Tag Archives: Mach Energy

Thiess in line for contract extension at Mach Energy’s Mount Pleasant

Thiess has been selected as the preferred mining services contractor for the Mount Pleasant thermal coal operation in New South Wales, Australia.

MACH Energy has notified Thiess of its intention to enter into exclusive negotiations to finalise the terms with the view to execute a mining services contract, it said.

Under the contract, Thiess will continue to provide full scope mining services including drill and blast, load and haul, mining and run of mine rehandling services, equipment maintenance and progressive rehabilitation.

Subject to contract finalisation, from April 2022, revenue to Thiess is expected to be around A$925 million ($690 million) over four-and-a-half years.

“Thiess began operating at Mount Pleasant in 2017 as a greenfield mine, applying industry best practice mining development and operations with uncompromising environmental and safety standards,” the company said. “This includes delivering the operation’s first rehabilitation two months before first coal was mined, demonstrating a true commitment to sustainable practices and to the community more broadly.”

Subject to execution, Thiess will continue to draw on local businesses for the provision of goods and services to support the mine and is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse, local workforce.

Sedgman to operate Mount Pleasant CHP facility for another three years

CIMIC Group’s minerals processing company, Sedgman, has been awarded an extended operations and maintenance services contract at the MACH Energy-owned Mount Pleasant coal mine in New South Wales, Australia.

Sedgman will operate and maintain MACH Energy’s 1,500 t/h Mount Pleasant Coal Handling and Preparation facility for an additional three years, with the extension generating revenue of A$120 million ($91 million) to Sedgman, bringing total revenue from the contract to A$200 million.

CIMIC Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Juan Santamaria, said: “Sedgman and the CIMIC Group have a strong history with MACH Energy which we’re pleased to continue. Sedgman’s leadership in minerals processing will ensure maximum resource recovery for our long-term client.”

Sedgman Managing Director, Grant Fraser, said: “This contract is testament to the partnership we have forged with MACH Energy, and the integration of our engineering and operations capability.”

Sedgman completed the construction of this facility and has been operating the plant since 2019.

Thiess, Cat, WesTrac collaborating on Mount Pleasant autonomous drilling project

Thiess says it is realising the benefits of drill automation after undergoing a successful field trial at MACH Energy’s majority-owned Mount Pleasant coal operation in the Hunter Valley of Australia.

In collaboration with Caterpillar and WesTrac, Thiess introduced a new Caterpillar MD6250 drill rig with autonomous drilling capability at Mount Pleasant in a phased 12-month pilot project, it said.

The autonomous drill uses state-of-the-art guidance technologies to assist operators in drilling holes to the exact location and depth specified by the drill plan, resulting in safer and more efficient blasting.

Thiess General Manager Autonomous Services, Matt Petty, said the purpose of the pilot was to test the functionality and application of the technology while determining its viability for Thiess’ team, operations and clients.

“This trial is an exciting opportunity for us to investigate the applicability of the technology at our operations and train our people in the remote management of autonomous equipment,” Petty said. “The results are showing significant productivity improvements, safer operations and upskilling opportunities for our people.”

The phased pilot program is progressing through three stages of drill automation – operator mission assist, semi-autonomous drilling and full autonomy and perception, Thiess said.

The current stage, semi-autonomous drilling, automates the entire drilling cycle for one row, including moving between holes, from a remote operator station, it added.

“The drill is now controlled by satellite-guided precision ensuring the blast holes are drilled exactly to the design coordinates and desired floor elevation,” Petty said. “This stage allows our operators to select a row of holes for the drill to navigate and auto drill. Operators also help to monitor and authorise the auto-tram between holes to ensure safety is maintained.”

In the coming months, the drill will be fitted with proximity detection and collision avoidance technology, enabling full automation, Thiess said.

Mount Pleasant Drill Operator, Zac Brasington, said the remote operation of the drill had proven safety, precision and equipment utilisation benefits for his team.

“Working remotely eliminates operators’ exposure to potential high-risk activities and allows the drill to function without operator restrictions,” Brasington said. “The remote station replicates the seat and controls of the machine’s cab, allowing us, as operators, to control the machine with minimal decrease in functionality or productivity.

“It’s also helping drive consistency at our operation with improved accuracy in hole placement, trajectory and depth.”

Thiess’ team has been working closely with Caterpillar and the WesTrac team on the implementation plan throughout the trial process, it said.

Brasington added: “I’ve also had the opportunity to gain new skills and competencies. It’s very rewarding knowing I’m one of the few operators, worldwide, who is able to operate an autonomous drill.”

The outcome of the trial will help to inform how Thiess delivers automation as part of its services offering, according to the company.

Thiess first began mining at Mount Pleasant on November 20, 2017, following a successful five-month mobilisation period. The contractor is responsible for providing a full mining service and increasing mining production to 10.5 Mt/y run-of-mine, according to its website. The team is also undertaking progressive rehabilitation at the site.

