Tag Archives: Tyler Mitchelson

Anglo American Australia invests in gas, spontaneous combustion management research

Anglo American Australia says it is committing another A$5 million ($3.8 million) towards improving safety at its underground coal mines in the country following the release of recommendations from the Board of Inquiry’s report into an incident that occurred at its Grosvenor mine in May 2020.

Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said the company is already acting on the recommendations of the report, referencing A$60 million of investment in safety initiatives the company has carried out over the last year.

The latest A$5 million investment will fund underground mining research, in partnership with industry research and technology partners, to improve the industry’s knowledge in certain technical areas, Mitchelson said.

“We have been clear from the outset that the incident on 6 May, 2020, in which five of our colleagues were badly injured was unacceptable,” he said. “The safety of our workforce is always our first priority.”

In the last year, Anglo has put in place a range of measures to address issues that have come to light through detailed investigations and evidence before the Board of Inquiry. Over this period, it has already committed more than A$60 million in technology pilots, additional gas drainage infrastructure, expert reviews and further improvements to a range of processes and controls.

Mitchelson said: “Underground coal mining, particularly in the area where Grosvenor Mine is located, is complex with many interacting considerations and, as the board has identified, further research into certain technical areas such as gas and spontaneous combustion management would benefit the industry. We will be helping to advance knowledge in these areas through our further A$5 million funding commitment.

“The Board of Inquiry’s reports have made a number of recommendations, and we are confident we have already addressed, or will address, these ahead of the restart of longwall mining at Grosvenor Mine later this year.”

Longwall mining operations at Moranbah North Mine safely restarted earlier this month, in line with regulatory approvals, with production expected to ramp up over coming weeks.

Anglo American’s Operating Model, the company’s primary operational management system, is currently being updated at Grosvenor and, together with a range of other measures such as the use of data science, will ensure the company has the very latest in systems thinking, design and technology to ensure operational stability and control, and ultimately safe production, he added.

“The use of automation and remote operation presents us with the single biggest opportunity to remove people from high-risk areas and we are fast-tracking this work across our operations, including commissioning ground-breaking research into automation in development mining with CSIRO,” Mitchelson said.

This work will see the two companies undertake a world-first trial of technology to support automation in the roadway development phase of underground coal mining.

On top of this, Anglo American Australia has commenced a pilot study at Moranbah North to assess the use of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face. Initial laboratory testing has been successfully completed and pilot hardware has been installed at Moranbah North Mine, it said. Full-scale hardware and processing systems will be installed at Grosvenor ahead of a restart of operations.

“A further layer of quality control has already been introduced for the supply of Intrinsically Safe underground mining equipment,” the company said.

Anglo American Australia has also invested in data and strata capabilities to change the way it mines, with its newly-established Met Coal Analytics Centre already operationalising gas and strata management analytics to predictive capabilities, with work under way to support its mines.

The company already has gas management improvement measures underway, with A$1.5 billion allocated for gas management over five years across the company’s underground mines. It has also completed a project to increase gas drainage capacity at Grosvenor Mine and introduced enhanced gas management reporting across the business.

Last year, Anglo announced that, to support alignment with Queensland statutory reporting, any gas exceedances of above 2.5% in its underground mines will now be treated as Anglo American HPIs as a High Potential Incident in accordance with the company’s global risk management processes.

Water treatment plant starts up at Anglo American’s Aquila met coal project

Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business says it is now operating the first of two state-of-the art reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment plants at its Aquila project in the Bowen Basin, Queensland.

The aim of the RO plants is to reduce the use of fresh water in its mining operations.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the A$5 million ($3.9 million) water treatment system was currently treating two megalitres of mine affected water (MAW) a day and supporting construction of the Aquila Mine, near Middlemount in central Queensland.

“A key target in Anglo American’s global Sustainable Mining Plan is to reduce our reliance on fresh water by 50% by 2030 across our mine sites, and I’m pleased to say Aquila is currently sourcing recycled water during construction of the mine,” Mitchelson said.

“A planned second RO plant will to be used to recycle a further 2.4 megalitres of MAW – once Aquila becomes operational in early 2022, more than doubling capacity and helping to reduce the reliance on water from local sources during times of drought.

