Tag Archives: Conveyors

PROK idlers set for overland conveyor system at Roy Hill iron ore operation

PROK has been selected by Roy Hill to manufacture and supply the idlers for a new circa-8km overland conveyor system as part of the iron ore mine’s Rom4 expansion in Western Australia.

PROK says it was awarded the contract for the conveyor idlers off the back of a long history of success with various overland conveyor systems across the globe.

Roy Hill requires the new overland conveyor to connect a new crusher to the existing mine infrastructure. The system comprises two overland conveyor systems that are approximately 8 km in length.

The entire project scope for the conveyor components included the manufacture and supply of 23,500 rollers and 6,500 idler frames.

The majority of the rollers will be PROK HDPE, a lightweight composite roller. PROK HDPE was chosen due to its lightweight construction and exceptional reliability, PROK said. The rollers include dual-layer wear indicator technology which facilitates smarter roller maintenance.

PROK General Manager WA, Wade Guelfi, said PROK HDPE will bring a range of benefits to Roy Hill’s operations.

“PROK HDPE is proven in heavy-duty iron ore applications and will assist to reduce maintenance costs, increase production and importantly improve safety outcomes,” he said. “We were thrilled to be able to partner with Roy Hill on this project and look forward to working closely with them to continue to optimise conveyor performance.”

BEUMER Group and FAM ‘the right project partner for all challenges’, Hotz says

In June, BEUMER Group completed the acquisition of the FAM Group of Magdeburg, Germany, in the process, increasing its conveyor system and loading technology offering and becoming a significant player in the in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) space.

Close to six months after closing, IM put some questions to Stefan Hotz, Director Sales FAM Group, to find out how the integration of the two companies is going and how the transaction should strengthen the enlarged company’s market position in the minerals and mining sectors.

IM: Where – regionally – do you see the most opportunities in the mining sector for the integrated company to gain market share? South America has been a particularly strong market for FAM in the past; do you see this as a big opportunity for the integrated group?

SH: FAM – member of BEUMER Group – is one of the world’s leading full-range suppliers of bulk handling and processing systems. The customers come from more than 80 countries and the solutions are successfully in use everywhere. With BEUMER’s acquisition of the FAM Group, we were able to expand our portfolio to include bulk material handling, crushing technology as well as conveyor technology. Customers receive solutions from a single source with which they can work efficiently. In addition to engineering and project execution competences, FAM also brings the complete value chain, including after-sales service, to the BEUMER Group. This makes us a sought-after partner worldwide.

Of course, South America is a strong market, especially countries with iron ore and copper resources such as Brazil, Chile and Peru. For example, in Peru, the mining companies are transporting iron ore to the stockyards, which are often located at distances of several kilometres from the port. Callao Port, for example, is home to the most modern and largest ship loading terminal in the country. A reliable and safe connection for material transport is required, which at the same time ideally prevents the emission of particles into the atmosphere. Conveyors are the preferred solution here that can be individually adapted to the respective environmental and technical requirements and to the topography, as well as protect the environment from dust emissions.

IM: Are you expecting to increase your manufacturing capacity or acquire new premises to fulfil this demand, or do you have enough capacity to serve these growing markets in the near-to-medium term?

SH: The FAM Group has subsidiaries in Brazil, Chile, China, Canada and India. In addition, there are the numerous subsidiaries and agencies of the BEUMER Group. This means that we are very well positioned worldwide and can optimally serve these growing markets in the short to medium term. In our project business it’s a must to be, on the one hand, close to our customers but, on the other hand, using our global resource network and know-how to balance workloads. But, of course, we expand the network of our subsidiaries if we notice that we cannot serve certain regions with the desired reliability.

IM: Is the company already pursuing mining projects that involve the solutions/expertise of FAM and BEUMER Group? Can you elaborate on what type of projects these are and what solutions they involve (ie overland conveyors, bucketwheel excavators, spreaders, etc)?

SH: Yes, we are already in the process to support our mining clients from one hand, integrating FAM and BEUMER solutions. For example, we are working on one large project for gold extraction, where BEUMER is providing the long-distance overland conveyor and FAM supports the client with spreader technology to dump overburden. We have combined this with an attractive digitalisation and service package to ensure optimisation of the client’s total cost of ownership.

IM: With this transaction the company has effectively become a major player in the IPCC space. Do you see this as a major growth area for BEUMER Group going forward?

