Tag Archives: Primero

NRW Holdings banks Olive Downs, Mt Webber work

NRW Holdings has added more work to its roster with confirmation of projects from the Olive Downs coking coal project in Queensland and the Mt Webber iron ore mine in Western Australia.

Golding Contractors, a subsidiary of NRW, has secured the rail civil construction contract for the Pembroke-owned Olive Downs project.

The civil works to be undertaken include a new 19-km rail loop for the new steelmaking coal project, including all earthworks, drainage culverts and construction of two new rail bridges. The scope also includes importing capping material up to underside of ballast.

The contract is valued at circa-A$52 million ($35 million) and is expected to have a duration of 14 months. In addition, Golding has also been awarded circa-A$15 million of bulk earthworks, drainage and roadworks relating to the new coal handling processing plant at Olive Downs.

Olive Downs is being developed to produce up to a forecast 15 Mt/y of saleable coal over its 79-year mine life.

NRW has also received an executed contract extension from Atlas Iron Pty Ltd for the mining and crushing services works at Mt Webber.

Some 220 km south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara Western Australia, Mt Webber has two mining areas in Fender and Dalton, which produces a high-grade lump and fines product that is used in the Atlas Iron supply chain.

The works to be continued include load & haul, drill & blast and run-of-mine re-handling and crushing and screening. The drill & blast and crushing components are to be undertaken by NRW’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Action Drill & Blast Pty Ltd and Primero Pty Ltd. Primero has designed, constructed and will operate a new PGX-1000 crushing plant to allow crushing and screening of up to 1,000 t/h.

The anticipated value of the contract extension is circa-A$60 million over a duration commencing July 2022 and expected to be completed by the end of 2024 with a project workforce averaging around 80 personnel.

Rio Tinto details technology leaps at Gudai-Darri upon official opening

A week after delivering first ore, Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine, in Western Australia, has officially been opened, marking a major milestone for the company’s most technologically advanced mine.

Pilbara Traditional Owners, the Banjima People, and Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy, Bill Johnston MLA, today joined Rio Tinto employees as well as valued partners and suppliers to celebrate the official opening.

Since development commenced in April 2019, more than 14 million workhours have culminated in the delivery of Rio Tinto’s 17th and most technologically advanced iron ore mine in the Pilbara. Development of the mine supported more than 3,000 jobs during the construction and design phase with the operation requiring around 600 permanent roles.

With an expected life of more than 40 years and an annual capacity of 43 Mt, Gudai-Darri will underpin future production of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara Blend™ product. It’s expected to increase iron ore production volumes and improve product mix from the Pilbara from the second half of this year, the company says. The mine is expected to reach capacity in 2023.

To optimise mine safety and drive productivity, Gudai-Darri features an unprecedented deployment of technology, much of it industry-leading. This includes the use of robotics for the ore sampling laboratory as well as for distribution of parts in the new workshop.

This goes from autonomous trucks, trains and drills, standard across many Rio Tinto mines in the Pilbara, to a full digital replica of the processing plant which allows teams to monitor and respond to data collected from the plant. The same digital asset data is used to provide a feature rich, interactive 3D environment for virtual reality training. These autonomous assets are monitored remotely from Rio Tinto’s Operations Centre 1,500 km away in Perth.

The technology spread includes 23 Caterpillar 793F autonomous haul trucks and three Caterpillar MD6310 autonomous drills. The trucks, in this case, implement real-time ore tracking using sensors to provide live dig face progression, while data-informed modelling from the drills helps to build more accurate assessments of existing ground conditions and improve safety. In collaboration with Caterpillar, Rio Tinto is advancing the development of zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks. Once development is complete, it is anticipated the world’s first operational deployment of Caterpillar 793 zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks will be at Gudai-Darri.

Gudai-Darri also hosts the world’s first autonomous water carts.

The new vehicles, developed in partnership with Caterpillar, are primarily used for dust suppression on site, enhancing productivity by enabling mine operations to digitally track water consumption and reduce waste. The vehicle’s intelligent on-board system detects dry and dusty conditions on site, triggering the application of water to roads to keep them in good condition.

