Tag Archives: sustainability

Jeffrey Dawes looks forward to a sustainability-focused MINExpo 2021

As the world’s largest mining event, MINExpo INTERNATIONAL is used as an industry barometer for the health of the sector. While this year’s event will be a little different given the impacts of COVID-19, the anticipation continues to build for an in-person gathering that will highlight the biggest and best mining has to offer.

Ahead of this year’s event, sponsored by the National Mining Association (NMA) and due to take place on September 13-15, in Las Vegas, IM put some questions to Jeffrey Dawes, MINExpo INTERNATIONAL 2021 Chair. Dawes is also VP of Komatsu’s Global Mining Business Division and President and CEO of Milwaukee-based Komatsu Mining Corp.

IM: How will this MINExpo be different to previous editions? How are companies planning to ‘open up’ their exhibits and presentations to the widest audience possible considering COVID may restrict some of the in-person international attendance seen in previous years?

JD: MINExpo offers the mining industry the unique opportunity to experience, in person, the newest mining equipment and talk directly with the technical experts behind the most innovative technology and solutions. NMA has done a great job adapting plans this year as COVID restrictions have evolved, so they were prepared for a very different experience if need be, but fortunately it looks like we will be able to have a fairly normal show experience, albeit from a North American perspective – we will be missing some of our international friends who cannot join this year’s event. Part of what has always made our industry great is a strong sense of community, so it will be great to be able to get together in person after such a long time.

To accommodate our friends and colleagues who won’t be able to make the show in person, exhibitors this year have plans to utilise the latest in virtual technology to showcase what will be at the show. Exhibitors will also be able to upload product information, videos and other materials to the online directory, which will be available and open to anyone for a year after the show. Finally, the Opening Session will be live streamed.

Jeffrey Dawes, MINExpo International 2021 Chair

IM: What will be the big innovation themes at the event and what do these themes say about the future direction of the mining industry? 

JD: Digitalisation, electrification and automation will be the big innovation themes this year. Full enterprise optimisation can only be achieved by connecting tasks, processes, systems and people across the value chain. Solutions that leverage digitalisation, electrification and automation are the key to that full enterprise optimisation. They also play a crucial role in creating sustainable systems that support society’s growing needs in the most environmentally responsible ways.

IM: In a general sense, what positive impacts do you think COVID has had on the mining sector’s innovation/technology uptake? Has it accelerated the rate of innovation through necessity (remote working, increased HS&E considerations, shift to cloud-based network infrastructure, etc)? Is this likely to shine through at MINExpo in terms of what companies are showcasing and talking about?

JD: COVID really gave the mining industry a chance to reflect on its goals and take a deeper look at the tools now available to help it reach those goals. I think it also helped us gain a better understanding of the importance of aligning our business objectives – to extract the minerals needed by society – with society’s need for us to do that in the most sustainable, efficient and least intrusive ways possible. I’m certain that the products and solutions presented by the exhibitors at MINExpo this year will centre on the innovations and technology available now and in the near-term future that will help mines meet both their own and society’s needs.

IM: How do you see Komatsu’s contribution shaping/influencing the event? Are your solutions likely to be the ‘talk of the show’?

JD: We think so, yes. This year at MINExpo, Komatsu will focus on the power of smart technology and connected systems, the freedom of interoperability on an open platform, and the equipment and solutions that will help our industry move forward toward a more sustainable future. I’m particularly looking forward to sharing our newest haulage concepts, which are designed to help meet our customers’ needs for autonomy and the drive toward zero emissions. We’re also excited to give attendees their first in-person look at our newest surface blasthole drill, with 122,000 lb (55,338 kg) of pull-down force, the ZR122. Also, our newly branded WE1850 Gen3 wheel loader with switched-reluctance hybrid drive technology, with a bucket capacity of 60 tons (54 t), and our latest offerings for underground hard-rock and soft-rock operations.

Ultimately, at Komatsu we believe in providing our customers with the technology, solutions and flexible support they need for the lifecycle of their equipment and mining operations. Our customers need a reliable partner they can trust with whom to invest for the future of mining. We aim to be that partner.

