Tag Archives: Rio Tinto

Antofagasta becomes latest Charge on Innovation Challenge patron

Antofagasta, as part of its sustainability efforts, has joined the Charge On Innovation Challenge as a patron.

The initiative, which counts BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale as founding patrons, seeks to develop solutions to charge the batteries of electric mining trucks safely, quickly and sustainably. This is essential in order to replace the use of diesel in these trucks and the emissions it produces, the challenge organisers say.

The goal is to enable trucks of 220 t or more to stop using diesel and run on electric batteries, just like other electric vehicles. In order to achieve this, it is essential to develop a battery charging system that does not use polluting fuels and, at the same time, allows the extraction trucks to operate as they usually do.

Today there are already efforts underway to develop and use electric trucks, but those are for trucks of a smaller tonnage (100 t) which can regenerate their own energy, Charge on Innovation says. The collaborative work with the Charge On Innovation Challenge seeks to develop solutions for larger trucks.

Iván Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta, said: “As a mining group focused on innovation, we are interested in collaborating and contributing to the development of the industry for the future. That is why we decided to participate in this challenge, which is key to being able to use electric trucks and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

As part of its Climate Change Strategy, from 2022, the electricity supplying Antofagasta companies will come from renewable sources. Antofagasta’s Zaldívar mine has been operating from clean energy sources since July 2020.

Thanks to these advances and other measures adopted by the company, Antofagasta was able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 580,000 t since 2018. Its new goal is to decrease those emissions by an additional 30% between now and 2025.

The Charge On Innovation Challenge was launched by BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto in partnership with Austmine. It has since added Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden and Thiess as additional patrons.

Australian government backs mining and metal sector decarbonising initiative

A new Cooperative Research Centre focused on integrating green energy sources such as hydrogen, ammonia and solar into high-heat and high-emission manufacturing processes for products like steel, aluminium and cement has won Australia government backing.

The Heavy Industry Low-carbon Transition Cooperative Research Centre (HILT CRC), to be led by the University of Adelaide, has been provided with A$39 million ($29 million) of funding through the CRC Grants program. It is also backed by an additional A$175.7 million in funding and in-kind support from research and industry partners such as Alcoa, Rio Tinto Aluminium, South32, Roy Hill, Fortescue Metals Group, the Australian National University and the CSIRO.

South Australia Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Christian Porter, said the CRC would help to secure the future of heavy industries right across the country by helping them to lower costs and establish a reputation as exporters of high-quality, low-carbon, value-added products.

“In order to remain internationally competitive, it is crucial that our heavy industries begin the transition to lower cost and cleaner energy technology to secure the long-term future of their operations,” Minister Porter said. “By connecting those industries with our best and brightest minds from within our major research institutions – coupled with the significant funding that’s now available to fast-track this work – we expect real-world solutions can be delivered within the 10-year life of the CRC.”

Dr David Cochrane, who is Technology Lead at core CRC partner South32 and also an industry leader of the HILT CRC, said: “The HILT CRC will play an important role in transitioning to a low-carbon future by creating a framework for industry to collaborate, sharing knowledge and experience while lowering the risk of trialling technology.

“For South32, we have recently set medium-term targets to halve our operational emissions by 2035 as we transition to net zero by 2050 and initiatives like the HILT CRC are part of our plan to achieve these targets.”

Susan Jeanes, who is Chair-elect of the HILT CRC, said: “Decarbonising Australia’s heavy industry will position it to be competitive in the rapidly developing, global low carbon markets for green iron and aluminium products that have higher value than our current exports. These new markets are being driven by our trading partners in countries like China, Japan and Europe, which are introducing a range of financial measures to meet their carbon targets, such as EU’s Carbon Border Tax.

“Our mineral resources geographically co-exist around the continent with our first-class renewable energy resources making decarbonising more competitive here than in other parts of the world.”

Rio Tinto and Schneider Electric partner on decarbonisation initiatives

Rio Tinto and Schneider Electric have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a “first-of-its-kind” collaboration to develop a circular and sustainable market ecosystem for both companies and their customers.

