Tag Archives: Mining Indaba

Steering the electric mine revolution

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, last year, made a clear statement to the underground mining equipment sector with the acquisition of Artisan Vehicle Systems: the future is electric.

With this acquisition having bedded in and International Mining EventsThe Electric Mine 2020 conference, in Stockholm, Sweden, just around the corner, IM caught up with Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology President, Henrik Ager, to get his views on current industry demand for electric solutions and what other elements could come into the OEM’s electrification offering in the future.

IM: In your keynote presentation title for the upcoming conference you have highlighted two benefits to electrification, namely ‘productivity’ and ‘sustainability’. Would you say these are the two most important criteria for companies adopting, or thinking about adopting, electrification solutions?

HA: Productivity, or rather mining economics, is still the primary driver for any technology change. If applying new technology allows you to lower your cost or get more tonnes out of the operation, it tends to make sense. If it doesn’t, it rarely makes sense.

For electrification, we are getting to the point where, when you compare a diesel machine with an electric machine, the economics are starting to be on a par. The electric machines tend to be more expensive from a capital expenditure (capex) point of view, but this upfront capital is coming down; we haven’t yet made that many machines but when we scale up production the price will likely fall further.

Within this, the batteries are, of course, a big capex item. To get around this, we will most likely end up selling the battery as a service to customers, so they pay per kilowatt hour as opposed to investing outright in batteries.

Some of the benefits of using electric machines include the maintenance costs being significantly lower than with diesel-powered equipment. You are also seeing you can get more productivity out of the machines – with any electric motor, you get a lot of torque. This latter point is of use in many applications. For example, when you are running an underground loader and loading your bucket, torque control is very important. Being able to precisely control this and get as much traction from the tyres as possible allows you to more accurately load the bucket. We should, therefore, see better fill factors on the bucket with these electric drivetrains; if you end up getting 10% more in your bucket every time, it makes a difference.

From an economic point of view, you also have the potential ventilation benefits of having an electric drivetrain. The electric drivetrain will put out some heat, but it is about one eighth of what a diesel drivetrain puts out. Obviously, there are no diesel particulates either, so you need to ventilate a lot less. If you start inputting that into your mine plan, then you end up saving a lot of capex on ventilation shafts. That can bring an orebody into being economically viable where it wasn’t before. While that is not the case for all mines and orebodies, it is relevant for many of them.

IM: Does that total cost of operations argument overcome upfront capex concerns in countries that are known to be more price sensitive?

HA: There are some geographies where price is more prominent and others where it is less prominent. But, to put this into perspective, we predominantly make expensive and productive machines. We don’t make low cost or low productivity machines. So, we have been fighting with this same issue for a long time. Yes, it is more difficult to overcome capex issues in some places, but there are still customers in these areas that look at the full productivity dynamic and realise the cost of the machine is only one piece of the puzzle.

In general, the more you separate operations from procurement, the more the discussion shifts to price per machine. The closer the relationship is between operations and procurement, the more chance you have of entering a full productivity discussion.

IM: How widespread would you say interest is for mine electrification? You’re currently speaking to me from Cape Town, South Africa (at Mining Indaba), would you say it is penetrating that continent, as well as North America, Australia and Europe?

HA: Yes, is the short answer. This topic has pretty much been on the agenda in every discussion we have had this week.

One important thing often left out of this conversation is that, in southern Africa, electric loaders have been operating in mines for a long time, but they are cable electric. This is the case across the globe too. We delivered our first cable-electric machine in 1981 and have put out more of these loaders than anyone else. We have delivered 600 electric machines – most of which are tethered or cable loaders.

We have now developed a battery and cable combination machine so when you are underground in the section doing repetitive work – loading and dumping the bucket – you are on a cable, but then when you need to go to the workshop or need to move the machine to another section of the mine, you can unhook and operate on battery. The machine can also carry out a few cycles on battery-only, but this might not be as productive in certain operations.

IM: Out of those three – North America (Canada, more specifically), Australia and Europe – which region would you say is leading when it comes to adopting electrification solutions in mining? What do you put this down to?

