Tag Archives: Glencore

The Axora take on crushing and comminution

As we are continually told, comminution is one of the most energy intensive single steps in the resource extraction business.

One estimate is that it accounts for 36% of all the energy used in the extraction of copper and gold, which is only a shade over the 30% proposed as an average by another industry expert for all mining and mineral processing industries.

It also accounts for an estimated 3% of the global energy requirement for metal production.

These energy requirements are shocking from a sustainability and greenhouse gas emission perspective; they are also extremely costly regarding operating expenses on site.

It is with this in mind that IM touched base with Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director of Mining at Axora.

A spinoff from the Boston Consulting Group, Axora has emerged as a business-to-business digital solutions marketplace and community for industrial innovators. It says it allows industrial companies to discover, buy and sell digital innovations and share knowledge in its community, powered by an advanced marketplace.

“We exist to transform industries to be digital, safer, more sustainable and efficient,” the company states on its website.

Having recently gone to press with the annual crushing and comminution feature (to be published in the IM April 2021 issue), IM spoke with Carr to find out what the Axora marketplace has to offer on the comminution and crushing front.

IM: What are the main issues/concerns you continuously hear from your mining clients when it comes to designing and maintaining comminution circuits? How many of these problems/issues can already be solved with existing technology/solutions?

JC: One of key issues in this area we hear from our customers at Axora is the blending quality of the input ores.

Joe Carr, Industry Innovation Director of Mining at Axora

This could be particularly relevant in the sulphide space, for instance.

I did some work years ago on Pueblo Viejo for Barrick. When I was there, one of the things we were working on was blending the sulphides as we were feeding the mill from numerous satellite pits with very different sulphide grades. Because we were processing the ore with an autoclave, high-grade sulphides would cause a temperature spike and the low-grade sulphides would lower the temperature. This constant yo-yoing of the feed into the autoclave was terrible for the recovery of metals against the plan.

Generally, the old school way of blending is setting up stockpiles of ore based on whatever variable you want to manage at your operation. You would put a defined amount of each into the primary crusher on the understanding this would create a ‘blended’ feed for the processing plant.

With the information we have at our fingertips today, this process seems outdated.

You could, for example, use HoloLens or another VR system in tandem with the shovel operator to be able to see exactly what material he or she is excavating. That can then be linked back to the geological block model, with this material then tracked in the trucks and onto the run of mine stockpile, before heading to the plant.

This is where something like Machine Max comes in. Machine Max is a bolt-on IoT sensor that tracks where your trucks are in real time – where they have been and where they are going. The processing piece requires block model integration into a mine plan system. If you have the building blocks in place – the networking, sensors, additional infrastructure, etc – Machine Max could, when integrated with this model, allow you to attempt real-time ore tracking.

“If you have the building blocks in place…Machine Max could, when integrated with this geological block model, allow you to attempt real-time ore tracking,” Joe Carr says

The issue is not that the technology doesn’t exist, but that the mining industry hasn’t yet cracked putting all of this together at an industry-wide scale, available to all miners.

You can carry out a project like this or go totally the other way and have a machine-learning or artificial intelligence algorithm in the plant that is constantly reading the incoming feed. These could be based around the block model inputs, or a digital XRF solution, which is able to constantly tweak or adjust the plant settings to the feed specifications. Process plants are generally setup to handle one type of feed. This is usually only tweaked in retrospect or for short periods of time when the mine plan moves into a different mining horizon.

We also have a comminution solution that understands the feed coming in and optimises the mill and power settings to get the optimal grind for flotation, maximising recovery at the back end. While the input is typically set up to be grind quality and hardness for optimal flotation, there is no reason why you couldn’t configure it for, say, sulphides going into an autoclave, tweaking the autoclave heat settings dependent on the feed.

Once that system is set up, it becomes a self-learning algorithm.

Saving operational costs is another pain point for mining companies we always hear about.

