Tag Archives: Namibia

Trevali taps EMESCO for solar power contract at Rosh Pinah mine

Trevali Mining has entered into a 15-year renewable Power Purchase Agreement with Emerging Markets Energy Services Company (EMESCO) for the supply of solar power to its Rosh Pinah zinc-lead-silver mine in Namibia.

Trevali has committed to achieving an overall greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 25% by 2025 from its 2018 baseline, with the PPA anticipated to deliver 30% of Rosh Pinah’s power requirements during the life of the agreement and reduce GHG emissions at the company level by 6%.

EMESCO will be responsible for the design, permitting, financing and implementation of a solar energy system on a neighbouring property at no cost to Trevali. EMESCO will then sell the power generated to Trevali at a fixed rate that is expected to reduce energy costs by 18% over the 15-year term of the agreement.

EMESCO was chosen based on a variety of factors, including expertise in the field of renewable energy, an understanding of the scope of work required, the ability to execute and deliver on Trevali’s requirements, and pricing, the miner said.

If Trevali makes a positive investment decision on the RP2.0 expansion project, which could see output rise to 3,600 t/d from 2,000 t/d, EMESCO will increase the delivery of power to Rosh Pinah to remain at 30% of the mine’s annual energy consumption as regulated by the Modified Single Buyer framework in Namibia, it added.

Ricus Grimbeek, President & CEO, said: “Our sustainability program commits to significant reductions in GHG emissions, and with the signing of this agreement with EMESCO we have taken a major step towards delivering on our commitment by securing renewable energy while also reducing our expected energy costs.

“The agreement with EMESCO has been designed to scale with the output of the mine so that when we are ready to make the decision to build the RP2.0 Expansion project, the delivery of power will increase to match our requirements.

“We are extremely excited by this partnership at Rosh Pinah and continue to study ways to reduce Trevali’s GHG emissions and deliver on this and our other sustainability targets.”

MacLean Engineering up to the Africa mining challenge

MacLean Engineering’s investment in Africa is paying off, with multiple production support vehicle sales recently secured on the back of an increased presence in South Africa.

Having last month bolstered its largest single fleet in Africa to 11 vehicles at the Kibali gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company is now busy assembling equipment for delivery at an underground mine in Namibia, while making manufacturing and delivery plans for a successful tender for five units that will head to a underground gold mine in Mali.

John-Paul Theunissen, MacLean’s General Manager for Africa, says recent sales could be put down to the company boosting its manufacturing and service capacity on the continent close to two years ago.

“We are now manufacturing for Africa out of South Africa,” he told IM. “Towards the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, we commissioned another 900 sq.m of manufacturing space at our South Africa facility. This means we now have 1,000 sq.m of workshop and assembly space.”

The Free State facility, the first international branch MacLean set up back in the 1990s, also offers maintenance and service support.

These attributes, plus the ability to access MacLean engineers across the globe for equipment troubleshooting, have allowed Africa-based mining companies to get comfortable with the Canada-based brand, according to Theunissen.

“We have really started to build momentum in Africa, increasing the level of service and support closer to home,” he said.

“It is this local aspect that really sells fleets, as opposed to individual machines.”

MacLean now has 1,000 sq.m of workshop and assembly space, Theunissen says

This increased local offering has arrived at just the right time.

While the stricter lockdown measures in South Africa have been lifted – the country has moved from Level 5 to Level 3, allowing mines to return to full capacity (with COVID-safe procedures in place) – companies procuring equipment for Africa are conscious intercontinental deliveries could face upheaval again if a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 hits.

Some mining companies influenced by recent lockdowns are also making longer-term pledges to adjust their supply chains to take advantage of local expertise, at the same time reducing potential risks that come with buying machines and solutions from overseas suppliers.

This recently enlarged presence in Africa could see MacLean benefit from such moves.

Recent orders

The latest orders Theunissen mentioned could reflect this reality.

