Tag Archives: Iron ore

Grange Resources plots underground move at Savage River with electric mining equipment

A completed definitive feasibility study looking at the potential for underground mining below the North Pit and its integration with Grange Resources’ current open-pit mine at Savage River, in Tasmania, Australia, has showcased not only “robust financial outcomes”, but the potential for reducing carbon emissions by 80% at the mine, with the application of electric mining equipment and material handling systems underground.

This DFS development is in line with company’s environment, social and governance (ESG) initiatives to develop Green Pellet Production from the mine.

The study, according to Grange, presents a technically achievable and financially favourable underground mine at Savage River, with integration with the current open-pit mining operation to deliver “excellent” projected financial returns and sustains a mine life of 15 years. In line with this, the Savage River ore reserve is increasing by 12.5 Mt to 109 Mt with integration of the underground operation.

The new life-of-mine-plan will deliver a substantial reduction of 30% in operating costs with underground mining costs at an average of A$13/t ($8.4/t). It also delivers an internal rate of return of 34% based on an average product price of approximately A$177/t. The ore delivery of 64 Mt of ore produces 28 Mt of concentrate with an iron grade of over 66% over 15 years, Grange said.

A sub-level caving (SLC) transition mine to recover ore left in the walls of the North Pit provides early access to ore and contingency production during the establishment and ramp-up of the block cave mine. Over 2 km of exploration decline has been completed, which reduces the risk for many technical and cost elements of the project, with a further commitment for additional decline development and geotechnical investigation drives in 2024, the company said.

The prefeasibility study for this project considered several haulage options with associated underground configurations and underground and surface infrastructure. The underground crushing and inclined conveying option was chosen as the go forward case for DFS for the following reasons:

  • Significant reduction in emissions and ability to meet the long-term requirements of the updated Safeguard legislation;
  • Lower operating costs by the removal of production trucks and significant reduction in diesel;
  • Better future proofing with higher ore production levels possible allowing the option of higher concentrate production;
  • Improvement to the underground operating environment with improved air quality;
  • Increased options for future automation.

In addition, the single gyratory crusher that was presented in the prefeasibilty study has been replaced with two eccentric roll crushers, which provides redundancy in the material handling system. Crushed ore is transferred to the inclined conveyor system via apron feeder and conveyors.

Another PFS change saw the extraction level layout changed from ‘El Teniente’ diagonal to an offset herringbone to enable the use of tethered electric loaders and to mitigate effects of potential inrush events.

A board decision for Grange to move forward with execution planning and permitting will occur over 2024 with final construction decision in the second half of 2024, the company said.

The Government of Canada awards Rio Tinto’s IOC funding for decarbonisation project

The Government of Canada has awarded C$18.1 million ($13.4 million) from its Low Carbon Economy Fund to Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) to support the decarbonisation of iron ore processing at its operations in Labrador West, the mining company says.

The funding will enable IOC to reduce the amount of heavy fuel oil consumed in the production of iron ore pellets and concentrate, according to Rio Tinto. The company will install an electric boiler to displace emissions from the usage of the heavy fuel oil boilers, as well as instrumentation and fuel-efficient burners to further reduce heavy fuel oil consumption from induration machines.

Over the lifetime of this project, IOC will see a cumulative reduction of about 2.2 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions.

Installation of the new equipment will begin in the June quarter of 2024 and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2025. The project will create more than 100 jobs during the construction and implementation stages in Labrador West.

IOC President and Chief Executive Officer, Mike McCann, said: “Rio Tinto IOC has a plan to decarbonise and continue producing some of the lowest carbon-intensity high-grade iron ore products in the world, right here in Canada. This project alone will eliminate approximately 9% of IOC’s greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to collaborating with the Government of Canada and other partners towards our goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.”

Labrador Member of Parliament, Yvonne Jones, said: “By working with organisations across Canada, such as IOC, we can help the community save money on monthly operating costs and grow the economy, all while fighting climate change. Through the Low Carbon Economy Fund, the Government of Canada is partnering with climate leaders nationwide to cut emissions. I applaud the leadership shown by IOC for helping to keep our air clean and build resilient communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The Government of Canada’s contribution represents approximately 25% of the total cost of the project, with IOC funding the remainder of the investment, Rio Tinto clarified.

