Tag Archives: Jimblebar

Civmec extends Pilbara stay with more iron ore agreements

Civmec Ltd has won multiple new contracts for its maintenance, manufacturing and construction divisions with a combined value of over A$100 million ($77 million).

Among these awards is a three-year contract for the maintenance division with Alcoa of Australia Ltd to provide calciner maintenance, major overhaul and repair services, including scaffolding, mechanical, refractory and electrical services at its Kwinana, Pinjarra, and Wagerup refineries. These plants contain 17 calciner units, two liquor burners and five regenerative thermal oxidisers.

The manufacturing division is celebrating minerals and metals sectors contracts in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Among these is an agreement for Civmec to supply, manufacture, trial assemble and deliver four main train load-out bin modules for the BHP-owned Jimblebar iron project. The company will also supply, fabricate, surface treat and modularise shuttle trusses, conveyor trusses, platework and stick steel for the Rio Tinto-owned Gudai-Darri iron ore project, also in the Pilbara.

Still in the Australia iron ore hub, Civmec’s construction division is set to complete a civil package, including detailed earthworks, concrete placement, cabling and pipework for a Roy Hill de-bottlenecking project, as well as the delivery of a fixed plant workshop for Rio Tinto’s Mesa A project, where the group is already undertaking other structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation work.

Monadelphous set to take on more BHP work in Australia, Chile

Monadelphous Group has gained a further foothold in numerous BHP majority-owned projects as part of its latest construction and maintenance contract awards in the resources and energy sectors that come with a combined value of around A$100 million ($72 million).

Under its recently awarded WAIO Site Engineering Panel Framework Agreement with BHP, the company has been awarded the following contracts in the Pilbara region of Western Australia:

  • A contract for the supply and installation of the Jimblebar Transfer Station project, with work expected to be completed by December 2020; and
  • A contract for the refurbishment of Car Dumper 3 at Nelson Point, Port Hedland, with work expected to be undertaken during the second half of 2020.

Further, Monadelphous has also been awarded a contract under its WAIO Asset Panel Framework Agreement with BHP for the Port Availability Improvement project to provide multidisciplinary brownfield modification works to conveyors and transfer chutes across the Nelson Point and Finucane Island facilities, in Western Australia. The work is expected to be completed in the second half of the 2021.

Then, in Chile, Monadelphous has secured several new contracts through its maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, which it acquired late last year.

This includes two contracts with Minera Escondida BHP, for the construction and assembly of a communications tower and associated infrastructure at the Escondida copper mine, as well as an upgrade to the conveyor system feeding the Filter Plant Warehouse at Coloso Port, both in the Antofagasta region.

These contract awards were announced the day before Monadelphous released its 2020 financial year results, which showed the company generated A$1.65 billion of revenue in the 12 months and produced a net profit after tax result of A$36.5 million.

Autonomous trucks arrive on time at BHP’s Newman East mine

As expected, the first fleet of autonomous trucks have arrived at BHP’s Newman East mine site with full roll out to be complete by September.

Home to BHP’s Innovation Centre, the Newman East mine will be the second of the company’s Western Australian mines to transition to fully autonomous haulage with 20 autonomous trucks due on site before the end of the year, BHP said. The first was the Jimblebar iron ore mine in the state, which transitioned in 2017.

The existing fleet of Cat 793s would be retrofitted with autonomous haulage systems, BHP previously explained.

BHP’s Newman Operations General Manager, Marie Bourgoin, said the transition would advance BHP’s technology strategy while also creating 41 new, permanent roles and investing A$33 million ($23 million) in contracts with Western Australian businesses.

“We recognise how important it is for BHP to partner with local and small businesses, particularly as we move into a post-COVID economic recovery phase,” she said.

“We are pleased to have been able to offer A$33 million in contracts to WA vendors for a range of work packages including autonomous conversion kits, trailers, training content development, and a number of engineering and construction packages.

“We know our success will be strengthened when we work together with local people and businesses. We will continue to explore further local initiatives as autonomous haulage rolls out, and beyond.”

Bourgoin said there were no redundancies as part of the transition and more than 300 people in the Newman operations workforce were undergoing training and upskilling to work on an autonomous haulage site.

“We have created new control centre and roles, which many of our truck operators have transitioned into, as well as new opportunities in truck maintenance and fuelling,” she said.

“Importantly we have created 41 new permanent roles, which are being offered locally as well as FIFO and will continue to be filled over coming months.”

Since the introduction of autonomous haulage at Jimblebar, significant events involving trucks have decreased by nearly 90%, according to BHP.

BHP extends FIFO agreement with Alliance in Western Australia

Alliance Aviation Services says it and BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division have agreed to extend their air charter services agreement for a further two years.

The extension solidifies a relationship that started with the first flight for BHP WA Iron Ore in 2009, Alliance said.

BHP’s WAIO division is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 km of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia. At each processing hub – Newman, Yandi, Mining Area C and Jimblebar – the ore is crushed, beneficiated (where necessary) and blended to create high-grade hematite lump and fines products. Iron ore products are then transported along the Port Hedland–Newman Rail Line to the Finucane Island and Nelson Point port facilities at Port Hedland.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Alliance is delighted to be continuing the provision of these charter services into Coondewanna and Barimunya. Our commitment to safety and providing our clients with industry leading on time performance has played a significant role in being awarded this extension.”

