Tag Archives: Caterpillar

Hastings Deering rebuild program pays off for Rio Tinto’s Gove operation

Hastings Deering has been sustain output at Rio Tinto’s Gove bauxite open-pit operation in the Northern Territory of Australia by boosting engine power during the rebuild of dozers.

The Cat D11T dozer is purpose built to move more material and ensure maximum availability through its planned life cycle, the Caterpillar dealer says. For Rio Tinto, Dozer 79, had built up over 37,000 hours ripping and pushing bauxite at its open-pit operation.

Rio Tinto knew it wanted to undergo a Cat Certified Rebuild for its dozer but had to come up with an innovate way to do this while minimising equipment down time, Hastings Deering said.

Brendan Coleing, Superintendent, Mining Maintenance, said the Gove operation has focused heavily on building safe and reliable machinery to meet the targeted life of its assets and maintenance schedules.

“With a 24/7 operation, we need to plan and strategically think about our assets, their maintenance and lifecycle,” he said. “By planning large maintenance projects in advance, at Rio Tinto, we’ve been able to compensate for machinery downtime and achieve some great energy efficiencies.”

One of the key projects that helped to allow for the nine-week Cat Certified Rebuild (CCR) was the D11R repower project.

In early 2020, the Hastings Deering team worked with Rio Tinto on an alternative solution for engine replacement in its D11R fleet that reduced costs, fuel use and emissions while extending lifespans. This incorporated replacing the 3508 engines the machines originally came with, with the newer C32 engines.

“Recent success with repowering our D11 fleet with C32 engines has helped our mining operations move more bauxite due to increased power in the machine,” Coleing states. “This in turn allowed us to remove Dozer 79 out of production, and into the workshop to complete a Cat Certified Rebuild.”

Alongside the increase in machine availability, this project presented a budgeted fuel burn reduction of up to 25%.

“Our like-for-like material movements are now done with significantly less fuel which is a great environmental outcome,” Coleing said. “They’re also quieter, making them a little more comfortable for the operator.”

With Cat equipment built to perform over multiple lifetimes, the CCR was the most efficient way to help get the most economic value out of the original asset investment.

A CCR is a full machine rebuild that provides a like-new machine, inclusive of all Cat updates, to help achieve a full machine life supported by the Caterpillar warranty, Hastings Deering says.

Brad Read, Service Manager at Hastings Deering, said the CCR program is an efficient way for customers to improve the planned lifecycle of their machines.

“Given Dozer 79’s upcoming power train, hydraulic and major component change outs, a CCR was a cost-effective way for us to maintain the asset through to the end of its target life,” he said. “Customers opt for a CCR as it provides the ability to rebuild their machine, including all technological advancements, over purchasing a new machine. This helps to reduce capital expenditure.”

Read said that the CCR offered an extended scope or work over a standard rebuild and took careful planning between the Rio Tinto and Hastings Deering teams.

“The CCR takes up to nine weeks to complete and covers an extended scope of work including power train replacement, hydraulics and electrical components, cab overhaul, work implement overhaul and ET testing and painting,” he said.

“Effective planning is critical to the success of a large-scale project like a CCR. The team needs to ensure all stages of the rebuild have been planned, scheduled and are on time to guarantee machine delivery back to the customer.”

“It is essential to support our customers in their operation.”

By successfully planning the CCR after the success of the C32 repower project, Rio Tinto and Hastings Deering were able to improve the performance of its equipment and compensate for the removal of Dozer 79, Hastings Deering said.

Coleing said: “By undertaking work in this manner, we’ve removed a massive amount of forward log of work that not only gave us immediate availability but provided us with an improved asset through to the end of the machine life.”

Cat boosts productivity and efficiency with new 992 Wheel Loader

Building on a more than half-century legacy that includes the best-selling large mining loader model of all time, the new Cat® 992 Wheel Loader sets a new standard by offering up to 32% greater productivity, Caterpillar says.

This new large mining loader reduces maintenance costs by as much as 10% and offers up to 48% greater payload-per-fuel efficiency than the earlier model 992K, the company claims.

Powered by the new Cat C32B engine with US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage V and Tier 2 equivalent emission engine options, the new 992 meets the global industry’s demand for high-production equipment with greater payloads, Cat says. Powertrain design enhancements to the transmission, axles and final drive, along with the new engine, deliver a 20% longer interval for planned component replacement.

