Tag Archives: Pilbara

BHP engages Nyiyaparli-owned ROMS for mine rehab work at Newman

Nyiyaparli Traditional Owner Business, Resource Operations and Maintenance Services (ROMS) has been awarded a A$2.8 million ($2 million) contract to help with mine rehabilitation at BHP’s Newman Operations, on Nyiyaparli Country, in Western Australia.

Work is underway on the eight-month contract for bulk earthworks and mine rehabilitation of two of the overburden stockpile areas at Newman West.

The works involve a fleet of Cat dozers to undertake the bulk regrade work, in conjunction with a fleet of ancillary equipment to undertake topsoil spreading, scarification and fauna habitat construction.

This is ROMS’ first mine rehabilitation contract with Newman Operations, however the company has worked across BHP since joining the South Flank project, also in Western Australia, in 2018.

ROMS Managing Director, Jason Bull, said: “BHP has continued to support our growth and we’re now onsite at South Flank, Whaleback, Jimblebar and Mining Area C delivering our services to operations, sustaining capital and engineering works.

“We have two fully trained and developed Indigenous supervisors at BHP sites, as well as nine young Indigenous people completing a Certificate II in civil construction. This has helped build a solid portfolio of tickets, with strong on-site learning and positive mentoring through our group’s strong culture.”

Newman Operations General Manager, Dan Heal, said the partnership with ROMS was just one of the many partnerships Newman Operations hopes to build upon into the future with Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.

“Supporting our community and working with Traditional Owners towards a common purpose is something I’m particularly excited about growing here in Newman,” he said. “Contracts like this encourage the growth of Indigenous business and create new opportunities for our Traditional Owners to support their own communities.”

Bull added: “We’re extremely appreciative of BHP’s support and look forward to making a positive impact on the local community through our continued partnership with BHP.”

Rio Tinto to start construction on 100 MW solar PV system in Pilbara next year

Rio Tinto says it is planning to invest a further $600 million in renewable energy assets in the Pilbara as part of the company’s efforts to decarbonise its Western Australian iron ore operations.

The investment will fund the construction of two 100 MW solar power facilities as well as 200 MWh of on-grid battery storage in the Pilbara by 2026. This is in addition to the 34 MW of solar power installed at the recently commissioned Gudai-Darri iron ore mine (pictured).

Initial funding for Rio Tinto’s first major standalone solar farm on the Pilbara coast has been approved, a 100 MW solar photovoltaic system and associated transmission infrastructure. Construction, which will involve the installation of approximately 225,000 solar panels built to withstand the Pilbara’s cyclonic conditions, is expected to start next year ahead of project commissioning in 2025.

Rio Tinto is engaging with state and local authorities as well as Traditional Owners about the project and relevant approvals. Final capital approval is expected in the June quarter of next year.

These new projects combined are expected to abate around 300,000 t of CO2, equivalent to a 10% reduction in total Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara based on 2021 levels. It will also reduce gas costs by approximately $55 million per year at current prices by displacing around 30% of the company’s current gas consumption in the Pilbara.

This new investment forms part of Rio Tinto’s previously announced plan to complete installation of a 1 GW renewable energy system in the Pilbara as part of a global commitment to invest approximately $7.5 billion to halve emissions by 2030. This will include significant investment in transmission infrastructure to support full decarbonisation of the Pilbara including electrification of mobile and rail equipment beyond 2030 which is estimated to require up to 3 GW of installed renewable energy assets.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “The Pilbara is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of renewable power with land, access to people, and abundant wind and solar resources. Our Pilbara electricity grid is the largest privately-owned grid in Australia, ensuring that we have the initial infrastructure required to enable a transition to renewable energy.

“We expect to invest around $3 billion to install renewable energy assets as well as transmission and storage upgrades in the Pilbara as part of our commitment to halve our emissions from the Pilbara by the end of this decade.”