IM: Aside from being a topic of discussion on the stands and in the conference rooms, how will sustainability be on show at MINExpo? Will this be the most ‘sustainable’ MINExpo yet in terms of organisation, emissions, etc?

JD: Mining has always been an essential part of keeping modern society moving forward. As we say, if it’s not grown, it’s mined. As an industry we have to focus on how to evolve to continue to meet those needs sustainably. The mining industry is already finding new ways to extract the minerals needed to meet the requirements of the world’s more energy conscious and environmentally friendly future. I am sure that many of the exhibits at this year’s show will showcase those new sustainability-focused solutions.

IM: Are you able to provide any preliminary expectations of attendee numbers?

JD: Varying country restrictions – and the US’ own restrictions – are obviously making this a year unlike any other, placing unusual limitations on attendance. However, we were pleased to have nearly 90% of our 2020 planned exhibitors re-book for this year and new exhibitors are booking space every day. We’re looking forward to welcoming representatives from 32 countries as both exhibitors and attendees. We hope to see even more attendees register as vaccination rates continue to rise, case numbers fall and an increasing number of countries lift travel restrictions as evidenced by recent changes in Canada.

International Mining is a media sponsor of MINExpo INTERNATIONAL 2021

Drilling innovation directs Alamos to golden goods at Island

John A McCluskey, President and CEO of Alamos Gold, tends to look forward, not back, when talking about strategic decisions the Toronto- and New York-listed miner has made during his 18 years heading up the company.

When discussing the acquisition of Richmont Mines, which included the flagship Island Gold Mine asset in Ontario, he allows himself a brief rumination on the market’s first impressions of the deal: “We acquired the asset for around $620 million in November of 2017. The consensus view in the market was we had overpaid for the asset.”

That consensus view considered 1.8 Moz of mineral reserves and resources and production around the 100,000 oz/y mark, among other factors.

“In less than three years, we had Island over the 4 Moz reserve and resource threshold – we’re now nearer to 5 Moz – and the consensus valuation for the asset from analysts covering us is around $1.4 billion.”

That new valuation factors in a production rise – the company is anticipating gold output of 130,000-145,000 oz this year – and long-term growth prospects for the asset. The latter is evidenced by an Island Phase Three Expansion study published last year that envisaged a 2,000 t/d operation (currently 1,200 t/d) able to produce 236,000 oz/y starting in 2025.

While McCluskey says the company was aware of these growth prospects back in November 2017, most market observers will be surprised they have been proven up so quickly after the Richmont Mines transaction.

They probably underestimated what the use of surface directional drilling could do at Island.

Originally leveraged by Richmont Mines’ Chief Geologist and now Island Gold Chief Geologist, Raynald Vincent, back in 2015, the exploration technique has allowed Alamos to successfully step out from and infill holes Richmont and predecessors previously drilled.

Scott R.G. Parsons, VP of Exploration for Alamos, says surface directional drilling, in combination with the exploration team’s understanding on the controls on gold mineralisation at Island and Alamos’ financial backing for exploration, has helped the company grow the asset rapidly.

“The significant resource and reserve growth at Island in the last three years – adding 3 Moz net of 500,000 of mining depletion – was largely driven by surface directional drilling,” he told IM. “We could not have moved the asset forward in such a significant way without it.”

The use of what Parsons says are “standard” surface drill rigs and Devico’s DeviDrill™ steerable wireline core barrels are allowing the company to hit mineralisation far below the mine’s existing underground infrastructure. The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods. At the same time, no time is lost on moving the drill rig between branch holes, as the core barrel can be steered from surface to complete the optimal drill patterns.

The DeviDrill tool can make multiple branches from a pilot hole, dramatically reducing both the time spent and the cost of drilling when compared with standard core drilling methods (photo: Devico)

The company has drilled 240 surface directional drill holes at Island for about 200,000 m of drilling using only 27 drill sites, Parsons explained.

“Using conventional surface drilling, the 240 holes would have required significantly more drill sites,” he said.

