Tag Archives: magnetite

Orica’s wireless blasting tech overcomes magnetite challenges at LKAB Kiruna

A four-year collaboration between Orica and LKAB has resulted in the first production blasts using wireless initiation technology at the Kiruna iron ore mine in northern Sweden.

These blasts – charged in the middle of May and blasted in early June – are going some way to support LKAB’s safety, productivity and long-term automation objectives, according to Abhisek Roy, EMEA Head of Marketing for Orica.

It has involved an extensive amount of work to get to this blasting milestone, according to Ingemar Haslinger, Technical Services Lead Europe at Orica.

He explained: “It all started in 2018 when LKAB showed interest in our new WebGen™ wireless technology. They could see the benefits in both safety and productivity with the new way of producing the ore.”

This saw Orica go to site at the Kiruna mine in March 2018 to begin with a signal survey, testing if the company could obtain a good signal between the antenna and the in-hole receivers.

WebGen provides for groups of in-hole primers to be wirelessly initiated by a firing command that communicates through rock, water and air. This removes constraints often imposed by the requirement of a physical connection to each primer in a blast. The wireless blasting system not only improves safety – by removing people from harm’s way – but improves productivity – by removing the constraints imposed by wired connections.

It is, therefore, considered, a critical pre-cursor to automating the charging process.

To this point, WebGen has fired over 100,000 units in over 3,000 blasts globally across customer sites, Orica says.

At Kiruna, however, the process from testing to technology on-boarding was less than straightforward.

“In the area of the mine where the signal survey was completed in 2018, it was discovered that the signal could not penetrate the magnetite ore at all,” Haslinger said. “This was the first time we had encountered this and was a setback for Orica and LKAB.”

At that time, Orica did not have the localised field equipment or advanced diagnostic tools to diagnose the antenna issue, making it difficult to ascertain the root cause.

“We had to go back to our global WebGen specialists and try to understand why this was happening, which we were successfully able to do,” Haslinger said.

After dedicated work from the global team, Orica went back to Kiruna in September 2020, looking to replicate the signal survey from 2018 and use its advanced diagnostic tools to measure the antenna performance and output.

“We also had the opportunity to test the signal behaviour in the holes, as well as measure the rock properties around the antenna and the in-hole receivers,” Haslinger added.

The survey proved successful, explaining why the signal could not go through the orebody. This allowed the global WebGen team to start developing solutions to overcome the signal problem, which it was able to do in short order.

In December 2020, the Orica team was back at the underground iron ore mine to test the new solution.

“The first trials with the new solution showed positive results and the global team continued to develop that further,” Haslinger said. “In May 2021, we tried the solution in many different conditions and applications to be sure that it would work in the mine. These trials gave us a lot more knowledge about the environment and how the new solution worked.

“In 2022, we were ready to test the system in active mine operations and it has been an extensive amount of work to get us to that point.”

Development of the WebGen wireless underground blasting technology is ongoing at the Kiruna mine

Michal Gryienko, Engineer at LKAB in Kiruna, said the first two production rings were charged using WebGen in the middle of May before blasting occurred in early June. This is one of the benefits of the system, with the wireless primers able to sit dormant in the blasting profile for around 30 days prior to blast initiation.

“The results look good so far,” Gryienko said. “In total, we will blast five production rings, and the final three are planned to be blasted in September.”

Among the benefits Gryienko highlighted were the reduction in risk associated with hole priming and the possibility of detonating more blast holes due to the ability overcome damaged or unstable blasting applications.

Orica’s Roy said the collaboration between the two companies has been “fantastic”.

“Despite the challenges around transmission of signal across the magnetite orebody that is a prerequisite for a successful wireless initiation, both companies have worked as partners for the last four years, finding practical and creative solutions,” he said.

“This hopefully is the start of a long-term sustainable wireless blasting solution that supports LKAB’s safety and productivity objectives and long-term automation goals.”