In securing a contract to supply three MacLean 3-Series Cassette Trucks (CS3) and four cassettes to the Murray & Roberts Cementation and Lewcor Mining joint venture set to establish the underground stoping horizon at the Wolfshag zone at B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine, in Namibia, the company achieved several ‘firsts’, he said.

“It’s a new customer, Murray & Roberts; a new country, Namibia; and a new miner, B2Gold,” he said.

These units will be assembled in South Africa – another MacLean first – and are due to be delivered to the mine by the end of the last quarter of the year, according to Theunissen.

And, as mentioned before, the company recently bolstered the fleet at the Barrick Gold/AngloGold Ashanti majority owned Kibali gold mine in the DRC.

The latest piece of equipment for the mine – which arrived at the end of July – was one of the company’s personnel carriers.

This adds to the three EC3 Emulsion Chargers, a WS3 Water Sprayer, a FL3 Fuel Lube Truck, and a BT3 Boom Truck – all from MacLean’s trusted Mine-Mate™ Series – that Byrnecut, the original mining contractor at Kibali, brought in from 2013 onwards.

When the Kibali mining model changed to ‘owner-operator’ under the management of Randgold (now Barrick), the fleet got bigger, with the miner adding four new rigs: another EC3, another BT3, an SL3 Scissor Lift with pipe handler attachment, and a TM2 Mobile Concrete Mixer.

MacLean says its expanding presence at Kibali, from the development phase all the way back in 2013 up to achieving record production numbers in 2019 and 2020, illustrates the “MacLean Advantage in action”.

It explained: “MacLean’s dedicated team in South Africa has worked closely with mine management and operators to provide the training, maintenance and support needed to keep Kibali running smoothly. With operations forecast to continue at Kibali through 2036, MacLean looks forward to providing dependable support for years to come.”

Tech take-up

Mines like Kibali – one of the most technologically advanced in Africa – are gradually becoming more and more automated in an effort to increase productivity and safety.

Already one of the world’s most highly automated underground gold mines, Kibali’s backbone is Sandvik’s AutoMine Multi Fleet system, supervised on surface by a single operator. This system, in a world first, allows a fleet of up to five LHDs to be operated autonomously, 750 m below the surface, within the same 6 m x 6 m production drive while using designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow, Barrick says. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes, according to the company.

While MacLean’s production support vehicles often interact with these autonomous loaders, for the time being they are still manned by operators.

This is set to change into the future, according to Theunissen.

“The Advanced Vehicle Technology Team (AVT) in Canada is moving into the automation space,” he said. “We’re looking to integrate our own digitalised systems into those of OEMs such as Sandvik and Epiroc to ensure fully interoperable autonomous operation.”

Within the AVT, the Advanced Vehicle Technology group embedded at the MacLean Research and Demonstration Facility, in Sudbury, Ontario (pictured below), has over 20 engineering staff working on remotely controlled to fully autonomous vehicle operation, using radar, LiDAR, and vehicle monitoring technology, according to MacLean.

This team has already come up with vehicle telemetry hardware and software, and virtual reality training tools. It is also transitioning to a cloud-based platform for documentation, parts ordering, and training content called Documoto.

The Advanced Vehicle Technology group is embedded at the MacLean Research and Demonstration Facility, in Sudbury, Ontario (photo: James Hodgins)

While these technology developments will, in the future, underwrite the company’s transition to offering machines capable of fully autonomous operation, MacLean is already at the front of the pack when it comes to facilitating the industry’s electrification movement.

In Canada, it has more than 30 battery electric mining vehicles (BEVs) working underground – at 10 mine sites, across four provinces, with more than 50,000 operating hours amassed.

While Africa as a whole might not yet have the energy infrastructure in place to fully leverage these ‘green’ BEVs – many mines remain off grid and reliant on diesel power – Theunissen has seen grid-connected miners in South Africa show interest in taking on these machines.