HA: It’s Canada for two reasons.

One is the data around diesel particulates is that much more advanced in Canada. There are strict regulations for how much ventilation you need in underground mines to dilute diesel particulates and exhaust gases.

The second – which is also linked to the first one – is that many mines in Canada are going deeper or further away from existing ventilation and cooling infrastructure. As well as the obvious health benefits, the cost of new ventilation shafts and refrigeration can be offset by using electric machines, since they produce zero exhaust emissions and much lower heat.

IM: In terms of your mine electrification offering, Sandvik recently completed the acquisition of battery-electric vehicle leader Artisan, adding to the company’s long history of delivering cabled machines powered by electricity. Do you currently see any other technologies on the market that you might acquire/build to further your status as a leader in mine electrification solutions?

HA: We are looking at a diesel-battery hybrid as an option. We need to, again, see that the economics stack up as these will be more expensive machines to manufacture. We need to answer the questions: Will that machine be more productive? Will it be faster up the ramp? And will it be more practical than using battery-electric only?

We need to see what the case is here and work with our customers.

A couple of the mining contractors are really pushing for the development of these machines. It’s good to work with the contractors on such projects as they are so heavily focused on economics and productivity. They may bid on, for example, developing a 2 km decline into the mine. The cheaper they can do that from a complete project cost point of view, the more competitive they will be and the more projects they will win. So, they really know their numbers and can clearly factor in new technology to these calculations.

As previously mentioned though, if the economics on that machine don’t make sense, it is hard to make things work.

IM: Do you think this speaks to the fact there will be a variety of solutions that help miners ‘go electric’ in the future?

HA: Absolutely. It is not going to be one-size fits all. Some mines are going to go with battery-electric haulage and loading, some will go for hybrid solutions, others cable and some are just going to go with the cleanest diesel machine they can find and, in turn, ventilate as that is the only thing that practically works with them.

IM: Anything else to add on this subject?

HA: For me, it is important to balance the view of how fast the pickup of this technology will be.

It will take some time like it has with every other new technology in mining – it will be different solutions in different places – but I think there is a very bright future for electrification in mining. We simply have to move in that direction.

Henrik Ager will present ‘Productivity and sustainability through electrification’ in the keynote slot at The Electric Mine 2020 conference, in Stockholm, Sweden, on March 19. His presentation will also be streamed on Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s LinkedIn page. For more information on the event, click here.

Caterpillar, Barloworld to talk up mining equipment and power solutions at Indaba

Caterpillar and its southern Africa dealer, Barloworld Equipment, are set to present a broad range of machines, technology and support services at next week’s Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Caterpillar exhibit at Indaba, running from February 3-6, will feature digital displays of electric power generation systems, surface and underground mining equipment, and Cat MineStar™ technology capabilities – ranging from vehicle safety systems, such as operator fatigue monitoring, to production systems using teleremote, semi-autonomous and autonomous machine operation.

Caterpillar has recently introduced several new underground hard-rock mining vehicles in Africa. The new R1700 underground LHD brings the latest technology for semi-autonomous and fully autonomous operation to the region. The loader also delivers more than 30% greater fuel efficiency, 65% more lift and tilt force, and 15 t capacity – 20% more than its predecessor, yet in the same dimensional envelope, according to Cat.

Using MineStar Command for underground, the new R1700 (pictured) can be operated from a remote location to keep miners away from potential hazards, Cat says. “The system also boosts utilisation by allowing immediate entry after blasting and by reducing shift change time to nearly zero.”

In addition to the R1700, Caterpillar has introduced several LHDs and underground trucks equipped with EU Stage V engines and emission controls. “Reducing emissions helps miners improve the underground working environment,” it said. On top of this, and with the goal of zero underground emissions in mind, Caterpillar is continuing to develop the battery-powered R1700 XE.

Erik Elsmark, Region Manager for the Caterpillar Underground Mining Division, said: “Caterpillar and Cat dealers are supporting the whole African continent and all types of underground mining applications – big and small mines and all minerals.

