Tag Archives: Kevitsa

Cummins’ PrevenTech Mining keeps Komatsu trucks, wheel loaders going at Boliden mines

Cummins says its solutions are helping maximise machine uptime on trucks and wheel loaders running its engines at Boliden’s mines in Sweden and Finland.

In the vast open-pit copper mines here, the temperatures can drop as low as -40°C, testing the sturdiest of machinery working day and night extracting and hauling ore.

“It wouldn’t be so tough on the equipment if the thermometer stayed in roughly the same place for any decent length of time, but up there on the edge of the Arctic Circle it’s not unusual for a bitingly cold day to be followed by a more temperate one that feels positively tropical by comparison,” Cummins says.

The unpredictable swing in temperatures makes it difficult to keep equipment in full working order, with parts freezing and thawing, but it’s a challenge taken on by Cummins, which has signed service and maintenance agreements with the Swedish and Finnish distributors of Komatsu specialist mining equipment.

Cost-per-hour agreements – the first of their kind for Cummins in Europe – cover a total of 17 QSK60 Tier 4 Final engine-powered vehicles in Finland, while, in Sweden, a support contract covers a further nine examples of Komatsu’s 2,700 hp 930-E dump truck and a pair of the world’s largest wheel loaders, the L2350.

European DBU leader, Alok Joshi, and Sander Thorstensen, Cummins Leader for the Nordic region, arranged the contracts with the Komatsu distributors Hesselberg (Sweden) and SRO (Finland).

“We are relatively new to the mining sector in Europe,” Thorstensen says, “but all the feedback we have received so far has been incredibly positive, helped by our outstanding new PrevenTech® Mining telematics technology.”

PrevenTech Mining is a real-time digital monitoring and reporting system that provides an early warning of potential equipment operating issues. It helps plan maintenance and service, ensuring machinery is offline as little as possible, boosting productivity for, in this case, Boliden.

Janne Valmari is managing the Komatsu operations for Cummins Sweden. He has appointed two dedicated service technicians for Boliden’s Aitik copper mine just south of Gällivare in northern Sweden, and four technicians to cover Boliden’s Kevitsa mining operations across the border in Finland.

Valmari said the stream of data from PrevenTech allows the Cummins technicians to identify and diagnose performance issues faster and with greater accuracy, so they can see, for example, if an engine has been idling too long or revved too high, and can plan in the right fixes.

“It puts the mine owner in complete control, with no expensive surprises and benefitting from a higher return on their investment in product,” Valmari says.

Thorstensen added: “With their goal of keeping production running non-stop round-the-clock, I am certain Boliden sees the Komatsu-Cummins relationship as a core element of its strategy, and we will continue to strengthen our ties with Boliden and the Nordic mining industry in general.”

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in The Cummins Magazine

Swiss Tower Mills Minerals backs Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution

Swiss Tower Mills Minerals AG (STM) has become the latest sponsor to support the work of the not-for-profit Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution (CEEC).

An innovative company that has successfully translated the vertical stirred milling technology of industrial minerals to hard-rock minerals processing, STM’s support of CEEC’s work was a natural fit for the company, according to Managing Director, Ralf Hesemann.

“The uptake of new technology in the mining industry is traditionally a slow process,” Hesemann said. “Tapping into a trusted independent body that communicates the latest technical findings on efficient comminution practices is a win-win for both of us.

“I look forward to our collaboration.”

Swiss-based STM developed the Vertical Regrind Mill (VRM) and released it to the minerals market in 2012. More than 60 of the stirred media grinding mills have been sold to mines across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. For fine and ultra-fine grinding applications, it is marketed under the name HIGmill, through the exclusive partner Metso:Outotec. For coarse regrind applications, STM offers the VRM mill directly to customers in the minerals market.

Since the grinding principle of multi-compartment grinding offers substantial energy savings, a new stirred mill has been developed for coarse grinding applications up to 6 mm feed size, the Vertical Power Mill™ (VPM). Mill sizes range from 700 kW to 12,500 kW with high flow rates, and potential energy savings of up to 40%. Due to its small footprint, STM is marketing the VPM as a viable ball mill replacement in HPGR circuits or for capacity increase in existing plants.

