Tag Archives: open-pit mining

Wirtgen premieres new ‘all-rounder’ surface miner for open-pit operations

With the new 280 SM(i) surface miner, Wirtgen says it has developed another efficient and practice-oriented solution for the extraction of primary resources, with innovative technologies that enable high machine utilisation rates and maximum productivity.

The 280 SM(i) is a high-performance surface miner designed for the reliable and selective extraction of primary resources by direct loading, sidecasting or cut-to-ground, Wirtgen says. Raw materials are extracted and crushed in-situ in purest quality in a single operation – without drilling and blasting, and with minimal environmental impact.

The 280 SM(i) is driven by four steerable and height-adjustable crawler units. The machine is highly manoeuvrable and can be quickly turned at the end of a cut, according to the company. The LEVEL PRO ACTIVE automatic levelling system maintains the specified cutting depth with consistently high precision and without further aids.

The 280 SM(i) is an “all-rounder” for all rock hardnesses and applications, Wirtgen says. The 2,750 mm cutting drum unit, with a cutting depth of up to 650 mm, is precisely adaptable to each specific application and achieves outstanding cutting performance with minimal pick wear, it added.

The Wirtgen 280 SM(i) is a high-performance surface miner for reliable, selective extraction of primary resources by direct loading, sidecasting or cut-to-ground, Wirtgen says

Wear-resistant toolholder systems ensure optimal pick utilisation and minimal downtime.

While the soft-rock cutting drum unit is designed especially for high material flows in soft rocks, the hard-rock cutting drum unit ensures maximum durability and long life in hard-rock applications.

In the extraction of primary resources by open-pit mining, the key priority is always a combination of highest possible productivity, maximum purity of the material mined and the reduction of impact on people and the environment to a minimum, Wirtgen says.

“Aside from performance, the productivity of mining equipment depends primarily on constant operational readiness and optimum machine use,” the company says. “Only a reliable and maintenance-friendly machine assures high utilisation rates.”

The innovative operator’s cabin contributes to the operator’s ability to exploit the full potential of the machine and maximise productivity. The 280 SM(i) surface miner is, therefore, the tool of choice for cost-efficient mining processes in the 120-t class.

The high-performance, hydraulically height-adjustable, rear discharge conveyor with a movable counterweight can be slewed to the right and left by 90° and enables the loading of mining trucks with payloads of up to 100 t. What’s more, the operator can continuously vary the speed of the belt independent of the engine speed to reduce belt wear dependent on the material volume and the piece-size of the mined material.

The 280 SM(i) surface miner’s air-conditioned and sound-proofed operator’s cabin is swivel-mounted on the front chassis column and provides a productive working environment with a low risk of fatigue, the company says

Entirely new standards are set by the dust-sealed and air-conditioned positive-pressure cabin on the new surface miner with fresh air filtration, which effectively prevents the ingress of dust into the operator’s workplace, Wirtgen says. Mounted on the front left chassis column, the operator’s cabin with all-round glazing is decoupled from the machine body and can be rotated by 90° in both directions. Up to six cameras can also be installed to provide even better all-round vision. Various automatic functions also contribute to the operator’s comfort, reduce the risk of fatigue, assist the operator in the achievement of high productivity rates and make the overall process more efficient, the company says.

“These days, the reduction of carbon emissions, noise, dust and vibration while maintaining consistently high extraction rates and productivity is more important than ever before,” the company says. “With the new surface miner, Wirtgen offers innovative technologies that minimise impact on the environment and conserve valuable natural resources.”

Thanks to the reduction of carbon emissions by low specific fuel consumption, an efficient water management system and effective solutions for the minimisation of dust pollution, the 280 SM(i) shows that ecological and economic considerations are actually compatible and closely interconnected, Wirtgen concluded.

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.”

IDS GeoRadar adds artificial intelligence layer to slope stability monitoring process

IDS GeoRadar, part of Hexagon, has announced a new solution for geotechnical professionals that, it says, pioneers the introduction of artificial intelligence in slope stability monitoring – Ai.DA, the AI-based software monitoring tool for Guardian.

Ai.DA is an artificial intelligence-based software tool providing an additional smart processing layer to radar data. Ai.DA, through the use of algorithms, simplifies the identification of movements from possible residual noise by evaluating the consistency of the detected movement trend with typical slope instabilities behaviours and models, helping professionals to optimise processes and take better decisions, IDS says.

