Tag Archives: PNG

Freeport senses PNG exploration opportunity with Minerva’s DRIVER AI solution

Freeport Resources has signed a contract with Minerva Intelligence Inc that will see the artificial intelligence focused company deploy its DRIVER AI solution at the Star Mountains project in Papua New Guinea.

Freeport recently acquired Quidum Resources, which, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Highlands Pacific Resources Ltd, controls the Star Mountains project. The company thinks applying Minerva’s technology to the project will enhance its next phases of surface and sub-surface exploration of the extensive property, which is located close to the Ok Tedi mine.

“Freeport is committed to embracing new technologies to enhance the understanding of our portfolio of projects beginning with Star Mountains,” Nate Chutas, Senior VP of Operations at Freeport, said. “We believe that the advances in technology that DRIVER brings will provide deep insights into our project data and provide a better understanding for the development and prioritisation of high-quality exploration targets.”

DRIVER delivers these insights by evaluating all elements typically returned by modern laboratories, not simply the elements of direct economic interest, Freeport says. The work this requires is too time-consuming and complicated to be carried out by project geologists, according to the company.

Minerva’s cognitive reasoning platform is able to compare identified geochemical exploration vectors with its database of hundreds of past and present mines around the world, identifying those most similar to the explored target using the company’s proprietary AI technology.

The resulting similarity rankings can then provide reliable, explainable models upon which geologists can build their exploration strategies, Freeport says.

Gord Friesen, President and CEO of Freeport, said: “Despite having identified a very significant resource already, it is our assertion that Star Mountains is still vastly under-explored. We believe that utilising AI-based, deep-thinking tools such as DRIVER will exponentially hasten our understanding of Star Mountains’ true potential.”

The data analysis will involve three studies, the first two being 3D studies focused on the drilling results from the Olgal deposit where there is a current inferred resource, using a 0.3% copper cutoff grade, of 210 Mt grading 0.4% Cu and 0.4 g/t Au, for 2.9 Moz of contained gold and 840,000 t of contained copper.

The third study will be a combined 2D and 3D analysis of data collected from the remainder of the Star Mountains claims. All these studies will be integrated with interpretation of available airborne geophysics data, according to Freeport.

The first 3D study will be a geochemical cluster analysis to identify the lithogeochemical characteristics of the logged drill holes to use as a comparison against the interpreted logging, and for comparison with the lithogeochemistry of drilling results for other Star targets.

This will be followed by a second 3D study involving the use of Minerva’s DRIVER software to examine multi-element zonation patterns throughout the Olgal dataset.

The third study will apply Minerva’s SOLACE workflow to a combination of the surface and drilling data available for the rest of the Star Mountains claims for incorporation into Minerva’s Target target generation system.

Worley out to help miners on their open pit to underground mining transition

As open-pit mines reach their economic end of life, mine owners are considering the viability of transitioning their open-pit operations to underground.

Drawing on its deep level mining expertise in South Africa, Worley helps mine owners around the world to explore the feasibility of underground life of mine extensions and identify the most efficient and safe underground mining methods.

Among the driving factors in the transition to underground mining are declining ore grades, deeper ore deposits, and an increase in demand for minerals required for the global energy transition, such as copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, Worley says.

“Worley’s centre of excellence for copper in Chile has been supporting open-pit copper mine customers for nearly three decades,” the company said. “The company is gearing up its underground capability as these mines shift their operations to below surface to access deeper ore reserves.”

Going deep in South Africa

Worley’s South Africa operations is one of the company’s mining centres of excellence with niche experience in deep level mining.

Mining has been the mainstay of South Africa’s economy for well over a century, and a major source of employment as well as foreign investment. Consequently, Worley has grown its South Africa mining team in one of the best mining environments in the world, with a collective experience of over 120 years in deep level mining and process expertise.

Robert Hull, Vice President for Mining, Minerals & Metals in Africa, says Worley’s South African operation is recognised for its deep level shaft experience, and the company also has experience across most commodities including base metals, coal, platinum, gold, diamonds and ferrous metals.