Offering both standard- and high-lift configurations, the 992 delivers the lowest cost-per-tonne when paired with fleets of Cat 775, 777 and 785 trucks, according to the company. Standard-lift payload capacities reach 23.1 t for quarry face applications and 27.2 t for loose material handling, while high-lift capacities reach 20.4 t and 24.5 t in respective applications.

Productive and efficient

A new Z-bar linkage optimised for performance, and improvements to rimpull and breakout force, deliver greater machine capacity and efficiency. The new 992 has demonstrated in field testing up to 48% greater payload-per-fuel efficiency in applications where a four-pass match to 90.7 t trucks was achieved, versus five passes with the 992K. The powerful and efficient 992 provides up to 9.5% more rimpull during digging and up to 20% more breakout force, increasing productivity, the company claims.

The new Cat 992 wheel loader features an on-demand throttle mode to optimise payload-per-fuel efficiency without slowing production. New standard automatic retarding controls disable the impeller clutch, enable the lockup clutch, and use the implement and fan pumps retarding to slow the machine on grade. The available advanced automatic retarding controls with engine brake feature offers full control of the loader’s speed on grade to maintain a desired hold speed, according to Cat.

Automating critical digging cycle elements, optional new Autodig components further improve productivity and efficiency while reducing tyre wear. To stop slippage before it happens, a tyre slip prevention feature reduces rimpull before the tyres are set and increases rimpull when downward force is applied to the tyre. The tyre set function detects pile contact and automatically lifts against the pile to set the tyres and increase available traction. The lift stall prevention feature automatically manages rimpull in-dig to prevent hydraulic stall while lifting through the face, so the 992 spends less time in the pile.

An optional new Payload Overload Prevention tool allows for productivity and efficiency improvements by providing a large enough bucket to be used to achieve target pass match across a range of material densities without the risk of overload. With the overload value fully adjustable based on the target payload, this feature can be configured to automatically stop or slow the lift function when the overload value is exceeded, Cat says.

Improvements to the setback and strike plane angles, a longer bucket floor and a stronger and larger bottom section increase the bucket fill factor by 10%. The taller side plate with level top surface helps to improve visibility beyond the bucket edge to the material pile.

Available Operator Coaching empowers operators to exceed productivity targets by measuring and providing feedback to teach optimal operating techniques. Among other operating techniques, this feature shows how to properly shorten travel, avoid unracking in-dig, enter the pile with a level bucket, reduce the dump height and use the kickout.

Comfort and safety

The newly redesigned Cat 992 wheel loader cab increases visibility, offers intuitive control and incorporates next-generation technology to boost efficiency by providing easily accessible information. Its taller windshield increases the glass surface area by 25%, resulting in 10% greater visibility. Cat says operators will appreciate the cab’s 50% increase in legroom and more width by the knees.

Providing shift-long operating comfort, the new 992 controls feature electrohydraulic speed-sensing steering with force feedback. Two 254-mm colour LED monitors display machine control and operating functions. A separate 203-mm screen provides a dedicated viewing feed of the standard rear-view camera, upgradable with an optional 270° vision and object detection.

Total cost of ownership

Extended major component life on the new 992 and improved service access deliver up to 10% lower maintenance costs. Automatic lubrication to Z-bar linkage pins with robust guarding, meanwhile, helps to deliver more reliable operation. A front walkaround platform simplifies cleaning of cab windows. Two large openings per machine side offer quick and convenient access to the improved cooling package, reducing cleaning time, Cat says.

Improved hydraulic systems filtration and pump prognostics for the implement pump reduce machine downtime. The new loader displays the remaining useful life for the engine air filter, allowing technicians to plan for machine servicing.

Offering convenient and improved access to maintenance items, the service centre has been relocated to the left-hand side of the machine, along with the fuel tanks. S∙O∙SSM fluid sampling ports are safely accessed from ground level and filters are organised by type and change interval to increase maintenance efficiency.

First of two Cat 6040 shovels head to Centamin’s Sukari gold mine

Mantrac Egypt says it has completed the assembly, commissioning and handover of a Caterpillar 6040 BH hydraulic shovel to Centamin’s Sukari gold mine in the country.

This is the first of two new excavators heading to the operation.

The Cat dealer said: “With gross power over 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) and approximately 40 t bucket payload, more volume of material will be moved and at lower cost per tonne.”

Back in December, Centamin said it would soon be adding new Cat 6040 hydraulic face shovels to its existing fleet at Sukari. This is part of a plan to position Sukari to reliably produce 450,000-500,000 oz/y of gold at all-in sustaining costs below $900/oz sold from 2024. This has also seen Centamin take on Capital Ltd as open-pit waste mining contractor.

