Tag Archives: diesel

Gold Fields to trial Caterpillar dual-fuel solution on haul trucks at Tarkwa mine

Gold Fields plans to test the use of LNG to power haul trucks in a trial at its Tarkwa open-pit gold mine in Ghana, CEO Nick Holland told attendees of the IMARC Online event this week.

Speaking on a panel reviewing progress of the Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative – a supply chain collaboration between the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – Holland said the trial would involve a mix of LNG and diesel fuel at the operation, and four trucks would initially be tested with the fuel combination in 2021.

Gold Fields later confirmed to IM that the trial would take place in the second half of 2021 and involve the use of Caterpillar’s dual-fuel LNG Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) retrofit system on four of the mine’s Cat 785C 146 t payload dump trucks.

The DGB conversion kits, available on Cat 785C and 793D haul trucks, are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG, according to Cat. The use of LNG has been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, as well as lower costs by up to 30%, Cat says.

DGB vaporises liquid fuel into natural gas, then replaces diesel fuel with LNG when possible. On average, DGB replaces about 60-65% of diesel with LNG, according to Cat.

Tarkwa, which is 90% owned by Gold Fields, produced 519,000 oz of gold in 2019, 1% lower than the 525,000 oz produced in 2018. It employs Engineers & Planners Co Ltd as mining contractor.

While this trial will potentially lower the company’s carbon emissions – as will Gold Fields’ plan to fit “diesel filters” on all its machines underground in the next 12-18 months – Holland pointed to a much loftier long-term goal during the ICSV panel.

“The challenge to our teams and OEMs is to move away from diesel completely,” he said.

Such a move could see the company employ both battery-powered and hydrogen-powered solutions at its underground mines, he added.

Bis’ UGM backs up growth plans with new Morisset facility

Australia-based underground services provider, UGM, has opened the doors on its new purpose-built diesel and electrical workshop facility in Morisset, New South Wales.

UGM, which forms part of the Bis group, said the location for the new facility was strategically selected for its proximity to the region’s key mining operators, providing enhanced services for customers.

Building on UGM’s existing underground repair, overhaul, field service and spare parts services, the western Lake Macquarie facility was also designed to support UGM in delivering new services to a broader customer set.

Bis Underground Services General Manager, Mark Doyle, said the move will bolster UGM’s diesel and electrical capacity and provide faster expert service for its underground mining and civil customers.

“The Morisset location provides proximity to local mining operations and the opportunity to design a space with a much larger footprint, to support our growth plans.

“The new facility is three times larger, enabling UGM to offer a broader range of niche customer solutions. One of these is growing our tunnelling infrastructure capabilities, including our licensed Mitsui roadheader operations, which services major civil underground projects throughout the Eastern seaboard.”

Zenith Energy and Independence celebrate solar start up at Nova

Operations at Independence Group’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range of Australia are now being powered by a mix of diesel and solar energy after the on-site hybrid solar PV-diesel facility started up.

Zenith Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Zenith Pacific, built the plant. The ASX-listed power company also owns and operates the facility, which, it said, is already exceeding performance targets for power output and energy efficiency.

The two signed a contract back in 2018, amending an existing power purchase agreement.

Within the 26.6 MW facility is 5.5 MW of state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) modules, single axis tracking, inverters and communications and control system technology, according to Zenith Energy’s Managing Director, Hamish Moffat. The system also features high-efficiency diesel-fuelled generators that combine with this control system to optimise solar and diesel power delivery.

Moffat said: “The proprietary hybrid system developed by the company is able to seamlessly manage the fluctuations in solar PV energy production to provide smooth, reliable power, without the need for batteries to stabilise energy delivery to Nova.”

He explained that batteries have their place in energy systems but are still expensive to deploy for these applications.

“Our unique, locally developed hybrid system eliminates the need for batteries and represents a major step forward in the capital cost optimisation, operating efficiency and environmental performance of solar PV hybrid energy systems in remote locations,” he added.

According to Moffat, the system is saving Nova in the order of 6,500 litres of diesel a day, and it is the first hybrid solar PV-diesel installation to have been funded on a commercial, standalone basis – without any government subsidies.

IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “At IGO we are striving to reduce our carbon footprint. The implementation of new technologies with the construction of a hybrid‐solar system at Nova will enable IGO to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions by approximately 6,500 t per annum. The solar facility will also decrease our cost structure through reductions in our diesel fuel usage.”

As part of an agreement between the two companies, Zenith will supply power from the solar PV‐diesel hybrid system for an initial six‐year period, with an option for Independence to extend for a further two years.

Nova is expected to produce 6,750-7,500 t of nickel concentrate in the year ending June 30, 2020, alongside 2,750-3,125 t of copper concentrate and 213-238 t of cobalt concentrate, according to the miner’s September quarter results.

Pure Gold makes its electric investment case

Newmont Goldcorp’s Borden development may have stolen the mine electrification limelight in the last 12-24 months in Ontario, Canada, but with this all-electric mine close to starting up, another project in the province is laying the groundwork to follow in its footsteps.

The Madsen project is a former-operating underground gold mine situated in the renowned Red Lake region. Since acquisition, Pure Gold Mining has been adding ounces to the 43-101 reserve and resource categories, while rehabilitating the old workings to generate a viable plan to re-start mining.

The February feasibility study outlined an economically sound project, costing C$95 million ($72 million) in upfront capital and returning an after-tax net present value (5% discount) of C$247 million using a gold price of $1,275/oz. This study included details of a mining and development fleet made up of a combination of diesel and battery-powered load and haul equipment.

With mine electrification still high on IM’s agenda following the inaugural Electric Mine conference in April, in Toronto, Dan Gleeson spoke with Pure Gold President and CEO, Darin Labrenz, to find out more about the company’s electric equipment plans.

IM: You recently raised C$47.5 million to continue development work and carry out further exploration at Madsen. Can you breakdown how much will go towards exploration/development?

DL: We’ve closed two raisings this year. The one earlier in the year was a C$5.2 million flowthrough raise designated for exploration. Those funds will go towards a drilling program in the order of 12,000 m directed towards those resources and discoveries that lie outside of the feasibility study mine plan…with the goal of being able to bring them into a future mine plan.

The C$47.5 million is what I would call the ‘equity component’ of a project financing package. Some of it may ultimately go into exploration.

Then, in August, we announced the $90 million project financing package with Sprott Resource Lending Corp comprised of a credit facility for $65 million, and a $25 million callable gold stream. This allows us even more flexibility on how we want to explore the exciting tenement as well as other opportunities.

IM: What type of development work is going on at Madsen currently?

DL: Last year, we conducted some trial mining, which involved extending the ramp a short distance; lateral development underneath the base of two stoping areas (as well as a couple of raises into those areas); and rehabilitation of the historical Number 2 level back to the existing shaft to provide secondary egress to the mine. We also initiated dewatering last year and have brought the water level down; right now, we’re holding it constant at about 250 m below surface. We’ve also done a lot of surface work to clean up and prepare the site for future activities.

With the debt financing now complete and a decision to construct by the board, detailed engineering in advance of site development work will commence immediately. We expect surface works and underground development to commence in Q4 (December quarter) of 2019.

IM: Based on current progress, when do you expect to produce first gold at Madsen?

DL: With access to the capital provided by the recently announced financing, the construction of the Madsen Red Lake mine is now fully funded. Combined with the equity financing, this secured approximately C$90 million of immediate funding enabling us to initiate construction and put us on track for first gold pour by late 2020.

IM: What factors came into play when deciding on the use of battery-electric equipment at Madsen?

DL: The key drivers for us were operating costs, environmental benefits and improved working conditions.

The use of electric equipment underground really eliminates a large component of the operational greenhouse gases that would be emitted from the mining operation, but also key is the reduction in ventilation requirements: the use of an electric fleet is going to require about 50% less ventilation. When you look at the life of mine at Madsen – with the combination of power and propane that would be used – you’re looking at savings of around C$41 million by going down the electrification route.

The ventilation benefits really increase with depth as you continue to push the mine down. Electrification allows the mine to push ramps down more efficiently, while reducing operating costs at the same time.

