Tag Archives: Chile

Antucoya becomes Antofagasta’s third operation to achieve The Copper Mark

Antucoya has joined the Centinela and Zaldívar operations in becoming the third Antofagasta operation to obtain The Copper Mark, with the Los Pelambres mine expected to follow suit.

After voluntarily completing a self-assessment process and then undergoing an independent audit, Antucoya was granted the mark, becoming the ninth mine in Chile and the 29th in the world to receive The Copper Mark.

“We are very pleased to continue to make progress towards achieving our goal of obtaining The Copper Mark at all our operations,” Iván Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta plc, said. “In 2021, Centinela and Zaldívar received it, now Antucoya has, and we hope that soon Los Pelambres will also receive it.”

The Copper Mark offers workers, investors, copper end-users and communities a simple and credible way to verify that a company has sustainable practices, based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The accreditation process includes on-site audits where a company has to demonstrate compliance with 32 criteria over five categories: business and human rights, community, labour and working conditions, environment and governance.

Having granted Antucoya this seal, The Copper Mark will conduct another review within 12 months, and then, every three years thereafter, it will carry out new evaluations to certify compliance with all the criteria included in the certification.

Leonardo González, Antucoya’s General Manager, added: “We are very proud to obtain this seal just days after celebrating our fifth anniversary as a company. People, sustainability and transparency are paramount to the way we produce copper and develop mining for a better future.”

The International Copper Association (ICA) began work on The Copper Mark initiative in 2017 in response to growing demands from investors, banks, suppliers and NGOs for information on the environmental, social and governance performance of copper producers. The Copper Mark has been independent of the ICA since December 2019.

BHP, Pan Pacific Copper and Norespower collaborate on ‘green’ shipping project

BHP has partnered with Pan Pacific Copper (PPC) – a member of JX Nippon Mining & Metals group – and Norsepower, a leading global provider of auxiliary wind propulsion systems, to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from maritime transportation between BHP’s mines in Chile and PPC’s smelters in Japan.

The parties are conducting a technical assessment and plan a retrofit installation of wind-assisted propulsion system onboard the M/V Koryu, a combination carrier operated by Nippon Marine – a member of SENKO group (shares held by SENKO 60%, JX Nippon Mining & Metals 40%).

BHP and PPC have multi-year agreements for delivery of copper concentrates from Chile to Japan as well as sulphuric acid from Japan to Chile, making the cargo capacity utilisation of M/V Koryu (a 53,762 deadweight tonne combination carrier) one of the highest in the industry.

Norsepower’s Rotor Sails installation – a “push-button wind propulsion” system estimated to be around ten times more efficient than a conventional sail that requires no reefing or crew attention when in operation – is scheduled for completion by the September quarter of 2023, which is expected to make M/V Koryu the cleanest vessel in its category when measured for greenhouse gas emissions intensity, BHP says.

Norsepower’s Rotor Sails are modernised versions of Flettner rotors, and the technology is based on the Magnus effect that harnesses wind to maximise ship fuel efficiency. When wind conditions are favourable, Rotor Sails allow the main engines to be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions, while also reducing power needed to maintain speed and voyage time, according to BHP.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “Identifying and implementing innovative and sustainable solutions through our strong commodity and supply chain partnerships remain essential in supporting BHP’s decarbonisation ambitions. We look forward to working with PPC on the wind-assisted propulsion system to enable further GHG emissions reduction in our supply chain and add to the already strong partnership between BHP and PPC.”

JX Nippon Mining & Metals Deputy Chief Executive Officer/PPC President, Kazuhiro Hori, said: “PPC and BHP have been sharing the mission to accelerate the activities for decarbonisation in line with our respective climate targets and goals. The Koryu project is a good example of our collaboration and valuable step that proves eagerness by both companies to establish ecosystem partnerships to take on the climate challenge. We are looking forward to further developing the partnership with BHP in various areas.”

Norsepower CSO, Jukka Kuuskoski, said: “Our vision is to set the standard in bringing sailing back to shipping, and empower the maritime industry towards reaching the goal of zero carbon emissions. As fuel prices increase and a carbon levy is initiated, investing in technologies which have proven emissions reductions and fuel savings is essential for long-term commercial success. Working with BHP, PPC and Nippon Marine demonstrates the increased commitment to greener operations, particularly within the bulk carrier market. We look forward to completing the installation and seeing the results.”

