Tag Archives: IMARC

ASX mining movers showing signs of green shoots

Before the Year of the Tiger roared into life on February 1, 2022, more than A$8 billion ($5.8 billion) was changing hands daily on the ASX as cheap debt, low cash rates and soaring stock markets bolstered investor confidence.

As of December 31, 2021, a whopping 240 companies listed on the ASX via Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), with the dollar value of those deals topping more than A$329.2 billion between Q1 (March quarter) 2021 and Q3 (September quarter) 2021, which is close six times more, year-on-year, and smashes the previous annual record of A$139 billion in 2007, the organisers of IMARC say.

Record mineral exploration spends saw a seasonally adjusted increase of 4.5% to A$925.9 million in Q3 2021, which was underpinned by a 15.8% rise in iron ore spending of A$174 million and a bullish outlook on battery metals.

For companies participating in Australia’s biggest mining conference, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022, seizing opportunities in the Year of Tiger is critical.

In 2022, more than 70 ASX companies will partake in IMARC including stock gainers such as Core Lithium.

Tyros burst onto the ASX

The ASX welcomed 240 companies to its ranks in 2021, which is the highest number of new companies since 2014. A staggering 60% of those stocks were linked to the mining and resources sector, and the money is flowing in, according to IMARC organisers.

In 2021, new ASX listings generated more than A$12 billion – the greatest number of listings in 14 years.

For EMR Capital Executive Chairman, Owen Hegarty OAM, 2021 was underpinned by strong commodity prices against a backdrop of cautious market sentiment and COVID-19 volatilities.

EMR Capital, which spun out copper player 29Metals (ASX: 29M) on July 2, 2021, was one of the most successful and biggest resource company floats of 2021. Additionally, 29Metals was one of the most successful listings in 2021, with a share price of A$3.09 (at the time of writing), which is up 50% from A$2.05/share.

“It was one of the biggest IPOs in Australia in about 10-15 years, but certainly not by design,” Hegarty said. “It got away very well. We raised quite a lot of money from the market and put a lot of stock out there. And we retained 45% of the company.

“We were able to use the funds in two directions, to return capital to our shareholders, and to inject good capital into 29M.

“Now, it’s in terrific shape to go forward in terms of its developments and growth trajectory. It has multiple projects in addition to lots of exploration that we wouldn’t have been able to fund through a private equity firm.”

Boom or bust for iron ore

Iron ore peaked at $233/t in May 2021, with majors like BHP and Rio Tinto shelling out record dividends. But, on December 12, 2021, the iron ore price tumbled to $103/t, as Beijing tightened its grip on monetary policy to shrink the output of its steel mills.

However, at the time of writing, iron prices recovered to $126/t, which proves that digging the key steel ingredient out of the ground is still a very profitable exercise.

Hegarty says Australia’s relationship to China as the producers and sellers of coking coal and iron ore, will clearly play a huge part in the future of the key export commodity.

“We’ve got this inflationary environment, you’ve got disruptions, and so on and so forth,” he said. “You’ve got China, which is very dependent on Australian iron ore. They’ve been disrupted by Mongolia and their local suppliers and so on.

“China will continue to increase its demand, and to reduce its dependency on Australia or any one source. So, that decreasing reliance on Australian iron ore and competitive pressure from other countries, means the current iron prices can last forever.

“Iron ore is a very solid commodity and has been a tremendous source of revenue for the country.”

The new commodities super cycle

While the jury might still be out on the short-term future of iron ore, Hegarty is optimistic about the promise of battery metals. Hegarty says despite all COVID-19’s challenges, the world has done quite well since the pandemic hit in 2020.

“When you look back two years ago, people were predicting half the world going to hell in a handbasket,” he said. “Here we go again, it’s another GFC. What’s it going to be, what’s the recovery going to be? Is it going to be the bell-shape, J shape, W shape, inverse square root shape? The price of everything went south.

“But the economy came back very strongly. The leading indicators indicated that this isn’t as bad as the GFC. You know the world has responded very quickly. The whole technological revolution has given us the ability to know what’s going on all the time everywhere.”

Part of the COVID-19 recovery stems from the optimism surrounding battery metals. Following many years in the doldrums, the tide seems to be turning in the electric vehicle market, as policies championing the use of clean energy and the production of electric vehicles is driving a surge in demand for a range of commodities.

