Tag Archives: Pilbara

BCI Minerals signs up WHBO Infrastructure, Engenium for Mardie work

BCI Minerals Limited has confirmed around A$90 million ($68 million) of contract awards for its Mardie Salt & Potash project, in Western Australia, ahead of a final investment decision (FID).

The initial earthworks contract has been awarded to WBHO Infrastructure, a contractor with a long history of project delivery excellence in large civil construction projects and a strong presence in Western Australia.

The contract includes initial construction of the large-scale trial pond scheduled to commence in April, as well as construction of evaporation ponds 1 and 2, on terms aligned with definitive feasibility study (DFS) budget assumptions once the FID is achieved and required tenure and approvals are in place. The total earthworks volume in this scope is approximately 800,000 cu.m over an area of 24 sq.km.

Engenium, the successful tenderer for the Project Management Contractor role, is a Western Australian company with offices in Perth and Karratha. Engenium, which recently signed a letter of intent that could see it acquired by Stantec, was selected for its local and experienced team, proven track record in project delivery and construction management, excellent health and safety record and pricing within the DFS budget, BCI said.

“The PMC is an important contract in the overall execution of the Mardie project which will see Engenium manage the construction program through the provision of people and systems as an extension of the BCI owners’ team,” it said. “Engagement of Engenium on a staged basis will also support BCI to achieve construction-ready status ahead of main construction commencing in the second half of 2021.”

Various smaller contracts covering accommodation village expansion, minor earthworks, site surveys, communications, water supply, fuel storage and supply as well as the Karratha office fit-out have also been awarded this year. These works are all underway with Pilbara-based contractors expanding Mardie village and fitting-out the Karratha office and local indigenous companies carrying out aboriginal heritage surveys and minor earthworks.

BCI’s Managing Director, Alwyn Vorster, said: “The award of the initial earthworks contract, in particular, represents a key milestone in BCI’s progress toward main construction and demonstrates board confidence in Mardie’s development pathway. These contracts will be initially funded from BCI’s healthy cash balance and strong Iron Valley royalty income.”

The Mardie DFS outcomes indicated that the production of 4.4 Mt/y of high purity salt and 120,000 t/y of premium sulphate of potash (SOP) fertiliser was technically and financially viable. The total capital cost came in at A$779 million and the pre-tax net present value (7% discount) was A$1.197 billion.

A FID by the BCI Board is targeted in the June quarter, which will be followed by completion of the funding task. Construction could commence in mid-2021, which will allow for first salt sales in 2024 and first SOP sales in 2025, the company says.

Alliance Aviation wins two-year contract extension from BHP

Alliance Aviation Services has announced an extension of the air charter services agreement with BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division for a further two years.

This extension, Alliance says, is further evidence of Alliance’s reputation of outstanding customer retention with the extension solidifying the relationship that started with the first flight for BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division in 2009.

BHP WAIO is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 km of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Alliance is delighted to be continuing the provision of these charter services into the Pilbara. Our commitment to safety and providing our clients with industry leading on time performance has played a significant role in being awarded this extension. We look forward to continuing our exceptional safety and operational record for BHP.”

CSI to carry out load and haul, drill and blast work at Rio’s Brockman 2 iron ore mine

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services has been awarded a mining contract by Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 2 iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The scope of the contract will see CSI conduct load and haul, drill and blast, and short-term mine planning activities for Rio, the company said.

This will involve scheduling, drilling and blasting and then excavating 27 Mt of waste rock and iron ore over an approximate nine-month period, with a fleet of large-scale mining equipment, developing the Lens A/B pit for Rio.

This contract builds on a 16-year relationship with Rio, dating back to when CSI first commenced crushing services at the Nammuldi mine site. It also follows the completion of a 30 Mt load and haul contract at Rio’s Tom Price mine. CSI remains engaged at another Rio Tinto operation, Paraburdoo, where its team is carrying out 13 Mt of load and haul operations.

The Brockman 2 contract will generate around 150 jobs for CSI’s highly skilled workforce, the company said.

Mineral Resources’ Chief Executive Mining Services, Mike Grey, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by Rio Tinto to assist at another of its world-class iron ore mines. Our relationship with Rio Tinto dates back 16 years. Since then, we have been able to establish a track record of consistent project delivery for Rio Tinto, which we are very proud of.

“CSI is the world’s largest crushing contractor, so it is immensely satisfying that this latest Rio Tinto contract includes other mining activities, such as load and haul and drill and blast, to demonstrate CSI’s diverse skills set. We are confident this Brockman 2 scope of work will become the latest chapter of our ongoing association with Rio Tinto.”

Brockman 2 is one of the 16 mines that make up Rio’s world-class Pilbara iron ore operations.