“Aquila will be one of the world’s most technologically advanced underground mines and will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining. The project is currently supporting 500 jobs.”

Aquila, owned 70% by Anglo and 30% by Mitsui & Co Ltd, will extend the life of Anglo’s existing Capcoal underground operations by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree Mine approaches end of life, Anglo says. The mine will also continue to adopt Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining™ program, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major operational and sustainability challenges, the company said. One of the initiatives the company is working on as part of this is remote operation of the longwall; a process the company has trialled at some of its other Bowen Basin coal mines.

Aquila’s Project Director, Tony Willmott, said the A$240 million Aquila Mine was committed to awarding contracts locally.

“Our Aquila project is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners. More than 90% of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers,” Willmott said. “Aquila’s integrated network of pipes and pumps is securing the distribution of high-quality water which is necessary in metallurgical coal mining for equipment cooling and coal cutting operations.”

Anglo American commits to Aquila coal development with >A$240 million of contracts

Anglo American has invested more than A$240 million ($175 million) with suppliers for its 70%-owned Aquila metallurgical coal project in Central Queensland, Australia, which, the company says, will be one the world’s most technologically advanced underground mines.

Aquila will extend the life of Anglo American’s existing Capcoal underground operations near Middlemount by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree Mine approaches end of life, Anglo says.

Anglo American has awarded nearly A$200 million to six longwall equipment suppliers to deliver a “walk-on, walk-off system” using two complete longwalls, a A$20 million overland conveyor system and more than A$20 million in civil works, it said.

The project, which is scheduled for first longwall production of premium quality hard coking coal in early 2022, includes a A$5 million reverse osmosis water treatment system to increase the use of recycled water and reduce the reliance on fresh water at the mine – a key target in Anglo American’s Sustainable Mining Plan.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said: “Our Aquila project is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners. More than 90% of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers, and we currently have around 500 people working on the project in engineering, surface construction and underground development.

“Aquila will be a breakthrough project, designed to set a new standard of safety and performance by leveraging technology and focusing on operational improvements. The mine will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, with a remote operating centre on the surface of the mine, proximity detection systems underground to alert machine operators to pedestrians, and the continued digitisation of our operations, using new technologies such as our Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets.”

In addition to the aforementioned construction contacts, Anglo American awarded a A$95 million mining development contract to Mackay-based mining company, Mastermyne in 2019.

Anglo American to test pressure sensor tech following Grosvenor methane ignition incident

A trial of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face and the expedition of longwall automation are two of the areas Anglo American is hoping will improve safety at its underground coal mines in Australia, following a methane ignition incident that occurred at its Grosvenor mine, in Queensland, on May 6.

The company began to brief its Queensland-based workforce on the progress of its expert investigation into the methane ignition last week, with Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, saying the company’s focus continues to be on providing ongoing support for the five personnel injured during the incident, four of whom have now been released from hospital, while the fifth remains in a stable condition.

While investigations were progressing and may take some time to formally conclude, Mitchelson said the company would continue to review controls in place across its underground mines as any technical or other findings become available from the investigations.

“We know from our expert analysis that there was a significant and unusual overpressure event on May 6, where a large amount of methane was released into the longwall area, and, seconds later, a brief ignition occurred,” he said. “At this stage, the ignition source has not been conclusively determined and testing continues.

“We also know that in the hours leading up to the incident, there were no non-compliant methane readings in the longwall area.”

Since 2016, the company has invested around A$230 million ($161 million) on gas drainage and gas management activities at the Grosvenor Mine, according to Mitchelson.

“Despite this investment, and extensive controls in place to prevent an underground ignition of methane, we need to further improve our controls to respond to the specific combination of factors of an unusual and large overpressure event in the vicinity of the longwall with a potential ignition source,” he said.

“By drawing on technical learnings and information as it becomes available from the investigations, we have begun a review of our site methane management controls, which includes assessing additional technology options and applying any further improvements across our underground mines.”

As a first step, the company is beginning a pilot study at its Moranbah North mine to assess the use of pressure sensors to remove power from the longwall face as an additional control if a significant overpressure event occurs, he said.