Since January 2021, copper, nickel and rare earth metals more than doubled in price, while the lithium juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down, with the spot price at $37,000/t as of January 13.

The path to electric vehicle uptake and electrification point towards a new battery metals super cycle, which analysts predict could bring sustained growth opportunities for decades to come.

Hegarty is also bullish on battery metals and Australia’s potential to play a key role in the energy transition.

“For 2022, our outlook is that, as the world grows, there will always be more demand for those commodities, so you’re going to see that sort of multi-decade growth,” he said.

“Now, you know, on top of all that, and what you would usually describe as normal, is the whole transition towards decarbonisation and net zero.

“Whether you want to characterise it as greening the economy or responding to climate change, it will increase the demand for battery metals.

“Australia is going to dominate because its base resources are here, its people are here, and its base technologies are here.

“Fifty years ago, we were just starting some of these things, but now we have built a world-class competitive advantage.”

So, which battery metals are flying under the radar and should be front-of-mind for investors keen to catch the next wave?

Hegarty said graphite, manganese and vanadium are key commodities to watch in 2022.

“Those companies which have some form of application to electric vehicles or the energy transition, are the winners,” he said.

Golden opportunities

In December, Omicron sent another shockwave into the global economy, serving as a stark reminder that we are still at the mercy of COVID-19, despite the growth and optimism of 2021. So, it comes as no surprise that Hegarty gives gold pride of place as a safe haven asset for the savvy, diversified investor.

“Our view on gold is the same as it has been for 20 years and that is; it’s a commodity, it’s a currency, it’s a store of value, it’s a hedge against all sorts of things,” he said. “It’s got multiple demand factors on it.

“Silver will come and go because it’s also a precious metal, but cryptocurrency is also up and coming and they, too, will come and go as substitutes. But gold will always stand out really because it’s still precious, it’s still rare.”

2022: the year of opportunity

2022 is off to a precarious start domestically and globally. But, Hegarty says 2022 is shaping up to be a year of opportunity for investors and mining and resource companies.

“I think it’s just an amazing time now, accentuated by the fact that you’ve got this volatility and increased demand from net zero commitments,” he said.

“It’s a double whammy. It’s not just more commodities, it’s an impetus to make discoveries in Western Australia, Queensland, or parts of Africa and the Middle East and so on.

“We’re going to be looking for more commodities, and guess who’s got the best technical capabilities?

“We have the opportunity to put more and more resources into ensuring that we can do what we need to do to encourage people to continue joining the sector.

“Taking advantage, I suppose, is the point. Taking advantage of our competitive advantage.”

EMR Capital’s Owen Hegarty will be sharing further insights on new and emerging commodities at the upcoming International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) on October 17 to 19, 2022.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

IMARC rescheduled to October 17-19, 2022

Beacon Events have today announced the rescheduled dates for the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), to be held in Melbourne, Victoria, from October 17-19, 2022.

With international borders set to reopen in Australia in the coming weeks, there is an expectation that by October 2022 there will be greater travel freedoms globally, allowing for the conference to attract a large domestic and international audience in-person once again, the organisers said.

Isuzu, Newtrax Technologies, Murray Engineering, Australasian Metals have already confirmed their support and participation for IMARC in October 2022, in addition to major sponsors Caterpillar, Toronto Stock Exchange and Sandvik.

“We expect that, with a nearly sold-out event being moved to October 2022, IMARC will near double its footprint with over 400 exhibitors,” IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said.

Leading into October 2022, CEOs that were due to speak within the conference plenary in January will take part in a series of virtual interviews and keynote presentations as part of a brand new IMARC Insights series, organisers said. This, they said, would provide an opportunity for attendees to stay up to date with the latest announcements and industry changes.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

Beacon Events to reschedule IMARC on rising COVID-19 cases around Australia

Due to the significant rise of COVID-19 cases around Australia, Beacon Events, the organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), has announced the eighth edition will be rescheduled.

IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said the health, safety and wellbeing of attendees and employees remained the organisers’ number one priority, and rescheduling the event originally planned for January 31 to February 2 is the responsible action to take in the current circumstances.

The IMARC team is currently getting in touch with the hundreds of companies confirmed to sponsor and exhibit, and thousands of attendees that were confirmed to participate to advise of this and discuss the dates for reschedule.

IMARC expects to announce new dates within the coming weeks.

