Tag Archives: Oz Minerals

EU competition, collaboration and connections helping Epiroc solve mining challenges

Epiroc’s start-up mentality is enabling it to continue to solve the mining industry’s biggest challenges, but it is not doing this alone, according to Katarina Öquist, R&D Manager of Technology and Innovation in the Underground Division.

Speaking ahead of her appearance at the EIT Raw Materials Summit 2022 in Berlin, Germany – taking place on May 23-25 – Öquist said access to other industry partners, academic institutes and start-ups through initiatives like EIT Raw Materials continues to help the company overcome challenges the sector throws at it.

“Specifically on the EIT Raw Materials project, there is the possibility to take in young start-ups and academic institutes, which can prove key when considering the ‘kicks‘ the funding can provide such companies and initiatives,” she said. “It is important for these young technology companies to have a connection to applications, being able to test out concepts and ideas in a real-world environment with companies like Epiroc, and, at the same time, introduce new thinking into industries such as mining.”

This wide scope of participation is increasingly required when considering the future direction of the mining industry, according to Öquist.

Katarina Öquist, R&D Manager of Technology and Innovation in Epiroc’s Underground Division

“If you look at the mining industry, and the part I am in with Epiroc, we are experiencing the biggest technology shift ever,” she said. “We are looking at electrification, autonomy and digitalisation all at the same time. All of these have interdependencies and connections in between, which make it quite complicated.

“When I started in the start-up sector some 15 years ago, you often were looking to solve one problem, but, today, you are not offering the sole solution; you must interact with a much bigger technology ecosystem.

“For this, collaboration is very important.”

In this regard, EIT Raw Materials and European Union Commission funding are more important than ever, ensuring all stakeholders are connected and focused on coming up with workable solutions for industry to achieve their lofty ambitions.

While not tied to EIT Raw Materials, the NEXGEN SIMS project is a good example to highlight here.

NEXGEN SIMS builds on the EU-sponsored SIMS (Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems) project, which aimed to demonstrate new technology and solutions for the mining industry. Running from 2017 to 2020, the SIMS project resulted in, among other things, the Epiroc line of battery-powered mining machines.

NEXGEN SIMS, meanwhile, is a consortium of 13 partners collaborating in an EU-sponsored project to develop autonomous, carbon-neutral, sustainable mining solutions, building on the SIMS success. The partners are Epiroc Rock Drills, AFRY – ÅF Digital Solutions, Agnico Eagle Finland, Boliden Mineral, Ericsson, KGHM Cuprum, KGHM Polska Miedź, K+S Minerals and Agriculture, Luleå University of Technology (LTU), LTU Business, Mobilaris MCE, OZ Minerals and RWTH Aachen University. The project, led by Epiroc, has a budget of €16 million ($16.8 million) and will run from May 2021 to April 2024.

“In the case of NEXGEN SIMS, it is built on a known partnership including new partners,” Öquist said. “After being involved with the majority of these partners since SIMS, we build from a high level of trust, which increases the possibility of success, especially concerning integration.

“Europe, in general, is very good in facilitating these type of collaborative projects that involve all segments of the innovation ecosystem – start-ups, industry partners and academics.”

According to Öquist, the NEXGEN SIMS project remains on track, with the integrations between electrification, automation and digitalisation likely to hold the most exciting outcomes for the wider mining industry.

For its part, Epiroc is also helping accelerate the development of start-ups of its own, taking stakes/interests in key technology providers and allowing them access to its much larger network.

ASI Mining, FVT Research and Mining TAG represent just a few examples here.

Öquist expanded on this with a reference to Mobilaris MCE, a company Epiroc acquired outright just last year, after five years of holding a 34% stake.

“They (Mobilaris MCE) started off in 1999 as a start-up from the telecoms business,” she said. “Due to them being in the northern part of Sweden, they tagged onto the mines and we ended up acquiring a minority interest in them.