SH: In general, with this new setup, we expand our product portfolio and we are significantly strengthening our market position worldwide, especially in the field of large-scale mining equipment. But the most important thing is that we can provide our customers with even more comprehensive support over the whole value chain from pit to port, including digitalisation and service for our projects. Due to our many years of experience, we also support our clients in complex upgrade, lifetime extension and refurbishment jobs for existing machines. This means we avoid interfaces and customers now have only one contact.

IM: Do you see your ability to offer not only the solutions but also the engineering and design expertise underpinning these solutions as differentiating your offering from your competitors in the IPCC market? What other differentiators will serve you well in winning business in this market?

SH: I don’t want to say much about our market competitors, but I am sure that together with FAM we stand out positively from the market, specifically for continuous soft rock and overburden IPCC applications. Furthermore, we have long-term partners with whom we are serving the needs of our clients in terms of mine planning and pre-engineering. This ensures that we are defining  a solution for the client with a focus on CAPEX and OPEX optimisation. Specifically for IPCC applications, we are convinced of adding value during the first months of operation by providing integrated training and service packages to ensure successful implementation of continuous mining systems after commissioning. In doing so, the specialism is characterised in particular by distinctive engineering at a high level.

IM: What other areas of your business do you see growing with the need for mining companies to move away from their reliance on diesel-powered mobile mining equipment for material transport? Are you seeing more interest in your overland conveyor portfolio, for instance?

SH: Our belt conveyor systems are used successfully all over the world. They solve complex transport problems for any bulk material and are suitable in many cases as an economic alternative to truck transport. While the basic task – to transport bulk materials from the mine to the final discharge point – appears very comparable, no two systems are alike. The range of potential materials to be conveyed, alone, requires individual consideration of the components to be used in terms of wear resistance or the maximum permissible gradients of a conveyor. In addition, above all, the mass flow to be transported and the height to be overcome determine the dimensioning of the drive unit of an overland conveyor. Plants at high altitudes pose a further challenge. At altitudes above 4,000 m, as is often the case in the Andes for example, it must be taken into account that the air pressure and, thus, the density of the air decreases with increasing altitude. This reduces both the cooling effect and the insulating capacity of the air. We are the right project partner for all these challenges.

FLSmidth refocuses equipment portfolio in aim to become the leading METS player

FLSmidth has announced a strategic change to enhance long-term profitability and to accelerate growth in its core Mining business, which could see it offload its portfolio of port systems, stockyard equipment, “standard bucketwheel excavators”, “continuous surface mining equipment”, and mine & overland conveyors.

The decision, which comes seven weeks after closing the acquisition of TK Mining, is the result of a planned strategic review of the combined FLSmidth Mining and former TK Mining technology product portfolio against FLSmidth’s long-term strategic direction and ambitions, FLSmidth said.

“With this change, FLSmidth is creating a new platform for improved profitability, lower risk and strategic focus on the core value creating parts of the Mining business,” it said.

The company clarified that the overall strategic rationale for the acquisition of TK Mining has been reconfirmed and the acquired business is overall in line with its expectations. Furthermore, the cost synergy potential from acquiring TK Mining has been revisited, and further cost synergies have been uncovered, FLSmidth claimed. Additionally, the pace to realise these synergies will be accelerated.

The annual cost synergy target is now expected to be around DKK 560 million ($74 million), instead of the previous DKK360 million, with the annual cost synergy run-rate now expected to be achieved by end of 2023 (previously first two years after closing of the acquisition).

The aforementioned review intended to assess all combined mining activities and products from a strategic, financial and sustainability perspective against FLSmidth’s long-term strategic direction and ambitions, the company said. As a result of the strategic review, it has been decided to split the Mining business into two separate segments for operational and reporting purposes:

  • A continuing Mining segment focused on profitability, growth and sustainability;
  • A new Non-Core Activities segment, where activities will be fully exited either by way of divestment or wind-down of the order backlog.

The new segment split will ensure sharpened strategic focus and stronger execution of the continuing Mining activities that are key to accelerate long-term profitability and growth for FLSmidth, it said. At the same time, dedicated focus and resources will be allocated to the Non-Core Activities to ensure transparency and effective execution of the divestment or wind-down and to minimise losses from these activities.

