Tag Archives: Matt Dusci

IGO to trial VSUN Energy’s VRFP energy storage tech at Nova nickel operation

IGO Limited looks set to test VSUN Energy’s vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage technology in a standalone power system (SPS) application at its Nova nickel operation in Western Australia.

An SPS supplies power independently to the electricity grid and typically comprises a combination of solar, wind, battery and backup generation from diesel or gas. The SPS at Nova, supplied by Australian Vanadium Ltd subsidiary VSUN, will power a bore pump with a target of 100% renewable energy use.

The SPS heading to IGO’s nickel operation will be based around a 300 kWh VRFB from Spanish manufacturer E22. The system has been designed to provide a 100% renewable energy supply for much of the year, with periods of long cloud cover being supported by a diesel genset, Australian Vanadium said.

Total renewable penetration of 85-90% is being targeted for the trial of the VRFB-based SPS system.

The SPS is redeployable for use on multiple mines sites and locations over its 20-plus year service life, Australian Vanadium said. The target of long periods with “diesel-off” will not only significantly reduce the carbon emissions of diesel generator powered bore fields, but also offer substantial reductions in operating hours for service personnel, according to the company.

“These two significant benefits indicate a potentially rapid growth market segment for this robust technology,” the company said.

Australian Vanadium Managing Director, Vincent Algar, said: “Working with IGO on this project will accelerate the objectives of the companies and broader mining industry towards carbon neutrality. The robustness of VRFB energy storage makes it perfectly suited to the tough environments found on many Australian mine sites.”

He added: “The installation of an SPS based on vanadium technology for pumping applications enables diesel to be almost entirely eliminated, helping reduce overall carbon emissions and providing reliable green power. We look forward to trialling and then duplicating this system based on an Australian invention and with Australian-made vanadium electrolyte from AVL in Western Australia.”

IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “IGO’s strategic focus is on those products that are critical to enabling clean energy solutions, to create a better planet. As part of our strategy to deliver those products, we aspire to be carbon neutral across our business and to do this, in part, by leveraging renewable energy solutions and innovation to reduce emissions at our remote exploration and mining operations. We are excited to be collaborating with AVL on this pilot at our Nova operation.”

In July 2021, AVL was awarded a A$3.69 million ($2.69 million) Federal Government manufacturing grant under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative Resources Technology and Critical Minerals Processing National Manufacturing Priority roadmap. Part of the matched funding is allocated to development of the SPS that will be installed at IGO’s Nova nickel operation.

The remainder of the grant will be used to finalise the high purity processing circuit for the Australian Vanadium Project; build and operate a commercial vanadium electrolyte manufacturing plant producing 33 MWh/y and manufacture a prototype of a residential VRFB.

The agreement with IGO will end 12 months from the date of system commissioning and first power production, unless extended or terminated in accordance with the agreement. The SPS is being provided to IGO at no charge, with the option to purchase or rent the system at the end of the trial period. The project will enable IGO to analyse the performance of the SPS for potential use in its dewatering and bore pumps systems.

Zenith Energy and Independence celebrate solar start up at Nova

Operations at Independence Group’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range of Australia are now being powered by a mix of diesel and solar energy after the on-site hybrid solar PV-diesel facility started up.

Zenith Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Zenith Pacific, built the plant. The ASX-listed power company also owns and operates the facility, which, it said, is already exceeding performance targets for power output and energy efficiency.

The two signed a contract back in 2018, amending an existing power purchase agreement.

Within the 26.6 MW facility is 5.5 MW of state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) modules, single axis tracking, inverters and communications and control system technology, according to Zenith Energy’s Managing Director, Hamish Moffat. The system also features high-efficiency diesel-fuelled generators that combine with this control system to optimise solar and diesel power delivery.

Moffat said: “The proprietary hybrid system developed by the company is able to seamlessly manage the fluctuations in solar PV energy production to provide smooth, reliable power, without the need for batteries to stabilise energy delivery to Nova.”

He explained that batteries have their place in energy systems but are still expensive to deploy for these applications.