This latest partnership with PPC and Norsepower follows BHP’s collaboration agreements in the maritime decarbonisation segment that includes the first marine biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel bunkered in Singapore, taking delivery of the first of five LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carriers and joining a consortium to assess the development of an iron ore Green Corridor between Australia and East Asia. BHP is also a founding member of the Global Maritime Decarbonisation Centre in Singapore.

ACCIONA to build seawater desalination plant for Collahuasi in Chile

The mining company Compañía Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi (CMDIC) has awarded ACCIONA the design and construction of a seawater desalination plant at Collahuasi’s Patache Port, 70 km south of the city of Iquique, in the Tarapacá region of Chile, ACCIONA says.

The project, which is part of the “Infrastructure Development and Productive Capacity Improvement Plan” for CMDIC’s operations in the Tarapacá region, also includes ACCIONA’s operation and maintenance of the plant for two years, with an option to extend for another three years.

The desalination plant at the Patache Port will have an initial capacity of 1,050 liters per second. The project includes the execution of maritime works and a pre-treatment system, as well as the development of reverse osmosis and post-treatment technology to guarantee the availability of water resources, the quality of which must be adjusted to the different operating conditions of the mining company.

CMDIC is one of the major Chilean mining companies engaged in the extraction and production of copper concentrate, as well as one of the largest in the world.

The construction of this new seawater desalination plant consolidates ACCIONA’s position as one of the leading companies in the water treatment business for mining operations in Chile, it says.

Antofagasta’s automation and electrification journey bearing fruit

Antofagasta’s purpose of ‘Developing Mining for a Better Future’ has seen the Chile-based copper producer lead from the front in terms of the adoption of both automation and electrification.

The company launched a digital roadmap all the way back in 2017, which, over the following years, has seen it advance projects to automate blasthole drills and haulage trucks, leverage remote operation centres and integrate advanced data analytics into its decision-making process.

Backed by a digitally-literate talent pool and underwritten by a series of roadmap and plans, Antofagasta is setting itself up for the long term.

When it comes to electrification, the company has played a key role in furthering research on the use of hydrogen fuel cells in haulage applications on mine site conditions. It has also signed up as a patron in the Charge On Innovation Challenge, being one of 19 companies looking to accelerate commercialisation of interoperable solutions that can safely deliver electricity to large battery-electric off-road haul trucks.

Outside of consortium projects, it has announced plans to also study and test the development of battery-powered trucks at its Antucoya operation and has outlined plans for a trolley assist pilot project at the Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile.

And, in April 2022, the company reached the goal of all its mines operating on fully renewable power.

Alan Muchnik, VP Strategy & Innovation for Antofagasta, says all of these developments epitomise the company’s overarching aims.

“The objective we have is to develop the next generation of mining practices to enable growth and reduce our company’s environmental footprint,” he told IM.

In addition to the digital roadmap the company outlined five years ago, Antofagasta has been carrying out all its electrification projects under the guise of an Electromobility Plan – part of its wider climate change strategy.

Following the achievement of its previous emissions reduction target of cutting both its Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon dioxide emissions by 300,000 tonnes of CO2e between 2018 and 2022 – a goal it achieved two years early – the company set a more ambitious target in 2021. This is looking to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – in line with Chile’s national commitment – and reduce emissions by 30% by 2025, relative to 2020 performance. One element of the company’s efforts to reduce emissions has, as mentioned, seen its operations run solely from renewable energy as of April this year.

According to Antofagasta’s own calculations, in 2020, two-thirds of its greenhouse gas emissions from diesel combustion were attributable to its mine haulage trucks.

Komatsu 980E-5 trucks at Esperanza Sur (part of Centinela)

“In this respect, Antofagasta is actively participating in initiatives that seek to replace the diesel used by mining haulage trucks,” Muchnik said.

“As part of that electromobility roadmap, we have considered our participation in early-adoption projects with a view to pilot and scale promising technologies.”

With the HYDRA Consortium – which includes Antofagasta, ENGIE, Mining3, CSIRO Chile, Liebherr and Mitsui & Co – specifically, the company has been one of the driving forces of hydrogen haulage adoption on mine site conditions.

