Tag Archives: METS

Hatch identifies opportunities to cut Australian tailings generation by as much as 30%

A new report from multi-disciplinary engineering, operational and development project, Hatch, estimates Australia’s mining waste can be reduced by 30% using already available technologies.

One of the biggest challenges currently facing the mining industry is managing the volume of tailings generated as minerals mining ramps up to meet the demands of the transition to renewable energy.

Undertaking an in-depth analysis to identify the technologies required to reduce or eliminate tailings of six key commodities (copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, coal and bauxite), Hatch investigated how tailings production would be impacted by applying the key technologies ‘themes’: advanced geometallurgy, ore sorting, advanced sensing and particle sorting, in-situ extraction, and preferential fracturing.

The company’s analysis revealed that technologies available today could reduce tailings by 20-30%, also identifying that, in the next 10-20 years, the integration of these technologies in future projects or expansions could provide an opportunity to reduce tailings by more than 50%.

Managing Director of Australia and Asia at Hatch, Jan Kwak (pictured), says the challenge of reducing tailings is a complex effort that is best solved utilising the innovative capacity of the entire mining supply chain.

“A balanced spread of researchers, METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, and operators in the mining industry are actively commercialising technologies,” he said. “Half (50%) of stakeholders identified are METS companies, whose core business is the supply of equipment and services of these technologies, indicating commercialisation is underway. This group was also present across the technologies that our analysis has shown to have higher TRLs (Technology Readiness Levels).”

The TRL ranking system measures the maturity of technologies, whereby Hatch graded technologies from zero (idea stage) to nine (commercial application).

For in-situ mining and preferential fracturing technology themes, there is a larger representation of research organisations and partnerships. This suggests collaboration is required to advance technological development, according to Hatch.

“It is vital that these stakeholders are highly engaged in the tailings reduction challenge in order to achieve the greatest cut through and introduce real change and advancement in the reduction of tailings, which will be needed to support the increase in mining activity while meeting emissions reduction targets,” added Kwak.

Babylon to provide pump, generator repair services at Rio Tinto ops

Babylon Pump & Power Ltd says its Babylon Operations Pty Ltd subsidiary has secured a contract for the supply of offsite repair services with a branch of Rio Tinto.

The contract, with Rio Tinto Services Ltd, does not provide any commitment or guarantee of revenue, but the Babylon board has deemed this contract to be material.

The contract is for the supply of off-site repair services for pumps and generators for multiple Rio Tinto sites. The contract commences immediately upon signing and has an initial term of three years with a two‐year extension.

“Babylon’s Board is grateful for the confidence Rio Tinto has placed in the company and looks forward to continuing a strong and positive working relationship with Rio Tinto,” it said.

Civmec banks new work from BHP, Roy Hill and Rio Tinto

Civmec Ltd says it has received three notices of award from several repeat mining customers for maintenance and capital works projects collectively worth approximately A$130 million ($97 million).

These orders – from BHP, Roy Hill and Rio Tinto – bring its total order book to about A$1.05 billion as at September 30, 2021.

For BHP, Civmec is to carry out a civil and earthworks job as part of the miner’s Port De-bottlenecking Project Stage 1, which includes a new stockyard planned for the South Yard at Nelson Point, in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The scope of work includes dewatering, piling, ground improvement, associated earthworks, concrete foundations, new roads, high voltage poles and underground power works.

Civmec says mobilisation will commence this quarter, with completion expected in the March quarter of 2022.

With Roy Hill, Civmec is due to carry out a greenfield construction package related to an extension of the existing Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separation (WHIMS) plant at Roy Hill’s mine site north of Newman, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The scope of work includes greenfield installation and pre-commissioning of pre-assembled modules, piping, electrical and tie-in works. Mobilisation will commence immediately and completion is scheduled for the March quarter of 2022.

At Rio Tinto’s Boyne Island Smelters operation, Civmec is to supply refractory trades and other associated disciplines for maintenance, rebuild and reduction cell reconstruction works on carbon bake furnaces. The contract term is for three years with two one-year extension options.