Group CEO, Mikko Keto, said this split would reduce engineering risk, while setting the company up to become the leading technology and service solutions supplier to the global mining industry

“For years FLSmidth has been focused on engineering and large-scale projects with inherently high risks, challenging execution and volatile profitability,” he said. “We are now taking decisive action to further strengthen the focus on our core business, to ensure stronger execution and to drive value creation. The world must undertake a significant green transition over the coming years and the mining industry plays a crucial part in this. With today’s strategic change, FLSmidth is better positioned than ever before to become the leading technology and service solutions supplier to the global mining industry.”

FLSmidth’s Mining segment is dedicated to provide customers with best-in-class full flowsheet technologies and services solutions to enhance their productivity and sustainability agenda. A key focus for FLSmidth Mining is to enhance profitability through a significant service and aftermarket potential, low execution risks, high technology content and process know-how, and a strong sustainability impact

This could see the company offer single services or products, as well as projects with lower risk consisting of product bundles with related performance guarantees in accordance with FLSmidth’s risk management approach.

The continuing Mining segment encompasses, but is not limited to, FLSmidth’s key products within conveying (former TK Mining’s conveyor systems); milling & grinding (including former TK Mining’s high pressure grinding rolls); crushing & feeding; separation, thickening & filtration; pumps, cyclones & valves; sizers, screens & centrifuges; pyro-processing; sampling, preparation & analysis; and mine shaft systems.

The Non-Core Activities segment comprises specific loss-making mining activities and products that are no longer deemed to be of core strategic importance to FLSmidth, the company said. The selection criteria for these activities and product types have been that either they offer limited or no aftermarket potential, are characterised by high execution risks, are highly engineered and/or lack standardisation, and the company sees no viable commercial model for FLSmidth to turn these around. Furthermore, these products are not aligned with or important for FLSmidth’s sustainability agenda, it said.

Consequently, FLSmidth will either divest or wind-down the following activities and products:

  • All legacy FLSmidth and former TK Mining brands: port systems, stockyard equipment and standard bucketwheel excavators;
  • Legacy FLSmidth Mining brands: continuous surface mining equipment and mine & overland conveyors; and
  • Former TK Mining activities: oil extraction technology and aggregate products.

Existing contracts and ongoing activities in the order backlog will be executed and honoured, if not divested, yet FLSmidth will not take new orders for the Non-Core Activities segment, it said.

A designated organisational structure will be established to oversee the Non-Core Activities segment, with the head of the segment reporting directly to the group CFO. Around 450 employees are expected to be included in the Non-Core Activities segment.

The Non-Core Activities segment comprises of an order backlog of around DKK3.6 billion as of the end of the September quarter of 2022, of which approximately half originates from FLSmidth and half from the former TK Mining. The vast majority of the order backlog relates to capital orders.

The Non-Core Activities order backlog is expected to be divested or wound down within the next three years with an expected total EBITA loss over the period of around DKK1.2 billion, FLSmidth said. The estimate is based on historical performance and costs associated with the wind-down or divestment decision. This estimate is subject to uncertainty due to the nature of winding the business down and may change depending on which of parts of the business are divested, it clarified.

BEUMER Group prepares to showcase complete material transport solution offering at Bauma

BEUMER Group is gearing up to present an even wider product portfolio to attendees of Bauma 2022, in Munich, on October 24-30, following the acquisition of the FAM Group.

Since May of this year, the full-service provider has been offering its entire product spectrum, ranging from bulk material handling, and processing plants to conveyor technology. This sees customers provided with complete material transport solutions from a single source, the company says.

The BEUMER Group has been firmly anchored in the bulk solids handling technology market for decades, with the acquisition of the FAM Group significantly strengthening the system provider’s position in the minerals and mining markets. The FAM Group has its headquarters in Magdeburg, Germany, and is an internationally active, medium-sized group and manufacturer of systems for open-cast mining, stockyards, mineral processing, ports, conveying and loading.

The BEUMER Group offers machines along the entire transport chain for bulk goods, with solutions including the extraction, conveying, loading, storage and processing of various raw materials, for  various industries.

BEUMER Group says it combines many years of serial production know-how with customised manufacturing experience, offering high-quality engineering and extensive services.

“The BEUMER Group delivers turnkey complexes for the extraction, transport and processing of raw materials, thanks to its wide range of large-scale equipment and individual machines for open-cast mining, such as bucket wheel excavators, belt wagons and conveyor systems,” the company said. “Mine operators can transport various bulk materials with BEUMER’s pipe and overland conveyors, even over long distances and above terrain which is often rough and impassable. Steep gradients and tight curve radii enable individual routes to be adapted to the topography and the task at hand. The BEUMER Group can customise the systems to match the conveying task and topography exactly. The system provider relies on modern planning and layout tools to support plant operators early in the project and design the ideal conveying solution together with the customer.”

