Tag Archives: Mogalakwena

WAE putting Fortescue in mine electrification pole position

Andrew Forrest’s statement on Fortescue Metals Group’s planned acquisition of Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE), an offshoot of the Williams F1 team founded by the revered, late Sir Frank Williams CBE, back in January was hardly understated.

He said: “This announcement is the key to unlocking the formula for removing fossil fuel powered machinery and replacing it with zero carbon emission technology, powered by FFI (Fortescue Future Industries) green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

As time has progressed, the £164 million ($193 million) deal for the UK-based WAE closed (in March), and another significant announcement in the form of a tie-up between FMG, FFI, WAE and Liebherr has followed, the FMG Founder and Chairman’s words have looked increasingly prescient.

This became apparent to IM on a recent visit to WAE’s Grove headquarters in Oxfordshire, England.

What FMG now has on its books and what FFI is managing in the form of WAE is arguably one of the world’s leading decarbonisation technology companies.

WAE’s reach goes far beyond the pit lanes of a race track. Its impact is felt in the automotive, defence, aerospace, energy, life sciences and health care sectors – as an example, a Babypod 20, a Formula One-inspired environment for new-born babies in need of emergency transportation, was on display in the boardroom IM sat in during an interview at Grove.

One of its more recent market entries has been in mining, with WAE’s fingerprints on two of the industry’s major fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) haul truck movements.

Prior to the acquisition by Fortescue, WAE provided “electrical architecture and control hardware and software” for the battery system on a 100-day “sprint” FFI project focused on converting a legacy 221-t class Terex Unit Rig MT4400 AC electric drive, diesel-powered haul truck to run on a ‘green’ hydrogen 180 kW fuel cell system and a 300 kW/h battery.

For the nuGen FCEV truck that premiered at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGM mine in South Africa earlier this year, WAE supplied a 1.2 MWh battery pack that, along with multiple fuel cells amounting to 800 kW of power, propelled the converted 291-t-class Komatsu 930E around the mine site.

Input to these two projects put WAE on the mining map, but this represents a fraction of the impact the company is likely to have on mining’s decarbonisation journey going forward.

WAE is currently engaged on two major projects for FFI – one being the conversion of another legacy Terex MT4400 AC electric-drive truck to an all-battery powered setup and the other being an all-battery rail loco that FFI has named the INFINITY TRAIN™.

Both projects highlight the depth of battery system technology expertise that led FMG to acquiring the company in the first place – design expertise spawned from development across multiple sectors and operating environments, utilising the latest cell technology across all form factors.

There is a common thread that hangs between all this work, as Craig Wilson, WAE CEO, explained to IM.

“We develop our battery systems for the specific application, factoring in the duty cycle, the cost constraints, required performance and environment the solution will be working in,” he said. “In motorsport, for instance, you can imagine weight, aerodynamics and space are more critical than they are in mining.”

Being battery cell, chemistry and format agnostic, WAE has built up a reputation in the battery industry for specifying and developing a diverse pool of battery systems that continue to push performance to the limit.

Differentiated modelling

Sophisticated modelling and simulation tools – much of which has been developed in-house – are behind this, according to WAE’s Chief Programme Manager, Alec Patterson.

“We have detailed in-house simulation tools which allow us to develop and optimise a battery pack’s performance against any customer’s drive cycle criteria,” he said. “This includes thermal simulation where the team model the detailed internals of a cell, allowing them to understand exactly how each cell is likely to behave and, thereby, being able to optimise their cooling for increased performance. This comes from our motorsport heritage and the team’s ability to manipulate and analyse large amounts of data through supercomputer levels of processing power.”

Prototyping and field tests are designed to “validate” this modelling and simulation work, he added.

Battery design also calls for a strong focus on safety and this is where WAE’s extensive practical experience is fully utilised.