This would have involved moving the rig more frequently, making the process that much slower and expensive.

Instead, thanks to this directional drilling technique, the company is sitting on an additional 3 Moz of gold resources and reserves garnered in the last three years. This has come with a discovery cost of just $11/oz.

Accuracy, as Devico indicated, is another benefit of this technology.

“Surface directional drilling is not only more effective than standard drilling practices, but we can hit our targets with 1% accuracy,” Parsons added. “So, if we’re drilling a 1,500 m hole, we can typically intersect our target within 15 m from plan, 1,500 m downhole. This predictable drilling spacing is critical for defining a mineral resource with the appropriate confidence level.

“You’d never be able to do that with standard surface drilling.”

This technique is not a silver exploration bullet, though. According to Parsons, it does not work everywhere.

“It really all hinges around the quality of the orebody and our understanding of the deposit and the controls and the mineralisation,” he said. “Knowing we require a certain drill spacing to be able to define inferred mineral resources, we strategically target the down-plunge extensions of the ore shoots.”

At Island, these ore shoots – which are the high-grade portions of the deposit – are laterally extensive in the lateral and vertical sense, Parsons explained.

“With the surface directional drilling, we are able to specifically target these down-plunge extensions,” he said. “With one or two pilot holes and branch patterns, we can evaluate a large area down-plunge and along strike of the existing mineral reserves and resources. In some cases, other gold deposits can have ore shoots that are less predictable, or are not as extensive, so it would be a challenge to apply surface directional drilling without having a strong understanding of the controls of these shoots for targeting.”

And, it should not be forgotten, it requires an investment in exploration that goes beyond simply reserve and resource replacement on an annual basis. Richmont, a much smaller company, was unable to bankroll such a strategy.

Alamos has made a commitment to do this, as evidenced in the 16-year mine life outlined in the Island Phase III study and the $25 million it intends to invest in exploration this year.

The use of surface directional drilling looks set to continue paying off beyond this study, with the company recently drilling its best-ever hole to date by leveraging the technique.

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – in addition to MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m) have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them (photo: Alamos Gold)

Drill hole MH25-08 – 71.21 g/t Au (39.24 g/t cut) over 21.33 m – is the hole in question. This hole, in addition to the previously reported MH25-04 (28.97 g/t Au (26.89 g/t cut) over 21.76 m), have true widths approximately four times greater than the average width of the large high-grade inferred resource block defined up-plunge of them. This, the company said, demonstrates the zone has widened in this area, providing even further potential beyond the company’s current growth plans.

“That one – MH25-08 – is the best drill hole ever drilled at Island,” Parsons said. “And that is after 1.3 million metres of drilling and over 7,000 drill holes dating back nearly 100-years.

“That speaks to the potential of this deposit to continue to grow through exploration, and also highlights the prospectivity of the Michipicoten Greenstone Belt.”

More to come

With 27,500 m of surface directional drilling scheduled for 2021 – and only 6,683 m carried out as of May 31 – more of these high-grade intercepts could soon come to the fore.

And Parsons says the company can continue to use surface directional drilling some 500 m below where it is currently drilling down to at Island.

On top of that, the company, having established the necessary underground exploration infrastructure, is equipping its underground drill rigs at Island for directional drilling, with 24,000 m of underground directional drilling planned this year (3,233 m completed as of the end of May).

“This is allowing us to reduce our cost per metre compared with surface directional drilling and allowing us to drill more targets in a shorter amount of time,” Parsons said. “We will continue applying directional drilling technology as long as the orebody is continuing at depth to drill off those ore shoots.”

At Young-Davidson, the company’s other core asset in Ontario, Canada, the company is also making plans to use underground directional drilling.

“One of our plans going into 2022 is to evaluate opportunities to utilise directional drilling from underground exploration drifts established in lower and mid mines at Young-Davidson to target mineralisation down-plunge at depth,” Parsons said.

More broadly, Parsons thinks the company’s exploration team can leverage their understanding of the technology at other assets.

