Tag Archives: coal

Mining fleet changes hands at Boggabri coal operation

Most of the major mining equipment used at the Boggabri coal mine in New South Wales, Australia, is to be sold to Boggabri Coal Operations (BCO), part of the Idemitsu Group, following the exercise of an option between BCO and Golding Contractors, a subsidiary of NRW Holdings.

The transaction for the fleet, which includes 38 major mobile mining assets, has a target completion date of the end of July 2021.

Golding will continue to perform maintenance services on site across these, and another 50 (approximately) pieces of major mining equipment, engaging a workforce of over 150 personnel on site, NRW said.

The equipment will be sold for circa-A$81 million ($61 million) of which circa-A$64 million will pay down asset financing debt, NRW said.

NRW’s CEO and Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said: “The option for BCO to acquire all or part of the associated mining fleet was identified at the time of the acquisition of BGC Contracting. This transaction will reduce debt and increase return on capital employed.

“We look forward to continuing to support BCO to ensure we are best placed to continue to provide our services beyond the current contract completion date of December 2022.”

New Cat D11 dozer arrives at Stanwell’s Meandu coal mine

Stanwell’s Meandu coal mine in Queensland, Australia, has taken delivery of a new Cat D11 dozer from local distributor Hastings Deering.

Ensuring safe and efficient operation, the dozer provides operators with full command, as well as delivering higher productivity at lower cost, Stanwell said.

The mine, owned by Stanwell, has a 7 Mt/y thermal coal capability and is in Queensland’s South Burnett Region.

Engineered to be rebuilt multiple times, the new D11 has a redesigned main frame delivering lower total cost of ownership over the life of the machine, Cat says. Time-saving service updates reduce daily maintenance and boost machine uptime.

The unit comes with new load-sensing hydraulics, high-horsepower reverse and the latest technology to provide higher material movement at a lower cost per tonne.

The first new generation D11 dozer in the world started work at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Blackwater coal mine in Queensland, in 2019. National Group secured the first of these dozers earlier from Cat dealer Hastings Deering as part of an order that would see six of these machines hauled by its National Heavy Haulage subsidiary.

Wescoal after RoM upgrade with Acrux, IMS Engineering XRT ore sorting solution

Acrux Sorting Technology has announced that its advanced sensor-based sorting technology is to be deployed at a Wescoal Holdings Ltd-owned coal mining operation in South Africa.

Acrux subsidiary, Acrux Sorting Coal (ASC), has signed a coal beneficiation agreement with two wholly owned subsidiaries of Wescoal, whereby ASC will deploy advanced sensor-based sorting technology to upgrade lower-grade coal from the mines.

Under the agreement, ASC will provide a fully funded turnkey crushing, screening and sensor-based sorting solution centred around advance dual-energy X-ray Transmission (XRT) unit to process run of mine (RoM) coal.

The plant is to be designed, constructed, commissioned, operated and maintained by IMS Engineering Limited, Acrux’s partner on such ore sorting projects. IMS Engineering is a subsidiary of Germany-based HAZEMAG & EPR GmbH.

ASC’s sorting solution offers significant economic benefits as coal resources can now be upgraded to be included as a saleable product, which will reposition the mines along the cost curve, it said.

Paul Bracher, Managing Director of IMS, said: “The XRT technology has proven its ability to upgrade RoM coal through rejecting material that has sulphur or ash content that exceeds programmed parameters.”

The solution will also have a positive environmental impact as no water is used during beneficiation, and the carbon footprint is reduced through the optimisation of transportation and materials handling.

Wescoal’s Executive Director, Thivha Tshithavhane, said: “This sorting technology solution will enable us to impact on ESG, while creating shareholder value from optimising our coal resources at no capital investment.”

Sean Browne, ASC’s Chairman and Group Founder, added: “Partnering with Wescoal underlines our commitment to driving sustainable innovations that reduce the environmental impact of mining.”