From a social, community and regulatory perspective, the move to a more environmentally friendly operating environment is also being well received.

IM: How did the company balance the capex issues with the opex benefits when choosing battery-electric haulage equipment over conventional diesel?

DL: The capex is higher for electric fleets – these costs are reducing, and I would expect to see them to continue to reduce into the future as that technology advances. Saying that, the increases in capital over diesel equipment are more than covered by the operating cost improvements that come with the reduced ventilation and heating requirements.

In an earlier study we completed we had a more pronounced combination of diesel and electric equipment. One of the things that has allowed us to further electrify this operation is the use of the existing shaft on the property. With this existing shaft, we will be transitioning to an operation that hoists ore and waste up the shaft, which reduces the haulage distance for the electric equipment. From an operational standpoint, in terms of the battery capacity and the need to recharge/replace batteries, it really advances our potential use of electric equipment.

One of the limiting factors in ramp-supported operations is ventilation. As you go deeper and deeper in a mine, you need to drive more and more air down to these depths. Ultimately, you get to a point with deepening a mine where you just cannot push enough air to clean out the diesel from the operating environment. With an electrified fleet, you can have narrower openings and you can push those ramps much deeper as the ventilation requirements are reduced.

IM: Have any investors raised concerns about this planned mine electrification?

DL: While we haven’t received any specific concerns, we have been asked about the technology’s availability and reliability. We can now point to several operations in Canada that are transitioning to electrical equipment. Many of the major equipment suppliers are also transitioning and starting to provide electrified versions of existing diesel equipment. That technology has been rapidly advancing and will continue to do so.

For us, looking to go into operations in the near-term, initially starting with the diesel equipment and transitioning into the electrical equipment reduces any risk from an availability and operating perspective.

IM: Is the move to start with diesel and go into electric also predicated on the flexibility required during development/production?

DL: It’s a few things. Primarily, when you look at the early years of mining, we are mining much shallower and the ventilation requirements are that much lower, so you see limited operational cost benefits when using electric equipment. From a capital perspective, initiating operations with diesel equipment allows us to be capital efficient, as well as equipment availability being high.

As we continue to deepen the mine, we transition into electric technology and then see operational cost improvements. This strategy also allows the industry more time to advance the electric technology.

IM: What was the reason behind the plan to use a tethered 6 t LHD close to the loading station and 6 t diesel LHDs elsewhere?

DL: The use of tethered equipment is a function of how much this 6 t LHD has to travel in the mine plan. Its purpose is to transfer muck into the loading pocket shoot, so it has a limited travel path.

On the other large LHDS, obviously we would use electric equipment should it be available at the time we need to procure it.

IM: Are you looking to use any other battery-powered or tethered equipment underground?

DL: We would look at electric equipment wherever it is practical and available. Currently utility vehicles such as man carriers, telehandlers, etc are available and will be utilised.

It will be something we consider at the time of the purchasing. We would look to use electric equipment as much as possible.

IM: Do you envisage other juniors going down a similar mine electrification route in the near-term?

DL: I believe so.

My perspective on this is that electrification of underground equipment is one of the great innovations in underground mining technology over the last decade. It has a very pronounced impact on operating costs, it obviously improves working conditions underground without the occurrence of diesel particulate matter and improves the ability to move your mine system deeper. It, importantly, also results in a real reduction in greenhouse gases, which reduces the environmental impact of underground mining.

Electrification is one of those rare cases where we see not only a strong operational reason for a move to that technology, but also a pronounced positive impact on the workforce and surrounding community.

Purify Fuel and Solvay launch new additive blend for diesel-powered engines

Purify Fuel and Solvay say they have developed a nanotechnology-based fuel additive blend designed to improve fuel efficiency, increase power and reduce harmful emissions in existing diesel-powered engines.

First marketed 18 years ago, Solvay EOLYS Fuel Additives, an essential element in Purify Fuel’s fuel additive formulations (nanO2®), have been used in more than 16 million new engines with similar nanotech combustion catalysts. They are designed to reduce greenhouse gases and regulate emissions while improving fuel efficiency.

