Tag Archives: Codelco

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.

Monadelphous banks work with South32, Newcrest, Codelco and Collahuasi

Engineering company Monadelphous Group says its businesses have secured some A$400 million ($284 million) of new contracts and extensions in the resources and energy sectors, including an extension at South32’s Worsley Alumina Refinery in Western Australia, a contract with Newcrest at Lihir in PNG, two contracts with Codelco in Chile and its first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, also in Chile.

In Papua New Guinea, Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with Newcrest to provide structural, mechanical, piping and electrical and instrumentation works on the Lihir Front End Recovery Project, with work expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.

In Chile, Monadelphous’ maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured the following contracts at Codelco’s operations in Calama:

  • A three-year contract to provide mine infrastructure maintenance and repairs at the Chuqicamata underground copper mine;
  • A five-year contract to provide comprehensive maintenance of the heap leaching process and electrowinning copper extraction plant at the Radomiro Tomic copper mine. Buildtek has been providing services at Radomiro Tomic since 2012; and
  • Buildtek’s first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, a company owned by Anglo American, Glencore and Japan Collahuasi Resources, to provide modifications to the concentrate distribution system at its Collahuasi Maritime Terminal in Punta Patache, south of Iquique in Chile. Work is expected to be completed in the first half of this year.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri, said the award of these contracts was a testament to the company’s proven track record of delivering value for its customers.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationships with these valued customers and are committed to continuing the provision of high quality, innovative and safe solutions,” he said.

Sandvik receives record AutoMine order from Codelco’s El Teniente mine

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it has received a major order for the AutoMine® load and haul automation system valued at about SEK 250 million ($28 million) from Chile’s Codelco to be used in the El Teniente mine.

In addition, a connected load and haul equipment order, with an initial value of SEK 150 million, was received, bringing the total value of the orders to SEK 400 million, Sandvik said.

The contract will run from 2022 through 2027 at the Andes Norte block cave.

Since the first AutoMine system was commissioned in El Teniente’s Pipa Norte mine in 2004, Sandvik has supplied several intelligent load and haul equipment fleets as well as AutoMine and OptiMine solutions to Codelco mines.

The new order will be supplied in two phases. During 2022 and 2023, Codelco will receive two Toro™ TH663i trucks and two Sandvik LH514 loaders, as well as an AutoMine Fleet system capable of being scaled to support up to 16 machines and AutoMine production area hardware for future expansions over several years.

The first phase of the order, which also includes support contracts for the equipment and AutoMine system, will initially be used by Codelco Andes Norte in a new block caving area in El Teniente that is expected to commence production between mid-2022 and early 2023.

From 2023 through 2027, Sandvik will deliver six more Toro TH663i trucks, six Sandvik LH514 loaders and an additional AutoMine Fleet system.

Emilio Vega, Business Line Manager for Automation, Sales Area Andean & South Cone at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “Codelco selected Sandvik’s solutions based on our proven technology, capable of fulfilling requirements for safety, reliability and productivity. Furthermore, we have competent staff capable of serving and supporting the organisation’s existing systems. This provides value-added services that enable optimised productivity in order to meet the customer’s production performance.”

AutoMine underground for loading and hauling is an automation system for autonomous and tele-remote operation of a wide range of Sandvik loaders and trucks. The scalable solution can provide tele-remote to fully autonomous operation for a single machine or multiple machines, including full fleet automation with automatic mission and traffic control capability, according to Sandvik.

Patricio Apablaza, Vice President Sales South Cone & Andean at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, added: “Codelco’s objective is to continue implementing automation and digitalisation solutions in its mining operations. We have a great opportunity, as a key supplier, to be part of this change by supporting Codelco with high-end technology and providing key support to its operations to help our customer succeed in this journey.”

The AutoMine Fleet system is a highly advanced automation system for a fleet of Sandvik underground loaders and trucks sharing the same automated production area. It provides advanced traffic control capabilities, as well as a wide range of interfaces for infrastructure integration to allow for complex automation applications in challenging environments.

