Tag Archives: Nova

Barminco set for Normet battery-electric Charmec trial at IGO’s Nova operation

Normet’s Charmec MC 605 VE Smart Drive battery-powered emulsion charger is continuing its tour of Australia, with Barminco signing up to trial the machine for three months at the Independence Group-owned Nova nickel-copper-cobalt underground mine in Western Australia.

Barminco, a Perenti company, says the trial is part of its commitment to improving performance and driving sustainability initiatives across its business. It represents the contractor’s first heavy-duty battery electric vehicle (BEV) trial, coming on top of the short trial it conducted with Safescape’s Bortana light electric vehicle, also at Nova.

The MC605 VE Smart Drive will be a direct replacement for the diesel-powered MC605 D Barminco uses at its underground client sites, with the battery-electric trial likely involving a mix of production and development operations.

“Along with the maintenance and cost benefits of using battery-electric equipment underground, it will also provide an improved work environment for our people,” Barminco said.

OZ Minerals, in October, became the first miner in Australia to take delivery of a battery-powered Normet Charmec MC 605 VE SD. The charging unit, which arrived at the Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia, was also put through a three-month trial.

The work at Carrapateena involved the charging of 30 faces – all of which were charged without any major problems – with tramming times of 5-15 minutes and tramming distances of 1-3.5 km from the explosives warehouse to the face and back, according to Normet. The process saw 4.5 m long cuts and an average of 65 holes, with 300-400 kg of emulsion loaded per cut.

The trial involved the use of an on-board 1.5 t Emulsion Charging Module system provided by Normet and the application of Downer Blasting Services’ HEAT® 9000 ammonium nitrate emulsion.

The unit carried out charging with and without a trailing cable plugged into the mine site’s electricity infrastructure and a SmartDrive CT40 DC-charging trolley was also employed.

Reflecting on the Carrapateena trial, Normet said: “SmartDrive battery-electric vehicle architecture proved its ability for emulsion charging as this process is extremely energy efficient and enables independent operations even without a trailing cable plugged in.

“Silent slope performance as well as exhaust-, heat- and noise-free charging operations made a real impression on all users of the SD Charmec.”

Back in 2019, Normet made history with the MC 605 VE Smart Drive by demonstrating battery-electric emulsion charging in an underground production environment for the first time in Europe at the Pyhäsalmi mine, in Finland.

MICROMINE makes a software splash at Diggers & Dealers

With Western Australia one of MICROMINE’s key markets for its Micromine and Pitram products, it is hardly surprising the software leader chose this week’s Diggers & Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie to reveal a host of new updates for the 3D modelling and mine design/mine production and fleet tracking solutions.

Across the company’s product suite, MICROMINE has been readily engaging with customers throughout the world, with users providing feedback to form its product roadmaps.

One of the results of this consultation process is a move to a six-monthly release cycle to enable its software to grow and adapt with clients’ operations.

Another is providing networking options to expand usage of its software across a wider number of users – the free Micromine Effects reader enabling anyone to view, share and interrogate Micromine output files without needing access to a full software licence.

“We’ve also introduced subscription offerings which our customers have quickly adopted because they provide a flexible and scalable option for large teams to access more functionality across our product suite, with less upfront cost compared to the traditional perpetual model,” Adam Brew, MICROMINE Australia Manager, told IM.

Shifting any capex item to the opex column is bound to go down well with the mining community, as MICROMINE has shown.

Having occurred in August 2019, the move led to almost nine months straight of subscription-only sales, according to Brew. “It surpassed our expectations,” he said. “The ability to have a subscription model allowed us to then launch the Free April campaign.”

The “Free April” campaign – which saw MICROMINE offer miners complimentary access to its general mining Micromine package during April as COVID-19 started to bite – led to around 4,000 new people interacting with the software, according to Brew.

MICROMINE has been busy on updates during the pandemic, but it has also delivered its first fully remote implementation of Pitram at a mine operation in Greece, leveraging the experience from its global Pitram support desk to fully deploy a Pitram FMS and Material Management solution.