We have a solution on our marketplace from Opex Group, which is looking to optimise production while reducing power. Coming from the oil & gas space, this AI algorithm, X-PAS™, offers the operator an opportunity to adjust the settings while still achieving the same required outputs. This is tied to CO2 reduction, as well as power cost reductions.

Opex Group’s AI algorithm, X-PAS, offers the operator an opportunity to adjust the plant settings while still achieving the same required outputs

In mining, the plant is your largest drawer of power, hands down. Generally, if it is not powered on the grid, it is powered by diesel. Opex Group’s solution can save up to 10% of power, which is a significant amount of fuel and CO2.

The solution reads information from your pumps and motors, analyses the planned output of your plant using all the sensor feeds, and tweaks the variables while sustaining the required output. The algorithm slowly learns how you can change configurations to reduce power, while sustaining throughput. This results in lower power costs, without impacting the output.

Importantly, instead of automating the process, it offers the saving to the operator sat in the control room. Operators, in general, are incredibly reluctant to pass over control to an AI algorithm, but when faced with such power saving opportunities, they will often elect to accept such a change.

And, of course, plant maintenance is always on the agenda.

This is where Senseye, which has been used in the car industry by Nissan and the aluminium sector by Alcoa, is useful.

Essentially, this provides predictive maintenance analytics. It is also a no-risk solution with Senseye backed by an insurance guarantee. It is sold on the basis that if you do not earn your money back within the first 12 months, you get an insurance-backed refund.

There could also be openings in the plant for Razor Labs’ predictive maintenance solution, which is currently increasing the uptime of stackers, reclaimers and car dumpers for iron ore miners in the Pilbara.

IM: When it comes to future comminution equipment design, do you expect digitalisation, wear liner innovations, or equipment design to have more of a bearing on operational improvements at mine sites? Phrased another way; is more emphasis being given to refining and extending the life of existing products with digital technologies and wear solutions, than the design of brand-new equipment?

JC: We believe there is always going to be a focus on retrofit and extensions. Once a mill is built, changing the equipment, upgrading, etc is very hard and time consuming. The logistics of getting a new SAG mill to site, for example, are mind boggling. New technology will always come for new sites, but most of the world’s mining capacity is already in place. I would expect most digitalisation to focus on two areas:

  1. Getting more and longer life from all the assets. For example, extending liner life, reducing operating costs and shortening downtime between refits; and
  2. Drawing insights from the existing asset with a view to sweating it. No mill ever stays at nameplate; there is always an increase in production. One or two percent more throughput can put millions onto the bottom line of a company. No mill wants to be a bottleneck in the cycle. In a mine there are always two goals: the mine wants to produce as much ore as possible to put the pressure on the mill, and the mill wants to run as fast as possible to put pressure on the mine.

When it comes to extending liner life, we have a solution worth looking at.

One of the companies we work with out of Australia has an IIoT sensor all tied to wear and liner plates. It is a sensor that is embedded into a wear plate and wears at the same time as the wear plate itself wears. It provides this feedback in real time.

So, instead of the standard routine changeout, it gives you real-time knowledge of what it is happening to these wear parts.

We have a great case study from Glencore where they installed the sensors for around A$200,000 ($152,220) and it saved several million dollars. The payback period was just weeks.

Where I want to take it to the next level is pairing the wear plate monitoring technology on chutes and ore bins and looking into SAG mills and crushers. Relining your SAG mill or primary gyratory crusher is a massive job, which takes a lot of time and cuts your productivity and output by a huge amount. Wear plates are made as consumables, so if you can use 5% less over the space of a year, for instance, there are huge cost and sustainability benefits. You can also more accurately schedule in maintenance, as opposed to reacting to problems or sticking to a set routine.

IM: When compared with the rest of the mine site, how well ‘connected’ is the comminution line? For instance, are gyratory crushers regularly receiving particle size distribution info for the material about to be fed into it so they can ‘tailor’ their operations to the properties of the incoming feed?

