Tag Archives: natural gas

Suncor backs Svante and its carbon dioxide capture technology

Suncor has backed the decarbonisation and hydrogen production ambitions of carbon capture technology company Svante, joining a number of firms in its latest equity raising.

Svante is looking to accelerate the commercialisation of its novel second generation CO2 capture technology, aiming to decarbonise industrial emissions and hydrogen production in North America. Its technology, Svante claims, captures carbon dioxide from flue gas, concentrates it, then releases it for safe storage or industrial use.

Combined, Suncor and a number of family office investors have invested $25 million of equity financing, bringing the total proceeds raised under Svante’s Series D financing to $100 million, completing what Suncor says is the largest single private investment into point source carbon capture technology globally to date.

Svante has now attracted more than $175 million in total funding since it was founded in 2007 to develop and commercialise its breakthrough solid sorbent technology at half the capital cost of traditional engineered solutions.

Claude Letourneau, President & CEO of Svante Inc, said: “Svante has generated a pipeline of potential new project opportunities capturing over 40 Mt of CO2/y before 2030 from natural gas industrial boilers, cement and lime, and blue hydrogen industrial facilities, mainly in North America and spurred by both US and Canada federal CO2 tax credits and prices on CO2 emissions.”

According to Mark Little, President & CEO of Suncor, “carbon capture is a strategic technology area for Suncor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our base business and produce blue hydrogen as an energy product. An investment in Svante is expected to support the acceleration of commercial-scale deployment of a technology that has the potential to dramatically reduce the cost associated with carbon capture. We are excited to become both an investor in and a collaborative partner with the company.”

Letourneau added on Suncor’s investment: “We are pleased to partner with a leading Canadian player in the energy industry, alongside existing investor Cenovus, and to benefit not only from their financial support but also their commitment to deliver low-carbon fuels and blue hydrogen to transform the energy system.”

Svante says its approach is tailored specifically to the challenges of separating CO₂ from nitrogen contained in diluted flue gas generated by industrial plants such as cement, steel, aluminium, fertiliser and hydrogen, which is typically emitted in large volumes, at low pressures, and dilute concentrations.

It uses tailor-made nano-materials (solid adsorbents) with very high storage capacity for carbon dioxide. It has engineered these adsorbents to catch and release CO₂ in less than 60 seconds, compared with hours for other technologies.

The company’s carbon capture technology consists of a patented architecture of structured adsorbent laminate (spaced sheets), proprietary process cycle design, and a rotary mechanical contactor to capture, release and regenerate the adsorbent in a single unit.

In January, Lafarge Canada, Svante and Total announced they had reached a major milestone at its Project CO2MENT, a first-of-its kind partnership to capture industrial levels of CO2 emissions from a cement plant. The multi-phase project celebrated the completion of Phase II construction to have the technology to capture and filter the CO2 from the flue gas. This was a crucial component to achieving the next stage of capturing CO2 flow at the Lafarge Richmond cement facility in British Columbia, Canada.

Kobe Steel demonstrates new, cleaner steel production technology

Kobe Steel says it has successfully demonstrated technology that can significantly reduce CO2 emissions from blast furnace operations, combining the technologies of Midrex in the engineering business and the blast furnace operation technology in the iron and steel business.

This achievement is a result of the integrated efforts of the Kobe Steel Group (also known as the KOBELCO Group) leveraging its diverse businesses, it said. The demonstration test was conducted for a month at a large blast furnace (4,844 cu.m) of the Kakogawa Works in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, in October 2020.

The quantity of CO2 emissions from the blast furnace is determined by the reducing agent rate (RAR), or the quantity of carbon fuel used in blast furnace ironmaking. In the demonstration test, it was verified that RAR could be stably reduced from 518 kg per tonne of hot metal (thm) to 415 kg/thm by charging a large amount of hot briquetted iron produced by the MIDREX® Process. The results indicate that this technology can reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 20% compared with the conventional method, the company said.