This multi-product partnership will see Schneider Electric use responsibly-sourced materials produced by Rio Tinto. These include low-carbon aluminium and copper produced with renewable power, iron ore and borates. Rio Tinto will, in turn, use energy and industrial services from Schneider Electric, as the companies work together to develop digital platforms, technologies and solutions to be deployed across the metals and mining supply chain to drive further decarbonisation, they said.

Rio Tinto Chief Commercial Officer, Alf Barrios, said: “This unique partnership will help accelerate decarbonisation and renewable energy solutions by combining low-carbon materials with cutting-edge digital technology. Working together will allow Rio Tinto and Schneider Electric to pursue opportunities beyond what is possible for either company on its own.

“This collaboration also opens doors to consider strategic initiatives such as expanding the use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to reduce downtime in our plants, digitisation of our supply chains, and a host of other transformative technologies.”

Schneider Electric Executive Vice-President Industrial Automation, Barbara Frei, said: “We are excited to work with Rio Tinto to develop clean and pioneering solutions to meet industrial decarbonisation challenges. As the world’s most sustainable corporation and a manufacturer with a global network of smart factories and smart distribution centres, Schneider Electric is on a mission to make industries of the future eco-efficient, agile, and resilient through open, software-centric industrial automation and sustainable energy solutions. This new partnership demonstrates that Rio Tinto is as passionate as we are about bridging progress and sustainability for all.”

The partnership will draw on Schneider Electric’s Energy as a Service expertise to evaluate the use of innovative solutions, including microgrids, to supply energy from low-carbon sources, and artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to help meet sustainability goals at Rio Tinto sites and throughout its supply chain.

Rio Tinto’s START traceability and transparency initiative, the first sustainability label for aluminium using blockchain technology, will be deployed with Schneider Electric to unlock value for customers, suppliers and partners, it said. The companies will work to expand this transparency, offering START in combination with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure™ platform, an IoT system architecture that connects everything in an enterprise to deliver enhanced safety, reliability, efficiency and sustainability.

The companies will also partner to evaluate emerging innovation opportunities, such as the efficient production of critical materials for renewable technologies and advances in low-carbon, green steel manufacturing, both of which will play a significant long-term role in industrial decarbonisation.

Monadelphous Group banks engineering work with BHP, Rio and Codelco

Monadelphous Group Ltd has secured several new construction and maintenance contracts in the resources sector totalling around A$215 million ($163 million).

Included within this slate of new work is a contract for smelter campaign maintenance works at the BHP owned Olympic Dam copper mine in South Australia. Monadelphous said work will commence immediately and is expected to be completed in December 2021.

Monadelphous has also been awarded a two-year extension to its existing maintenance services contract at Olympic Dam. The contract scope includes civil, structural, mechanical, building maintenance and electrical services, as well as the addition of underground rail maintenance services.

In the iron ore sector in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Monadelphous has been awarded several contracts, including several sustaining capital contracts under its panel agreements with BHP and Rio Tinto; and a contract with Rio for the provision of construction and support services associated with the Gudai-Darri iron ore project, with work expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

In Chile, the company’s maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured a number of new contracts, including a three-year contract with Codelco for the operations and maintenance of water infrastructure at the Chuquicamata underground mine in Calama. Buildtek has been providing these services on this site since 2018.

In addition, the engineering company has secured two new contracts with Codelco for maintenance activities associated with the concentrator plant at El Teniente mine in Rancagua; and a contract with BHP Minera Escondida for the construction of modularised pump stations and associated infrastructure of the Escondida copper mine in Coloso.

Finally, Monadelphous, in collaboration with global heavy lifting services company Fagioli, has secured a contract with NMT International (Australia) to deliver specialist heavy lifting and haulage services at the Iron Bridge magnetite project, a joint venture between Fortescue Metals Group subsidiary FMG Magnetite Pty Ltd and Formosa Steel IB. The strategic collaboration with Fagioli enables Monadelphous’ specialist Heavy Lift business to increase capacity and broaden capability for the Australian resources and energy markets, it said.

