Tag Archives: LHDs

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.”

Autonomous loading, hauling set to sparkle at Codelco’s Diamante

One of the three underground projects to make up the El Teniente New Mine Level development, in Chile, is set to use state-of-the-art autonomous technologies, Codelco’s Javier Cornejo told attendees at Massmin 2020 today.

In a presentation titled, ‘Design of drawpoint spacing at Diamante Project – El Teniente Mine’, Cornejo confirmed that the company planned to use 13 yd³ (9.9 m³) LHDs and 60 t haul trucks in autonomous mode at the copper project, with only assisted loading required on the LHDs.

The project, which will use conventional panel caving with hydraulic fracturing, is due to have a production capacity of 35,000 t/d, with each autonomous loader extracting 152 t/h to ore passes and each haul truck transporting 208 t/h to 420 t/h ore bins. From here, the ore will head to the processing plant via 830 t/h autonomous rail haulage.

Diamante’s development will involve 40 km of horizontal development in total, along with 2 km of vertical development. It also contemplates a new access tunnel to El Teniente. In more detail, Diamante will include the main undercut at level 2060, production level (LHD transport from 102 drawpoints to ore passes – in total 1.4 Mm³) at 2038, ventilation level at 2020, truck haulage level at 2000 (trucks to ore bins), feeding the main existing mine rail haulage FFCC T8 system at 1980 level via two crosscuts.

It is one of three underground projects that make up the El Teniente New Mine Level project. Diamante and the other two – Andesita and Andes Norte – will help access the deepest levels of the mine and extend operations by 50 years, according to Codelco.

In the company’s most recent September quarter report, Codelco said the El Teniente New Mine Level project was 62.6% advanced. Due to COVID-19, the project was halted on July 4, with work restarting on Andesita and Diamante in August.

Codelco’s Board of Directors recently approved $730 million and $513 million investments in Diamante and Andesita, respectively.

Epiroc ‘new generation’ Boomer drill rig to launch in 2021

Epiroc is planning a “new generation” Boomer face drilling launch in 2021 as it looks to capture more market share in the underground mining contractor market.

Speaking at Epiroc’s Capital Markets Day Fika 2020 event on Monday, Sami Niiranen, President of Epiroc’s Underground division, said the new rigs would be designed for increasing both production and safety.

The company referred to the machine in presentation slides as a “true development rig, fully equipped for multi-task operation and automation”, with Niiranen adding that the Boomer will come with a battery-electric driveline option.

During his presentation, Niiranen also provided investors and interested parties with the latest numbers on Epiroc’s digitalisation and automation solutions.

He confirmed that more than 1,000 machines were now connected to the company’s Certiq telematics system, while there were circa-90 production Simba production drills operating autonomously. This came alongside around 50 automated underground LHDs and some 670 drills with full automation capability.

Atlantic Nickel ready to delve underground for Santa Rita mine life expansion

Atlantic Nickel has released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on its Santa Rita nickel mine, in Brazil, that shows the potential for the company to become one of the largest sustainable nickel sulphide producers in the world.

The announcement, made in concert with Appian Capital Advisory LLP (the owner of Atlantic Nickel), follows the recommencement of open-pit mining at Santa Rita in August 2019.

This new NI 43-101 technical report outlines a 34-year mine life for Santa Rita, in Bahia, with eight years of open-pit production, underpinned by proven and probable reserves of 50.6 Mt at 0.31% NiS, and 26 years of underground mining.

The open-pit mine plan was prepared to prefeasibility study level and encompasses a large open pit and a nearby, much smaller satellite open pit along strike. Both pits will be mined with conventional mining equipment, and the plan will be executed in 10 phases, the company says.

The open pit is scheduled over a period of eight years, ending in 2028, with operations using standard methods of drilling and blasting, loading, and hauling. It would produce 20,000-25,000 t/y of contained nickel equivalent at a C1 cost of $2.97/lb Ni and an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $4.12/lb Ni, the company says.

The Santa Rita process plant, having started production in 2009, was completely refurbished and recommissioned in the second half of 2019 in line with the mine restart. The plant consists of crushing, grinding, flotation, thickening and filtration unit operations to produce a saleable nickel concentrate. Flotation tailings are pumped to a tailings storage facility, while grinding is performed by a SAG mill, two ball mills and two pebble crushers. This is followed by a conditioning circuit and a flotation circuit, with the final concentrate thickened and pumped to storage tanks ready for filtration. Concentrate is filtered in a Larox (Metso Outotec) pressure filter. Following filtration, the final concentrate is trucked to the port of Ilhéus where it is loaded onto ships for transport to market.

