Tag Archives: Lihir

Wärtsilä takes on power plant performance contract at Lihir gold mine

Wärtsilä is to help optimise the performance of the Lihir gold mine’s 170 MW power plant, in Papua New Guinea, as part of a 10-year tailored guaranteed asset performance agreement signed with Lihir Gold Ltd, part of Newcrest Mining.

The agreement has shared business case incentives based on key performance indicators (KPIs), which reduce operational cost and enhance power availability, supporting the mine’s production targets, according to Wärtsilä.

The 10-year agreement, worth over €150 million ($183 million), was signed in October and is targeted to take effect from the end of the March quarter. The expected revenues for 24 months of operation, some €20 million, have been included in Wärtsilä’s order book in the December quarter.

Lihir’s 170 MW power plant provides a critical electricity supply to run the operations of the mine. It has 22 Wärtsilä engines, of which the last one was commissioned in 2013.

The incentivised KPIs will lead to an increase in revenue and a reduction in operational cost, according to Wärtsilä, with the partnership enabling Lihir Gold to focus on gold production while Wärtsilä takes care of optimising the power plant performance.

The agreement will also provide the customer with maintenance and parts cost predictability, including a reduction in working capital.

The agreement includes full technical support, real-time monitoring of the equipment from Wärtsilä’s Expertise Centres, condition-based maintenance and asset diagnostic reporting, operational advisory support, as well as all planned and unplanned maintenance of the generator sets and auxiliaries. The agreement KPIs with shared incentives are based on fuel and oil consumption and power availability, with the option to adjust these KPIs by mutual agreement should the market change.

Daniel May, Manager – Power, Utilities, Projects & Engineering, Lihir, Newcrest Mining, said: “During the initial market engagement process, it was determined that Wärtsilä’s experience, track record and capabilities in Papua New Guinea made them the best partner to further develop the partnership agreement that has now been signed. This is a flexible solution that delivers incentives and benefits to both parties.”

Henri van Boxtel, Energy Business Director, Wärtsilä Energy, added: “This agreement takes a holistic approach to the plant’s operations and maintenance, and reflects the importance of the strategic partnership between Wärtsilä and the customer. By linking the availability and performance of the power generating plant to the mine’s productivity, we are establishing a flexible and beneficial business case that promotes efficiency and delivers real value over the entire lifecycle of the power plant. We are at the same time aiming to increase the reliability of the electrical supply, which can help raise the mine’s output.”

The total installed base of Wärtsilä’s power generating equipment in a number of projects in Papua New Guinea is 381 MW, of which 170 MW has been supplying power to Lihir Gold.

Newcrest leverages Eriez HydroFloat tech to help boost Cadia output

Having installed the first full-scale HydroFloat™ cells for the recovery of coarse composited copper and gold at Newcrest’s Cadia Valley operation in New South Wales, Australia, in 2018, Eriez is about to help the miner boost output at the operation.

Today, the Newcrest Board approved two projects moving to the execution phase, being Stage 2 of the Cadia Expansion project and the Lihir Front End Recovery project, in PNG.

The Stage 2 Cadia Expansion project primarily comprises the addition of a second coarse ore flotation circuit in Concentrator 1 (graphic above), using Eriez’s HydroFloat technology, and equipment upgrades in Concentrator 2.

These changes are expected to see plant capacity go from 33 Mt/y to 35 Mt/y, while life of mine gold and copper recoveries could increase by 3.5% and 2.7%, respectively. Alongside this, the company was expecting a A$22/oz ($16/oz) drop in its all-in sustaining costs.

An increase in throughput capacity in Concentrator 2 from 7 Mt/y to 9 Mt/y will be achieved through crushing, grinding, cyclone, pumps and flotation upgrades; while the installation of the second Coarse Ore Flotation circuit on Concentrator 1 and additional upgrades to Concentrator 1 will facilitate an increase in throughput capacity to up to 26 Mt/y, the company said.

“Stage 1, which is already in execution, was designed to maintain production continuity at Cadia through the development of PC2-3 (the next cave development) and increase the processing capacity to 33 Mt/y,” Newcrest said. “Stage 1 comprises an upgrade to the materials handling system and debottlenecking of the Concentrator 1 comminution circuit.”

The rate of ore mined from Cadia is expected to vary over time according to draw rates, cave maturity and cave interaction as further caves are developed, according to Newcrest. From the 2027 financial year onwards, life of mine Cadia mining rates are generally expected to be in the range of 33-35 Mt/y, with an average of 34 Mt/y used for financial evaluation purposes, the company said. Higher mine production rates may be possible, subject to further studies.