Community engagement and automation on the AIMEX agenda

Day one of AIMEX 2019 in Sydney, Australia, was as varied as mining events come. Against an exhibition backdrop that organisers say included more than 500 suppliers, leaders in the industry took to the conference stage to debate some of the industry hottest topics.

The morning sessions started off with discussions on the relationship between the mining sector and local stakeholders, an area of dialogue that becomes more dynamic with every mining, extraction or water use permit issued in Australia.

Stephen Galilee, Chief Executive Officer of the New South Wales (NSW) Minerals Council, was the first speaker to confront the topic and was, rightly, keen to talk up some of the success stories that the state had seen in the recent past.

He said the NSW Minerals Council addressed local community’s priorities through its Upper Hunter Mining Dialogue project, which he believes is one of the world’s best engagement community practices.

A panel, chaired by Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs-Stewart, followed shortly after Galilee and expanded on this line of discussion, with Mark Jacobs, Executive General Manager – Environment & Community, Yancoal Australia, and Ngaire Baker, External Relations Manager of Mach Energy, providing specific examples of how their companies have developed a working relationship with not just the communities surrounding their mines, but also interested parties within the states in which they operate.

Jacobs said the digital age and transparency of reporting has brought miners a lot closer to the communities that surround them than, say, 20 years ago, but he admitted Yancoal Australia and his peers in Australia needed to do more to rebuild the trust that was lost in previous decades. He added that local media played a strong role in this quest.

Baker, meanwhile, recalled several anecdotes about how Mach Energy was building strong community relationships by effectively communicating how the mining company was going about its business of starting up the Mount Pleasant thermal coal mine in the Hunter Valley, explaining what effects this might have on local businesses, as well as inviting them to the operation to gain a better understanding of the mine.

Jacobs and Baker made compelling points, but Anna Littleboy, Programme Leader – Mine Lifecycles, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, made it clear the success of a mine or project was contingent on not only winning over the local community.

“I’m not sure the image of the industry is made or broken at the community level,” she said.

The Adani Carmichael coal project, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland, is a case in point, where local stakeholders have made it clear they would like the thermal coal development to go ahead, but issues on a national and international level have made it increasingly difficult to proceed. This is despite the company recently receiving a significant permit to proceed with construction.

Before the panel discussion ended, the speakers talked about what impact technology may have on local communities, with Gibbs-Stewart questioning what mine site communities could look like in an autonomous future where people no longer operated the machines.

The panellists said these communities could potentially become technology hubs servicing such operations, but Jacobs remarked that local and state governments needed to ensure the infrastructure was in place to allow such a transition to take place.

The next few conference sessions picked up the automation ball and ran with it.

Craig Hurkett, Managing Director, Enterprise Improvement Solutions, explored the challenges and opportunities that came with delivering autonomous vehicle maintenance. His talk touched on just how expensive the current fleet of autonomous machines were to keep running at full tilt.

Robin Burgess-Limerick, Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Queensland, took a different angle in his presentation: ‘Human-systems integration for the safe introduction of automation to mines and quarries’.

He made it clear that automation would change the established safety systems in place at both open-pit and underground mines. He also touched on some accidents that had occurred both above and below ground when autonomous equipment came into contact with either personnel or manned vehicles, but then countered this with details of a past paper he had co-authored on operations at the Northparkes underground mine in New South Wales where the use of autonomous vehicles had seen significant safety improvements as well as a 23% productivity boost compared with previous manual mode.

Factoring this in, he said mining companies and equipment manufacturers needed to ensure that autonomous equipment was designed for the specific operation it was going into and that manual overrides were not used as a workaround to improve productivity – which in the underground US coal mine example he gave resulted in a fatality.

It was then the turn of Dr Joe Cronin, Co-Founder, Australian Droid + Robot, on stage. Cronin, who has helped design autonomous underground systems at both Northparkes and the Syama underground mine (Mali), was positive automation was coming to mining at a pace that would catch many industry participants off guard; meaning they needed to invest to facilitate this change now.

His talk, ‘Using Telepresence technologies for the safe deployment of wireless mesh networks and underground inspection robots in mines’, focused on the improved communications infrastructure in mines and ability for robots and drones to travel into increasingly difficult areas of a mine. This, he said, would see risky tasks currently carried out by people, in the future, taken on by these machines.

Personnel would no longer need to travel underground to carry out sampling in active stopes, with these robust and agile robots able to give them the information they needed through payloads that could carry out 3D scans, take high resolution photos, sense dangerous gases and interpret potential rock falls.

This would not only increase safety underground, it would also allow autonomous operations to run 24/7, according to Cronin, with these robots working unimpeded alongside autonomous equipment.

Reflecting on the proliferation of drones in the open-pit mining space, Cronin estimated that in five years’ time, every underground mine would be using robots or drones to inspect hazardous areas of their mines.

