Tag Archives: Grasberg

RCT continues to support PT Freeport Indonesia on technology journey

PT Freeport Indonesia has successfully operated one of the largest mining operations in Indonesia for decades thanks to its ability to embrace technology solutions to enhance its mining operations, smart technology specialist and Freeport supplier RCT says.

Freeport runs copper, gold and silver mines across five separate underground and surface operations in the highlands area of West Papua in Indonesia.

For over 30 years Freeport has enlisted the services of RCT to achieve its goals of making mining operations safer for workers and to optimise operations.

In the early 1990s, Freeport implemented RCT’s ControlMaster® remote control solutions across its mixed Sandvik and Wagner production mining fleet operating in the DOZ underground mine and the Grasberg open pit.

ControlMaster was the ideal solution for Freeport’s mixed mining fleet due to its ability to integrate with any machine type and grant the user effective control of the machine from a safe vantage point, according to RCT.

This has seen RCT go from supplying ControlMaster remote solutions, to performing full machine rewiring projects on-site across the underground LHD fleet. It also included deploying the ControlMaster remote control technology across the surface mining fleet, including Cat D11 and D10R dozers, and installing teleremote technology onto a Cat 994 wheel loader within the open-pit mine.

RCT has also previously commissioned ControlMaster Line-of-Sight remotes onto a variety of surface drills, including a Commando drill and Cubex drill rigs as well as a fixed position rockbreaker.

Over the years Freeport’s technology requirements have evolved and every time RCT has supplied technology in-line with changing expectations, from providing analogue communications equipment through to more current digital networks, RCT said.

At present, RCT is providing bespoke technology solutions to Freeport’s entire fleet of specialised equipment.

RCT Account Manager, Shane Smith, said the local environment presents many unique challenges and Freeport is determined to address these issues with technology, and mine in a safe way.

“Due to hazardous conditions in the underground mines, such as wet muck rushes, Freeport sought to automate water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and other highly specialised equipment,” he said. “Global OEMs were not able to deliver technology to meet Freeport’s standards and so we customised our own technology to create a solution that suits their specific applications. This has been so successful that Freeport now instructs global OEMs that their machines must have an RCT solution fitted at a factory level.”

He added: “The current working relationship between Freeport and RCT is built on the foundations of many years of hard work in delivering effective automation solutions and supporting that technology.”

In 2015, Freeport asked for a RCT specialist to be deployed permanently on-site to provide a high level of support for the extensive range of automation solutions implemented across the mines.

These solutions include deploying the ControlMaster semi-autonomous technology on Cat R1700 and R2900 loaders, which can be managed by operators in Freeport’s central Remote Operation Room (ROR) on the mine’s surface.

Other projects include automating 24 chute systems spread across the Big Gossan, DOZ and DMLZ mines and relocating the chute operator from the gantry to the ROR.

Freeport has also implemented RCT’s Haul Truck Operator Assist technology to optimise underground truck loading operations.

Most recently, RCT commissioned a secondary breakage fleet at Big Gossan, including Getman and Elphinstone water cannon trucks, mobile rockbreakers and Cat skid steers. The mobile rockbreakers have been commissioned with RCT’s autonomous ControlMaster technology and enables personnel to manage machine operations from the safety of the ROR.

Smith said going forward the team will enhance the Multi Fleet Select capability, which will enable site personnel to operate multiple machine types from one Automation Centre on the mine’s surface.

“We will soon have nine new Automation Centres located in Freeport’s ROR and we will fully support local personnel in the ramping up of their autonomous fleet operations,” he said. “Freeport is at the forefront of embracing technology to enhance their mining operations and we are very pleased to support them in this journey.”

PT Freeport Indonesia, Redpath achieve drawbell milestone at Grasberg Block Cave

Freeport Indonesia’s (PTFI) Grasberg Block Cave (GBC) operations in Indonesia, together with strong Redpath support, have successfully attained the milestone of constructing and blasting the 300th drawbell.

The milestone, which occurred on June 30, 2021, came in a record time of only 2.5 years from the production start date, according to Redpath.

The same production crews also surpassed the 100,000 t/d mark, by reaching a record of 107,000 t/d on June 26, 2021. This record surpassed the previous site record of 101,000 t/d.

In Redpath’s Advance magazine, I Made Pasek, General Superintendent, GBC Operations, said COVID-19 had not prevented the GBC project from becoming the world’s largest block cave mine.

“In addition to delivering safe and effective development meters, the GBC1 development team has reached the significant milestone of completing the excavation of the GVD 9 Fan Chamber (Grasberg Ventilation Decline), the fifth such chamber of the GBC ventilation system,” Pasek said when reviewing progress during the June quarter. Each of these chambers is equipped with a 5,500 kW fan able to produce 1.7 million cu.ft (48,139 cu.m) of air per minute.

The underground production levels of the GBC mine requires not two, but three crusher chambers to be excavated and constructed to deliver the targeted quantity of 160,000 t/d of ore. PT Redpath Indonesia’s GBC 2 crew are leading with the development of the #603 crusher chamber while concurrently initiating access to the #604 conveyor drives, according to Pasek.

GBC’s construction, MRC and MCM teams were challenged with the realignment of a key section of rail installation for the #602 unloading arrival station during the June quarter. This particular section of rail needed to be disassembled and raised in order to enable ore trains of 11 rail cars to enter the #602 unloading station as per design.

“Working seamlessly with the client’s engineering, planning and rail teams, the undertaking was safely and effectively accomplished ahead of schedule,” Pasek said. “The work itself consisted of drilling 1,000-plus holes for track support, epoxying track bolts into the existing concrete base, followed by meticulous forming works under each track base plate. The work required a high level of accuracy with tight tolerances to ensure rail alignment and smooth travel, in order to meet the established productivity rates.”

Pasek added: “These significant achievements would not be possible without a strong and deeply rooted safety culture in the GBC operations, paving the way for even greater successes in the future.”

Rio Tinto to net $3.5 billion for Grasberg stake

Rio Tinto has agreed to sell its interest in the prolific Grasberg copper-gold mine in Indonesia for $3.5 billion, with state-owned mining company PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium the buyer.

The non-binding agreement between Rio, Inalum and majority owner Freeport McMoRan will see Inalum pay $3.5 billion for Rio’s right to 40% of production from Grasberg above a pre-agreed level. In 2017, with Grasberg producing 468,000 tonnes of copper, Rio’s share amounted to 5,700 t.

Post 2022, the agreement would have seen 40% of “all production” go to Rio, according to the company.

Separately, the agreement between the three companies sets out a long-awaited proposed transaction between Freeport and Inalum for the latter to buy an additional stake in Grasberg as well as additional terms relating to the future ownership and operation of the mine in Papua province. Many of those details have yet to be disclosed.

“All parties have committed to work towards agreeing and signing binding agreements before the end of the second half of 2018,” Rio said.

The deal is part of the government of Indonesia’s attempts to control a bigger portion of its mineral resources, with Freeport being the jewel in its crown. In recent years, it has installed raw material export bans and encouraged foreign operators to set up in-country processing facilities in attempts to retain more of its mineral wealth.

Until the deal is done, Grasberg is majority owned by Freeport, which holds a 90.64% interest, and the government of Indonesia, which owns the remaining 9.36%. Bloomberg reports that Freeport will pocket $350 million as part of a deal to cede majority ownership of the mine to Inalum.