Ai.DA is an intelligent support to radar data interpretation and is fully integrated with Guardian, IDS GeoRadar’s software to manage slope stability risks in both open-pit mining operations and natural geo-hazards. Guardian’s processed radar data is automatically pushed to Ai.DA providing an additional smart processing layer that highlights quick moving areas through an intuitive interface with a clear and detailed view on a 3D map.

Ai.DA can provide simultaneous data processing of radar data originating from one to six different radars and
highlights timely localised and quick moving areas, which are often difficult to manage, for improved decision making, the company says.

“With Ai.DA, we are pioneering the use of artificial intelligence in slope stability monitoring, and we commit to providing customers with state-of-the-art technology solutions to support radar data interpretation,” Angela Patera, Guardian Product Owner at IDS GeoRadar, said. “Interpreting the big amount of available data is the new challenge for geotechnical engineers and Ai.DA represents a valuable support to this demanding task.”

MaxMine Carbon seeks to cut emissions at open-pit mining operations

MaxMine has announced the official launch of ‘MaxMine Carbon’, a technology offering that, it says, will enable mining operators to reduce their carbon emissions by more than 10% for no, or limited, additional capital expenditure.

The MaxMine Carbon offering was unveiled last week at the annual Rotto Tech Fest, as part of the West Tech Fest, held on Rottnest Island in Western Australia.

MaxMine Carbon is a mining productivity tool which captures, processes and analyses vast amounts of data, then translates that data into pragmatic solutions for clients that deliver significant carbon emissions reductions and productivity gains at open-pit mining operations, specifically in load and haul operations, the company explained.

The technology platform harnesses cutting-edge automation capabilities and advanced data analytics to capture up to 10,000 times more data at open-pit mining operations, relative to the industry standard fleet management system products, according to MaxMine.

During extensive trials of MaxMine Carbon at various open-pit mining operations, miners were able to accomplish an average minimum carbon emissions reduction of 10% within just one month. This is the equivalent to replacing more than four trucks in a fleet of 40, with zero-emissions vehicles, for zero capital expenditure, the company estimated.

MaxMine Carbon also allows companies to quantify their carbon emission savings for inclusion in ESG and sustainability reports.

Furthermore, miners experienced an average payload increase of 7% at the operations where the MaxMine Carbon beta product was implemented.

This additional production output, while using the same resources, also translates into significant cost savings and efficiencies for the mine site operators.

“In fact, from a client perspective, MaxMine Carbon is on average expected to pay for itself in just 12 weeks from fuel savings alone, and, coupled with the broader MaxMine suite, this figure drops to six weeks,” the company said.

MaxMine Chief Executive Officer, Coert Du Plessis, said the company’s new offering provides resources companies with a cost-effective solution to achieve emissions reduction targets, as regulators, investors and the broader community increasingly focus on reaching a net zero emissions world.

“Emerging renewable energy solutions for miners that are commercially viable remain at least 5-10 years away, but many mining operators have emissions reductions targets to meet in the short term and medium term,” Du Plessis said.

“This is where MaxMine comes in, as a revolutionary technology offering that can overcome this challenge by empowering miners to reduce their carbon emissions right now and also potentially boost their bottom line. It also enables miners to quantify their carbon emissions reductions.

“Net zero mining starts here.”

The launch of MaxMine Carbon coincides with MaxMine being crowned a winner at the Extreme Tech Challenge Australia last week for its data analytics proficiency and work on MaxMine Carbon.

Since its inception in 2015 in Adelaide, MaxMine has grown from five to 50 people, and expanded its corporate presence to also encompass Perth, Brisbane and Sydney in Australia, as well as Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa, with further international expansion planned.

Over the past five years MaxMine has achieved revenue growth of between 70-100%/y.

Du Plessis said MaxMine Carbon would underpin sustained growth for the company.

“The demand for tangible solutions for miners to meet ESG criteria is growing by the day, with the cost of capital for miners with the lowest ESG scores up 20-25% higher than those with high ESG scores, so we anticipate strong uptake of our new product,” he said.

Newmont to add to Ghana gold production with Ahafo North development

Newmont Corp’s Board of Directors has approved advancing the Ahafo North project, in Ghana, into the execution phase, setting the company up to develop four open-pit mines and a standalone 3.7 Mt/y plant.

The project exceeds the company’s required internal rate of return, adding profitable production from the best unmined gold deposit in West Africa, it said.

Newmont President and CEO, Tom Palmer, said: “I am pleased to announce the approval of full funding for the Ahafo North project, expanding our existing footprint in Ghana and adding more than 3 Moz of gold production over an initial 13-year mine life. The development of this prolific orebody will leverage our proven operating model and will be supported by our existing world-class Ahafo South operation.

