Tag Archives: MMG

Mine cooling solution set for 2022 start up at MMG’s Dugald River zinc mine

MMG’s Dugald River mine, in Queensland, Australia, is designing, supplying and installing a A$20 million ($14.7 million) cooling solution that, it says, will bring 9.5 MW of bulk air underground to facilitate ongoing zinc extraction.

MMG Dugald River General Manager, Tim Akroyd, said consistent temperature control is critical for the safety of the mine’s employees and contractors working in northwest Queensland’s hot climate.

“MMG has sourced a long-term refrigeration plant and ventilation system designed to deliver a safe work environment for our teams,” he said.

“To sustain mine production at a depth of 500 m below ground, cooling is essential and dramatically improves air quality. Mine ventilation firm, BBE Consulting, helped to scope options that are now spearheading MMG’s cooling works that are well underway, planned for completion by early 2022. The cooling system will be operational for the life of the mine, a period of up to 20-plus years.”

The scope of work covers the installation of 9.5 MW bulk air-cooling capacity, with a centralised refrigerative plant with distributing water circuits to the south and north mine. Water-cooled custom mine chillers, bulk air coolers, cooling towers and ancillary equipment are being deployed.

Water-cooled refrigeration machines have a lower capital project cost and use less power over a 20-year project life, when compared with air-cooled refrigeration machines, MMG said.

Suppliers and local contractors include CivilPlus Constructions, GNH Engineering, Bell Rural Contracting and Total Generators in Cloncurry to name just a few.

Australia’s IMARC mining event rescheduled to January 2022

Due to ongoing travel and gathering restrictions, and the rise of COVID-19 infections around Australia, Beacon Events, the organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), has today announced its decision to reschedule the 2021 edition.

IMARC 2021 will move to the new dates of January 31-February 2, 2022, with the hybrid event taking place in-person at the Melbourne Showgrounds, and online for those that cannot attend in-person.

IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said that while it is disappointing that the event has had to be postponed from 2021, it is the responsible action to take under the circumstances as the health and safety of IMARC’s participants is our number one priority.

“The rescheduling comes after much deliberation with our founding partners, and in consultation with our sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and various Victorian Government agencies who have been very supportive of the decision,” she said.

Victorian Government’s Head of Resources, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, John Krbaleski, added: “IMARC is a home-grown industry event that has become a major international resources conference. There is significant interest in IMARC and it’s clear that industry is keen to see it go ahead in January 2022.”

Austmine CEO, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said: “Considering the health and safety of our members, delegates, and staff members, we support postponing IMARC 2021 until January 2022. We know how important this event is to our members who are exhibiting and attending, as well as the METS sector overall, and we encourage everyone to consider this as an opportunity to refocus your efforts and support the event in 2022.”

AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin, added: “We’re looking forward to reconnecting with our mining community at IMARC in January 2022. The rescheduled event will provide an opportunity for delegates to network with leaders and experts from across the sector and take part in thought-provoking conversations about the future of our industry.”

BHP, MMG, Newcrest, Mitsui, OceanaGold and Kirkland Lake Gold have all confirmed their continued support for IMARC in January 2022, with their executive leadership teams confirmed to speak within the conference program, Beacon Events said.

In addition to the Federal Minister for Resources, the Hon Keith Pitt, and major sponsors METS Ignited, Caterpillar, ABB and World Gold Council who have also confirmed their support and participation.

IMARC 2021’s new dates are aligned with the expected easing of restrictions from all states across Australia, allowing for strong domestic representation, according to Beacon Events.

Richards said: “Holding IMARC at the start of 2022 helps create a unique opportunity for the industry to kick off the year with new conversations, develop existing relationships and create business opportunities for the coming year. With better weather comes opportunities for outdoor events and networking, alongside some major events at that time of year here in Melbourne.”

There is an expectation that when IMARC returns in 2022, from October 17-19, there will be greater international travel freedoms, allowing for the conference to attract a large domestic and international audience in-person once again, Beacon Events said.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

Barminco wins 18-month, A$140 million contract extension at MMG’s Dugald River mine

Barminco has agreed the terms of a variation and extension to its development and production contract at MMG’s Dugald River zinc-lead mine, in north Queensland, Australia.