In addition, the world’s lowest level of coke rate (239 kg/thm) has been achieved in the demonstration test of this technology, the company claimed.

Kobe Steel sees this as a promising solution that could become readily available soon at a lower additional cost compared with other CO2-reduction measures.

The MIDREX Process uses natural gas as the reductant and pellets made of iron ore as the source of iron to make direct reduced iron through the reduction process in the shaft furnace. In comparison with the blast furnace method, the MIDREX Process can reduce CO2 emissions by 20-40%.

The company said: “We will keep improving this CO2-reduction solution technology while further reducing CO2 emissions and achieving lower costs for CO2 reduction. Beyond our own efforts to reduce emissions from our facilities, we will strive to contribute to the acceleration of CO2 reduction through introducing this solution to blast furnaces around the world.

“In addition, we believe that the success of the demonstration test on an actual blast furnace has made a significant step forward in providing low CO2 steel products to customers. As moving forward with our environmental efforts on the scale of the whole supply chain, we will establish production and sales systems and define the terms and conditions for sales so that we can provide customers with low CO2 steel products that offer new added value.”

Cleveland-Cliffs commits to new greenhouse gas emission goals

Iron ore miner and steelmaker Cleveland-Cliffs Inc has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030, with the use of carbon capture technologies and natural gas/hydrogen in the production of hot briquetted iron (HBI) just some of paths it is pursuing.

This goal represents combined Scope 1 (direct) and Scope 2 (indirect) greenhouse gas emission reductions on a mass basis (t/y) compared with 2017 baseline levels.

Prior to setting this goal with its newly acquired steel assets from AK Steel and ArcelorMittal USA, the company said it exceeded its previous 26% greenhouse gas reduction target at its mining and pelletising facilities six years ahead of its 2025 goal. In 2019, it reduced its combined Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions by 42% on a mass basis from 2005 baseline levels, it said.

Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We at Cleveland-Cliffs acknowledge that one of the most important issues impacting our planet is climate change. The American steel industry is one of the cleanest and most energy efficient in the world, and therefore the utilisation of steel Made in the USA is a decisively positive move to protect the planet against massive pollution embedded in the steel produced in other countries.”

He added: “In the past year, Cleveland-Cliffs has transformed itself into the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America. As a company currently employing more than 25,000 people, the vast majority of them in good paying middle-class union jobs, our commitment to operating our business in an environmentally and socially responsible manner remains our priority.

“As we continue to grow the company going forward, we will vigorously pursue the opportunities we have outlined in our Greenhouse Gas Reduction Commitment, and will be transparent with our stakeholders by regularly reporting on our progress.”

Cleveland-Cliffs’ plan is based on its execution of the following five strategic priorities:

  • Developing domestically sourced, high quality iron ore feedstock and utilising natural gas in the production of HBI;
  • Implementing energy efficiency and green energy projects;
  • Investing in the development of carbon capture technology;
  • Enhancing its greenhouse gas emissions transparency and sustainability focus; and
  • Supporting public policies that facilitate carbon reduction in the domestic steel industry.

Only last year, Cleveland-Cliffs completed the construction of its first Direct Reduction Plant (pictured) to make it the first HBI producer in the Great Lakes Region of North America.

The company said: “To further reduce our GHG footprint at the new Direct Reduction Plant, we will evaluate partnering with hydrogen producers to replace natural gas use with hydrogen when it becomes commercially available in significant quantities.”

Without any modifications to the plant’s configuration, the company says it can replace up to 30% of the plant’s natural gas consumption with hydrogen to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 450,000 t/y.

“With limited equipment modifications and investments, we could increase hydrogen usage up to 70% and reduce over 1 Mt of GHG emissions per year,” it added.

The company said it is also currently working to implement numerous energy efficiency projects, which include, but are not limited to: improving furnace fuel efficiency; upgrading mobile mining fleet and locomotive engines to high efficiency/low emission models; investing in electrical energy efficiency projects; replacing traditional lighting with LED lamps; and cogenerating electricity from by-product gases.

