Tag Archives: IGO

AngloGold, IGO eye Tropicana production flexibility as Boston Shaker goes commercial

AngloGold Ashanti, in conjunction with its joint venture partner IGO Ltd, has declared commercial production at the Boston Shaker underground mine at its Tropicana gold operation in Western Australia.

Situated some 330 km east-northeast of Kalgoorlie, the operation is managed by AngloGold Ashanti Australia (AGAA) with a 70% interest, while IGO holds the remaining 30% interest.

Development of the Boston Shaker mine was approved in March 2019, and the mine transitioned into commercial production this month on schedule, below the A$105.7 million ($77 million) budget and, importantly, with no recordable safety incidents, AngloGold said.

Boston Shaker will deliver around 1.1 Mt/y of ore at an estimated grade of 3.5 g/t, contributing some 100,000 oz/y to gold production over a seven-year mine life.

“Underground mining at Boston Shaker will leverage further value from this high performing operation, achieving payback in just over three years with upside potential as the deposit remains open at depth,” AngloGold Ashanti SVP Australia, Michael Erickson, said. “The underground mine will contribute higher-grade mill feed from the current quarter onwards, improving the gold production profile and enhancing cash flow during calendar 2021-2023 when the mine plan includes periods of higher waste stripping in the Havana open pit.”

AngloGold has previously said operational excellence work at the underground mine is focused on remote bogging, the mechanical operator-controlled digging of ore from surface, and on optimising level spacing and extraction ratios.

The first production stope was fired in June 2020 and underground ore production has now reached an annualised production rate of 700,000 t/y with the design production rate expected to be achieved in March 2021.The commercial production milestone at Boston Shaker comes after Tropicana produced its 3 millionth ounce of gold in March this year, just seven years after pouring first gold in September 2013.

AngloGold explained: “From commencement of the operation at Tropicana the mining strategy has been designed to optimise cash flow, net present value and the delivery of ore. The Tropicana, Havana, Havana South and Boston Shaker open pits have been mined as a series of cutbacks, sequenced and scheduled to maximise value at a mining rate that delivers the best mining unit cost for the scale of the operation.”

Up until June 2020, ore production from the open pits exceeded the plant capacity, allowing higher-grade ore to be preferentially treated, while lower grade ore was accumulated on stockpiles. Over the course of the second half of 2019 and first half of 2020, the Tropicana pit and Havana pit were completed, in line with the mine plan. As a result, grade streaming came to an end and stockpiled ore is currently being used to supplement the mill feed from the Havana South and Boston Shaker pits.

A decision was made in the June 2020 quarter to invest in the next cutback of the Havana pit (Stage 2) which will allow access to the deeper Havana open-pit ore from 2022 onwards. While this cutback is being completed, mill feed will be sourced from the Boston Shaker open pit, supplemented by some 4 Mt/y of low grade (0.85-1.05 g/t) stockpiled ore, resulting in a lower milled grade over the period. The lower grade will be partially offset by the Boston Shaker underground mine, which is ramping up and will be contributing at full capacity by the second half of 2021.

The plan remains for gold production (at 100%) in 2020 and 2021 to be between 400,000-450,000 oz, compared with 513,785 oz last year. From 2022 onwards, annual gold production will normalise between 450,000-500,000 oz as the low-grade stockpile ore in the mill feed is displaced by a larger proportion of Boston Shaker underground ore and an increasing contribution of higher-grade ore from the Havana pit, as the cutback progresses.

AngloGold says significant potential remains to unlock known extensions of mineralisation beneath the Tropicana and Havana open pits and the extensions at depth of the Boston Shaker Underground. Development of an underground drill drive from the Boston Shaker Decline is well advanced with a total of 240 m completed to date. The drill drive is well positioned to also provide production access to the Tropicana underground reserve should the drilling prove successful. Underground diamond drilling is scheduled for the December 2020 quarter with a decision to mine expected during 2021.

Final trade-off studies are currently being completed on the Havana Stage 3 open pit cut-back and Havana underground to determine the optimal open pit – underground interface. A decision on the way forward for Havana Stage 3 is expected to be made during 2021.

(photo credit: Macmahon)

MICROMINE mobilises a new mine optimisation plan

Upgrading from a voice-based fleet management system to an automated mobile solution enables mine managers to gain critical efficiencies across their site, resulting in a positive effect on their operations’ bottom line, according to MICROMINE.

Nickel-copper-cobalt miner, Independence Group (IGO), recently upgraded to Pitram Mobile at its Nova operation in Western Australia. Nova is one of a growing number of sites across the globe choosing to upgrade from Pitram Voice to the Pitram Mobile solution, MICROMINE says. IGO deployed the mobile software following the successful installation of Pitram Voice in 2018.

Touchscreen tablets were installed in vehicle cabs and integrated with the Pitram software to facilitate data transfer between on-board computers and the Pitram control room, which provides full fleet management insights and analytics functionality.

IGO implemented Pitram Mobile to capture data and insights electronically from its underground mining fleet at Nova, according to MICROMINE. Upgrading to Pitram mobile has assisted the mine to more effectively:

  • Manage safety – by controlling access to dangerous areas and replaying locations and states for incident analysis;
  • Integrate its fleet management system – providing a better picture of situational awareness and vehicle positioning;
  • Decrease mine radio traffic – enhancing safety and operational activities through automatically transmitting critical data from equipment;
  • Apply automated business rules engines;
  • Execute its shift plan – sending tasks to workers from the plan, receiving notifications of completed tasks and facilitating plan compliance;
  • Identify areas of improvement;
  • Increase productivity;
  • Reduce manual data entry and paperwork; and
  • Optimise fleet and personnel.