Hull says Worley has a strong global workshare philosophy and culture of collaboration. The specialist skills in South Africa gained from working on some of the biggest underground projects in the world are an integral part of Worley’s mining, minerals and metals global project delivery offering.

Deep level mine skills

Some of South Africa’s specialist deep underground skills include shaft design, ventilation and refrigeration shafts, high pressure pumping, and deep level hoisting.

Worley says it is one of the few companies in the world that has the expertise to design hoisting systems for mass hoisting, such as at the Venetia Underground Project, which will hoist approximately 6 Mt/y of rock.

The De Beers Venetia Mine in South Africa is the biggest source of rough diamonds in the country, according to Worley. The mine is in the process of transitioning from open pit to underground, to extend its life by some 25 years.

As engineering procurement and construction management contractor for South Africa’s largest mining execution project, Worley is using 3D designs for the project infrastructure to provide 3D models for the entire project’s surface and underground infrastructure, it said.

Intelligent mines

Hull says Worley is leading the way in developing digital solutions for the planning, design and execution of mining projects, with the South Africa office having played a key role in the design and development of much of the group’s digital technology in mining and minerals processing.

Hull (pictured) cites the Wafi-Golpu (owned by Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining) feasibility study update, in Papua New Guinea, where the South Africa team drew on SmartPlant design technology, which uses rapid prototyping and Building Information Modelling. The technology allowed the entire project team to visualise project objectives as never before, greatly improving operational efficiency in a dynamic time and cost-saving environment, according to Worley.

The Wafi-Golpu project is ranked as a world-class deposit in terms of its size and the grade of gold and copper within it. If developed, it will be the largest, deepest and most complex underground mine in Papua New Guinea, with a mine life of 28 years, Worley says.

Integrated project delivery teams

Worley’s South Africa team is also supporting its Australia counterparts to project manage the delivery of the deepening and expansion of an underground gold mine. This includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at depth to 2 140m below surface. IM understands the project in question is the Newmont-owned Tanami Expansion 2 project, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Mega machines for mega mines

Hull says every underground project Worley has executed has drawn on the company’s large material handling capabilities.

“In South Africa, we have a dedicated materials handling department that has the latest tools including discrete element modelling and finite element analysis, and advanced simulation tools for conveyer design,” he said.

Coenie Mynhardt, Winder Engineering at Worley, adds that mine payloads have increased dramatically in the last two decades in pursuit of higher productivity rates. Mines such as Impala and Phalaborwa, in South Africa, with an approximate 12-t per skipload, were considered ‘mega mines’ in their day. The mines of the future are more than double that size.

“The mega mines of the future need mega machines to be able to handle such big payloads,” Mynhardt says. “Materials handling technology for such deep, high tonnage operations will test current technology for capacity and reliability to bring the ore from the production levels to surface. We have the skills and expertise to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Global project delivery

“Countries such as Chile have immense potential for transitioning from open pit to underground if the geology supports it,” commented Hull. “With the wealth of experience across locations and over 4,000 staff in our mining, minerals and metals business line, we can safely and successfully deliver our customers’ underground mine assets through collaborative development of the mine and associated infrastructure anywhere in the world.”

RCT teleremote tech to improve dozer operator safety at PNG gold mine

RCT says it has completed a project to commission its ControlMaster® technology on dozers at a major gold mining operation in Papua New Guinea.

The Australia-based automation specialist has installed and commissioned its ControlMaster Line-of-Sight solution on two Komatsu D275 dozers at the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine.

The technology packages will enable the mine operator to clear landslip in the mine’s central pit, RCT said.

Going forward, the site’s machine operators can stand at a safe distance and direct the dozers to operate beneath the pit’s highwall.

RCT Account Manager, Wayne Carrington, said the solution is an integral part of safe mine operations.

“Mine management are pleased that they can undertake necessary activities within the central pit while ensuring dozer operators are safe,” he said.

RCT says it will provide training to machine operators and ongoing after sales support as required.