Through this effort, Purify Fuel’s nanO2 Fuel Additive Blends leverage Solvay’s nanotechnology expertise to create diesel fuel additive blends that reduce harmful emissions while improving fuel efficiency, Purify Fuel said. “The nanO2 Fuel Additive Blends can be introduced without any upfront costs to the 400 million diesel engines not already equipped with pollution control devices,” the company said.

John Carroll, CEO of Purify Fuel, said: “It is exciting to be part of this partnership, and to be working on a technology that will make meaningful impacts to transform the rail, marine, fracking, mining and power generation industries, leading to a significant reduction in harmful emissions on a global scale.

“While we all know the world needs faster conversion to renewable sources, there is still a great deal of infrastructure that is operating on diesel that will take years to convert. We have a proven solution that is available now, that reduces costs, and improves air quality.”

Sebastien Meric, Executive Vice President of Solvay Special Chem, added: “We are pleased to combine our 30 years of expertise in technologies for exhaust emission control & fuel efficiency with Purify Fuel to tackle both increasing emission and fuel consumption challenges.”

This global technology, which will be available in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, provides advantages, according to the company, such as:

  • Reducing harmful emissions by up to 35-55%;
  • Improved fuel efficiency offsets the cost of the emissions-reducing fuel additive, and;
  • Operator savings of 6-12% on net fuel costs.

Carroll added: “If operators of existing engines implemented nanO2 to reduce emissions by 30%, it would have the equivalent effect of removing 100 million diesel trucks off our roads – buying the world more time to implement smart pollution control technologies.”

Cummins powers up for the future of mining

Mining operations are embracing the opportunities created by new technology, from automation and electric vehicles to renewable energy, but what can traditional fossil fuel power generation contribute to this technology-led evolution of mining? Craig Wilkins, Director Prime Power at Cummins, explains how natural gas power is key to meeting the industry’s power needs in the coming decades.

Many mining operations take place in remote parts of the world where access to large electric utility feeds is either unavailable or requires significant investments in electrical transmission and distribution. These same sites may also have little or no access to pipeline gas, or experience a variation of natural gas supply. In addition, they are operating in the most extreme climates imaginable, faced with blistering heat, the wettest humidity and high altitudes.

Therefore, the need to secure a reliable prime and peaking power supply to keep production up and running 24/7 is paramount.

Cummins has responded to this challenge with a significant investment into the natural gas arena with the launch of its HSK78G gas-powered generator, a flexible prime power solution for heavy-industry installations in the most extreme environments. Its extreme engineering is designed to push the boundaries of performance and challenge the perceived limitations of natural gas generators for mining operations. It has barrier-breaking fuel flexibility, able to burn pipeline natural gas, flare gas and biogas, even the lowest BTU methane down to 40MN, and free fuel sources, with high efficiency and low emissions.

The investment on the HSK78G comes as the power market across the globe is changing. Technological advances in renewable energy and its application with batteries as part of modular power networks, tend to dominate the future of power generation. The concept is flexible, scalable and able to power entire cities as well as remote off-grid installations – such as mines. So why invest in traditional natural gas power?

Gas vs diesel

Miners continuously look for ways to lower their cost of production.  One of the major sources of cost for an open-pit mine site is fuel.  Some mines have access to an un-interruptible supply of natural gas that offers them a lower total cost when compared to diesel. 

Although technological advancements in natural gas storage and filling have yet to yield an economical replacement to diesel engines in mobile mining equipment, prime power generator sets are quickly moving towards lean burn, natural gas technologies. Lean burn gas powered generator sets use twice as much air in the fuel/air mix than required for total burn, which lowers burn temperature and NOx output, ensuring compliance with emission regulations.

Due to increasing emissions limits being adopted for generator sets, diesel generators sometimes are limited in their use. Lean burn, natural gas generator sets typically have ten times lower NOx than diesel equivalents (250-500 mg/Nm3 for natural gas compared to 2,500-3,000 mg/Nm3 for diesel.) Also, lean burn particulate levels are almost zero, so meeting location specific emissions regulations can be far easier across a global perspective.

