Tag Archives: Finland

HALMEK LITHIUM to work with Metso Outotec on lithium hydroxide plant

HALMEK LITHIUM has selected Metso Outotec’s patented lithium hydroxide process for production of battery-grade lithium hydroxide at its greenfield plant in the Tula region in Russia.

The order value, which is not disclosed, has been booked in the company’s Metals June quarter orders received.

Metso Outotec’s scope of delivery consists of the engineering and key equipment supply for the lithium hydroxide process, the basis of which will be the Metso Outotec OKTOP® autoclave plant. The environmentally sound production process is one of Metso Outotec’s more than 100 Planet Positive products, the company said.

Pavel Galchenko, VP, Halmek Lithium, said: “One of the most important tasks in the project was the selection of technology. Instead of the more traditional sulphuric acid processing to produce lithium hydroxide, we decided to choose the Metso Outotec lithium hydroxide process as it is the most promising and environmentally-sound process at the moment.

“The pilot tests conducted at the Metso Outotec Research Center in Pori, Finland, provided excellent results.”

Mikko Rantaharju, Vice President, Hydrometallurgy business line at Metso Outotec, said: “Metso Outotec has developed lithium hard rock-related technologies for some 20 years now. It started with the battery-grade lithium carbonate process and, when the market changed to favour lithium hydroxide, the process flowsheet was converted to directly produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from spodumene.

“Both of the processes are patented and will be significant assets in our battery chemicals business, meeting the need to produce high-end lithium-ion battery chemistries for the growing market.”

HALMEK LITHIUM’s new hydrometallurgical plant, which will complement its existing lithium hydroxide plant, is currently under construction. As raw material, the new plant will use spodumene concentrate; it will feature a capacity of 20,000 t/y of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate, which is used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles. The first production line is planned to start up in 2023, and the second production line with a capacity of 20,000 t/y is expected to start production in 2026.

HYBRIT partners produce world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall say they have now produced the world’s first hydrogen-reduced sponge iron at a pilot scale.

The technological breakthrough in the HYBRIT initiative captures around 90% of emissions in conjunction with steelmaking and is a decisive step on the road to fossil-free steel, the partners say.

The feat from the HYBRIT pilot plant in Luleå, Sweden, showed it is possible to use fossil-free hydrogen gas to reduce iron ore instead of using coal and coke to remove the oxygen. Production has been continuous and of good quality, the companies said, with around 100 t made so far.

This is the first time ever that hydrogen made with fossil-free electricity has been used in the direct reduction of iron ore at a pilot scale, according to the HYBRIT partners. The goal, in principle, is to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the steelmaking process by using only fossil-free feedstock and fossil-free energy in all parts of the value chain.

Hydrogen-based reduction is a critical milestone, which paves the way for future fossil-free iron and steelmaking. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall intend, through HYBRIT, to create the most efficient value chain from the mine to steel, with the aim of being first to market, in 2026, with fossil-free steel at an industrial scale, they say.

Last year, HYBRIT, a joint initiative of SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall, began test operations to make hydrogen-reduced sponge iron in the pilot plant built with support from the Swedish Energy Agency. The technology is being constantly developed and the sponge iron that has been successfully made using hydrogen technology is the feedstock for the fossil-free steel of the future, they say.

Jan Moström, President and CEO at LKAB, said: “This is a major breakthrough both for us and for the entire iron and steel industry. LKAB is the future supplier of sponge iron and this is a critical step in the right direction. Progress with HYBRIT enables us to maintain the pace in our transition and, already in 2026, we will begin the switch to industrial-scale production with the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, Sweden. Once LKAB has converted its entire production to sponge iron, we will enable the transition of the steel industry and reduce global emissions by around 35 Mt a year, which corresponds to two thirds of Sweden’s entire emissions. This is the greatest action we can take together for the good of the climate.”

Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO at SSAB, added: “This technological breakthrough is a critical step on the road to fossil-free steel. The potential cannot be underestimated. It means that we can reach climate goals in Sweden and Finland and contribute to reducing emissions across Europe. At the same time, it creates new jobs and export successes. SSAB’s transition means we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland. High-strength fossil-free steel will also allow us to help our customers to strengthen their competitiveness. As early as this year, we will deliver minor quantities of steel made using hydrogen-based reduction to customers, and in 2026 we will deliver fossil-free steel at a large scale.”

The hydrogen used in the direct reduction process is generated by electrolysis of water with fossil-free electricity, and can be used immediately or stored for later use, according to the partners. In May, HYBRIT began work on building a pilot-scale hydrogen storage facility adjacent to the direct reduction pilot plant in Luleå.

Anna Borg, President and CEO at Vattenfall, said: “Sweden’s and Vattenfall’s fossil-free electricity is a basic requirement for the low carbon footprint of hydrogen-reduced sponge iron. The breakthrough that we can announce today shows in a very real way how electrification contributes to enabling a fossil-free life within a generation.”

Metso Outotec completes Metals business reorganisation

Metso Outotec says it has completed the reorganisation of its Metals business as part of the turnaround program announced in the December quarter of 2020. As a result, the segment’s operational model has been adjusted to “better meet customer needs, as well as the scale and nature of the business today”.

When the negotiations related to the reorganisation started on December 9, 2020, the estimated need for reduction was a maximum of 160 permanent redundancies in the Metals operations globally, including up to 60 redundancies in Finland.

As a result of the negotiations, approximately 100 jobs will be reduced globally, including 15 in Finland. Most of the global reductions are through redundancies and the rest through other arrangements, such as retirements, non-renewal of fixed-term contracts, and voluntary resignations, the company said. In addition, over 50 employees who were in the scope of the Metals reorganisation will continue in Metso Outotec in other parts of the company.

Jari Ålgars, President, Metals business area at Metso Outotec, said: “The reorganisation of the Metals business aims for annual savings of €15 million ($18.1 million). During the negotiations, we carefully evaluated all opportunities with the target to find the best possible options to meet the needs of our customers and employees. The now completed reorganisation empowers the Metals business lines for efficient use of resources and faster decision making.”

Autonomous loading and hauling pays off at Agnico’s LaRonde, Kittila gold mines

Increased uptake of autonomous loading and hauling technology at the LaRonde (pictured) and Kittila gold mines has helped Agnico Eagle Mines post a record quarter of production for the last three months of 2020.

Payable gold production in the fourth quarter of 2020 was 501,445 oz at all-in sustaining costs of $985/oz, the company reported. This compared with 494,678 oz at an AISC of $1,039/oz in the prior-year period.

Homing in on LaRonde Complex (including the LaRonde mine and the LZ5 Mine), in Quebec, Canada, Agnico put the good performance at LaRonde – production of 105,729 oz during the quarter, down from 112,704 oz in the prior-year period when gold grades were 7.3% higher – down partially to the automation strategy that, the company said, had helped improve productivity and allow continuation of mucking activities during non-entry protocols related to seismicity.

In 2020, 13% of tonnes mucked from stopes at the LaRonde mine were carried out in automation mode and, in December 2020, a record 39% of the production mucking at the LaRonde mine was carried out from surface, which included 100% of the production mucking from the West mine area.

At LZ5, in 2020, 14% of tonnes mucked and hauled to surface were accomplished in automated mode with operators based on surface. This surpassed the 15% target the company had set. For 2021, it is expected 17% of the tonnage will be mucked and hauled remotely to surface and the production rate is expected to be sustained at around 3,000 t/d. “The LZ5 automation team will continue optimising the automated mining techniques,” Agnico said.

Agnico said the target for 2021 is to muck over 17% of the total tonnage for the LaRonde Complex from surface. The company said it is also carrying out work to perform production drilling using automation.

