Tag Archives: Tanami

Newmont starts Rokion R400 battery-electric vehicle trial at Tanami

Newmont’s Tanami operation in the the Northern Territory of Australia has started trialling a new electric vehicle in its underground operations.

The Rokion R400 will initially be used to transport team members up and down the mine, the company said in a post on Facebook. The vehicle is equipped for the transport of 12 people and comes with a battery capacity of 100 kWh.

Newmont said the vehicle is fitted with good suspension and ergonomics, being designed for passenger comfort.

Early indicators show the vehicle has the capability to complete several trips to and from the bottom of the Tanami mine without requiring recharging, Newmont said.

“We hope the trial proves to be successful, and can become the starting point for the future of electric vehicles both light and heavy at Newmont Tanami,” it added.

This is not the first Canada-manufactured Rokion battery-electric vehicle to make an entrance in Australia. The company has previously tested both a Rokion R200 and Rokion R400 at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Broadmeadow mine in Queensland.

Newmont, meanwhile, is in the process of expanding the Tanami operation through the Tanami Expansion 2 project. This is expected to increase the annual capacity of the processing site to 3.5 Mt/y, from 2.6 Mt/y, and extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.

Altrad eyes ‘value-adding opportunity’ with Valmec acquisition

ASX-listed energy services group Valmec is to be acquired by Altrad Australia Pty Ltd in a deal that values Valmec at A$52 million ($38 million).

The two have entered a binding Scheme Implementation Deed (SID) for the cash acquisition by Altrad for Valmec, with the scheme to be voted on at a shareholders meeting in mid-October 2021.

Altrad, a leader in industrial maintenance services headquartered in France, has identified Valmec as a significant value-adding opportunity for its client base and service offering.

Altrad Services Chief Executive Officer, Asia Pacific Region, Neil Sadler, said: “The acquisition of Valmec will mark another transformational milestone for our Asia-Pacific business and deliver a value-accretive step change in the scale and diversity for our company. Once the scheme is implemented, I look forward to working with my leadership team and the Valmec team to identify value-adding opportunities for our combined existing and prospective client bases.”

Among other work in the mining sector, Valmec has previously been contracted at Newmont’s Tanami project in the Northern Territory of Australia – infrastructure works at the Tanami Expansion 2 (TE2) project – and Mineral Resources Wodgina lithium project in Western Australia – delivering a gas pipeline.

GR Engineering to tackle surface infrastructure for Tanami Expansion 2

GR Engineering Services Ltd has executed a subcontractor agreement with RUC Cementation Mining Contractors Pty Ltd in relation to work on Newmont’s Tanami gold mine in the Northern Territory of Australia.

RUC has been engaged by Newmont under a head contract to complete certain construction works for the Tanami Expansion 2 project. Included within this is shaft lining, equipment and headframe construction.

The scope of work for which GR Engineering is responsible comprises the construction and commissioning of the temporary and permanent works associated with the surface infrastructure.

Based on the current budget for the scope of work, it is anticipated that revenue from the subcontractor agreement will be approximately A$68 million ($51 million), GR Engineering said. Work is expected to be completed by April 2023.

Back in November, the two companies signed a “teaming agreement” related to the project.

Geoff Jones, Managing Director of GR Engineering, said: “GR Engineering is pleased to have executed this first subcontractor agreement with RUC and we look forward to working with RUC to deliver safe and successful outcomes for Newmont and on other future projects. GR Engineering continues to build its pipeline of work for financial year 2022 and financial year 2023.”

The Tanami Expansion 2 project is expected to increase the annual capacity of the processing site to 3.5 Mt/y, from 2.6 Mt/y, and extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.

RUC Mining set for Newmont Tanami shaft lining and equipping contract

RUC Cementation Mining Contractors says its RUC Mining business has been awarded preferred bidder status for the shaft lining and equipping contract at Newmont’s Tanami Expansion 2 project in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Additionally, Newmont, last week, granted RUC Mining authority to proceed with long lead procurement RFQ process via a short-term contract to progress the works, the contractor said.

Back in November, RUC Cementation Mining Contractors and GR Engineering Services agreed to team up as part of a plan to construct surface infrastructure, as well as complete the shaft lining and equipping, for a proposed hoisting shaft at the Tanami Expansion 2 project. There was no mention of this agreement in the latest news from RUC Cementation.

“RUC Mining is excited to be engaged on the major project with global leader Newmont, the world’s largest gold producer,” it said. “Together we look forward to safely progressing the Tanami Expansion 2 project, delivering long-term value to both Newmont and RUC shareholders.”