Rio Tinto verifies use of Pilbara ore for low-carbon iron-making using BioIron

Rio Tinto says it has proven the effectiveness of its low-carbon iron-making process using ores from its mines in Australia in a small-scale pilot plant in Germany, and is now planning the development of a larger-scale pilot plant to further assess its potential to help decarbonise the steel value chain.

The process, known as BioIron™, uses raw biomass instead of metallurgical coal as a reductant and microwave energy to convert Pilbara iron ore to metallic iron in the steelmaking process. BioIron has the potential to support near-zero CO2 steelmaking, and can result in net negative emissions if linked with carbon capture and storage, according to the company.

Over the past 18 months, the process has been tested extensively in Germany by a project team from Rio Tinto, Metso Outotec and the University of Nottingham’s Microwave Process Engineering Group. Development work was conducted in a small-scale pilot plant using batches of 1,000 golf ball-sized iron ore and biomass briquettes.

Rio Tinto Chief Commercial Officer, Alf Barrios, said: “Finding low-carbon solutions for iron and steelmaking is critical for the world as we tackle the challenges of climate change. Proving BioIron works at this scale is an exciting development given the implications it could have for global decarbonisation.

“The results from this initial testing phase show great promise and demonstrate that the BioIron process is well suited to Pilbara iron ore fines. BioIron is just one of the pathways we are developing in our decarbonisation work with our customers, universities and industry to reduce carbon emissions right across the steel value chain.”

BioIron’s potential was confirmed in a comprehensive and independent technical review by Hatch, the global engineering, project management and professional services firm, Rio said. Hatch noted the thorough work completed by the team and BioIron’s capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while converting Pilbara iron ore into iron and steel.

The BioIron process will now be tested on a larger scale, at a specially designed continuous pilot plant with a capacity of 1 t/h. The design of the pilot plant is underway and Rio Tinto is considering suitable locations for its construction.

The BioIron process works using lignocellulosic biomass including agricultural by-products (eg wheat straw, canola stalks, barley straw, sugar cane bagasse) or purpose-grown crops. The biomass is blended with iron ore and heated by a combination of combusting gases released by the biomass and high-efficiency microwaves that can be powered by renewable energy.

Rio says it is aware of the complexities around the use of biomass supply and is working to ensure only sustainable sources of biomass are used. Accordingly, the company is undertaking a benchmarking study of biomass certification processes. Through discussions with environmental groups, as a first step Rio Tinto has ruled out sources that support the logging of old growth and High Conservation Value forests.

Metso Outotec breaks ground on new Karratha service centre

Metso Outotec has celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony of the company’s biggest service centre globally to be built in Karratha, Western Australia.

The investment, which was announced in November 2021, will result in a centre offering comprehensive maintenance and repair services for mining and aggregates customers in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions, the company said.

Located in one of the world’s largest mining regions, the centre offers increased productivity and shorter lead times as well as substantial environmental advantages due to shorter transportation journey, according to Metso Outotec.

The new service centre’s lot size is over 35,000 sq.m, with a 5,000 sq.m workshop and a total of 18,000 sq.m of storage space.

The total investment value is around €32 million ($32 million), including the purchase of the land, assets and construction of the service centre. It is expected to be operational during the December quarter of 2023.

Martin Karlsson, Senior Vice President, Professional Services, Metso Outotec, said: “This is a great day for Metso Outotec and our customers. Reaching this milestone means that the construction work on the site is proceeding after a thorough planning phase. The service centre is an expansion to our footprint and an important strategic investment in supporting our customers. The strong operational support and leading process knowledge we provide, will help our customers to meet their targets.”

The centre will be equipped to repair and refurbish, for example, large mining crushers, grinding mills, screens and car dumpers. Further, it will act as a base for field services, hold inventory for critical wear and spare parts, as well as providing a customer training facility.

Stuart Sneyd, President, Asia Pacific market area, Metso Outotec, said: “By investing in this state-of-the-art service centre, we are demonstrating our long-term commitment to the Pilbara Region and the communities there. We can offer shorter lead times, and environmentally efficient service and delivery capabilities. The functionalities of the building have been carefully designed, and we are able to support our customers with a comprehensive service and repairs capability for all their needs.”

