Tag Archives: Hunter Valley

NSW regulator recognises Thiess and MACH Energy’s Mount Pleasant mine rehab work

Thiess’ Mount Pleasant Operations (MPO) team has been recognised by the New South Wales Resources Regulator for its industry-leading rehabilitation practices, it says.

Recently publishing an information release about the operation’s rehabilitation controls, the regulator recognised how the team enables long-term landform design stability and manages surface water drainage networks through strong quality assurance measures, according to Thiess.

Thiess, in collaboration with MACH Energy Australia (MACH Energy), has introduced quality assurance controls including the sign-off of inspection and test plans across each construction phase – design, bulk shaping, topsoil placement, ripping and seeding and drain construction, to support progressive rehabilitation and reduce ongoing liabilities.

Thiess Environment & Civil Manager, James Anderson, said these controls provide an unmatched foundation for sustainability, maximising rehabilitation outcomes and managing compliance with confidence.

“The implementation of these controls is an example of how we channel our global experience and insight to create advantages for our projects,” Anderson said. “Our proven systems and processes help deliver immediate efficiencies, reduce rework time and lower life of mine costs for our clients.”

Some 2.5 km from Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, the Mount Pleasant Operation’s complex landform design aims to meet end land use objectives while minimising impacts and delivering a more visually appealing landscape for the local community, Thiess explains.

Since 2017, Thiess has provided construction services to MACH Energy including bulk profiling and shaping of mine spoil, construction of drainage networks, erosion and sediment control structures, final surface preparation, installation of habitat features, topsoil ripping, seeding and planting.

This includes delivering the operation’s first rehabilitation two months before first coal was mined.

Thiess Environment Superintendent, Peter York, says the team’s robust processes and strict quality controls are critical to ensuring rehabilitation is delivered on time and to design specifications.

“Our rehabilitation is not just about quantity,” York said. “The final outcomes have to be quality as well, capable of meeting an agreed end land use. To help facilitate this, we work with MACH Energy to identify improvement opportunities to proactively manage environmental risks and adapt to changing regulatory conditions and evolving community expectations.

“Our systematic approach is helping us achieve industry firsts for rehabilitation while restoring self-sustaining native woodland ecosystems.”

Thiess will continue to deliver a full suite of mining services at the Mount Pleasant Operation, including rehabilitation, under a new 4.5-year contract extension commencing in April 2022.

Thiess extends relationship with MACH Energy Australia at Mount Pleasant

Thiess has been awarded a contract extension by MACH Energy Australia to continue providing mining services at the Mount Pleasant Operation in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia.

The contract extension, which will commence in April 2022, will generate revenue of approximately A$920 million ($678 million) to Thiess over four-and-a-half years.

Having commenced operations when Mount Pleasant was a greenfield coal mine in 2017, Thiess is to continue providing full-scope mining services including drill and blast, overburden removal, coal mining services and rehabilitation.

Thiess Chief Executive Officer and Executive Chairman, Michael Wright, said: “Since 2017, Thiess has provided expert planning and optimum mine sequencing to deliver exceptional outcomes for our client. This contract extension builds on our strong five-year relationship with MACH Energy at Mount Pleasant. We’re pleased to continue to drive long-term social, environmental and economic value for the Upper Hunter region.”

Thiess Executive General Manager Australia & Pacific, Shaun Newberry, said: “We’re proud to continue our work at Mount Pleasant where we have a proven track record of delivering industry-leading environmental practices. We also look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Muswellbrook community to ensure we deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.”

Thiess says it has a strong presence in the Hunter Valley where it provides mining services at three mines.

Fenner Dunlop addresses critical conveyor uptime with iBelt BeltGauge

Fenner Dunlop has introduced mobile capability to its suite of iBelt conveyor technology with the BeltGauge solution offering a new way for customers from all commodities and conveyor industry applications to accurately monitor health of the conveyor, the company says.

