Tag Archives: Evolution Mining

HydraGEN, Railveyor, BluVein, BEVs, hybrid vehicles being assessed by Evolution

Evolution Mining is considering the application of a number of technologies to displace diesel in its mining fleet, with its latest sustainability report highlighting several short to medium-term and longer-term solutions currently being assessed and considered by the gold-focused miner.

Evolution has set a target of reducing its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% by 2030, with plans to reach net zero emissions in these two categories by 2050.

Over the course of its 2023 financial year, Evolution says it achieved an 11.2% reduction in absolute emissions compared with its FY 2020 baseline; maintained a robust direct (Scope 1) and indirect (Scope 2) accounting program, including resetting its emissions baseline; conducted a CO2 abatement cost review focusing on marginal abatement cost curves; externally validated modelling of emissions data including all input modelling; and developed and integrated internal emissions modelling tools to assess the impact of acquisitions and projects on its net zero performance and FY 2020 baseline.

It also completed an energy audit and decarbonisation roadmap for Mungari, conducted an independent audit of Scope 3 emissions, and developed and implemented its Renewable Sourcing Strategy, resulting in the Cowal (mine pictured above) power purchase agreement with AGL Energy Limited.

Evolution says the application of technologies to displace diesel in its mine fleet represents a complex decarbonisation challenge, hence the reason it is evaluating several options. It has been collaborating with partners as well as its supply and value chain partners to identify emissions reduction opportunities, including membership with the Electric Mine Consortium and Sustainability Advantage, the latter being a New South Wales Government scheme looking to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices in the state.

Among the solutions Evolution is considering – ones it categorises as “technologically mature – are the HydraGEN carbon emissions reduction device, the all-electric Railveyor material haulage method, BluVein’s dynamic charging technology, and hybrid vehicles.

Evolution is already part of the consortium of funding members to fast-track the BluVeinXL project, looking at powering heavy-duty mining fleets with up to 250 t payloads through dynamic fast-charging technologies.

The company said in the report that it was also exploring “technologies that have high potential but have limitations at present due to their practical application within Evolution operating mines and their commercial competitiveness”. One example that comes under this category is battery-electric vehicles, which Evolution has experience of thanks to its use of both battery-electric loaders and utility vehicles at its Red Lake operations in Canada.

An asset that could potentially feature some of these technologies under consideration is the Mungari mine, in Western Australia, which is undergoing an expansion to boost output to 4.2 Mt/y, from 2 Mt/y.

In the latest report, Evolution said: “The Mungari mine expansion will result in a near-term increase in emissions due to an interim reliance upon diesel to power remote assets. However, Evolution is exploring potential opportunities to avoid diesel use and mitigate associated emissions through considerations such as hydrogen power and electrified Railveyor.”

The Electric Mine Consortium and EPCA to run Cat 777 electric truck trial

The Electric Mine Consortium is looking to bridge the gap between the testing of electrified ultra-class haul trucks and continued rollout across industry of battery-electric underground trucks with a project to develop and trial a retrofitted 100-ton (91 t) haul truck as part of its consortium work in Australia.

It has teamed up with Electric Power Conversions Australia (EPCA), an Indigenous electric battery conversion company in Australia, to run a Caterpillar 777 haul truck electric vehicle demonstrator project.

The consortium explained: “The Electric Mine Consortium are focused across all fleet sizes when it comes to electrification. In our recent work, we have uncovered that in the area of larger surface in-pit trucks, there are some trials underway, however there is a lack of focus on the smaller trucks. Making sure we understand and trial electric technologies in smaller fleets is important to our members, and we were recently presented with an opportunity to do so by Electric Power Conversions Australia, an Indigenous electric battery conversion company in Australia.”

The conversion of the vehicle – one of the most commonly used surface trucks across the Tier 2 and Tier 3 mining company market, according to the consortium – will see the 750 kW diesel motor switched out with a 1,000 kW electric motor and 2 MWh of batteries, according to Clayton Franklin, founder and CEO of EPCA.