Pablo Gandara, Project Portfolio Manager, El Teniente Mine, explained: “For Codelco and, in particular, for El Teniente mine, it is a goal to continue being the largest underground mine in the world. This purpose also needs to be accompanied by other attributes that are key today to continue being leaders in the mining business, such as safety, environmental sustainability, and productivity.

“Considering all these elements, we have come to the conclusion that to operate our mines we require companies that have the same values, and that is how we came to define that the Sandvik AutoMine product satisfies all our needs. In addition to show best practice of a real partnership is the cooperation that began many years ago between Codelco and Sandvik in the first automated project for El Teniente, which was the Pipa Norte sector in 2004. From there we have built a relationship between two companies, we understand each other very well, and we trust in the joint capacities that we have developed.”

David Hallett, Vice President, Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “We are excited to continue our journey in automation and digitalisation at Codelco’s El Teniente mine to help increase safety and productivity for their operations. This order will be delivered as a turnkey solution composed of all elements of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ offering for equipment, digital technologies and aftermarket. Sandvik strives to be the number one productivity partner for our customers and this order and delivery will embody all elements of this.”

Back in February 2021, Sandvik said it would deliver its AutoMine Fleet system to automate a new fleet of Sandvik LHDs running at Codelco’s Pacifico Superior and Pilar Norte GTI operations, part of the El Teniente underground mine.

BQE Water and Codelco partner on Sulf-IX, BioSulphide testing in Chile

BQE Water Inc says it has entered into a contract with Codelco to demonstrate its Sulf-IX™ technology for sulphate removal and BioSulphide® process for copper recovery at multiple sites in Chile.

Under the contract, BQE Water will design, supply and operate pilot plants for sulphate removal and copper recovery at Codelco’s existing operations in Chile over the next 18 months.

Karin Schulz, Project Manager of the Innovation team at Codelco, said: “An important factor in the open innovation model that Codelco is promoting consists of searching and testing technologies from the ecosystem that allows us to face and solve our challenges together with those actors who have the experience, knowledge and necessary technologies. This is how the tests of the proposed BQE Water technologies are part of a pilot-level technological evaluation in-situ that during 2022 we will carry out in our divisions. In the case of obtaining positive results, they will make available new technologies for water treatment for the future of our operations.”

David Kratochvil, President & CEO of BQE Water, added: “We are honoured to be selected by Codelco, one of the world’s top metal producers, to help solve difficult water treatment issues and are excited for the opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of our Sulf-IX and BioSulphide technologies at their sites in Chile.”

Sulphates are a form of salt produced from a wide range of industrial activities, including mining. At high concentrations, sulphates can impart taste and odour in drinking water and cause digestive disorders in humans. It is also harmful to aquatic life and negatively impacts crop yields and domesticated mammal reproduction. This has led to increased environmental regulation for dissolved sulphates globally.

Developed by BQE Water in the late 2000s and subsequently successfully demonstrated on an industrial scale at an active mine in the US in the mid 2010s, the Sulf-IX process removes sulphate from mine water while generating a high purity solid gypsum by-product for potential re-use, BQE Water said. The process achieves water recoveries greater than 98% and does not generate any liquid brine waste.

“At copper mines with long operating histories, it is not uncommon to see economically significant quantities of copper present in mine wastewater,” the company said. “BQE Water’s BioSulphide and ChemSulphide® processes enable selective and cost-effective recovery of copper in the form of high-grade copper sulphide concentrates that are blended sinto metal concentrates produced by the mines.”

Since commercialising these technologies in the mid 2000s, BQE Water says it has successfully implemented half a dozen large-scale metal recovery plants treating mine wastewater at sites around the world.

Metso Outotec gears up for next generation of mining IPCC applications

A significant product launch in the in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) space was announced in parallel with the headline-grabbing co-operation agreement signed by Metso Outotec and FAM GmbH in June.

On the same day the two companies shook hands on a global non-exclusive pact to deliver integrated end-to-end solutions for IPCC and tailings management plants in mining, Metso Outotec, in a separate announcement, highlighted its Foresight™ semi-mobile primary gyratory (SMPG) station.