The product portfolio includes extensive storage space technology, loading systems and various crushing & screening plants, including impact, hammer, single & double-roll crushers, plus many more crushers and mills.

Rio Tinto and Baowu to invest $2 billion in Western Range iron ore development

Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group Co. Ltd have agreed to enter into a joint venture with respect to the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia, investing $2 billion to develop the mine.

Western Range’s annual production capacity of 25 Mt of iron ore will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend from Rio Tinto’s existing Paraburdoo mining hub. The project includes construction of a primary crusher and an 18 km conveyor system linking it to the existing Paraburdoo processing plant.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 with first production anticipated in 2025. The construction phase will support approximately 1,600 jobs with the mine requiring about 800 ongoing operational roles, which are expected to be filled by existing workers transitioning from other sites in the Paraburdoo mining hub.

Rio Tinto’s share of the capital costs are already included in the group’s capital expenditure guidance of around $9-10 billion for each of 2023 and 2024. Both parties will pay their portion of capital costs for the development of the mine, and mine operating costs, plus a nominal ongoing resource contribution fee calculated by reference to Western Range production volumes. There is no upfront consideration being paid by either party.

Rio Tinto and Baowu, which own 54% and 46%, respectively, of the joint venture, have also agreed to enter into an iron ore sales agreement at market prices covering a total of up to 126.5 Mt of iron ore over approximately 13 years. This volume represents Baowu’s 46% interest in the anticipated 275 Mt of production from Western Range through the joint venture.

Rio Tinto has a long history of successfully partnering and investing with customers to develop new mines in the Pilbara. Rio Tinto and Baowu’s partnership in the Pilbara dates back to the 2002 Bao-HI joint venture to develop the Eastern Range deposits in the Hamersley Ranges (Eastern Range) and Western Range, subject to a production cap of 200 Mt. It is now expected the production cap will be sourced entirely from Eastern Range, and this transaction will continue Rio Tinto’s relationship with Baowu through development of Western Range.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “This is a very significant milestone for both Rio Tinto and Baowu, our largest customer globally. We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Baowu for more than four decades, shipping more than 200 Mt of iron ore under our original joint venture, and we are looking forward to extending our partnership at Western Range.

“The development of Western Range represents the commencement of the next significant phase of investment in our iron ore business, helping underpin future production of the Pilbara Blend, the market benchmark.

“At the same time, Rio Tinto and Baowu continue to work together on low-carbon steelmaking research, exploring new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.”

Baowu Resources Chairman, Shi Bing, said: “The signing of the joint venture agreement for the Western Range project is a significant event in the history of cooperation between Baowu and Rio Tinto. We fully appreciate the persistent efforts of both teams in accomplishing the important achievement. The Bao-HI joint venture has been successfully operating for more than 20 years, leading us to a win-win result, and reaping friendship and trust.

“We hope that the two parties will deepen the mutually beneficial and win-win partnership, continue to carry forward the spirit of sincere cooperation and further expand cooperation in more fields and aspects on the basis of working together to operate the project well.”

Rio Tinto has worked closely with the Traditional Owners on whose country Western Range is situated, the Yinhawangka People, to co-design a Social and Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the project, designed to protect signiticant cultural and heritage values in the area.

The plan, which was agreed with Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation and announced earlier this year, outlines protocols for joint decision-making on environmental matters and mine planning.

Rio Tinto’s Paraburdoo hub is comprised of three operating mines, Paraburdoo, Channar and Eastern Range. Western Range contains two deposits, 36W–50W and 55W–66W, which are located within the Hamersley Basin of Western Australia. The deposits’ mineralisation is primarily hosted by the Brockman Iron Formation with additional detrital mineralisation present. The 36W–50W and 55W-66W deposits contain a measured resource of 22 Mt at 59.1% Fe, indicated resource of 102 Mt at 61.5% Fe and an inferred resource of 108 Mt at 61.4% Fe. The 36W–50W deposit contains a proven reserve of 109 Mt at 62.1% Fe and a probable reserve of 56 Mt at 61.7% Fe.

Zinnwald striving for battery-electric circularity with lithium project development

The development of the integrated Zinnwald lithium project in Germany could see the incorporation of a battery-electric fleet of LHDs and the return of metal production to a region of saxony with mining history dating back to the Middle Ages.

