Tag Archives: Newcrest Mining

Newcrest to leverage ‘steep wall technologies’ on Lihir Phase 14A project

The Newcrest Mining Board has approved the Lihir Phase 14A feasibility study, endorsing the Papua New Guinea project into full implementation.

As part of the study, site investigation and trial works have been completed and a plan has been developed which extends the Phase 14 cutback and safely steepens the walls of the pit using civil engineering techniques, the company says.

Completion of a drilling program has significantly improved the geotechnical knowledge of the cutback area and enabled refinement of the anchor design and placement to better suit the geotechnical conditions.

Ground anchors will be installed in the upper benches of the cutback to support the steeper wall angles in these areas. The slope angles of the lower benches will be similar to the existing walls in Phase 14. The upper Argillic horizons without ground support typically have an unsupported slope angle of circa-45°, which has been increased to circa-68° using ground anchors. The improved geotechnical knowledge has enabled the study design to reduce slope angles from circa-77% in the prefeasibility study while improving overall stability.

The study outlined a project with estimated total capital expenditure on a real basis of circa-$280 million and a nominal basis of circa-$296 million. For this, the company is looking at circa-400,000 oz/y of incremental Phase 14A gold output from the 2023-20226 financial years. On a life of mine basis, this incremental production would increase to circa-800,000 oz/y.

Newcrest Interim Chief Executive Officer, Sherry Duhe, said: “The development of Phase 14A is another innovative step forward in realising the full potential of Lihir. The findings of the study are expected to deliver gold production from an additional high-grade ore source which would have otherwise been inaccessible through standard mining techniques.

“The study outlines an updated life of mine plan, with upside potential. The application of steep wall technologies, together with an alternative, lower cost and simpler seepage barrier design have the potential to enable access to additional high-grade zones outside the current ore reserve and extend the elevated production profile beyond the 2031 financial year.

“Our team continues to work diligently to maintain a strong focus on capital discipline, placing several recovery improvement capital projects on hold that currently do not meet our investment criteria. The Phase 14A ore zone is now well informed by geotechnical drilling that underpins the design and stability of the cutback, and we expect Phase 14A to be delivering higher-grade ore from financial year 2024.”

Through an early works program, mining of Phase 14A commenced in the June 2022 quarter and will continue through to the 2027 financial year. Ore mined from Phase 14A will displace lower-grade ore feed to the processing plant, with circa-13 Mt of high- and medium-grade ore from Phase 14A expected to be fed through to the 2026 financial year to produce that incremental circa-400,000 oz of gold. Lower grade material will be stockpiled and fed progressively over the remaining mine life.

The Lihir gold production schedule forecasts mining rates to increase up to 55 Mt/y over the coming years. Ore from Phase 14A is expected to be mined between the 2022 financial year and the 2027 financial year with high-grade ore fed directly to the mill while the lower-grade ore will be processed over the life of mine.

Mining rates for Lihir are expected to continue to increase over the coming years through a combination of equipment capacity and mining efficiency projects. Additional mining capacity has been delivered following a program of truck re-builds and the replacement of primary dig units completed in the 2022 financial year. In combination with a “maintenance excellence program”, mechanical availability has increased to 84% from 79% over the last 12 months, Newcrest said.

Mine efficiency improvements identified in the most recent study have also been realised including improved fleet utilisation and effective dispatch tactics to reduce equipment delays. Open-pit productivity continues to advance with Lihir delivering strong improvement in ex-pit movements during 2022.

Further application of the civil steep slope technology used in Phase 14A is being assessed to potentially unlock additional high-grade mineralisation outside the current ore reserve in the northern and eastern extents of the Kapit orebody, Newcrest says. This work has the potential to improve the production profile beyond the 2031 financial year, before the high-grade ore from Kapit declines. The design optimisation and associated impact on the longer-term production profile is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023.

“In addition, following completion of the Seepage Barrier Feasibility Study in October 2021, an alternative seepage barrier design, the Nearshore Soil Barrier (NSB) option, is currently being studied,” the company said. “The NSB would sit between the No Coffer Dam limit and the existing shoreline of the Inner Harbour, approximately 500 m west of the proposed Kapit Seepage Barrier (KSB).

