Tag Archives: tellurium

Epiroc to supply Boliden’s Kristineberg and Renström mines with battery-electric, autonomous solutions

Epiroc says it has won a large order from Boliden for mining equipment, including battery-electric and automation solutions, for use at some of the company’s underground mines in Sweden.

Boliden, one of Europe’s largest mining companies, has ordered battery-electric versions of the Boomer face drilling rig, Boltec rock bolting rig and Epiroc’s largest automated Scooptram loader, the ST18, with Batteries as a Service. The ordered equipment also includes, among other machines, the Easer raiseboring rig and Epiroc’s newest production and face drilling rigs, Simba and Boomer, in the E-series.

The machines will be used at the Rävliden Kristineberg and Renström mine sites in northern Sweden. Boliden is mining zinc, copper, lead, gold, silver and tellurium at the mines.

On the Scooptram ST18 Battery, specifically, Mattias Pettersson, Global Portfolio Manager Underground Loaders, confirmed that the battery-electric machine heading to Boliden’s operations would be upgraded to Scooptram Automation. This will coincide with several other BEV customers receiving automation upgrades around the same timeframe, according to Pettersson, adding that the battery charging process will not be automated in this instance.

At Rävliden Kristineberg, Boliden and Epiroc are also involved in a project to develop and demonstrate an electric trolley truck system on a test track, with ABB being the third project partner.

The order is valued at more than SEK100 million ($9.8 million) and was booked in the June quarter of 2022.

“Boliden is focused on making its operations as safe, sustainable, and productive as possible and to produce metals with a low carbon footprint, and we are proud to support them on this journey,” Epiroc’s President and CEO, Helena Hedblom, said.

The Simba production drilling rig and the battery-electric loader Scooptram ST18 will be equipped with the 6th Sense solutions Simba Automation and Scooptram Automation. This will enable operators to control the machines remotely from the comfort of a control room, according to Epiroc. All units will be equipped with Epiroc’s telematics system, which allows for intelligent monitoring of machine performance and productivity in real time.

Rio Tinto produces first tellurium from Kennecott copper operation

Rio Tinto has started producing tellurium at its Kennecott copper operation in Utah, becoming one of only two US producers of the critical mineral used in advanced thin film photovoltaic solar panels.

The tellurium will be refined in North America by 5N Plus, a global producer of specialty semiconductors and performance materials, under a commercial agreement between 5N Plus and Rio Tinto. The refined tellurium will primarily be supplied to First Solar, the only U-based company among the world’s 10 largest solar manufacturers, under an existing supply contract between 5N Plus and First Solar. 5N Plus will also use the tellurium to manufacture ultra-high purity semiconductor materials at its facility in St. George, Utah, to serve the security and medical imaging markets.

Approximately 20 tons (18 t) of tellurium will be produced per year through a new $2.9 million circuit built at the Kennecott refinery. This valuable material is recovered from by-product streams generated during the copper refining process, reducing the amount of waste that needs to be treated and discarded as mine tailings.

Tellurium is listed as a critical mineral by the US Government due to its importance to the economy and energy security.

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Operating Officer, Clayton Walker, said: “We are proud to deliver a new domestic supply of tellurium to support the manufacturing of solar panels and other critical equipment here in the United States. Approximately 90% of the world’s tellurium resource is contained in copper ore and no other metal has more critical mineral by-products than copper. The Kennecott team is constantly looking for ways to extract new critical minerals to meet emerging demand for the clean energy transition.”

5N Plus President and Chief Executive Officer, Gervais Jacques, said: “As a leading global supplier of specialty semiconductor compounds for applications in renewable energy, security and medical imaging, 5N Plus is proud of this partnership with Rio Tinto, and to further leverage its expertise in the transformation of mining and metallurgical by-products into high purity value-added critical minerals such as tellurium, here in North America.”

First Solar Chief Manufacturing Operations Officer, Mike Koralewski, added: “Rio Tinto’s decision to invest in tellurium is a win for responsibly-produced, American solar. We’re thrilled that tellurium from Kennecott will play a role in powering our country’s transition to a sustainable energy future.”

Tellurium is one of 10 metals and products recovered from ore extracted at Kennecott, which produces nearly 15% of US copper with the country’s lowest carbon footprint, Rio Tinto says.