said: “Though achieving carbon neutrality is a difficult path ahead, with POSCO working together with BHP’s outstanding mining expertise and the will to achieve a low-carbon future, I have every reason to believe that we can create a significant turning point in carbon emission reduction across our value chain.”

The MoU with POSCO follows BHP’s earlier partnerships established with major steelmakers China Baowu, JFE Steel and HBIS Group to explore emissions reduction from steelmaking. The combined output of the four steel companies equates to around 12% of reported global steel production.

Rio Tinto Japan joins GVC Network as part of carbon footprint reduction plan

Rio Tinto Japan has joined Japan’s Green Value Chain Platform Network (GVC Network), a collaboration established by the Ministry of the Environment to lead transparent decarbonisation efforts in the country.

Representative Director and Rio Tinto Japan President, Bill Horie, said: “We are honoured to be welcomed into the Ministry of Environment’s GVC Network and look forward to engaging on innovative approaches with customers, government and industry to help reduce Japan’s carbon footprint.”

Formed in 2018, GVC Network member companies work to set science-based targets for emissions reduction that are economically feasible and effective for the achievement of their Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets; and to share solutions related to renewable energy, energy conservation, or energy storage, Rio said.

Rio Tinto aims to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Its efforts to support decarbonisation through state-of-the-art solutions such as START Responsible Aluminium – a leading traceability program – aligns with the GVC Network intentions, the company added.

The GVC Network collaborates formally through networking and has 141 members representing a variety of industries including: electronics, machinery and equipment, automotive, airline, pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetics, building and construction, real estate, housing, printing, food and beverage, marine, retailing, publishing and logistics.

To help reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050, Rio Tinto is targeting a reduction in emissions intensity by 30% and in its absolute emissions by 15%, both by 2030 and from 2018 levels. The company also plans to spend around $1 billion over five years on emissions reduction projects, research and development and activities to enhance the climate resilience of our business.

Rio Tinto has outlined a series of measurable and impactful Scope 3 emissions reduction goals to guide its approach, which features partnerships across China, Japan and South Korea – countries which account for 88% of the company’s value chain emissions (Scope 3).

The company has also committed that its growth over the next decade will be carbon neutral.

Aggreko to energise Gold Fields’ Salares Norte mine with hybrid power solution

Aggreko, a leading provider of mobile and modular power solutions, has signed a contract with Gold Fields to provide a 25.9 MW hybrid solar and thermal power solution to the Salares Norte open-pit mine in Chile.

This “ground-breaking solution” has been designed to provide power for the entire mine, which sits at an altitude of 4,500 m in the Andes mountain range and is 190 km from the nearest town, Aggreko says.

The hybrid system will comprise both tailormade high-altitude performance diesel gensets and Aggreko Solar Power units, optimised for off-grid applications and ready to meet the extreme wind conditions these units will experience.

The gensets will each deliver 772 kW (for 16 MW of power in total) and will incorporate spinning reserve and cold reserve units to efficiently manage peaks in demand, the company says. This diesel generation system will be integrated with solar units, which, once installed, will provide 9.9 MW of emission-free power.

“The system will deliver a reliable, modular power supply across all five of the mine’s distribution points, whilst surpassing the Chilean government’s environmental standards as well as Gold Fields’ requirement for a minimum of 20% renewable power generation for mining operations,” Aggreko said.

Once complete, it will achieve $7.4 million in cost of energy savings over the next decade and a further $1.1 million in carbon tax offset over the Aggreko project lifetime in addition to 104,000 t of carbon emissions savings, Aggreko estimates.

“The modular rental solution also supports a consolidated capital expenditure outlay, allowing for greater cost control and variable commitments whilst ensuring continued operational excellence at the mine,” it added.

The deployment of this hybrid solution follows Aggreko’s recent launch of Aggreko Solar Power, which will be deployed to provide power at the site. This solution is designed for weak or off-grid energy applications, providing clean and efficient power supply to a range of operations without long-term financial commitments.

