Tag Archives: mining

Metso books comminution equipment order from Codelco at El Teniente

Metso says it has been awarded a contract to supply crushing and material handling equipment for the first stage of Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine expansion project in central Chile.

The order was booked in Metso’s March quarter 2019 orders and will see the company deliver, among other elements, primary gyratory crushing equipment with apron feeders and conveyer belts as well as related services.

El Teniente is the world’s largest underground copper mine as well as the largest operation of the Chile state-owned copper mining company Codelco. The expansion project, called El Teniente New Mine Level, is expected to add 50 years to the life of the mine, with the first stage expected to start up in 2023.

Once completed, the full expansion will allow El Teniente to maintain its current output of around 450,000 t/y of refined copper, Metso said.

Victor Tapia, President, Mining Equipment Business Area at Metso, said: “We are proud of being part of this landmark project in which we will utilise our process and product knowledge gathered over 150 years of experience.

“In a landscape where challenges are continuously evolving, we are fully committed to keep developing solutions that help our customers to secure sustainable productivity and long-term success.”

Most of the equipment deliveries to El Teniente are scheduled for 2021, while services will be carried out between 2022 and 2023, according to Metso.

“Metso in Chile and Codelco have a long history of cooperation. This order confirms once again our expertise and our position as a leading equipment supplier for underground mining and as a key equipment a supplier for Codelco,” Tapia said.

“Going forward, we’ll focus on providing El Teniente with a high level of performance, reliability and best-in-class support service throughout the project life cycle,” he added.

Strong mining and construction demand leads to Cat Q1 sales jump

Demand from the mining and construction sectors saw Caterpillar’s sales and revenue jump 5% in the March quarter, the equipment manufacturer has reported.

Sales and revenue came in at $13.5 billion in the first three months of the year, compared with $12.9 billion a year earlier, with the company’s profit per share rising to $3.25/share – a quarterly record.

Cat said the sales and revenue increase was down to higher sales volume for both equipment and services and favourable price realisation, primarily in Construction Industries and Resource Industries.

Within the Resource Industries segment, Cat saw total sales grow 18% to $418 million as mining production levels and commodity market fundamentals remained positive. Quarterly profit came in at $192 million within the segment, 52% higher year-on-year thanks to the higher sales volume and favourable price realisation, the company noted.

Following these results, Caterpillar upgraded its profit per share estimate for 2019 to $12.06-13.06, from the $11.75-12.75 it previously stated.

Metso enters new territory with development of Truck Body

Metso has launched its haul truck body at the Bauma 2019 show in Munich, Germany, showcasing the expansion of its product portfolio into new territory.

“The Metso Truck Body is a ground-breaking innovation that combines the benefits of rubber and high structural strength steel, enabling mines and quarries to haul more with less,” the company said.

Lars Skoog, Vice President, Mining Wear Lining & Screening, Metso, said: “Hauling is one of the most cost-intensive components of a typical mining or quarrying operation. In addition to fuel and labour, there’s plenty of maintenance involved too.

“To ensure cost efficiency, a haul truck should carry as much payload as possible on every round. At Metso, we set out to tackle this challenge and designed a truck body that requires minimal maintenance while maximising payload. The result is a lower operating cost per hauled tonne.”

The Metso Truck Body is a lightweight, rubber-lined tray designed for off-highway trucks. The elastic rubber absorbs the energy of every impact, preventing it from reaching the frame and thus allowing for a lighter-than-usual, high structural strength steel frame beneath the rubber. Thanks to this, the body can absorb maximum shock at the lowest possible weight.

Metso has been supplying its tried-and-tested rubber lining for haul trucks for several decades with outstanding results both in reducing the need for maintenance and improving the working environment for truck drivers.

Metso said: “The proven benefits include up to six times more wear life compared to traditional steel lining, half the noise, and 97% less vibration. Our latest innovation, Metso Truck Body, takes this concept to another level by combining the wear protection and working environment benefits of rubber with the payload-maximising abilities of a lightweight body.”

Skoog added: “Many mines prefer lightweight truck bodies because they enable the carrying of more payload. However, the problem with these traditional lightweight bodies is their lack of durability – they often have to be replaced in every one or two years, or repaired, which gets expensive.

“The Metso Truck Body provides an unprecedented solution that is both light and durable. The rubber lining and high structural strength steel frame have been engineered in a seamless process, utilising the best qualities of both materials.”