“Our unique, locally developed hybrid system eliminates the need for batteries and represents a major step forward in the capital cost optimisation, operating efficiency and environmental performance of solar PV hybrid energy systems in remote locations,” he added.

According to Moffat, the system is saving Nova in the order of 6,500 litres of diesel a day, and it is the first hybrid solar PV-diesel installation to have been funded on a commercial, standalone basis – without any government subsidies.

IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “At IGO we are striving to reduce our carbon footprint. The implementation of new technologies with the construction of a hybrid‐solar system at Nova will enable IGO to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions by approximately 6,500 t per annum. The solar facility will also decrease our cost structure through reductions in our diesel fuel usage.”

As part of an agreement between the two companies, Zenith will supply power from the solar PV‐diesel hybrid system for an initial six‐year period, with an option for Independence to extend for a further two years.

Nova is expected to produce 6,750-7,500 t of nickel concentrate in the year ending June 30, 2020, alongside 2,750-3,125 t of copper concentrate and 213-238 t of cobalt concentrate, according to the miner’s September quarter results.

Barminco turns Perth head office into remote operations centre

Leading underground mining services provider Barminco, a subsidiary of Perenti, says it has successfully piloted a new operations centre that allows it to remotely operate underground equipment on a client’s mine site anywhere around the world.

In what the company believes to be a world first, Barminco operated a machine, working underground, from its head office in Perth at a client mine site in the Goldfields of Western Australia.

“The innovation was made more impressive given the remote operation occurred via the internet, instead of through a fibre-optic cable, which is the method that mine owner-operators have historically used,” the company said.

Barminco Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, announced the achievement at the third annual Sandvik Digitalization in Mining Event, in Brisbane, Australia, this week.

Muller said: “Barminco has cemented its place as one of the world’s leading underground mining service providers through the use of technology and automation.

“A key strategic initiative under our parent company, Perenti’s, 2025 strategy is to deliver a ‘technology driven future’, and our ability to remotely operate underground machinery from our head office is a significant achievement in delivering on that strategy.”

The Barminco Remote Operating Centre, or BROC, was successfully trialled in collaboration with Sandvik and Independence Group (IGO) back in July. It was trialled in the early morning at Barminco’s Head Office in Hazlemere for a machine located at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site, almost 1,000 km away.

Barminco General Manager Technology and Innovation, Darren Kwok, said the trial was a great success.

“Whilst many mine sites have operators remotely operating equipment from the mine’s surface, we are one of the first, if not the first service provider, to operate underground equipment on a client’s site from a much greater distance,” Kwok said.

“BROC enables us to connect multiple sites and operators at the same time, meaning if there is an issue at any point, we have contingencies in place.”

Barminco’s first trial involved the remote operation of a Sandvik LH517 LHD being operated in Perth by Barminco employee, Guy Gilbert, and Kwok said Barminco was now working with IGO to make BROC a permanent fixture at its Nova mine site.

“The advantages in improving the safety of our workplace and the efficiencies for our clients are enormous,” Kwok said.

Independence Group Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said the company was thrilled to be part of the successful trial, which is all part of the company’s ‘IGO – Smart Solutions’ initiatives.

“At IGO, we continually look for ways to improve how we do business and deliver operational excellence. By integrating innovative Smart Solutions at our operations, such as working with Barminco on BROC, we improve the safety and wellbeing of our people, realise step change opportunities, and optimise efficiencies and productivity,” Dusci said.

Kwok added: “Our future plan is to have a dedicated remote operating centre manned 24/7 where our team and our client’s people can work collaboratively side by side to deliver a world-class mine site.

“Clients who work with Barminco should expect more from our business along with the broader Perenti group of companies and BROC is one such example of how we are delivering on this promise.”

The Sandvik event concludes on December 4 and showcases best practice examples of industry leaders integrating digitalisation into their operations across the mining, construction and quarrying industries.

The announcement comes just over a week after Barminco was awarded Large Employer of the Year 2019 at the National Australian Training Awards in Brisbane.