Tag Archives: LHDs

Zinnwald striving for battery-electric circularity with lithium project development

The development of the integrated Zinnwald lithium project in Germany could see the incorporation of a battery-electric fleet of LHDs and the return of metal production to a region of saxony with mining history dating back to the Middle Ages.

The London-listed owner of the project, Zinnwald Lithium Plc, has just released a preliminary economic study on its namesake project focused on supplying battery-grade lithium hydroxide to the European battery sector.

As with any responsible battery metal project being developed today, the project’s ‘green credentials’ are being considered even at this early stage.

Zinnwald Lithium has been keen to flag these, mentioning the project is located close to the German chemical industry, a fact that should enable it to draw on a well trained and experienced workforce with well-developed infrastructure, plus reduce the ‘carbon footprint’ of the final end-use product.

This focus will see all aspects of the project – from mining through to production of the end product – located near to the deposit itself.

Zinnwald Lithium also said the project has the potential to be a low- or ‘zero-waste’ project, as the vast majority of both its mined product and co-products have their own large-scale end-markets.

This could see it produce not only battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate products, but sulphate of potash (SOP) for the fertiliser market and precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) – the latter being a key filling material in the paper manufacturing process.

The project now includes an underground mine with a nominal output of approximately 880,000 t/y of ore at an estimated 3,004 ppm Li and 75,000 t/y of barren rock. Processing, including mechanical separation, lithium activation and lithium fabrication, will be carried out at an industrial facility near the village of Bärenstein, near the existing underground mine access and an existing site for tailings deposition with significant remaining capacity.

With a 7-km partly-existing network of underground drives and adits from the ‘Zinnerz Altenberg’ tin mine, which closed in 1991, already mapped out, the bulk of ore haulage is expected to be via either conveyor or rail

The nominal output capacity of the project is targeted at circa-12,000 t/y LiOH with circa-56,900 t/y of SOP, 16,000 t/y of PCC, circa-75,000 t/y of granite and 100,000 t/y of sand as by-products.

The company is looking to complete the ‘circularity’ dynamic in its fleet and equipment selection, according to CEO, Anton Du Plessis, who mentioned that electric LHDs could be used to load and haul ore to an ore pass in the envisaged operation.

He said the cost estimates to use such equipment – which are factored into the project’s $336.5 million initial construction capital expenditure bill – have come from Epiroc, which has a variety of battery-operated mobile equipment.

“The base case is battery-operated loaders,” he told IM. “The final selection will be based on an optimisation study where, in particular, partly trolley-fed haulage systems will be investigated.”

Forms of automation are also being studied, Du Plessis said, with the caveat that “only select technologies we consider proven” will be evaluated.

Zinnwald Lithium is also looking at electric options for long-hole drilling underground, with both battery-based units and cabled versions under consideration and requiring firming up in the optimisation study.

With a 7-km partly-existing network of underground drives and adits from the ‘Zinnerz Altenberg’ tin mine, which closed in 1991, already mapped out, the bulk of ore haulage is expected to be via either conveyor or rail. The former, of course, will be powered by electricity, but the company is also considering potential battery-electric options for the latter, according to Du Plessis.

The company is blessed with existing infrastructure at the mine, which should help it in advancing the project at the pace its potential end-use manufacturing suppliers would like. It is already evaluating options for the construction stage – with an engineering, procurement and construction management contract the most likely option – and it has plans to conclude a feasibility study by the end of next year.

Du Plessis said while most of the fixed assets have been removed or were deemed outdated a long time ago from the former operating underground mine, other infrastructure was in good shape.

“The excavations, main level, underground workshop, ventilation shafts and, particularly, 2020 refurbished access tunnel provide a very good starting point for our project,” he said. “The access tunnel was originally constructed for dewatering the old mine and, therefore, the mine and the tunnel have been maintained very well.”

The company is now shifting to the bankable feasibility study and currently selecting partners for the project.

With what it calls a “simple, five-stage processing” route confirmed by test work for the extracted material at Zinnwald, the company is looking to select OEMs with the optimal concept for the project, Du Plessis said.

“In the PEA, mineral processing equipment cost is based on Metso Outotec estimates, pyrometallurgy is based on Cemtec technology, and hydrometallurgy is based on various providers’ technology,” he clarified.

Sandvik to deliver ‘biggest BEV fleet to date’ for Foran’s McIlvenna Bay

Foran Mining has selected Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions to supply a fleet of 20 battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), including trucks, loaders and drills, for its McIlvenna Bay project in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Set to be one of the world’s first carbon-neutral copper development projects, McIlvenna Bay will be powered by clean hydroelectric power and designed to take advantage of Sandvik’s latest technological advances in sustainable mining, the OEM says.