“We have detailed in-house simulation tools which allow us to develop and optimise a battery pack’s performance against any customer’s drive cycle criteria,” Alec Patterson says

Patterson summarised this offering: “There are a number of ways the battery is developed to ensure cell safety. These range from understanding in detail the performance of the cell through practical testing, the design of the modules themselves and the monitoring of the cells for voltage and temperature throughout usage. WAE has developed its own Cell Monitoring Unit hardware and Battery Management Unit hardware and, combined, they monitor the status of the pack and control the performance outputs many times a second. In the FFI battery sub pack, dielectric (non-conductive) coolant is used so if a leak was to occur it wouldn’t cause an internal issue; detection of which would be through WAE’s propriety on-board sensors.”

Overlay these preventative measures with an array of experience in various fields that would have seen battery systems take significant G-shock loads and operate in high temperature environments – whether that be a crash on a Formula E circuit or an Extreme E race in the Sahara – and it is easy to see why FMG initially believed WAE had knowledge and skills transferrable to mining.

Patterson concludes that advances in quality within the manufacturing process will also add to the reliability of the sub packs. At WAE those advances come in the form of laser welding, which ensures each cell is connected robustly for maximum performance.

Battery prototype progress

All this and more are being factored into the 221-t all-battery solution WAE is currently focused on as part of the FFI and FMG brief.

The battery will take the place of the diesel engine and alternator and will plug directly into the Terex MT4400 inverter to drive the motors and rear wheels. The battery system will have a capacity of >1 MWh (final specification to be revealed at a later date) and will be charged by a “fast-charge solution” sourcing power from a renewable grid FMG has already setup as part of its 60 MW Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project.

FMG has already set up a renewable grid as part of its 60 MW Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project

Once the battery system is delivered, integrated into the truck and commissioned at FFI’s Hazelmere facility, it will be transported to the Pilbara where it will start extensive testing outside FMG’s current mining operations.

WAE, FMG and FFI have overcome more than a few hurdles to get to the point where they can talk about such a plan.

While most of the battery houses in the UK can test each sub pack individually, WAE had to locate a specialist test house capable of testing out the full battery pack from both a motor-drive perspective and a battery re-generation standpoint.

This has seen the complete solution – a 12 t motor, inverter, cooling system, battery system and power distribution unit – begin testing a few months back.

Charging packs of this scale is one of the major industry challenges currently.

“Our charging strategy is centred around the individual cell chemistry and form factor which allows us to specify a higher rate of charge for the battery sub pack,” Patterson said. “To enable fast charging, a combination of a large charger and ability to cool the pack through the charging process is required, and our pack is designed for both.”

At the same time, WAE is aiming to further optimise the regeneration aspect of the electrification project, realising this is key to getting the trucks to complete as many haul cycles as possible without the downtime associated with a battery recharge – even if it is a ‘fast charge’.

“The real challenge is centred around how to manage the large accumulation of energy from the wheel motor during braking or retarding downhill fully laden,” Patterson said. “Do you send this to the battery or the resistor grid to burn off? Our job is to optimise the power electronics to make sure as much of that energy as possible goes back into the battery in order to make the whole system more efficient.”

The entire battery system will soon be shipped to Australia to go into the Terex truck at Hazelmere, at which point the charging system can be fully tested and the re-generation system trialled.

Leveraging gravity

This work will no doubt influence the other big project WAE is currently involved in for FFI and FMG – the electrification of FMG’s rail operations.

Fortescue’s current rail operations include 54 operating locomotives that haul 16 train sets, together with other on-track mobile equipment. Each train set is about 2.8 km in length and has the capacity to haul 34,404 t of iron ore in 244 ore cars.

A world first, zero emission INFINITY TRAIN concept has been put forward to replace this setup – which travels on some 620 km of track between the Cloudbreak mine and Herb Elliott Port at Port Hedland.

Fortescue’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 11% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions (©JoshFernandes2021)

The regenerating battery-electric iron ore train project will use gravitational energy to fully recharge its battery-electric systems without any additional charging requirements for the return trip to reload, according to FMG.

