Tag Archives: COVID-19

TNG brings Clough into Mount Peake Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project fold

TNG Ltd has appointed a subsidiary of engineering and construction company, Clough, to work with TNG’s project development team and the SMS Group on its flagship Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

TNG announced in September that it had decided to progress development of the project with a fully-integrated mining and processing operation within its existing mining leases. As part of this strategy, it was considered by the TNG team important to have a suitable Australian-based engineering group on board.

Following a tender process, Clough Projects Australia Pty Ltd was selected to work with TNG’s team to initially develop an optimised plant layout for the integration of the TIVAN® processing facility (TPF) and beneficiation plant at the mine site, on the basis of the deliverables prepared under the front-end engineering and design (FEED) study completed by SMS group.

Clough, TNG says, will work with SMS and TNG’s team given the severe restrictions on travel between Europe and Australia due to the COVID-19 pandemic that have impacted SMS’ ability to deliver a team in Australia.

TNG previously engaged Clough to assess the definitive feasibility study for the project and this new contract expands on this early work to progress the overall mine development, it says.

The optimised layout will be unconstrained compared with the size and shape requirements at the former Darwin site. This offers the potential to capitalise on improving constructability, operability and maintenance for the project, as well as further cost optimisations from integrated infrastructure, the company says.

The integrated plants will be positioned within the company’s existing Mining Lease 29855, which has a size of 1,460 ha. This area is capable of hosting a fully-integrated operation encompassing mining activities and waste storage, the beneficiation plant, the TPF and non-process infrastructure, according to TNG.

TNG’s Managing Director & CEO, Paul Burton, said: “From a strategic and logistical perspective given the continued global COVID-19-related travel restrictions, it is an advantage to have a locally-based engineering group working on this phase of the Mount Peake project with TNG and SMS.

“We expect the integrated plant layout will pave the way for further optimisation work that will tie back into the recently completed FEED study. These work programs are already underway. We look forward to working closely with Clough and our other engineering partners to rapidly advance the Mount Peake project.”

Located 235 km north of Alice Springs, Mount Peake is expected to be a long-life project producing a suite of high-quality, high-purity strategic products for global markets including vanadium pentoxide, titanium dioxide pigment and iron ore fines. The project, which is expected to be a top-10 global producer, has received Major Project Status from the Northern Territory and Federal Governments.

Inmarsat research notes COVID-19-inspired uptick in mining’s use of IoT

New research by Inmarsat, a leader in global mobile satellite communications, reveals a rapid increase in the maturity level of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) adoption across the mining sector since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Respondents from the sector reported that COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of IoT to their businesses, with many accelerating IoT deployments in response to the pandemic.

According to the research, adoption has seen huge progress from 2020 to 2021. Some 82% of mining respondents have now fully deployed at least one IoT project, with 37% having achieved this in the 12-month period from the June quarter of 2020. Of the remaining 18% of mining respondents that have not yet adopted IoT in any form, all of them are either currently trialling it, or plan to deploy or trial at least one IoT project in the next two years, according to the research.

A further 81% of mining respondents indicated they have or they intend to accelerate the adoption of IoT in response to challenges related to COVID-19. This figure includes 40% who have already accelerated IoT adoption to respond to COVID-19, versus 21% who will accelerate over the next 12 months and 20% who will accelerate beyond the next 12 months.

The 40 per cent that have already accelerated IoT adoption are less likely to state that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their ability to operate, demonstrating a link between IoT and business continuity during the pandemic. Additionally, nearly half (47%) of respondents in the sector indicated that business and operational challenges related to COVID-19 have underlined the importance of IoT.

Commenting on this acceleration of IoT in the mining sector, Nicholas Prevost, Director of Mining Innovation at Inmarsat, said: “While the mining sector has, historically, lagged behind other industries in its adoption of radical ideas and new technologies, our latest research reveals that the sector has made considerable progress in terms of IoT adoption and development over the last few years and is very upbeat about its potential. The COVID-19 crisis has only served to accelerate the rate of IoT adoption in many mining businesses and we are now seeing evidence that those companies that are increasing the speed of adoption of IoT and associated technologies are gaining an advantage, through their ability to keep operations going autonomously and with greater insight.”

Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise, added: “The rapid increase in IoT deployments over the last few years highlights the considerable progress global industry has made to overcome some of the world’s most challenging forces. It is particularly interesting, though logical, that COVID-19 has further catalysed businesses to increase their reliance on Industry 4.0 technologies, and particularly the industrial Internet of Things, in order to maintain business continuity. Those businesses implementing IoT technologies ahead of their competition and across their value chains are those who stand to win in the long-term.

“While our findings point to IoT driving significant uplifts in efficiency, sustainability and safety across global supply chains, there are areas where organisations can make improvements to draw the optimum benefits from the technology. Connectivity, data management, skills shortages, security threats and investment levels remain challenges as the world’s production and supply chains become increasingly digitalised and intertwined.

“Inmarsat’s global ELERA network is inspiring new possibilities and enabling organisations from all sectors to access IoT anywhere. Ideally suited to the rapidly evolving world of IoT, our industry-leading narrowband network provides global reach, extraordinary resilience, and the fastest speeds, along with the smallest, low cost terminals in their class.”

Ecolab uses mixed reality to troubleshoot process water problem at phosphate mine

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program has leveraged mixed-reality technology to overcome COVID-19 restrictions and provide critical, speedy customer support to a mining company in the Middle East.

The company, a customer of Nalco Water, an Ecolab company, was suffering from an unknown mechanical issue, which impacted chemical dosing for process water treatment. As a result, the phosphate mine was facing a potentially costly disruption of its activities.

“Not too long ago, the mine’s remote location of approximately 1,400 km away from the nearest technician might have led to operations being curtailed for several days,” Ecolab said. “Challenges created by the pandemic further hindering the technician’s ability to travel could have made the outcome even more bleak. However, by leveraging mixed-reality tools that combine elements of virtual reality and augmented reality to create a blend of the physical and digital world – in this case, a hands-free tablet-class wearable computer – Ecolab’s mining division was able to come to the rescue in a timeframe that would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago.”

Connecting with a senior engineer at the treatment plant, the Nalco Water technician was able to communicate in real time, inspecting the equipment to gain an understanding of the operational challenges on site. Safely working together in a virtual environment, the two associates were able to quickly diagnose the issue and replace the component that was ultimately behind the problem.

“Service that would otherwise have required two days of travel was completed in just one hour, saving travel costs, maintaining social distancing and reducing the carbon footprint,” Ecolab said.

As well as offering mining and mineral processing programs that combine chemistry, automation and control technology to help plants optimise production, Nalco Water’s proprietary 3D TRASAR™ smart water treatment system has enabled the company to offer the benefits of remote monitoring and troubleshooting on over 40,000 units installed worldwide, Ecolab said.

Arjan Boogaards, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Mining & Mineral Processing, Nalco Water, said: “We have greatly optimised productivity for our customers with these innovations, but, inevitably, the occasional mechanical issue will call for service and support that is outside of the scope of smart controllers and automation on site. That’s where we can apply mixed-reality technology and continue to transform the future of service and support by enabling expedient, accessible issue resolution. We can help connect our customers to a global infrastructure of research, innovation, engineering and digital experts in a faster and more efficient way.”

Ecolab’s Remote Assist program incorporates mobile applications that can connect to a remote collaborator. Through live video calling, annotations and sharing high-resolution snapshots with the remote collaborator, users can co-operate to troubleshoot problems quickly, according to the company.

Use of the latest mixed-reality technology enables Ecolab to gain remote access to its customers’ facilities in several beneficial ways. Its sales and technical representatives in the field can wear mixed reality devices for a “digital focus first, real-world focus second” approach to basic digital training in safe environments, Ecolab said.

Mixed reality also enables them to virtually connect to Ecolab’s scientists, engineers and cross-functional teams for support. This enables them to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot issues around contamination, oversee chemistry usage, guide the installation of new equipment, monitor water and process conditions and, ultimately, implement solutions that maximise customer productivity.

“This is most definitely an approach both we and our clients will continue with, even after COVID-19 has become a bad memory,” Boogaards said. “The pandemic has sped up the process for many companies to adopt digital tools, and they are dramatically improving their operations. The time and money savings are undeniable, so companies that do not make use of these tools could place themselves at a competitive disadvantage. We’re clearly entering a new era.”