The SMPG station, which features the Superior™ MKIII primary gyratory crusher and patented SmartStation technology for “optimal processing”, is arguably the piece of the IPCC puzzle Metso Outotec has been missing.

Lokotrack® crushing plants have a solid reputation but only have capacities up to 3,000 t/h – one of the larger installations being a Lokotrack L200 at the Altay Polimetally copper operation in Kazakhstan. Such capacities work for most fully mobile IPCC installations, which tend to come with the highest complexity and are, therefore, a rare proposition, but semi-mobile hard-rock installations normally call for a much higher throughput.

This is where the SMPG station, with a maximum 15,000 t/h throughput capacity when equipped with the Superior MKIII PG 60110 primary gyratory crusher, fits the bill.

This station, when equipped with SmartStation technology, allows automated material size control and reduced wear, downtime and plant height, according to the company. It is also advertised as offering an up to 30% higher capacity on the same crusher size and 70% reduced downtime with the Superior MKIII primary gyratory technology, plus up to 30% power savings with patented Energy Saving Idlers. Maintainability is also boosted through improved crusher access and plant area isolation.

The station was included as part of an integrated IPCC solution launch from Metso Outotec that consists of crushing, conveying and stacking equipment, combined with IPCC planning and lifecycle services.

Leif Berndt, Director, IPCC at Metso Outotec, acknowledged that the SMPG is the core addition to this refreshed IPCC portfolio, but believes the company has already displayed its IPCC expertise in “a number” of large capacity (20,000 t/h) crushing and conveying system deployments in iron ore and copper applications in South America. It also recently sold a Foresight SMPG equipped with a MKIII 60110 primary gyratory to Codelco for its Radomiro Tomic operation, in Chile.

“In terms of crushing and conveying, we have carried out these building blocks to the same large capacities as others that call themselves the incumbents in this market,” he told IM. “With the new and experienced planning team we have in our Düsseldorf facility, we now have the in-pit development around those solutions to prove this.”

Metso Outotec recently sold a Foresight SMPG equipped with a MKIII 60110 primary gyratory to Codelco for its Radomiro Tomic operation, in Chile

He expanded on the topic when discussing the ability to address the higher capacity IPCC segment with the SMPG: “It is one thing to look at it from the instantaneous, hourly, or shift throughput perspective; it is another thing to look at it from the design of the whole system, the plant and the mine planning to come to the customer with a workable solution that will produce, over the year, the tonnes required.

“You then need to sustain those numbers by having the right planning, system and service to sustain the crusher’s performance.

“That is where the true success for the customer is.”

Berndt says the company has all this in its offering, asserting that Metso Outotec should be considered a leading market player in the IPCC sector.

“It is quite simple: we are the number one in large capacity primary gyratory crushers; we are also the number one in service,” he said. “That covers, with technology and services, two very important aspects for a successful IPCC operation.

“We now have a very experienced IPCC team in Düsseldorf, and we are leveraging the engineering and product development group in Sorocaba, Brazil, to be closer to the markets east of the Atlantic. With that, we have the right team for planning, engineering and project delivery, the right technologies and services driving availability and, hence, productivity.”

That is even before mentioning the tie-up with FAM, which will allow Metso Outotec to play a significant role in end-to-end solutions across the IPCC space thanks to the inclusion of FAM spreaders and crawler-mounted conveyor bridges for waste IPCC applications and dry stacking of tailings.

Such a collaboration shouldn’t surprise anyone in this space.

Metso Outotec has been open – and remains open – to partnering with other OEMs for IPCC systems, evidenced by an agreement with Komatsu that sees Komatsu sizers fitted on Lokotrack systems for soft-rock applications.

“Technologies that are delivering advancements in sustainability, productivity and maintainability that are complementary to our offering, which we don’t own ourselves, are always interesting to us,” Berndt said.

Ready at the right time

Metso Outotec appears to have got its ducks in a row at exactly the right time as, with a strong environmental tailwind behind it, the IPCC market is on the up.