Blue Energy investigates potential to power Isaac Plains fleet on hydrogen

Blue Energy Ltd says it has executed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stanmore Resources Ltd that could see mine gas converted to hydrogen to power Stanmore’s Isaac Plains Complex equipment fleet.

The latest MoU relates to future pilot production activities at Stanmore’s ATP 814 tenement in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, Australia, but it builds on a previously announced non-binding MoU for the commercialisation of mine gas from Stanmore’s proposed underground operation adjacent to ATP814.

The gas used by Blue for conversion to hydrogen will be pilot gas which would otherwise be flared, and this trial project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Blue’s activities and also reduce diesel fuel usage by Stanmore which, in turn, reduces the CO2 produced by the combustion cycle of their fleet of vehicles, Blue said. The company is currently investigating off-the-shelf modular hydrogen generation equipment that is portable and able to be installed either centrally or at the well head, with the hydrogen generated transported in purpose-built cylinders to Stanmore’s Isaac Plains Complex site for use in their vehicle fleet.

Blue Energy’s Managing Director, John Phillips, said: “Being able to avoid flaring of pilot gas production by converting it to hydrogen is a step forward in reducing emissions prior to gas developments, and, in this case, has the added bonus of also lowering emissions from neighbouring mining operations.”

Blue is in the process of establishing technology partners for this hydrogen trial and, now with a foundation hydrogen offtaker secured, is confident the use of blue hydrogen from its pre-development activities is a positive step toward lowering the greenhouse gas emission footprint of the Bowen Basin coal mining precinct.

Anglo American Australia invests in gas, spontaneous combustion management research

Anglo American Australia says it is committing another A$5 million ($3.8 million) towards improving safety at its underground coal mines in the country following the release of recommendations from the Board of Inquiry’s report into an incident that occurred at its Grosvenor mine in May 2020.

Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said the company is already acting on the recommendations of the report, referencing A$60 million of investment in safety initiatives the company has carried out over the last year.

The latest A$5 million investment will fund underground mining research, in partnership with industry research and technology partners, to improve the industry’s knowledge in certain technical areas, Mitchelson said.

“We have been clear from the outset that the incident on 6 May, 2020, in which five of our colleagues were badly injured was unacceptable,” he said. “The safety of our workforce is always our first priority.”

In the last year, Anglo has put in place a range of measures to address issues that have come to light through detailed investigations and evidence before the Board of Inquiry. Over this period, it has already committed more than A$60 million in technology pilots, additional gas drainage infrastructure, expert reviews and further improvements to a range of processes and controls.

Mitchelson said: “Underground coal mining, particularly in the area where Grosvenor Mine is located, is complex with many interacting considerations and, as the board has identified, further research into certain technical areas such as gas and spontaneous combustion management would benefit the industry. We will be helping to advance knowledge in these areas through our further A$5 million funding commitment.

“The Board of Inquiry’s reports have made a number of recommendations, and we are confident we have already addressed, or will address, these ahead of the restart of longwall mining at Grosvenor Mine later this year.”

Longwall mining operations at Moranbah North Mine safely restarted earlier this month, in line with regulatory approvals, with production expected to ramp up over coming weeks.

Anglo American’s Operating Model, the company’s primary operational management system, is currently being updated at Grosvenor and, together with a range of other measures such as the use of data science, will ensure the company has the very latest in systems thinking, design and technology to ensure operational stability and control, and ultimately safe production, he added.

“The use of automation and remote operation presents us with the single biggest opportunity to remove people from high-risk areas and we are fast-tracking this work across our operations, including commissioning ground-breaking research into automation in development mining with CSIRO,” Mitchelson said.

This work will see the two companies undertake a world-first trial of technology to support automation in the roadway development phase of underground coal mining.

On top of this, Anglo American Australia has commenced a pilot study at Moranbah North to assess the use of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face. Initial laboratory testing has been successfully completed and pilot hardware has been installed at Moranbah North Mine, it said. Full-scale hardware and processing systems will be installed at Grosvenor ahead of a restart of operations.

