Tag Archives: remote mining

FMG, Sodexo and Aboriginal businesses enter into ‘innovative contract model’

Fortescue Metals Group has entered into an “innovative contract model” that will see Aboriginal businesses carry out catering, accommodation management and lifestyle and recreation services for the Cloudbreak and Karntama villages in the Chichester Hub and Hamilton Village, in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The Village Facilities Management agreements will be facilitated thorough a pact between Sodexo Remote Sites Australia, a food services and facilities management company, and three Aboriginal businesses owned by Pilbara Native Title groups, FMG said.

With a collective award value of A$165 million ($113 million) over three years, the contracts involve three individual unincorporated joint ventures agreements with Sodexo and 100% owned Aboriginal businesses Palyku Enterprises Pty Ltd, Karlka Facilities Management Pty Ltd and Kariyarra Hospitality Services Pty Ltd.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue’s Aboriginal procurement initiative and approach to providing opportunities to Aboriginal people has empowered our Native Title partners by building the capability and capacity of Aboriginal businesses.

“These contracts are awarded on merit. Each of our business partners have competitively demonstrated their commercial ability to deliver the contracted services and by working within a joint venture, the Aboriginal businesses have the support and opportunity to increase their active participation and build long term sustainability.”

Across the three Fortescue sites, Sodexo will provide a range of village services, including accommodation services management to approximately 3,000 workers in a typical week, catering services – serving up to 8,500 meals daily, industrial cleaning, retail, health and wellbeing, transport and airport management services, as well as trade-based maintenance services delivery at Hamilton, Sodexo said.

The announcement is an important milestone for Sodexo after acquiring Morris Corp two years ago, which expanded Sodexo’s portfolio of facilities management operations in Australia, the company said. Morris had been Fortescue’s contractor since 2009.

Sodexo Chief Executive Officer of Energy and Resources Asia-Pacific, Darren Hedley, said: “Our ongoing work with Fortescue showed both companies were aligned in improving quality of village life, and valued strong engagement with communities.

“We’re looking forward to working with our joint venture partners, Kariyarra Group, Palyku Group and Karlka Group, and Fortescue as we continue to identify opportunities for constant improvements across the sites to deliver the best outcomes for Fortescue, with a priority being maintaining safety and quality operations for its growing workforce.”

Fortescue says it has awarded A$2.4 billion in contracts to over 115 Aboriginal businesses and joint venture partners since 2011 through its Billion Opportunities initiative.

Severstal’s digital focus paying off at Vorkutaugol coal operations

Severstal’s Strata advanced monitoring system is helping optimise its Vorkutaugol coal operations in Russia through the ability to help with predictive maintenance, gas detection, and people and proximity detection, among other capabilities, CEO Alexander Shevelev said at a media roundtable in London today.

With the company looking to not only improve safety, but increase machine uptime and boost productivity, Strata, installed last year, has revolutionised the operation, in Russia’s Komi Republic.

The system is likely to become even more important in future years as the mine continues to expand to its ultimate 5.4 Mt/y coking coal concentrate capacity in 2022-2023, an expansion that involves $335 million of capital expenditure.

Shevelev said Strata works off a Wi-Fi enabled backbone at the mine to collect and analyse data. This has helped improve service and maintenance, he explained, in addition to enabling workers and machines to know where personnel and equipment are.

Wi-Fi will also come of use when the company brings online two new “remotely controlled” machines at the end of November. Shevelev said these machines would help improve safety within the mine, in addition to improving productivity thanks to a reduction in the time required for shift changes.

All of this is part of the company’s plans to, this year, invest a further RUB1.1 billion ($17.3 million) into safety improvement measures at its mines (almost half of which will be invested into health and safety initiatives – including digital systems – at Vorkutaugol).

The company also previously committed RUB5.7 billion of investment capital in 2019 to digital and IT projects focused on further improving operational excellence and enhancing product quality and customer service, it said.

The two deposits Severstal operates under the Vorkutaugol operations are Vorkutskoye and Vorgashorskoye, which have an estimated life of 28 and seven years, respectively, according to the company’s website. The business consists of five longwall mines, an open-pit mine and three washing plants.

Westgold Resources gets uses to village life with Sodexo

Sodexo is set to deliver more services for Westgold Resources after the two companies agreed to broaden their contract to include a fourth mine site in Western Australia.

This contract amendment, which will see the company start work on the Big Bell site, increases the value of Sodexo’s current contract with the Australia-based gold miner to A$40 million ($27.2 million).

Under this contract, Sodexo is scoped to deliver all village, transportation, catering, cleaning, building maintenance and landscaping services at the site.

The Big Bell site, located 24 km northwest of Cue in Western Australia, was launched on June 1, 2019, to support operations at the Big Bell underground mine, as part of the larger Cue gold operations. This would see daily commute times reduced, while ensuring worker facilities are readily available.

Westgold hit first ore at the Big Bell underground mine late last year. It had been dewatering and refurbishing the Big Bell underground mine for over two years. The base load for the Cue 10-year development plan is based around the Big Bell underground mine – which is expected to provide 10.1 Mt at 3 g/t Au from the company’s 2020 financial year.