“Initial work indicates that the NSB would be a simpler solution, faster to construct and less costly. A prefeasibility study (PFS) level assessment of the NSB option is currently underway and is expected to be completed in 2023.”

Newcrest said the study production profile has been updated, with mill throughput rates revised to incorporate increased ore hardness based on an improved geometallurgical understanding. Mill operating time has been revised to reflect current mill performance with a more progressive ramp up in improvement. Options to increase throughput rates continue to be assessed going forward. Recovery assumptions have also been adjusted, with several recovery improvement capital projects no longer meeting Newcrest’s investment criteria following the inclusion of cost inflation pressures into estimates. These projects have been placed on hold and will continue to be assessed for potential inclusion into the mine plan at a later date, it said.

Miners need to address workplace culture, diversity issues, IMARC panel says

There has been keen focus on workplace culture and diversity on the final day of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in Sydney, Australia.

Throughout the conference, mining leaders have acknowledged that if the industry does not act now to fix and change the culture, they will not be able to attract the staff required for the new resources boom.

Chief People Office at IGO, Sam Retallack, told the conference: “We as industry have broken the psychological contract of trust that we have with the community. We are seen as a cause of climate change, not as a solution. We are seen as an unsafe workplace for females, we are seen as inflexible with our rostering and that you must commit to FIFO work. It’s not a particularly attractive proposition for new workers.”

Danielle Martin, Director of Social Performance at ICMM, spoke to the substantial issues facing the industry as workforce skills change and evolve.

“The competition for talent will be tricky for mining because the skills in many cases are less specific to mining and are applicable across other sectors,” Martin said. “Because of the culture and perception of mining, it is a less attractive industry for many workers who could work in other industries.”

All is not lost, however. Stuart Jenner, General Manager of Capability and Culture at Gold Road Resources, reflected on the cultural issues the Australian Defence Force faced 20 years ago. Changes to workplace culture will likely lead to an increase in the recruitment of new staff and the retention of key talent as the competition for skills intensifies, he argued.

Jenner said the Defence Force “recreated its brand and aligned it with its purpose and mining needs to do the same”.

He added: “We need to be upfront, honest and transparent to establish that purpose. The Defence Force pays nowhere near what the mining industry does but because of their purpose, they have a huge amount of success in attracting talent.”

There is a realisation from the sector the industry must act now and push for the acknowledgment that these issues need to be addressed from the top down.

Gavin Wood, Chief Information Officer at Newcrest Mining, explained to the delegates at IMARC the work the company is doing to change culture with their existing workforce.

Wood said many of its existing staff grew up in mining areas and communities and the company needed to give them the skills to interact with other aspects of business and by virtue society.

“If we do not give them these skills the culture will not change,” he said.

Over the three-day conference, mining leaders from across the globe have challenged the current standard of culture within the sector and have discussed ways to make the industry safer for all.

Trimble scanning solution helps steer Havieron copper-gold project progress

A unique underground mine tunnel scope, a tight schedule and demanding conformance specifications made the Havieron copper-gold exploration decline project in Western Australia as complex as it is necessary, according to Trimble distributor HL Geospatial.

To build the 2.5 km box cut decline tunnel, surveyors and operators were challenged to establish a technology-enabled workflow that would keep this project on track and within specification, the company said.

The Havieron copper-gold deposit is in the Paterson region of Western Australia. Through a joint venture, Greatland Gold and Newcrest Mining are looking to develop the deposit. The regulatory approvals for Havieron’s construction were provided at the end of 2020. Soon after, the joint venture was ready to begin construction. The large cylindrical deposit sits under about 450 m of sedimentary cover and the mineralisation extends over deep intervals to at least 600 m below the base of sedimentary cover, according to the jv.

The first phase of the underground mine development is the construction of a box cut, an approximately 2.5 km decline and associated surface infrastructure at the site to support an exploratory drill platform.

Mine Survey Plus, a mine surveying specialist, was contracted to provide continuous survey data and model-to-design comparisons to various stakeholders. The company has worked in more than 90-plus mines spanning nine different countries since its inception in mid-2017.