“A further layer of quality control has already been introduced for the supply of Intrinsically Safe underground mining equipment,” the company said.

Anglo American Australia has also invested in data and strata capabilities to change the way it mines, with its newly-established Met Coal Analytics Centre already operationalising gas and strata management analytics to predictive capabilities, with work under way to support its mines.

The company already has gas management improvement measures underway, with A$1.5 billion allocated for gas management over five years across the company’s underground mines. It has also completed a project to increase gas drainage capacity at Grosvenor Mine and introduced enhanced gas management reporting across the business.

Last year, Anglo announced that, to support alignment with Queensland statutory reporting, any gas exceedances of above 2.5% in its underground mines will now be treated as Anglo American HPIs as a High Potential Incident in accordance with the company’s global risk management processes.

Jord International addresses pressing issues for BMA Caval Ridge

Jord International has recently taken up a challenge from BHP to come up with a safer solution to filter press maintenance at the Caval Ridge metallurgical coal mine, in Queensland, Australia, as part of the New South Wales-based company’s expanding remit to unlock new technologies for the wider mining industry.

The plant and systems designer, developer and service provider was awarded the project, part of BHP’s Supplier Innovation Program challenge, earlier this year. It has seen Jord design and construct the first concept prototype in tandem with the maintenance team at the mine.

The prototype comprised a belt cartridge installer within a self-contained steel frame that holds a new belt and removes the old, damaged belt. The first commercial belt installer is expected to be in use by July, according to BMA.

Craig Samuel, Jord’s Mechanical Engineer for Aftermarket and Reliability, said the filters the company worked with at BMA Caval Ridge are 3 m wide x 5 m long, with the product path through the filter around 14 m long. While the solution was designed for Caval Ridge specifically, he said it could have applications on any site or with any commodity using filter presses.

“The idea came from the understanding of how the filter belts are installed, and a cartridge-style installer just made sense considering Caval Ridge has a readily available crane to move the cartridge around,” Samuel told IM. “The mechanics of the installer required some out-of-the-box ideas to develop a continuously variable speed ratio between the new belt roll and the old belt roll.”

Samuel said he expected the belt change time to be cut in half with this new solution.

Jord has already applied for another BHP Supplier Innovation Program challenge that could leverage a dust management and cleaning innovation, but the company has also been investing in research and development to commercialise new minerals beneficiation technologies for more efficient and effective liberation of ore, according to Kevin Barber, Jord’s General Manager of Resources.

“Our goal is to unlock new technologies that provide step-change improvements to current processes in the industry,” he said of these new technologies. “It’s about using less energy, using less water and removing some of the environmental challenges with particular focus on tailings. We’re finding alternative ways of dealing with problematic ores and resources.”

Thungela to acquire Anglo American’s South African thermal coal operations

Anglo American has agreed to demerge its thermal coal operations in South Africa to a new holding company called Thungela Resources Limited.

The separation deal, which is subject to the approval of Anglo American’s shareholders on May 5, 2021, will be implemented through the transfer of Anglo’s South Africa thermal coal operations to Thungela, the demerger of the Thungela shares to Anglo American shareholders and the primary listing of Thungela’s shares on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and standard listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Thungela had 16.5 Mt of attributable export production to its name in 2020, with its operations close to an established rail network with secure access to export markets via the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. It has 137 Mt of reserves and 756 Mt of resources, along with seven operations (four open-pit and three underground).

Anglo’s operations, meanwhile, are derived from three wholly owned and operated mines – Goedehoop, Greenside and Khwezela; Zibulo (73% owned, pictured); as well as from Mafube colliery, a 50:50 joint operation. It supplies around 19 Mt/y of export thermal coal from these mines.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “Anglo American has been pursuing a responsible transition away from thermal coal for a number of years now. As the world transitions towards a low carbon economy, we must continue to act responsibly – bringing our employees, shareholders, host communities, host governments and customers along with us. Our proposed demerger of what are precious natural resources for South Africa allows us to do exactly that.”