Fortescue to evaluate green hydropower opportunities in PNG

Fortescue Metals Group’s Fortescue Future Industries Pty Ltd has signed an agreement with the Papua New Guinea Government and wholly-owned corporation, Kumul Consolidated Holdings Ltd (KCH), that could lead to the development of PNG’s hydropower resources to support ‘green’ industrial operations.

Under the deed, the parties will promptly investigate the feasibility of these green projects for both domestic and export markets, a move Fortescue says is consistent with its record of delivering both capital growth and yield to its shareholders while sharing the benefits of sustainable development and employment with local communities.

KCH is the entity which holds in trust, the Papua New Guinea government’s non-petroleum and non-mining assets.

“Fortescue Future Industries shares Fortescue’s commitment to a green industry future and will work closely with local people and communities to establish training and long-term careers,” the company said. “This is fully aligned with Fortescue’s approach from its inception that the communities in which we operate will benefit from our growth and development.”

Subject to the completion of feasibility studies and approvals, individual projects will be developed by Fortescue Future Industries with ownership and project finance sources to be separately secured without recourse to Fortescue, the company explained.

“Execution of studies and approach to capital investment will be consistent with Fortescue’s track record of developing multi-billion dollar projects in the Pilbara, at an industry leading capital intensity,” it added.

(Pictured above is the Warangoi Hydropower Station in East New Britain, PNG, operated by PNG Power)

DynaEnergetics and Newcrest Mining devise new blasting initiating system

DynaEnergetics, a business of DMC Global Inc, has introduced Igneo, an “intrinsically safe initiating system designed for high temperature mining applications”.

The Igneo system is based on DynaEnergetics’ patented IS2™ initiating system, which is used by the oil and gas industry in well perforating operations, it says.

Igneo was developed in collaboration with Newcrest Mining, one of the largest gold mining companies in the world.

The company explained how the collaboration began: “Newcrest approached DynaEnergetics for assistance in developing an initiating system that would perform safely in the extreme conditions of its Lihir mine, located in the crater of the dormant Lihir volcano off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The active geothermal and geochemical environment makes Lihir the hottest open-cut gold mine in the world.”

The core of the Igneo system is the HTD150, an electronic detonator designed to withstand temperatures up to 150°C (302°F) for up to 48 hours. The device is encased in a specially coated copper shell, making it resistant to highly corrosive mining environments, according to the company. Like IS2, the HTD150 is immune to radio frequency interference, stray current and stray voltage, DynaEnergetics said.

The full system consists of the Igneo Digital Firing Panel, the Igneo Programming and Testing Device, and a specially designed Igneo booster charge. The system enables rapid programming, testing and simultaneous initiation of up to 1,000 HTD150 detonators, and also eliminates the need for sensitised booster emulsions, the company said.

Liam McNelis, Vice President of Research and Development for DynaEnergetics, said: “Igneo is the result of three years of close collaboration with the Newcrest team, led by Darren Francis, Principal for Drill and Blast.

“The outcome of our efforts is a highly intuitive and reliable system that has been proven effective under the extremely challenging conditions of the Lihir mine. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Newcrest as the multi-year Lihir project progresses into areas with even higher temperatures.”

Ian Grieves, President of DynaEnergetics, said: “Our development of the Igneo system opens the door to an important new market for DynaEnergetics. There are many large mining operations throughout the Pacific Rim that operate under high-temperature conditions. As we have done in the oil and gas industry, our objective is to work with leading operators to improve the safety, performance and profitability of their projects.”

K92 Mining continues to add new equipment at expanding Kainantu gold mine

K92 Mining, despite the onset of COVID-19, has made significant progress on its plans to increase production at its Kainantu gold mine in Papua New Guinea.

In March 2020, Kainantu achieved a major milestone, commencing the first long hole stope using the modified AVOCA method. This method is ideal for narrow vein/lens higher-grade stopes and can provide higher tonnages through continuous fill and blasting, as well as improved dilution control, according to the company.

The commencement of this new mining method is significant since previous mining has been exclusively from lower productivity and higher-cost development and cut and fill stoping, K92 said.