It has confirmed that it will test a fuel cell and battery powertrain propulsion system at its Centinela mine, with the first HYDRA prototype expected to start functional testing shortly. This will allow Antofagasta to assess the powertrain’s behaviour and performance under real mine conditions, including at high altitude with suspended dust. It will also help establish technical and safety protocols for hydrogen use at scale in mining, which will be vital for the fuel’s successful deployment across the industry.

The trolley assist project at Los Pelambres under study, meanwhile, consists of implementing a trolley system on, first, uphill ramps. This will consist of one lane of a two-lane ramp, which will allow for trucks coming behind to leave the trolley and overtake a stopped truck still on the line.

“Some of these projects may bring an early opportunity to transform specific sites as we transition towards the longer-term prevailing solution to implement at our sites and help reduce our Scope 1 footprint,” Muchnik said.

“Each mine has their unique characteristics and different technologies may become more attractive depending on those characteristics or may become complementary in enabling that diesel replacement.”

Of course, automating the haulage and blasthole drilling processes will help the company reduce its Scope 1 emissions through more efficient operations. It will also help offset some of the higher costs of inputs and inflation that come with operating in Chile.

Similarly, all of Antofagasta’s sites have strong data analytics teams to identify opportunities for efficiency gains and continuous improvement.

Reflecting on the gradual rollout of automation across the company’s operations, Muchnik referred to the overarching roadmap the company outlined in 2017.

“This roadmap considered different strategic programs with rollout options that improve productivity and safety, with automation being a relevant dimension,” he said. “It was built on the concept of knowledge transfer to enable other companies of the group to benefit and learn from the experiences at specific sites.”

That has worked from the looks of it, going from Epiroc Pit Viper autonomous drill deployments at Los Pelambres to the rollout of the technology at Esperanza Sur (part of Centinela).

A fleet of 11 autonomous electric drive Komatsu 980E-5 trucks have also gone live at Esperanza Sur over this time frame.

“Another good part of that is the Integrated Remote Operating Centres (IROC) we have setup to support these operations,” Muchnik said. “We recently opened an IROC for Centinela in the city of Antofagasta and, following the same transfer process, Los Pelambres is expected to go live with their IROC here in Santiago, in the second half of 2022.”

Integrated Remote Operations Centre for Centinela, based in the city of Antofagasta

Muchnik says one of the many benefits of the IROCs is the ability to attract and retain talent for Antofagasta’s operations.

“It is not just about bringing in new talent but working with our people to be allow them to move with this transformation and become digitally literate to help us prepare for an autonomous and remotely-operated future,” he said.

An in-house digital academy that Muchnik and his colleagues launched in 2020 has been vital in this process.

“It has enabled a different mindset within our workforce, preparing them for the transition through training and learning.

“This has ensured all of our employees go through the journey with us.”

Antofagasta readies primary sulphide leaching technology options

The ability to leach primary copper sulphides has, on many occasions, proved a hurdle too much, with conceptual work in the laboratory or pilot scale falling down on sub-economic or volatile recovery rates when working out in the field.

This problem tends to result in one of two things: new capital-intensive concentrators are brought into process these sulphides, or brownfield oxide operations are drafted up that prolong existing leaching operations for a few more years when – hopefully – copper prices are higher.

Antofagasta has come up with an alternative option that leverages chloride-based reagents and 20-years of knowledge leaching secondary sulphides.

Called Cuprochlor®-T, the proprietary process has undergone five years of intense development leading to the point that the company is now open to talking about its potential.

It leverages off the first iteration of leaching technology Antofagasta devised for secondary sulphides – Cuprochlor.

Cuprochlor, which is now working at the Michilla mine in Chile (which Antofagasta sold in 2016), effectively binds together the particles of mineral – particularly fine in the case of Michilla – into a porous but manageable material that can then be heap leached. The agglomeration is achieved by mixing the mineral and leach solution with chloride salts and sulphuric acid, which react to form a plaster-like paste.

Over the years, the process has been refined, going on to consistently deliver recovery rates of around 90%.

Sitting on an expansive base of primary sulphide resources – mainly chalcopyrite – and the success of Cuprochlor, Antofagasta, around five years ago, began a series of tests, adjusting variables such as temperature, reagent concentrations and particle size to see if the chloride leaching process could be adapted for the treatment of primary sulphides.

Temperature proved to be one of the keys, with tests showing that by elevating the temperature of the heap to around 30°C, Cuprochlor-T was able to stimulate the required chemical reaction for recovering copper from primary sulphides such as chalcopyrite.

