Tag Archives: coal

B&E International to help miners consolidate supply chains amid COVID-19

As mining companies cut back in efforts to remain viable under COVID-19’s demanding conditions, crushing and screening specialist B&E International is proposing a bold new approach to streamline mines’ supply chains.

According to Ken Basson, Director of Plant and Engineering at B&E International, mining suppliers and service providers need to be proactive in helping mines find sustainable solutions to the current challenges.

“COVID-19 will undoubtedly reduce demand for certain commodities, and, with geopolitical uncertainty, we are likely to see increased commodity price volatility,” Basson says. “This is leading most mining companies – especially juniors – to try to strengthen their balance sheets.”

To do this, there are inevitable cuts in capital expenditure and even operating expenditure. He says the time has come for mining suppliers to streamline the delivery of their services and products, and even to assume more of the day-to-day risk facing mining operations.

“At a time when mines are demanding even higher efficiencies and more plant uptime due to tough trading conditions, the post-COVID environment is expected to present a number of logistical and supply chain constraints,” he said. “To cut through this double-whammy, suppliers need to be helping to consolidate supply chain networks. This is the only way of minimising procurement expenses while limiting process plant outages due to critical spares being unavailable in time.”

A range of other imperatives also need to be addressed at the same time, he says. These include the growing demand for mines to support in-country job creation and local skills development, as well as local manufacturing and procurement. This means less reliance on costly expatriate skills, whose movement around Africa may, in any event, be restricted by COVID-related regulations.

“To streamline the supply chain, B&E International is forming strategic partnerships with key suppliers, to integrate their respective service offerings with ours,” he says. “This gives the mine the advantage of dealing with fewer supplier interfaces. We also take over the responsibility of ensuring that our partners – and their products – perform to expectation.”

He highlights that B&E International – with a 40-year legacy in contract crushing, screening and mineral processing services – has expertise across the process supply chain. With experience across commodities including coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, manganese and aggregates, the company engineers cost effective solutions in various conditions around Africa, he added.

As one of the few companies in South Africa that both builds and operates its own equipment, B&E International is extending its level of vertical integration through this collaboration with strategic partners.

“Not only do we design, manufacture and install complete processing plants across various commodity sectors, but we also operate and finance these facilities,” Basson says. “This places us in a unique position to partner with mines to reduce their capex, opex and risk.”

The company offers a build, own, operate and transfer model of plant procurement, ensuring a mining company of its planned throughput while also fixing the exact cost of that production, he says.

As part of its market offering, it already conducts optimisation and debottlenecking studies for mineral process plant operators. It also provides plant maintenance contracts, in which it will operate and maintain a customer’s process plant on a toll basis, charging a fixed rate per tonne. Other current services include plant audits, optimisation studies, dust extraction, sampling and breaker systems for oversize run of mine treatment.

“A vertically integrated service offering to mines holds great value for both greenfield and brownfield sites,” Basson says. “As important is our experience in developing local skills wherever we operate – with both formal and hands-on training.”

He highlights that this approach empowers the customer to retain their future options in how they will operate their plants, depending on their internal success and broader economic conditions.

Anglo American could use ‘green’ hydrogen power at Queensland open-pit coal mines

Anglo American has eyes on producing ‘green’ hydrogen to power the haul fleet at not only its Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine, in South Africa, but also at least one of its open-pit coal mines in Queensland, Australia, IM has learned.

The miner is part of the Macquarie Corporate Holdings Pty Limited shortlisted application for the next stage of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) A$70 million ($49 million) hydrogen funding round, a spokesperson confirmed.

BHP is also on this short list, all of which have been invited to submit a full application for ARENA’s funding for renewable hydrogen development projects in Australia.

While it is early days for the Anglo and Macquarie decarbonisation project, the spokesperson said the company’s approach in Queensland could be like the one the miner and ENGIE are developing at Mogalakwena.

The project in South Africa involves the delivery of a new Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), set to be the world’s largest hydrogen powered mine truck, and the ‘green’ hydrogen generation solutions to power it.

