Tag Archives: Platinum

TOMRA Mining to demonstrate Final Recovery diamond sorter at Electra Mining 2022

TOMRA Mining will showcase its sensor-based sorting solutions at the Electra Mining 2022 exhibition, in Johannesburg, South Africa, in September, showcasing, for the first time, live demonstrations of its COM XRT 300 /FR Final Recovery sorter for diamond operations.

Representatives from its Sales and Field Service teams will also present TOMRA’s offering of advanced digital products and services, such as the TOMRA Insight cloud-based platform and its latest generation TOMRA ACT PC-based system, as well as its portfolio of sorting solutions for the diamonds, metals and industrial minerals industry at the show, which runs from September 5-9.

Corné de Jager, Diamond Segment Manager TOMRA Mining, said: “The Electra Mining Show is the perfect platform for us to showcase TOMRA’s advanced mining solutions. This important exhibition attracts a wide audience – from operators and metallurgists – interested in smart solutions that are simple to operate and maintain, to decision makers who need to be up to date with the latest value-adding technologies. At the event we will have the opportunity to meet them face-to-face and discuss their requirements, giving them a taste or TOMRA’s collaborative approach, product expertise and after-sales support.”

TOMRA will demonstrate the Final Recovery sorter with fine kimberlitic or alluvial ore together with diamond powdered tracers in a Final Recovery and Sort House application. Visitors will be able to experience first-hand the sorter’s capability to produce an ultra-high diamond-by-weight concentrate with an exceptionally low yield by using TOMRA’s proprietary ultra-high-resolution sensor, advanced new image processing and high-precision ejector valve system, the company says. The sorter offers 100% diamond detection within the specified size fraction and > 99% guaranteed diamond recovery with appropriate feed material preparation.

“We are very excited to demonstrate the TOMRA COM XRT 300 /FR sorter,” de Jager says. “It completes our unique partnered diamond recovery ecosystem, which covers the entire process. We are now able to offer our customers a full XRT solution to sort +2-100 mm particles: +4-100 mm particles with our bulk concentration sorters, and +2-32 mm particles with the COM XRT 300 /FR in its Final Recovery, Sort House or small-capacity exploration applications. The sorter offers higher efficiency, better grade, simplified security requirements with fewer sorting stages and a smaller footprint. It reduces complexity and operational costs, and unlocks the potential for previously deemed non-profitable projects and marginal deposits to be economically viable. ”

The COM XRT 300 /FR sorter can also add value to existing kimberlitic and alluvial operations that use conventional bulk-concentration methods like rotary pans, dense medium separation or X-ray luminescence, if installed in a Final Recovery and/or Sort House function after these existing processes. With a contained capital expense, operations can benefit from a quick, simple and significant revenue gain, TOMRA says.

The TOMRA team at the exhibition will explain the full benefits of its complete partnered diamond recovery ecosystem consisting of XRT technology covering the entire process – from Bulk Concentration to Final Recovery and Sort House applications – as well as its advanced digital products and services. These include the newly refreshed TOMRA ACT PC-based system interface and TOMRA Insight cloud-based subscription solution.

TOMRA Mining has 190 sorter installations operating around the world, of which more than 60 are in Africa. It offers installation opportunities in Africa in the metals industry, for example in applications such as lithium, chromite, platinum, manganese and gold.

Zest WEG E-House powers up HIG mill at South Africa platinum mine

A purpose-designed electrical house (E-House) from Zest WEG is driving one of the largest new high intensity grinding (HIG) mills in the southern hemisphere, recently installed at a platinum mine in South Africa’s North West province, Zest WEG says.

The size and operational parameters of the mill place demanding requirements on the equipment in the E-House, according to Tyrone Willemse, Senior Proposals Manager at Zest WEG. Constructed in South Africa incorporating a range of products – produced and distributed by Zest WEG – the E-House design also delivers world-class standards of safety and fire protection, the company said.

“The key benefit of the prefabricated E-House concept is the time it saves the customer and the high level of quality that can be ensured through its construction and testing under ideal workshop conditions,” he says. “The process is also streamlined as the complete project falls under a single provider, who takes full responsibility for delivering on-time and on-budget.”

