Tag Archives: Codelco

Monadelphous Group banks engineering work with BHP, Rio and Codelco

Monadelphous Group Ltd has secured several new construction and maintenance contracts in the resources sector totalling around A$215 million ($163 million).

Included within this slate of new work is a contract for smelter campaign maintenance works at the BHP owned Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia. Monadelphous said work will commence immediately and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

Monadelphous has also been awarded a two-year extension to its existing maintenance services contract at Olympic Dam. The contract scope includes civil, structural, mechanical, building maintenance and electrical services, as well as the addition of underground rail maintenance services.

In the iron ore sector in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Monadelphous has been awarded several contracts, including several sustaining capital contracts under its panel agreements with BHP and Rio Tinto; and a contract with Rio for the provision of construction and support services associated with the Gudai-Darri iron ore project, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

In Chile, the company’s maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured a number of new contracts, including a three-year contract with Codelco for the operations and maintenance of water infrastructure at the Chuquicamata underground mine in Calama. Buildtek has been providing these services on this site since 2018.

In addition, the engineering company has secured two new contracts with Codelco for maintenance activities associated with the concentrator plant at El Teniente mine in Rancagua; and a contract with BHP Minera Escondida for the construction of modularised pump stations and associated infrastructure of the Escondida copper mine in Coloso.

Finally, Monadelphous, in collaboration with global heavy lifting services company Fagioli, has secured a contract with NMT International (Australia) to deliver specialist heavy lifting and haulage services at the Iron Bridge magnetite project, a joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd and Formosa Steel IB. The strategic collaboration with Fagioli enables Monadelphous’ specialist Heavy Lift business to increase capacity and broaden capability for the Australian resources and energy markets, it said.

Sandvik to automate new LHD fleet at Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it will 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 in Chile.

This partnership, Sandvik says, supports Codelco’s vision to create one of the most sophisticated mines in the world.

AutoMine Fleet is a highly advanced automation system for a fleet of Sandvik underground loaders and trucks sharing the same automated production area. It provides automatic mission control and automatic traffic management for the equipment fleet, while system operators remotely supervise the process.

The system will enable Codelco to operate its new fleet of Sandvik LH517i 17 t and Sandvik LH621i 21 t loaders autonomously at the El Teniente mine, one of the world’s largest underground copper mines. The project implementation started in December and is expected to be completed by mid-2021.

Codelco’s objective is to dramatically increase the productivity, safety and efficiency of its operations with AutoMine, and this project is a continuation of Codelco’s 10-year strategic program to prolong the life of its existing mines, Sandvik says.

The two companies started their automation journey together at El Teniente with the first-ever AutoMine Loading system installation in 2004. The AutoMine system is already in operation at Diablo Regimiento and Panel 2, the other two blocks of the El Teniente mine.

Juan Mariscal, Senior Business Manager, Codelco, said: “Being able to use mining automation technology that is well proven, as well as working with a supplier that understands our needs and is capable of adapting to our operating philosophy, are key drivers for Codelco’s operations. That is why we have chosen our long-term partner Sandvik to go on this journey with us. Above all, Sandvik’s enhanced local presence and expertise will ensure successful implementation of these projects and strong support.”

Codelco is the number one copper producer in the world and is owned by the state of Chile. It controls about 19% of the world’s copper reserves and is also the second-biggest producer of molybdenum worldwide.

Riku Pulli, President, Rock Drills and Technologies Division, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “We are proud to continue supporting Codelco on its automation and digitalisation journey at El Teniente mine, making its operations smarter, safer, more productive and sustainable through digitalisation.”

Codelco to extend life of Salvador Division with Rajo Inca copper project

The Codelco board has approved the development of the $1.383 billion Rajo Inca structural project, part of its Salvador Division in Chile’s Atacama.

The figure is 33% less than the investment contemplated by Codelco in 2014 thanks to the use and optimisation of existing infrastructure within the division, especially in the mine areas and the tailings deposit. Ongoing maintenance of the concentrator and hydrometallurgical plants has also helped bring down this figure.