North sets Ferrexpo on a course for ‘carbon neutrality’

Ferrexpo is used to setting trends. It was the first company to launch a new open-pit iron ore mine in the CIS since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991 and has recently become the first miner in Ukraine to adopt autonomous open-pit drilling and haulage technology.

It plans to keep up this innovative streak if a conversation with Acting CEO Jim North is anything to go by.

North, former Chief Operating Officer of London Mining and Ferrexpo, has seen the technology shift in mining first-hand. A holder of a variety of senior operational management roles in multiple commodities with Rio Tinto and BHP, he witnessed the take-off of autonomous haulage systems (AHS) in the Pilbara, as well as the productivity and operating cost benefits that came with removing operators from blasthole drills.

He says the rationale for adopting autonomous technology at Ferrexpo’s Yeristovo mine is slightly different to the traditional Pilbara investment case.

“This move was not based on reduction in salaries; it was all based on utilisation of capital,” North told IM. While miners receive comparatively good salaries in Ukraine, they cannot compete with the wages of those Pilbara haul truck drivers.

Ferrexpo Acting CEO, Jim North

North provided a bit of background here: “The focus for the last six years since I came into the company was about driving mining efficiencies and getting benchmark performance out of our mining fleet. This is not rocket science; it is all about carrying out good planning and executing to that plan.”

The company used the same philosophy in its process plant – a philosophy that is likely to see it produce close to 12 Mt of high grade (65% Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate next year.

Using his industry knowledge, North pitted Ferrexpo’s fleet performance against others on the global stage.

“Mining is a highly capital-intensive business and that equipment you buy has got be moving – either loaded or empty – throughout the day,” North said. “24 hours-a-day operation is impossible as you must put fuel in vehicles and you need to change operators, so, in the beginning, we focused on increasing the utilised hours. After a couple of years, I noticed we were getting very close to the benchmark performance globally set by the majors.

“If you are looking at pushing your utilisation further, it inevitably leads you to automation.”

Ferrexpo was up for pushing it further and, four years ago, started the process of going autonomous, with its Yeristovo iron ore mine, opened in 2011, the first candidate for an operational shakeup.

“Yeristovo is a far simpler configuration from a mining point of view,” North explained. “It is basically just a large box cut. Poltava, on the other hand (its other iron ore producing mine currently), has been around for 50 years; it is a very deep and complex operation.

“We thought the place to dip our toe into the water and get good at autonomy was Yeristovo.”

This started off in 2017 with deployment of teleremote operation on its Epiroc Pit Viper 275 blasthole drill rigs. The company has gradually increased the level of autonomy, progressing to remotely operating these rigs from a central control room. In 2021-2022, these rigs will move to fully-autonomous mode, North says.

Ferrexpo has also been leveraging remotely-operated technology for mine site surveying, employing drones to speed up and improve the accuracy of the process. The miner has invested in three of these drones to carry out not only site surveys, but stockpile mapping and – perhaps next year – engineering inspections.

“The productivity benefits from these drones are huge,” North said. “In just two days of drone operation, you can carry out the same amount of work it would take three or four surveyors to do in one or two weeks!”

OEM-agnostic solution

It is the haul truck segment of the mine automation project at Yeristovo that has caught the most industry attention, with Ferrexpo one of the first to choose an OEM-agnostic solution from a company outside of the big four open-pit mining haul truck manufacturers.

The company settled on a solution from ASI Mining, owned 34% by Epiroc, after the completion of a trial of the Mobius® Haulage A.I. system on a Cat 793D last year.

The first phase of the commercial project is already kicking off, with the first of six Cat 793s converted to autonomous mode now up and running at Yeristovo. On completion of this first phase of six trucks, consideration will be given to timing of further deployment for the remainder of the Yeristovo truck fleet.

This trial and rollout may appear fairly routine, but behind the scenes was an 18-month process to settle on ASI’s solution.