The energy savings are achieved through uniquely designed rotors and stator rings in a vertical arrangement that enable high power intensities, even with relatively low tip speeds, STM says. This results in higher energy efficiency, a smaller footprint and the potential for increased recoveries. Power intensities of 200-300 kW/cu.m are typical, and operational tip speeds range between 6-12 m/s, depending on application and mill size.

CEEC Director, Chris Rule, said it was encouraging to see energy efficient, stirred media mills being installed by industry as a step towards more sustainable mining practices, in line with ESG considerations and net zero emissions commitments.

One of the first HIGmills be commissioned, in 2015, was a 700 kW mill for a copper concentrate regrind application at the Kevitsa mine in Finland. Several papers have been published on the energy efficiency and metallurgical performance of this mill, including an Outotec paper presented at Comminution Capetown 2016, and ‘A Review of Published Full-Scale Stirred Mill Results’ by Michael Larson, Molycop, USA, presented at the SAG 2019 Conference.

The technology will also be installed at the Iron Bridge Magnetite Project in Western Australia. The joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group and Formosa Steel IB Pty Ltd is the world’s first large-scale plant without horizontal milling. The flowsheet consists of a two-stage HPGR circuit feeding in total 10 advanced HIGmill grinding mills.

Rule said stirred mill grinding technology had been well proven for decades in industrial mineral applications such as in the opacifiers, fillers, ceramics, paint and pharmaceutical industries.

“We commend STM for translating this technology to mineral processing, offering miners an energy-efficient, low footprint alternative to high-intensity ball milling,” Rule said.

“Having STM on board as a CEEC sponsor means greater opportunities for us to learn about and share alternative comminution approaches. This support from our valued sponsors over the past 10 years is what enables CEEC to help keep industry aware of demonstrated advances that help mining leaders tackle the challenges of reducing the energy consumption, emissions and overall footprint of their operations.”

Hesemann said declining ore quality meant energy efficient comminution was becoming a more critical stage for realising profit.

“We’re proud of the part our technology plays in lowering the footprint of mineral processing, while at the same time decreasing capital expenditure and operating expenditure and improving the bottom line.

“Being a CEEC sponsor will enable us to more widely share any advances in this field, as well as learning from the global network of industry experts that CEEC brings together through its events and online resources.”

Pictured is the factory acceptance test success for a new 50,000 litre Vertical Regrind Mill (VRM50000)

ABB envisages eliminating diesel from the open-pit mining mix

Reducing carbon emissions during open-pit operations is now a major driver for global mining companies, who are going back to the future by employing trolley assist systems for trucks to limit diesel fuel usage and costs, while at the same time boosting speed-on-grade for greater throughput, write ABB’s Mehrzad Ashnagaran and Michel Serres*.

Haul road electrification technology has been in development for decades, but the emergence of a new generation of diesel-electric trucks that already have an electrical system on board to tap into – making it easy to attach them on a trolley line – means the concept has recently begun to gain significant traction as a commercially viable way to facilitate the all-electric mines of the future.

One of the key challenges when it comes to reducing diesel fuel usage is cycle times. There is no technology today that enables miners to fill the truck’s tank and complete a shift without stopping; either you have to increase the speed of the mobile equipment or the size the fleet itself – both of which have a direct impact on capital expenditure.

Trolley assist systems have returned to the market in the last two to three years in places such as North and South America, Africa and Turkey, mainly due to CO2 emission taxes, the removal of tax advantages from diesel, and premiums offered by energy suppliers to incentivise companies to use electricity.

Going forward, there are many synergies with using trolley lines, which offer huge benefits in terms of CO2 reduction.

Large trucks regularly carry 3,000-5,000 litres of diesel in the tank and consume around 300-400 litres per hour while travelling up a 17 km ramp in half an hour.

By going electric, the vehicles, when on-trolley, only use around 30-50 litres an hour, which equates to a reduction in diesel consumption of as much as 350 litres an hour, making operations much more CO2 efficient. In addition, the speed of the trucks will increase, meaning you have a higher throughput at the mine. Operators can also start to think about parking some of their fleet, which will bring additional indirect value to overall operational improvements through better maintenance planning to improve fleet availability and fleet longevity.

