Tag Archives: ESG

RPMGlobal increases XPAC ESG scope with environmental disturbance modelling and reporting functionality

RPMGlobal has taken what it says are the next step in the development of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) technology capabilities, with the introduction of environmental disturbance modelling and reporting functionality into its mine scheduling products, XPAC Solutions.

The company is collaborating with a major mining client in Canada to develop the module, with on-site testing completed in September.

This new module provides users with environmental disturbance functionality associated with any disturbance of environmental significance across the life of a mine, RPMGlobal explains.

“Unlike a simple reporting tool, XPAC Solutions has the capability to restrain a mining schedule based on pre-set limits associated with both water catchment and flora and fauna zones,” it said. “For example, users can request a reduction in an environmental distance of some type and the software will then proceed to find a different schedule that honours that restriction.”

This new module is required because organisations now need to plan and report how much environmental disturbance has taken place in specified areas, allowing organisations to plan better when applying for, and receiving ground disturbance permits.

This forward-looking environmental view gives users the foresight they need to understand how the mining process will impact a piece of land, according to RPMGlobal. Users can easily configure the product across many different sensitive habitats and report results independently or in combination.

With RPMGlobal’s automatic environmental disturbance reporting functionality, users will no longer have to take a mine schedule and manually place it into a GIS system to build environmental reports, the company said. Instead, users configure the product once and it will generate the data required every time a mine schedule is run.

RPMGlobal’s Head of ESG, Ngaire Tranter, said the environmental disturbance capability would be critical for companies operating in jurisdictions that have stringent environmental restrictions.

“Organisations require forward-looking solutions that help them efficiently manage and demonstrate compliance with increasingly complex environmental rules and regulations that govern the industry,” she said. “Across many jurisdictions, policy makers and regulators are strengthening environmental disclosure requirements which underpin the importance of innovative software solutions that help mining companies navigate this evolving space.”

Since the commencement of the dedicated ESG division in July 2021, the company says it has been focused on developing and integrating unique ESG capabilities into its suite of mining specific software solutions.

The development project follows the completion of the company’s electric vehicle simulation capabilities which sit inside the company’s vehicle simulation suite of software. Separately, development has commenced to include hydrogen-powered haul trucks inside the same simulation platform.

Tranter said there were already planning sessions occurring for the next stage of XPAC Solutions’ ESG capabilities, which are focused on rehabilitation planning.

“There is an increasing focus from shareholders on an organisations’ social licence to operate so it’s important that we, as a software provider, continue to stay a step ahead by developing solutions that mitigate risk and add value for our clients in this space,” she said.

“Our intention is to develop a world-class ESG technology stack that builds on the expertise of our Advisory division.”

ERM on executing the mining sector’s sustainability strategies

With sustainability close to the number one topic shaping the business landscape, the mining industry faces perhaps more scrutiny today than ever before. From stakeholder engagement to employee welfare and the emissions generated from using mined commodities, there is a spectrum of issues on which mining companies are judged. Not just by traditional critics such as NGOs, but increasingly by policymakers, investors and consumers themselves.

As a result, mining companies are seeking the advice of consultants that live and breathe environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to adapt to this evolving backdrop (see the mining consultants focus in IM October 2021 for more on this).

In this regard, they don’t come much bigger than ERM, which calls itself the largest global pure play sustainability consultancy. With a remit that goes into strategic, operational and tactical challenges, the company’s services have been in serious demand of late.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead; Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead; Peter Rawlings, Low Carbon Economy Transition Lead; and Geraint Bowden, Regional Client Director – Mining, were happy to go into some detail about how the company is serving the industry across multiple disciplines.

In demand

According to the four, there is increasing demand for services from miners interested in energy/battery minerals (lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, platinum, palladium and rhodium (PGMs)) on the back of rising numbers of new mines coming onto the scene, “shorter supply chains to customers”, the perceived need to secure domestic supply of these minerals, and requirements of “evidence of responsibly-produced certifications from industry organisations such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)”.

Such trends have been underwritten by a shift in both the requirements and considerations around the extraction of these minerals, according to Molyneux.

“In the last five to seven years, the main ESG incentives for change have come from access to capital (ie investor ESG preferences, especially in relation to catastrophic incidents),” he said.

“Over the last three years, we have seen a strong rise in expectations from downstream customers, particularly leading brands.”

Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead

Automotive original equipment manufacturers like BMW and Daimler are placing sustainability at the centre of their brands, according to ERM. Their initial focus has been on ‘net-zero’ driving/electrification – and they have made progress on this with several major electric car launches. They then shifted to examining the carbon emissions and ESG, or responsible practices, of tier-one and tier-two component manufacturers. The last step has been a full analysis of the ESG credentials of input materials right back to source, ie the mine.

“We see a shift from the historic lens of customers managing supply risk by sourcing from organisations which ‘do little/no harm’ (eg human rights compliance, catastrophic incident avoidance) to supply partners that can contribute to the ‘do net good’ or ‘create value for all stakeholders’ (ie communities, workforce, nature positive),” Pearce said.

Such a shift has resulted in more clients considering “circular thinking” in their operational strategy, as well as carrying out risk reviews and transformation projects focused on a company’s social or cultural heritage. Tied to this, these same companies have been evaluating their water use, biodiversity requirements and, of course, decarbonisation efforts.

It is the latter on which the steel raw materials companies predominantly have been looking for advice, according to ERM.

The focus has been on ‘green’ iron ore, low-carbon steel and ‘circular’ steel, according to Molyneux and Bowden, with ERM providing input on how companies in this supply chain can integrate sustainability into their strategy and operations.

On the thermal coal side, meanwhile, it is a very different type of ERM service in demand: mine retirements, closure/local/regional regeneration transitions and responsible disposals.

Delivering on decarbonisation

The mining industry decarbonisation targets have come thick and fast in the last 18-24 months, with the latest announcement from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) seeing all 28 mining and metals members sign up to a goal of net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Many have gone further than Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company) emissions, looking at including Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain) targets.

Fortescue Metals Group, this month, announced what it said is an industry-leading target to achieve net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, for example.

These are essential goals – and ones that all interested parties are calling for – in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement, yet many miners are not yet in the position to deliver on them, according to Pearce, Molyneux, Rawlings and Bowden.

“Miners need to look at decarbonisation at a holistic level across their operations and value chain, and cannot just delegate the net zero requirements to individual assets,” Rawlings said. “The solutions needed require investment and are often at a scale well beyond individual assets/sites.”

Much of this decarbonisation effort mirrors other industries, with the use of alternative fuels for plant and equipment, accessing renewable electricity supplies, etc, they said.

Process-specific activities can present challenges and is where innovation is required.

“These hard to abate areas are where a lot of efforts are currently focused,” Rawlings said.

Tied into this discussion is the allowance and estimates made for carbon.

There has been anecdotal evidence of miners taking account of carbon in annual and technical reports – a recent standout example being OZ Minerals inclusion of a carbon price in determining the valuation of its Prominent Hill shaft expansion project in South Australia – but there is no current legislation in place.

“We are seeing a broad spectrum of price and sophistication (targeted audience, knowledge level), but it is an active board level discussion for most clients,” Bowden said on this subject. “Most clients view this as market-driven requirements as opposed to a voluntary disclosure.”

This has been driven, in part, from the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which many miners – including all the majors – are aligning their reporting with.

Some clients are also looking into scenarios to work around carbon regimes such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which proposes a carbon-based levy on imports of specific products.

Having acquired several companies in recent months focused on the low carbon economy transition – such as E4tech, Element Energy and RCG – ERM feels best placed to provide the technical expertise and experience to deliver the sustainable energy solutions miners require to decarbonise their operations.

“With these companies, combined with ERM’s expertise, it means we can support clients on the decarbonisation journeys from the initial strategy and ambition development through to implementation and delivery of their roadmaps,” Rawlings said. “We can support clients from boots to boardroom as they assess decarbonisation options and technologies; help them understand the financial, policy and practical aspects linked to deployment of solutions; and access the financing necessary to support deployment.”

ESG dilemmas

There is more to this evolving backdrop than setting and meeting ambitious environmental goals, yet, in ERM’s experience, the advice provided by consultants – and requested by miners – has historically been focused on individual ESG domains.

“This has often been driven by their realisation that their (miner’s) in-house policies and standards require updating,” Pearce said.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead

A siloed or disaggregated approach to ESG strategy development often reduces risk, but rarely generates value for the enterprise at hand, according to Pearce.