BHP, BlueScope and Rio Tinto to investigate Australia low-carbon steelmaking options

Australia’s two largest iron ore producers, Rio Tinto and BHP, and its biggest steelmaker, BlueScope, have partnered in their efforts to accelerate the decarbonisation of steelmaking by agreeing to jointly investigate the development of the country’s first iron making electric smelting furnace (ESF) pilot plant.

Under a new framework agreement, the companies will consolidate the work each party has completed to date, leveraging both BHP’s and Rio Tinto’s deep knowledge of Pilbara iron ores with BlueScope’s operating experience in ESF technology.

The collaboration provides a platform to develop and potentially invest in a pilot facility and aims to demonstrate that production of molten iron from Pilbara ores is feasible using renewable power when combined with direct reduced iron (DRI) process technology, they said. If successful, it could help open a potential pathway to near-zero greenhouse gas emission-intensity operations for steelmakers that rely on Australian iron ore to meet global steel demand.

The parties will assess several locations in Australia for the proposed pilot facility, and will consider factors like supporting infrastructure, available workforce, access to target industry and supply chain partners, and suitability for operational trials. The prefeasibility study work program is expected to conclude at year-end. If approved, the pilot facility could be commissioned as early as 2027.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott (right), said: “The carbon intensity of iron and steelmaking requires profound change to meet the needs of our planet and our climate objectives. We must find better ways to enable these materials to be made more sustainably through leveraging technology.

“We firmly believe the best way to tackle a challenge of this scale is through collaboration with industry and importantly this new agreement will leverage the more than two years of work we have already completed with BlueScope on this technology. We are excited to add this partnership to the suite of projects we have underway with our customers and suppliers to find better ways to accelerate their efforts to meet their decarbonisation targets.”

Incoming BHP Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) Asset President, Tim Day (left), said: “We are thrilled to partner with Rio Tinto and BlueScope to progress what we see as a potential breakthrough in reducing carbon emissions from steel production. Collaborations like this are so important for the success of these technologies and build on our work on blast furnace abatement projects, and our ongoing research and development projects with leading steelmakers, research institutes and technology providers around the world.

“Combining our expertise, we hope to help fast track near-zero emission-intensity pathways for steelmakers using Pilbara ores. Technology pathways compatible with renewable energy and scalable to the order of hundreds of millions of tonnes of steel production would be a major step forward in setting up Pilbara ores, and the world, for a low greenhouse gas emission future.”

BlueScope Chief Executive Australia, Tania Archibald (centre), said: “We have a clear vision for BlueScope in Australia as a vibrant, modern and sustainable manufacturer with a clear role to play in enabling Australia’s energy transition. Building a pathway to low emission-intensity iron and steelmaking in Australia is a key priority for our business. We’re excited to be partnering with Rio Tinto and BHP to explore the decarbonisation of the ironmaking process, and leverage the natural advantages of Australia – namely our iron ore resources and the abundant potential for renewable energy.

“We believe DRI is the most prospective technology to decarbonise our Australian business, and the development of ESF technology is key to unlocking Australia’s unique advantages in this decarbonisation journey – and, more importantly, has the potential for wider adaptation across the global steel industry. We believe that this collaboration where we can contribute BlueScope’s unique experience in operating an ESF will be key to cracking the code for Pilbara ores in low emission-intensity ironmaking.”

SpectraFlow wins second Crossbelt Analyzer order from Vale

SpectraFlow Analytics says it has received a second order from Vale for a Crossbelt Analyzer as part of the mining company’s quality monitoring processes at its iron ore dispatch terminal of Ponta da Madeira (TMPM), in Maranhão, Brazil.

While it is the second order from Vale, it is the third order for a minerals Crossbelt Analyzer in South America.

The company said: “After the very successful installation of a SpectraFlow Crossbelt Analyzer for the same application in the Terminal Ilha Guaíba in Rio de Janeiro, this is now second installation of a SpectraFlow Analyzer within Vale to enhance the ship loading with real-time data.”

SpectraFlow analysers are already installed in the cement, iron ore, gold, platinum, copper, potash, bauxite and recycling industries. They leverage Near Infrared Sensors, providing measurements of dry raw material composition at key points in mining, processing and refining value chains.

Tapojärvi kicks off open-pit mining contract at Kaunis Iron

Tapojärvi Sverige Ab recently began a new contract mining gig at the Kaunis Iron mine in Pajala, Sweden, at the same time as the temperatures in that region plummeted to around -40°C.

The service contract with Kaunis Iron covers machine work in ore production as well as production support work, which includes all open-pit production activities other than rock transportation, drilling and charging.