When asked about Havieron, Mine Survey Plus’s Senior Mine Surveyor, Justin Hearn, explained: “This is not a traditional hard-rock mine. It’s a soft-rock mine, which lends to a unique profile. Digging the decline tunnel is much like working a civil earthworks project as compared to a traditional drill-and-blast scenario in a hard-rock mine.”

To build the decline for the drill platform, crews must dig through the deposited materials, which has its challenges for both operators and surveyors. For operators, the challenge is to see as-built conditions as work is completed to ensure design conformance while digging through the soft materials. For surveyors, the challenge is to measure as-built conditions with speed and accuracy.

Scanning for opportunities

The Havieron decline profile is arched along the entire length to the footings, instead of the more conventional mining decline profile of square shape with a semi-arch rounded back for ground support. That custom profile requires a different setup – and for Mine Survey Plus some different technological capabilities, HL Geospatial says.

With help from HL Geospatial, a part of UPG Solutions, Mine Survey Plus had evaluated the Trimble® SX12 scanning total station.

MSP surveyor Ian Thomson uses the Trimble SX12 scanning total station to establish survey control at the Havieron project

Brett Grocock, Owner of Mine Survey Plus, said: “I trust and often call on HL Geospatial. Our success is at the forefront of their minds, and that’s reassuring – and the SX12 is just one example.”

Beneficial in underground applications, the SX12 scanning total station includes a small green laser spot (3-mm diameter electronic distance measurement (EDM) laser spot at 50 m), provides precise and clear set-out of tunnel construction points, and robotic technology to withstand the harshest conditions such as dust and moisture, according to Trimble.

In the case of the Havieron decline, Grocock noted: “We wanted the ability to check headings in real time. With this technology, we are able to do a complete setup and scan that is automatically georeferenced to the location.”

Real-time collaboration

To begin the Havieron decline construction, geotechnical engineers provided Mine Survey Plus surveyors a design profile for both excavation and the final shotcrete surface.

Hearn then used the Trimble Business Center Tunneling module to design the alignment. The resulting model is uploaded to the Trimble TSC7 controller with Trimble Access™ field software. Using the Trimble Access Tunnels module provides purpose-built tools for tunnel survey operations, according to the company.

Combined with the SX12 scanning total station, surveyors can automate the as-built data collection process and provide instant feedback to the excavator operators – typically one of the most time-consuming tasks in tunnel construction.

“We check the excavated profile using the Tunnel Auto Scan Function, and then scan existing conditions with the SX12 scanning total station at various cuts along the face,” Hearn said. “The scan data is then compared against the design profiles to verify conformance – all while in the field. We don’t need to take data into the office for verification; we can do it live.”

Access to data in the field has been hugely appreciated by the machine operators who are used to seeing a straight-line conformance check, according to HL Geospatial. The 3D scan provides an added layer of visual communication and immediate feedback on any course correction that may be needed.

“In the early stages, we were all – surveyors and operators – getting used to the different methodology and profile style,” Hearn noted. “With the conformance comparisons on the controller, the operators can visually see where they might need to do a little more work. Many times, they are standing next to me checking their work. They love that we’re able to give them near real-time feedback in the field. It’s a whole new concept in this realm. We’ve seen greater turnaround and increased precision in a very short time because of the in-the-field visuals.”

The engineering team is also taking advantage of the scan data. Hearn added: “They’re looking at our data showing the different strata as a way to confirm the initial geological model and verify the design. Essentially, they’re using our scans to create a better model of the area.”

Entering the Havieron mine

Mine Survey Plus is also using Trimble Access’ Continuous Topo feature to conduct a regular pickup. The Job XML file is imported into Trimble Business Center for a visual comparison against the tunnel alignment, while the string data is imported into Deswik, a CAD program for mining applications.

Heran said: “With the latest release of Trimble Access, I am looking to utilise the Half Dome Scan with LAS exporter and Scan to Surface functionality, with the eventual goal of using the scan data alone to generate the 3D models in Deswik.”

Meanwhile, Hearn and Grocock continue to support the Havieron decline construction, which is currently on track for completion in 2023.

As of July 2022, Greatland Gold reported the decline construction has advanced 489 m, with 111.5 m since the last report a month prior. The progress reflects the highest daily advancement rate during a single reporting period since commencement of the exploration decline.

