Tag Archives: COVID-19

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.”

Austmine to offer ‘complete’ industry access to conference and exhibition

Austmine is ensuring all participants from the Australian and international resources sector can gain access to the upcoming Austmine Conference and Exhibition in Perth, Western Australia, irrespective of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The mining equipment, technology and services industry organisation is hosting its conference and exhibition from May 25-27, with expectations it will be one of the largest gatherings of the industry since COVID-19 emerged.

Austmine CEO, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said Austmine knows how important this event is to the industry and wants to ensure everyone is able to get complete access, even in these uncertain times.

“To make sure no one misses out, if borders close in your state during the conference, we will be providing an alternate conference experience virtually that will give you access to view and engage with the conference from your home or office,” Gibbs Stewart said.

“We understand virtual attendance is not quite the same as getting to experience the in-room atmosphere and opportunity for conversation and collaboration, which is why we are giving 25% refunds to all who are pushed to join virtually due to border restrictions.

“We are, however, encouraging everyone to purchase full-access tickets to Austmine 2021 to embrace the full experience as we hear from industry experts and explore the importance of optimising our technology, processes and collaboration across the industry.

“We are really conscious of the unprecedented times we face, and although travel is opening up and restrictions are easing, we are wanting to implement a solution ahead of time should any further restrictions arise.”

More than 80 exhibiting companies will attend the 2021 conference, along with a line-up of world-class speakers, interactive workshops, educational and networking opportunities, live demonstrations, the collaborative Ideas Exchange, Meet the Miners and the Austmine Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards, Austmine says.

International Mining is a media sponsor of Austmine 2021

Interact Analysis forecasts slow haul truck electrification uptake in open-pit mining

The electric revolution looks to be well and truly underway in the mining space, with underground mines of all sizes planning, trialling, or ordering various battery-electric machines to help them decarbonise their operations. Yet, the latest report on the off-highway vehicle market from Interact Analysis has indicated the transition above ground will take a little longer than many anticipated.

Homing in specifically on the 85-t-plus global hauler/dump truck market – broadly applicable to the medium-large construction space and the small-large open-pit mining sector – the market research firm laid out estimates for the annual number of new truck deliveries to 2029.

The surprising aspect of this research was the continued dominance of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle deliveries over this time frame.

The team at Interact Analysis expected the adoption rate/market share to go from 100% in 2020 – when 1,330 new vehicles were delivered – to 96.2% in 2029 – when it expected 1,716 units to be delivered.

The growth is slightly extreme in this comparison, but is partially accounted for by a drop off in deliveries in 2020 due to the effects of COVID-19. For reference, in 2019, 2,065 units were delivered.

Included within the ICE stats are biofuel vehicles, which have been gaining prominence in the mining space as miners realise they can both reduce diesel costs and emissions by incorporating biofuels into their operating mix.

Over the same time frame – 2020-2029 – the analysts see “hybrid” trucks commanding zero percent market share, with no sales.

Fully-electric trucks fare better, moving from zero deliveries in 2020 to two in 2021, five in 2022, six in 2023; to 72 in 2028 and 67 in 2029. The fully-electric adoption rate moves from 0% in 2020 to 3.8% in 2029.

Among these new fully-electric dump trucks is an XCMG EDF531 90 t battery-electric truck that was on show at the Bauma China show late last year (pictured below).

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China, said this dump truck has already been delivered to a customer.

“In fact, quite a few dump fully-electric trucks below 100 t have already been used in China (in Guangdong),” she told IM. “Many of these have payloads of below 60 t, but a few are 90 t, and are in trial runs, and a few have also been exported to New Zealand, using the LiFePO4 battery from CATL.”

There has been much talk about hydrogen haul trucks taking hold in the mining space. This has been catalysed by Anglo American’s plans to test a 291 t fuel cell electric vehicle, a conversion to hydrogen fuel cell and lithium battery operation of a diesel-powered Komatsu 930E, at the Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa. If successful, these tests could lead to a rollout of 40 FCEVs across the global miner’s operations, it says.

Despite this, Interact Analysis’ research has no plus-85 t payload hydrogen trucks included in its forecasts to 2029.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK, explains: “Our statistics only look at new builds and not retrofits. My understanding is that the Anglo American vehicles would be retrofit (although there is limited detail at this point).

“Should some be new build, then we would update our forecast accordingly once we have better visibility.”

It’s worth asking the question: what about hydrogen trucks in mining beyond 2029?

Zhang said: “At present, mining trucks are mainly used in medium and large-scale coal and metal mines, and the use scenario is mainly for downhill heavy payload applications. That is to say where mineral resources are situated in a high up location, and it is necessary to load them from the mountain to the conveyor belt or transfer vehicle (the short distance transportation path is generally 2-3 km).”

She said mining truck electrification is mainly driven by two factors, with the first being operational cost advantages.