Sandvik’s biggest BEV fleet to date will include seven Sandvik 18-t-payload LH518B loaders (pictured dumping into a TH550B), six Sandvik 50-t-payload TH550B trucks, four Sandvik DD422iE jumbo drill rigs, two Sandvik DL422iE longhole drills and one Sandvik DS412iE mechanical bolter. Delivery of the equipment is scheduled to begin next year and continue into 2025, Sandvik says.

Sandvik will also provide on-site service support and Battery as a Service by Sandvik at the underground copper-zinc mining project located in east-central Saskatchewan.

Jakob Rutqvist, VP Strategy and Commercial for Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Battery and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (BHEV) Business Unit, said: “This record contract is the culmination of a year-long collaborative effort between Foran Mining and Sandvik and demonstrates a shared vision that electrification will drive the future of sustainable mining. BEVs have enormous potential to reduce a mining operation’s carbon footprint, and Canada continues to be the epicentre for mining electrification and a blueprint for what to expect in other major mining regions very soon.”

Copper and zinc are critical metals for the transition to a low-carbon future as essential elements of electrical grids, solar panels, wind turbines and batteries. The McIlvenna Bay project intends to supply those minerals in a way that will not only be carbon neutral but ultimately have a net positive impact on the climate, according to Sandvik.

Dave Bernier, Chief Operating Officer of Foran Mining, said: “This is a very exciting period for Foran as we continue to execute on our initiatives to permit, construct and operate McIlvenna Bay. Sandvik is a global leader in industrial battery technology and we look forward to working together on our project. Utilising battery-electric equipment with semi- and fully-autonomous capabilities can help us achieve carbon neutral targets and provide a safer working environment, which is part of our Net Positive Business strategy as we look to deliver critical metals essential for global decarbonisation in a responsible and socially-empowering way.”

Foran Mining conducted a thorough analysis during its 2020 prefeasibility study to determine the investment case for BEVs compared with diesel. The company determined that BEVs would deliver better financial results at McIlvenna Bay when considering the savings generated through lower ventilation capital and operating costs.

That report, authored by AGP Mining Consultants Inc, envisaged the potential use of 7 Sandvik LH517i LHDs and 11 Artisan Vehicles (Sandvik) Z50 battery electric trucks for a 3,600 t/d of polymetallic ore operation.

Stefan Widing, President and CEO of Sandvik, said: “I am very pleased that Foran Mining has chosen Sandvik to deliver our leading battery-electric solutions for the pioneering McIlvenna Bay project. We see very strong momentum for our mining electrification offering, which offers great potential in driving more sustainable mining, helping customers to boost productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve workers’ health.”

A dedicated on-site project team will be jointly working with the mine’s operations team to ensure the products and services in the delivery scope support the alliance on Foran’s journey towards more productive, efficient and sustainable mining, Sandvik said.

“Battery as a Service by Sandvik will enable McIlvenna Bay to get the most out of its battery-electric equipment by relying on unrivaled expertise to manage the capacity and health of batteries and chargers throughout their long lives,” it added.

GHH delivers first LF-7 LHD to Indian market

A month after announcing the first delivery of a Tembo 4×4 electric light vehicle to India, GHH says it has now shipped the first LF-7 LHD to the country.

The vehicle was shown at the Mining Expo in Kolkata, in April, with GHH then arranging the onward transport to the unnamed launch customer, who also ordered further machines from the OEM.

The previously delivered Tembo 4×4 ELV, which went to Hindustan Zinc, is an electric multi-purpose light duty vehicle based on the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux models. It is available in many versions ranging from a pickup truck to a passenger transporter (10 seats). GHH is a regional distributor of the vehicle.

According to GHH, the LF-7 currently offers the largest bucket, most powerful engine and best climb performance in its class.

It carries 7 tonnes or 3.6 cu.m, is 8.9-m long in driving position, 2.24 m-wide at the bucket and 2.2-m high at the cab when fully loaded. This makes the LF-7 suitable for narrow-vein operations, as well. The loader is powered by a 164 kW Cummins diesel engine and complies with Tier 3/4 and EU Stage V emissions standards, GHH says.

Maintenance requirements are eased with the addition of GHH InSiTE software, which allows vehicle data to be called upon in real time and evaluated.