The need to electrify operations and reduce reliance on fossil fuels in line with ambitious decarbonisation targets is leading more and more miners to considering an element of in-pit work at their operations.

Greenfield mines are working on tradeoffs in the study phase to pit conventional truck and shovel against the use of more conveyors and in-pit crushing equipment, while brownfield operations are getting the mine models out again to see if an element of the operation can be reconfigured to make the most of fixed, semi-mobile or fully-mobile IPCC systems.

Berndt said many clients decide to go for modularised, configurable and semi-mobile solutions for ease of construction and assembly away from the run-of-mine (ROM) pad to improve scheduling. Such a configuration could allow parallel development of, for instance, crusher pocket development and the ROM pad.

Also, when it comes to a greenfield project, the cost to “buy yourself the option of relocating the plant”, when compared with the capital associated with installing a stationary plant, is, on many occasions, “insignificant”, according to Berndt.

“As a result, customers decide to ‘buy’ that option and, when the pit develops in the future, relocate the plant,” he said. “That, in itself, is a strong driver in the IPCC market.”

The tie-up with FAM will allow Metso Outotec to play a significant role in end-to-end solutions across the IPCC space thanks to the inclusion of FAM spreaders and crawler-mounted conveyor bridges (pictured, courtesy of FAM) for waste IPCC applications and dry stacking of tailings

Adapting existing hard-rock operations designed for truck and shovel operations by incorporating large capacity semi-mobile IPCC systems with crushing plant locations inside the pit remains a complex task from a planning perspective, but Berndt has seen an increase in interest in this option too.

There are mine engineering professionals in the Metso Outotec Düsseldorf office that have specific experience of adapting operations for IPCC solutions, he said.

“However, that being said, we all know conveyors don’t have wheels, and the cost of deploying or redeploying these conveyors requires pit ramp developments or pit pushbacks earlier in the mine process and, hence, earlier cash-out on overburden compared to a truck shovel development.”

The economic tradeoff that has led to such developments is starting to change in favour of IPCC solutions.

“In the mine investment decision and methodology selection, the net present value impact of ‘early overburden’, or pulling forward the push-back phases in conical pits to advance ramps for conveyor access, was formerly only offset against the lower production cost, which drove the payback point to a 150-200 m vertical lift component level,” Berndt said. “Carbon credits for energy saved against early cash-out will shift this payback point upward, increasing demand for IPCC solutions.”

Which is why Metso Outotec’s reinvigorated IPCC pursuit is considered timely.

More and more mining companies are becoming comfortable with carbon accounting and factoring it into project studies – whether these studies are distributed internally or externally. They are cognisant of the fact it may be a voluntary addition in the Excel spreadsheet formula today, but, in the years ahead, it will become a requirement of doing business.

“Metso Outotec, for example, has sustainability targets included in its recent renewal of a financial instrument,” Berndt said. “Access to funding and the cost, thereof, will increasingly depend exactly on that.”

Yet, this doesn’t spell the end of truck and shovel in the IPCC mining operations Metso Outotec is likely to serve, according to Berndt.

He sees an electrified future where the two elements will play happily together in the pit.

“You need the flexibility of trucks, whether that be from a hydrogen-, battery- or trolley-powered source at some point in time, to allow for the required selectivity and blending in the pit,” he said. “Given that the deployment of conveyors is limited by very short phases and the space/geometry of a typical hard-rock mine, it is not simply a convey or truck situation; it is a matter of using truck and convey to find the best interface.

“Obviously, the more you can take out of the vertical lift component by conveyors, the better, but, in the context of a majority horizontal haul, trucks are likely to be a lot more efficient.

“The developments now happening are the truck interfacing or delivering onto the conveyors in the pit and the ability to make that a more flexible process.”

Armed with Lokotrack solutions for a fully mobile IPCC solution, its family of FIT™ and Foresight™ modular crushing stations, the new SMPG, and a strong planning, engineering and service offering, Metso Outotec says it has all the necessary elements to deliver the mining sector’s next generation of IPCC systems.