Civmec’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Tallon, said: “We are delighted to secure these project wins with three of our long-term Tier 1 customers. The projects combine multi-year maintenance works along with two projects within our newly formed Maintenance and Capital Works – Resources and Energy area. With the BHP PDP1 project located in the Port Hedland region, it provides an ideal opportunity for Civmec’s newly opened regional branch to support the project, validating Civmec’s recently announced plans to invest in a purpose-built facility in Port Hedland.”

MACA wins 12-month extension at Pilbara Minerals’ Pilgangoora lithium project

MACA Ltd has announced the extension of its mining services contract with Pilbara Minerals for a further 12 months at the Pilgangoora lithium project, in Western Australia, following Pilbara Minerals exercise of its 12-month option.

The Pilgangoora project consists of open-pit mining services including drilling and blasting and loading and hauling, and the extension is expected to generate approximately A$70 million ($51 million) in revenue for MACA over the 12-month term through to November 2022. MACA’s work in hand position as of September 21 is A$3.1 billion, it says.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said “MACA is very pleased to be able to continue working with Pilbara Minerals at the Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project, having commenced operations on site in 2017. We strongly value the collaborative working relationship established with the Pilbara Minerals team over the previous four years and are proud to be an ongoing part of this project.

“For MACA, this extension secures our strong position in the Pilbara region and also provides continued involvement in the lithium industry.”

Mitchell Services bolsters drilling fleet as it senses market opportunities

Mitchell Services, noting the strongest demand for drilling services since 2008, is raising funds to take advantage of opportunities in its native Australian market.

The company is undertaking a fully underwritten accelerated non-renounceable entitlement offer to raise around A$10.5 million ($7.7 million) to support funding of a sizeable organic growth opportunity, it said.

The ASX-listed company expects to generate revenue of A$200-$220 million and EBITDA of A$40-44 million in its 2022 financial year to June 30, 2022.

Mitchell has a material capital investment program underway, which includes the purchase of nine Boart Longyear LF™ 160 drill rigs with a staggered delivery through until December 31, 2021, and includes an option for an additional three rigs.

Boart’s LF 160 coring rigs come with a depth capacity of 1,800 m (NRQ™ V-Wall), according to Boart (photo supplied by Boart).

Based on the anticipated size of the fleet, post-implementation of the growth strategy, the business would have the capacity to generate A$50-$60 million EBITDA and to deliver material earnings per share growth, it said.

These rigs were pre-ordered and will be delivered during a period of significant and increasing lead times for rig supply, Mitchell added.

“Other barriers to entry for mining services providers are high and growing, including challenging access to funding with limited lender appetite in the sector, a tightening labour market and a highly complex regulatory environment,” Mitchell Services said. “The company is expecting business conditions to continue improving in the near term with productivity increases (utilised rigs working more shifts), price increases due to the evolving supply and demand landscape, and improvements in general contract terms (for example, larger mobilisation and demobilisation charges, take or pay contracts and pricing flexibility).”

Laser Technologies cleaning solution rises to the top in BHP Supplier Innovation Program

BHP, working through its Supplier Innovation Program, is to start trialling a new laser cleaner to remove surface corrosion and prepare metal surfaces for repainting to ensure protection from the elements at its jointly owned Hay Point Coal Terminal operations in Queensland, Australia.

Traditionally pressurised blasting using water or sand has been used for this process.

As part of BHP’s Supplier Innovation Program, a challenge was launched with businesses in the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector to propose alternatives to pressure blasting that would achieve the same results, but reduce risk to personnel from exposure to high pressure and noise, and minimise waste, which currently requires careful management.

Perth, Western Australia-based joint venture Laser Technologies was selected following a competitive proposal and evaluation process to trial a hand-held 1 kW fibre laser, capable of removing old paint and surface corrosion from metal surfaces to a depth of 6 mm, and burning the waste product into harmless vapour.

The Supplier Innovation Program was launched in Australia in 2020 as part of a A$450 million ($330 million) commitment made by BHP to increase support and engagement with METS sector businesses.

The program models a similar initiative that has been running with for the past decade to address business challenges at BHP’s Escondida operations in Chile.