Murray & Roberts Cementation taps VR, simulators, operational mock-ups to raise training bar

Virtual reality, simulation and mock-ups are among the range of learning platforms the Murray & Roberts Cementation Training Academy (MRTA) is using to raise the bar in training operators of mechanised equipment.

The impact of these enhanced training techniques is not just improved safety and productivity in mining operations, but also a business cost awareness, according to Tony Pretorius, Education, Training and Development (ETD) Executive at Murray & Roberts Cementation.

“Our unique approach to training mechanised operators takes the process well beyond the regulated requirements,” Pretorius said.

After covering the psycho-motor skills, induction, legal and technical skills, and the relevant standards and procedures of the mine, MRTA takes an innovative approach to the more practical elements of the training. For instance, learners are placed in a virtual environment to assess the condition of equipment, followed by videos showing how this equipment operates in the workplace and how it is to be inspected.

“They then progress to the use of simulators, where we can monitor three main areas of proficiency: health and safety, machine appreciation and productivity enhancement,” Pretorius said. “The academy’s selection of simulators for this purpose includes the Sandvik DD321 drill rig, the Sandvik DD311 bolter, the Sandvik 514 and Sandvik 517 LHDs.”

He noted that a compact, mobile and immersive virtual reality drill rig simulator has also been introduced, allowing learners to experience a range of tasks. These include accurate indexing according to surveyed positions, different face conditions and various drill and blast patterns. It also simulates emergency triggers and highlights where the operator’s drilling behaviour is sub-standard, showing the consequences of this for boom and drilling consumables.

“Operators can also receive feedback simulations, where the cost of consumables and operational disruptions are explained,” Pretorius said.

The learners can then be introduced to the mock-up environment at MRTA, where they can have the real experience of machine operation in a confined space. Here, they are required to demonstrate applied capability in emergency preparedness, machine inspections and brake tests as well as machine set-up and operations.

“What is important for all operators to understand is how their behaviour impacts on mine costs and productivity,” Pretorius said. “This is one of the key areas where our interventions distinguish us in the training space.”

He said only after this intensive preparation are the learners placed in a workplace where they can progress to the required applied competency levels in a safe manner.

Kamoa-Kakula underground mine looks like having a battery-electric future

The future replacement mining fleet at the Kamoa-Kakula underground copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will likely feature battery-electric vehicles – that was the statement from Pierre Joubert, Executive Vice President – Technical Services, Ivanhoe Mines, at the Energy and Mines Virtual World Congress today.

In his presentation, ‘Decarbonising Fleets: The Road to Net-Zero Operational Emissions’, Joubert outlined how the mine, which is set to produce over 400,000 t/y of copper from the complex next year after completion of the Stage 2 project, was planning to move to a zero-emission footprint. The mine, earlier, this month, announced a daily production record of 729 t of copper, with some 63,000 t of copper produced year-to-date as of October 20, 2021.

Kamoa-Kakula is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

The company started production at Kamoa-Kakula using a diesel fleet at the operation, with 75,000-115,000 t of CO2/y projected from diesel usage underground, however Joubert said there was growing confidence in the use of battery-electric vehicles in underground mine sites, mentioning that commercial equipment such as 18 t payload LHDs and 60 t mining trucks were available on the marketplace.

At the Platreef operation in South Africa, which Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, Joubert said the company was currently undergoing tradeoff studies to assess battery-electric vehicle usage against diesel machines. This study was likely to be see results by the end of the year, with a tradeoff study then following at Kamoa-Kakula.

At the same time, Platreef Phase 1 will see the company employ three full battery-electric drill rigs and three-battery-electric LHDs. These units have been ordered, with operation expected to start in April 2022. IM understands the units in question are Epiroc Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs.

The performance of these machines, which come on top of plans to deploy battery-electric service vehicles, will be closely monitored, Joubert said. The company will also study other battery-electric vehicle deployments across the mining space.

Even at this stage, though, Joubert was able to conclude: “We are fairly certain that the next replacement mining fleet at Kamoa-Kakula will be battery-electric vehicles.”

Sandvik LH115L low profile loader gains ROPS and FOPS ISO certification

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ South African operation has another feather in its cap, having achieved ISO certification for the roll over protection structure (ROPS) and falling object protective structure (FOPS) of the Sandvik LH115L low profile loader.

The ROPS and FOPS for the South Africa-built Sandvik LH115L low profile loader has always been engineered in accordance with ISO standards, according to Deon Lambert, Business Line Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.

“The only difference was that local customers initially requested a total height of 1.6 m for the unit, which meant it was limited to low height deflection-limiting volume (DLV),” Lambert said. “More recently, we have increased the height of the canopy by 70 mm, giving us the DLV to secure full certification in terms of ISO.”