One example of the revival of trolley assist systems is at the Aitik open-pit copper mine in Sweden. Here Boliden, ABB and partners trialled the electrification of four haulage trucks on a 700 m trolley line, with the goal of reducing annual diesel usage by 800,000 litres and carrying 70 Mt of ore every year at the mine without using fossil fuel.

Reduced diesel consumption at Boliden mines

Boliden has now moved on from the 700 m trolley line trial at Aitik to confirming it will install an additional 3 km of trolley line at the mine, plus 1.8 km at Kevitsa (in addition to the accompanying conversion of diesel-electric haul trucks). By doing so, Boliden says it will reduce its diesel consumption by 5,500 cu.m/y when its investment is complete. That is a big number.

Aitik is currently the only mine in an arctic climate where electric trolley has been installed. Overall, with the further three kilometres of electric trolley line, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation over the life of mine are reduced by nearly 15%.

In Kevitsa, 13 mining trucks are converted for electric trolley lines at the same time as the 1.8-km-long electric trolley line is being built. The investment means that greenhouse gas emissions over the life of this mine will be reduced by 9%.

In addition, productivity gains are added as the electrically powered trucks can run at a higher speed, and the working environment for the drivers is also improved, not least through lower noise levels.

Today’s mine design

Diesel-electric trucks have an electrical powertrain in the wheels, meaning they can be driven fully electric, and have an electrical genset on board, so they generate electricity as they go.

However, due to the limitations of existing battery technologies at surface mines, we cannot yet manage large payload trucks of 280-400 tons (254-363 t) fully battery equipped. Companies are therefore trying to close the gap between the trolley and the loading or dumping point using battery packs and other solutions.

Constraint management

The transformation from diesel to electric is bringing new advantages in terms of CO2 reduction but also new constraints in terms of mine planning and fleet management. Energy costs represent almost one third of a mining company’s total cost base; helping industry to manage these costs is therefore key.

Switching OEMs on to electrification

Having initially adopted a ‘fast follower’ approach to new digital technologies, the risk-averse mining sector has also been slow to embrace electrification. Operators are looking to technology leaders such as ABB as well as more niche players to make change happen.

A lot of mining companies are looking to the likes of ABB to influence mining equipment manufacturers and engage them in the electric transformation, and so accelerate the process.

A clear technology roadmap and shifting workforce skill are key to this transition.

The biggest challenge is that customers are nervous about redesigning existing diesel-powered mines to integrate new electrification systems. Asset lifecycle strategies, ownership models and duty cycles are all subject to change. Ultimately, the customer needs a very clear technology roadmap and finding the right partner for this major undertaking is key.

According to Accenture’s resources practice, the profile of the future mining workforce could change by up to 80% by 2024, driven by increased adoption of advanced technologies. The onus is therefore on mining companies to demonstrate a progressive commitment to electrification to attract and retain the next generation of digitally literate talent.

Today the worldwide situation with COVID-19 may accelerate these changes faster than forecast.
Current skill sets will have to be re-evaluated for the all-electric mines of the future, and so the need for change management is key. Tomorrow we will need more workers understanding the concept of electrification, in addition to digital and planning skills – so the shifting skill profile is an important consideration.

*Mehrzad Ashnagaran is Global Product Line Manager Electrification at ABB, while Michel Serres is VP Innovation and Digital North America at ABB

Boliden Kevitsa collaborating on process plant maintenance

Boliden is a front-runner when it comes to applying technology and innovation to its Europe-based mines, and the company is now leading an industry move in condition monitoring and predictive maintenance in its process plants.

At its Kevitsa copper-nickel mine, 130 km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, Boliden has been collaborating with the likes of IBM Maximo, OSISoft, SKF and Metso on condition monitoring and predictive maintenance solutions, according to Sami Pelkonen, Maintenance and Engineering Manager at Boliden Kevitsa.

Expansion in the plans

The mine is in the throes of an SEK800 million ($82 million) expansion that will see plant throughput go from 7.8 Mt/y to 9.5 Mt/y. This involves the addition of a new autogenous mill and peripheral equipment (including a new Metso MF series screen), and a new mill building. Commissioning of the new equipment is expected in 2020, with the mine reaching full 9.5 Mt/y capacity in 2021.

