Tag Archives: mine rehabilitation

RPMGlobal increases XPAC ESG scope with environmental disturbance modelling and reporting functionality

RPMGlobal has taken what it says are the next step in the development of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) technology capabilities, with the introduction of environmental disturbance modelling and reporting functionality into its mine scheduling products, XPAC Solutions.

The company is collaborating with a major mining client in Canada to develop the module, with on-site testing completed in September.

This new module provides users with environmental disturbance functionality associated with any disturbance of environmental significance across the life of a mine, RPMGlobal explains.

“Unlike a simple reporting tool, XPAC Solutions has the capability to restrain a mining schedule based on pre-set limits associated with both water catchment and flora and fauna zones,” it said. “For example, users can request a reduction in an environmental distance of some type and the software will then proceed to find a different schedule that honours that restriction.”

This new module is required because organisations now need to plan and report how much environmental disturbance has taken place in specified areas, allowing organisations to plan better when applying for, and receiving ground disturbance permits.

This forward-looking environmental view gives users the foresight they need to understand how the mining process will impact a piece of land, according to RPMGlobal. Users can easily configure the product across many different sensitive habitats and report results independently or in combination.

With RPMGlobal’s automatic environmental disturbance reporting functionality, users will no longer have to take a mine schedule and manually place it into a GIS system to build environmental reports, the company said. Instead, users configure the product once and it will generate the data required every time a mine schedule is run.

RPMGlobal’s Head of ESG, Ngaire Tranter, said the environmental disturbance capability would be critical for companies operating in jurisdictions that have stringent environmental restrictions.

“Organisations require forward-looking solutions that help them efficiently manage and demonstrate compliance with increasingly complex environmental rules and regulations that govern the industry,” she said. “Across many jurisdictions, policy makers and regulators are strengthening environmental disclosure requirements which underpin the importance of innovative software solutions that help mining companies navigate this evolving space.”

Since the commencement of the dedicated ESG division in July 2021, the company says it has been focused on developing and integrating unique ESG capabilities into its suite of mining specific software solutions.

The development project follows the completion of the company’s electric vehicle simulation capabilities which sit inside the company’s vehicle simulation suite of software. Separately, development has commenced to include hydrogen-powered haul trucks inside the same simulation platform.

Tranter said there were already planning sessions occurring for the next stage of XPAC Solutions’ ESG capabilities, which are focused on rehabilitation planning.

“There is an increasing focus from shareholders on an organisations’ social licence to operate so it’s important that we, as a software provider, continue to stay a step ahead by developing solutions that mitigate risk and add value for our clients in this space,” she said.

“Our intention is to develop a world-class ESG technology stack that builds on the expertise of our Advisory division.”

Glencore-backed mine rehab pilot to showcase post-closure opportunities

A pilot project at a former operating coal mine in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is showcasing how different industry stakeholders can work together to achieve common ESG outcomes, according to the partners involved.

The Mpumalanga Winter Wheat Pilot, launched in April this year, aims to show how remediated mine land and water can provide economic opportunities for households and the broader community once a mine is closed.

The pilot is trialling a variety of winter wheat at two sites including a rehabilitated mine site at the Umsimbithi-owned Wonderfontein mine and on nearby community land. Successful implementation will mean improved food diversity and security, added farm-based employment, and, over time, the possible introduction of new skills behind crop processing, the partners said.

The pilot is being executed by Melbourne-headquartered Business for Development in partnership with Glencore, Umsimbithi, ICMM Impact Catalyst and the MWCB.

It runs from April 2021 to January 2022, with the program set to scale and support more than 14,300 smallholder farming families. These farming families support 57,000 people residing in the Mpumalanga province, a region providing more than 80% of South Africa’s coal resources.

“A key strength of the pilot is the combination of each partner’s skills and insights – MWCB’s knowledge of the region’s water and land constraints; ICMM’s mine closure knowledge; Business for Developments’ on-the-ground experience in developing agriculture programs linked to market; Glencore’s commitment to sustainably transitioning their mine sites; and Impact Catalyst’s knowledge of South Africa’s regulations and government requirements – enabling the team to develop a realistic strategy to transition the region both environmentally and economically,” the partners said.

On completion in December, key operational learnings will be shared with the South African Government on how Mpumalanga can transition from mining (which accounts for 29.8% of provincial GDP) – through the creation of new jobs, skills, investments and a more equal, resilient local economy.

Following this, Business for Development will look at developing the required systems, including expanded distribution and markets for the wheat, to replicate the program on other sites.

NSW regulator recognises Thiess and MACH Energy’s Mount Pleasant mine rehab work

Thiess’ Mount Pleasant Operations (MPO) team has been recognised by the New South Wales Resources Regulator for its industry-leading rehabilitation practices, it says.