Metso Outotec wins major IPCC order from Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic mine

Metso Outotec says it has signed an agreement with Codelco in Chile to design and supply a Foresight™ semi-mobile primary gyratory (SMPG) crushing plant for Codelco’s Radomiro Tomic operation.

Equipped with a Superior™ MKIII 60-110 primary gyratory crusher, apron feeder discharge and dust collection, the Foresight™ SMPG meets the highest demands in productivity and sustainability, the company says. It is part of Metso Outotec’s in-pit crush and convey solutions (IPCC) portfolio.

Metso Outotec launched the SMPG in June alongside this IPCC offering and the announcement of a plan to cooperate with FAM on end-to-end solutions for IPCC and tailings management plants to the mining industry.

Back in March, Codelco was granted permission to prolong the life of the existing Phase I hydrometallurgical plant and sulphide mining operations at Radomiro Tomic until 2030. The original project considered the end of the operations associated with this stage of the project in 2022, however, thanks to the incorporation of new mining resources, it will be possible to extend it for another seven years from 2023.

Codelco said at this point that the exploitation of these resources requires the relocation of the current primary crushing of oxides and sulphides, which will require additional investments.

Metso Outotec said the value of the recent order is not disclosed, but it has been booked in the Minerals business September quarter orders received.

Markku Teräsvasara, President, Minerals, said: “We have extended our Planet Positive offering in June of this year, launching our IPCC solutions, combining the right team, technology and services to redefine productivity in this space. We highly appreciate Codelco’s continued trust in us to deliver significant crush and convey infrastructure to meet Codelco’s demanding operational and sustainability goals.”

Eduardo Nilo, President, South America Market Area, added: “We are honoured Codelco has chosen us to deliver this significant project in Radomiro Tomic and extend the fleet of Superior primary gyratory crushers at that site. With more than 1,300 employees and integrated fabrication of wear materials in Chile, we service our fleet of crushers holistically
and look forward to supporting this plant as well.”

Metso Outotec’s integrated modular in-pit crush and convey solutions consist of crushing, conveying and stacking equipment combined with IPCC planning and life cycle services. The offering is designed to ensure the highest productivity, energy efficiency, and maintainability, it says.

Metso Outotec IPCC solutions, with their improved energy efficiency, are part of the company’s Planet Positive portfolio. IPCC operations also reduce haulage related energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Master Drilling’s Mobile Tunnel Borer heads to Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine

Master Drilling is readying its Mobile Tunnel Borer (MTB) technology for a contract at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena mine in South Africa.

The company, which revealed the news during its interim results presentation, said on-boarding for this project deployment was underway, with the start of “decline excavation” due by the end of the year.

Anglo American Platinum said in its own interim results recently that it was working on feasibility studies on the future of Mogalakwena, with completion of these studies expected at the end of 2021. Decisions on the pathway forward are expected shortly after this, however, one of the current key milestones at the asset includes progressing an underground exploration decline.

Master Drilling Executive Director, Koos Jordaan, said during the presentation that the contract with Anglo American Platinum is for a “turnkey operation” with Master Drilling providing capabilities in terms of construction, logistics and project management, in addition to its normal excavation services.

The MTB is a modular horizontal cutting machine equipped with full-face cutter head with disc cutters adapted from traditional tunnel boring machines. Unlike these traditional machines, it is designed to work both on inclines and declines, with the ability to navigate around corners and construct 5.5 m diameter decline access tunnels.

One MTB unit was previously scheduled to carry out a 1.4 km project at Northam Platinum’s Eland platinum group metals operation in South Africa, however this was cancelled in March 2020 due to the pandemic. This deployment followed testing of an MTB unit in soft rock at a quarry just outside of Rome, Italy, in 2018.

Alongside news of this latest MTB deployment, Master Drilling said in its results that it was studying the potential to deploy two of these MTB units in tandem for twin-decline access as part of the technology’s second-generation developments.

“We can already see the benefit of utilising two of these machines to do a twin-decline access to an orebody,” Jordaan said.