IM is a media sponsor of IMARC

IMARC ready to explore the race to decarbonise the energy sector

The global effort to decarbonise the energy sector is underway, and the race to net zero is shaping up to be an investment opportunity to define the decades to come, the organisers of the IMARC conference report.

Research suggests that as the price of adopting green energy continues to fall, so will the global demand for fossil-fuelled energy sources. Eventually a tipping point will be reached, and fossil fuel dependent energy companies’ assets will become ‘stranded’ unless they can adapt or pivot toward new sustainable energy practices.

As nations in the first world expand and those from the second and third world modernise, their energy needs will do the same, meaning more electricity, more hydrogen, more nuclear and more yet-to-be-discovered energy sources will be needed than ever before.

For the companies participating in Australia’s biggest mining conference, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022, staying in the race to decarbonise is essential.

Tipping point

Research suggests the tipping point for fossil-fuelled energy providers will come when costs for renewables reach parity with the lowest-cost traditional fossil alternatives, and this could be much sooner than 2050.

For such companies, demonstrating the long-term value to investors in a soon-to-be stranded asset class is becoming an increasingly hard sell. But it does not have to be. By pivoting toward renewable energy and investing in a low-carbon future, companies can ensure their survival after net zero.

EDL CEO, James Harman, said the industry was making the slow but sure transition to decarbonisation.

“The world has long relied on cheap, plentiful fossil fuels to power economies,” Harman said.

“In the early 2010s, EDL started looking to solar and wind generation as alternatives to fossil fuels across our portfolio, particularly for off-grid customers in remote Australia who were largely dependent on diesel- or gas-fuelled generation.

“In recent years, we have enjoyed great success with our hybrid energy solutions, helping our customers reduce their carbon footprint, but importantly maintaining and improving reliability whilst holding or reducing price. For example, our Agnew Hybrid Renewable Microgrid at Gold Fields’ Agnew Gold Mine provides the mine with energy that is an average of 50-60% from renewable sources, with 99.99% reliability.”

“EDL was one of the pioneers in the Australian landfill gas sector in the 1990s and, today, we are leading the way in high renewable energy fraction islanded microgrids. We are also exploring the introduction of landfill gas to renewable natural gas/biomethane technology to the Australian market, and the economic production of green hydrogen.”

ESG reinvigorating investment

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) frameworks are, at their core, risk assessment tools that consider the effect climate change will have on investors’ value creation opportunities. In June 2021, research and advisory experts, Gartner, released some jaw-dropping facts about the growing importance of ESG credentials.

According to Gartner, more than 90% of banks monitor ESG, along with 24 global credit ratings agencies, 71% of fixed income investors and more than 90% of insurers. Media mentions of ESG data, ratings or scores grew by 30% year-over-year in 2020, and 67% of banks screen their loan portfolios for ESG risks.

Harman acknowledged that it was important for attitudes and practices across the energy sector to change.

“Given that electricity generators are some of Australia’s biggest carbon emitters and most of the product generated is carbon intensive and derived from fossil fuels – the most important ESG themes for energy companies are climate change action and environmental stewardship,” he said.

“This includes investment in research and development into zero emissions technologies such as distributed energy solutions, energy storage and alternative renewable fuels as well as carbon capture & storage.”

ABB Australia Head of Mining, Nik Gresshoff, is encouraged by the innovation and progress he’s seeing in electrification and hydrogen technologies. ABB Australia is a Gold Sponsor of IMARC in 2022.

“The challenge for mining companies now is to map out their own journey, and to weigh up the gains that can be achieved now through automation, along with the investment required to get to net zero,” Gresshoff said.

Gresshoff recommends companies first define what their carbon footprint is, and what falls within their scope for decarbonisation, before beginning a net-zero journey. “Are they focusing on direct and indirect emissions initially or including the whole supply chain from the outset?” he asked.

“The next step is to examine the technology and what is currently possible to decarbonise. Having a clear understanding of where the company assets are in their lifecycle is critical, as well as an understanding of what technology is available and what technology could fit with the current operation.”

Can dinosaurs survive the Ice Age?

Fossil fuels may be going the way of the dinosaurs that created them, but economies of the future will still require the massive infrastructure frameworks and operational capacities to meet current and future energy needs.

In fact, economists have suggested an overnight collapse of the energy giants could result in massive job cuts and instability leading to a global economic recession.