Terra Nova to supply new stacker to Karara Mining’s magnetite operation

Terra Nova Technologies Australia (TNT Australia) says it has been awarded the replacement tailings stacker contract by Karara Mining Ltd at its magnetite mine, 200 km southeast of Geraldton in Western Australia.

Karara Mining is the largest mining operation and the first major magnetite mine in the Mid-West of the state. It produces a premium, high-grade concentrate product for export to steelmakers with an expected mine life in excess of 30 years.

The scope of supply will be to replace an existing stacker, TNT Australia said.

In partnership with TNT’s sister company, e2o, a subsidiary of Clough, the contract will include the supply of a new “fit for purpose” heavy-duty stacker able to withstand the rigours of a high-capacity mining environment along with the associated civil works, installation, commissioning and removal of the existing stacker.

This contract will be completed by TNT Australia and e2o, working in partnership as part of the Murray & Roberts ownership group.

The replacement stacker project, which commenced last month, is required to be concluded within 2022 in order to meet Karara’s schedule requirements.

Metso Outotec to help Karara Mining expand tailings filtration at iron ore mine

Metso Outotec has signed a contract with Karara Mining Limited for the design of its tailings filtration plant expansion project at its iron ore mine in Western Australia.

This agreement includes the delivery of key filtration and material handling equipment and associated services, with the typical value for an order like this is in the range of €15-20 million ($11-15 million) depending on the scope of delivery. The order has been booked in Minerals’ June quarter 2021 orders received.

Karara produces a premium, high-grade (65-68% Fe) magnetite concentrate at a design production rate of 8 Mt/y, Metso Outotec said. With this expansion, the operation will increase the current tailings filtration capacity from 30,000 t/d to over 45,000 t/d enabling safe and sustainable storage of the process mine waste, with improved utilisation and recovery of water.

Kai Rönnberg, Vice President, Minerals Sales − Asia Pacific, said: “The Karara mine represents one of the largest filtered tailings facilities in the world. We are very proud that Karara Mining Limited has chosen Metso Outotec to deliver the plant design and key equipment in this expansion project. This is a continuation of earlier delivered proprietary key process equipment and long-term on-site maintenance service agreements.”

Metso Outotec’s scope in this expansion will include the Larox® FFP3512 filter press as primary filtration equipment, material handling conveyor systems and peripheral items. Additionally, spare parts and supervisory services will be supplied to support commissioning and plant ramp-up. Delivery will take place during 2022, and the plant is expected to start production late in the December quarter of 2022.

Macarthur Minerals to explore use of LAVO hydrogen battery tech at Lake Giles

Macarthur Minerals Ltd has signed a strategic partnership and collaboration agreement with LAVO Hydrogen Technology Holding that could see the mine developer use LAVO’s hydrogen energy battery system on site at its flagship Lake Giles Iron project in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia.

The agreement will see the companies investigate the facilitation of a staged technology solution that is intended to deliver a clear carbon reduction strategy for Lake Giles, with a first phased roll-out to support Macarthur’s intended early hematite direct shipment ore (DSO) mining operations at Ularring.

LAVO uses an innovative, patented metal hydride to produce hydrogen energy batteries. The battery system acts as a solar sponge, integrating with solar arrays to capture and store renewable energy for use when needed. The unit creates hydrogen from water, stores the hydrogen into LAVO’s patented metal hydride and generates electricity by converting hydrogen into power, according to the companies.

LAVO’s cornerstone investors are ESG investment firm Providence Asset Group (PAG) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Together with UNSW, PAG established the Hydrogen Energy Research Centre (HERC). HERC is a leading university-industry partnership in hydrogen technologies with a main purpose of translating the university’s leading research in hydrogen production, storage and use into real world commercial products under the brand name ‘LAVO’.

Under the agreement, the first phase of collaboration is expected to involve Macarthur being assigned between three to five patented LAVO 40 kWh hydrogen storage units for integration into the remote worker accommodation facilities, which are planned to be constructed to support a DSO mining operation at Ularring.