“For us, it is a competitive advantage,” he said. “With a solid geological understanding of the deposit you are looking at and an understanding of the application and the benefits of directional drilling, we can recognise opportunities of what could be occurring at depth where others might not see potential until well into the future after underground infrastructure is established at depth.”

There are obvious cost, time and accuracy benefits to using directional drilling, yet there is another benefit that may get lost along the way.

Without the need to constantly move the surface drill rigs between drill pads, the footprint of these rigs is reduced.

McCluskey says the technology has brought another ESG advantage to Island too.

By being able to quickly drill off more targets and convert these into the resource base, Alamos has been able to think long term with its Island Gold Phase III Expansion and justify the expense of a shaft and paste backfill plant.

This comes with a 35% reduction in emissions compared with using the mine’s existing ramp and diesel-powered truck haulage, he said, explaining that much of the Ontario grid is powered by renewable hydroelectricity.

“This technology has given us the exploration success that has been converted into scale and allowed us to think longer term and afford the infrastructure to make it a ‘greener’ operation,” he said.

With such a long list of benefits, more companies will be looking at directional drilling to prolong the life of their assets and make long-term decisions that make economic and sustainable sense.

Trevali weighing battery-electric vehicle use in expanded Rosh Pinah plan

Trevali Mining has flagged the potential use of battery-electric vehicles at its Rosh Pinah underground zinc-lead-silver mine, in Namibia, as one route to further reduce the operation’s greenhouse gas emissions if an expansion of throughput goes ahead.

Writing in its just-released 2020 Sustainability Report, the company said the Rosh Pinah expansion, known as RP2.0, could lead to an increase in the underground mining fleet and, with that, the potential use of battery-electric vehicles.

In addition, the company said it was considering increasing the capacity of the underground mobile fleet from 30 t to 60 t trucks for more efficient transportation of material to surface, resulting in better fuel efficiency and reduced ventilation load. The company was also looking to use solar power for at least 30% of the annual energy consumption as a starting point – an aspect the company is close to achieving after signing a a 15-year renewable Power Purchase Agreement with Emerging Markets Energy Services Company (EMESCO) for the supply of solar power to Rosh Pinah in April.

In 2020, Trevali published a positive prefeasibility study on RP2.0, which is projected to increase the throughput of the mine from 700,000 t/y to 1.3 Mt/y, with an 11-year life of mine, post-expansion.

Trevali intended to achieve this through the modification of the processing plant, construction of a paste fill plant, and development of a dedicated portal and ramp to the WF3 deposit.

A feasibility study for the RP2.0 project is underway and is expected to be completed in the second half of this year, with an investment decision thereafter. If approved, construction could commence in the March quarter of 2022, with commercial production potential achieved by the June quarter of 2024, Trevali said.

Metso Outotec takes next sustainability steps with Planet Positive

Metso Outotec has introduced a new approach to sustainability that, it says, covers the environmental, social and financial aspects of the topic area.

Its ‘Planet Positive’ efforts enforce the company’s purpose to enable sustainable modern life, the company says, building on Metso Outotec’s commitments to limit global warming to 1.5°C, with targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative.

To serve customers’ sustainability needs and to increase the size of its ecological handprint, Metso Outotec focuses on further growing its sustainable offering. The Planet Positive portfolio focuses on the most environmentally efficient technologies – of which there are more than 100 – in the company’s current portfolio, responding to the sustainability requirements of its customers in the aggregates, mining and metals refining industries. The customer requirements relate to energy or water efficiency, reduction of emissions, circularity and safety, it says.

Correspondingly, Metso Outotec focuses on minimising the environmental impact of its own operations and supply chain to diminish its ecological footprint. Already today, Metso Outotec’s handprint is significantly bigger than its footprint, it says.

Piia Karhu, SVP, Business Development at Metso Outotec, said: “We have a wide Planet Positive offering available for our customers and, with strong R&D focus, we continue to strengthen our sustainable offering for aggregates, mining and metals refining industries. We also have high targets for sustainability in our own operations and supply chain. There is a growing demand in our industry for environmentally efficient solutions.”

