Tag Archives: Chichester Hub

Fortescue backs Pilbara mine site rehabilitation CRC project

The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), along with partners Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University (Curtin), have announced a new project focusing on increasing plant nutrients in iron ore waste, enabling improved mine site rehabilitation in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The 12-month project is centred around the Fortescue’s Chichester Hub mine site and includes experimental glasshouse-based and laboratory testing undertaken at UWA, along with microbiology expertise from Curtin.

“The Pilbara region has a very thin layer of top soil which is essential for plant growth and is disrupted through mining,” CRC TiME said. “This project will formulate a process to increase plant available nutrient levels, specifically nitrogen for this study, in mineral waste (waste rock and tailings) and stockpiled soils (subsoils and topsoil) using novel plant-microbe systems, to improve the rehabilitation post-mining.”

Kirsty Beckett, Principal of Mine Closure at Fortescue, said: “This project is addressing a critical issue for the mining industry as available topsoil is a key limiting factor in the rehabilitation of large tracts of mining affected land. These areas can cover up to half of some of the Fortescue’s mine sites.”

CRC TiME CEO, Dr Guy Boggs, added: “Post-mining landscapes require the establishment of self-sustaining ecosystems over heavily altered landscapes constructed from mineral waste. Effectively and efficiently converting these landscapes into self-sustaining ecosystems delivers both environmental and financial benefits and provides more certainty on ecosystem resilience.”

CRC TiME receives grant funding from the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program.

Fortescue expands automation focus to light vehicles at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group says the future of mining mobility is being advanced at its mines, with the successful operational deployment of autonomous light vehicles (ALVs) at the company’s iron ore mining operations in the Chichester Hub of Western Australia.

Developed by Fortescue’s Technology and Autonomy team as a solution to improve the efficiency of the Christmas Creek mobile maintenance team, ALVs remove the need for fitters to make around 12,000 28-km round trips annually to collect equipment and parts, the company estimates.

With the assistance of Ford Australia, four Ford Rangers have been retrofitted with an on-board vehicle automation system to support the driverless equipment transfer service, which will improve efficiency and safety by enabling team members to spend more time on maintaining assets.

The system features an integrated LiDAR/Radar perception system that facilitates obstacle detection and dynamic obstacle avoidance, a comprehensive independent safety management, and fail safe braking system and extensive built-in system monitoring and fault response capability.

The successful deployment of ALVs at Christmas Creek will provide the opportunity to implement a similar system at other operational sites to improve safety, productivity and efficiency, Fortescue says.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Since the outset, Fortescue has been at the forefront of innovation in the mining industry, underpinned by our value of generating ideas. It is this focus on technology and innovation that has driven our industry-leading operational performance and cost position.

“The autonomous light vehicle project is a significant advancement of our in-house automation capability, building on our leading autonomous haulage system program which has already delivered significant productivity and efficiency improvements for the business.

“With the flexibility to introduce similar systems into other mobile assets, this project is fundamental to our future mobile equipment automation projects.”

Ford Australia President and Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Birkic, said: “We’re very proud that our award-winning Ford Rangers have been used as part of the Fortescue Metals Group autonomous light vehicle project.

“Ford, globally, is at the forefront of research into autonomous vehicles, and working with companies like Fortescue is critical to gaining an insight into specific user applications.”

Fortescue completes autonomous haul truck fleet conversion in Western Australia

Fortescue Metals Group says it has completed its Chichester Hub autonomous haulage project, with 183 trucks now operating in AHS mode across its Solomon and Chichester Hubs, in Western Australia.

The project represents one of the largest fleet conversions to autonomous haulage systems (AHS) in the industry. It was aided by the involvement of Thiess.

The multi-class fleet includes Cat 793F, 789D and Komatsu 930E haul trucks and has safely travelled more than 52 million km and moved 1,500 Mt of material since 2013, according to FMG. An additional 900 assets, such as excavators, wheel loaders and light vehicles, are integrated with the autonomous fleet using Cat MineStar Command for hauling technology, which is operated from the Fortescue Hive, the company’s integrated operations centre in Perth, Western Australia.

Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines said, “Mining is one of the most innovative industries in the world, and Fortescue continues to build on our leading autonomy capability to deliver productivity and efficiency benefits.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the team achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program to the highest safety standards.

“Our approach to autonomy has been to be open and transparent with our plans and to work closely with our team members to offer opportunities for re-training and re-deployment. Around 3,000 Fortescue team members have been trained to work with autonomous haulage, including over 200 people trained as Mine Controllers and AHS system professionals.”

Group President, Resource Industries, Caterpillar Inc, Denise Johnson, said: “Fortescue is a leader in the implementation of autonomous solutions. This important milestone further reinforces the transformation Fortescue has made with autonomy to improve safety, site productivity and machine utilisation. We congratulate Fortescue on this significant achievement.”

Fortescue Chief Operating Officer, Greg Lilleyman, said: “Fortescue’s autonomous haulage fleet has delivered a 30% increase in productivity. Looking ahead, the flexibility of our efficient, multi-class autonomous fleet offers considerable potential for further productivity and efficiency gains.

“Our operations are more connected than ever before and, by using data from our autonomous haulage fleet, we can paint an accurate picture of our operations and focus on the optimal opportunities for improvement, such as haul road design and maintenance scheduling.

“Our autonomous haulage system is a foundational tool which allows us to streamline processes and improve outcomes, ultimately delivering increased value for our shareholders.”

Fortescue celebrates 100th autonomous haul truck conversion at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group has celebrated an important milestone in the rollout of autonomous haulage technology at its Chichester Hub operations, in the Pilbara of Western Australia, with the conversion of its 100th autonomous truck.

The full conversion of 108 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub, which comprises the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mines, is expected to be completed in September 2020, it said.

Since the introduction of Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology at Fortescue in 2012, 168 trucks have been converted across the company’s Solomon and Chichester Hubs. This has seen Fortescue’s autonomous haul fleet move around 1,400 Mt of material and achieve a greater than 30% increase in productivity levels (compared with previous manned fleets), it said.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue’s AHS deployment represents the largest fleet conversion to autonomous haulage in the industry.

“Our history of embracing leading-edge technology has ensured Fortescue remains at the lowest end of the global cost curve and remains fundamental to driving sustained productivity and efficiency improvements across our business to ensure we continue to deliver enhanced returns for our shareholders and key stakeholders.

“Most importantly, the introduction of AHS technology has improved safety outcomes across our operations and we’re very pleased that the Automated Mining Projects team has also achieved this important milestone in the truck conversion program with zero harm to any team members.”

Workforce skills development has been a key aspect of Fortescue’s automation project, it said, with the company’s training and redeployment program successfully transferring or upskilling team members to new roles across the business.

“Training is at the heart of everything we do at Fortescue and as we continue the integration of autonomous trucks across our sites, this ethos has guided our efforts to ensure no redundancies due to automation and to deliver significant benefits to employees from the opportunities offered by this project,” Gaines said.

Fortescue was the first company in the world to deploy Cat autonomous haulage on a commercial scale at the Solomon Hub. It was also the first in the world to retrofit Command for Hauling (part of Caterpillar’s MineStar technology) on a Cat 789D and Komatsu 930E haul truck.

The iron ore miner’s fleet of 168 autonomous trucks have now travelled in excess of 47 Mkm since AHS was first introduced – the equivalent of 65 return trips to the moon.

And, as part of the Chichester Hub automation project, 549,500 parts have been fitted to date across 100 trucks.

FMG to lead from the front in Pilbara renewable energy pursuit

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has signed an agreement with Alinta Energy that will see up to 100% of daytime stationary energy requirements at its Chichester Hub iron ore operations, in the Pilbara of Western Australia, powered by renewable energy.

The Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid project will see the construction of a 60 MW solar photovoltaic generation facility at the Chichester Hub, comprising Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak iron ore mining operations.

In addition, an approximately 60-km transmission line linking the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mining operations with Alinta Energy’s Newman gas-fired power station and a 35 MW battery facility will be constructed, with completion due mid-2021.