Subject to successful project definition and satisfactory supporting economics being assessed, the LAVO hydrogen storage units could be installed on site at Ularring as early as the December quarter of this year.

If the trial program at Ularring is successful, then Macarthur and LAVO intend to examine opportunities to develop a fully localised micro-grid engineering solution that includes a solar photovoltaic array, a centralised hydrogen hydride containerised storage system and appropriately sized fuel cell to support the energy requirements for Macarthur’s planned high grade magnetite iron ore mine at Lake Giles, following successful delivery of the company’s current feasibility study. This could involve the integration of larger, containerised ‘HEOS’ hydrogen energy batteries with up to 13 MWh of capacity (currently being developed by LAVO), potentially delivering energy to Macarthur’s magnetite operations at a commercial scale.

Alan Yu, CEO of LAVO, said: “Macarthur Mineral’s pursuit to decarbonise mining and provide resources for green steel production is market leadership and an endeavour that LAVO is excited to be involved with. We are demonstrating our LAVO hydrogen hydride technology has practical, environmental and economically viable applications that extend from residential to significant mining projects.

“The potential for energy independence in the mining sector will reduce costly capital works and leverage the current transport gateways to drive profitable growth and improve environmental impacts.”

Andrew Bruton, CEO of Macarthur Minerals, said: “Macarthur is pleased to be partnering with LAVO on this ground-breaking initiative. Macarthur plans to roll-out integration of LAVO hydrogen storage units at Ularring to support intended early DSO hematite mining operations.

“This collaboration is also aimed at enabling Macarthur to achieve a clear carbon reduction strategy for its planned future magnetite operations at Moonshine, as it can allow for potential integration with magnetite processing on a modularised and gradual ‘scale up’ basis over a target five-to-10-year time horizon.”

He added: “By adopting this staged approach and becoming an ‘early follower’, rather than a ‘first adopter’, Macarthur will have the opportunity to contain technology, capital and pricing risk so as to ensure that it achieves the lowest possible levelised cost of energy delivery for its magnetite processing.”

Reedy Lagoon and CSIRO eye alternative resource estimate methodology

Reedy Lagoon Corp says it is working with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to investigate and trial new ways to determine resource estimates that can rely more on geophysics than solely drill hole information.

The ASX-listed explorer has engaged with CSIRO to develop a method of determining magnetite resources using petrophysically-constrained magnetic modelling. The testbed for the research will be Reedy Lagoon’s Burracoppin iron project, in Western Australia, which, the company says, is progressing towards producing green high purity pig iron (HPPI).

The collaboration with CSIRO will use previously drilled core to determine the physical properties (eg magnetisation and density) of the Burracoppin magnetite deposit, and use those results to constrain a detailed 3D magnetic/density model of the mineralisation, Reedy Lagoon said.

Dr Jim Austin, CSIRO Project Leader and Petrophysics Expert, said: “Magnetite resources are unlike any other metal in that the quantity of the resource present (ie iron) has a linear relationship with both density and magnetisation. This means the total iron resource can theoretically be determined to relatively high precision using geophysical methods alone.”

The Burracoppin iron project is seeking to establish an indicated resource of 20-30 Mt of iron concentrate product within the Burracoppin magnetite deposit so that financial projections for the HPPI production can be determined. The deposit is currently identified in detailed airborne magnetic data and three drill holes.

The planned resource definition work is focused in the region between the three drill holes where, as part of the work in establishing a mineral resource, an exploration target has been determined.

“If shown to be successful, the work with CSIRO may lead to a new method of estimating a resource to JORC standards with far less drilling than is currently required, saving much expense and reducing ground disturbance,” Reedy Lagoon said.

The project was made possible through CSIRO Kick-Start, an initiative that provides funding and support for innovative Australian start-ups and small businesses to access CSIRO’s research expertise and capabilities.

