Tag Archives: Cat 793

Pre-production mining fleet starts to arrive at Greenstone gold project

Equinox Gold Corp says it is making good headway on its 60%-owned Greenstone project, in Ontario, Canada, with four Cat 793 haul trucks delivered to site and the first Komatsu PC-5500 excavator set for assembly this quarter.

The Greenstone project is being developed as a 60/40 partnership, respectively, by Equinox Gold and Orion Mine Finance Group, and is billed as being one of the largest gold mines in Canada, producing more than 400,000 oz/y of gold for the first five years and more than 5 Moz of gold over its initial 14-year mine life.

The project is now 35% complete and on schedule to pour first gold in the first half of 2024, Equinox says. As of June 30, 2022, 56% of total capital costs had been contracted and Greenstone had spent $315 million (26%) of its $1.23 billion construction budget (100% basis).

The earthworks were 48% complete, with plant site earthworks 76% complete, tailings storage facility (TSF) earthworks 29% complete and the Highway 11 realignment earthworks 39% complete. Structural concrete was 37% complete and structural steel 21% complete.

The company says pre-production mining should commence in the December quarter with the four Cat 793s (250-t) payload haul trucks and the first Komatsu PC-5500.

Equinox has also committed to mobile equipment lease financing of $78 million for the project, deferring approximately $53 million of initial capital spend, it says.

The Greenstone Mine plan contemplates construction of a 27,000 t/d processing facility and open-pit mining operation for the Hardrock deposit. The process plant consists of a crushing circuit, grinding circuit, pre-leach thickening and leaching, carbon-in-pulp circuit, carbon elution and regeneration, electrowinning and gold refining, and tailings disposal, with overall gold recovery of 91.2%. Mining will use conventional open-pit blast, load and haul techniques, with the 2020 technical report also including the potential for automated blasthole drilling.

Christian Milau, CEO of Equinox Gold, stated: “The Greenstone team has done great work staying on schedule and on budget, despite the challenges of starting construction during COVID and dealing with inflationary and supply chain issues. The independent quantitative risk assessment of our schedule and construction budget has provided additional comfort that we’re on track to deliver the project as planned in the first half of 2024.

“Excellent earthworks progress during the winter months means we can focus on concrete foundations and steel structures during the summer and fall and enclose the majority of buildings before year end, which will allow us to maintain productivity during the winter months.”

Upcoming construction milestones include:

  • Delivery and assembly of pre-production fleet of four trucks and excavators: Q2-Q3 2022;
  • Permanent water effluent treatment plant ready for use: Q3 2022;
  • Commence installation of gensets in power plant, power building enclosed: Q3 2022;
  • Start of pre-production mining: Q4 2022;
  • Truck shop, warehouse, process plant (HPRG, crushing and main buildings) ready to enclose: Q4 2022;
  • Leach tanks installed: Q4 2022;
  • Ball mills received: Q1 2023;
  • Crushers installed: Q3 2023;
  • TSF complete: Q4 2023;
  • Highway 11 realignment complete: Q4 2023
  • Commissioning: Q1-Q2 2024; and
  • Gold pour: Q2 2024.

Ferrexpo confirms trolley assist scoping studies at Poltava

Ferrexpo, as part of its efforts towards integrating into a ‘Green Steel’ supply chain, is embarking on scoping studies looking at installing trolley assist technology at its Poltava mine in Ukraine.

The iron ore miner produced 11.2 Mt of iron ore pellets in 2020 from its Yeristovo and Poltava mines, up from 10.5 Mt in 2019. With iron ore prices on the rise and costs down during the 12-month period, the company recorded underlying EBITDA of $859 million, 46% higher than 2019.

During 2020, the company achieved material reductions in its carbon footprint per tonne for both Scope 1 (8%) and Scope 2 (21%) emissions, with a similar trajectory expected in 2021, Lucio Genovese, Non-executive Chair of Ferrexpo, said.

In the future growth investment program of its 2020 annual results statement, the company unveiled several projects to boost production, operating efficiency and sustainability.

The first one up was its mining fleet automation project.

In December 2020, the company commenced Phase 1 deployment of autonomous trucks at its Yeristovo iron ore mine, also in Ukraine. This project saw Caterpillar 793 haul trucks retrofitted with autonomous haulage capabilities through an agreement with ASI Mining.

