Tag Archives: Queensland

Fortescue Future Industries, Incitec Pivot to study ‘green’ hydrogen options at Gibson Island

Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) says it is partnering with Incitec Pivot, Australia’s largest fertiliser supplier, to conduct a feasibility study to convert its ammonia-production facility at Gibson Island in Brisbane, Queensland, to run on green, renewable hydrogen.

The ammonia-production facility at Gibson Island currently uses natural gas as a feedstock and has a contract in place for this supply until the end of 2022.

FFI also plans to construct an on-site electrolysis plant, which will produce up to 50,000 t/y of renewable, green hydrogen for conversion into green ammonia.

The project, if successful, will create a new domestic and export market for green, renewable ammonia, according to FFI. The resulting green ammonia could also provide a low-carbon fuel supply to the Port of Brisbane and Brisbane airport.

Decarbonising existing industrial plants remains a major challenge in the transition to a green, renewable future, FFI says. The company aims to demonstrate that infrastructure conversion is both technically and economically feasible, in order to accelerate decarbonisation while protecting jobs.

FFI says today’s announcement aligns with the Queensland and Commonwealth governments’ strategy to develop an innovative and competitive green hydrogen industry that delivers reliable domestic supply and new export opportunities.

Incitec Pivot produces around 2 Mt/y of fertilisers for use in Australia’s grain, cotton, pasture, dairy, sugar and horticulture industries. The first step of the project will be a feasibility study, with preliminary results available by the end of 2021.

This is the second major announcement by FFI this week in Queensland, following an announcement to establish the world’s largest electrolyser, renewable industry and equipment manufacturing centre, the Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre, at Gladstone.

FFI says it is committed to generating 15 Mt/y of green hydrogen by 2030, rising to 50 Mt/y in the decade thereafter. While FFI’s green hydrogen will supply both domestic and export markets, it will also enable Fortescue to achieve its industry-leading target of carbon neutrality by 2030.

FFI Chief Executive Officer, Julie Shuttleworth, said: “FFI’s goal is to become the world’s leading, renewable energy and green products company, powering the Australian economy and creating jobs for Australia as we transition away from fossil fuels.

“FFI’s partnership with Incitec Pivot is an exciting opportunity to harness existing infrastructure at Gibson Island, fast tracking the production of green ammonia at an industrial scale.”

Incitec Pivot Managing Director, Jeanne Johns, said: “We are pleased to be partnering our world-class manufacturing and ammonia expertise in Australia with FFI’s hydrogen and renewable energy capabilities to contribute to Australia’s potential as a green ammonia powerhouse.

“If feasible, this project would sustain highly skilled manufacturing jobs at Gibson Island and allow us to leverage our existing capabilities and assets to create a thriving renewable hydrogen ecosystem in Australia in the near term.”

Austin expands service offering with Mader Group strategic support alliance

Austin Engineering Ltd has executed a strategic support alliance with Mader Group Ltd that will see Mader provide assistance as required on a flexible ‘tap-on tap-off’ basis, using its mine-based personnel and workshop facilities to bolster Austin’s existing support services.

The initial focus of the alliance will be Western Australia’s Pilbara and Goldfields regions, in addition to sites in Queensland and New South Wales.

Mader, Austin says, is the largest independent provider of equipment maintenance services in Australia and has a growing global presence. Its workforce is based in and around Australia’s key mining regions, allowing for faster deployment to site and overall response time.

Austin will continue to use its own service teams, which travel to site from Perth, Brisbane and Mackay, but will augment these as necessary to improve turnaround times and service efficiency when commercially appropriate.

Mader Group provides services for the inspection, maintenance and repair of heavy mobile equipment. Its technicians offer mechanical and electrical maintenance including fabrication and welding services.

Austin CEO and Managing Director, David Singleton, said: “Austin’s leading engineering and design capabilities see it produce mining truck bodies and buckets for customers across all commodities and global geographies. The agreement with Mader will support our existing services, initially in Australia, to ensure our customers are given the best quality support for our products.”

Glencore showcases automated longwall advancements at Oaky Creek

Glencore has highlighted the advances it has made in longwall automation at its Oaky Creek underground coal mine in Queensland, Australia, during a visit from the Federal Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt.

The minister met production crews and was given a demonstration of the mine’s automated longwall, the company says.

Using ‘ExScan’ laser technology developed by CSIRO’s Centre for Advanced Technologies, Oaky Creek has become the first coal mine in Australia to fully automate its underground longwall operation, according to the company.