Looking to vertical developments, Master Drilling reported that it had received shareholder funding approval from the Industrial Development Corporation for the latest work on its Shaft Boring System (SBS), designed to sink 4.5 m diameter shafts in hard rock down to 1,500 m depths.

IM witnessed the main cutting mechanism of what was previously billed as being a 45-m long, 450-t machine at the back end of 2019.

The company has since said it will introduce a “smaller scope system” as part of its introduction to the industry.

While busy on the latest slimmed down design of the SBS, Master Drilling has signed a letter of intent with a prospective South Africa project that could see a machine start sinking activities in the first half of 2022, Jordaan said.

Outside of these developments, Master Drilling reported on several contract awards across the globe, including a three-year raiseboring extension with AngloGold Ashanti in Brazil, a joint venture agreement with Besalco Construction to work on Codelco’s Chuquicamata copper mine, an executed contract with Glencore’s Raglan mine in Canada, an agreement with Zimplats in Zimbabwe and a “long-term contract” on the Khoemacau copper-silver project in Botswana.

Monadelphous adds to mining work with BHP, Rio and Codelco contracts

Monadelphous Group Ltd says it has secured a number of new construction and maintenance contracts in the resources sector totalling approximately A$200 million ($146 million).

In Queensland, Australia, Monadelphous has been awarded a new three-year contract with Queensland Alumina Ltd to continue to provide general mechanical maintenance services at its operations in Gladstone. The company has also secured a 10-month extension to its existing contract with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance for provision of dragline shutdown and maintenance services to its operations in the Bowen Basin.

Monadelphous has secured a number of contracts in the iron ore sector in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This includes two contracts with BHP under its existing WAIO Site Engineering Panel Agreement. The first is for the refurbishment of cells and rotating equipment on BHP’s Nelson Point Car Dumper 1, with work expected to be completed in the December quarter of 2021, and secondly, an extension to the haul road at the Jimblebar mine, with work expected to be completed in the June quarter of 2022.

A contract has also been secured with Rio Tinto for construction associated with the Marandoo Dewatering Sump Project, with work expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2022.

In Chile, Monadelphous’ maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured a construction contract with Codelco for work associated with the development of a new underground section of the El Teniente copper mine in Rancagua. Work is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023.

The company acquired a majority stake in Buildtek back in 2019.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri, said these new contracts and extensions continued to demonstrate the company’s solid track record of delivering for its customers.

“We are pleased to have secured this work and look forward to continuing to build on our valued long-term customer relationships,” he said.

Charge On Innovation Challenge sparks more miner interest

The organisers of the Charge On Innovation Challenge have reported an overwhelming response to the preliminary phase, which closed on July 31, with 21 mining companies joining as patrons, over 350 companies from across 19 industries registering their interest as vendors, and more than 80 organisations submitting expressions of interest (EOI).

The challenge, a global competition, is expected to drive technology innovators across all industries to develop new concepts and solutions for large-scale haul truck electrification systems aimed at significantly cutting emissions from surface mining. It also aims to demonstrate an emerging market for charging solutions in mining, accelerate commercialisation of solutions and integrate innovations from other industries into the mining sector.

BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale, facilitated by Austmine, launched the Charge On Innovation Challenge in May of this year, initiating the EOI process on May 18. Since the initial launch, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden, Thiess, Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Freeport McMoRan, Gold Fields and Yancoal came forward as patrons by early July.

The latest release has highlighted another nine miners to join as patrons. This includes Barrick Gold, CITIC Pacific Mining, Evolution Mining, Harmony Gold, Mineral Resources Ltd, Newcrest Mining, OZ Minerals, South32 and Syncrude.

The patrons, supported by Austmine, will assess the proposals over the next month and select a shortlist of vendors who will then formally pitch their challenge solutions.

At least one of these proposals has come from ABB, which confirmed earlier this month that it had submitted its ideas for the challenge using its mine electrification, traction and battery system eand charging infrastructure expertise.

