Tag Archives: Newcrest

Ampcontrol strengthens decarbonisation drive by joining the Electric Mine Consortium

Ampcontrol says it has joined the Australia-based Electric Mine Consortium (EMC) to drive efforts towards electrifying and decarbonising the mining industry.

The EMC is a growing group of highly regarded mining and service companies, driven by the imperative to produce zero-emission products for their customers and meet mounting investor expectations and industry challenges.

Ampcontrol is strengthening its strategic focus on decarbonisation through the innovation and development of electrical solutions, adapting to the changing times.

“Joining the Electric Mine Consortium is a natural progression of our commitment to supporting our customers and industry through the national energy transition,” Rod Henderson, Ampcontrol Managing Director and CEO, said. “Ampcontrol is at the forefront of renewable energy manufacturing. We engineer and supply advanced technology, products, and services to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment.”

EMC Founder and Director Graeme Stanway, said: “The way we generate, store and harness energy around the globe is undergoing a period of major change.

“A global ecosystem has begun to emerge to underpin the innovation and scaling of electrification technologies.”

As well as pioneering products in the renewable energy space, Ampcontrol has been using its engineering expertise to already assist with the transitioning mining industry.

Alongside Tritium, Ampcontrol was a winner in the global ‘Charge On Innovation Challenge’ in May 2022. The joint submission was an end-to-end mining haul truck battery swap solution that is fully automated, relocatable, scalable and cell agnostic. In a drive-in/drive-out recharging station, an autonomous transfer robot swaps batteries in 90 seconds, significantly reducing safety risks and increasing productivity by excluding personnel from the swaps process.

Henderson said: “One of the areas Ampcontrol identified as a need of the industry was assisting businesses with the next steps to get to the future state of electrified mining operations. When businesses think ‘I need energy’ to perform certain functions, the first instinct is often to acquire more energy. Our expertise at Ampcontrol is to help businesses use the materials they already have available, in a different way.”

Ampcontrol says it recognises the importance of partnerships and collaboration in developing technology solutions to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment.

“It is important to demonstrate we work alongside other businesses to contribute to the low carbon economy transition and to the responsible sourcing of prime materials to enable a competitive advantage in a net-zero carbon environment,” Henderson said.

The EMC has launched a call out to companies in the tech, renewable and manufacturing industries that can provide 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.

Ampcontrol joins over 20 miners and suppliers to the sector that includes Newcrest, South32, Barminco and Epiroc to create the EMC with the ambition to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

Newcrest’s Brucejack mine set for full fleet battery-electric transition in Q4

Newcrest’s Brucejack gold-silver mine in British Columbia, Canada, is set for a full battery-electric fleet transition by the end of the year, the gold miner said in its financial year 2022 results.

Following a successful site trial, seven underground battery-electric trucks are being commissioned at Brucejack, replacing the existing diesel fleet and abating approximately 65,000 t of CO2 emissions through to 2030.

The new fleet will improve truck productivity, lower unit costs and enhance operational efficiency from planning to production, according to Newcrest. Three of the Sandvik 50-t-payload Z50 battery-electric trucks are already in production, with the full switch over expected to be completed in the December 2022 quarter, it noted.

Sandvik and Pretivm previously noted that seven Z50 haul trucks would be supplied to the operation as part of the planned fleet transition.

The project is being partly funded thanks to a C$7.95 million ($6.1 million) investment from The CleanBC Industry Fund.

Brucejack, which became wholly owned by Newcrest when the acquisition of previous owned Pretivm Resources completed earlier this year, is currently the subject of Newcrest’s EDGE program, which aims to drive a culture of innovation, high performance and continuous improvement. The program has identified additional opportunities of approximately C$15-$25 million/y, with improvements in stope turnaround time and more efficient mine operations as the initial focus areas, the company said.

Run-rate benefits from this effort are expected to be fully realised by the June 2024 quarter, Newcrest says.

Newcrest said in the financial results that it was also assessing ore sorting technology at the mine, which aims to classify and separate mineralised material from non-mineralised material to deliver more consistent mill feed grades and increase operational flexibility.

Newcrest and Microsoft partner on digital twin and sustainability modelling projects

Microsoft has announced a strategic partnership with Newcrest, which will see the mining company adopt Azure as its preferred cloud provider on a global basis, as well as work on digital twins and a sustainability data model.