Metso Outotec has, today, 140 service centres globally, over 3,000 field services professionals and additional support resources close to customer operations.

Rio Tinto and Wright Prospecting update Rhodes Ridge iron ore JV to accelerate development

Rio Tinto (50%) and Wright Prospecting Pty Ltd (50%) have agreed to modernise the joint venture covering the Rhodes Ridge project in the East Pilbara of Western Australia, providing a pathway for the development of the deposits using Rio’s rail (pictured), port and power infrastructure.

The binding joint venture updates an existing agreement between the two parties dating back to 1972.

The participants have commenced an Order of Magnitude study, conducted by Rio, which will consider the development of an operation before the end of the decade with initial plant capacity of up to 40 Mt/y, subject to the receipt of relevant approvals.

Rhodes Ridge contains 5,800 Mt of high grade mineral resources at an average grade of 62.3% Fe. The project’s total resource, 6,700 Mt at an average grade of 61.6% Fe, represents approximately one-third of Rio Tinto’s existing resource base in the Pilbara. A resource drilling program is currently underway to support future project studies.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “Rhodes Ridge contains one of the biggest and best undeveloped iron ore deposits on the planet with proximate access to existing infrastructure. We are very excited we have been able to strengthen our relationship with Wright Prospecting and have a pathway to bring this high quality resource to market.

“With its significant resource base, the Rhodes Ridge project has the potential to underpin production of the Pilbara Blend in the decades ahead.”

He added: “We are committed to working closely with the Traditional Owners, the Nyiyaparli and Ngarlawangga People, to ensure sites of significant cultural, environmental and biodiversity value are protected as part of any future development at Rhodes Ridge. Consistent with our revised approach for new operations, a co-management approach to any future mining activity will be developed in partnership with Traditional Owners.”

A spokesperson for Wright Prospecting, said: “We are delighted to have reached this important milestone for the Rhodes Ridge project. We look forward to partnering with Rio Tinto to develop this asset with a world-leading focus on climate, biodiversity and heritage.”

The joint venture intends to use Rio Tinto’s existing rail, port and power infrastructure, including the planned installment of 1 GW of renewable power assets in the Pilbara.

Milestone Cat 24 Motor Grader set for Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations

Twenty-seven years after introducing the Cat® 24 Motor Grader to the mining market, Caterpillar has celebrated the production of its 1,000th unit.

At a ceremony held on September 22, 2022, Caterpillar executives and motor grader production team members gathered in Decatur, Illinois, to celebrate the production and sale of this milestone machine. The grader, destined for Australia, was sold by Cat dealer, WesTrac Pty Ltd, to Rio Tinto’s Pilbara Operations in Western Australia.

During the event, Caterpillar team members heard from both WesTrac and Rio Tinto Iron Ore representatives, through videotaped comments. The milestone machine includes a special 1,000th unit commemorative plate.

In 1995, Caterpillar introduced the Cat 24 Motor Grader specifically designed to build and maintain haul roads at mining sites with ultra-class haul trucks. Now in its third generation, the Cat 24 offers 399-518 kW of power, weighs 61,950 kg, comes with a 7.3 m moldboard – with an 8.5 m moldboard option – and technology as standard to work wide haul roads efficiently, according to the OEM.

Sam Vedhakumar Manoharan, Caterpillar’s Vice President of Product Management, Earthmoving, said: “The Cat 24 Motor Grader was and continues to be a game changer for maintenance efficiency of the wide haul roads necessary for ultra-class trucks. We thank the many global mining operations and dedicated Cat dealers around the world for their loyalty to the Cat 24 grader.”

Today’s Cat 24 Motor Grader features more than 30% higher power, 13% more weight and a longer rebuild life than previous generations. It will also soon feature a high-performance circle design for further improved reliability.