With this expansion going on, plant maintenance has moved up the agenda.

Some 80% of process plant maintenance is currently pre-scheduled, with the Kevitsa mine achieving, on average, 93% availability from its equipment, according to Pelkonen, but Boliden Kevitsa is looking to increase these numbers.

Pelkonen told IM late in October that the Kevitsa mine has been looking to acquire “good quality…and useful data to support our daily maintenance operations and procedures” at its plant. This is all part of the company’s plan to increase uptime and cut costs at the operation.

As part of this initiative, it installed the IBM Maximo asset management system in May of this year. At the same time, the operation has been working with the Boliden Mines Technology Department on a wider asset management program.

When it comes to plant reliability, Boliden Kevitsa has enlisted the help of SKF (for condition monitoring of bearings throughout the plant), OSISoft for process data acquisition, and Metso to ensure uptime of mineral processing equipment is maximised and unplanned downtime is reduced.

Partnering for performance

The partnership with Metso dates back to before the mine was acquired by Boliden in 2016, but in recent years the two have collaborated on crusher and mill uptime projects, with the OEM supplying mill liners and wear parts that can be switched out quickly and cost effectively. The two firms have also been in constant communication about accessing and analysing valuable process plant data during the last three years.

When the mine acquired a new MF screen from Metso in May (pictured), it decided now was the time to trial the new Metso Metrics predictive maintenance platform in this part of the flowsheet.

Pelkonen explained: “After the increase in production (to 9.5 Mt/y), the front end will be even more critical for us, so we have to be aware if any failures are developing in our front end; especially in our screen.”

The remote location of Kevitsa, situated some 40 km by road from Sodankylä, is also behind the need for this type of condition monitoring and predictive maintenance.

“If something happens like we have an equipment failure, it takes around one hour for our employees to get to the mine,” he said. “Condition monitoring helps us address the need to get resources to site in the correct time.”

The Metso Metrics test paid off almost instantly, when, soon after installation, the company noticed there was something wrong with the running speed of the screen.

“The indication we received from Metso Metrics helped us map out that there were two broken V belts. We were able to cut the downtime to a minimum thanks to the information coming from Metrics,” Pelkonen explained.

Sami Pelkonen was speaking to IM as part of an upcoming Insight Interview with experts from Boliden Kevitsa and Metso that will be published in early-2020

Trolley assist to take off, ABB’s Hammarström says

Thanks to Boliden’s recent trial at its Aitik open-pit mine, in Sweden, the subject of trolley assist is back on the mining industry’s agenda.

Offering environmental and productivity benefits, trolley assist technologies have been spoken of for decades. In the height of the oil crisis of the 1970s, numerous studies examining applications were completed and miners made preparations to reduce their reliance on diesel.

Despite this, widespread industry adoption has not occurred. There have been some installations in Africa, in addition to one in Turkey (Kisladag), but the technology has not caught on to the extent many thought would happen.

ABB, which supplies not only batteries, drives and motors for battery-electric equipment, but can also provide the infrastructure required for trolley assist projects, believes the market is about to turn once again. Gunnar Hammarström, Global Product Manager Trolley Electrification Systems for ABB, thinks there are three main reasons why it is about to take off.

“One is the legislation and environmental part of the business case,” he told IM.

Boliden, which has moved from the 700 m trolley line trial at Aitik to confirming it will install an additional 3 km of trolley line at the mine, plus 1.7 km at Kevitsa (in addition to the accompanying conversion of diesel-electric haul trucks), says it will reduce its diesel consumption by 5,500 cu.m/y when its investment is complete. That is a big number.

“Another completely different reason for why demand has been picking up, especially for larger trucks, is there are a lot of diesel-electric trucks coming into mines,” he said. These trucks already have an electrical system on board to tap into, which makes it easy to put them on a trolley line.

Lastly, fuel prices are increasing all the time, Hammarström said. This is leading miners to diversify their energy mix to help reduce input costs.

When added to the productivity gains that can be achieved with trolley assisted haul trucks and the reduction in noise when trucks run on this line, it is hardly surprising Boliden is not the only one charging into trolley assist.