The savings were also achieved through the planned reuse of mining equipment. When it enters operations, Rajo Inca will require 25-30 300-ton capacity trucks, hydraulic shovels and large tonnage front end loaders. Most of this equipment will come from other Codelco divisions, the company says.

The structural project includes a 22-month pre-stripping period and a seven-month ramp up of the concentrator plant. Commissioning will begin in the second half of 2022, with production reaching a annualised rate of 90,000 t/y of copper in the first half of 2023.

After the favourable Environmental Qualification Resolution obtained in February 2020 and the approval of the funds by the board of directors, the structural project will mean a rebirth for Salvador, as it will become a more modern, “technologised”, sustainable and productive operation, the company said. Its development will add 47 more years of life to this camp.

The Salvador Division has operated since 1959 with underground mining and three small open pits. With the latest investment, production will increase by 50% from 60,000 t/y to 95,000 t/y of fine copper.

Autonomous loading, hauling set to sparkle at Codelco’s Diamante

One of the three underground projects to make up the El Teniente New Mine Level development, in Chile, is set to use state-of-the-art autonomous technologies, Codelco’s Javier Cornejo told attendees at Massmin 2020 today.

In a presentation titled, ‘Design of drawpoint spacing at Diamante Project – El Teniente Mine’, Cornejo confirmed that the company planned to use 13 yd³ (9.9 m³) LHDs and 60 t haul trucks in autonomous mode at the copper project, with only assisted loading required on the LHDs.

The project, which will use conventional panel caving with hydraulic fracturing, is due to have a production capacity of 35,000 t/d, with each autonomous loader extracting 152 t/h to ore passes and each haul truck transporting 208 t/h to 420 t/h ore bins. From here, the ore will head to the processing plant via 830 t/h autonomous rail haulage.

Diamante’s development will involve 40 km of horizontal development in total, along with 2 km of vertical development. It also contemplates a new access tunnel to El Teniente. In more detail, Diamante will include the main undercut at level 2060, production level (LHD transport from 102 drawpoints to ore passes – in total 1.4 Mm³) at 2038, ventilation level at 2020, truck haulage level at 2000 (trucks to ore bins), feeding the main existing mine rail haulage FFCC T8 system at 1980 level via two crosscuts.

It is one of three underground projects that make up the El Teniente New Mine Level project. Diamante and the other two – Andesita and Andes Norte – will help access the deepest levels of the mine and extend operations by 50 years, according to Codelco.

In the company’s most recent September quarter report, Codelco said the El Teniente New Mine Level project was 62.6% advanced. Due to COVID-19, the project was halted on July 4, with work restarting on Andesita and Diamante in August.

Codelco’s Board of Directors recently approved $730 million and $513 million investments in Diamante and Andesita, respectively.

ABB, TAKRAF complete commissioning of Chuquicamata conveyor system

ABB, working with TAKRAF, has completed commissioning and testing of the world’s highest-powered gearless conveyor drive system at the Codelco-owned Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile.

ABB has provided engineering design, gearless conveyor drives (GCD), electrical equipment for power supply, energy distribution and automation of a new underground and overland conveyor system at one of the world’s largest copper mines.

Chuquicamata is currently transitioning from open-pit to underground mining, with the conveyor system, commissioned in just four months, part of a new underground project that is expected to extend operations for the next 40 years.

Project management and engineering for the full electrical, control and instrumentation scope was led by ABB in Germany, with long spells on site in northern Chile to work side-by-side with TAKRAF to equip the site’s new underground operation with a large conveying system that overcomes an altitude difference of 1,200 m and covers a distance of almost 13 km, ABB said.

The three principle 11,000 t/h conveyors feature GCDs equipped with large ABB AC synchronous motors with a rated power of 5 MW each, resulting in a motor shaft torque of about 900 kNm. With every line in constant use, high availability and low maintenance are essential. Designed with a minimum of transfer stations, just one was required underground, saving significant project cost, ABB said.