The challenges associated with this project include the size of the battery and motor combination required to store enough energy from the fully laden, downhill journey from Cloudbreak to Herb Elliott Port to make sure the unladen trains can travel back without a charge, and the residual power and torque generation that would typically be applied to get the locos started.

On the latter, Patterson said: “Your contact area in terms of the wheel to rail is very small in comparison to the load, so our control strategy will utilise learning from our in-house VDC (vehicle dynamic control) software to design a solution that controls slippage for maximum adhesion.”

If an appropriate solution comes to the fore, the sustainable value is significant for FMG.

Fortescue’s rail operations consumed 82 million litres of diesel in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 11% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions. This diesel consumption and associated emissions will be eliminated once the INFINITY TRAIN is fully implemented across Fortescue’s operations, significantly contributing to Fortescue’s target to achieve “real zero” terrestrial emissions (Scope 1 and 2) across its iron ore operations by 2030.

Electrification for everyone

Just as WAE’s involvement in the conception of the first Formula E battery led to wider electrification in motorsport, WAE believes its work in mining will have far-reaching ramifications across the off-highway sector.

Just how far reaching it will be is dictated by the most significant project – in terms of scale and timeline – WAE has on its books.

In June, FMG announced a partnership with Liebherr for the development and supply of green mining haul trucks for integration with the “zero emissions power system” technologies being developed by FFI and WAE.

Under the partnership, Fortescue will purchase a fleet of haul trucks from Liebherr; a commitment that represents approximately 45% of the current haul truck fleet at Fortescue’s operations, with truck haulage diesel consumption representing approximately 200 million litres in the 2021 financial year, accounting for 26% of Fortescue’s Scope 1 emissions.

The zero emissions power system technologies are expected to be fitted on machines based off the 240-t T 264 model to be deployed at its Pilbara mining operations. They could include both battery-electric and FCEV configurations, hence the reason why the all-battery prototype project and the FCEV project are so significant.

With the first of the zero emission haul truck units expected to be fully operational within Fortescue mine sites by 2025, FMG, WAE and Liebherr look set to take the electrification lead over its mining company peers.

The zero emissions power system technologies are expected to be fitted on machines based off Liebherr’s 240-t T 264 model to be deployed at Fortescue’s Pilbara mining operations

Yet Wilson says this type of solution could turn into a commercial product that others select for their own decarbonisation program – hence the industry-wide electrification potential.

When asked the question whether the company may still supply battery systems to the likes of Anglo American (as it did for the NuGen truck) under the new Fortescue ownership, he replied: “We could do, but the decision is not just down to us.

“Through the relationship with Liebherr, the intention is to provide really competitive products that are available to other mining companies, whether it be Anglo, Vale or BHP, for example…The absolute intention is not to come up with a development or product that is just for Fortescue.”

In this respect, he likens FMG to Tesla in the way the electric car manufacturer has acted as the catalyst to fundamentally change the automotive sector’s electrification approach.

“Tesla, today, is nowhere near being considered a large automotive manufacturer by industry standards, but they have created a catalyst for everybody else to move from in terms of battery-powered cars,” Wilson said.

“They have almost coerced the rest of the manufacturers to move this way; you only need to look at VW Group now – one of the world’s largest car makers – that is committing the majority of its business towards electrification.

“The difference with Fortescue is it is both the operator of these vehicles as well as the owner of the technology (through WAE). It is developing these products to use them, putting its whole business on the line.”

This extends as far as looking at its own mining operations and how it can optimise the pit profile and infrastructure to benefit from all the advantages expected to come with battery-electric haulage.

“Both the Fortescue mine planning and decarbonisation teams are working hand-in-hand with us to develop a mine site for the future of electric mining,” Patterson said. “We are working together to answer the questions about what needs to change to operate these trucks to maximise uptime, where to put the charging points, how to optimise the charging, etc.

“That work is going to be really important for us in terms of developing a commercial solution that provides the sustainable gains over the long term and decarbonises the entire fleet.”