UMS to start pre-sinking work at Lucara’s Karowe Underground Expansion project

Lucara Diamond Corp’s Karowe Underground Expansion project (UGP) in Botswana is moving ahead with mobilisation of shaft sinking teams commencing late in June, and pre-sinking activities scheduled in the September quarter.

The Karowe UGP, which is expected to extend the operation’s mine life to 2040, is in a fully-financed position, with the latest schedule expected to see underground production hit full production by the end of 2026.

The 2019 feasibility study for the project envisaged life of mine production of 7.8 Mct, a payback period of 2.8 years and an after-tax NPV (5% discount) of $718 million; all from $514 million in pre-production capital.

COVID-19 delays have pushed the project off the original schedule – both in terms of timeline and cost – but the company says it is now making headway towards a 2026 start to underground production.

Lucara said no “material variances” between the 2019 feasibility study and the current execution plan have resulted, despite the delays.

“Rather, during this period in 2020 and 2021, all critical path items were addressed and a concerted effort was placed on detailed design, engineering and procurement which have helped to significantly de-risk the project,” it said.

Out of the total capital budget, the company has spent $51.4 million on project execution activities through 2020 until the end of June 2021, including shaft and geotechnical engineering, procurement of long lead time and essential shaft sinking items, surface infrastructure and construction activities, bulk power supply power line engineering and procurement.

Mobilisation of the shaft pre-sink team has commenced with shaft pre-sinking on track to commence in the middle of the current quarter.

Detailed engineering and design of the underground infrastructure and layouts will commence this quarter and are expected to be competed in the September quarter of 2022, with no major changes from the 2019 study plan anticipated.

Underground mine development is scheduled to commence in the second half of 2024 with underground production ramp up starting in 2026. Full production is scheduled for the end of 2026.

At the same time, open-pit mining operations have been adjusted to limit the risk of production shortfalls during the ramp up of the underground mine operations commencing in the first half of 2026. The open-pit mine is expected to terminate in mid-2026, Lucara said.

Access to the underground mine will be via two vertical shafts, the production and ventilation shafts. The shafts will be concrete lined with the production shaft acting as the main air intake and the ventilation shaft as the exhaust.

The number of shaft stations and nominal elevations remain the same as the feasibility study, with the planned depth of the production shaft still at around 767 m. The final planned depth of the ventilation shaft has, however, increased marginally to 733 m, from 716 m.

A 7,200 t/d shaft operation using long hole shrinkage (LHS) mining will provide an additional 13 years of mine life to the Karowe operation after a five-year construction period. The 767-m-deep production shaft will be equipped with two 21 t skips for production hoisting and a service cage for man and material movement through the mine. This shaft will also serve as the main fresh air intake to the mine.

The pre-sink construction contract and shaft sinking equipment procurement were awarded to UMS Botswana and UMS South Africa, respectively. METS International Ltd, a subsidiary of UMS, was awarded the shaft engineering contract.

The company explained: “Detailed design and engineering work on the production and ventilation shafts is now 90% complete, and has resulted in the following changes to the 2019 feasibility study: i) production shaft diameter has increased from 8 m to 8.5 m, ii) ventilation shaft permanent headframe, hoists and internal conveyances have been removed, iii) parallel pre-sinking of both shafts, iv) ventilation fans and coolers to be located on surface, v) in-shaft grouting of water strikes changed from grout curtain installation from surface, vi) planned development of an additional sublevel to assist in drilling of drawbells, and vii) removal of 670L de-watering galleries.”

Increased schedule time related to shaft sinking has been a result of the increased production shaft diameter, time allowances for in-shaft grouting during sinking operations planned at known water strike horizons, holing through all shaft stations between shafts and additional ground support for underground stations/level breakouts, the company said.

UMS is in the process of mobilising crews to Karowe to initiate pre-sink works. Pre-sinking of the two shafts will run in parallel and start with mobile cranes and then transition to Scott Derrick cranes with the final depth of pre-sink at around 40 m below surface.

With the exception of an additional sublevel (340L) to assist with drill and blast of drawbells, the design, layout and infrastructure of the underground mine all remain aligned with the 2019 feasibility study, the company noted.