ExScan technology (picture courtesy of CSIRO) has a laser scanner and associated software capable of generating real time 3D maps of tunnels, walls and cavities underground where global positioning systems cannot penetrate, CSIRO says. These maps can be used for locating, steering and navigating equipment and vehicles.

At Oaky Creek, an above-ground control centre operates the longwall using 3D scans of the mining area recorded by ExScan sensors and transmitted to the surface.

The minister also saw how Glencore’s coal business is leading the way on land rehabilitation and emission reduction, the company says.

To date, Oaky Creek has achieved 132.8 ha of certified rehabilitation and, in the last year, cut emissions by up to 840,000 t of CO2-e by using methane emissions for electricity generation.

“That is roughly equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions avoided from 182,683 passenger vehicles driven for one year,” it says.

Ian Cribb, Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s coal business in Australia, said: “Glencore has a world-class coal business in Australia and we welcomed the opportunity to show Minister Pitt some of the leading practices we have implemented, particularly around safety and gas management.”

New Century Resources and Senex Energy agree on natural gas supply pact

Senex Energy Ltd has announced a sales agreement involving around 7 PJ of natural gas over three years with New Century Resources Ltd.

New Century, which owns and operates the Century zinc mine in Queensland, Australia, will receive this natural gas supply from the Diamantina Power Station in Mount Isa (owned and operated by APA Group), with the 7 PJ being enough to operate the mine, it said.

Under the three-year agreement starting January 1, 2022, Senex will provide around 7 PJ of natural gas to support New Century’s processing operations at a fixed price, in line with current market levels. Senex will further supply around 1 PJ of additional natural gas at New Century’s election by mid-2022 in support of material increases in production levels associated with the potential development of existing in-situ deposits at Century.

Senex Managing Director and CEO, Ian Davies, said: “Century Mine generates significant state royalties and export earnings and is a critical project in the Queensland Government’s Strategic Blueprint for the North West Minerals Province.

“Senex also acknowledges APA as an important part of the value chain delivering energy to Mount Isa.”

Golding Contractors to keep mining Phosphate Hill operation for another five years

NRW Holdings Ltd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Golding Contractors, has signed a five-year contract extension with Southern Cross Fertilisers.

The contract with the Incitec Pivot subsidiary means Golding’s mining agreement at Phosphate Hill, in Queensland, Australia, will extend to September 6, 2026.

The expected contract extension value is anticipated to be between A$110-$120 million ($82-89 million) over the term.

Incitec Pivot agreed to purchase Southern Cross Fertilisers, then Australia’s only producer of ammonium phosphate fertilisers, from BHP for A$165 million back in 2006. The operation produced 979,300 t of ammonium phosphates in Incitec Pivot’s 2020 financial year to September 30, 2020.

Golding’s existing mining fleet will continue to operate in the mine and gypsum operations, with new capital spend limited to replacement of select light and medium vehicles, NRW said.

Golding employs around 80 people at the mine that operates on a fly-in fly-out arrangement from Townsville in northern Queensland.

NRW CEO & Managing Director, Jules Pemberton, said: “This contract extension reaffirms the strong relationship Golding has formed with Southern Cross Fertilisers at Phosphate Hill for more than a decade now, under various contract arrangements, and reflects our ability to secure repeat business through the quality and value of our service offering.”

Mine cooling solution set for 2022 start up at MMG’s Dugald River zinc mine

MMG’s Dugald River mine, in Queensland, Australia, is designing, supplying and installing a A$20 million ($14.7 million) cooling solution that, it says, will bring 9.5 MW of bulk air underground to facilitate ongoing zinc extraction.

MMG Dugald River General Manager, Tim Akroyd, said consistent temperature control is critical for the safety of the mine’s employees and contractors working in northwest Queensland’s hot climate.

“MMG has sourced a long-term refrigeration plant and ventilation system designed to deliver a safe work environment for our teams,” he said.

“To sustain mine production at a depth of 500 m below ground, cooling is essential and dramatically improves air quality. Mine ventilation firm, BBE Consulting, helped to scope options that are now spearheading MMG’s cooling works that are well underway, planned for completion by early 2022. The cooling system will be operational for the life of the mine, a period of up to 20-plus years.”

The scope of work covers the installation of 9.5 MW bulk air-cooling capacity, with a centralised refrigerative plant with distributing water circuits to the south and north mine. Water-cooled custom mine chillers, bulk air coolers, cooling towers and ancillary equipment are being deployed.