Even when factoring in a project that takes ‘stretch targets’ to a new level, that is reliant on sourcing components from an evolving electrification supply chain, and that is scheduled to see solutions arrive within three years of finding an OEM partner in the form of Liebherr, it’s hard to doubt WAE, FMG, FFI and (of course) Andrew Forrest from steering such a project through to the finish line.

After that, it’s a matter of the rest of the industry catching up.

Sandvik and FLANDERS to develop ARDVARC-iSeries drill rig digital interface

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions and FLANDERS have agreed to develop a Digital Interface between FLANDERS’ ARDVARC® Autonomous Drill System (ADS) and Sandvik iSeries rotary blasthole drills.

The development of this digital interface is a direct response to growing customer demand for agnostic automation systems in surface mining, the pair say.

The digital interface will enable the operation of Sandvik rotary drills via the ARDVARC ADS system with no modification to the drill rig, effectively a plug-and-play solution that allows for easy deployment of Sandvik drills to mine sites, FLANDERS explained. This open-architecture approach simplifies the installation and commissioning process while ensuring the customer retains OEM warranty and aftermarket support.

This agnostic approach to delivering digital solutions allows customers to select the value-added solutions that best meet their needs, whether that be the drill or the operating system powering the drill, FLANDERS added.

ARDVARC improves drill productivity by up to 30% and provides a significantly safer working environment for workers operating in complex or hazardous conditions, according to FLANDERS.

With its autonomous operating technology, FLANDERS helps its customers pro-actively optimise drilling and increase plant availability. The introduction of autonomous technology at the mine adds significant environmental gains for diesel machines, reducing fuel consumption and CO2 by up to 7.3% compared with a manned operation.

With its autonomous operating technology, FLANDERS helps its customers proactively optimise drilling, improve fragmentation, improve loading and hauling productivity and increase plant throughput.

The first deployment of the FLANDERS/Sandvik Digital Interface is scheduled for the December quarter of 2022 with further deployments being scheduled soon after that.

Sandvik in its statement says it “will continue to develop and support AutoMine® Surface Drilling solutions for remote and autonomous operation of the full range of Sandvik iSeries drills”.

FLANDERS added that it has signed a deal with Anglo American to incorporate ARDVARC on all new and existing drills at Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine in South Africa, including the recently purchased Sandvik DR410i blasthole drills.

The third (of four) brand new Sandvik 410i drill is currently being converted to an ARDVARC Autonomous system at the state-of-the-art facility in Middelburg, South Africa.

FLANDERS has already deployed ARDVARC Autonomous drills to Mogalakwena, converting Epiroc Pit Viper 271 XC drills.

Anglo American to formalise First Mode partnership as part of zero emissions haul truck deployment plans

Anglo American says it is in exclusive negotiations with First Mode Holding Inc, and has agreed non-binding terms, to combine Anglo American’s nuGen™ Zero Emissions Haulage Solution (ZEHS) with First Mode, the specialist engineering technology company that partnered with Anglo American to develop the nuGen ZEHS.

The transaction would include a capital investment by Anglo American in the combined business and is intended to accelerate the development and commercialisation of Anglo American’s nuGen ZEHS, Anglo says. The new combined business would retain the First Mode name as an independent business and prioritise developing nuGen ZEHS, building on three years of extensive development by Anglo American and First Mode.

Anglo American launched the prototype of its nuGen ZEHS hydrogen-powered mine haul truck at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine in South Africa on May 6, 2022 – the world’s largest designed to operate in everyday mining conditions. It was run with 150 t of payload for the launch, only due to there not being a matching shovel in the trial area, but Anglo said that the prototype is already fully capable of its full 290 t payload. The launch saw it drive up a 7% slope – representative of typical mine haul road grade at Mogalakwena – and then dump the 150 t load, with a main driver and co-driver on board the truck.

The agreement envisages that Anglo American will enter into an agreement with First Mode to decarbonise its global fleet of ultra-class mine haul trucks, of which approximately 400 are currently in operation, as well as provide critical supporting infrastructure such as refuelling, recharging and facilitation of hydrogen production.

