Tag Archives: Oz Minerals

OZ Minerals, Titeline investigate hydrogen-powered surface diamond drilling opportunities

OZ Minerals, in partnership with Titeline Drilling, has commenced a trial to test a hydrogen direct injection system to improve engine combustion efficiency for surface diamond drill rigs.

The system has the potential to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and particulates, as well as improve fuel consumption, according to the company.

The news came out with the release of the company’s June quarter results, which saw a 22% quarter-on-quarter uplift in copper production following a strong performance from the company’s South Australian operations (Prominent Hill and Carrapateena).

In addition to the trial of hydrogen-powered surface drill rigs, OZ Minerals said the mining tri-alliance it has in place with Byrnecut and Sandvik – designed to identify and introduce smart and innovative ideas – had progressed during the quarter, with in-roads made on several associated projects.

Significant work was undertaken towards trialling the use of tele-remote loading of trucks, which has now been implemented in a key stope in July, it said.

OZ Minerals previously said it was working with Byrnecut and Sandvik to roll out Sandvik’s AutoMine® platform at its Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia. This followed a project between the two to implement an automation upgrade for a Sandvik DD422i development drill at the operation.

Sandvik’s i-series truck set to start work at OZ Minerals’ Pedra Branca

Sandvik has recently delivered its first i-series truck to Brazil, with the 45-t payload TH545i heading to OZ Minerals Brazil’s Pedra Branca copper mine in Pará in the northern part of the country.

The model has automation features that bring more productivity and safety to the operation, according to Sandvik. Compared to its predecessor, the Sandvik TH540, the truck offers a significant capacity increase by carrying 5 t more. The truck’s standard engine power, meanwhile, increased to 450 kW, from 405 kW, to maintain the same speed with the increased payload.

Other equipment will be delivered to the Pedra Branca mine over the next few months, with, in all, five different models of drilling, loading and transport equipment making up the “modern and complete fleet”, Sandvik said.

The new fleet additions are all part of OZ Minerals’ ramp-up efforts at the underground mine, which is targeting increased mining from ore stopes from the June quarter onwards.

OZ Minerals wades into uncharted renewables territory at West Musgrave

You do not get much more remote than OZ Minerals’ West Musgrave copper-nickel project. Located in the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal Lands of central Western Australia, it is some 1,300 km northeast of Perth and 1,400 km northwest of Adelaide; near the intersection of the borders between Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory. The nearest towns include the Indigenous Communities of Jameson (Mantamaru), 26 km north; Blackstone (Papulankutja), 50 km east; and Warburton (Milyirrtjarra), 110 km west.

This makes the company’s ambition of developing a mine able to produce circa-32,000 t/y of copper and around 26,000 t/y of nickel in concentrates that leverages 100% renewable generation and can conduct ‘zero carbon mining’ even bolder.

OZ Minerals is not taking this challenge on by itself. In addition to multiple consultants and engineering companies engaged in a feasibility study, the company has enlisted the help of ENGIE Impact, the consulting arm of multinational electric utility company ENGIE, to come up with a roadmap that could see it employ renewable technologies to reach its zero ambitions.

“We’re providing an understanding of how they could decarbonise the mine to achieve a net zero end game,” Joshua Martin, Senior Director, Sustainability Solutions APAC, told IM.

While ENGIE Impact is focused solely on the energy requirements side of the equation at West Musgrave, its input will prove crucial to the ultimate sustainability success at West Musgrave.

Having worked with others in the mining space such as Vale’s New Caledonia operations (recently sold to the Prony Resources New Caledonia consortium), Martin says OZ Minerals is being “pretty ambitious” when it comes to decarbonisation.

“Our job is to assess if the renewable base case stacks up for West Musgrave, create multiple decarbonisation pathways for their consideration and look at what technology should be adopted to achieve their overall aims,” he said.

This latter element is particularly important for an off-grid project like West Musgrave, which is unlikely to start producing until around mid-2025 should a positive investment decision follow the upcoming feasibility study.

While solar, wind and battery back-up are all likely to play a role in the power plans at West Musgrave – technologies that are frequently factored into hybrid projects looking to wean themselves off diesel or heavy fuel oil use – more emerging technologies are likely to be factored into a roadmap towards 100% renewable adoption.