Subject to finalisation of agreements, the contract award is expected this month, it said.

The Tanami Expansion 2 project is expected to increase the annual capacity of the processing site to 3.5 Mt/y, from 2.6 Mt/y, and extend the life of the mine beyond 2040.

Alliance extends Newmont Tanami aviation services agreement

Alliance Aviation Services has executed a contract extension with Newmont Mining to continue chartering flights for the miner to the Granites Mine Site in the Northern Territory of Australia from bases in Perth, Darwin and Brisbane.

The three-year agreement servicing Newmont’s Tanami mine in the Northern Territory extends the current contract with the miner until 2024.

“This contract is considered by Alliance to be material as it is forecast to represent between 5% and 7% of revenue in the next 12 months,” the company said.

Alliance has been providing services to Newmont continuously for the last nine years, with Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, saying the company is “thrilled” to be continuing this relationship.

“Air charter services to Newmont’s mine site have increased over the last nine years and it is the only site in Australia where we fly into from three different states/territories,” he said.

“This contract extension was won due to the ability of Alliance to continue to operate safe, reliable and cost-effective air charter services for Newmont.”

Newmont says Tanami is a fly-in, fly-out operation in one of Australia’s most remote locations.

Worley out to help miners on their open pit to underground mining transition

As open-pit mines reach their economic end of life, mine owners are considering the viability of transitioning their open-pit operations to underground.

Drawing on its deep level mining expertise in South Africa, Worley helps mine owners around the world to explore the feasibility of underground life of mine extensions and identify the most efficient and safe underground mining methods.

Among the driving factors in the transition to underground mining are declining ore grades, deeper ore deposits, and an increase in demand for minerals required for the global energy transition, such as copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, Worley says.

“Worley’s centre of excellence for copper in Chile has been supporting open-pit copper mine customers for nearly three decades,” the company said. “The company is gearing up its underground capability as these mines shift their operations to below surface to access deeper ore reserves.”

Going deep in South Africa

Worley’s South Africa operations is one of the company’s mining centres of excellence with niche experience in deep level mining.

Mining has been the mainstay of South Africa’s economy for well over a century, and a major source of employment as well as foreign investment. Consequently, Worley has grown its South Africa mining team in one of the best mining environments in the world, with a collective experience of over 120 years in deep level mining and process expertise.

Robert Hull, Vice President for Mining, Minerals & Metals in Africa, says Worley’s South African operation is recognised for its deep level shaft experience, and the company also has experience across most commodities including base metals, coal, platinum, gold, diamonds and ferrous metals.

Hull says Worley has a strong global workshare philosophy and culture of collaboration. The specialist skills in South Africa gained from working on some of the biggest underground projects in the world are an integral part of Worley’s mining, minerals and metals global project delivery offering.

Deep level mine skills

Some of South Africa’s specialist deep underground skills include shaft design, ventilation and refrigeration shafts, high pressure pumping, and deep level hoisting.

Worley says it is one of the few companies in the world that has the expertise to design hoisting systems for mass hoisting, such as at the Venetia Underground Project, which will hoist approximately 6 Mt/y of rock.

The De Beers Venetia Mine in South Africa is the biggest source of rough diamonds in the country, according to Worley. The mine is in the process of transitioning from open pit to underground, to extend its life by some 25 years.

As engineering procurement and construction management contractor for South Africa’s largest mining execution project, Worley is using 3D designs for the project infrastructure to provide 3D models for the entire project’s surface and underground infrastructure, it said.

Intelligent mines

Hull says Worley is leading the way in developing digital solutions for the planning, design and execution of mining projects, with the South Africa office having played a key role in the design and development of much of the group’s digital technology in mining and minerals processing.

Hull (pictured) cites the Wafi-Golpu (owned by Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining) feasibility study update, in Papua New Guinea, where the South Africa team drew on SmartPlant design technology, which uses rapid prototyping and Building Information Modelling. The technology allowed the entire project team to visualise project objectives as never before, greatly improving operational efficiency in a dynamic time and cost-saving environment, according to Worley.

The Wafi-Golpu project is ranked as a world-class deposit in terms of its size and the grade of gold and copper within it. If developed, it will be the largest, deepest and most complex underground mine in Papua New Guinea, with a mine life of 28 years, Worley says.

Integrated project delivery teams

Worley’s South Africa team is also supporting its Australia counterparts to project manage the delivery of the deepening and expansion of an underground gold mine. This includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at depth to 2 140m below surface. IM understands the project in question is the Newmont-owned Tanami Expansion 2 project, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Mega machines for mega mines

Hull says every underground project Worley has executed has drawn on the company’s large material handling capabilities.