This Greek project is well advanced with Pitram playing a crucial role in a major refurbishment and expansion of existing operations. The solution at the mine is aimed at helping improve development and production mining cycles; accurately track materials from source to processing; provide Online Analytical Processing reporting and analysis; enhance reactions to, and minimise the impact of, unplanned events; and increase equipment availability and utilisation.

Yet, those attending the MICROMINE booth at Diggers & Dealers this week will have even more to talk about.

Something new

“Micromine 2021 is scheduled for release later this year and attendees of Diggers and Dealers will be the first to get a pre-release reveal of our flagship software offering,” Brew said.

Australia, in particular, has bucked global trends in terms of exploration expenditure, and the Micromine value proposition has been central to the company capitalising on this resurgence in exploration activities, according to Brew.

It is no wonder then that the company has put significant efforts into updating its flagship product.

“The first thing clients will notice is a completely redesigned user interface that provides easier access to the critical functions of the software, transforming the whole user experience with responsive design and efficient workflows,” Brew said.

Delivering this transformation has been a focal point for the business for more than a year, according to Brew, with developers reviewing customer requests most commonly received from the support team, analysing how users work with the array of Micromine functionality, and modelling interface scenarios to optimise the presentation of key functions within the software.

“By providing easier access to these functions and a smart interface that responds contextually, Micromine 2021 anticipates and supports workflows in a genuinely intuitive way,” Brew said.

The Micromine update has more than a new look.

It also includes new tools for importing and working with as-drilled drill-hole data, Brew explains.

These provide faster and more intuitive control over underground ring drill and blast design – also a focus of the earlier Micromine 2020.5 update – enabling designs to quickly adapt to changes in the field, identifying drilling inefficiencies and improving design protocols.

“We are also introducing intuitive tools that mirror the terrain of a blast face and speed up the process of creating blast-hole patterns within the bounds of the dig block,” Brew said. “Users will be able to accommodate polygons/blast masters of varying shapes, reducing the need for manual adjustment.”

The new grade control capabilities in Micromine 2021 provide dynamic updating of grade control reports to enable faster design preparation and reserve evaluation, according to Brew. This can allow miners to explore variations in dig block configuration and evaluate the ramifications of design changes on the grade – a function bound to appeal to opex-focused companies mining complex orebodies.

An integrated scheduler, meanwhile, enables planners to build and visualise an optimised schedule through configurable templates, scripting capabilities and scenarios built from real-world constraints, Brew said.

While the new and intuitive interface is likely to capture the immediate attention of users, MICROMINE has evidently not scrimped on updated and upgraded features.

Getting to the core

With the release of Pitram 4.17 earlier this year, there were improvements to the Materials Movement and Shift Planner modules, but Pitram 5, to be released later this year, goes above and beyond that.

“Stockpile management is now part of your end-to-end process and not managed as isolated assets within Pitram,” Brew says of Pitram 5. Geologists can work with data up- and down-stream to manage and react to material mismatches. Such data validation and accuracy is key to the value proposition Pitram drives in MICROMINE’s global implementations, according to Brew.

“Pitram is at the core of any mining operations ecosystem,” he said. “Our ability to accurately track Last Source, Destination Moved, Quantity and Grade as well as set individual depletion models across the various stockpiles across the mine, makes it a more flexible offering while maintaining data integrity.”

This near real-time tracking ability has previously failed on occasion from connectivity issues.

Not anymore.

“Pitram 5 is a huge leap forward in how we deploy our solution from a connectivity point of view,” Brew said. “Many of the mines we work with have limited or varying degrees of underground Wi-Fi and communications available. Our Peer to Peer solution bridges the gap where communication back to the server is not available at the face, for example.”