Temporary power for shaft sinking is required until such time as the upgrade bulk power supply infrastructure is commissioned in the December quarter of 2022. A three-phased ramp up of the generator capacity is planned to support the increasing power requirements related to the shaft sinking activities.

A power supply and services contract for the temporary generators has been signed with Aggreko International Projects Ltd. Mobilisation has been initiated with the generator pad established. Commissioning of Phase 1 is scheduled during the September quarter to support the start of pre-sink activities.

The Karowe UGP is targeting the substantial resources remaining below the economic extents of the open pit in the South Lobe.

The LHS method is planned to systematically drill and blast the entire lobe on a vertical retreat basis. In LHS, a significant proportion of the blasted muck is left in the stope during blasting and stoping to stabilise the host rock with only the swell extracted during the drill and blast phase. Mucking will take place from draw points from the 310L extraction level. Once the column is fully blasted, the stope will be drawn empty by mucking the draw points.

The bottom-up approach of the LHS mining method takes advantage of the higher value EM/PK(S) kimberlite unit at depth in the South Lobe at Karowe, and balances high initial capital costs with low operating costs while de-risking the project with respect to the geotechnical and hydrogeological aspects of the host rocks, according to Lucara.

A revised project cost and schedule has been developed that captures the detailed engineering and design work through 2020 until May 2021, incorporating all changes, improvements, and COVID-19 related delays. Overall capital expenditures, including contingency, have increased marginally by some 4%, to $534 million, driven by the increase to the production shaft diameter and additional mine development.

The schedule to 75% of full production has increased by 1.3 years, driven mainly by COVID-19-related delays to commence the shaft pre-sinking and additional planned time for shaft station break-outs and ground support, Lucara added.

During 2020, Lucara negotiated and signed a self-build agreement with the Botswana Power Corp (BPC) for the construction of two substations and a 29-km-long 132 kV transmission line from BPC’s newly established Letlhakane substation to the Karowe mine. The planned route follows an existing regional 400 kV line and then runs parallel to the existing 11 kV transmission line currently supplying bulk power to the Karowe mine.

The new power infrastructure will provide the required power for the current open pit, processing plant and the underground mine expansion. Commissioning of and handover to BPC is scheduled for the December quarter of 2022. Construction of substations is scheduled to commence this quarter and power line construction in the March quarter of 2022, the company said.

JDS Energy & Mining Inc is the engineering procurement and construction manager for the execution of the Karowe UGP and is currently building up the on-site project team in conjunction with Lucara’s owners team and working in close cooperation with the Karowe Diamond Mine operations team.

Murray & Roberts’ Cementation Americas business wins Rio and BHP contracts

Murray & Roberts’ Cementation Americas business has confirmed two new mining contracts with Rio Tinto and BHP.

Cementation USA secured the Underground Characterisation Development and Infrastructure project in Utah for Rio Tinto’s Kennecott copper operations (open pit, pictured). The value of this agreement is circa-$70 million, with the initial scope including lateral development and associated infrastructure works.

Rio, only last month, approved a $108 million investment in underground development to enable early orebody access and undertake orebody characterisation studies for underground mining at the Kennecott copper operations.

The contract award positions Cementation USA well for the potential significant scope growth on this project, Murray & Roberts said.

Cementation Canada Inc has secured the completion of Phase 1 of the Jansen potash project in the province of Saskatchewan for BHP. This scope includes the post liner excavation, steel and equipping of the shaft.

The value of the complete project award, subject to a sanction decision for the project, is around $170 million. Cementation Canada has, in the interim, received a works order to proceed with the first work package to the value of $12 million.

BHP said last month that it expected to make a decision on whether to move forward with Jansen, which is expected to produce 4.4 Mt/y of potash in its first phase, in the next two months.

Cementation Canada will apply to also deliver the following phases of the Jansen project, Murray & Roberts noted.

Murray & Roberts said: “During the past year, mining companies in the Americas have experienced prolonged COVID-19 impact, creating short-term order book pressure for engineering and contracting companies. These awards are evidence of new mining investments returning to the region.

“The forecast improvement in capital investment in the mining industry is encouraging and, considering the platform’s leading global position and growing near term project pipeline, there is good potential for accelerated growth for the group’s mining platform.”