“In South Africa there is already appetite for BEVs,” he said. “We see it coming through in the RFIs (request for information) we get on projects.”

MacLean has an advantage over some of its competitors when it comes to converting these RFIs into sales.

Not only has it got thousands of operating hours under its belt, it also has engineers in place that can calculate the total cost of ownership savings a specific mine will achieve should they bring BEVs into their fleets. Due to the increase in upfront cost currently seen when comparing diesel- with battery-powered vehicles, this type of analysis is crucial to securing orders.

“We can show them how the machine will fit into the mining cycle and provide in-house calculations on ventilation and mine design savings,” Theunissen said. “This helps assist end users when it comes to long-term decision making for the mine.”

For countries in Africa to get on board the electrification train like those mines in Canada have, Theunissen thinks governments will need to introduce incentives for mines to change their energy inputs and adopt BEVs.

Should this happen, MacLean will be equipped both within the continent and internationally to take on that challenge.

BME keeps supply up amid lockdown as it prepares for COVID-19-related business changes

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions around Southern Africa have thrown the spotlight on mines’ supply security, with key inputs like explosives and blasting services among these.

According to Albie Visser, General Manager at blasting specialist BME, mines have relied heavily on the flexibility and ingenuity of service providers to keep the supply chain functioning.

“The first weeks of the lockdown were challenging, especially regarding the logistics of moving our emulsion product across national borders from South Africa into other southern African countries,” Visser said. “Different countries – and even different border posts – applied different rules, making it difficult to know what the exact compliance requirements were.”

Albie Visser, General Manager at BME

He noted the pandemic had caught most authorities unaware, leading to regulations being hurriedly developed and enforced.

“In some cases, the regulatory requirements were not practical,” he said. “At one border, for instance, drivers were required to have a COVID-19 test not older than three days – but in South Africa it took nine days to get results from a test through normal channels.”

This meant that innovative thinking was called for, and BME worked closely with its own suppliers and the mines themselves. While some deliveries were initially delayed by border issues, the company’s responsiveness and agility kept up its deliveries to site, it said.

National lockdowns in the region affected the mining sectors differently from country to country.

“South Africa’s lockdown saw demand for emulsion drop sharply at first, but this has almost returned to normal as mines ramped up to full production where possible,” he said. “While mining in Botswana has slowed, Namibia’s mining industry has been more resilient and our supplies to Zambia are almost unaffected.”

Site precautions

In South Africa, BME is working on many mine sites, with an average of three teams per site. By conducting risk assessments and adapting its existing safety systems, BME quickly developed its own COVID-19 protocols in line with national safety regulations – even before some of the mines finalised their own systems.

Among the measures BME has applied is to divide staff into small groups to keep closer control of movements and restrict infections. For example, each group will stay together for transport purposes, and will use only one specified bus.

“Each bus, which has a thermometer for daily testing, will collect staff from their homes,” Visser said. “We know exactly who they live with, for purposes of future contact tracing.”

It does mean more buses arriving at the work site, but any infection picked up can then be controlled and traced within that group. There is also another screening test at the mine site when staff arrive, and the necessary social distancing is observed.

“To date our measures have been very effective, with no COVID-19 infections at any of our operations,” he said.

Overcoming barriers

Outside of South Africa, there have been some notable achievements in the face of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME, relayed a few of these.

Joe Keenan, Managing Director of BME

“Among the logistical achievements, for instance, was the timeous shipping of resources to customers in Australia and West Africa – which was done in anticipation of the lockdown,” he said.

BME was also able to continue satisfying the requirements of one of Zambia’s largest copper producers, despite the difficulties of negotiating border regulations.

At the same time as this, the company is continuing to roll out large projects for major customers, while keeping most of its staff working remotely. This includes the recruitment of about 170 people for one key project, and the continuation of on-site testing.