“We are developing a series of roadmaps that factor in where we think technologies will be in the future,” Martin said. “These roadmaps come with a series of decision gates where the company will need to take one option at that point in time if they are to pursue that particular decarbonisation pathway.”

These roadmaps utilise ENGIE Impact’s consulting and engineering nous, as well as the consultancy’s PROSUMER software (screenshot below) that is used on any asset-level decarbonisation project roadmap, according to Martin.

“This software was specifically built for that purpose,” Martin said. “There is nothing on the market like this.”

Progress at PFS level

OZ Minerals’ December 2020 prefeasibility study update went some way to mapping out its decarbonisation ambition for West Musgrave, with a 50 MW Power Purchase Agreement that involved hybrid renewables (wind, solar, battery, plus diesel or gas).

The company said in this study: “Modelling has demonstrated that circa 70-80% renewables penetration can be achieved for the site, with the current modelled to be an optimised mix of wind, solar and diesel supported by a battery installation.”

OZ Minerals said there was considerable upside in power cost through matching plant power demand with the availability of renewable supply (load scheduling), haulage electrification to maximise the proportion of renewable energy used, and the continued improvement in the efficiency of renewable energy solutions.

ENGIE Impact’s view on hydrogen and electric haulage in the pit may be considered here, complemented by the preliminary results coming out of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaborative mine electrification project OZ Minerals is taking part in with other miners such as Evolution Mining, South32, Gold Fields and IGO. And, on the non-electric pathway, ENGIE Impact’s opinion is being informed by a study it is undertaking in collaboration with Anglo American on developing a “hydrogen valley” in South Africa.

If OZ Minerals’ early technology views are anything to go by, it is willing to take some risk when it comes to adopting new technology.

The preliminary flowsheet in the prefeasibility study factored in a significant reduction in carbon emissions and power demand through the adoption of vertical roller mills (VRMs) as the grinding mill solution, and a flotation component that achieves metal recovery at a much coarser grind size than was previously considered in the design.

Loesche is working with OZ Minerals on the VRM side, and Woodgrove’s Direct Flotation Reactors got a shout out in the process flowsheet.

While mining at West Musgrave is modelled to be conventional drill, blast, load and haul, the haulage fleet will comprise up to 25, 220 t haul trucks, with optionality being maintained to allow for these trucks to be fully autonomous in the future, OZ Minerals said.

‘True’ zero miners

OZ Minerals is aware of the statement it would make to industry if it were to power all this technology from renewable sources.

“With a future focus on developing a roadmap to 100% renewable generation, and reducing dependency upon fossil fuels over time, West Musgrave will become one of the largest fully off-grid, renewable powered mines in the world,” it said in the updated PFS. “The solution would result in the avoidance of in excess of 220,000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide emissions compared to a fully diesel-powered operation.”

The company’s Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena in South Australia, whose initial setup includes solar PV, battery storage, diesel generation and a micro-grid controller, will provide a test case for this. This is a “unique facility designed to host experiments on how various equipment and energy technologies interact on an operating mine site”, the company says.

Martin and ENGIE Impact agree OZ Minerals is one of many forward-thinking mining companies striving for zero operations with a serious decarbonisation plan.

“The mining projects we are working on are all looking to achieve ‘true’ net zero operations, factoring in no offsets,” he said. “Having said that, I wouldn’t say the use of offsets is an ‘easy out’ for these companies. They can form part of the decarbonisation equation when they have a specific purpose, for instance, in trying to support indigenous communities.”

These industry leaders would do well to communicate with each other on their renewable ambitions, according to Martin. Such collaboration can help them all achieve their goals collectively, as opposed to individually. The coming together of BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden and Thiess for the ‘Charge on Innovation Challenge’ is a good example of this, where the patrons are pooling resources to come up with workable solutions for faster charging of large surface electric mining trucks.

“In the Pilbara, for example, there is a real opportunity to create a decarbonisation masterplan that seeks to capitalise on economies of scale,” he said. “If all the companies work towards that end goal collaboratively, they could achieve it much faster and at a much lower cost than if they go it alone.”

