Tag Archives: Sandvik

Rio Tinto funds initial underground development at Kennecott copper ops

Rio Tinto has approved a $55 million investment in development capital to start underground mining and expand production at its Kennecott copper operations in Utah, USA.

Underground mining will initially focus on an area known as the Lower Commercial Skarn (LCS), which will deliver a total of around 30,000 t of additional high-quality mined copper through the period to 2027 alongside open-pit operations, Rio says. The first ore is expected to be produced in early 2023, with full production in the second half of the year. It will be processed through the existing facilities at Kennecott, one of only two operating copper smelters in the US.

Kennecott holds the potential for significant and attractive underground development. The LCS is the first step towards this, with a mineral resource of 7.5 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.84 g/t Au, 11.26 g/t Ag and 0.015% Mo identified based on drilling and a probable reserve of 1.7 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.71 g/t Au, 10.07 g/t Ag and 0.044% Mo.

Underground battery-electric vehicles are currently being trialled at Kennecott to improve employee health and safety, increase productivity and reduce carbon emissions from future underground mining fleets. A battery-electric haul truck and loader supplied by Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions – a Sandvik LH518B 18 t battery-electric LHD and a Sandvik Z50 50 t battery-electric haul truck – are being used to evaluate performance and suitability as part of underground development work.

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive, Bold Baatar, said: “This investment will allow us to quickly bring additional volumes of high-quality copper to the market and build our knowledge and capabilities as we evaluate larger scale underground mining at Kennecott. We are progressing a range of options for a significant resource that is yet to be developed at Kennecott, which could extend our supply of copper and other critical materials needed for electric vehicles and renewable power technologies.

“Trialling underground battery-electric vehicles is an exciting step in our work to create a safer workplace for our employees, increase the productivity of the mine and reduce emissions from our operations. We look forward to seeing their potential for deployment.”

Existing undergound infrastructure is currently being extended to enable early access to the next underground resource and undertake characterisation studies. A feasibility study to inform decisions on the next phase of underground production is expected to be completed in 2023. This will be one of several potential stages currently being investigated.

Feasibility studies are also being progressed to extend open-pit mining at Kennecott beyond 2032.

Sandvik adds Turku plant to battery-electric vehicle manufacturing plan

Sandvik is expanding its plant in Turku, Finland, to incorporate the manufacture of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) for underground mining, it says.

Alongside the expansion, which is set to be completed in the second half of 2023, the whole of the plant for load and haul equipment is set to be enhanced and modernised.

Sandvik’s Turku Business Park project represents a significant investment of over €10 million ($9.7 million), with the investment in response to increasing demand for load and haul equipment for underground mining, together with the industry’s growing trend towards electrification and digitalisation.

The objective is to increase the capacity of Sandvik’s Turku plant and improve production efficiency. Improvements will be made to all aspects of the plant’s operations, including logistics, warehousing, production and assembly areas and quality control, Sandvik said.

The OEM will acquire an additional 7,000 sq.m of production and storage space by modifying space previously occupied by Tunturi, a manufacturer of bicycles and fitness equipment. The project will provide additional capacity for the production of BEV loaders and trucks, and includes investment in new welding robots and assembly lines.

Matti Seppälä, Project Manager at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said: “The upgraded production environment and reorganisation of operations will improve productivity, lead times and worker safety. Warehouse and recycling improvements will enhance the sustainability of our operations.”

Three completely new machine assembly lines will be built, two of which will be designated for the manufacture of BEVs – a first for the Turku plant, which has manufactured mining loaders and trucks since the early 1980s and employs around 700 people today.

The modifications that form part of the Turku Business Park project will enable flexible manufacturing of both conventional diesel and battery-electric mining equipment. The company’s plant in Camarillo, California, is currently the company’s main battery system hub for BEVs.

Mats Eriksson, President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Load and Haul division, added: “BEVs enable the electrification of mines, which increases productivity and improves working conditions, reducing emissions, heat and noise, although there will still remain a need for conventional diesel equipment for some time to come.”

To strengthen its development of mining BEVs, Sandvik recently acquired Akkurate, which specialises in battery technology, particularly remote battery diagnostic and prognostic platforms. Akkurate has now been integrated into Sandvik’s Load and Haul division, accelerating its expansion into battery-electric mining equipment and enhancing the current product offering.

