Tag Archives: Teck Resources

Teck forms 50:50 jv with Polymet as it targets production from Minnesota’s Iron Range

Teck Resources has announced an agreement with PolyMet Mining Corp to form a 50:50 joint venture to advance PolyMet’s NorthMet Project and Teck’s Mesaba mineral deposit, both located in the Iron Range of Minnesota, USA.

The joint venture will be named NewRange Copper Nickel LLC, with Glencore plc retaining its majority equity interest in PolyMet and providing financial support for its share of the funding commitment to the joint venture.

“The NewRange Copper Nickel joint venture brings together two large, well defined mineral resources in the established Iron Range mining region of Minnesota,” Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck, said. “This agreement will help unlock a new domestic supply of critical metals for the low-carbon transition through responsible mining.”

Closing of the transaction will be subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of all required regulatory approvals.

The NorthMet project is near both existing and closed iron ore mines and utilises existing brownfield tailings storage and plant locations to minimise environmental impact. NorthMet is expected to produce 29,000 t/d of over a 20-year permitted mine life, with first production targeted for 2026. Over its first full five years of operations, NorthMet is expected to deliver annual payable production of 30,000 t of copper, 3,600 t of nickel, 58,000 oz of palladium, and 12,000 oz of platinum.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed nearly all aspects of the water discharge permit for the NorthMet project, overruling six of the seven challenges to the permit made by mining opponents and paving the way for the “reactivation” of this key permit, PolyMet Mining Corp Chairman, President and CEO, Jon Cherry, said at the time.

The Mesaba mineral deposit, in the Duluth Complex near the NorthMet project, contains one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-nickel resources, according to Teck. While further studies and community consultations are required to fully define the long-term development potential, Mesaba represents a strategic metal resource for North America, it added.

Teck Resources looks to become ‘nature positive’ by 2030

Teck Resources Limited is setting a goal to become a “nature positive” company by 2030, including through conserving or rehabilitating at least three hectares for every one hectare affected by its mining activities.

Teck says it is taking immediate action towards achieving this ambitious goal through land conservation investments that will protect 14,000 ha of wildlife habitat and ecosystems in Canada and Chile. This is equivalent to over 40% of its current mining footprint and equal to 40 Central Parks in New York.

“We are committed to working with local partners, communities and Indigenous Peoples to conserve ecologically and culturally significant lands and work towards the goal of becoming a nature positive mining company by 2030,” Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck, said. “Nature loss is a serious global challenge that we are all called on to do our part to halt and reverse. Working towards being nature positive in each region we operate builds on Teck’s long-standing commitment to biodiversity and reflects the passion of our employees for caring for the land where they live and work.”

Teck’s new conservation initiatives announced today protect 14,000 hectares and include:

  • C$2 million ($1.6 million) donation to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for the purchase and ongoing management of the nearly 8,000-ha Next Creek Watershed in the East Kootenays of British Columbia. Next Creek was the last remaining unprotected land within the Darkwoods Conservation Area and this purchase protects the ecological integrity of a conservation network that has national and international significance;
  • Donation to NCC of approximately 162 ha of Teck-owned land in the Wycliffe Wildlife Corridor, also known as the Luke Creek Conservation Corridor, near Kimberley, British Columbia, and further donation of C$600,000 for the ongoing management of the land;
  • Some 5,800 ha of a unique and high-value wetland ecosystem near Teck’s Quebrada Blanca Operations in Chile will be protected in partnership with the Ollagüe Quechua community, Teck says. Known as the Salar de Alconcha, or Alconcha Salt Flat, the lands are located northwest of the village of Ollagüe near the Bolivian border at 4,123 m above sea level. The initiative is the first of its kind in Chile;
  • An investment of C$10 million to create an Indigenous Stewardship Fund that will support Indigenous communities and partners in the development of Indigenous-focused environmental stewardship initiatives as well as engagement, education, capacity-building and participation in support of conservation objectives in regions where Teck operates; and
  • Some C$12 million in new funding to the NCC to support future high priority conservation projects in British Columbia, in addition to those announced today.

The conservation investments announced today build on Teck’s purchase of over 7,000 ha of private lands in the Elk and Flathead River Valleys of British Columbia, set aside for conservation. Teck’s purchase of these lands in 2013 was one of the single biggest private sector investments in land conservation in British Columbia history. In 2021, Teck and the Ktunaxa Nation announced the signing of a Joint Management Agreement to ensure the protection of the area’s social, cultural and ecological value.