“In the past several months we have delivered machines covering our full product range, demonstrating that we are well positioned to meet our customers’ needs.

“Starting with our AD22 underground articulated truck to our R2900 LHD, our equipment delivers exactly the size class and power needed for the application. With distribution centres in Southern Africa and Middle East and our dealer network in all countries of the African continent, we are able to achieve world-class service.”

The extensive line of Cat surface mining machines and technologies will also be a talking point at the event.

Caterpillar has recently expanded its line of electric drive mining trucks in the past year to include the 794 AC, 796 AC and 798 AC. Recently, a South Africa mining operation took delivery of several 794 AC trucks (pictured above), which have 291 t capacity, the company said. “This model has already proven its high productivity and superior speed on grade in a wide variety of applications,” Cat remarked.

In the Cat drill line, the latest model is the MD6200 rotary blasthole drill, designed as a production drill with the flexibility to do pre-split drilling – all in a package that Caterpillar says is its most transportable rotary drill yet. The MD6200 is designed to perform rotary or DTH drilling in single-pass or multi-pass modes and can drill holes of 127 to 200 mm in diameter, according to Cat.

Cat MineStar Command now includes systems for autonomous operation of mining trucks, semi-autonomous operation of dozers, and semi-autonomous as well as autonomous rotary drills. These systems enhance safety, boost production and lower cost per tonne, Cat says.

Mine power experts will also be on call at the show, with the representatives keen to talk about the ability for Cat generators to deliver reliable, continuous power, temporary power, or a combined heat and power solution. “The Cat team customises and installs systems for every phase of mining,” it said.

Caterpillar says it offers the industry’s widest range of diesel, gas and dual fuel generator sets; automatic transfer switches, and switchgear for seamless integration. Additionally, it offers microgrids, fully-integrated power systems that utilise solar panels, energy storage and monitoring and control systems in conjunction with any configuration of Cat gen sets.

Africa startups to pitch to industry at Mining Indaba

Three startup technology companies will have the chance to present at the world’s largest mining investment event as part of an agreement between energy and resources open innovation platform Unearthed and organisers of the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference.

The trio of companies will get this pitching opportunity as part of the Startups Unearthed Africa initiative, taking place on day three (February 5, 2020) of the Mining Indaba, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The announcement follows a collaboration between Mining Indaba and Unearthed that gave four emerging technology businesses from Africa the chance to present at the 2019 event.

Unearthed explained: “Startups Unearthed Africa aims to shine the light on partnerships between startups and industry operators or service providers that have delivered value to the resources sector.”

Applications are open to any technology company based, or operating, within Africa that has a case study to share showcasing the successful adoption of an innovative mining technology solution, according to the organisers. The three successful applicants will then get the chance to present to around 750 investors and dealmakers, leaders from over 220 mining companies, and 34 government ministers, Unearthed said.

In addition to awarding three pitching spots, each partnership will receive one full complimentary pass to Mining Indaba, taking place from February 3-6. Finalists will also receive recognition and exposure through Unearthed media channels to the broader mining industry.

Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing at Unearthed, Holly Bridgwater will moderate this session, saying that the organisers wanted the presentations to highlight where resource sector leaders and startups are working together successfully to solve key problems for the mining industry, showing the rest of the industry how this is done.

Investing in African Mining Indaba Senior Conference Producer, Catriona McDavid, said: “Startups are undoubtably a driving force for innovation. Through our Mining 2050 Programme, we are proud to play our part in advancing digital economy opportunities for Africa, and we look forward to welcoming the three successful startups and their partners to present to our global audience, and hope this stimulates greater industry collaboration across the startup community.”

To apply for Startups Unearthed Africa, visit: https://unearthed.link/SUA20 and submit your application before October 14, 2019.

Ivanhoe Kamoa-Kakula studies reveal plan for world’s second largest copper mine

Ivanhoe Mines has released the prefeasibility study for an initial 6 Mt/y copper mine at the Kakula deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to an updated preliminary economic assessment (PEA) combining both Kakula and Kamoa into an 18 Mt/y operation.