“What we have learned is that in order for organisations to create value, they need to focus on value drivers for the corporation,” she said. “These value levers are typically influenced by an integrated suite of ESG dimensions. For example, this could be looking at carbon emissions, connected with water use and nature, connected with local socio-economic development.”

“Sustainability and ESG are about understanding the inter-relationships between our social, natural and economic environments over the longer term. It cannot be about addressing one topic at a time or responding to the loudest voices.”

This is where ERM’s ‘second-generation’ ESG advice, which is driven by data and opportunities to create value as well as manage risk, is fit for the task.

“We are also finding that, at its heart, the central issue to second-generation ESG performance delivery/improvement for our clients is not just the strategy, but a willingness of organisations to reflect on their core values, how these have driven their traditional approaches and decisions and how they will need to evolve these if they want to achieve a genuine brand and reputation for ESG and achieve impact on the value drivers they have selected,” she added.

Such thinking is proving definitive in ERM’s mining sector mergers and acquisition due diligence.

“We have multiple experiences where clients have asked us to carry out an ESG review of a target portfolio, only to find that there is too great a gap between the target’s ESG asset footprint to align them with the client’s standard – or, that the carbon, water, closure or tailings profile of the target carries a too high-risk profile,” Molyneux said.

This is presenting clients with a dilemma as they want to increase their exposure to certain minerals, but are, in some instances, finding M&A is a too high-risk route. At the same time, the lead time to find and develop their own new assets is longer than they would wish for building market share.

Such a market dynamic opens the door for juniors looking for assets early in their lifecycles, yet it places a high load on the management teams of these companies to think strategically about the ESG profile of the asset they are setting the foundations for to eventually appeal to a potential acquirer.

“This is, in itself, a dilemma because, typically, the cash scarcity at the junior stage leads management teams to focus on the immediate technical challenges, sometimes at the cost of also addressing the priority non-technical challenges,” Bowden said.

Those companies who can take a strategic view on the ESG requirements of the future – rooted in a deep understanding of how to deliver change on the ground – will be best placed in such a market, and ERM says it is on hand to provide the tools to develop such an appropriate approach.

(Lead photo credit: @Talaat Bakri, ERM)

Rio Tinto to roll out K2fly’s Ground Disturbance solution across Pilbara ops

K2fly Ltd says Rio Tinto has signed a five-year contract for its Ground Disturbance solution, with the miner planning to roll it out across its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The contract will generate annual recurring revenue of A$620,000 ($450,676) over the initial five-year term, the ASX-listed company says.

The addition of Ground Disturbance expands the number of K2fly solutions used by Rio Tinto to five out of K2fly’s nine existing solutions which already include: Resource Inventory & Reconciliation, Dams & Tailings, Community & Heritage and Mine Geology Data Management, K2fly says.

K2fly says its Ground Disturbance solution provides a single source for applying, approving, tracking, reporting and submitting closure of permits and rehabilitation commitments surrounding ground disturbance activities.

Nic Pollock, CEO of K2fly, says: “We are delighted to continue to expand our relationship with Rio Tinto into ground disturbance. Effective ground disturbance systems are the glue for operations that want to ensure technical assurance around land management, maintain licence to operate and ensure high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We are pleased to be working closely with Rio Tinto across a number of key ESG solutions globally.”

Worldsensing underlines supply chain sustainability with Naeko Logistics pact

A leading player in remote monitoring solutions, Worldsensing has announced a move to further improve the sustainability of its supply chain through a partnership with Spain-based Naeko Logistics.

This will see Worldsensing ship its technology to more than 270 engineering companies and partners in over 60 countries via a provider that, it says, shares the company’s strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials.

Naeko is one of Spain’s foremost logistics providers in terms of ESG performance and is currently seeking B Corporation certification, the highest level of institutional recognition in this field, according to Worldsensing. Naeko’s ESG commitments include investments in renewable energy generation and 100% recyclable packaging.

Worldsensing, meanwhile, says its monitoring technology addresses four of the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, including improvements in affordable and clean energy and building resilient infrastructure.

“Our commitment to society and the environment extends across our supply chain,” Steve Cahill, Worldsensing’s Chief Operating Officer, said. “That’s why we are particularly pleased to have forged this partnership with Naeko.

“Naeko’s investment in social and environmental measures, from sponsoring local sports clubs to migrating to a zero-emissions vehicle fleet, are fully in line with our own ambitions for sustainability and civic responsibility.”