At throughput rates of 34 Mt/y, gold recovery improvements from Stages 1 and 2 are expected to achieve LOM gold recoveries of 80.3% and LOM copper recoveries of 85.2% compared to Stage 1 baselines of 76.8% for gold and 82.5% for copper.

The estimated capital cost for Stage 2 is A$175 million, A$5 million lower than the October 2019 estimate, according to Newcrest, which added that timing for delivery remains on schedule, with completion expected late in its 2022 financial year.

The Lihir Front End Recovery project, meanwhile, primarily comprises the installation of flash flotation and additional cyclone capacity, as well as cyclone efficiency upgrades, to improve grinding classification and reduce gold losses through the flotation circuits, Newcrest said.

The flash flotation and cyclone upgrades target the following process improvements:

  • Implement flash flotation to reduce mineral fines generated from overgrinding and send the higher-grade concentrate stream to the autoclaves; and
  • Improve cyclone efficiency to achieve a reduction in unliberated coarse mineral particles entering the cyclone overflow, which are not recovered in conventional flotation.

This is projected to result in LOM gold recoveries increasing by 1.2% and incremental LOM gold production increasing by 244,000 oz. It came with an estimated capital cost of A$61 million.

DynaEnergetics and Newcrest Mining devise new blasting initiating system

DynaEnergetics, a business of DMC Global Inc, has introduced Igneo, an “intrinsically safe initiating system designed for high temperature mining applications”.

The Igneo system is based on DynaEnergetics’ patented IS2™ initiating system, which is used by the oil and gas industry in well perforating operations, it says.

Igneo was developed in collaboration with Newcrest Mining, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world.

The company explained how the collaboration began: “Newcrest approached DynaEnergetics for assistance in developing an initiating system that would perform safely in the extreme conditions of its Lihir mine, located in the crater of the dormant Lihir volcano off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The active geothermal and geochemical environment makes Lihir the hottest open-cut gold mine in the world.”

The core of the Igneo system is the HTD150, an electronic detonator designed to withstand temperatures up to 150°C (302°F) for up to 48 hours. The device is encased in a specially coated copper shell, making it resistant to highly corrosive mining environments, according to the company. Like IS2, the HTD150 is immune to radio frequency interference, stray current and stray voltage, DynaEnergetics said.

The full system consists of the Igneo Digital Firing Panel, the Igneo Programming and Testing Device, and a specially designed Igneo booster charge. The system enables rapid programming, testing and simultaneous initiation of up to 1,000 HTD150 detonators, and also eliminates the need for sensitised booster emulsions, the company said.

Liam McNelis, Vice President of Research and Development for DynaEnergetics, said: “Igneo is the result of three years of close collaboration with the Newcrest team, led by Darren Francis, Principal for Drill and Blast.

“The outcome of our efforts is a highly intuitive and reliable system that has been proven effective under the extremely challenging conditions of the Lihir mine. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Newcrest as the multi-year Lihir project progresses into areas with even higher temperatures.”

Ian Grieves, President of DynaEnergetics, said: “Our development of the Igneo system opens the door to an important new market for DynaEnergetics. There are many large mining operations throughout the Pacific Rim that operate under high-temperature conditions. As we have done in the oil and gas industry, our objective is to work with leading operators to improve the safety, performance and profitability of their projects.”

Telstra LTE solution improving communications at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine

Telstra Mining Services says it has implemented Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile network at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine.

The next generation wireless communications platform will allow for greater levels of safety, remote operation and automation, according to Telstra, which worked with Newcrest to provide design, staging, site deployment and testing of the network.

Every kind of production vehicle asset, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges have now been connected and operationally proven over LTE. This process has revealed significant performance improvements in terms of reliability, speed and latency, according to Telstra. “The network has been able to resolve challenges with existing Wi-Fi connectivity and is making Newcrest’s safety and productivity systems more effective,” Telstra said, adding that fleet efficiency and real-time visibility have benefited from an 80% improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.

The gold deposit at Lihir is within the Luise Caldera, an extinct volcanic crater that is geothermally active, and is one of the largest known gold deposits in the world, according to Newcrest. Most of the ore is refractory and is treated using pressure oxidation before the gold is recovered by a conventional leach process.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2018, Lihir produced 955,156 oz of gold. Since production commenced in 1997, the site has produced more than 10 Moz of the yellow metal.