This E-House includes the HIG mill’s variable speed drive (VSD) and all its associated auxiliary circuits and starters. A range of WEG transformers and motors are also part of this project. With its extensive in-house expertise, Zest WEG generates fully detailed designs for its E-Houses, using 3D computer assisted design software.

“For this application, the E-House consists of a medium voltage room and a low voltage (LV) room,” Willemse notes. “The MV room houses the well-known WEG MVW01 VSD, with an integral oil type 12 pulse transformer manufactured locally at our transformer manufacturing facility in Wadeville.”

Willemse explains that the WEG MVW01 makes use of high voltage insulated-gate bipolar transistors, which lower the amount of power electronics needed. This also reduces the mean time to repair, so that operations can be quickly restored in the event of a major fault on the system.

“The WEG MVW01 powers a WEG 3.75 MW MGR eight pole 3.3 kV directly-coupled squirrel cage induction motor,” says Willemse. “This motor is specially designed to be vertically mounted to meet the HIG mill’s operation and maintenance requirements.”

Both the motor and the VSD were designed to meet the aggressive torque requirements during some phases of the mill’s operation. The combination handles the torque requirements that periodically exceed 170% for more than three minutes, giving the customer the necessary flexibility, according to Zest WEG. The LV room contains the motor control centre (MCC) that feeds all the auxiliary circuits of the mill.

“Importantly, we have installed the newly arc-proof type-tested IEC 61641 WEG board, which has the best rating for personal protection,” Willemse says. “In the event of an internal arc, the MCC is fitted with an explosion duct that transfers any explosion safely out of the building.”

Another aspect of the safety features is a fire detection and suppression system that meets the customer’s demands. The two rooms are fitted with their own fully automated room-flooding suppression systems, which can flood the space with gas that douses electrical fires but is not dangerous to humans.

“The system can detect smoke at a very early stage, and can also check against false triggering,” Willemse says. “More than two smoke detectors must react, activating a loud bell for evacuation or cancellation, before flooding takes place.”

The LV room also houses WEG CFW11 LV VSDs, which feed premium efficient WEG motors. The E-House’s small power and lighting circuits are fed by one of Zest WEG’s locally manufactured SANS780-compliant transformers.

Second Doppelmayr RopeCon goes live at Northam’s Booysendal mine

The second Doppelmayr RopeCon® system at Northam Platinum’s Booysendal platinum mine in South Africa has gone live, helping transport approximately 400 t/h of mined material over a distance of 2.8 km and a difference in elevation of -160 m.

A RopeCon system has been transporting platinum ore at Booysendal since the end of 2018, with this first installation transporting some 909 t/h of material over a circa-4.8 km distance through hilly terrain.

In December 2021, the second installation at Booysendal North was handed over to the customer.

The Booysendal North RopeCon discharges the material into the same silo from which the material is loaded onto the Booysendal South system, which makes it a perfect link in a continuous conveying line, Doppelmayr explained. Since early 2022, the second loading point along the line has been in use, too. The option of an alternative loading point was provided at tower 2. A conventional feeder conveyor transports the material to the RopeCon line where it is loaded directly onto the belt via a chute.

RopeCon, developed by Doppelmayr, offers the advantages of a ropeway and combines them with the properties of a conventional belt conveyor, according to the company. It essentially consists of a flat belt with corrugated side walls: just as on conventional belt conveyors, the belt performs the haulage function. It is driven and deflected by a drum in the head or tail station and fixed to axles arranged at regular intervals to carry it. The axles are fitted with plastic running wheels which run on fixed anchored track ropes and guide the belt. The track ropes are elevated off the ground on tower structures.

“By using the RopeCon system, the customer did not have to rely on trucks to transport the material, a definite advantage in this topographically challenging terrain with its sometimes very steep roads,” the company said. “Furthermore, using the roads only for the transport of people and supplies will have a positive effect on road maintenance costs.”

Booysendal was also particularly careful to choose a transport system that would minimise the environmental footprint of the mine. By guiding the RopeCon over towers, the space required on the ground is reduced to a minimum, or more precisely to the tower locations. At the same time, the system does not represent an insurmountable obstacle for wildlife or humans. The track crosses a number of roads, and even wildlife can roam freely underneath the RopeCon, according to Doppelmayr.