AFRY strengthens its digital offering with ProTAK acquisition

Engineering, consulting and design company AFRY is to expand its digital offering for process industries with the acquisition of Sweden-based ProTAK.

ProTAK’s web-based software for production optimisation will support AFRY’s strategic ambition within digitalisation and sustainability, as well as further strengthen the AFRY Smart Site digital product portfolio further, AFRY said.

“ProTAK’s web-based software is designed for production process continuous improvement and aims to increase production efficiency,” it explained. “The software measures the effectiveness of industrial plant’s machines to enable analysis and optimisation of the production processes. Together with AFRY’s production support software, AFRY Pulse, this will improve process industry customer production even further.”

The acquisition follows the purchase of ITE Østerhus AS earlier in the month, a Norway-based company that specialises in electrical engineering, automation and digitalisation for industrial customers. ITE Østerhus’ largest market areas are smelting plants and process and food industries.

David Andersson, Manager of Business Unit Digitalisation, AFRY Process Industries, in Sweden, said of ProTAK acquisition: “There is a strong demand for digital solutions within the process industry sector to reach sustainability goals by improved production efficiency. With this co-operation, we can jointly develop our offering further to support our customers even better in this constantly changing environment.

“We see great potential and synergies by combining the expertise and digital offering from both companies.”

Per Gannå, CEO at ProTAK, said becoming part of AFRY would allow the company to further develop its products and expand its offering to global clients.

“We have developed the digital offering and are now ready to take the step to the next level,” Gannå said. “We look forward to the opportunities we can create together.”

Metso Outotec strives for cost synergies, emission cuts with warehouse optimisation

Metso Outotec says it is proceeding with its program to consolidate its warehouse locations and transportation processes for spare parts, wear parts and related services globally, targeting increased availability, improved customer service and reduced CO2 emissions.

The optimisation of logistics is included in the company’s €120 million ($146 million) cost synergy target, accounting for more than €20 million of this amount.

The combined Metso Outotec network has covered more than 40 distribution centers. Once the network is optimised, the company will have 18 warehouses or distribution centres located in all main customer markets, it says.

The new operating model is using strong partners who have recognised global capabilities in providing competitive warehouse services, Metso Outotec added.

Consolidation work in Asia, Africa, China and Europe will be concluded in the near future, the company says. Metso Outotec already announced that warehouse operations in Finland will be consolidated and outsourced, and a new warehouse will be established in Helsinki. Simultaneously, the current spare and wear parts warehouse in Tampere will be closed.

The new model will be fully implemented by the end of the first half of 2021, it says.

Jarkko Aro, Senior Vice President of Customer Logistics at Metso Outotec, said: “Our target is to enable world-class logistics with easily scalable operations. Flexible, state-of-the-art warehouse operations will allow orders to be collected and dispatched to customers directly from central warehouses. The new model enables considerable savings in the end-to-end freight costs, streamlines transportation, and significantly reduces CO2 emissions.”

Aro added: “By the end of the third (September) quarter of 2020, we already achieved a 7% reduction of CO2 emissions in our logistics compared to 2019. We are extremely happy to be at the forefront with our CO2 reduction targets.”

Metso Outotec has announced it is targeting a net positive impact on the planet with a commitment to the 1.5 °C journey. This will be implemented through a sustainable offering, innovations and actions, and be measured by Science Based Targets aiming at a 50% reduction of emissions in its own operations by 2030, compared with 2019, and a 20% reduction of logistics emissions by 2025.

Sandvik starts construction of new purpose-built workshop in Western Australia

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology says it has signalled its ongoing commitment to the Australia mining and construction equipment market, signing a long-term lease for a new purpose-built workshop in Perth, Western Australia.

Construction is underway with the workshop scheduled for completion in 2021.

Located at Roe Highway Logistics Park (Kenwick, Perth), the 16,000 sq.m site will include a state-of-the-art workshop, modern office, meeting facilities, as well as testing and training equipment, Sandvik said.

According to Nathan Cunningham, Sandvik Business Line Manager – Service in APAC, Roe Highway represents a strategically important location to be able to better support Sandvik’s Australia customers.