Power generation fuel flexibility

Technological advances in design, running in tandem with market change, will result in gensets that can use fuel efficiently in varying qualities. This innovation is demonstrated by our new HSK78G, which delivers high electrical efficiency of up to 44.2% (50 Hz) and 43.5% (60 Hz) on a range of pipeline natural gas down to 70 methane number (MN) without impacting power output and efficiency.

Ultimately this fuel flexibility empowers operators to derive clean power from what would otherwise be regarded as waste products, at worst emissions. The technology for smarter and cleaner power solutions is speeding up and adoption will continue to grow as more mines embrace its capital expenditure (capex) and operational expenditure (opex) advantages.

Engineered to extremes

A further challenge for the mining operation is the environment in which the generator set operates. As engines operate, they produce heat and tend to be more sensitive to the ambient temperature levels. A generator’s ambient capability is defined as the maximum temperature at which it can operate without experiencing a loss of efficiency and it is an essential factor for customers operating in such extreme environments.

Without an engine capable of meeting high ambient temperatures, customers risk having to derate their engine, which can lead to reduced power efficiency and shorter operational life from the generator or having to stop it altogether. The HSK78G has been designed to operate at the highest ambient temperatures in the most remote locations, all far from the closest grid, offering full power capability without derating at 50°C (122°F) and 500 m (1,640 ft).

Gas vs renewables

The focus of many customers is to achieve the optimum levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) given the availability of different technologies which are suitable for their application. This can range from 100% gas generation through to a balanced mix of renewable sources such as wind or solar, and complementary storage technologies that leverages the reliability of gas generation to ride through periods where renewables are limited by their cyclical nature. The technology mix utilised will drive the different capex and opex cost scenarios that will ultimately affect the LCOE.

Improvements in gas engine technology, such as in the new HSK78G engine from Cummins, have pushed maintenance and overhaul limits well beyond the traditional envelope, thereby lowering opex costs over time. Jointly, we will continue to see cost reductions in storage and battery technology as volumes increase. For the near future, however, miners will continue to look for mixed technology to balance their capex and opex trying to achieve the lowest LCOE for its sites.

Preparation for electrification

As much as 40% of an underground mine’s energy outlay is spent on powering ventilation systems to remove pollutants from tunnels. Reducing the use of fossil fuels underground could have significant cost benefits for underground mines. In addition, The International Council on Mining and Metals have set their vision to provide solutions for minimizing the impact of underground diesel exhaust by 2025. As more underground mining vehicles and equipment contemplate the potential benefits of electrification, Cummins will continuously invest in power systems that will be ready to support such power need and respond to any changes in the mining industry

The right technology choice

In the future most power systems will require a mix of technologies that are specifically suited to their environment, emissions zone and location.  Natural gas power offers mining operators an efficient and proven and prime power solution. From Cummins perspective, a lot of investments are made in new gas engineering technology, which are demonstrated with the HSK78G gas series. Additional product investments are being made within the 500-1 MW space, which will be released later this year, offering a comprehensive gas product portfolio to meet all market requirements. Progressively stringent global emissions standards are also driving Cummins investment into a variety of technologies – natural gas, diesel, batteries and fuel cells, to ensure that customers have the right power for the right application.

Cat’s DGB dual-fuel technology cuts costs, emissions at La Herradura gold mine

Caterpillar has been showing one of Mexico’s biggest gold mining operations that its Dynamic Gas Blending™ (DGB) technology can provide savings on fuel costs and emissions while maintaining the same performance, payload and productivity of its diesel haul trucks.

The mining OEM and its Mexico-based dealer, Matco Cat, have been working with Fresnillo’s Penmont division to convert its entire fleet of large mining trucks at the La Herradura open-pit mine, in Sonora.

Caterpillar’s dual-fuel DGB technology, which has accumulated 10 million hours in the oil and gas industry since 2013, works by blending lower cost liquefied natural gas (LNG) with diesel fuel, according to Cat.

The resultant improvements in fuel, emissions and maintenance can add up to millions of dollars each year in cost savings, Cat said.