The 300 t payload FCEV haul truck will be powered by a hydrogen Fuel Cell Module paired with a Williams Advanced Engineering scalable high-power modular lithium-ion battery system. This arrangement, which replaces the existing vehicle’s diesel engine, is controlled by a high voltage power distribution unit delivering more than 1,000 kWh of energy storage.

Nel Hydrogen Electrolyser AS, a subsidiary of Nel ASA, is to deliver a 3.5 MW electrolyser to ENGIE as part of the project, while Plug Power Inc is to build a first-of-its-kind full compression, storage, and dispensing system to service the new hydrogen-powered vehicle.

In Queensland, where there is no shortage of solar power to provide this ‘green’ hydrogen, Anglo has two open-pit coal mines – Dawson (pictured) and Capcoal – that could potentially benefit from this solution.

In response to the ARENA shortlisting announcement, Anglo American said: “Anglo American has pioneered the development of hydrogen power solutions for mining operations and we are working on a number of hydrogen projects around the world as part of our pathway to carbon-neutral operations by 2040.

“We welcome ARENA’s potential support and will continue to work on this particular project’s feasibility over the coming months.”

Applicants invited to the full application stage by ARENA will have until January 2021 to prepare their application, with the agency expecting to select the preferred projects by mid-2021. Successful projects are expected to reach financial close by late 2021 and commence construction in 2022.

All applicants may also be considered for financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) under the CEFC’s A$300 million Advancing Hydrogen Fund.

Thiess to bring autonomous drilling to Lake Vermont coal mine

Thiess has been awarded a contract extension by Jellinbah Group to continue to provide mining services at its Lake Vermont coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

The five-year extension will generate revenue of A$2.5 billion ($1.7 billion) for Thiess, CIMIC Group’s global mining services provider. It will also see the company provide a range of autonomous services at the mine, including the implementation of autonomous drilling and semi-autonomous dozer push, it said.

When it comes to autonomous drilling, Thiess will most likely leverage the learnings from a phased 12-month autonomous drilling pilot project it carried out at MACH Energy’s majority-owned Mount Pleasant coal operation in the Hunter Valley of Australia, in collaboration with Caterpillar and WesTrac.

Thiess said the contract continues its full-service mining operations at Lake Vermont, including mine planning, coal mining, topsoil and overburden removal, drill and blast, water management and rehabilitation of final landforms. This includes providing all mobile plant and equipment, being statutory operator for the project, and operating and maintaining the client’s coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP).

CIMIC Group Chief Executive Officer, Juan Santamaria, said: “For more than 13 years, Thiess has worked alongside Jellinbah Group to safely position the mine’s operations for optimal efficiency, productivity and cost performance. This contract demonstrates Thiess’ ability to turn insight and optimisation into greater certainty for its clients.”

CIMIC Group Executive Mining and Mineral Processing and Thiess Managing Director, Douglas Thompson, said: “We’ve developed a strong working relationship with Jellinbah Group since commencing work at Lake Vermont in 2007. We’re excited to bring fresh thinking and new solutions to support the mine’s continued, sustainable evolution over the next five years.”

The contract extension will commence from January 1, 2022.

CIMIC Group’s mineral processing company, Sedgman also provides CHPP operations support at the Lake Vermont mine, which, in 2012, went through an expansion to more than double production from 4.6 Mt/y to 10.7 Mt/y of coal.

Lake Vermont is held by the participants of the Lake Vermont Joint Venture (Jellinbah Group 70%, Marubeni Coal 10%, Sojitz Coal 10% and AMCI 10%).

Lost Dutchman Mine ready to tell its metal separation tale

A company out of Arizona, USA, believes it has come up with a density separation technology that could upgrade heavy metal concentrates without the need for water or chemicals.

Lost Dutchman Mine (LDM), named after the legend of a rich Arizona gold deposit discovered by an elusive Dutch prospector, never since located, is the company in question. Being supported along the way by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) out of Sudbury, Ontario, the firm is looking to find a way into the mining sector at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns have reached a new high.