In a January presentation, Agnico stated that 10 LHDs and four trucks had been equipped with Sandvik’s AutoMine® system. Back in 2018, Sandvik announced that the LaRonde mine would become the first operation to use AutoMine with LTE communication network underground on a production scale.

To continue tailings deposition through the LaRonde Complex life of mine, Agnico is also constructing dry-stack tailings facilities, which are expected to be operational by the end of 2022. Dry stacking will help limit the footprint of the new tailings facility and improve the closure of the main tailings ponds, Agnico said.

Moving to Finland at the Kittila gold mine, the use of automation also paid off.

The company said Kittila continued delivering strong performance in the December quarter of 2020, with production above forecast by around 6,000 t. This also coincided with the commissioning of the expanded mill at Kittila, which is now ramping up towards the design capacity of 2 Mt/y.

The mine delivered a record full-year ore production of around 1.85 Mt in 2020, according to the company.

“This performance (in Q4) is driven by an improved fleet management and an increased usage of automation,” Agnico said.

Kittila has been testing autonomous hauling trucks and tele-remote equipment and is targeting to achieve 50% of production drilling and 15% of hauling remotely in 2021, it said.

On top of this, Agnico said the mill had consistently increased availability and the company was evaluating the implementation of advanced process control in 2021.

Robit to supply drilling consumables to Agnico Eagle’s Kittilä gold mine

Robit and Agnico Eagle have signed a long-term cooperation agreement for drilling consumables supply to the Kittilä gold mine, in Finland, with the deliveries to start on May 1, 2021.

The company previously supplied diamond button bits to Kittilä mine for production drilling, thus, the mine and conditions are familiar to Robit, it said.

Tommi Lehtonen, CEO of Robit Group, said: ”We are happy to start this cooperation, which is a result of a long-time work and is an important reference to the company. It is also an investment in the domestic market. We are excited of this collaboration, which, in addition to product supply, offers an opportunity to develop our products together with one of the leading mining companies.”

Jari Kolehmainen, Production Manager at Kittilä mine, Agnico Eagle Finland Oy, added: “We are delighted with this agreement and expect a long-term and close collaboration. Together we have an opportunity to develop drilling consumables, eg diamond button bits and Sense Systems products, to serve customer needs even better.”

Kittilä mine is the largest gold mine in Europe. It extracts annually about 1.6 Mt of ore, yielding about 7,000 kg of gold. At current production volumes, the mine’s known ore reserves are expected to produce gold until 2034.

Nornickel backs responsible sourcing and production practices with blockchain agreement

Norilsk Nickel says it is joining the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), an industry collaboration among members across the minerals supply chain using blockchain technology to support responsible sourcing and production practices from mine to market.

The move to join RSBN comes after Nornickel announced a broad strategy to use sophisticated digital technologies to create a customer-centric supply chain, which would include metal-backed tokens on the global Atomyze platform, a tokenisation platform that represents physical assets in digital form. Both the Atomyze and RSBN platforms were developed by leveraging Hyperledger technology, with IBM’s participation, the PGM and base metal miner said.

With Nornickel joining the RSBN, a series of its supply chains will be audited annually against key responsible sourcing requirements by RCS Global. The audits cover each stage of the company’s vertically integrated operations from mines in Russia to refineries in Finland and Russia.

Once audited against responsible sourcing requirements, each supply chain will be brought on to the RSBN and an “immutable audit data” trail will be captured on the platform, proving responsible nickel and cobalt production, its maintenance and its ethical provenance.

“Integration with RSBN is yet another step for Nornickel towards achieving greater business sustainability by creating a permanent record of minerals on the blockchain,” the company said.

At a later development stage, data such as upstream carbon intensity and other ESG attributes will be tracked, it added.

