Tag Archives: Eastern Ridge

Former BHP data strategist to lead open-pit mining equipment data specialist MaxMine

Former BHP Global Data Strategy Lead, Coert Du Plessis, has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of mining technology business MaxMine.

Du Plessis commenced in the role of Chief Operating Officer of MaxMine on May 1, 2020, working with MaxMine’s management team behind the scenes over the past 12 months to successfully configure and guide MaxMine through its significant Series A funding round announced last month, the company said.

MaxMine is an automated, high-resolution data-based business reporting tool that combines advanced data acquisition technology with AI analysis to fully optimise mobile equipment and operator performance within mining and other mobile equipment-based operations, measuring performance differently and using gamification to change behaviours.

On July 1, 2021, Du Plessis was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company.

Du Plessis commenced his professional career with global consulting firm, Deloitte, moving up the ranks to become senior partner before the age of 40. He then established and led the firm’s Western Australia data analytics practice. He then moved to BHP to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and cultivate collaborative ways of working. His scope at BHP included the design and establishment of an Innovation Mine at BHP’s Eastern Ridge operations in Western Australia, developing the BHP Dahling Industrial IoT platform, embedding next generation digital technologies at existing operations and major new capital projects – such as Jansen – and steering the final technology investment review of the South Flank iron ore project.

Du Plessis said three things ultimately convinced him to move from BHP to take up the new roles at MaxMine:

  • “One, the calibre of the existing leadership team and their adaptive business mindset; demonstrated in successfully raising growth capital in a year disrupted by COVID;
  • “Two, generating industry leading data quality and confidence in their results, an order of magnitude better than incumbent fleet management system. It means MaxMine users transition from teams arguing about the validity of data to knowing what needs to be done next; and
  • “Three, the ability to over-come digital inertia and drive technology adoption with front line operators and operational leadership teams month in and month out.”

He added: “It was inspirational to see the speed at which the MaxMine team could develop these incredible technologies and develop the unique delivery approaches whilst maintaining an incredible focus on customer value.

“MaxMine has gone further than any other technology product and service I have come across in solving the challenge of delivering consistent value for mine site operations. The quality of MaxMine’s data asset sets us apart in the industry, and we believe we can apply the same operational improvement approach that allows us to enable delivery of more tonnes of ore, to also significantly reduce CO2 tonnes expelled in mining operations. Moving beyond the growing list of CO2 reduction aspirations to reductions delivered is an outcome I deeply care about.”

MaxMine Director, Robin Schleich, who is also Dupont Sustainable Solutions’ global operations director, said: “Mining companies need, and want, to partner with true industry innovators such as MaxMine to help them navigate the ramp up in digital disruption in the industry and combat growing operational cost pressures.

“Based on the significant investment last month, it is clear MaxMine provides one of the strongest platforms to drive industry productivity and emissions transformation.”

MaxMine’s outgoing CEO, Tom Cawley, will transition to Executive Chair, focusing on adjacent business opportunities for the company and setting up the board to support the company’s growth.

Autonomous haulage under review at Escondida, Spence, BHP says

Having approved three more autonomous haulage projects across its iron ore and coal portfolio since late 2019, BHP is now taking aim at its Chile copper operations, with the potential for automated trucks currently being studied at Escondida and Spence, the company says.

Alongside the potential for autonomous trucks, drills are being converted to autonomous operation at Escondida and Spence, according to the company.

The news came within the company’s financial year 2020 results presentation today, which showed BHP generated underlying EBITDA of $22.1 billion and attributable profit of $8 billion over the 12-month period.

Since late 2019, BHP has announced and is implementing three additional autonomous haulage projects at mine sites across its coal and iron ore segments.

At the Daunia coal mine in central Queensland, it announced the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks in July 2020, with the first trucks set to begin operating in February 2021 and the rollout to be completed early in 2022.

At the Newman East (Eastern Ridge) iron ore mine in Western Australia, the first of 20 autonomous trucks began operating in July 2020, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of this year.

At the Goonyella Riverside mine in Queensland, the first coal site to implement autonomous haul trucks, the deployment of 86 autonomous trucks is expected to be completed early in 2022, it said.

“We will continue to assess the value case for potential expansion of this technology to our other Australian iron ore and coal mine sites,” the company said in the results statement today.

BHP readying rollout of autonomous trucks at Eastern Ridge

BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia in the next month, with the fleet of 20 Cat 793 haul trucks set to be fully converted to autonomous mode by the end of the year.

The company announced earlier this year that Eastern Ridge (also referred to as Newman East) would be the next mine to benefit from autonomous haulage. This came after a previous automation announcement related to the jointly-owned Goonyella Riverside mine, in Queensland. BHP has also agreed to acquire 41 new model Komatsu 930E-5, which are autonomous ready, for its in-development South Flank iron ore mine, but the company has not yet confirmed if it will use the autonomous capability at the site.

A BHP spokesperson confirmed the existing fleet of Cat 793s were set for automation retrofits, explaining that the roll out would occur from the end of June/early July.

Despite the restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, the spokesperson said the company was on track for full roll out completion by the end of year, as planned.

In the announcement back in February, BHP said the automation project at Eastern Ridge, which the company is currently using as its proving ground for innovation, was down to the significant safety benefits offered by the technology and its ability to complement the mine’s design, culture and existing infrastructure.

“Newman East is home to our innovation centre, so we’re already using technology there that helps us to be safer and more efficient,” Newman Operations General Manager, Marie Bourgoin, said. “Autonomous trucks were the next logical step.”