Recent ESG initiatives at Naeko have helped save 250 t of CO2 since 2019 and include a 100 kW solar array for renewable energy at the company’s head office, low-power LED lighting in the company’s Sant Boi warehouse and the replacement of plastic and non-biodegradable packaging with 100% recycled or recyclable materials.

“ESG performance is a critical part of our culture,” Naeko’s CEO, Xavier Roma, said. “We are delighted that this has been a key factor in sealing our partnership with Worldsensing, a company that shares our environmental, social and governance values.

“We are also happy to be working with a company that helps safeguard communities and ecosystems through the improved monitoring of critical infrastructures such as dams and mines.”

Worldsensing, through its Loadsensing industrial monitoring solution, allows mining operators to implement remote data collection and real-time monitoring to reduce time spent on mine readings and improve decision making in critical situations. This includes monitoring tailings storage facilities, among other infrastructure.

Nordgold and DuPont Sustainable Solutions to develop safety improvement roadmap

Nordgold says it will develop a safety improvement roadmap for its mining operations with DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS).

The gold miner has invited DSS, an operations management consulting firm, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the safety culture of the company’s operations, it said.

The project is a part of Nordgold’s global Technical Excellence program, aimed at improving processes, systems and employee skills to successfully align them with the industry best practices throughout the entire value chain, including ESG processes.

The assessment will cover all mines and include documentation reviews, interviews, field visits and focus groups.

DSS is to support Nordgold’s leadership in developing a three-year safety improvement roadmap and health, safety and environmental competency model, to deliver a sustained risk reduction and improved safety performance of more than 8,000 Nordgold employees and contractors.

In 2020, Nordgold says it achieved zero employee fatalities and decreased its LTIFR to 0.14.

Nikolai Zelenski, Nordgold CEO, said: “Safety remains at the core of everything we do and this partnership is a pragmatic example of our commitment towards achieving zero harm for our people.”

RPMGlobal’s software, sustainability capabilities to be showcased at MINExpo

RPMGlobal says it will showcase some of its latest software offerings and new sustainability capabilities at MINExpo International 2021 alongside its commitment to support mining organisations on their journey towards “greener” operations.

The company will have several of its latest software innovations on display at the show in Las Vegas, September 13-15. With RPMGlobal’s strong investment in integrated cloud capabilities increasing significantly in recent years, MINExpo will be the first opportunity for many attendees to learn more about its Software as a Service offerings, which includes the Haulage as a Service (HaaS) simulation product, the company said.

In addition, the increasing sophistication and functionality of RPMGlobal’s industry leading scheduling tools, XECUTE and XPAC Solutions, will be front and centre at its booth. This includes the next evolution of mine scheduling software with the introduction of the Hybrid Scheduling and advanced pit-to-port capabilities.

RPMGlobal’s General Manager of the Americas, Sandeep Sandhu, said the company had been focused on accelerating and expanding its software suite in line with the company’s commitment to driving real change in the mining industry through innovation.

“We continue to strengthen our portfolio of products which is evident in the growing breadth and depth of our software offerings since the last MINExpo in 2016, which is something we are very proud of,” he said. “RPMGlobal’s purpose is to help operations extract more value through innovative software solutions and sustainable mining methods so we are very excited about showcasing the progress we’ve made across our software suite in a face-to-face setting in what is undoubtedly the most anticipated mining event of the year.”

RPMGlobal’s exhibit will demonstrate the company’s commitment to advancing the industry towards a more sustainable future, achieved through a focus on innovative technologies and the provision of domain expertise.

Alongside the mining industry’s commitment to sustainability, RPMGlobal’s Consulting & Advisory team will be able to update attendees on the company’s strengthened environmental, social and governance (ESG) services following the acquisition of Nitro Solutions.

With the global mining industry facing an array of complex challenges, ranging from evolving community expectations to a decarbonisation agenda and controlling costs, Sandhu said miners will need to embrace innovative technology and deep domain expertise to grow sustainably and profitably.

“The pandemic has accelerated the focus on technological innovation as operations have realised they need the right technology to operate their systems and software remotely,” he said.

“In addition, more and more organisations have committed to emission reduction targets. As a METS company, we have a responsibility to assist mining operations respond to the increased demands and achieve those emissions targets so we are really looking forward to having a lot of great conversations with clients and attendees alike about how we can help the industry mine more sustainably.”