Built on IBM Blockchain technology and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the RSBN platform helps improve transparency in the mineral supply chain by providing a highly secure and immutable record that can be shared with specified members of the network, Nornickel says. Additionally, RCS Global Group assesses each participating entity both initially and annually against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and those enshrined by key industry bodies, including the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Anton Berlin, Nornickel’s Vice President, Sales and Distribution, said: “As one of the largest industry groups globally and the producer of the minerals essential for the transition to a carbon-free world, Nornickel is well aware of its responsibility to make the metals supply chains sustainable and highly transparent. We believe that the digital technologies of RSBN and Atomyze will create the path for Nornickel and its partners to participate in a circular value chain, tracing commodity flows in near real time as well as replacing cumbersome paperwork.”

RCS Global CEO, Dr Nicholas Garrett, added: “The RSBN has proven that responsible sourcing can be traced and documented using blockchain technology. Assuring Nornickel’s supply chains is another milestone engagement for RCS Global and Nornickel’s commitment to the RSBN and demonstrates momentum for blockchain backed responsible sourcing platform in the metals sector.”

Manish Chawla, Global Managing Director, Chemicals, Petroleum & Industrial Products, IBM, said: “Norilsk Nickel is an important addition to the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network and we look forward to their contributions to help advance the assurance for responsible sourcing and the group’s sustainability goals that have a direct impact on successful and accountable development for entire industries.”

RSBN is designed to be adopted across industries by original equipment manufacturers in automotive, electronics, aerospace and defence as well as their supply chain partners such as mining companies and battery manufacturers.

Kittilä mine leverages SIMS electrification experience as Boltec E Battery units start-up

Having tested out Epiroc’s battery-electric vehicles over the past two years as part of the SIMS project, Agnico Eagle Finland’s Kittilä gold mine has now started up its own Boltec E Battery bolting units.

The European Union-funded SIMS project and the related field tests of Epiroc’s battery-powered mining machines turned the eyes of the mining world to Kittilä, in northern Finland.

As part of the project, which took place during 2017–2020, Epiroc’s ‘green machines’ – the Boomer E2 Battery, Scooptram ST14 Battery and Minetruck MT42 Battery – were put through their paces.

Andre Van Wageningen, Manager of Technology and Development at the Kittilä mine, said: “The collaboration with Epiroc has been great and Epiroc has taken away all the concerns we had regarding battery-electric equipment. I believe that we also have supplied a very good test site.”

Tommi Kankkunen, General Manager of the Kittilä mine, added that the benefits with battery-electric equipment are obviously the reduction of fossil fuels and the reduction of carbon footprint, but also major advancements made to health and safety for its employees.

After the tests, the mine purchased its first battery-powered rigs, Boltec E rock bolting rigs selected as the first battery-powered units in line with the mine’s investment plan. The important drivers behind the decision were sustainability of the rigs and the opportunity to create a better work environment, according to Epiroc.

The first bolting rig arrived at the Kittilä mine in early November, with another similar bolting unit joining the club a couple of weeks later.

According to Jari Kolehmainen, Production Manager at Kittilä, the first messages were very positive: “The performance of the machines is at least at the same level as that of diesel machines. Productivity has improved with the development of equipment.”

The arrival of this new equipment will also benefit operators’ wellbeing at work as exhaust fumes, heat, vibration and noise have decreased.

“For example, a rock bolting rig is moved several times during a shift, and, in the past, it has always meant starting diesel engines and blowing up an exhaust cloud,” Epiroc said.

Also, in terms of maintenance, the equipment lacks a large component (diesel engine), and, as a result, oil and filter changes are omitted. Also, for fire safety, the use battery-powered machines mark a step forward in the absence of hot surfaces of the diesel engine and moving oils.

Air quality improves piece by piece when diesel-powered equipment is replaced by battery-powered equipment, according to Epiroc.

Kolehmainen said: “Especially on the loading and haulage side, the change in air quality is clear. In the future, we want to reduce our carbon footprint and move towards zero-emission technology, as well as move forward in wellbeing at work.

“The SIMS project showed that battery technology has made great leaps forward.”