“Whilst pressure sensors are already in use today, across the industry they have not been integrated for this particular purpose,” Mitchelson explained. “Learnings from the pilot will be incorporated across our underground mines and shared with industry.”

Mitchelson said the company has already invested “considerably” in progressing the automation of its longwall equipment, and “expediting this work will also be part of the solution to reducing risks in underground mining”.

Among more recent elements of longwall automation the company has pursued is the ability to operate its longwall shear from an above-ground remote operating centre at the Grosvenor mine.

The company added: “As the largest underground coal miner in Queensland, Anglo American has been at the forefront of technical innovation and has invested significantly in technology to improve safety in its mines, including additional methane detection equipment above and beyond regulatory requirements, digitisation to improve underground communication, and automation of equipment.

“We will continue to prioritise this work.”

Mitchelson said it was unacceptable five personnel were seriously injured on May 6 and that the company would ensure all relevant learnings from investigations underway and the Board of Inquiry are incorporated across its business.

“We continue to support our injured colleagues and their families as they continue their recovery,” he said.

He reiterated that safety comes first, and mining would not resume until it was safe to do so.

While mining activities have been suspended, the Grosvenor workforce has continued to be supported on full pay since the incident to enable the company to work through its future plans, step by step.

Anglo American takes to tablets at Australia UG coal mines

Anglo American says it has launched Australia’s first electronic tablet device certified for use in underground coal mines at its Moranbah North mine, in the Bowen Basin of Queensland.

The introduction of these tables represents a major step forward in the company’s aims to digitise its operations, according to Tyler Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Australian business.

He added that digitisation was a key part of the company’s FutureSmart Mining™ approach, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major challenges.

While standard tablets have been used underground at many mines around the world for at least a few years, it is the presence of potential explosive gas mixtures in some underground operational environments – coal, in particular – that inhibits any device being taken below ground that does not meeting ‘intrinsically safe’ regulatory approval. This is due to the potential risk of ignition from energy sources within such devices (eg standard tablets and smart phones).

Mitchelson said: “Following the successful launch at Moranbah North mine, we are now moving towards rapid deployment across all our underground sites including our newly-approved Aquila mine, which will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.

“The tablets capture and share real time production, safety and environmental monitoring information with operators, ensuring critical information is readily available to key personnel and removing the need for paper records.”

They also provide direct access to the company’s Safety Health Management System and can be used as a portable video communication device (via Skype) to instantly access personnel working at the surface level, according to Mitchelson. “This will accelerate trouble-shooting and can also be used as a live video link in case of emergencies.”

He added: “Any delays or challenges can be reported and addressed on-the-spot to reduce lost production time, instead of relying on traditional communication methods such as phone calls, underground travel or hard copy reports being submitted and reviewed at the end of a 12-hour shift.”

The tablets are already enabling improved communication and information sharing underground, Mitchelson said. This should ultimately lead to safer, more productive mining, he added.

The introduction of underground tablets followed significant work towards automating longwall operations and digitising the company’s mines, according to Mitchelson, with Anglo American recently completing its first pilot longwall shear from an above-ground remote operating centre at the Grosvenor mine.

The device was developed in collaboration with product manufacturer, Bartec, and tested to achieve certification with the Queensland Government’s Safety in Mines Testing and Research Station, the company said.

Executive Head of Underground Operations in Australia, Glen Britton, said implementation of the tablets followed a successful pilot earlier this year at Moranbah North mine, which was already receiving positive feedback from operators.

“Each week at Moranbah North mine, around 400 statutory reports and 2,500 maintenance work orders are generated. The team there aims to be paperless within two years, and the introduction of these tablets will enable us to remove underground paperwork and transition to electronic storage of statutory and production reports,” Britton said.

“Over the last five years, we have invested considerable resources in the development of this technology, to ensure the product was fit-for-purpose. We sought out a manufacturing partner to help create a new technical solution for managing our data, undertook an extensive certification process and improved underground Wi-Fi capabilities at the mine.”

Anglo approves development of ‘technologically advanced’ Aquila coal mine

Anglo American has approved the development of the Aquila project, in central Queensland’s Bowen Basin, which will become one of the most “technologically advanced underground mines in the world”, according to the company’s Tyler Mitchelson.