Stephen Jones, Rio Tinto Iron Ore Managing Director of Planning, Integration and Assets, said: “For years, we have used Cat 24 Motor Graders to maintain our haul roads for our ultra-class trucks. The Cat 24 series offers a great combination of power, weight and blade width to support road maintenance coverage for our large mining fleet. We are honoured to receive the commemorative 1,000th 24 Motor Grader, and this represents the third generation we’ve used across our Pilbara mining operations.”

Rio Tinto and Baowu to invest $2 billion in Western Range iron ore development

Rio Tinto and China Baowu Steel Group Co. Ltd have agreed to enter into a joint venture with respect to the Western Range iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia, investing $2 billion to develop the mine.

Western Range’s annual production capacity of 25 Mt of iron ore will help sustain production of the Pilbara Blend from Rio Tinto’s existing Paraburdoo mining hub. The project includes construction of a primary crusher and an 18 km conveyor system linking it to the existing Paraburdoo processing plant.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2023 with first production anticipated in 2025. The construction phase will support approximately 1,600 jobs with the mine requiring about 800 ongoing operational roles, which are expected to be filled by existing workers transitioning from other sites in the Paraburdoo mining hub.

Rio Tinto’s share of the capital costs are already included in the group’s capital expenditure guidance of around $9-10 billion for each of 2023 and 2024. Both parties will pay their portion of capital costs for the development of the mine, and mine operating costs, plus a nominal ongoing resource contribution fee calculated by reference to Western Range production volumes. There is no upfront consideration being paid by either party.

Rio Tinto and Baowu, which own 54% and 46%, respectively, of the joint venture, have also agreed to enter into an iron ore sales agreement at market prices covering a total of up to 126.5 Mt of iron ore over approximately 13 years. This volume represents Baowu’s 46% interest in the anticipated 275 Mt of production from Western Range through the joint venture.

Rio Tinto has a long history of successfully partnering and investing with customers to develop new mines in the Pilbara. Rio Tinto and Baowu’s partnership in the Pilbara dates back to the 2002 Bao-HI joint venture to develop the Eastern Range deposits in the Hamersley Ranges (Eastern Range) and Western Range, subject to a production cap of 200 Mt. It is now expected the production cap will be sourced entirely from Eastern Range, and this transaction will continue Rio Tinto’s relationship with Baowu through development of Western Range.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “This is a very significant milestone for both Rio Tinto and Baowu, our largest customer globally. We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Baowu for more than four decades, shipping more than 200 Mt of iron ore under our original joint venture, and we are looking forward to extending our partnership at Western Range.

“The development of Western Range represents the commencement of the next significant phase of investment in our iron ore business, helping underpin future production of the Pilbara Blend, the market benchmark.

“At the same time, Rio Tinto and Baowu continue to work together on low-carbon steelmaking research, exploring new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.”

Baowu Resources Chairman, Shi Bing, said: “The signing of the joint venture agreement for the Western Range project is a significant event in the history of cooperation between Baowu and Rio Tinto. We fully appreciate the persistent efforts of both teams in accomplishing the important achievement. The Bao-HI joint venture has been successfully operating for more than 20 years, leading us to a win-win result, and reaping friendship and trust.

“We hope that the two parties will deepen the mutually beneficial and win-win partnership, continue to carry forward the spirit of sincere cooperation and further expand cooperation in more fields and aspects on the basis of working together to operate the project well.”

Rio Tinto has worked closely with the Traditional Owners on whose country Western Range is situated, the Yinhawangka People, to co-design a Social and Cultural Heritage Management Plan for the project, designed to protect signiticant cultural and heritage values in the area.

The plan, which was agreed with Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation and announced earlier this year, outlines protocols for joint decision-making on environmental matters and mine planning.