Immersive to supply simulators, solutions for Rio’s Gudai-Darri automation

Rio Tinto has enlisted the help of Immersive Technologies and its equipment simulators to further its autonomous haulage footprint at the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia.

The mine, which will operate Caterpillar autonomous trucks equipped with Cat MineStar™ Command for Hauling system, will use simulation-based training solutions from Immersive Technologies to address the workforce development challenges within autonomous haulage operations with a focus on improving the safety and efficiency of their operator workforce, Immersive said.

Rio has used such systems from Immersive for over 17 years, understanding the value of investing in simulators for operator capability development, including equipment productivity and reliability initiatives, Immersive said.

Rio Tinto Vice President, Human Resources, Scott Browne, said: “This is an important component of our comprehensive training program for AHS, which includes supporting new team members as well as upskilling existing employees. Gudai-Darri will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines. Preparations are well under way to ensure its workforce is ready to take on the high-tech jobs on offer.”

Focused on capability development in the usage of the autonomous system, Rio Tinto partnered with Immersive Technologies to provide a solution to support the mine-readiness schedule and objectives, Immersive said. Specific training products include a platform which simulates a Cat 6060 excavator, Cat D10T dozer and Cat 18M grader. All simulator modules are equipped with an autonomous system panel and provide a safe and effective environment for training by allowing learners to operate their equipment while interacting with the autonomous trucks and managing their work areas as required, the company added.

The simulator solution is complimented by machine pre-start inspection software, which provides a detailed visualisation of equipment components, including autonomous components fitted to machines. Additionally, a ‘Virtual Classroom’ product hosts complex autonomous procedures that immerses learners in a safe and repeatable virtual environment which enables the development of deep knowledge and muscle memory of operational procedures, Immersive said.

Greg Karadjian, Regional Vice President Australia of Immersive, said: “Immersive Technologies is at the forefront of workforce development for autonomous haulage mining operations with deployments of simulation-based training solutions in more than 17 autonomous sites globally, by utilising blended learning systems, simulation and human performance analytics our solutions are preparing the workforces of the future.”

Back in 2019, Rio, Caterpillar and WesTrac signed an agreement to supply and support mining machines, automation and enterprise technology systems at Gudai-Darri, with Rio confirming the supply of a fleet of 20 autonomous 793F trucks as well as four autonomous blast drills.

Gudai-Darri will deliver a new production hub for Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara. Once complete, the mine will have an annual capacity of 43 Mt, underpinning production of the Pilbara Blend, Rio’s flagship iron ore product.

GenusPlus Group subsidiary wins A$60 million contract with Rio Tinto

Australia-based essential power and telecommunications infrastructure provider, GenusPlus Group Ltd, says it has secured a significant new power installation contract with Rio Tinto in Dampier, Western Australia.

The circa-A$60 million ($46 million) contract will be carried out by Powerlines Plus, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GenusPlus, with peak “manning” of 95 direct personnel plus associated local subcontractors and suppliers. It will see the company design and construct a 220 kV transmission line and substation as well as the associated 33 kV distribution infrastructure.

The contract is scheduled to commence immediately and be completed over a period of approximately 22 months, GenusPlus Group said.

The scope of work includes the design and construct of 15 km of dual circuit 220 kV transmission line between Karratha and Dampier, a 220 kV/33 kV substation at Rio Tinto’s Kangaroo Hill site in Dampier, modification works at Yurralyi Maya Power Station and Dampier Bulk Substation, new 33 kV infrastructure and the deconstruction of redundant 220 kV and 33 kV infrastructure.

GenusPlus Managing Director, David Riches, said: “We are pleased to secure the Kangaroo Hill contract and continue to build on our long relationship with Rio Tinto. We look forward to completing the works safely and on time.”

Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto sign Oyu Tolgoi UG funding HoA, agree to end arbitration

Turquoise Hill Resources and Rio Tinto have entered into a binding Heads of Agreement (HoA) to provide an updated funding plan for the completion of the Oyu Tolgoi underground copper-gold project in Mongolia.