A typical Metso Truck Body weighs 20-30% less than a traditional steel-lined truck body, according to Metso. Depending on the application, this translates into a payload increase of several tonnes.

The Metso Truck Body is available globally for all major off-highway truck models used in mining and quarrying. Several lining options ensure application-specific fit, even in operations that struggle with problems such as carry-back.

Emissions, resource access, finance, big data, social licence to drive mining’s future: WEF

The transition to a low-carbon economy, access to resources and new ways to finance mining are just some of the drivers the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Nicolas Maennling and Perrine Toledano believe will shape the future of the mining and metals sector.

Maennling and Toledano, co-curators of the WEF’s Transformation Map on Mining and Metals, said the industry was recovering from one of its most difficult periods in decades, with market volatility and a downturn in commodity prices creating “a new normal” where cost cuts, automation and operational efficiency are vitally important.

“Meanwhile, industry-specific issues related to regulation, geopolitical risk, legal limits on natural resource use, shareholder activism and public scrutiny have created additional challenges,” they said.

“While we believe that demand for minerals will grow in the coming years, there are several trends that will determine which types of mining companies will prevail in the future.”

The two then went on to spell these seven out.

Transition to a low-carbon economy

“Demand for most minerals is projected to be high in order to achieve the energy transition. While fossil fuels have helped to improve living standards around the world since the 18th century, their associated greenhouse gas emissions have led to global warming. In order to avoid reaching temperatures that will have catastrophic consequences for the planet, countries must decarbonise their energy systems by the middle of this century,” they said.

“Given that low-emission energy and transportation systems are more mineral-intensive than their fossil fuel-based counterparts, the transition provides a great opportunity for the mining sector. At the same time, the mining sector will have to reduce its own emissions. Mining companies that power their operations with renewable energy, operate electric or hydrogen-powered truck fleets and integrate recycling in their value chains will be best placed to sell low-carbon premium minerals.”

Access to resources

“Companies will need to venture into frontier mining areas. As world-class mineral resources in low-risk areas become exhausted, mining companies must either master new technologies for extraction and processing, or venture into frontier areas where extraction has not previously been economically viable,” the authors said.

“Automation and digitalisation will result in more targeted and efficient mining, which could further be enhanced through technological breakthroughs in areas such as in-situ leaching (a mining process used to recover minerals such as copper and uranium through boreholes drilled into a deposit), block caving (an underground mining method that uses gravity to exploit ore bodies located at depth) or bio mining (a technique for extracting metals from ores and other solid materials typically using prokaryotes or fungi).

“Mining jurisdictions with higher perceived risks may see increasing levels of interest from investors. In the search for high-grade ore deposits, deep sea and asteroid mining will be increasingly explored by governments and companies. While these technologies will open up new ways for mining companies to optimise the valorisation of existing resources or allow access to new ones, they are unchartered territory in terms of business models, processes, and potential social and environmental externalities.”

New ways to finance mining

“As mining companies try to limit risk, novel financing and production models will become more common. After demand from China triggered a commodity boom in the first decade of the 21st century, prices collapsed and mining companies were forced to focus on reducing debt ratios and improving their balance sheets. Alternative financing solutions were developed such as royalty and metal stream agreements that reduce the burden on mining companies’ balance sheets,” Maennling and Toledano said.

“To spread the risk of new capital-intensive projects, these financing solutions are likely to continue to grow. Companies may also seek to develop joint ventures similar to those observed in the oil and gas sector in order to reduce their exposure to a particular project or jurisdiction and may also consider service agreements.”

A social contract for mining

“Creating real benefits for communities near mine sites will be key for successful new projects. Obtaining the ‘license to operate’ from local communities has been a challenge for the mining industry in recent years. Many proposed projects have been rejected, and operations have been disrupted by protests,” they said.

“With a record number of mines nearing the end of their life and insufficient money being set aside for remediation; with new mining projects increasing the sector’s footprint without necessarily providing additional employment opportunities at the local level due to automation; and with increased water stress and extreme weather events due to global warming: local opposition to mining is likely to increase if no new business models are developed that benefit the affected communities.”

Big data and mining

“Data transparency to aid the mining industry’s relations with stakeholders. Collecting and processing massive amounts of data will be essential for mining companies as they digitalise and automate their operations. What data should be shared and made transparent will continue to be a major area of debate,” they said.