Byrnecut and Sandvik collaborate on new MAKO ground engaging tool

Sandvik, with the help of Australia-based mining contractor, Byrnecut, has developed a new and improved Ground Engaging Tool (GET) that, the OEM says, reduces downtime and cost-per-tonne mined.

Over a four-year period, Byrnecut has been instrumental in the development of this new system, MAKO™.

In underground mining, wear and tear is unavoidable, and nowhere is it sharper than for the buckets and the shrouds fitted to loaders.

In the most abrasive conditions, the shrouds can wear out in just a few hundred hours of work. Replacing them – especially when they are welded on – can take multiple shifts: valuable hours where the machine is out of action and productivity dented.

To speed up this process, in 2001, Sandvik introduced its Shark™ range of Blue Pointer™ ground engaging tools (GET) – becoming the first retensionable shroud system for the underground market. Blue Pointer can be summarised as shrouds using mechanical fixings that are significantly faster to replace, Sandvik says.

Even though Sandvik says the system was the market leader in underground mining, it still looked to improve upon the Blue Pointer.

With that in mind, in 2018, Sandvik set about developing a replacement, MAKO, collaborating with internationally renowned specialist mining contractor, Byrnecut.

MAKO continues the shark theme – with a Mako being a shortfin predator – and brings with it several advantages: an innovative patented locking mechanism, hammerless removal system, cast corners improvement (patented) and additional wear indicator, to mention a few.

By far the biggest improvement in terms of reducing downtime and cost-per-tonne mined can be found in the MAKO corner shrouds. Normally, corners – which have a much harder life – tend to wear out and need changing at the mid-life point, compared with the rest of the shrouds. In extreme conditions an additional two ‘half corners’ can be needed for every set of normal shrouds. But thanks to improved material and design, with MAKO there is no need for part-life replacement corners, according to Sandvik.

These improvements have been put to the test in the field, with Byrnecut instrumental in putting prototypes through their paces. The contractor trialled the concept at one of its most abrasive sites – the Capricorn copper mine near Mount Isa in Queensland, Australia.

“Sandvik came along with a team of engineers and said: ‘Right, are you willing to help us develop MAKO?”, Gary Boswell, Byrnecut’s Chief Maintenance Supervisor at the mine, said. “So, we got on board and had a good working relationship with Sandvik. Right from the start we were looking for the same outcome – to lower total-cost-of-ownership and achieve a 1:1 [corner:shroud] ratio, so that we only changed corners when we changed all the other shrouds.”

The Capricorn mine has five Sandvik loaders (LH621s) fitted with 10.7 cu.m buckets. Boswell expects to get 7,500 hours out of a bucket and, because of the aggressive nature of the rock, replaces the GET every 500-550 hours, on average. That is roughly 14 sets of MAKO per bucket life. So, making them last longer and easier to change in one go can make a significant difference to downtime and cost over that lifetime.

MAKO has not achieved its durability performance by simply adding more metal; it’s put metal where it matters. The overall MAKO system also has a very favourable weight/performance ratio, according to Sandvik.

The first MAKO GET was fitted at Byrnecut’s Capricorn site in January 2019. Despite the remote location, the buckets were monitored by Sandvik experts on a weekly basis. It soon became clear that the new range was especially durable – lasting, on average, 12% longer than the best of the rest, as well as avoiding the need for half-life corner shrouds, according to the OEM.

The first MAKO GET was fitted at Byrnecut’s Capricorn site in January 2019

“The first prototype we thought was okay, but there is still room for improvement,” Michael McCormick, the Shark Loadmaster who was hands-on with the development of MAKO, said. “The feedback we got from Gary [Boswell] and the team at Capricorn really helped us understand the issues they were having. When something cropped up, we could quickly develop a short-term ‘hotfix’, before developing a longer-term solution. For instance, we found an opportunity to improve the locking system and had to adapt the pin assembly to ensure the push-off feature was truly hammerless.

“As is natural, we had some performance issues with earlier prototypes, and it took us a couple of goes to get it right. But the ability to work in real time with Gary’s team was the key to enabling us to respond rapidly with quick fixes and validating their effectiveness.”