MICROMINE’s Pitram Account Manager, Tyler Raleigh, said the upgrade was completed in early March 2019, with Pitram specialists spending time on site to assist the IGO Nova team with technical support.

“The mine control and dispatch facilities are designed to provide an increased level of shift data accuracy, which will improve operational efficiencies through effective management of mining operations based on high-quality data,” Raleigh said. “The system provides improved response to emergency situations and greater control in hazard management, as well streamlines administrative tasks through real-time data capture and validation.”

IGO’s Nova Mine Manager, Peter Christen, said improvements are already starting to be seen across the Nova site since the implementation.

“We’re pleased with the results achieved so far since upgrading to Pitram Mobile at Nova,” he said. “The implementation was well managed by the MICROMINE team, with quick uptake and acceptance by our IGO and Barminco site personnel.

“It’s enabled our people to be more in control of the data generated and that means we are seeing greater ownership and uptake of the system. It also allows our mine control operators to validate information quickly and they spend less time on the radio.

“Overall, our experience at Nova has been a positive one and we would definitely recommend Pitram Mobile to other mining companies.”

What is the difference between Pitram Voice and Pitram Mobile?

For those already using Pitram Voice, upgrading to Pitram Mobile offers the following benefits, according to MICROMINE:

  • Automatic detection of load-haul-dump events;
  • Integration of autonomous mining fleet with the rest of the Pitram solution;
  • Integration between Pitram and other on-board payload management systems;
  • Summaries of manually and automatically captured production data to aid in generating draw plans;
  • Increased accuracy of time sensitive data, providing greater visibility of availability bottlenecks; and
  • Removal of reliance on radio communications.

A Pitram automatic upgrade from voice data capture requires a simple upgrade process, MICROMINE says. Pitram uses the same production and reporting database for Pitram Voice as it does for Pitram’s automated solution, so all the work invested in implementing Pitram is retained when upgrading to the more advanced Pitram solution.

Pitram Mobile tablets

Optimise operational performance

As Pitram Mobile allows equipment operators to capture production data through automated on-board systems, or via touchscreens in cabs. Rather than calling in through radios, the solution frees up personnel time and effort, radio airspace and alleviates potential data entry errors.

The tablets or onboard systems capture equipment data, like location, pre-start, status and activities, which is automatically uploaded to servers as soon as vehicles are in range of a wireless (or LTE) network. Pitram Mobile’s automatic data transfer then allows that data to be passed to the Pitram Control Room where analysts and operators can monitor results and refine mine operations.

Utilising the latest technology, automated data capture minimises disruption to primary activities, provides near 100% data accuracy, automated task management, integrated shift planning and can provide live information short interval control for in-shift decision-making.

“By using integrations across communication platforms, Pitram greatly reduces call volumes across the radio network,” MICROMINE says. “Through automatically transmitting key data from equipment, personal and operations, the automated solution revolutionises the mine control room, providing an adaptable user interface for low-level data entry roles as well as for higher-level administrators and in-shift mine managers.”

Pitram Mobile being utilised at IGO Nova

Other key features and benefits include:

  • Ruggedised touchscreen tablets, with various models available to best meet the requirements of individual mines, including dust and water protection;
  • No requirement for additional proprietary hardware, so companies save costs and time in installation if they have existing tablets and network infrastructure;
  • Run using Windows operating systems;
  • Compatible with various underground data collection technologies, including Wi-Fi and Ethernet over leaky feeder;
  • GPS tracking capabilities for surface mines;
  • Speed warning and alarms;
  • Material mis-dump alarms;
  • Payload indicator to minimise overloading or underloading, plus integration with third-party payload monitoring systems;
  • Task allocation and real-time tracking of tasks;
  • Portable data for managers & shift boss – finger on the pulse;
  • Improved accuracy;
  • Reduced two-way traffic to Mine Control; and
  • Operator accountability.

Macmahon to go underground with AngloGold, IGO at Tropicana gold mine

ASX-listed Macmahon Holdings says it has been issued a Notice of Award by AngloGold Ashanti, its client at the Tropicana gold mine in Western Australia, for the development of the new Boston Shaker underground mine.

Tropicana, a joint venture between AngloGold (70% and manager) and Independence Group (IGO, 30%), is already Macmahon’s largest mining contract in Australia.

The addition of the Boston Shaker underground work is worth approximately A$170 million ($121 million) over five years, according to Macmahon, which said it expected to commence work in May with contract documentation finalised by the parties in the coming weeks.

Capital expenditure for the underground works is estimated to be approximately A$30 million, and will be primarily spread across the first three years, Macmahon said.

The development of the Boston Shaker underground mine will enable Tropicana gold production to be maintained at between 450,000-500,000 oz/y of gold over the five years to and including the 2023 financial year, AngloGold and Independence Group said. It is expected to contribute 100,000 oz/y to the operation, with first gold expected during the September 2020 quarter. The feasibility study estimated a capital cost for the project of A$105 million.

Macmahon’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Finnegan, said: “We are excited that our long-term alliance partnership with AngloGold Ashanti and Independence Group has grown to also include its new underground development at Tropicana, where we have been operating the surface mining since 2012.

“This contract win is a major step towards our strategic goal of growing our underground business and capitalising on the increased level of underground opportunities with existing and potential new clients.”