“The project will be developed and operated in a sustainable and responsible manner to create value for all our stakeholders.”

Located some 30 km north of Newmont’s existing Ahafo South operations (pictured) – which are expected to produce 515,000 oz of gold this year – Ahafo North’s production is expected to average approximately 275,000-325,000 oz/y with all-in sustaining costs of $600-$700/oz for the first five years. Projected capital costs are estimated to be between $750-$850 million with construction expected to be complete in the second half of 2023. At current gold prices, the project is expected to deliver more than a 30% internal rate of return, Newmont said.

The project will create approximately 1,800 jobs at the peak of construction with more than 550 permanent roles created once the mine is operational.

“Newmont will work to create lasting value for host communities through local sourcing and hiring,” the company said, adding that a key aspect of the Ahafo North project’s workforce planning will be a target to achieve gender parity in the workforce when operations begin.

The full scope of funding will be deployed to high-impact activities, including but not limited to finalising engineering and EPCM services, relocating the national highway and support of additional resettlement activities, mining development for four open pits, constructing and commissioning a 3.7 Mt/y plant, constructing a tailings and wastewater management storage facility, long-lead sourcing including the acquisition of 14 Caterpillar 770 haul trucks.

Argonaut Gold moves forward Magino construction with Ausenco EPC contract

Argonaut Gold says it has executed a fixed bid engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning (EPC) contract with Ausenco Engineering Canada for the construction of the Magino open-pit gold processing facility and other parts of the Magino construction project, in Ontario, Canada.

The EPC contract totals around 40% of Magino’s initial capital estimate of between $360-$380 million, the company said.

A 2017 feasibility study on Magino, a past-producing mine, outlined a 10,000 t/d operation with average annual production of around 116,000 oz of gold over a 17-year mine life (including three years of ore processed from a low-grade stockpile). This same study stated open-pit mining operations would use a fleet comprised of 16 m3 front shovels, a 13 m3 front-end loader and 140 t haul trucks.

Pete Dougherty, President and CEO of Argonaut Gold, said: “Ausenco is an industry leader in the field of building high-quality processing facilities in the mining industry and recently did an excellent job with the Moose River project in Nova Scotia, Canada.

“We are excited for Magino to be one of the first projects entering construction in the current gold price environment, as we feel first mover advantage is critical when securing a construction team of the highest quality and with a superior track record.”

Argonaut recently posted the first phase of financial assurance with the province of Ontario and expects the Magino project Closure Plan to be filed by the province of Ontario in January 2021, which will allow for construction to commence.

MACA eyes up Downer’s Open Cut Mining West division

MACA Ltd, in response to recent media speculation, says it is currently considering the potential purchase of Downer EDI Limited’s Mining West division.

The contractor says such a move for the open-pit mining business is consistent with statements made at its Annual General Meeting in November 2020, which outlined that it continued to explore and pursue growth opportunities that will deliver “value to shareholders on an ongoing basis”. This exploration, it said, may include investments in new businesses or acquisitions where considered appropriate.

MACA added: “The process is ongoing and MACA would only pursue a binding offer to acquire the business if it were to align with its strategy and deliver value for the company’s shareholders.”

Downer has previously announced it is seeking expressions of interest in the various parts of its portfolio of mining businesses.

It has already announced the sale of Downer Blasting Services, the Snowden consulting business and its share of the RTL Mining and Earthworks joint venture, while also stating the company is in active discussions with several interested parties in relation to the rest of its mining portfolio.

UQ-led geotechnical project targets open pit mine of the future roadmap

A A$4-million ($2.8 million) cash injection from industry has marked the beginning of the next phase of research for a large-scale geotechnical project headed up by University of Queensland (UQ) experts.

Professor David Williams (right) and Dr Mehdi Serati (left) have managed the Large Open Pit Project (LOP) from UQ’s civil engineering home base, since 2017, and they recently secured the management of further funding to begin phase three of the project, which will run until 2022.

“The LOP links innovative mining geomechanics and geotechnical engineering research with best practice in open-pit mining,” Professor Williams said. “Australia is a leader in open-pit mining, driven by a forward-thinking industry.

“The LOP has provided a focus for research for the past 15 years and, since 2017, allowed us to collaborate and advance the safety and risk components of open-pit mines.

“The project also ensures that the industry can maintain its immensely valuable contribution to the Australian economy into the future, with mining generating around A$250 billion annually and employing about 15% of the Australian workforce.”