And, of course, it has autonomous trains under its AutoHaul™ system, which has been fully operational since June 2019.

The company has also invested in what it says is its first “rotable bucketwheel reclaimer”.

It explained: “Traditionally reclaimer maintenance requires a prolonged shutdown while several components are removed. This patented world first will enable the entire bucket wheel module to be changed out for maintenance, improving safety and efficiency.”

With the help of Scott Automation, the company has also introduced a robotic ore sampling lab on site, while its heavy mobile equipment warehouse is the home to four automatic guided vehicles.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “We’ve worked closely with both the Banjima and Yindjibarndi People through the planning and development stages of Gudai-Darri and we look forward to partnering with them into the future to ensure the project achieves significant social and economic benefits.

“Gudai-Darri represents a step-change in the deployment of automation and technology within our iron ore business and a fantastic demonstration of the talent, ingenuity and capability that exists in Western Australia, a region which is now known globally for its technical excellence and innovation. Gudai-Darri’s combination of data and analytics, machine learning and automation, will make this mine safer and more productive.

“Gudai-Darri is our first greenfield mine in the Pilbara in more than a decade and a multi-billion-dollar investment in the State of Western Australia that will operate for decades to come.”

Western Australia’s Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy, Bill Johnston MLA, said: “I’m impressed by Rio Tinto’s innovation and sustainability; this is a prototype of the mine of the future. Once the new solar farm (a 34 MW farm consisting of about 83,000 panels) is complete it will be able to power one-third of Gudai-Darri’s operational needs with renewable energy.”

A total of A$3.2 billion ($2.2 billion) in goods and services were sourced within Western Australia during the construction phase of the Gudai-Darri Project with contracts valued at A$1.5 billion awarded directly to Western Australia-registered businesses such as NRW, Primero, DTMT Construction Company, Southern Cross Electrical Engineering and Monadelphous Engineering Associates.

This includes over A$100 million awarded directly to local Aboriginal businesses including White Springs, Lorrex Contracting, Hicks Civil & Mining, Brida, Karijini Development, Yurala Contracting Services, and Karlka FenceWright WA.

Evaluate ore sorting options at prefeasibility study stage, TOMRA’s Rutledge says

TOMRA Mining is making a case for its sensor-based ore sorting solutions to be evaluated earlier in the mining project evaluation phase, with Jordan Rutledge, Area Sales Manager, arguing that consideration of its use at the very beginning of flowsheet discussions can influence up- and down-stream equipment selection.

The company’s sensor-based ore sorting systems have spread across the mining sector, migrating from industrial minerals and diamond operations to base and precious metals.

Speaking at a sensor-based sorting seminar in Toronto, Canada, held late last month, Rutledge (pictured) said the use of the technology needed to be considered early in the mine development scope in order to leverage the most benefit for the operation.

“Sensor-based sorting should be considered in the flowsheet from the beginning and evaluated in prefeasibility studies to see if it is suitable for the project and will add value to the plant,” she said.

“In many cases, sorting works really well and, as we continue to go towards a green economy, the use of our resources is vitally important. In order to make the best use of them, sorting plays a critical role.”

Rutledge, an event organiser and presenter, joined 40 participants from across Canada at the seminar, which included representatives from miners such as Agnico Eagle, Capstone Mining and Cheetah Resources; from laboratories such as testing and certification company SGS and the Saskatchewan Research Council ; from engineering companies such as DRA Global, Primero, CIMA and Halyard; and students from the University of Toronto.

“The event highlighted the important role of sensor-based sorting technologies in green mining and their potential to unlock significant value in mining projects, as well as the possibilities of digitalisation for supporting customers and managing connected equipment,” TOMRA said.