MACA signs three-year extension with CITIC Pacific at Cape Preston

MACA Ltd says it has finalised the hire and maintenance contract for CITIC Pacific Mining Management at the Cape Preston Sino Iron magnetite project, 100 km southwest of Karratha in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The contract is expected to generate A$200 million ($152 million) in revenue for MACA over a 36-month term commencing in April. MACA’s work-in-hand position as of February 2021 is A$3.4 billion, the company said.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said: “MACA is very pleased to continue working with CITIC Pacific Mining at the Sino Iron magnetite project, and we value the long-standing relationships we have with our clients at this pioneering mega project.

The current CPM contract was novated from Downer to MACA, following the acquisition of the Mining West business, and it’s pleasing to have now secured this three-year extension.”

In February, MACA completed the acquisition of Downer’s Mining West business, bringing with it four contracts at long-life mining assets in Western Australia, including the Cape Preston agreement.

Canada Nickel investigates Crawford processing potential at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator

Canada Nickel Co says it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Glencore Canada that could see material mined from Canada Nickel’s Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project treated and processed at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator and metallurgical site in Timmins, Ontario.

Crawford, around 40 km north of Glencore’s operations, hosts a 657 Mt measured and indicated resource grading 0.26% Ni and 0.013% Co. It is currently the subject of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The Kidd operations consisting of the Kidd metallurgical site and the Kidd mine. The concentrator is located on the property of the Kidd Metallurgical Site, 27 km east of Timmins, in the Townships of Hoyle and Matheson. Built in 1966 with numerous upgrades over the years, the concentrator currently processes metal ore to produce copper and zinc concentrates. The facility has a design rated capacity of 12,500 t/d and is fully permitted with water taking and discharge permits and thickened tailings storage. The site has incoming and outgoing rail service via Ontario Northland Railway.

Canada Nickel says it has completed an initial high-level assessment of the potential arrangements envisaged under the MoU and will proceed with a detailed study on the potential for upgrading excess capacity at the Kidd concentrator and/or using the existing infrastructure in place at the Kidd metallurgical site for milling and further processing the nickel-cobalt and magnetite concentrates that are expected to be produced from Crawford.

Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “The opportunity to utilise the excess capacity and existing infrastructure at the Kidd Met Site provides the potential to allow a faster, simpler, smaller scale start-up of Crawford at a vastly lower capital cost while the company continues to permit and develop the much larger-scale project currently being contemplated.

“Given the potential for this significant change in the scope of the project start-up, the release of the PEA will be delayed until the end of March 2021 to allow this option, if successful, to be incorporated.”

This study is being led by Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc, which is also supporting the assessment of the Kidd Met Site facilities.

Canada Nickel’s plans include the development of a “Zero-Carbon footprint operation”. This considers the use of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilise electricity, rather than diesel fuel, as a power source wherever possible, along with a natural mineral carbonation approach for the deposition of waste rock and tailings during mining to allow material to absorb CO2.

JSW, BBURG HD2500RC drill rig impresses at Fortescue’s Solomon iron ore mine

JSW Australia’s ambition to leverage the latest drilling and automation technology is coming to fruition with the deployment of a new high powered, small footprint drill rig to Fortescue Metals Group’s Solomon iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The planned arrival of the HD2500RC was announced around a year ago.

Leveraging IDAT (Intelligent Drilling Applications & Technology) technology, developed by German manufacturer BBURG and customised in conjunction with IDAT, the rig underwent site commissioning in July and its initial production performance to date has been impressive, according to JSW.

The HD2500RC was designed especially for the challenging terrain at Solomon where the preparation of drill pads is difficult and expensive, the company says.

“With JSW’s years of experience on-site and first-hand knowledge of the challenges, along with IDAT’s technology expertise and BBURG’s engineering capability, we had a powerful collaboration for the development of the new rig,” JSW CEO, Warren Fair, says.