The first stope was from the K1 Vein and, to date, long hole stoping activities have performed in-line with design and have been increasing, providing a notable positive impact on operational flexibility, the company added.

Mining operations, which have been expanding in line with the 2019 decision to expand throughput to 400,000 t/y, from 200,000 t/y, have also benefited from further additions to the mining fleet.

The Papua New Guinea COVID-19 State of Emergency declared on March 20, 2020, saw limited impact to freight, with the arrival of a third Sandvik LH517i underground LHD loader with AutoMine® capabilities, a third CAT AD45B 45 t underground truck and two Terex Articulated surface haul trucks, since its declaration. The Government of Papua New Guinea ended the COVID-19 State of Emergency on June 16, resulting in a further easing of some of the restrictions, particularly around domestic movement.

“The equipment joins a significantly expanded and modernised fleet since the decision to proceed with the Stage 2 Expansion on March 13, 2019,” K92 said.

Back in January, the company said it expected a Sandvik DS421 cable bolter to arrive this quarter, alongside a modular batching plant. The company said earlier this month that this unit (pictured), as well as three new and high powered diamond drill rigs were in transit to the mine.

Twin incline activities have recently recommenced at Kainantu with the easing of restrictions from the state of emergency. Ground support for the portal is also underway, with portalling and the installation of steel sets expected to commence in the first half of the September quarter, the company said.

The process plant, meanwhile, has achieved multiple daily throughput records during the June quarter, significantly exceeding the 200,000 t/y, or circa-550 t/d nameplate capacity, with over 700 t/d achieved on multiple occasions.

“The strong performance of the process plant and underground mine to date are expected to result in gold-equivalent production exceeding March quarter output,” the company said.

The March quarter saw K92 produce 19,240 oz of gold, 339,993 lb (154 t) of copper and 6,937 oz of silver for a total of 19,934 gold-equivalent ounces, representing the second highest quarter on record. Gold-equivalent production in 2019 was 82,256 oz, with 115,000-125,000 oz of gold-equivalent scheduled in 2020.

Preparations are also being made to recommence Stage 2 process plant commissioning in the near term, to double plant throughput capacity to 400,000 t/y. All the equipment is installed, and commissioning is expected to commence in first half of the September quarter, with completion targeted at the end of that three-month period, K92 said.

John Lewins, K92 Chief Executive Officer and Director, added that a Stage 3 Expansion preliminary economic assessment is planned for July.

COSOL to expand SAP, ERP offering to Ok Tedi Mining

COSOL is to expand the work it is currently providing Ok Tedi Mining, in Papua New Guinea, with the ASX-listed company set to enhance and optimise the exploitation and efficiencies of its core SAP ERP business systems for the copper-gold miner.

The company is currently providing the miner with special projects work as part of a digital transformation program and support services.

The expanded engagement is valued at approximately A$2.2 million ($1.4 million)/y over two years.

COSOL said: “The expanded engagement builds on the existing support arrangement provided by COSOL for Ok Tedi Mining’s SAP, Ariba, SuccessFactors, core HR and payroll systems.

“In addition to the continued core systems support, COSOL is driving the expanded digital transformation program focusing on digital workspace collaboration and business intelligence.”

A key component of the program will be the sustainment and modernisation of the copper and gold miner’s underlying IT infrastructure to underpin the move to a hybrid cloud platform, COSOL said.

COSOL CEO, Scott McGowan, said: “This expansion of services reinforces COSOL’s engagement approach in being more than simply a technology services provider. While our extensive capability in enterprise asset management generally, and SAP specifically, underpins our operations, it is our understanding of our clients’ business drivers, priorities and the underlying data that supports our clients’ digital transformation.

“Flexibility to adjust to, and provide value in, the dynamic business environments our clients operate continues to be a hallmark of COSOL’s growth and success – both domestically and internationally.”

OK Tedi boosts operator safety with new Immersive Technologies collaboration

Immersive Technologies and OK Tedi have established the first fully-integrated Operator Performance Analytics (OPA) system as part of the Papua New Guinea miner’s focus on operator safety, Immersive says.