Boswell concluded: “Safety is paramount, and we did not want our guys hammering or using oxyacetylene to get the shrouds off. But Sandvik fixed that with the push-off feature that can handle worn-out GETs; even those with lifting lugs eroded through use. The issue of transporting heavy shrouds has also been resolved by a new lifting device, which is very effective.”

Sandvik added: “When, like Byrnecut at the Capricorn mine, you are using several hundred [GET] sets each year, the MAKO’s collective benefits add up to significant productivity, cost, time and safety enhancements. The cleve design of MAKO, perfected in the field, helps keep buckets meet their availability and productivity targets.”

Sandvik LH518B set for H2 trials at Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville gold mine

Agnico Eagle is to explore the benefits of battery-electric underground technology after receiving a Sandvik LH518B underground loader at its Fosterville gold mine, in Victoria, Australia, to be tested in the second half of 2022.

The Fosterville operation, 20 km from Bendigo, will become the first mine on Australia’s East Coast and only the second in the country to take delivery of the new Sandvik loader (the first being Gold Fields’ St Ives operation in Western Australia). Featuring advanced lithium-iron phosphate-based battery technology, the LH518B produces zero underground exhaust emissions and emits significantly less heat than its diesel counterparts.

Rob McLean, who was Fosterville’s Chief Mining Engineer at the time, announced plans for the operation to trial the Sandvik LH518B at the IMARC Online event in November 2020. He said the trial – originally slated for 2021 – was part of the company’s vision to “have a fully electric mine”, with the immediate goals being to remove diesel emissions and reduce heat at the operation.

After the new machine arrived on site, Fosterville Gold Mine’s General Manager, Lance Faulkner, said: “As a company, we’re committed to exploring new technologies to further enhance our extensive health and safety programs and to fully integrate sustainability into everything we do. And so, we’re delighted to be putting the LH518B into service at Fosterville. We’re interested to see just what kind of difference it can make in terms of efficiency and the underground working environment, and we look forward to working closely with Sandvik.”

Featuring a 600 kW drivetrain, the Sandvik LH518B allows for higher acceleration than conventional loaders as well as fast ramp speeds, resulting in short cycle times, Sandvik says. Courtesy of its space-efficient battery system and driveline, it is the most compact 18-t loader on the market, capable of fitting in a 4.5 x 4.5 m tunnel, the company claims.

Andrew Dawson, Sandvik Business Line Manager for Load & Haul, says that with the advantages Sandvik battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) bring in terms of safety, efficiency and sustainability, it’s no surprise they are gaining popularity among underground operators.

“By trialling the Sandvik LH518B, Agnico Eagle is putting itself at the forefront of this emerging technology and showing its environmental credentials,” he says. “Not only does the loader produce no underground emissions and significantly reduced heat, but it also delivers new levels of productivity. It all makes for a safer, more comfortable, more controlled underground environment.

Fosterville’s Faulkner says another attractive feature of the Sandvik LH518B is the ability to quickly and simply swap out the battery cage. Sandvik’s AutoSwap technology allows for a depleted battery to be offloaded and a fully charged one loaded in as little as six minutes, with no need for lifting infrastructure.

“It’s crucial that new technologies are sustainable and safe, but also that they contribute to the efficiency and smooth running of our mining operation,” he said. “From what we have heard about the new Sandvik loader, it will deliver on all three fronts.”

Kate Bills, Sandvik Australia General Manager – Sustainability, says the LH518B is a reflection of Sandvik’s determination to lead the market for safe, productive and climate-efficient mining equipment.

“Sandvik is putting its money where its mouth is by investing in battery electric vehicles and other technologies that are helping customers achieve their sustainability goals,” she says. “Customers both globally and in Australia are increasingly looking for these kinds of solutions and we are proud to be providing them.”

Sandvik to equip Movitec with autonomous drilling solution at Codelco Rajo Inca

Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions has received a large order in Chile for surface mining equipment and its AutoMine® Surface Drilling solution from Movitec, a contractor on Codelco’s Rajo Inca open-pit project.

The order includes two Leopard™ DI650i down-the-hole (DTH) drill rigs and two Sandvik DR412i rotary blasthole drill rigs, including AutoMine® Surface Drilling systems for fully autonomous operations.