Schofield, added: “In May this year, BHP acknowledged Alliance’s exceptional safety and operational record when BHP presented Alliance with an Aviation Safety Award in recognition of the safe carriage of 3.5 million BHP staff and contractors on charter and scheduled services throughout Australia from April 2002 to April 2019.”

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.”

WA government, EPA approves BHP’s strategic 50- to 100-year Pilbara mining plan

The Western Australia Government has approved a 50- to 100-year strategic mining proposal for the Pilbara by BHP, which outlines bold plans for new and existing mines, the state said.

BHP’s Pilbara Expansion Strategic Proposal details a cumulative picture of the miner’s planned and potential operations across the Pilbara, including mining operations, rail, storage areas, dams and associated mine infrastructure.

It mentioned new potential mining operations at Caramulla, Coondiner, Gurinbiddy, Jinidi, Marillana, Mindy, Ministers North, Mudlark, Munjina/Upper Marillana, Ophthalmia/Prairie Down, Rocklea, Roy Hill and Tandanya; alongside future expansions of existing mining operations at Jimblebar, Mining Area C, Newman and Yandi (pictured).

This type of “strategic proposal”, which the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved with conditions, “helps reduce red and green tape, allowing the EPA to consider the cumulative impacts of future proposals, rather than assessing impacts on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed”, according to the government.

The EPA assessed the impacts to flora and vegetation, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality as well as social surrounds, with the ministerial statement for BHP’s strategic proposal including conditions that may be applied to each development, including environmental management plans, a cultural heritage management plan, a mine closure plan and offsets through contributions to the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund where significant residual impacts remain.

“BHP is required to refer future individual proposals outlined in the ministerial statement to the EPA to determine if they meet the high environmental standards set by the strategic assessment,” the government said.

WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said BHP’s plan has the potential to deliver tens of thousands of jobs for Western Australians.

“We expect this Australian-first plan will reduce environmental approval times by up to 50%, while maintaining the highest environmental standards,” he said.

“Industry has been crying out for this type of plan. It recognises the need to reduce unnecessary ‘green tape’ to increase investor confidence, and pave the way for more jobs. It is another sign our economy is improving with the major miner taking a long-term view of its proposals in the state.”

Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, meanwhile, said: “The Pilbara region holds immense environmental value and a key focus of the EPA assessment was to ensure the proposal did not significantly impact on important regional environmental values, including Karijini National Park and Fortescue Marsh.

“Strategic proposals allow the EPA to take a bigger picture view of the potential environmental impacts the proposals may have, considering the cumulative impacts rather than on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed.”

BHP’s Jurgens presents big picture automation plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BHP looking at wide-scale haul truck automation in WA iron ore, Queensland coal

BHP is currently weighing up a project to automate around 500 haul trucks across its Western Australia Iron Ore and Queensland Coal sites, according to a strategy briefing presentation delivered by Chief Financial Officer, Peter Beaven.

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.

BHP already has automated haul trucks running around its Jimblebar iron ore mine in Western Australia, with the operation going fully autonomous at the end of 2017, but it has not rolled out the autonomous haulage systems (AHS) for haulage across its iron ore portfolio like peers Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group. This latest project, on top of what CEO Andrew Mackenzie said back in February, hints it could do so in the future.

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.

BHP looks at phased rollout of autonomous trucks at WA iron ore ops

BHP CEO, Andrew Mackenzie, says the diversified miner is looking at a phased roll out of autonomous haulage technology across its Western Australia Iron Ore operations following success at its Jimblebar mine.

BHP opened Jimblebar, located 40 km east of Newman in the Pilbara, back in 2014 and soon started using it as one of the main testbeds for autonomous trucking technology. The site went fully autonomous at the end of 2017.

Mackenzie said in the company’s half-year (to end-December) results presentation that Jimblebar’s fully autonomous trucks were now “amongst our safest and most productive”. He added: “This success will guide a phased roll out across other operations.”

In terms of automation, the company also said it was studying the use of autonomous drills at its majority-owned Escondida copper mine in Chile, in addition to carrying out further trial integration and automation technologies at its Eastern Ridge Innovation Mine.

Monadelphous wins more iron ore work off BHP

Australia-based engineering group Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with BHP’s iron ore division worth approximately A$240 million ($172 million) over a three-year period.

The contract, which contains an additional two one-year extension options, involves the provision of general maintenance services at BHP’s Mt Whaleback, Jimblebar, Eastern Ridge, Mining Area C and Yandi mine sites, in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri said the contract built on the company’s long-standing relationship with BHP, on both construction and maintenance projects, over the past two decades.

“We look forward to further developing our relationship with BHP over the coming years, growing our operational footprint in the Pilbara and continuing to strengthen our long-term commitment to the region and the communities in which we operate,” he said.

In 1996, Monadelphous’ engineering and construction division ventured into the iron ore market with BHP on the Yandi II project to construct the crushing and screening plant, while, in 2008, it secured part of the structural, mechanical and piping works for BHP’s Rapid Growth Project 4 at the Newman Hub iron ore processing facility.