When it comes to OZ Minerals, the miner is clearly open to collaboration, whether it be with ENGIE Impact on decarbonisation, The Electric Mine Consortium with its fellow miners, the recently opened Hybrid Energy Plant at Carrapateena, the EU-funded NEXGEN SIMS project to develop autonomous, carbon-neutral mining processes, or through its various crowd sourcing challenges.

OZ Minerals, Byrnecut, Sandvik working on remote LHD operation at Prominent Hill

OZ Minerals says it is working with Byrnecut and Sandvik to roll out Sandvik’s AutoMine® platform at its Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia.

As part of these efforts, a new system has been installed in the company’s Adelaide office that allows an operator to remotely to control a Sandvik LHD underground at Prominent Hill – over 600 km away – as if they were directly onsite.

Back in April when announcing the delivery of its 100th loader connected to AutoMine in the Asia Pacific region, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions said it had recently demonstrated the capability to simultaneously control or monitor multiple machines from the comfort and safety of a remote control room in a successful trial of a LH621i LHD at Prominent Hill.

“The LH621i was successfully operated from the Remote Operating Centre in OZ Mineral’s Adelaide office, taking OZ Minerals a step closer to realising its goal of remote operations from home,” it said.

The three companies, in 2020, successfully navigated COVID-19 challenges to implement an automation upgrade for a Sandvik DD422i development drill  at Prominent Hill. This saw Byrnecut Australia become the first underground operator in the world to successfully use a new automation and tele-remote package for Sandvik development drills.

Sandvik delivers 100th automated loader in APAC region

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions says it has delivered its 100th loader connected to the AutoMine® platform in the Asia Pacific region.

A Sandvik LH621i loader was delivered to Byrnecut Australia in March, making it Sandvik’s 100th automated load and haul unit to be delivered in APAC.

Sandvik has 30 AutoMine systems installed across Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines, with customers including Barminco, OceanaGold, Redpath, and Byrnecut, who now have 11 sites in Australia connected to AutoMine. The first AutoMine system in the region was delivered and commissioned in 2008 for Mount Isa Copper Operations, now owned by Glencore.

AutoMine is Sandvik’s automation system for autonomous and tele-remote operation for a wide range of Sandvik and non-Sandvik underground and surface equipment. It provides a safe and controlled process to increase mine productivity and profitability, as well as protect operators and other mine personnel in underground and surface operations.

AutoMine can be scaled from tele-remote or autonomous operation of a single machine to multi-machine control and full fleet automation with automatic mission and traffic control capability. Operators can simultaneously control or monitor multiple machines from the comfort and safety of a remote control room, Sandvik says.

Sandvik recently demonstrated this capability with the successful trial remote operation of a LH621i loader at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine in South Australia. The LH621i was successfully operated from the Remote Operating Centre in OZ Mineral’s Adelaide office, taking OZ Minerals a step closer to realising its goal of remote operations from home.

“The digitalisation field has developed significantly over the years and we have adapted to meet the industry needs along the way,” Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions Technical Support Manager – Mine Automation, Ty Osborne, said.

“We have seen our customers change their mindset from ‘this technology is nice but won’t work in our mine’, to, ‘what do have to do to make this work in our mine?’. Our customers are now seeing the value of including digitalisation in their mine planning and recognise the tangible benefits an automated fleet can bring to their operation.”

OZ Minerals partners with Unearthed to encourage hydrogen innovations for mining

OZ Minerals has partnered with Unearthed to encourage innovators to come up with safe ways of applying hydrogen in the mining value chain and help decarbonise its operations.

Hydrogen Hypothesis is a Think & Act Differently™ (TAD) initiative powered by OZ Minerals, the companies said. It is underlined by the miner’s strategic aspiration to eliminate Scope 1 emissions and strive to systematically reduce Scope 2 and 3 emissions across its value chain.

OZ Minerals explained: “The use of hydrogen as a green, low carbon energy source is one of the most widely explored subjects on the planet today. In our journey towards zero carbon emissions, OZ Minerals recognises the importance of hydrogen and we want to better understand the potential uses cases.”

