Tag Archives: mine transport

Qantas looks to acquire Australian FIFO airline Alliance Aviation Services

Qantas says it has reached an agreement to fully acquire Australia-based operator, Alliance Aviation Services Ltd, enabling the national carrier to better serve the growing resources sector with fly-in fly-out options.

The agreement, which is subject to a vote from Alliance shareholders and competition clearance, would see Alliance become a wholly-owned part of the Qantas Group.

There is no change to Qantas’ arrangements with Alliance as a result of today’s announcement given the approvals required, which would take a minimum of several months to secure, the company said.

Alliance has a fleet of 70 jet aircraft that seat up to 100 people each, making them well suited to charter operations. Between these charter services and a small number of passenger routes that overlap with large mine sites, Alliance accounts for around 2% of the total domestic market.

The national carrier is Alliance’s biggest single customer, with a long-term agreement that sees Alliance operate up to 18 newly acquired E190 jets for QantasLink. This arrangement has helped open new direct routes and increase frequency across regional Australia, Qantas says.

Qantas bought just under 20% of Alliance in February 2019 and, at the time, flagged its long-term interest in acquiring 100% of the airline. The ACCC investigated that minority holding for three years and made no findings that it lessened competition.

Under the agreement announced today, the remaining 80% would be acquired through a scheme of arrangement where Alliance shareholders receive Qantas shares worth A$4.75 ($3.44) for each Alliance share they hold, representing a 32% premium to Alliance’s volume weighted average price for the past three months. Qantas would issue new shares valued at approximately A$614 million in a transaction that is expected to be earnings per share accretive for Qantas shareholders, before synergies.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said acquiring the remaining shares in Alliance would mean QantasLink can better compete in the highly competitive charter segment, particularly given the shared fleet type of Fokker aircraft.

“Alliance’s fleet of Fokker aircraft are perfect for efficiently serving resources customers in Western Australia and Queensland,” he said. “They also have a big inventory of spare parts that would significantly extend the practical life of a combined fleet of around almost 70 Fokkers.

“Keeping these aircraft operating reliably for longer than either carrier could achieve by themselves will help keep costs down, which is ultimately good news for charter customers. There are also benefits from bringing together our operations planning and training facilities.”

He added: “The resources sector continues to grow and any new tender for airline services will be very competitive. It makes a lot of sense for us to combine with Alliance to improve the services we can offer, which is a positive for both airlines as well as the travelling public.”

Just some of the mine sites that Alliance Aviation serves include BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore operations, St Barbara’s Leonora mine in Western Australia, Incitec Pivot’s Phosphate Hill operation in Queensland and the BHP Nickel West operations in Western Australia.

Newhaul Bulk JV to serve Mackay potash project in Western Australia

Agrimin and Newhaul Pty Ltd have formed a 50:50 incorporated joint venture named Newhaul Bulk Pty Ltd to provide road haulage and maintenance services for the Mackay potash project in Western Australia.

Craig Mitchell, the Founder and Former Owner of Mitchell Corp, one of the largest suppliers of trucking and bulk logistics services to Western Australia’s mining industry prior to being acquired by Toll Group in 2011, has been appointed CEO of the new joint venture.

The JV will provide Agrimin with benefits, including:

  • The potential for cost savings over the project’s 20-year life through the elimination of management role duplication, sharing the benefits of innovation and maximising locally sourced labour;
  • De-risking product haulage by using a proven Western Australia bulk logistics operator, while retaining control of the logistics chain;
  • Greater transparency relating to a future haulage contract; and
  • Development of driver training programs in order to maximise the opportunity to use local and Indigenous truck drivers.

The establishment of Newhaul Bulk, in partnership with an experienced operator, represents a significant milestone in the risk management and reduction of costs in relation to Agrimin’s future product haulage, Agrimin said.

The contract terms relating to the provision of haulage services for the initial 20-year project life are to be agreed in due course and, pursuant to a future haulage contract, to be executed between Agrimin and Newhaul Bulk.

Newhaul Bulk’s haulage operation is planned to include a fleet of around 24 road trains to transport 426,000 t/y of potash from Lake Mackay to Wyndham Port, where Agrimin’s proposed shiploading facility will be located.

“Newhaul Bulk has been established with the clear objective of maximising the employment of local and Indigenous people involved with the haulage of Agrimin’s potash production,” the company said. “A plan to achieve this includes the development of driver training centres and job readiness programs in regional communities, including Kununurra and Halls Creek.”

MobileTronics trackless trains complete world first driverless TBM transport

MobileTronics, together with the joint venture partners STRABAG and Salini Impregilo, has successfully demonstrated the world’s first completely autonomous transportation of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) using trackless VirtuRail® trains.

The demonstration took place on the construction site ‘Ahrental’ of the Brenner Base Tunnel project, close to Innsbruck, Austria.

On this site, the supply of the TBM was realised by trackless trains. These rubber tyred, about 60-m long trains consist of five single cars and enable continuous transport from the loading area to the TBM, via a 2.5-km long access tunnel set at a decline of close to 12%.

MobileTronics says: “This innovative way of transport does not need the installation and maintenance of the steel rail network. At the same time, the roadways can be used for regular cars used by the underground staff.”

MobileTronics’ VirtuRail System steers all 18 axles electronically, allowing precision handling where all axles follow the first in line. An additional driver assistance system guides the first axle automatically in the tunnel and is also used for obstacle detection. This system can guide the train around a 90°curve on 30 m radius at the end of the access tunnel.

The docking of the train inside the TBM backup is also performed automatically; under regular operation, the driver only controls the speed.

Since May 2016, these trains have accumulated more than 200,000 km without a single significant issue, according to the company, adding that this technology played an important role in the TBM achieving an advance world record of 62 m over 24 hours on May 14, 2017.

To carry out the fully autonomous drive, the on-train electronics were supplemented by electronic ‘traffic signs’ in the tunnel. The train uses these to read its position and set the driving parameters for the next section.

Another successfully implemented challenge was the passing of oncoming traffic and the interaction with other vehicles driving in the access tunnel. This demonstration, prepared with STRABAG/Salini Impregilo, was carried out on December 3 and showed the full potential of autonomous operation in an environment not exclusively populated by autonomous vehicles, MobileTronics said. “Thereby, it has been proven that a fully driverless operation is possible using the VirtuRail technology.”

In the future, material logistics, especially on construction sites with several TBMs, can be remotely supervised from a central control room. “This makes VirtuRail an important future component to improve cost efficiency and safety of tunnelling operations,” MobileTronics said.

“Also, in mining, VirtuRail has the potential to improve underground transport: by performing the mass transport in a flexible way on the production level a separate transport level for rail bound mass transport may become obsolete.”

MobileTronics, together with its Polish sister company, MT-Silesia, in Wroclaw, specialise in electronic guidance and navigation of mobile equipment in safety critical environments.