Sodexo’s existing work with Westgold to provide services to the Cue, Fortnum and Bluebird mining sites is part of a three-year contract that commenced in June 2018. The Big Bell contract will conclude in 2021 in alignment with the contract for these sites.

Westgold Director of Operations, Steve Norregaard, said: “Sodexo continues to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining safety and quality operations for our mining workforce. The Big Bell mine is accelerating fast to become the cornerstone asset in the Cue operations. Sodexo’s facilities management services to the Big Bell mine site give us peace of mind that workers will be provided access to high-quality facilities and a home-away-from-home experience.”

Sodexo CEO Mining APAC, Paul Cooper, said: “Australian mining is a sector where Sodexo continues to excel. The company successfully demonstrated its dedication to service excellence by improving village life across three of Westgold’s existing sites and this supported our proposal for Big Bell. Being awarded the Big Bell contract is testament to a strong working relationship with Westgold, after acquiring Morris Corporation that had previously held the contract for three years.”

Anglo American takes to tablets at Australia UG coal mines

Anglo American says it has launched Australia’s first electronic tablet device certified for use in underground coal mines at its Moranbah North mine, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland.

The introduction of these tables represents a major step forward in the company’s aims to digitise its operations, according to Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Australian business.

He added that digitisation was a key part of the company’s FutureSmart Mining™ approach, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major challenges.

While standard tablets have been used underground at many mines around the world for at least a few years, it is the presence of potential explosive gas mixtures in some underground operational environments – coal, in particular – that inhibits any device being taken below ground that does not meeting ‘intrinsically safe’ regulatory approval. This is due to the potential risk of ignition from energy sources within such devices (eg standard tablets and smart phones).

Mitchelson said: “Following the successful launch at Moranbah North mine, we are now moving towards rapid deployment across all our underground sites including our newly-approved Aquila mine, which will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.

“The tablets capture and share real time production, safety and environmental monitoring information with operators, ensuring critical information is readily available to key personnel and removing the need for paper records.”

They also provide direct access to the company’s Safety Health Management System and can be used as a portable video communication device (via Skype) to instantly access personnel working at the surface level, according to Mitchelson. “This will accelerate trouble-shooting and can also be used as a live video link in case of emergencies.”

He added: “Any delays or challenges can be reported and addressed on-the-spot to reduce lost production time, instead of relying on traditional communication methods such as phone calls, underground travel or hard copy reports being submitted and reviewed at the end of a 12-hour shift.”

The tablets are already enabling improved communication and information sharing underground, Mitchelson said. This should ultimately lead to safer, more productive mining, he added.

The introduction of underground tablets followed significant work towards automating longwall operations and digitising the company’s mines, according to Mitchelson, with Anglo American recently completing its first pilot longwall shear from an above-ground remote operating centre at the Grosvenor mine.

The device was developed in collaboration with product manufacturer, Bartec, and tested to achieve certification with the Queensland Government’s Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station, the company said.

Executive Head of Underground Operations in Australia, Glen Britton, said implementation of the tablets followed a successful pilot earlier this year at Moranbah North mine, which was already receiving positive feedback from operators.

“Each week at Moranbah North mine, around 400 statutory reports and 2,500 maintenance work orders are generated. The team there aims to be paperless within two years, and the introduction of these tablets will enable us to remove underground paperwork and transition to electronic storage of statutory and production reports,” Britton said.

“Over the last five years, we have invested considerable resources in the development of this technology, to ensure the product was fit-for-purpose. We sought out a manufacturing partner to help create a new technical solution for managing our data, undertook an extensive certification process and improved underground Wi-Fi capabilities at the mine.”

Epiroc and Ericsson connect on 5G and LTE technologies for mining

Epiroc has signed a cooperation agreement with leading communications technology provider Ericsson to jointly help mining companies achieve optimal wireless connectivity in their operations through Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G technologies.

Key advantages of LTE and 5G solutions compared with other wireless solutions include better coverage, higher reliability and stronger security, especially when machines are in the same area and share information, according to Epiroc.

The technology, which is for both underground and open-pit mines, has already been tested on Epiroc’s machines at the company’s test mine in Kvarntorp, Sweden, with further testing scheduled before providing solutions to customers.

Epiroc said: “Mining companies are increasingly seeking to digitalise and automate their operations to increase productivity, enhance operator safety and lower cost. This includes, for example, remotely operating machines from a control room, and collecting machine performance data to optimise use of the equipment.”

All of this creates a need for reliable, high-performance wireless connectivity at the mines, it said.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s Senior Executive Vice President Mining and Infrastructure, said the mining OEM is happy to team up with Ericsson so that its mining customers can get the most reliable and high-performing wireless connectivity possible.

“This is a crucial step in our ongoing work to ensure mining customers reap all the benefits, including higher productivity and better safety, made possible by digitalisation and automation,” she said.

Åsa Tamsons, Ericsson’s Senior Vice President and Head of Business Area Technologies & New Businesses, said cellular technology and the introduction of 5G is critical to realising the full value of digitalisation and automation “for smart industries”.

“By combining our expertise in connectivity and Epiroc’s cutting-edge technology in mining equipment, we will be able to ensure stable and secure mining operations, leading to increased utilisation, improved productivity and reduced costs.”

This connectivity tie-up follows a recently-signed agreement between Sandvik and Nokia to further develop solutions for private LTE and 5G technology.