These new shovels are included in the company’s financial year 2021-2023 capital expenditure plans. Also included is a 36 MW solar plant, an explosives contract and the addition of lightweight truck trays.

ioneer signs MoU with Caterpillar to introduce autonomous haulage at Rhyolite Ridge

ioneer Ltd says it has completed a joint automation study with Caterpillar and the Cat dealer for Nevada, Cashman Equipment Company, and signed a memorandum of understanding with Cat that should see autonomous haulage employed at the Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project in Esmerelda County.

The study was targeting the early introduction of Cat’s Command for hauling Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) at Rhyolite Ridge, with the results of the Rhyolite Ridge feasibility study showing the viability of AHS at the mine and how its proposed application could positively impact the overall cost structure of the operations.

Key anticipated drivers include increased operating hours, reduced cycle times and improved cycle efficiency, and decreased operating costs in terms of maintenance, fuel, labour and tyres. AHS should also lead to improved in-cycle productivity and overall utilisation, reducing the number of trucks required, ioneer said.

To date, Cat autonomous mining trucks have safely hauled more than 2 billion tonnes of material worldwide, driving over 67.6 million km without a lost-time injury in the process.

The Rhyolite Ridge operations are scheduled to start in 2023 with a fleet of Cat 785 Next Generation mining trucks (pictured) equipped with Cat Command for hauling, and the fleet is scheduled to expand significantly in year four, ioneer explained. All support equipment will feature the latest MineStar technology using high-precision GPS and real-time analytics to maximise efficiency and accuracy in material loading, it added.

This will be the first greenfield operation in North America to use AHS and will mark the expansion of Command for hauling automation technology to the 140-t class Cat 785 Next Generation mining truck.

The MoU between Cat and ioneer is for the use of Cat Command for hauling at the Rhyolite Ridge mine. The companies have engaged in preliminary, non-binding negotiations regarding the terms of the proposed transaction and intend to negotiate formal agreements in the coming months, ioneer said.

The partnership will operate through Cashman Equipment, Nevada’s Caterpillar dealership since 1931. The fleet and initial auxiliary equipment will all be equipped with Cat MineStar Terrain, sold and supported by Intermountain Mining Technologies. This GPS system provides improved data for drilling, excavation, grading and dozing and should allow for better delineation of the overburden and ore for Rhyolite Ridge, according to ioneer.

As stated in the October 2020 release, the equipment and services supplied by Caterpillar during the first five years of operation is valued at around $100 million and may be financed through Caterpillar Financial Services.

ioneer’s managing director, Bernard Rowe, said: “Our agreement with Caterpillar represents much more than just the purchase of equipment; it is a true ongoing partnership as we commence production at Rhyolite Ridge.

“We are very pleased with the results of the automation study and look forward to working with Caterpillar, Cashman, and Intermountain Mining Technology in our effort to produce materials that are vital to a sustainable future. The incorporation of an autonomous haulage system and other Caterpillar technologies at Rhyolite Ridge will only further our goal to improve project safety and operational efficiency.”

Jim Hawkins, General Manager of MineStar Solutions of Caterpillar Inc, said: “Caterpillar mining technologies, including Command for hauling, deliver mining companies throughout the world benefit from greater productivity, increased truck utilisation, consistent truck operation and reduced costs. We are excited to support ioneer to deliver these same advantages to the Rhyolite Ridge greenfield mining opportunity.”

The Rhyolite Ridge project is the only one of its type known globally, according to the DFS from Fluor. Its unique mineralogical characteristics support low-cost processing of its ore into high-grade lithium and boric acid products using sulphuric acid leaching.

An initial starter pit at the project will be developed in the southwestern part of the orebody to supply ore for the first 4.5 years. In this area, lithium grades are 15% higher than the average grade for the deposit and the ore is more exposed at surface. Development of the greater pit will start once the environmental permits for this development have been granted.

The Stage 2 pit design will facilitate a larger mining area to be maintained, aiding the efficiency of the operation for another 21 years, according to Fluor. Stage 2 will involve expansion to the south and east. Finally, mining will progress to the north of the deposit. The Stage 2 pit requires prestripping to begin in year four.

North sets Ferrexpo on a course for ‘carbon neutrality’

Ferrexpo is used to setting trends. It was the first company to launch a new open-pit iron ore mine in the CIS since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 and has recently become the first miner in Ukraine to adopt autonomous open-pit drilling and haulage technology.