AutoMine Surface Drilling is an autonomous solution for a wide range of Sandvik iSeries surface drill rigs, designed to improve safety, reduce costs and increase productivity. It enables an operator to control multiple rigs remotely from a comfortable location in line-of-sight or a distant control room – improving working conditions and safety, Sandvik says.

Sandvik iSeries drill rigs are equipped with iDrill technology, a scalable automation platform that provides automation options and digital services designed to speed up the production process and support mining operations. Performance and navigation iDrill technologies work together to produce accurately placed, consistently clean and precision-drilled holes – delivering improved fragmentation, downstream throughput and asset utilisation.

“We are pleased to work with Movitec and Codelco on this project,” Emilio Vega, Business Line Manager for Automation, Sales Area Andean and South Cone at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “The AutoMine Surface Drilling solution will enable the customer to use the drill rigs to their full potential and boost productivity with capabilities for fully autonomous operations.”

The new order also includes one Sandvik D75KX rotary blasthole drill rig with added intelligence and improved operator ergonomics. Delivery will take place in two phases before year-end 2022, with fully autonomous operations ramping up in 2023.

“We thank Movitec for their well-placed confidence in the Sandvik brand and technology,” Patricio Apablaza, Vice President Sales Area Andean and South Cone at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, said. “We look forward to supporting them in increasing the safety, productivity, profitability and quality of their operations.”

In addition, Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions will also provide contractor Movitec with remote operation training and six months’ on-site service to ramp up support as they transition to autonomous operations.

David Hallett, Vice President Automation at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions’ Digital Mining Technologies Division, said: “We are excited to partner together with Movitec on their journey to adopt AutoMine Surface Drilling at Codelco’s Rajo Inca open-pit project. This project will play a significant role in establishing Sandvik’s position as a leading technology partner for autonomous surface mining within the Chilean and South American market.”

Codelco officially began the works of Rajo Inca last year, moving from underground mining to open-pit mining.

Newcrest’s Brucejack mine set for full fleet battery-electric transition in Q4

Newcrest’s Brucejack gold-silver mine in British Columbia, Canada, is set for a full battery-electric fleet transition by the end of the year, the gold miner said in its financial year 2022 results.

Following a successful site trial, seven underground battery-electric trucks are being commissioned at Brucejack, replacing the existing diesel fleet and abating approximately 65,000 t of CO2 emissions through to 2030.

The new fleet will improve truck productivity, lower unit costs and enhance operational efficiency from planning to production, according to Newcrest. Three of the Sandvik 50-t-payload Z50 battery-electric trucks are already in production, with the full switch over expected to be completed in the December 2022 quarter, it noted.

Sandvik and Pretivm previously noted that seven Z50 haul trucks would be supplied to the operation as part of the planned fleet transition.

The project is being partly funded thanks to a C$7.95 million ($6.1 million) investment from The CleanBC Industry Fund.

Brucejack, which became wholly owned by Newcrest when the acquisition of previous owned Pretivm Resources completed earlier this year, is currently the subject of Newcrest’s EDGE program, which aims to drive a culture of innovation, high performance and continuous improvement. The program has identified additional opportunities of approximately C$15-$25 million/y, with improvements in stope turnaround time and more efficient mine operations as the initial focus areas, the company said.

Run-rate benefits from this effort are expected to be fully realised by the June 2024 quarter, Newcrest says.

Newcrest said in the financial results that it was also assessing ore sorting technology at the mine, which aims to classify and separate mineralised material from non-mineralised material to deliver more consistent mill feed grades and increase operational flexibility.

Byrnecut to use six Sandvik 18-t-payload BEVs at OZ Minerals mines

Leading Australia-based contract miner Byrnecut is embracing the many benefits of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) by purchasing six Sandvik battery-powered loaders with AutoMine® for use at OZ Minerals’ operations in South Australia.

Under a deal with Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions, Byrnecut will take delivery of the LHDs in 2023 and 2024 for use at the Prominent Hill copper, gold and silver mine, south-west of Coober Pedy, and the Carrapateena copper and gold mine, north of Port Augusta. Byrnecut has been engaged by OZ Minerals to provide underground mining services at the mines and currently has a fleet of Sandvik LH621i loaders equipped with autonomous solutions operating on both sites.