La Herradura, since 2016, has acted as a great case study for the technology given it has more than 250 Cat trucks and the operation hauls at least 25 Mt of volume per quarter (based on Fresnillo’s most recent Q4 production results).

In addition, the company has been looking for ways to “produce (gold) in a sustainable manner”, Fresnillo’s Abel Villa said in a recent Cat customer story.

According to Steve Igoe, Commercial Manager for Caterpillar’s Gas Engine Business, the benefits of DGB technology include, primarily, a lower cost per tonne, realised through a lower fuel cost. “DGB truck operation with LNG has proven very beneficial to La Herradura, and this is why they have decided to convert their entire fleet,” he said.

“Typically, LNG is 30% lower than the price of diesel. And, on a typical fleet at a mine, that adds up to millions of dollars a year,” he said. “And the trucks maintain the ability to operate 100% on diesel.”

Cat estimates a fleet of 100 trucks spends approximately $60-70 million/y on diesel fuel. With 65% displacement to LNG using DGB, that fleet could save $13 million/y on fuel alone.

DGB can also bring about a 30% cut in emissions compared with diesel-only operation – another important saving for mining companies looking at sustainability.

Trials during 2016 and 2017 of the technology at a gold mine in Turkey and a phosphate mine in the US have proven these claims.

For instance, the Turkey gold mine has retrofitted DGB technology on Cat 150-ton (136-t) 785C haul trucks and, since installation, has reached an average 70% average fuel displacement in addition to an operating cost reduction of $30/h.

Fresnillo’s Villa said La Herradura had gone further than this in terms of displacement.

“Initially when we started the project, the substitution rate was 70:30. We evaluated the results and changed the substitution to 85:15,” he said. This is close to the peak substitution rate Cat typically recommends.

Villa continued: “We have an average reduction of 70% in diesel consumption. We also considerably reduced the amount of emissions. When we compare both diesel and gas, the operation is the same.”

Cat said it observed a less than 1% difference in speed, payload and gear shifting, plus a 30% reduction in fuel cost, during one customer’s 5,000-h DGB trial.

La Herradura has also seen no unexpected maintenance issues during the trials, according to Fresnillo’s Enrique Leal. This is in keeping with Cat’s focus on reliability and productivity, with the company saying it has tallied zero hours of unplanned downtime.

So far, La Herradura has retrofitted 31 of its 785C haul trucks and a significant number of 240-ton (218-t) 793D trucks with the DGB technology.

Fresnillo’s Villa said the operation also plans to partner with a third party to build an LNG plant near the mine to ensure a sustainable supply.

Lion One and meeco plan solar/diesel power solution at Tuvatu gold project in Fiji

Lion One Metals has partnered with Switzerland-based clean energy provider the meeco Group to build and install a hybrid solar/diesel power plant at the Tuvatu gold project, in Fiji.

As part of this agreement, Lion One will be a 50% shareholder of a Special Project Vehicle (SPV) through an agreed buy-in structure.

Lion One will use meeco’s 7 MW peak “sun2live” solar power generation system, coupled with diesel generators, to generate up to 11 MW peak power production providing a continuous 24-hour source of power for the Tuvatu gold mine and processing plant. The installation will be built on 4.1 ha of unused land 3.5 km from the project and 17 km from the Nadi International Airport.

The new eco-friendly solar power system will have an estimated annual energy production of approximately 10.31 GWh, displacing more than 6,000 t/y of CO2 emissions, according to Lion One.

Lion One Managing Director, Stephen Mann, said: “meeco has a solid track record of installing and operating solar hybrid power plants worldwide. This hybrid system will not only reduce our carbon footprint, but will enable Lion One to meet our power capacity requirements while significantly reducing fuel consumption and operating costs for the Tuvatu gold project.”

Tuvatu is the largest undeveloped gold project in Fiji and one of highest-grade gold projects anywhere in the world, according to Lion One, with the company focused on building production of 100,000 oz/y over 10 years.

The process facility is designed with a nominal capacity of 219,000 t/y for a nominal design rate of 600 t/d based on an overall availability of 91% with a life of mine average feed grade of 11.3 g/t Au.