“In the five years since, they have had a nice journey under the guise of Epiroc. They represent a local small start-up growing by going under the wings of a much larger industry partner.”

Epiroc, too, has benefitted from this collaboration, with Mobilaris MCE’s situational awareness technology recently becoming a key part of the OEM’s 6th Sense digital solution.

Not all OEMs would be willing to facilitate the growth of other companies in such a way, but Öquist, who has only been in her role with Epiroc for two years, puts this down to the company‘s unique culture.

“We call ourselves a 150-year-old start-up,” she said. “Regardless of how big we grow, that mindset remains – if someone highlights a problem, we set out to solve it through both internal and external collaboration.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BluVein XL open-pit mining dynamic charging solution gains momentum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

South32 becomes latest miner to join BluVein mine electrification project

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

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

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

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

ABB to deliver highest payload Koepe production hoist to OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill

ABB says it has won a large order for its highest payload Koepe production hoist, associated infrastructure and safety systems from Australia-based mining company OZ Minerals.

The contract will help to ensure efficient processing performance and a long service life as part of an ongoing $400 million expansion at the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia.

The hoist, which will be designed and supplied by ABB, has a capacity of 39,400 kg and the strongest drivetrain that ABB has ever installed in Australia. ABB specialists will also supervise installation and commissioning.

OZ Minerals’ gold, silver and copper mine began operations in 2009 as an open-pit mine, but it is now an underground mine producing 4.5 Mt/y, moving to between 4.5 Mt/t and 5 Mt/y from 2022 via a trucking operation. The hoisting shaft provides access to mineral resources outside the current trucking mine plan that would have been uneconomical via a trucking operation from around 2033, ABB said.

Installing the Wira shaft will increase the annual underground mining rate, extend the mine life, reduce operating costs, lower emissions intensity, and reduce overall operational risk, according to OZ Minerals.

ABB has been awarded the last four mine hoists installed in Australia.

“The project is important for the country’s mining industry and metals security,” Stuart Cowie, Head of Process Industries, ABB Australia, said. “The local supply chain and workforce also relies on the mine and at ABB we’re enabling it to continue for several more years with increased safety, higher production rates and lower emissions.”

Once operational, the installation at Prominent Hill will have ABB Ability™ Safety Plus for hoists, a suite of mine hoist safety products that brings the highest level of personnel and equipment safety available to the mining industry, the company said. It is the first fully SIL 3 (Safety Integrity Level) certified suite of solutions for hoists, rigorously examined and certified by an independent global functional safety certifying body, and strictly developed in accordance with the International “Safety of Machinery” standard IEC62061, the company said.

The products include Safety Plus Hoist Monitor (SPHM), Safety Plus Hoist Protector (SPHP) and Safety Plus Brake System (SPBS) including Safety Brake Hydraulics (SBH).

Polymathian, SimGenics, Simulation Engineering Technologies, MathWorks, First Mode to tackle electric mine simulation tasks

Five teams have been selected to join the Think & Act Differently (TAD) ideas incubator, powered by OZ Minerals and Unearthed, tasked with developing and testing an open architecture simulation platform to develop electric mine designs, with the goal to achieve zero scope one emissions.

Last September, the Electric Mine Consortium launched the Electric Mine Simulation crowd challenge in partnership with the (TAD) ideas incubator, noting that electrification of mine sites remained a critical step change needed for the mining industry to achieve a zero-carbon future.

“Switching to electrified solutions and renewable energy represents a transformational shift that will change the way mines are designed,” OZ Minerals said. “This challenge is about using simulation to understand the impacts of electrification on mine design, infrastructure and energy management.”

The crowd challenge closed in November last year and attracted 179 participants from 36 countries, resulting in 23 submissions. Five teams have now been selected to join the TAD incubator where they will be supported to develop and test their simulations.