Franklin said he was expecting this configuration to allow for an eight-hour average run time, providing 30% more power than the diesel equivalent and the ability to move material quicker. He also predicted a 50% reduction in total cost of ownership on the battery-converted truck when compared with the diesel truck.

EPCA was founded in 2021 with the vision of providing a practical solution to the growing environmental impact of the Australian mining industry. Franklin himself was the lead engineer on a 220-t hydrogen-battery hybrid mining truck and also for an Epiroc D65 drill rig that was electrified.

The Electric Mine Consortium is a growing group of leading mining and service companies. These companies are driven by the imperative to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine. Mining companies Gold Fields, South32, OZ Minerals, IGO Ltd, Evolution Mining, Iluka Resources, MMG and Sandfire Resources are among the participants.

In the short time since the establishment, the consortium’s membership has grown almost two-fold, with over 40 ongoing equipment trials in 15 different locations having been mobilised.

Epiroc’s Erik Svedlund: ‘the answer…is always electrification’

Not a financial report goes by without Epiroc referencing its electrification offering. Whether it be new products, an uptick in customer demand or plans to roll out more battery-electric retrofit options for its customer base, ‘going electric’ has become a consistent quarterly theme for the Sweden-based OEM.

Epiroc’s development timeline for battery-electric machines started all the way back in 2012 – the first Scooptram ST7 Battery was produced in 2013 before a 2014 machine trial with Goldcorp’s Red Lake mines department (now owned by Evolution Mining). The Minetruck MT2010 battery-electric vehicle then came along in 2015.

Its electrification roots go back even further though thanks to Atlas Copco’s acquisition of GIA Industri AB in 2011; a transaction that brought the renowned Kiruna electric trucks into the portfolio.

Over this timeframe, Epiroc has also deployed cable-electric large blasthole rigs across the globe, removing diesel from the drilling process at surface mines.

A constant throughout this period has been Erik Svedlund, Senior Zero Emission Manager at Epiroc, who has helped steer the company’s electrification direction from its first generation battery-electric vehicles to the position it is in now: having integrated automation into the battery-electric mix with the Scooptram ST18 SG and, on the retrofit side, having the resources in place to offer mid-life rebuild options to convert its diesel-powered Scooptram ST7, Scooptram ST1030 and Scooptram ST14 loaders, plus its Minetruck MT436 and Minetruck MT42 trucks, to battery-electric vehicles.

Ahead of his keynote presentation at this month’s The Electric Mine 2023 conference in Tucson, Arizona (May 23-25), IM put some questions to Svedlund on the evolution of the market since he started ‘selling’ the electrification concept to stakeholders.

IM: You have been heading up Epiroc’s electrification efforts since 2010; how have you seen the reception to these solutions and developments change in that 13-year period? Has the speed of the transition surprised you?

ES: The speed is both fast and slow; I estimate that we are in the beginning of the steep part of the S-curve. Previously the drive was more on improved safety and health or a lower total cost of ownership. Now I notice a bigger drive towards low-carbon solutions. But the answer to all these focus areas is always ‘electrification’.

IM: Epiroc has some very ambitious targets when it comes to electrifying its fleet – both underground and on surface with drills. Given the various applications you are serving, how are you able to create a platform that can cater to all the specific parameters at mining operations?

ES: Indeed, Epiroc was quite early in developing battery-electric machines and has set very ambitious sustainability targets that go hand in hand with our customer’s targets. Making one or a few models is not too difficult but enabling everything to go electric required us to develop a new technology platform that would allow all models to become electric. This platform has allowed us to scale up to meet our targets.

IM: Is this why you are pursuing so many different development avenues with customers – diesel-electric trucks, battery-trolley, new battery solutions, BEV retrofits, etc?

ES: There is no one silver bullet to solve all models and applications. As a base there will be an energy-efficient electric driveline. However, how to get energy to that machine will vary depending on application. We will need many solutions in the future.

