Tag Archives: South32

Electric Mine Consortium partners with AWS on world-first mine decarbonisation platform

Australia’s Electric Mine Consortium (EMC), made up of some of the world’s leading mining and service companies, has announced it is working with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, to accelerate the electrification of mine sites globally.

Announced at AWS Summit 2022, EMC is using AWS’s depth and breadth of services, including machine learning, business intelligence and storage, to build the world’s first mining data platform, to capture real-time information on mine decarbonisation from sites globally.

To drive decarbonisation, mining companies can use the platform to measure energy storage levels and electrical infrastructure use from global mine sites to accelerate the creation of a cleaner, more electrified future in mining, EMC said.

Co-founder of the EMC, Graeme Stanway, says the platform can help enable EMC members to share sustainability insights and analyse the outcomes of adopting electrified mining infrastructure and sustainable operations.

“The way we generate, store and harness energy around the globe is changing drastically,” Stanway said. “EMC’s collaboration with AWS will help see us at the forefront of this change, driving the mining industry’s electrification at scale.”

Stanway said the industry is crying out for tools to decarbonise due to tightening government emission reduction targets, increasing environmental, social and governance pressure, and the industry being responsible for 7% of the greenhouse gas emissions globally.

“Like the electric vehicle industry, electric mines are the future” Stanway said. “Not only can they be safer through the eradication of diesel particulates, pollution, noise and vibrations, they can also be more targeted, precise and effective when it comes to mining, and yield stronger results than traditional mines with minimal ground disturbance.”

As part of the initiative, EMC created a “data lake” using Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), a cloud object storage service, that can securely store thousands of datasets from the consortium’s mines, including data on energy consumption and renewable energy infrastructure output.

EMC can then clean the data and run data pipelines using AWS Step Functions, a low-code, visual workflow service; AWS Glue, a serverless data integration service; and AWS Lambda, a serverless, event-driven compute service. AWS Glue can provide EMC with data catalogue functionality, and AWS Lake Formation, a service that makes it easy to set up a secure data lake in days, can deliver security and access control.

Amazon QuickSight, a business intelligence service (screenshot pictured), can allow everyone in the consortium to explore and understand mining data through user-friendly interactive dashboards that identify efficiency practices that may reduce emissions, according to EMC.

Also, using Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service to build, train, and deploy machine learning models, EMC can train machine-learning models to predict energy usage spikes at mines and track the carbon efficiency of deploying sustainable energy infrastructure.

Sarah Bassett, Head of Mining and Energy, Australia at AWS, said: “Data capture and analysis is essential to mining operations, and AWS is helping consortium members to share their critical datasets and collective insights to drive the digitisation and evolution of the industry. I am excited to be collaborating with the EMC and its consortium members to improve the design of mines globally and accelerate the industry’s journey to decarbonisation on the global scale.”

The EMC is a growing group of over 20 mining and service companies. These companies are driven by the imperative to produce zero-emission products for their customers and meet mounting investor expectations. Thus, the objective of the EMC is to accelerate progress toward the zero-carbon and zero-particulate mine through:

  • Resolving key technology choices;
  • Shaping the supplier ecosystem;
  • Influencing policy; and
  • Communicating the business case

The EMC is emerging as a key vehicle for the decarbonisation of the mining industry, particularly for underground operations, and will remain responsive to the rapidly changing external environment.

Members include OZ Minerals, Newcrest Mining, Gold Fields, IGO, South32, Blackstone Minerals, Evolution Mining, Barminco and Iluka Resources.

BluVein XL open-pit mining dynamic charging solution gains momentum

Much of the buzz around BluVein to this point has focused on its dynamic charging infrastructure for underground mining and quarries, but the company has also been gaining momentum around a surface mining project – as the most recent Charge On™ Innovation Challenge announcement indicates.

The company and its BluVein XL solution were today named among eight winning ideas selected to progress to the next stage of the competition, which is seeking to solve one of the biggest challenges in decarbonising mining operations: the electrification of haul trucks.

