Tag Archives: Turquoise Ridge

Sandvik and Barrick confirm Artisan Z50 trials at Turquoise Ridge gold mine

Sandvik and Barrick have confirmed the signing of a partnership agreement for trialing and enhancing battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) for underground hard-rock mining.

During a three-year production trial, Sandvik will deploy four Artisan Z50 BEV trucks at the Turquoise Ridge gold mine, part of the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture (JV), Sandvik said. Barrick is the operator of the JV, which is the single-largest gold-producing complex in the world, forecast to produce a total of 3.4-3.65 Moz of gold during 2020.

The announcement follows an acknowledgement of such a deal by President of Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, Henrik Ager, earlier this month.

The Z50 haul truck, with a 50 t payload capacity, is a ground-up design that seamlessly integrates the most capable and proven battery electric powertrain available in the mining industry with the latest and most coveted features of any haul truck on the market today, according to Sandvik.

It is equipped with AutoSwap, a patented self-swapping system for the Artisan battery pack. This makes battery swapping faster and easier with a minimum amount of manual handling: changing the battery only takes about six minutes, and it can be done in a passing bay or old re-muck bay with no overhead cranes or external infrastructure needed.

In phase 1 trials, the Z50 truck already achieved more than 1,400 hours of production with over 1,400 loads, according to Sandvik. It reached production operation of up to 18 hours per day, with speeds of over 10 km/h observed on the ramp to the tip.

Some of the key performance indicators in the new partnership will include the performance of the BEV technology in a production environment, mechanical availability, average lifecycle cost and overall production cost, Sandvik said.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our performance, both in terms of sustainability and operational efficiency,”  Mark Bristow, Barrick’s President and CEO, said. “This partnership with Sandvik is exciting and will give us first-hand experience in BEV technology in our own production environment. It is a significant step to furthering our BEV strategy across the group.”

Ager added: “I am very pleased that Barrick and Sandvik have teamed up to perform these extensive trials in a daily production environment. It gives us the possibility to prove the performance of our BEV technology.

“The purely battery-powered truck helps to reduce heat and emissions underground, helping mines reach their sustainability targets and reduce ventilation costs. This raises the bar for what is possible and enables an all-new level of production and cost reduction for underground hard rock mines.”

A dedicated site project team will be jointly working with the Barrick operations team during the trial period to ensure that all data is captured and the experience from both Sandvik and Barrick is used to ensure the uptime and productivity targets are met, Sandvik said.

Barrick continues to leverage automation and battery-electric technology

Barrick Gold, despite numerous COVID-19-related hurdles, made progress on the innovation front in the March quarter, with a haul truck automation trial and battery-electric underground equipment developments continuing to take place.

In its 2019 annual report, Barrick said the first stage of a project designed to retrofit an autonomous system at its Carlin gold mine, in Nevada, had been successfully completed.

In the March quarter results presentation last week, Mark Bristow, Barrick President and CEO, updated investors on this project, saying a proof of concept allowing manned and unmanned operations in the same zone had been completed at one of its mines. On top of this, the company said it was working on autonomous drilling projects.

It is underground where the biggest revelation came, with Barrick confirming trials of a 50 t battery-electric haul truck it mentioned in its 2019 annual report had commenced at its Turquoise Ridge gold operation, in Nevada. This trial involved an Artisan Z50 (graphic, pictured), the largest battery-powered underground haul truck currently on the market.

A Barrick spokesperson said the trial of the 50 t payload truck was expected to be finalised in the June quarter of this year, “with the option to extend, should the KPIs not be met”.

Barrick previously reported the introduction of a battery-powered development drill at its Hemlo underground gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, “as a first step towards establishing the potential of this new technology” in 2019. Having carried out a trial of this Sandvik DD422iE battery-powered development drill, the Barrick spokesperson confirmed the company has now acquired the unit.

Designed to use electric energy from an onboard battery during tramming and plug into a mine’s existing energy infrastructure while drilling, the Sandvik DD422iE has been used at Newmont’s Borden mine, in Ontario, among other places.

Bristow said on the call that the company believes battery-powered electric underground equipment “has the potential to lower operating costs and increase efficiencies”.

In addition to these automation and battery-electric vehicle developments, Barrick said in the results that a new global SAP Enterprise Resource Planning system was on track for its first implementation at the Nevada Gold Mines JV operations in the September quarter. This is a “more agile, less overly-customised tool, focused on getting the right information”, according to Barrick.

“This more streamlined and standardised global design will further improve our ability to report real-time cost and efficiency data and, more importantly, manage our real-time information,” Bristow said on the call.