Innovators and disruptors heading to AIMEX 2019

Technological advancements, workforce changes, community collaborations and environmental challenges are just some of the concepts that will be discussed at Asia-Pacific’s International Mining Exhibition (AIMEX) 2019 edition, in August.

Focused on the future of Australia’s mining industry, AIMEX is the country’s largest and longest running mining exhibition and conference, according to organisers.

Speakers and key topics of the free-to-attend conference have been announced, with the line-up for the three-day event set to provide visitors with a “unique opportunity to hear from mining innovators and disruptors at the same venue where the technology is on show”, the organisers said.

Sponsored by Davey Bickford Enaex, the AIMEX conference has been developed with direct input and consultation from key mining personnel, industry associations as well as key mining companies.

On the opening day, a panel of speakers from across the mining spectrum will dissect the industry’s image and discuss ways that the mining sector and the community can work more collaboratively together in the future. Mach Energy’s Ngaire Baker, Mark Jacobs from Yancoal, Dr Kieren Moffat from the CSIRO and Anna Littleboy from the University of Queensland will lead the discussion.

Ngaire Baker, External Relations Manager for MACH Energy, said it is crucial the mining sector demonstrates the value it can offer communities, especially in regional and rural areas.

“I’ve worked and lived in some of Australia’s most remote mines and mining towns, combined with towns such as Orange, Parkes and Singleton, in New South Wales; I have experienced first-hand just how vital it is for the mining industry to look after these communities and to do our jobs to the best of our ability so that both parties reap the benefits,” Baker said.

“The mining industry can bring so many benefits to regional areas and to have the opportunity to discuss these very important issues with experts from all sides of the spectrum at the AIMEX conference is invaluable.

“I have been attending AIMEX since the mid ’90s and I make every effort to connect with suppliers and learn about new technologies that will benefit the operation I am working in. To be able to attend the conference as part of AIMEX is invaluable, we are all time poor and this conference is a key part of the three days of AIMEX, it provides me with a rare opportunity to hear from visionaries, engage with my peers and challenge the current mindset.”

A highlight of day two, organisers say, will be the panel discussion on how the mining community can reinvent its approach to talent acquisition and retention for today’s agile, digital, mobile, analytical, and technologically-driven workforce.

Mining Leaders Group Founder, Brett Cunningham, CEO of Weld Australia, Geoff Crittenden, and Jamie Frankcombe, Whitehaven Coal’s Chief Operating Officer, will lead the thought-provoking discussion that will exchange ideas and share current thinking to prepare for tomorrow’s demands in areas such as recruiting, educating schools, upskilling and diversity.

The organisers said: “Other highlights of the conference include Dr John Cronin’s presentation on using telepresence technologies for the safe deployment of wireless mesh networks and underground inspection robots in mines, cross-industry learnings from the oil & gas industry that define and mitigate HMI risk with technology and analytics, and the final day panel which looks at adapting to climate change, emissions and what does this look like for the mining sector?”

More than 6,000 mining industry professionals and over 500 exhibitors are expected to take over Sydney’s Showgrounds across three days from August 27-29 .

Embedded within the exhibition and conference, five of Australia’s biggest mining companies, Centennial Coal, Glencore, Mach Energy, Whitehaven Coal and Yancoal will for the first time, come together to create the AIMEX Mining Pavilion.

AIMEX Exhibition Director, Brandon Ward, said no other mining event gives you access to this volume of suppliers and this calibre of speakers for free.

“AIMEX is about pushing boundaries and challenging operations and business to innovate not just through technology but through workforce practices, social engagement and policy reform,” Ward said.

“This year’s AIMEX Conference is our most extensive yet which means mining professionals have a forum for open and transparent dialogue that will drive the sector forward.”

Attendance to AIMEX is free for both the exhibition and conference with registrations now open. For a full overview on the AIMEX Conference including session topics and speakers, plus a complete list of exhibitors, visit the event website aimex.com.au.

International Mining is a media partner of AIMEX.

Mach Energy produces first coal from Mount Pleasant in Hunter Valley

Mach Energy Australia has produced and transported the first coal from its Mount Pleasant operation in the Hunter Valley of Australia, just over two years since construction commenced.

Close to the end of December, Mach Energy Managing Director Ferdian Purnamasidi said construction of the initial bypass stage of the processing facility was complete and “first bypass coal” had been produced. This was followed shortly after by an announcement from Aurizon saying it had delivered the first coal from Mount Pleasant to AGL’s Antiene facility.

In the announcement dated December 20, Mach Energy said the project construction stage was nearing completion with the majority of mine infrastructure now in use. “Further construction works on the coal handling preparation plant (CHPP) are expected to be complete mid next year,” it said.

Mount Pleasant hosts of 1,100 Mt of coal resources and 667 Mt of reserves. The operation is fully consented up to the targeted production rate of 10.5 Mt/y run-of-mine coal, according to Mach Energy.

Back in November, CIMIC Group’s mineral processing company, Sedgman, was awarded a contract to operate and maintain the Mount Pleasant CHPP.