Erik Svedlund, Senior Zero Emission Manager at Epiroc

IM: How important do you see Batteries as a Service (BaaS) being as your BEV rollout accelerates? What level of interest or uptake have you had so far, and do you see the majority of BEV fleet users opting for this?

ES: The majority of our batteries go out with BaaS but not all; some customers like to own their assets. The setup of these agreements may be tailored to the customer’s needs.

IM: The combination of automation and electrification have been spoken about in the last few years as BEVs have started to be rolled out at a faster pace, with the development of your ST14 SG and ST18 SG representing key milestones in this area. Are mining companies continuing to push you to further automate your BEVs and remove all people from the process? What avenues are you pursuing for this in terms of automating the battery swapping process, recommending trolley charging, leveraging BluVein’s dynamic charging solution, etc?

ES: The trend for safer and more efficient operations will continue. Autonomous machines will have to be supported by autonomous chargers. Dynamic or stationary charging will be dependent on the type of machine and application. But we must not forget the solutions we as OEMs introduce must be able to work together with the grid. When it comes to surface mining, we have already seen that automation and electrification are a perfect match. We already have a complete range of cable-electric large blasthole rigs with a large number of drills in operation in all continents, some of which are automated.

IM: Your keynote presentation is titled, ‘The green transition is a material transition.’ Could you explain what is meant by this, and how Epiroc is involved in this material transition as a mining OEM?

ES: Zero-emission vehicles and renewable energy require metals; we in the mining industry have a special responsibility to do our part. Adopting a ‘green mining’ concept will prepare and position our industry as adding value to our solutions.

Erik Svedlund, Senior Zero Emission Manager at Epiroc, will present: ‘Keynote: The green transition is a material transition’ at The Electric Mine 2023 conference in Tucson, Arizona, on May 24 at 9:00-9:30. For more information on this three-day event, head to www.theelectricmine.com

Evolution Mining hits production milestone ahead of schedule at Cowal

Evolution Mining says it has achieved a major milestone in its planned growth of getting the Cowal gold mine in New South Wales, Australia, to circa-320,000 oz in its 2024 financial year, with underground production commencing ahead of schedule.

The first underground stope has commenced being mined and processed this month, with continued ramp up of the underground expected over the remainder of this financial year (to end-June). This is three months ahead of the previously announced original schedule of the June 2023 quarter.

In 2021, the Evolution board and regulators approved the development of the Cowal Underground Mine, which is set to provide a higher-grade ore source that will be blended with the current open-pit operation and stockpile ore.

Perenti’s Barminco underground mining business has been conducting all underground development and production works for the project as part of a A$520 million, four-year agreement signed last year.

The project remains within the original A$380 million ($254 million) budget, according to Evolution, with the completion of the accommodation village and commissioning of the paste plant remaining on track for the June 2023 quarter.

Evolution’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Lawrie Conway, said: “We have achieved a major milestone at Cowal with the early commencement of production from the new underground mine. It is a credit to the project team to be able to commence production ahead of schedule and on budget in the current inflationary market conditions for project development and construction.

“We are now on the pathway to increase Cowal’s production from the current FY23 guidance of ~275,000 oz to FY24 outlook of circa-320,000 low cost ounces.”

BluVeinXL: aiming for benchmark status in the haulage fleet electrification game

Since being named one of eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the Charge On™ Innovation Challenge in 2022, BluVeinXL has done more than most, assembling a consortium of major mining partners focused on accelerating BluVein’s standardised dynamic charging technology to decarbonise the mining sector.

Late last year, Austmine, which manages the BluVeinXL project, welcomed Rio Tinto, OZ Minerals, BHP, Newcrest Mining, Evolution Mining and Freeport-McMoRan to the consortium of funding members to fast-track the BluVein technology. It has since welcomed Vale to the consortium.

These companies have backed the vision of BluVein, a joint venture between Olitek (Australia) and Evias (Sweden), to dynamically power mixed-OEM haul fleets while in motion, enabling smaller on-board battery packs, faster vehicle haulage speeds up ramp, grid load balancing, elimination of static fast charging, maximum fleet availability and – most importantly – the complete elimination of diesel.

