Tag Archives: coal

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.

NRW’s Golding to keep mining Wonbindi Coal’s Baralaba North operation

NRW Holdings Ltd says its wholly owned subsidiary, Golding Contractors Pty Ltd, has received a 12-month extension to its existing agreement with Wonbindi Coal Pty Ltd at the Baralaba North coal mine, in Queensland, Australia.

The award adds approximately A$120 million ($92 million) to the existing contract, which now extends to June 2022.

The extension cements the relationship between Golding and Wonbindi Coal where Golding has provided the contract mining services at the mine, maintaining and operating a wholly client owned fleet of equipment, producing an ultra-low volatile pulverised coal injection product since 2018. This original contract included overall mine planning; the removal of topsoil; drilling, blasting, loading and hauling overburden; loading and hauling of coal; and handling coal through the crushing and screening plant.

MBE Minerals ready to boost coal processing efficiencies in South Africa

As South Africa continues to work hard to contain the cost of its coal-fired power generation, MBE Minerals SA is stressing the importance of efficiencies throughout the value chain – not least in beneficiation.

The continuous improvement in coal beneficiation technology and regular equipment upgrades in plants will become more important, according to the company’s Managing Director, Johannes Kottmann.

MBE Minerals, which has over a century of experience in the coal sector, has built up a wide footprint of vibrating screens in Africa for sizing, scalping, dewatering and media recovery. It also provides destoning solutions to customers.

“Among the company’s innovations is the side plate mounted drive, a much lighter option to using vibrator motors,” Kottmann says. “The screens can also be supplied with vibrator motors, if necessary, while resonance screens offer the added benefit of lower power consumption.”

All types of screening surfaces can be accommodated, with each screen incorporating mechanical design features such as vibration dampening, side plates, cross members and the appropriate feed and discharge chutes.

Kottmann highlights that MBE Minerals is actively engaged with developments in coal beneficiation technology through its international network, including the MBE Coal and Minerals’ Research and Development Centre in Cologne, Germany.

“This centre consults with customers globally in terms of optimum processing solutions, with the support of an in-house laboratory and pilot test work facilities,” he says. The centre also offers customer training, which can range from general mineral processing to maintenance of MBE Minerals’ equipment.

In addition to designing, engineering and supplying equipment, MBE Minerals conducts projects on a turnkey or engineering procurement and construction basis, he notes. The company can also operate complete coal processing plants.

MBE is well known for its BATAC® jig technology, which, the company says, delivers high separation efficiencies and improved product quality, as well as high availability and throughput. This technology’s ease of operation, robust design and economical maintenance cost have also been important factors in its success.

The company developed the BATAC jig to overcome the limitations of early stratification technologies, which achieved separation either by moving the entire jigging bed screen or through water pulsation generated in an air chamber beside the jigging bed.

“The separation accuracy of BATAC jigs is due to electronic control of the air pulse generator and sensing of the thickness and densities of the material layers being separated,” Kottmann says. The under-bed pulsated BATAC jig has proved ideal for coarse applications from 150 mm down to fine coal in the 10 to 0.5 mm size range, with throughput rates of between 100 and 1,200 t/h, the company claims.

MBE Minerals has also developed a solution for destoning raw coal – the ROMJIG® – which has produced impressive results in extensive testing around the world, it says. It achieves an overall reduction in the stone handled, Kottmann says, and there are indications of a lower percentage of refuse in the washery feed.

“This allows costs to be saved in a number of areas, such as reduced wear on machinery and transporting equipment, less grain degradation, and less dust and slurry,” he says. “It also means that flocculation consumption is reduced, along with flotation agents in downstream fines recovery circuits.”

The range of vibrating screens manufactured by the company includes dimensions up to 3.6 m in width and 6.75 m in length; they come in single or double deck configuration and with either circular or linear motion. They have been operating in the African mining industry for the past 40 years.

“We ensure that each application, whether greenfields or brownfields, is carefully assessed in conjunction with the customer, during a comprehensive engagement process to determine the optimum solution,” Kottmann says. Services available include detailed engineering, feasibility studies, raw material testing, financing concepts, erection and commissioning.

Components – as well as automation and process control equipment – can be supplied and installed for complete plants and systems. Measures to modernise plants or improve capacity can also be proposed. The company’s scope of services includes personnel training, along with pre- and post-sales services and support.