“For us, as a business, we have about 86 trucks deployed on site,” North said. “We simply couldn’t take the same route BHP or Rio took three or four years ago in acquiring an entirely new autonomous fleet. At that point, Cat and Komatsu were the only major OEMs offering these solutions and they were offering limited numbers of trucks models with no fleet integration possibilities.

“If you had a mixed fleet – which we do – then you were looking at a multi-hundred-million-dollar decision to change out your mining fleet. That is prohibitive for a business like ours.”

Ferrexpo personnel visited ASI Mining’s facility in Utah, USA, several times, hearing all about the parent company’s work with NASA on robotics. “We knew they had the technical capability to work in tough environments,” North remarked.

“We also saw work they had been doing with Ford and Toyota for a number of years on their unmanned vehicles, and we witnessed the object detect and collision avoidance solutions in action on a test track.”

Convinced by these demonstrations and with an eye to the future of its operations, Ferrexpo committed to an OEM-agnostic autonomous future.

“If we want to get to a fully autonomous fleet at some stage in the future, we will need to pick a provider that could turn any unit into an autonomous vehicle,” North said. It found that in ASI Mining’s Mobius platform.

Such due diligence is representative not only of the team’s thorough approach to this project, it also reflects the realities of deploying such a solution in Ukraine.

“It is all about building capability,” North said. “This is new technology in Ukraine – it’s not like you can go down the road and find somebody that has worked on this type of technology before. As a result, it’s all about training and building up the capacity in our workforce.”

After this expertise has been established, the automation rollout will inevitably accelerate.

“Once we have Yeristovo fully autonomous, we intend to move the autonomy program to Belanovo, which we started excavating a couple of years ago,” North said. “The last pit we would automate would be Poltava, purely due to complexity.”

Belanovo, which has a JORC Mineral Resource of 1,700 Mt, is currently mining overburden with 30-40 t ADTs shifting this material. While ASI Mining said it would be able to automate such machines, North decided the automation program will only begin when large fleet is deployed.

“When we deploy large fleet at Belanovo and start to move significant volumes, we intend for it to become a fully-autonomous operation,” he said.

Poltava, which is a single pit covering a 7 km long by 2 km wide area (pictured below), has a five-decade-long history and a more diverse mining fleet than Yeristovo. In this respect, it was always going to be harder to automate from a loading and haulage point of view.

“If you think about the fleet numbers deployed when Belanovo is running, we will probably have 50% of our fleet running autonomously,” North said. “The level of capability to run that level of technology would be high, so it makes sense to take on the more complex operation at Poltava at that point in time.”

Consolidation and decarbonisation

This autonomy transition has also given North and his team the chance to re-evaluate its fleet needs for now and in the future.

This is not as simple as it may sound to those thinking of a typical Pilbara AHS fleet deployment, with the Yeristovo and Poltava mines containing different ore types that require blending at the processing plant in order to sustain a cost-effective operation able to produce circa-12 Mt/y of high-grade (65%-plus Fe) iron ore pellets and concentrate.

“That limits our ability in terms of fleet size for ore mining because we want to match the capacity of the fleet to the different ore streams we feed into the plant,” North said.

This has seen the company standardise on circa-220 t trucks for ore movement and 300-320 t trucks for waste haulage.

On the latter, North explained: “That is about shovel utilisation, not necessarily about trucks. If you go much larger than that 320-t truck, you are talking about the need to use large rope shovels and we don’t have enough consistent stripping requirements for that. We think the 800 t-class electric hydraulic excavator is a suitable match for the circa-320 t truck.”

This standardisation process at Poltava has seen BELAZ 40 t trucks previously working in the pit re-assigned for auxiliary work, with the smallest in-pit Cat 777 trucks acting as fuel, water and lubrication service vehicles at Poltava.

“The Cat 785s are the smallest operating primary fleet we have at Poltava,” North said. “We also have the Hitachi EH3500s and Cat 789s and Cat 793s, tending to keep the bigger fleet towards Yeristovo and the smaller fleet at Poltava.”