Shaun Day, Managing Director of Greatland Gold, said: “The observed acceleration of the decline advancement is particularly pleasing. The improved advancement productivity is consistent with the expected improvement of ground conditions with depth.”

Newcrest grads underline automation possibilities with SmartHog development

The use of an all-terrain unmanned ground vehicle, incorporation of military spec hardware and sensors, a bank of lead/acid batteries, and the ingenuity of three mechatronics graduates have brought Newcrest Mining closer to its goal of automating the PC1 extraction level at its Cadia East gold-copper underground mine in New South Wales, Australia.

The company has progressively been rolling out automation-focused technologies at this mine steered by its Mining Innovation and Automation (MIA) Team.

Last year, this team, with the help of Epiroc, successfully implemented the first semi-autonomous integrated production level at the mine, with, at the time, an autonomous Scooptram ST18 capable of full 24/7 production across seven drives of a whole panel cave at the operation.

It is a slightly smaller machine that is helping the company progress from the automation of production and support equipment at the mine to autonomously completing a range of inspection tasks on the fully-autonomous PC1 extraction level.

The seeds for the SmartHog vehicle – a WartHog all-terrain unmanned ground vehicle with ‘smarts’ – were sewn back in early 2021, when Cadia’s first mechatronics graduate arrived to join the MIA team.

“A challenge was set to build an automated underground inspection robot utilising a WartHog chassis,” Aaron Brannigan, Cadia General Manager, told IM, explaining that the challenge provided a hands-on task for the graduate that would result in a solution that was beneficial in realising the team’s key focus of improving safety through technology and innovation.

The new graduate began to design this robot with the WartHog chassis as the base and, over time, was joined by two more mechatronics graduates – one with a dual computer science degree – where the conceptual work behind the robot really started to accelerate.

In early 2022, the three started to build the robot from a range of hardware, all based on military specifications to withstand the underground environment.

Brannigan explained: “To achieve this, the graduates made every cable themselves, crimped every connector, assembled all the components and sensors and wrote the software code for various aspects of the sensor outputs.”

Since the inspection robot was designed to replicate tasks typically performed by people on the level, it had to be fitted with a range of sensors including LiDAR, Radar, a PTZ camera, stereoscopic camera, LED spotlights and a weather station for wet bulb temperatures and measuring wind velocity for ventilation purposes, the company explained. Powered by a bank of lead/acid batteries, the SmartHog was commissioned on surface and, in June 2022, completed trials underground, including being ‘checked in’ to the autonomous system.

“With some further testing and improvements, the SmartHog will soon live permanently underground in the autonomous zone and will be able to complete a range of inspection tasks,” Brannigan said. “This moves us closer to our goal of automation at the extraction level and is a key focus of improving operational safety and sustainability through technology.”

IM put some questions to Brannigan to find out more.

IM: How are you leveraging technology from the automotive sector in the SmartHog? What kind of adaptations are required for this to work underground?

AB: The SmartHog utilises automotive industry radars as a way of localising its position underground. LiDAR is vulnerable to interference from dust and moisture in the air, whereas radar can ‘see’ through these, allowing the SmartHog to continue to navigate and know its position underground when these are present. We believe the use of radar in this context is industry-leading and our intent with this is twofold: first, it demonstrates the advantages and reduced downtime of radar over LiDAR and, second, it encourages original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to move from LiDAR to radar for their autonomous equipment so they can take advantage of the benefits it offers.

IM: What existing underground communications infrastructure is in place at PC1 to help facilitate the real-time transmission of data from the SmartHog?

AB: Our underground PC1 level has Wi-Fi throughout which forms the basis of the autonomous system, and this is connected to the surface via fibre optic cables.

IM: How are you using the new data you are collecting with the SmartHog at Cadia? What tasks is it allowing you to do that you couldn’t previously carry out (or conducted differently)?

AB: The primary purpose of the SmartHog is to undertake a range of tasks that a person has usually performed in the past, improving both safety and efficiency. One example is geotechnical inspections of draw points and extraction drives. In the past when it was necessary for a Geotechnical Technician to undertake an inspection, the autonomous level would need to be deactivated and the autonomous equipment removed to ensure there was no risk of vehicle on person interaction. This is a time-consuming process and means production is stopped for the duration, not to mention the potential risk to the person entering the level on foot.