As was made clear at the Glasgow COP 26 Summit, there is a ‘wall of money’ that will be available for the energy companies of the future – whether that is retrofitting existing gas pipelines for transport of liquid hydrogen or utilising closed coal mine sites for new nuclear power sites, or any number of ways that energy companies can and are pivoting.
EDL believes there is an opportunity for many technologies to play their part.

“There won’t be a one-size-fits-all energy solution that achieves affordability, reliability and sustainability for our diverse country,” Harman said.

“Large conventional power stations are and will continue to be replaced with lower emissions plant with support to make them more dispatchable, allowing cheaper renewable energy to be scheduled when available.

“For shorter-term storage, batteries are feasible but longer-term storage is currently uneconomic. There are a few potential options to resolve this including pumped hydro, new kinds of batteries and hydrogen.

“Based on our experience in the USA, we also see the potential for renewable natural gas (RNG), or biomethane, to play a significant part in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables in the industrial, heating, power and transport industries. RNG production is a technologically mature, ready-to-scale product that is deployable now.”

EDL’s James Harman will be sharing further insights on net zero at the upcoming IMARC in Melbourne, Australia, taking place on January 31-February 2, 2022.

IM is a media sponsor of IMARC

Green is good: playing to win in a multi-trillion-dollar green-tech game

The COP26 Glasgow Climate Summit has made it clear the Australian Government will largely rely on private and listed companies adopting new green technologies to hit net-zero by 2050, according to the organisers of IMARC.

Nowhere will this be more apparent than in Australia’s booming resources sector, and in perhaps no other sector is there so much investment upside, they say. COP26 leaders flagged eye-watering multi-trillion-dollar investment figures that will become available in the race to net zero, in addition to the more than one third of worldwide institutional investment that now requires an ESG component.

Mid-to-large cap companies that are not on-board, or above-board, with the ‘greening’ of their operations through technology will not only damage their reputations but miss out on an entire new generation of value-creation opportunities, according to the organisers.

Green technology comes in all shapes and sizes, as do the multiple challenges posed by phasing out fossil fuels. Advancing Australia to net zero will require a mix of technological advances, infrastructure upgrades and strong governance.

For the companies participating in Australia’s biggest mining conference, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2022, early adoption of green technology is essential to creating value.

Net zero: the next big thing?

With about 200 nations signing on, the consensus of the Glasgow pact was clear – there is much for companies to gain by acting now, and everything to lose by sitting on their hands.

A ‘wall of new private sector money’ will be available to those companies that embrace green technology and clean up their operations, according to IMARC organisers.

This multi-trillion-dollar wall of new money does not include the soaring price of battery metals, and Australia’s position as one of the biggest beneficiaries of the green tech uptake.

According to the Resources and Energy Quarterly September 2021, Australia is the world’s largest exporter of lithium, the second largest producer of copper and produces more than one-quarter of the world’s nickel.

Schneider Electric President of Mining Minerals and Metals, Rob Moffit, said solar and wind generation were being rapidly adopted, but battery storage technology needs to improve so that uptake can continue to grow.

“As you generate more power, you need to find better and more efficient ways to store that power,” he said. “In line with that, there is going to be further investments into battery technologies, particularly the composition of batteries.

“Demand for artificial intelligence (AI) is also set to rise. As we combine multiple energy sources, it starts to become a complex system that needs to be managed. AI and machine learning are the best technologies to do this.”

Kirkland Lake Gold’s Senior Vice President, John Landmark, echoed the sentiments of Moffit and insisted that truly renewable, reliable infrastructure was vital to the transition.

“Power utility companies are the biggest hurdle to greening our industry,” he said. “Resource companies can only do so much in reducing their footprint, but clean and affordable energy is the biggest hurdle which lies outside of the hands of the resources company that needs to be cleaner.

“Having a ‘token’ windmill or solar panel looks great in a photo-op but doesn’t address the sustainable operation and use of such renewable energy.”

‘Greenwashing’: the elephant in the room

There is perhaps no greater threat to the ESG bona fides of a mining and resources company than ‘greenwashing’.

Greenwashing is the practice of misleading the media or the general public, or of taking advantage of a lack of awareness of what constitutes a legitimately ‘green’ or ‘clean’ technology, fuel or practice, the organisers said.

And it is firmly under the scrutiny of the public eye.

