Tag Archives: New South Wales

NextOre’s magnetic resonance tech up and running at First Quantum’s Kansanshi

Australia-based NextOre is onto another ore sorting assignment with its magnetic resonance (MR) sensing technology, this time in Zambia at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine.

NextOre was originally formed in 2017 as a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Worley, with its MR technology representing a leap forward in mineral sensing that provides accurate, whole-of-sample grade measurements, it says.

Demonstrated at mining rates of 4,300 t/h, per conveyor belt, the technology comes with no material preparation requirement and provides grade estimates in seconds, NextOre claims. This helps deliver run of mine grade readings in seconds, providing “complete transparency” for tracking downstream processing and allowing operations to selectively reject waste material.

Having initially successfully tested its magnetic resonance analysers (MRAs) at Newcrest’s Cadia East mine in New South Wales, Australia, the company has gone onto test and trial the innovation across the Americas and Asia.

More recently, it set up camp in Africa at First Quantum Minerals’ Kansanshi copper mine where it is hoping to show off the benefits of the technology in a trial.

The MRA in question was installed in January on the sulphide circuit’s 2,800 t/h primary crushed conveyor at Kansanshi, with the installation carried out with remote assistance due to COVID-19 restrictions on site.

Anthony Mukutuma, General Manager at First Quantum’s Kansanshi Mine in the Northwestern Province of Zambia, said the operation was exploring the use of MRAs for online ore grade analysis and subsequent possible sorting to mitigate the impacts of mining a complex vein-type orebody with highly variating grades.

“The installation on the 2,800 t/h conveyor is a trial to test the efficacy of the technology and consider engineering options for physical sorting of ore prior to milling,” he told IM.

Chris Beal, NextOre CEO, echoed Mukutuma’s words on grade variation, saying daily average grades at Kansanshi were on par with what the company might see in a bulk underground mine, but when NextOre looked at each individual measurement – with each four seconds representing about 2.5 t – it was seeing some “higher grades worthy of further investigation”.

“The local geology gives it excellent characteristics for the application of very fast measurements for bulk ore sorting,” he told IM.

Mukutuma said the initial aim of the trial – to validate the accuracy and precision of the MRA scanner – was progressing to plan.

“The next phase of the project is to determine options for the MRA scanner to add value to the overall front end of processing,” he said.

Beal was keen to point out that the MRA scanner setup at Kansanshi was not that much different to the others NextOre had operating – with the analyser still measuring copper in the chalcopyrite mineral phase – but the remote installation process was very different.

“Despite being carried out remotely, this installation went smoother than even some where we had a significant on-site presence,” he said. “A great deal of that smoothness can be attributed to the high competency of the Kansanshi team. Of course, our own team, including the sensing and sorting team at CSIRO, put in a huge effort to quickly pivot from the standard installation process, and also deserve a great deal of credit.”

Beal said the Kansanshi team were supplied with all the conventional technical details one would expect – mechanical drawings, assembly drawings, comprehensive commissioning instructions and animations showing assembly.

To complement that, the NextOre team made use of both the in-built remote diagnostic systems standard in each MRA and several remote scientific instruments, plus a Trimble XR10 HoloLens “mixed-reality solution” that, according to Trimble, helps workers visualise 3D data on project sites.

“The NextOre and CSIRO teams were on-line on video calls with the Kansanshi teams each day supervising the installation, monitoring the outputs of the analyser and providing supervision in real time,” Beal said. He said the Kansanshi team had the unit installed comfortably within the planned 12-hour shutdown window.

By the second week of February the analyser had more than 90% availability, Beal said in early April.

He concluded on the Kansanshi installation: “There is no question that we will use the remote systems developed during this project in each project going ahead, but, when it is at all possible, we will always have NextOre representatives on site during the installation process. This installation went very smoothly but we cannot always count on that being the case. And there are other benefits to having someone on site that you just cannot get without being there.

“That said, in the future, we expect that a relatively higher proportion of support and supervision can be done through these remote systems. More than anything, this will allow us to more quickly respond to events on site and to keep the equipment working reliably.”

Evolution Mining studying open-pit, underground expansion options at Cowal

Evolution Mining says it is embarking on a prefeasibility study to further expand its Cowal open-pit mine as part of a plan to build towards 350,000 oz/y of sustainable, reliable, low-cost gold production from the New South Wales operation.