The fixed BeltGauge solution has been installed at multiple sites since its launch in September 2020, with the industry appreciating how lightweight the mobile unit is when compared with competitor products, according to Conveyor Technology Manager at Fenner Dunlop, Sam Wiffen.

“We have been experiencing high interest and up-take with the fixed BeltGauge unit, however we recognised that some customers required a more mobile solution,” Wiffen says.

“In order to be functional for the mobile context, we needed the unit to be lightweight, flexible and adjustable – properties which have been incorporated into the design and are a strong point of difference from competitors.”

The mobile BeltGauge unit is made from 3D printing a wide range of engineering composites and plastics-based compounds. This contributes to the safety of conveyor technicians by reducing manual handling risks on site.

“The segmented mobile BeltGauge design allows us to install the scanning units in tighter spaces, without having to overhang the unit above handrails,” Wiffen says.

Both the mobile and fixed BeltGauge have been designed to meet all customer requirements, regardless of geographic or commodity group, and are applicable for surface and underground mining applications, the company says.

“The mobile BeltGauge is designed for customers with critical conveyors, who are comfortable with periodic data and are more focused on the ability to record belt thickness across a range of operational conveyors,” Wiffen explains.

Unlike traditional manual thickness testing, the mobile BeltGauge provides customers with a full-length profile of the belt. Because of the mobile nature of the unit, multiple conveyors can be scanned in a single shift, according to the company.

Reporting directing into iBelt’s DigitalHub portal means customers have access to same-day results, the company says.

The iBelt mobile BeltGauge is currently in operation with Fenner technicians in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales and Mackay in Queensland, with field trials currently underway in Western Australia.

Sales and Engineering Manager, Shailendra Borade, explains that developments to the mobile BeltGauge also include the ability to collect belt thickness readings while the conveyor is running, allowing customers to conduct maintenance inspections without stopping production.

“For our customers in Western Australia and other similar sites, who operate 24/7 and have very few shutdowns in the year, this means they can scan the belt before shutdown, review the data, and plan and forecast belt changeouts with latest information and improve belt life and asset health,” Borade says.

“This is huge asset for our customers, reducing overall downtime and improving production efficiency.

“Operating in a niche industry, it’s crucial that we are able to differentiate our products and services, while providing added-value to the customer.”

As Fenner Dunlop expands the range of iBelt products, both mobile and fixed applications will be considered, it says.

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.”

Ausenco reinforces Australia coal sector focus with QCC Resources buy

Ausenco has announced the acquisition of QCC Resources, a leading coal process and materials handling service provider headquartered in the Hunter Valley, of New South Wales, Australia.

QCC is a globally recognised provider of coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) design and construction services in Australia and key overseas markets, most notably Africa, Canada, Indonesia and Russia, Ausenco says. It has assisted clients over the full project lifecycle from initial concept, prefeasibility and feasibility studies, to innovative CHPP plant design and EPC/EPCM delivery, for over 33 years.

The acquisition supports Ausenco’s position as a premier service provider to the Australia coal industry and will significantly increase the company’s capacity to deliver value-add, future-focused solutions for clients in the industry, the company added.

Ausenco CEO, Zimi Meka, says: “At Ausenco, innovation is in our DNA and we are driven to always seek better solutions. Joining forces with QCC’s deeply experienced team will allow us to drive responsible, sustainable change in the coal industry. I look forward to working with our coal clients to deliver cost-effective solutions that reflect our commitment to having a positive impact on the communities and environments in which they operate.”

Thiess extends stay at Glencore’s Mount Owen coal mine

CIMIC Group’s Thiess has been awarded a contract extension by Glencore to provide mining services at the Mount Owen coal operation in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

The 18-month contract extension, to commence in July 2021, will generate revenue of A$340 million ($240 million) to Thiess.

Thiess will continue to provide mine planning, design and execution, drill and blast, overburden removal and coal mining services at the mine, it said.