Based on continuous conveying technology, the infrastructure is completely truck-less, eliminating the need for 120 large haul trucks. This results in saving around 130 million litres/y of gasoline consumption, bringing the carbon emissions from 340,000 t/y down to 100,000 t/y. It is also the first transportation system in the world to employ premium steel cable belt technology, ST10000, for use on uphill tunnel conveyors, according to ABB.

ABB high power motors in position

“This mega project achieves a number of firsts, from the system’s installed drive power to the application of the ST10000 conveyor belt,” Marc Hollinger, TAKRAF Project Manager, said. “With this project, we firmly establish TAKRAF as one of the world’s only providers capable of delivering a mega project of this nature incorporating advanced technologies that push the boundaries of what has been done before. This is a complex project of the highest magnitude demanding global cooperation between internal and external parties.”

Ulf Richter, Global Product Manager for Belt Conveyor Systems at ABB, said: “This is a new milestone in underground applications for continuous mining. It is the highest drive power ever installed on a conveyor and uses a wide range of features for data acquisition, equipment assessment and process optimisation.

“In piloting this gearless drive application with TAKRAF, we have overcome tremendous technical and logistical challenges due to underground situations, elevation change and capacity requirements.”

ABB liquid-cooled MV voltage-source frequency converters, together with large synchronous motors, deliver a decrease in active and reactive power consumption at the operation. This is highly energy efficient, and without additional network filters, it says.

ABB’s Mining Conveyor Control Program ensures smooth belt operation and safe synchronisation between high power motors and high power hydraulic brakes, necessary for secure operation of steep uphill conveyors. The drive systems also work without mechanic backstops, ABB said.

A novel embedding concept, developed jointly by TAKRAF and ABB, enables straightforward installation and alignment of the GCD motors, saving installation time and longer deployment of maintenance teams. This was considered a major benefit compared with existing GCDs in cantilevered construction, ABB said. The concept also meant motors were 100% factory assembled and tested. They can also be mechanically disconnected from the drive pulley quickly so operations can continue if drive failure occurs. The total installed drive power for the entire system, including multiple feeder conveyors, totals 58 MW, of which there are 11 x 5 MW gearless synchronous motors.

ABB has also installed ABB Ability™ Ventilation Optimizer at Chuquicamata reducing carbon emissions and providing clean air to workers in line with the strict health, safety and environment requirements.

Tailings, waste management automation solutions up next for RCT in South America

Having made a name for itself in South America innovating on projects for Codelco, Antofagasta Minerals, Anglo American, BHP, and many others, RCT says it is now delivering solutions for miners in the region in tailings and waste management situations.

The Australia-based company is working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster® range of automation and control solutions, it said.

RCT’s experience in South America dates back two decades.

It all began with the company’s foundation solution, Muirhead® protection systems. These were requested by a client wanting to get more longevity from their bulldozers and loaders which were machine re-builds, according to the company.

Since this initial project, the company has helped deliver fit-for-purpose solutions, encompassing all its brands, to big name clients.

“The South American mining region, in general, is well-known for its copper and gold mines, all of which are located in areas exposed to extreme weather conditions (the heat and the cold) in addition to some being positioned in high altitude locations, making for some precarious working conditions for miners,” RCT said.

“Therefore, RCT’s premier automation and control solutions – ControlMaster have and continue to be in demand in both surface and underground mining operations in the region. While RCT’s Line-of-Sight and Teleremote options dominate the surface mining market, the full automation range is in strong demand for underground mining operations.”

This journey for these solutions began in the early 2000s after RCT completed an audit for ControlMaster Line-of-Sight controllers at BHP’s Escondida mine, in Chile. The company wanted a proven solution to safeguard bulldozer operators manning the run of mine pad feeders and crushers. RCT was able to retrofit the mobile machines with the technology that removed the operators from the cab of the machine and allowed them to operate it from a safe location – ultimately solving the issue for the client, the company said.

By 2008, RCT collaborated with Hexagon Mining to engineer and deliver a bespoke solution to Codelco’s Andina mine that allowed the miner to operate safer and for longer in the lead up to the winter shut down, reducing the number of days they had to stop work. This R&D project saw the delivery of a ControlMaster Teleremote solution, paired with a Muirhead Speed Limiter and combined with Hexagon Mining’s MineOps Geofencing systems installed on a Komatsu WD600 wheel dozer.