Another key differentiator between the two chloride leaching technologies is the “reagent recipe” and particle size distribution (PSD), Alan Muchnik, VP Strategy & Innovation for Antofagasta, told IM.

“Providing a constant temperature throughout the process is very important, but the real innovation is the approach we have used,” he said. “It involves a combination of factors, including, among others, the recipe for reagent concentrations and the required PSD.”

While not wanting to reveal the ‘secret sauce’, Muchnik said the PSD consideration goes beyond the usual P80 industry reference point.

It is this balance that has landed the company with recoveries of over 70% after approximately 200 days of leaching on the heap in test work.

Muchnik expanded on this: “The Cuprochlor-T process, in simple terms, involves leaching in a chloride environment – where there are no passivation layer bonds. This allows for the copper, iron and chloride ions to react, which, at a controlled temperature, results in the economic production of copper.”

This is through three stages:

  • First up is an agglomeration stage where the necessary reagents are added and are left to rest at a constant aeration and temperature;
  • Second, the ore is irrigated intermittently with continued aeration, also maintained at a constant temperature; and
  • Finally, after 200 days, the ore completes the leaching cycle and allows the company to obtain recoveries of 70% copper or more.

What started with laboratory testing and progressed to pilot testing and a “semi-industrial” test on several different heaps at Centinela has recently concluded with an industrial test of over 40,000 t of primary sulphide material averaging 0.4% Cu – containing more than 90% chalcopyrite – that, using the same process outlined by Muchnik, showed consistent recoveries of over 70%, he said.

Alan Muchnik, VP Strategy & Innovation for Antofagasta

Asked if the company is eyeing even higher recoveries that can compete with the levels Cuprochlor is achieving on secondary sulphides, Muchnik said it was all about an economic tradeoff.

“It may be possible to hit such a percentage [as Cuprochlor], but that is not the aim or expectation with the kinetics we are currently seeing in Cuprochlor-T,” he said. “There is always a tradeoff between the length of irrigation time, the PSD and the recoveries, all of which are related to capital costs, operating costs and the payback associated with the process.”

The Antofagasta planning and operations teams have now got their hands on the Cuprochlor-T ‘licence’ and will be busy outlining potential deployments for consideration in the company’s annual planning cycles.

There are some obvious places to start.

The Zaldívar open-pit, heap-leach copper mine, 175 km southeast of Antofagasta, is currently in the process of transitioning to chloride leaching operations with Cuprochlor.

The project, which includes an upgrade of the SX plant and the construction of new reagent facilities and additional washing ponds for controlling chlorine levels, was completed in January 2022 and is now being commissioned. It is set to boost copper recoveries by approximately 10 percentage points, increasing production at Zaldívar by around 10,000–15,000 t/y over the remaining life of mine.

“In addition to transitioning to chloride leaching with Cuprochlor for secondary sulphides, we are currently progressing studies for the primary sulphide orebody that currently lies below the Zaldívar reserves to prove if Cuprochlor-T leaching can work,” Muchnik said. “Within our resource base, there are approximately 460 Mt of primary sulphide resources declared here.”

Both Centinela and Antucoya have primary sulphide resources and existing heap leach and SX-EW facilities that would fit the Cuprochlor-T blueprint too.

Muchnik said: “One of the technology attractions of Cuprochlor-T is the ability to use otherwise idle leach pad and SX-EW capacity. That it is the scale limitation at our current operations, but the technology can be gradually deployed within a plant that is already adapted for chloride leaching, phasing this in during the life of mine to fit requirements.

“It provides an ongoing adoption process option rather than an immediate infrastructure project that sees an operation shift from oxide leaching to a different kind of heap leaching in one go.”

The advent of Cuprochlor-T does not mean the company will completely drop potential concentration projects, Muchnik clarified, highlighting the second concentrator project currently subject to a feasibility study at Centinela.

In addition to the capital and operating cost benefits that would come with Cuprochlor-T over the concentration route, there is likely to be a sustainability benefit.

“It’s only an indicative reference as each case is different, but you would expect the energy consumption associated with Cuprochlor-T leaching and SX-EW treatment to be less than half of the normal route of copper concentration and SX-EW,” Muchnik said.

In this respect, it is a favourable consideration for Antofagasta’s long-term carbon-neutral goals.

While each potential Cuprochlor-T implementation will have to go through corresponding project studies, Muchnik was confident in predicting that new copper from Cuprochlor-T would be produced this decade.