He said overall the rig was proving to be more productive, safer and quieter than the existing technology on site.

The HD2500RC joins other new technologies in JSW’s fleet including the Equus green drills developed specifically for bauxite mines and new drilling technology for magnetite mines being developed by IDAT in partnership with German manufacturer Bauer.

Fair concluded: “IDAT brings the technology, JSW brings the operational know-how. So far, it’s proving to be a winning formula.”

Weir adds aftermarket and service contract to Iron Bridge remit

The Weir Group says it has won a £95 million ($127 million) order to provide aftermarket components and service to the Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia.

The aftermarket contract follows Weir’s success in winning a record £100 million order for original equipment for the Iron Bridge project in 2019, including its Enduron® High Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGRs, pictured) that, it says, will enable dry processing of ore and use at least 30% less energy than traditional alternatives.

The Iron Bridge magnetite project is a $2.6 billion joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group’s subsidiary FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd and Formosa Steel IB Pty Ltd located in the Pilbara region, around 145 km south of Port Hedland.

Both the aftermarket order and revenues will be recognised over the seven-year period of the agreement, which starts in 2022, in line with the 22 Mt/y project’s initial production.

Ricardo Garib, President of Weir Minerals, said: “This is another landmark order for Weir. Having helped design an energy and water efficient magnetite processing plant, we are delighted to provide operational support for Iron Bridge from 2022. It is an excellent example of the value that Weir’s innovative engineering and close customer support can create for all our stakeholders and reflects the key role we have to play in making mining operations more sustainable and efficient.”

Weir’s Enduron HPGRs are increasingly replacing conventional mills in comminution circuits, Weir says. In addition to their energy and water savings, they also reduce grinding media consumption, while their wearable components last longer, reducing maintenance costs. Additionally, HPGRs contribute significantly to carbon dioxide emission savings.

Stuart Hayton, Managing Director of Weir Minerals Netherlands, where the Enduron HPGRs are designed and manufactured, said: “This is an important project for Weir and for the broader mining industry. We know comminution is one of the most energy intensive parts of the mineral process and, with our Enduron HPGRs, we have a unique ability to offer significant cost, energy and water savings to customers around the world. As the mining industry evolves, we are commited to continuing to innovate, reducing miners’ costs and environmental impact.”

This latest contract award means Weir now has more than £200 million of orders from the Iron Bridge project including its Enduron HPGRs, GEHO® and Warman® pumps, Cavex® hydrocyclones and Isogate® valves.

To support the project and future growth, Weir says it will build a new service centre in Port Hedland, Western Australia, thereby providing employment and training opportunities in the area, with a particular emphasis on supporting greater Aboriginal representation in the broader mining workforce.

Pindan lands design and construct contract at Iron Bridge

Integrated property and construction group, Pindan, says it has been awarded another contract for works linked to the Iron Bridge Magnetite project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Iron Bridge, an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB Pty Ltd, have awarded Pindan a A$3.6 million ($2.6 million) contract to design and construct the $2.6 billion project’s landside airport, it said.

Pindan Executive Director, Tony Gerber, said this new scope of work would kick off in October and was due to be finished by the end of the year.

“We have a long and successful history of working in this part of Western Australia and are already on the ground at Iron Bridge, having been awarded a A$3.4 million contract in June this year to design, supply and install a number of office buildings, as well as deliver associated infrastructure, at Fortescue’s Herb Elliot Port facility in Port Hedland,” Gerber said.

“This contract sees us manage civil works, design, and roadworks, and supply all resources, support facilities, labour and materials for this part of the project. It also includes the construction of a communications tower for the airport terminal building, as well as fitting out the airport.”

Iron Bridge is a new magnetite ore processing facility located 145 km south of Port Hedland. The project is on track to create around 3,000 jobs during construction and 900 full-time operational positions, and will deliver a premium product of high grade 67% Fe magnetite concentrate product with the first ore on ship scheduled for mid-2022.