The Kakula deposit is in the southerly portion of the Kamoa-Kakula project’s discovery area and would form the first of three deposits to be mined in the 18 Mt/y scenario.

For the 6 Mt/y Kakula option, the PFS envisages an average annual production rate of 291,000 t of copper at a mine-site cash cost of $0.46/ Ib ($1,014/t) of copper and total cash cost of $1.11/lb copper for the first 10 years of operations. Annual copper production would step up to 360,000 t by year four, the company said.

This option came with an initial capital cost of $1.1 billion and would result in an after-tax net present value (8% discount) of $5.4 billion factoring in an average copper price of $3.10/lb.

Ivanhoe said Kakula would benefit from an ultra-high, average feed grade of 6.8% Cu over the first five years of operations, and 5.5% Cu on average over a 25-year mine life.

Basic engineering for the project is already underway and is expected to be completed around mid-year, running in parallel with a definitive feasibility study expected to be completed around year-end, Ivanhoe said.

“Development of twin underground declines has been completed at Kakula, with ongoing underground development activities, including access drives and ventilation raises. In addition, a box cut for a ventilation decline on the southern side of the Kakula orebody is nearing completion,” the company added.

The updated Kamoa-Kakula 2019 PEA presents the alternative development option of a three-phase, sequential operation on Kamoa-Kakula’s copper deposits (pictured below).

Initial production would occur at a rate of 6 Mt/y from the Kakula mine, before increasing to 12 Mt/y with mill feed from the Kansoko mine. A third 6 Mt/y mine would then be developed at Kakula West, bringing the total production rate to 18 Mt/y.

“As resources at Kakula and Kansoko are mined, the PEA envisages that production would begin at several mines in the Kamoa North area to maintain 18 Mt/y throughput over a 37-year mine life,” Ivanhoe said.

For this option, the PEA envisages $1.1 billion in initial capital costs, with future expansion at the Kansoko Mine, Kakula West Mine and subsequent extensions funded by cash flows from the Kakula mine. This resulted in an after-tax NPV (8% discount) of $10 billion using the same long-term copper price of $3.10/Ib.

Under this approach, the PEA also includes the construction of a direct-to-blister flash copper smelter at the Kakula plant site with a capacity of 1 Mt/y of copper concentrate to be funded from internal cash flows. This would be completed in year five of operations, achieving significant savings in treatment charges and transportation costs, according to the company.

The 18 Mt/y scenario would deliver average annual production of 382,000 t of copper at a total cash cost of $0.93/lb copper during the first 10 years of operations and production of 740,000 t/y by year 12. “At this future production rate, Kamoa-Kakula would rank as the world’s second largest copper mine,” Ivanhoe said.

Robert Friedland, Co-Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines, was at the Mining Indaba event in Cape Town, South Africa to announce these results.

He said: “These studies clearly prove our long-standing conviction that Kamoa-Kakula is firmly on track to become one of the absolute greatest copper mining complexes in the world, helping to restore Katanga’s rightful position as the world’s largest copper producing region. This would not have happened without the extraordinary efforts of the Ivanhoe discovery team and our investment of more than $800 million in exploration and development.

“We now look forward to working with the new government of the DRC and the Congolese people to develop Kamoa-Kakula to its full potential, generating widely shared economic benefits that will help to uplift local communities, and provide skills training to help ensure that young Congolese can qualify for the thousands of meaningful direct and indirect jobs that will be created.”

thyssenkrupp brings PhotonAssay technology to Africa mining sector

thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions South Africa says it has been appointed the official reseller of ground-breaking PhotonAssay™ technology from Chrysos Corp.

The novel X-ray technology is poised to revolutionise the field of gold analysis, replacing traditional methods such as fire-assay in many applications, and providing accurate and fully-automated gold measurements in mineral ores in just a couple of minutes.