We’re excited to be leading the way with battery-electric vehicles in Australia by putting these six Sandvik loaders into service over the next two years,” Max Woods, Asset Manager for Byrnecut, said. “Not only will the use of electric vehicles significantly improve the working environment underground, but it will also help our customers to work toward their emissions reduction goals – something that is increasingly important in the mining sector.”

Woods says the purchase of the electric loaders is part of Byrnecut’s commitment to explore and embrace new technologies that make its operations safer, more efficient and more sustainable.

“Eliminating emissions from loaders from the underground environment helps us create a better workplace, as does AutoMine technology that enables operators to work from comfortable remote control rooms,” he said.

Another major benefit to Byrnecut is the anticipated increased performance the new loaders could provide, Sandvik says.

The company worked closely with Sandvik prior to purchase to model various application scenarios, including both manual and automated operation.

“We’re expecting the loaders to provide greater throughput in both manual and automated modes while delivering a similar total cost of ownership per tonne delivered to their predecessors,” Woods says.

The new Sandvik loaders are also expected to bring major cost savings across their entire lifecycles, according to Woods. They are likely to require fewer replacement parts than their predecessors, and servicing is also more efficient and simpler.

Sandvik 18-t battery loaders are the most compact on the market, according to the OEM. The powerful electric motors, innovative electric driveline and the smaller tyres on the rear compared with the front, result in a small machine size, high payload with good visibility and unmatched speeds.

Battery machines produce no underground exhaust emissions and significantly less heat than traditional diesel engines, supporting the mines to reach sustainability targets, through reduced CO2 emissions.

Andrew Dawson, Business Line Manager for Load & Haul at Sandvik, praised Byrnecut for helping to pioneer the use of BEVs in Australia.

“The first Sandvik battery-electric loaders only began arriving in the country about a year ago, and the interest has been extremely strong,” he says. “We’re very pleased that Byrnecut and Oz Minerals see the benefits of this technology and is demonstrating it to the rest of the industry. We have always had an excellent working relationship with Byrnecut and look forward to cooperating with them throughout the roll-out and beyond.”

West African Resources spells out Kiaka gold mine potential

West African Resources has released the results of a feasibility study for its 90%-owned Kiaka gold project in Burkina Faso, heralding a potential open-pit mining operation that can support a processing plant throughput of 8.4 Mt/y.

Kiaka is 140 km southeast of Ouagadougou, and 45 km south of the company’s existing Sanbrado gold mine.

The Kiaka mining study is based on conventional open-pit mining methods, with run of mine ore being directly fed to the crushing circuit. Mining operations will use a combination of 140 t (Cat 6015) and 230 t (Cat 6020) hydraulic excavators matched to 95 t dump trucks (Cat 777s).

Drill and blast will be required from near surface, with the parameters selected based on the relatively hard rock mass qualities and the required selectivity for mining of the ore. Given the broad mineralised zone, a portion of the blasting will be able to be undertaken on 10-m benches with more selective zones blasted on 5-m benches, the company noted. As such a combination of top hammer (Sandvik Panterra DP1500) and downhole hammer (Sandvik Leopard DI650) capable blast hole rigs will be employed.

To achieve the targeted processing rate, a total material movement averaging 21 Mt/y is required for the first seven years of the production schedule. With the pit staging deferring waste movement, this increases to an average of 35 Mt/y for the next six years of production before reducing to an average of 15 Mt/y for the remainder of the mine life.

The production profile is suited to an initial fleet of 2 x 230 t excavators and 1 x 140 t excavator matched to 95-t class trucks. The fleet will increase to 3 x 230-t excavators with 2 x 140-t excavators for the higher production requirement. Further work to investigate bulk mining scenarios and optimise fleet selection will be conducted, with further refinement of the drill and blast parameters also being undertaken in conjunction with fleet optimisation.

Kiaka’s free-milling gold ore is intended to be processed through a conventional single stage gyratory crushing and semi-autogenous ball mill crusher (SABC) milling circuit followed by carbon-in-leach (CIL) processing. Extensive metallurgical test work indicates Kiaka will deliver life of mine gold recoveries of 90% at a nominal 100-micron grind size.