“The World Economic Forum ranks biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top threats humanity will face this decade and global leaders, including the G7, are calling for the world to become both net zero and nature positive,” the company said.

“For Teck, working to become nature positive means that, by 2030, our conservation, protection and restoration of land and biodiversity will exceed the disturbance caused by our mining activities from a 2020 baseline.”

Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo goes live with MineSense shovel-based ore sorting system

Following a successful trial of a MineSense’s ShovelSense ore sorting unit at Teck Resources’ Carmen de Andacollo mine in Chile, the operation is now using the system to divert trucks in real-time, MineSense says.

The implementation of an additional ShovelSense system at CDA is now also underway, the Vancouver-based company says.

CDA is Teck Resource’s second mining operation using ShovelSense, following commercialisation in 2019 at Highland Valley Copper (HVC) in British Columbia, Canada.

“The ShovelSense results are spectacular!” Victor Araya, Teck Superintendent Geology, said, referring to the results of the trial recently completed.

All new technology introduced into the mine is rigorously tested at different stages of evaluation at scale to ensure the system works reliably in the field, according to MineSense. ShovelSense exceeded one-digit accuracy (single-digit relative error) measuring copper ore and met and exceeded expectations for all criteria in the trial: system availability; accuracy to blast hole data; and precision in the field, the company reported.

Teck CDA also recently celebrated the diversion of seven ore-from-waste trucks, which are the first of many that ShovelSense data will automatically divert to maximise ore recovery and minimise the needless transportation and processing of waste, MineSense said.

“We have now incorporated ShovelSense to decide the destination of the materials, not at the block scale, but truck to truck, due to the reading of grades on each shelf of the loading equipment… the end result is increased ore to mill tonnage and also a significant improvement in feed grade,” Araya concluded.

Claudio Toro, EVP Business Development at MineSense, added: “We are proud that Teck has chosen to partner with MineSense again, demonstrating confidence that ShovelSense is a proven and valued technology. Global mining operations are continually seeking new ways to get more value out of their mines and extend the life of mine and we are pleased to again be chosen by Teck.

“ShovelSense is a proven solution that unlocks a mine’s full potential.”

Hear more about Teck CDA’s installation on April 25 when MineSense and International Mining will be holding a joint webinar titled, ‘Ore sorting at the extraction face’ at 10 am EST/4pm CEST. Click here for more information

Canada launches MMAP project to evaluate natural resource genomic sequencing

Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster has launched the Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform (MMAP) project, which, it says, is the largest investment in planned natural resource genomic sequencing in the history of the sector.

With breakthrough biomining solutions, the MMAP project will be the catalyst for sustainable mining practices on a global scale by replacing energy and chemical-intense resource extraction methods and improving mining site clean-up techniques, it says.

Led by Teck Resources, and in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC), BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI), this consortium is creating the first integrated online platform to extract the DNA from more than 15,000 mining site samples over the next two years to identify microbes that can be used to replace chemical and other legacy extraction methods for minerals and metals, and to perform safer, more effective remediation of legacy and operational mine sites. UBC’s Bradshaw Research Initiative for Minerals and Mining (BRIMM), in particular, has played a formative role in bringing together the private industry partners, non-profit genomics and mining sector organisations, and academic researchers crucial to this unique partnership.

The combination of technology companies, researchers, and mining sector companies provides MMAP both the critical mass to develop viable solutions and a direct pathway to commercial adoption, it says.

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said: “As we transition towards our net-zero future, the mining sector can and will play a crucial role in our green recovery. We are proud to see Canadian mining leaders such as Teck Resources driving innovation and accelerating sustainable mining practices.

“Through Digital Technology Supercluster projects such as this one, we are creating well-paying jobs and breakthroughs in biomining that are important to Canada, and those advances will contribute to achieving environmental sustainability not just here but also on a global scale.”

Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck, added: “At Teck, we’re continually looking for the most effective ways to protect the environment while we produce the metals and minerals needed to build a better quality of life for people around the world. We’re pleased to partner on the MMAP project which stands to advance the mining industry’s collective commitment to responsible resource development.”