“The strategic location of our new workshop, with its central position, freight rail and RAV7 truck access will enable us to further support our Western Australian customers and the purpose-build design will improve equipment repairs, inspections and our rebuild capability for our equipment offering,” he said. “The improved layout, increased size, additional bays and design will enable our fully-trained service technicians, aftermarket support and technology specialists the ability to work more efficiently.”

He added: “To continue to support our customers, we need to continue to invest in facilities that will not only support our existing markets, but will also have the capacity and capability to support the growing demand for future products, such as our electric load and haul offering.”

The new workshop will be fully accredited and work to OEM standards, according to the company, allowing Sandvik to provide full warranties on the machines it strips down and rebuilds.

Kate Bills, Sustainability, Marketing & Communications Manager at Sandvik in APAC, says the purpose-built facility has been designed to align with Sandvik’s 2030 Sustainable Business goals, which address a circular society, climate change, safety and fair play.

“At Sandvik, we want to ensure that sustainability is integrated into everything we do,” she said. “This includes reducing our CO2 footprint, minimising waste in our production process and providing the highest safety standards for our employees.

“As part of Sandvik’s sustainability goals, we’re aiming to halve our C02 footprint by 2030, so the new workshop incorporates state-of-the-art design elements to help us achieve this such as solar panels, green concrete and the use of low carbon building materials.”

The site will also include best-practice water management, energy efficient lighting, natural ventilation and rainwater harvesting, according to the company.

Newmont aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2030

Newmont has announced what, it says, are “industry-leading climate targets” to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30%, with an ultimate goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The new 2030 target builds upon Newmont’s existing GHG emissions reductions target of 16.5% over five years, concluding in 2020.

“At Newmont, we hold ourselves to high standards – from the way in which we govern our business, to how we manage relationships with our stakeholders, to our environmental stewardship and safety practices,” Tom Palmer, President and CEO of Newmont, said. “We fundamentally understand the human contribution to climate change and understand we reap what we sow. It is our responsibility to take care of the resources provided to us.

“We take these climate change commitments seriously, and make them because our relationship with the planet is absolute. We want a world that is not just sustainable, but thriving for generations to come.”

Using science-based criteria, Newmont has set climate targets for 2021-2030 for its operating sites, including a renewable energy target. The science-based criteria align with Science-Based Targets Initiative criteria and assists Newmont in developing specific emissions reduction pathways and meeting the Paris Agreement objective of being well below 2°C global temperature change, the miner says.

To achieve these aims, the company will implement a new energy and climate investment standard, to be combined with its existing investment standards including shadow carbon pricing, in order to further inform its capital investment process, it said.

“This new investment standard will ensure that the 2030 reduction targets are embedded into investment decisions for projects such as fleet vehicles, production equipment, on-site renewable power generation and energy efficiency,” the company said. “Additionally, the company will engage its partners and joint ventures in an effort to align joint venture operations targets and supply chain related emissions with Newmont’s targets.”

Mining is an energy intensive business, with 88% of Newmont’s energy used for mining and milling generated from carbon-based fuels, it said. As the company looks to reduce emissions and move to a low carbon economy, it will use a strategic approach to portfolio development, energy sourcing, fleet and equipment investment, as well as land use planning to achieve its targets.

A key part of Newmont’s accountability in reaching these targets will be reporting via The Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) guidelines. In 2021, the company will issue its first annual TCFD report. The TCFD report will detail Newmont’s governance, strategy and portfolio resilience to a range of climate scenarios. The TCFD report will also track Newmont’s annual progress toward implementing its 2030 strategy, meeting its 2030 targets and executing emissions reduction projects across its global portfolio.

Boliden and Luleå University of Technology enter into a collaboration agreement

Boliden and Luleå University of Technology have entered into a long-term strategic collaboration agreement that could help deepen the work the two have been pursuing in the fields of mine automation and optimal resource utilisation within the smelting process.

The new agreement means collaboration will be enhanced “in terms of competence provision and competence development, as well as research and innovation towards leading positions within automation and resource utilisation”, Boliden said.