Rio Tinto’s Paraburdoo hub is comprised of three operating mines, Paraburdoo, Channar and Eastern Range. Western Range contains two deposits, 36W–50W and 55W–66W, which are located within the Hamersley Basin of Western Australia. The deposits’ mineralisation is primarily hosted by the Brockman Iron Formation with additional detrital mineralisation present. The 36W–50W and 55W-66W deposits contain a measured resource of 22 Mt at 59.1% Fe, indicated resource of 102 Mt at 61.5% Fe and an inferred resource of 108 Mt at 61.4% Fe. The 36W–50W deposit contains a proven reserve of 109 Mt at 62.1% Fe and a probable reserve of 56 Mt at 61.7% Fe.

BHP signs up PMW Industries for crushing and screening plant gig at Mining Area C

BHP has celebrated what it says is an historic agreement with PMW Industries and its Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) team, which will see the 100%-owned-and-operated Banjima Pilbara Aboriginal Traditional Owner business maintain a semi-mobile crushing and screening plant at its Mining Area C operation, in the Pilbara, supported by new strategic partner and Mineral Resources Limited owned company, CSI Mining Services.

Led by Banjima business owner, Paula White (pictured on the right), PMW will operate on country at the iron ore operation as part of this large-scale, long-term scope of work. It is expected to create up to 30 new employment and training opportunities for Banjima and Indigenous people.

The agreement builds upon WAIO’s existing relationship with PMW, which started more than three years ago through its Local Buying Program.

WAIO Asset President, Brandon Craig (pictured on the left), said he was proud of the growing relationship between BHP and PMW Industries, saying the crushing contract award was one of the largest in WAIO’s history.

“Our Mining Area C iron ore operation is on Banjima country – in line with our commitment to become the partner of choice for Indigenous people, this partnership is founded on respect and mutual benefit,” he said. “We are working hard to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses to support the growth of Indigenous enterprise, partnering for the future.”

White added: “PMW Industries is very proud to be partnering with BHP and CSI to enable more employment and economic empowerment for Traditional Owners and Indigenous people. As a Banjima woman and business owner, I’m also delighted to be creating opportunities for other Indigenous women and young girls to follow their dreams.”

This step forward builds upon BHP’s commitment to drive more sustainable, profitable and enduring partnerships with Indigenous businesses across its operations. In WAIO alone, by the 2024 financial year, BHP expects to double its current annual spend with Indigenous businesses to over A$300 million ($204 million).

“At the same time, we are actively improving our sourcing systems and procurement processes, in partnership with Traditional Owner and indigenous businesses,” BHP says. “This was demonstrated with the PMW agreement, which followed a competitive Banjima-only tender, structured specifically to enable Traditional Owner businesses to operate on country.”

Mineral Resources kicks off work at ‘dust free’ iron ore project in the Pilbara

Mineral Resources has commenced early works at its Onslow Iron project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, a project that, according to Chris Ellison, will be “dust-free from pit-to-port”.

The early works at Onslow, formerly known as the Ashburton project, will support first ore on ship around December 2023, MinRes says.

Onslow Iron will unlock stranded deposits that would otherwise remain undeveloped in the West Pilbara region, using MinRes’ innovative and proprietary equipment designed to process and move bulk commodities at lower costs and with a reduced environmental footprint, the company said.

Following receipt of preliminary approvals, project preparations are on track and early construction activities including bulk earthworks have commenced at the Port of Ashburton, south of Onslow. At the nearby Truck Maintenance Facility, installation of the temporary construction village is underway, with first buildings to be installed from early September.

Mine development activities have also progressed at the Ken’s Bore Deposit, east of Onslow, with construction of the A320-capacity airport and the installation of two camps to support drilling and early construction works.

Recruitment for the construction phase of Onslow Iron is also well underway alongside a continued focus on community and stakeholder consultation.

In line with the project schedule, long-lead items have been ordered including the first transhippers, which will be used to load capesize vessels that will be anchored offshore from the Port of Ashburton. Each transhipper has a 20,000-t capacity, is fully enclosed to avoid dust pollution and has a significantly lower environmental footprint when compared with the major dredging activities that would be required to construct deepwater berths at the port, according to the company.