Mark Davies, Chief Technical Officer at Rio Tinto, said: “As an early mining user of the platform, we see the transformative potential for this microbiome-based technology to promote environmental stewardship and help us achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. By providing samples from our mines for genome sequencing, we are contributing to the potential development of breakthrough biological solutions to decarbonize the extraction and processing of metals and minerals, and to support the remediation of mine sites.”

This project is also supported by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation as well as the Tahltan Central Government, and Illumina, a global genomics sequencing company. The Mining Microbiome Analysis Platform project has a total investment of C$16.6 million ($13.1 million) with C$12.6 million invested by industry and C$3.99 million co-invested through the Digital Supercluster’s Technology Leadership Program.

Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, concluded: “Changing how the mining industry interacts with the natural world requires broad collaboration so that, together, we can create a more sustainable future. The Digital Supercluster is proud to see Canadian companies and organizations such as Teck, BGC Engineering, Koonkie Canada, Rio Tinto, UBC, Genome BC, Allonnia, Microsoft and the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation lead the way in cleaner natural resource extraction and more responsible site management.”

Teck Resources’ Highland Valley operation to join the Copper Mark

Teck Resources says it has committed to the Copper Mark, a voluntary assurance framework to promote responsible production practices and demonstrate the industry’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with its Highland Valley Copper Operations, in British Columbia, Canada, becoming its first copper operation to sign up to the framework.

“Copper is critical for the transition to a low-carbon economy and we have outlined near-term plans and future opportunities for significant copper production growth in the years ahead, and we are focused on being a responsible producer of this essential metal,” Don Lindsay, President and CEO, Teck, said. “Our participation in the Copper Mark is another way we’re enhancing transparency and ensuring customers have the information they need on our performance as a responsible copper producer.”

Michèle Brülhart, Executive Director of the Copper Mark, said: “Copper has a critical role to play in the green transition as a vital material in clean energy technologies. The Copper Mark sets out a framework to verify that copper producers operate responsibly while contributing to the development of the low-carbon economy.”

To achieve the Copper Mark, Teck’s Highland Valley Copper operations will be assessed and independently verified against 32 responsible production criteria this year. Teck currently plans for its Carmen de Andacollo operations in Chile and the QB2 project in Chile, which is expected to begin production in the second half of 2022, to begin the Copper Mark assurance process in 2023.

In August, the Copper Mark announced that two of KGHM Polska Miedź SA’s operations – Glogów and Legnica (both in Poland) – had also joined the framework.

Teck, Kinross and Vale join Axora’s mining and metals digital transformation community

Axora says it has launched the world’s first digital transformation community for the energy and metals and mining sectors.

The Axora Community intends to connect industry innovators, share the latest market research on key digital trends and initiate thought-provoking debates to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing these industries today, Axora said.

“Professionals in these two sectors face some of the world’s most dangerous environments while having to safely satisfy production demand and hit sustainability targets,” Ritz Steytler, CEO of Axora (pictured), said at the launch event in London last night. “By harnessing digital innovation, paired with knowledge sharing and collaboration, industry leaders can ensure worker safety, reduce environmental impact, and improve return on investment. That’s why we started the Axora Community.”

Axora’s two recent reports, ‘Innovation Forecast: Mining and Metals’ and ‘Innovation Forecast: Energy’, revealed that 99% of senior decision makers at energy and metals and mining firms across the world needed a global digital transformation community.

The Axora Community will include metals and mining, and energy industry professionals as well as technology providers, associations and academics. It has been set up with the help of 10 founder members and senior professionals from leading companies including Teck Resources, Kinross Gold, Vale and ArcelorMittal Europe.

Peter Stegmaier, Founding Member, Axora Community and Chairman, CLQ Global, said: “The energy and mining sectors have embraced digital transformation for some time, but there is still much room for improvement to ensure they fully realise the benefits of key growth drivers like artificial intelligence, advanced analytics and automation.

“For the first time, industry innovators will have a forum for information on digital solutions, can gain insights into how other industries are tackling similar challenges and learn best practice from their peers.”

The Axora Community intends to host exclusive webinars, invite-only roundtables, and access to live Q&A sessions with industry experts around the world. It will initially focus on the metals and mining sector and will expand to cover the energy sector at the end of this year.

Axora calls itself the digital solutions marketplace for industrial innovators, offering industrial companies a service to discover, buy and sell digital innovations for improved safety, sustainability and efficiency across their operations.

