Tag Archives: James Palmer

BHP to cut Queensland coal operation emissions with CleanCo deal

BHP has signed an agreement that could help it reduce emissions from electricity use in its Queensland, Australia, coal operations by 50% by 2025.

The renewable power purchasing agreement to meet half of its electricity needs across its Queensland coal mines from low emissions sources, including solar and wind, is with Queensland’s state-owned clean energy generator and retailer CleanCo, which has a target to support 1,000 MW of new renewable energy generation by 2025. The pact will run for five years from January 1, 2021.

“This will effectively displace an estimated 1.7 Mt of CO2e between 2021 and 2025 – equivalent to the annual emissions of around 400,000 combustion engine cars,” the company said.

BHP owns 50% of the BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (Mitsubishi holding the other 50%), which operates several coal mines across Queensland.

The agreement is the first of its kind signed by BHP in Australia and follows the company’s shift to 100% renewables in its Chile operations at Escondida and Spence from the mid-2020s. It will also support the development of new solar and wind farms in Queensland – the Western Downs Green Power Hub, due for completion in late 2022, and Karara Wind Farm, due for completion in early 2023.

BHP’s President Minerals Australia, Edgar Basto, said: “This is an important step forward in BHP’s transition to more sustainable energy use across our portfolio, and a first for our Australian operations. It will diversify our energy supply, help to reduce our energy costs, and reduce BHP’s Australian Scope 2 emissions by 20% from FY2020 levels.”

He added: “This is a prime example of prudent business decisions going hand-in-hand with social value, strengthening our business and benefitting the community.”

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), Asset President, James Palmer, said: “This contract will help our operations across Queensland to further increase their sustainability through reducing the greenhouse gas emissions we generate from electricity use by half. It will also support two greenfield renewable projects that, in turn, are expected to generate regional jobs in Queensland.”

Over the five-year agreement, power will be provided via the grid, and predominantly contracted from a combination of solar, wind, hydro and gas generation, according to BHP.

For the first two years, power will be contracted from CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio which includes hydro and gas generation assets. From late 2022, the newly operational solar and wind farms are expected to progressively contribute up to half the electricity requirements, with the remainder supported by CleanCo’s low emissions portfolio. Combined with large-scale generation certificates, this will enable BHP to reduce Scope 2 emissions from its Queensland operations by 50% by 2025, based on the company’s 2020 financial year levels.

The contract will contribute to BHP’s medium-term, science-based target for the reduction of Scope 1 and Scope 2 operational greenhouse gas emissions – due to be announced shortly.

BMA to invest in autonomous haul trucks at Daunia coal mine

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has announced a A$100 million ($69 million) investment and new jobs as part of the introduction of 34 autonomous trucks at its Daunia mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The first retrofit trucks will begin working from February next year, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of 2021, it said.

The 4.5 Mt/y Daunia coal mine opened in 2013 and has a truck fleet that includes Cat 793Fs.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said this was a multi-generational investment in the industry and  state at a time when it is needed.

“We acknowledge the important role our business and industry can play in supporting Queensland communities and the local economy during this time,” he said.

“This announcement is a vote of confidence in Central Queensland. At least 10 regional and indigenous businesses will be employed to support the rollout, with contracts worth A$35 million. This will result in 150 additional project roles for BMA people and contractors. This is on top of 56 new permanent roles on site.”

He reiterated that there would be no job losses as a result of the decision and anyone who currently works with the company – as an employee or labour hire worker – would be given the opportunity to continue to do so.

Hastings Deering’s Central Queensland operations will see an additional 30 jobs required to assist with truck and ancillary fleet conversion.

Hastings Deering CEO, Dean Mehmet, said: “This contract is a huge boost to our local business and the region. We will need 30 additional people to support the work that is required to convert the trucks and ancillary mining fleet into autonomous vehicles at Daunia. It’s exciting work to build on that allows us to grow and develop local talent to deliver technology solutions into the resources sector.”

Other examples of local businesses that will directly benefit from this decision include NB Industries, who will complete the light vehicle fleet conversion, and Radlink who will install wireless communication hardware across the mine.

NB Industries is also involved in completing the fit out of ancillary equipment for the AHS rollout at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside mine, in Central Queensland.

Palmer highlighted the employee engagement and training that is central to this decision.

“We have engaged with our workforce at Daunia over the previous 18 months on the possible rollout of autonomous haulage. Our people have told us that they are eager for new job opportunities and skills. That is why we are confident this is the right decision for Daunia.

“It will further increase safety and performance and help the mine remain competitive over the long term.

“We understand this decision represents some change. But it also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new, highly valued skills that will create additional opportunities for growth into the future.”

To help prepare for Daunia’s autonomous future, it is estimated over 30,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

In addition to pledging to bring autonomous trucks to Daunia and Goonyella Riverside, BHP is looking to start the roll out of autonomous trucks at its Eastern Ridge mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia shortly.

BMA commits A$2.3 million to research and innovation in central Queensland

The newly established Resources Centre of Excellence (RCOE) in Mackay, Queensland, and CQ University have been given a boost with the announcement that BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will provide A$2.3 million ($1.6 million) in funding towards research, training, and innovation at the two facilities.

The investment will support the appointment of a General Manager of the RCOE and a Chair of Automation and Future Work Skills at CQU, the company said.

The roles will play an important part in the future of the mining and METS sector in Queensland by helping to establish the RCOE as a world-class mining centre in Mackay and supporting CQU to deliver future-focused training and education, BMA said.