RPMGlobal adds electric vehicles to the HaaS simulation mix

RPMGlobal says it has further advanced its environmental, social and governance (ESG) software capabilities following the completion of enhancements to its Haulage as a Service (HaaS) simulation product to incorporate support for electric vehicles.

In addition, the company is planning to add hydrogen haulage vehicle technology into the mix later.

As a cloud enabled, service-orientated approach to haulage analysis, HaaS provides mining companies with the capability to undertake haulage calculations in a cloud environment, according to RPM.

The introduction of electric vehicle support will allow users to model energy usage and regenerative braking within HaaS, providing users with the ability to complete travel time calculations programmatically in a cloud-based environment.

RPMGlobal’s investment in both cloud and sustainability has increased significantly in the past year, culminating in the latest release of HaaS. HaaS, which was the first RPMGlobal solution to be released as a true Software as a Service offering, is a native cloud application that gives miners increased operational agility to undertake haulage calculations from any location, the company explained.

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, said the latest release further demonstrated the company’s commitment to support mining organisations on their journey towards environmentally responsible operations.

“RPMGlobal is focused on contributing towards a sustainable future for the people and organisations that we work with and it is great to see the advancements that our software is contributing to in this space,” he said.

With hydrogen now viewed as having an important role to play in the industry’s bid to decarbonise through the integration of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, the next step for RPMGlobal’s haulage simulation platforms will be the introduction of hydrogen vehicle technology to the mix. Foundation work has already started on the offering, with completion planned later this calendar year, the company said.

“This new functionality will allow organisations to simulate hydrogen-powered vehicles and run scenarios with the specific characteristics of the new hydrogen technology,” RPM said. “The simulation platform will then provide a way to assess options and scenarios for diesel, electric or hydrogen powered vehicles in any combination.”

Mathews views the platform as critical capability for mining organisations and original equipment manufacturers as they search for ways to remove reliance on fossil fuels in mining.

“As more and more organisations commit to emission reduction targets, it will be critical to have software that can simulate different outcomes based on what combination of diesel-, electric- or hydrogen-powered vehicles are deployed within the mining operation and allow users to quantify the results of each scenario in a way that assists them to make the best decisions inclusive of sustainability considerations,” he said.

An increasing number of miners have formally set emissions targets while the majors have committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Many of the plans to reach these decarbonisation commitments have an element that focuses on haulage of material and the shift from diesel to alternative energy sources that are more sustainable, according to Mathews.

“Whether an organisation is looking to battery-electric vehicles, hydrogen, or trolley infrastructure as a greener alternative, our intent is to ensure RPMGlobal’s simulation solutions can support and enhance those decisions into the future,” he said.

The company added electric vehicle support to its haulage simulation platforms, HAULSIM and SIMULATE, back in May.

Drilling innovation directs Alamos to golden goods at Island

John A McCluskey, President and CEO of Alamos Gold, tends to look forward, not back, when talking about strategic decisions the Toronto- and New York-listed miner has made during his 18 years heading up the company.

When discussing the acquisition of Richmont Mines, which included the flagship Island Gold Mine asset in Ontario, he allows himself a brief rumination on the market’s first impressions of the deal: “We acquired the asset for around $620 million in November of 2017. The consensus view in the market was we had overpaid for the asset.”

That consensus view considered 1.8 Moz of mineral reserves and resources and production around the 100,000 oz/y mark, among other factors.

“In less than three years, we had Island over the 4 Moz reserve and resource threshold – we’re now nearer to 5 Moz – and the consensus valuation for the asset from analysts covering us is around $1.4 billion.”

That new valuation factors in a production rise – the company is anticipating gold output of 130,000-145,000 oz this year – and long-term growth prospects for the asset. The latter is evidenced by an Island Phase Three Expansion study published last year that envisaged a 2,000 t/d operation (currently 1,200 t/d) able to produce 236,000 oz/y starting in 2025.

While McCluskey says the company was aware of these growth prospects back in November 2017, most market observers will be surprised they have been proven up so quickly after the Richmont Mines transaction.

They probably underestimated what the use of surface directional drilling could do at Island.

Originally leveraged by Richmont Mines’ Chief Geologist and now Island Gold Chief Geologist, Raynald Vincent, back in 2015, the exploration technique has allowed Alamos to successfully step out from and infill holes Richmont and predecessors previously drilled.