Within this context, BluVeinXL, the company’s new product line, will be capable of dynamically feeding power to heavy-duty mining fleets with up to 250-t payloads.

The technology leverages much of what was developed for BluVein1: a patented slotted (electric) rail system using 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. This system 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.

To this point, funding support for the BluVein1 project – being developed for vehicles up to 60-t payload and powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC) – is being provided by Vale, Glencore, Oz Minerals, Northern Star, South32, BHP, Agnico Eagle, AngloGold Ashanti and Newcrest Mining.

BluVeinXL, meanwhile, has seen the company engage with more than 10 “global mining company leaders” in progressing to a pilot demonstration of the technology. While the company plans to announce the names of these supporting mining companies shortly, it says they all see the need for an industry-standardised, OEM-agnostic, safe dynamic power feed infrastructure to suit mixed OEM open-pit fleets.

The key benefits of the dynamic power feeding solution BluVein is pushing are smaller on-board battery packs, faster vehicle haulage speeds up ramp, grid load balancing and maximum fleet availability.

“Our mining company supporters have provided feedback to us on the benefits they see with BluVeinXL over traditional overhead exposed wire catenary systems offered by other OEMs,” the company said. These are:

  • Near to the ground installation enabled by our patented Ingress Protected safe slotted rail technology;
  • Safer and faster installation;
  • Easy relocation as required to suit open-pit ramp movements over time;
  • Requires no heavy civil foundation requirements;
  • Alleviates the requirements on haul road conditions;
  • Offers purchasing flexibility on electric vehicles through the adoption of an industry-standard dynamic power feed infrastructure; and
  • Safer mine sites with no high voltage exposed overhead wires.

The company concluded: “Together with our mining company supporters, BluVein looks forward to working with all OEMs as we progress towards our planned pilot demonstration at a yet to be announced location.”

South32 becomes latest miner to join BluVein mine electrification project

BluVein has announced its ninth and newest funding partner to join the BluVein mine electrification project powered by Rethink Mining (Powered by CMIC), with South32 being the latest miner to join the cause.

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 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.

South32 joins Vale, Northern Star Resources Limited, Glencore, Newcrest Mining, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP, OZ Minerals and Agnico Eagle Mines Limited as BluVein funding partners.

Earlier this month, BluVein and Epiroc formed an MoU with BluVein aimed at fast-tracking development of the BluVein dynamic charging solution towards an industrialised and robust solution which is ready for deployment across the global mining industry. The MoU is focused on the BluVein Underground solution (BluVein1), but BluVein is also developing a solution for open-pit mining.

Swift kicks off work with Rio, Roy Hill, Strandline, OZ Minerals and South32

Swift, a specialist technology company focused on delivering network infrastructure and premium entertainment and communications, has announced it has recently commenced works on seven new projects across Western Australia and Queensland for key clients Rio Tinto, Roy Hill, Strandline, OZ Minerals and South32.

As part of these projects, Swift will be upgrading and installing its various network solutions which have been designed and deployed by Swift’s in-house team. The total contract value of these agreements is A$1.2 million ($866,418).

Swift CEO, Brian Mangano, says: “These new projects not only represent an increase in project activity but are the result of long-standing relationships between Swift and resource sector clients. Maintained by the talent and expertise of our entire team from sales to inhouse network engineers, delivery, installation specialists and support teams, we are excited to see the positive impact that these upgrades have on our clients and their workforces.

While the aggregate revenue from these contracts is material to the company, no individual contract currently generates revenue over A$1.0 million, Swift said.

Monadelphous banks work with South32, Newcrest, Codelco and Collahuasi

Engineering company Monadelphous Group says its businesses have secured some A$400 million ($284 million) of new contracts and extensions in the resources and energy sectors, including an extension at South32’s Worsley Alumina Refinery in Western Australia, a contract with Newcrest at Lihir in PNG, two contracts with Codelco in Chile and its first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, also in Chile.