Siemens looks at the future of mining in Africa as it launches SIDRIVE IQ

Siemens has launched its SIDRIVE IQ industrial IoT monitoring solution for drive systems at its Virtual Smart Mining Forum, seeking to showcase how the solution can increase drive uptime to improve mine site productivity.

The SIDRIVE IQ Suite has a powerful dashboard to minimise unplanned downtime with automated failure notifications, improve data transparency with easy access to recent and historical data, and troubleshoot faults.

The Virtual Smart Mining Forum the company is using to launch SIDRIVE IQ will explore new trends and the impact of technology on the African mining sector.

Taking place from August 3-5, the event brings together the mining community, industry experts, decision makers, thought leaders, technology providers, consumers, users, engineers and designers to discuss topics affecting the mining industry, with all participants exploring ways in which technology can drive effective change in the sector, Siemens says.

“COVID-19 has prevented the industry from having progressive conversations about how to move the mining sector forward,” Tim Walwyn – Head of Mineral Solutions, Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa, said. “This three-day event is an opportunity for us to bring the mining community together to reignite the dialogue and share knowledge to help us sustainably transform the future of mining in Africa. As a partner to African mines, our electrification, automation and digitalisation portfolio offers a combination of deep understanding of the mining industry with state-of-the-art technologies.”

Sabine Dall’Omo, Siemens CEO for Southern and Eastern Africa, says: “Our main objective with this event was to initiate a forum for knowledge transfer to the industry and raise awareness of the opportunities created by technology. We’re excited to bring this collaborative forum, where we can showcase the latest technological innovations for the industry and explore their effects on the African mining landscape.”

Siemens has invited various South African universities and will introduce them to Mendix, a low-code rapid application development platform that enables users to build and continuously improve mobile and web applications at scale. During the forum, Siemens will launch a hackathon using the Mendix platform.

As part of the company’s commitment to enterprise and supplier development, Siemens will also provide 10 industrious SMMEs that deliver solutions and services to the mining industry a chance to showcase their companies and expertise in a separate virtual showroom.

Dall’Omo said: “The future of mining and the transformation of the mining industry depends highly on staying abreast of advancing technology and industry trends. It also depends on the sustainable development of new enterprises, collaborations, and ongoing conversations among relevant stakeholders in the public and private sector and educational institutions. Now is the time to contribute to small business growth, promote job creation and develop critical job skills required for the transformation in the mining industry.”

Epiroc prepared for more order records after strong Q2

Record orders received, high revenue growth and improved profitability were all part of Epiroc’s June quarter financial results as the OEM also made significant headway on its diesel-to-battery-electric retrofit plan to help electrify the mining sector.

Orders received increased 37% to a record high of SEK11.07 billion ($1.27 billion). This corresponds to 45% organic growth compared with the June quarter of 2020, the company said, noting that the 2020 three-month period was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within this, equipment had the highest organic order growth of 76%, supported by a few large orders, such as an underground mining equipment order from Mexican contractor CoMinVi for use at several mines throughout the country.

The aftermarket also had a strong development, with organic growth of 26% for service and 42% for Tools & Attachments, Epiroc noted.

On the electrification front, Epiroc also highlighted that the June quarter had seen the company win several orders for battery-electric equipment, including one from Ivanplats for the Platreef project in South Africa, while receiving the first orders for its diesel-to-battery retrofit solution. The latter is starting with the conversion of diesel ST1030 loaders to battery-electric versions.

Revenues increased 15% to SEK9.733 billion in the June quarter, while operating profit and operating margin rose 54% and 22.4% to SEK2.182 billion and 22.4%, respectively.

The period was also characterised by several acquisitions, including the purchase of Australia-based Kinetic Logging Services, Canada-based 3D-P, and South Africa-based MineRP. Chile-based Mining TAG and Meglab, based in Canada, also came into the Epiroc fold in earlier July.

Speaking to IM just after the results came out, Helena Hedblom, Epiroc President and CEO, said the company had seen the automation, digitalisation and electrification trends observed across industry accelerate in these regions, among others, since the emergence of COVID-19.