Most recently, the High Court of Australia refused to hear Volkswagens’ appeal against its A$125 million ($89 million) ‘Dieselgate’ fine – the largest penalty ever imposed on a company for misleading consumers – for deliberately deceiving regulators and customers about the environmental performance of its cars.

Landmark said greenwashing was a particularly problematic issue because a company that damages its own reputation often leads to other companies within an industry being tarnished with the same brush.

He said there is also a tendency in industry to satisfy public demand and ESG agency requirements, rather than focus on legitimate sustainable practices, “which fosters an environment where resource companies feel like they need to address these tick boxes, leaving companies to dilute their sustainability efforts on non-material issues or embellish on them”.

He added: “By Kirkland Lake Gold sticking to facts only and not elaborating extensively on our sustainability achievements, we aim to ensure our credibility is linked to true data.”

Moffit emphasised this notion, saying it was vital for companies to avoid the greenwashing trap.

“[It] can be achieved by having the right processes in place — specifically using scientifically-based, externally-audited, transparent and consistent protocols,” he said. “It is vital that all commitments are certified by science and must cover all emissions scope categories, not only the ones directly related to the company’s operations.”

Electricity or hydrogen?

Electric- and hydrogen-powered vehicles are often seen as competing technologies. However, mining operations are complicated beasts and, due to the size, location and technique – open pit or underground – of the operation, certain technologies will be better suited than others, according to the event organisers.

Landmark said having many viable options available was the best way to ensure greater uptake of new vehicle technologies and therefore a greener economy, but pointed out that it is, “crucial that both electric and hydrogen vehicles are powered by a green grid”.

Moffit said the most significant benefit of hydrogen technology in heavy industry and transportation is hydrogen’s superior energy density.

“Electric and hydrogen are complementary vehicle technologies,” he said. “Electrification is perfectly suited towards passenger vehicles, but it currently isn’t the ideal option for heavy-duty vehicles such as haul trucks due to the energy density of a battery, which is just 1%. This means that for a 40-t truck, just over four tonnes of lithium-ion battery cells are needed for a range of 800 km. This is not viable.”

Landmark and Moffit will be sharing further insights on green technology at the upcoming IMARC in Melbourne, Australia, on January 31-February 2, 2022.

Australia’s IMARC mining event rescheduled to January 2022

Due to ongoing travel and gathering restrictions, and the rise of COVID-19 infections around Australia, Beacon Events, the organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), has today announced its decision to reschedule the 2021 edition.

IMARC 2021 will move to the new dates of January 31-February 2, 2022, with the hybrid event taking place in-person at the Melbourne Showgrounds, and online for those that cannot attend in-person.

IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said that while it is disappointing that the event has had to be postponed from 2021, it is the responsible action to take under the circumstances as the health and safety of IMARC’s participants is our number one priority.

“The rescheduling comes after much deliberation with our founding partners, and in consultation with our sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and various Victorian Government agencies who have been very supportive of the decision,” she said.

Victorian Government’s Head of Resources, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, John Krbaleski, added: “IMARC is a home-grown industry event that has become a major international resources conference. There is significant interest in IMARC and it’s clear that industry is keen to see it go ahead in January 2022.”

Austmine CEO, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said: “Considering the health and safety of our members, delegates, and staff members, we support postponing IMARC 2021 until January 2022. We know how important this event is to our members who are exhibiting and attending, as well as the METS sector overall, and we encourage everyone to consider this as an opportunity to refocus your efforts and support the event in 2022.”

AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin, added: “We’re looking forward to reconnecting with our mining community at IMARC in January 2022. The rescheduled event will provide an opportunity for delegates to network with leaders and experts from across the sector and take part in thought-provoking conversations about the future of our industry.”

BHP, MMG, Newcrest, Mitsui, OceanaGold and Kirkland Lake Gold have all confirmed their continued support for IMARC in January 2022, with their executive leadership teams confirmed to speak within the conference program, Beacon Events said.

In addition to the Federal Minister for Resources, the Hon Keith Pitt, and major sponsors METS Ignited, Caterpillar, ABB and World Gold Council who have also confirmed their support and participation.

IMARC 2021’s new dates are aligned with the expected easing of restrictions from all states across Australia, allowing for strong domestic representation, according to Beacon Events.

Richards said: “Holding IMARC at the start of 2022 helps create a unique opportunity for the industry to kick off the year with new conversations, develop existing relationships and create business opportunities for the coming year. With better weather comes opportunities for outdoor events and networking, alongside some major events at that time of year here in Melbourne.”