It plans to keep up this innovative streak if a conversation with Acting CEO Jim North is anything to go by.

North, former Chief Operating Officer of London Mining and Ferrexpo, has seen the technology shift in mining first-hand. A holder of a variety of senior operational management roles in multiple commodities with Rio Tinto and BHP, he witnessed the take-off of autonomous haulage systems (AHS) in the Pilbara, as well as the productivity and operating cost benefits that came with removing operators from blasthole drills.

He says the rationale for adopting autonomous technology at Ferrexpo’s Yeristovo mine is slightly different to the traditional Pilbara investment case.

“This move was not based on reduction in salaries; it was all based on utilisation of capital,” North told IM. While miners receive comparatively good salaries in Ukraine, they cannot compete with the wages of those Pilbara haul truck drivers.

Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North

North provided a bit of background here: “The focus for the last six years since I came into the company was about driving mining efficiencies and getting benchmark performance out of our mining fleet. This is not rocket science; it is all about carrying out good planning and executing to that plan.”

The company used the same philosophy in its process plant – a philosophy that is likely to see it produce close to 12 Mt of high grade (65% Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate next year.

Using his industry knowledge, North pitted Ferrexpo’s fleet performance against others on the global stage.

“Mining is a highly capital-intensive business and that equipment you buy has got be moving – either loaded or empty – throughout the day,” North said. “24 hours-a-day operation is impossible as you must put fuel in vehicles and you need to change operators, so, in the beginning, we focused on increasing the utilised hours. After a couple of years, I noticed we were getting very close to the benchmark performance globally set by the majors.

“If you are looking at pushing your utilisation further, it inevitably leads you to automation.”

Ferrexpo was up for pushing it further and, four years ago, started the process of going autonomous, with its Yeristovo iron ore mine, opened in 2011, the first candidate for an operational shakeup.

“Yeristovo is a far simpler configuration from a mining point of view,” North explained. “It is basically just a large box cut. Poltava, on the other hand (its other iron ore producing mine currently), has been around for 50 years; it is a very deep and complex operation.

“We thought the place to dip our toe into the water and get good at autonomy was Yeristovo.”

This started off in 2017 with deployment of teleremote operation on its Epiroc Pit Viper 275 blasthole drill rigs. The company has gradually increased the level of autonomy, progressing to remotely operating these rigs from a central control room. In 2021-2022, these rigs will move to fully-autonomous mode, North says.

Ferrexpo has also been leveraging remotely-operated technology for mine site surveying, employing drones to speed up and improve the accuracy of the process. The miner has invested in three of these drones to carry out not only site surveys, but stockpile mapping and – perhaps next year – engineering inspections.

“The productivity benefits from these drones are huge,” North said. “In just two days of drone operation, you can carry out the same amount of work it would take three or four surveyors to do in one or two weeks!”

OEM-agnostic solution

It is the haul truck segment of the mine automation project at Yeristovo that has caught the most industry attention, with Ferrexpo one of the first to choose an OEM-agnostic solution from a company outside of the big four open-pit mining haul truck manufacturers.

The company settled on a solution from ASI Mining, owned 34% by Epiroc, after the completion of a trial of the Mobius® Haulage A.I. system on a Cat 793D last year.

The first phase of the commercial project is already kicking off, with the first of six Cat 793s converted to autonomous mode now up and running at Yeristovo. On completion of this first phase of six trucks, consideration will be given to timing of further deployment for the remainder of the Yeristovo truck fleet.

This trial and rollout may appear fairly routine, but behind the scenes was an 18-month process to settle on ASI’s solution.

“For us, as a business, we have about 86 trucks deployed on site,” North said. “We simply couldn’t take the same route BHP or Rio took three or four years ago in acquiring an entirely new autonomous fleet. At that point, Cat and Komatsu were the only major OEMs offering these solutions and they were offering limited numbers of trucks models with no fleet integration possibilities.

“If you had a mixed fleet – which we do – then you were looking at a multi-hundred-million-dollar decision to change out your mining fleet. That is prohibitive for a business like ours.”

Ferrexpo personnel visited ASI Mining’s facility in Utah, USA, several times, hearing all about the parent company’s work with NASA on robotics. “We knew they had the technical capability to work in tough environments,” North remarked.