In terms of infrastructure requirements, the mine’s electricity network should accommodate the electrification of the equipment. Battery-powered machines also require a battery replacement location.

Epiroc added: “Agnico Eagle Finland’s Kittilä mine wants to profile itself also towards the introduction of other new technologies in addition to battery-powered equipment. A remote control room has been completed for the mining office, from which several machines are controlled simultaneously.

“Since the beginning of October, it has been a permanent turn for two people to operate mining machines remotely. The mine firmly believes that investing in new technologies will bring long-term benefits.”

First Ore Mining and Metso Outotec strike thickening plant deal for Pavlovskoye

The First Ore Mining Company (FOMC), part of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co, says it has signed a cooperation agreement with Metso Outotec “underlining the parties’ interest in continuing their strategic partnership in the design, supply, installation, control and commissioning of the thickening plant for the Pavlovskoye field”.

The agreement waas signed by Igor Semenov (right), Executive Director, FOMC JSC, and Markku Teräsvasara (left), Vice President, Metso Outotec.

The Pavlovskoye polymetallic deposit on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago is the largest such deposit in Russia with 47.7 Mt of ore reserves (2.49 Mt f zinc, 549,000 t of lead and 1,194 t of silver), according to First Ore Mining.

The cooperation with Finland’s Outotec (since merged with Metso to make Metso Outotec) emerged more than a year ago on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which gave rise to an initial pact. Since that time, the company’s experts, together with Aker Arctic Technology, have elaborated a detailed draft design for the floating concentrator and set out a preliminary thickening flow chart and main equipment layout, First Ore Mining said.

In September, representatives from Metso Outotec visited the Pavlovskoye field. In the course of the field activities, the company examined the site for the planned thickening plant, tailings pond and infrastructure facilities, First Ore Mining said. It also acknowledged the ore samples were representative and could be used in testing.

The next stage within the partnership will include tests to be carried out at Metso Outotec Research Center in Pori, Finland. Once the work is completed and the final thickening flow chart is developed, Metso Outotec will present the guaranteed performance indicators and design values to ensure the plant’s productivity and the high quality of the concentrates and metal extraction for the ore types studied, FOMC said.

Semenov said: “I am confident that working together with Metso Outotec will significantly improve the thickening indicators for Pavlovskoye ores, which were obtained during the studies in the previous years. As a result, we will produce premium concentrates that are in demand in the global lead and zinc markets.”

Teräsvasara added: “Indeed, it is quite interesting to participate in the development of this unique project for processing minerals in the Russian Arctic. In addition to standard technological and economic matters, harsh weather conditions, lack of infrastructure, and high requirements to environmental safety in the vulnerable Arctic wildlife have made us search for the best available technologies to cover all these points.”

The Pavlovskoye project includes plans to build the northern-most mining and processing plant to produce lead and zinc concentrates, with First Ore Mining as the project operator.

JordProxa crystallises battery chemical market potential with Albermarle, Terrafame orders

Australia-based JordProxa Pty Ltd has recently delivered crystallisation plants for two major battery metal producers, solidifying, it says, its position in the growing new energy market.

JordProxa designed, fabricated and dispatched several large-scale orders to site, including an evaporator and two crystallisation plants to lithium producer Albemarle, in Western Australia, and nickel sulphate, cobalt sulphate and ammonium sulphate crystallisation plants to Terrafame, in Finland. The modular plants are now being installed in Western Australia and installation is underway on site in Finland with the last modules in transit (pictured above), JordProxa said.

The most recent crystallisation plant deliveries follow, in 2019, the arrival of a JordProxa nickel sulphate crystallisation plant at BHP’s Nickel West operations in Western Australia.

JordProxa Managing Director, John Warner, says the rapid uptake of battery-electric vehicles has led to a surge in demand for battery chemicals and associated technologies.

“Battery chemical producers need a technology provider that can meet and exceed the demands of product purity, with a focus on continued process improvement, to keep up with changing product specifications,” Warner said.

