Tag Archives: Resolute Mining

Knelson concentrator, Gekko ILR set to boost gravity gold recovery at Asante’s Bibiani

Asante Gold’s plan to bring the Bibiani mine in Ghana into production in the September quarter of 2022 remain on track after mobilising a contractor to refurbish the process plant and made plans to upgrade its gravity gold recovery equipment.

The company acquired the mine earlier this year from Resolute Mining, embarking on a journey to return the former operating mine to its past glories.

In a market update, Asante said all activities for the restart were on track.

“Asante is preparing a plan to deliver a mine that can produce approximately 190,000 oz of gold at Bibiani in its first 12 months of operation and circa 240,000 oz every year thereafter for a minimum of six years,” it said.

Tenders have been invited for the selection of a mining contractor, with mobilisation of said contractor expected to proceed in the March quarter of 2022.

At the same time, the process plant refurbishment is slightly ahead of schedule and on budget, the company said.

Harlequin International has been contracted to complete the refurbishment engineering procurement and construction management (EPCM) and has mobilised as scheduled. The full EPCM team, plus requisite complement of tradespeople, is on site to provide training, safety and project delivery systems and resources needed to ensure achievement of a safe and productive work environment, the company said.

Asante explained: “All work activities are proceeding as planned. Principal equipment motors and drives have been taken off site, to be serviced as needed. Electrical components, instrumentation and control systems have been tested and are being upgraded as needed to provide improved performance, above the original design.”

The company said gravity recovery equipment was being upgraded to “2020 level” of competence and automation. This includes the purchase of a new high efficiency “6G Knelson concentrator” (from FLSmidth) and Gekko ILR (InLine Leach Reactor).

Sub-contractors have been engaged to proceed with sand blasting, metal and pipework repair, painting, installation of liners and belts, and to ensure safe and efficient operation, Asante said.

“Equipment that is on site but that was not fully installed by the former owners is in the process of being made ready for operation,” the company added. “As of the last week of October, there are more than 200 workers on site. To date the project remains on budget.”

In July 2018, Resolute Mining, based on some 50,500 m of drilling, released an updated feasibility study for Bibiani reporting JORC compliant resources of 21.7 Mt at 3.6 g/t for 2.5 Moz of gold.

First Wärtsilä Modular Block destined for Resolute’s Syama gold mine

Wärtsilä has announced the first order of its innovative new Wärtsilä Modular Block solution for power generation to Aggreko, with four Wärtsilä Modular Block enclosures – with one medium-speed Wärtsilä 32 engine in each – to provide 40 MW of energy to Resolute Mining’s Syama gold mine, in Mali.

The Modular Block order was placed by Aggreko in November 2019 and the contract is the first one signed under the cooperation agreement between Wärtsilä and Aggreko, announced in June.

The pre-fabricated, modular, and expandable enclosures feature medium-speed Wärtsilä 32 and 34 family engines, can run on a variety of fuels and can operate as a re-deployable power generation solution, according to Wärtsilä. “The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution can be installed in a matter of weeks, and can be expanded to accommodate increased energy needs. Similarly, it can be dismantled and relocated to alternative locations as and when required, making it highly suited to temporary power generation,” Wärtsilä said.

Resolute announced last month that it was partnering with Aggreko on this power solution, saying that the thermal element of the project was expected to be implemented in partnership with Wärtsilä using its new Modular Block technology and design.

“The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution will replace the existing diesel generators currently powering the mine,” the company said, adding that the high efficiency of the engines should result in “substantial monthly savings” in fuel costs.

It added: “Fast-starting and load following capabilities will facilitate the integration of renewables into the mine’s energy system. The mine will be powered by a reliable, flexible and affordable solution, which will help to enhance the mine’s environmental impact.”

Three Wärtsilä Modular Blocks, providing a total of 30 MW of power will be installed next to the existing power station in 2020. The fourth 10 MW Modular Block will be installed in 2022, with an option to add a fifth 10 MW unit to the power plant.

Stephane Le Corre, Strategy and Development Director at Aggreko, said: “The Wärtsilä Modular Block supports our technology investment strategy and, when included as part of a hybrid solution, has enabled us to offer Resolute an extremely cost-effective solution for 16 years.”