With the various sensors fitted to the SmartHog, it can scan and photograph the draw point (using the conventional digital camera and stereoscopic camera) and send this information to the surface where a Geotechnical Engineer can review it, all while autonomous loading operations continue.

As the SmartHog is ‘checked in’ to the autonomous system and is ‘seen’ by the other equipment, it can operate independently but also become part of the autonomous traffic management system. Should the Geotechnical Engineer require further information about the draw point, the SmartHog can return and drive up to the limit of the draw point and capture further data from the range of sensors.

IM: Are there other projects outside of the PC1 where you could use the SmartHog?

AB: We anticipate in the future that each panel cave could have their own SmartHog, so that a range of tasks can be completed as previously outlined.

IM: Are there plans to make more SmartHogs? Could they be adapted to carry out other tasks?

AB: The way we have developed the first SmartHog may look very different to how any future SmartHogs may look. The value the graduates gained from solving a current problem using a hands-on approach is priceless and helps demonstrate the value of the graduate program. We believe the graduate program at Newcrest is industry-leading given the types of challenges our graduates can address and solve using the skills recently acquired at university on real-world challenges.

Given the SmartHog is battery powered, as battery technology improves, the next generation of SmartHogs will be able to carry lighter and higher capacity batteries allowing for larger payloads and longer run times. This could allow the inclusion of other sensors and different types of cameras, such as infrared and thermal, which are traditionally heavy items and would limit the range of the current battery performance. The options available are endless once battery technology improves to the point where runtimes are increased and recharge times are reduced. This is not far off given the speed at which battery technology and design is improving.

Electric Mine Consortium launches Surface Long Haul EV Challenge

The Electric Mine Consortium (EMC) – made up of Evolution Mining, South32, Newcrest and a total of 21 major industry players – has launched a Surface Long Haul EV Challenge, calling on the automotive and electric vehicle (EV) industry for solutions in its mission to establish decarbonised mine sites.

The EMC’s call out to companies in the tech, renewable and manufacturing industries is looking for ground-breaking solutions to long haul EV trucks and associated charging infrastructure for mine sites and global supply chains.

Driven by collective demand for electric equipment across the EMC’s operating sites, spread over six continents, the consortium is looking to form synergies between mining and non-mining industries to accelerate decarbonisation solutions across the industry – the mining industry currently contributes 8% of the globe’s emissions.

EMC Founder and Director, Graeme Stanway, explains there’s currently no equipment and associated infrastructure solution that’s available at scale, in line with mining companies’ operational needs.

“The mining industry’s path to electrification is where the car industry was 10 years ago,” Stanway said. “We have the technology, but it needs acceleration and adaptation to meet the needs of varied mine sites across the world.”

He says there’s a big opportunity to recreate mining from a place of siloed communication between companies to a point where collective strategy drives the industry to drastically reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon emissions, through electrification.

“We have the world’s largest data platform of shared knowledge surrounding renewables in mining,” Stanway said. “Through the Surface Long Haul EV Challenge, we’ll be working to accelerate, pilot and convert all new fleets to electric with detailed use case studies for knowledge sharing across the industry.

“If we can solve this for our freight in mining, imagine the impact we can have on the rest of the transport market. Mining has a great opportunity to flip the perception…from being seen on the wrong end of the ledger, to being a leader.”

The EMC is now seeking businesses who can design or supply electric long-haul equipment solutions.

BluVein’s underground dynamic charging developments accelerating

BluVein, after officially receiving agreement and project approval from all project partners, has initiated the third phase of technology development and testing of its underground mine electrification solution, BluVein1, it says.

BluVein is a joint venture between Australia-based mining innovator Olitek and Sweden-based electric highways developer Evias. The company has devised a patented slotted (electric) rail system, which uses an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside the mining vehicle together with the BluVein hammer that connects the electric vehicle to the rail.

The system, which is OEM agnostic, provides power for driving the vehicle, typically a mine truck, and charging the truck’s batteries while the truck is hauling load up the ramp and out of an underground mine.

The underground-focused development under BluVein is coined BluVein1, with the open-pit development looking to offer dynamic charging for ultra-class haul trucks called BluVein XL. This latter project was recently named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the Charge On Innovation Challenge.