It was RCT’s project at Codelco’s El Teniente in 2018 that cemented its reputation in the region, the company says.

RCT’s ControlMaster Automation solution helped El Teniente successfully and safely mine ore-rich mud in what, it says, is believed to be a world-first mining method in these conditions. This feat was facilitated by RCT’s specialised department, RCT Custom, which delivered the bespoke solution to minimise the risk involved in mining in these conditions.

This project required RCT to retrofit its ControlMaster solutions that were previously installed on Codelco’s mobile machines operating at its Andina surface mine site before integrating the refurbished equipment, installing them on working production loaders (Sandvik LH517s) into the existing mine network.

“The solution removed the operator from the cab of the loader and allowed them to control the machine from the comfort and safety of an Automation Station located in an underground control room of the mine,” RCT said. “RCT’s solution allowed El Teniente to recover mud ore reserves that were previously deemed too dangerous to access due to the mud flow into these areas. In addition to this, the loaders were able to tram faster, avoid walls and obstacles after being automated, which significantly increased productivity and reduced machined damage and unplanned downtime.”

RCT’s Commercial Executive, Phil Goode, said it was this project that earned RCT a strong technical reputation.

This project was also monumental for the company as it further reiterated the need for RCT to have more of a local presence and compelled the company to open an office in Santiago, Chile, last year. The team, comprised of five multilingual staff, are working hard to support our existing and new clients in the region.

“Having a team working locally helps RCT to better function in Chile and other South American, Spanish speaking countries,” Goode said. “Technically we have always been very good, but the office allows us to understand the business culture and provide that next level of support to our clients.

“Most importantly, it allows us to provide the first rate level of customer service and after sales support we have built a solid reputation on delivering to all of our clients around the world.”

Currently RCT’s solutions are being delivered in tailings and waste management situations with the company working with various customers in the region to safeguard their operations in this field with the ControlMaster range of solutions, RCT said.

Epiroc to supply equipment, services for Codelco’s Chuquicamata underground mine

Epiroc is to deliver underground loaders, face drill rigs, rock bolting rigs and mine trucks to the Chuquicamata underground mine in northern Chile following an order from Codelco.

The large equipment order, which comes on top of the signing of a large contract for services at Codelco’s Andina mine and a large order for equipment used at its El Teniente mine, also includes several years of technical support and training. The order is valued at more than $20 million and was booked in April 2020.

Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, opened the Chuquicamata underground mine in 2019 as it looked to transition the world’s largest open-pit mine into a technologically advanced underground operation. The transformation will extend the mine life by 40 years, according to Codelco.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said the company was proud to be a key partner of Codelco “as it significantly extends the life of the Chuquicamata mine in the most productive, efficient and safe manner possible”.

Juan Mariscal, Sourcing Category Manager at Codelco, says: “Epiroc was chosen because it complied with all the technical, safety and performance requirements that Codelco demanded for the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project, while being the supplier that provided the best economic proposal for all its equipment as a whole.”

The order includes multiple units of the Scooptram ST1030 and ST18 loader, the Boomer S2 face drilling rig, the Boltec M bolting machine, and the Minetruck MT65 (pictured), the highest payload capacity underground truck in the world.

The machines will be equipped with 6th Sense solutions for automation, connectivity and information management, Epiroc says. The solutions include Epiroc’s Rig Control System, RCS, which makes the equipment ready for automation and remote control, and Epiroc’s Certiq system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real-time.

Delivery of the equipment will take place later this year.

Codelco to suspend work on Chuqui Underground in response to COVID-19

Codelco says it will temporarily suspend some of its projects as part of its measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

This will affect construction on the Chuquicamata Underground Mine project, which was previously expected to produce 320,000 t/y of fine copper by around 2026; the early works of Rajo Inca, a 70,000 t/y copper concentrate project; and the assembly works of Traspaso Andina, which will see a new transfer system installed at the Andina division.