Pablo Varela, Latin America Managing Director from Aggreko, said: “As the energy transition continues to gather pace, our customers are increasingly looking for more flexible power solutions which can reliably support operations whilst reducing carbon emissions and lowering costs.

“Hybrid products, such as the one we are deploying for Salares Norte, enable a reliable and flexible power supply whilst reducing carbon emissions, thanks to the incorporation of Aggreko Solar Power units as part of the system. Having a standardised product such as this provides the kind of consistency and reliability which our customers have come to expect from us.”

The 10-year contract between Aggreko and Gold Fields for power generation at the mine represents the strong working relationship between the companies, reinforced with the recent installation of one of the world’s largest renewable microgrids at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine in Western Australia.

First production from the mine is set for early 2023, with Salares Norte having an 11.5-year life of mine with a production average of 450,000 oz/y for the first seven years of operations.

Shell to supply BHP’s LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers

BHP says it has awarded its first LNG supply agreement for five LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers, which will transport iron ore between Western Australia and China from 2022.

Shell has been awarded the contract to fuel the vessels, which BHP will charter from Eastern Pacific Shipping for a five-year term as part of a previously announced arrangement confirmed in September.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “The LNG bunkering contract marks a significant step in how BHP is working with our suppliers to reduce emissions across the maritime supply chain.

“LNG fuelled vessels are forecast to help BHP reduce CO2-e emissions by 30% on a per voyage basis compared to a conventional fuelled voyage between Western Australia and China, and contribute to our 2030 goal to support 40% emissions intensity reduction of BHP-chartered shipping of our products.”

Steve Hill, Executive Vice President, Shell Energy, said: “I would like to congratulate BHP on reducing emissions in their maritime supply chain with the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers. Decarbonisation of the shipping industry must begin today and LNG is the cleanest fuel currently available in meaningful volumes.

“This LNG bunkering contract strengthens the bunkering market in the region and we look forward to working with BHP and other customers in the maritime sector on their journey to a net-zero emissions future.”

The contract is the result of a tender process that included potential suppliers across several geographies. Technical capability, available infrastructure and cost competitiveness were among the stringent criteria.

LNG bunkering – the process of fuelling ships with LNG – will take place through the first LNG bunker vessel in Singapore, ‘FueLNG Bellina’. The vessel is operated by FueLNG, a joint venture between Shell Eastern Petroleum and Keppel Offshore & Marine. The bunker vessel will be able to bunker fuel at a rate of 100-1,000 cu.m/h.

“The LNG bunkering contract will enable BHP to manage fuel supply risk, build LNG operational capability internally, and also help to strengthen the emerging LNG bunkering market in the region,” Pant said. “This contract is expected to form up to 10% of forecasted Asian LNG bunker demand in FY2023 (financial year 2023).”

BHP Nickel West to reduce emissions with Southern Cross Energy contract extension

BHP has executed a 15-year contract extension to its power purchase agreement (PPA) with energy provider Southern Cross Energy (SCE) for the supply of electricity to its Nickel West operations in the Goldfields of Western Australia.

The agreement extends the current arrangement to 2038, giving Nickel West access to all electricity produced by SCE.

Nickel West Asset President, Eduard Haegel, said the PPA also provided Nickel West with the additional ability to integrate renewable electricity generation, including solar and wind, with energy storage technologies to meet its emissions reduction targets and deliver lower carbon, sustainable nickel to its customers.

Study phases for renewable energy supply and carbon emissions reduction under the extended PPA are underway, including an 18.5 MW solar photovoltaic farm at Nickel West’s Leinster and Mount Keith operations, supported by a battery energy storage system. A 17 MW waste heat steam turbine system at the Kalgoorlie smelter is also being evaluated to provide low-emissions electricity from furnace heat recovery, BHP said.

The combined projects have the potential to reduce Nickel West’s Scope 2 electricity greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15% by 2023, based on 2020 levels.

“These projects contribute to the first phase of our emissions reduction strategy, as we continue to evaluate plans for additional renewable energy supply to decarbonise our nickel operations,” Haegel said.