In carrying out this evaluation, the company has also plotted its next electrification steps.

“Given we have got to the point where we know we want 220 t for ore and 300-320 t nominally for waste at Yeristovo, we have a very clear understanding of where we are going in our efforts to support our climate action,” North said.

Electrification of the company’s entire operation – both the power generation and pelletising segment, and the mobile fleet – forms a significant part of its carbon reduction plans.

A 5 MW solar farm is being built to trial the efficacy of photovoltaic generation in the region, while, in the pelletiser, the company is blending sunflower husks with natural gas to power the process. Fine tuning over the past few years has seen the company settle on a 30:70 sunflower husk:natural gas energy ratio, allowing the company to make the most of a waste product in plentiful supply in Ukraine.

On top of this, the company is recuperating heat from the pelletisation process where possible and reusing it for other processes.

With a significant amount of ‘blue’ (nuclear) or ‘green’ (renewable) power available through the grid and plans to incorporate renewables on site, Ferrexpo looks to have the input part of the decarbonisation equation covered.

In the pellet lines, North says green hydrogen is believed to be the partial or full displacement solution for gas firing, with the company keenly watching developments such as the HYBRIT project in Sweden.

On the diesel side of things, Ferrexpo is also charting its decarbonisation course. This will start with a move to electric drive haul trucks in the next few years.

Power infrastructure is already available in the pits energising most of its electric-hydraulic shovels and backhoes, and the intention is for these new electric drive trucks to go on trolley line infrastructure to eradicate some of the operation’s diesel use.

“Initially we would still need to rely on diesel engines at the end of ramps and the bottom of pits, but our intention is to utilise some alternative powerpack on these trucks as the technology becomes available,” North said.

He expects that alternative powerpack to be battery-based, but he and the company are keeping their options open during conversations with OEMs about the fleet replacement plans.

“We know we are going to have to buy a fleet in the next couple of years, but the problem is when you make that sort of purchase, you are committing to using those machines for the next 20 years,” North said. “During all our conversations with OEMs we are recognising that we will need to buy a fleet before they have probably finalised their ‘decarbonised’ solutions, so all the contracts are based on the OEM providing that fully carbon-free solution when it becomes available.”

With around 15% of the company’s carbon footprint tied to diesel use, this could have a big impact on Ferrexpo’s ‘green’ credentials, yet the transition to trolley assist makes sense even without this sustainability benefit.

“The advantages in terms of mining productivity are huge,” North said. “You go from 15 km/h on ramp to just under 30 km/h on ramp.”

This is not all North offered up on the company’s carbon reduction plans.

At both of Ferrexpo’s operations, the company moves a lot of ore internally with shuttle trains, some of which are powered by diesel engines. A more environmentally friendly alternative is being sought for these locomotives.

“We are working with rail consultants that are delivering solutions for others to ‘fast follow’ that sector,” North said referencing the project already underway with Vale at its operations in Brazil. “We are investigating at the moment how we could design and deploy the solution at our operations for a lithium-ion battery loco.”

Not all the company’s decarbonisation and energy-efficiency initiatives started as recently as the last few years.

When examining a plan to reach 12 Mt/y of iron ore pellet production, North and his team looked at the whole ‘mine to mill’ approach.

“The cheapest place to optimise your comminution of rock is within the mine itself,” North said. “If you can optimise your blasting and get better fragmentation in the pit, you are saving energy, wear on materials, etc and you are doing some of the job of the concentrator and comminution process in the mine.”

A transition to a full emulsion blasting product came out of this study, and a move from NONEL detonators to electronic detonators could follow in the forthcoming years.

“That also led us into thinking about the future crusher – where we want to put it, what materials to feed into the expanded plant in the future, and what blending ratio we want to have from the pits,” North said. “The problem with pit development in a business that is moving 150-200 Mt of material a year is the crusher location needs to change as the mining horizons change.”