“Governments will seek to further push for disclosure of subsidiary structures to address tax base erosion; consumers will seek to increase value chain transparency; investors will use the proliferation of non-financial data to better assess the risks of their mining portfolios; civil society will continue to push for companies to go beyond the mandatory EITI Standard; and impacted communities are particularly interested in accessing data that capture the externalities that affect them.

“It will be key for companies to work together with other stakeholders in order to understand the types of data that should be made available and the appropriate format that data disclosure should take, in order to ensure standardization, usefulness and impact.”

The geopolitics of mining

Maennling and Toledano said: “Mining companies must navigate rising geopolitical risk and economic protectionism. A growing popular resistance to globalisation and free trade is altering politics, and directly affecting the mining and metals sector. Policymakers in mining jurisdictions are increasingly trying to enact local content laws and regulations which require minerals to be processed before they are exported.

“At the same time, import restrictions on semi-finished products such as steel and aluminium are at the centre of recent trade disputes. Trade wars and increasing protectionism are likely to dampen global commodity demand and disrupt the value chain of mining and metals companies. In the ‘critical minerals’ sector, which is central to high-tech and future-oriented industries, this trend is further complicated by market consolidation in the hands of a few players.

“Further consolidation, geopolitical manoeuvring and muscle-flexing could create challenges for companies that have so far prospered under a system of relatively free trade – while creating opportunities for domestic projects that might not be economically viable without government intervention.”

Modern mining workforces

“Maintaining an open dialogue will be key as mining companies try to revamp their employee base. Constantly evolving technologies and business models will require mining company employees to develop new skills. The sector will have to increasingly compete with the IT sector to attract top talent from universities in order to drive its digitalisation and automation processes. Governments and companies will have to work together to help transition workers that cannot be absorbed by an automated mining sector to new activities through retraining and transitioning programmes,” the authors said.

“The speed at which mining companies will be able to rollout new technologies at their mine sites will be closely linked to the host government’s and labour unions’ acceptance of reduced employment and procurement opportunities. As such, these actors need to be involved in the decision-making around the transition and in strategizing policies to support those who will be negatively affected.”

Technology revolution set to transform mining jobs in Australia: EY report

Innovation, people and skills combined with technological advances will deliver a more globally competitive minerals sector that delivers fulfilling careers in highly paid, high-skilled jobs, according to a report released by accountancy firm EY.

The release of EY’s Skills Map for the Future of Work – commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) – provides a comprehensive examination of future skills and training and technology trends in the Australian minerals industry, according to the MCA.

The key findings by EY, according to MCA, include:

  • Seventy-seven per cent of jobs in Australia mining will be enhanced or redesigned due to technology within the next five years;
  • Productivity increases up to 23% can be achieved with the rollout of new technologies, costing more than A$35 billion ($25 billion);
  • An injection of A$5 billion to A$13 billion in workforce capability will be needed over the next decade to unlock future productivity gains, and;
  • Australia education and training systems need to be modernised to deliver higher certification and fit-for-purpose degrees.

“New technology and innovative practices will enhance the performance and productivity of 42% of Australian mining jobs, with a further 35% of occupations being redesigned and up-skilled leading to more valuable employment opportunities,” MCA said. “Automation will give the opportunity for reskilling into other areas.”

EY’s study also identified Australia’s education and training system needs to be modernised by offering improved course structures and enhanced movement between universities and the vocational education sectors, according to the MCA.

“Future university degrees will need to have a mix of the latest scientific, technical and trade skills along with soft skills including collaboration, team building, communication and creativity,” the council said.

“A decade-long investment by industry and government in general skills incorporating mathematics, data analytics, computing and change management will boost productivity in the minerals sector.”

Jobs that will be made future-ready through large investments will include metal fitters, machinists, building and engineering technical and experts in electronics and mechatronics, the MCA added. “For example, a shot-firer working on a drilling team will have the opportunity in Australia’s future minerals workforce to use drone technology to monitor automated rigs.”

The MCA said: “Australian mining will continue to take advantage of innovation, technology and new ways of working to create high-paying, high skilled jobs.”

The Skills Map includes two major reports: The Future of Work: the Changing Skills Landscape for Miners and The Future of Work: The economic implications of technology and digital mining.

Driverless tunnel boring machine transport just the start for MobileTronics and VirtuRail

Building on a world first demonstration of fully autonomous transportation of a tunnel boring machine (TBM) using trackless VirtuRail® trains at the Brenner Base Tunnel project, in Austria, in December, MobileTronics is setting new goals.