“We also saw work they had been doing with Ford and Toyota for a number of years on their unmanned vehicles, and we witnessed the object detect and collision avoidance solutions in action on a test track.”

Convinced by these demonstrations and with an eye to the future of its operations, Ferrexpo committed to an OEM-agnostic autonomous future.

“If we want to get to a fully autonomous fleet at some stage in the future, we will need to pick a provider that could turn any unit into an autonomous vehicle,” North said. It found that in ASI Mining’s Mobius platform.

Such due diligence is representative not only of the team’s thorough approach to this project, it also reflects the realities of deploying such a solution in Ukraine.

“It is all about building capability,” North said. “This is new technology in Ukraine – it’s not like you can go down the road and find somebody that has worked on this type of technology before. As a result, it’s all about training and building up the capacity in our workforce.”

After this expertise has been established, the automation rollout will inevitably accelerate.

“Once we have Yeristovo fully autonomous, we intend to move the autonomy program to Belanovo, which we started excavating a couple of years ago,” North said. “The last pit we would automate would be Poltava, purely due to complexity.”

Belanovo, which has a JORC Mineral Resource of 1,700 Mt, is currently mining overburden with 30-40 t ADTs shifting this material. While ASI Mining said it would be able to automate such machines, North decided the automation program will only begin when large fleet is deployed.

“When we deploy large fleet at Belanovo and start to move significant volumes, we intend for it to become a fully-autonomous operation,” he said.

Poltava, which is a single pit covering a 7 km long by 2 km wide area (pictured below), has a five-decade-long history and a more diverse mining fleet than Yeristovo. In this respect, it was always going to be harder to automate from a loading and haulage point of view.

“If you think about the fleet numbers deployed when Belanovo is running, we will probably have 50% of our fleet running autonomously,” North said. “The level of capability to run that level of technology would be high, so it makes sense to take on the more complex operation at Poltava at that point in time.”

Consolidation and decarbonisation

This autonomy transition has also given North and his team the chance to re-evaluate its fleet needs for now and in the future.

This is not as simple as it may sound to those thinking of a typical Pilbara AHS fleet deployment, with the Yeristovo and Poltava mines containing different ore types that require blending at the processing plant in order to sustain a cost-effective operation able to produce circa-12 Mt/y of high-grade (65%-plus Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate.

“That limits our ability in terms of fleet size for ore mining because we want to match the capacity of the fleet to the different ore streams we feed into the plant,” North said.

This has seen the company standardise on circa-220 t trucks for ore movement and 300-320 t trucks for waste haulage.

On the latter, North explained: “That is about shovel utilisation, not necessarily about trucks. If you go much larger than that 320-t truck, you are talking about the need to use large rope shovels and we don’t have enough consistent stripping requirements for that. We think the 800 t-class electric hydraulic excavator is a suitable match for the circa-320 t truck.”

This standardisation process at Poltava has seen BELAZ 40 t trucks previously working in the pit re-assigned for auxiliary work, with the smallest in-pit Cat 777 trucks acting as fuel, water and lubrication service vehicles at Poltava.

“The Cat 785s are the smallest operating primary fleet we have at Poltava,” North said. “We also have the Hitachi EH3500s and Cat 789s and Cat 793s, tending to keep the bigger fleet towards Yeristovo and the smaller fleet at Poltava.”

In carrying out this evaluation, the company has also plotted its next electrification steps.

“Given we have got to the point where we know we want 220 t for ore and 300-320 t nominally for waste at Yeristovo, we have a very clear understanding of where we are going in our efforts to support our climate action,” North said.

Electrification of the company’s entire operation – both the power generation and pelletising segment, and the mobile fleet – forms a significant part of its carbon reduction plans.

A 5 MW solar farm is being built to trial the efficacy of photovoltaic generation in the region, while, in the pelletiser, the company is blending sunflower husks with natural gas to power the process. Fine tuning over the past few years has seen the company settle on a 30:70 sunflower husk:natural gas energy ratio, allowing the company to make the most of a waste product in plentiful supply in Ukraine.

On top of this, the company is recuperating heat from the pelletisation process where possible and reusing it for other processes.

With a significant amount of ‘blue’ (nuclear) or ‘green’ (renewable) power available through the grid and plans to incorporate renewables on site, Ferrexpo looks to have the input part of the decarbonisation equation covered.

In the pellet lines, North says green hydrogen is believed to be the partial or full displacement solution for gas firing, with the company keenly watching developments such as the HYBRIT project in Sweden.