The purpose of the third phase of the BluVein1 technology development is to:

  • Conduct a full-scale refined hammer (collector) and arm design and testing with a second prototype;
  • Execute early integration works with mining partners and OEMs;
  • Provide full-power dynamic energy transfer for a vehicle demonstration on a local test site; and
  • Confirm a local test site for development.

IM understands that the company is close to sealing an agreement for a local test site where it will carry out trials of the dynamic charging technology.

James Oliver, CEO, BluVein, said the third phase represents an essential final pre-pilot stage of BluVein1.

“It excites me that the BluVein solution is becoming an industry reality,” he said. “The faster BluVein1 is ready for deployment, the better for our partners and the mining industry globally.”

BluVein recently entered a Memorandum of Understanding with Epiroc, where the Sweden-based OEM will provide the first ever diesel-to-battery-converted Minetruck MT42 underground truck for pilot testing on the slotted electric rail system from BluVein.

“This MoU also ensures that we are designing and developing the system into a real-world BEV for full-scale live testing and demonstration on a pilot site in 2023,” BluVein says.

In addition to Epiroc, IM understands BluVein is working with Sandvik, MacLean, Volvo and Scania, among others, on preparing demonstration vehicles for the BluVein1 pilot site.

The BluVein1 consortium welcomed South32 into the project in May, joining Northern Star Resources, Newcrest Mining, Vale, Glencore, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and BHP, all of which have signed a consortium project agreement that aims to enable final system development and the construction of a technology demonstration pilot site in Australia.

The project is being conducted through the consortium model by Rethink Mining, powered by the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC), which CMIC says is a unique collaboration structure that fast-tracks mining innovation technologies such as BluVein and CAHM (Conjugate Anvil Hammer Mill).

Carl Weatherell, Executive Director and CEO, CMIC/President Rethink Mining Ventures, said: “With the urgent need to decarbonise, CMIC’s approach to co-develop and co-deploy new platform technologies is the way to accelerate to net zero greenhouse gases. The BluVein consortium is a perfect example of how to accelerate co-development of new technology platforms.”

Oliver concluded: “The BluVein1 consortium is a great reminder that many hands make light work, and through this open collaboration with OEMs and mining companies, we’re moving faster together towards a cleaner, greener future for mining.”

Electric Mine Consortium partners with AWS on world-first mine decarbonisation platform

Australia’s Electric Mine Consortium (EMC), made up of some of the world’s leading mining and service companies, has announced it is working with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, to accelerate the electrification of mine sites globally.

Announced at AWS Summit 2022, EMC is using AWS’s depth and breadth of services, including machine learning, business intelligence and storage, to build the world’s first mining data platform, to capture real-time information on mine decarbonisation from sites globally.

To drive decarbonisation, mining companies can use the platform to measure energy storage levels and electrical infrastructure use from global mine sites to accelerate the creation of a cleaner, more electrified future in mining, EMC said.

Co-founder of the EMC, Graeme Stanway, says the platform can help enable EMC members to share sustainability insights and analyse the outcomes of adopting electrified mining infrastructure and sustainable operations.

“The way we generate, store and harness energy around the globe is changing drastically,” Stanway said. “EMC’s collaboration with AWS will help see us at the forefront of this change, driving the mining industry’s electrification at scale.”

Stanway said the industry is crying out for tools to decarbonise due to tightening government emission reduction targets, increasing environmental, social and governance pressure, and the industry being responsible for 7% of the greenhouse gas emissions globally.

“Like the electric vehicle industry, electric mines are the future” Stanway said. “Not only can they be safer through the eradication of diesel particulates, pollution, noise and vibrations, they can also be more targeted, precise and effective when it comes to mining, and yield stronger results than traditional mines with minimal ground disturbance.”

As part of the initiative, EMC created a “data lake” using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), a cloud object storage service, that can securely store thousands of datasets from the consortium’s mines, including data on energy consumption and renewable energy infrastructure output.

EMC can then clean the data and run data pipelines using AWS Step Functions, a low-code, visual workflow service; AWS Glue, a serverless data integration service; and AWS Lambda, a serverless, event-driven compute service. AWS Glue can provide EMC with data catalogue functionality, and AWS Lake Formation, a service that makes it easy to set up a secure data lake in days, can deliver security and access control.