Automation, remote optionality

From the manufacturing perspective, BME’s facilities are also well positioned to keep feeding the supply chain even under lockdown conditions, according to Ralf Hennecke, BME’s General Manager: Technology and Marketing.

“Most of our production plant processes are highly automated, so we can readily apply the necessary social distancing and minimise staff without affecting production,” Hennecke said. “This applies to our explosives facilities as well as our factories for non-electric and electronic detonators.”

Ralf Hennecke BME General Manager: Technology and Marketing

BME has put in considerable investment in the automation of its manufacturing plant at Delmas in Mpumalanga, South Africa, for instance. While the driver for this process was primarily the quality of its emulsion product, the effect has been to enhance security of supply while applying strict social distancing protocols, it said.

Keenan said: “At our facility in Losberg, Gauteng, where we manufacture our AXXIS™ equipment and non-electric detonation systems, there is also a high level of automation. We can therefore accommodate the COVID-19 regulations without affecting the value chain.”

Even the company’s remote bulk emulsion plants – often located on customer’s mine sites – can be operated with minimal staff.

Hennecke highlighted that BME’s technology, including planning and reporting platforms like BLASTMAP™ and XPLOLOG™, also assist mines to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 transmission.

“Our technological innovations allow data to be digitally captured, stored and transferred to the mine’s operational and administrative systems,” he said. “This can be done safely with only a few human touchpoints, and also in real time for greater efficiency.”

The future

While the current efforts are to keep mining operations running normally, the future will see considerable changes in how suppliers like BME support customers, according to Keenan.

“The leveraging of technological innovation to keep mine sites safe and efficient becomes an even more vital imperative for technology providers,” he said.

Operationally, there will be ongoing focus on social distancing and digital processes to reduce proximity between employees.

With strict requirements limiting face to face interaction, more communication with customers will also have to be conducted digitally.

These communication systems will also have to be adapted to streamline the sales process and keep contracts flowing, according to BME.

“Creative solutions will need to be found for how to manage tenders, for example, especially where site visits are required,” Kennan said. “There are still various practical issues to be resolved so that normal procurement can continue.”

In terms of further expediting the shift to non-contact interaction with customers, BME’s new enterprise resource planning system enhances its shared services capacity, allowing less paperwork and more electronic documentation and processing.

ABB to energise world’s largest advanced diamond recovery vessel

ABB has won a contract from Damen Shipyards Group to deliver an advanced power system for Debmarine Namibia’s custom-built diamond recovery vessel.

The Switzerland-based company will supply an integrated power system package that will ensure the world’s largest and most technologically advanced diamond recovery vessel meets exceptional safety, efficiency and availability requirements, it said. The vessel is being built by Damen at Damen Shipyards Mangalia on the Black Sea, in Romania.

With a total cost of $468 million, the vessel is the largest single investment ever made in the marine diamond industry, according to Debmarine. It deploys advanced subsea crawling – a technique for recovering diamonds from the seabed. The new build will be delivered to Debmarine Namibia, a joint venture between the Government of the Republic of Namibia and De Beers Group, in 2022.

Debmarine Namibia extracts some of the highest quality diamonds available anywhere from water of between 90-150 m deep off the south west coast of the country.

The new 177 m ship has been designed by Norway-based naval architects, Marin Teknikk. It will become the largest ship in the owner’s fleet, exceeding the size of Debmarine Namibia’s current largest vessel, the Mafuta, by 8,000 t displacement (vessel weight based on the amount of water displaced by the hull). It is expected to increase the shipowner’s annual production by 35%, contributing an additional 500,000 ct to today’s production levels.

The offshore mining specialist previously installed ABB’s power systems on board the SS Nujoma (SSN), Debmarine Namibia’s deep-water diamond exploration and sampling vessel.

Michael Curtis, who is heading the new build project for Debmarine Namibia, said: “The success of the SSN, with high reliability, efficient positioning and low fuel consumption coupled with safe operation, was instrumental in selecting the same systems for the new diamond recovery vessel, with ABB’s power systems being an integral part of the solution.”