“In South Africa, we have a dedicated materials handling department that has the latest tools including discrete element modelling and finite element analysis, and advanced simulation tools for conveyer design,” he said.

Coenie Mynhardt, Winder Engineering at Worley, adds that mine payloads have increased dramatically in the last two decades in pursuit of higher productivity rates. Mines such as Impala and Phalaborwa, in South Africa, with an approximate 12-t per skipload, were considered ‘mega mines’ in their day. The mines of the future are more than double that size.

“The mega mines of the future need mega machines to be able to handle such big payloads,” Mynhardt says. “Materials handling technology for such deep, high tonnage operations will test current technology for capacity and reliability to bring the ore from the production levels to surface. We have the skills and expertise to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Global project delivery

“Countries such as Chile have immense potential for transitioning from open pit to underground if the geology supports it,” commented Hull. “With the wealth of experience across locations and over 4,000 staff in our mining, minerals and metals business line, we can safely and successfully deliver our customers’ underground mine assets through collaborative development of the mine and associated infrastructure anywhere in the world.”

Titeline mining its underground diamond drilling niche

In looking to retain the mantle of Australia’s safest drilling company while expanding into the underground mining sector, Titeline Drilling has found support from some of the biggest miners in the world.

The company has long been viewed as a leading surface mineral exploration drilling contractor but, as David D’Astoli, CEO of Titeline, explained, this type of work is subject to cyclical exploration budgets.

“The rationale for moving into the underground market was to try to get some ‘lumpiness’ out of our income stream,” he told IM. “As you know, with exploration, it can be pretty up and down. With the underground side, our work is a lot closer to the production side of the business; we’re doing grade control and resource development work in long dated (four to five years) contracts.”

Titeline was looking for consistency and resilience even in market downturns.

To enact this change, the company employed a new General Manager of Underground, Greg Wythes.

Wythes, who had a background in underground drilling in Australia having worked at the likes of Newcrest Mining’s Cadia and Rio Tinto’s (now CMOC’s) majority-owned Northparkes mine, was aware of the pain points the industry was feeling and sought about creating a unique value proposition for the new underground contracting division.

The contract the company bid on – and consequently won – for MMG’s Rosebery mine in Tasmania, Australia, provided just that.

MMG, in a blog post, explained that brief.

“When Rosebery was looking to award the contract for underground drilling services in 2017, all tendering companies were asked to supply a hands-free solution for drill rod handling, in-line with our vision for an injury-free workplace,” the company said.

“The successful company, Titeline, was the only tender that presented a viable solution to hands-free drill rod loading and unloading.”

Titeline – having fitted Boart Longyear rod handlers to their drills that “present the rod in an ergonomic position so the drill assistant can get it and stack it away”, D’Astoli says – knew such a solution could be developed, in theory, but had to search for the right suppliers and solutions to prove it could work in a real-world underground environment.

The Boart Longyear rod handler, along with a rig able to move and set up quickly, drill from +90 to -90 degrees and to depths of 1,500 m, immediately proved productive at Rosebery.

“The brief was to ensure the drills on site were performing before starting their hand-free proposal, and, within six months of commencing their contract, Titeline’s in-house designed drill rigs outperformed the previous contractor,” MMG said.

Yet, the company needed to automate the rod handling process further to fulfil the brief.

This is where the potential of robots came into view.

“These robots were already in the manufacturing industry – which aren’t exactly pristine environments – and were able to operate without an issue,” D’Astoli said. “They were also being employed on sea walls where they were constantly doused with sea water and continued to operate.”

Robot technicians were happy to provide conservative estimates of only having to service these robots every six months in the underground environment, according to D’Astoli. This provided the peace of mind that maintenance issues were not going to knock productivity off-line.

It cemented a relationship with a robotics company in Melbourne, Victoria, not too far away from its Ballarat base, and gave the company the robot drilling brief.

Boart Longyear provided access to the drill rig interface, the DCI control panel.

This year-and-a-half long process led to the development of a world first for underground diamond drilling: a drill and ancillary rod buggy carrier able to drill unattended and perform an autonomous rod trip (pulling the drill string out of the drill holes and then running it back in).

Able to work in confined environments, and drill 360° on azimuth and from -90 degrees to + 90 degrees in dip, the solution was presented to a global audience at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s annual exploration event earlier this year.

Meanwhile, MMG and Titeline had started commissioning the first rig at Rosebery, and one of the world’s biggest gold miners was putting the rigs through their paces.