Scott R.G. Parsons, VP of Exploration for Alamos, says surface directional drilling, in combination with the exploration team’s understanding on the controls on gold mineralisation at Island and Alamos’ financial backing for exploration, has helped the company grow the asset rapidly.

“The significant resource and reserve growth at Island in the last three years – adding 3 Moz net of 500,000 of mining depletion – was largely driven by surface directional drilling,” he told IM. “We could not have moved the asset forward in such a significant way without it.”

The use of what Parsons says are “standard” surface drill rigs and Devico’s DeviDrill™ steerable wireline core barrels are allowing the company to hit mineralisation far below the mine’s existing underground infrastructure. The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods. At the same time, no time is lost on moving the drill rig between branch holes, as the core barrel can be steered from surface to complete the optimal drill patterns.

The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods (photo: Devico)

The company has drilled 240 surface directional drill holes at Island for about 200,000 m of drilling using only 27 drill sites, Parsons explained.

“Using conventional surface drilling, the 240 holes would have required significantly more drill sites,” he said.

This would have involved moving the rig more frequently, making the process that much slower and expensive.

Instead, thanks to this directional drilling technique, the company is sitting on an additional 3 Moz of gold resources and reserves garnered in the last three years. This has come with a discovery cost of just $11/oz.

Accuracy, as Devico indicated, is another benefit of this technology.

“Surface directional drilling is not only more effective than standard drilling practices, but we can hit our targets with 1% accuracy,” Parsons added. “So, if we’re drilling a 1,500 m hole, we can typically intersect our target within 15 m from plan, 1,500 m downhole. This predictable drilling spacing is critical for defining a mineral resource with the appropriate confidence level.

“You’d never be able to do that with standard surface drilling.”

This technique is not a silver exploration bullet, though. According to Parsons, it does not work everywhere.

“It really all hinges around the quality of the orebody and our understanding of the deposit and the controls and the mineralisation,” he said. “Knowing we require a certain drill spacing to be able to define inferred mineral resources, we strategically target the down-plunge extensions of the ore shoots.”

At Island, these ore shoots – which are the high-grade portions of the deposit – are laterally extensive in the lateral and vertical sense, Parsons explained.

“With the surface directional drilling, we are able to specifically target these down-plunge extensions,” he said. “With one or two pilot holes and branch patterns, we can evaluate a large area down-plunge and along strike of the existing mineral reserves and resources. In some cases, other gold deposits can have ore shoots that are less predictable, or are not as extensive, so it would be a challenge to apply surface directional drilling without having a strong understanding of the controls of these shoots for targeting.”

And, it should not be forgotten, it requires an investment in exploration that goes beyond simply reserve and resource replacement on an annual basis. Richmont, a much smaller company, was unable to bankroll such a strategy.

Alamos has made a commitment to do this, as evidenced in the 16-year mine life outlined in the Island Phase III study and the $25 million it intends to invest in exploration this year.

The use of surface directional drilling looks set to continue paying off beyond this study, with the company recently drilling its best-ever hole to date by leveraging the technique.

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – in addition to MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m) have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them (photo: Alamos Gold)

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – is the hole in question. This hole, in addition to the previously reported MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m), have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them. This, the company said, demonstrates the zone has widened in this area, providing even further potential beyond the company’s current growth plans.

“That one – MH25-08 – is the best drill hole ever drilled at Island,” Parsons said. “And that is after 1.3 million metres of drilling and over 7,000 drill holes dating back nearly 100-years.

“That speaks to the potential of this deposit to continue to grow through exploration, and also highlights the prospectivity of the Michipicoten Greenstone Belt.”

More to come

With 27,500 m of surface directional drilling scheduled for 2021 – and only 6,683 m carried out as of May 31 – more of these high-grade intercepts could soon come to the fore.

And Parsons says the company can continue to use surface directional drilling some 500 m below where it is currently drilling down to at Island.

On top of that, the company, having established the necessary underground exploration infrastructure, is equipping its underground drill rigs at Island for directional drilling, with 24,000 m of underground directional drilling planned this year (3,233 m completed as of the end of May).

“This is allowing us to reduce our cost per metre compared with surface directional drilling and allowing us to drill more targets in a shorter amount of time,” Parsons said. “We will continue applying directional drilling technology as long as the orebody is continuing at depth to drill off those ore shoots.”