The world-first PhotonAssay unit, installed in a commercial Perth, Western Australia laboratory, recently passed two milestones; completing its first 50,000 analyses and receiving ISO 17025 accreditation. The owner of MinAnalytical Laboratory Services will establish a major new analytical facility in early-2019 providing PhotonAssay services in Kalgoorlie, the heart of Australia’s gold mining industry.

MinAnalytical’s General Manager, Gary Wheeler, said: “For our customers, it means the system has been validated and fully tested, and they can rest assured they will receive accurate results which have been benchmarked against fire assay.”

Originally developed by scientists at the CSIRO, Australia’s national research agency, PhotonAssay uses high-power X-rays to activate and measure gold atoms in mineral samples. Compared with conventional X-ray Fluorescence, the much higher energies used in PhotonAssay allow true-bulk measurements of large samples independent of their physical or chemical form, the company said.

Marius Combrinck, thyssenkrupp Product Manager RT Sales and Marketing Minerals, explained how the PhotnAssay technology works: “PhotonAssay hits samples with high-energy X-rays from a linear accelerator. These X-rays force any gold atoms present in the sample into an excited state that lasts for a few seconds. Subsequently, a sensitive detector system measures the gamma-ray signals given off by these atoms as they relax. Processing software relates the gamma-ray signature back to the gold concentration.”

Combrinck pointed out that the gamma-ray energy is different for each element, allowing gold to be accurately distinguished from other metals that may be present.

Samples to be assayed are packaged into standardised plastic jars that are sealed and barcoded, remaining in the jars throughout the analysis process. “As the method is non-destructive, samples are returned unchanged, and can be safely handled, disposed of or sent for further testing as required,” thyssenkrupp said.

The large sample size – typically about 500 g – significantly reduces sample preparation requirements. Recent testing has demonstrated that for most materials, crushing samples to 2-3 mm is enough to enable accurate sampling and analysis. For coarse gold deposits, the 10-fold increase in sample size compared with conventional fire-assay is particularly advantageous, according to the company.

PhotonAssay units are designed for rapid deployment to both centralised and mine site laboratories anywhere in the world. Systems are fully containerised, allowing them to be factory tested and then packaged for shipping and on-site installation.

The modular design of the PhotoAssay unit lends great flexibility. In addition to onsite installations, thyssenkrupp also has the capabilities so run the lab from its Johannesburg head office. “As we are the face of this technology in Africa, we can sell the technology to existing laboratories or directly to a customer,” Combrinck said. He added that thyssenkrupp will provide after-sales service and support to customers and end users on the continent.

The X-ray source used is fully electronic and contains no radioisotopes. PhotonAssay units comply with international safety standards and, due to their high levels of automation, can be operated by staff with minimal training, according to thyssenkrupp. Combrinck added that management of the PhotoAssay unit requires only two staff members, freeing up personnel to attend to other tasks.

The potential for near real-time gold assays is generating strong interest in on-site installations. With a typical detection limit of 0.03 parts per million, a measurement time of two to three minutes and the ability to measure crushed ore, process pulps, concentrates, carbon materials and solutions with equal ability, a mine site PhotonAssay unit can provide rapid information to support resource definition, mine planning and process control, thyssenkrupp said.

A throughput of more than 1,600 samples per day provides enough capacity for even the largest operations, while a significant reduction in skilled labour requirements is an additional benefit for remote sites.

Although developed primarily for gold analysis, the PhotonAssay technology can measure a wide range of other elements. Silver and copper assay services will be added during 2019 and an extension to other metals is planned for this year, thyssenkrupp said.

The company plans to discuss PhotonAssay technology on February 5 and February during its three-day thyssenkrupp Technology Sessions held alongside Mining Indaba 2019.

RCT to talk up automation benefits at Mining Indaba

RCT says it will be promoting the benefits of using autonomous technology to safeguard mine operators and boost productivity when it attends the 25th Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa next month.

The event, taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 4-7, attracts senior executives from major mining companies such as Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick, Rio Tinto and many others, RCT said.

RCT CEO Brett White and Business Development Manager Mike Thomas will be at Austrade’s Australia Lounge to engage with conference delegates about the benefits of implementing autonomous technology, the company said.