This challenge invites innovators from inside and outside the mining sector, across the globe to propose safe experiments to demonstrate the role hydrogen could play in the mining value chain and help OZ Minerals learn how it can support a transition to low carbon emission operations, OZ Minerals said.

The challenge, open to companies, teams and individuals from any industry including mining, energy, aerospace, transportation and others, is looking for mature or early-stage hydrogen technologies and concepts that can be applied to mining.

Launched today, it has a final submission deadline of May 28.

OZ Minerals’ TAD incubator is a process and ecosystem designed to facilitate novel and challenging ideas that will accelerate the implementation of its strategy, the miner said.

“Our challenges are focused on themes aligned with our aspirations, namely Clean Products, Energy & Emissions, Waste & Water, Scalable & Adaptable Assets and Data & Technology,” it said. “The TAD process involves framing opportunities, diverging in our thinking to generate ideas, converging on experiments that we can use to test the best ideas, and then accelerating these experiments by providing funding, access to sites and support in developing ideas.”

As the challenge closes, select teams will be invited to participate in the TAD incubator’s Convergence and Accelerator phases, with the latter expected to run from June 28 onwards.

ZED70 Ti battery-electric vehicle takes trip underground at OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena

The Zero Automotive ZED70 Ti has become 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 OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold operation in South Australia.

The vehicle made the trip in January and, according to OZ Minerals, managed over four complete round trips ‒ from the surface to the bottom of the mine and back ‒ without requiring a plug-in charge.

OZ Minerals said: “A big shout out to Zero Automotive for their hard work in developing such a great vehicle and commissioning it for underground use within two days!”

The Zero Automotive ZED70 Ti uses LTO chemistry and comes equipped with a specially selected battery housing, control systems and charging capability to endure the “hyper saline underground environment” at Carrapateena, OZ Minerals previously said.

OZ Minerals previously tested a Zero Automotive ZED70 battery-electric light vehicle on site at Carrapateena.

In June 2020, it also outlined a prefeasibility study on an expansion of Carrapateena that included a trial of electric light vehicles and establishment of a renewable energy hub.

Aqura Technologies to boost FMG’s network at Kangi accommodation camp

Veris Ltd’s wholly-owned subsidiary Aqura Technologies has been awarded A$1.1 million ($849,165) in works to undertake an upgrade of the in-situ accommodation network at Fortescue Metals Group’s Kangi 1,850 room village in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia.

The scope of the Kangi village engagement is to design and deliver physical upgrades to the GPON network to ensure a high level of reliability of services to village guests, it says.

The enhancement of the existing infrastructure using Aqura’s specialist technical expertise will establish an extremely robust platform for the delivery of entertainment services and wellbeing programs to the large workforce accommodated at the site, the company explained.

Aqura has commenced the design phase and will look to complete the scope of works by July.

“The new contract adds to Aqura’s strong track record in delivering high-performance Content Access Network (CAN) solutions for clients such as BHP, Newmont, OZ Minerals and Abra Mining,” Veris said. “Aqura’s expertise in the delivery of CAN solutions has delivered enhanced user experiences in over 16,000 accommodation rooms completed to date.”

The Kangi camp was constructed – and expanded – by Pindan (photo courtesy of Pindan) as part of FMG’s Solomon iron ore mine development.

Aqura Technologies CEO, Travis Young, said: “We’re pleased to kick off a new engagement with Fortescue who are looking to our in-house team to provide a high-quality foundation for their Kangi Village network.

“The contract award is testament to the strong quality and safety record of Aqura in the design and delivery of high-quality network infrastructure.

“We are very mindful of the benefits of this type of investment which fundamentally supports and enhances the positive wellbeing for fly-in fly-out staff who are away from home for extended periods and need reliable infrastructure to support connections to family and friends.”

Byrnecut adds Carrapateena to OZ Minerals underground contract mining portfolio

OZ Minerals Ltd has changed underground mining contractor at its Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia following Downer EDI’s move to divest its mining services businesses to MACA.

The company has now signed an agreement with Byrnecut Australia for the delivery of underground mining and associated mining services at Carrapateena. The two companies know each other well, with Byrnecut already carrying out underground mining services at OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill for the past 10 years.