In addition to several amended contract conditions, the variation extends the term of the contract by 18 months to December 31, 2022, with two, one-year options to extend further. The value of the 18-month extension for Perenti’s hard-rock underground miner is approximately A$140 million ($103 million).

Barminco has been operating at Dugald River since 2012. IM recently reported MMG and Barminco were trialling an automated Sandvik LHD at the mine to further boost production.

Barminco’s Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, said: “We are excited to continue our relationship with MMG, which began in 2001 at the Rosebery mine in Tasmania. Dugald River has been a significant project for Barminco since commencement during 2012, and this extension will take our valued relationship with MMG to over 20 years.”

Perenti Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Norwell, said Perenti had a “robust” tender pipeline of A$8.8 billion and its Underground Industry Sector Group had secured more the A$540 million in contract extensions this financial year.

Titeline mining its underground diamond drilling niche

In looking to retain the mantle of Australia’s safest drilling company while expanding into the underground mining sector, Titeline Drilling has found support from some of the biggest miners in the world.

The company has long been viewed as a leading surface mineral exploration drilling contractor but, as David D’Astoli, CEO of Titeline, explained, this type of work is subject to cyclical exploration budgets.

“The rationale for moving into the underground market was to try to get some ‘lumpiness’ out of our income stream,” he told IM. “As you know, with exploration, it can be pretty up and down. With the underground side, our work is a lot closer to the production side of the business; we’re doing grade control and resource development work in long dated (four to five years) contracts.”

Titeline was looking for consistency and resilience even in market downturns.

To enact this change, the company employed a new General Manager of Underground, Greg Wythes.

Wythes, who had a background in underground drilling in Australia having worked at the likes of Newcrest Mining’s Cadia and Rio Tinto’s (now CMOC’s) majority-owned Northparkes mine, was aware of the pain points the industry was feeling and sought about creating a unique value proposition for the new underground contracting division.

The contract the company bid on – and consequently won – for MMG’s Rosebery mine in Tasmania, Australia, provided just that.

MMG, in a blog post, explained that brief.

“When Rosebery was looking to award the contract for underground drilling services in 2017, all tendering companies were asked to supply a hands-free solution for drill rod handling, in-line with our vision for an injury-free workplace,” the company said.

“The successful company, Titeline, was the only tender that presented a viable solution to hands-free drill rod loading and unloading.”

Titeline – having fitted Boart Longyear rod handlers to their drills that “present the rod in an ergonomic position so the drill assistant can get it and stack it away”, D’Astoli says – knew such a solution could be developed, in theory, but had to search for the right suppliers and solutions to prove it could work in a real-world underground environment.

The Boart Longyear rod handler, along with a rig able to move and set up quickly, drill from +90 to -90 degrees and to depths of 1,500 m, immediately proved productive at Rosebery.

“The brief was to ensure the drills on site were performing before starting their hand-free proposal, and, within six months of commencing their contract, Titeline’s in-house designed drill rigs outperformed the previous contractor,” MMG said.

Yet, the company needed to automate the rod handling process further to fulfil the brief.

This is where the potential of robots came into view.

“These robots were already in the manufacturing industry – which aren’t exactly pristine environments – and were able to operate without an issue,” D’Astoli said. “They were also being employed on sea walls where they were constantly doused with sea water and continued to operate.”

Robot technicians were happy to provide conservative estimates of only having to service these robots every six months in the underground environment, according to D’Astoli. This provided the peace of mind that maintenance issues were not going to knock productivity off-line.

It cemented a relationship with a robotics company in Melbourne, Victoria, not too far away from its Ballarat base, and gave the company the robot drilling brief.

Boart Longyear provided access to the drill rig interface, the DCI control panel.

This year-and-a-half long process led to the development of a world first for underground diamond drilling: a drill and ancillary rod buggy carrier able to drill unattended and perform an autonomous rod trip (pulling the drill string out of the drill holes and then running it back in).

Able to work in confined environments, and drill 360° on azimuth and from -90 degrees to + 90 degrees in dip, the solution was presented to a global audience at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual exploration event earlier this year.

Meanwhile, MMG and Titeline had started commissioning the first rig at Rosebery, and one of the world’s biggest gold miners was putting the rigs through their paces.