“We see that different regions are ahead in terms of different capabilities,” she said. “We have seen a lot around digitalisation and automation in Australia, and, in Canada, when it comes to electrification, there are a lot of things happening. South Africa is strong when it comes to software and, on top of that, there are some regional players serving the sector like Mining TAG.

“We, as Epiroc, can come with our global footprint and help these regional players go abroad and roll out the technology on a global level.”

These acquisitions have seen the company’s staffing contingent swell in the last year. At the end of June, Epiroc said it had 14,569 employees across the globe, compared with 13,967 a year earlier, tied mainly to these acquisitions. Indeed, the three companies acquired during the June quarter came with 430 employees in total.

At the end of 2019, prior to the global onset of the pandemic, Epiroc had 14,268 employees on its books.

While Hedblom acknowledged much of the staffing increase was on the back of acquisitions, she did say the company was ramping-up additional workforce in “manufacturing, in supply chain and in service”.

And looking back to the rationalisation carried out across the company during the height of COVID-19 worries – which saw a notice of termination provided to 425 employees in Sweden and the consolidation of the manufacturing of exploration drilling tools in Canada – Hedblom said the company had since repositioned itself for the type of growth it was now experiencing.

“When we did the correction last year, we addressed a lot related to, mainly, admin and back office. With these acquisitions coming on board, of course, the majority of employees are technology-related people…software developers and service people to manage the technology out in the field.”

And, lastly, when it comes to the capacity to keeping up with record orders, Hedblom said: “We have a very flexible manufacturing setup where we do the final assembly, in house, and a lot of the pre-assembly is done by some external suppliers. That is how we are – and have always – managed swings in order volumes.

“We can also add more capacity if needed in our assembly lines. We are not regionally limited there; being able to use the different facilities we have in both the US and Sweden, in addition to China and India. We can balance that demand between the sites.”

Bentley’s cloud-based tech aids AAEngineering in Altynalmas gold plant design

AAEngineering Group, utilising Bentley Systems’ cloud-based technology, has helped Altynalmas come up with a new vision for a gold processing plant in Kazakhstan.

When drilling and geological studies revealed the presence of gold ores in the surrounding Akmola region, gold producer Altynalmas invested in expanding resource extraction operations, announcing a tender to increase annual ore processing production up to 5 Mt.

The $230 million project included construction of a new gold processing plant, a dam, accommodation camp for 600 people, water pipelines, and a 220 kV electrical substation.

AAEngineering Group was tasked with overall design, procurement, and construction works that required upgrading existing energy and mining infrastructure, ensuring environmental protection and occupational safety, and determining an optimal construction site that mandated a 1,000 m sanitary protection zone from adjacent pits and uranium dams. The new plant also needed to be interoperable with the existing processing facilities in terms of equipment and materials, as well as seamlessly integrate with the operating systems.

Additionally, AAEngineering faced challenges meeting the technology demands to comply with the client’s “Digital Mine initiative” on a tight timeline, compounded by coordinating a remote team during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company wanted to offer several conceptual models to the client for Altynalmas to visualise the infrastructure design options and make the best decision for implementing the project.

“We needed to issue several versions of the project according to their technical inquiry,” Andrey Aksyonov, Director of the Information Modelling department at AAEngineering. This situation required updating the existing plant information model, creating a digital terrain model, and incorporating components from the database of equipment and materials to provide accurate visual options for the client.

Once the client decided on the optimal design concept and selected the location for the new plant, AAEngineering moved to the detailed design stage and proposed simultaneously executing design and construction works to reduce construction time and meet the short, 22-month deadline. It also sought provide seamless integration with existing facility assets and operations using digital twins.

To develop its conceptual solutions, concurrently perform design and construction, and achieve digital deliverables aligned with the client’s smart mining initiatives, AAEngineering required integrated BIM and digital twin technology. Furthermore, given the COVID-19 global pandemic quarantine, it needed to establish a connected data environment to remotely coordinate design and construction.

Beginning early in the conceptual modelling stage, AAEngineering established a collaborative design platform using Bentley Systems’ ProjectWise to provide a connected data exchange system for all contractors and the client. It used laser scanning and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to survey the existing facilities and the new construction site, processing the captured images with ContextCapture.