Anglo American also recognises its role in supporting broader decarbonisation objectives outside its own business. The technologies and capabilities that it has been developing as part of the nuGen project with First Mode present opportunities beyond Anglo American’s haul truck fleet, including across other industries that rely on heavy-duty forms of transport, such as rail.

Anglo American acquired a 10% strategic equity interest in First Mode in 2021.

The latest transaction would include Anglo American making an additional capital investment in the combined business which, upon completion, would result in a majority shareholding. The balance of the equity interest at that time would be held by a number of First Mode’s founders and employees.

In addition to accelerating the development and commercialisation of the ZEHS technology, the new combined business would allow strategic third parties to co-invest alongside Anglo American and First Mode, offering the opportunity to accelerate their own decarbonisation and participate in the potential offered by the clean ZEHS technology.

FLANDERS autonomous drilling solutions start up at Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine

The first FLANDERS autonomous drills are now up and running at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals operation in South Africa, with a third set to start up later this year.

FLANDERS CEO, John Oliver, and VP of International Operations, Willie Van Ryneveld, recently visited the mine in Limpopo, South Africa, where the first ARDVARC autonomous drills are now in operation in fully-autonomous mode.

The first two ARDVARC Autonomous drills were delivered on time and within budget to Mogalakwena, and the third Epiroc Pit Viper 271 XC drill is due to arrive at the FLANDERS South Africa workshop for conversion in May, the company said. The company said the first PV 271 XC drill recently drilled its first hole in fully-autonomous mode.

FLANDERS’ flagship ARDVARC automated drill control systems has been used around the world for more than 15 years, with more than 30 mine site deployments in this time.

The product suite is designed to facilitate customers to scale up automation at their own pace and covers all aspects of drill automation, from semi- autonomous to tele-remote and autonomous operation of a single piece of equipment to multi-machine control and full-fleet automation using Command Centre control capabilities. ARDVARC Autonomous comprises a suite of tools for automating, analysing and optimising drilling production and processes, interconnecting with fleet management systems and other data acquisition technologies.

The company claims operations can achieve productivity gains of up to 30% when employing ARDVARC autonomous solutions by reducing downtime due to human factors such as shift changes and pauses of drilling during blasting operations.

Master Drilling posts record annual profit as non-explosive tech gains traction

Master Drilling Group Limited, a provider of drilling services to the mining, civil engineering and building construction sectors, has reported a strong set of annual results for the year to December 31, 2021, as well as making progress in several key technology areas.

In the period in question, the company made significant gains across key regions, including the award of its first project in Spain to shotcrete a 560 m ventilation shaft, boosting its joint venture work under the Master Drilling Besalco Consortium with Codelco in Chile and making plans to employ its North American entity on a project in Saudi Arabia.

On top of this, the company’s technology team made strides with its Mobile Tunnel Borer (MTB), confirming that a project to sink an exploration decline at Anglo American’s Mogalakwena PGM operation in South Africa was scheduled to move into the tunnelling phase this quarter. The company has previously said it would sink one of two exploration declines for Mogalakwena using the MTB, a modular horizontal cutting machine equipped with full-face cutter head with disc cutters adapted from traditional tunnel boring machines.

At the same time, in order to spread its risk and lighten funding requirements, the company says it has entered into a joint venture called Master Sinkers with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) with a view to pursuing promising business cases involving blind sinking shafts. The company has previously been working on a Shaft Boring System (SBS), designed to sink 4.5 m diameter shafts in hard rock down to 1,500 m depths, to carry out this process.

In the results, Master Drilling said Master Sinkers has now signed letter of intent with a client to blind bore a ventilation shaft, with investigative work on scoping and detailed design and procurement of resources for the shafts having commenced.

On this project specifically, the company said: “The project is progressing well and by the second half of 2022, we hope to commission the service and start executing on the project. We are positioning ourselves as a specialised mining contractor, as opposed to a mainstream one.”