The Peer to Peer software can be installed on light vehicles which move around the mine encountering heavy equipment and collecting data in areas of no network coverage before moving back to a Wi-Fi-enabled area to sync the data back to the main server and into the control room. This allows miners developing new areas of their operation to keep up the communications flow without the need to immediately install or expand a communication network.

Such a solution has been successfully deployed at several sites globally, with Independence Group’s Nova nickel operation, in Western Australia, being the company’s reference site.

“Additionally, we have driven more R&D in how we can better leverage our Pitram Restful Integration Service (PRIS) to communicate shift planning data back to the shift bosses and mine managers in near real time,” Brew said.

The free Pitram Connect application, downloadable from the Apple or Google Play store, will show users real-time shift data as well as give them the ability to make updates to the shift, such as equipment or location allocations.

“Our ability to deliver on short interval control is a common requirement we are measured against and providing this planner to key users underground unlocks considerable value for an operation,” Brew said.

Pitram 5’s machine-learning update in the 2021 release leverages the company’s learnings from earlier deployments at some Central Asia mines.

“Utilising the processes of computer vision and deep machine learning, on-board cameras are placed on loaders to track variables such as loading time, hauling time, dumping time and travelling empty time,” he said. “The video feed is processed on the Pitram vehicle computer edge device, with the extracted information then transferred to Pitram servers for processing.”

Reflecting on the product updates and more than six months of pandemic-affected upheaval, Brew concluded: “Our business is extremely fortunate to have powered on through the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our renowned ability to work, support and deploy our solutions remotely.

Diggers & Dealers is the pre-eminent event for the Australian region of our business, with representation from all our customers, so it represents a fantastic opportunity to show how we continue to drive value to our existing customer base as well as connect with new customers.”

MBV’s 3DPM system heads to Independence Group’s Nova nickel operation

MBV Systems has received another order from the Australia mining sector for its 3DPM system, with the Sweden-based company set to deliver the online particle size distribution platform to Independence Group’s Nova nickel operation in Western Australia.

The order follows a trial at the nickel operation, which produced 30,436 t of nickel concentrate in the 12 months ending June 30, 2020.

The 3DPM system is used to increase knowledge and understanding of the material flow and hence improve the production efficiency and product quality at mine sites, MBV Systems says. It provides online particle size distribution measurements of rocks and bulk material through 3D measurements on conveyor belts.

“In this case (at Nova), the size distribution is used as a ‘disturbance variable’ in a model predictive controller for a SAG mill,” the company said. “The model can predict up to 100 seconds in advance the effect (of the material) on the SAG mill weight. This has greatly improved the stability of the grinding circuit as well as increased the energy efficiency of the mill.”

The rock bolt detection feature of the system detects rock bolts in real time, alerting the operator and allowing them to stop the feed to remove the rock bolt. This feature will enable IGO to act quickly and avoid unplanned downtime and costly damages, according to MBV Systems.

IGO control systems engineers are currently looking at other ways in which the measurement system can be used. One possible application is to use these measurements to track the wear of the jaw crusher liners, according to MBV.

“As the jaw crusher liners wear down, the average size of the crushed particles increases,” MBV Systems says. “This will allow IGO to do jaw crusher maintenance in a smarter way.”

The commissioning of the 3DPM system was carried out remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, the company noted.

Lars Lindqvist, CEO at MBV Systems, said: “This is a very exciting order for us since IGO is a very interesting mining company which believes in a green energy future by delivering the metals needed for new-age batteries.”

The Nova contract follows a signed agreement with Rio Tinto from earlier this year that will see the mining company trial its 3DPM vision system at one of its mine sites in Western Australia.

MICROMINE mobilises a new mine optimisation plan

Upgrading from a voice-based fleet management system to an automated mobile solution enables mine managers to gain critical efficiencies across their site, resulting in a positive effect on their operations’ bottom line, according to MICROMINE.

Nickel-copper-cobalt miner, Independence Group (IGO), recently upgraded to Pitram Mobile at its Nova operation in Western Australia. Nova is one of a growing number of sites across the globe choosing to upgrade from Pitram Voice to the Pitram Mobile solution, MICROMINE says. IGO deployed the mobile software following the successful installation of Pitram Voice in 2018.