JC: Generally, not really. The newer, better financed operations tend to have this. Taking the example above, when designing a plant flowsheet, the close side settings are used. But are they updated on the fly to optimise the plant? Not really. Most processes are designed with a set number of conditions to operate at their maximum.

Most plants dislike, and are not set up to handle, variation in their system, according to Carr

Most plants dislike, and are not set up to handle, variation in their system. They like consistent feed quality and grade to achieve maximum recoveries. Over the next few years, the companies that develop the best machine learning or AI models to run plants in a more real time, reactive way will see the biggest growth. A mill will always say it’s the mine that needs to be consistent, but the nature of geology means that you can never rely on this. As one geologist I knew said, “geology, she is a fickle mistress”.

IM: Where within the comminution section of the process flowsheet do you see most opportunity to achieve mining company sustainability and emission goals related to energy reductions, water use and emissions?

JC: In terms of emissions, at Axora we are actively looking at technology that can help across the entire plant. There was a great paper published in 2016 around this specific topic ‘Energy Consumption in Mining Comminution’ (J Jeswiet & A Szekeres). The authors found that the average mine used 21 kWh per tonne of ore processed. Given diesel produces 270 g per kWh, this means a plant produces 5.6 kg of CO2 per tonne of ore processed, on average. For a 90,000 t/day site, this might represent 510 t of CO2 per day (186,000 t/y), just for processing. To put that into context, you would need 9.3 million trees to offset that level of carbon.

If the industry is serious about lowering its carbon footprint, especially Scope 1 and 2 emissions, then the focus has to come into the process. There are easy wins available from proven solutions in other sectors for companies that want to take them.

Thiess cuts dust and noise emissions at Glencore’s Mt Owen coal mine

Thiess, in partnership with its client Glencore, has come up with a proactive approach to environmental management to ensure dust, noise and blasting emission impacts are minimised on local communities at the Mt Owen coal mine in New South Wales, Australia.

Working together with Glencore, the team has developed a range of controls including leadership training and education sessions, noise and dust risk forecasting, targeted sound power testing of operating equipment and real-time monitoring technology.

Thiess Senior Environment Advisor, Linda Lunnon, said the real-time data enables the operational team to monitor dust and noise levels and respond swiftly to changing weather conditions.

“Paired with regular visual inspections, the technology provides further guidance throughout each shift, enabling our leaders to readily modify operations as needed,” she said. “The system also triggers SMS alerts to relevant personnel if dust or noise levels reach a defined threshold. This provides a prompt for operational staff to reassess controls and implement further actions if required.”

Lunnon said the forecasting systems also allow the Mt Owen team to plan for adverse weather conditions.

“Dust and noise are two of the highest environment risks for our projects in the Hunter Valley, and we are continually monitoring and refining controls that can assist in managing these risks,” she said.

Thiess’ environment team believes engaging its people is critical to effectively managing risks.

“We prioritise continued support and coaching of our people to ensure they understand the context and importance of our environmental controls and can get optimal value from the systems we’ve developed,” Lunnon said. “We educate them on the monitoring of data, trends and how they can apply their knowledge to minimise short-term and longer-term community impacts.”

Thiess Environment and Civil Manager, James Anderson, recognises his team’s ability to stay abreast of emerging environmental trends in industry and legislation to reduce risks and identify and action opportunities for our client.

“Our Mt Owen team works closely with our wider operations in the Hunter Valley to collaborate on solving problems and achieve tailored dust and noise management solutions,” Anderson said.

More broadly, the Mt Owen team works with Thiess’ wider operational and technical teams to design and deliver integrated solutions that optimise overall mining and rehabilitation efforts.

“Each project leverages our global insight to provide local value, with our head office team offering industry-leading environmental insights across each of our operating countries,” Anderson said. “Our proven experience managing the full suite of environmental services on mine sites ensures we continually deliver exceptional outcomes for our clients.”