Water-cooled refrigeration machines have a lower capital project cost and use less power over a 20-year project life, when compared with air-cooled refrigeration machines, MMG said.

Suppliers and local contractors include CivilPlus Constructions, GNH Engineering, Bell Rural Contracting and Total Generators in Cloncurry to name just a few.

PYBAR sets records at Glencore’s Black Rock mine with Sandvik DL432i longhole drill

The introduction of PYBAR’s new Sandvik DL432i longhole drill in October 2020 has led to month-on-month improvements in drilling productivity at the Black Rock copper-lead-zinc mine, in Queensland, Australia.

Versatile and compact, the Sandvik DL432i is a fully mechanised electro-hydraulic top hammer longhole drill, designed for large-scale mining. The Sandvik iSOLO drilling control system allows the client (Glencore in this case) to provide electronic drill plans on a USB, which is plugged straight into the drill. The operator then lines the drill up on the survey markings and selects the required drill design, with the remainder of the drilling taken care of by the iSOLO software.

Since arriving on site, a specialised pump has been installed on the DL432i, allowing AMC (a subsidiary of IMDEX) to add a Bore Hole Stabiliser™ to the water circuit while drilling to improve hole integrity in the soft ground conditions. This technology, combined with Sandvik’s iSOLO drilling control software, has been key to PYBAR’s production success at Black Rock to date, the contractor said.

“The ground conditions at Black Rock have put Sandvik’s iSOLO drilling control system to the test, and the technology has proven itself with flying colours,” PYBAR said. “After several months of on-site refinement of the automated drilling system, the drill can now operate with minimal operator input.”

This has led to month-on-month increases in production drilling rates with a record month in March, closely matched in April, according to PYBAR. This, in turn, has meant a significant increase in available production fronts resulting in increased tonnes and improved overall project performance.

Trials of automated drilling for complete firing patterns will begin shortly at Black Rock to enable drilling to take place during firing and shift change, as well as free up the operator to assist with other tasks around the mine, PYBAR said.

The transition to further automation has the potential to significantly maximise both productive drilling time and overall performance for the project, it added.

Bravus to employ SMW Group Ultrahaul truck trays on Carmichael Cat 796 AC fleet

Bravus Mining & Resources has awarded contracts worth more than A$3 million ($2.2 million) to Rockhampton-based SMW Group for a series of new Ultrahaul mine truck trays and a bore field maintenance program.

Bravus Mining & Resources CEO, David Boshoff, said Bravus was keen to capitalise on SMW Group’s 20 years of experience servicing central Queensland’s coal fields.

“There’s an extensive mining services knowledge base in our region, and it has always been our intention to use this and work with businesses based in central Queensland wherever possible,” Boshoff said.

“The Ultrahaul tray is a class-leading product for mine haul trucks that SMW Group has developed specifically for the central Queensland coal industry. The trays are tailored for our fleet of Cat 796 AC haul trucks and will help to maximise production and improve operational efficiency.

“We have been impressed by SMW Group’s willingness to work with us to get the product right for our operations and look forward to seeing the results of this relationship over time.”

SMW Group Chief Operating Officer, Frank Humphreys, said that the contract was a great result for the company and central Queensland manufacturing.

“Securing a contract to supply Ultrahaul trays to the Carmichael Project is a great outcome for SMW Group and is a vote of confidence for central Queensland’s mining services industry,” Humphreys said.

“We are excited to be involved with a high-profile operation like the Carmichael Project.”

Boshoff said the contract would have direct benefits for Mackay and Rockhampton, bolstering the local economies against the impacts of COVID restrictions.

“Having this level of manufacturing capacity in our region is a huge boost, because we can continue to grow our fleet and ramp up operations with minimal impact from COVID induced restrictions and border closures,” he said.

“We are proud to have made good on our promises to Queensland, and especially regional Queensland. We have created more than 2,600 jobs and signed more than $2.2 billion in contracts.

“More than 88% of our contracts are being delivered in Queensland. This work has been spread across all corners of the state to give as many regions as possible the opportunity to benefit from our project, while also enabling us to tap into the highly-skilled construction and resources industry workforce that Queensland possesses.

“We are ramping up our mining fleet and construction on the Coal Handling and Processing Plant is well underway. We are excited to be so close to delivering on our promise to ship first coal this year.”

Aqura to take on Australia’s 5G LTE underground mining challenge

Aqura Technologies has been awarded a grant from the Australian Government under the 5G Innovation Initiative to, it says, augment the organisation’s own development work to address the challenge of delivering underground 5G LTE.