The London-listed owner of the project, Zinnwald Lithium Plc, has just released a preliminary economic study on its namesake project focused on supplying battery-grade lithium hydroxide to the European battery sector.

As with any responsible battery metal project being developed today, the project’s ‘green credentials’ are being considered even at this early stage.

Zinnwald Lithium has been keen to flag these, mentioning the project is located close to the German chemical industry, a fact that should enable it to draw on a well trained and experienced workforce with well-developed infrastructure, plus reduce the ‘carbon footprint’ of the final end-use product.

This focus will see all aspects of the project – from mining through to production of the end product – located near to the deposit itself.

Zinnwald Lithium also said the project has the potential to be a low- or ‘zero-waste’ project, as the vast majority of both its mined product and co-products have their own large-scale end-markets.

This could see it produce not only battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate products, but sulphate of potash (SOP) for the fertiliser market and precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) – the latter being a key filling material in the paper manufacturing process.

The project now includes an underground mine with a nominal output of approximately 880,000 t/y of ore at an estimated 3,004 ppm Li and 75,000 t/y of barren rock. Processing, including mechanical separation, lithium activation and lithium fabrication, will be carried out at an industrial facility near the village of Bärenstein, near the existing underground mine access and an existing site for tailings deposition with significant remaining capacity.

With a 7-km partly-existing network of underground drives and adits from the ‘Zinnerz Altenberg’ tin mine, which closed in 1991, already mapped out, the bulk of ore haulage is expected to be via either conveyor or rail

The nominal output capacity of the project is targeted at circa-12,000 t/y LiOH with circa-56,900 t/y of SOP, 16,000 t/y of PCC, circa-75,000 t/y of granite and 100,000 t/y of sand as by-products.

The company is looking to complete the ‘circularity’ dynamic in its fleet and equipment selection, according to CEO, Anton Du Plessis, who mentioned that electric LHDs could be used to load and haul ore to an ore pass in the envisaged operation.

He said the cost estimates to use such equipment – which are factored into the project’s $336.5 million initial construction capital expenditure bill – have come from Epiroc, which has a variety of battery-operated mobile equipment.

“The base case is battery-operated loaders,” he told IM. “The final selection will be based on an optimisation study where, in particular, partly trolley-fed haulage systems will be investigated.”

Forms of automation are also being studied, Du Plessis said, with the caveat that “only select technologies we consider proven” will be evaluated.

Zinnwald Lithium is also looking at electric options for long-hole drilling underground, with both battery-based units and cabled versions under consideration and requiring firming up in the optimisation study.

With a 7-km partly-existing network of underground drives and adits from the ‘Zinnerz Altenberg’ tin mine, which closed in 1991, already mapped out, the bulk of ore haulage is expected to be via either conveyor or rail. The former, of course, will be powered by electricity, but the company is also considering potential battery-electric options for the latter, according to Du Plessis.

The company is blessed with existing infrastructure at the mine, which should help it in advancing the project at the pace its potential end-use manufacturing suppliers would like. It is already evaluating options for the construction stage – with an engineering, procurement and construction management contract the most likely option – and it has plans to conclude a feasibility study by the end of next year.

Du Plessis said while most of the fixed assets have been removed or were deemed outdated a long time ago from the former operating underground mine, other infrastructure was in good shape.

“The excavations, main level, underground workshop, ventilation shafts and, particularly, 2020 refurbished access tunnel provide a very good starting point for our project,” he said. “The access tunnel was originally constructed for dewatering the old mine and, therefore, the mine and the tunnel have been maintained very well.”

The company is now shifting to the bankable feasibility study and currently selecting partners for the project.

With what it calls a “simple, five-stage processing” route confirmed by test work for the extracted material at Zinnwald, the company is looking to select OEMs with the optimal concept for the project, Du Plessis said.

“In the PEA, mineral processing equipment cost is based on Metso Outotec estimates, pyrometallurgy is based on Cemtec technology, and hydrometallurgy is based on various providers’ technology,” he clarified.

Continental expands Conveying Solutions business in Sweden with Vulk & Montage buy

Continental is expanding its presence in Sweden with the acquisition of conveyor and maintenance company, Vulk & Montage, based in Karlstad.

Vulk & Montage has four locations in Karlstad (headquarters), Örebro, Mora and Stockholm, Sweden. The company is a leading service provider for the conveyor industry in central Sweden, operating out of its four branches and one rubber workshop.