At Young-Davidson, the company’s other core asset in Ontario, Canada, the company is also making plans to use underground directional drilling.

“One of our plans going into 2022 is to evaluate opportunities to utilise directional drilling from underground exploration drifts established in lower and mid mines at Young-Davidson to target mineralisation down-plunge at depth,” Parsons said.

More broadly, Parsons thinks the company’s exploration team can leverage their understanding of the technology at other assets.

“For us, it is a competitive advantage,” he said. “With a solid geological understanding of the deposit you are looking at and an understanding of the application and the benefits of directional drilling, we can recognise opportunities of what could be occurring at depth where others might not see potential until well into the future after underground infrastructure is established at depth.”

There are obvious cost, time and accuracy benefits to using directional drilling, yet there is another benefit that may get lost along the way.

Without the need to constantly move the surface drill rigs between drill pads, the footprint of these rigs is reduced.

McCluskey says the technology has brought another ESG advantage to Island too.

By being able to quickly drill off more targets and convert these into the resource base, Alamos has been able to think long term with its Island Gold Phase III Expansion and justify the expense of a shaft and paste backfill plant.

This comes with a 35% reduction in emissions compared with using the mine’s existing ramp and diesel-powered truck haulage, he said, explaining that much of the Ontario grid is powered by renewable hydroelectricity.

“This technology has given us the exploration success that has been converted into scale and allowed us to think longer term and afford the infrastructure to make it a ‘greener’ operation,” he said.

With such a long list of benefits, more companies will be looking at directional drilling to prolong the life of their assets and make long-term decisions that make economic and sustainable sense.

RPMGlobal establishes dedicated ESG mining division with acquisition of Nitro Solutions

RPMGlobal is set to boost its environmental, social and governance (ESG) offering with the addition of Australia-headquartered Nitro Solutions Pty Ltd.

The two companies have entered into an acquisition agreement whereby RPMGlobal will buy the privately-owned ESG services company.

“Nitro is a company that provides the mining industry with a quality-focused ESG service in the areas of environmental approvals, impact assessment, regulatory advice, environmental audits, compliance reporting (due diligence) and environmental economics, policy & legislation advice,” RPMGlobal said.

This acquisition will be the catalyst to bring together RPMGlobal’s ESG professionals, who are based across the globe, into one division to be headed by Ngaire Tranter, the current CEO and founder of Nitro.

RPMGlobal Chief Executive Officer, Richard Mathews, said the acquisition and the inclusion of the Nitro team combined with RPMGlobal’s existing ESG capabilities would see the company form a dedicated ESG division.

“While our mining advisory ESG professionals have been engaged to perform and manage numerous ESG mandates around the world, until now, we have not had a dedicated division focused solely on ESG,” he said.

“Ngaire and her team have an excellent reputation within the mining ESG market which gives us great confidence that we can build a world-class, mining-focused ESG business leveraging an ESG team that knows and understands mining from the ground up.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Tranter said she was proud of the business her team had built over the last six years and was looking forward to continuing to help mining companies take action to improve their ESG performance.

“Alongside the speed of ESG adoption, the opportunity to be part of a larger organisation with a global footprint allows us to assist the mining industry with the increasing requirements in this space right around the world,” she said. “It’s clear that RPMGlobal is passionate about building a premier mining ESG business supported by state-of-the-art software products, and I, together with the rest of the team, really look forward to joining RPMGlobal on this exciting journey.”

With most major and mid-tier miners around the globe having accelerated their efforts to meet decarbonisation targets in parallel with a broader societal commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, RPMGlobal says it has been drawing on its leading technology and the Advisory teams’ strong expertise to deliver a range of ESG-focused services.

“With organisations globally rising to the challenge of meeting increasing sustainability demands placed upon their organisations and operations, I see the merger of Nitro with RPMGlobal as an important step forward to supporting mining companies in their quest to meet decarbonisation, governance and social licence to operate requirements,” Tranter said.

Mathews said this was just the start of RPMGlobal’s ESG journey as the company plans to grow its ESG division with mining services capabilities through a range of organic and non-organic strategies.

“We also intend to harness the deep ESG domain knowledge of the Nitro team to assist RPMGlobal’s technology division identify software products we can either acquire, or alternatively build to service this accelerating market segment,” he said.

The acquisition is expected to close on June 30, 2021, subject to satisfaction of a number of conditions precedent and customary completion events.