Jean Nabb, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Wärtsilä Energy Business, said: “The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution opens up exciting new opportunities, both for permanent and rental electricity generation. We are delighted to be partnering with Aggreko in this rapidly growing market, and this first order is encouraging for the future success of our cooperation.”

Under the agreement between Aggreko and Wärtsilä, Wärtsilä will provide the technology and design for the core power generation equipment, with Aggreko incorporating Wärtsilä’s Modular Block enclosure and power generation within its Rental/Power Solutions sales offering.

Resolute Mining starting to deliver automation benefits at Syama Underground

Resolute Mining, in its 2019 financial year results, said commissioning of the Syama Underground automation system is now well underway following the company reaching commercial production rates in quarter just ended.

The gold mine, in Mali, mined 737,338 t of ore over the period, as the company, in its financial year, moved from development to production in the sub-level cave.

At full capacity the underground mine is expected to produce around 46,000 t/week of ore, or 2.4 Mt/y, using a fully integrated automated mine fleet that is being facilitated through a partnership with Sandvik. Once the underground mine is fully commissioned, Syama will be capable of producing over 300,000 oz/y of gold, according to Resolute.

In the financial results, the company said the automation switch was gradually being turned on, with operators in the newly completed surface control room (pictured) now able to control underground production units over shift-change, blasting and re-entry periods, when there are no personnel in the underground mine.

Resolute said: “This represents the initial delivery of one of the main benefits of automation, the ability to maintain production over periods when operations would normally cease in a typical manual mine.”

The company noted that the fibre optic backbone and mine-wide wireless network was now complete from the portal down to the 1055 haulage level and was connected to the surface control room.

“This network enables the operation of the automated haulage loop, automated rehandle level, mine digitisation and production automation, all of which allow operators to monitor and control mine production in real time,” the company explained.

A major technical characteristic of what Resolute is referring to as “the world’s first fully automated haulage loop” is the ability for Syama’s haul trucks to rapidly transition from laser-based underground navigation to surface-based differential global positioning system (GPS) navigation.

The company said recent trials at Syama demonstrated Resolute’s haul trucks can acquire the feed from the two surface GPS base stations and seamlessly lock onto satellite guidance to complete the transition to GPS navigation without any delay or speed reductions.

The next phase of the company’s automation work will see the commissioning of the 1055 haulage level with automated rehandle loaders and haulage trucks working together to load from an ore pass and truck directly to the surface run of mine pad, Resolute said.

“With the fans, pump stations, control room and communications network complete, the automation project is being progressively handed over to the operations team which is now at normal operational manning levels,” the company concluded.

Renewable energy use can bring savings to Africa mining sector, report claims

THEnergy and Voltalia’s latest report on the use of renewable energy in the Africa mining sector says the industry can realise significant cost savings when employing these power solutions.

The authors said the mining sector has shifted from phase one – where the focus of renewable power adoption was on integrating and testing out the reliability of these solutions – to phase two – where potential cost savings are being considered.

“In the last few years, more and more mining companies have adopted wind and solar systems to reduce their energy costs at remote off-grid mines,” THEnergy and Voltalia said. “In this first phase, the initial focus was on the integration capabilities as miners were afraid that adding intermittent renewables such as solar and wind could affect the reliability of power supply and even lead to production losses.”

In various microgrid applications, renewables combined with diesel, heavy fuel oil (HFO), or gas have proven to provide reliable power supply to remote mines, according to the two firms.

“For almost all mines, the integration of renewables will have a positive impact on their energy cost position. Mining companies do not have to invest their own money; independent power providers (IPPs) invest in the renewable energy infrastructure and sell electricity to mines through power purchase agreements (PPAs),” THEnergy and Voltalia explained.

Thomas Hillig, Managing Director of THEnergy, a consultancy focused on microgrids/mini-grids and off-grid renewable energy, said this second market phase is characterised by price competition.

“With the support of a leading renewable energy player, the new report analyses how IPPs can offer extremely competitive PPAs to remote miners,” he said.

Large IPPs take advantage of economies of scale on components for solar and wind power plants not only for remote mining projects but also for much bigger grid-connected plants, the two firms said.

“Market leaders have managed to optimise the planning and construction processes substantially. However, conducting projects in remote locations, especially in Africa, requires an extended experience,” they added. Among the challenges of undertaking projects in Africa is financing, which requires relationships with local and international banks, according to THEnergy and Voltalia.