At the end of the pitch phase, the challenge patrons will look to select the most desirable charging concepts identified as having broad industry appeal and application, as well as providing a standard geometry that enables chargers to service trucks from different manufacturers. The first concepts could be ready for site trials in the next few years, according to the organisers.

BHP’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project Lead, Scott Davis, said: “The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry in seeking solutions to decarbonise mining fleets. The challenge received interest from companies based in over 20 countries, showing the truly global reach of the opportunity to help reduce haul truck emissions.”

John Mulcahy, Rio Tinto’s lead for the Charge On Innovation Challenge, said: “Twenty-one mining companies, all focused on lowering carbon emissions, have joined as patrons. Together we’re encouraging technology innovators to help us introduce large-scale haul truck electrification solutions. The sooner we bring these technologies to market, the sooner we can introduce them to our fleet, and reduce emissions.”

Vale’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project lead, Mauricio Duarte, said: “We are very happy with the results of the first phase of the project. It´s still early to talk about the success of the challenge, but it is clear that the industry has reached a new level: we worked together on a common sustainability agenda and we will work collectively to reach our goals, gaining safety and speed on our way to low carbon mining.”

Finning captures large Cat equipment order from Codelco’s Andina, Chuquicamata mines

Caterpillar’s relationship with Codelco in Chile continues to strengthen with the OEM, through its Finning dealer, set to deliver mining support equipment and underground loaders to two of the copper miners’ operations.

The orders, revealed in Finning’s June quarter 2021 results, contributed to a building equipment backlog in mining and construction registered during the three-month period in South America.

New equipment sales were up 48% year-on-year in the June quarter in South America and up 14% from the March quarter of this year, driven by improved market activity, mostly in construction, Finning noted.

Finning’s backlog in South America included the Codelco orders.

First was a recently awarded order for Caterpillar support equipment from Codelco’s Andina mine, valued at C$40 million ($32 million), for delivery in the first half of 2022. In addition, the company plans to provide 27 Caterpillar R3000H underground loaders to Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine, with 10 of these machines included in its June quarter backlog.

The 20 t class R3000H was launched in 2012 and remains Cat’s largest model. It replaced the R2900 XTRA, providing added value for hard rock mine operators with a significant increase in truck loading capacity, being able to three pass load 60 t class trucks, and having enhanced digging and breakout performance, faster speeds on grade, a strengthened front frame, and an available Ventilation Reduction Package. Since then there have been a number of deployments of the LHD but there are only a few underground mines in the world with a potential requirement for large numbers of loaders of this class at one operation. One of these is Codelco’s new Chuquicamata Underground blockcave copper mine. This is one of the largest single large LHD orders ever made and will help the mine achieve its intended production rate of 140,000 t/d which is a rate on a par with sister operation and the world’s largest existing underground copper mine, El Teniente. Chuqui Underground includes four levels of production; a 7.5 km main access tunnel, five clean air injection ramps and two air extraction shafts. It will produce 366,000 t of fine copper and more than 18,000 t of fine molybdenum per year & extending Chuqui’s minelife to 2060.

Overall, Finning registered June quarter revenue of C$1.8 billion and net revenue of C$1.7 billion, up 30% and 28%, respectively, from a year earlier when COVID-19-related reductions in market activity hit.

All regions delivered a strong quarter, demonstrating operating leverage in a recovering market, Finning noted. June quarter EBIT as a percentage of net revenue was 9.3% in Canada, 9.8% in South America and 5.3% in the UK & Ireland, representing a step-up in profitability levels for all regions, the company said.

The company’s consolidated equipment backlog at June 30, 2021, increased to C$1.4 billion, from C$1.2 billion at March 31, 2021, with order intake in Canada and South America outpacing deliveries in the quarter, Finning said.

“We are pleased with our strong execution and results in the second (June) quarter,” Scott Thomson, President and CEO of Finning International, said. “With a reduced cost base and more efficient operations and supply chain, we are confident in our improved earnings capacity, which puts us firmly on track to achieve the mid-cycle targets we set out during our Investor Day in June.”