There is an expectation that when IMARC returns in 2022, from October 17-19, there will be greater international travel freedoms, allowing for the conference to attract a large domestic and international audience in-person once again, Beacon Events said.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

IMARC welcomes IWIMRA as First Nations partner

In what it says is an Australian first, the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) has welcomed the Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia (IWIMRA) as its First Nations Partner.

The partnership will foster stronger connections between First Nations communities and the minerals and resources sector, as well as continue to raise the profile of First Nations people working in the industry globally, IMARC says.

IMARC, which is due to take place in Melbourne, both in-person and online from October 25-27, is partnering with IWIMRA to promote the importance of inclusiveness of First Nation women and men in the industry and the IMARC program, it said.

IWIMRA was founded in 2017 to create a stronger connection amongst Indigenous women in Australia’s mining and resource sector. Through lived experiences, and the narrative of Indigenous intersectionality, it is its priority to ensure the visibility, voice, and quality participation across the spectrum of the mining and minerals sector, the IWIMRA says.

IMARC takes place on the lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin nations. IMARC says it wishes to acknowledge them as the traditional owners of the lands and waterways and pay their respects to their elders, past and present, and emerging.

As the first resources event in Australia to have a First Nations Partner, IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said that IMARC is committed to improving Indigenous presence at the event and across broader industry.

“This partnership enhances our commitment to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across all areas of the mining and resources industry as part of our Balance for Better Program where diversity and inclusion are a key focus of the conference and associated events,” Richards said.

She said that IMARC will also highlight the impact and achievements of women in mining while reflecting the strides being made industry-wide to be more gender balanced and showcase the industry-wide benefits of diversity and inclusion.

In practical terms, the partnership between IMARC and IWIMRA will see additional Indigenous speakers and dedicated sessions across the conference program, additional Indigenous women delegates in attendance at the event as well as including an “exciting welcome” to country at the start of the conference, IMARC said.

“This is just the first of what we see as many opportunities to partner with IWIMRA as our values and objectives are very much aligned,” Richards said.

IWIMRA Co-Founder and CEO, Florence Drummond (pictured), said that the partnership with IMARC is a great fit, as IWIMRA aspires to lead with clarity and purpose and to work with industry to build solutions-driven, cross-culture influential relationships that will continue to contribute towards our sustainable future.

“We are so excited to be formalising this partnership with IMARC and it’s only now that we are starting to recognise how truly impactful it will be,” Drummond said. “There are the obvious benefits of participating at IMARC, such as IWIMRA having a physical presence with an exhibition booth, hosting panel sessions and speaking as part of the conference, however there is so much more to be gained beyond the transaction.

“This partnership, which has been progressing over the past three years, is truly transformational for IWIMRA. It means that we have action and commitment from a major global resources conference and that we have recognition, reconciliation and a real seat at the table.”

IWIMRA will be bringing 30 women from mining operations across Australia to IMARC to provide them with the kind of global mining exposure that will enable them to return to their own sites and continue to influence meaningful changes.

“From our history of compounded disadvantage and continued systemic challenges, it is understandable that many of our people are fatigued and frustrated at yet another mechanism for change,” Drummond said. “However, we have worked hard to agree on what shared value is in this context and to deliver this significant opportunity for all stakeholders. Based on trust, we plan for our 30 delegates to be a part of the conversation and to ask the hard questions so that they can be the spark or the catalyst for change back in their home communities. It is our priority to ensure this is a safe space for this.”

Drummond will further discuss this First Nations Partnership on Day 2 of IMARC, as part of the plenary conference program, before later interviewing the Development Partner Institute’s Executive Director, Wendy Tyrrell, about Indigenous engagement and how the industry can better attune with indigenous participation across the supply chain.

The day will conclude with an all IWIMRA line up within the METS Arena for a panel discussion on ‘The intersectionality of Indigenous women in the mining and resources sector, further explore our perspective of where we fit in a decarbonising industry’ before the AusIMM Diversity & Inclusion Networking Reception, where all 30 women will be in attendance to meet with attendees at the event.

International Mining is a media partner of IMARC

FMG’s Wallace warns miners of cyber security risks amid data rush

Gathering data presents enormous opportunities but also significant challenges, according to Fortescue Metals Group’s Head of Cyber Security, Mark Wallace.