The grant is an important step to overcome the technical and commercial barriers associated with operating next-generation broadband wireless networks in sub-surface environments, according to Aqura.

Aqura Chief Executive Officer, Travis Young, said the project was founded on extensive customer and industry feedback as critical to enable mining operators to unlock the benefits that surface operators had been enjoying for a number of years.

“With over 50% of mining in Australia being conducted underground and increasing, the industry is still playing catch-up with technology that is being widely utilised to great benefit in surface operations,” he said.

“Our track record and development work, coupled with the 5G Innovation Grant, will enable our team to work to deliver technical architectures and a validated commercial model which will enable and accelerate adoption.”

The 5G Innovation Initiative grant will complement investment already made by Aqura to deliver technical architectures, commercial model development and installation of a live Private 5G LTE network in an operating mine. The project leverages a lot of learnings from a 2017 project where Aqura successfully delivered Private 4G LTE in an underground mine in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia, Aqura said.

The focus of the program is to fast-track the enablement of applications and processes that are being adopted in surface operations so underground operators can realise the benefits of enhanced environmental, safety and productivity outcomes that advanced wireless communications can deliver, it added.

Aqura’s Chief Operations Officer, Alan Seery, said underground operators are wanting a kick-start to advance their technology capabilities.

“Many underground mines use processes and technologies that are decades old and operators want to leverage the latest technology, but the technical challenges and the commercial model to acquire can be prohibitive,” he said.

“We’ve learnt a lot through our previous work in underground, and we believe our new LTEaaS (LTE as a service) platform optimised to deliver next-generation private industrial operations networks will support a new commercial approach that will better suit the business models utilised by mining operators.

“And with new advances in radio access, we’re excited to have the opportunity to work with some very motivated partners to develop and make available new architectures which will bridge the underground connectivity gap.”

Many of Aqura’s core team were behind the first Private 4G LTE network in Australian resources, delivered Private 4G LTE underground and supported delivery of one of the first above-ground Private 5G LTE networks in north Queensland earlier this year, it said.

The project has kicked off with Aqura working with a large gold operator to commence scoping. Various partners have indicated support to validate applications, devices and processes around autonomy, condition monitoring, safety systems, data access, PTT communications and IoT sensors.

Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corp look at hydrogen pilot for Yarwun refinery

Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Corporation have announced a partnership to study the construction of a hydrogen pilot plant at Rio Tinto’s Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone, Australia, and explore the potential use of hydrogen at the refinery.

The two global companies have signed a letter of intent that focuses on Yarwun as the location for a Gladstone hydrogen plant that Sumitomo has been studying. If the project proceeds, the pilot plant would produce hydrogen for the recently announced Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem, Rio said.

The study supports the efforts of Australian, Queensland and local governments to establish Gladstone as a clean hydrogen hub of the future, according to the company.

Rio Tinto Australia Chief Executive, Kellie Parker, said: “Rio Tinto has a long relationship with Sumitomo and we are delighted to partner with them to explore the possibilities of hydrogen, not only for our own refinery, but for Sumitomo to supply industry more broadly in Gladstone.

“Reducing the carbon intensity of our alumina production will be key to meeting our 2030 and 2050 climate targets. There is clearly more work to be done, but partnerships and projects like this are an important part of helping us get there.”

Sumitomo Corporation’s Energy Innovation Initiative Director, Hajime Mori, said: “We are excited about working together with Rio Tinto as our long-term partner to develop this hydrogen project in Gladstone and working toward our company’s vision of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

“We believe the pilot plant will play a significant role in establishing the Gladstone Hydrogen Ecosystem.

“Sumitomo has commenced the Design Study and Preliminary Master Planning to build the Gladstone hydrogen ecosystem and we will continue to work towards future hydrogen exports from Gladstone.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Steven Miles, said Gladstone is an industrial powerhouse and this partnership presents a great opportunity for the region and for Queensland.

“This is only the beginning of a wave of international collaborations that will lead to new industries and new jobs underpinned by the supply of renewable energy,” Miles said.

“With the Palaszczuk Government’s strong commitment to creating more jobs in emerging industries, we will work to keep Queensland at the forefront of renewable hydrogen and the opportunities that come with it.”

The Sumitomo partnership complements a recently announced feasibility study into using hydrogen to replace natural gas in the alumina refining process at Yarwun and provides the potential for larger-scale implementation if the studies are successful, Rio added.