NRW Holdings bags mining contract at NRR’s Roper Bar iron ore project

NRW Holdings has been awarded the mining contract for Nathan River Resources’ Roper Bar iron ore project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Roper Bar has a fully integrated ‘pit-to-port’ logistics chain including a privately-owned 171-km paved access road to an existing barge load-out facility and product stockyard, according to NRW.

The project was commissioned in October 2020 with first direct shipping ore (DSO) exports in November. Production ramp-up is nearing completion, with four vessels now completed (around 220,000 t). An offtake agreement exists between Glencore and NRR for the marketing and distribution of iron ore from the project.

This contract award covers the Stage 1 operations at Roper Bar, with production of 4.6 Mt of DSO and 1 Mt of dense media separation production at 1.5-1.8 Mt/y over three years. The contract scope includes drill and blast, load and haul, clearing and grubbing, top-soil and subsoil removal and rehandling of ore stockpiles.

The contract value is circa-A$123 million ($95 million) and has a duration of 33 months. At its peak, there will be around 55 site-based personnel on the project.

NRW’s CEO and Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said: “NRW is pleased to be involved in the recommencement of the Nathan River mine site and looks forward to its successful execution.”

Trevali Mining and Redpath plot Caribou zinc-lead mine restart plan

Trevali Mining has enlisted the help of Redpath Mining to restart its Caribou zinc-lead mine near Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada.

The mine has been on a care and maintenance program since March 2020 following a deterioration of the global zinc market and the continued challenges presented by COVID-19.

Armed with the implementation of several operational and commercial enhancements, as well as improved zinc market conditions, the company now expects to return to mining in early February, with first payable zinc production expected by the end of March.

Following ramp-up in 2021, the all-in sustaining cost (AISC) for Caribou is forecast to be between $0.84-$0.90/Ib of zinc in 2022. The AISC for 2021 is expected to be $0.91-$0.97/Ib.

This cost performance will be supported by a partnership with Redpath Mining as underground mining contractor at Caribou. Trevali says Redpath’s operational experience will help it safely and efficiently mine Caribou’s narrow mineralisation, with the company able to mobilise people and equipment quickly.

Also supporting the restart plan is the signing of a 21-month fixed pricing arrangement for a significant portion of the forecasted zinc production from the mine. Pursuant to existing offtake agreements, an affiliate of Glencore has agreed to purchase 115 Mib of payable zinc, which represents some 80% of the forecasted zinc production from Caribou, at an average price of $1.25/Ib.

These agreements are for the period from March 2021 to December 2022 and are in addition to Trevali’s existing hedging program, which covers the period from October 2020 to December 2021.

Trevali said it was also looking to enter into fixed-pricing arrangements for both lead and silver at meaningful levels of forecasted production from Caribou.

Production guidance for 2021 is estimated at between 60-65 Mib of payable zinc, 21-23 MIb of payable lead and 585,000-650,000 oz of payable silver. Zinc payable production is expected to increase to 72-77 MIb of payable zinc in 2022 as the mine receives the benefit of a full year of production.

During the initial 21-month operating period, Trevali says it will also continue to study metallurgical and operational opportunities to extend the current two-year mine plan, as well as other longer-term value enhancing initiatives in the Bathurst mining camp.

Ricus Grimbeek, Trevali’s President and CEO, said: “Our team has worked diligently to reduce the overall cost structure of the Caribou mine, and I am pleased that we are in a position to restart mine operations in a manner that we expect will generate positive cash flow.

“Our initial two-year plan includes several enhancements which are designed to improve the mine’s economics, including the involvement of a contracted mining operator and the entry into fixed-pricing arrangements for a significant portion of the mine’s forecasted production. We have benefited from the engagement of the provincial government, and with the recall of employees and the restart of production we look forward to being a more significant part of the New Brunswick economy.”

Canada Nickel investigates Crawford processing potential at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator

Canada Nickel Co says it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Glencore Canada that could see material mined from Canada Nickel’s Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project treated and processed at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator and metallurgical site in Timmins, Ontario.