Miika Miettinen, Production Manager at Tapojärvi, said the contract began as agreed on January 1, with the company compiling a service package in only six weeks.

The start of a new service contract requires new personnel and equipment to carry out production in line with the contract. Additionally, production control systems, infrastructure, offices and production facilities, as well as maintenance services, are needed. A mining contractor must also consider safety at every step of production.

Approximately 60 new employees were recruited, and additional personnel were borrowed from other Tapojärvi sites, to bring this contract in within the six-week timeframe.

Miettinen highlights the professional mindset of his employer, skilled and committed personnel and new equipment as Tapojärvi’s strengths. These factors enable Tapojärvi to respond quickly to the client’s needs.

“We were forced to let the production stand idle when the temperature dropped low in early January,” Miettinen said. “There were also some struggles involving the machinery. Despite everything, our operations have been launched successfully and the client has been happy with our performance.”

To support its operations, Tapojärvi has developed processes and systems that are constantly collecting online production data. Data and analytics help enhance Tapojärvi’s performance, safety and maintenance processes.

“We are able to provide the client with comprehensive and complex production data, which allows us to influence the mine’s operations and performance together with the client,” Miettinen said. “I am glad that our cooperation with Kaunis Iron has gone smoothly from the very beginning and that we are already involved in developing the operations.”

The service contract with Kaunis Iron is Tapojärvi Sverige’s first major open-pit mine contract in Sweden. The company has previously worked in underground mines on the sites of LKAB and Zinkgruvan, for example.

Metso to deliver Nordberg cone crushers to WCS’ Simandou iron ore project

Metso says it has received an order exceeding €10 million ($10.9 million) from Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS) for the supply of key crushing equipment for its concentrator plant at Simandou Iron Ore Blocks 1 and 2 in the Republic of Guinea.

Metso’s scope of delivery consists of 16 Nordberg® HP900™ secondary and tertiary cone crushers, a crusher series that has over 10,000 installations worldwide in the aggregate and mining industries.

Xun Fang, Head of Metso’s Minerals Sales in Greater China, said: “We are pleased to be chosen as the supplier of the state-of-the-art crushing equipment for the Simandou iron project by WCS. We will leverage our global knowledge and resources to support the success of this project.”

Winning Consortium Simandou has been set up by the founders of SMB Winning Consortium, namely Winning International Group from Singapore, China Hongqiao and UMS Guinea. WCS won the public tender to develop Simandou Iron Ore Blocks 1 and 2 in November 2019 and signed a Base Convention agreement with the Guinean Government in June 2020.

Simandou Blocks 3 and 4 are held by Simfer S.A., which is owned by the Guinean State (15%) and Simfer Jersey Limited (85%). Simfer Jersey Limited is a joint venture between the Rio Tinto Group (53%) and Chalco Iron Ore Holdings Ltd (CIOH) (47%), a Chinalco-led joint venture of leading Chinese SOEs (Chinalco (75%), Baowu (20%), China Rail Construction Corporation (2.5%) and China Harbour Engineering Company (2.5%)).

AtkinsRéalis to take on integrated delivery partner role at Simandou

AtkinsRéalis, a fully integrated professional services and project management company with offices around the world, has been appointed as the integrated delivery partner by Rio Tinto for the Simandou mining project in the Republic of Guinea.

In the role of integrated delivery partner, AtkinsRéalis’ global and multi-disciplinary Minerals & Metals team will provide project and construction management, engineering and technical compliance, plus contract management services as part of the multi-year contract.

This represents AtkinsRéalis’ largest mining project in the last decade, and the first mining project the company will deliver under the role of integrated delivery partner.

The Simandou site is home to the last-known, largest and richest untapped high-grade iron ore deposit in the world, AtkinsRéalis says.

The Simfer joint venture’s mine concession held an estimated total mineral resource as at December 31, 2022, of 2,800 Mt, of which Rio Tinto recently reported the conversion of an estimated 1,500 Mt to ore reserves that support a mine life of 26 years, with an average grade of 65.3% Fe and low impurities.

“Decarbonising future infrastructure projects means looking at end-to-end construction and engineering processes, including steel production,” César Inostroza, CEO, Minerals & Metals, AtkinsRéalis, says. “New infrastructure builds are only increasing in frequency and scale, as public and private-sector clients look to decarbonise, manage climate risk and build climate resiliency. Simandou’s first-class iron ore deposit will be a vital ally to the world’s Net Zero transition, producing the lower-carbon intensity steel needed for these sustainable infrastructure new builds.