The funding plan is designed to address the estimated remaining funding requirement of around $2.3 billion and replaces the non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that Rio and Turquoise Hill previously entered into on September 9, 2020.

Under the HoA, subject to securing approval by Oyu Tolgoi LLC, the project joint venture, and any required support from the Government of Mongolia, Turquoise Hill and Rio Tinto will:

  • Pursue re-profiling of existing project debt to better align with the revised mine plan, project timing and cash flows to reduce the currently projected funding requirements of OT by up to $1.4 billion; and
  • Seek to raise up to $500 million in senior supplemental debt (SSD) under the existing project financing arrangements from selected international financial institutions.

In addition, Rio Tinto has committed to address any potential shortfalls from the re-profiling and additional SSD of up to $750 million by providing a senior co-lending facility on the same terms as Oyu Tolgoi’s project financing, while Turquoise Hill has committed to complete an equity offering of up to $500 million.

An updated feasibility study on the underground expansion at Oyu Tolgoi from June 2020 included a delay of 21 to 29 months for first sustainable production compared with the original 2016 feasibility study guidance and an increase of $1.3-$1.8 billion from the original $5.3 billion development capital. The process also saw 1.22 Mt of copper, 850,000 oz of gold and 7.01 Moz of silver removed from the Hugo Dummett North reserve base compared with the December 31, 2019 calculation, with some 80,000 t of copper, 70,000 oz of gold and 550,000 oz of silver added to the Hugo Dummett North Extension reserve base.

Since this announcement, Rio, Turquoise Hill and the Government of Mongolia have been trying to agree on a new funding pact for the sustainable development of the underground operation, which, in combination with open-pit mining, could produce around 500,000 t/y of copper at full capacity.

Steve Thibeault, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Turquoise Hill, said: “We are pleased to have reached a constructive and equitable agreement with Rio Tinto to fund the Oyu Tolgoi underground development. With a binding funding agreement now in place that sets out a process along a known timeline, we will be able to move ahead as expeditiously as possible with the development of the underground project at Oyu Tolgoi.

“We remain committed to continue delivering a benefit to all stakeholders, including Mongolia and its citizens, and to delivering significant long-term value for Turquoise Hill as this project progresses.”

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive Bold Baatar, added: “This agreement and alignment with Turquoise Hill represents a major milestone in the continued development of Oyu Tolgoi, which is expected to become one of the world’s largest copper mines and a significant contributor to the Mongolian economy for years to come. Commencing the re-profiling whilst concurrently listening, engaging and resolving the concerns of the Government of Mongolia are critical steps to maintaining momentum on the timely delivery of the Oyu Tolgoi Underground project.”

Following the HoA, Turquoise Hill and Rio have agreed to obtain an order dismissing the current arbitration on a “without prejudice basis” and without costs, including an order vacating the interim measures order, the companies said.

Rio Tinto commences lithium production at Boron mine site in California

Rio Tinto says it has commenced production of battery-grade lithium from waste rock at a lithium demonstration plant at the Boron mine site in California, USA.

The demonstration plant is the next step in scaling up a breakthrough lithium production process developed at Boron, to recover the critical mineral and extract additional value out of waste piles from over 90 years of mining at the operation, it said. An initial small-scale trial in 2019 successfully proved the process of roasting and leaching waste rock to recover high grades of lithium.

The demonstration plant has a design capacity of 10 t/y of battery-grade lithium. It will be run throughout 2021 to optimise the process and inform Rio Tinto’s feasibility assessment for progressing to a production-scale plant with an initial capacity of at least 5,000 t/y, or enough to make batteries for around 70,000 electric vehicles.

Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive, Sinead Kaufman, said: “This is a valuable next step in scaling up our production of lithium at the Boron site, all from using waste material without the need for further mining. It shows the innovative thinking we are applying across our business to find new ways to meet the demand for emerging commodities like lithium, which are part of the transition to a low-carbon future.”