Addressing delegates at the 6th International Mining and References Conference in Melbourne, Wallace said much of the industry is sitting on a “gold mine of data”, labelling it “the new strategic asset we need to focus our time on”.

Wallace said the iron ore miner is well positioned as a digital leader, describing the enormous data pulled from its fleet of 200 autonomous haul trucks as an example.

“Each truck has 250 sensors, generating about 91 billion events a month across our fleet. That works out to about 40 TB of data that we have to store, process, pull out the useful bits that we actually want to use and then work out how we’re going to retain this sort of information and control the quality over time,” Wallace said.

That data is already being used to incentivise equipment manufacturers, improve productivity and track performance across its assets, according to Wallace, but he told delegates the company is always looking for new ways to realise its value.

“We’ve found that there’s a new language across our business…Digital twins, robotics, AI, all these words are now spread across our organisation. And there really is a growing understanding across teams that they are now really reliant on data. The value of data has become really, really central.”

But the risks, Wallace said, are ever present, especially as the proliferation of electronic devices continues on its path of rapid growth.

He said the days of simply securing precious information behind a firewall are long gone and the widespread use of tablets, mobile phones, cloud technology and third-party contractors has blurred the lines when it comes to setting up security perimeters.

“The big issue from a mining point of view is what happens if one of these IoT devices actually goes rogue? How do we actually trust the data that is coming off those IoT devices?” Wallace said.

“How do we know that some rogue entity hasn’t just put that IoT sensor out there and is providing you with false information with the intention of damaging your plant or some sort of fraud that’s related to it.”

At the World Economic Forum earlier this year, cyber security-related issues were listed in the top three risks of doing business globally.

Wallace warned Australian companies are under constant threat, with attacks coming from a broader range of sources.

“We are seeing in Australia that there is a real focus in targeting critical infrastructure. These risks are real and we need to keep them in mind,” he said.

“There’s certainly a lot more hacktivists who are trying to disrupt our business. There is nation state-type attack and there’s a lot of financially motivated attacks.”

In closing, Wallace advised that when it comes to preserving its digital assets, the industry should focus on the crown jewels.

“We’ve got hundreds of different data assets that we use for different purposes but which of these assets is actually really important?” he said.

“Identify the crown jewels and focus most of your effort in those areas.

“Most companies that I talk to have 10 cyber incidents every month that they respond to so it’s not a matter of if but when. To respond to that, the real skill here is building resilience – so building that muscle memory within the organisation so that when something does happen, you can minimise the damage and move right along. “

BHP to lead from the front on sourcing, diversity, inclusion, climate change

BHP’s Group Procurement Officer, Sundeep Singh, took to the IMARC stage this week to talk about the major miner’s experience in responsible sourcing, diversity and inclusion, and climate change.

He said taking responsibility in all of these areas was not only right, but good for shareholders and business, going on to provide several examples of how the company was displaying industry leadership in these spaces.

Among the initiatives mentioned by Singh at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), in Melbourne, was the company’s goal to be gender-balanced by 2025. Three years ago when the company made this pledge, women made up 17.6% of its workforce. Today, that number has climbed to 24.5%.

Data collected by BHP shows more inclusive and diverse teams outperform other teams on safety, productivity and culture. Highlighted in this is an up to 67% lower injury rate, 11% better adherence to schedule and 28% lower unplanned absence.

The company has gone further than this, working with other suppliers like ESS Compass, Blackwoods and Komatsu to make sure the machines it uses, the clothes employees wear, the food they eat and the camps they live in are more inclusive, he said.

“Another example is the work that we have done with Kal Tire, a tyre management and fitment organisation that supplies to our Spence operation in Chile. This job requires physical strength, which has been historically restricted to larger men,” he said.

BHP worked with Kal Tire to implement a program that trained women to complete the task and also implemented a zero weight arm. This saves people lifting a torqueing tool that can weigh around 20 kg by simply holding the tool in position when torqueing each bolt, according to Singh.

“The program eliminated the need for physical strength as a pre-requisite for the role, making it not only safer, faster but also more inclusive,” he said.

On the issue of climate change, Singh talked up the company’s progress, highlighting the company’s world-first tender earlier this year for LNG-powered vessels for its maritime transport operations as it works towards a goal of net-zero operational emissions by 2050.