The latest ABB technology will ensure the vessel achieves unsurpassed uptime, according to the company.

In addition to the advanced system for power generation, distribution and variable speed drive propulsion systems, the solution includes a large online double-conversion marine uninterruptible power supply (MUPS) to support the ship’s control processes, significantly reducing the risk of critical power loss and downtime.

“ABB’s MUPS is designed for undisrupted availability, ensuring power backup for the vessel’s on-board control systems of the subsea-crawler and processing plant that sorts through sediment lifted from the seabed to extract diamonds,” ABB said. “ABB’s advanced and tightly integrated power system will help optimise engine loading, as well as reduce running hours and fuel costs, and decrease maintenance needs.”

Juha Koskela, Managing Director, ABB Marine & Ports, said: “This is a truly special ship, packed with sophisticated technology, and a project demanding an especially close relationship with the customer to ensure that optimal solutions were delivered for exact specifications.

“We are thrilled to see that the team behind this advanced vessel recognises the benefits of efficiency, safety and uptime available through integration. This success is also consistent with growing traction for ABB’s electric, digital and connected solutions across an increasing number of vessel types and operational profiles.”

SKF and NLS collaborating in Namibia mining market

SKF has appointed a new authorised distributor in Namibia as it looks to grow its network to deliver “innovative bearing and rotation technology solutions to customers across the sub-continent”, Christian Murman, SKF South Africa’s Business Development Manager – Neighbouring Countries, says.

Namibian Lubrication Systems (NLS), which specialises in the supply of lubrication equipment and systems to the industrial and mining sectors across the entire Erongo, Khomas, Karas and Otjozondjupa regions of Namibia, has been an SKF authorised distributor since September 2019.

The company was established by André Bezuidenhout in Oranjemund in 2000 and, in the same year, it was appointed as the sole distributor for Lincoln Lubrication South Africa, part of the SKF global group. NLS also holds the title as the only company in Namibia qualified to service and repair all Lincoln Lubrication equipment.

Murman explains how SKF and NLS have been collaborating since being the Namibia-based company came on board as an authorised distributor: “While calling on customers together with our new authorised distributor, we received an enquiry from a gold mine for a replacement bearing for their stock for an upcoming project in Q1 (March quarter) 2020.”

The gold mine shared a long history with NLS and Lincoln products giving the company an in-depth knowledge of the operation, SKF said.

“But, as a newly appointed SKF authorised dealer, NLS was still on a learning curve regarding SKF products and thus decided to call upon the expertise of SKF’s Engineering Department. Cody Petersen, Junior Project Engineer at SKF, was considered as the best person to assist in making this project a bonafide success.”

After putting heads together, the SKF 4176 ECAK30/C3W33 replacement bearing was recommended. NLS submitted a quote and, after a follow-up call, the mine placed the order in November.

This successful project and collaboration between the companies affirms SKF’s decision to appoint NLS as an authorised distributor, SKF said.

“The company has an excellent footprint within the country, boasts a stellar reputation for on-site service and has technicians on contract at most of the mines in Namibia who look after Lincoln products,” Murman said.

Now, as a SKF authorised distributor, NLS is responsible for delivering the comprehensive SKF product and service portfolio in Namibia focusing on a condition monitoring service delivered by the company’s technicians who have been specifically trained in this field.

“NLS’ ultimate goal is to have multi-skilled technicians that are able to offer customers a complete maintenance package, thereby securing all the Lincoln Lubrication and SKF product offerings,” SKF said.

Murman concluded: “The success of this project solidifies our position as a powerhouse duo in the Namibian mining space. Furthermore, this agreement enables us to leverage off our Lincoln Distributor’s excellent reputation in the local market.