Amazon QuickSight, a business intelligence service (screenshot pictured), can allow everyone in the consortium to explore and understand mining data through user-friendly interactive dashboards that identify efficiency practices that may reduce emissions, according to EMC.

Also, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy machine learning models, EMC can train machine-learning models to predict energy usage spikes at mines and track the carbon efficiency of deploying sustainable energy infrastructure.

Sarah Bassett, Head of Mining and Energy, Australia at AWS, said: “Data capture and analysis is essential to mining operations, and AWS is helping consortium members to share their critical datasets and collective insights to drive the digitisation and evolution of the industry. I am excited to be collaborating with the EMC and its consortium members to improve the design of mines globally and accelerate the industry’s journey to decarbonisation on the global scale.”

The EMC is a growing group of over 20 mining and service companies. These companies are driven by the imperative to produce zero-emission products for their customers and meet mounting investor expectations. Thus, the objective of the EMC is to accelerate progress toward the zero-carbon and zero-particulate mine through:

  • Resolving key technology choices;
  • Shaping the supplier ecosystem;
  • Influencing policy; and
  • Communicating the business case

The EMC is emerging as a key vehicle for the decarbonisation of the mining industry, particularly for underground operations, and will remain responsive to the rapidly changing external environment.

Members include OZ Minerals, Newcrest Mining, Gold Fields, IGO, South32, Blackstone Minerals, Evolution Mining, Barminco and Iluka Resources.

BluVein XL open-pit mining dynamic charging solution gains momentum

Much of the buzz around BluVein to this point has focused on its dynamic charging infrastructure for underground mining and quarries, but the company has also been gaining momentum around a surface mining project – as the most recent Charge On™ Innovation Challenge announcement indicates.

The company and its BluVein XL solution were today named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the competition, which is seeking to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.

Within this context, BluVeinXL, the company’s new product line, will be capable of dynamically feeding power to heavy-duty mining fleets with up to 250-t payloads.

The technology leverages much of what was developed for BluVein1: a patented slotted (electric) rail system using an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside the mining vehicle together with the BluVein hammer that connects the electric vehicle to the rail. This system provides power for driving the vehicle, typically a mine truck, and charging the truck’s batteries while the truck is hauling load up the ramp and out of an underground mine.

To this point, funding support for the BluVein1 project – being developed for vehicles up to 60-t payload and powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC) – is being provided by Vale, Glencore, Oz Minerals, Northern Star, South32, BHP, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and Newcrest Mining.

BluVeinXL, meanwhile, has seen the company engage with more than 10 “global mining company leaders” in progressing to a pilot demonstration of the technology. While the company plans to announce the names of these supporting mining companies shortly, it says they all see the need for an industry-standardised, OEM-agnostic, safe dynamic power feed infrastructure to suit mixed OEM open-pit fleets.

The key benefits of the dynamic power feeding solution BluVein is pushing are smaller on-board battery packs, faster vehicle haulage speeds up ramp, grid load balancing and maximum fleet availability.

“Our mining company supporters have provided feedback to us on the benefits they see with BluVeinXL over traditional overhead exposed wire catenary systems offered by other OEMs,” the company said. These are:

  • Near to the ground installation enabled by our patented Ingress Protected safe slotted rail technology;
  • Safer and faster installation;
  • Easy relocation as required to suit open-pit ramp movements over time;
  • Requires no heavy civil foundation requirements;
  • Alleviates the requirements on haul road conditions;
  • Offers purchasing flexibility on electric vehicles through the adoption of an industry-standard dynamic power feed infrastructure; and
  • Safer mine sites with no high voltage exposed overhead wires.

The company concluded: “Together with our mining company supporters, BluVein looks forward to working with all OEMs as we progress towards our planned pilot demonstration at a yet to be announced location.”

Newcrest’s Lihir operation boosts safety with latest Olitek Anako Sense solution

Newcrest Mining’s Lihir operation in Papua New Guinea has commissioned an improved Temperature Measuring Unit (TMU) that, it says, further enhances safety for personnel working at its geothermally active open-pit operations.