Recently publishing an information release about the operation’s rehabilitation controls, the regulator recognised how the team enables long-term landform design stability and manages surface water drainage networks through strong quality assurance measures, according to Thiess.

Thiess, in collaboration with MACH Energy Australia (MACH Energy), has introduced quality assurance controls including the sign-off of inspection and test plans across each construction phase – design, bulk shaping, topsoil placement, ripping and seeding and drain construction, to support progressive rehabilitation and reduce ongoing liabilities.

Thiess Environment & Civil Manager, James Anderson, said these controls provide an unmatched foundation for sustainability, maximising rehabilitation outcomes and managing compliance with confidence.

“The implementation of these controls is an example of how we channel our global experience and insight to create advantages for our projects,” Anderson said. “Our proven systems and processes help deliver immediate efficiencies, reduce rework time and lower life of mine costs for our clients.”

Some 2.5 km from Muswellbrook in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales, the Mount Pleasant Operation’s complex landform design aims to meet end land use objectives while minimising impacts and delivering a more visually appealing landscape for the local community, Thiess explains.

Since 2017, Thiess has provided construction services to MACH Energy including bulk profiling and shaping of mine spoil, construction of drainage networks, erosion and sediment control structures, final surface preparation, installation of habitat features, topsoil ripping, seeding and planting.

This includes delivering the operation’s first rehabilitation two months before first coal was mined.

Thiess Environment Superintendent, Peter York, says the team’s robust processes and strict quality controls are critical to ensuring rehabilitation is delivered on time and to design specifications.

“Our rehabilitation is not just about quantity,” York said. “The final outcomes have to be quality as well, capable of meeting an agreed end land use. To help facilitate this, we work with MACH Energy to identify improvement opportunities to proactively manage environmental risks and adapt to changing regulatory conditions and evolving community expectations.

“Our systematic approach is helping us achieve industry firsts for rehabilitation while restoring self-sustaining native woodland ecosystems.”

Thiess will continue to deliver a full suite of mining services at the Mount Pleasant Operation, including rehabilitation, under a new 4.5-year contract extension commencing in April 2022.

Fortescue backs Pilbara mine site rehabilitation CRC project

The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME), along with partners Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue), University of Western Australia (UWA) and Curtin University (Curtin), have announced a new project focusing on increasing plant nutrients in iron ore waste, enabling improved mine site rehabilitation in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The 12-month project is centred around the Fortescue’s Chichester Hub mine site and includes experimental glasshouse-based and laboratory testing undertaken at UWA, along with microbiology expertise from Curtin.

“The Pilbara region has a very thin layer of top soil which is essential for plant growth and is disrupted through mining,” CRC TiME said. “This project will formulate a process to increase plant available nutrient levels, specifically nitrogen for this study, in mineral waste (waste rock and tailings) and stockpiled soils (subsoils and topsoil) using novel plant-microbe systems, to improve the rehabilitation post-mining.”

Kirsty Beckett, Principal of Mine Closure at Fortescue, said: “This project is addressing a critical issue for the mining industry as available topsoil is a key limiting factor in the rehabilitation of large tracts of mining affected land. These areas can cover up to half of some of the Fortescue’s mine sites.”

CRC TiME CEO, Dr Guy Boggs, added: “Post-mining landscapes require the establishment of self-sustaining ecosystems over heavily altered landscapes constructed from mineral waste. Effectively and efficiently converting these landscapes into self-sustaining ecosystems delivers both environmental and financial benefits and provides more certainty on ecosystem resilience.”

CRC TiME receives grant funding from the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program.

Anglo and emapper to rehabilitate Dawson open-pit coal mine

Anglo American says its Australian operations will invest more than A$162 million ($116 million) in mine rehabilitation projects over the next five years.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the company was committed to the highest standards of environmental performance.

“Over the next five years (2019 – 2023), we’re investing more than A$162 million on industry-leading rehabilitation activities across our five mine sites,” he said.

Anglo American’s Australian operations include five metallurgical coal mines in central Queensland; two open pit and three underground. Around A$83 million will be spent on rehabilitation at the open-pit Dawson mine, near Moura, and almost A$40 million at Capcoal open-pit mine, near Middlemount, over five years.

“We continue to innovate and pursue best practice mine rehabilitation across our business, and this approach is already delivering outstanding results,” Mitchelson said.

“Anglo American’s Dawson mine has been leading the way in innovative rehabilitation approaches, including the successful rehabilitation of an area previously containing void highwall, and use of rehabilitated land for cattle grazing.

“In partnership with emapper, other miners and industry suppliers, our Dawson mine has also been part of an innovative METS Ignited (the Federal Government Growth Centre for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services) project using drone technology to aerially map rehabilitation areas.