Finalist teams include:

  • Polymathian – Colin Eustace, Michael Dallimore, Steven Donaldson and Mitchel Grice are experts in solving complex planning and scheduling problems for the industry, OZ Minerals said. Their solution is to provide a widely used scalable simulation model platform to model large and complex operations, from mining and processing to full supply chain operations;
  • SimGenics – Abrie Venter and Kobus Viljoen are using a software platform that can integrate continuous and discrete-event simulation tools from multiple vendors into one solution;
  • Simulation Engineering Technologies – Jaco Botha, Henk Jenkinson, Fredrik Sundqvist and Marco Agas are the team behind a mine simulator (SimMine®) that allows for the construction of a complete mine simulation, including development, production and ore handling systems;
  • MathWorks – Wilco Volwerk, Peter Brady, Ruth-Anne Marchant and Sam Oliver are using a mathematical computing software that can be used to model dynamic, discrete and continuous processes with multiple time scales to create a mine simulation framework; and
  • First Mode – Aidan Morgan, Jan Haak and Clara Sekowski represent a creative engineering company, using modelling and simulation to inform design decisions and optimise the use of technology.

The teams will work together to explore and develop concepts for the development of an open architecture simulation platform to develop electric mine designs, with the goal to achieve zero scope one emissions. A use case for testing the value of simulation will be provided by OZ Minerals’ copper-gold mine, Prominent Hill, with further use cases developed in collaboration with the Electric Mine Consortium member companies.

The TAD Incubator program is a supportive environment that includes funding, technical mentoring, opportunities for collaboration, capability uplift and access to mining data and mining operations, OZ Minerals said. The teams will be supported by mining business improvement specialists from Imvelo, Sharna Glover and Alan Bye and Simulation SME Luigi Barone, an internationally recognised expert in artificial intelligence.

Brett Triffett, OZ Minerals’ Transformation Technologist, said: “This challenge will help us learn about the power of simulation together with some really talented and collaborative people, as we accelerate progress towards a fully electrified zero carbon zero particulate mine. The benefit of crowdsourcing, particularly in an area where ideas may come from outside our traditional mining networks, is that we can scour the globe to find start-ups, academics and individuals that we would not have otherwise had encountered.”

Multiple mining companies from the EMC will be able to collaborate on the outcomes of this experiment and we’re excited to see what we can learn about the process as well as the technology. The teams will work together over a three-month period to develop simulation concepts.

OZ Minerals, IGO South 32, Blackstone Minerals, Evolution Mining, Barminco and Gold Fields have committed to significantly reducing their carbon footprint. These seven mining companies, along with a number of partner companies, have come together to form the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaborative group seeking to accelerate progress towards a fully electrified zero carbon and zero particulate mine.

The TAD incubator is powered by OZ Minerals and is focused on themes that prioritise social and environmental responsibility for the future of mining.

ZERO Automotive commissions second battery-electric ZED70 Ti at Carrapateena

ZERO Automotive has delivered its second ZED70 Ti battery-electric conversion to OZ Minerals at Carrapateena in South Australia.

This vehicle was successfully commissioned within a day after a prior inspection and collaboration with the underground operations team, according to ZERO Automotive.

This latest addition to the OZ Minerals zero emissions fleet has dual AC/DC-DC charging with the CCS Combo2 connection, and an In-Vehicle Monitoring System. This provides the capability to monitor the battery status remotely, the company said.

The first ZED70 Ti became one of the first Australia-made street legal light electric vehicles to enter an underground mine after making a trip into the Tjati Decline at Carrapateena back in early 2021.

Swift kicks off work with Rio, Roy Hill, Strandline, OZ Minerals and South32

Swift, a specialist technology company focused on delivering network infrastructure and premium entertainment and communications, has announced it has recently commenced works on seven new projects across Western Australia and Queensland for key clients Rio Tinto, Roy Hill, Strandline, OZ Minerals and South32.

As part of these projects, Swift will be upgrading and installing its various network solutions which have been designed and deployed by Swift’s in-house team. The total contract value of these agreements is A$1.2 million ($866,418).