“We are at the beginning of an energy revolution that will transform our world and materially increase demand for nickel. BHP Nickel West is well placed to provide our nickel units sustainably, and with one of the lowest carbon footprints.”

BHP has committed to a science-based target of a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from 2020 levels by 2030, with a long-term target of net zero operational emissions by 2050.

“Our integrated value chain and the sulphide nature of our nickel deposits makes Nickel West one of the lowest carbon emitters in the industry and gives BHP a global advantage in the sustainable production of nickel,” Haegel said.

ABB, TAKRAF complete commissioning of Chuquicamata conveyor system

ABB, working with TAKRAF, has completed commissioning and testing of the world’s highest-powered gearless conveyor drive system at the Codelco-owned Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile.

ABB has provided engineering design, gearless conveyor drives (GCD), electrical equipment for power supply, energy distribution and automation of a new underground and overland conveyor system at one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Chuquicamata is currently transitioning from open-pit to underground mining, with the conveyor system, commissioned in just four months, part of a new underground project that is expected to extend operations for the next 40 years.

Project management and engineering for the full electrical, control and instrumentation scope was led by ABB in Germany, with long spells on site in northern Chile to work side-by-side with TAKRAF to equip the site’s new underground operation with a large conveying system that overcomes an altitude difference of 1,200 m and covers a distance of almost 13 km, ABB said.

The three principle 11,000 t/h conveyors feature GCDs equipped with large ABB AC synchronous motors with a rated power of 5 MW each, resulting in a motor shaft torque of about 900 kNm. With every line in constant use, high availability and low maintenance are essential. Designed with a minimum of transfer stations, just one was required underground, saving significant project cost, ABB said.

Based on continuous conveying technology, the infrastructure is completely truck-less, eliminating the need for 120 large haul trucks. This results in saving around 130 million litres/y of gasoline consumption, bringing the carbon emissions from 340,000 t/y down to 100,000 t/y. It is also the first transportation system in the world to employ premium steel cable belt technology, ST10000, for use on uphill tunnel conveyors, according to ABB.

ABB high power motors in position

“This mega project achieves a number of firsts, from the system’s installed drive power to the application of the ST10000 conveyor belt,” Marc Hollinger, TAKRAF Project Manager, said. “With this project, we firmly establish TAKRAF as one of the world’s only providers capable of delivering a mega project of this nature incorporating advanced technologies that push the boundaries of what has been done before. This is a complex project of the highest magnitude demanding global cooperation between internal and external parties.”

Ulf Richter, Global Product Manager for Belt Conveyor Systems at ABB, said: “This is a new milestone in underground applications for continuous mining. It is the highest drive power ever installed on a conveyor and uses a wide range of features for data acquisition, equipment assessment and process optimisation.

“In piloting this gearless drive application with TAKRAF, we have overcome tremendous technical and logistical challenges due to underground situations, elevation change and capacity requirements.”

ABB liquid-cooled MV voltage-source frequency converters, together with large synchronous motors, deliver a decrease in active and reactive power consumption at the operation. This is highly energy efficient, and without additional network filters, it says.

ABB’s Mining Conveyor Control Program ensures smooth belt operation and safe synchronisation between high power motors and high power hydraulic brakes, necessary for secure operation of steep uphill conveyors. The drive systems also work without mechanic backstops, ABB said.

A novel embedding concept, developed jointly by TAKRAF and ABB, enables straightforward installation and alignment of the GCD motors, saving installation time and longer deployment of maintenance teams. This was considered a major benefit compared with existing GCDs in cantilevered construction, ABB said. The concept also meant motors were 100% factory assembled and tested. They can also be mechanically disconnected from the drive pulley quickly so operations can continue if drive failure occurs. The total installed drive power for the entire system, including multiple feeder conveyors, totals 58 MW, of which there are 11 x 5 MW gearless synchronous motors.

ABB has also installed ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer at Chuquicamata reducing carbon emissions and providing clean air to workers in line with the strict health, safety and environment requirements.