Following the successful delivery of continuous improvement projects and managed services by Immersive, OK Tedi opted to establish an OPA installation on-site with the dual goals of improving safety and machine care among their operators, Immersive, which is now part of Komatsu Ltd, said.

Using the OPA electronic operator scorecard, OK Tedi was able to drill down to individual operator performance indicators. These indicators can be used to see how an operator compares with their peers or are trending over time. “Ranking of all operators additionally provides a unique opportunity to motivate personal ownership of safety statistics and performance, while providing management an effective tool to identify training needs to improve overall mine site productivity,” Immersive said.

OPA data can also be filtered specific to machine errors, performance on different machines, performance over time and training history to locate the root cause of a performance trend. An initial dataset was analysed using six months of machine operational data from the field and simulator data, with this data used to identify outlier operators in terms of risk rating or performance against key metrics (such as spot time, average speed loaded and average tonnes per km/h).

Masket Siune, Superintendent Mine Business Improvement & Training OK Tedi, said: “OPA has enabled quicker analysis of mine operator performance to identify trends or patterns to mitigate risk relating to equipment reliability and operator productivity metrics.

“We now have a reliable operator data platform that gives real comprehensive data view to approach our operators and discuss training development needs or for reward and recognition for the outstanding performance based on both risk and productivity criteria.”

With multiple operational data sources integrated within OPA, OK Tedi easily identified a high incidence of high peak frame bias events, therefore prioritising simulator training for those operators contributing the highest error counts, Immersive said. Once underperforming operator groups or individuals are identified, these can be selected and assigned to a training needs analysis report.

Simulator training can then be conducted and training data automatically sent back to OPA —without manual intervention. Typical training scenarios for errors could require operators to navigate loaded trucks over rough road conditions or load and dump using the correct procedure. In turn, this can be used for assessment of training retention and impact.

Alex Da Silva, Global Professional Services Manager at Immersive Technologies, said: “At OK Tedi, analysis that previously took days or weeks, now takes minutes, integrating disparate data systems with simulator generated data provides a single, powerful platform for workforce development planning.”

OK Tedi, which mines copper, gold and silver in the Western province of PNG, plans to extend the use of OPA to additional machines types to further support its operations, according to Immersive.

GR Engineering to take on Woodlark gold process plant in PNG

GR Engineering Services looks like being rewarded for all of its hard work in Papua New Guinea (PNG) with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for Geopacific Resources’ Woodlark gold project.

The ASX-listed mine developer says it has issued GR Engineering with an EPC letter of intent for the 2.4 Mt/y carbon in leach (CIL) process plant (modelled above), tailings line and other supporting infrastructure at the PNG project.

The final EPC contract is expected to be in the form of a guaranteed maximum price and will be signed following agreement of the final terms and conditions, Geopacific said.

“The company has selected an EPC contracting structure to de-risk the largest component of the capital expenditure requirement. Other remaining establishment capital costs also include site-based infrastructure and a mining fleet,” the company added.

In the meantime, Geopacific says it may instruct GR Engineering to commence an early works program to procure tenders and pre-order long lead time items such as the SAG and ball mills.

The processing plant will be constructed between the Kulumadau and Busai pits which are around 4 km apart. The project currently has 1 Moz in gold reserves, with significant upside from the 600 km² exploration licence, Geopacific said. The grade for the first five years is over 1.5 g/t Au with all-in sustaining costs estimated at A$866/oz ($586/oz).

GR Engineering is currently finishing off work on a crusher replacement project for Ok Tedi Mining in PNG.

Geopacific Managing Director, Ron Heeks, said: “GR Engineering has a strong reputation in successfully designing and constructing processing plants on time for a guaranteed maximum price. Geopacific is confident that their recent experience in PNG and strong track record in constructing similar projects will greatly de-risk the construction of Woodlark. We look forward to finalising the EPC contract, and advancing the development of Woodlark.”

GR Engineering Managing Director, Geoff Jones, said: “Our clients are increasingly seeking certainty and a track record of performance and GR Engineering has been able to demonstrate this to Woodlark, including by reference to its successful project outcomes in the turnkey design and construction of mineral processing plants in the gold sector.”