These consortium partners are focused on delivering BluVein’s fleet electrification solution to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 with a minimal viable product (MVP) demonstration, ahead of full commercial deployment of the technology.

BluVeinXL leverages much of what was developed for BluVein1, the primarily underground solution using the BluVein Rail™ slotted power rail system and the on-vehicle BluVein Hammer™ to simultaneously charge and power mining fleets ‘on the go’. The Rail is an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside mining vehicles while the Hammer connects the electric vehicle to the Rail.

In underground scenarios, BluVein’s technology completely removes the need for battery swapping or static fast charging while allowing the use of smaller, lighter and lower cost batteries in continuous and high-duty applications, according to the company.

In open-pit operations, BluVeinXL will be similarly transformative, offering a next-generation alternative to what BluVein refers to as “the cumbersome, inflexible and expensive conventional catenary wire trolley systems that are currently hampering mines from fully decarbonising their haulage operations”.

To get the latest on the BluVeinXL open-pit electrification solution, IM caught up with James Oliver, CEO of BluVein.

IM: Now you have the founding consortium members confirmed for BluVeinXL, where do you go from here? Are you currently engaged with major OEMs on creating a standard design that can fit on any truck?

JO: Seven consortium members is just the start, and we will be announcing additional members very soon. We greatly value our members as it is ensuring we get ‘voice of industry’ and the key technical requirements during this critical stage. One of the major benefits our members see in BluVein is our standardisation, meaning our technology can be used with mixed-OEM fleets, mixed machine types and can even be used to make alternative clean fuel use more efficient and cost effective.

We are currently working with two to three major fleet OEMs and progressing agreements related to integration and demonstration of the BluVeinXL technology. We are confident we will be able to demonstrate with at least one OEM as the MVP, and hopefully more during the current project. Once we agree with each OEM the agreed interface point, then the BluVeinXL integration with the various fleet types becomes quite simple. To do this our technical team works closely with the OEMs on all aspects of the integration including Hammer, Rail and the control systems. By standardising with our various OEM fleet partners, we are delivering on what the mining customers are demanding – a truly standardised dynamic charging system.

James Oliver, CEO of BluVein

IM: How are you managing to engage OEMs that are also providing their own trolley assist applications that, they believe, may be suitable for similar haul truck propulsion setups to BluVeinXL?

JO: BluVein’s safe and proven electrification technology is based on over a decade of research and development undertaken for electric highways by our joint venture partner Evias. We are confident in our system’s ability to deliver high power transfer whilst also delivering on the safety and robustness requirements demanded by mining customers. Critically, the high-power transfer characteristics of BluVein’s slotted rail system enables simultaneous on-ramp hauling and charging of multiple closely spaced mining haul vehicles. This is a game-changing capability and of high interest to our mining partners. The conventional catenary wire-based trolley systems have limitations on power delivery capacity, earthing and other critical safety elements, and, therefore, are not as favoured by miners.

We do, however, see benefits of OEMs trialling a range of different mine electrification approaches, as long as we can all agree on a common vehicle connection point, specifically at the dynamic charge interface. This will ensure the end customer is able to select the best solution for their individual sites. We understand that BluVein will not be everything to everyone, but for the applications it does suit, we are confident it will be a true game changer over conventional catenary and static fast charging options for haul truck fleets.

We hope to be able to demonstrate BluVeinXL side by side with a catenary wire system to showcase the competitive advantages BluVeinXL has – that is higher power transfer; safer, easier to install, use and relocate; and overall lower cost. Ultimately it will be up to the customer to choose based on the performance of the system and we think this will stack up in BluVeinXL’s favour.

IM: Can you expand on how your system alleviates the requirements on haul road conditions that typically comes with the current generation of trolley assist technology? Do you see your Rail and Hammer technology being able to work in any conditions (the Arctic included)?

JO: Part of our current package of work is to understand with our mining partners what these extremes are to ensure we are developing a solution that has minimal up-stream and down-stream impact on operations. The vision is to have a deployable solution that suits all climates and terrains.