“Cost optimisation does not necessarily mean minimising capital expenditure but rather focusing on the total lifetime of the project and including operation and maintenance. It is also important to take the interplay of the different energy sources into consideration. Not every kWh of solar and wind energy generated means equivalent fossil fuel savings. When gensets run at suboptimal loads, they lose efficiency and require additional maintenance,” the two firms said.

Alexis Goybet, Head of Hybrid Solutions at Voltalia, a player in the renewable energy sector, said his company has much experience in renewable energy projects, including solar-diesel hybrid microgrids, projects in remote locations and in developing countries.

“Our experience adds up to our economies of scale in procurement and translates into significant overall cost-reductions in the range of 20-30% in comparison to new market entrants,” he said.

These overall cost reductions will make solar and wind energy extremely attractive for many mines, according to the two firms, with the number of remote mines adding renewables to diesel, HFO or gas expected to grow quickly all over Africa.

There are already several mining companies that have made – or are planning to make – this transition in Africa, as can be seen by the map above (credit: THEnergy, Voltalia). This includes Resolute Mining and its Syama underground gold mine in Mali, Newmont Mining and its Akyem gold mine in Ghana and B2Gold and its Otjikoto operation in Namibia.

In the past month alone, Barrick Gold and GoviEx Uranium have also stated plans to use hybrid solutions at their Loulo and Madaouela assets, respectively.

Wood Mackenzie poses mine electrification and automation question

Electrification and automation will be key priorities for mining companies in 2019, new research from Wood Mackenzie has claimed.

In reviewing the research firm’s ‘Global trends: what to look for in 2019’ report, Wood Mackenzie Research Director, Prakash Sharma, said: “Building a world-class low-cost mining business seems to be the mantra.

“Major players, such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale, are increasing the share of electricity and automation in mining operations. The objective is to not only reduce scope 1 emissions (from their own activities) and air pollution, but also to lower human involvement and operating expenditure.

“By employing data analytics, companies are chasing productivity and efficiency and lowering costs as a result. The aim is to stay at the lower end of the cost curve should demand for traditional mining commodities fall.”

In 2017, BHP set a long-term goal of achieving net-zero scope 1 and 2 emissions in the second half of this century, while, in 2018, Rio Tinto announced successful deployment of AutoHaulTM (pictured), “establishing the world’s largest robot and first automated heavy-haul long-distance rail network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia”, Sharma said.

“The key question will be whether other mining majors follow this trend in 2019.”

In terms of adopting automated technologies, BHP and Rio are far from being alone.

Vale’s Brucutu iron ore mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil, is set to go fully-autonomous this year – as a fleet of seven new Caterpillar 240 ton (218 t) 793F CMD fully autonomous trucks is expanded to 13 – Fortescue Metals is continuing its manual-to-automation fleet conversion at Christmas Creek, in Australia, and Norilsk Nickel recently told IM it was looking to introduce a “fully-automated mine”.

This is only the start.

NGEx Resources and Filo Mining, which are looking to develop open-pit copper operations in South America, confirmed in the past few months they were looking to incorporate autonomous haul truck technology from the off. These admissions came in their prefeasibility studies, which are likely to pre-date mining operations by three to five years.

And, underground, Resolute Mining and Sandvik plan to fully-automate the Syama block cave mine in Mali this year. The mine started commissioning at the back end of last year, hit the first production stopes in December and is expected to ramp up to steady-state output of over 300,000 oz/y by June.

This is but a handful of trials and projects going on in the automated mining space, with the process plant end also seeing a number of innovative trials or installations to move away from manual mode.

On the electrification question, specifically, Sharma told IM that grid-connected mines were acting faster when it came to adoption compared with those operating remotely. “Shovels and drilling machines at surface mines are already using electricity. Up to 100 t dump trucks are using electric-motors (battery-operated) at some mines in China,” he said.

“At underground mines, electric machines are increasingly used but batteries are yet to take off.”

The latter isn’t the case in Ontario, Canada, where Goldcorp (Borden) and Kirkland Lake Gold (Macassa) are using battery-powered equipment underground in their load and haul and utility fleets. In Sudbury, Canada, too there have been a number of deliveries of such machinery to some of its world-renowned base metal mines. (You can hear more about this at the inaugural Electric Mine conference in April).