The company added on these technology developments: “Non-explosives mining is still an uncharted area and we are looking to provide solutions for clients that are not bound by the requirement of explosives approvals, while at the same time shielding personnel against hazards by offering the flexibility to operate remotely. We have engaged with four different clients where we are able to develop these technologies and provide bespoke solutions that cater to their specific needs. By doing so, we hope to build relationships with these clients in a phased approach, thereby ensuring gradual progress and minimising large exposure or risk. All these projects are progressing well. These technologies all relate to providing a safer, higher productivity, cost-competitive and efficient solution.”

This technology progress was made against a backdrop of increased revenues and profitability, with revenue coming in at a record $178.1 million – up 40% from 2020 – and operating profit growing 126% to a record $27.8 million.

“These represent record results, achieved despite difficult global market and operating conditions,” the company said. “Cost savings initiatives implemented to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic assisted in this.”

South Africa’s hydrogen potential validated in Anglo American-led feasibility study

Anglo American, in collaboration with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI), Engie and Bambili Energy, has announced the results of a feasibility study to explore the potential for a hydrogen valley anchored in the Bushveld complex of South Africa, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban.

The feasibility study, which was launched in March of this year, identifies three hubs – Johannesburg, extending to Rustenburg and Pretoria; Durban, encompassing the city itself and Richards Bay; and Limpopo province centred around Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine (pictured) – with a fundamental role to play in integrating hydrogen into South Africa’s economy, and in establishing South Africa and its renewable energy resources as a strategically important centre for green hydrogen production, Anglo says.

Nine key pilot projects have also been identified across these hubs and are recommended to be prioritised by developers. They span the transport, industrial and construction sectors.

Following the publication of the feasibility study results, Anglo says it will work with South Africa’s DSI and the other partners on the implementation of relevant projects, as well as continue to progress its own company-led initiatives towards development of the hydrogen economy.

Anglo is already investing in renewable hydrogen production technology at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine and in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell mine haul trucks (FCEVs) – the world’s largest to run on hydrogen.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said: “The opportunity to create new engines of economic activity through hydrogen has been validated through this feasibility study with our partners. As a leading producer of PGMs, we have for some years been working towards establishing the right ecosystem to successfully develop, scale-up and deploy hydrogen-fuelled solutions. These include investing in innovative ventures and enabling technologies, as well as forging wide-ranging collaborations across industry, to fully harness the transformative potential of green hydrogen for our economy in South Africa.”

Master Drilling’s Mobile Tunnel Borer heads to Anglo’s Mogalakwena mine

Master Drilling is readying its Mobile Tunnel Borer (MTB) technology for a contract at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena mine in South Africa.

The company, which revealed the news during its interim results presentation, said on-boarding for this project deployment was underway, with the start of “decline excavation” due by the end of the year.

Anglo American Platinum said in its own interim results recently that it was working on feasibility studies on the future of Mogalakwena, with completion of these studies expected at the end of 2021. Decisions on the pathway forward are expected shortly after this, however, one of the current key milestones at the asset includes progressing an underground exploration decline.

Master Drilling Executive Director, Koos Jordaan, said during the presentation that the contract with Anglo American Platinum is for a “turnkey operation” with Master Drilling providing capabilities in terms of construction, logistics and project management, in addition to its normal excavation services.

The MTB is a modular horizontal cutting machine equipped with full-face cutter head with disc cutters adapted from traditional tunnel boring machines. Unlike these traditional machines, it is designed to work both on inclines and declines, with the ability to navigate around corners and construct 5.5 m diameter decline access tunnels.

One MTB unit was previously scheduled to carry out a 1.4 km project at Northam Platinum’s Eland platinum group metals operation in South Africa, however this was cancelled in March 2020 due to the pandemic. This deployment followed testing of an MTB unit in soft rock at a quarry just outside of Rome, Italy, in 2018.

Alongside news of this latest MTB deployment, Master Drilling said in its results that it was studying the potential to deploy two of these MTB units in tandem for twin-decline access as part of the technology’s second-generation developments.