The NGM JV implementation could lay the groundwork for a solution to be rolled out to other regions in 2021, according to Barrick.

Barrick’s underground digital innovation plan has seen the company recently adopt technologies that allow it to remotely monitor, in real time, a machine’s location, productivity and health, as well as that of operators’, Bristow said. This tool could increase its efficiencies and predictive maintenance capabilities, he added.

Barrick’s team at Loulo Underground, meanwhile, has helped develop a system that automatically turns secondary fans on and off using personal RFID tracking systems, Bristow noted on the call. This could help reduce power consumption at the mine, in Mali, and the project is now being implemented across its Africa underground mines, he said.

Barrick trialling autonomous and battery-electric tech at North America mines

Barrick Gold’s automation and electrification efforts look to be gaining pace, with the leading gold miner revealing it has been testing out new technology at some of its operations in the US and Canada.

In its recently released annual report, Barrick said the first stage of a project designed to retrofit an autonomous system at its Carlin gold mine, in Nevada, had been completed successfully.

Matthew Majors, Open Pit Operations Superintendent at Carlin Surface, said in a presentation last month that multiple underground evaluation deployments, surface drilling OEM evaluation, and non-OEM surface production haulage options had been evaluated across the Barrick and Newmont jointly-owned Nevada Gold Mines business.

While the company didn’t provide any more details on the project, Barrick has previously leveraged ASI Mining’s OEM-agnostic autonomous solution at its jointly-owned South Arturo gold operation, also in Nevada. This saw the completion of a proof of concept (POC) using five haulage units “that have delivered over 5.5 Mt faster than any other similar POC in the industry”, Barrick said last year.

At Kibali, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which remains a world leader in underground automation with multiple autonomous machines operating on the same haulage level, the company recently completed a trial to use this technology on the mine’s production levels. This means a single operator can now control up to three machines acting semi-autonomously in different zones, Barrick said.

It added: “An additional system, which will provide real-time visibility of the underground operations, including personnel and equipment tracking, is currently being commissioned.”

And, lastly, on the electric vehicle front, the company said its Hemlo gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, has introduced a battery-powered development drill “as a first step towards establishing the potential of this new technology”.

Hemlo recently moved from a combined open-pit and underground owner-operated mine to an underground-only contract mining model as part of a plan to transition Hemlo into a Tier Two asset with a life of mine well into the future.

Barrick’s Turquoise Ridge gold operation is also evaluating new battery-electric technology, with the company confirming a battery-powered underground haul truck is being trialled at the mine.

Second Sandvik roadheader heading to Turquoise Ridge gold mine

The transition of Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining’s Turquoise Ridge gold mine (owned 75:25) in Nevada, US, to a Tier One operation is tracking to plan, the Canada-based miner said recently, with the Sandvik MR361 roadheader it took delivery of back in 2017 continuing to prove its worth.

Barrick said in its December quarter results that it is looking to increase production and resources at Turquoise Ridge through mechanisation, automation, and innovation.

The ramp up of the roadheader over 2018 improved safety, increased throughput, and dropped mining costs per tonne, the company said in its results statement. This has led to Barrick ordering a second roadheader, manufactured by Sandvik, which will be delivered to the operation later this year. On top of this, Barrick said it is evaluating the opportunity associated with increasing the level of mechanisation and automation for the operation.

Barrick already has extensive experience using Sandvik roadheaders, with the company having employed a MH620 unit at its Cortez gold mine, also in Nevada, US. Weighing 125 t and driven by a 300-kW cutting motor, the MH620 cutting the Range Front declines at Cortez is one of the world’s largest roadheaders.

Construction of a third shaft at Turquoise Ridge continues to advance according to schedule and within budget, Barrick said in the results statement, with efforts in 2019 focused on earthworks and shaft sinking.

“The construction of this shaft is expected to increase annual production to more than 500,000 oz/y (100% basis), at an average cost of sales of around $720/oz, and average all-in sustaining costs of roughly $630/oz,” Barrick said.

“As of December 31, we have spent $62 million (including $3 million in the December quarter of 2018) out of a total estimated capital cost of $300-$325 million (100% basis) on the construction of this shaft.”

Initial production from the new shaft is expected to begin in 2022, with sustained production from 2023.

Since the end of 2015, reserves at Turquoise Ridge have increased by 3.5 Moz (100% basis), primarily through driving down mining costs per tonne, which has allowed for a lower cutoff grade, thereby optimising the way the orebody is mined.

“The focus in 2019 is to realise the potential to further grow reserves, extend mine life, and grow production over and above the current mine plan, through reducing costs to further lower the cutoff grade, as well as extending mineralisation at depth,” Barrick said.