The company provides add-on products such as belts, belt scrapers, industrial hoses, screens, wear rubber, lightweight conveyor belts, technical plastics and additional services like lining (cold and hot), spraying polyurethane, sandblasting and paintwork.

“With the Vulk & Montage Group, we are able to offer an entire service and solution package in addition to the current Continental product portfolio to our industrial customers in Central Sweden,” Song Qi, who is responsible for the global business with conveyor belt system solutions at Continental, said. “The acquisition underscores again our goal of further expanding our service business directly with our customers and aligning our focus accordingly.”

Completion of the acquisition is subject to approval by the competent antitrust authorities, with the two parties agreeing not to disclose the purchase price.

Continental’s Conveying Solutions is one of the world’s leading specialists in conveying and off-highway solutions, with customers in key industries such as mining, agriculture, automotive and plant engineering.

Conveying Solutions’ goal is to respond to specific customer needs and to provide holistic and efficient solutions for every conveying task in the most environmentally friendly way possible – from plant design, production and installation to preventive maintenance and repair.

Conveying Solutions has more than 5,800 employees at 54 locations in 16 countries.

Safety pays with mining conveyor maintenance, Martin Engineering’s Swinderman says

Conveyor safety is not a modern trend bred by government regulation, it’s a common-sense idea as old as the first conveyor design, R Todd Swinderman, CEO Emeritus, Martin Engineering, says.

In the modern age, safety is a key factor in worker protection, reduced insurance rates and a lower total cost of operation. There are several hurdles to the installation of safety equipment, the biggest of which is the near-universal use of the “Low Bid process”, he says.

“When companies buy on price (Low Bid) the benefits are short-lived and costs typically increase over time,” Swinderman says. “In contrast, when purchases are made based on lowest long-term cost (Life Cycle Cost), benefits usually continue to accrue and costs go down, resulting in a net savings over time. Safer and more reliable equipment is easier to service, has a longer life and is less expensive to maintain.”

Organisations that embrace safety show significant performance advantages over the competition, according to Swinderman. The proof is reflected in reduced injuries and greater productivity, along with above industry average financial returns and higher share prices.

Justifying safety investments is greatly enhanced by quantifying what most financial managers refer to as “intangible costs”, ie injuries, lost labour, insurance, morale, legal settlements, etc. However, managers and accountants have been trained to think about saving direct costs to justify investments, Swinderman says.

When conveyors don’t operate efficiently they have unplanned stoppages, release large quantities of fugitive materials and require more maintenance. Emergency breakdowns, cleaning of excessive spillage and reactive maintenance all contribute to an unsafe workplace.

Safety pays

Numerous case studies revealing the positive relationships between safety and productivity are backed up by organisations that gather global statistics on accidents and incidents. The simple formula for return on investment (dividing savings by cost) does not capture the potential savings from safety investments, according to Swinderman. Several organisations provide detailed and regional statistics on the cost of accidents.

Regional statistics on costs of accidents

Lacking specific historical data, managers can turn to numerous reliable sources that provide the probability of incidents that can be used to estimate tangible and intangible future costs.

Accident rates per 100,000 industrial workers per year

The financial technique used to compare options is a “net present value” (NPV) analysis. NPV compares different investment options with varying costs and savings (cash flows) over time, discounting them by the company’s cost of money.

Swinderman explained: “For example, an internal risk analysis shows a facility has 30 workers exposed to conveyor hazards. The estimated probability of the different classes of accidents (fatal, lost time and first aid) is multiplied by the cost of these accidents to reveal what could be invested to reduce the incident rate by half.”

Estimated total annual cost for all accidents

Assuming the life of the conveyor is 20 years and the cost of money (discount rate) is 5%, the available additional investment would be about $750,000 more in design time to accomplish the 50% improvement in safety, he says. By choosing the lowest-priced bid to meet the minimum safety requirements, the short-term expenditure ends up costing considerably more over the 20-year lifecycle.

Annual accident costs for years 1 to 20

By spending $750,000 more to exceed the minimum safety and design requirements and reduce the accident rates by 50%, the annual projected cost of accidents drops from $140,813 to $70,407, Swinderman says.

Measured in today’s dollars – including the additional investment of $750,000 – the projected savings over the 20-year term at 5% are about $1.2 million by investing more upfront.