Our core technology partner, Evias, has spent over a decade developing BluVein’s core technology to function effectively in icy and muddy conditions. By building on these learnings, we are confident that BluVeinXL will work in the vast majority of terrains and climates experienced in mining – from the hot and humid Pilbara region of Australia to the coldest parts of northern Canada.

It is BluVein’s safe slotted e-rail technology that enables it to be located near to the ground to the side of haul roads. Our Hammer and Arm is being designed to cater for the full range of haul road conditions, thereby reducing the burden on mines to maintain haul road conditions to perfection as is required with conventional overhead wire catenary systems.

Our consortium members have very good geographic spread to help us understand and test in these conditions. Part of our current work is to clearly understand from our mining partners what these environmental extremes are to ensure our solution will function effectively in all operations.

IM: Has your work to this point indicated how small the on-board batteries could be in a typical open-pit scenario for 220-t-payload trucks?

JO: We have taken a technology-agnostic approach to what on-board power and storage system we are supplying; our current focus is getting enough energy onto the vehicle as efficiently and safely as possible to power drive motors and charge smaller batteries if and when available. While we cannot reveal exactly how much smaller we can make the batteries, early studies show the batteries can be reduced as much as 60% when coupled with dynamic charge that has enough capacity to power the drive and charge the battery.

BluVein1 for underground and quarries can provide up to 3 MW of power sufficient for up to 100-t payload vehicles

IM: So what payloads do you think you could be providing this solution for?

JO: The BluVein Rail and Hammer design is completely scalable. BluVein1 for underground and quarries can provide up to 3 MW of power sufficient for up to 100-t payload vehicles. The BluVeinXL system can offer in the range of 4-7 MW, sufficient for up to 250-t payload vehicles. Our engineering team plan to use BluVein1 and BluVeinXL as stepping stones for an eventual introduction of a BluVein solution suited to ultraclass fleets with 9-12 MW of capacity sufficient for up to 350-400 t payloads.

IM: Where are you with your field trials on this solution? Do you expect these to commence this year?

JO: The targeted ‘wheels on track’ for BluVein1 is 2023, followed closely in 2024 with the BluVeinXL MVP demonstration. Right now I cannot reveal too much but there are some exciting partnerships being progressed to achieve this.

In terms of field trials, our ideal setup – and I think one the industry really wants – is a single site where all key mine electrification technologies can be tested out side-by-side. There are some very positive conversations going on between all three parties – the solution OEMs, truck OEMs and mining companies – on this front, which is exciting for BluVeinXL.

As has been said many times, there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to mine decarbonisation. We know that BluVein’s dynamic charging solutions will tick a lot of boxes, but not all. So, it’s great if we can work together to ensure we cover any gaps. There is just too much at stake to try and go it alone.

IM: Anything else to add on the subject of electrification and dynamic charging?

JO: One question we have been asked is does BluVein’s Hammer and Rail technology only support dynamic charging? While power transfer while in motion is our obvious advantage, our system is basically an automated IP2X-rated power connection that can transfer more than 4 MW of energy. Could we use this for automated static fast charging also? Our answer to that is absolutely.

Perenti’s Barminco to carry out development works at Evolution Mining’s Ernest Henry mine

Australia-based Perenti has provided an operational update and an upgrade to its financial year 2023 guidance to end-June 2023, which includes confirmation of a new contract for Barminco at Evolution Mining’s Ernest Henry mine in Queensland and a variation to expand its work scope at Regis Resources’ Garden Well mine in Western Australia.

The positive momentum noted in the operational update released on November 14 has continued as Perenti heads toward the end of the calendar year, with this momentum expected to continue into 2023, it noted.

“Since the release of the most recent operational update Perenti has secured improvements to commercial conditions across several Australian and African projects, including retrospective rate adjustments in relation to work that has previously been completed,” it said.

“These rate adjustments are the key catalyst in providing a further guidance upgrade one month after our previous upgrade.”