The two companies are collaborating on programs of work including the use of digital twins to improve operational performance and a high-impact sustainability data model, Microsoft said.

As an industry-leading user of Microsoft technology, Newcrest has migrated all key workloads, including SAP, from private cloud to Azure. Microsoft 365 is deployed across the organisation, as is Teams and Power BI.

Two priority projects are underway, with the first being the creation of a full value chain digital twin at Newcrest’s Cadia operation in New South Wales, which captures operational data spanning the full breadth of the site. Developed in collaboration with Microsoft, Willow and site operational experts, the digital twin displays data from both information technology and operational technology through easy-to-digest 3D visualisations of the mining process, Microsoft explained. This allows operators and managers to make tactical and strategic decisions in real time to improve performance.

A scenario planning tool will eventually be integrated into the digital twin to enable testing of simulated actions against live data before making operational changes in the field. Together with data on other critical operational metrics, such as recovery and costs, this solution will evolve into a full productivity model for each mining site, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft and Versor are also working with Newcrest on a sustainability data model, with the first release due by June 2022. The model is designed to improve sustainability and streamline environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. It will also reduce the time it takes to produce annual sustainability reports. Newcrest will eventually integrate a 3D visualisation tool into the data model to better view end-to-end sustainability performance across the value chain.

Gavin Wood, Chief Information Officer at Newcrest, said these platforms create a scaffold for new digital solutions that will provide predictive and prescriptive insights to help the company optimise operations.

“When you think about how big and complex a mine site is, particularly in regard to the processing done on site, how much energy and water it consumes, the ability to use the full power of AI to provide actionable insights across the value chain is going to unlock so much value for us,” Wood said.

“This is key to our broader ambition to use technology as an opportunity to build on our successes in safety, sustainability and efficient mining.”

He added that having Microsoft as a strategic partner delivered an important advantage for Newcrest.

“I’m a big believer that when it comes to technology – and I’m talking about all technology, not just the IT world – complexity is the thing that kills you,” Wood said.

“It’s better to have simpler architectures and technology portfolios with fewer partners, where you have deeper partnerships and you work closely together, and benefit from the integration that comes with this approach.”

Newcrest’s strategic partnership with Microsoft has been forged with that in mind, Microsoft said.

Microsoft’s global cloud, Azure, now supports the company’s operations around the world. Newcrest is also exploring how it can use Microsoft’s Cloud for Sustainability, which is designed to record, report and reduce carbon emissions through actionable insights.

Brett Shoemaker, Director of Sustainability, Microsoft ANZ, said: “We are proud to work with Newcrest to harness the power of technology to build a more sustainable future, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy and water, and driving change.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so data and AI are keys to success. If we can get insights to the right people at the right time, and use data and AI to automate responses where it makes sense, we can impact environmental sustainability. That’s at the heart of Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability.”

Working with Microsoft and Versor, and leveraging Azure and Power BI, Newcrest has already developed data models that are being used across production, safety, cost and people processes, and which will inform the sustainability data project.

Monadelphous banks work with South32, Newcrest, Codelco and Collahuasi

Engineering company Monadelphous Group says its businesses have secured some A$400 million ($284 million) of new contracts and extensions in the resources and energy sectors, including an extension at South32’s Worsley Alumina Refinery in Western Australia, a contract with Newcrest at Lihir in PNG, two contracts with Codelco in Chile and its first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, also in Chile.

In Papua New Guinea, Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with Newcrest to provide structural, mechanical, piping and electrical and instrumentation works on the Lihir Front End Recovery Project, with work expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.

In Chile, Monadelphous’ maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured the following contracts at Codelco’s operations in Calama:

  • A three-year contract to provide mine infrastructure maintenance and repairs at the Chuqicamata underground copper mine;
  • A five-year contract to provide comprehensive maintenance of the heap leaching process and electrowinning copper extraction plant at the Radomiro Tomic copper mine. Buildtek has been providing services at Radomiro Tomic since 2012; and
  • Buildtek’s first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, a company owned by Anglo American, Glencore and Japan Collahuasi Resources, to provide modifications to the concentrate distribution system at its Collahuasi Maritime Terminal in Punta Patache, south of Iquique in Chile. Work is expected to be completed in the first half of this year.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri, said the award of these contracts was a testament to the company’s proven track record of delivering value for its customers.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationships with these valued customers and are committed to continuing the provision of high quality, innovative and safe solutions,” he said.