Zimplats to boost PGM mine, concentrator output in Zimbabwe

Zimplats’ Board of Directors has signed off on several new projects at its platinum group metal operations in Zimbabwe, including the building of a new mine, expansion of its in-country processing capacity and the addition of a solar plant to augment power supplies.

The board approved an overall capital investment strategy with a budget of $1.8 billion to be implemented over a 10-year period beginning in 2021, with $1.2 billion already approved for implementation.

Zimplats, a member of the Implats Group, is focused on production of platinum group and associated metals from the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe. It currently operates four underground mines and a concentrator at Ngezi, while the Selous Metallurgical Complex, 77 km north of the underground operations, comprises a concentrator and a smelter.

These projects, including those that are currently in process of being approved, will concentrate on:

  • Maintaining current production levels through mine replacements and upgrades ($516 million);
  • Expanding production levels through growth projects, including the development of a new mine and increased processing capacity, which will boost nameplate capacity from 6.7 Mt/y to 8.8 Mt/y and in-country processing capacity to 380,000 t/y of concentrate, and the establishment of an abatement facility to mitigate sulphuric dioxide emissions emanating from the current and expanded smelting capacity ($969 million);
  • Refurbishing the mothballed base metal refinery, to further beneficiate converter matte ($100 million); and
  • Investing in a 185 MW solar plant to augment power supplies and enhance environmental, social and governance performance metrics to maintain Zimplats licence to operate ($201 million).

These projects, the company said, are expected to be funded by internally generated resources.

ERM on executing the mining sector’s sustainability strategies

With sustainability close to the number one topic shaping the business landscape, the mining industry faces perhaps more scrutiny today than ever before. From stakeholder engagement to employee welfare and the emissions generated from using mined commodities, there is a spectrum of issues on which mining companies are judged. Not just by traditional critics such as NGOs, but increasingly by policymakers, investors and consumers themselves.

As a result, mining companies are seeking the advice of consultants that live and breathe environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues to adapt to this evolving backdrop (see the mining consultants focus in IM October 2021 for more on this).

In this regard, they don’t come much bigger than ERM, which calls itself the largest global pure play sustainability consultancy. With a remit that goes into strategic, operational and tactical challenges, the company’s services have been in serious demand of late.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead; Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead; Peter Rawlings, Low Carbon Economy Transition Lead; and Geraint Bowden, Regional Client Director – Mining, were happy to go into some detail about how the company is serving the industry across multiple disciplines.

In demand

According to the four, there is increasing demand for services from miners interested in energy/battery minerals (lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, platinum, palladium and rhodium (PGMs)) on the back of rising numbers of new mines coming onto the scene, “shorter supply chains to customers”, the perceived need to secure domestic supply of these minerals, and requirements of “evidence of responsibly-produced certifications from industry organisations such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)”.

Such trends have been underwritten by a shift in both the requirements and considerations around the extraction of these minerals, according to Molyneux.

“In the last five to seven years, the main ESG incentives for change have come from access to capital (ie investor ESG preferences, especially in relation to catastrophic incidents),” he said.

“Over the last three years, we have seen a strong rise in expectations from downstream customers, particularly leading brands.”

Jonathan Molyneux, ERM Mining ESG Strategy Lead

Automotive original equipment manufacturers like BMW and Daimler are placing sustainability at the centre of their brands, according to ERM. Their initial focus has been on ‘net-zero’ driving/electrification – and they have made progress on this with several major electric car launches. They then shifted to examining the carbon emissions and ESG, or responsible practices, of tier-one and tier-two component manufacturers. The last step has been a full analysis of the ESG credentials of input materials right back to source, ie the mine.

“We see a shift from the historic lens of customers managing supply risk by sourcing from organisations which ‘do little/no harm’ (eg human rights compliance, catastrophic incident avoidance) to supply partners that can contribute to the ‘do net good’ or ‘create value for all stakeholders’ (ie communities, workforce, nature positive),” Pearce said.

Such a shift has resulted in more clients considering “circular thinking” in their operational strategy, as well as carrying out risk reviews and transformation projects focused on a company’s social or cultural heritage. Tied to this, these same companies have been evaluating their water use, biodiversity requirements and, of course, decarbonisation efforts.