The contract at Ernest Henry (pictured) is for development work at the underground gold and copper mine. As Barminco transitions out of MMG’s Dugald River mine – where it has been carrying out development and production works – early next year, employees and capital resources from Dugald River will be mobilised to the new contract at Ernest Henry, it said. Underground development work at Dugald River, meanwhile, is to be taken on by Redpath Australia.

The Garden Well extension follows the commencement of underground mine development at the deposit in 2021.

On November 14, Perenti updated its FY23 guidance to forecast FY23 revenue of between $2.6-$2.7 billion ($1.7-1.8 billion). With the announcement of improved commercial conditions, and in consideration of securing work at Ernest Henry and scope growth at Garden Well, Perenti now forecasts that the company’s FY23 revenue will be between $2.7-$2.9 billion.

Mark Norwell, Managing Director and CEO of Perenti, said: “In addition to generating greater returns in FY23, we are focused on continuing to pursue business and project optimisation initiatives which will facilitate the delivering our 2025 strategy. Our strategy is designed to drive positive momentum in shareholder value well into the future. Perenti’s outlook is underpinned by our world-class Contract Mining Division, and the continued development of our Mining Services and idoba divisions. Our focus on generating enduring value for our people, clients and communities, will ensure we continue to deliver sustainable returns for our shareholders.”

Leveraging the intelligent mine concept for improved profitability, sustainability

The case for digitalisation is clear, according to AspenTech’s Jeannette McGill*, with digitalisation being critical for the metals and mining industry to achieve sustainability and operational excellence in the years ahead.

This is why the more forward-looking decision makers in the mining industry are embedding digital capabilities in their operations so they remain agile, competitive and profitable over the long term, while realising immediate and measurable benefits, she says. Technology providers have responded to the industry’s needs with solutions designed for the mining sector that directly address the dual imperatives of greater business efficiency and enhanced sustainability.

The intelligent mine

In their digitalisation initiatives, today’s operators also know that managing data more efficiently and effectively will be crucial in helping them to meet the challenges they face. Multiple difficulties remain in the way that organisations across the sector manage their data.

Senior mining company executives frequently make tough decisions but, in doing so, they must aggregate isolated pockets of data to generate insights that are relevant and actionable. For data to be available is no longer sufficient. The top priority for effective decision making is for appropriate management of diverse and disparate data sets in a range of locations.

The key is to integrate data and conduct high-level analysis with an understanding of the domain work requirements. Mining companies achieving this will establish what has become known as the intelligent mine. This is a concept that focuses on centralising information from multiple locations and business processes to reveal useful insights. It supports senior level decision making with designed-for-purpose analytical platforms.

Data held in 50 separate systems will not in itself drive operational efficiencies or support sustainable operations. By addressing several issues simultaneously, an organisation is more likely to move towards the intelligent mine.

First, though, businesses must implement automated data gathering systems to capture relevant data from various parts of the mining process and facilities. Second, organisations must have tools that detect bad data because only good data enables good decisions. They must ensure all changes are consistent, correct and improve data processing. Third, the business should assist the mine personnel by providing the capability to integrate data with built-in relevant analytics, so they process and act on insights in a meaningful time frame.

The predictive dimension

To create an intelligent mine, good data is important but only one part of the equation. Organisations must also analyse data in different ways within a context of the problem to be solved with appropriate predictive outcomes.

Companies need to predict the degradation of equipment that, if unattended, will lead to equipment breakdowns and unplanned maintenance, thereby adversely affecting both operational efficiency, reliability, sustainability and safety. Mining is equipment- and infrastructure-intensive with expensive machinery. It demands operational continuity for profitability and sustainability.

Bringing in prescriptive maintenance

Traditional preventive maintenance methods generally fail on the benchmark of equipment availability and performance. Earlier preventive maintenance efforts were unable to deliver sufficient time-to-failure warnings to deliver a significant impact on profitability.