Olitek on a mechanisation mission to provide mine safety step change

IM’s Teams call with Olitek Mining Robotics’ (OMR) James Oliver and Newcrest’s Tony Sprague starts like many other meetings, with a safety share.

Centred on the experiences of a drill and blast expert, Barry Crowdey, owner of Blastcon Australia Pty Ltd, this ‘share’ goes some way to highlighting mining’s hidden safety problem.

“So often we hear about safety shares that are almost instantaneous: rock failures, rock bursts, collapses, vehicle incidents, energy releases, ground collapses, or somebody getting pinned against something,” Oliver, OMR’s Managing Director, told IM. “You have this instantaneous safety hazard you are always trying to protect against.

“The ones that don’t get reported – and are possibly creating a big stigma in the mining industry – is the ongoing wear and tear on the human body.”

Crowdey, a blasting consultant, offers direct experience here.

As a charge-up operator, he was recently side-lined for six months after major shoulder surgery. A whole host of repetitive tasks – such as push and pull activities during blasthole preparation and charge-up – conducted over the last two decades had proven too much for his body.

“A charge-up operator is a highly sought-after job,” Oliver said. “The perception is: you have to be tough to do it well. Barry never complained about this – which probably speaks to awareness around men’s mental health to a degree – and would often use his time off to recover from body soreness likely caused by these repetitive tasks.”

The injuries that don’t get reported – and are possibly creating a big stigma in the mining industry – are the ongoing wear and tear on the human body, James Oliver says

He added: “After stories like this, it is no wonder the mining industry has a stigma for wearing people out and, essentially, taking away more than it is providing – personally and from an environmental perspective.”

Sprague, Group Manager, Directional Studies and Innovation at Newcrest, has experienced some of the strains placed on the human body by carrying out similar manual tasks on mine sites, reflecting on a three-month stint on a blast crew in Kalgoorlie at the height of summer.

He, Newcrest and the wider mining industry are responding to these issues.

For the past three-or-so-years, Newcrest has been collaborating closely with OMR to develop a range of smart, safe and robust robotic systems enabling open-pit mechanised charge-up, blasthole measurement and geological blasthole sampling, as well as underground remote charge-up for tunnel development.

This suite of solutions is tackling a major industry problem that most mining OEMs focused on automating load and haul, or drilling operations, are not looking at.

OMR is addressing this market gap.

“Apart from a small number of mines and in specific applications, the mining industry is generally not ready for automation,” Oliver said. “Effective mechanisation of the hazardous mining tasks is what is needed first. This is where design thinking is crucial – process review, deletion, modification and optimisation to enable robotic mechanisation.”

Sprague added: “Most processes in mining have been designed for fingers and have taken hundreds of years to be optimised around them. We now need to mechanise these processes before we can start thinking about automating.”

The metric for momentum

The injuries that OMR and many others are looking to alleviate with mechanisation of these manual processes are not generally captured by lost time injuries or other similar safety metrics.

Most processes in mining have been designed for fingers and have taken hundreds of years to be optimised around them, Tony Sprague says

This has historically made it hard to invest in such technology – the numbers don’t typically show up in the WH&S reporting.

Yet, the risk of not confronting this issue is starting to have more sway over operational decision making at the same time as technology is reaching a suitably mature level.

“The image of Barry at home recovering from surgery to address career-induced injuries is not the image the mining industry wants to portray any longer,” Oliver said.

And with mining companies competing with other industries for skilled talent, they can no longer afford to put such stress on their people.

The idea, as OMR says, is to maintain process performance with well executed mechanised equipment. “Strain the machinery, not the people” is one of the company’s mottos.

And it will only take a few more frontrunners adopting such technology to affect real change across the industry, according to Oliver.

“Socially, people will speak,” he said. “If the mine down the road has someone in the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin carrying out remote charge-up operations, that news will soon spread. Operators will no longer tolerate being exposed to rock bursts, injuries and the like, and will leave positions where they are put in such a situation.”