Following review of the option studies the company selected the following major equipment:

  • Primary gyratory crusher – a Metso Outotec Superior™ MKIII 54-75;
  • SAG mill – 18 MW; and
  • Ball mill – 9 MW

The crusher can achieve 8.4 Mt/y for the design blend at 65% availability. At a 70% loading, the throughput rate ranges from 9.2 Mt/y to 10.2 Mt/y on the design blend. The selected mills also have higher than typical design margin for the nameplate throughput rate with modelling conducted by OMC showing the selected comminution circuit is capable of a throughput of:

  • 8.4 Mt/y (1,050 t/h) for 100% fresh ore feed when the 80th percentile ore characteristics are used;
  • 9 Mt/y (1,125 t/h) for 100% fresh ore when modelled at the average (50th percentile) ore characteristics;
  • 14 Mt/y (1,750 t/h) for 100% oxide ore feed; and
  • 10 Mt/y (1,250 t/h) for a blended feed of 23% oxide and 77% fresh ore.

On a 100% basis, life of mine (18.5 years) production is scheduled to come in at 219,000 oz/y of gold.

West African Executive Chairman and CEO, Richard Hyde, said: “Kiaka will access power from the Burkina Faso grid predominantly supplied by low-carbon hydroelectric power from Ghana and the Ivory Coast with large Burkina Faso low-carbon solar projects planned to come online early in the mine life to supplement the grid.”

Hyde says WAF will investigate expanding Kiaka to plus-10 Mt/y through the addition of secondary crushing and debottlenecking the process circuit, as well as evaluating tenders for key major equipment received during the feasibility study, which had ranged widely in price and delivery lead times.

“There remains scope to reduce the capital expenditure and cost contingencies on this equipment, as well as shorten the lead times,” Hyde said. West African Resources is also looking at an owner-mining versus contractor (the current plan) study looking to lower mining costs and VAT working capital.

Kwatani wins major screening order from Central Asia copper mine

Competing with leading OEMs from around the world, vibrating screen specialist OEM Kwatani says it has snatched a mammoth export order for over 70 screens from a mining operation in Central Asia.

The order was signed in April with a large copper mine in the region, which boasts a production rate of 35 Mt/y. According to Kwatani General Manager Sales and Service, Jan Schoepflin, the machines will be rolled out and delivered over a tight schedule of just eight months.

Kwatani, now part of the Sandvik group within the Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions division, is already hard at work manufacturing the large and medium-sized screens at its South Africa-based manufacturing facility.

“This is Kwatani’s largest order to date and is probably the largest single order for screens ever placed with a company in Africa,” Schoepflin says. “We are proud to have won such a prestigious bid in the face of intense competition, showing how our global reputation has been growing.”

The order is for large double-deck multi-slope screens, which feed high pressure grinding rolls, as well as for single-deck linear screens feeding concentrators. The screens in this order will be installed on isolation frames to minimise the extent to which dynamic loads affect the plant’s building structures, the company says.

Kwatani says it is well known for its design, manufacture and servicing of large, robust screens which are engineered for tonnage.

“As the largest OEM for vibrating screens and feeders in Africa, we have had great success on the continent and abroad with our large ‘banana’ screens,” Schoepflin says. “These and our other custom-engineered screens have been supplied to over 50 countries to date.”

The stringent and lengthy technical adjudication for this project was conducted for the mine by two leading international project engineering houses. The size and value of the order ensured all the mining industry’s foremost screen suppliers participated in the bid. Other indicators of the order’s scale are that the screens will consume around 700 t of steel, and will altogether be fitted with 21,000 screening panels.

Schoepflin notes that an important consideration for customers is not only the proven quality and performance of its screens, but Kwatani’s ability to deliver on time.

“Any large capital expenditure decision on a mine is taken with time-sensitive factors in mind,” he says. “For instance, the delayed delivery of critical equipment can prevent a mine from meeting its planned production targets. This undermines the financial basis for that decision – an eventuality that no mine can afford.”

The end-customer and the project houses, therefore, had to have full confidence in Kwatani’s capacity.