Titeline, which already has an existing grade control and resource definition contract at Newmont’s Tanami gold mine, in the Northern Territory, has provided six rigs to the miner, two of which are equipped with the new drill and ancillary rod buggy carrier. More of these robotic rigs will be arriving at the operation by the end of the year.

Modifications to these rigs continue to take place, but the three currently in place at Rosebery and Tanami are very much “producing”, D’Astoli explained.

“We have been making some changes to the programming, to the safety circuit, the laser circuit, etc, but they’ve been performing well,” he said. “We’ve even drilled a few hundred metre shifts with one of the robot rigs.”

He provided some colour to this performance: “The rod pulling process is at least as quick as it is with the Boart Longyear rod handler and is a lot more consistent as you are taking the human element out of it.

“The existing rigs across the underground industry, whether they have total manual handling or are using the Boart Longyear rod handler, still need a drill assistant or driller in there plucking the rod out of the rod handler and putting it away. That can get tiring.”

Accidents can happen when this tiredness occurs.

“The robot will, in the end, always be that bit quicker, as it is consistent over a longer period of time and never gets tired,” D’Astoli added.

Shift change opportunities

The automation elements on these drill rigs are not only removing personnel from the danger zones, they are also providing a productivity boost.

D’Astoli feels the value driver comes with being able to drill throughout shift changes and other times where manual drilling would normally have stopped.

“One of the biggest impediments to production in the underground environment is how many hours you can drill in a 12-hour day,” he said. “Quite often it is a lot less than you think. That can be due to ventilation issues, water issues, dewatering issues, heat, etc.

“The biggest improvement from a productivity point of view available to us is being able to drill and pull rods between shift changes, crib breaks and those types of things. Or, if the ventilation system goes down, personnel will move away from the area, and allow the drill to drill autonomously. That is where the productivity gains are going to come from.

“All of this leads to being able to drill more hours over a shift.”

The company is not finished automating, though, with D’Astoli saying it intends to further leverage this robotised drilling and rod pulling ability.

“With Wi-Fi in the mines, it is at the point where you could be able to take that to the next level and have someone sitting on the surface controlling the rig,” D’Astoli said.

“Or, you might have a similar application to the way semi-autonomous underground boggers (LHDs) work in a block cave mine, where the operators are in a controlled environment and one operator might be operating three boggers at a time.”

That is some way ahead.

For the time being, the company is focused on switching out all of the manual rigs it has delivered to Rosebery and Tanami with the semi-autonomous ones.

Each new rig is a large undertaking for the company, with the learnings from Rosebery to Tanami – and vice versa – reflected in every build.

This is where being aligned with major companies such as Newmont and MMG comes in handy.

“MMG have been very understanding of the process we are going through,” D’Astoli said. “They came and visited us in Ballarat, pre-COVID-19, to see how we were getting along. Newmont have been exactly the same; very supportive giving us the time and space to deliver.”

Major attraction

While the PDAC debut excited lots of attention, D’Astoli is keen to foster the relationship with these two companies further, in addition to aligning with other major companies – and major mines – in the future.

“They’re the ones that probably own the bigger, lower-cost mines, which is where we want to be,” he said. “It is those orebodies that demand the amount of drilling where it makes sense to automate as much of the process as possible,” D’Astoli said.

“When you set up these long-term contracts to deploy such technology, you want to make sure the mine has a long life ahead of it and the owner is not going to be chopping and changing the budget from year to year.”

Asked whether the wider industry is willing to pay for such innovation, D’Astoli was resolute in his answer.

“For a company really focused on safety, they are not going to be knocked out by the price of this solution,” he said.

Surface safety

This is not all Titeline is interested in at the moment.

Titeline has to this point in its underground automation journey been helped along the way by Chile-based Exploration Drill Masters (EDM).

EDM, which Titeline owns 50% of, has been fabricating the frames and other components for these new rigs before they head to Australia for final assembly.

But the Santiago-based company is working on a new development of its own.

Its patent-pending EDM rod-feeder system for handling drill pipe has been used across the globe as an add-on to existing fleets, many of them being used on Titeline rigs.

D’Astoli says operators can park this solution up behind any top drive drill rig in Australia and remove 90% of the manual handling risks that come with the handling of diamond drill pipe to and from the drill string.

The EDM Mark I has already achieved this, but Mark II will further improve this solution, providing a bridge between manual handling and full hands-free solutions, he says.