The demonstration took place on the construction site ‘Ahrental’ of the STRABAG and Salini Impregilo-owned project, near Innsbruck, with the supply of the TBM 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’ 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.

As MobileTronics’ Christoph Mueller and George Biro said, this autonomous operation did not take place in a closed special purpose area; all tests, as well as the showcase, took place in the regular working environment of the tunnelling construction site.

Mueller and Biro said: “Extending the existing application to a fully autonomous system working safely in the tunnelling environment, from the technical point of view, would not require more than three to four months.

“The main effort would be to install a central supervision workplace, which provides a central overview of the locations and status of the trains together with live video and the possibility for the remote operator to restart and manually manoeuvre in exceptional situations.”

For future autonomous operation, the availability of a mechanical vehicle originally intended for fully autonomous operation, “with an optimised technical reliability of the underlying mechanic and hydraulic systems would be required”, according to Mueller and Biro.

The company is also looking at completing a fully-electric operation as it looks to reduce emissions and boost environmental credentials. “This would also save significant cost for tunnel ventilation compared to diesel-operated machines,” the company said, adding that the electric vehicles were also likely to provide lower operating costs due to higher energy efficiency.

“In the following projects, MobileTronics already has gained extensive experience in integration of battery- and hybrid-powered electric vehicles as well as in integration and configuration of the high voltage electric components including motors and frequency converters,” Mueller and Biro said.

“The future VirtuRail trains, therefore, will be modular products made of reliable components designed for fully-autonomous operation, however with the option of manual operation from two cabins or only one driver cabin.”

The applications for VirtuRail are not limited to TBM supply operations, with the trains potentially being used in mining for raw material transport: “In underground mines, for example, the use of rubber-tyred trains has the potential to replace dedicated train transport levels which will speed up the mining operations as the separate transport level does not need to be excavated before mass mining starts,” Mueller and Biro said.

They continued: “Also in surface mining, VirtuRail trains have the potential to become an alternative to conveyor belt installations or traditional truck transport.”

GN kicks off 2019 with separation and conveying equipment spinoff

GN has decided to spinoff its separation and conveying divisions into a new group, GN Separation and Conveying Equipment.

The new business, set up at the beginning of 2019, will mainly focus on industries outside of the oil & gas, and recycling and waste management sectors.

GN Separation and Conveying’s product line includes decanter centrifuges; transfer pumps; screw, bucket and belt conveyors; and other separation equipment such as clarifiers and a screen scroll centrifuge.

Mining and construction is one of the company’s target markets. Decanter centrifuges (pictured), with up to 30 in (76.2 cm) bowl diameters, are already working in coal operations to dewater slurry, while GN U-Type screw conveyors have potential applications in mining operations for moving wet or dry materials either horizontally, on an incline or vertically.

Energy Recovery’s PX Pressure Exchanger finds a desalination market in Chile

Energy Recovery, a leader in pressure energy technology for industrial fluid flows, has won awards of C$2.7 million ($2.02 million) to supply its PX® Pressure Exchanger® technology for desalination projects in Chile’s mining industry.

The company said these desalination projects will be used specifically in the mining process and are expected to ship this quarter.

Energy Recovery will supply its PX-Q300 Pressure Exchangers for multiple facilities, which will produce up to 148,000 m³/d of water. The company estimates the devices will reduce the facilities’ power consumption for all projects by 12.7 MW, saving over 110 GWh/y of energy and avoiding more than 65,740 t/y of CO2 emissions.

Energy Recovery’s President and CEO Chris Gannon said 2018 was shaping up to be a potential record year for the company.

He said: “These recent awards in Chile confirm the efficacy and strength of the PX technology. We are excited about the growth opportunities for our Water business and the continued strength and activity level for desalination throughout 2018 and into 2019. Moving forward, we will continue to aggressively pursue tactical initiatives across the broader water industry.”

Rodney Clemente, Energy Recovery’s Vice President, Water, added: “Energy Recovery has had its eye fixed on Chile as a strategic market and accordingly has positioned our company to assist these facilities in maximising the overall profitability of their operations through an increased understanding of the critical mining-water nexus.

“Energy Recovery’s PX Pressure Exchanger technology has the lowest-life-cycle cost of any energy recovery device on the market today, and this industry-leading value proposition resonates well with both our customers and end-users in Chile.