With growing demand from a buoyant mining sector, the company recently added another 3,000 sq.m to its existing 17,000 sq.m facility in Spartan, Johannesburg. Its design and manufacturing capabilities are ISO 9001:2015 certified, ensuring that the latest order to Asia will comply with the highest global standards, he says.

“We also pride ourselves on the quality and resilience of our supply chain, which underpins our ability to manufacture to demanding deadlines,” Schoepflin says. “We carefully select our supply partners – most of whom are local enterprises – and collaborate closely with them to build their sustainability and responsiveness.”

To keep the project’s schedule on track, dedicated in-house project managers and procurement specialists meet regularly with supply partners to ensure a smooth and streamlined process. This has required alignment of all local and global procurement, including motors, drives and steel. The company’s agility allowed contracts and prices to be tied down for timeous delivery, despite the global supply chain disruption that lingers from the COVID-19 lockdowns, Kwatani says.

Kwatani will conduct training of the mine staff in maintenance and troubleshooting, so that they can fulfil these essential duties independently. The mine will be able to source all the necessary spares from Kwatani, who will also send an engineer or technician to site to supervise and sign off on certain major tasks.

Meeting delivery deadlines and avoiding penalties will require detailed logistical planning for the completed units, Schoepflin notes. The screens will be delivered in batches to a South African port, and shipped as break bulk due to their size. Production of the screens is expected to be complete by early 2023.

BluVein’s underground dynamic charging developments accelerating

BluVein, after officially receiving agreement and project approval from all project partners, has initiated the third phase of technology development and testing of its underground mine electrification solution, BluVein1, it says.

BluVein is a joint venture between Australia-based mining innovator Olitek and Sweden-based electric highways developer Evias. The company has devised a patented slotted (electric) rail system, which uses 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.

The system, which is OEM agnostic, 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.

The underground-focused development under BluVein is coined BluVein1, with the open-pit development looking to offer dynamic charging for ultra-class haul trucks called BluVein XL. This latter project was recently named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the Charge On Innovation Challenge.

The purpose of the third phase of the BluVein1 technology development is to:

  • Conduct a full-scale refined hammer (collector) and arm design and testing with a second prototype;
  • Execute early integration works with mining partners and OEMs;
  • Provide full-power dynamic energy transfer for a vehicle demonstration on a local test site; and
  • Confirm a local test site for development.

IM understands that the company is close to sealing an agreement for a local test site where it will carry out trials of the dynamic charging technology.

James Oliver, CEO, BluVein, said the third phase represents an essential final pre-pilot stage of BluVein1.

“It excites me that the BluVein solution is becoming an industry reality,” he said. “The faster BluVein1 is ready for deployment, the better for our partners and the mining industry globally.”

BluVein recently entered a Memorandum of Understanding with Epiroc, where the Sweden-based OEM will provide the first ever diesel-to-battery-converted Minetruck MT42 underground truck for pilot testing on the slotted electric rail system from BluVein.

“This MoU also ensures that we are designing and developing the system into a real-world BEV for full-scale live testing and demonstration on a pilot site in 2023,” BluVein says.

In addition to Epiroc, IM understands BluVein is working with Sandvik, MacLean, Volvo and Scania, among others, on preparing demonstration vehicles for the BluVein1 pilot site.

The BluVein1 consortium welcomed South32 into the project in May, joining Northern Star Resources, Newcrest Mining, Vale, Glencore, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and BHP, all of which have signed a consortium project agreement that aims to enable final system development and the construction of a technology demonstration pilot site in Australia.

The project is being conducted through the consortium model by Rethink Mining, powered by the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC), which CMIC says is a unique collaboration structure that fast-tracks mining innovation technologies such as BluVein and CAHM (Conjugate Anvil Hammer Mill).

Carl Weatherell, Executive Director and CEO, CMIC/President Rethink Mining Ventures, said: “With the urgent need to decarbonise, CMIC’s approach to co-develop and co-deploy new platform technologies is the way to accelerate to net zero greenhouse gases. The BluVein consortium is a perfect example of how to accelerate co-development of new technology platforms.”

Oliver concluded: “The BluVein1 consortium is a great reminder that many hands make light work, and through this open collaboration with OEMs and mining companies, we’re moving faster together towards a cleaner, greener future for mining.”