It is such momentum that has, arguably, led to the industry backing innovators like OMR.

One of the company’s products, the Remote Charge-up Unit (RCU), is now the subject of a major collaborative project managed by the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC).

Seeking to alleviate the issues associated with loading and priming explosives at the development face, the RCU’s core enabling technology is OMR’s innovative “Trigger Assembly” (pictured below), which enables lower cost conventional detonators to be mechanically installed safely and efficiently. This system is fitted to a modified Volvo wheeled excavator, with its hydraulic robotic boom, and is the key to moving people away from harm’s way in the underground mining setting.

The project is being delivered in a series of development phases through to Technology Readiness Level 7. This functioning prototype machine will enable personnel to move at least 4-5 m away from the underground development face and carry out efficient and effective face charge-up.

This project is moving into the procurement and build phase of the first prototype, according to Oliver.

Newcrest is also one of the major miners steering developments of the RCU, alongside Agnico Eagle, Glencore and Vale within the CMIC collaboration.

While Sprague says his company has injected early seed funding to get some of the OMR work moving, he thinks industry collaboration is key to bringing the products to market.

“What got me into wanting to do these sorts of projects is the belief that the mining industry can be so much better than it currently is,” Sprague said. “We can change this faster by finding smart, agile companies like Olitek and support them with groups of like-minded mining companies to accelerate projects. We are showing that when the industry works together, we can make solutions to our problems appear.

He added: “I’m a true believer that momentum breeds momentum. In these types of projects, I use my finite seed funds and stretch them as far as possible. I might not know how to get to the end of a project in terms of funding it, but if I can get it to a point where we have some TRL3 designs and lab testing to prove the concept, you can go out to the market and find ways to progress up through the technology readiness levels.

“It is about chipping away and progressing up through the TRLs as opposed to asking the industry to blindly invest in R&D.”

Moving up a level

And this is where most of OMR’s technology suite is at: TR5 to TRL6 level.

Oliver explained: “If we look at the RCU unit at the moment, we have a robotic excavator platform that was developed on a sister project. This modular approach we are taking has allowed us to go into new applications seamlessly because of the base technology building blocks we have created.”

Alongside the RCU, the company is working on an “Anako” suite of products, namely: Anako Sense, Anako Sample and Anako Prime.

Anako Sense is a borehole probe sensing machine allowing operators to remotely measure the depth, temperature and presence of water within blastholes. It has been 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 – which is now commercially available – 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.

Anako Sample provides a mechanised sampling process to collect blasthole data. It, again, removes personnel from harm’s way, while providing fast cycle times and repeatable sample quality. It also provides automated data recording. This technology is currently going through Factory Acceptance Testing, with plans to deploy to a customer site shortly.

Anako Prime – for mechanised open-pit charge-up – provides all the benefits of the other Anako products while being compatible with multiple types of explosives. It is leveraging the developments made in the underground environment with the RCU and has a Mark 1 machine completed. Progress is also being made on a Mark 2 version to achieve high productivity, fully mechanised priming and bulk emulsion placement, according to Oliver.

While more products could be added to the OMR portfolio in time, the company is focused on leveraging the proven Volvo wheeled and excavator platform that can scale up from 6 t to 60 t capacities and can move quickly around the mine.

Given the strong collaborative relationship OMR has fostered with Volvo over the years, there is also potential down the line for the Volvo network to support these machines across the globe, providing the machine uptime safety net that many remote mine operators would like if they were to take up the OMR technology option.

The inspiration

Crowdey’s role in this story does not end with the safety share. He is also now training operators on this new equipment, providing a real-life example of the reason to adopt such mechanisation as well as how easy that adoption process is.

Sprague said: “You might think you need to be an expert excavator operator to work these technologies, yet the smart controls, vision and positioning systems for hole location, for instance, means the machines do the hard work for you.”

Oliver added to this: “We say a trainable operator can be sat in that machine and, after a matter of days, be as efficient as a manual operator.”

There is an impending deadline for mine operators to confront these issues, with mechanisation of the most dangerous processes the first port of call, according to Oliver.