Touchscreen tablets were installed in vehicle cabs and integrated with the Pitram software to facilitate data transfer between on-board computers and the Pitram control room, which provides full fleet management insights and analytics functionality.

IGO implemented Pitram Mobile to capture data and insights electronically from its underground mining fleet at Nova, according to MICROMINE. Upgrading to Pitram mobile has assisted the mine to more effectively:

  • Manage safety – by controlling access to dangerous areas and replaying locations and states for incident analysis;
  • Integrate its fleet management system – providing a better picture of situational awareness and vehicle positioning;
  • Decrease mine radio traffic – enhancing safety and operational activities through automatically transmitting critical data from equipment;
  • Apply automated business rules engines;
  • Execute its shift plan – sending tasks to workers from the plan, receiving notifications of completed tasks and facilitating plan compliance;
  • Identify areas of improvement;
  • Increase productivity;
  • Reduce manual data entry and paperwork; and
  • Optimise fleet and personnel.

MICROMINE’s Pitram Account Manager, Tyler Raleigh, said the upgrade was completed in early March 2019, with Pitram specialists spending time on site to assist the IGO Nova team with technical support.

“The mine control and dispatch facilities are designed to provide an increased level of shift data accuracy, which will improve operational efficiencies through effective management of mining operations based on high-quality data,” Raleigh said. “The system provides improved response to emergency situations and greater control in hazard management, as well streamlines administrative tasks through real-time data capture and validation.”

IGO’s Nova Mine Manager, Peter Christen, said improvements are already starting to be seen across the Nova site since the implementation.

“We’re pleased with the results achieved so far since upgrading to Pitram Mobile at Nova,” he said. “The implementation was well managed by the MICROMINE team, with quick uptake and acceptance by our IGO and Barminco site personnel.

“It’s enabled our people to be more in control of the data generated and that means we are seeing greater ownership and uptake of the system. It also allows our mine control operators to validate information quickly and they spend less time on the radio.

“Overall, our experience at Nova has been a positive one and we would definitely recommend Pitram Mobile to other mining companies.”

What is the difference between Pitram Voice and Pitram Mobile?

For those already using Pitram Voice, upgrading to Pitram Mobile offers the following benefits, according to MICROMINE:

  • Automatic detection of load-haul-dump events;
  • Integration of autonomous mining fleet with the rest of the Pitram solution;
  • Integration between Pitram and other on-board payload management systems;
  • Summaries of manually and automatically captured production data to aid in generating draw plans;
  • Increased accuracy of time sensitive data, providing greater visibility of availability bottlenecks; and
  • Removal of reliance on radio communications.

A Pitram automatic upgrade from voice data capture requires a simple upgrade process, MICROMINE says. Pitram uses the same production and reporting database for Pitram Voice as it does for Pitram’s automated solution, so all the work invested in implementing Pitram is retained when upgrading to the more advanced Pitram solution.

Pitram Mobile tablets

Optimise operational performance

As Pitram Mobile allows equipment operators to capture production data through automated on-board systems, or via touchscreens in cabs. Rather than calling in through radios, the solution frees up personnel time and effort, radio airspace and alleviates potential data entry errors.

The tablets or onboard systems capture equipment data, like location, pre-start, status and activities, which is automatically uploaded to servers as soon as vehicles are in range of a wireless (or LTE) network. Pitram Mobile’s automatic data transfer then allows that data to be passed to the Pitram Control Room where analysts and operators can monitor results and refine mine operations.

Utilising the latest technology, automated data capture minimises disruption to primary activities, provides near 100% data accuracy, automated task management, integrated shift planning and can provide live information short interval control for in-shift decision-making.