Under the terms of the program, participating businesses are permitted to retain the intellectual property for their designs, enabling them to further commercialise their new products following successful pilot trials with BHP.

In its 2021 financial year, BHP launched eight challenges across its Minerals Australia operations, and plans to establish another 20 challenges this financial year.

Bevan Gostelow, Maintenance Manager at Hay Point for BHP Mitsubishi Alliance, said the Laser Technologies laser cleaner had the potential to be “a real game changer” for industry because of the reduction of risks to personnel and reduced environmental impact.

“High-pressure blasting has been effective in asset integrity maintenance for many years, but the process requires a lot of controls to ensure the safety of our people doing the work, and to prevent the spread of the waste product to protect our environment,’’ Gostelow said.

“The laser cleaner is safe, quiet and easy to use and will not require all of the scaffolding and shrouding to catch waste product, because it is all burned off at the laser head.”

Brendan Tritton, one of two Directors at Laser Technologies, said having the opportunity to present their product to BHP through the Supplier Innovation Program was a “foot in the door that was worth its weight in gold”.

“We have participated in a few innovation programs in the past, but the BHP program has been by far the most effective,” Tritton said. “The team at BHP were really clear about their objectives for this challenge from the start, and that made it easier for us to develop a suitable proposal.

“I think it’s brave of BHP to be running a program that invests in METS businesses because there is the element of risk and reward when you trial new products and technologies.”

James Agar, BHP Group Procurement Officer, said the identification of Laser Technologies for this challenge was the perfect example of what the Supplier Innovation Program was designed to achieve.

“The Suppler Innovation Program was designed to provide Australian METS businesses with opportunities to showcase the new ideas and technologies they are developing, while helping BHP challenge what is possible to improve safety and performance at our operations,’’ he said.

Bis and GFG Alliance agree on Whyalla mining and steelworks contract extension

Bis is set to continue its long-standing commercial relationship with GFG Alliance’s integrated mining and steelworks at Whyalla, in South Australia, after the two companies signed a new multi-year materials handling and export facilities services contract.

The materials handling service involves the movement and processing within the steelworks of bulk materials, iron and steel slag, scrap and semi-finished products; while the export facilities service includes train unloading and ship loading at the harbour and management and maintenance of the export facilities.

The contract will help drive continuous improvement, resulting in significant efficiencies while providing greater opportunities to optimise each company’s assets and workforce across multiple work-fronts, Bis said.

Bis has been operating various service contracts at Whyalla for the last 60 years, with the contract extending its long history of providing essential core services at the integrated mining and steelwork operations.

AusIMM and METS Ignited look to improve METS sector productivity, competitiveness

AusIMM has announced a new partnership with industry-led, Australian government-funded industry growth centre, METS Ignited, to improve the productivity and competitiveness of the mining equipment and technology and services (METS) sector.

AusIMM will work with METS Ignited to build recognition of innovation in the resources sector and highlight a shared vision of industry growth, it said.

AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin, welcomed the collaboration between two major representative bodies in the Australian resources sector.

“With over 300,000 people directly employed by the METS sector in Australia alone, this workforce is at the forefront of Australia’s contribution to the global mining industry,” he said. “This partnership ensures that AusIMM can support the careers of professionals working in the METS sector, providing them with the leadership and development necessary to sustain a booming national industry.”

As part of the partnership, METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, will feature as a panellist during AusIMM’s Thought Leadership Series.

Beer said: “METS Ignited welcomes the formal partnership between our Industry Growth Centre and AusIMM to deliver greater collaborative opportunities between the resources sector and Australia’s leading tech innovators from the METS sector.

“The AusIMM Thought Leadership Series provides a significant platform to promote the technology and innovation coming out of the sector that addresses our future industry needs, such as low emissions technology, social and environmental responsibility, the future skills for our resources workforce, and capitalising upon the emerging critical minerals demand.”

Aqura Technologies improves BHP connection with Managed Services Support contract

Veris Ltd’s wholly owned subsidiary, Aqura Technologies, says it has secured a new agreement to provide Managed Services Support for BHP West Australian Iron Ore (WAIO) accommodation village entertainment networks across nine sites.