That is where modern prescriptive maintenance plays a vital role. The technology monitors data from sensors on and around the machine to develop intense multi-dimensional and temporal patterns of normal operation, abnormal operation and explicit degradation patterns that precede breakdown. This provides early warnings, using artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning digital technology to spot patterns that humans will never pick up.

Also surpassing human capability, the technology can assess the health of numerous machines every few minutes. It also delivers early warnings to maintenance teams, often with prescriptive advice on resolution. Facing tough challenges and spread thinly over large sites, workers benefit from warnings. Much of the intense repetitive analytics and engineering help them prioritise what matters most. Maintenance teams with such prescriptive maintenance tools ensure an intelligent mine makes significant progress in eliminating unplanned breakdowns.

Finding a solution

An asset performance management (APM) approach – with integrated prescriptive maintenance capability – ensures mines improve reliability, availability and uptime, simultaneously reducing the considerable cost of redundant equipment.

Operations teams often work on the assumption of lower availability by, for example, installing three machines when they only need two, or purchasing 10 trucks to ensure they always have eight up and running. These practices are now deemed too wasteful and have become unsustainable.

By embracing the most effective technology, mines can achieve benchmark reliability without the need for more people, equipment, or expenditure. Companies can operate at the required production levels and either mothball or switch off redundant equipment. Being able to do this with full confidence it will actually enhance overall outcomes, makes a significant contribution to the bottom line. It reduces emissions and increases sustainability.

Yet to develop an efficient digitalisation strategy, certain components must be in place. All too often, mines try to invest minimally in digital solutions to save money. Without domain-centric AI/machine learning analytics, this limits the reach and value technology can deliver. Successful digital strategies deploy solutions that draw on data from sensors and other sources. Enterprise resource planning systems, manufacturing execution systems, laboratory information management systems and advanced process control systems are all part of the mix, as well as general mine planning and design systems. Machine learning and other data science techniques require timely delivery of available data, so historian technology plays a vital role.

Across the industry, a growing numbers of mines are pursuing an APM approach. Australia-based gold miner, Evolution Mining, for example, has deployed Aspen Mtell software at the company’s Mungari Gold Operations, in Western Australia, to help reduce unplanned downtime and provide information to support productivity improvements.

Greg Walker, previously Evolution Mining Mungari General Manager, said: “Evolution’s Data Enabled Business Improvement program has achieved excellent results in recent years. With this new technology, Mungari Gold Operations can achieve further productivity improvements via increased asset availability.”

Looking to the future

Today’s mining industry is now sufficiently mature that it should fully embrace digital optimisation technologies. Operators that fail to adapt and build a strategy to utilise such technology are destined to struggle against competitors that do. Prescriptive maintenance delivers quick results by improving the use of existing capital assets and eliminating the surprise of unplanned downtime, which directly affects productivity, safety and sustainability.

The industry should understand how scalable prescriptive maintenance solutions add value to assets. This works as well with a single asset, conveyer system, a processing plant, a large mill, as it does with equipment across a worldwide enterprise. The truly intelligent mine empowers mining companies across a vast array of contemporary challenges. From reducing unplanned downtime and decreasing safety risks, to greater operational efficiency, sustainability and increased profitability, this approach will be essential for mining companies to surmount all their challenges in short and longer terms.

*Jeannette McGill is VP and GM of Metals & Mining at AspenTech

Epiroc and Rokion battery-electric machines reduce costs at Evolution’s Red Lake ops

Evolution Mining’s efforts to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 are already being witnessed at its Red Lake Operation (RLO) in Canada, where the company is pursuing fleet replacement and energy efficiency gains through deepening its partnerships with Epiroc and Rokion.

The pacts with the two battery-electric vehicle (BEV) service providers also extend to operational changes Evolution is making via fan timers for underground ventilation at RLO.

In partnership with Epiroc, Red Lake has taken the opportunity to leverage its offering of conversion kits to transform diesel-powered loaders easily and seamlessly to battery-electric driven operation, it said. RLO has ordered two of the converted diesel-powered Scooptram ST1030 machines for deployment underground with the first one delivered at the start of December 2021. The site has also ordered two Scooptram ST14 battery-electric loaders that are designed based on the diesel ST14 version, which are scheduled for delivery in 2022. This order was announced last year by Epiroc.