He added: “We are confident that Thungela will be a responsible steward of our thermal coal assets in South Africa, benefiting from an experienced and diverse management team and board. While representing just a small proportion of Anglo American today, we are laying the foundation for South Africa’s leading coal business, setting it up for success to deliver value for all its stakeholders. Looking forward, we believe the prospects for long-term value delivery are greatest as two standalone businesses, each with their own strategy and access to capital.”

July Ndlovu, CEO of Thungela, said: “Thungela is a leading South African producer of high quality, low cost export thermal coal, well positioned to benefit from improved market conditions, and providing a reliable and affordable energy source to our customers mainly in developing economies. We have significantly repositioned and upgraded our portfolio in recent years into a highly competitive producer of export product, with established access to world-class export infrastructure.

“As an independent business we will continue to contribute significantly to our host communities and South Africa’s development objectives. As part of our commitment to creating an enduring positive legacy, we are establishing an employee partnership plan and a community partnership plan, with each holding a 5% interest in the Thungela thermal coal operations in South Africa, thereby enabling employees and communities to share in the financial value that we generate.”

The proposed demerger recognises the diverse range of views held by Anglo American’s shareholders in relation to thermal coal and therefore provides Anglo American’s shareholders, including those with specified investment criteria, with the choice to act on such views and, following the implementation of the proposed demerger, to either retain, increase or decrease their interests in Thungela, Anglo explained. The proposal also allows Thungela to attract new shareholders and to access new sources of capital as an independent company offering direct exposure to thermal coal.

Anglo American says it is committed to setting up Thungela as a sustainable standalone business, including by providing an initial cash injection of ZAR2.5 billion (~$170 million) and further contingent capital support until the end of 2022 in the event of thermal coal prices in South African rand falling below a certain threshold.

Following the implementation of the proposed demerger, and in line with Anglo American’s responsible approach, Anglo American’s marketing business will continue to support Thungela in the sale and marketing of its products for a three-year period with an additional six-month transitional period thereafter, the company said.

“This transitionary arrangement ensures that customers receive a consistent service and supply of thermal coal while Thungela concentrates on enhancing the performance of its operations while continuing to receive optimal value for its products in the market,” Anglo said. “The three-year term, and the additional six-month roll-off period, also provide time for Thungela to build its own global marketing capabilities should it choose to do so.”

For the proposed demerger to be implemented, Anglo American shareholder approval will be sought at a general meeting and court meeting, both expected to be held on May 5 following Anglo American’s Annual General Meeting. If it is approved, it is expected the demerger would be effective on June 4, 2021, with Thungela’s shares being listed and admitted to trading on the JSE and LSE on June 7, 2021.

Following completion of the proposed demerger, 100% of the issued share capital of Thungela will be held by Anglo American shareholders who will each receive one Thungela share for every 10 Anglo American shares they hold. Each Anglo American shareholder will also retain their existing shareholding in Anglo American. Thungela will hold 90% of the thermal coal operations in South Africa with the remaining 10% held collectively by the employee partnership plan and the community partnership plan.

Macmahon to start mining Anglo’s Dawson South met coal mine

Macmahon Holdings says it has been selected to provide surface mining services at Anglo American’s majority-owned Dawson metallurgical coal mine in Queensland, Australia, starting from July.

The work at the Dawson South operations, which forms part of the Dawson Mine, an open-pit met coal mine owned in a joint venture between Anglo American and Japan’s Mitsui Group, will generate around A$200 million ($153 million) in revenue over the three-year term, Macmahon said.

Signing of the mining services agreement is expected to occur in the near future, the company added.

Macmahon’s CEO and Managing Director, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are very pleased to be selected for the Dawson South operation by Anglo American, a leading global mining company. We look forward to working very closely with our new client to ensure a smooth transition period and continuity of safe operations. This new project further strengthens our growing east coast presence.”