On the diesel side of things, Ferrexpo is also charting its decarbonisation course. This will start with a move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years.

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.

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

“We know we are going to have to buy a fleet in the next couple of years, but the problem is when you make that sort of purchase, you are committing to using those machines for the next 20 years,” North said. “During all our conversations with OEMs we are recognising that we will need to buy a fleet before they have probably finalised their ‘decarbonised’ solutions, so all the contracts are based on the OEM providing that fully carbon-free solution when it becomes available.”

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 the transition to trolley assist makes 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.”

This is not all North offered up on the company’s carbon reduction plans.

At both of Ferrexpo’s operations, the company moves a lot of ore internally with shuttle trains, some of which are powered by diesel engines. A more environmentally friendly alternative is being sought for these locomotives.

“We are working with rail consultants that are delivering solutions for others to ‘fast follow’ that sector,” North said referencing the project already underway with Vale at its operations in Brazil. “We are investigating at the moment how we could design and deploy the solution at our operations for a lithium-ion battery loco.”

Not all the company’s decarbonisation and energy-efficiency initiatives started as recently as the last few years.

When examining a plan to reach 12 Mt/y of iron ore pellet production, North and his team looked at the whole ‘mine to mill’ approach.

“The cheapest place to optimise your comminution of rock is within the mine itself,” North said. “If you can optimise your blasting and get better fragmentation in the pit, you are saving energy, wear on materials, etc and you are doing some of the job of the concentrator and comminution process in the mine.”

A transition to a full emulsion blasting product came out of this study, and a move from NONEL detonators to electronic detonators could follow in the forthcoming years.

“That also led us into thinking about the future crusher – where we want to put it, what materials to feed into the expanded plant in the future, and what blending ratio we want to have from the pits,” North said. “The problem with pit development in a business that is moving 150-200 Mt of material a year is the crusher location needs to change as the mining horizons change.”

It ended up becoming a tradeoff between placing a new crusher in the pit on an assigned bench or putting it on top of the bench and hauling ore to that location.

The favoured location looks like being within the pit, according to North.

“It will be a substantial distance away from where our existing facility at Poltava is and we will convey the material into the plant,” he said. “We did the tradeoff study between hauling with trains/trucks, or conveying and, particularly for Belanovo, we need to take that ore to the crusher from the train network we already have in place.”

These internal ‘green’ initiatives are representative of the products Ferrexpo is supplying the steel industry.

Having shifted away from lower grade pellets to a higher-grade product in the past five years and started to introduce direct reduced iron pellet products to the market with trial shipments, Ferrexpo is looking to be a major player in the ‘green steel’ value chain.

North says as much.

“We are getting very close to understanding our path forward and our journey to carbon neutrality.”

Hastings Deering starts APM equipment journey with load and haul

Hastings Deering, a distributor of new, used and rental Caterpillar machinery and services, has launched an Asset Performance Management (APM) solution that, it says, bolsters the company’s strategy of helping customers use Cat equipment more productively.

Hastings Deering Asset Support Supervisor, Kurt Pidgeon, says the new APM solution complements the company’s traditional value proposition.

“Hastings Deering has always been very effective with analysing the reliability and availability of equipment,” he says. “However, customers buy machines for productivity, so we decided to start providing productivity solutions to complement existing traditional reliability analysis that we perform.”

Starting with load and haul machinery and expanding into other operational areas, the APM solution delivers a wide range of reports and recommendations to improve productivity, according to the company.

APM is concerned with how the entire mining circuit is performing as a system, rather than a single facet of an operation, or individual machine, the company says.

“There are many information systems that aim to bolster productivity, but APM is unique in providing insights into how the whole circuit is performing as a system and specific recommendations on how to improve,” Pidgeon explains. “We help customers achieve their maximum sustainable production rate circuit-by-circuit as the mine plan evolves, as opposed to looking at one machine at a time.”

He added: “Analysing machine productivity has been done well for many years. Key performance indicators like truck payload have been a strong area of focus, for example. What if trucks are not the constraining factor on site and it is the load tool instead?

“Using APM, we focus on the broader mining operation so that we can better understand exactly where the improvement opportunities are.”

APM analyses the data from an entire mining operation to provide in-depth insights that lead to productivity and efficiency boosts, according to the company.

For Pidgeon, this means finding areas of improvement that may otherwise go unnoticed.

“Mining clients receive insights from the APM software via a team of specialists here,” he explains. “That leads to productivity improvements and efficiencies gained.”