Currently on the E42 stage H cutback, Evolution said during a recent site visit that there is potential to further the life of the open pit by accessing feed from the E41 and E46 satellite pits. The study looking into a possible expansion is due later this year, with the company saying it could provide long-term base load ore feed for the operation.

The mine produced 262,000 ounces in Evolution’s 2020 financial year.

The Stage H cutback the company is currently pursuing is expected to see increased ore volumes and grade mined in the first six months of this year, with the strip ratio to fall below 1:1 in its 2023 financial year, Evolution said. It also says an equipment strategy review is underway, with opportunities to “rationalise fleet” with reduced re-handling.

The haulage and loading fleet at Cowal currently consists of 20 Cat 789C dump trucks, three Cat 785C trucks, four excavators (one Liebherr 9400, one Liebherr 994B, one Liebherr 9200 and one Hitachi EX1200), plus three Cat 992G wheel loaders. It also has six hired Epiroc SmartROC surface drills at the operation, one Drill Rigs Australia GC600 drill rig, five Cat D10T tracked dozers and one Cat 834H wheel dozer.

The open-pit expansion is only part of the expansion story at Cowal, with a feasibility study underway on an underground operation. This is factoring in 3 Moz of resources and 1 Moz of reserves, with high-grade orebodies open at depth, the company says.

A second decline (Galway) is due to be developed at Cowal this year, with diamond drilling set to commence next month. The 14,300 m of planned drilling will, the company says, help confirm optimal grade control parameters and convert resources to reserves.

Evolution Mining also has a permit to increase processing capacity at Cowal to 9.8 Mt/y, with near-term incremental improvements targeting a circa-9 Mt/y rate.

The process flowsheet at Cowal includes primary crushing with a Metso Outotec 54-75 Superior MK-II gyratory, grinding with an FLSmidth 36 ft (11 m) x 20.5 ft (6.2 m) SAG mill and FLSmidth 22 ft x 36.5 ft ball mill, and screening with Schenck and Delkor screens. Sandvik H6800 hydroconecone crushers, Metso Outotec flotation cells, a Metso Outotec Vertimill, and Metso Outotec stirred media detritors also feature.

Evolution also said it is testing technology that uses glycine and cyanide during the cyanidation process of gold ore at Cowal for potential significant cost savings and environmental benefits.

Lab trials with the GlyCat™ technology from Australia-based Mining and Process Solutions have been completed successfully, it said, with the next phase being pilot plant trials to assess variability tests and long-term environmental impacts.

Matrix aims to replace steel componentry at Newcrest’s Cadia block cave

Matrix Composites & Engineering has secured a contract with Newcrest Mining to develop a “high-tech solution” for its Cadia gold mine in New South Wales, Australia.

Under the scope of the works, Matrix will use its expertise in advanced materials technology to develop a composite replacement for steel componentry within the miner’s block caving operations at Cadia.

The scope of works for product development, with a contract value of up to approximately A$500,000 ($380,701), will commence immediately and is planned for completion in October 2021. If the development work is successful, it is intended Matrix would manufacture the full-scale solution at its facility in Henderson, Western Australia, for supply directly to Newcrest.

The contract aligns with Matrix’s strategy to increase penetration of its advanced materials technologies into operations and brownfields projects, the company said. It follows a recent agreement with Woodside Petroleum to provide technology development services, using the company’s expertise in advanced materials technology, composite materials and advanced manufacturing.

Matrix Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Begley, said the advanced composite solution has applications for other companies in the mining sector and potentially in the oil and gas space.

“We are pleased to be working with Newcrest and look forward to delivering on this project to replace steel with an innovative composite product that will introduce new technology to make the block caving process safer and more efficient,” Begley said.

“While the scope of this contract for product development is modest, it demonstrates further progress in our strategic pivot from targeting greenfields capital expenditure work to locally-based brownfields operating expenditure in the oil and gas and resources sectors.

“We are optimistic that successful delivery of this project has the potential to unlock larger scale contracts with Newcrest and other blue-chip resources companies.”

Red River’s Hillgrove gold op starts ramp-up process

Red River Resources has commenced production at its Hillgrove gold operation in New South Wales, Australia, and is now ramping up to the plant’s 250,000 t/y capacity.

Gold processing follows the delivery of first ore to the Hillgrove run of mine pad on December 23 from Bakers Creek stockpile mining and trucking activities. This ore was processed by the plant on December 29.