The global mining services provider has operated at Mount Owen since 1994, applying, it says, industry best practice mining operations, with uncompromising environmental and safety standards. It is Thiess’ largest coal mining operation in New South Wales, processing up to 15 Mt/y of run of mine, of which 7.8 Mt/y is mined by Thiess from the Mount Owen North Pit.

Thiess Managing Director, Douglas Thompson, said: “For more than 25 years we have delivered industry-leading, specialised mining techniques at Mount Owen, leading to higher resource recovery, increased plant efficiency and reliable material movement for our client.

“Our team looks forward to continuing our long association with Glencore and the Hunter Valley community.”

Thiess says it has a strong presence in the Hunter Valley where it provides mining services at three mines. It works to deliver social benefits through local employment and training, local procurement, community engagement and Indigenous affairs.

Bis to keep moving coal at AGL power stations in Australia

Resources logistics provider Bis has been awarded an extension to its long-term contract with AGL Macquarie (AGL), which will see it continue to provide equipment hire and site services at the company’s two power generation facilities in the upper Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, Australia.

Bis has provided mobile plant and site services, including the supply of key primary dozers for coal stockpile management, to AGL’s Bayswater and Liddell power stations for the past 21 years.

Bis Chief Operating Officer, Michael Porter, said: “We are delighted that our long standing relationship with AGL has again been extended, allowing us to continue to deliver value through our committed team at this location. Underpinning the delivery of the contract is our focus on safe operations, with a Zero Harm commitment that has resulted in an excellent safety record of zero lost time injuries over more than 20 years of working at this site.”

Bis General Manager – Mining Services North East, Drew Sargeant, said Bis has an excellent working relationship with AGL, and a reputation for driving operational efficiencies at this location.

“As the energy sector evolves, Bis will continue working with our customer to identify further opportunities for improvement in delivering safety and productivity efficiencies,” Sargeant said.

New Australia pulley manufacturer, refurbisher sets up shop in New South Wales

New South Wales-based Brain Industries has launched a new range of custom designed conveyor pulleys including drive pulleys and non-drive pulleys for the Australia market.

Brain’s Managing Director, Gillian Summers, said its Newcastle pulley manufacturing centre will benefit a range of industries, including port facilities, underground coal mines, open-pit mines, hard-rock mines, coal loading facilities and overland conveyors.

Pulleys provide the drive and tension to move a conveyor belt – essential in the process of handling materials such as minerals, grain, packages, and even people.

“Brain has invested significantly in new equipment so that every engineering and testing activity can be carried out on site,” Summers said.

She said Brain meets the requirements of ISO 9001, with its pulley shells and end discs made from certified steel plate. Welds are full penetration ultrasonically tested and magnetic particle tested to industry standards, while all pulley weldments are thermally stress relieved.

“Our conveyor pulleys are made from high-quality Australian materials which means they are built to last and operate in tough conditions,” she said.

The pulleys will be made at Brain’s Newcastle engineering workshop, situated close by to the Hunter Valley region’s coal mines. A pulley refurbishment service will also be based there.

“Refurbishing pulleys locally can save businesses significant time and money, extending the life of important infrastructure,” Summer said. “Our refurbishment services include: complete pulley strip down and cleaning of parts; removal of old pulley lagging; non-destructive testing of the shaft and shell; re-machining; re-lagging; re-assembly as well as testing and certification.”

Brain also manufactures a range of other conveyor products including pulley lagging and ceramic wear liners.

BHP’s Jurgens presents big picture automation plan

Diane Jurgens, BHP’s Chief Technology Officer, used her time on stage at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch SmartMine conference, in London, to highlight the company’s plan to introduce full or partial automation across its entire value chain.

The miner has already introduced automation across many of its operations – from haul trucks at Jimblebar (Western Australia) to drill rigs at Western Australia Iron Ore – but Jurgens said the company has bigger automated plans.

This includes considering opportunities to accelerate truck autonomy across the company’s Australia and Minerals Americas sites – the company previously detailed plans to automate around 500 haul trucks across its Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal sites – and introducing “Decision Automation” to link autonomous processes and data from different sources together to create “near instantaneous, optimised decision making”, Jurgens said.