Crawford, around 40 km north of Glencore’s operations, hosts a 657 Mt measured and indicated resource grading 0.26% Ni and 0.013% Co. It is currently the subject of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The Kidd operations consisting of the Kidd metallurgical site and the Kidd mine. The concentrator is located on the property of the Kidd Metallurgical Site, 27 km east of Timmins, in the Townships of Hoyle and Matheson. Built in 1966 with numerous upgrades over the years, the concentrator currently processes metal ore to produce copper and zinc concentrates. The facility has a design rated capacity of 12,500 t/d and is fully permitted with water taking and discharge permits and thickened tailings storage. The site has incoming and outgoing rail service via Ontario Northland Railway.

Canada Nickel says it has completed an initial high-level assessment of the potential arrangements envisaged under the MoU and will proceed with a detailed study on the potential for upgrading excess capacity at the Kidd concentrator and/or using the existing infrastructure in place at the Kidd metallurgical site for milling and further processing the nickel-cobalt and magnetite concentrates that are expected to be produced from Crawford.

Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “The opportunity to utilise the excess capacity and existing infrastructure at the Kidd Met Site provides the potential to allow a faster, simpler, smaller scale start-up of Crawford at a vastly lower capital cost while the company continues to permit and develop the much larger-scale project currently being contemplated.

“Given the potential for this significant change in the scope of the project start-up, the release of the PEA will be delayed until the end of March 2021 to allow this option, if successful, to be incorporated.”

This study is being led by Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc, which is also supporting the assessment of the Kidd Met Site facilities.

Canada Nickel’s plans include the development of a “Zero-Carbon footprint operation”. This considers the use of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilise electricity, rather than diesel fuel, as a power source wherever possible, along with a natural mineral carbonation approach for the deposition of waste rock and tailings during mining to allow material to absorb CO2.

WEF’s MMBI makes progress on emissions traceability with blockchain proof of concept

The World Economic Forum’s Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative (MMBI) has released a proof of concept that uses distributed ledger technology to track embedded greenhouse gas emissions.

A collaboration between seven leading industry players and the World Economic Forum, the initiative has hit an important stage of development following its launch in October 2019, the WEF said.

The successful completion of the proof of concept, named the COT, which is a Carbon Tracing Platform, will be critical in helping to ensure traceability of emissions from mine to the final product. With a focus on end-to-end traceability, the COT platform uses distributed ledger technology to track CO2 emissions.

The founding members of the MMBI – Anglo American, Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Klöckner & Co, Minsur, and Tata Steel – joined forces in October 2019 to design and explore blockchain solutions to accelerate responsible sourcing in the industry. By pooling resources and costs, the mining and metals companies aim to accelerate future adoption of a solution for supply chain visibility and environmental, social and governance requirements.

Developed in collaboration with industry experts, supported by the Dutch blockchain champion Kryha and Consortium Advisor Susan Joseph, it not only tests the technological feasibility of the solution, but also explores the complexities of the supply chain dynamics and sets requirements for future data use, the WEF said. In doing so, the proof of concept responds to demands from stakeholders to create ‘mine to market’ visibility and accountability.

Jörgen Sandström, Head of Mining and Metals Industry, World Economic Forum, said: “There is an increasing demand for metals and minerals, and an increasing demand for sustainable and responsible and traceable supply chains. There is a potential to create a full value chain view with downstream visibility, and, in partnering with regulators and aligning our work with robust ESG standards, sustainability certification schemes and assurance frameworks.”

This work lays the foundation for the next phase of the development and reinforces comprehensive feedback sessions with stakeholders. It also supports the MMBI vision to enable emissions traceability throughout complex supply chains and to create ‘mine to market’ visibility and accountability, it said.

Nadia Hewett, Blockchain Project Lead, World Economic Forum, added: “The distributed nature of blockchain technology enables cross-enterprise collaboration and makes it the ultimate networked technology. This opens exciting new possibilities that organisations otherwise would not have the capability to deliver on their own.”