The decision will strengthen the health security of the divisions since the number of workers on site will be reduced to a minimum, and air and land transfers will be also be scaled back. Codelco said many of its project workers come from different regions of the country, hence the reason to reduce transfers.

The suspension will be carried out gradually, starting March 25, and will last 15 days, Codelco said. In all affected projects, limited staff will be retained to safeguard the security of the facilities and equipment.

Codelco said the measures will have no impact on production of the respective divisions – which continue to operate with increased safeguards – but will see the number of workers circulating decrease.

It added that it will continue to evaluate the implementation of new measures that protect the health of all workers while also maintaining operational continuity.

AGQ Labs to monitor and control water for Chile miners

AGQ Labs says it has been awarded three-year water control and monitoring plan contracts with MLCC Caserones and Codelco, in Chile.

Dedicated to providing laboratory analysis, advanced analysis and specialised chemical consultancy services, AGQ will service the two contracts from its new branch in Copiapó, northern Chile.

MLCC (SCM Minera Lumina Copper Chile) is owned by Pan Pacific Copper Co and Mitsui & Co SCM. It owns Caserones (pictured), a deposit in the Atacama Region of Chile, which is 162 km from Copiapó.

Codelco, meanwhile, is currently the biggest copper producer in the world by production, owning a number of mines in northern Chile.

AGC said the inauguration of its new Copiapó branch, which will provide operational coverage to other clients in the area, sees AGQ Labs Chile take a new step, “consolidating itself as a leading supplier to the Chilean mining industry”.

ICMM looks to align mining industry on cleaner, safer vehicles

When the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) launched its Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) program just over a year ago, some industry participants may not have realised how much progress could be made so quickly by taking a collaborative approach.

The ICMM has proven influential across the mining industry since its foundation in 2002 in areas such as corporate and social governance, environmental responsibility, and stakeholder relations, yet it has rarely, until this point, engaged directly as an industry group with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and service providers.

Close to 12 months after being established, it’s clear to see the program and the council itself has been successful in bridging a divide.

It has been able to corral a significant portion of the mining and mining OEM market players into a major industry discussion on core focus areas set to dominate the sector for the next two decades.

Now 27 of the world’s leading mining companies and 16 of the best-known truck and mining equipment suppliers are collaborating in a non-competitive space “to accelerate the development of a new generation of mining vehicles that will make vehicles cleaner and safer,” the ICMM says.

The ICSV program was created to address three of the most critical safety, health and environment performance issues in the ICMM’s mission towards zero harm and decarbonisation. Achieving this goal would involve the industry introducing and adopting the next generation of equipment to respond to the challenges.

More specifically, the program aims to:

  • Introduce greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040;
  • Minimise the operational impact of diesel exhaust by 2025; and
  • Make collision avoidance technology (capable of eliminating vehicle related collisions) available to mining companies by 2025.

In all three, it seeks to address the industry’s innovation challenge of ‘who motivates who’ or the chicken and egg analogy, according to Sarah Bell, Director, Health, Safety and Product Stewardship for the ICMM.

“You can imagine a mining company saying, ‘we can’t adopt technology that doesn’t yet exist’ or an OEM saying, ‘we can’t invest in development because we’re getting mixed market signals’. This is, of course, why this program has been set up in the way it has,” she told IM. “Bringing both the mining company and OEMs together, they have been able to work through these normal innovation challenges and align on defining the direction of travel and critical complexity to be solved for each of the ambitions set.”

High-level participation

The list of companies the ICMM has been able to involve in this program is impressive.

It is being guided by a CEO advisory group of six; three from the mining community – Andrew Mackenzie (CEO, BHP), Mark Cutifani (CEO, Anglo American) and Nick Holland (CEO, Gold Fields) – and three from the mining equipment supply side – Denise Johnson (Group President of Resource Industries at Caterpillar), Max Moriyama (President of the Mining Business Division at Komatsu) and Henrik Ager (President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology).