In the last year alone, First Quantum Minerals has said it will equip its Cobre Panama copper-gold mine, in Panama, with trolley assist, while Austria iron ore miner, VA Erzberg, has announced it intends to electrify the main haul road of its Erzberg mine site and operate a fleet of T 236 trucks from 2021 under trolley assist.

On top of this, RNC Minerals has said it is studying the use of trolley assist at its Dumont nickel-cobalt project in Quebec, Canada.

While trolley assist has been used long before the mine electrification phenomenon we know today gained traction, Hammarström sees trolley assist helping facilitate this market move.

“Generally speaking, I think for most of the vehicles you have in a mine, you can go on battery, but it is very far into the future where you have major uphill transportation of all your production in the mine through batteries,” he said.

The technology involved with stationary charging and the ability to re-charge the battery when going downhill would need to improve on the biggest haul trucks to make it a viable proposition, he explained.

“Yet, if you look into the future – and not that far – a diesel electric trolley might be an intermediate phase,” he said. “If you have invested in trolley now, you can certainly use it when you have batteries (driving the trucks).”

This could see battery-powered haul trucks carry out tasks ‘off-line’ when going downhill or on a flat before they ‘attach’ back onto the line for uphill transportation of material when the battery is recharged.

“I think after diesel-electric powered haul trucks, it will be a really good chance for on-board charging,” he said of the trolley infrastructure.

Boliden backs trolley assist haulage for Aitik and Kevitsa

Boliden has decided to invest SEK300 million ($31.2 million) to expand the trolley assist facilities at its Aitik copper mine, in Sweden, as well as implement the corresponding technology at its Kevitsa nickel mine, in Finland.

The investments, to be made mainly during 2020-2021, come on top of the money invested in a two-year trolley assist pilot project at Aitik. This project saw Eitech and ABB supply electrical infrastructure; Pon Equipment and Caterpillar carry out truck modifications; and Chalmers University provide supporting research on system aspects of the electrification. It led to a 700 m electric trolley line being installed and four Cat 795F haul trucks being converted.

The project was also supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and saw investment in a 10 MW capacity DC substation.

Aitik is currently the only mine in the arctic where electric trolley has been installed, according to Boliden.

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of the Boliden Group, said: “We are now taking further steps to improve both productivity and climate impact at our two open-pit mines.”

In Aitik, a further 3 km of electric trolley line will be built and another 10 trucks will be converted for electric trolley lines. Overall, the plan means that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation over the life of mine are reduced by nearly 15%.

In Kevitsa, 13 mining trucks will be converted for electric trolley lines at the same time as the 1.8-km-long electric trolley line is being built. The investment means that greenhouse gas emissions over the life of mine are reduced by 9%.

The electric trolley installations are being deployed in stages until 2022.

Boliden calculates that this move will reduce diesel consumption by 5,500 cu.m/y when the investment is completed.

In addition, productivity gains are expected as the electrically powered trucks can run at a higher speed than the diesel equivalents.

The working environment for the drivers is also improved, not least through lower noise levels, Boliden added.

Boliden Kevitsa takes delivery of first EU-Stage-V-compliant Komatsu haul truck

Boliden has received the first haul trucks from Komatsu as part of its investment in a new truck fleet at its Kevitsa (Finland) and Aitik (Sweden) open-pit base metal operations.

The delivery marks the entry of Komatsu electric dump trucks into the European market, according to the miner.

For Kevitsa, 17 Komatsu 830E-5 haul trucks will be delivered until January of 2020, with nine Komatsu 930E-5 haul trucks being delivered to Aitik until April 2020.

The new trucks are the first EU Stage-V haul trucks within Boliden’s fleet, significantly reducing diesel exhaust emissions, the company said. They will also provide improvements in operator environment and safety, Boliden added.

The Komatsu 830E-5 haul trucks have a 220 t payload and will replace the current truck fleet at Kevitsa, reducing the mine’s production cost, Boliden said. To further increase efficiency and productivity, the trucks will be equipped with dispatch and maintenance systems from Modular Mining to enable optimised production and tracking as well as fleet maintenance support, the company said.