Hillgrove, about 30 km from Armidale in New South Wales, is a past producing mine that was placed on care and maintenance in 2016 due to low prevailing antimony prices.

Prior to recommencement of mining, Hillgrove produced more than 730,000 oz of gold (in bullion and concentrates), more than 50,000 t of antimony (as metal and in concentrates), plus material amounts of by-product tungsten (in concentrates).

It has a JORC 2012 resource of 5 Mt at 4.3 g/t Au and 1.5% Sb for 692,000 oz of gold and 75,000 t of antimony. This resource is contained within six key hubs in the Hillgrove Mineral Field, with Bakers Creek being both the largest gold production centre in the field and having the deepest workings.

The Hillgrove site includes a 250,000 t/y processing plant, which comprises a selective flotation circuit (capable of producing antimony-gold and refractory gold concentrates), an antimony leach/EW/refining and casting plant, a gold cyanide leach circuit and gold room, plus a pressure oxidation circuit.

The site also has a high-density polyethylene lined tailings storage facility, which was constructed in 2006 and has about two years of production storage capacity.

All of Hillgrove’s electricity requirements are sourced from a 66 kVa grid-connected power supply from Ergon Energy with 11 kVa site power reticulation. Water is sourced from storage dams and underground workings.

Hillgrove has all the office facilities required for operations, including an administration office, mining operations offices, maintenance offices, workshops (heavy vehicle, light vehicle and boilermaker’s workshops), process plant offices, metallurgical laboratory building and first aid building, the company says.

Newcrest, Epiroc and MacLean achieve interoperability first at Cadia East

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations has achieved a world first in mobile equipment interoperability – integrating a remotely operated MacLean water cannon into its Epiroc automation fleet at Cadia East, in New South Wales, Australia.

In 2018, Cadia commenced a loader (LHD) automation trial with Epiroc, with the aim of removing operators from the Cadia East underground environment, while maintaining productivity and performance. The loader trial proved successful and the next phase involved integrating non-Epiroc machinery into the existing automation fleet, Epiroc said.

Cadia’s Mining Innovation & Automation team worked with Epiroc and MacLean to integrate a MacLean water cannon capable of localisation with Epiroc’s traffic management system and safety hardware, so that it could be introduced into the automation safety system.

Water cannons are used for secondary break operations, using high pressure water to release wedged rocks in underground drawpoints.

By integrating the MacLean IQ Series tele-operation system with Cadia’s automation safety system, the water cannon could be safely operated from the surface in a tele-remote capacity, allowing it to work alongside Cadia’s semi-automated loaders, Epiroc said.

The water cannon was trialled and commissioned during July and August and is now in use at Cadia East, according to Epiroc.

Cadia General Manager, Aaron Brannigan, said that integrating the water cannon into Cadia’s automation system has improved the efficiency of the production level and removed human exposure from drawpoints.

“We are constantly pushing the envelope of change in the innovation and technology space,” Brannigan said. “Automated machinery allows for shift in technical capabilities of our workforce, while ensuring we continue to eliminate safety risks from our operation.”

The success of this milestone paves the way for further integration of other key pieces of secondary break equipment into the automation system, according to Epiroc, which added: “This project is part of Newcrest’s ongoing drive to increase its automation and innovation focus on site.”

Aeris Resources adds battery-electric 20 t carrier/loader to Tritton fleet

Aeris Resources has confirmed the arrival of the battery-electric retrofit ‘TRITEV’ 20 t underground loader at its Tritton copper operations, with the company having added the Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader to its fleet at the New South Wales, Australia, mine.

3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment (BME) unveiled this industry-first machine last month, with 3ME saying the machine would head to Tritton later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

The collaboration between 3ME and Aeris Resources started all the way back in 2017, Aeris Resources said in its arrival announcement on LinkedIn

Based on a second-hand Volvo diesel-powered L120E, the TRITEV required a “ground-up rebuild” from the 3ME and BME teams, 3ME Chief Business Development Officer, Steven Lawn, told IM last month.

This included removing all diesel internal combustion engine components, except the transmission and drivetrain; modelling the expected duty cycle at Tritton; developing a battery-electric system to suit the application at hand; writing the vehicle control unit software; integrating the system into the existing platform; and providing a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

The 3ME and BME teams planned to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales (previously owned by Centennial Coal and now on care and maintenance), ahead of sending to Tritton.