“By using integrations across communication platforms, Pitram greatly reduces call volumes across the radio network,” MICROMINE says. “Through automatically transmitting key data from equipment, personal and operations, the automated solution revolutionises the mine control room, providing an adaptable user interface for low-level data entry roles as well as for higher-level administrators and in-shift mine managers.”

Pitram Mobile being utilised at IGO Nova

Other key features and benefits include:

  • Ruggedised touchscreen tablets, with various models available to best meet the requirements of individual mines, including dust and water protection;
  • No requirement for additional proprietary hardware, so companies save costs and time in installation if they have existing tablets and network infrastructure;
  • Run using Windows operating systems;
  • Compatible with various underground data collection technologies, including Wi-Fi and Ethernet over leaky feeder;
  • GPS tracking capabilities for surface mines;
  • Speed warning and alarms;
  • Material mis-dump alarms;
  • Payload indicator to minimise overloading or underloading, plus integration with third-party payload monitoring systems;
  • Task allocation and real-time tracking of tasks;
  • Portable data for managers & shift boss – finger on the pulse;
  • Improved accuracy;
  • Reduced two-way traffic to Mine Control; and
  • Operator accountability.

Zenith Energy and Independence celebrate solar start up at Nova

Operations at Independence Group’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range of Australia are now being powered by a mix of diesel and solar energy after the on-site hybrid solar PV-diesel facility started up.

Zenith Energy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Zenith Pacific, built the plant. The ASX-listed power company also owns and operates the facility, which, it said, is already exceeding performance targets for power output and energy efficiency.

The two signed a contract back in 2018, amending an existing power purchase agreement.

Within the 26.6 MW facility is 5.5 MW of state-of-the-art photovoltaic (PV) modules, single axis tracking, inverters and communications and control system technology, according to Zenith Energy’s Managing Director, Hamish Moffat. The system also features high-efficiency diesel-fuelled generators that combine with this control system to optimise solar and diesel power delivery.

Moffat said: “The proprietary hybrid system developed by the company is able to seamlessly manage the fluctuations in solar PV energy production to provide smooth, reliable power, without the need for batteries to stabilise energy delivery to Nova.”

He explained that batteries have their place in energy systems but are still expensive to deploy for these applications.

“Our unique, locally developed hybrid system eliminates the need for batteries and represents a major step forward in the capital cost optimisation, operating efficiency and environmental performance of solar PV hybrid energy systems in remote locations,” he added.

According to Moffat, the system is saving Nova in the order of 6,500 litres of diesel a day, and it is the first hybrid solar PV-diesel installation to have been funded on a commercial, standalone basis – without any government subsidies.

IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said: “At IGO we are striving to reduce our carbon footprint. The implementation of new technologies with the construction of a hybrid‐solar system at Nova will enable IGO to reduce our CO2-equivalent emissions by approximately 6,500 t per annum. The solar facility will also decrease our cost structure through reductions in our diesel fuel usage.”

As part of an agreement between the two companies, Zenith will supply power from the solar PV‐diesel hybrid system for an initial six‐year period, with an option for Independence to extend for a further two years.

Nova is expected to produce 6,750-7,500 t of nickel concentrate in the year ending June 30, 2020, alongside 2,750-3,125 t of copper concentrate and 213-238 t of cobalt concentrate, according to the miner’s September quarter results.

Barminco turns Perth head office into remote operations centre

Leading underground mining services provider Barminco, a subsidiary of Perenti, says it has successfully piloted a new operations centre that allows it to remotely operate underground equipment on a client’s mine site anywhere around the world.

In what the company believes to be a world first, Barminco operated a machine, working underground, from its head office in Perth at a client mine site in the Goldfields of Western Australia.

“The innovation was made more impressive given the remote operation occurred via the internet, instead of through a fibre-optic cable, which is the method that mine owner-operators have historically used,” the company said.

Barminco Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, announced the achievement at the third annual Sandvik Digitalization in Mining Event, in Brisbane, Australia, this week.

Muller said: “Barminco has cemented its place as one of the world’s leading underground mining service providers through the use of technology and automation.