Boliden mentioned the purchase of trucks back in October during its September quarter results, saying it had reached agreement with Komatsu regarding an investment totalling some SEK 900 million ($96 million). At the time, the company said all of the trucks were equipped for future electrification; an important point considering the trolley assist trial ongoing at Aitik.

To mark the delivery milestone of the first truck, a handover ceremony was arranged in Kevitsa on July 10.

During the event, strategies and technical solutions were presented by executives such as Boliden President and CEO, Mikael Staffas, and Managing Director and CEO of Komatsu Europe, Masatoshi Morishita.

Mikael Staffas said: “This is an important step in the development of our open-pit mines while improving our environmental performance from an already strong position. This [is], not least, because we now create opportunities for increased electrification and related productivity development.”

Masatoshi Morishita says: “Today is a milestone for Komatsu Europe. With the delivery of first CE-certified Electric Dump Trucks to Boliden, Komatsu can offer a full line-up of mining products and solutions in Europe as well. We aim this will only be the start.”

Trolley assist up and running at Boliden’s Aitik copper mine

Boliden has installed four trolley assist truck units at its Aitik copper mine in Sweden as the company looks to step up its vision for fossil fuel-free operations, the company’s Technology Director, Staffan Sandström told attendees at Epiroc’s Power Change Days event in Örebro, Sweden, this week.

The trolley kits, supplied by Caterpillar, are running on Cat 795F haul trucks on a trolley assist line as part of a two-year trial project at Europe’s largest open-pit copper mine.

For the project, Boliden has joined forces with Eitech and ABB to supply electrical infrastructure; Pon Equipment and Caterpillar for truck modifications; and Chalmers University with supporting research on system aspects of the electrification. The project is supported by the Swedish Energy Agency and has seen an investment in a 10 MW capacity DC substation.

The aim is to examine the possibility of replacing elements of Aitik’s transport system with electrified trucks. The objective is to be able to move the majority of the 70 million or so tonnes of rock transported at the open pit each year entirely without the use of fossil fuel.

At the event this week, Sandström confirmed the first trolley line was commissioned in September and had been working well, showing a close to two times increase in speed on an incline when compared with the equivalent diesel trucks.

The real test for the trucks and trolley line was yet to come, he said.

“This is nothing new; it has been done before. The new thing here is going to be working in 40° below [freezing],” he said.

The project’s Technical Manager, Jonas Ranggård, made a similar remark recently in a Boliden press release, saying: “As we want to be able to use the electrified routes in all weather conditions year-round, the pilot project as a whole can only first be evaluated at the end of 2019/start of 2020.”

Rikard Mäki, Project Manager for the R&D project, told IM the company was already preparing for these conditions.

“Road maintenance impact is one of the parameters that will be evaluated in the pilot project in order for us to accurately take this factor into account as part of the following investment decisions. We have fitted one motor grader and a wheel loader with machine guidance systems in order to maintain correct flatness, target slope and height of the ramp.”

On the trolley assist technology, Sandström continued: “Today, it works very well and roughly 30% of all transport has potential to be used on the trolley line at Aitik,” he said, adding it could have wider applications at the company’s Kevitsa nickel-copper mine in Finland.

Boliden said the first Aitik trolley line is around 700 m long and is expected to save some 830 m³/y of diesel. This should help the company reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% along those routes where the technology can be implemented.

In addition to the emission benefits brought to both the wider community and those operating in the mine, Sandström said the productivity and cost benefits (reducing the amount of diesel purchased) could also have a big impact.

Mäki said: “We do see this technology as the most promising solution near term for both Kevitsa and Aitik in order to reduce fuel cost and emissions. Decision to move ahead with further extension of the system is pending results from the pilot test. The initial results are looking very positive and the operators are very engaged in the pilot test.”

In other news, but still on haul trucks and potential electrification, Boliden confirmed in its September quarter results that, on October 19, the company reached agreement with Komatsu regarding the purchase of 17 haul trucks for Kevitsa and nine mine trucks for Aitik in an investment totalling some SEK 900 million ($99 million).

The investment is being made against the background of the ongoing expansion, insourcing of transport and as a replacement for part of the existing fleet of trucks. Boliden said all of the trucks are equipped for future electrification and delivery will commence in mid-2019.