Singh said BHP is working with its suppliers and customers to reduce emissions from the transportation, processing and use of its products.

“Ambitious emissions targets will only be achieved by a supply chain that allows us to collaborate with partners like Adelaide-based Voltra who last year helped to develop the world’s first electric UTE, ahead of Tesla,” he said.

“This is a welcome addition to a growing fleet of light electric vehicles that will “significantly reduce our category 1 emissions”, he said.

When it came to ethical sourcing, he said BHP is continually reviewing and assessing its supply chain, applying the framework established through its own Human Rights Centre of Excellence and Global Contract Management System.

“No-one wants to work with unethical suppliers,” he said. “Having high-risk partners is ultimately expensive for everyone and represents significant exposures. Human Rights violations are the furthest anyone could possibly be from shared value.”

Through the system, BHP knows 96% of its direct suppliers are concentrated in 10 countries, Singh said.

Along these lines, last month BHP partnered with Dyno Nobel to invest in a blast technology research program to improve the safety, productivity and sustainability of its Australia operations.

As well as researching ways to lift safety through reduced nitrous oxide fumes that result from blasting and driving productivity from improved fragmentation via differential energy blasts, this partnership represents a joint commitment to eradicate the use of palm oil in the explosive manufacturing process, according to Singh.

“And, as you may know, a recent and rapid increase in palm oil production, has resulted in an increase in deforestation – destroying habitats, displacing local communities and contributing to climate change,” he said.

“As a part of our agreement, Dyno Nobel will only use certified sustainable raw materials and products. If they use forestry-based products, including palm oil, they will give us information on the country and company of origin, and evidence that they are certified sustainable.”

If palm oil is included, Dyno Nobel will include a timeline and plan for its replacement with an alternative product, he added.

While Singh acknowledged that, in the past, BHP didn’t always get it right with its suppliers and “their experience has been varied”, he did say the company is now focused much more on seeking to establish a supplier relationship model based on sustainable mutual commercial value built on long lasting partnerships that unlock value for all of its businesses.

BHP’s supply chain spans 60 countries, 10,000 partners with an annual spend of $20 billion across its capital and operating expenses portfolio in its 2019 financial year. It sourced 215,000 different types of material and equipment for its Australian operations alone in that year.

EVS&T hopes low voltage electric drive system draws high demand

Electric Vehicle Systems and Technology says it has developed a breakthrough technology with its patented ultra-low voltage (ULV) electric drive system that can drive light and heavy mobile mining equipment.

At voltages as low as 3 V, the equivalent power of an internal combustion engine can be electrically generated to drive machinery, it said.

The company has installed its drive system in a Toyota Landcruiser and was showcasing its technology at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne, Australia, this week.

EVS&T Spokesman, Michael Byford, said the safety implications alone of its patented Ultra Low Voltage electric drive system were enormous.

“It removes the electrocution hazard for operators, maintenance personnel and emergency crews in the event of an accident,” Byford said. “The need for training personnel to work with high voltage can be removed.”

Electric drive systems have the potential to reduce ventilation costs, eliminate health concerns over diesel particulate matter, allow deeper or more productive mines and add a great advantage to a mine’s social licence to operate.

Machinery total cost of ownership will also decrease because of less maintenance required by electric drive systems and the reduced running costs achieved by using electricity over fossil fuels, EVS&T says. Such reductions should also favourably impacts a mine’s operating costs.

EVS&T’s ultra-low voltage solution eliminates the need for high voltages in the region of 340 to 1,000 V, which are presently the only way to power electric mining machinery, the company says.

“These voltages, which carry significant safety risks and require stringent guidelines and work practises, dedicated charging facilities, and properly trained operators and maintenance personnel, can be removed from the risk assessment on the machinery,” it said.

The other benefits of the ULV electric drive system, according to the company, include:

  • Quick and efficient battery swap, even with the motor running;
  • A motor which is battery agnostic, allowing the upgrade of batteries at any time and even the operation of mixed battery chemistries at the same time;
  • Parallel battery configuration, which allows the vehicle to continue to drive even with one or more degraded battery units;
  • Low voltage battery packs that are amenable to simple charging arrangements, even directly from solar cells;
  • No software means no built-in obsolescence and no avenue for malicious hacking;
  • No dedicated tooling required for maintenance and support; and
  • Retrofitting to existing equipment is highly feasible, reducing capital expenditure and extending vehicle operating life.