Titeline, which already has an existing grade control and resource definition contract at Newmont’s Tanami gold mine, in the Northern Territory, has provided six rigs to the miner, two of which are equipped with the new drill and ancillary rod buggy carrier. More of these robotic rigs will be arriving at the operation by the end of the year.

Modifications to these rigs continue to take place, but the three currently in place at Rosebery and Tanami are very much “producing”, D’Astoli explained.

“We have been making some changes to the programming, to the safety circuit, the laser circuit, etc, but they’ve been performing well,” he said. “We’ve even drilled a few hundred metre shifts with one of the robot rigs.”

He provided some colour to this performance: “The rod pulling process is at least as quick as it is with the Boart Longyear rod handler and is a lot more consistent as you are taking the human element out of it.

“The existing rigs across the underground industry, whether they have total manual handling or are using the Boart Longyear rod handler, still need a drill assistant or driller in there plucking the rod out of the rod handler and putting it away. That can get tiring.”

Accidents can happen when this tiredness occurs.

“The robot will, in the end, always be that bit quicker, as it is consistent over a longer period of time and never gets tired,” D’Astoli added.

Shift change opportunities

The automation elements on these drill rigs are not only removing personnel from the danger zones, they are also providing a productivity boost.

D’Astoli feels the value driver comes with being able to drill throughout shift changes and other times where manual drilling would normally have stopped.

“One of the biggest impediments to production in the underground environment is how many hours you can drill in a 12-hour day,” he said. “Quite often it is a lot less than you think. That can be due to ventilation issues, water issues, dewatering issues, heat, etc.

“The biggest improvement from a productivity point of view available to us is being able to drill and pull rods between shift changes, crib breaks and those types of things. Or, if the ventilation system goes down, personnel will move away from the area, and allow the drill to drill autonomously. That is where the productivity gains are going to come from.

“All of this leads to being able to drill more hours over a shift.”

The company is not finished automating, though, with D’Astoli saying it intends to further leverage this robotised drilling and rod pulling ability.

“With Wi-Fi in the mines, it is at the point where you could be able to take that to the next level and have someone sitting on the surface controlling the rig,” D’Astoli said.

“Or, you might have a similar application to the way semi-autonomous underground boggers (LHDs) work in a block cave mine, where the operators are in a controlled environment and one operator might be operating three boggers at a time.”

That is some way ahead.

For the time being, the company is focused on switching out all of the manual rigs it has delivered to Rosebery and Tanami with the semi-autonomous ones.

Each new rig is a large undertaking for the company, with the learnings from Rosebery to Tanami – and vice versa – reflected in every build.

This is where being aligned with major companies such as Newmont and MMG comes in handy.

“MMG have been very understanding of the process we are going through,” D’Astoli said. “They came and visited us in Ballarat, pre-COVID-19, to see how we were getting along. Newmont have been exactly the same; very supportive giving us the time and space to deliver.”

Major attraction

While the PDAC debut excited lots of attention, D’Astoli is keen to foster the relationship with these two companies further, in addition to aligning with other major companies – and major mines – in the future.

“They’re the ones that probably own the bigger, lower-cost mines, which is where we want to be,” he said. “It is those orebodies that demand the amount of drilling where it makes sense to automate as much of the process as possible,” D’Astoli said.

“When you set up these long-term contracts to deploy such technology, you want to make sure the mine has a long life ahead of it and the owner is not going to be chopping and changing the budget from year to year.”

Asked whether the wider industry is willing to pay for such innovation, D’Astoli was resolute in his answer.

“For a company really focused on safety, they are not going to be knocked out by the price of this solution,” he said.

Surface safety

This is not all Titeline is interested in at the moment.

Titeline has to this point in its underground automation journey been helped along the way by Chile-based Exploration Drill Masters (EDM).

EDM, which Titeline owns 50% of, has been fabricating the frames and other components for these new rigs before they head to Australia for final assembly.

But the Santiago-based company is working on a new development of its own.

Its patent-pending EDM rod-feeder system for handling drill pipe has been used across the globe as an add-on to existing fleets, many of them being used on Titeline rigs.