Rio Tinto’s lithium pipeline includes the Jadar lithium-borate project in Serbia, for which a feasibility study is expected to complete by the end of 2021.

Development of the lithium project at Boron draws on Rio’s long standing partnership with the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI), which is focused on discovering ways to economically recover critical mineral by-products from existing refining and smelting processes. CMI experts worked alongside Rio technical leads to help solve a number of key processing challenges to produce battery grade lithium at Boron, the company said.

CSI to carry out load and haul, drill and blast work at Rio’s Brockman 2 iron ore mine

Mineral Resources Ltd’s CSI Mining Services has been awarded a mining contract by Rio Tinto to carry out work at the Brockman 2 iron ore mine in the Pilbara of Western Australia.

The scope of the contract will see CSI conduct load and haul, drill and blast, and short-term mine planning activities for Rio, the company said.

This will involve scheduling, drilling and blasting and then excavating 27 Mt of waste rock and iron ore over an approximate nine-month period, with a fleet of large-scale mining equipment, developing the Lens A/B pit for Rio.

This contract builds on a 16-year relationship with Rio, dating back to when CSI first commenced crushing services at the Nammuldi mine site. It also follows the completion of a 30 Mt load and haul contract at Rio’s Tom Price mine. CSI remains engaged at another Rio Tinto operation, Paraburdoo, where its team is carrying out 13 Mt of load and haul operations.

The Brockman 2 contract will generate around 150 jobs for CSI’s highly skilled workforce, the company said.

Mineral Resources’ Chief Executive Mining Services, Mike Grey, said: “We are delighted to have been invited by Rio Tinto to assist at another of its world-class iron ore mines. Our relationship with Rio Tinto dates back 16 years. Since then, we have been able to establish a track record of consistent project delivery for Rio Tinto, which we are very proud of.

“CSI is the world’s largest crushing contractor, so it is immensely satisfying that this latest Rio Tinto contract includes other mining activities, such as load and haul and drill and blast, to demonstrate CSI’s diverse skills set. We are confident this Brockman 2 scope of work will become the latest chapter of our ongoing association with Rio Tinto.”

Brockman 2 is one of the 16 mines that make up Rio’s world-class Pilbara iron ore operations.

The CSI team has begun mobilising to site, including delivering a new fleet of Komatsu 830E electric-drive dump trucks and a new Komatsu PC4000-11 excavator.

Rio Tinto Japan joins GVC Network as part of carbon footprint reduction plan

Rio Tinto Japan has joined Japan’s Green Value Chain Platform Network (GVC Network), a collaboration established by the Ministry of the Environment to lead transparent decarbonisation efforts in the country.

Representative Director and Rio Tinto Japan President, Bill Horie, said: “We are honoured to be welcomed into the Ministry of Environment’s GVC Network and look forward to engaging on innovative approaches with customers, government and industry to help reduce Japan’s carbon footprint.”

Formed in 2018, GVC Network member companies work to set science-based targets for emissions reduction that are economically feasible and effective for the achievement of their Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets; and to share solutions related to renewable energy, energy conservation, or energy storage, Rio said.

Rio Tinto aims to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Its efforts to support decarbonisation through state-of-the-art solutions such as START Responsible Aluminium – a leading traceability program – aligns with the GVC Network intentions, the company added.

The GVC Network collaborates formally through networking and has 141 members representing a variety of industries including: electronics, machinery and equipment, automotive, airline, pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetics, building and construction, real estate, housing, printing, food and beverage, marine, retailing, publishing and logistics.

To help reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050, Rio Tinto is targeting a reduction in emissions intensity by 30% and in its absolute emissions by 15%, both by 2030 and from 2018 levels. The company also plans to spend around $1 billion over five years on emissions reduction projects, research and development and activities to enhance the climate resilience of our business.

Rio Tinto has outlined a series of measurable and impactful Scope 3 emissions reduction goals to guide its approach, which features partnerships across China, Japan and South Korea – countries which account for 88% of the company’s value chain emissions (Scope 3).

The company has also committed that its growth over the next decade will be carbon neutral.