“Throughout our mandate at Simandou, a top priority is to deploy the full breadth of our Engineering Net Zero capabilities, to ensure sustainable mining solutions are prioritised at all stages. Not only will we be responsible stewards of the land, but we look forward to providing social value and economic opportunities for current and future generations of Guineans.”

Oversight of the rail line and port components of the project will involve a joint collaboration between AtkinsRéalis’ Transportation and Minerals & Metals teams. This includes bringing together expertise from project teams in Montreal, London, Conakry and Belo Horizonte.

Simfer Jersey Limited is a joint venture between the Rio Tinto Group (53%) and Chalco Iron Ore Holdings Ltd (CIOH) (47%), a Chinalco-led joint venture of leading Chinese SOEs (Chinalco (75%), Baowu (20%), China Rail Construction Corporation (2.5%) and China Harbour Engineering Company (2.5%)). Simfer S.A. is the holder of the mining concession covering Simandou Blocks 3 & 4, and is owned by the Guinean State (15%) and Simfer Jersey Limited (85%). Simfer Infraco Guinée S.A.U. will deliver Simfer’s scope of the co-developed rail and port infrastructure, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Simfer Jersey Limited, but will be co-owned by the Guinean State (15%) after closing of the co-development arrangements.

LKAB bolsters automated, electric Sandvik loading fleet at Kiruna iron ore mine

LKAB has ordered 12 Toro™ LH625iE cable-electric loaders and five Toro™ LH621i loaders, all equipped with Sandvik’s AutoMine® solution, for its Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

The order will more than double Kiruna’s electric Toro LH625iE fleet to 20, all of which will now be automated, and its total Sandvik loader fleet to 28 by the end of 2025, the OEM said.

The orders were booked in the June and December quarters of 2023, with deliveries scheduled from January 2024 through the end of 2025. The investment follows a study by Sandvik’s Trans4Mine team and calculations by Polymathian that identified opportunities for Kiruna to increase production by as much as 15% through automation of its large electric loader fleet.

“Sandvik and LKAB have a shared goal to boost production at the Kiruna mine,” Magnus Backe, General Manager LKAB Kiruna, said. “This is a true partnership to increase tonnage and improve safety through automation.”

Developed in 2020 as a collaboration between LKAB and Sandvik to replace Kiruna’s ageing fleet of 17 Sandvik LH625E loaders, the 25-t-payload Toro LH625iE is a revamped version of the industry’s largest-capacity underground loader.

“This investment supports our strategy towards a more electrified, autonomous and safer mine,” Joel Kangas, Mine Manager at LKAB, said. “We need to excavate an enormous volume of rock from depths of up to 1,300 m, and we will mine even deeper in the future. These depths present a prohibitive ventilation challenge for conventional equipment of the size we need to meet production demands. We worked closely on a daily basis with the Sandvik experts on site to ensure a seamless implementation.

“Ever since we put the first Toro LH625iE straight into a production environment more than three years ago, these loaders have been the backbone in our production system, exceeding our expectations, and we look forward to incorporating these new automated units into our operation.”

Kiruna was among the industry’s earliest adopters of cable-electric loading, trialling its first Sandvik unit in 1985. The oldest of Kiruna’s Sandvik LH625E loaders was 13 years old and had more than 40,000 production hours when what began as a project to modernise the loader and a side project to enhance its cable reeling system ultimately evolved into a completely upgraded loader model with the latest technology and new components.

Sandvik collaborated closely with LKAB to customise the design of Toro LH625iE to meet Kiruna’s needs. These included better energy efficiency than the original model with the same payload capacity and a larger, more ergonomic operator’s cabin with a turning seat that swivels 180°.

Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “[The] Toro LH625iE has proven itself at the Kiruna mine, delivering an unrivalled production capacity of up to 500 metric tons per hour. Not only are these automated loaders extremely productive, they improve underground conditions and operator comfort with less heat, fewer vibrations and lower noise levels. Our partnership will create value for LKAB for years to come, and we look forward to continuing to support LKAB’s goals to mine more sustainably and productively.”

The Toro LH625iE is 14 m long and features a 4-m-wide, 9 cu.m bucket and an energy-efficient, IE4 classified electric motor to deliver a low cost per tonne. It connects to Kiruna’s mine network via a 350-m trailing cable that enables an operating range of up to 700 m.