Peter Whitcutt, Marketing CEO of Anglo American, said: “By leveraging cross-industry collaboration and the increasingly important role played by technology innovation, MMBI’s Proof of Concept can help to unlock the potential of blockchain to support a greater level of reporting transparency and drive responsible sourcing.”

Orica leverages MWD data, AI to create new blast loading design benchmark

Orica is looking to set a new benchmark for blast loading designs in Latin America after deploying its Design for Outcome solution in the region.

The company, focused on integrating its digital blasting tools to improve outcomes, is leveraging its BlastIQ digital blast optimisation platform within this new solution, Angus Melbourne, Chief Commercial and Technology Officer of Orica, told delegates at Massmin 2020 last week.

In a presentation titled, ‘Blasting’s Critical Role in Extracting Ore’, Melbourne mentioned Design for Outcome as an example of where the company was delivering integrated digital solutions in Latin America.

“Design for Outcome is an automated continual optimisation solution that sets a new benchmark for blast loading designs,” he said. “It utilises data science to process both upstream and downstream data to automate blast designs. This produces tailored and optimised blast designs by reducing blast variability and explosive consumption while increasing productivity.”

Using machine-learning algorithms, Design for Outcome processes measured-while-drilling data to classify ground hardness throughout each blast hole and then match explosives energy to hardness domains to automatically generate tailored blast loading designs, Melbourne explained.

Through artificial intelligence, these algorithms are trained with the data received from the fleet control systems (FMS) and previous blast results. This enables final automation of the blasting design process and its execution in the field with Orica’s smart control systems and programming interfaces, loading the blast accurately according to the generated design. These elements combine to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved, Melbourne said.

“Digitally-enabled blasting solutions such as Design for Outcome are allowing us to work with customers in different ways, to think and act differently and expand our role in the mining value chain,” he said.

Such a solution is part of the company’s plans to automate its segment of the mining process. This goal was strengthened last month with the launch of the Orica and Epiroc jointly developed Avatel™ semi-automated explosives delivery system.

A key enabling technology of Avatel, which is built on the foundation of Epiroc’s Boomer M2 carrier, and Orica’s automation vision is WebGen™, the company’s fully wireless initiation system. When combined with Orica’s LOADPlus™ smart control system, specifically designed on-board storage, assembly, digital encoding capability and Subtek™ Control bulk emulsion, Avatel provides customers with complete and repeatable control over blast energy from design through to execution, Orica says.

While referencing the second key pillar in Orica’s digital strategy, Melbourne highlighted the use of the company’s Bulkmaster™ 7 smart, connected explosives delivery system in Latin America during the virtual event.

The new delivery systems not only improve productivity but begin to digitise critical workflows between design and execution in drill and blast operations, according to Melbourne.

The Antamina copper mine in Peru, a joint venture between BHP, Glencore, Teck and Mitsubishi, will soon be leveraging such a system, with Melbourne confirming seven Bulkmaster 7 units had been shipped to the mine and were undergoing commissioning.

Orica’s third digitalisation pillar is the measurement of downstream impacts of the drill and blast process, which is where FRAGTrack™, the company’s automated rock fragmentation measurement device comes into play.

This device captures, analyses and reports real-time data for optimising blast operations, improving downstream productivity and tracking overall operational performance in mining and quarrying, Melbourne explained.

This system is active across several key customer sites in Latin America, with Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo operation in Chile being one of the first to adopt the technology in the world, according to Melbourne. He said the copper operation is using the insights to deliver efficiencies across the value chain through digitally enabled optimised blasting.

Glencore’s ‘net-zero emissions’ 2050 pathway includes use of BEVs

Glencore has become the latest mining major to plot a path to reach “net-zero emissions”, with a plan that includes the use of battery-electric vehicles at one of its underground operations in Canada and renewable power at its South Africa ferroalloy sites.