FMG said: “Once completed, up to 100% of daytime stationary energy requirements at the Chichester Hub will be provided by solar generation, with the remaining power requirements to be met through the integrated battery storage and gas power station facilities.”

The project is expected to displace around 100 million litres annually of diesel used in the existing Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak power stations, according to FMG.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Reliable and competitive energy generation remains an important consideration for the mining sector in Western Australia and as a significant consumer of energy, we continue to identify opportunities that have the potential to lower our costs while also improving our carbon footprint.

“This landmark project is a first on this scale for the Pilbara and will reduce carbon emissions from stationary generation by around 40% at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mining operations, while driving long-term sustainable cost reductions to maintain Fortescue’s global cost leadership position.”

Gaines added that the agreement with Alinta Energy represented a further step in the creation of Fortescue’s Pilbara Energy Connect project, which builds on the company’s previous energy initiatives, including the construction of the Fortescue River Gas Pipeline, the conversion of the Solomon Power Station from diesel to gas generation, as well as a partnership agreement with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation to develop and commercialise hydrogen technologies.

As part of the agreement, FMG will invest an estimated $250 million in energy transmission infrastructure to complete the integration of Fortescue’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara into an efficient energy network.

Alinta Energy Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Dimery, said: “We’d like to thank Fortescue and our Chichester Hub project partners for helping to make the company’s long-held vision for a cleaner and more connected energy supply for the Pilbara a reality.

“There’s a lot to be proud of in this project. Working together, we are on the cusp of demonstrating that renewables can drive Australia’s economic powerhouses forward–even for remote and complex industrial applications.”

Alinta Energy will receive federal funding of A$24.2 million ($16.5 million) from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and A$90 million from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), upon satisfaction of standard conditions.

The NAIF loan remains subject to ratification from the Western Australian Government.

NAIF Chief Executive Officer, Laurie Walker said: “NAIF’s A$90 million loan for this project will help provide low emission renewable energy generation for large off-grid customers and paves the way towards the creation of a more interconnected regional energy grid in the Pilbara.

“The project innovatively combines solar and gas fired power to compensate for the variability of solar sourced energy. This investment by NAIF offers the opportunity to make a long-term difference to the Pilbara.”

ARENA Chief Executive Officer, Darren Miller, said: “The project could unlock further investment in renewable energy in the mining sector and other remote and energy intensive operations.

“Alinta’s project will demonstrate how renewable energy solutions can deliver critical energy requirements for major mining operations and help reduce emissions. This will also show how interconnection of loads and different generation and storage -including solar, gas and battery storage -can provide secure and reliable electricity.”

Fortescue on the lookout for more automation and AI opportunities

In Fortescue Metals Group’s half-year report to end-December, the company provided an update on its haul truck automation retrofit project at its Chichester Hub iron ore operations, while commenting on the performance of its innovative relocatable conveyor.

For the six months to December 31, FMG shipped 82.7 Mt (84.5 Mt a year ago) of iron ore from its Pilbara operations, generated a net profit after tax of $644 million ($693 million a year ago) and posted underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of $1.6 billion ($1.8 billion a year ago).

As of December 31, 2018, FMG said 44 trucks had been converted with autonomous haulage technology (AHS) at Chichester Hub as part of its automation rollout.

Once complete, the conversion of approximately 100 haul trucks at its Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak operations (which both make up the Chichester Hub) will see Fortescue become the first iron ore operation in the world to have a fully autonomous operating fleet, it said.

The company also provided some commentary around the relocatable conveyor it has been using to cut costs and improve productivity at its Cloudbreak mine.

The conveyor, commissioned in May 2018 by RCR Tomlinson, doubled its throughput in the September quarter, according to FMG.

Fortescue said: “The five-kilometre conveyor includes a mobile primary crushing station that feeds directly into the ore processing facility. The relocatable conveyor and mobile crushing facilities can be positioned in close proximity to pits and relocated once mining in that area is complete.”

FMG concluded on innovation: “The company continues to look for opportunities for automation and artificial intelligence to drive greater efficiency across the business, including the use of data to predict outcomes and optimise performance, the expansion of autonomous mining and the application of relocatable conveyor technology.”