Swift CEO, Brian Mangano, says: “These new projects not only represent an increase in project activity but are the result of long-standing relationships between Swift and resource sector clients. Maintained by the talent and expertise of our entire team from sales to inhouse network engineers, delivery, installation specialists and support teams, we are excited to see the positive impact that these upgrades have on our clients and their workforces.

While the aggregate revenue from these contracts is material to the company, no individual contract currently generates revenue over A$1.0 million, Swift said.

Howden to supply complete mine cooling system for OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine

Howden says it has won a contract to supply a cooling system for the expansion of OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine in South Australia.

The solution provided by Howden will be for the complete mine cooling system, with Howden’s equipment ensuring safe productive outcomes at depth and additional efficiencies to reduce environmental impact for current and future carbon footprint compliance.

Howden will focus on sustainability and the solution will include closed circuitry on both condenser and evaporator circuits and R717 (Ammonia) compressors which emit no harmful CO2 or HFCs, the company said. The system consumes no water, using the ambient air as the cooling medium and Howden will supply chillers, air cooled condensers, bulk air coolers, pumps, electronic controls and hydraulic design.

Camille Levy, President of Howden APAC, said: “Howden works in partnership with customers to create solutions for their needs which are of the highest functionality, while supporting their net zero targets. This project is no exception. Our unique combination of manufacturing excellence, technical and project deliverables, and our global experience, also contributes to the reduction of carbon impact of operations.”

The use of Howden refrigeration screw compressor technology coupled with supplies of condenser coolers and bulk air coolers were other supporting factors in the successful offer which will be delivered by the Howden team in China, the company said.

The OZ Minerals Board approved construction of a hoisting shaft at the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia last year, paving the way for a mine life extension and throughput expansion.

Byrnecut assigned to Wira shaft sinking at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill operation

OZ Minerals, in its latest quarterly results, has confirmed that Byrnecut Group will sink the Wira shaft at its Prominent Hill copper-gold operation in South Australia.

Byrnecut has extensive experience of shaft sinking in the Asia-Pacific region, according to OZ. It is also the underground mining contractor at its Prominent Hill and Carrapateena mines, which, the miner says, will assist in the integration of activities as it continues to increase production rates from Prominent Hill.

Back in August, the OZ Minerals Board approved construction of a hoisting shaft at Prominent Hill, paving the way for a mine life extension and throughput expansion.

Coming with a pre-production capital expenditure of A$600 million ($449 million), the Wira Shaft expansion project will see the underground production rate increase to 6 Mt/y from 2025. At this point, the average annual copper and gold production is expected to be circa-54,000 t and circa-108,000 oz, respectively, some 23% more than expected in the current trucking operation.

Back then, OZ said sinking of the shaft was expected to commence in the March quarter of 2022. Mining and installation of underground and surface infrastructure was scheduled for completion along with commissioning of the Wira shaft at the end of 2024, with nameplate capacity expected in the first half of 2025.

In an update last week, OZ said the shaft collar construction site works had commenced and were due for completion in January 2022.

“The award of the shaft sink contract followed after a lengthy period of Early Contractor Involvement working through various contractors’ proposals and then selecting the best for project outcome with reduced risk and an effective delivery period at an economic cost,” it said. “The designs for the shaft sinking equipment are progressing well. Orders have been placed on the mill runs for the headframe steel with delivery scheduled for December 2021.”

The shaft design comprises a 1,329-m-deep, concrete-lined shaft with a diameter of 7.5 m. Construction of the shaft will be via conventional strip and line method, with the sinking period approximately two years.

The shaft mine expansion also enables generational province potential with further mine life extensions possible as 67 Mt of resource remains outside the shaft expansion mine plan, OZ Minerals says. Further, an exploration program has also identified that mineralisation remains open at depth beyond the current resource boundary, potentially accessible via the shaft.

Prominent Hill produced 17,565 t of copper and 41,245 oz of gold in the September quarter.