The Red Lake team has also purchased three Rokion electric light vehicles – two R100s and an R400. They have been risk assessed in the field, have dedicated charge stations and are capable of online data capture and storage, the company said.

Rokion says the R100 series includes a four-passenger crew truck and a two-passenger utility truck, with both models built on the same frame dimensions and available in ramp-ready configurations. The R400 platform, meanwhile, is able to accommodate three passengers in a utility vehicle setup or up to 12 in a passenger crew variant.

“The electric fleet brings the opportunity to save on maintenance, cooling and ventilation costs with reducing expenditures related to diesel and power usage,” Evolution Mining says.

“This cost saving and energy efficiency has similarly been seen in the recent changes to the underground ventilation fan timers, which are vital in clearing the drives, post blasting of headings. After assessing the timer programming, the functionality of the fan timer switch was altered so that operators can run them when needed rather than running automatically at irrelevant times.”

Evolution Mining taps AGL Energy Ltd for new power supply at Cowal

Evolution Mining Limited says it has secured a competitive, long-term power supply agreement for its Cowal gold operation, in New South Wales, Australia, under a new eight year partnership with AGL Energy Limited, commencing in January 2023.

Power costs represent approximately 7% of Evolution’s total costs. This agreement provides ongoing long-term security of power supply to Cowal at competitive pricing which is consistent with Evolution’s previously reported financial year 2023 guidance and financial year 2024 outlook, it said.

This long-term agreement also includes a renewable energy component.

Under the terms of the partnership with AGL, a growing portion of the power will be from renewable sources and provides Evolution a clear pathway to meeting its commitment to reduce energy (Scope 1 and Scope 2) emissions by 30% by 2030, the miner said.

Evolution’s Executive Chair, Jake Klein, said: “This is a very important milestone for Evolution. In a very challenging energy market, we have been able to secure both a long-term, competitively priced power contract for Cowal and a growing renewable component that provides us a clear pathway to reducing our energy emissions by 30% by 2030.

“We will continue to look for new ways to further reduce emissions from our fixed plant and mobile equipment to deliver on our net-zero commitment by 2050.”

AGL General Manager, Commercial and Industrial Customers, Ryan Warburton, said: “AGL has been working with Evolution Mining for a tailored solution for their Cowal Gold Mine to help lower their energy costs, provide ongoing long-term security of power supply and assist in reducing their carbon emissions.

“From leading food, agri-business and now to gold mines, AGL is working with our customers to develop bespoke renewable energy solutions to meet their changing needs. This announcement with Evolution Mining is another great example of how AGL is partnering with industry to help them reduce their carbon emissions and lower their energy costs. Through innovative partnerships like this, we are delivering on a low-carbon future with our customers and communities as we transition towards net zero.”

The Cowal mine produced 227,105 oz of gold in Evolution’s 2022 financial year. The company has a plan to expand production to 350,000 oz/y as the mine goes underground.

Barminco extends relationship with Evolution Mining at Cowal gold mine

Perenti Group’s underground mining business Barminco is to further strengthen its relationship with Evolution Mining, having been awarded a new A$60 million ($42 million) contract to carry out diamond drill work at Cowal Gold Mine operations in New South Wales, Australia.

The four-year contract will see Barminco use state-of-the-art drill rig technology to improve safety, performance and productivity, it says.

It’s the second contract to be secured by Barminco at the Cowal operations in two months, after recently winning a A$520 million underground and development contract.

This latter contract will see Barminco carry out all underground development and production works at the underground mine where it is currently developing an exploration decline.

Last year, the Evolution board and regulators approved the development of the Cowal Underground Mine, which is set to provide a higher-grade ore source that will be blended with the current E42 open pit and stockpile ore. The development is part of the group’s goal of Cowal producing 350,000 oz/y of low-cost gold and extending the operation’s mine life.