Tag Archives: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto backs accelerated Scope 1 and 2 carbon emission cuts with $7.5 billion of investments

Rio Tinto has outlined a new target to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, more than tripling its previous target. To achieve this, it is setting aside around $7.5 billion of direct investments between 2022 and 2030.

Unveiled during an investor seminar this week, Rio said a 15% reduction in emissions is now targeted for 2025, five years earlier than previously stated, relative to its 2018 baseline of 32.6 Mt (CO2 equivalent – equity basis).

In recognition of the broader carbon footprint of the commodities it produces, Rio says it will accelerate its investment in R&D and development of technologies that enable its customers to decarbonise. Working in partnership with governments, suppliers, customers, academia and others, Rio intends to continue to develop technologies like ELYSIS™ for carbon-free aluminium and multiple pathways to produce green steel.

To meet additional demand created by the global drive to net zero emissions, Rio Tinto will prioritise growth capital in commodities vital for this transition with an ambition to double growth capital expenditure to about $3 billion a year from 2023, it said.

Rio Tinto can decarbonise, pursue growth and continue to deliver attractive returns to shareholders due to its strong balance sheet, world-class assets and focus on capital discipline, it explained.

Some key points from the presentation include:

  • Decarbonisation of the Pilbara will be accelerated by targeting the rapid deployment of 1 GW of wind and solar power. This would abate around 1 Mt of CO2, replace natural gas power for plant and infrastructure and support early electrification of mining equipment;
  • Full electrification of the Pilbara system, including all trucks, mobile equipment and rail operations, will require further gigawatt-scale renewable deployment and advances in fleet technologies
  • Options to provide a greener steelmaking pathway for Pilbara iron ore are being investigated, including with biomass and hydrogen;
  • Options are progressing to switch the Boyne Island and Tomago smelters in Australia to renewable energy, which will require an estimated circa-5 GW (equity basis) of solar and wind power, along with a robust “firming solution”;
  • Development of ELYSIS to eliminate carbon emissions from the smelting process is progressing, with commercial scale technology on track for 2024.

Wet Earth, BHP and Rio Tinto improve Sime Washdown Skipper sprinkler system reliability

Wet Earth has collaborated with BHP and Rio Tinto’s Western Australia iron ore operations on an improvement program for its Sime Washdown Skipper sprinkler system.

The system was originally developed in 2008 to address safety and efficiency concerns around manually hosing underneath conveyors and other hard-to-reach areas. It is used at many major mine sites throughout Australia, according to Wet Earth.

Wet Earth’s recently collaboration with the major miners identified opportunities to improve the system’s overall performance and reliability, according to the company.

Wet Earth Managing Director, Nicholas Marks, explained: “One of the design improvements identified by BHP and Rio was due to the sprinkler sitting in an inverted position during normal operation. This meant that material and dust could easily penetrate the base of the sprinkler, which reduced its reliability. As these sprinklers are frequently deployed in hard-to-reach locations, reliability is critical.”

The new design incorporates a streamlined base to the sprinkler, which allows material and dust to sit on the base without any risk of it penetrating and impacting its internal operation, according to Wet Earth. Testing by both BHP and Rio Tinto found the reliability issues caused by the material penetrating the internals of the sprinkler were now eliminated.

The Washdown Skipper features, Wet Earth says, a solid brass dust proof base; stainless steel nozzle extension; Arc adjustment of 0-360°; nozzle sizes from 10-24 mm; flows from 2-15 l/s; pressure up to 10 bar; and and is easily automated, efficient and safe.

Civmec banks new work from BHP, Roy Hill and Rio Tinto

Civmec Ltd says it has received three notices of award from several repeat mining customers for maintenance and capital works projects collectively worth approximately A$130 million ($97 million).

These orders – from BHP, Roy Hill and Rio Tinto – bring its total order book to about A$1.05 billion as at September 30, 2021.

For BHP, Civmec is to carry out a civil and earthworks job as part of the miner’s Port De-bottlenecking Project Stage 1, which includes a new stockyard planned for the South Yard at Nelson Point, in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The scope of work includes dewatering, piling, ground improvement, associated earthworks, concrete foundations, new roads, high voltage poles and underground power works.

Civmec says mobilisation will commence this quarter, with completion expected in the March quarter of 2022.

With Roy Hill, Civmec is due to carry out a greenfield construction package related to an extension of the existing Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separation (WHIMS) plant at Roy Hill’s mine site north of Newman, in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The scope of work includes greenfield installation and pre-commissioning of pre-assembled modules, piping, electrical and tie-in works. Mobilisation will commence immediately and completion is scheduled for the March quarter of 2022.