“More specifically, our uptime advantage in mining applications is unmatched – vitally important when every day of downtime translates to millions of lost dollars for our customers. We are excited to add another critical project to our successful global reference list.”

Energy Recovery is an energy solutions provider to industrial fluid flow markets worldwide. Its solutions recycle and convert wasted pressure energy into a usable asset and preserve pumps that are subject to hostile processing environments.

The PX Pressure Exchanger captures hydraulic energy from the high-pressure reject stream of seawater and then transfers this energy to low-pressure feed water with up to 98% efficiency and no electrical power. The result is a drastic reduction in energy consumption over previous methods.

It has only one moving part, manufactured out of a corrosion-proof ceramic that’s three times more abrasion-resistant than steel, the company says.

“It provides unmatched durability, and its simplicity allows for scalability, quick start-up, and virtually no required maintenance. In fact, many of our PX devices have been in operation for as long as 13 years without interruption,” Energy Recovery said.

DRA Global helps Asanko gold mine surpass 5 Mt/y capacity

DRA Global recently implemented an Advanced Milling Control System, using the MillSlicer instrument, on the Asanko gold mine in Ghana.

Asanko is a large scale, multi-pit asset located on the Asankrangwa belt in Ghana. Built in 2015 by DRA Global, ahead of schedule and within budget, first gold was poured in January 2016 and commercial production commenced in April 2016. The mine is now owned 50:50 by Asanko Gold Mining and Gold Fields.

DRA said: “Operations at Asanko prioritise efficiencies, with minimal downtime. Unplanned or forced mill stoppages and breakdowns can often lead to costly setbacks for overall mine operations.

The DRA Global technical processing specialists collaborated closely with the Asanko owner’s team to develop a control system solution that is able to produce real time reporting and enable the mill operators to better optimise the milling process.”

Val Coetzee, DRA’s Senior Vice President Process, said: “This MillSlicer Control instrument provides accurate signals via a number of strategically positioned vibration sensors that are used by DRA’s comminution and control specialists to develop bespoke control systems, specific to an operation. The programme allows for accurate mill charge toe-angle measurement and real time polar plot determination, which is used in the customised control system.”

The milling control system, which was commissioned by DRA in August 2018, uses propriety “rule-based algorithms” assisting the mine’s operation with superior control, maximising energy efficiency and ensuring continual optimal mill performance despite any changes in mine fragmentation or ore type variances, according to DRA.

Coetzee said: “DRA is able to provide remote operational support, data analysis and reporting to assist clients in reducing liner damage, media consumption and ensure that mill operators efficiently maximise throughput at all times.

“This MillSlicer hardware and the DRA Advanced Control System, in conjunction with a number of other initiatives relating to open circuit modifications, use of cameras and feed blending, have successfully contributed to the performance excellence of the Asanko processing plant in recent months.”

Russell Bradford, SVP Metallurgy at Asanko, said: “The MillSlicer hardware has enabled the Asanko team to optimise the mill’s performance by ensuring we always have the right blend of ore at the right tonnages in the mill. Since this technology was implemented, the Asanko processing plant has consistently delivered above its 5 Mt/y design rate.”

The Asanko mine is a 50:50 joint venture between Asanko Gold Mining and Gold Fields managed and operated by Aasnko. In 2018, the mine is targeting 200,000-220,000 oz of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $1,050-$1,150/oz.

Watpac mulls sales of Civil & Mining business

Watpac says it is in discussions with another party in regards to the sale of its Civil & Mining business.

The ASX-listed company said due diligence was being undertaken by the potential acquirer on an exclusive basis, as the two looked to tie up a deal.

It added: “The proposed transaction has an assessed potential value broadly in line with the current written down value of the company’s assets.”

In October, Belgium’s BESIX Group made a cash bid to acquire all of Watpac in an attempt to expand its contracting business. The bid was due to expire today; the same day the bid for the civil and mining business emerged.

In the year to June 30, 2018, Watpac recorded a consolidated statutory loss after tax of A$56.9 million ($42 million). While its construction business generated an underlying profit of A$20.6 million, it was weighed down by “impairment and restructuring provisions resulting from the board’s strategic review of the Civil & Mining business”, the company said.

The Civil & Mining business employs approximately 400 people nationally – about 40% of Watpac’s total national workforce – with active projects in Western Australia.