“When customers can see the real value that our authorised dealers add to their mine, plant or operation and realise that they are able to rely on their expertise, it becomes a win-win scenario.”

ALE powers up De Beers offshore diamond mining vessel

De Beers recently turned to ALE to replace two engines on its Debmar Pacific mining vessel, in use at its offshore diamond operations in Namibia.

Since 2002, diamond mining operations in Namibia have taken place in larger volume offshore than onshore, as gemstones washed into the Atlantic Ocean over millions of years are dredged and processed. It’s an expanding market, generating over a 100 Mct/y, according to ALE.

When, as part of routine maintenance operations the Debmar Pacific mining vessel required removal and replacement of two engines, De Beers turned to ALE to ensure a swift and efficient job, the company said.

The company said: “As time in port at Cape Town was limited to just a few weeks, several other similar procedures were taking place at the same time, meaning this work had to take place under strict space limitations.”

Prior to the lift operation, ALE installed two custom-designed gantries on either side of the vessel parallel with the floor of its engine rooms. These gantries were enlarged at the client’s request, in order to provide better access to the engines, ALE said.

Each engine was then jacked-up to a height of around 1 m, using four 60 t jacks. A medium skid track measuring 25 m was then laid, from a position underneath the engine to the custom-designed gantry at the vessel’s exterior.

Each 38 t GE engine was then skidded the length of this track, where it was uplifted using a 400 t crawler crane and set down in a nearby storage area, ALE said. This procedure was completed in reverse in order to install both 80 t Wartsilla engines.

The company said: “ALE needed to liaise with several onsite authorities and contractors during the project, in particular during the construction of both access gantries. Having executed a large number of vessel upgrade procedures in the past, ALE was well-placed to advise on the lift procedure that would deliver the best value whilst upholding the highest standards of safety.”

The Debmar Pacific was built in 1977 and converted into a mining vessel during 1997. It will return to active service mining gemstones 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, once all maintenance operations on it are completed.

B2Gold to soak up solar power at Fekola gold mine

B2Gold, in its June quarter results, has provided an update on its plans to install a solar plant at its Fekola gold mine in Mali.

The company said it completed a preliminary study to evaluate the technical and economic viability of adding a solar plant to the site, during the quarter, with the results indicating it was a very “solid project” and that a plant of around 30 MW of solar generating capacity with a significant battery storage component would provide the best economic result.

A second study has now been completed to establish the detailed capital and operating cost analysis for the project. Results indicated that a solar plant can provide significant operating cost reductions (estimated to reduce processing costs by some 7%), with the project approved by the B2Gold Board in the June quarter.

The company said: “The Fekola Solar Plant will be one of the largest off-grid hybrid solar/heavy fuel oil (HFO) plants in the world.

“It is expected that it will allow for three HFO generators to be shut down during daylight hours, which will save about 13.1 million litres of HFO per year, at a capital cost of approximately $38 million, of which $20 million is expected to be incurred in 2019, with the balance in 2020.”

The solar plant is scheduled for completion in August 2020 and has a four-year payback, B2Gold said.

At Fekola, the company is currently weighing up an expansion that could see the life of mine could extend into 2030, including significant estimated increases in average annual gold production to over 550,000 oz/y during the five-year period 2020-2024 and over 400,000 oz/y over the life of mine (2019-2030).

Back in May 2018, B2Gold celebrated the official opening of the Otjikoto gold mine solar plant, in Namibia, one of the first fully autonomous hybrid plants in the world.

At the time, B2Gold said it would allow the company to significantly reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the site’s current 24 MW HFO power plant. The shift to a HFO solar hybrid plant was, at that point, expected to reduce Otjikoto’s HFO consumption by around 2.3 million litres and reduce associated power generation fuel costs by approximately 10% in 2018.

In the company’s 2018 results, B2Gold said the plant was now providing close to 13% of the electricity consumed on site and the plant had achieved its expected HFO consumption and power generation fuel cost results.