Bis’ UGM backs up growth plans with new Morisset facility

Australia-based underground services provider, UGM, has opened the doors on its new purpose-built diesel and electrical workshop facility in Morisset, New South Wales.

UGM, which forms part of the Bis group, said the location for the new facility was strategically selected for its proximity to the region’s key mining operators, providing enhanced services for customers.

Building on UGM’s existing underground repair, overhaul, field service and spare parts services, the western Lake Macquarie facility was also designed to support UGM in delivering new services to a broader customer set.

Bis Underground Services General Manager, Mark Doyle, said the move will bolster UGM’s diesel and electrical capacity and provide faster expert service for its underground mining and civil customers.

“The Morisset location provides proximity to local mining operations and the opportunity to design a space with a much larger footprint, to support our growth plans.

“The new facility is three times larger, enabling UGM to offer a broader range of niche customer solutions. One of these is growing our tunnelling infrastructure capabilities, including our licensed Mitsui roadheader operations, which services major civil underground projects throughout the Eastern seaboard.”

3ME, Batt Mobile Equipment gear up for TRITEV deployment at Aeris’ Tritton mine

With the launch of the ‘TRITEV’ in Australia earlier this month, 3ME Technology and Batt Mobile Equipment unveiled what is believed to be the first fully battery-electric retrofit 20 t loader suitable for deployment in underground hard-rock mines.

The Integrated Tool-Carrier/Loader is scheduled to arrive at Aeris Resources’ Tritton underground copper mine in New South Wales later this year as part of an initiative developed under Project EVmine, with the help of METS Ignited.

It follows on the heels of Safescape’s Bortana EV, launched in 2019, also as part of Project EVmine.

Steven Lawn, Chief Business Development Officer at 3ME, told IM that the machine’s development represented more than just a “diesel refit”.

“The machine we used was a second-hand Volvo L120E that required a ground-up rebuild,” he said. “The guys removed all diesel internal combustion engine components except the transmission and drivetrain. They then modelled the expected duty cycle.”

After this modelling, the designers developed a battery-electric system (battery, motor, motor control unit and ancillary items) that would suit the application at hand.

The software team then entered the process, writing the vehicle control unit software (ie the software that makes everything work), with a focus on ensuring the human machine interface remained the same so there was no difference for an operator controlling the legacy diesel variant and the battery-electric retrofit version, Lawn explained.

They then integrated the system into the existing platform before the team at Batt Mobile Equipment provided a mechanical overhaul of the machine.

Ahead of deployment at Tritton, the company plans to test the machine at the Newstan mine, in New South Wales, Lawn said. This underground mine, previously owned by Centennial Coal, was put on care and maintenance back in 2014.

The partnership that delivered this industry first already has eyes on another EV retrofit, Lawn said, explaining that a Minecruiser platform for use in underground hazardous area mines is next on the agenda.

3ME Technology is understood to have an upcoming release in the pipeline in regards to its state-of-the-art battery system for mining applications, now also under demand from the defence market as indicated by recent public announcements about 3ME Technology’s participation in Australia’s C4 EDGE Program.

“The increased levels of safety and compliance achievable with the 3ME Technology battery system means that 3ME Technology is spearheading the supply of high-performance lithium-ion batteries into underground mining,” the company said.

Clean TeQ spells out battery raw materials potential of Sunrise project

Clean TeQ Holdings and Fluor Australia have come up with a Project Execution Plan (PEP) for the Sunrise Battery Materials project in New South Wales, Australia, that, Clean TeQ says, confirms the asset’s status as one of the world’s lowest cost, development-ready sources of critical battery raw materials.

This builds on a 2018 definitive feasibility study on Sunrise that modelled the first 25 years of production at the project.

In production, it will be a major supplier of nickel and cobalt to the lithium-ion battery market, and scandium to the aerospace, consumer electronics and automotive sectors, according to Clean TeQ.

The PEP scope of works included a range of studies which have optimised metal production rates while holding autoclave ore feed constant at the approved maximum 2.5 Mt/y, it said. This saw average annual (metal equivalent) production rates of 21,293 t of nickel and 4,366 t of cobalt in years two to 11; and 18,439 t of nickel and 3,179 t of cobalt from year two to 25.

On top of this, the PEP considered a scandium oxide refining capacity of up to 20 t/y installed from year three, which can readily be expanded to 80 t/y with around A$25 million ($18 million) capital expenditure on additional refining capacity.