It is the latter on which the steel raw materials companies predominantly have been looking for advice, according to ERM.

The focus has been on ‘green’ iron ore, low-carbon steel and ‘circular’ steel, according to Molyneux and Bowden, with ERM providing input on how companies in this supply chain can integrate sustainability into their strategy and operations.

On the thermal coal side, meanwhile, it is a very different type of ERM service in demand: mine retirements, closure/local/regional regeneration transitions and responsible disposals.

Delivering on decarbonisation

The mining industry decarbonisation targets have come thick and fast in the last 18-24 months, with the latest announcement from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) seeing all 28 mining and metals members sign up to a goal of net zero Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

Many have gone further than Scope 1 (direct emissions from owned or controlled sources) and Scope 2 (indirect emissions from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating and cooling consumed by the reporting company) emissions, looking at including Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain) targets.

Fortescue Metals Group, this month, announced what it said is an industry-leading target to achieve net zero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, for example.

These are essential goals – and ones that all interested parties are calling for – in order to deliver on the Paris Agreement, yet many miners are not yet in the position to deliver on them, according to Pearce, Molyneux, Rawlings and Bowden.

“Miners need to look at decarbonisation at a holistic level across their operations and value chain, and cannot just delegate the net zero requirements to individual assets,” Rawlings said. “The solutions needed require investment and are often at a scale well beyond individual assets/sites.”

Much of this decarbonisation effort mirrors other industries, with the use of alternative fuels for plant and equipment, accessing renewable electricity supplies, etc, they said.

Process-specific activities can present challenges and is where innovation is required.

“These hard to abate areas are where a lot of efforts are currently focused,” Rawlings said.

Tied into this discussion is the allowance and estimates made for carbon.

There has been anecdotal evidence of miners taking account of carbon in annual and technical reports – a recent standout example being OZ Minerals inclusion of a carbon price in determining the valuation of its Prominent Hill shaft expansion project in South Australia – but there is no current legislation in place.

“We are seeing a broad spectrum of price and sophistication (targeted audience, knowledge level), but it is an active board level discussion for most clients,” Bowden said on this subject. “Most clients view this as market-driven requirements as opposed to a voluntary disclosure.”

This has been driven, in part, from the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which many miners – including all the majors – are aligning their reporting with.

Some clients are also looking into scenarios to work around carbon regimes such as the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, which proposes a carbon-based levy on imports of specific products.

Having acquired several companies in recent months focused on the low carbon economy transition – such as E4tech, Element Energy and RCG – ERM feels best placed to provide the technical expertise and experience to deliver the sustainable energy solutions miners require to decarbonise their operations.

“With these companies, combined with ERM’s expertise, it means we can support clients on the decarbonisation journeys from the initial strategy and ambition development through to implementation and delivery of their roadmaps,” Rawlings said. “We can support clients from boots to boardroom as they assess decarbonisation options and technologies; help them understand the financial, policy and practical aspects linked to deployment of solutions; and access the financing necessary to support deployment.”

ESG dilemmas

There is more to this evolving backdrop than setting and meeting ambitious environmental goals, yet, in ERM’s experience, the advice provided by consultants – and requested by miners – has historically been focused on individual ESG domains.

“This has often been driven by their realisation that their (miner’s) in-house policies and standards require updating,” Pearce said.

Louise Pearce, ERM Global Mining Lead

A siloed or disaggregated approach to ESG strategy development often reduces risk, but rarely generates value for the enterprise at hand, according to Pearce.

“What we have learned is that in order for organisations to create value, they need to focus on value drivers for the corporation,” she said. “These value levers are typically influenced by an integrated suite of ESG dimensions. For example, this could be looking at carbon emissions, connected with water use and nature, connected with local socio-economic development.”

“Sustainability and ESG are about understanding the inter-relationships between our social, natural and economic environments over the longer term. It cannot be about addressing one topic at a time or responding to the loudest voices.”

This is where ERM’s ‘second-generation’ ESG advice, which is driven by data and opportunities to create value as well as manage risk, is fit for the task.