It ended up becoming a tradeoff between placing a new crusher in the pit on an assigned bench or putting it on top of the bench and hauling ore to that location.

The favoured location looks like being within the pit, according to North.

“It will be a substantial distance away from where our existing facility at Poltava is and we will convey the material into the plant,” he said. “We did the tradeoff study between hauling with trains/trucks, or conveying and, particularly for Belanovo, we need to take that ore to the crusher from the train network we already have in place.”

These internal ‘green’ initiatives are representative of the products Ferrexpo is supplying the steel industry.

Having shifted away from lower grade pellets to a higher-grade product in the past five years and started to introduce direct reduced iron pellet products to the market with trial shipments, Ferrexpo is looking to be a major player in the ‘green steel’ value chain.

North says as much.

“We are getting very close to understanding our path forward and our journey to carbon neutrality.”

Primero banks new work with Fortescue, Rio Tinto and Hazer Group

Primero Group says it has recently booked new business totalling some A$55 million ($39 million) with Fortescue Metals Group, Rio Tinto and the Hazer Group as it continues to build out its 2021 financial year contracted order book.

First, it has been awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Non-Process Infrastructure (NPI) at Fortescue’s Eliwana mine and rail project, in the Pilbara.

Works commenced in late July based on a limited notice to proceed, with the full contract now awarded to Primero following a successful Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process. The contract includes the complete engineering design, procurement and construction of heavy vehicle workshops and washdown and refuelling infrastructure required for the new Eliwana mine, with works expected to be completed in the 2021 financial year.

Once completed, the $1.275 billion Eliwana project, which includes the building of a 30 Mt/y iron ore processing facility, will maintain Fortescue’s overall production rate of a minimum 170 Mt/y over 20 years.

With Rio Tinto, Primero has been awarded two multi-year Master Service Agreements for NPI and Structural, Mechanical, Piping services across the miner’s Pilbara operational and project locations. The two contracts have an initial term of three years, with an option for a two-year extension. They cover sustaining capital and maintenance projects required over that period across all Rio Tinto Iron Ore Pilbara sites, it said.

The services cover design, procurement and construction activities for engagement under negotiated commercial terms in a “panel style agreement”, according to Primero.

Primero has also been awarded an EPC contract for Hazer Group’s hydrogen/graphene commercial demonstration plant in Western Australia at the Woodman Point Water Treatment Facility.

Hazer is undertaking the commercialisation of the Hazer Process, a low-emission hydrogen and graphite production process. This process enables the effective conversion of natural gas and similar methane feedstocks, into hydrogen and high-quality graphite, using iron ore as a process catalyst, according to the company.

“The full project award has followed a successful ECI process that has extended over the past 12 months,” Primero said. “This process was targeted at developing the technology engineering to the point where a commercial contract could be executed to deliver the project. The project is the first of its kind in the new global renewables energy market and is patented groundbreaking technology in the hydrogen space.”

Alongside this, Primero said it had been awarded the detailed design contract for a 130 km water delivery pipeline and associated pumping stations for the Covalent Lithium Mt Holland project feasibility study in Western Australia.

Primero said its committed order book for the 2021 financial year now stands at around A$285 million.

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall start up world’s first pilot plant for fossil-free steel

SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have celebrated the start-up of their HYBRIT pilot plant as part of a project to produce fossil-free sponge iron.

Sweden Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, started up the plant together with Isabella Lövin, Minister for Environment and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister in Sweden, Martin Lindqvist, President and CEO of SSAB, Jan Moström, President and CEO of LKAB, and Magnus Hall, President and CEO of Vattenfall, today.

The achievement comes just over two years since ground was broken to mark the start of the pilot plant build for fossil-free sponge iron (direct reduced iron/hot briquetted iron) with financial support from the Swedish Energy Agency.

At the plant, HYBRIT will perform tests in several stages in the use of hydrogen in the direct reduction of iron ore. The hydrogen will be produced at the pilot plant by electrolysing water with fossil-free electricity. Tests will be carried out between 2020 and 2024, first using natural gas and then hydrogen to be able to compare production results.