Mark Ogram, one of three Co-founders of LDM, explained the company’s aim and name, saying: “We’ve been able to find gold where people could not find it.

“We have now come up with a solution that requires no chemicals or water to purify a gold ore.”

While gold is the company’s initial focus, the process can be applied to most heavy metals including silver, copper and tungsten, according to Ogram. Some encouraging results have also been seen removing sulphides from gold ore ahead of further processing, in addition to ‘cleaning’ coal, he added.

A gravity separation process that uses air flow rather than water to separate these materials by density, the obvious comparisons are with Knelson concentrators or other separation technologies – all of which tend to use water or another medium for their processes. Ogram says Knelson concentrators are also for free gold, not refractory gold, the latter of which the LDM technology can cope with.

allmineral’s allair® technology also comes to mind as a comparison. This is a process that leverages many of the functions of the water-operated alljig® technology but, instead, uses air as the pulsating medium. So far, allair’s applications have been confined to mostly coal and other minerals.

Like many of these technologies, it is feed preparation that will prove decisive for the application of LDM technology, with ore crush size and moisture content the two key factors.

“We don’t think we would need ball mills to get the feed down to the right size,” LDM Co-founder Ken Abbott said. “A standard crushing and screening setup should be suitable.”

While test work to date has been with material in the 30-60 mesh range, Abbott is confident the technology will work with material from 100-200 mesh.

“It will be a little more of a sensitive process, but it does work should people require it,” he said.

When it comes to moisture content, a drying process will most likely be needed ahead of feeding to the LDM unit.

“The material needs to flow freely to work well,” Abbott said.

In-field test work involved the company using a tumble-type continuous screener/dryer to reach the appropriate moisture content, but a more ‘industrial’ process will be required in commercial applications.

The best results are likely to be achieved when both factors are consistent, according to LDM.

“The system requires a steady and uniform distribution in the feed cycle that includes surge capacity and automated material flow to ensure a steady feed rate,” the company says.

Dale A Shay, a consultant with RIMCON advising LDM, said vat leaching operations were already producing material at the appropriate size for the LDM technology to be tested. “They are also reducing the moisture content to an appropriate level,” he said.

Despite this, the company feels tailings applications may be the most suitable place to start with. This harks back to the ESG concerns miners are feeling – some of which revolves around tailings impoundment areas – as well as the fact the ‘conservative’ mining industry is generally more comfortable testing new technologies on material they already consider to be ‘waste’.

For the technology to prove out, the company will have to scale up its testing.

LDM has, to date, carried out benchtop, laboratory scale and in-field tests on low-grade material, but it has only reached a 1 ton (0.9 t) per hour rate.

“We would put in a tonne and get a few grams out,” Ogram said. “That is how we developed the technology.”

Despite there being a linear progression of recoveries from benchtop to lab to the field, LDM will need to go bigger to find the widescale applications it is after.

Yet, its potential entry into the market is well timed.

Removing the use of chemicals and water in a process that will most likely come after initial crushing could prove cost-effective, as well as environmentally sound.

Yes, the air flow component and feed drying will consume power on mine sites, but this ‘upfront’ operating cost will pay off further downstream as not as much material will be transported to make its way down the process flowsheet. It is more likely to go straight to tailings or backfill material feed.

Abbott explains: “The technology drastically reduces the material that will move onto final concentration, which substantially reduces material movement on site.”

For new developments, there is a knock-on benefit for permitting; the regulatory boxes are much more likely to be ticked when the words ‘water’ and ‘cyanide’ are absent from applications.

LDM Co-founder, Wayne Rod, sums this up: “Although from a cost perspective, it is expected to be competitive with other concentration technologies, the real savings will come on the ESG front and being able to reduce any environmental issues you may have.”

This is a message Rod and the rest of the LDM team are taking to the headquarters of major mining companies, where executives and board members are treating ESG challenges like a ‘cost’ they need to reduce to stay viable.