This shift will create more than 30 new permanent jobs at Newman East to run and maintain the trucks, according to Bourgoin, with the new roles tied to planning the truck routes and operating the autonomous systems from a control centre, which will initially be located at the mine.

It will also generate more than A$33 million ($23 million) in contracts for Western Australia businesses, with the work required to transition Newman to autonomous haulage including autonomous conversion kits, trailers, training content development and engineering and construction packages.

Newman East is one half of BHP’s Newman operations, which also includes Newman West, locally known as Mt Whaleback. No decision has been made to introduce autonomous trucks at Newman West, the company confirmed.

MACA wins early civil works contract at Atlas Iron Corunna Downs project

MACA is to upgrade an existing public road and develop access road at the Corunna Downs iron ore project following a contract award from Atlas Iron.

The project, 33 km south of Marble Bar in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, will see Atlas develop five open pits using conventional drill and blast, and load and haul methods. Some 23.3 Mt of iron ore will be mined above the water table over an approximate timeframe of six years, according to a filing with the Environmental Protection Authority.

MACA’s contract is expected to generate revenue of around A$38 million ($23 million) over the eight-month term of the project. This includes the upgrade of a 22 km section of public road and the development of 13 km of access road. At its peak, the project will employ around 80 people, according to MACA.

The project is expected to commence in the June quarter for completion this year.

MACA has a long-standing working relationship with Atlas having previously provided services at the Pardoo, Mt Dove, Abydos and Wodgina operations. It is currently providing crushing services for Atlas at its Mount Webber operations.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said: “MACA is delighted to have been awarded these early civil works for Atlas demonstrating the civil capability within our end to end mining service offering. We look forward to being part of the successful development of Corunna Downs and continuing our long-standing relationship with Atlas.”

Separately, MACA also advises it has received notice of a 12-month extension to its Eastern Ridge mobile crushing contract for BHP extending the project to April 2021.

BHP studying autonomous haulage at Eastern Ridge, Daunia

Having previously said it was weighing up a project to automate around 500 haul trucks across its Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal sites, BHP has shed more light on its autonomous haulage plans.

The company made the ambitious admission in May 2019. It has since said it will introduce autonomous haulage at the BHP Mitsuibishi Alliance Goonyella Riverside mine, in Queensland, in a staged project that will see up to 86 Komatsu trucks converted to autonomous mode.

In its half-year results released today, BHP said of the 500 haul trucks it previously spoke of 150 are currently “under feasibility or execution” and 350 are included in its “medium-term plans”. Two projects in the former category include the Eastern Ridge mine site, in the Pilbara, which the company is currently using as its proving ground for innovation, and the 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine, in Queensland, which BHP opened in 2013 and has a fleet of 16 226-t payload trucks (including Cat 793Fs).

In terms of capital expenditure, these projects were expected to cost less than $800 million, including $250 million for sites in feasibility and execution and up to $550 million included in the medium-term plans, it said.

Technology developments at BHP Innovation Centre start paying off

Developments at BHP’s Innovation Centre during the miner’s 2019 financial year have led to the take up of several new technology-based solutions, BHP explained in its just released annual report.

This included a live mine scheduling tool that enables mine schedulers to deliver faster and higher-quality schedules and decisions for mine load and haul operations. It works by analysing disparate data sets consisting of real-time and contextualised information, the company said.

After the successful application of live mine scheduling at its Eastern Ridge innovation mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia, the company has scaled and deployed this solution at its Whaleback mine, also in the Pilbara, it said.

In addition to this, the company says, in its 2020 financial year, live mine scheduling will be scaled across all its iron ore operations, which is expected to result in better mining fleet utilisation and visibility throughout the BHP iron ore supply chain.

This is not all though. Another technology tested out at Eastern Ridge – the real-time payload distribution display – was implemented during its 2019 financial year.

This display is a visual tool enabling BHP’s digger operators to “precisely and efficiently distribute and deposit payload onto trucks”, the company said. The technology is expected to improve operators’ ability to accurately deposit the target payload onto trucks, enabling lower equipment maintenance costs.

Lastly, the company has made advances in its adoption of what it calls “pedestrian avoidance technology”. This sees a video and audio detection and alert system provide forklift operators with 360° detection of personnel near forklift machinery, reducing safety incidents that have previously occurred due to poor visibility.

Developed and tested at BHP Innovation Centre’s Welshpool facility, pedestrian avoidance technology was piloted at Eastern Ridge, Port and Nickel West in July 2019, the company said.

Monadelphous wins more iron ore work off BHP

Australia-based engineering group Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with BHP’s iron ore division worth approximately A$240 million ($172 million) over a three-year period.

The contract, which contains an additional two one-year extension options, involves the provision of general maintenance services at BHP’s Mt Whaleback, Jimblebar, Eastern Ridge, Mining Area C and Yandi mine sites, in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri said the contract built on the company’s long-standing relationship with BHP, on both construction and maintenance projects, over the past two decades.

“We look forward to further developing our relationship with BHP over the coming years, growing our operational footprint in the Pilbara and continuing to strengthen our long-term commitment to the region and the communities in which we operate,” he said.

In 1996, Monadelphous’ engineering and construction division ventured into the iron ore market with BHP on the Yandi II project to construct the crushing and screening plant, while, in 2008, it secured part of the structural, mechanical and piping works for BHP’s Rapid Growth Project 4 at the Newman Hub iron ore processing facility.