The framework for HYBRIT also includes a full-scale effort to replace fossil oil with bio oil in one of LKAB’s existing pellet plants in Malmberget, Sweden, in a test period extending until 2021. Preparations are also under way to build a test hydrogen storage facility on LKAB’s land in Svartöberget in Luleå, near the pilot plant.

The HYBRIT initiative has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10% in Sweden and 7% in Finland, as well as contributing to cutting steel industry emissions in Europe and globally. Today, the steel industry generates 7% of total global carbon-dioxide emissions, according to the companies.

“With HYBRIT, SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall aim to create a completely fossil-free value chain from the mine to finished steel and to introduce a completely new technology using fossil-free hydrogen instead of coal and coke to reduce the oxygen in iron ore,” they said. “This means the process will emit ordinary water instead of carbon dioxide.”

Chevron to supply gas to BHP Nickel West operations

Chevron has announced the signing of a domestic gas sale agreement with BHP’s Nickel West division that will see a total of 22 Pj of equity domestic gas delivered to the operations in Western Australia over a 3.5-year period.

Chevron will supply the natural gas from its Wheatstone domestic gas facility from July.

Chevron Australia Managing Director, Al Williams, said the agreement highlighted the important role of natural gas in powering critical industries, such as mining, across the state.

“As a reliable and cost-effective way to generate electricity, natural gas is a vital energy source for current and future energy needs of Western Australian industry,” he said.

At full capacity, the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas facilities will produce 500 tj/d of domestic gas for the Western Australia market – enough to generate electricity for 4.3 million households, according to the company.

Nickel West is a fully integrated mine-to-market nickel business with over 3,500 employees and contractors, BHP says. All nickel operations (open pit and underground mines, concentrators, a smelter and refinery) are located in Western Australia. The integrated business adds value throughout the company’s nickel supply chain, with the majority of Nickel West’s current production sold as powder and briquettes, the company added.

The division is currently in the middle of construction of a nickel sulphate plant at the Kwinana nickel refinery. Stage 1 is expected to produce up to 100,000 t/y of nickel sulphate.

Cat continues to see LNG interest for large mining trucks

Caterpillar’s focus on minimising the environmental impact its large mining trucks have on operations has seen it pursue many new and old technologies of late, one of which is the use of alternative fuels.

In a recent Viewpoint post, David Rea, General Manager for Cat Large Mining Trucks, said the company is looking throughout its supply chain to reduce the emissions associated with using and building its vehicles.

“We’re meeting the most stringent emissions regulations,” he said. “We’re offering trucks that can run on alternative fuels, and others that can be electrified using our trolley conversion kit. We’re also making sure we get the most out of parts and components so we’re reducing waste and energy usage.”

On top of this, the company is pursuing Project Verde, a project “focused on energy and emissions reduction, and helping customers decrease their carbon footprints through machinery and power solutions that contribute to lower greenhouse gas”, Brian Weller, Chief Engineer, Surface Mining & Technology, Caterpillar Inc, told IM earlier this year.

In the meantime, Cat said it continued to see interest around the world for alternative fuels and was researching various solutions both in the lab and field in response to this.

One solution, liquefied natural gas (LNG), is a clean-burning fuel that can be sourced locally and is produced more naturally than diesel. It has been discussed as a diesel fuel alternative in the industry for more than a decade, but it is yet to find widespread industry appeal.

Nic Tegtmeyer, Senior Product Specialist at Cat, says the company’s Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) conversion kits for mining trucks are a dual-fuel technology that enables miners to substitute diesel fuel with LNG.

“Not only has LNG been proven to reduce emissions by up to 30%, it also costs about 30% less than diesel,” he said. “Physical ability remains over 90% and DGB has no impact on unplanned downtime.”