In Papua New Guinea, Monadelphous has been awarded a contract with Newcrest to provide structural, mechanical, piping and electrical and instrumentation works on the Lihir Front End Recovery Project, with work expected to be completed in the first half of 2022.

In Chile, Monadelphous’ maintenance and construction services business, Buildtek, has secured the following contracts at Codelco’s operations in Calama:

  • A three-year contract to provide mine infrastructure maintenance and repairs at the Chuqicamata underground copper mine;
  • A five-year contract to provide comprehensive maintenance of the heap leaching process and electrowinning copper extraction plant at the Radomiro Tomic copper mine. Buildtek has been providing services at Radomiro Tomic since 2012; and
  • Buildtek’s first contract with Collahuasi Mining Company, a company owned by Anglo American, Glencore and Japan Collahuasi Resources, to provide modifications to the concentrate distribution system at its Collahuasi Maritime Terminal in Punta Patache, south of Iquique in Chile. Work is expected to be completed in the first half of this year.

Monadelphous Managing Director, Rob Velletri, said the award of these contracts was a testament to the company’s proven track record of delivering value for its customers.

“We are pleased to continue our long-standing relationships with these valued customers and are committed to continuing the provision of high quality, innovative and safe solutions,” he said.

South32 to leverage KCC low carbon caustic soda shipping solutions for Worsley

KCC Chartering AS and a subsidiary of South32 Limited have signed a six-year contract of affreightment (COA) for shipments of caustic soda to South32’s Worsley Alumina refinery in Western Australia.

KCC Chartering is a subsidiary of Klaveness Combination Carriers ASA, a company the refinery has had a relationship with for more than 30 years, servicing the Worsley site with four generations of combination carriers. KCC says it is the world leader in combination carriers, owning and operating eight CABU and eight CLEANBU combination carriers for wet and dry bulk cargoes.

The COA establishes a framework for how KCC and South32 will work together to deliver further reductions in carbon emissions associated with South32’s caustic soda ocean freight to Australia.

The agreed sustainability framework includes detailed CO2 emission reporting and the establishing of trajectories for annual CO2 reductions targets, and arrangements for how to co-operate to reach the set targets, KCC said. It further includes an ambition to jointly establish a pathway towards future zero emission freight.

KCC’s CEO, Engebret Dahm, said: “This contract marks another important milestone in the longstanding relationship between South32 and KCC. In this next era of our relationship, together we will address the main challenge of our generation – climate change. We have jointly set ambitions to considerably reduce shipping carbon emissions through building on KCC’s low carbon caustic soda shipping solution, which already today provides South32 with a 30-40% lower carbon footprint than competing tanker vessels.”

South32 Chief Human Resources and Commercial Officer, Brendan Harris, said: “We are pleased to continue our relationship with KCC and our joint efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the maritime supply chain. It’s partnerships like these that contribute to the decarbonisation of our value chain and promote the responsible production of commodities needed in a low-carbon world. At South32, we are committed to achieving net zero operational carbon emissions by 2050 and have set a medium-term target to halve these emissions by 2035.”

Amira Industry 4.0 interoperability project highlights ‘digital mine’ opportunities

Independent global not for profit organisation, Amira, says its global members are set to reap significant benefits from the finalisation of the Industry 4.0 interoperability project P1208 undertaken in Perth, Western Australia.

The Interoperability Enablement for Natural Resources project concluded in November and was sponsored by miners South32, Fortescue Metals Group and Gold Fields Australia.

The Amira project, which was conducted at the University of Western Australia’s Energy & Resources Digital Interoperability Industry 4.0 (UWA ERDi I4.0) TestLab, was designed to realise “the digital mine”, which requires mature interoperability standards to improve information flow.

The project ran multiple proofs-of-concept using interoperability standards (ISA-95/IEC 62264 and B2MML v7.0 (plus process centric event extensions)) that were originally developed to support the manufacturing industry.