Aqura’s in-house team will provide managed support services for village entertainment network and Wi-Fi access across BHP WAIO village accommodation rooms and public areas as part of this agreement.

Close to a week earlier, Aqura was awarded several work packages by BHP WAIO to upgrade and extend the technology and communications infrastructure at a range of accommodation sites surrounding the township of Newman in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The latest contract award leverages the internal investment undertaken by Aqura over recent periods to develop leading-edge Content Access Networks As a Service solutions, it says. “These provide capability to generate multi-year managed services frameworks with clients across a range of sectors while delivering best of breed user experiences replicating their at-home experience in a remote setting,” Aqura explained.

Travis Young, Aqura Technologies’ Chief Executive, said the engagement was a significant recognition of Aqura’s capability and skills in the delivery and efficient operation of large-scale networks and further solidifies the company’s strategic transition to a product and service-based business.

“This engagement continues a highly successful relationship supporting BHP’s In-room Communications and Entertainment Solution (IRCES), which saw Aqura upgrade over 12,000 rooms to provide high-quality connectivity access for their workers when they are away from home,” he said.

“We are proud to continue supporting BHP who have further shown their commitment to local businesses with this three-year engagement to ensure the IRCES network continues to deliver reliable and cost-effective access for many years to come.”

Veris, following a strategic review, has made plans to pursue a demerging of Aqura Technologies, explaining such a transaction will simplify the group structure and better position both Aqura and Veris Australia for growth.

WesTrac to rebuild Rio’s Pilbara dozers at Geraldton facility

Rio Tinto, WesTrac and the Western Australia Government have agreed on a project that will see dozers from Rio’s Pilbara operations head to WesTrac’s Geraldton facility for rebuilds, with up to 54 machines committed between 2021 and 2025.

Western Australia Regional Development Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, welcomed the news, saying it would provide a major boost for the Mid-West’s mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.

The project was negotiated between the State Government through the Mid West Development Commission and industry after feasibility studies identified WesTrac’s Perth and Pilbara facilities were at capacity and unable to accommodate the additional repairs and maintenance required by Rio’s mining operations.

The Geraldton facility will receive up to 12 dozer rebuilds annually, from various Pilbara operations, according to the statement.

The project will support two new, localised apprenticeship opportunities in the Mid-West as well as creating new local skilled jobs and providing pathways to employment with Rio Tinto, the government said. The project also reduces transport times and negates logistical difficulties mining companies face getting heavy machinery in and out of the metropolitan area.

“The state will look to expand the initiative into a cross-regional Smart Specialisation project with linkages to the Kimberley and Goldfields regions, using the Mid-West as a demonstration pilot,” it added.

MacTiernan said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will see more work carried out in our regional centres, rather than shifting to Perth. It confirms that geography is not a barrier to global success for our regionally-based METS facilities, but in fact an advantage.”

Rio Tinto Port, Rail and Core Services Managing Director, Richard Cohen, said: “Rio Tinto is committed to growing regional Western Australia by supporting jobs and training opportunities for local people. Regional investment initiatives like the METS project will deliver ongoing benefits to the local economy.

“By unlocking the capabilities of the Geraldton WesTrac branch, we are significantly reducing transport time by removing the roughly 900-km round trip to Perth. This will lower costs, improve productivity and reduce the risk of driving related incidents that can occur on congested metropolitan roads.”

WesTrac CEO, Jarvas Croome, said the company was committed to developing capacity and capability throughout the state.

“Like many providers in the METS sector, WesTrac is seeing strong demand across all areas of our business due to the level of mining and construction activity,” he said. “That applies to new and used equipment sales, training, maintenance services and equipment rebuilds, and if there are opportunities to expand our offerings in regional centres and provide efficient outcomes for our customers, we’ll happily consider them.”

As well as multiple metropolitan operations, WesTrac currently has branches in eight regional centres including the major Western Australia mining regions. The company also operates as the authorised dealer of Caterpillar equipment in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.