With five years of substantial testing under its belt, not many metallurgists would bet against him.

BHP to receive ‘world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts’ from China’s Wuxi Boton

China’s Wuxi Boton has announced the world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts for delivery to BHP’s Spence copper mine in Chile in August as part of an exclusive pilot project between the two companies.

The two companies jointly developed this pilot project, under which the conveyor belts were verified by SGS, a leading testing, inspection and certification company, as meeting the requirements of PAS 2060:2014 (specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality).

SGS awarded the world’s first certificate of “Achievement of Carbon Neutrality for Steel Cord Rubber Conveyor Belt” to a batch of belts produced by Boton for BHP. The conveyor belts will be shipped to BHP’s Spence copper mine, where they will be used in the production and transportation of Spence mining products to customers around the world, including China.

The scope of the pilot project was for Wuxi Boton, as the incumbent contractor for BHP’s operations at both Minerals Australia and Minerals America, to select the conveyor belts to be ordered by BHP and identify how to offset the estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production of those conveyor belts using high-quality carbon offsets prior to delivery.

BHP’s Group Procurement Officer, James Agar, said: “Wuxi Boton have been a reliable partner to BHP for over eight years, supplying high-quality conveyor belts to our assets in Australia and Chile. Both companies are committed to mitigating climate change in accordance with their respective climate targets and goals. This shared vision of a better world led Wuxi Boton, in December 2021, to extend the offer of an exclusive pilot to deliver a carbon neutral conveyor belt to BHP.

“The partnership with Wuxi Boton has been invaluable in helping BHP verify the feasibility of using high-quality carbon offsets to GHG emissions in our supply chain (Scope 3) and grow the potential demand for supplying ‘traced’, ‘low carbon’, or ‘carbon neutral’ products amongst our suppliers.”

Wuxi Boton’s Chairman, Zhifang Bao, said: “It is difficult for any enterprise to achieve low-carbon transformation on its own. Only by building a global platform, co-operating with the whole industry chain, and jointly exploring low-carbon technologies and road maps can we reach the other shore.

“Therefore, joint innovation is an inevitable choice. Instead of passively accepting, it is better to take the initiative to lead, which is a very important choice faced by enterprises all over the world. We are pleased to see that the partnership between BHP and Boton has expanded from a single business level to a strategic synergy level. In the journey of global energy transition, leading companies, including Boton and BHP, are jointly working towards building a more sustainable future.”

Glencore’s Lomas Bayas mine to start automation journey with production drill rigs

Glencore’s Compañía Minera Lomas Bayas (CMLB) copper mine in northern Chile is looking to maintain its safety and sustainability standards, as well as increase its productivity and profitability, with a new project to automate two of its Caterpillar drill rigs using FLANDERS technology.

Glencore Lomas Bayas is a low-cost, open-pit copper mine in the Atacama Desert, 120 km northeast of the port of Antofagasta. The low-grade copper ore mined at this facility is processed by heap leaching and converted to copper cathode after processing through the SX-EW plant. The Lomas Bayas operation produces approximately 75,000 t/y of copper cathode.

The first phase in the Glencore digital mining journey at Lomas Bayas will be completed using FLANDERS’ ARDVARC technology and involves automating two Caterpillar drill rigs and providing a dedicated wireless network. The results obtained in the initial phase will provide essential information to continue the journey to full automation of mining equipment across the operation, Glencore and FLANDERS say.

The project is significant as Lomas Bayas will be the first operation to adopt intelligent drill technology globally in Glencore mining operations. Conversion of the Cat drills and wireless network installation is expected to be completed in June 2023.

The ARDVARC Autonomous system has been used for over 15 years, enables advanced functionality through interoperability with fleet management systems and other data acquisition platforms, and is agnostic to original equipment manufacturers, FLANDERS says.

Lomas Bayas’ General Manager, Pablo Carvallo, said: “Incorporating technology into equipment is our response to constant changes that mining operations face; as in the case of Lomas Bayas, where everyday challenges must be dealt with in an even safer and more productive way. We want digital mining efforts to expand over time and educate industry of our learnings and support technology development in our region.”