Jan Zhang, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in China

“For example, a mine truck with a total weight of 90 t will cost $45,000-75,000 in standard fuel annually, whilst the cost of electricity is only a third of the cost of fuel under the same circumstances, which means that $30,000-45,000 can be saved in the annual cost, not to mention other costs which are also higher for ICE mine trucks such as repair and maintenance,” she said.

The second factor is environmental protection and policy promotion.

“In China, the ‘National Green Mine Construction Specification’, issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources, has been implemented since October 2018,” Zhang explained. “This measure will surely help to grow the market share of hydrogen trucks in China, although the overall percentage will remain small.”

The last category included in Interact Analysis’ research was “Others” in the global hauler/dump truck market for 85-t-plus vehicles.

No deliveries for this category were registered in 2020, but the company anticipates one delivery in 2021, followed by three in 2022 and five in 2023. This gets as high as eight deliveries in 2025, but, by the end of the forecast period (2029), this category still commands 0.0% of the total.

So, what trucks fit into this category?

Hayfield explained: “We’re talking about diesel-electrics that will enter service into a trolley line operation – we essentially have to make an estimate on how we think the vehicle will predominantly be used. This is analogous to what we do in our on-highway research where we have to make estimates on how class 8 trucks are used for different applications ie long haul, distribution, vocational applications.”

This is not to say there will be no trolley assist trucks coming into the mining space, but, as far as Interact Analysis is concerned, these will not be new trucks coming out of the factory destined to head onto trolley lines. They will more likely be AC drive trucks that are retrofitted later for trolley assist operation.

When consolidated, these numbers show an underlying trend.

Back in 2019, there were 2,065 truck units delivered to the market in this 85-t-plus category, but, even out to 2029, this level is not reached, according to Interact Analysis.

Alastair Hayfield, Senior Research Director at Interact Analysis, based in the UK

In 2020, total deliveries dropped to 1,330 and, in 2021, Interact Analysis sees this rising to 1,545 units. A continual rise is expected in the years following, but it only reaches 1,783 in 2029.

What about beyond this timeframe?

Hayfield answered: “You have two fundamental pressures: a growing, resource-intensive population and a need to re-use/cut consumption because of environmental and/or legislative pressure. I suspect we will continue to see the growth of new mines throughout the 2030s in developing regions, fuelling demand for new trucks. However, I suspect we will see increasing pressure in Europe and North America on sustainability and the need to re-use materials and, hence, a slowing in the opening of new mines.”

This means demand for new trucks could start to drop during the 2030s in Europe and North America, he deduced.

This is not an exhaustive look at trends in the open-pit mining dump truck market – it is more of a taster – but Interact Analysis plans a detailed, mining specific study later in 2021. Such analysis could include forecasts for the retrofit market, providing the complete picture mining industry onlookers are after.

FLSmidth high density thickeners optimise recoveries at DRC copper-cobalt mine

FLSmidth says it has delivered a thickener solution to help double production rates at one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt producers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The order for the solution, which included six of FLSmidth’s high density thickeners, was placed in 2020, with delivery now completed.

The mine already had FLSmidth thickeners on site, with the company’s proposal for the mine’s expanded requirements  based on test work to confirm the characteristics of the material to be treated, according to FLSmidth General Manager Projects and Account Sales, Howard Areington.

“The tests confirmed that we could use a similar design to what we had installed on the mine some years previously,” he says. “This solution included six counter current decantation (CCD) thickeners and one pre-leach thickener, each measuring 31 m in diameter.”

These units deliver high solids underflow to optimise the recovery of dissolved metals, according to FLSmidth. In addition to the steeper floor slope, these thickeners were designed with a high torque ring gear drive design, with high tolerances that make for minimal maintenance over long periods of time, the company says.

“Our high density thickener design ensures consistently high underflow densities which allows the operator to sustain high production rates and better recoveries,” Areington says.

These CCD thickeners are manufactured from LDX2101 duplex stainless steel. This provides mechanical benefits without compromising chemical resistance, allowing the mass of each unit to be reduced, the company explained. The pre-leach thickener, which was not exposed to corrosive conditions, is constructed from carbon steel.

“We also designed and supplied five impurities removal thickeners, which are high rate thickeners, also in LDX2101 stainless steel,” Areington says. “The sizes of these units ranged from 20 to 30 m in diameter.”

Fabrication of the equipment was carried out in South Africa while accommodating the demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, which required careful planning and flexibility. With components and platework delivered to site, the welding and construction was conducted by the mine with installation assistance from FLSmidth and its agent in the region.

Hycroft Mining continues evaluation of novel sulphide heap oxidation/leach process

After testing out a “novel” oxidation and leaching process at the Hycroft Mine in Nevada, USA, Hycroft Mining Holding Corp is making plans to go back to a conventional oxide leaching setup in 2021.

The company produced 27,392 oz of gold and 178,836 oz of silver in 2020, an almost three-fold increase over 2019. It hit these numbers while operating at a pre-commercial scale using the novel process, which oxidises sulphides ahead of leaching.

It is now planning for run-of-mine production of 45,000-55,000 oz of gold and 400,000-450,000 oz of silver in 2021 using conventional cyanide heap leach.