The miner has long collaborated with Luleå University of Technology, with a focus on developing technology and strengthening competence in both mining and smelting operations. The university has also been an important recruitment base for Boliden.

Mikael Staffas, President and CEO of Boliden (left, pictured with Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Luleå University of Technology’s Vice Chancellor), said: “Attracting and further developing skills and technologies is an important part of Boliden’s strategy and requires long-term work. We are already a leader in areas such as climate performance and I look forward to future efforts to further develop the business.”

Some examples of projects the two are working on include process automation and digital twins, human-machine interaction in automation, and sustainability management and social acceptance.

Pär Weihed, Professor and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Luleå University of Technology, said: “In connection with the climate transition, we are seeing there is substantial demand for metals and minerals. At the same time, Luleå University of Technology and Boliden have a long and successful history, and together we can create better conditions for a more sustainable supply of raw materials.”

Metso Outotec ticks the TCO box with latest HRC HPGR design

The design and operating principle of Metso Outotec’s HRC high pressure grinding roll has been well proven since going commercial in 2014.

The elimination of the edge effect with a flange design brings with it high throughput, while the anti-skew assembly means customers find faster machine restarts and no downtime from skewing events.

These benefits have been proven at Freeport McMoRan’s Morenci mine, in Arizona, USA, with the company’s largest unit – a HRC 3000 – having now processed more than 120 Mt of ore at that operation. This HRC 3000 is still going strong.

Yet, there was room for improvement, hence the reason Metso Outotec has just released the HRC™e HPGR.

Christoph Hoetzel, Head of Grinding business line at Metso Outotec, explained the rationale for such an update.

“To enable this flange technology, it was very important to have a simple, mechanical solution that works under any circumstances,” he told IM. “Our solution with the HRC was the arch frame, which was a mechanical fix to keep the rolls parallel at all times.

“This, however, came with a compromise. You had to have access to both sides of the machine and, in general, the units were relatively heavy and tall.”

These attributes meant that, if the customer investigated the total installed cost of the HRC – especially if they were weighing the purchase of more than one unit – the cost sometimes outweighed the benefits.

“This was a case of where the economics did not match the sustainability and efficiency of the unit,” Hoetzel said.

Metso Outotec has listened to customer feedback with the HRCe.

“The enabling factor for the flange technology is a mechanical solution for eliminating skewing on the machine,” Hoetzel said. “We have now achieved this with a much simpler, compact design. This is really where the step change has come from.”

Now, when you look at the specifications of the HRCe, which comes with a large feed size acceptance of 60-120 mm and typical capacities of 1,810-6,930 t/h, the footprint is almost the same as other HPGRs on the market, according to Hoetzel.

“Yet, the unit benefits from the proven and reliable flange design of the original HRC,” he said. “You could, potentially, even use a smaller unit for the same application.”

By reducing the size and associated installation cost that comes with the HRC technology, Metso Outotec is suddenly levelling the HPGR playing field. The advantages the company spelt out back in 2014 when the HRC technology was originally publicised now come with no cost drawbacks.

With more miners looking for not only energy-efficient grinding solutions in their flowsheets, but processing options that reduce their water intake, HPGRs are increasingly being used in tertiary or quaternary crush applications, or in lieu of traditional SAG mills.

In this regard, an updated HPGR is coming to the market at just the right time.

Metso Outotec, cognisant of this trend, has also sought to offer the benefits of its HPGR technology to the wider market.

The mechanical skew control HPGR (High Pressure Grinding Roll) retrofit kit takes the key components responsible for minimising skew from the HRC and makes the technology more accessible without the major investment or need to acquire a new machine, according to the company. The technology can also be incorporated into non-Metso Outotec machines.

These latest product updates are in keeping with Metso Outotec’s defined purpose of “enabling sustainable modern life”, fitting the mineral processing reality that miners face today.

Hoetzel reinforced this message: “Customers should not have to choose between sustainability and lowest total cost of ownership with their machines. At Metso Outotec, we truly want to be the partner for positive change, which means we really need to combine both.

“With the HRCe, we think we have achieved that.”