At Rio Tinto’s Boyne Island Smelters operation, Civmec is to supply refractory trades and other associated disciplines for maintenance, rebuild and reduction cell reconstruction works on carbon bake furnaces. The contract term is for three years with two one-year extension options.

Civmec’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Tallon, said: “We are delighted to secure these project wins with three of our long-term Tier 1 customers. The projects combine multi-year maintenance works along with two projects within our newly formed Maintenance and Capital Works – Resources and Energy area. With the BHP PDP1 project located in the Port Hedland region, it provides an ideal opportunity for Civmec’s newly opened regional branch to support the project, validating Civmec’s recently announced plans to invest in a purpose-built facility in Port Hedland.”

Rio Tinto and Uni of Nottingham partner on biomass-backed low-carbon steelmaking project

Rio Tinto says it is progressing an innovative new technology to deliver low-carbon steel, using sustainable biomass in place of coking coal in the steelmaking process, in a potentially cost-effective option to cut industry carbon emissions.

Over the past decade, Rio Tinto has developed a laboratory-proven process that combines the use of raw, sustainable biomass with microwave technology to convert iron ore to metallic iron during the steelmaking process. The patent-pending process, one of a number of avenues the company is pursuing to try to lower emissions in the steel value chain, is now being further tested in a small-scale pilot plant.

If this and larger-scale tests are successful, there is the potential over time for this technology to be scaled commercially to process Rio Tinto’s iron ore fines, Rio said.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, said: “We are encouraged by early testing results of this new process, which could provide a cost-efficient way to produce low-carbon steel from our Pilbara iron ore. More than 70% of Rio Tinto’s Scope 3 emissions are generated as customers process our iron ore into steel, which is critical for urbanisation and infrastructure development as the world’s economies decarbonise. So, while it’s still early days and there is a lot more research and other work to do, we are keen to explore further development of this technology.”

Rio Tinto’s process uses plant matter known as lignocellulosic biomass, instead of coal, primarily as a chemical reductant. The biomass is blended with iron ore and heated by a combination of gas released by the biomass and high efficiency microwaves that can be powered by renewable energy.

Rio Tinto researchers are working with the multi-disciplinary team in the University of Nottingham’s Microwave Process Engineering Group to further develop the process.

The university’s Head of Department, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Professor Chris Dodds, said: “It is really exciting to have the opportunity to be part of a great team working on a technology that, if developed to commercial scale, has the potential to have a global impact through decarbonising key parts of the steel production process.”

The use of raw biomass in Rio Tinto’s process could also avoid the inefficiencies and associated costs of other biomass-based technologies that first convert the biomass into charcoal or biogas, the company said.

Lignocellulosic biomass includes agriculture by-products (ie wheat straw, corn stover, barley straw, sugar cane bagasse) and purpose-grown crops, which would be sustainable sources for the process. Importantly, the process cannot use foods such as sugar or corn, and Rio Tinto says it would not use biomass sources that support logging of old-growth forests.

Trott added: “We know there are complex issues related to biomass sourcing and use and there is a lot more work to do for this to be a genuinely sustainable solution for steelmaking. We will continue working with others to understand more about these concerns and the availability of sustainable biomass.”

If developed further, the technology would be accompanied by a robust and independently accredited certification process for sustainable sources of biomass, Rio said.

Rio Tinto to roll out K2fly’s Ground Disturbance solution across Pilbara ops

K2fly Ltd says Rio Tinto has signed a five-year contract for its Ground Disturbance solution, with the miner planning to roll it out across its iron ore operations in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The contract will generate annual recurring revenue of A$620,000 ($450,676) over the initial five-year term, the ASX-listed company says.

The addition of Ground Disturbance expands the number of K2fly solutions used by Rio Tinto to five out of K2fly’s nine existing solutions which already include: Resource Inventory & Reconciliation, Dams & Tailings, Community & Heritage and Mine Geology Data Management, K2fly says.

K2fly says its Ground Disturbance solution provides a single source for applying, approving, tracking, reporting and submitting closure of permits and rehabilitation commitments surrounding ground disturbance activities.

Nic Pollock, CEO of K2fly, says: “We are delighted to continue to expand our relationship with Rio Tinto into ground disturbance. Effective ground disturbance systems are the glue for operations that want to ensure technical assurance around land management, maintain licence to operate and ensure high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. We are pleased to be working closely with Rio Tinto across a number of key ESG solutions globally.”

Rio Tinto makes Western Australia Pilbara rail car pledge

Rio Tinto says it is supporting iron ore rail car manufacturing in Western Australia with a commitment to use local suppliers to build ore rail cars for its Pilbara mining operations.

A tender will soon be released to the local market for an initial purchase of 50 ore rail cars, followed by an ongoing commitment of 10 ore cars a year for the next five years.