Following the acceptance of the new canopy design from the factory, the way is now clear for manufacturing to be carried out locally. The new design was successfully tested at the company’s Finland head office facilities, according to Sandvik.

The LH115L loader has been produced in South Africa since 2017 when Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions established a manufacturing facility in Jet Park, near Johannesburg. This has allowed about 70% of the machine’s content to be locally sourced.

“The first customer to place an order for a machine with the new canopy height already has five of our locally produced LH115L loaders at its mine, and these will be retrofitted with the new certified canopy,” Lambert said. “All future units of this model produced by our local facility will also have the newly designed canopy and the associated certification.”

In addition to complying with the latest safety requirements of South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the local content of the Sandvik LH115L low profile loader will assist mines in meeting their Mining Charter local procurement targets, Sandvik said.

Designed for harsh underground conditions, the 5.5 t payload loader boasts high availability and ease of maintenance, together optimising its lifetime operational costs, the company said.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it provides the full low-profile portfolio offering of underground drills and bolters to ensure matching sets of equipment.

Sandvik merges automation, cable electrification and battery tech with Toro LH514BE

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has merged three of its established technologies into one loader with the Toro™ LH514BE. This loader is an AutoMine® compatible cable-electric loader, boosted with battery technology.

The Toro LH514BE, which IM first talked about in 2020, looks like a traditional electric loader while in operation, with a trailing cable connected to the mine electric grid, but the technology is not “ordinary”, Sandvik says.

“When this loader needs to be moved to another area or to the maintenance bay, the difference is clearly visible: the power cable is disconnected from the electric grid,” the company explains. “While the operator drives the loader to the new location, Toro LH514BE gets its power solely from its battery. This battery-assist enables easy relocating and suitability for ramp drive.”

One of the noteworthy features of the new loader is the elimination of refuelling or recharging stops. There is no diesel engine that would require fuelling, and the battery does not need to be swapped because it is recharging during operation.

The loader produces no exhaust emissions and significantly less heat than conventional equipment based on combustion, supporting mines in improving sustainability by reducing CO2 emissions, Sandvik says. As a battery chemistry, the Toro LH514BE uses lithium-iron phosphate chemistry, which, the company says, is a fit-for-purpose choice for underground mining environments.

The Toro LH514BE is available with Sandvik’s automation system AutoMine, which allows a fleet of equipment to be converted into an autonomous production system, providing significant safety and productivity improvements for mine operations. The Toro LH514BE can be delivered with AutoMine, or the system can be easily retrofitted later during the loader’s lifetime.

As standard, the loader features Sandvik’s intelligent control system and a 7-in touchscreen display, providing easy access to data. General battery health and status monitoring data, as well as battery charge information, is also available on the control system diagnostics. As usual in Sandvik’s large loaders, the integrated weighing system option measures payload data and records the results to My Sandvik Digital Services Knowledge Box™. The Knowledge Box transfers the data to the My Sandvik internet portal for visualisation of fleet health, productivity and utilisation. The OptiMine® solution can also use transferred data for improving mining process efficiency.

GHH India’s contract mining arm wins plaudits for work with Hindustan Zinc

GHH India’s recently established contract mining arm, GHH Bumi Mining Service, has notched up its first significant award, being recognised by Vedanta Group/Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL) for the work it is doing at the Zawar Mala zinc-lead underground mine in Rajasthan, India.

In a recent online event, GHH Bumi Mining Service, established late last year, was named as the recipient of the Best Performing Business Partner by the companies.

The award winner was chosen out of all business partners and recognised a job well done, GHH said.

Over the last six months, GHH Bumi has been carrying out contract mining at Zawar Mala, and was presented the award, GHH says, based on excellent performance involving all contract mining activities, including those related to safety, production and asset optimisation.

Since January, GHH BUMI has been responsible for production and mine development with more than 350 employees at Zawar Mala. For this purpose, the company has access to more than 20 LHDs, dump trucks and drilling rigs from the GHH Group.

Dr Jan Petzold, CEO of GHH Group, said: “With this award, we as GHH Group see ourselves confirmed in our efforts as a reliable business partner for HZL – a cooperation that started almost four years ago with the supply of mining machinery and has resulted in being awarded as mining contractor and OEM.

“This is a special incentive to be able to conclude the second mine developer and operator contract with HZL, which is currently in preparation.”