The RCOE features an underground coal mine simulator for testing, demonstrating and filming new equipment and products operating in confined spaces.

The latest announcement follows BMA’s initial commitment of A$475,000 last year to support the establishment of the RCOE, which is due to open in July.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said: “This investment will help the region continue to be a global player in skills and training, research, and innovation in the mining and METs sector.

“We want to see people currently in the industry or planning a career in the industry to have the best skills and training in the world and we want them to be proud and say it all started for them in regional Queensland.”

The RCOE GM and CQU Chair of Automation and Future Work Skills will work together with industry, community leaders and governments to identify the best way for the region to take advantage of the evolving opportunities technology will bring, according to BMA. A key component of which will be developing new models for innovation, skills, and training that will enable regional communities to grow their economies.

Chairman of the RCOE board, Tony Caruso, said: “The support of BMA and our collaboration with CQ University will enable the region to play an integral role in shaping the mines of the future.”

CQ University Vice-Chancellor and President, Prof Nick Klomp, said the financial contribution of BMA, coupled with CQ University’s existing research expertise, would supercharge the regional impact of the RCOE.

“The CQU Chair will play a critical role in producing and overseeing research that can be applied directly to the future sustainability of the resource sector and regional workforces, in central Queensland and beyond.”

BMA to automate haulage operations at Goonyella Riverside coal mine

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) says it will implement autonomous haulage at its Goonyella Riverside coal mine, in central Queensland, next year.

BMA Asset President, James Palmer, said haul trucks would be retrofitted with autonomous vehicle technology, allowing the completion of an extensive study and engagement with the workforce, community and all levels of government.

“Autonomous haulage will help us improve safety and productivity performance, and it is our people who will be at the centre of making this change a success,” he said.

“While the first autonomous vehicles will not operate at the site until 2020, and full roll-out will take around two years, we want to give people in our workforce and the community as much notice as possible of this change,” Palmer said.

The introduction of autonomous haulage at Goonyella Riverside will involve the staged conversion to an autonomous fleet of up to 86 Komatsu trucks over the next two years. It will build on the mine’s strong production record by increasing truck hours and delivering more consistent cycle times, according to BMA. Haulage automation is also expected to improve safety by reducing risk exposure and decreasing significant events.

There will be no forced employee redundancies at Goonyella Riverside as a result of this decision with respect to autonomous haulage, according to BMA. With recent recruitment of new permanent positions in BHP Operations Services and creation of new roles through autonomous haulage, overall permanent job numbers across BMA operations will increase, the company said.

Palmer said BMA’s long term commitment to the region is underpinned by a responsibility to provide training opportunities for local workers to ensure they have access to the skills and capabilities to succeed in the future of mining.

To help prepare for Goonyella Riverside’s autonomous future, it is estimated over 40,000 hours of training will be delivered, ranging from general awareness to extensive training for those operating equipment, interacting with the autonomous haul trucks, or taking on new roles.

As BMA’s first site to implement autonomous haulage, Palmer said BMA had been talking to its workforce and the local community about the potential for increased automation of mining operations for several months leading up to today’s announcement.

“We understand that automation represents a significant change. It also offers a unique opportunity for people to gain new, highly valued skills,” he said.

No further decisions have been made to implement autonomous haulage at any other site in BMA’s Queensland Coal division, with the company saying any future decisions to implement autonomous haulage will be made on a site-by-site basis.

The first autonomous trucks are expected to be operational in the first half of 2020.

BMA’s Palmer talks up potential for autonomous haul trucks

James Palmer (pictured), BHP Mitsubishi Alliance Asset President, said this week that autonomous haulage systems (AHS) could become a much bigger part of the company’s operations in the future.

Speaking to attendees at a Bowen Basin Mining Club lunch in Mackay, Australia, Palmer said there was potential for 500 autonomous trucks to be introduced at BMA’s open-pit coal operations and BHP’s iron ore mines in the future.

This number of autonomous trucks first came up in a strategy briefing presentation delivered by Chief Financial Officer, Peter Beaven, in May.

Under a list of “projects in feasibility” in the appendices of Beaven’s presentation, the mining major detailed a staged haul truck automation plan that could cost less than $800 million to deliver, with the first of several investment decisions expected this year. In terms of the delivery of the project, BHP said it was estimating a staged rollout between 2020 and 2023, with AHS decisions made on a “site by site” basis.

This move follows a successful rollout of the technology at BHP’s Jimblebar iron ore operation in Western Australia, where the company, since implementation of the fully-autonomous solution, has seen significant incidents involving trucks decrease by almost 90%, according to Palmer.

It is this experience that has led to BMA and BHP Iron Ore studying widespread autonomous haulage at its operations.

“Through the study, which spans both BMA and BHP’s Iron Ore business, there’s potential to for up to 500 autonomous trucks to be introduced in our open-cut operations,” he said.

“It’s an ambitious target – that would see about a tenfold increase to BHP’s existing fleet of autonomous trucks already operating at Jimblebar today. But, like I said earlier, the results from Jimblebar – particularly the safety improvements – continue to make a strong case for change.”

In addition to talking up potential AHS operations, Palmer also spoke about the BHP Integrated Remote Operations Centre (IROC), a centre set up just over two years ago that has “created an extensive suite of training and upskilling opportunities for our people”, he said.

“Over 50% of the IROC’s mine control team have formerly operated heavy vehicles,” Palmer said. “Now, they’re helping drive our entire coal supply chain – from pit to port.”