D’Astoli says operators can park this solution up behind any top drive drill rig in Australia and remove 90% of the manual handling risks that come with the handling of diamond drill pipe to and from the drill string.

The EDM Mark I has already achieved this, but Mark II will further improve this solution, providing a bridge between manual handling and full hands-free solutions, he says.

“The national fleet in Australia mainly consists of top drive drill rigs and there is no real hands-free solution on the market that does not currently affect the productivity of these rigs in the majority of applications,” he said.

“The EDM Mark II rod feeder fills the gap while a new, hands-free solution is being developed.”

MMG, Barminco trialling Sandvik autonomous LHD at Dugald River

MMG and Barminco are trialling an automated LHD at the Dugald River mine, in Queensland, Australia, as both miner and contractor look to further boost production at the zinc-lead operation.

While still early days, Barminco (part of the Perenti Group) has a fully autonomous Sandvik LH621i LHD running at the mine, having introduced the loader to increase output.

Sandvik says the AutoMine®-ready LH621i is an intelligent 21 t loader designed for rapid mine development and large scale underground mine production.

“With superior hydraulic power for fast bucket filling and drivetrain power for high ramp speed, the Sandvik LH621i is designed to quickly clear tunnel headings for rapid advance rates,” the OEM added.

MMG’s Dugald River produced 35,505 t of zinc concentrate and 4,277 t of lead concentrate during the March quarter of 2020. While both numbers were lower than the same period of 2019 and the December quarter that preceded it due to lower grades, mining and milling volumes of 462,570 t and 443,378 t, respectively, were both in line with plan.

In this same results release, MMG said of the Dugald River operations: “After an aggressive and successful ramp up during 2019, work in 2020 will continue to focus on opening up new operating areas, to ensure a steady feed of ore to the mill.

“The optimisation of recoveries will be a major area of focus in the processing plant. This work will be key in ensuring Dugald River remains on track to deliver annual mine capacity of 2 Mt and targeted zinc-equivalent production in excess of 200,000 t per annum, by 2022.”

The mine, which achieved commercial production in May 2018, is expected to produce 170,000-180,000 t/y of zinc concentrate in 2020.

CSIRO senses a new way forward for mineral exploration

A project focused on the Capricorn region of Western Australia has indicated mining companies could more accurately pinpoint reserves of valuable minerals using a new water-tasting approach developed by the national science agency, CSIRO.

In research supported by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), broad “haloes” of altered water chemistry around known deposits of gold, uranium, and other minerals were discovered where interaction with the ore systems had left distinctive traces in the water.

CSIRO Researcher, Dr Nathan Reid, led a team of scientists analysing samples of groundwater from the Capricorn region, where layers of sediment and weathering are believed to hide potential ore deposits from view.

Dr Reid explained: “Groundwater penetrates through covering sediments and interacts directly with the bedrock, dissolving trace amounts of the minerals present into solution. By sampling those waters, our instruments can essentially ‘taste’ the geology they have come into contact with.”

Where the underlying rocks contain a valuable ore deposit, the chemical flavour of that mineralisation extends much further than the concentrated mineralisation itself, according to Dr Reid, comparing this with a teaspoon of salt making a whole glass of water taste salty.

These haloes of altered water chemistry could help geologists identify areas where other ore deposits might still lie hidden below the surface, helping to focus mineral exploration in the right areas, according to CSIRO.

Chemical anomalies identified in groundwater from sediment-covered areas of the study region have already stimulated further exploration investment from companies seeking to identify undiscovered mineral deposits, according to CSIRO. Industry sponsors of the project include Marindi Metals, Thundelarra Resources, Sandfire Resources, Northern Star Resources, MMG, Gascoyne Resources, Auris Metals, RNI, Erongo Energy and Independence Group.

MRIWA CEO, Nicole Roocke, said the innovative work in this project by scientists across CSIRO, the Centre for Exploration Targeting and Curtin University will play an important role in encouraging mining industry investment in under-explored areas of Western Australia.

“This work demonstrates the exciting mineral exploration potential remaining in the Capricorn, and we anticipate this innovative approach to mineral exploration will stimulate renewed interest in many similar areas of Western Australia where we know richly endowed geology lies buried below younger rocks,” she said.