Panoramic, Primero and Barminco get to work on restarting Savannah nickel operation

Panoramic Resources Ltd, after a 12-month review process, has approved the restart of the Savannah Nickel Operation, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The decision hinges on a 12-year mine life with an average annual production target of 9,072 t of nickel, 4,683 t of copper and 676 t cobalt in concentrate; as well as an offtake agreement with Trafigura that will also see the trading company provide a loan facility of up to A$45 million to cover the A$41 million of upfront capital cost required to restart the mine.

Savannah is set to operate at average site all-in costs of A$6.36/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits and royalty payments. This equates to roughly $4.86/Ib or $10,714/t.

Savannah, with more than A$100 million already invested, has been maintained since the suspension of operations in April 2020 with a view towards operational readiness and project optimisation. This includes the recent completion of the FAR#3 ventilation raise, underground capital development on four mining levels at Savannah North and ancillary capital works on surface and underground infrastructure, which are currently being completed, Panoramic said.

The restart decision has led to divisions of Perenti and NRW Holdings being awarded significant contracts related to the resumption of mining activities.

Barminco, a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, has been awarded a four-year underground mining contract under a binding letter of intent and is scheduled to mobilise to site in July 2021. The contract will be serviced by new underground mining equipment including the use of tele-remote mining equipment, expected to deliver both safety and productivity benefits, Panoramic said.

The contractor was formally awarded the A$200 million contract back in February.

“Based on Barminco’s previous working knowledge at Savannah, opportunities to increase ore production and reduce dilution have also been identified,” the company added, explaining that underground mining is planned to commence in August, with ore to initially be sourced from both the Savannah and the Savannah North deposits.

Following an evaluation of an owner-operator model for the processing plant and a competitive contract tender process, Panoramic has also signed a non-binding letter of intent worth A$35 million with Primero (owned by NRW Holdings), which envisages a three-year agreement. The agreement relates to all processing and maintenance work at the Savannah processing plant, which has been maintained in “excellent condition” during the suspension, Panoramic said.

“A number of opportunities for improved recoveries through enhanced operating practices and minor capital projects have been identified,” the company added. As a result, the non-binding letter of intent with Primero has been structured to incentivise achieving higher than budget recoveries.

Panoramic is working with Primero to complete a binding contract in the coming months, but ore processing is set to restart in November 2021, allowing ore stockpiles to build for around three months (100,000 t) to de-risk ore supply issues.

The process plant at Savannah was commissioned in August 2004 and comprises a single stage crusher, SAG mill, flotation, thickening and filtering stages to produce a bulk nickel, copper, cobalt concentrate. Over the 2004 to 2016 initial operating period, metallurgical recoveries averaged 86-89% for nickel, 94-97% for copper and 89-92% for cobalt. The plant was originally designed for a throughput of 750,000 t/y, but consistently outperformed the design specifications with rates exceeding 1 Mt on an annualised basis, Panoramic said.

First concentrate shipment from the Wyndham Port is targeted for December 2021.

Piedmont locks in Primero for lithium concentrator development

Piedmont Lithium has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Primero Group that could see the Australia-based engineering firm deliver the planned spodumene concentrator at the Piedmont lithium project in North Carolina, USA.

Piedmont says it and Primero have partnered since early 2018, with Primero having been the lead engineering consultant for Piedmont’s scoping studies, concentrator design, and metallurgical test work management.

“Building on this strong relationship, Piedmont and Primero have entered into the MoU to work together on an exclusive basis to agree binding documentation relating to the definitive feasibility study (DFS), front-end engineering design, EPC (engineering procurement and construction) delivery, commissioning, ramp-up and contract operations of the spodumene concentrator,” Piedmont said.

Referencing previous work of Primero’s, Piedmont said the engineering firm’s EPC and contract operations services at Alliance Minerals’ Bald Hill mine, in Australia, notably achieved nameplate capacity within two months of plant commissioning.

Cameron Henry, Managing Director of Primero, commented: “Piedmont is a world-class project surrounded by infrastructure and ideally located near potential customers in the USA’s auto alley.

“We look forward to applying our specialist expertise in project implementation and operations to assist Piedmont in advancing the only spodumene project currently under development in the United States.”