Swinderman concluded: “If, after further analysis, the savings are found to be less – perhaps only a 25% reduction in the cost of accidents – the upfront investment is still justified over the long term. Even though it takes a little more effort to collect data and do a financial analysis, in the end, NPV consistently proves that safety does indeed pay.”

Orica’s hardware and software platforms converging for Mining 4.0

Orica’s corporate vision of “mobilising Earth’s resources in a sustainable way” is being further realised through a host of developments from its Digital Solutions and Blasting Technologies divisions, IM reports.

Those involved in charging operations could soon benefit from the launch of Orica and Epiroc’s Avatel™ solution, which, in combination with the WebGen™ wireless initiation platform, offers the ability to remotely blast a development face.

At the same time, the company is busy with the sustainable production of emulsion, the integration of geological orebody information to optimise energy use for blasting, and the expansion of downstream mineral processing tools.

Avatel

Avatel is a combination of state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions designed to mechanise the blasting process.

It includes Orica’s HandiLoader™ emulsion process body, Epiroc’s M2C carrier integrating an RCS 5 control system with Orica’s LOADPlus™ control system, a WebGen 200 wireless initiation system and an automated WebGen magazine. Epiroc has also incorporated onboard dewatering and lifter debris clearing capability, while Orica’s SHOTPlus™ intelligent blast design software is leveraged to deliver superior blasting outcomes, Orica says.

Orica and Epiroc’s advanced technologies integrated into the Avatel system

These components help eliminate the need for personnel exposure at the development face throughout the charging stage of the mining cycle, keeping personnel out of the line of fire, by substituting inherently high hazard manual tasks with a mechanised development charging solution.

A prototype Avatel unit is set to commence operations at Agnico Eagle Mining’s Kittilä gold mine in Finland in the next few months. This follows “alpha trialling” of the complete prototype unit at Epiroc’s Nacka test mine in Stockholm, Sweden.

Adam Mooney, Vice President of Blasting Technology for Orica, said: “Our goal for Kittilä is to expose Avatel to a real mining environment, putting the unit through its paces in an active mine where safety, productivity and reliability are core requirements for success.

“We will gain a practical understanding of how Avatel will fit in with and benefit the entire mining cycle, while also taking the opportunity to measure the blasting improvements possible through the combined use of electronic initiation timing and the precise blast energy control available with Avatel.”

A separate unit, meanwhile, will head to Newcrest Mining’s Cadia copper-gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, later this year, for the first commercial deployment. This is currently undergoing pre-delivery commissioning at Epiroc’s customer centre in Burnie, Tasmania.

Cyclo

Not too far away in Papua New Guinea, Orica has successfully commissioned a Cyclo™ emulsion technology unit, which has been running at a customer site for around two months, according to Mooney. The unit in question has treated in excess of 100,000 litres of used oil, he said.

Cyclo combines the company’s emulsion technology with used oil processing technology to transform mine-site used oil for application in explosives. To provide the tight quality control and regular testing required to manufacture emulsions with such inputs, Orica has partnered with CreatEnergy to develop a standalone, on-site solution to treat used oil.

Orica initially scheduled Cyclo for market introduction in late 2022, but it scaled and sped up development and production plans to support customers’ operations and curtail material disruptions brought about by COVID-19.

The first automated containerised used oil recycling system was commissioned in Ghana late in 2021, with the Papua New Guinea unit being the latest deployment.

Cyclo – containerised, automated used oil recycling service at a customer site in Ghana, Africa

A Senegal Cyclo debut is on track for July given the unit is already in country and connected into the emulsion plant on site, Mooney explained.

The company also plans to bring to market a Cyclo unit suitable for Arctic conditions by the end of this year, with the solution already under construction.

Data to insights to intelligence

Aside from hardware and sustainable emulsion solutions, Orica has recently signed an agreement with Microsoft Azure predicated on creating data-rich and artificial intelligence-infused tools that enable productivity, safety and sustainability benefits on site, with Raj Mathiravedu, Vice President of Digital Solutions, saying such a tie-up enables the company to think of the blasting value chain in a much more holistic manner.

“Orica Digital Solutions’ purpose is to develop and deliver a suite of integrated workflow tools to enable the corporate vision of mobilising Earth’s resources in a sustainable way,” he said. “A key attribute to delivering this workflow is the journey that we need to incorporate from data to insights to intelligence.”

Mathiravedu says the company is looking to go beyond the traditional solutions pairing software and IoT devices for a discrete product to – with the help of Microsoft Azure capabilities – building “answer products” focused on improving workflows.