Lomas Bayas’ Mine Manager, Felipe Bunout, said: “This initiative is in line with our core objectives; to provide a safer environment for our workers and increase productivity in our processes. This technology will allow us to increase the equipment utilisation and the precision of the drilling pattern and improve the quality of the blasting process and the whole process downstream. This initial phase is the first step for Lomas Bayas into mine equipment automation, and we have high hopes that the results will enable us to continue walking down this path.”

This is the first of many Glencore Copper group technological initiatives seeking to modernise, transform and align the business to stakeholder’s requirements and priorities, according to Glencore’s Operational Excellence & Technology Global General Manager, Cristian Carrasco.

Glencore’s Technology Study Manager, Enrique Caballero, added: “We decided to commence the automation program at Lomas Bayas as the operation has shown high adaptability and organisational maturity. Their executive team has a well-built long-term view. The operation vision is strongly aligned with digital mines and technology as a path forward, in which safety, sustainability and their workforce life qualities are part of the pillars.”

FLANDERS Regional Director, Martin Schafer, said: “We are very pleased to be working with Glencore at its Lomas Bayas operation. Given its low grade, CMBL is a compelling business case. To the well-known value, FLANDERS’ ADS solution generates for a mining operation in general, and the drilling process, the relatively short overall implementation time adds a financial dimension that happened to be critical to obtaining the required return on investment. The technology also brings environmental gains.

“ARDVARC autonomous drills have shown a 7.3% reduction in fuel compared to manned drills, which is a reduction of about 1,200 litres of fuel per year, equivalent to 2,966 t less CO2 in the atmosphere.”

FLANDERS’ autonomous control system, ARDVARC, and Command Centre technology is industry-leading, helping mining companies improve drill performance and keep people safe, the company says.

Typically, the ARDVARC system produces increases in productivity by up to 30%, providing greater drill accuracy and the ability for one person to operate up to eight drills. Including technology in the ARDVARC Command Centre (ACC) builds on remote working capabilities to unlock additional value, such as enhancing decision making by integrating functions across the value chain.

Although not a new concept, products like the ACC present an opportunity for Glencore’s Lomas Bayas mine to re-imagine and reform the mine operations, as remote working becomes imperative to ensuring value and sustainability.

Schafer added: “When fully automated, the drills that we will be converting in Chile will also be safer for workers, who will operate the drills well away from the drill and blast areas. The mission-critical dedicated network and the 24/7 support provided in the scope round-up an extremely reliable solution.”

Lomas Bayas, last year, announced it would become the first user in Chile of Komatsu’s 930E-5 304 t class haul trucks, matching with its existing Komatsu P&H 4100XPC shovels.

Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo goes live with MineSense shovel-based ore sorting system

Following a successful trial of a MineSense’s ShovelSense ore sorting unit at Teck Resources’ Carmen de Andacollo mine in Chile, the operation is now using the system to divert trucks in real-time, MineSense says.

The implementation of an additional ShovelSense system at CDA is now also underway, the Vancouver-based company says.

CDA is Teck Resource’s second mining operation using ShovelSense, following commercialisation in 2019 at Highland Valley Copper (HVC) in British Columbia, Canada.

“The ShovelSense results are spectacular!” Victor Araya, Teck Superintendent Geology, said, referring to the results of the trial recently completed.

All new technology introduced into the mine is rigorously tested at different stages of evaluation at scale to ensure the system works reliably in the field, according to MineSense. ShovelSense exceeded one-digit accuracy (single-digit relative error) measuring copper ore and met and exceeded expectations for all criteria in the trial: system availability; accuracy to blast hole data; and precision in the field, the company reported.

Teck CDA also recently celebrated the diversion of seven ore-from-waste trucks, which are the first of many that ShovelSense data will automatically divert to maximise ore recovery and minimise the needless transportation and processing of waste, MineSense said.

“We have now incorporated ShovelSense to decide the destination of the materials, not at the block scale, but truck to truck, due to the reading of grades on each shelf of the loading equipment… the end result is increased ore to mill tonnage and also a significant improvement in feed grade,” Araya concluded.

Claudio Toro, EVP Business Development at MineSense, added: “We are proud that Teck has chosen to partner with MineSense again, demonstrating confidence that ShovelSense is a proven and valued technology. Global mining operations are continually seeking new ways to get more value out of their mines and extend the life of mine and we are pleased to again be chosen by Teck.

“ShovelSense is a proven solution that unlocks a mine’s full potential.”