While she talked up the use of automation in mining – referencing the experience she has in the automotive and aerospace industries – she admitted full automation across the BHP group was unlikely.

“This is because we automate equipment and processes where it provides the highest value,” she said, explaining that investment in technology competes against all of other projects in the BHP portfolio, “and alternative uses of cash, under BHP’s Capital Allocation Framework”.

To test this, the company has built proving grounds at two active mine sites (Eastern Ridge in Australia and Escondida in Chile) to trial new innovations in geology, extraction and processes, and “develop workforce capability so that our people are equipped for the rapid pace of change that lies ahead”, Jurgens said.

Just some of the new innovations Jurgens mentioned included the use of advanced geophysics modelling to reanalyse existing drilling data. This new approach led, in November last year, to the Oak Dam copper discovery, near its existing Olympic Dam operations in South Australia.

Recently, sensors were installed at the Escondida test grounds to prototype the use of real-time data to analyse the quality and grade of ores and inform, for example, whether to divert unprocessed ore for leaching, to concentrators or waste. Jurgens said: “The key to achieving this is using data collected through the sensors and combining it with proprietary algorithms. We then apply our knowledge of the ore body to optimise the processing methods. Once in production, we expect these to improve throughput performance.”

With access to more detailed data on extracted material, machine algorithms can automate decisions to identify and divert waste, which increases plant performance and reduces processing costs, she added.

New patented leaching technologies have, meanwhile, increased metal recoveries by 10-12% and shortened the processing time by 50%, according to Jurgens. “At Spence in Chile we increased copper recoveries by about 10% and helped offset grade decline through implementing the low-cost Spence Recovery Optimisation project,” she said. “The initiative improved heap leach kinetics which meant we could maximise utilisation of the leach pads and therefore use the full 200,000 t of tankhouse capacity.”

This breakthrough also informed the successful heap leach trial at Olympic Dam, which the company has just completed.

The company’s automation and innovation journey has already resulted in significant wins, according to Jurgens.
Equipment automation is creating more efficient, standardised and safer operations, she said:

  • Autonomous blast hole drills across BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore assets have increased drill rates by 25%, and reduced monthly drill maintenance costs by over 40%;
  • Haulage automation at the Jimblebar operation, in the Pilbara, has reduced heavy vehicle safety incidents by 80%;
  • Machine learning is being applied to maintenance on trucks in iron ore and coal – to analyse component failure history;
  • At Yandi, haul truck maintenance analytics increased truck availability to above 90% and generated recurrent cost savings. Replicating these strategies to our trucks in energy coal in the Hunter Valley, BHP has also seen an increase in truck availability;
  • Automating key components of BHP’s rail network is supporting increased capacity, more reliable dispatch and improved maintenance outcomes;
  • In Western Australia, material density scanning and laser precision have delivered an additional 2.4 t of iron ore per car while reducing safety risks of overloading;
  • The automated rail network scheduling system, which controls over 10,000 ore cars and transports about 270 Mt/y of iron ore, is becoming more effective through self-learning algorithms, ensuring trains arrive at port, on-time, and;
  • LiDAR technologies are being used to automate the loading of ships that transport BHP’s product to customers around the world.

BTP and Peabody Australia extend Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin coal partnership

Ausdrill’s earthmoving parts and equipment subsidiary, BTP, has secured a three-year extension to its existing contract with Peabody Australia.

The extension, worth A$126 million ($85 million) and effective from April 1, will see BTP continue to rent mining and ancillary equipment to Peabody’s coal mines in the Hunter Valley (New South Wales) and Bowen Basin (Queensland). Peabody has an option to extend the term of the agreement by a further two years should it so wish.

Ausdrill Managing Director, Mark Norwell, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract extension and look forward to continuing to provide equipment and related services to Peabody, building on the strong relationship BTP has formed with Peabody over a number of years.”