BHP and HBIS Group exploring alternate electrified pathways of steel production

BHP has signed an agreement with China’s HBIS Group Co Ltd (HBIS), one of the world’s largest steelmakers, to trial direct reduced iron (DRI) production and use of BHP iron ores in blends and progress a separate enhanced lump stage 2 trial aimed at lowering blast furnace (BF) carbon emissions.

To support the development of alternate electrified pathways of steel production for a wider range of iron ores, under this new agreement, the parties aim to trial commercial-scale DRI production using BHP iron ores in blends at HBIS’s newly commissioned DRI plant and then evaluate the performance of the DRI in downstream steelmaking steps. The DRI plant uses hydrogen-rich gas by-products in the steel works to convert ore into a metallic iron product that is further refined for steel.

Additionally, the enhanced lump stage 2 trial will focus on the existing BF steelmaking route, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions by increasing the use of direct charge lump and reducing the need for agglomerated feed which requires fossil fuel energy.

BHP’s latest collaboration agreement with HBIS will tap into the investment of up to $15 million over three years proposed by BHP and HBIS in an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2021.

BHP’s Chief Executive Officer, Mike Henry, said: “HBIS Group is a key partner to BHP and an industry leader in assessing and demonstrating a range of potential pathways to reduce GHG in steelmaking. Our work with customers like HBIS Group, together with our own actions, aims to accelerate progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions right along the value chain.”

BHP’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “I am delighted to build on our existing partnership with HBIS Group, one of the world’s largest steelmakers and an important customer for BHP’s high quality Pilbara iron ores. DRI is an important element of our pathways to near-zero-emission steel production and in the decarbonisation journey of the steel industry.

“We are working with HBIS Group to demonstrate the use of BHP iron ores in DRI production trials. Together with other collaborations we have underway, including electric smelting furnace (ESF) development, the outcomes are expected to provide pathways to reduce carbon emissions from steel production using BHP’s products.”

This new agreement expands on the work streams laid out in the 2021 MoU between the parties and proceeding announced since; phase 1 research and development work announced in 2022 – in conjunction with HBIS and University of Science and Technology Beijing, a recently completed enhanced lump stage 1 trials at one of HBIS’s plants in Hebei province, and the most recent CCUS pilot trials announced in March this year.

HBIS Chairman, Yu Yong, said: “HBIS and BHP are aligned in their aims to help develop greener, low-carbon solutions that can reduce emissions in steelmaking, leveraging on our long-standing and trusted relationship that we have forged over several years. The agreement signed today is another landmark following our substantive cooperation in areas such as CCUS, and highlights HBIS’s efforts to build a low-carbon raw material supply chain.

“HBIS looks forward to strengthening our comprehensive strategic synergy with BHP in the sustainable development of steel in the years ahead.”

Bradken highlights Duaplate D80 wear performance in WA iron ore mine trial

Bradken’s Duaplate® DX has recently been trialled in the lower section of a surge bin, at an iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, showcasing the weld overlay material’s ability to perform under extremely abrasive operating conditions.

The trial was completed back-to-back with Duaplate D80, a chromium carbide weld overlay that can withstand very high impact and very severe abrasive environments in the fixed plant industry, Bradken says.

Duaplate DX is manufactured to Bradken’s proprietary composition to create an incredible fine microstructure that provides a substantial improvement in the operational life over a traditional chromium carbide based overlay, the company says.

In the study, the two – Duaplate DX and Duaplate D80 – were compared with each other in identical chute lining applications. The DX chute was lined with 8 mm overlay, while the D80 chute was lined with 9 mm of overlay. The chutes were in service for six months and processed comparable material and tonnages, according to Bradken. At the end of the six-month trial period, the bins were removed from service and thickness testing was conducted to compare wear and impact performance between the two overlay materials.

Thickness testing data showed that similar locations were prone to high wear on both bins, however the DX material showed significantly less wear compared with the D80 material. In particular two areas were worn past the D80 overlay and through the mild steel fabrication. In the corresponding locations on the DX chute, there was still a minimum of 4 mm of overlay, or 50% of the wear life remaining.

The trial, therefore, showed that:

  • Bradken’s new Duaplate DX has up to 2.5 times longer wear life than Duaplate D80;
  • 8 mm of Duaplate DX is equivalent to at least 17 mm of Duaplate D80 in sliding abrasion conditions; and
  • A 50% reduction in liner mass; giving a significant reduction in manual handling risks, therefore improving safety concerns.