BAUER builds foundations with Teck at Red Dog mine in Alaska

BAUER Foundation Corp and its jet grouting and Cutter Soil Mixing (CSM) methods are being put to the test in arctic conditions at Teck Resources’ Red Dog zinc mine in Alaska as part of a project to improve ground conditions at the operation.

Red Dog is one of the world’s largest zinc mines, located in the northwest of Alaska, around 170 km north of the Arctic Circle and nearly 1,000 km to the northwest of Anchorage. The mine has been operating since the late 1980s with around 10% of the world’s zinc extracted here by open-pit mining.

Its location in the Arctic Circle means the entire mine is in a geological permafrost area that keeps the ground permanently and completely frozen below a certain depth. There is, however, an active zone near the surface that thaws during the summer and refreezes during winter.

Based on an evaluation of the permafrost and soil on the site, ground improvements were identified as a prudent measure to counteract the effects of potential melting permafrost, BAUER said. To this end, BAUER Foundation was tasked by Teck with carrying out field tests using the jet grouting and CSM methods.

“The trials included detailed data capture and strict quality controls in close collaboration with Teck, the project owner, and other geotechnical consulting engineers,” Alejandro de la Rosa Knecht, Project Manager with Bauer Foundation, explained. “Trials were carried out from August to December of 2019, which ultimately identified the CSM method as the most suitable choice for the main scope of this project.”

The CSM method combines features of the diaphragm wall technique and the mixed-in-place ground improvement method (MIP). The soil is broken up using a cutter, then rearranged and mixed with an aggregate.

The trials for Red Dog also determined the extent to which existing subsoil were to be replaced with suitable filler material to facilitate later mixing.

In 2020, during the period from July to November, 50% of the pre-drilling was completed as well as 30% of the CSM. In addition, BAUER Foundation was tasked with the construction of a secant pile wall as an extension to an existing slurry wall. To achieve this, the required pile wall was integrated into the existing slurry wall and the underlying rock using primary and secondary piles. In all, 93 secant piles were constructed. A multi-purpose BAUER BG 30 drilling rig with special Arctic equipment along with various drilling tool and mixer sets were used for the execution of all the works.

One of the main challenges was the mobilisation of equipment in the limited time provided by the schedule, BAUER said. However, the required special equipment was mobilised in record time. Some equipment was transported by plane and then by ship from Seattle Harbour across the Bering Sea to a dock just over 80 km from the mine. Other equipment was transported via Hercules aircraft from Anchorage airport to the airport on the mine site. This logistical success was made possible by close collaboration with various BAUER subsidiaries and Teck, BAUER said.

“The remote and isolated location, the long deployment times and accommodation in camps pose additional challenges, as do the extreme Arctic climate conditions, precautionary measures associated with the corona pandemic and the specific safety requirements of the mining industry,” de la Rosa Knecht said.

Despite all these challenges, the Bauer and client teams were able to successfully conclude trial work between August and December 2019 and the first phase of production activities between July and November 2020.

The final production phase, which includes CSM and demobilisation, is due to be completed by June 2021.

Technology symposium set to uncover new mineral exploration techniques

An eclectic mix of topics including the use of bacterial DNA to determine mineral deposits, hyperspectral imaging of core samples and the rise of quantitative data analysis will be discussed at a two-day conference presented by IMDEX.

The IMDEX Xploration Tech Symposium, usually held in Vancouver, Canada, will this year be held online on January 12-13 featuring a range of international speakers. The conference brings together experts at the forefront of innovation in the mining and exploration industries and will examine the latest in new technologies, tools, and advanced analytics, the mining tech company says.

Among the speakers will be Chad Hewson, Manager, Geophysics and Innovation, at Teck Resources; Dr Ralf Tappert, Co-Founder of Hyperspectral Intelligence; and Dr Thomas Bissig, a consultant geoscientist with over 25 years of experience.

Dr Bissig and colleague Bianca Phillips, a PhD student, will discuss the use of unconventional techniques for geochemical exploration including bacterial DNA, gases and selectively sampling areas where seismic pumping may have occurred to determine potential sub-surface deposits.

“(Bacterial DNA) is a technique that really only has become a possibility with increased computing power and lower costs of genomic sequencing,” Dr Bissig said. “It’s a great example of interdisciplinary research. The biologists and the geologists can work together to find deposits.”