Telstra LTE solution improving communications at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine

Telstra Mining Services says it has implemented Papua New Guinea’s first private 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) mobile network at Newcrest’s Lihir gold mine.

The next generation wireless communications platform will allow for greater levels of safety, remote operation and automation, according to Telstra, which worked with Newcrest to provide design, staging, site deployment and testing of the network.

Every kind of production vehicle asset, including trucks, drills, excavators, dozers, shovels and barges have now been connected and operationally proven over LTE. This process has revealed significant performance improvements in terms of reliability, speed and latency, according to Telstra. “The network has been able to resolve challenges with existing Wi-Fi connectivity and is making Newcrest’s safety and productivity systems more effective,” Telstra said, adding that fleet efficiency and real-time visibility have benefited from an 80% improvement in communications reliability on LTE-enabled assets.

The gold deposit at Lihir is within the Luise Caldera, an extinct volcanic crater that is geothermally active, and is one of the largest known gold deposits in the world, according to Newcrest. Most of the ore is refractory and is treated using pressure oxidation before the gold is recovered by a conventional leach process.

In the financial year ending June 30, 2018, Lihir produced 955,156 oz of gold. Since production commenced in 1997, the site has produced more than 10 Moz of the yellow metal.

Dr Jeannette McGill, Head of Telstra Mining Services, said Newcrest’s decision to invest in Private LTE technology further validates it as a dependable and scalable networking platform for the mining industry and one that enables mining houses to digitally transform.

“We’ve provided Newcrest with a tailored platform that will underpin its safety and digital mining ambitions and will help improve productivity and deliver new value and efficiencies to the business,” she said. “They’ll be using it to further modernise the mine site to enable the use of current and future mining applications, including tele-remote and autonomous systems, more extensively.”

The platform is completely independent from public mobile networks, according to Telstra, with Newcrest having been provided with its own dual-frequency base stations, LTE core and SIM cards, with the network’s configuration and coverage designed and implemented to meet the Lihir mine’s safety strategy and long-term mine plan.

Telstra Mining Services’ solution also includes ‘HetNet’ functionality that allows the Newcrest vehicle fleet to seamlessly switch between LTE and existing Wi-Fi networks without impacting critical mining applications.

Newcrest complemented the LTE technology solution by implementing new towers, data centres and redundant power systems across the site, according to Telstra.

McGill added: “Newcrest and Telstra Mining Services took what has become a best-in-class preliminary deployment approach with the network. Designing it for full production but initially deploying at two sites allowed Newcrest to validate the design principles, implementation techniques and practical capabilities of LTE before scaling their investment.”

Newcrest’s pragmatic approach, combined with flexibilities in the solution from Telstra Mining Services, enabled the desired outcomes and learning to be achieved within a relatively short timeframe, despite the remoteness of the Lihir operation, according to Telstra. Future phases of the project will further enhance coverage in-line with Lihir’s 20-year mine plan, and provide for expansion of coverage and capacity across the mine, processing plant, port and camp.

Chris Jordaan, General Manager, Newcrest Lihir, said: “The Lihir mine extends 300 m into a volcanic crater and our workers can often be exposed to elevated temperatures. Tele-remote and autonomous mining technologies are fundamental to working the hot work areas that will become more dominant features of our operation in the future.

“The Private LTE network will be a great enabler for these technologies and, coupled with the existing in-pit Wi-Fi network, we have been able to create a heterogeneous network that covers the whole mining lease.”

Gavin Wood, Chief Information & Digital Officer at Newcrest, said: “Safety is Newcrest’s number-one priority and the network Telstra Mining Services has built with us at Lihir will enable safer and more efficient mining using new technologies. The success of this project was 100% driven by leadership and personal commitment of the Lihir’s OT/IT team working together with Telstra Mining Services.”

LTE is a future-ready platform for wireless communications in mining, providing dependable and scalable communications that the next generation of machines, systems and workforce applications will require. Having been proven in carrier networks, it’s now seen as the mining industry’s next step for connectivity.