“The only way to stop this mining impact is about enabling machinery to do the work and going through a mechanisation process to ensure the Barrys of this world don’t have to conduct these manual processes,” he said. “A good example of that over the last decade is the installation of hose feeders on emulsion pumping units in blasthole charging. That represents a ‘step’ in the right direction, but what we need now is ‘step change’.

“Eventually there will be places in a mine that people simply cannot go, so we better start perfecting mechanisation now as automation will be needed one day. It might be 10 years from now, but, if we’re not mechanised by that point, we will simply not be able to mine these more challenging ore deposits.”

Australia’s IMARC mining event rescheduled to January 2022

Due to ongoing travel and gathering restrictions, and the rise of COVID-19 infections around Australia, Beacon Events, the organisers of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), has today announced its decision to reschedule the 2021 edition.

IMARC 2021 will move to the new dates of January 31-February 2, 2022, with the hybrid event taking place in-person at the Melbourne Showgrounds, and online for those that cannot attend in-person.

IMARC Managing Director, Anita Richards, said that while it is disappointing that the event has had to be postponed from 2021, it is the responsible action to take under the circumstances as the health and safety of IMARC’s participants is our number one priority.

“The rescheduling comes after much deliberation with our founding partners, and in consultation with our sponsors, exhibitors, supporters and various Victorian Government agencies who have been very supportive of the decision,” she said.

Victorian Government’s Head of Resources, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, John Krbaleski, added: “IMARC is a home-grown industry event that has become a major international resources conference. There is significant interest in IMARC and it’s clear that industry is keen to see it go ahead in January 2022.”

Austmine CEO, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said: “Considering the health and safety of our members, delegates, and staff members, we support postponing IMARC 2021 until January 2022. We know how important this event is to our members who are exhibiting and attending, as well as the METS sector overall, and we encourage everyone to consider this as an opportunity to refocus your efforts and support the event in 2022.”

AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin, added: “We’re looking forward to reconnecting with our mining community at IMARC in January 2022. The rescheduled event will provide an opportunity for delegates to network with leaders and experts from across the sector and take part in thought-provoking conversations about the future of our industry.”

BHP, MMG, Newcrest, Mitsui, OceanaGold and Kirkland Lake Gold have all confirmed their continued support for IMARC in January 2022, with their executive leadership teams confirmed to speak within the conference program, Beacon Events said.

In addition to the Federal Minister for Resources, the Hon Keith Pitt, and major sponsors METS Ignited, Caterpillar, ABB and World Gold Council who have also confirmed their support and participation.

IMARC 2021’s new dates are aligned with the expected easing of restrictions from all states across Australia, allowing for strong domestic representation, according to Beacon Events.

Richards said: “Holding IMARC at the start of 2022 helps create a unique opportunity for the industry to kick off the year with new conversations, develop existing relationships and create business opportunities for the coming year. With better weather comes opportunities for outdoor events and networking, alongside some major events at that time of year here in Melbourne.”

There is an expectation that when IMARC returns in 2022, from October 17-19, there will be greater international travel freedoms, allowing for the conference to attract a large domestic and international audience in-person once again, Beacon Events said.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

Newcrest Mining Board greenlights Telfer Stage 5 cutback

Newcrest Mining will proceed with the West Dome Stage 5 cutback at its Telfer gold-copper operation in Western Australia.

The cutback underpins the continuity of operations at Telfer, with further mine life extension opportunities to be assessed within the open pit and underground, the miner said.

Telfer is well positioned in the Paterson Province, with its existing infrastructure and processing capacity providing benefits to the nearby Havieron project (operated by Newcrest under a joint venture agreement with Greatland Gold) and Newcrest’s other exploration projects in the region. Earlier this year, the Newcrest Board approved funding for the construction of the box cut, exploration decline and associated surface infrastructure at Havieron. 

The Newcrest Board has now approved A$246 million ($182 million) of funding for the Telfer cutback and Newcrest has entered into a contract for the works to be undertaken. The cutback is located between West Dome Stage 2 and West Dome Stage 4, both of which will continue to be mined in conjunction with Stage 5.

Drilling in the area between the Stage 2 and Stage 5 boundary has also returned positive results to date, providing further opportunities to extend the life of the West Dome, Newcrest said.

No additional permits, licences or regulatory approvals will be required for the cutback.