The CSI team has begun mobilising to site, including delivering a new fleet of Komatsu 830E electric-drive dump trucks and a new Komatsu PC4000-11 excavator.

John Holland on track at Fortescue’s Eliwana iron ore project

Infrastructure and rail company, John Holland, says it has achieved a major milestone at the Eliwana Mine and Rail project by successfully laying the final piece of 143 km of heavy haul rail track in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The track works are part of a A$130 million ($90 million) contract with Fortescue Metals Group, which will also see an extension to the existing signalling and train control systems and a traffic capacity upgrade to communication infrastructure.

When completed, the greenfield project will connect the new Eliwana iron ore mine to the existing Fortescue Hammersley Line.

The John Holland team will now focus on final destressing works for 130 km of the track, siding extension works, final grinding and correction. Final ballasting and tamping work for about 60 km of the track is on schedule. All remaining track works are to be completed by June 2021, the company said. The signalling and communication works are well ahead of schedule to be delivered by the end of 2021, it added.

John Holland Rail Delivery Manager, John Ma, said the team had worked hard to ensure the project progressed despite weather and access challenges throughout the course of construction.

“The safe unloading of the last long weld rail off the final rail train on the Eliwana project was a significant moment for us,” he said. “It’s a huge undertaking – more than 240,000 sleepers were laid as well as 400,000 t of ballast dropped with more than 12,000 welds joining the tracks together.

“Working in a remote and often volatile environment has its challenges, but I am proud that the team were able to demonstrate our capability to manage complex logistics and high-production welding facilities while enabling efficient project delivery.”

Remaining track work is scheduled to be completed by late June, while signalling construction will be complete by the end of August. Testing and integration of the track will be finalised in December.

Around 90 km west of Tom Price, the Eliwana mine celebrated the production of its first ore in December 2020. At full capacity, the mine will produce 30 Mt/y.

Fortescue rewards Monadelphous and Pentium Hydro with more Pilbara work

Fortescue Metals Group has handed out new work to Monadelphous Group and Pentium Hydro at its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

Engineering company Monadelphous has secured a new five-year crane services contract, valued at around A$150 million ($117 million), with the miner.

The contract is for the provision of crane services supporting general repairs, maintenance and shutdown activities at Fortescue’s Solomon (pictured) and Eliwana operations.

Monadelphous has provided crane services to Fortescue’s Solomon operations since 2017 and, last year, expanded those services to Fortescue’s Eliwana operations.

Vysarn Ltd subsidiary Pentium Hydro, meanwhile, advises that it has amended, via a Deed of Amendment, the agreement for hydrogeological borefield drilling and construction services with Fortescue’s wholly owned Chichester Metals Pty Ltd and FMG Solomon Pty Ltd subsidiaries, previously announced in November 2019.

This amendment will see the term of its contract increased to 36 months, with the option of a two-year extension exercisable by Fortescue. The scope of work has also been amended to include the provision of dual tube flooded reverse drilling services, with an additional drill rig expected to be deployed by April.

At the same time, the companies have amended the revenue model for the contract.

Revenue from works in the original contract was based on key performance indicators for a number of production and monitoring bores and was subject to metres drilled and drill rates. Revenue from works will now be based on a combination of day rates and a schedule of hourly rates, Vysarn said.

Komatsu HD1500-8 haul trucks reach new heights for MinRes’ Iron Valley mine

Mineral Resources Limited (MRL) has looked to speed up the cycle time from the pit to the crusher at its Iron Valley mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia by integrating a fleet of Komatsu HD1500-8 haul trucks into the iron ore operation.

The time taken to haul ore from the pit floor to MRL’s locally developed crusher has been found to make a significant difference in the efficiency of the mine’s operation, and in its environmental footprint.

MRL’s technological point of difference has helped solidify its position as a leading mining services company, with EBITDA from this business coming in at more than A$300 million ($235 million) in its 2020 financial year.

In addition to its mining services business, Mineral Resources has its own mining operations, providing a great research and development platform. At the Iron Valley mine site, the 1.6 km climb from the pit floor to the crushing facility and return was the test ground for this new Komatsu equipment.

According to MRL, the cycle time with existing dump trucks was 23.84 minutes, but a new faster machine could complete the journey in 21.63 minutes – a 9.2% improvement.

Significantly, the newly available vehicle also increased payload by 10 t (the trucks come with a rated payload of 142 t), enabling MRL to complete its entire process with the need for one less vehicle in its fleet.

“Following the success of the HD1500-8, MRL placed a milestone order for 10 of our machines,” Komatsu Sales Person, Jason Lambert, said.

The first of Komatsu’s HD1500s went into service with MRL towards the end of 2020, and the remaining nine are scheduled to be road freighted from Perth this quarter.