The company has committed to reducing its total emissions footprint – Scope 1, 2 and 3 – by 40% by 2035 compared with 2019 levels, with an ambition of achieving “net zero” on its total emissions footprint by 2050.

It says it will achieve this by managing its operational (Scope 1 and 2) footprint; reducing Scope 3 emissions through investing in its metals portfolio, reducing its coal production and supporting deployment of low-emission technologies; allocating capital to prioritise “transition metals”; collaborating to enable greater use of low-carbon metals and support progress towards technological solutions; supporting uptake and integration of “abatement”; using technology to improve resource use efficiency; and taking a transparent approach to its sustainability reporting.

Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore Chief Executive Officer, said: “A significant portion of Glencore’s earnings is derived from the metals and minerals that enable the transition to a low-carbon economy. As the world prioritises renewable technologies, battery storage and electric mobility, our business is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for the commodities that underpin these future-focused industries. Our ambition to be a net zero total emissions company by 2050 reflects our commitment to contribute to the global effort to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Getting down to specifics, Glencore, in a supporting presentation, singled out its ferroalloys business. These operations, in South Africa, represent the highest Scope 1 and 2 emitting industrial business within Glencore.

The company said it had set a specific target of a 10% reduction of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025 based on a 2016 baseline as part of the “broader Glencore commitment”.

It said the business was currently investigating the feasibility of working with a third-party independent power purchaser for the installation and supply of around 400 MW of renewable power, with the potential to reduce Scope 2 emission by some 1.17 Mt/y.

Glencore said its Rhovan open-pit mine and smelter complex, which mainly produces ferrovanadium and vanadium pentoxide, was, furthermore, working on a potential community involvement project to install a solar farm on-site that will deliver 11 MW for nearly nine hours a day at 80% efficiency.

“The ferroalloys business is also investigating a number of projects to convert waste gas into power at its smelters,” it added. This most likely includes the work it is carrying out with Swedish Stirling and its container-based PWR BLOK 400-F energy recycling solutions.

Looking to the uptake of new technologies to speed up its decarbonisation transition, Glencore referenced its Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, in Canada, and, specifically, its Onaping Depth project.

This deep nickel-copper mine includes the construction of a winze from the 1,200 m level laterally off the workings of Craig mine to access some 14 Mt of ore 2,500 m from surface. Currently under development, it has been designed to utilise state of the art battery-electric mobile mining equipment, maximised real-time remote operation, and monitoring and management utilising advanced Wi-Fi systems, Glencore said.

The benefits of using such technology include the elimination of diesel emissions and the reduction of noise pollution.

“The design includes the use of innovative ventilation technology, with cooling systems designed to be energy efficient, while coping with ambient rock temperatures that can reach 400°C at depth,” Glencore said.

On battery-electric vehicle technology, specifically, the company said it expects these zero-emission vehicles to play an increasingly important role in underground operations. It added: “going forward, new mines will look to utilise this technology”.

Glencore previously tested a proof-of-concept battery-electric vehicle trial based on the Cat R1300G LHD at one of its Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations’ underground mines, which could have helped form the basis for the application of this technology at Onaping Depth.

After this trial, the company said: “Through using electric vehicles, Onaping Depth is expected to reduce its energy usage by 44% for ventilation systems and by 30% for cooling equipment, compared to an equivalent diesel-fuelled operation.

“Using EVs, Sudbury INO’s new mine will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44% and deliver considerable cost savings through reduced fuel and energy usage.”

Orica to deliver tech and blasting services to Glencore’s Australia copper, zinc ops

Orica says it has been awarded a five-year explosives technology and services contract for Glencore’s Australia copper and zinc operations, effective January 2021.

Glencore, one of the world’s largest globally diversified natural resource companies, produces and markets a diverse range of metals and minerals, with its Australia copper and zinc operations including McArthur River Mine (Northern Territory), Lady Loretta Mine (Queensland), Mount Isa Mines (Queensland), Ernest Henry Mine (Queensland) and CSA Mine (New South Wales). Orica has an existing supply agreement with Glencore’s nickel and cobalt operations at Murrin Murrin, in Western Australia.