“As that ESG issue becomes even more prevalent, I see technology becoming a much bigger focus area,” Rod says. “Taking water and chemicals out of the concentration process will help alleviate some of that pressure.”

BMA to invest in autonomous haul trucks at Daunia coal mine

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has announced a A$100 million ($69 million) investment and new jobs as part of the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks at its Daunia mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The first retrofit trucks will begin working from February next year, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of 2021, it said.

The 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine opened in 2013 and has a truck fleet that includes Cat 793Fs.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said this was a multi-generational investment in the industry and  state at a time when it is needed.

“We acknowledge the important role our business and industry can play in supporting Queensland communities and the local economy during this time,” he said.

“This announcement is a vote of confidence in Central Queensland. At least 10 regional and indigenous businesses will be employed to support the rollout, with contracts worth A$35 million. This will result in 150 additional project roles for BMA people and contractors. This is on top of 56 new permanent roles on site.”

He reiterated that there would be no job losses as a result of the decision and anyone who currently works with the company – as an employee or labour hire worker – would be given the opportunity to continue to do so.

Hastings Deering’s Central Queensland operations will see an additional 30 jobs required to assist with truck and ancillary fleet conversion.

Hastings Deering CEO, Dean Mehmet, said: “This contract is a huge boost to our local business and the region. We will need 30 additional people to support the work that is required to convert the trucks and ancillary mining fleet into autonomous vehicles at Daunia. It’s exciting work to build on that allows us to grow and develop local talent to deliver technology solutions into the resources sector.”

Other examples of local businesses that will directly benefit from this decision include NB Industries, who will complete the light vehicle fleet conversion, and Radlink who will install wireless communication hardware across the mine.

NB Industries is also involved in completing the fit out of ancillary equipment for the AHS rollout at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside mine, in Central Queensland.

Palmer highlighted the employee engagement and training that is central to this decision.

“We have engaged with our workforce at Daunia over the previous 18 months on the possible rollout of autonomous haulage. Our people have told us that they are eager for new job opportunities and skills. That is why we are confident this is the right decision for Daunia.

“It will further increase safety and performance and help the mine remain competitive over the long term.

“We understand this decision represents some change. But it also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new, highly valued skills that will create additional opportunities for growth into the future.”

To help prepare for Daunia’s autonomous future, it is estimated over 30,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

In addition to pledging to bring autonomous trucks to Daunia and Goonyella Riverside, BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia shortly.

Exxaro’s Matla achieves safety milestone

Exxaro has marked a significant safety milestone this month, with the Plant and Central Engineering Workshops (CEWS) – work areas within the organisation’s Matla coal mine, in South Africa – achieving 730 lost-time injury (LTI) free days.

This achievement is equivalent to two years of zero mine worker LTIs, the company said.

The accomplishment forms part of Exxaro’s Khetha Ukuphepha safety campaign, which was launched in 2019 across all business units to address the risky nature of mining work, the company said. “The cornerstone of the company’s zero-harm pledge, the campaign ensures that every employee adheres to strict safety standards and procedures both at work and home,” Exxaro explained.

Earlier this year, Exxaro celebrated three years of fatality-free operations with a steady decrease in its lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) over the last five years. In 2019, Exxaro maintained an overall LTIFR of 0.12, above its target of 0.11.

Exxaro’s Matla Coal Mine Acting Business Unit Manager, Musa Mabasa, said: “We remain determined to achieve Zero Harm in our operations. This includes focusing our efforts on health and safety measures that will ensure the well-being of our employees.”

Mabasa stressed the importance of building a collaborative culture where every employee, no matter their job designation, is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their colleagues.

“When it comes to a risk-free work environment, we are all leaders, and all of us need to lead the way to safety excellence,” Mabasa said.

“I am incredibly proud of Matla’s Plant and CEWS teams for achieving yet another safety milestone. They continue to set the standard and raise the bar when it comes to safety performance.”