These standards had benefited from many years of work (originally with contributions from BHP and continued by ETP and vendors such as RPMGlobal) in enhancing the standards to support mining requirements.

The resulting updated standards were used in P1208 as a means of exchanging information between common mining software packages from Datamine, ABB, AVEVA, RPMGlobal, Wenco and Manufacturing Intelligence. Each of these vendors played a critical part in the project’s success, according to Amira.

Managing Director at Enterprise Transformation Partners (ETP) and the P1208 Project Lead, John Kirkman, said the project was highly successful, demonstrating manufacturing standards could be adapted and used across various mining methods and commodities.

“In terms of benefits, miners should first note ‘interoperability’ is simply a means to an end, with that end being optimal management of their operations,” Kirkman said.

“By enhancing the core specialist software packages used by geologists, mine planners, mine execution/control, materials tracking and maintenance personnel, etc to work together as if they were always engineered to do so, you are thereby implementing the cornerstone of automating and optimising the processes used to manage your mining operations.

“This is just one of the reasons why interoperability is one of only three core pillars of the Industry 4.0 vision as the idea of achieving highly automated and optimised operations without interoperability is simply not viable.

“Industry 4.0 also recognise ISA-95/IEC 62264 as the standard for supporting modular operations management interoperability, while also recognising OPC-UA as the standard for level 2 (machine/process control) interoperability.”

Benefits of Industry 4.0

Kirkman said Industry 4.0 solutions remove a significant amount of manual effort that are currently an accepted part of the mining process.

“This, in turn, increases data quality by eliminating manual entry errors and aligning semantics, improves timeliness of access to new information and enables users to spend more of their time on the quality of their work,” he said.

“This enables the automated capabilities of the software packages to be fully utilised and opens opportunities for the vendors to develop additional high value automated decision support capabilities within their software packages.”

During the course of the P1208 project, this was most clearly and broadly demonstrated via the materials inventory tracking/management software packages, which were able to automatically receive material movement events (from fleet management systems and fixed plant) and material sample analysis results events (from a Lab Information Management System) and update block and stockpile quantities and grade, then send the updated block and stockpile quantities and grade to a mine planning software packages and data warehouse, all without any user intervention.

“With respect to major successes, the fact that we have been able to demonstrate that standards exist that are able to be applied to mining software packages that can exchange information regardless of what commodity you are mining, by whatever mining method, using whatever equipment, whether you are an open pit or underground mine and also supporting multiple areas of the value chain (ie geology, drilling, blasting, mining, processing, railing, port and shipping) is significant,” Kirkman said.

“With P1208, we have successfully demonstrated that standards do exist and that they can be applied to mining with great success and that miners can now begin to include the application of interoperability in their improvement/transformation strategies and, as a result, maximise their return on investment from future technology projects.”

Interoperability in action

Kirkman said this was exciting news for mining companies looking to make technology investments that have a much higher likelihood of achieving a meaningful return on investment.

Project sponsor Gold Fields Australia took part in the AMIRA P1208 demonstrations sessions at the UWA ERDi I4.0 TestLab in Perth, Australia, recently, examining how interoperability in the mine plan, scheduling, execution, and materials and tracking functions can improve performance.

One of the sponsors said: “I don’t think many mining companies really appreciate the magnitude of the inefficiencies and lost opportunities that exist in a typical mine as a result of systems not working together; I think it’s almost just accepted as we have no other choice today.

“The Amira project has really shone a light on this area and demonstrated how interoperability can significantly improve the way of working across the business.

“To witness schedules being published from one vendor’s software and being received by multiple other vendors’ software, and the same again with actuals and inventory balance updates in real-time, is quite exciting and even more so when you consider that none of the vendors worked directly together; they just applied the standard interfaces to their software under the guidance of the ETP/ERDi team and it all works.”