The company said: “Phase 1 deployment of autonomous trucks commenced in December 2020, with an expectation to deploy additional autonomous Cat 793 haul trucks to production areas throughout 2021 (Phase 1), delivering gains in both safety and productivity.”

The autonomous truck deployment represents a significant milestone, with Yeristovo becoming the first mine in Europe to successfully invest in this modern technology, Ferrexpo said.

Deployment of autonomous haul trucks follows Ferrexpo’s investment in semi-autonomous/autonomous drill rigs (with Epiroc) and drone surveys since 2017 and 2018, respectively, which have brought significant safety improvements, it said.

“We expect to see similar benefits throughout our mining department as further automation investments are realised,” the company added.

On the trolley assist project at Poltava, Ferrexpo said scoping studies were underway to install a pantograph network of overhead cables in the group’s mines, which would enable haul trucks to ascend the open pit using electricity rather than diesel. It noted benefits were expected in its C1 cost base and Scope 1 carbon footprint.

In December, Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North, told IM that the company planned to move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years as a precursor to applying trolley assist at the operation.

Power infrastructure is already available in the pits energising most of its electric-hydraulic shovels and backhoes, and the intention is for these new electric drive trucks to go on trolley line infrastructure to eradicate some of the operation’s diesel use.

“Initially we would still need to rely on diesel engines at the end of ramps and the bottom of pits, but our intention is to utilise some alternative powerpack on these trucks as the technology becomes available,” North said at the time.

He expected that alternative powerpack to be battery-based, but he and the company were keeping their options open during conversations with OEMs about its fleet replacement plans.

With around 15% of the company’s carbon footprint tied to diesel use, this could have a big impact on Ferrexpo’s ‘green’ credentials, yet North said the transition to trolley assist made sense even without this sustainability benefit.

“The advantages in terms of mining productivity are huge,” North said. “You go from 15 km/h on ramp to just under 30 km/h on ramp.”

Another carbon-reduction project the company is pursuing is the development of a 5 MW pilot solar plant positioned at its concentrator. In its 2020 results statement, the company said procurement for this project was expected in the second half of the year.

There was $4 million of capital outstanding associated with this project in 2021, with the pilot looking to investigate the potential for industrial-scale generation of solar power at the company’s operations, commencing with the 5 MW pilot plant.

Ferrexpo said: “Electricity consumption accounted for 55% of the group’s Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions in 2020, with solar power offering significant potential for cutting the group’s carbon footprint.

“Should this trial be successful, we will look to significantly expand this particular project.”

BHP readying rollout of autonomous trucks at Eastern Ridge

BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia in the next month, with the fleet of 20 Cat 793 haul trucks set to be fully converted to autonomous mode by the end of the year.

The company announced earlier this year that Eastern Ridge (also referred to as Newman East) would be the next mine to benefit from autonomous haulage. This came after a previous automation announcement related to the jointly-owned Goonyella Riverside mine, in Queensland. BHP has also agreed to acquire 41 new model Komatsu 930E-5, which are autonomous ready, for its in-development South Flank iron ore mine, but the company has not yet confirmed if it will use the autonomous capability at the site.

A BHP spokesperson confirmed the existing fleet of Cat 793s were set for automation retrofits, explaining that the roll out would occur from the end of June/early July.

Despite the restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, the spokesperson said the company was on track for full roll out completion by the end of year, as planned.

In the announcement back in February, BHP said the automation project at Eastern Ridge, which the company is currently using as its proving ground for innovation, was down to the significant safety benefits offered by the technology and its ability to complement the mine’s design, culture and existing infrastructure.

“Newman East is home to our innovation centre, so we’re already using technology there that helps us to be safer and more efficient,” Newman Operations General Manager, Marie Bourgoin, said. “Autonomous trucks were the next logical step.”

This shift will create more than 30 new permanent jobs at Newman East to run and maintain the trucks, according to Bourgoin, with the new roles tied to planning the truck routes and operating the autonomous systems from a control centre, which will initially be located at the mine.

It will also generate more than A$33 million ($23 million) in contracts for Western Australia businesses, with the work required to transition Newman to autonomous haulage including autonomous conversion kits, trailers, training content development and engineering and construction packages.

Newman East is one half of BHP’s Newman operations, which also includes Newman West, locally known as Mt Whaleback. No decision has been made to introduce autonomous trucks at Newman West, the company confirmed.