Tag Archives: rail

BluVein XL open-pit mining dynamic charging solution gains momentum

Much of the buzz around BluVein to this point has focused on its dynamic charging infrastructure for underground mining and quarries, but the company has also been gaining momentum around a surface mining project – as the most recent Charge On™ Innovation Challenge announcement indicates.

The company and its BluVein XL solution were today named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the competition, which is seeking to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.

Within this context, BluVeinXL, the company’s new product line, will be capable of dynamically feeding power to heavy-duty mining fleets with up to 250-t payloads.

The technology leverages much of what was developed for BluVein1: a patented slotted (electric) rail system using an enclosed electrified e-rail system mounted above or beside the mining vehicle together with the BluVein hammer that connects the electric vehicle to the rail. This system provides power for driving the vehicle, typically a mine truck, and charging the truck’s batteries while the truck is hauling load up the ramp and out of an underground mine.

To this point, funding support for the BluVein1 project – being developed for vehicles up to 60-t payload and powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC) – is being provided by Vale, Glencore, Oz Minerals, Northern Star, South32, BHP, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and Newcrest Mining.

BluVeinXL, meanwhile, has seen the company engage with more than 10 “global mining company leaders” in progressing to a pilot demonstration of the technology. While the company plans to announce the names of these supporting mining companies shortly, it says they all see the need for an industry-standardised, OEM-agnostic, safe dynamic power feed infrastructure to suit mixed OEM open-pit fleets.

The key benefits of the dynamic power feeding solution BluVein is pushing are smaller on-board battery packs, faster vehicle haulage speeds up ramp, grid load balancing and maximum fleet availability.

“Our mining company supporters have provided feedback to us on the benefits they see with BluVeinXL over traditional overhead exposed wire catenary systems offered by other OEMs,” the company said. These are:

  • Near to the ground installation enabled by our patented Ingress Protected safe slotted rail technology;
  • Safer and faster installation;
  • Easy relocation as required to suit open-pit ramp movements over time;
  • Requires no heavy civil foundation requirements;
  • Alleviates the requirements on haul road conditions;
  • Offers purchasing flexibility on electric vehicles through the adoption of an industry-standard dynamic power feed infrastructure; and
  • Safer mine sites with no high voltage exposed overhead wires.

The company concluded: “Together with our mining company supporters, BluVein looks forward to working with all OEMs as we progress towards our planned pilot demonstration at a yet to be announced location.”

Rio Tinto puts call out for locally-made Pilbara rail cars

Rio Tinto has called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from Western Australia-based manufacturers to build 100 rail cars for its Pilbara iron ore mining operations.

The EOI callout follows its announcement in September it would look for opportunities for Western Australian suppliers to help grow the local rail car manufacturing industry and support local jobs.

Rio will initially purchase 50 rail cars from the successful supplier, followed by an ongoing commitment of 10 rail cars a year for the next five years, it said.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “I strongly encourage Western Australian manufacturers to submit an EOI to build these iron ore rail cars to service our Pilbara operations. We’re pleased to offer this opportunity to local businesses to support local jobs and the Western Australian economy.

“As the local manufacturing industry grows, we will continue to look at ways to engage local businesses to be part of our supply chain.”

The EOI supports the vision of the Western Australian Government’s iron ore rail car action group, which was formed to develop Western Australia’s manufacturing capability and which Rio Tinto is a member.

Anglo American looks to leverage hydrogen power tech on Aurizon’s Moura rail corridor

Australia’s largest rail freight operator, Aurizon, and Anglo American have agreed to work together on a feasibility study to assess the introduction of hydrogen-powered trains for bulk freight.

Aurizon and Anglo American have entered into an agreement to conduct the study that will explore the application of Anglo American’s proprietary hydrogen fuel cell and battery hybrid power units in heavy haul freight rail operations. If the study is successful, the agreement between the two companies could be extended to further phases of collaboration, which could include detailed engineering and the development of a hydrogen-fuelled heavy haul locomotive prototype.

The feasibility study, commencing in January, will focus on the potential deployment of Anglo American’s hydrogen power technology on Aurizon’s Moura rail corridor that operates between Anglo American’s Dawson metallurgical coal mine and the Gladstone Port, and the Mount Isa rail corridor that operates between the North West Minerals Province to Townsville Port, via Aurizon’s Stuart Terminal. The study is expected to be completed in 2022.

As part of its commitment to carbon-neutral mines by 2040, Anglo American has developed green hydrogen solutions for its ultra-class 290-t payload mine haul trucking fleet. The company’s combination of powertrain technologies, designed to operate safely and effectively in real-world mine conditions, will displace the use of the majority of diesel at its mining operations, with an advanced trial of the prototype truck at its Mogalakwena platinum group metals mine in South Africa.

The decarbonisation of Aurizon’s supply chains is at the centre of its target to reach net zero operational emissions by 2050. The rail freight operator has also commenced research and development for battery-powered trains with a number of industry parties and Australian universities.

“Hydrogen offers enormous opportunity in decarbonising and continuing to improve the competitiveness of Australia’s export supply chains,” Aurizon’s Managing Director and CEO, Andrew Harding, said. “This is especially true for bulk products underpinning the Australian economy including minerals, agricultural products and fertilisers, industrials and general freight.

“Zero-carbon hydrogen-powered trains would also significantly boost the current environmental benefits of transporting more of Australia’s bulk freight on rail. Rail freight already produces up to 16 times less carbon pollution per tonne kilometre than road.”

He concluded: “Aurizon is excited to be teaming up with Anglo American on this project, particularly given their success to date in developing unique technology solutions for use in mine haul fleets.”

Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American in Australia, said: “Anglo American has committed to carbon-neutral operations by 2040, and we are aiming to reduce our Scope 3 emissions by 50% in the same timeframe. We know that we cannot achieve all of this alone, so we are working with partners along our value chains and outside our industry to find technical solutions to decarbonise.