Onslow Iron will be one of the largest iron ore developments undertaken in Western Australia, delivering substantial benefits to the state including thousands of construction and operational jobs, billions of dollars of direct local investment through capital expenditure and billions of dollars of state and commonwealth royalties over the life of the project, it added.

Mineral Resources Managing Director, Chris Ellison, said: “Onslow Iron will be transformational, not just for MinRes but for the State of Western Australia. This project will be the cornerstone of our iron ore strategy to deliver low-cost, long-life operations with project economics that are compelling through commodity price cycles.

“We’re looking forward to delivering thousands of jobs for Western Australians and investing billions in the economy.

“Importantly, our innovations will drive lower emissions across the project. Onslow Iron has been designed with a low environmental footprint and will be dust-free from pit-to-port.

“We’re also setting a new FIFO standard with our industry first, resort-style accommodation to ensure the physical and mental safety of our people and to encourage more women, and couples, to live on site.

“It’s in our DNA to aim higher, push the boundaries and forge new paths, which is why Onslow Iron really represents a new paradigm for mining in Western Australia.”

On top of the dust-free innovation and FIFO aims, MinRes has mooted it will run autonomous road trains between the pit and the port at Onslow Iron.

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG to receive first commercial runout at Iron Bridge

Mining support technology, BLAST DOG, which was developed in Australia by IMDEX Limited, is set to be used at the Iron Bridge Operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia under a new three-year agreement.

Iron Bridge is an unincorporated joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Iron Bridge and Formosa Steel IB, with the agreement being the first commercial application of IMDEX’s BLAST DOG.

The agreement provides for the staged utilisation of BLAST DOGs, which IMDEX estimates will generate revenue of A$13 million ($9.2 million) over the initial term.

The BLAST DOG is a commodity-agnostic blasthole sensing and physical measurement technology that is semi-autonomously deployed for logging material properties and blasthole characteristics at high spatial density across the bench and mine.

IMDEX Chief Executive Officer, Paul House, said this contract win was a defining moment for IMDEX.

“This is homegrown technology designed to provide meaningful, quantifiable benefits for the mining industry,” House said.

“We are not aware of any other technology that has the capacity to produce the same quantity and quality of pre-blast rock data and provide as large an impact on downstream processes.”

“The commercial success of BLAST DOG reflected in today’s announcement is a credit to IMDEX’s R&D team and their drive to make a difference in the mining industry.”

IMDEX Chief Geoscientist, Dave Lawie, said the company overcame many obstacles, including mine access issues caused by COVID-19, to deliver the BLAST DOG project in Australia and the Americas.

“Today’s announcement is exciting because we know what BLAST DOG can produce,” Lawie said.

“It is recognition for five years of intense effort spanning the USA, Queensland, Western Australia and Chile in conjunction with our METS Ignited project partners.

“In addition to the work for the Iron Bridge joint venture, we are involved in ongoing, pre-commercial trials across various operations in Australia, Canada and Chile.”

IMDEX’s BLAST DOG provides material physical property measurements prior to blasthole drilling to inform decisions regarding blasting, screening, blending and stockpiling, among others, before these materials are subject to processing. These properties form the inputs to a tactical approach to ore characterisation and processing, IMDEX says.

Possible benefits offered by IMDEX’s BLAST DOG include the ability of mining companies to develop programs which:

  • Optimise explosive selection and costs;
  • Improve fragmentation;
  • Improve material and grade control;
  • Reduce geotechnical risk;
  • Detect voids;
  • Define ore boundaries and prevent ore waste dilution; and
  • Reduce fume, flyrock, vibration, air-blast and dust.

The BLAST DOG contract capped off a year in which IMDEX delivered record revenue, record earnings and continued margin expansion.

It reported record revenue of $341.8 million, a 29.3% increase on the same time last year; alongside record EBITDA of A$104.9 million, an increase of 38.9% on last year; and net profit after tax of A$44.7 million, up 41% on last year.