“From a miner’s perspective, cost is a major determinant – capital cost, life cycle cost and productivity,” Lambert said. “In this instance, there was a consistent theme of 10% improvement – in purchase cost, payload and operating efficiency – an additional 10 t, 10% faster and 10% cheaper.

“But increasingly, there’s also the consideration of health and safety.”

The Komatsu HD1500-8’s Collision Awareness System, incorporating eight on board radars and six cameras combined by one algorithm into a 360° overhead view of surrounding conditions, was a major boon to operators, according to Komatsu.

In-cabin ergonomics including specific cooling systems, low vibration operation and noise attenuation pegged at 72 db met contemporary operator expectations, too.

The operator also had the option of dialling down fuel use in a range from 90 litres per hour, to 80 l/h to achieve a full two shifts of operation between refuelling.

“The pit depth at Iron Valley is 160 m, and it’s a 10% gradient from the pit floor to the top of the pit with another 900 m from the top of the pit to the crusher,” Lambert said. “The HD1500-8 climbs at 13 km/h, achieves 60 km/h on the flat and descends at 22 km/h. The operator can alter the fuel use according to gradient and also the load for the return trip to the floor.

“It’s as if the HD1500-8 has been purpose built for the mine and, in many respects, that is the case.

“Increasingly we’re capable of working with each specific operator to fine tune our machine to their exact requirements.”

Fe Ltd and Big Yellow make plans to mine JWD iron ore project

Fe Limited says it has executed a letter of intent (LOI) with Big Yellow that could see the emerging company become the mining contractor for the JWD iron ore project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

A full form contract is targeted to be completed within the next 30 days, subject to receipt of necessary environmental approvals and logistic contracts. This LOI, the company says, will enable Big Yellow to allocate the necessary mining fleet and people to the FEL project.

Big Yellow is a new contractor founded by mining executives Brad Gordon (former CEO of Acacia and Intrepid), David Edwards and Mitch Wallace (both ex MACA).

“FEL believes that Big Yellow’s combination of experienced personnel looking to replicate their past success in a new entity is a good fit with FEL’s own aspirations to do the same and looks forward to continuing to work together,” it said.

Following the LOI being executed by both parties, discussions have commenced on works that can be commenced in advance of final environmental approvals being received.

The approvals received to date allow certain clearing and preparatory works to occur at JWD, along with refurbishment of the existing office facilities on site. These early works will allow a faster ramp-up of operations once the remaining approvals and key contracts are secured, FEL claims.

FEL says it has revisited the JWD geological model and mine plan, with opportunities identified for a reduction in the strip ratio and an improved average iron ore head grade. If successfully implemented, this would have a positive impact on its margins through reduced mining costs and improved pricing as a result of higher-grade products than initially expected, it said.

FEL Executive Chairman, Tony Sage, said: “With mining at Wiluna close to commencing, we are pleased to have advised Big Yellow of our intention to appoint them as our mining contractor. We are well advanced with the final approvals and other key contracts and would anticipate being able to update shareholders on these shortly.”

In September, FEL acquired a 51% interest (including operatorship) in the Gold Valley Iron Ore Mining Rights Agreement over the Wiluna West JWD deposit. The JWD project is part of the wider Wiluna West project, owned by GWR Group. It came with a 10.7 Mt resource grading 63.7% Fe using a 55% Fe cutoff.

FEL classes the project as a low capex, direct shipping ore development, which will produce a high-grade (resource average circa-63.7% Fe), low impurity iron ore. A January 2021 presentation claimed the mining and transport of the first 300,000 t of iron ore is required by September under the iron rights agreement.

First Graphene predicts increased PureGRAPH wear line lifespan following Pilbara trial

First Graphene says results from field testing of a PureGRAPH®-enhanced bucket wear liner have shown an almost six times reduction in average abrasion loss compared with a standard polyurethane liner.

Rubber wear liners are an essential component on steel fabricated mining equipment, providing a resilient, sacrificial layer to protect the steel equipment from abrasion wear during ore handling operations. The wear liners are replaced periodically and extending the periods between replacement helps maximise throughput at the mine.

The bucket wear liners were installed at a major iron ore producer’s load-out facility in the Pilbara of Western Australia, beginning in mid-2019. A standard wear liner and a graphene-enhanced ArmourGRAPH™ wear liner ran simultaneously in the same location for the 62-week period.

The ArmourGRAPH liners, developed by First Graphene and its partner newGen Group, had been prepared using a low addition rate of PureGRAPH 20 in hot cast polyurethane (PU). The PureGRAPH enhanced liners were used side-by-side with standard PU liners throughout the 62-week trial before being returned to newGen Group for assessment.

A detailed abrasion analysis confirmed the abrasion loss was significantly reduced in the PureGRAPH-enhanced ArmourGRAPH liner, with a circa-6 times reduction in average abrasion loss (improved resistance to wear). As abrasion loss is the primary mechanism of failure, a significant 6 times increase in lifespan of the wear liner is anticipated, First Graphene said.