The tender will be released through the Rio Tinto Buy Local portal, a resource dedicated to making local suppliers aware of opportunities to partner with Rio Tinto and be part of our supply chain, the miner says.

“Western Australia has been an important part of Rio Tinto’s history for more than 50 years as the company built a world-class iron ore business,” it says. “In 2020, the company spent A$7.5 billion ($5.4 billion) with more than 2,000 local businesses based in Western Australia.”

Rio Tinto is also part of the Western Australia Government’s iron ore rail car action group, launched as part of the Western Australia Recovery Plan to develop a competitive iron ore rail car manufacturing industry in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive, Simon Trott, says: “Building Rio Tinto’s ore rail cars here in Western Australia will support local manufacturing and create jobs for West Australians. Rio Tinto is proud to lead the way in building iron ore rail cars in Western Australia, in line with the vision of state government’s iron ore rail car action group. I look forward to partnering with local businesses to support and grow the local manufacturing industry in Western Australia.

“Ore cars are a critical part of our mining operations and building capacity to manufacture ore cars locally in Western Australia will deliver significant benefits for Rio Tinto and the Western Australian economy.”

Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, says: “This is a pleasing outcome and I commend Rio Tinto for taking the first step and committing to our local steel manufacturing industry which will support more jobs for Western Australians. Rio Tinto’s commitment is a positive result off the back of the state government’s independent prefeasibility study, which identified initiatives for the manufacture, refurbishment and maintenance of iron ore railcar wagons.

“This was about securing an ongoing pipeline of work for the long-term manufacture of iron ore wagons and critical rail wagon parts, which will deliver jobs and economic benefit for the state into the future. Rio Tinto’s purchase of Western Australian made railcars that will be used right here in our state is something I encourage other iron ore companies operating in Western Australia to get on board with and increase local content and local jobs.”

Oyu Tolgoi adopts Cohda Wireless V2X vehicle positioning solution

Cohda Wireless is applying its vehicle positioning solution at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia aiming to drive safety and productivity in an initiative that could pave the way for, it says, a new industry standard.

Cohda Wireless is headquartered in Australia and has offices in Europe, the US and China. Its V2X (Vehicle-To-Everything) technology connects vehicles with each other and with roadside infrastructure to create a cooperative and intelligent transport environment, the company says.

Now, its V2X-Locate technology is being deployed at the Rio Tinto-managed copper and gold mine in Mongolia to provide “unheralded vehicle and personnel location accuracy”, Cohda says.

This solution was initially developed to solve the vehicle positioning accuracy challenges inherent in the urban canyons of cities where large buildings, underground car parks and tunnels interfere with GNSS signals. Using DSRC (dedicated short-range communication) signals, Cohda’s signal processing and positioning algorithms provide accurate vehicle position irrespective of GNSS availability and/or quality and is therefore suited to mining environments.

As Russell Kennett, Manager Underground Technology at Oyu Tolgoi explains, Cohda’s technology has now been adapted to serve a mining environment for the first time.

“Cohda’s V2X-Locate allows all equipped mobile fleet, fixed plant and personnel to be reliably tracked in real time to sub-metre accuracy in a GNSS-denied environment, to prevent incidents and assist in emergency evacuations and to enable traffic management and schedule optimisation,” he said.

Cohda Wireless CEO, Dr Paul Gray, said the widespread adoption of connected, intelligent transport solutions in the mining sector will greatly reduce the risk of injury or death and will also drive productivity gains.

“The system can integrate and manage location data from multiple sensor types with sub-metre accuracy throughout the mine site and is a significant improvement on using a combination of disparate collision avoidance systems across the mining environment, as is usually the case,” he says.

“When you have hundreds of vehicles and personnel operating in close proximity underground, a metre matters! And, whilst the prevention of injury and death is always the top priority, we also know that the ability to visualise, optimise and monitor vehicles brings significant operational benefits and efficiencies.”

A Cohda V2X-Locate system is in place and ready to go live at Oyu Tolgoi. Over 200 mining vehicles of all types are being fitted with Cohda’s XBU-V specially adapted On-Board units, which connect vehicles to each other and to XBU-I Road-Side Units that are installed in mine tunnels. Over 2,000 personnel will use V2X-Locate compatible cap lamps so that the collective system can use time-of-flight analysis of wireless signals to resolve spatial locations, the company explained.

Mining vehicles are fitted with a human machine interface that will notify operators of potential collisions. The system supports EMESRT Level 7 (Alert) and partial Level 8 (Advise) controls with full Level 8 controls and Level 9 (Intervention) controls on the Cohda product roadmap, it said.

Kennett believes this deployment could be instrumental in adopting an industry peer-to-peer communications and location standard.