Newcrest Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sandeep Biswas, said “This cutback is an investment in Telfer’s future which will ensure the operation is able to continue for at least the next two years. With additional drilling, we believe there is the potential for further mine life extensions in the open pit and the underground beyond this time. With the excellent progress we are making at the nearby Havieron project, our objective is to continue utilising the Telfer plant without interruption as we look to introduce Havieron and other new potential feed sources in the future.”

Production stripping for the Stage 5 cutback will commence in September, with first ore production expected to be delivered to the Telfer mill in March 2022.

Telfer produced 185,000 oz of gold, 5,000 t of copper and 52,000 oz of silver in the six months to June 30.

Life in Mining Dependent Countries on the up, ICMM report says

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) today launched a report which, it says, found that life in Mining Dependent Countries (MDCs) has improved significantly in the last 23 years.

The report analyses 41 social metrics grouped under 12 relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and, across three quarters of these metrics, there has been significant progress made on socio-economic development. The metrics include neo-natal mortality, adult literacy, and access to electricity, with the findings showing the greatest progress has been made across health and well-being, access to quality education, clean water, sanitation and affordable clean energy. The countries with the biggest relative improvements include Bolivia, Botswana, Indonesia, Ghana, and Peru, the ICMM said.

“The research indicates that most mining-dependent countries, which are among some of the poorest in the world, continue to close the socio-economic performance gap with non-resource dependent countries,” the ICMM said. “However, governance matters. The research strongly suggests that the higher the quality of governance, the stronger the socio-economic progress observed in these countries. A stable, enabling environment has the strongest positive relationship with good socio-economic outcomes. The analysis indicates that countries that are more peaceful, have lower levels of corruption, and a vocal and active civil society with sufficient civic space are better able to translate natural resources into social progress. Having mining regulations and frameworks is an insufficient condition for good socio-economic outcomes and the analysis demonstrates that effective implementation is critical.”

ICMM’s Chief Executive Officer, Rohitesh Dhawan, said: “This report builds on the extensive research we conducted in 2018, challenging the notion that an abundance of natural resources in host countries damages economic and social progress. However, without strong resource governance and, most critically, effective implementation of mining regulations and frameworks, host countries are unlikely to feel the benefits of mining operations. The mining industry has a central role to play in this as a catalyst for change, supporting effective implementation of the frameworks needed to help deliver the UN SDGs.”

Orano’s Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Knoche, said: “Good governance contributes to a better sharing of economic benefits and a better acceptability of our activities. Uranium mining with its long-term operations plays a vital role in enabling clean energy. When produced responsibly, it contributes to the wealth of regions and countries. This is how Orano Mining sees its role as a responsible miner.”

Newcrest’s Chief People and Sustainability Officer, Lisa Ali, said: “Improving our performance as an industry – and working with governments, communities, civil society to do so – will help us to better contribute to sustainable growth and aid social progress.”

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)’s Chair, Rt Hon. Helen Clark, said: “The findings of the report are encouraging, and align with the EITI’s Principles, which state that the prudent use of natural resource wealth should be an important engine for sustainable economic growth. High standards of governance, transparency and accountability are a necessary condition, without which the developmental benefits of the resource sector will continue to be elusive. We, therefore, encourage governments and companies to consider how they can improve efforts towards transparency, including through implementation of the EITI Standard.”

The Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI)’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Suneeta Kaimal, said: “In the wake of the pandemic, mineral-rich developing countries face rising poverty, increased corruption risks and growing debt. Good governance by countries and companies – disclosing critical information, ensuring open public dialogue, and promoting evidence-based decision making – is crucial to enabling sustainable, equitable recovery for citizens and a greener planet. ICMM can leverage its collective power to help producer countries harness growing demand for minerals associated with the energy transition, develop new models for benefit-sharing, reinforce lessons learned about good governance, and ultimately transform potential into prosperity.”

The analysis from this report can be used as a baseline of the status of socio-economic progress in MDCs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICMM said. As countries look to rebuild to an even stronger position, the importance of understanding the linkage between effective resource governance and social progress will become increasingly important.

The report, ‘Social Progress in Mining-Dependent Countries: Analysing the role of Resource Governance in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),’ builds on the research undertaken in ICMM’s 2018 study, ‘Social Progress in Mining-dependent Countries.’

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.”

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.”