The abrasion analysis was performed on the rear sliding face of the bucket liner as this surface is well fitted to the steel bucket and provides the most representative analysis of liner wear life, according to the company.

First Graphene CEO, Mike Bell, said the results indicated the benefits and value PureGRAPH could provide to mining and mineral processing operators.

“Reducing production downtime is major area of focus in mining and these results show the significant improvements that can be gained from adding small amounts of PureGRAPH to polymer formulations,” Bell said.

newGen Group Managing Director, Ben Walker, added: “The results of this extended trial prove that our ArmourGRAPH liners can deliver vast improvements for operators. We anticipate strong demand for a broad range of graphene-enhanced consumable products across the mining and mineral processing sectors.”

CSI NextGen II modular crushing plant starts up at BHP Mt Whaleback

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services team has reached a major milestone with the NextGen II modular crushing plant having now crushed its first ore at the BHP-owned Mt Whaleback iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The relocatable plant, developed by CSI and Metso Outotec, has been painted in Lifeline WA’s trademark blue and displays the 13 11 14 crisis support number.

The crusher has been on a monumental journey to get to its final home in the Pilbara, transported by a sea vessel from its manufacturing site in Turkey to CSI’s Kwinana workshop.

“The CSI team at Kwinana worked around the clock to assemble the revolutionary relocatable modular design last year, which allows for sustained reliable performance over time with the flexibility required to meet our clients’ changing and challenging production demands,” the company said.

CSI was awarded the contract to design, construct and operate the 12 Mt/y crushing plant back in June. It was due to replace the existing CSI crushing plant at the iron ore operation.

The crushing and screening plant is expected to come with low capital and operating costs, in addition to significant flexibility with its portability. It is assembled in modules and, compared with fixed crushing plants, provides for sustained reliable performance over time with the flexibility required to meet clients’ changing and challenging production demands, according to CSI.

Rio Tinto cements new Singapore-Western Australia freight shipping route

Rio Tinto says it has secured a new commercial freight shipping service connecting Western Australia’s Pilbara region to the major international shipping hub of Singapore.

The service will provide the company with a quicker, cheaper and cleaner alternative to the existing freight delivery route via Perth, helping to drive regional economic development and local job creation, according to the miner.

The regular freight service commenced with the arrival of the MCP Graz at the Port of Dampier from Singapore today. The vessel delivered essential maintenance supplies for Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s operations in the Pilbara, including rail wagon wheels, wagon parts, oil and lubricants. Future shipments are expected to include tyres for heavy earth moving equipment, conveyor belts, rail wagon and locomotive parts and mining consumables.

The service is also open for use by local businesses in the northwest of Australia, providing companies operating in the region with better access to international markets and more efficient movement of freight, Rio said.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director of Port, Rail and Core Services, Richard Cohen, said: “This is an important new service that connects the Pilbara to the rest of the world via the major international shipping hub of Singapore. It will provide a number of benefits by delivering cheaper, cleaner and faster freight to the region.

“It is an important breakthrough not only for our business, but it will also provide a great opportunity for the local Pilbara economy by helping to unlock small business growth and supporting job creation.”

Rio Tinto expects the service to reduce the lead time for goods in to the Pilbara by six to 10 days compared with freight via Fremantle. Additionally, it is expected to provide an annual saving of around three million litres of diesel fuel by reducing road train travel from Perth by more than 3.8 million kilometres.

Over time, Rio Tinto is hopeful more than 50% of its freight requirements to the Pilbara will use this service, increasing the speed of delivery and lowering costs. The vessel capacity of the freight service will be 350 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent) with Toll Global Forwarding (a division of Toll Group) and other freight forwarders offering a service for smaller volumes on the vessel, the company said.

Peter Stokes, President of Global Logistics for Toll Group, said: “This dedicated container vessel service from Singapore to Dampier will enable enormous possibilities to deliver more efficient supply chains to the Pilbara region.

“Toll Group is heavily invested in the north of Western Australia and is one of the largest employers in the Pilbara region. We are proud to be partnering with Rio Tinto on this landmark project which will provide businesses in the north with a significant opportunity to access international imports and exports.”

Viva Energy, the supplier of fuels and lubricants and supply partner to Rio Tinto, expects to reduce its road transport travel by 350,000 km/y through use of the new service.

Viva Energy Sales Manager, Gavin Syminton, said: “Over and above any commercial benefits, there are also a number of other positive aspects to the initiative including increased opportunities for local employment through infrastructure investment, the reduction of our carbon footprint and a shorter, more efficient supply chain.

“As we continue to work closely with Rio Tinto, we hope to further connect our business and community through this opportunity while making the region a more sustainable place to live.”