“JordProxa understands the process fundamentals that influence product quality through evaporation and crystallisation. We combine the project delivery skills and global footprint of Jord and Proxa and are perfectly positioned to deliver state of the art plant solutions for ultra-pure battery chemicals at large tonnage scales.”

He added: “We leverage an established network of fabrication alliances and modular design capabilities. This allows us to deliver key assemblies that are tested in the workshop before they are dispatched and installed on site. Our aim is to optimise project delivery time while minimising project risk.”

Jord International CEO, Angus Holden, said he was pleased the group is demonstrating its technical and operational expertise in the new energy market.

“Our track record over 50 years of business demonstrates that we can successfully design and build reliable plants with tangible process benefits,” he said.

“This important crystalliser work from JordProxa delivers on our goal of supporting clean energy technologies and is generating a new long-term, sustainable revenue stream. It has helped our group achieve a record revenue for the 2020 financial year, aided by other new areas of business, including enhanced minerals beneficiation and topside modules for offshore gas fields.”

Sandvik to accelerate rock drill developments with new innovation centre

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, in an effort to speed up rock drill innovations, has opened a new Rock Drills Innovation Center in Tampere, Finland.

Announced during day one of its Innovation in Mining event this week, the centre will introduce state-of-the-art production and testing facilities for this core Sandvik technology. It will be home to extensive rock knowledge and drilling technology expertise, creating a hub for innovation, the company says. The centre will also complement Sandvik’s existing leading drilling technology competence centre, consisting of an R&D centre, an underground test mine with laboratories, a modern factory environment and university cooperation.

IM put some questions to Timo Laitinen, Vice President of the Rock Drills business unit, to find out more about the €18 million ($21 million) investment.

IM: How will the new innovation centre help the Rock Drills business unit more rapidly develop new products?

TL: We wanted to bring all key functions needed in the development and production of rock drills under one roof. This makes communication between different functions more effective and enhances cross-functional work when developing new products.

Also, as reliability is the most important characteristic in rock drills – and the key feature of Sandvik rock drills – based on our recent customer survey, we increased our durability testing capacity. Now we can do even more endurance testing in a shorter calendar time.

Thirdly, our factory investments speed up prototype production, minimising waiting times between the iteration rounds. All these speed up time to market.

IM: What new technology, expertise, innovation, etc will you be leveraging to speed up the R&D and product development pipeline?

TL: In addition to what I mentioned above, we utilise a Lean & Agile methodology in our R&D with increased customer involvement, transparency and cross-functional cooperation. As Sandvik’s drilling equipment development, as well as digital technology development, happens for the most part here in Tampere at the same site, we can leverage that work for rock drill development too. Digital technology helps read data from Sandvik drilling equipment and service operations around the world, which we utilise to create even better rock drills. Sandvik’s expertise in machining solutions has helped us to integrate advanced quality assurance solutions in our production system. This generates valuable information for rock drill research and development.

IM: Will the Rock Drills business unit have a designated area of the Tampere Test Mine to test prototypes? Was the division previously using the existing test mine facilities?

TL: We have always had a certain designated area in our test mine for rock drill testing. With this investment program for the Rock Drills Innovation Center, we did build a new area in the test mine for this purpose with increased safety and functionality, more capacity and more space.

IM: In terms of R&D, what areas will the innovation centre focus on? What problems/challenges are your customers continuously talking about that you hope to address with this new facility?

TL: Drilling the holes for explosives comes first in the drill & blast production cycle, followed by the other phases of the cycle. Therefore, it was not a surprise to us when the customer survey result was that ‘reliability’ was the most important feature of a rock drill; followed by productivity and operating cost per metre. In addition to further developing these features in Sandvik rock drills, digital technology is sneaking into our rock drills. Our Rock Pulse technology is a prime example of new technology, which helps our customers drill more, better and at lower cost.