DGB vaporises liquid fuel into natural gas, then replaces diesel fuel with LNG when possible. On average, DGB replaces about 60-65% of diesel with LNG, according to Cat.

One place where this technology is being utilised is Fresnillo’s Penmont division in Mexico, where Cat and its Mexico-based dealer, Matco Cat, has converted the entire fleet of large mining trucks at the La Herradura open-pit mine, in Sonora.

Tegtmeyer says DGB is relatively new in mining, but it has over 10 million operating hours of proven data to its name.

“Testing and customer trials have resulted in zero recordings of unplanned downtime related to DGB,” he added.

DGB kits are currently available for Cat 785C and 793D trucks, but this offering could expand beyond that, according to Tegtmeyer.

“We’re listening to our customers and gauging interest in offering the kits for additional truck models,” he said. “Not every mine is an ideal candidate for this solution, but if a natural gas supply is nearby, it can provide significant savings.”

This article is an edited version of this story here.

Newcrest and Chevron Australia sign natural gas agreement

Newcrest Mining has signed a domestic gas sale agreement with Chevron Australia that will see the energy company deliver domestic gas from its portfolio across the Wheatstone (pictured), Gorgon and North West Shelf facilities, in Australia.

Some 16 PJ of equity domestic gas will be delivered over the 3.5-year agreement, which will begin soon and end in July 2023, according to Chevron.

Chevron Australia Managing Director, Al Williams, said: “Chevron is a leading and growing domestic gas supplier to Australia and we’re proud to deliver new natural gas supply to Western Australian industries, businesses and households.”

He added: “As a reliable and cost-effective way to generate electricity, natural gas is a vital energy source for current and future energy needs, powering local jobs, industry and communities.”

At full capacity, the Chevron-operated Gorgon and Wheatstone natural gas facilities will produce 500 TJ/d of domestic gas for the Western Australia market – enough to generate electricity for 4.3 million households, according to the company.

As a key and growing participant in the evolving Western Australian market, Chevron is actively marketing domestic gas under long and shorter-term arrangements.

Suncor to cut GHG emissions by 25% with natural gas project

Suncor has made the decision to replace its coke-fired boilers with two cogeneration units at its Oil Sands Base Plant, in Alberta, Canada, as it looks to lower its carbon footprint within the province.

The cogeneration units will provide reliable steam generation required for Suncor’s extraction and upgrading operations and generate 800 MW of power, the company said.

The power will be transmitted to Alberta’s grid, providing reliable, baseload, low-carbon power, equivalent to around 8% of Alberta’s current electricity demand. This project will increase demand for clean natural gas from Western Canada, Suncor said.

Mark Little, President and CEO, said: “This is a great example of how Suncor deploys capital in projects that are economically robust, sustainability minded and technologically progressive.

“This project generates economic value for Suncor shareholders and provides baseload, low-carbon power equivalent to displacing 550,000 cars from the road, approximately 15% of vehicles currently in the province of Alberta.”

The project cost is estimated to be C$1.4 billion ($1.06 billion), delivering a high teens return and projected to be in-service in the second half of 2023.

“This project will substantially contribute to the company’s goal of an increased C$2 billion in free funds flow by 2023,” the company said. “This will be achieved through oil sands operating cost and sustaining capital reductions along with margin improvements. It will also contribute materially to Suncor’s publicly announced greenhouse gas (GHG) goal.”

Replacing the coke-fired boilers with cogeneration will reduce GHG emissions associated with steam production at Base Plant by some 25%. It is also expected to reduce sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by approximately 45% and 15%, respectively, the company says.

The cogeneration units will eliminate the need for a flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) unit, which is currently used to reduce sulphur emissions associated with coke fuel. Decommissioning the FGD unit will reduce the volume of water the company withdraws from the Athabasca River by around 20%.

“By producing both industrial steam and electricity through a single natural gas-fuelled process, cogeneration is the most energy-efficient form of hydrocarbon-based power generation. Suncor believes this project will contribute to both Alberta and Canada’s climate ambitions.”