“We are also finding that, at its heart, the central issue to second-generation ESG performance delivery/improvement for our clients is not just the strategy, but a willingness of organisations to reflect on their core values, how these have driven their traditional approaches and decisions and how they will need to evolve these if they want to achieve a genuine brand and reputation for ESG and achieve impact on the value drivers they have selected,” she added.

Such thinking is proving definitive in ERM’s mining sector mergers and acquisition due diligence.

“We have multiple experiences where clients have asked us to carry out an ESG review of a target portfolio, only to find that there is too great a gap between the target’s ESG asset footprint to align them with the client’s standard – or, that the carbon, water, closure or tailings profile of the target carries a too high-risk profile,” Molyneux said.

This is presenting clients with a dilemma as they want to increase their exposure to certain minerals, but are, in some instances, finding M&A is a too high-risk route. At the same time, the lead time to find and develop their own new assets is longer than they would wish for building market share.

Such a market dynamic opens the door for juniors looking for assets early in their lifecycles, yet it places a high load on the management teams of these companies to think strategically about the ESG profile of the asset they are setting the foundations for to eventually appeal to a potential acquirer.

“This is, in itself, a dilemma because, typically, the cash scarcity at the junior stage leads management teams to focus on the immediate technical challenges, sometimes at the cost of also addressing the priority non-technical challenges,” Bowden said.

Those companies who can take a strategic view on the ESG requirements of the future – rooted in a deep understanding of how to deliver change on the ground – will be best placed in such a market, and ERM says it is on hand to provide the tools to develop such an appropriate approach.

(Lead photo credit: @Talaat Bakri, ERM)

Metso Outotec grinding, flotation and separation equipment destined for Russian Platinum project

Metso Outotec has signed what it says is a landmark contract to deliver all key technology for a new concentrator plant in Norilsk, Russia.

The concentrator is operated by Chernogorskaya mining company, part of the Russian Platinum group.

The delivery is based on Metso Outotec’s proprietary technology and includes key equipment for grinding, flotation and separation. Metso Outotec will also deliver electrification, instrumentation and automation for the concentrator, it says. The contract, which exceeds €100 million ($116 million) in value, has been booked into the Minerals business’ September quarter orders received.

The new concentrator plant is expected to start production in 2023. It will process nickel-copper ore with high palladium and platinum content from the Chernogorsky deposit with an annual capacity of 7 Mt, according to the OEM. Metso Outotec has carried out the basic engineering for the concentrator plant in the earlier stages of the project, it says.

Evgeny Vorobeichik, Managing Director at Russian Platinum, says: “Russian Platinum is aiming for a highly efficient and environmentally friendly production process in the industrial region of Norilsk. The construction of the Chernogorsk GOK is the first stage of this large-scale project, the implementation of which will make our company one of the leaders in the production of palladium and platinum. Use of advanced technical solutions and reliable equipment is an absolute priority. The partnership with Metso Outotec and continuous support from its local operations in Russia are important components to ensuring the success of the project.”

Markku Teräsvasara, President of the Minerals business area at Metso Outotec, added: “Metso Outotec has ample experience with the arctic environment in the Norilsk region as well as with its uniquely rich and demanding ore types. We are delighted to be able to support Chernogorskaya in this greenfield project, where we will be delivering the whole concentrator with the latest technology.”

SPH Kundalila adds another Lokotrack LT120 for crushing fleet at platinum mine

SPH Kundalila has reaffirmed its faith in Metso Outotec crushers by putting to work another Lokotrack® LT120™ from local distributor Pilot Crushtec at an open-pit platinum mine near Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province.

The Lokotrack LT120 mobile jaw crushing plant was acquired early in 2021, and has since been added to the fleet at the mine where SPH Kundalila has been conducting crushing operations for the customer since 2013.

“The new machine is part of our ongoing plant renewal process, ensuring that our fleet performs optimally with high uptime levels,” Graeme Campbell, Group Commercial Manager at SPH Kundalila, says. “We already have four of these models on other operations, and they have all been strong and reliable production units.”

The crushing fleet on this project processes 350,000-400,000 t/mth of platinum ore for the mine’s mineral processing plant. Material entering the crusher can be sized up to 800 mm in size, which is reduced to a product of 250 mm or less for transportation to the plant.