The primary focus for researchers during this three-year term will be to create a roadmap for ‘The Open Pit of the Future’.

Together with international industry partners and research colleagues, the team will bring together cutting-edge knowledge around large open-pit design, operation and closure, supporting future trends, including the interaction with underground mines, and deeper and even more technology-driven unmanned and automated operations.

Dr Serati said the team aimed to produce a new generation of pit slope design guidelines that incorporated everything from the fundamentals of slope design and rock mass characterisation, through to 3D geotechnical modelling, slope monitoring techniques, controlled blasting and open-pit closure.

“In open-pit mining, the design of the slopes is one of the major challenges at every stage of planning, through operation to closure, and requires specialised knowledge of the geology and material geotechnical parameters, which is often complex,” Dr Serati said. “Good open-pit design also requires an understanding of the practical aspects of design implementation, so we need to work collaboratively to cover all of these elements and produce industry-wide best practice guidelines.

“Australia has some of the largest open-pit mines in the world, which are reaching ever greater depths, and the LOP Guidelines are vital in ensuring coverage of all of the important design aspects.”

The LOP is recognised as the premier international research and technology transfer body representing the technical disciplines contributing to large open pits and supporting future trends, UQ says. The LOP fosters close collaboration between industry and researchers, which is essential to meeting industry’s need to continuously innovate.

“A key aim of the LOP is to ensure that the mining industry is a safe, prosperous and environmentally friendly contributor to society,” UQ said.

The industry sponsors for LOP III (third phase) include Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP, Debswana, Fortescue Metals Group, McArthur River Mining, Newcrest Mining, Rio Tinto and Vale, with other companies being encouraged to join.

Worley out to help miners on their open pit to underground mining transition

As open-pit mines reach their economic end of life, mine owners are considering the viability of transitioning their open-pit operations to underground.

Drawing on its deep level mining expertise in South Africa, Worley helps mine owners around the world to explore the feasibility of underground life of mine extensions and identify the most efficient and safe underground mining methods.

Among the driving factors in the transition to underground mining are declining ore grades, deeper ore deposits, and an increase in demand for minerals required for the global energy transition, such as copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, Worley says.

“Worley’s centre of excellence for copper in Chile has been supporting open-pit copper mine customers for nearly three decades,” the company said. “The company is gearing up its underground capability as these mines shift their operations to below surface to access deeper ore reserves.”

Going deep in South Africa

Worley’s South Africa operations is one of the company’s mining centres of excellence with niche experience in deep level mining.

Mining has been the mainstay of South Africa’s economy for well over a century, and a major source of employment as well as foreign investment. Consequently, Worley has grown its South Africa mining team in one of the best mining environments in the world, with a collective experience of over 120 years in deep level mining and process expertise.

Robert Hull, Vice President for Mining, Minerals & Metals in Africa, says Worley’s South African operation is recognised for its deep level shaft experience, and the company also has experience across most commodities including base metals, coal, platinum, gold, diamonds and ferrous metals.

Hull says Worley has a strong global workshare philosophy and culture of collaboration. The specialist skills in South Africa gained from working on some of the biggest underground projects in the world are an integral part of Worley’s mining, minerals and metals global project delivery offering.

Deep level mine skills

Some of South Africa’s specialist deep underground skills include shaft design, ventilation and refrigeration shafts, high pressure pumping, and deep level hoisting.

Worley says it is one of the few companies in the world that has the expertise to design hoisting systems for mass hoisting, such as at the Venetia Underground Project, which will hoist approximately 6 Mt/y of rock.

The De Beers Venetia Mine in South Africa is the biggest source of rough diamonds in the country, according to Worley. The mine is in the process of transitioning from open pit to underground, to extend its life by some 25 years.

As engineering procurement and construction management contractor for South Africa’s largest mining execution project, Worley is using 3D designs for the project infrastructure to provide 3D models for the entire project’s surface and underground infrastructure, it said.

Intelligent mines

Hull says Worley is leading the way in developing digital solutions for the planning, design and execution of mining projects, with the South Africa office having played a key role in the design and development of much of the group’s digital technology in mining and minerals processing.

Hull (pictured) cites the Wafi-Golpu (owned by Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining) feasibility study update, in Papua New Guinea, where the South Africa team drew on SmartPlant design technology, which uses rapid prototyping and Building Information Modelling. The technology allowed the entire project team to visualise project objectives as never before, greatly improving operational efficiency in a dynamic time and cost-saving environment, according to Worley.