Dr Jeannette McGill, Head of Telstra Mining Services, said Newcrest’s decision to invest in Private LTE technology further validates it as a dependable and scalable networking platform for the mining industry and one that enables mining houses to digitally transform.

“We’ve provided Newcrest with a tailored platform that will underpin its safety and digital mining ambitions and will help improve productivity and deliver new value and efficiencies to the business,” she said. “They’ll be using it to further modernise the mine site to enable the use of current and future mining applications, including tele-remote and autonomous systems, more extensively.”

The platform is completely independent from public mobile networks, according to Telstra, with Newcrest having been provided with its own dual-frequency base stations, LTE core and SIM cards, with the network’s configuration and coverage designed and implemented to meet the Lihir mine’s safety strategy and long-term mine plan.

Telstra Mining Services’ solution also includes ‘HetNet’ functionality that allows the Newcrest vehicle fleet to seamlessly switch between LTE and existing Wi-Fi networks without impacting critical mining applications.

Newcrest complemented the LTE technology solution by implementing new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site, according to Telstra.

McGill added: “Newcrest and Telstra Mining Services took what has become a best-in-class preliminary deployment approach with the network. Designing it for full production but initially deploying at two sites allowed Newcrest to validate the design principles, implementation techniques and practical capabilities of LTE before scaling their investment.”

Newcrest’s pragmatic approach, combined with flexibilities in the solution from Telstra Mining Services, enabled the desired outcomes and learning to be achieved within a relatively short timeframe, despite the remoteness of the Lihir operation, according to Telstra. Future phases of the project will further enhance coverage in-line with Lihir’s 20-year mine plan, and provide for expansion of coverage and capacity across the mine, processing plant, port and camp.

Chris Jordaan, General Manager, Newcrest Lihir, said: “The Lihir mine extends 300 m into a volcanic crater and our workers can often be exposed to elevated temperatures. Tele-remote and autonomous mining technologies are fundamental to working the hot work areas that will become more dominant features of our operation in the future.

“The Private LTE network will be a great enabler for these technologies and, coupled with the existing in-pit Wi-Fi network, we have been able to create a heterogeneous network that covers the whole mining lease.”

Gavin Wood, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Newcrest, said: “Safety is Newcrest’s number-one priority and the network Telstra Mining Services has built with us at Lihir will enable safer and more efficient mining using new technologies. The success of this project was 100% driven by leadership and personal commitment of the Lihir’s OT/IT team working together with Telstra Mining Services.”

LTE is a future-ready platform for wireless communications in mining, providing dependable and scalable communications that the next generation of machines, systems and workforce applications will require. Having been proven in carrier networks, it’s now seen as the mining industry’s next step for connectivity.

Newcrest rolling out GE Mining collision avoidance system at Lihir

Newcrest Mining’s Lihir gold operation in Papua New Guinea is, this month, due to go live with a full installation of GE Mining’s collision avoidance system (CAS).

This follows the CAS being fitted to equipment in the Telfer open-pit mine (Western Australia) and the gradual installation of units at Lihir. Since installation 12 months ago at Telfer, vehicle-to-vehicle collisions have reduced by 33%, Newcrest said in its recently-published sustainability report.

Proximity detection technology has been progressively rolled out across the company following incidents at its operations involving collisions or near misses between vehicles and other vehicles, vehicles and pedestrians, and vehicles and infrastructure.

Supported by Newcrest’s Executive Committee, a working group comprising representatives from Newcrest’s Group Safety, Technology & Innovation, Group Supply, and key stakeholders from each of its sites, developed a strategy to deploy the technology and identified solutions suitable for use in surface and underground mining, supplied by GE Mining and Newtrax Mineprox, respectively.

Newcrest started implementing GE Mining’s CAS at Lihir back in October last year. Around 1,500 employees were to be protected in addition to up to 250 vehicles.

In addition to the GE Mining contract, Telfer and Gosowong (Indonesia) underground operations have awarded tenders to Newtrax to deploy Mineprox on the mobile mining fleets. Contractor mobilisation at Telfer commenced in September 2018.

And there could be more contract awards on the way.

Newcrest said: “Given the anticipated automation and teleremote system programme of works at Cadia (New South Wales), the business has adjusted the criteria for its proximity detection solution and is expected to award a contract soon.”