As with the majority of technology projects, finance is the biggest hurdle for widespread adoption, according to Sharma.

“Another issue is around the financial health of the mining companies. Some are not willing to re-invest due to uncertainty around the commodities they mine. Some are focused on diversification of portfolios. There are others who want to act quickly, consolidate and take first mover advantage to decarbonise,” he said.

“We believe the electrification and automation in mining will continue to expand and tightening environmental policies will drive the shift. But a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work,” he concluded.

Resolute hits milestone at Syama sublevel cave gold project

Resolute Mining Limited has commenced sublevel cave ore production at the Syama Underground project in Mali, West Africa.

The extraction of first ore from the southern end of the 1105 level of the Syama sublevel cave marks the anticipated beginning of the main caving operation at Syama and the achievement of a major milestone for the company, Resolute said.

Resolute’s Managing Director and CEO, John Welborn, said: “Syama will be the world’s first, purpose built, fully automated sublevel cave gold mine. It is a world-class, long life, low cost asset that will deliver long term benefits to our shareholders, stakeholders, and local Mali communities for years to come.”

Resolute has partnered with Sandvik to deliver the automation solution at Syama, with the OEM also supplying the underground fleet, which includes automated Sandvik TH663 trucks and LH621, LH517 and LH514E LHDs.

Welborn went on to say Syama would be the most sophisticated and advanced gold mine in Africa.

“Our investment in exploration, infrastructure, technology, power, and innovation at Syama has transformed a world-class orebody into a world-class mine,” he said.

Resolute has an ambition to be a leader in sustainable and responsible economic growth in Africa, according to Welborn. The company recently announced plans to build a new 40 MW Syama Solar Hybrid Power Plant which will deliver an expected 40% savings on power costs and is expected to be the world’s largest mine-based, off-grid fully integrated independent solar hybrid power plant.

In addition to this, the company is working on Project 85, a series of sulphide processing plant upgrades, that will enable the company to achieve improved recoveries from high-grade ore sourced from the new sublevel cave, he said.

“The combination of mine automation, improved recoveries, and lower cost power has the potential to increase Syama site production to 300,000 oz/y of gold and reduce life-of-mine all-in sustaining costs to below $750/oz,” he added.

The initial development of the sublevel cave infrastructure including the twin declines and access to the first four sublevel levels of the cave, the 1130, 1105,1080 and 1055 sub levels, has been established. Approximately 400,000 t of development and long hole stoping ore have been extracted from the underground mine to date. Mining rates will gradually build up over the first half of 2019 and are expected to reach nameplate capacity of 200,000 t/mth by the end of June 2019.

Resolute powers up for electrification of Syama Underground gold mine in Mali

Australia-based Resolute Mining has more than just autonomy on its mind at the in-development Syama Underground gold mine in Mali. The company is also weighing up full electrification of its mining and development fleet.

Resolute has partnered with Sandvik to deliver the automation solution at Syama, with the OEM also supplying the underground fleet, which includes automated Sandvik TH663 trucks and LH621, LH517 and LH514E LHDs

Sub-level caving is expected to commence at the planned 2.4 Mt/y operation in December 2018, Resolute Chief Operating Officer Peter Beilby told IM. “We will then ramp up to full automation and run-rate production by June 2019,” he added.

Resolute has previously said one of the reasons for its choice of equipment at Syama Underground was “anticipating the logical next step in the evolution of underground machinery to battery-powered operation”.

When IM asked Beilby about this, he responded: “We strongly believe that, as well as going automated, mining is going electric.”

While the initial fleet will have some diesel loaders for development headings and diesel-powered trucks, plus drilling equipment with small diesel motors, Resolute is already scheduled to have a tethered version of the Sandvik LH414E, and, Beilby revealed, a DD422iE, Sandvik’s battery-powered electric mining jumbo.

This battery-powered jumbo, designed to drive down production costs while reducing the environmental impacts of drilling and tunnelling, is also in use at Goldcorp’s Borden development project in Ontario, Canada.

And, it appears this is just the start of Resolute’s electrification plans at the project.

“We certainly want to pursue further electrification,” Beilby said, adding: “I have no doubt that in, say, five years’ time, we will be a lot further down the track with electric mining.”

IM was speaking to Peter Beilby as part of a longer interview for the Big Data and digitalisation feature to be published in the upcoming IM November issue.