The ETP team and various vendors involved in P1208 are already implementing these solutions into an open-pit and an underground mine further validating the work, with case studies likely to be produced through 2022.

The ERDi TestLab has noted a recent uptick in interest from both Australia-based and overseas mining companies, which bodes well for the vendors whom can now take advantage of their investment in interoperable solutions.

The ERDi team has already commenced work to extend these solutions across asset management and maintenance, fleet management/autonomous haulage solutions to machines and open process control interoperability via integration of OPAS-based solutions from the Coalition of Open Process Automation (COPA), who have together built the world’s first commercially available OPAS-based control system.

Project findings

Some of the key findings from the project include:

  • There were no instances of an information type required by the end customer or other systems not already catered for by the B2MML v7.0 + process centric events schemas;
  • All vendors were able to enhance their software to support the standards successfully;
  • Software performance would likely be the limiting factor in how much data could be exchanged, not the standard itself, which can be addressed by vendors through various approaches;
  • That being able to receive accurate, real-time information from other systems exposed opportunities for vendors to implement new and advanced features that would not have been useful in a manually updated solution;
  • Though the standard supported all requirements and was able to be implemented by vendors, a number of areas were identified in which the standard could be improved to make it much easier for vendors to implement, maintain and update over time as well ensure it is sufficiently explicit to certify products. ERDi has already kicked off work to address these improvement opportunities;
  • Education is likely the greatest barrier to adoption today. As these Industry 4.0 approaches and opportunities are not yet commonplace in the mining industry, miners will need to make an investment in upskilling their workforce to be able to successfully implement and take advantage of these solutions. Industry 4.0 education and workforce enablement has also been identified by platform I4.0 and the world economic forum as major factors in successful industry 4.0 adoption; and
  • It is possible to establish standards management and governance processes to enable more rapid and frequent update of standards.

Tata Consultancy Services to enhance South32 IT operating model

Tata Consultancy Services, a global IT services, consulting and business solutions organisation, has been selected as a strategic partner by South32 to enhance its IT operating model and provide application and infrastructure services critical to its global operations, strengthening its operational resilience and business agility, TCS says.

The multi-year managed services partnership builds on the relationship TCS has had with South32 to enable accelerated execution of recent divestiture programs, and track employee health and safety at South32’s global mining sites during the pandemic. Under the new contract, management of critical infrastructure that was previously managed by multiple service providers has been consolidated with TCS, driving end-to-end accountability.

As part of the expanded partnership, TCS will leverage its Machine First™ Delivery Model, powered by ignio™ AIOps and ignio ERPOps to enhance South32’s IT operating model. Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, TCS will infuse self-healing capability and greater resilience in the IT stack consisting of ERP and other corporate applications, operational technology and the underlying infrastructure. TCS will also provide a unified service desk for all South32’s operations in Australia, with immediate assistance from on-location IT staff.

The new IT operating model will assist South32 in reaching its strategic objective of standardising, simplifying and streamlining its IT operations, TCS said.

“To achieve our strategic goal, it is imperative that we work with partners who have the global network aligned to South32 operations and offer the breadth of services required for an organisation like ours,” Sara Braund, Vice President, Digital Technology, South32, said. “In TCS we found a partner who understood our vision of simplification and had proven experience in establishing a resilient technology foundation.”

Seema Mehra, Head, Energy & Resources – UK, Europe and ANZ, TCS, said: “The mining industry is embarking on digital transformation journeys to drive greater productivity, health and safety and environmental sustainability. Foundational to all this is a resilient and future-proof digital core that will provide the flexibility, agility and resources needed to sustain their transformation journeys. We are delighted to partner with South32, and use our technology expertise, domain knowledge, innovation and our ability to contextualise our digital assets with cross industry knowledge, to transform their IT operations globally.”

Plotlogic’s precision mining pursuit bolstered with new investor funds

Plotlogic’s mission to deliver precision mining across the world has been given a boost with A$7.5 million ($5.5 million) of funding from international investors.