Hear more about Teck CDA’s installation on April 25 when MineSense and International Mining will be holding a joint webinar titled, ‘Ore sorting at the extraction face’ at 10 am EST/4pm CEST. Click here for more information

Codelco El Teniente to improve mine grid visibility with Hitachi Energy MicroSCADA X

As part of Codelco’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint and boost sustainability, the company has looked to upgrade and modernise its energy automation system at El Teniente in Chile, with the objective to ensure the operational continuity of the mine as it continues to go deeper.

To achieve this, Codelco has to install a new supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to manage the power grid within the mine. Taking this further, the company sought to expand the functionality of the system by deploying the solution centrally in its new data centre in the city of Rancagua, 70 km from the mine. The goal was to link the company’s divisions, starting with El Teniente, with the data centre to centrally manage the power grids of the twin projects related to the Northern Andes.

Codelco chose Hitachi Energy’s advanced MicroSCADA X solution to control and manage the power grid comprising 27 electrical substations in El Teniente; seven of them located on the surface and 20 inside the mine. With MicroSCADA X, Codelco will have better access to virtualised information and enable a more secure system for storing strategic data, according to Hitachi Energy.

MicroSCADA X is a user-centric energy automation solution, providing a modern and intuitive experience, the company says. As part of the solution, Hitachi Energy will provide engineering, remote terminal units, cabinet supplies, upgrade of the existing electrical SCADA system and operation, in addition to a five-year contract to maintain the systems at El Teniente.

IM put some questions to Marcio Ferraz, Hub Manager, Grid Automation Latin America, Hitachi Energy, to find out more about the project.

IM: Are you seeing more mining companies looking to centralise their SCADA systems into remote operations centres like Codelco? What special considerations need to be factored into such installations?

MF: Yes, it is possible to see a trend in having centralised operations centres for mining companies in the same model as installed in Codelco El Teniente. Within this kind of solution setup, it is possible to operate the full mining electrical system remotely or even from cities far from the mine location. Also, with MicroSCADA X, Codelco will have the possibility to deploy web-based solutions, making it possible to control the electrical system from a tablet or even from a mobile phone. All of this is aligned with the digitalisation efforts in the mining sector across Latin America.

IM: Is Codelco El Teniente’s setup – 27 electrical substations, with 20 within the mine and seven on the surface – unusual in terms of the MicroSCADA X work you have done in mining? Are you seeing mining installations become more complex of late?

MF: The robustness of Codelco’s El Teniente solution, both in terms of networking and MicroSCADA X configuration, brings a lot more reliability and flexibility to El Teniente’s operations. These are reflected by fully redundant networking and distributed MicroSCADA X servers based on IEC 61850, making use of physical and virtualised servers. As an example of this flexibility, it is possible to see the full electrical network in every station of the mine. The Hitachi Energy solution is also fully compliant with cybersecurity concepts and requirements. On this basis, the solution we have provided Codelco meets several requirements which are critical for 365/24/7 operations under harsh conditions.

IM: What allowances are you making for the El Teniente setup in terms of incorporating renewable energy solutions into the mix? Can MicroSCADA X seamlessly integrate these solutions?

MF: The delivered solution is able to incorporate expansions for renewable energy at every point of the connection. This scalability of the MicroSCADA X solution makes it fully compliant with all future requirements and demands to incorporate renewable energy solutions. This takes into account that the mining sector has a key objective to continue its contribution toward sustainable operations and continuing to be strong sponsors to investments in renewable energy sources.

IM: How ‘autonomous’ is the MicroSCADA X system at El Teniente? In addition to fault finding, does it also automatically adjust operations in response to these faults, or does it simply notify operators for manual intervention? Is this the most autonomous MicroSCADA X system you will have in place within mining upon start-up in 2024?

MF: The MicroSCADA X solution for El Teniente has all the alarms and notifications to allow operators to quickly solve faults in the mining electrical system. Additionally, the MicroSCADA X solution makes it possible to expand to an autonomous operation, using complex algorithms, when required by Codelco. In this respect, we can say that besides having a robust solution like MicroSCADA X, Codelco has a scalable system with all the possibilities to evolve according to operational needs in the future.

Aggreko urges miners to embrace renewable power generation now

With decarbonisation at the forefront of miners’ agendas, one of the world’s leading provider of mobile and modular power solutions, Aggreko, has released its top tips to help miners decarbonise now and into the future.