On the mining company front, ICMM membership makes up around 30% of the total metal market share, with some 46% in copper, 27% in gold and 42% in iron ore. Participating OEMs and third-party technology providers, meanwhile, include the three majors above, plus Cummins, Epiroc, Wabtec Corporation (formerly GE), Hexagon Mining, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Liebherr, MacLean Engineering, MTU, Modular Mining Systems, PBE Group, Nerospec, Future Digital Communication and Miller Technology.

Bell says the high-level participation builds the “widespread confidence” needed to accelerate investment in these three key areas”, while the ICMM’s focus on the leadership side of the technology integration equation and change management has proven “absolutely key”.

She clarified: “This collaboration operates under anti-competition and anti-trust rules. Our role is to convene the parties, motivate action and promote solutions.”

The program offers a “safe space for the OEMs and members to work openly in a non-competitive environment”, she added, explaining that the aim is not to come up with “preferred technologies”, but define the “functional and operational pathways required to meet the ambitions set”.

Vehicle interaction (VI)

Some of the ambitions look easier to achieve than others.

For instance, collision avoidance and proximity detection technology has made huge strides in the last decade, with the ICMM arguing its 2025 target is like a “sprint”, compared with the “10,000 m race” that is minimising DPM underground by 2025 and the longer-term aim to introduce GHG-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

“There are regulations that require implementation of collision avoidance and proximity detection technology by the end of 2020 in South Africa,” Bell said. This will undoubtedly provide a catalyst for further developments to speed up.

The ICSV program is also leveraging the work of the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT) in its development of fundamental functional/performance requirements for operators and technology providers.

These requirements were updated and released by EMESRT in September and are known as ‘PR5A’.

Credit: Hexagon Mining

Bell delved into some detail about these requirements:

“The EMERST requirements are designed around a nine-level system that seeks to eliminate material unwanted scenarios such as – equipment to person, equipment to equipment, equipment to environment and loss of control,” she said.

“The fundamental change with this newly released set of functional requirements by EMESRT is that the mining industry users have defined the functional needs for levels 7-9 (operator awareness, advisory controls, and intervention controls). That stronger level of collaboration hasn’t necessarily been there.”

EMESRT and its guidelines have been given an expanded global platform through the ICMM’s ICSV, with the program, this year, providing the convening environment for users and technology providers to help finalise these updated requirements, according to Bell.

With all of this already in place, one could be forgiven for thinking the majority of the hard work involved with achieving the 2025 goal is done, but the working group focused on VI knows that while OEMs continue to retrofit third-party vehicle collision and avoidance systems to their machines the job is not complete.

“Let’s think about the seatbelt analogy: you don’t give buyers of vehicles a choice as to whether they want a seatbelt in their car; it just comes with the car,” Bell said.

“At the moment, by design, vehicles don’t always have this collision and avoidance systems built in, therefore there is a big opportunity for collaboration between OEMs and third-party technology providers.”

Underground DPM goals

“The DPM working group have recognised that, in the case of the DPM ambition, ‘the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed’,” Bell said.

“Bringing together the OEMs and the mining companies this year through the ICSV program has enabled the group to explore the variety of existing solutions out there today,” she added.

These existing solutions include higher-tier engines, battery-electric equipment, tethered electric machinery, fuel cell-equipped machines for narrow vein mining and solutions to remove DPMs and other emissions from the environment like Johnson Matthey’s CRT system.

And, there are numerous examples from North America – Newmont Goldcorp at Borden, and Glencore and Vale in Sudbury – South America – Codelco at El Teniente Underground – and Europe – Agnico Eagle Mines at Kittilä (Finland, pictured) – to draw from.

Bell also mentioned some examples from Australia where regulatory changes have seen miners apply existing technology and carry out changes in their work plans and maintenance practices to minimise DPM emissions.

Haulage and loading flexibility, battery charging and mine design have all come under the spotlight since these new generation of ‘green’ machines have emerged, so achieving the 2025 goal the ICSV stated is by no means a foregone conclusion.

“There remains more work to do in achieving diesel-free vehicles underground,” Bell said.