Plotlogic’s primary focus is on providing accurate real-time orebody knowledge to enable greater operational efficiency and resource utilisation. Its OreSense® technology has demonstrated its ability to improve health and safety, enhance overall mining operations and deliver tangible productivity gains, according to the company.

Andrew Job, former mining manager and company Founder, recently completed his PhD in artificial intelligence-based sensing at University of Queensland, and has said “Plotlogic’s technology is an exciting development in resource knowledge and forms an important part of our growth as we digitally transform our mining businesses”.

Plotlogic’s most recent international deployment of its OreSense system was to an Anglo American project in South Africa. This comes on top of deployments at BHP and South32’s operations.

The company says it continues to increase its global footprint with imminent deployments to South America, North America, Asia and Russia.

Precision mining with the help of technologies like OreSense have the potential to increase worldwide industry value by $370 billion/y, according to Plotlogic, while reducing carbon emissions and improving the sustainability of mines over their life cycle.

To support commercial expansion, Plotlogic’s team has grown substantially, with the team currently sitting at 30 people, up from only six a year ago. It also has plans to double in size before the end of this year.

Charge On Innovation Challenge sparks more miner interest

The organisers of the Charge On Innovation Challenge have reported an overwhelming response to the preliminary phase, which closed on July 31, with 21 mining companies joining as patrons, over 350 companies from across 19 industries registering their interest as vendors, and more than 80 organisations submitting expressions of interest (EOI).

The challenge, a global competition, is expected to drive technology innovators across all industries to develop new concepts and solutions for large-scale haul truck electrification systems aimed at significantly cutting emissions from surface mining. It also aims to demonstrate an emerging market for charging solutions in mining, accelerate commercialisation of solutions and integrate innovations from other industries into the mining sector.

BHP, Rio Tinto, and Vale, facilitated by Austmine, launched the Charge On Innovation Challenge in May of this year, initiating the EOI process on May 18. Since the initial launch, Roy Hill, Teck, Boliden, Thiess, Antofagasta Minerals, Codelco, Freeport McMoRan, Gold Fields and Yancoal came forward as patrons by early July.

The latest release has highlighted another nine miners to join as patrons. This includes Barrick Gold, CITIC Pacific Mining, Evolution Mining, Harmony Gold, Mineral Resources Ltd, Newcrest Mining, OZ Minerals, South32 and Syncrude.

The patrons, supported by Austmine, will assess the proposals over the next month and select a shortlist of vendors who will then formally pitch their challenge solutions.

At least one of these proposals has come from ABB, which confirmed earlier this month that it had submitted its ideas for the challenge using its mine electrification, traction and battery system eand charging infrastructure expertise.

At the end of the pitch phase, the challenge patrons will look to select the most desirable charging concepts identified as having broad industry appeal and application, as well as providing a standard geometry that enables chargers to service trucks from different manufacturers. The first concepts could be ready for site trials in the next few years, according to the organisers.

BHP’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project Lead, Scott Davis, said: “The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry in seeking solutions to decarbonise mining fleets. The challenge received interest from companies based in over 20 countries, showing the truly global reach of the opportunity to help reduce haul truck emissions.”

John Mulcahy, Rio Tinto’s lead for the Charge On Innovation Challenge, said: “Twenty-one mining companies, all focused on lowering carbon emissions, have joined as patrons. Together we’re encouraging technology innovators to help us introduce large-scale haul truck electrification solutions. The sooner we bring these technologies to market, the sooner we can introduce them to our fleet, and reduce emissions.”

Vale’s Charge On Innovation Challenge Project lead, Mauricio Duarte, said: “We are very happy with the results of the first phase of the project. It´s still early to talk about the success of the challenge, but it is clear that the industry has reached a new level: we worked together on a common sustainability agenda and we will work collectively to reach our goals, gaining safety and speed on our way to low carbon mining.”