“From the survey data, they assessed earthworks and generated a digital terrain model in OpenRoads,” Bentley said. “Then, using OpenPlant, they digitised existing and new pipeline layouts and equipment connections to develop several conceptual 3D models for the client.”

Aksyonov explained: “Using the survey data in ContextCapture, we built a digital terrain model, and all this was transferred to the site layout plant to generate preliminary specifications with an assessment of earthworks.”

The client used the models to determine the optimal design concept and approve the plant location, equipment and piping scheme.

Based on the client’s specifications, AAEngineering used various software applications to assemble the pipeline and structural models, along with the accommodation camp. It then integrated these models with the general plant model in OpenBuildings Designer.

“Aligned with their proposal to perform design and construction simultaneously, AAEngineering used ContextCapture to process weekly UAV-captured images into reality meshes and synchronised the models with SYNCHRO 4D for construction simulation and scheduling,” Bentley said. “Incorporating LumenRT and iTwin Services facilitated visual clash detection and provided the cloud-based platform to establish a digital twin.”

Using Bentley’s digital twin technology, the company synced the model with iTwin for the best understanding, for visualisation of changes, and for making the right decisions on the project, Aksyonov said. These open applications helped maintain project control and stay on schedule throughout quarantine, the company said.

“Using Bentley technology during the conceptual phase resulted in a well-developed visual bid for the project, providing the client with a full understanding of the design right from the start and winning AAEngineering the contract,” Bentley said. “Throughout project execution, the integrated modelling applications and digital twin solution streamlined workflows and facilitated concurrent design and construction that reduced construction costs and allowed plant commissioning to be ahead of schedule.”

Working in a collaborative digital environment and updating the development model with UAV surveys saved 30% in design time and cut travel expenses by 75%, according to Bentley. This also optimised remote coordination and construction management during the COVID-19 quarantine. Accurate modelling and visualisation reduced material quantities by 15% and eliminated clashes during construction, it added.

“Lastly, using the digital twin, the client was able to train operations staff prior to plant commissioning,” Bentley said. “In addition, the digital twin enabled seamless integration with the client’s operating system in accordance with their digital mine initiative to support intelligent mining processes and management, promoting automation and digitalisation that are transforming the mining industry.”

For AAEngineering, implementing the use of digital twin technology on this project provided economic efficiencies and has instilled new corporate processes, making advanced digital practices a company standard, according to Bentley.

Aksyonov concluded: “To sum it all up, Bentley Systems enabled us to improve our own design, construction, and operations solutions.”

MVV, Appian hit construction milestone at Serrote copper-gold mine

Mineração Vale Verde Ltda and Appian Capital Advisory have finalised construction of the Serrote copper-gold mine and processing plant in Alagoas, Brazil, ahead of schedule and under budget.

Construction was concluded safely, while managing the challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the companies reported.

The focus is now on the transition to steady-state operations and the ramp-up over the second half of 2021, with operational readiness workstreams, employee training programs and risk management workshops well advanced, MVV said. MVV’s first shipment of concentrate is targeted for November 2021.

This follows the announcement in February that MVV had secured a $140 million project finance debt facility, the largest independent greenfield mining project finance transaction announced since the beginning of 2020 and the onset of COVID-19, according to the company.

MVV will produce a high grade bornite-chalcopyrite copper concentrate, with gold and silver by-product credits. The company expects the high-grade nature of the concentrate to yield a premium in the market, while lowering the downstream transport costs and carbon footprint compared with typical copper concentrates.

Serrote will produce an average of approximately 22,000 t/y of copper equivalent over an initial 14-year mine life from a low-strip, open-pit mine supplying a 4.1 Mt/y processing plant. This initial life of mine will exploit a mineral reserve of 52.7 Mt grading 0.6% Cu and 0.1 g/t Au.

MVV says it is working towards unlocking substantial value upside through definition of an expansion plan into the larger 108.9 Mt measured and indicated resource at Serrote, as well as developing plans to generate value through the known oxide resource and nearby satellite deposits which are currently being drilled and expanded.

Paulo Castellari, CEO MVV & Appian Brazil, said: “Concluding construction in line with schedule and below budget once again demonstrates the success of Appian’s business model, and I am particularly proud of our leading safety record and ability to exceed expectations despite the pandemic.