Thomas said: “There are heightened levels of interest throughout the mining industry on the African continent around the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is seeing breakthroughs in the areas of sophisticated wireless technologies and fully autonomous equipment.

“RCT has significant experience in the automation field, and we are available to share our many years of learnings and knowledge.

“We are keen to speak to delegates about how our ControlMaster® products can deliver significant gains by relocating equipment operators from cabs to secure operation centres, thus bolstering productivity.”

RCT’s ControlMaster automation solutions encompass surface and underground mines to help increase productivity and profitability on site.

Africa emerging tech firms set to take to the stage at Mining Indaba

Unearthed and Investing in African Mining Indaba have partnered to offer four African emerging technology businesses the opportunity to pitch their innovative industry solutions at one of the  world’s largest mining investment conference on February 6, 2019, in Cape Town, South Africa.

Startups Unearthed Africa is an online competition aimed at raising the profile of African hardware or software companies across the global mining sector, with applications open to any business across the continent that has a prototype, product or service that can impact industry.

“Companies do not need to have worked on a mining project before, they just need to have exciting technology solutions that can make a difference,” Unearthed and Indaba said in a joint press release.

The four successful applicants will be able to present to approximately 750 investors and dealmakers, leaders from over 220 mining companies, and 34 government ministers.

In addition to awarding four pitching spots, each startup will receive one full complimentary pass to Mining Indaba that runs from Monday to Thursday.

Industry Lead – Crowdsourcing at Unearthed, Holly Bridgwater will moderate the startup session showcasing these upcoming transformative mining technologies.

Bridgwater said: “I am excited that we have the opportunity to share some of the amazing tech being built across Africa with an audience of potential customers and investors at one of the world’s largest mining conferences.”

Investing in African Mining Indaba Managing Director, Alex Grose said the mining industry has been perceived as an old-fashioned sector, but it’s not the case as technology has rapidly been changing the way the sector operates.

“From AI and big data to new satellite technologies and more efficient production, mining companies are embracing innovation. We are very proud and excited to be running this fantastic initiative together with Unearthed, set to bring new ideas to one of the world’s oldest industries as well as provide four African tech startups with exposure to the world’s largest mining companies,” said Grose.

To apply for Startups Unearthed Africa, visit: https://unearthed.link/SUA and submit your application before November 30, 2018.

Unearthed is an organisation that generates opportunities for entrepreneurs and helps improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the global resources sector through hackathons, online competitions, and a technology accelerator. Since 2014, it has connected over 5,000 innovators to over 100 industry challenges, producing over 400 prototype solutions.

Euromoney sells Mining Indaba to ITE Group

Euromoney Institutional Investor, the international business information and events group, has signed a binding agreement to sell the assets of its Mining Indaba business to ITE Group for £30.1 million ($39.1 million).

Mining Indaba’s annual event, Investing in African Mining Indaba, is one of the world’s largest mining investment conferences, dedicated to the capitalisation and development of mining in Africa.

Euromoney only acquired Mining Indaba in July 2014, paying £45.3 million in cash to get its hands on the brand.

The company said the sale was in line with its strategy of actively managing its portfolio of assets and selling businesses “which do not fully align with its strategy, providing Euromoney with further capital to recycle towards its main investment themes”.

Andrew Rashbass, CEO of Euromoney, said: “We have agreed to sell Mining Indaba to ITE which will be a good home for it. Mining Indaba performed well this year and this disposal is another example of Euromoney’s strategy in action: where a good business does not align with our strategy, we will sell it and recycle capital towards our main investment themes including price discovery, asset management and telecoms.”

For the year ended September 30, 2017, Mining Indaba reported an adjusted operating profit of £2.5 million.

The £30.1 million consideration is fixed and will be received in cash in two tranches, £20 million at completion and the balance by June 1, 2019. The sale is expected to complete in late October 2018.

ITE Group says it has plans to create “the world’s leading portfolio of content-driven, must-attend events delivering an outstanding experience and return on investment for our customers”.