The interested parties are aware of this and the program’s DPM maturity framework is helping miners and OEMs plot a course to reaching the target, she explained.

“The DPM maturity framework promotes existing solutions available today that would enable a mining operation to reduce their DPM emissions to a level that would meet the ambition level (shown as Level 4 – transition to zero),” she said.

These frameworks are useful for starting a “change conversation”, Bell said, explaining that mining companies can assess within their organisations where they currently sit on the five-level chart and discuss internally how to move up the levels to meet their goals.

These same frameworks look beyond minimising “the operational impact” of DPM emissions underground, with Bell explaining that Level 5 of the maturity framework involves “non-DPM emitting vehicles”.

GHG-free surface mining vehicles

Even further in the distance is the longer-term target of introducing greenhouse gas emission-free surface mining vehicles by 2040.

This ambition, more than any other, is less clearly defined in terms of technological solutions across the industry.

While battery-electric solutions look like having the goods to reach DPM-free status underground with expected developments in battery technology and charging, the jury is still out on if they can create a GHG-free large-scale open-pit mining environment.

The world’s largest battery-electric haul truck – eMining’s 63-t payload eDumper (pictured) – may have proven its worth at a Ciments Vigier-owned quarry in Switzerland, but the world’s largest open-pit mines require a solution on another scale altogether.

As Bell said: “There is a lot of work to do to develop batteries at scale for surface fleet that suit the different operating conditions.

“That’s a key point because that lends itself to the fact that we don’t want one solution; we will need multiple solutions. We don’t want to stifle innovation; we want to encourage it.”

ICMM member Anglo American has hinted that hydrogen power could be one solution, and the miner is looking to show this next year with the development of its hydrogen-powered 300-t payload haul truck.

There has also been in the last 18-24 months a mini renaissance of trolley assist projects that, ABB’s Gunnar Hammarström told IM recently, could, in the future, work in tandem with battery-powered solutions to provide a GHG-free solution.

The ability for industry to pilot and validate technology options like this “within the boundaries of anti-competition” is crucial for its later adoption in the industry, Bell said.

She said a key enabler of industry decarbonisation is access to cost competitive clean electricity, which would indicate that regions like South America and the Nordic countries could be of interest in the short and medium term for deploying pilot projects.

It is this goal where the industry R&D spend could potentially ramp up; something the ICMM and the ICSV is aware of.

“For the OEMs and mining companies to effectively minimise capital expenditure, optimise R&D expenditure and reduce the change management required by the industry, there needs to be a careful balance of encouraging innovation of solutions, whilst managing the number of plausible outcomes,” Bell said.

In terms of encouraging the development of these outcomes, carbon pricing mechanisms could provide some positive industry momentum. Vale recently acknowledged that it would apply an internal carbon tax/price of $50/t when analysing its future projects, so one would expect other companies to be factoring in such charges to their future mine developments.

Industry-wide GHG emission caps could also provide a catalyst. In countries such as Chile – where up to 80% of emissions can come from haul trucks, according to ICMM Senior Programme Officer, Verónica Martinez – carbon emission reduction legislation could really have an impact on technology developments.

Forward motion

While 2019 was a year when the three working groups – made up of close to 50 representatives in each work stream – outlined known barriers or opportunities that might either slow down or accelerate technology developments, 2020 will be the year that regional workshops convened to “encourage first adopters and fast followers” to move these three ambitions forward take place, Bell said.

A knowledge hub containing the previously spoken of maturity frameworks (delivered for all three groups) will allow the wider industry outside of the ICMM membership to gain a better understanding of how the miner-OEM-service provider collaboration is working.

Bell said the ICMM already has a number of members testing these group frameworks on an informal self-assessment basis to understand “how they are being received at an asset level and feedback insights to the group in an effort to understand how we may portray an industry representative picture of where we are today”.

Such strategies bode well for achieving these goals into the future and, potentially, changing the dynamic that has existed between end users and suppliers in the mining sector for decades.

Bell said: “The feedback that we got from OEMs is that mining companies had completely different objectives, but they have now greater confidence that we are aligned on the direction of travel towards the ambitions set.”