“A key strategic initiative under our parent company, Perenti’s, 2025 strategy is to deliver a ‘technology driven future’, and our ability to remotely operate underground machinery from our head office is a significant achievement in delivering on that strategy.”

The Barminco Remote Operating Centre, or BROC, was successfully trialled in collaboration with Sandvik and Independence Group (IGO) back in July. It was trialled in the early morning at Barminco’s Head Office in Hazlemere for a machine located at IGO’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt mine site, almost 1,000 km away.

Barminco General Manager Technology and Innovation, Darren Kwok, said the trial was a great success.

“Whilst many mine sites have operators remotely operating equipment from the mine’s surface, we are one of the first, if not the first service provider, to operate underground equipment on a client’s site from a much greater distance,” Kwok said.

“BROC enables us to connect multiple sites and operators at the same time, meaning if there is an issue at any point, we have contingencies in place.”

Barminco’s first trial involved the remote operation of a Sandvik LH517 LHD being operated in Perth by Barminco employee, Guy Gilbert, and Kwok said Barminco was now working with IGO to make BROC a permanent fixture at its Nova mine site.

“The advantages in improving the safety of our workplace and the efficiencies for our clients are enormous,” Kwok said.

Independence Group Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, said the company was thrilled to be part of the successful trial, which is all part of the company’s ‘IGO – Smart Solutions’ initiatives.

“At IGO, we continually look for ways to improve how we do business and deliver operational excellence. By integrating innovative Smart Solutions at our operations, such as working with Barminco on BROC, we improve the safety and wellbeing of our people, realise step change opportunities, and optimise efficiencies and productivity,” Dusci said.

Kwok added: “Our future plan is to have a dedicated remote operating centre manned 24/7 where our team and our client’s people can work collaboratively side by side to deliver a world-class mine site.

“Clients who work with Barminco should expect more from our business along with the broader Perenti group of companies and BROC is one such example of how we are delivering on this promise.”

The Sandvik event concludes on December 4 and showcases best practice examples of industry leaders integrating digitalisation into their operations across the mining, construction and quarrying industries.

The announcement comes just over a week after Barminco was awarded Large Employer of the Year 2019 at the National Australian Training Awards in Brisbane.

Micromine Pitram takes control at Independence Group’s Nova operation

Micromine has signed a contract with Independence Group (IGO) to help drive productivity and cost efficiencies at the Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in the Fraser Range of Western Australia.

As part of the agreement, Micromine will implement at Nova its fleet management and mine control software solution, Pitram.

This implementation of Pitram, a mine control and management reporting system aimed at delivering mining production efficiencies, comes on the back of a resurgence in Western Australia’s nickel sector, which increased in value by 26% in 2017–18 to $2.6 billion, after several years of decline, Micromine said.

Nova began commercial operation in July 2017 and produced 22,258 t of nickel, 9,545 t of copper and 740 t of cobalt at a payable cash cost of A$2.78/lb ($2.01/Ib) of nickel in the 2018 financial year. Production is expected to increase some 20% in FY19 to 27,000-30,000 t of nickel, 11,000-12,500 t of copper, and 850-950 t of cobalt.

Micromine’s Pitram Operations Manager, Daren Hinchliffe, said Pitram would be used by operations personnel, to capture insights and data from mobile equipment and underground mining activities, in real time.

“Using Pitram’s voice-based mine control system, underground operators can call in their activities, locations and status to mine control, and performance results can be monitored constantly, allowing for continuous improvement,” he said.

Pitram’s automated technology allows shift supervisors to keep track of what is going on throughout the mine, while allowing constantly monitoring of results and performance, he added.

“This will provide IGO with critical data as to how the mine is performing and, help identify bottlenecks, enabling the company to respond quickly to opportunities to implement process improvements,” he said.

IGO’s Chief Operating Officer, Matt Dusci, believes this will drive significant value through productivity efficiencies and cost savings at Nova and, ultimately, serve as a platform for future integration with automation at the mine.