“These workflows can benefit from understanding how geology within the orebody intelligence space can help us determine the optimised energy required for blasting in a real-time production workflow,” he said. “We have started this journey and are already delivering value to our customers by integrating workflows from orebody to processing.”

One example of this is the company’s FRAGTrack™ suite of solutions, devised to provide blast fragmentation data with auto-analysis capability.

Delivered as part of the company’s BlastIQ Digital Optimisation Platform, FRAGTrack is able to capture real-time fragmentation measurement data for optimising drill and blast operations, improving downstream productivity and tracking of operational performance.

Originally developed for measurements on both face shovels and conveyors, the solution was expanded earlier this year with the launch of FRAGTrack Crusher for automated pre-crusher fragmentation measurements.

FRAGTrack Crusher installation at Stevenson Aggregates

There are several vendors offering fragmentation measurement tools throughout the industry, but Mathiravedu says Orica’s solution can carry out such analysis consistently and accurately – day or night – in extremely dusty and dynamic environments like mining.

“The FRAGTrack image processing technology can handle extremely dusty and lighting-affected conditions beyond any solutions in the industry,” Mathiravedu said. “It is also able to learn and adapt to specific operational environments like the dumping habits of different truck operators using artificial intelligence technology. Together with the integration with fleet management systems, it can provide a fully autonomous and integrated measurement solution.”

On conveyors, the FRAGTrack solution can reliably measure fines with increased accuracy compared with conventional systems that leverage curve-fit algorithms, according to Mathiravedu, with the advanced image and 3D processing techniques providing the ability to measure fragments down to 5 mm in size.

The combination of FRAGTrack Conveyor and Orica’s ORETrack™ solution can provide not only particle size distribution information, but also critical information on ore grade and hardness for the milling operations in real time.

“The FRAGTrack platform architecture has been designed to be scalable to incorporate different sensor inputs along with its high-performance GPU compute capabilities,” Mathiravedu said, explaining that there could be further analysis solutions down the line.

BHP to receive ‘world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts’ from China’s Wuxi Boton

China’s Wuxi Boton has announced the world’s first carbon neutral conveyor belts for delivery to BHP’s Spence copper mine in Chile in August as part of an exclusive pilot project between the two companies.

The two companies jointly developed this pilot project, under which the conveyor belts were verified by SGS, a leading testing, inspection and certification company, as meeting the requirements of PAS 2060:2014 (specification for the demonstration of carbon neutrality).

SGS awarded the world’s first certificate of “Achievement of Carbon Neutrality for Steel Cord Rubber Conveyor Belt” to a batch of belts produced by Boton for BHP. The conveyor belts will be shipped to BHP’s Spence copper mine, where they will be used in the production and transportation of Spence mining products to customers around the world, including China.

The scope of the pilot project was for Wuxi Boton, as the incumbent contractor for BHP’s operations at both Minerals Australia and Minerals America, to select the conveyor belts to be ordered by BHP and identify how to offset the estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the production of those conveyor belts using high-quality carbon offsets prior to delivery.

BHP’s Group Procurement Officer, James Agar, said: “Wuxi Boton have been a reliable partner to BHP for over eight years, supplying high-quality conveyor belts to our assets in Australia and Chile. Both companies are committed to mitigating climate change in accordance with their respective climate targets and goals. This shared vision of a better world led Wuxi Boton, in December 2021, to extend the offer of an exclusive pilot to deliver a carbon neutral conveyor belt to BHP.

“The partnership with Wuxi Boton has been invaluable in helping BHP verify the feasibility of using high-quality carbon offsets to GHG emissions in our supply chain (Scope 3) and grow the potential demand for supplying ‘traced’, ‘low carbon’, or ‘carbon neutral’ products amongst our suppliers.”

Wuxi Boton’s Chairman, Zhifang Bao, said: “It is difficult for any enterprise to achieve low-carbon transformation on its own. Only by building a global platform, co-operating with the whole industry chain, and jointly exploring low-carbon technologies and road maps can we reach the other shore.

“Therefore, joint innovation is an inevitable choice. Instead of passively accepting, it is better to take the initiative to lead, which is a very important choice faced by enterprises all over the world. We are pleased to see that the partnership between BHP and Boton has expanded from a single business level to a strategic synergy level. In the journey of global energy transition, leading companies, including Boton and BHP, are jointly working towards building a more sustainable future.”