“We can already see the benefit of utilising two of these machines to do a twin-decline access to an orebody,” Jordaan said.

Looking to vertical developments, Master Drilling reported that it had received shareholder funding approval from the Industrial Development Corporation for the latest work on its Shaft Boring System (SBS), designed to sink 4.5 m diameter shafts in hard rock down to 1,500 m depths.

IM witnessed the main cutting mechanism of what was previously billed as being a 45-m long, 450-t machine at the back end of 2019.

The company has since said it will introduce a “smaller scope system” as part of its introduction to the industry.

While busy on the latest slimmed down design of the SBS, Master Drilling has signed a letter of intent with a prospective South Africa project that could see a machine start sinking activities in the first half of 2022, Jordaan said.

Outside of these developments, Master Drilling reported on several contract awards across the globe, including a three-year raiseboring extension with AngloGold Ashanti in Brazil, a joint venture agreement with Besalco Construction to work on Codelco’s Chuquicamata copper mine, an executed contract with Glencore’s Raglan mine in Canada, an agreement with Zimplats in Zimbabwe and a “long-term contract” on the Khoemacau copper-silver project in Botswana.

Zest WEG carrying out EC&I works at Anglo Platinum’s Mogalakwena CPR plant

Zest WEG is installing a range of electrical control and instrumentation equipment at Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena mine in Limpopo province, South Africa, working closely with engineering group DRA Global.

The construction is taking place within the Mogalakwena mine’s existing North Concentrator Plant, around various plant areas. The Electrical Control Instrumentation (ECI) package is being led by Eben Kleynhans, E&I Electrical Project Engineer from DRA.

According to Calvin Fisher, Electrical and Instrumentation Construction Proposals Manager at Zest WEG, the Zest WEG work is being conducted for the mine’s Coarse Particle Rejection (CPR) plant, and will be completed in the second half of 2021.

“In addition to applying the highest level of workmanship and professionalism, we are carrying out the project in line with our client’s Mining Charter requirements on local procurement,” Fisher says. “This means that over 70% of people involved in our scope of work will be drawn from local communities, and we are sourcing a significant level of our supplies from local businesses.”

Equipment to be installed includes three 2 MVA transformers, stepping down from 11 kV to 550 V, and a 630 kVA mini substation for lighting and small power requirements. Containerised motor control centres (MCCs), complete with variable speed drives (VSDs), an HVAC unit, cable racking, cables, lighting and small power also form part of the scope of supply. In addition, two back-up generators will be installed – one of 630 kVA capacity and the other 330 kVA.

“The three new containerised MCCs and VSD sets will be placed on plinths near the CPR feed tank, CPR process water area and CPR building and a steel roof structure erected over the containers,” he says. “The new transformer bay will be constructed next to the MCC, also with a roof over the transformer.”

About 70 km of cable will be laid – ranging from low voltage to medium voltage cable – as well as 3,300 terminations and almost 2.5 km of cable racking. The various structures that Zest WEG will install require some 9 t of steel. The instrumentation to be installed will comprise about 170 instruments including flow transmitters, pressure gauges, level switches, temperature gauges and density transmitters. There will also be around 250 lights installed, mainly outdoors.

Fisher notes that the electrical installation specialists are typically among the last contractors on a project, and must be quite flexible to accommodate certain modifications that may have been required in the civils, structural and mechanical work completed beforehand.

“Wherever necessary, we work closely with the client to implement the plan smoothly while meeting their need for safe access to the equipment being installed, to allow maintenance to be readily conducted,” he says.

In addition to the installation contract, Zest WEG is supplying some of the actual items of equipment for the expansion project, including WEG motors and containerised generators. The electrical installation work is expected to take about six months.

“We are proud of the high level of quality that we bring to projects like this, where we apply our successful model of procurement to support our clients in meeting their critical local expenditure targets,” he says. “This also allows Zest WEG to make a valuable contribution to uplift local companies wherever we can.”