“By supporting this fundamental research, the Western Australian Government is helping to provide the mineral exploration industry with the tools it needs to invest in identifying the next generation of ore deposits in this state.”

The technical report summarising the findings of this research can be found here.

Mining-focused consortium delves into mine closure ‘transition’

The University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) has published the first six project reports of the Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium.

Researchers at SMI’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) led the mine closure-related projects, which, they say, examined Indigenous employment opportunities, public participation and government engagement processes, integrating social aspects into industry partners’ closure planning, governance and regulation and mining as a temporary land use.

“The consortium is a multi-party, industry-university research collaboration established to conduct research that challenges accepted industry norms and practices and demands new approaches that place people at the centre of mine closure,” SMI said.

CSRM Director Professor, Deanna Kemp, said publishing the reports contributed significantly to the mine closure literature and provided stakeholders with the latest information.

“In the consortium’s first year of operation, we focused on establishing data and knowledge to inform subsequent research. This strategy is evident in the diversity of projects undertaken,” she said.

“A core theme has been around ‘transition’; that is, viewing closure not merely as an end-point of mining, but as a transition to a post-mining future in which social change continues long after a mine ceases to be productive.”

She said the consortium was now developing its 2020 research plan, “which will build on this solid foundation and deliver on our consortium partners’ priorities”.

Major mining companies such as Anglo American, BHP, MMG, Newcrest, Newmont, OceanaGold and Rio Tinto are consortium members, with the work sitting under the SMI’s Transforming the Mine Life Cycle strategic research program as one of three research themes (transitioning through closure).

Under the ‘Indigenous groups, land rehabilitation and mine closure: exploring the Australian terrain’ project, two challenging areas at the interface of mining and Indigenous communities in Australia are being addressed.

This includes, one, the persistent lack of direct employment of Indigenous landowners on mines operating on their land; and, two, increasing expectations that mining companies engage local communities in closure planning and closure criteria setting as a prerequisite for relinquishment.

“The approach taken seeks to build on one of the greatest assets Indigenous people possess; their attachment to and knowledge of their land,” the SMI said.

In the ‘Integrated mine closure planning: A rapid scan of innovations in corporate practice’ project, the study aims to identify novel approaches used by consortium member companies to integrate social dimensions into closure planning.

Identifying these approaches promotes knowledge exchange between the companies and provides direction for future research and innovation for mine closure performance, according to the SMI.

“We found that the companies are at various stages of integrating environmental, social and economic factors into planning (at all stages of the mine lifecycle),” it said.

The ‘Participatory processes, mine closure and social transitions’ project examines the fact that, in closure planning, the focus of public participation is on identifying and managing the changes brought about by closure.

The project will ask: “What participatory processes contribute to a smooth transition to a post-mining future? How can public participation contribute to a positive socio-economic legacy of mining?”

Undertaken as part of the Social Aspects of Mine Closure Research Consortium, this project will address these questions.

The SMI said: “Researchers found few studies documenting the specific application of participatory processes to mine closure. Even fewer provide analysis to glean broader insights beyond time- and context-specific details.”

This project was designed as an exploratory, desktop study to ascertain what is known and documented about participation in mine closure. It is intended to provide an overview of key principles and to function as a repository of case studies to support future research, according to the consortium members.

The ‘Government engagement: insights from three Australian states’ project sought to establish current state priorities for socially responsible mine closure and smooth regional post-mining transitions in the Australia state jurisdictions of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

It concentrated on priorities that are not yet evident in legislation and cultivating state authorities’ interest in the work of the consortium, according to the SMI.

“The project aimed to: better understand current and emerging expectations and role of Australian governments in ensuring attention to social aspects of closure; identify government strategies for improving the ‘afterlife’ for mining communities and regions; articulate regulator roles in protecting the public good and ensuring a positive socio-economic legacy of mining; facilitate two-way communication between the consortium and governments and identifying ways for government departments to connect to the consortium’s work.”

The project, ‘Mining as a temporary land use: industry-led transitions and repurposing’, showed that post-mining land use and associated economies have become a priority issue in mine lifecycle planning.
This scoping project starts from the position that reconceptualising mine ‘closure’ may enhance the industry’s contribution to sustainable development, the SMI said. It reframes mining as a “temporary land use”.