The five-year alliance-style contract with Byrnecut is valued at circa-A$130 million/y ($101 million/y), OZ Minerals said. Byrnecut has already commenced a seven-week mobilisation to the Carrapateena site and will assume full responsibility for mining services delivery from March 4, 2021.

“OZ Minerals, Byrnecut and Downer will work together during the transition period to ensure continuity of operational performance and development, and employee support and opportunities, with the objective of providing roles for the majority of the incumbent underground workforce,” the company said. “This transition will include the transfer of equipment from Downer to Byrnecut.”

Byrnecut will now provide underground mining services to both the Carrapateena and Prominent Hill mines.

“Byrnecut is a proven top-tier underground mining contractor who has been providing underground mining services to Prominent Hill for the past 10 years, with their Prominent Hill contract having been renewed in 2020,” OZ Minerals said.

The scope of work comprises all underground mining activity for the duration of the contract including production and development mining and associated mining services; and bedding in steady-state operations at nameplate site capacity.

OZ Minerals on the road to electrifying Carrapateena mine

OZ Minerals’ electrification transformation at its Carrapateena copper-gold operation in South Australia has kicked into another gear with a Zero Automotive ZED70 battery-electric light vehicle arriving on site.

The company has made its electrification and sustainability aspirations clear to stakeholders, confirming it is working towards emitting zero Scope 1 emissions and striving to systemically reduce Scope 2 & 3 emissions across its value chain. It also wants to consume and produce in a way that generates zero net waste and creates value for its stakeholders.

In June, a prefeasibility study on an expansion of Carrapateena included a trial of electric light vehicles and establishment of a renewable energy hub.

The precursor to the ZED70 Ti electric light vehicle developed in partnership with Zero Automotive, the ZED70 (pictured) is based on a Toyota Landcruiser 79 Series and uses either NCM (Nickel Cobalt Manganese) or LTO (Lithium Titanate Oxide) battery chemistry.

The vehicle comes with continuous power of 75 kW and peak power of 134 kW, plus 358 Nm of continuous torque. Depending on the selected battery chemistry, the battery capacity comes in at 88 kWh (NCM) or 60 kWh (LTO).

The ZED70 Ti electric light vehicle to be delivered to Carrapateena following the trial of the ZED70 will use LTO chemistry and come equipped with a specially selected battery housing, control systems and charging capability to endure the “hyper saline underground environment” at Carrapateena.

“Working in partnership with Zero Automotive, we recently welcomed the first electric light vehicles onto site, and have the ZED70 Ti model in use underground,” Oliver Glockner, the OZ Minerals lead in developing the ZED70 Ti with Zero Automotive, said. “This is has been well received on site as a significant step in our electrification roadmap towards no diesel particulates underground and no scope 1 emissions on site.”

Dan Taylor, Business Development Manager at Zero Automotive, told IM that OZ Minerals has worked closely with the company in finalising the vehicle requirements and the change management process for implementing a battery-electric vehicle at the mine site.

“Some of the things I am talking about here include:

  • “Regular communications with their team on the progress with the project;
  • “Establishing charging points at the mine;
  • “Organising trial test drive bookings with those employees interested, and collecting performance data and feedback from them;
  • “Testing charging of the vehicle from one of their generators;
  • “Reviews by the emergency services and maintenance teams; and
  • “Planning the site acceptance testing when the OZ Minerals vehicle is delivered.”

Taylor said the LTO batteries the ZED70 Ti is fitted with can travel around 3 million km or endure 20,000 recharges before the battery re-charge ability reduces by 20%. This compares favourably with the 475,000 km, or 1,200 charges, it would take for the NCM battery’s re-charging ability to drop by the same amount.

At the same time as this, the LTO battery system will charge to a 95% charge in three hours on 415 V three-phase power, compared with four-and-a-half hours for the NCM equivalent.

“With DC-DC fast charging you will need 30 mins on the LTO (two hrs for NCM),” Taylor added.

Such benefits outweigh the lower energy density and upfront expense that come with using these LTO batteries, according to Taylor.

In October, OZ Minerals became the first miner in Australia to take delivery of a battery-powered Normet Charmec MC 605 VE SmartDrive (SD) at Carrapateena.