As part of the contract, Orica will deliver the full suite of explosives technology and blasting services across the Glencore copper and zinc operations in Australia, including supply of the fully wireless initiating system, WebGen™, BlastIQ™ digital blast optimisation suite of products and smart explosives delivery system, Bulkmaster™ 7.

This partnership further strengthens and expands Orica’s longstanding relationship with Glencore, the manufacturer of commercial explosives and innovative blasting systems said.

Orica Chief Executive, Alberto Calderon, said: “Glencore is a key global diversified customer, and we are delighted to be partnering with them across their Australian copper and zinc operations, integrating our most advanced technologies and solutions to solve their more complex operational needs.

“Glencore’s Ernest Henry mine in northwest Queensland was the first site in the world to trial and adopt our wireless explosives technology, WebGen. This deal shows Glencore’s confidence in our technology roadmap as well as aligning with their strategic vision for technology to deliver added value to their operations.”

Orica will work closely with Glencore to ensure uninterrupted supply to each operation, during the rapid mobilisation and transition period, it said.

Sandvik and Glencore agree on ‘innovative’ equipment, services partnership

Sandvik is to supply Glencore Queensland Metals’s underground mobile mining equipment and aftermarket parts under a deal struck at the end of June this year.

The agreement, valued at SEK1.4 billion ($160 million) over a six-year lifespan, will see Sandvik become the key provider of drills, loaders and trucks for Glencore’s metalliferous mines in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Sandvik will also provide parts, service, rock tools, and digital and automation technology for the new Sandvik fleet.

Following the signing of the agreement on June 30, Glencore placed an initial equipment order totalling SEK300 million, which was reported in the June quarter report, with a Sandvik DD421 development drill the first piece of equipment supplied under the deal on September 1, 2020.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s Global Account Manager for Glencore, Tim Redmond, says the deal comes after more than a year of negotiations and follows Glencore issuing a heavy mining equipment tender in 2018. Glencore requested an additional response to the tender in early 2019 asking the company to deliver a more innovative and collaborative solution.

Redmond explained that Sandvik was happy to rise to the challenge.

“We spent nearly a year working closely with the Glencore team to identify exactly what was needed for the long-term success of their assets,” he says. “Our solutions enabled us to optimise the upfront capital costs and provide a competitive supply of aftermarket services moving forward.”

Glencore Queensland Metals General Manager − Mining, Simon Pope, says the agreement is significant with all heavy mobile mining equipment at Glencore Queensland Metals sites being supplied by the one OEM, replacing the status quo where equipment from multiple suppliers was used.

“This innovative partnership with Sandvik will help us improve the way we operate and maintain mobile equipment in our underground mines by providing us with a real reduction in the total cost to operate our primary fleet, an important factor in enabling a sustainable future for our mining operations,” Pope says.

As a leading mining equipment manufacturer, Redmond says Sandvik is committed to improving customer’s productivity and profitability.

“Sandvik showcased technologies solutions for collision avoidance, tracking of assets and automation to Glencore and other industry players at the Digitization in Mining conference in Brisbane in 2019,” Redmond says.

Having a fleet with a single technology platform ensures Glencore is in a good position to undertake mine intelligence projects and promote additional automation and vehicle interaction controls moving forward, according to Pope.

“We look forward to working with Sandvik to share operational and maintenance insights through new and emerging technologies and unlocking further improvements in safety for our people and the productivity of our mines,” he said. “Sandvik machines have played a key role in our operations for a number of years and have a proven track record for productivity and reliability.”

Redmond concluded that the Australia Glencore deal creates a model that can now potentially be duplicated in other markets and with other commodities.

“Rather than each party simply trying to get the best price, this agreement adds new value to the relationship and creates benefits for everyone,” he said.