The Wafi-Golpu project is ranked as a world-class deposit in terms of its size and the grade of gold and copper within it. If developed, it will be the largest, deepest and most complex underground mine in Papua New Guinea, with a mine life of 28 years, Worley says.

Integrated project delivery teams

Worley’s South Africa team is also supporting its Australia counterparts to project manage the delivery of the deepening and expansion of an underground gold mine. This includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at depth to 2 140m below surface. IM understands the project in question is the Newmont-owned Tanami Expansion 2 project, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Mega machines for mega mines

Hull says every underground project Worley has executed has drawn on the company’s large material handling capabilities.

“In South Africa, we have a dedicated materials handling department that has the latest tools including discrete element modelling and finite element analysis, and advanced simulation tools for conveyer design,” he said.

Coenie Mynhardt, Winder Engineering at Worley, adds that mine payloads have increased dramatically in the last two decades in pursuit of higher productivity rates. Mines such as Impala and Phalaborwa, in South Africa, with an approximate 12-t per skipload, were considered ‘mega mines’ in their day. The mines of the future are more than double that size.

“The mega mines of the future need mega machines to be able to handle such big payloads,” Mynhardt says. “Materials handling technology for such deep, high tonnage operations will test current technology for capacity and reliability to bring the ore from the production levels to surface. We have the skills and expertise to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Global project delivery

“Countries such as Chile have immense potential for transitioning from open pit to underground if the geology supports it,” commented Hull. “With the wealth of experience across locations and over 4,000 staff in our mining, minerals and metals business line, we can safely and successfully deliver our customers’ underground mine assets through collaborative development of the mine and associated infrastructure anywhere in the world.”

Atlas Copco light towers illuminate JRC’s open-pit mining opportunities

Atlas Copco says Peru-based mining development, construction and infrastructure services business, JRC, has recently purchased six HiLight V5+ light towers to ensure continuous and efficient operations at the Iscaycruz zinc-lead mine in Oyón province.

Iscaycruz, owned by Empresa Minera Los Quenuales SA (majority owned by Glencore), is a polymetallic deposit with four mines in production: Limpe, Chupa, Tinyag 1 and Tinyag 2. Due to its altitude of 4,700-5,000 m above sea level, the mine is situated in one of the most challenging areas of Peru.

“The survival in this area is very hard, both for people and equipment: we worked with light towers from another manufacturer for a while and they did not work out,” Julio Tello, JRC Equipment Manager, said. “The three-cylinder engines shut down after two hours working and the lamps broke easily.”

The tough working conditions and the lack of having the right light tower for this project led to heavy losses for JRC, due to the impossibility of starting the night shift, according to Atlas Copco. To solve this issue, the company tested on site a HiLight V5+ light tower from Atlas Copco to ensure the unit was the right equipment for the project. After carrying out the test, JRC purchased six HiLight V5+ light towers to be used at Iscaycruz.

Atlas Copco’s HiLight V5+ light tower has been designed for the most demanding conditions, according to the company.

Featuring a HardHat® canopy as standard, which ensures maximum protection of internal parts, the design includes directional optic lenses that maximise practical light coverage while minimising dark spots. A single light tower has four LED floodlights each projecting 350 W of light and the HiLight H5+ can illuminate an area of up to 5,000 sq.m, providing an average brightness of 20 lux. The LED lamps offer users higher durability without any deterioration in lux level and have a life expectancy of more than 50,000 hours, according to Atlas Copco.

Additionally, the HiLight H5+ light tower offers low fuel consumption, offering a run time between refuelling of 260 hours and consumption of less than 0.5 litres/h of fuel.

“The acquisition of Atlas Copco’s HiLight V5+ light towers with two-cylinder engines changed the whole picture for us. It’s a solution that has been radical,” Tello said. “Until now, JRC’s expertise has been mainly in underground mining projects, however the operations at Iscaycruz is showing that we are the right fit for open-pit operations; that is why we are preparing seven mining projects in Peru and one in Mexico. The HiLight V5+ light towers are helping us to operate this type of project perfectly.”

Nelson Batistucci, Atlas Copco Business Line Manager for the Andean region, explains: “In order to deliver the right solution for our customers, we need to understand their needs well. In this case, considering the challenges of working at extreme altitude, as it is common for many of our mining customers in Peru, helped us choose the right light tower for JRC. At Atlas Copco, we are strongly committed to technological innovation and have a highly skilled team to analyse the challenges and provide the best solution for our customers.”