Hastings Deering will soon expand the APM platform to other disciplines, such as drill and blast, with the aim of supporting the entire value chain of an operation.

“We’re about to start a module for the analysis for drill and blast processes,” Pidgeon says. “Further to this, we are developing analytical tools for each of the processes in mining.

“This will also include wash plant and material handling aspects to properly understand how one part of the value chain affects the performance of another. You need the complete picture to find the weakest link in that whole value chain.”

Remote operations have become critical to sustain mine operations this year in response to the restrictions enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Hastings Deering has developed the APM solution to enable miners to analyse performance remotely when required.

“Remote management of mining is well accepted now,” Pidgeon says. “Working remotely in all facets of productivity monitoring is no different.

“It certainly enables clients to review site operations without having to be there. Mining is an industry where people work and live in different locations. Minimising travel if we can do so is an important thing to do at this time.”

Wolff Mining breaks monthly drilling record at BMA Saraji Mine

Wolff Mining, part of the National Group, has been breaking records at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Saraji mine, having recently achieving a drilling milestone at the Queensland coal operation.

Wolff Mining is known for its heavy earthmoving capabilities, being a key supplier of heavy earthmoving equipment to the mining sector on a dry hire or wet hire basis, with drilling equipment and services also offered.

For the past 16 months, the company has been assisting BMA Saraji in a “sprint drilling capacity”, providing drilling equipment and full contract mining services.

It currently supplies BMA Saraji with a Cat MD6420B drill with GPS, and provides operational labour such as supervisors, drillers and fitters.

The MD6420B is one of Cat’s heavy-duty drills designed for open-pit mining, delivering reliable performance and operational safety. It is one of the favoured models by drillers around the world and encompasses leading features from the ultra-class to the mid-size rotary drill line, according to Wolff.

Some of the advanced features available include improved fuel efficiency, electro-hydraulic controls that provide increased operator safety and precision, computer-controlled drilling, enhanced diagnostics and autonomous ready functions, it said.

November drilling at BMA Saraji has been undertaken in 270 mm holes ranging in depth from 30-65+ m in tertiary material, according to Wolff.

The company recently achieved a milestone of 43,794 drilled metres (dm) for the month of November, beating the previous record of 41,500 dm at BMA Saraji.

“The performance of our Cat MD6420B drill has been exceptional,” notes Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. “It is very rare that a drilling company exceeds 40,000 dm a month, so breaking the site record of 41,500 dm at BMA Saraji, and setting a new record of 43,794 dm for the month of November, is a great achievement.”

He added: “To achieve a milestone such as this takes a highly skilled and motivated team and a high-quality piece of mining machinery such as the Cat MD6420B drill. I would like to congratulate the team here at Wolff Mining for their outstanding efforts and praise the performance of the Cat drill.”

Centamin looks for partial diesel displacement with Cat DGB LNG trial

Centamin is to trial Caterpillar’s Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) technology at its Sukari gold mine in Egypt as part of a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower costs.

The mine will trial the technology on three or four its haul trucks next year, Centamin CEO, Martin Horgan, told attendees at its capital markets webcast today.

The DGB conversion kits, available on Cat 785C and 793D haul trucks, are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG, according to Cat. The use of LNG has been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, as well as lower costs by up to 30%, Cat says.

Just last week, Gold Fields’ CEO Nick Holland told a panel at IMARC Online that the company would trial DGB technology on four of its haul trucks at its Tarkwa gold mine in Ghana.

While the use of DGB technology will partially displace Centamin’s use of diesel fuel with LNG, the company said it was also working on “full displacement” with LNG as part of its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The company has already committed to delivering a Stage 1 30 MW solar plant at Sukari, expected to replace 18–20 million litres of diesel consumption per year through operation during daylight hours.

In other areas of technology development, Centamin said it would soon be adding new Cat 6040 hydraulic face shovels to its existing fleet at Sukari, it had four “lightweight truck trays” currently operating at the mine, and it was trialling Metso Outotec Poly-Met mill liners on ball mills in its processing plant.

Cat bolsters earthmoving credentials with new 657 Wheel Tractor-Scraper

Caterpillar’s new 657 Wheel Tractor-Scraper (WTS) is billed as increasing productivity and enhancing operator comfort while delivering low-cost earthmoving, according to the OEM.

Featuring the field-proven, twin-power design to boost cycle times, the new WTS boasts a 7% increase in fuel efficiency over the 657G WTS, meaning more material is moved per unit of fuel burned. It also has improved onboard payload estimating accuracy to optimise productivity.