“In Serrote we have a high-quality asset with low production costs, a long mine-life and significant upside from potential further expansion. Copper remains an incredibly attractive commodity and MVV is ideally placed to benefit from the growing global focus on electrification and decarbonisation.”

NextOre’s magnetic resonance tech up and running at First Quantum’s Kansanshi

Australia-based NextOre is onto another ore sorting assignment with its magnetic resonance (MR) sensing technology, this time in Zambia at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine.

NextOre was originally formed in 2017 as a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Worley, with its MR technology representing a leap forward in mineral sensing that provides accurate, whole-of-sample grade measurements, it says.

Demonstrated at mining rates of 4,300 t/h, per conveyor belt, the technology comes with no material preparation requirement and provides grade estimates in seconds, NextOre claims. This helps deliver run of mine grade readings in seconds, providing “complete transparency” for tracking downstream processing and allowing operations to selectively reject waste material.

Having initially successfully tested its magnetic resonance analysers (MRAs) at Newcrest’s Cadia East mine in New South Wales, Australia, the company has gone onto test and trial the innovation across the Americas and Asia.

More recently, it set up camp in Africa at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine where it is hoping to show off the benefits of the technology in a trial.

The MRA in question was installed in January on the sulphide circuit’s 2,800 t/h primary crushed conveyor at Kansanshi, with the installation carried out with remote assistance due to COVID-19 restrictions on site.

Anthony Mukutuma, General Manager at First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mine in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, said the operation was exploring the use of MRAs for online ore grade analysis and subsequent possible sorting to mitigate the impacts of mining a complex vein-type orebody with highly variating grades.

“The installation on the 2,800 t/h conveyor is a trial to test the efficacy of the technology and consider engineering options for physical sorting of ore prior to milling,” he told IM.

Chris Beal, NextOre CEO, echoed Mukutuma’s words on grade variation, saying daily average grades at Kansanshi were on par with what the company might see in a bulk underground mine, but when NextOre looked at each individual measurement – with each four seconds representing about 2.5 t – it was seeing some “higher grades worthy of further investigation”.

“The local geology gives it excellent characteristics for the application of very fast measurements for bulk ore sorting,” he told IM.

Mukutuma said the initial aim of the trial – to validate the accuracy and precision of the MRA scanner – was progressing to plan.

“The next phase of the project is to determine options for the MRA scanner to add value to the overall front end of processing,” he said.

Beal was keen to point out that the MRA scanner setup at Kansanshi was not that much different to the others NextOre had operating – with the analyser still measuring copper in the chalcopyrite mineral phase – but the remote installation process was very different.

“Despite being carried out remotely, this installation went smoother than even some where we had a significant on-site presence,” he said. “A great deal of that smoothness can be attributed to the high competency of the Kansanshi team. Of course, our own team, including the sensing and sorting team at CSIRO, put in a huge effort to quickly pivot from the standard installation process, and also deserve a great deal of credit.”

Beal said the Kansanshi team were supplied with all the conventional technical details one would expect – mechanical drawings, assembly drawings, comprehensive commissioning instructions and animations showing assembly.

To complement that, the NextOre team made use of both the in-built remote diagnostic systems standard in each MRA and several remote scientific instruments, plus a Trimble XR10 HoloLens “mixed-reality solution” that, according to Trimble, helps workers visualise 3D data on project sites.

“The NextOre and CSIRO teams were on-line on video calls with the Kansanshi teams each day supervising the installation, monitoring the outputs of the analyser and providing supervision in real time,” Beal said. He said the Kansanshi team had the unit installed comfortably within the planned 12-hour shutdown window.

By the second week of February the analyser had more than 90% availability, Beal said in early April.

He concluded on the Kansanshi installation: “There is no question that we will use the remote systems developed during this project in each project going ahead, but, when it is at all possible, we will always have NextOre representatives on site during the installation process. This installation went very smoothly but we cannot always count on that being the case. And there are other benefits to having someone on site that you just cannot get without being there.

“That said, in the future, we expect that a relatively higher proportion of support and supervision can be done through these remote systems. More than anything, this will allow us to more quickly respond to events on site and to keep the equipment working reliably.”