“This project allows us to benefit from a highly tested, future-proofed, automotive-level safety technology that has proven reliability, scalability and robustness,” he says. “This potentially opens the door for the introduction of mine-wide peer-to-peer V2X networks that OEMs and vendors can integrate into their products to ensure interoperability regardless of the setting.”

Hastings Deering, Cat and Rio Tinto carry out Australia’s first 777 D to E conversion

In what it says is a first for the Australia market, Hastings Deering has successfully completed the conversion of 777D haul trucks into 777E models for Rio Tinto’s Gove bauxite operations in the Northern Territory.

The 777D to E conversion process includes an engine upgrade from an older Cat 3508 to a C32 Tier 2 engine, a transmission upgrade to electronic clutch control, torque converter upgrade and an upgraded cab with the latest electronics and safety aspects.

Nearing the end of mine life, Gove was looking at innovative ways to reduce its environmental impact, extend fleet life and optimise return on investment, Hastings Deering said.

Brendan Coleing, Superintendent, Mining Maintenance, said that the Gove operation has focused heavily on building safe and reliable machinery to meet the targeted life of its assets and has been working to reduce environmental emissions.

“With a 24/7 operation, we need to plan and strategically think about our assets, their maintenance and lifecycle,” he said.

“All machines have availability targets. Ultimately, we want to keep them in the field as long as possible. The 777D to E Conversion project was a way we could continue the journey to do that, with the added benefit of providing improved technology to our operational teams.”

He concluded: “We’re excited that Gove operations was the first Australian mine to undertake this project, and only the second in the world. With a significant reduction in our carbon footprint, fuel consumption and maintenance costs, and an improved operator experience, really, we were challenged with: why wouldn’t we?”

With the first of the 777 trucks now back on site, the Rio Tinto team has seen a 5-6% fuel reduction, proving that effective planning for this fleet conversion has improved economy on site, Hastings Deering said.

With Cat equipment built to perform over multiple lifetimes, the Cat Certified Rebuild (CCR) was the most efficient way to help get the most economic value out of the asset investment, according to Hastings Deering.

A CCR is a full machine rebuild that provides a like-new machine, inclusive of all Cat updates, to help achieve a full machine life supported by the Caterpillar warranty.

In early 2020, the Hastings Deering team worked with Rio Tinto on an alternative solution for engine replacement in its D11R fleet that, it says, reduced costs, fuel use and emissions while extending lifespans. This incorporated replacing the 3508 engines with the newer C32 engines.

“Recent success with repowering our D11 fleet with C32 engines has helped our mining operations move more bauxite due to increased power in the machine,” Coleing said. “This, in turn, allowed us to plan for the 777D to E conversions to take place in the workshop to complete the CCRs.”

Chris Polkinghorne, Mining Support Rep at Hastings Deering, said that the 777D to E conversion was brought about through collaboration with Caterpillar, Rio Tinto Gove and Hastings Deering.

“As a team we worked through what the benefits of this conversion would be, what was required, the planning phase and then how to execute the project in as little time as possible,” he said. “The 777D to E conversion redefines performance adding all the advancements of the 777E truck model.

“For the operator, improved ergonomics provide enhanced comfort, safety, and visibility, to maximise productivity and reduce fatigue.”

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.

Monadelphous adds to mining work with BHP, Rio and Codelco contracts

Monadelphous Group Ltd says it has secured a number of new construction and maintenance contracts in the resources sector totalling approximately A$200 million ($146 million).

In Queensland, Australia, Monadelphous has been awarded a new three-year contract with Queensland Alumina Ltd to continue to provide general mechanical maintenance services at its operations in Gladstone. The company has also secured a 10-month extension to its existing contract with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance for provision of dragline shutdown and maintenance services to its operations in the Bowen Basin.

Monadelphous has secured a number of contracts in the iron ore sector in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

This includes two contracts with BHP under its existing WAIO Site Engineering Panel Agreement. The first is for the refurbishment of cells and rotating equipment on BHP’s Nelson Point Car Dumper 1, with work expected to be completed in the December quarter of 2021, and secondly, an extension to the haul road at the Jimblebar mine, with work expected to be completed in the June quarter of 2022.

A contract has also been secured with Rio Tinto for construction associated with the Marandoo Dewatering Sump Project, with work expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2022.

In Chile, Monadelphous’ maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured a construction contract with Codelco for work associated with the development of a new underground section of the El Teniente copper mine in Rancagua. Work is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023.

The company acquired a majority stake in Buildtek back in 2019.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri, said these new contracts and extensions continued to demonstrate the company’s solid track record of delivering for its customers.

“We are pleased to have secured this work and look forward to continuing to build on our valued long-term customer relationships,” he said.