The latest generation of GHH mining equipment, with its new dump truck MK-42, LF-14 and LF-10 LHDs as well as two FM 2.3 boom drill rigs from GHH group company, Mine Master, are on their way to India and are expected to be on site beginning of August, GHH said.

GHH says GHH Bumi is also currently working on preparing for the expansion of the Mochia Balaria Decline project, where a rapid development proposal is under way.

HARD-LINE expands into new NORCAT underground facility

A long-time partner of NORCAT, HARD-LINE says it is evolving its remote-control systems in a new space at NORCAT’s surface facility at the former Fecunis mine site in Onaping, Ontario.

HARD-LINE, a global technology company specialising in remote and tele-remote-control solutions, uses drift space at NORCAT’s underground site.

Inside HARD-LINE’s new office is a TeleOp control station that allows the tele-remote operation of heavy machinery and, in this case, an underground LHD at the test site.

“This new space is a welcomed addition to an already impressive site,” HARD-LINE’s Senior VP of Technology, Ryan Siggelkow, says. “The bigger space will allow for more people to meet in our office and ultimately let us test products in a more efficient manner, including new tech like our TeleOp Assist.”

The Assist system is new to market and equips the TeleOp base system with intelligent steering assistance and collision detection to keep LHDs off walls. It also increases tramming speeds, and no pre-scan of the drift is required, according to HARD-LINE.

HARD-LINE’s Supervisor of Technology Implementation, Jim Doyle, is often at the new facility and underground site testing different types of mining equipment. Doyle credits the NORCAT partnership in advancing HARD-LINE’s technology.

“Our relationship with NORCAT is really beneficial,” he said. “We’ve seen growth and improvements in our products over the years because of it.”

The partnership dates back to 2012 when HARD-LINE helped formulate the Underground Centre’s strategy and customer value proposition.

NORCAT CEO, Don Duval, said: “We are excited to build on our existing relationship and support HARD-LINE as they expand into our new surface facilities at the NORCAT Underground Centre. With HARD-LINE’s TeleOp control station, we have seen operators given the ability to control underground heavy machinery from the safety of an office at the Underground Centre. This technology is not only enhancing productivity and safety but also it is transforming the definition of work in the global mining industry.”

Just last month, NSS Canada announced a new partnership with NORCAT and the addition of a new NSS Canada office in the NORCAT Underground Centre.

Vast Resources to leverage new equipment and XRT ore sorting at Baita Plai

Vast Resources has devised a new mechanised mine plan for its Baita Plai polymetallic mine in Romania that will see mining capacity increase by 65% and ore sorting employed to increase mill feed grades.

The new mine plan includes the acquisition of three LHDs (including at least one narrow-vein electric LHD), an Aramine face jumbo drill rig, two Resemin Muki 22 long hole drilling rigs and a TOMRA X-ray Transmission (XRT) ore sorter.

Execution risk is expected to be significantly reduced compared with the old labour-intensive plan through the employment of senior international staff; the use of increased mechanisation; and the fact that shortly, with the expediated development plan now possible through the new equipment, the mining areas will be in areas newly drilled by the company and not in less stable old mining areas, the company said.

The company, in co-operation with TOMRA Mining, has concluded an initial investigation on ore from Baita Plai as part of the development of the new mining and processing plan. The objective of the work was to determine the amenability of ore from Baita Plai to be pre-concentrated using TOMRA sensor-based sorting technologies to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate, pre-milling feed.

“The study showed a clear amenability for the ore to be separated using TOMRA’s advanced XRT technology to identify both massive mineralisations, as well as fine mineral inclusions, using its proprietary combination detection algorithms to produce a high-grade pre-concentrate and eliminate non-grade containing waste material,” the company said.

The XRT implementation and processing plant upgrades are set to be completed by December 2021, the company said, with mill feed grades expected to be concentrated by 1.25-1.75 times. This would see the sensor-based sorter shift 60% of tonnage into the accept stream for the mill and 40% into the reject stream, with a 92% yield in the accept tonnage.

The new mine plan presents a cost reduction of 21% in dollars per mined tonne with an operational efficiency of 63 tonnes per total employee costed (TEC) at steady state, versus the previous plan efficiency metric of 43 tonnes per TEC, Vast Resources said. It also sees mining capacity rise to 22,000 t/mth, from 13,300 t/mth.

Andrew Prelea, Chief Executive Officer of Vast Resources, said: “This is a robust and comprehensive mine plan which has been developed using rigorous technical parameters. On behalf of the board, I believe the plan set out to shareholders today represents a benchmark for us to deliver on over the coming years in tandem with our broader expansion plans at Baita Plai and across our wider portfolio.”