The mineral resource estimate for the expansion case consists of 94.2 Mt of measured and indicated resources across open-pit and underground mining at average grades of 0.41% NiS, 0.14% Cu, 0.01% Co, 0.03 g/t Pd, 0.07 g/t Pt and 0.05 g/t Au, with 90.6 Mt of inferred resource at 0.54% NiS, 0.17% Cu, 0.02% Co, 0.04 g/t Pd, 0.09 g/t Pt and 0.06 g/t Au.

Sublevel Caving (SLC) was selected as the mining method for the underground portion of the deposit based on the amenable geometry of the deposit, and because productivity and cost advantages of SLC enable greater exploitation of the underground resource at greater margin than more selective mining methods, Atlantic Nickel said.

“The geometry of the deposit and the location below a mined open pit are similar to the Ernest Henry SLC, which is successfully operated by Ernest Henry Mining (a subsidiary of Glencore) in Queensland, Australia,” the company added.

The SLC mining method employs long-hole drilling and blasting techniques to extract mineralisation sequentially from the surface to the bottom of the deposit. The method does not require backfill and, therefore, relies on the overlying waste rock to cave and fill the mined void, the company explained. Caving of the overlying waste rock results in surface subsidence above and in the immediate vicinity of the underground deposit, but the subsidence will not interfere with open-pit mining since initial production from underground is planned to commence in 2028 when open-pit mining is completed.

Infrastructure capital and development of the underground project is planned to start at the beginning of 2026, with production from the underground ramping-up over a seven-year period until full production of 6.2 Mt/y is achieved.

The underground portion of the resource considered in the PEA plan consists of 43.5 Mt of indicated resources and 90.6 Mt of inferred resources. This resource was used to come up with a 40,000-45,000 t/y of contained nickel equivalent production profile for the underground operation over life of mine at a C1 cost of $2.17/lb Ni and an AISC of $3.92/lb Ni.

The SLC mining layout in the PEA comprises 37 mining levels spaced at vertical intervals of 25 m. Each level is made up of parallel and evenly spaced drill drives from which production drilling and blasting occur. Once blasted, the mineralisation is loaded from the drill drives using LHDs and loaded into trucks for haulage to the surface during the initial ramp-up phase, and later to ore passes feeding an underground crushing station and conveying to surface via an inclined tunnel.

“The SLC method employs a top-down mining sequence that enables production to ramp-up quickly once the top of the underground deposit has been accessed,” Atlantic Nickel says. “The method also enables high production rates as the mining cycle is simplified by the standardisation of development and production and with no backfilling required.”

While still early days in terms of the underground mine’s development plans, the company assumed the use of automated LHDs, longhole drilling and jumbo development drilling in the PEA, a spokesperson for Atlantic Nickel confirmed to IM. This saw Epiroc and Sandvik provide price inputs, with design layouts anticipating such equipment.

“Subsequent studies will optimise the equipment and layouts integration,” the spokesperson added.

And, while the current study assumes the use of a diesel-powered fleet, battery-electric vehicles will also provide upside in future studies and further reduce energy costs, equipment maintenance costs and ventilation power costs, the spokesperson said.

“Both tethered and battery will be look at for specific applications within the mine such as loading from drawpoints and feeding the underground crusher from the bottom of ore passes,” the spokesperson said.

The flotation test work gave similar results to those obtained with open-pit material; hence, plant performance is not expected to be significantly different for underground material, the company said. Underground feed will be treated in Atlantic Nickel’s existing process plant with only minor modifications required, likely to the grinding circuit.

New surface infrastructure associated with the underground mine would include the following:

  • A box cut and portal located to the west of the north end of the open pit;
  • A conveyor portal connecting to the bottom of the existing crusher installation;
  • A temporary construction portal in the west wall at the north end of the open pit on the 82 m RL bench;
  • Multiple ventilation raise surface collars on the western side of the open pit;
  • Ventilation adits on the west wall at the south end of the open pit on the 10 m RL bench;
  • Dewatering pond for storing, settling and recycling water from underground;
  • Electrical reticulation to the portals, adits and services; and
  • Shotcrete batch plant.

After completion of open pit mining, a new tailings storage facility would be required to store the additional 134 Mt of tailings to be produced from the underground mine over a period of 28 years. Like the existing tailings storage facility, raises will be constructed using a downstream method, the company said.

Total capital associated with the underground expansion amounts to $1.3 billion over the 34-year combined operation, with only $355 million of that being spent during the first five years of underground development commencing in 2026. The expansion is partially self-funding with cash flows generated from the open-pit mining operation, the company said.