Interact Analysis forecasts slow haul truck electrification uptake in open-pit mining

The electric revolution looks to be well and truly underway in the mining space, with underground mines of all sizes planning, trialling, or ordering various battery-electric machines to help them decarbonise their operations. Yet, the latest report on the off-highway vehicle market from Interact Analysis has indicated the transition above ground will take a little longer than many anticipated.

Homing in specifically on the 85-t-plus global hauler/dump truck market – broadly applicable to the medium-large construction space and the small-large open-pit mining sector – the market research firm laid out estimates for the annual number of new truck deliveries to 2029.

The surprising aspect of this research was the continued dominance of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle deliveries over this time frame.

The team at Interact Analysis expected the adoption rate/market share to go from 100% in 2020 – when 1,330 new vehicles were delivered – to 96.2% in 2029 – when it expected 1,716 units to be delivered.

The growth is slightly extreme in this comparison, but is partially accounted for by a drop off in deliveries in 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19. For reference, in 2019, 2,065 units were delivered.

Included within the ICE stats are biofuel vehicles, which have been gaining prominence in the mining space as miners realise they can both reduce diesel costs and emissions by incorporating biofuels into their operating mix.

Over the same time frame – 2020-2029 – the analysts see “hybrid” trucks commanding zero percent market share, with no sales.

Fully-electric trucks fare better, moving from zero deliveries in 2020 to two in 2021, five in 2022, six in 2023; to 72 in 2028 and 67 in 2029. The fully-electric adoption rate moves from 0% in 2020 to 3.8% in 2029.

Among these new fully-electric dump trucks is an XCMG EDF531 90 t battery-electric truck that was on show at the Bauma China show late last year (pictured below).

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China, said this dump truck has already been delivered to a customer.

“In fact, quite a few dump fully-electric trucks below 100 t have already been used in China (in Guangdong),” she told IM. “Many of these have payloads of below 60 t, but a few are 90 t, and are in trial runs, and a few have also been exported to New Zealand, using the LiFePO4 battery from CATL.”

There has been much talk about hydrogen haul trucks taking hold in the mining space. This has been catalysed by Anglo American’s plans to test a 291 t fuel cell electric vehicle, a conversion to hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery operation of a diesel-powered Komatsu 930E, at the Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa. If successful, these tests could lead to a rollout of 40 FCEVs across the global miner’s operations, it says.

Despite this, Interact Analysis’ research has no plus-85 t payload hydrogen trucks included in its forecasts to 2029.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK, explains: “Our statistics only look at new builds and not retrofits. My understanding is that the Anglo American vehicles would be retrofit (although there is limited detail at this point).

“Should some be new build, then we would update our forecast accordingly once we have better visibility.”

It’s worth asking the question: what about hydrogen trucks in mining beyond 2029?

Zhang said: “At present, mining trucks are mainly used in medium and large-scale coal and metal mines, and the use scenario is mainly for downhill heavy payload applications. That is to say where mineral resources are situated in a high up location, and it is necessary to load them from the mountain to the conveyor belt or transfer vehicle (the short distance transportation path is generally 2-3 km).”

She said mining truck electrification is mainly driven by two factors, with the first being operational cost advantages.

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China

“For example, a mine truck with a total weight of 90 t will cost $45,000-75,000 in standard fuel annually, whilst the cost of electricity is only a third of the cost of fuel under the same circumstances, which means that $30,000-45,000 can be saved in the annual cost, not to mention other costs which are also higher for ICE mine trucks such as repair and maintenance,” she said.

The second factor is environmental protection and policy promotion.

“In China, the ‘National Green Mine Construction Specification’, issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, has been implemented since October 2018,” Zhang explained. “This measure will surely help to grow the market share of hydrogen trucks in China, although the overall percentage will remain small.”

The last category included in Interact Analysis’ research was “Others” in the global hauler/dump truck market for 85-t-plus vehicles.

No deliveries for this category were registered in 2020, but the company anticipates one delivery in 2021, followed by three in 2022 and five in 2023. This gets as high as eight deliveries in 2025, but, by the end of the forecast period (2029), this category still commands 0.0% of the total.

So, what trucks fit into this category?