Matla Plant Manager, Chris Welkom, added to this congratulations, saying: “I would like to thank everyone for continuing to work safely and make safety their way of life in their various working areas. Let us continue with this attitude and determination as we aim for another year without LTI. Our next target is 1,095 LTI free days.”

Some 20 km west of Kriel in Mpumalanga, South Africa, Matla comprises three mines that produce 14 Mt/y of power station coal with a workforce of over 2,500 permanent employees and contractors. It is a fully-mechanised underground mine employing continuous mining and shortwall methods, according to Exxaro.

Metso railroad car dumper system to go to CSX Curtis Bay Export Terminal

Metso says it has been awarded a contract for the design, supply and installation of a railroad car dumper system for CSX Transportation in the USA.

The new twin cage tandem rotary car dumper system will be used for the unloading of coal from railroad cars at the CSX Curtis Bay Export Terminal, in Baltimore, Maryland. The system is expected to be operational in October 2021.

The delivery includes two complete dumper barrel assemblies, a complete hopper system with grizzlies, a unit train positioner operation, and installation. Metso said the order has been booked in its June quarter 2020 orders received.

Larry Gelo, Director of Equipment Design, CSX, said: “We have a long-standing business partnership with Metso. We selected them for this project because of their technical expertise and for providing the best long-term value for our company.”

Metso said: “Thanks to its innovative design, the new dumper system to be delivered to CSX will not only allow for the rotary dumping of loaded railroad cars but also the unloading of bottom dump cars.”

Overall efficiency of the dumping operation will be improved via the use of Nolan™ Car movers that are mounted on the dumper barrels to spot the loaded cars as well as eject the empty cars, Metso added.

Bob Kaib, Vice President, Bulk Technologies at Metso, said: “As the leading supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America, CSX is a very important customer to Metso. We have provided them equipment, parts, and services throughout their network in the USA. The new dumper system to be delivered to Maryland will enable CSX to significantly improve the overall efficiency of their dumping operation.”

Metso says it is a global leader in dumper technology with over 400 dumper system deliveries throughout the world.

Rio, Turquoise Hill and Mongolia government find power solution for Oyu Tolgoi

Rio Tinto, Turquoise Hill Resources and the Government of Mongolia have reached an agreement on the preferred domestic power solution for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine, in Mongolia, that, Rio says, paves the way for the government to fund and construct a state-owned power plant at Tavan Tolgoi.

The agreement, which is a revision of the Power Source Framework Agreement (PSFA) signed in 2018, states that the parties will work towards finalising a Power Purchase Agreement by the end of March 2021.

In addition, the amended PSFA sets a proposed timetable for development, with construction of the coal-fired power plant set to begin no later than July 1, 2021, and commissioning within four years thereafter.

Oyu Tolgoi is currently sourcing power from China’s Inner Mongolian Western Grid via overhead power lines, via a back-to-back power purchase agreement with National Power Transmission Grid JSC, the power importing entity, and the Inner Mongolian Power Company, according to Turquoise Hill.

Both the Government of Mongolia and Oyu Tolgoi have committed to extending the current arrangement to ensure continued stable power is supplied to the mine and underground project until the state-owned power plant is commissioned and is able to supply stable, reliable and continuous power, Rio said.

Back in February, Rio, which has a majority stake in Turquoise Hill, said it was continuing to progress options to secure domestically-sourced power for Oyu Tolgoi as part of an obligation to source power by June 30, 2023, under the 2009 Investment Agreement between Turquoise Hill (which owns 66% of Oyu Tolgoi), the Government of Mongolia and Rio, and the subsequent PSFA signed in 2018.

Arnaud Soirat, Rio Tinto Copper & Diamonds Chief Executive, said: “This agreement provides a potential pathway to securing a domestic power supply for the Oyu Tolgoi mine and underground project for the benefit of all shareholders and the wider community. We look forward to working with the Government of Mongolia to progress the solution.”

Oyu Tolgoi produced 146,346 t of copper and 241,840 oz of gold in 2019, with mill throughput running at 40.78 Mt for the year.