“Rehabilitated areas at our Dawson mine cover more than 1,800 ha so this project is a significant step forward in improving the safety, efficiency and accuracy of our mine rehabilitation monitoring programmes,” he said.

The project, delivered through environmental monitoring web-mapping platform, emapper, has used drone technology to collect environmental monitoring data including landform geometry, erosion and vegetation. All data is processed in the emapper platform against pre-determined rehabilitation performance standards, according to Anglo American Australia. All metrics are uploaded to the secure emapper platform allowing on-demand access to data visualisation, reporting and data collaboration and sharing, it said.

“A key part of Anglo American’s global Sustainable Mining Plan is to maintain a healthy environment – particularly in the local areas around our operations,” Mitchelson said.

“We’re committed to innovative and sustainable environmental practices, including rehabilitation, and our work in this area is a clear demonstration of this.”

The Emapper project, METS Ignited said, aims to develop a multi-scale and multi-source environmental data platform to monitor, manage and reduce mining’s footprint with application and transferability within the global mining industry.

The key focus of the solution is deriving maximum benefit from digital sensing technology, including integrated analysis of the data and functionality to enable technical and non-technical staff to use the platform for reporting and management decisions. In this way, the platform will accelerate the wider adoption of sensors and data analytics in the industry, METS Ignited said.

The project will result in cost reduction for environmental management and compliance for mining operations.

Solar power up and floating at former coal mine in Anhui, China

China state-owned developer CECEP has completed a 70 MWp floating solar plant on a former coal mining area, in Anhui Province, China, following tests and monitoring, according to the company that supplied the plant.

France-based Ciel & Terre said the floating photovoltaic (PV) plant will mainly aim to improve the energy structure in the province and quality of the environment on site. Constructor China Energy Conservation Solar Technology Co and the engineering procurement and construction contractor China Energy Engineering Group Shanxi Electric Power Design Institute Co contributed to the build, the biggest floating solar plant in the world.

To connect the 70 MWp floating PV power generation project to the national grid, a brand new 18-km-long 110 V overhead line was built to optimise the transport of electricity.

Ciel & Terre said: “Behind the installation of this complex is the will to improve the energy structure of Anhui Province as well as the ecological environment quality of the Lianghuai mining subsidence area.

“In the meantime, the initiative enables the promotion of the development of the ‘floatovoltaic’ technology, which also preserves water bodies. It prevents them from algae proliferation and oxidation, and even conserves water sources by reducing evaporation.”

The floating solar plant covers an area of 1.4 km² and is expected to generate up to 77,693 MWh in its first year, according to Ciel & Terre. This represents the electricity consumption of some 20,910 households.

“Within 25 years, the solar farm should generate around 1.94 million MWh,” the company said, saying the project adds to another 32 MWp GCL floating PV plant it supplied in Anhui.

Headed by CECEP, the complex was built using the tried-and-tested Hydrelio® technology designed by Ciel & Terre.
Ciel & Terre said: “CECEP chose Ciel & Terre for this major project for three complementary main reasons: the 13-year experience of the company in the field, the broad portfolio of 140 projects worldwide and the characteristic reliability and bankability of the Hydrelio system.”

Through this technical system, the company contributed to the Chinese National Energy Agency’s aim to “bolster energy infrastructure and environmental quality”, Ciel & Terre said.

Central inverters integrating medium voltage transformers have been used on this project – they stand on the water and not on the banks – while concrete poles support the electrical installation.

The anchorage system was designed and installed under the supervision of Ciel & Terre China, a subsidiary of the French company. Overall, 1,500 helical anchors were used for the project and buried from 8-m to 15 m-depth to fit the configuration of the site.

Canada government backs mine rehabilitation plan

The Government of Canada has invested C$184,000 ($138,978) in a climate change project that, the government says, lays the groundwork for the rehabilitation of the country’s abandoned and orphaned mines.

This project, led by the Mining Innovation Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation, will develop a comprehensive approach for evaluating rehabilitation plans for abandoned mines through a review of 15-20 sites in Ontario and the Northwest Territories, including an in-depth review of three sites, the government said.

“The ultimate goal of this project is to ensure that rehabilitation plans for today’s abandoned mines will address the climate change risks of tomorrow, while protecting the health and safety of Canadians as we enhance our stewardship of the land around us,” the government said.

Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, announced the investment: “Our government is supporting projects that help us expand our understanding of the impacts of climate change,” he said. “With this knowledge, we can help ensure today’s plans for abandoned and orphaned mine rehabilitation will reduce the climate-change risks of tomorrow.”

Today’s announcement supports the objectives of the Adaptation and Resilience pillar of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change by turning scientific information and traditional knowledge into action, the government said. It is funded through Natural Resources Canada’s Climate Change Adaptation Program.