This second generation TMU, called Anako Sense, follows the commissioning of the Anako 13 prototype on March 6, 2018, at Lihir. The unit engineers out the risk of personnel exposure to geysering events during drill hole measurement activities, according to the technology developer Olitek Mining Robotics (OMR).

Anako 13 allowed geothermal technicians to operate a mobile arm from the vehicle remotely, while simultaneously lowering or raising a probe safely to measure and record temperature, water level and depth within blastholes. It was designed to mechanise this quality monitoring process in the open pit, removing operators from danger and putting them in the safety of an air-conditioned cabin.

The Mark 2 machine just delivered to Lihir provides faster than manual cycle times, while eliminating fatigue, repetitive strain injury and exposure risks, according to OMR. It also provides real-time data capture of borehole quality measurements.

Newcrest teams collaborated with several business partners to deliver the Anako Sense unit early this year, allowing geothermal technicians to continue carrying out their work safely as Lihir’s mining pit phases extend deeper and further north into Kapit orebody, the miner said.

Lihir Manager – Mine Technical Services, Ben Likia, thanked various Newcrest teams and business partners for delivering the project safely and ensuring a timely site deployment of Anako Sense, including training sessions for key personnel.

“I also congratulate our national employees who completed their training sessions,” he said. “We have competent geothermal personnel who are now operating the new TMU, and several mobile maintenance personnel who will assist in ensuring the TMU is regularly maintained and fit for purpose.

“The safety of our people in Lihir is our number one priority, and this improvement is testimony to that. We are committed to ensuring everybody goes home safe and healthy every day.”

While Anako Sense has obvious applications at mine sites with geothermal hazards like Lihir, the technology’s appeal is much broader, according to James Oliver, OMR’s Managing Director.

“Anako Sense could be used and applied at any mine operating in freezing cold conditions, at high altitudes, located in inland deserts, or around voids,” he said. “The quicker we get people off the bench and into safe vehicle cabins, the better off the industry will be. The development of Anako Sense will help that transition.”

Lihir Superintendent – Geothermal Operations, Kaipale Pano, said the enthusiasm and feedback from the project team and personnel had been heartening.

“The project is a success for Newcrest Lihir because we (Newcrest) encourage employees to experiment with new ideas to improve safety and production performance,” he said. “We displayed Newcrest’s practice – ‘Bottom-up Innovation’ – and values – ‘Working Together’ and ‘Innovation and Problem Solving’ – through this project.

“We are proud to have the best people and outstanding operators, mostly Papua New Guineans, who constantly team up to deploy safe and latest mining technologies at Lihir.”

The name Anako was inspired by an incident at Lihir nine years ago. In 2013, Samuel Ayata, a Geothermal Technician from Eastern Highlands and Morobe, sustained injuries from geysers when collecting blasthole data. His father, Ayata Anako, collapsed upon receiving news about the incident and was bedridden for almost three weeks, pleading with his son to quit his job.

Ayata said: “The scars on my body were a drive for our team to take on this safety initiative and continue improving it; we named the TMU after my father. I thank Newcrest for supporting our commitment to work safely for our families.”

South32 becomes latest miner to join BluVein mine electrification project

BluVein has announced its ninth and newest funding partner to join the BluVein mine electrification project powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC), with South32 being the latest miner to join the cause.

BluVein is a joint venture between Australia-based mining innovator Olitek and Sweden-based electric highways developer Evias. The company has devised a patented slotted (electric) rail system, which uses an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside the mining vehicle together with the BluVein hammer that connects the electric vehicle to the rail. The system provides power for driving the vehicle, typically a mine truck, and charging the truck’s batteries while the truck is hauling load up the ramp and out of an underground mine.

South32 joins Vale, Northern Star Resources Limited, Glencore, Newcrest Mining, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP, OZ Minerals and Agnico Eagle Mines Limited as BluVein funding partners.

Earlier this month, BluVein and Epiroc formed an MoU with BluVein aimed at fast-tracking development of the BluVein dynamic charging solution towards an industrialised and robust solution which is ready for deployment across the global mining industry. The MoU is focused on the BluVein Underground solution (BluVein1), but BluVein is also developing a solution for open-pit mining.