Dr Bissig added: “We’re still learning how bacteria specifically respond to the geochemistry. An example would be bacteria that eat sulphides for their energy source; if you have sulphides in the ground which typically are associated with elements of interest that we would like to mine, we can detect sulphides in DNA.”

He said early studies in Canada’s Northwest Territories had returned “compelling signals, much better than conventional grid sampling of soils”.

Seismic pumping is the assessment of elements brought to the surface in water during seismic events. This is where Dr Tappert’s focus on developing a robust, portable hyperspectral scanning tool for examining core samples comes in, with the result being the geoLOGr rock analyser (pictured). Hyperspectral Intelligence has sold geoLOGR units to mining companies in Canada and South Africa.

“Spectroscopy is relatively simple technology,” Dr Tappert said. “You just have to put it into the right instrument and make it usable for mines and exploration companies.”

He said companies were putting more effort into collecting basic data.

“The drill core logging is the basic information that the entire mine relies upon, especially with deposits where you’ll have marginal grades. It really depends on the accuracy of your basic geological model to make the mine feasible or not.

“Companies have realised this is important, and spectroscopy plays a key role. It’s essentially the only method that you can use to collect continuous compositional information from the drill core.”

Hewson’s presentation, meanwhile, will examine the move from qualitative to quantitative data interpretation using existing and emerging technologies.

“That could be from field-portable tools or drilling technology, whether it be in-hole or in the core shack, and then methods which will transform the data into quantitative geoscience products,” he said.

MineSense senses further mining commercialisation opportunities in 2021

MineSense, having continued the introduction of its transformative technology into mines in 2020, says it is well positioned to dramatically ramp up commercialisation of its sensor-based ore data and sorting solutions in 2021.

The company’s solutions are focused on improving mine profitability by taking advantage of the maximum heterogeneity at the face to increase ore recovery and minimise waste processed, it says. “This profit improvement is even more critical as mines work to recover profits lost due to COVID-19 impacts in 2020,” it said.

MineSense started the year by closing a $25 million equity financing led by BDC’s Industrial Innovation Venture Fund to ramp up commercialisation and further expand operations globally.

It followed commercialisation at Teck’s Highland Valley Copper mine, with commercialisation of three new ShovelSense® systems at Copper Mountain Mining’s Copper Mountain mine, in British Columbia, Canada, in 2020. MineSense said it has been embedded into the mine’s operating practices and is included as an enabling technology in their latest NI 43-101 Technical Report.

In this report, Copper Mountain said the system’s primary goal is to direct the right material to the right destination; that is, ore to the primary crusher and waste to the waste dump.

It said the two-year evaluation period with MineSense hardware and software on three of its five loading units at Copper Mountain Mine had accomplished two objectives:

  • Selective recovery of economic copper ore from defined non-economic rock – approximately a 4% improvement; and
  • Selective rejection of non-economic rock from defined economic copper ore – approximately a 4% improvement.

MineSense’s global growth has been  supported by local field services teams who normally work at mine sites. COVID-19 presented new challenges including restricted site access, but the MineSense team overcame this, executing the first remote installations of ShovelSense systems this year.

“The flexibility and innovation by our field services and customer’s operations teams was instrumental for us in going live with multiple operating systems in Chile and Peru,” MineSense’s EVP Business Development, Claudio Toro, said.

The MineSense ShovelSense System improves orebody visibility bucket by bucket in real time during the loading process, according to the company. Trucks are then automatically diverted to the correct location, increasing value and revenue realised during the mining process. The technology also creates reductions of CO2 emissions per tonne of ore produced, consumption of processing chemicals and reagents, energy and water, while maximising metal recovery.

Frank Hoogendoorn, Chief Data Officer at MineSense, said: “We are excited to provide mines with new, data driven capabilities for sorting ore and waste. Our sensors and on-board machine learning based algorithms provide real-time bucket grades at the earliest point in the extraction processes, which enables mines to extract ore more precisely and optimise downstream processes at a resolution that previously was out of reach.”

To support mine site operations and their ore decision making, MineSense now provides 24/7 data room technical support for continuous monitoring of all elements of system performance. To track value creation, customers access their data through MineSense’s Client Portal. “This consists of data- rich visualisations of ore/waste diversions, real-time grade data and operational diagnostics,” the company says. “This information assists grade control engineers and metallurgists in mine planning, downstream operations, and overall reconciliation.”