Hayfield explained: “We’re talking about diesel-electrics that will enter service into a trolley line operation – we essentially have to make an estimate on how we think the vehicle will predominantly be used. This is analogous to what we do in our on-highway research where we have to make estimates on how class 8 trucks are used for different applications ie long haul, distribution, vocational applications.”

This is not to say there will be no trolley assist trucks coming into the mining space, but, as far as Interact Analysis is concerned, these will not be new trucks coming out of the factory destined to head onto trolley lines. They will more likely be AC drive trucks that are retrofitted later for trolley assist operation.

When consolidated, these numbers show an underlying trend.

Back in 2019, there were 2,065 truck units delivered to the market in this 85-t-plus category, but, even out to 2029, this level is not reached, according to Interact Analysis.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK

In 2020, total deliveries dropped to 1,330 and, in 2021, Interact Analysis sees this rising to 1,545 units. A continual rise is expected in the years following, but it only reaches 1,783 in 2029.

What about beyond this timeframe?

Hayfield answered: “You have two fundamental pressures: a growing, resource-intensive population and a need to re-use/cut consumption because of environmental and/or legislative pressure. I suspect we will continue to see the growth of new mines throughout the 2030s in developing regions, fuelling demand for new trucks. However, I suspect we will see increasing pressure in Europe and North America on sustainability and the need to re-use materials and, hence, a slowing in the opening of new mines.”

This means demand for new trucks could start to drop during the 2030s in Europe and North America, he deduced.

This is not an exhaustive look at trends in the open-pit mining dump truck market – it is more of a taster – but Interact Analysis plans a detailed, mining specific study later in 2021. Such analysis could include forecasts for the retrofit market, providing the complete picture mining industry onlookers are after.

South Africa coal mines continue proximity detection rollout, Booyco Electronics says

South Africa-based proximity detection system (PDS) specialist Booyco Electronics says it is continues to grow its footprint in the domestic coal mining sector as more mines work towards “Level 9” compliance.

According to Booyco Electronics CEO, Anton Lourens, the scale of recent orders from underground collieries and open-cast operations are testament to the company’s leadership in the sector.

“We support an extensive population of our proximity detection equipment on trackless mining machines (TMMs) in coal mines and expect to see enthusiastic take-up of our new-generation Booyco CXS product,” Lourens says. He highlights that the customer base includes not only the Mpumalanga coalfields, but also those in KwaZulu-Natal province – supported by the company’s network of branches including Witbank and Richards Bay.

Regulations currently demand that any electrically-powered TMM in an underground mine must be equipped with a PDS, but many coal operations have a combination of diesel and electric units. He emphasises that the regulatory framework will soon enforce Level 9 requirements – with more advanced collision avoidance capability – for both diesel and electric TMMs.

“We are working closely with many OEMs and mining customers on aligning and testing our respective equipment for Level 9 compliance,” he says. “It should be remembered, however, that the industry still has considerable work to do on the application of PDS technology to surface diesel TMMs, which pose a range of technical challenges.”

An active participant in the mining industry’s Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT), Booyco Electronics says it collaborates extensively with stakeholders to support mines’ safety and compliance efforts.

“Coal mines have a key role to play in the testing and application of collision avoidance systems, as the industry upgrades to ever-more effective safety protocols,” Lourens says. “The Booyco CXS consolidates all we have learnt in our 15 years in business, taking that vital step from a warning system to a fully-fledged collision avoidance system.”

He highlighted that the Booyco CXS retains the intrinsically safe technology of previous generations, making it more cost effective and generally easier to manage. “The common alternative to intrinsically safe equipment is for suppliers to add a flameproof enclosure to house the PDS, which tends to be heavy and impractical,” he says.

Another contribution to safety and productivity is the Booyco Electronics Asset Management System (BEAMS) – a central information hub for a mine’s PDS assets. Centralising information from PDS hardware and monitoring devices, BEAMS enhances operations by identifying patterns of unsafe behaviour that can be promptly addressed, according to the company.