“As the scandium market grows, future investment in a dedicated resin-in-pulp scandium extraction circuit and further refining capacity offers the potential to increase by-product scandium production to up to approximately 150 tonnes per annum,” Clean TeQ said.

The pre-production capital cost estimate of $1.658 billion (excluding $168 million estimated contingency) reflects a significantly de-risked capital cost, with approximately 79% of total equipment and materials costs covered by vendor quotations, Clean TeQ said. Submissions were also obtained from contractors to validate the labour costs included in the total direct cost.

On the operating expenditure side, C1 costs came in at $4.31/Ib ($9,503/t) of nickel before by-product credits in years 2-11 and $4.58/Ib before by-product credits over years 2-25.

Using weighted average forecast (metal equivalent) sulphate prices over the life of mine of $24,200/t (including sulphate premium) for nickel and $59,200/t of cobalt, the project would generate a post-tax net present value of $1.21 billion, the company said.

Future value optimisation studies to assess opportunities to reduce capital expenditure in areas of off-site pre-assembly, modularisation and low-cost offshore procurement could further improve this return, it said.

The PEP assumed the project execution on an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) basis. Prior to making a final investment decision, Clean TeQ will select an EPCM contractor for the engineering, procurement and construction phase of the project, it said.

Clean TeQ Co-Chairman, Robert Friedland, said: “Auto supply chains are coming to realise they are playing a game of nickel and cobalt musical chairs. We are half-way through the second verse and the music will eventually stop.

“We have a clear vision for how to create a sustainable auto supply chain of the future. Our team is proud to present that vision today. Sunrise is a long-life, low-cost, development-ready asset which is a template for consistent, sustainable and auditable nickel and cobalt supply. We cannot anticipate how long it will take to have the project funded and in development, but we can be patient with such a strategically important asset, and we are fully committed to ensuring it is developed with partners who understand the value that responsible supply chain integration brings.”

Although the level of activity associated with the PEP study and engineering works will now significantly reduce, Clean TeQ said a range of work-streams will continue in order to progress a number of value-adding deliverables aimed at minimising project restart time once funding is secured:

  • Work will be progressed on the long-lead electrical transmission line (ETL) work scope. The ETL application to connect to the NSW electrical grid is currently in progress and will continue through the 2021 financial year;
  • Progressing ongoing commercial discussions with landowners, local councils, the New South Wales state government and other impacted parties required for land access agreements for key infrastructure including the water pipeline and the ETL;
  • Surveying and planning for autoclave and oversize equipment transport routes to site;
  • Preliminary investigations to be undertaken on exploration licences for limestone resources, a key process reagent for which the company currently has a supply contract in place with a third party;
  • Test work and engineering assessing opportunities for potential further downstream processing of sulphates into battery precursor materials;
  • Ongoing environmental work including monitoring and compliance reporting;
  • The Sunrise Community Consultative Committee will be maintained along with several local community engagement/support programs; and
  • A range of scandium alloy development programs will continue to be progressed, consistent with Clean TeQ’s long term strategy to work with, and assist, industry players to investigate and develop new applications for scandium-aluminium alloys.

Thiess extends stay at Glencore’s Mount Owen coal mine

CIMIC Group’s Thiess has been awarded a contract extension by Glencore to provide mining services at the Mount Owen coal operation in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia.

The 18-month contract extension, to commence in July 2021, will generate revenue of A$340 million ($240 million) to Thiess.

Thiess will continue to provide mine planning, design and execution, drill and blast, overburden removal and coal mining services at the mine, it said.

The global mining services provider has operated at Mount Owen since 1994, applying, it says, industry best practice mining operations, with uncompromising environmental and safety standards. It is Thiess’ largest coal mining operation in New South Wales, processing up to 15 Mt/y of run of mine, of which 7.8 Mt/y is mined by Thiess from the Mount Owen North Pit.

Thiess Managing Director, Douglas Thompson, said: “For more than 25 years we have delivered industry-leading, specialised mining techniques at Mount Owen, leading to higher resource recovery, increased plant efficiency and reliable material movement for our client.

“Our team looks forward to continuing our long association with Glencore and the Hunter Valley community.”

Thiess says it has a strong presence in the Hunter Valley where it provides mining services at three mines. It works to deliver social benefits through local employment and training, local procurement, community engagement and Indigenous affairs.