Keith D Phillips, President and CEO of Piedmont, said the MoU represented a key milestone as the company builds out its project execution team, “with an emphasis on working with proven processes and experienced professionals”.

The EPC and operations contract models contemplated by the MOU provide incentives for Primero to achieve safety, schedule, budget, process performance, production, and recovery targets, Piedmont said.

“The arrangements contemplated by the MoU create a delivery framework which significantly reduces technical, operational and commercial risks associated with the concentrator,” it added.

“The company continues to evaluate other strategic partnerships that could enhance performance in the design, construction and operations of other aspects of Piedmont’s integrated lithium hydroxide business.”

The prefeasibility study on the Piedmont lithium project, released earlier this year, envisaged two options – a “Merchant” project and an “Integrated” project. Both included an annual average lithium hydroxide production (steady-state) of 22,720 t, but only the latter included 160,000 t/y of 6% Li2O spodumene concentrate production over the 25-year mine life.

Primero looks to Track’em for materials inventory solution on WA iron ore expansion project

Primero, following the signing of a contract with Track’em, is to use the Material Tracking solution to increase visibility and control of its materials for construction works on a major iron ore expansion project in Western Australia.

Track’em provides a central, cloud-based solution for tracking materials across the supply chain, according to its owner. By using the system, Primero and its project partners will be able to manage, monitor, update and report on materials in real time from any location, it said.

“We’re really excited to partner with a successful fast-growing multi-disciplinary engineering company such as Primero,” Kashif Saleem, Founder and CEO of Track’em, said. “Track’em will allow Primero to take ownership of the materials control processes to streamline operations. It promotes efficiency and reduces the risk of losing expensive materials with long lead times.”

Track’em provides stakeholders with an integrated system that gives continuous visibility on the location, status, condition and custody of materials. The Track’em app will further enable users to quickly locate, scan and update parts and components, while digitising form-based processes such as inspections and transfer documents, according to the company.

Mark Pensabene, Executive General Manager Project Delivery, Primero, said: “Primero Group always prefers to engage with local partners to support the industry. For this project – with the volume of materials required – we needed a world-class materials control system.

“We looked at WA-based Track’em and were very impressed. It’s the most sophisticated materials tracking platform that we’ve ever come across, yet it is surprisingly simple to use. It will equip workers throughout the supply chain – from our fabricators to site – to use a single system giving us end-to-end visibility.”

While no specific iron ore expansion project was mentioned by either Primero or Track’em in the release, Primero is currently working on both the South Flank and Koodaideri iron ore projects for BHP and Rio Tinto, respectively, in addition to the expansion of the Robe Valley iron ore operations, owned jointly by Rio, Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal.

Kalium Lakes locks in Beyondie gas pipeline, SOP purification plant contracts

Kalium Lakes has been on a contract spree, announcing the award of four contracts in the past week that will move its Beyondie sulphate of potash project, in Western Australia, closer to production.

On Monday, it announced contract awards for the design, supply and construction of its fully-owned gas lateral at the project with Edgen Murray set to manufacture and supply 79.4 km of coated linepipe, Pipecraft to carry out the gas pipeline installation and Primero to design and construct the inlet and delivery station.

This followed, in June, the company securing key contracts with APA Group and Shell Energy Australia for the transportation and supply of gas to meet the requirements of the project.

On Wednesday, the company then confirmed that it had awarded DRA Global’s G&S Engineering a circa-A$20 million ($13.5 million) contract to build the sulphate of potash purification plant at the operation.

The scope of the contract includes completion of all works associated with civil and concrete construction; structural steel assembly and erection; mechanical equipment assembly and installation; platework assembly and installation; piping installation; electrical, instrumentation and controls installation; dry commissioning, and wet commissioning support services in cooperation with Ebtec.

The project aims to commence production at 90,000 t/y of sulphate of potash, before ramping up to 180,000 t/y for domestic and international sale. An initial mine life of between 30-50 years is anticipated for a project designed to be a low cost, long life and high margin producer, Kalium Lakes says.