It is anticipated that mining in the first four months of 2021 will be performed using the existing Hycroft fleet and a rental fleet, moving approximately 1.5 Mt/mth of ore and waste. For the remainder of the year, Hycroft intends to mine some 500,000 t of oxide and transitional ore and waste per month with a more cost-effective mining fleet.

Diane R Garrett, President & Chief Executive Officer, reflected on the results: “2020 was an important year for Hycroft as the company continued to focus on the restart of the Hycroft Mine. Throughout the year, we advanced work on the proprietary two-stage sulphide heap oxidation and leach process and made several important findings that will need to be addressed prior to our implementing the novel technology on a commercial scale.

“In 2021, we expect to mine predominantly oxide and transition material, which are more economic when treated using a conventional run-of-mine heap leaching method, which gives us the opportunity to continue to refine the operating parameters and flowsheet for the new heap leach pad and novel process. While the company continued to make significant progress in better understanding this proprietary process and its application on a commercial scale, the past year also presented some operational challenges, including learning to navigate in a newly emerged COVID-19 world.”

In the last few months, Hycroft says it has worked alongside consultants to identify and investigate opportunities for improvements in operating parameters for the two-stage sulphide heap oxidisation and leach process. The result of the work to date has identified several items that were not considered or included in the original plan and design but are critical to the success of this process. These findings include:

  • Adding a forced air injection system for the leach pad which is a key component of the oxidation process;
  • Developing a system for segregating solution flows to and from the heap leach pad to avoid co-mingling of solutions among heap lifts and ore processing stages that negatively impact recoveries and conditions on the leach pads;
  • Identifying that the finer crushed material requires agglomeration in order to achieve optimal permeability and gold/silver recoveries;
  • Understanding that higher soda ash, caustic soda, and cyanide consumption will be required which Hycroft experienced throughout the 2020 pre-commercial test pad programs and recently confirmed through the review of the test work;
  • Determining that some transitional ores are more economically attractive when processed as direct leach, run-of-mine material; and
  • Concluding that additional variability metallurgical and mineralogy studies will be required to better understand each of the geometallurgical domains in the orebody. While there was some variability work completed in the past, the recent test work has revealed that additional variability test work and compositing is necessary to fully understand the geometallurgy of each domain, and that additional sampling, including sampling below the water table where the predominance of the sulphide resources exist, is required given the complexity and variability of the large orebody.

The additional variability test work will also include detailed mineralogy studies as it is important to understand the role other minerals may play in the overall oxidation process and to enhance Hycroft’s ability to measure oxidation rates accurately and consistently, it said.

The team at Hycroft has developed an approximate $10 million program for drilling and additional metallurgical and mineralogical studies in 2021. This program of work has been approved by the Board of Directors of Hycroft and can be funded from existing cash and Hycroft’s current operating plans.

Hycroft expects to mine and stockpile at least 300,000 tons (272,155 t) of sulphide ore in 2021 that, once sufficient additional work on the novel process has been completed, will be available for testing to further refine operating parameters and measure its performance for large scale application of the oxidation heap leach.

Garrett added: “2021 is a foundational year designed to advance the work necessary in preparation for larger-scale sulphide operations. The team is working diligently to optimise current and future heap leach mine plans and to evaluate all opportunities for more profitable mine plans in the near and medium term. This work involves taking a ‘ground up’ approach working from the orebody out. The company’s prior plan was developed using a $1,200/oz gold price pit shell which leaves profitable ore behind in the current gold and silver price environment. By running pit shells at recent gold and silver prices, we have identified additional areas of oxide mineralisation that can generate cash flows over the next several years and we have already begun to identify areas of higher-grade mineralisation that will become important for mine sequencing and further improving cash flows prior to accessing sulphide material.”

As the company considers life-of-mine development and planning for the Hycroft deposit, particularly in the current gold and silver price environment, Hycroft says it is prudent to evaluate proven processing technologies for treating some ore types that may be more profitable than only using the two-stage sulphide heap oxidation and leaching process.

Potential opportunities being examined by the company in 2021 include: developing an understanding of the grade range distribution of the sulphide material; completing on-going work on the higher-grade areas of Hycroft; and following up on historical high-grade intercepts.

In order to capitalise on these potential opportunities, which take advantage of the current commodity price environment, Hycroft believes that it should also evaluate the benefits of a multi-process operation. Long-term operating scenarios may include conventional run-of-mine cyanide heap leaching for the oxide and transitional material, sulphide heap oxidation and leaching using the novel process, and an appropriately sized milling and flotation plant for processing the higher-grade ranges of sulphide material.

“The company believes that the plan it has put in place for 2021 will provide the new team the time to fully consider and evaluate these opportunities and make any necessary changes to improve the leach pads, process plants and process flowsheet, maintain and develop its workforce, and advance the project, in order to further enhance the value of the project,” it said. “As the test work advances and alternative processes are considered, the company expects to perform technical studies and trade-off evaluations which may result in an updated feasibility study.”