Micromine’s roll-out of Pitram at Nova commenced in December and is expected to be completed in early 2019.

Barminco and Independence Group establish Technology Development Committee

Barminco Holdings and Independence Group have established a Technology Development Committee at the same time as the two agreed to extend the services contract at the Australian miner’s Nova nickel-copper-cobalt operation in Western Australia.

The committee’s aim is to identify and implement innovative methods and technologies to advance safety and productivity in underground mining. According to Barminco Chief Executive Officer, Paul Muller, this will initially target projects such as the early stage development of electric vehicles, enhanced mine control systems, machine vision and proximity detection.

In the meantime, a four-year contract extension for underground mining services at Nova will see Barminco pocket some A$240 million ($170 million). There is an option for a two-year extension within the contract.

Muller said Nova was an important project for the company, with Barminco delivering 29 km of development and extracting 2.4 Mt of ore since development started in 2015.

“Barminco has supported the Nova project’s transition from development, starting with excavation of the box-cut on Australia Day 2015, to production, delivering a successful first year of commercial production in the 2018 financial year.” The 2018 financial year saw the operation produce 22,258 t of nickel and 9,545 t of copper.

Muller added: “We now look forward to working closely with IGO under a formal arrangement to drive further productivity and safety improvements at Nova.”

Peter Bradford, IGO’s Managing Director and CEO, said: “Barminco has been an important partner in the development of Nova. With the majority of the capital development completed at Nova there is a focus on incremental operational and productivity improvements associated with stope mining activities.

“The four-year term, with the option to extend by two years, allows us to work together to unlock this value.”

He added that both companies are committed to mapping and implementing these productivity improvements through new technologies, with the establishment of the technology committee representing an important step towards this objective.

Just last week, Barminco, which is in the middle of being taken over by Ausdrill, was awarded two four-year contracts at Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia.

On the same day the Nova contract extension was announced, Ausdrill confirmed its shareholders had signed off the deal for Barminco. The offer values Barminco’s equity at A$271.5 million. The deal is now expected to be completed by the end of the month.

Zenith Energy helps Independence go solar at Nova nickel-copper operation

Independence Group’s Nova nickel operation is set to play host to Australia’s first fully-integrated commercial hybrid diesel/solar photovoltaic (PV) facility after the company signed a contract amendment with remote power generation specialist Zenith Energy.

The changes to the existing power purchase agreement, signed by Zenith and Independence back in 2015, will incorporate a solar PV facility with a forecast 12.5 GWh/y.

Zenith’s subsidiary, Zenith Pacific, will now build, own and operate a hybrid diesel/solar PV power station of around 26 MW in installed capacity to “reliably and efficiently service the power needs of the Nova operation”, the company said.

Zenith has made huge strides since becoming a public entity via the ASX in May, sealing contracts with the likes of Gascoyne Resources, for its Dalgaranga gold project, and Dacian Gold, for its recently opened Mt Morgans gold mine.

Managing Director of Zenith Energy, Hamish Moffat said: “This development represents the first fully integrated and commercial hybrid diesel/solar PV facility in Australia and is a step forward in future renewable energy solutions.”

The solar PV will include “state-of-the-art PV modules, single axis tracking, inverters, communications and control system technology”, Zenith said.

The hybrid power station will incorporate high efficiency diesel-fuelled generators and solar PV generation.

The integrated facility is expected to be completed within the first quarter of Zenith’s 2020 financial year (to end-June, 2020). The initial supply period is for six years with an option for Zenith to extend for a further two years.

Independence Group’s Managing Director, Peter Bradford said: “The development of this innovative hybrid energy solution will…improve our cost structure with targeted renewable power insertion of up to 50% of demand via the solar PV facility.”

Nova is in the Fraser Range of Western Australia, some 160 km east-northeast of Norseman. It produced 22,258 t of nickel and 9,545 t of copper in its first full year of operation in the 2018 financial year.