“The primary focus of this research is on identifying examples of post-mining repurposing of land and related economic transitions that are being led by industry,” the SMI said. “Transitions led by state or other actors (eg civil society groups) provide additional inspiration for industry-led opportunities. Our findings provide an initial repository of cases that different parties can refer to in making decisions about post-mining futures.”

Lastly, the ‘Social aspects of mine closure: governance & regulation’ project extends previous CSRM work on closure regulation and closure bonds.

The project partners reviewed mining regulations across 10 jurisdictions around the world, with the objective being to build a knowledge base of how regulators are approaching social aspects of closure. This involved collating, organising, and characterising over 40 acts, regulations, and policy documents.

“We found that no jurisdiction had passed regulation specific to social aspects of closure and all tended to focus on biophysical aspects of closure,” the SMI said. “Social aspects of mining received attention in relation to approvals, but not generally for closure.”

The evidence gathered in this project can be mobilised to support subsequent work, according to the partners, who suggested a collaboration between industry, government, and other stakeholders to develop model regulations that account for a variety of perspectives and reflect realistic operational parameters.

You can find out more about the projects by clicking here.

MAXAM Tire launches new group focused on open-pit mining

MAXAM Tire says it has created a dedicated global team focused on the open-pit mining market called MAXAM MINING GROUP (MMG).

The MMG team is made up of multiple members across continents responsible for serving regional market demands. Each member of the team is an industry leading expert dedicated to providing the best customer experience along with superior business solutions, the company said.

“As mining applications and machinery continue to evolve, our R&D group focuses on the utilisation of leading technology to improve safety, product performance and repeatable quality,” MAXAM Tire said. “By leveraging extensive research and testing in multiple mine locations around the world, our engineering team develops site-specific tyre compounding along with the next generation casing designs to exceed site requirements for overall performance improvement.”

To meet MAXAM’s engineering team’s advanced innovations, MAXAM has invested heavily in a state-of-the-art manufacturing and quality process, with all mining products produced with multi-staged, custom designed building equipment, it said. “This new technology allows for consistent construction and minimal disruption of the casing during the curing process,” MAXAM Tire said.

“Utilising advanced shearography technology, all MAXAM mining products are screened for internal defects as part of the standard inspection. In addition, extensive ultrasonic gauge testing is completed before product is approved for distribution. “

Matt Johnson has been appointed as Vice President of the MMG. He said: “We pride ourselves in delivering solutions with the lowest cost per hour/tonne, and provide long-term, mutually beneficial business relationships with our customers and our partnerships that only begins at the placement of MAXAM products.”

MMG’s Las Bambas aims for tailings boost with SciDev MaxiFlox trial

SciDev’s MaxiFlox® chemistries are to be used in the tailings thickener at the Las Bambas copper mine, in Peru, following a trial purchase order from mine owner MMG.

The commercial trial follows on from earlier successful technical evaluations that SciDev conducted during 2019, it said.

The aim of the trial is to improve water recovery and, ultimately, increase the available volume in the mines tailings storage facility, according to SciDev.

SciDev Managing Director and CEO, Lewis Utting, said: “The order from MMG Ltd at their Las Bambas operation represents SciDev’s first entry into the copper sector in South America. With both water and available land at a premium in the region, SciDev’s technology could add value to our customers.”

Back in September, SciDev was awarded a three-year contract with Iluka Resources for delivery of MaxiFlox chemistry to the Jacinth–Ambrosia zircon mine, in South Australia. This order followed the delivery of a chemical products trial for the miner in the December quarter of 2018.

MaxiFlox is specifically designed for use in solid liquid separation processes, SciDev says. Products in the MaxiFlox range are supplied in both liquid and powder form across an extensive range of molecular weights and charge densities to solve industrial challenges. Products include:

  • MaxiFlox organic liquid coagulants (based on synthetic organic monomers and naturally occurring polysaccharides);
  • MaxiFlox inorganic liquid coagulant blends;
  • MaxiFlox cationic and anionic flocculant emulsions;
  • MaxiFlox cationic and anionic flocculant powders;
  • MaxiFlox mud solidification polymers, and;
  • MaxiFlox antifoam products.