The 657 WTS is the largest open bowl scraper in the Caterpillar line, with a rated load of 46.4 t. It also has a more spacious cab to boost operator comfort and efficiency in high volume earthmoving, highway construction and mining applications.

“This new 657 is the next generation of ultra-class material moving systems,” John Gerhold, Wheel Tractor-Scraper Application Specialist for Caterpillar, said. “It delivers improved productivity, safety and technology, which our customers can use to strengthen their business today – and it is equipped to grow with them to meet tomorrow’s requirements.”

The 657 features on-the-go weighing through Payload Estimator, allowing the new WTS to achieve 95% load accuracy, so operators more easily reach target load goals, according to Cat. When working in colder climates, the Auto-Stall feature quickly brings the transmission to operating temperature at start-up, so the 657 gets to work faster. Ground Speed Control lowers fuel consumption by allowing the operator to set the desired top speed, allowing the machine to find the gear that works best for the engine and transmission.

The two-engine design includes the Cat C18 powering the tractor and Cat C15 in the scraper, both meeting US EPA Tier 4 Final/EU Stage V emissions standards. Its Advanced Productivity Electronic Control System, meanwhile, allows the machine to better use engine power and torque, resulting in more material moved throughout the shift. The transmission features Electronic Clutch Pressure Control, which improves shift quality and fuel efficiency. New hydraulic disc brakes improve braking performance and reduce maintenance.

With a 21% larger cab interior than the preceding model, the 657G, improves operator comfort and provides excellent visibility to the bail, cutting edge and bowl of the unit, Cat says. The air suspension comfort seat adjusts and rotates 30° to reduce fatigue, while the new Advance Ride Management adjusts damping to match ground conditions, resulting in a smoother ride for the operator. Automatic HVAC temperature control and defroster come standard for increased operator comfort, while a new power access ladder enhances operator safety when entering and exiting the cab.

The new high-pressure steering system requires less steering input, which bolsters operator efficiency and productivity, Cat says. Automatically engaging when the machine is in eighth gear, engine overspeed protection assists in slowing machine speed when approaching engine limits. Sequence Assist, a new option on the 657, automates many operator inputs each cycle to simplify machine operation.

The 657 tractor includes a new hydraulic on-demand fan that increases engine fuel efficiency. The machine also has draft-arm overflow guards, which prevent material accumulation between the draft arms and bowl sides. Ground-level access for fuel fill and all daily maintenance points increases service efficiency and safety to increase machine uptime.

Cat Product Link™, in tandem with the Integrated Payload Estimator, provide real-time payload, machine location, fuel usage and idle time information as well as diagnostic fault codes – all to significantly increase fleet management efficiency. A collective view of critical machine operating data is accessed via VisionLink® from anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Gold Fields to trial Caterpillar dual-fuel solution on haul trucks at Tarkwa mine

Gold Fields plans to test the use of LNG to power haul trucks in a trial at its Tarkwa open-pit gold mine in Ghana, CEO Nick Holland told attendees of the IMARC Online event this week.

Speaking on a panel reviewing progress of the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Holland said the trial would involve a mix of LNG and diesel fuel at the operation, and four trucks would initially be tested with the fuel combination in 2021.

Gold Fields later confirmed to IM that the trial would take place in the second half of 2021 and involve the use of Caterpillar’s dual-fuel LNG Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) retrofit system on four of the mine’s Cat 785C 146 t payload dump trucks.

The DGB conversion kits, available on Cat 785C and 793D haul trucks, are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG, according to Cat. The use of LNG has been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, as well as lower costs by up to 30%, Cat says.

DGB vaporises liquid fuel into natural gas, then replaces diesel fuel with LNG when possible. On average, DGB replaces about 60-65% of diesel with LNG, according to Cat.

Tarkwa, which is 90% owned by Gold Fields, produced 519,000 oz of gold in 2019, 1% lower than the 525,000 oz produced in 2018. It employs Engineers & Planners Co Ltd as mining contractor.

While this trial will potentially lower the company’s carbon emissions – as will Gold Fields’ plan to fit “diesel filters” on all its machines underground in the next 12-18 months – Holland pointed to a much loftier long-term goal during the ICSV panel.

“The challenge to our teams and OEMs is to move away from diesel completely,” he said.

Such a move could see the company employ both battery-powered and hydrogen-powered solutions at its underground mines, he added.