The mobility of the track-mounted LT120 provides the necessary flexibility that the mine requires to maintain a consistent grade for the plant, moving crushers when necessary to treat ore from different locations on site, according to the company.

SPH Kundalila Operations Manager, Dean Zeelie, says the Metso mobile crushers have proved themselves as reliable performers in front-line, hard-rock applications in the company’s contracts, with one unit notching up almost 25,000 hours to date.

“The Metso technology allows us to closely monitor machine running time and operating time, so that we can schedule regular service interventions,” he says. “Our on-site maintenance team ensures that all delivery targets are met, as our role in maintaining mine throughput is vital.”

This approach allows these mobile crushers to be completely refurbished at SPH Kundalila’s rebuild workshop in Potchefstroom at long-term intervals. This enhances reliability and lowers the total cost of ownership.

The close relationship between SPH Kundalila and Pilot Crushtec goes back over 23 years, according to Campbell, with the company investing in Metso crushers since 2007. He notes that they collaborate at early stages of potential contract opportunities when Pilot Crushtec will assist with testing and will then provide recommendations on the most suitable equipment for a job. He says Metso’s Bruno simulation software is also a valuable tool that the company uses for finding optimal solutions for its projects.

According to Francois Marais, Director Sales and Marketing at Pilot Crushtec, the Lokotrack LT120 includes a Metso C120 jaw crusher with a 1,200 mm by 870 mm feed opening, providing excellent capacity even in the toughest applications.

“The hydraulic drive ensures trouble-free operation and enables crusher direction to be changed in case of blockage or alternatively the on-board hydraulic hammer can be used, while the Caterpillar C13 engine module delivers optimal power to the high inertia flywheels,” Marais says.

“Its compact dimensions, combined with agile tracks, also make it easy to transport. The chassis design features good clearance at both ends, enabling simple loading on a trailer.”

Ivanplats to trial Epiroc battery-electric drills and LHDs at Platreef mine

Epiroc says it has won a significant order for battery-electric mining equipment from Ivanplats that will be used to develop its greenfield Platreef mine in South Africa in the “most sustainable and productive manner possible”.

Ivanplats, a subsidiary of Canada-based Ivanhoe Mines, has ordered several Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs (pictured).

These machines will be trialled during the Platreef underground mine’s initial development phase, Epiroc said, adding that Ivanplats has the ambition to use all battery-electric vehicles in its mining fleet at Platreef.

The order exceeds ZAR150 million ($10.2 million) in value and was booked in the June quarter of 2021.

Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South Africa beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project, with the remaining 10% owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and Japan Gas Corporation.

The Platreef 2020 feasibility study builds on the results of the 2017 feasibility study and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve of 125 Mt at 4.4 g/t 3PGE+Au, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the 2017 study; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mt/y to 4.4 Mt/y, in two modules of 2.2 Mt/y, for annual production of more than 500,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold; plus more than 35 MIb of nickel and copper.

The initial plan is to start at a mining rate of 700,000 t/y before scaling up. An updated feasibility study on the plan is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said it was “encouraging” that Ivanplats is considering going all battery-electric at Platreef.

“Battery-electric equipment is increasingly embraced by mining companies as it provides a healthier work environment, lower total operating costs and higher productivity,” she said. “The technology is now well established, and Epiroc is driving this change toward emissions-free mining.”

Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe Mines’ President and CFO, said: “We want to be at the forefront of utilising battery electric, zero-emission equipment at all of our mining operations. This partnership with Epiroc for emissions-free mining equipment at the Platreef Mine is an important first step towards achieving our net-zero carbon emissions goals while mining metals required for a cleaner environment.”

Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery loaders are built in Sweden, and are automation-ready and equipped with Epiroc’s telematics solution Certiq.

The equipment will be delivered early to Platreef in 2022. Epiroc will also provide on-site operator and maintenance training to Ivanplats, it said.

Epiroc intends to offer its complete fleet of underground mining equipment as battery-electric versions by 2025, and its full fleet for surface operations as battery-powered versions by 2030.

Rio Tinto Kennecott to recover tellurium from copper smelting

Rio Tinto is to construct a new plant that will recover tellurium, a critical mineral used in solar panels, from copper refining at its Kennecott mine near Salt Lake City, Utah.