MineSense President and CEO, Jeff More, said the mining industry was undergoing a transformation in technology and, “through its technological innovation, MineSense is able to build upon the digital and data ecosystem and create visibility where it didn’t exist before”.

COVID-19: the catalyst for driving sustainability in the metals and mining sector

COVID-19 has been a game-changer for many industries, with an inconceivable amount of companies closing or temporarily stopping their work, report Pat Lowery and Dr Nick Mayhew*.

The metals and mining industry has been no exception. By April this year, almost 250 mine sites in 33 countries had been disrupted by the virus with government-mandated shutdowns and hundreds of thousands of workers sent home either because they had contracted the virus or for their safety.

While the global pandemic has proved to be a severe crisis for the mining industry, severe crises force change, and the mining industry has been forced to commit to change and to new goals to survive.

At first, it seemed that companies might give up complying with sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) goals. However, the outcome was in fact the opposite. The pandemic has demonstrated that sustainability is now a permanent, key driver across the world, which will not be forgotten by governments nor the private sector.

Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American

The European Council made this clear by highlighting that it will not abandon its ‘Green Deal’ as part of its fiscal response to COVID-19. While in the US, New York State passed legislation which accelerated the construction of clean energy facilities as a way to spur economic recovery and fight climate change. As for investors, according to the COVID-19 Investor Pulse Check report, published by the Boston Consulting Group in May 2020, 51% of investors say they want CEOs to continue to fully pursue their ESG agenda and priorities.

COVID-19 not only set the records straight on a commitment to sustainability, but it provided a much-needed stimulus to spur the innovation required to achieve this desired goal. The metals and mining sector traditionally had a reputation for being slow to embrace new technologies – it ranked 30th out of 53 sectors in terms of R&D investment in the 2018 Global Innovation Study 1000 – however, it had no option but to react quickly to the crisis.

For instance, BHP created a COVID-19 tracking app and its Atacama mine in Chile developed a tool to remotely check stock levels for critical site materials – ensuring employee safety as well as a quick response.

Now, according to the Axora Insights COVID-19 survey, despite a significant drop in revenue after the pandemic caught the industry off-guard, experts expect the metals and mining sector’s investment in digital innovation to grow about 10% year-on-year. By using innovative technology, the industry will overcome the challenge of converting traditional mines into smart, sustainable ones with social commitment, responsibility and care towards their workers and their rights.

Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora

Rio Tinto’s vast iron ore operation in Australia’s Pilbara region, for example, is the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous trucks, having announced last year that 50% of its entire haulage fleet was automation-ready, providing safer and more cost-efficient sites. In Chile, Teck Resources is using remote smart sensor technology to gather data on the local water and identify hourly fluctuations in water quality, enabling the company to share 24/7 real-time water quality data with the local community. Nornickel in Russia is installing data transmission devices on load-haul-dump vehicles and self-propelled drilling rigs to enable remote-controlled operations, as well as developing drones to take video deep inside the mines and robots for high-quality 3D mine surveying.

Meanwhile, the Borden gold mine in Ontario, Canada, and the Agnew mine, in Western Australia, have faced their environmental challenges head-on by introducing electrification and renewable energy to their sites. The Borden mine’s electric and battery-powered fleet has eliminated diesel emissions completely and is expected to halve the total emissions on site by around 5,000 t of CO² a year. Whilst the Agnew mine met up to 60% of the site’s energy needs by running remote, off-grid operations with solar, gas, wind, and battery power, proving that such operations need not compromise reliability or productivity.

COVID-19 has escalated the need for a more sustainable and resilient metals and mining sector. There is a need to protect in the longer term, for example, against future pandemics, to ensure worker’s safety, to implement rapid recovery systems and to de-risk operations. Shifting global priorities are putting a greater emphasis on health, social and community issues; responsible partnering with the government; and pressure on companies to demonstrate fast and responsive action to current issues.

The global pandemic has provided metals and mining companies with the downtime to improve their innovative solutions and enable ‘smart’ and sustainable mines. From being a vague term, sustainability has become a real goal as COVID-19 has pushed companies to put the priorities and goals in the right order and to drive forward their businesses.

*Pat Lowery is Former Technical Director at De Beers and Group Head at Anglo American, and Dr Nick Mayhew is Chief Commercial Officer of Axora