“This collaboration with Aurizon is a great example of the power of partnerships to help address the urgent issue of climate change, while we also look to catalyse new markets to support the development and growth of the hydrogen economy,” he said.

Tony O’Neill, Technical Director of Anglo American, added: “Our agreement with Aurizon marks the first time our hydrogen power technology could be tested beyond our existing mine haul truck program. Displacing our use of diesel is critical to eliminating emissions at our sites and along our value chain. We believe that our innovative hydrogen-led technology provides a versatile solution, whether for trucks or trains or other forms of heavy-duty transport.”

The North West Mineral Province contains about 75% of Queensland’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold, cobalt and phosphate deposits, according to Anglo. The province also has the potential to become a globally significant supplier of high-quality vanadium to the energy storage and steel markets with a number of projects under assessment.

The 180 km Moura rail corridor from Dawson to the Gladstone port, and the 977 km Mt Isa rail corridor from Mt Isa to Townsville Port both use diesel-fuelled locomotives.

(Pictured from left to right: Mick de Brenni, Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen; Tyler Mitchelson, Deputy Premier, Steven Miles; and Andrew Harding)

ArcelorMittal to expand iron ore mining and logistics operations in Liberia

The Government of the Republic of Liberia and ArcelorMittal have signed an amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) which paves the way for the expansion of the steel major’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia.

With the MDA amendment coming into effect, ArcelorMittal Liberia will significantly ramp up production of premium iron ore, generating significant new jobs and wider economic benefits for Liberia, it said.

The expansion project – which encompasses processing, rail and port facilities – will be one of the largest mining projects in West Africa. The capital required to finalise the project is expected to be approximately $800 million, as it is effectively a brownfield expansion.

The expansion project includes the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 Mt/y. Under the agreement, the company will have reservation for expansion for at least up to 30 Mt/y. Other users may be allowed to invest for additional rail capacity, it said.

As the largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia says it has invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years.

More than 2,000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created, the company said.

ArcelorMittal operates a Vocational Training Centre and provides two-year residential certificate training in mechanical and electrical trades. As part of the expansion, ArcelorMittal Liberia has also launched a training and development program for high potential Liberian employees who will gain on the job experience and knowledge in ArcelorMittal Mining operations globally.

The employees will receive advanced training in the fields of mining production and operation optimisation, plant maintenance, planning and execution, plant electrical operation systems and electrical maintenance. Other training areas include plant fitting and heavy-duty mobile equipment maintenance, as well as mine production and operations.

Lakshmi Mittal, Executive Chairman, ArcelorMittal, said: “The expansion of mine, processing, rail and port facilities is the largest iron ore project in West Africa and will draw international attention to Liberia as an attractive country to invest in. The current planned expansion is part of a long-term commitment by ArcelorMittal to Liberia that includes undertaking planning for the further expansion of our iron ore asset to at least 30 Mt per annum.”

Fleetwood to support Rio’s Pilbara rail works with Ti Tree camp upgrades

Fleetwood Ltd says its Fleetwood Building Solutions subsidiary has been awarded a A$30 million ($23 million) camp expansion and upgrade contract by a subsidiary of Rio Tinto.

The contract award from Pilbara Iron Company has a scope including supply, installation, refurbishment upgrades and relocation of buildings at Rio Tinto’s Ti Tree Rail Camp, 170 km southeast of Karratha and 100 km north of Tom Price.

The expanded rail camp will support a peak workforce of more than 300 people completing future rail maintenance and upgrade works on the Tom Price to Cape Lambert rail line.

Commencing in December 2020, the contract is expected to take around 10 months to complete and contribute to the company’s 2021 calendar year revenue, Fleetwood said.

During the tender process, Fleetwood met the Rio Tinto Category 3 supplier requirements, which allows it to perform works on site as the primary contractor across other potential projects, it said.

Fleetwood’s Interim CEO, Andrew Wackett, said: “The opportunity to partner directly with one of the world’s largest mining companies like Rio Tinto highlights Fleetwood’s experience as the largest Australian-owned modular building company.”

Fortescue engages John Holland for rail work at Eliwana iron ore project

Australia-based infrastructure and rail company, John Holland, has secured a A$130 million ($90 million) contract with Fortescue Metals Group to construct 143 km of railway tracks and signalling at its Eliwana iron ore project in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The track construction works will connect the new Eliwana Rail Line to the existing Fortescue Hamersley Line to Port Hedland, with the engagement seeing John Holland manage a newly upgraded rail welding facility in Port Hedland as well as the design, construct and integration of the signalling and train control systems.

The company will also procure and manufacture the signalling system wayside equipment from its Canning Vale fabrication warehouse and complete all civil and electrical installations of the wayside signalling systems on site, it said.

In line with this contract award and others in Western Australia, John Holland says it is looking to recruit 400 new workers across its Western Australian projects.

It currently employs more than 5,000 people across its construction, tunnelling, rail and building projects in Australia, and strengthened its rail, engineering and construction capacity after it acquired RCR O’Donnell Griffin’s rail business – saving 400 jobs in the process.

John Holland Operations Manager, Rob Hennessy, said the Western Australia team was very proud to bring this solution to market for Fortescue.

“It has been a goal of the WA rail team to bid for more integrated projects in the WA market and we are pleased to partner with Fortescue and play a significant part in a world-class iron ore project,” he said.

“John Holland is a major Australian employer and continues to honour its 70-year history of contribution to the local community.”

Once completed, the $1.275 billion Eliwana project, which also includes the building of a 30 Mt/y ore processing facility, will maintain Fortescue’s overall production rate of a minimum 170 Mt/y over 20 years, the company said.