The company is investing $2.9 million to set up the plant, which will recover tellurium as a by-product of copper smelting, extracting a valuable mineral from waste streams. The plant will have a capacity to produce around 20 t/y of tellurium, the miner said.

Rio expects to begin production of tellurium in the December quarter of 2021, creating a new North American supply chain for the critical mineral.

Tellurium is an essential component of cadmium telluride, a semiconductor used to manufacture thin film photovoltaic solar panels. Thin films made of this compound can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity, according to the miner. Tellurium can also be used as an additive to steel and copper to improve machinability, making these metals easier to cut. It can also be added to lead to increase resistance to sulphuric acid, vibration and fatigue.

Rio Tinto Kennecott Managing Director, Gaby Poirier, said: “The minerals and metals we produce are essential to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Adding tellurium to our product portfolio provides customers in North America with a secure and reliable source of tellurium produced at the highest environmental and labour standards with renewable energy. Rio Tinto is committed to using innovation to reduce waste in our production process and extract as much value as possible from the material that we mine and process.”

Utah Governor, Spencer Cox, said: “With abundant natural resources, Utah is ideally positioned to help supply the critical minerals essential to maintain American manufacturing competitiveness. Rio Tinto’s smelter at Kennecott is one of only two that is capable of producing copper and other critical minerals. The new tellurium plant is another valuable contribution to critical mineral independence and energy security in the US”

Along with producing almost 20% of US copper, Kennecott’s smelting process also recovers gold, silver, lead carbonate, platinum, palladium and selenium, while molybdenum is recovered from the Copperton concentrator. In total, nine products are currently recovered from the ore extracted at Kennecott.

Rio Tinto is a partner with the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) and works closely with CMI experts to discover further ways to economically recover critical mineral by-products such as rhenium, tellurium and lithium. The company is also investing in new facilities to extract battery-grade lithium from waste rock at its Boron, California mine site and high quality scandium oxide from waste streams at its metallurgical complex in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec.

Kwatani branching out from South Africa roots

Vibrating screen and feeder specialist Kwatani says it is transitioning from equipment supplier to solutions provider, as it attracts customers from well beyond its South Africa headquarters.

According to Kwatani General Manager Sales and Service, Jan Schoepflin, the company’s strong in-house expertise and design capability – combined with the manufacturing quality it consistently achieves – ensures its customised solutions deliver optimal performance at the lowest possible lifecycle costs.

“Our recent orders show that our customer base in Southern Africa remains strong, while there is growing recognition of our cost-effective offerings in West Africa, East Africa and North Africa,” says Schoepflin. “At the same time, orders from countries like Canada and Russia indicate that our markets abroad continue to grow.”

Kwatani says it remains the market leader in the supply and servicing of vibrating screens and feeders on iron ore and manganese mines in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. It also counts platinum, coal, diamond and gold mines in its customer base. Its West Africa orders have been mainly to gold mines, and there is growing potential for gold mining in East Africa, Schoepflin says.

Over its four decades of operation, Kwatani has produced about 16,000 custom-designed screens, and is building, on average, 30 to 40 units a month in its ISO 9001:2015 certified facility close to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

“Our reputation has been built on prioritising what our customers need, and doing business with integrity and trust,” Schoepflin says. “This means delivering on what we promise and making sure that customers achieve the expected value from our products.”

The company’s solution focus is underpinned by its significant and ongoing investment in local skills, ensuring that its designs leverage strong mechanical and metallurgical engineering expertise, according to Schoepflin.

“This confidence in our products allows us to offer a process guarantee to customers, to deliver the tonnage, throughput and fractions that they expect,” he says. “Depending on which country our customers operate in, they may also have different industry and quality standards/certification expectations and we work closely with them to understand these clearly and meet their requirements.”

Schoepflin also emphasises the company’s service capabilities, which include its local service centres closer to customers, and its support partners in other countries.

“The careful selection of these partners is vital to meet customers’ stringent technical expectations,” Schoepflin says. “In some countries, our partners can also manufacture components according to our drawings and specifications, should there be an urgent requirement from a customer.”