Aggreko’s Global Head of Mining, Rod Saffy, said while miners were embracing the global energy transition, some were unsure where to begin.

“For some miners it’s about knowing where to start and they may be weighing up the cost, risk and threat of new technology in the future,” he said.

“Fortunately, technology isn’t in the same place as it was five years ago or even two years ago. Some of the renewable power technologies available today, combined with thermal generation in a hybrid solution, offer the same – if not better – levels of reliability and competitiveness than traditional thermal technology.”

Saffy said power generation companies were taking significant steps to support miners on their respective paths to net-zero emissions.

“Increasingly, power companies are offering renewables such as solar and wind energy to off-grid mines, and we often integrate those with battery storage solutions and thermal microgrids,” he said.

“If you consider a hybrid power solution – where you switch in renewables to your power mix alongside fossil fuels – your operation will be more flexible and can scale up and down as needed.

“Our approach means miners can also partner with us, long term, without being tied down to one fuel type for their power source, and new technology is introduced as it becomes viable.

“Integrating renewables in this manner will result in greater cost savings and efficiencies for your project.”

One solar and thermal hybrid solution Aggreko delivered for a remote gold mine in Africa resulted in more than 12% savings in fuel (about 10,000 litres a day) and the contract offered meant the miner did not have to come up with capital to invest in the solar plant.

Another example Aggreko is working on, Saffy said, is a 25.9 MW hybrid solar and thermal power solution for the Salares Norte open-pit mine in Chile.

“It is a ground-breaking solution 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,” he explained.

“Once complete, the hybrid power plant is expected to achieve $7.4 million in cost of energy savings over the next decade, a further $1.1 million in carbon tax offset over the life of the mine, in addition to 104,000 t of carbon emissions savings.

“The system will surpass the Chilean government’s environmental standards as well as Gold Fields’ requirement for a minimum of 20% renewable power generation for mining operations.”

Saffy said the pathways to decarbonisation that held the most appeal for miners currently included:

  • Hybrid power plants (as mentioned): These combine renewables (eg solar, wind) with thermal generation and battery storage, benefitting areas with limited or no access to permanent power. These are generally cost-competitive. Once solar or wind plants are installed, their generation running costs are relatively low and at zero emissions;
  • Virtual gas pipelines: Gas power generation can offer a greener and more cost-effective alternative to diesel and heavy fuel oil. A virtual pipeline is a substitute – and an alternative – for a physical pipeline. Gas is instead transported as LNG or CNG to the point of use by sea, road, or rail. For mines not connected to a physical pipeline and looking to switch to gas from diesel, a virtual pipeline model simply imitates their current supply solution. For users who are connected to a gas pipeline but are looking to supplement insufficient or unreliable pipeline capacity, the virtual power plant solution has several advantages over diesel; and
  • Renewable energy: Renewable energy power systems are an effective way of tapping into natural resources to provide power, such as wind farms, hydro power and solar. The challenge is their reliability related to weather, hence why, if power is interrupted for any reason, it is important to ensure they’re backed by with batteries or a temporary thermal power solution.

A significant future fuel in this space will be hydrogen. Investment in hydrogen is on the rise because of the role it can play in supporting a global transition to net-zero. Its versatility and compatibility with existing furnaces, engines and generators make it particularly appealing for the mining industry, according to Aggreko.

Saffy said energy sources likely to become more prevalent in mining during the next 10 years included biofuels (would become less expensive), hydropower, energy storage (such as pumped, mechanical flywheel), and gas generation which runs with a hybrid renewable system. While it is increasingly used now as power source, wind and solar power are also expected to gain more momentum.

Aggreko is also experimenting with mobile wind solutions, re-deployable solar panels and tidal wave power (though tidal wave power might not be for the mining industry yet). The company is also accelerating its investments in hydrogen technology, with trials underway in Europe on two different technologies, where Aggreko is collaborating with lead customers and partners trialling hydrogen generators and fuel cell battery hybrids.

“It’s a very exciting time in the mining sector, and it will be amazing to see the innovations presented during the next few years as miners and energy companies collaborate and come up with new ideas for a greener future,” Saffy said.

“The key though is to start now – you can embrace renewables now into your energy mix because, done correctly, cost and emission savings can be greatly reduced without compromising reliability.”

Aggreko has its own net-zero goals by 2050 and has a 2030 target to reduce diesel use in its customer solutions by 50%.