Clean TeQ Water to test BIONEX water treatment solution in Inner Mongolia

Clean TeQ Water says it has been awarded a contract to design, procure, deliver and install a BIONEX water treatment plant at a coal mine in Inner Mongolia, China.

Clean TeQ Managing Director, Sam Riggall, said: “We have persisted for a long time to make inroads into the very large Chinese water treatment market. As we move towards the proposed demerger of our water business later this year, it is pleasing to see that we have achieved some initial success in that important market as we continue to make good progress on our goal of growing revenues.”

The BIONEX solution is a combination of the company’s Continuous Ionic Filtration and BIOCLENS (bacteria encapsulated in a protective PVA lens) technologies, which, the company says, has been demonstrated to be highly effective for removal of nitrate from wastewater.

“This market is growing rapidly due to increasingly strict regulation and increasing safety concerns over the disposal of waste waters with even very low levels of nitrate,” CleanTeq said. “Nitrate removal from water effluent is a significant challenge throughout China.”

The plant has been designed to treat and remove nitrate from 12,000 cu.m /d of coal mine in-pit ground water to below 1 parts per million in order to comply with local regulations governing the disposal of mine water.

The contract, which is valued at approximately A$2 million ($1.55 million), has been awarded to the company’s wholly owned Beijing-based subsidiary by Beijing Beihua Zhongqing Environment Engineering Technology Co Ltd. (BHZQ). BHZQ is a subsidiary of Beijing Enterprise Water Group (BEWG).

BEWG is a diversified water company focused on operating water assets throughout China. It is also one of the largest water treatment companies in Asia, CleanTeQ said, adding that BHZQ had expressed an interest in ongoing cooperation once this first BIONEX plant is successfully commissioned.

Once completed, this application will be the company’s first ever large-scale application of BIONEX in China.

Sedgman books tailings dewatering work at QCoal’s Byerwen coal mine

CIMIC Group’s minerals processing company, Sedgman, has been awarded a contract to design and construct a tailings dewatering facility at QCoal’s Byerwen coal mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The project will result in a lower operational risk profile, less power usage, and improved water recovery and management of dewatering chemicals, Sedgman says.

Sedgman Managing Director, Grant Fraser, said: “We are pleased to continue working with QCoal with a key focus on reducing impacts and undertaking environmentally responsible practices. The tailings dewatering contract at Byerwen is a great opportunity to achieve joint goals in ESG, an important focus for the industry.”

Construction work for the Byerwen mine will commence this month and the project will conclude in mid-2022.

Back in October, Sedgman was awarded two contract extensions by QCoal to continue to operate and maintain its Sonoma and Byerwen mines processing plants in Queensland.

Komatsu shifts longwall mining emphasis with powered roof support solutions change

Komatsu says it is adapting its longwall mining equipment business to best meet customer needs to reduce costs and maximise performance by announcing a plan to provide Joy engineered Powered Roof Support (PRS) solutions through partnerships with PRS manufacturers.

The company says it remains fully committed to supporting and serving the global longwall market by providing Joy engineered PRS solutions; designing bespoke roof supports; continuing to design and manufacture its Joy armoured face conveyors, shearers and longwall controls (including PRS controls); and providing project management, quality and integration services for longwall systems.

It also stressed there were no expected disruptions to existing order fulfilment as part of these changes.

“The company will continue to service and support all Joy longwall products including PRS through its global service network and will fully support existing customers for the lifetime of their operations,” it said.

Jason Savage, Senior Vice President Joy underground soft rock for Komatsu Mining Corp, explained: “As customers look to cut costs in the evolving coal market, we want to help provide flexibility while continuing to offer the core competencies we are known for in this space: Joy custom-engineered PRS solutions.

“We will continue to provide, and further develop, the design and technical support of engineered PRS solutions to help our customers mine efficiently and safely while enabling access to lower cost manufacturing sources to reduce up-front investment.”

There may be changes to the company’s manufacturing footprint following this shift, impacting Komatsu’s Manchester and Worcester facilities in the United Kingdom, but no immediate changes have been announced, with no further details available at this time, it said.

Savage concluded: “We are focused on working with our employees and our customers to make this transition as smooth as possible and empower the global mining market with the highest levels of longwall automation, remote operation, safety and productivity.”