“The national fleet in Australia mainly consists of top drive drill rigs and there is no real hands-free solution on the market that does not currently affect the productivity of these rigs in the majority of applications,” he said.

“The EDM Mark II rod feeder fills the gap while a new, hands-free solution is being developed.”

Titeline brings automated diamond drilling tech to Newmont’s Tanami gold mine

Newmont has confirmed it is working with Titeline Drilling on the deployment of autonomous underground diamond drilling technology at its Tanami gold mine, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

In the miner’s March quarter results investor call, Chief Operating Officer, Rob Atkinson, highlighted the use of “industry-leading robotic technology for diamond rig drilling” at the mine, saying it had the capacity to remove employees from the line of fire when drilling and removing the fatality risk associated with equipment entanglement.

Titeline, having previously automated the drill rod handling function on surface drill rigs, has recently been looking to replicate this achievement underground. Working with Chile-based Exploration Drill Masters (EDM), who with Titeline helped develop the patent-pending EDM rod-feeder system for handling drill pipe on Titeline’s autonomous surface drills, the company has now come up with a system able to complete a drilling rod pull autonomously in the underground environment and, of course, drill autonomously.

Titeline, which has an existing grade control and resource definition contract at Tanami, supplied the two autonomous drill rigs now running at the underground mine, with Atkinson saying on the call that more robotic rigs were on the way.

“During 2020, we will integrate five robotic rigs to the fleet, and we’ll replicate this impressive technology at other Newmont underground sites globally,” he said.

Tanami is currently undergoing a stage two expansion including the construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at a depth of 2,140 m below surface.

Valmec extends stay at Tanami expansion project

Valmec has been awarded A$23 million ($14.9 million) worth of new projects across Australia, including another works package from Newmont for its Tanami gold mine in the Northern Territory.

The contract with Newmont Mining Services Pty is for an additional package of infrastructure works at the Tanami Expansion 2 (TE2) project, Valmec said.

The energy services company was awarded the original A$6 million TE2 contract back in June 2019, with the majority of the works expected to be completed by November 2019.

Newmont’s board signed off on the TE2 project in October 2019. The project is expected to exceed the company’s required internal rate of return with profitable production and mine life extending beyond 2040. The expansion includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at a depth of 2,140 m below surface.

Valmec, meanwhile, said the group’s current order book totalling circa-A$65 million remains “robust”, with several larger upstream energy and infrastructure projects also expected to be committed before June 30, 2020.

Valmec’s Managing Director, Steve Dropulich, said: “Together with Valmec’s current suite of services in onshore gas infrastructure, our latest awarded projects and service contracts are testament to the resilience of our market offerings, even within these challenging COVID-19 economic conditions.”

Sun shines on Newmont Goldcorp’s sustainability efforts

Newmont Goldcorp has published its 2018 sustainability report, which has shown why the company continues to rank near the top of several indices measuring mining companies’ global footprint.

The company, which completed the acquisition of Goldcorp only last week, shared several insights into its sustainability goals and achievements in the report, with its solar energy success notable.

Last year, the company installed a new solar plant at its Akyem gold mine in Ghana. The 120 kW plant, which has four of Cambridge Energy Partners’ Nomad solar PV trackers included, will power the camp and mess hall during daylight hours, Newmont Goldcorp said.

“It has a 25-year asset life and is redeployable, so it can be disassembled and moved to another location at closure,” the company said.

Initial data has shown measurable cost, environmental and social benefits, according to the gold miner. Over five months, the plant produced more than 75,000 kWh of solar energy, resulting in a reduction of more than 32,000 kg of CO2, it said, adding that the plant is expected to produce energy at half the cost of grid power.

On top of this, the miner said it was negotiating with Ghana’s Volta River Authority on a purchase power agreement for 8 MW of solar power.

In Nevada, US, meanwhile, the company’s Phoenix mine installed solar arrays that will generate a total of 10 kW of power for two wireless communications sites.

Additional solar projects are under evaluation at Tanami (Australia), which completed the construction of a natural gas project recently, and the Merian mine in Suriname, the company said.

These current projects are just some of the initiatives the company has put in place at its operations.

As of the end of 2018, the company said it had reduced our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions intensity by 11.7% compared with its 2013 baseline. This is around 70% of its public target to reduce GHG emissions intensity by 16.5% (compared with 2013) by 2020. These numbers do not include any data from Goldcorp.

Completion of the Tanami power project in Australia is expected to reduce its GHG emissions intensity over the next two years, the company said. “We also continue to evaluate fuel switching (from coal to natural gas) at our TS Power Plant in Nevada.”