Delta Drone to run UAV surveying, mapping at Anglo’s Mogalakwena

Australia-based drones-as-a-service provider, Delta Drone International Ltd, is expanding its enterprise mining operations after being appointed by Rustenberg Platinum Mines Limited, a subsidiary of Anglo American Platinum, to provide surveying and mapping services at the Mogalakwena PGM mine in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

The contract, secured via Delta Drone’s Rocketmine brand, will see it manage end-to-end mine surveying and mapping services at the mine, including blast monitoring and inspection services. The 2021 contract is expected to generate some A$120,000 ($87,919) in revenue.

Mogalakwena’s PGM production increased by 11% year-on-year to 308,400 oz in the June quarter, owing to higher concentrator throughput, and no COVID-19 impact on production, Anglo American Platinum reported today.

Anglo American to collaborate on ‘hydrogen valley’ study in South Africa

Anglo American has announced a collaboration agreement to complete a feasibility study to develop a “hydrogen valley” anchored in the platinum group metals-rich Bushveld geological area in South Africa.

Spearheaded by South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the collaboration agreement also includes energy and services company ENGIE, the South African National Development Institute (SANEDI) and clean energy solutions provider Bambili Energy.

The proposed hydrogen valley will stretch approximately 835 km from Anglo American’s Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine (pictured) near Mokopane in Limpopo province in the north of South Africa, along the industrial and commercial corridor to Johannesburg and to the south coast at Durban.

This collaboration follows the launch in 2020 of the South African Hydrogen Society Roadmap, aimed at integrating hydrogen into the economy by capitalising on the country’s PGM resources and renewable energy potential to revitalise and decarbonise key industrial sectors. The study will be conducted by ENGIE Impact and will identify tangible opportunities to build hydrogen hubs and explore the potential for green hydrogen production and supply at scale.

Natascha Viljoen, CEO of Anglo American’s PGMs business, said: “The transition to a low carbon world is an opportunity to drive the development of cleaner technologies, create new industries and employment, and improve people’s lives. Anglo American was an early supporter of the global potential for a hydrogen economy, recognising its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport. Our integrated approach includes investing in new technologies, supporting entrepreneurial projects and advocating for policy frameworks that enable a supportive long-term investment environment for hydrogen to deliver that potential.”

The regional PGMs industry will be central to such a hydrogen valley, with PGMs playing an important role both in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane electrolysis used to produce hydrogen at scale and in fuel cells themselves, Anglo says.

Anglo American is already investing in renewable hydrogen production technology at its Mogalakwena PGMs mine and in the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell mine haul trucks – the world’s largest to run on hydrogen.

Dr Phil Mjwara, DSI Director-General, said: “The Department’s hydrogen valley partnership with Anglo American, Bambili Energy and ENGIE is an example of leveraging investments made in the Hydrogen South Africa Programme to create mechanisms for the uptake of publicly financed intellectual property. The hydrogen valley is among the projects that will be implemented in partnership with the private sector to support the Platinum Valley Initiative, which is aimed at supporting small, medium and micro enterprises to take advantage of opportunities in the green economy in support of a just transition.”

The public-private partnership is aligned to the South Africa Government’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plans, with science, technology and innovation playing a key role in supporting the country’s plans to revitalise its economy.

Sebastien Arbola, ENGIE Executive Vice President in charge of Thermal Generation and Energy Supply activities, said: “ENGIE is delighted to be part of the hydrogen valley study. We are keen to share our knowledge and expertise encompassing the entire hydrogen value chain to accelerate hydrogen solutions’ deployment in South Africa and beyond. We already have a demonstration project under way to supply the hydrogen for the world’s first hydrogen mining truck being developed by Anglo American at the Mogalakwena PGMs mine.”

Zanele Mavuso Mbatha, CEO Bambili Energy, said: “The initiative to develop the South African hydrogen valley and the collaboration between Bambili, Anglo American, ENGIE and the South African government is significant as it will build material public awareness, confidence and support for the hydrogen economy. This collaboration is illustrative of Bambili’s view that a public-private partnership is critical in the development of this industry in the South African economy.”