SUEK cleans up with new flotation unit at Kirov coal washing plant

SUEK says it has commissioned a new flotation unit at the Kirov coal wash plant in the Kemerovo region of Russia.

The technology, introduced at SUEK for the first time, maximises washing efficiency of coal fines (0-0.35 mm), producing a high-quality concentrate (calorific value over 6,600 kcal) with an ash content of 8-9% from a product containing 30-40% ash, the company explained.

With this unit, the output of commercial products will increase by 2.8%, boosting the annual concentrate production at the washing plant by 150,000 t. At the same time, the company will generate less waste, spending less on “waste release” (cake), transportation and storage, it said. This also solves environmental issues related to road transport within the city (dust, noise and pollutants).

This investment of $13.3 million comes on top of a $13 million investment the company made in high-tech water treatment facilities at the Kirov mine earlier this year.

Anatoly Meshkov, General Director of JSC SUEK-Kuzbass, said: “The global market environment requires ongoing improvement in the quality of coal for achieving competitive advantages.

“The company has adopted and runs a relevant long-term program. Technical re-equipment and modernisation enhance the production capacities of washing plants. Today, SUEK-Kuzbass is able to process 16 Mt of coal a year. Another way to achieve the quality indicators required by the market is to increase the processing depth of raw coal or use fine sludge (down to zero).”

He added: “Having commissioned the flotation unit at the Kirov washing plant, our company will effectively address this issue. In addition, the environmental situation in neighbouring areas will improve.”

Sibniicoal, SUEK’s Research Institute of Coal Beneficiation, completed all the design work for the flotation unit, with the project comprised of a flotation unit building, flotation reagent storage, a pumping station, a TP-103 transformer substation and a protective structure. The radial thickener building also underwent renovation.

SUEK spent about $6 million on new equipment for this new unit. Flotation machines, XJM-S28, and disc vacuum filters, Bokela Boozer, are at the core of the process cycle, it said.

The company says the unit can process sludge coming from two modules of the Kirov washing plant as well as from the old sludge sumps.

thyssenkrupp wins semi-mobile-crushing-plant contract in India coal hub

thyssenkrupp has been awarded a contract to supply three semi-mobile-crushing-plants (SMCP) to a major open-pit coal mine in the Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh, India, namely the Jayant mine of Northern Coalfields Ltd, a division of state compay Coal India. The plants will be used for a new 15 Mt/y coal handling plant (CHP).

Looking to boost production from 10 Mt/y to 25 Mt/y, the miner is implementing an in-pit crushing and conveying system utilising the in-pit SMCP for the CHP, which will, thyssenkrupp says, make the production process more efficient and stable.

thyssenkrupp won the contract from an India-based engineering procurement and construction contractor, SK Samanta. It involves the complete design, engineering, manufacturing and supply, and “TAG services” for the three semi-mobile crushing plants.

The plants consist out of three separate modules. The receiving hopper module comes with a 2.2 m wide and 10.5 m long, heavy-duty apron feeder, which can be fed by trucks and has a capacity of around 150 tons (136 t).

The heart of each plant is the crusher module, which uses a RollSizer DRS 1,000 x 2,250 (centre distance x length of the roller) for a maximum feed capacity of 1,900 t/h.

The third module is the electrical building with the operator room. By separating this module from the crusher module, the operators and electrical equipment are not exposed to any vibrations from the crushing process. This ensures the plants meet all requirements from a health and safety perspective, while guaranteeing a long life of the electrical equipment, thyssenkrupp said.

“Compared to stationary crushing plants, SMCPs are more flexible and can be relocated when the distance between the mining area and the crushing plant increases and, thereby, can reduce the cost for transport of the run of mine material significantly,” thyssenkrupp said.

“thyssenkrupp can look back on a long history of supplying fully-mobile, semi-mobile, and stationary crushing plants, which makes the company a leading partner for the engineering, construction and service of industrial plants and systems for the coal industry.”