With an expected capital cost of $226 million (Anglo American share), development work is expected to begin in September 2019, with first longwall production of premium quality hard coking coal in early 2022, the company said.

Aquila is an underground hard coking coal project, near Middlemount, which will extend the life of Anglo’s existing Capcoal underground operations by six years, to 2028, and continue to optimise the Capcoal complex, it says. The complex consists of the Capcoal open-pit mine, underground Grasstree operations and associated infrastructure, and is a joint venture between Anglo American (70%) and Mitsui & Co (30%).

Mitchelson, CEO of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, said Aquila was an important growth project for the business, and would provide ongoing employment opportunities for the company’s Grasstree workforce as the mine reaches its end of life.

“The Aquila project is a key part of our long-term business strategy, as we continue to optimise existing capacity in our operations,” Mitchelson said.

The mine will have a total average annual saleable production of around 5 Mt of premium quality hard coking coal, according to Mitchelson.

Aquila will also continue to adopt Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining™ program, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major operational and sustainability challenges, the company said.

Mitchelson said: “Anglo American has been at the forefront of embracing innovation to drive the next level of mine safety and performance, and our Aquila mine will be developed as one of the most technologically advanced underground mines in the world.”

One of the initiatives the company is working on as part of this is remote operation of the longwall; a process the company has trialled at some of its other Bowen Basin coal mines. The company’s “Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets”, are also set to be a feature of the mine, according to Mitchelson.

He concluded: “The accelerating pace of technological innovation, particularly in the digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence areas, are opening up opportunities for the mining sector to be safer, more productive and sustainable. As the largest underground coal miner in Australia, we are leveraging the innovative work already under way at our existing mine sites and scaling the development of new technologies in our operations.”

Anglo weighs up use of autonomous haul trucks at Dawson coal mine

Anglo American says it has commenced a study to determine the feasibility of an Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) for a portion of its truck fleet at its open-pit Dawson coal mine, in central Queensland, Australia.

The detailed study to replace 23 trucks with an AHS at Dawson will be finalised towards the end of this year, at which point a decision will be made about whether to proceed, Anglo said.

The timing of the Dawson study is aligned to a key decision on whether to undertake major overhauls on the ageing Cat 797 fleet or replace them, according to Anglo.

Operations at Dawson are made up of three operating pits; North, Central and South. First mined in 1961 for export coal to Japan, it was the first mine to introduce draglines into its operation in 1963, according to Anglo.

Each year, Dawson produces coking, soft coking and thermal coal, using open pit and highwall mining methods. Coal is railed to Gladstone for export to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said while no decisions had been made regarding the feasibility of the project, Anglo was conscious of the need to minimise the impact on its workforce.

“We’ve informed our workforce that, if the project proceeds, we would work through redeployment options for impacted employees and there would also be new roles created, leading to training opportunities,” Mitchelson said.

“We also understand the importance of locally-based employment to our communities, and we have reinforced to our community stakeholders that if the project proceeds, our intent is to protect local jobs and continue to undertake measures to encourage people to live locally.”

While AHS has been in use at other mining operations for many years, the technology has now progressed to the stage where Anglo American is assessing the “feasibility of operationalising it in open-pit coal mining”, the company said.

In addition to Anglo, Whitehaven Coal is trialling AHS with partner Hitachi at its Maules Creek operation in northwest New South Wales, Australia.

Anglo’s Mitchelson said the study was part of Anglo American’s FutureSmart Mining™ approach, which applies innovative thinking and technological advances to address mining’s major challenges.

“Anglo American has been at the forefront of embracing innovation to drive the next level of mine performance. This study will focus on whether an AHS has economic and practical application for our Dawson mine, in support of its journey to become a safer and more sustainable mine.”

Mitchelson explained that the company’s study is being run in parallel with a process to assess potential AHS providers.

“The accelerating pace of technological innovation, particularly in the digitalisation, automation and artificial intelligence areas, are opening up opportunities for the mining sector to be safer, more productive and sustainable,” he said.

Anglo and emapper to rehabilitate Dawson open-pit coal mine

Anglo American says its Australian operations will invest more than A$162 million ($116 million) in mine rehabilitation projects over the next five years.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said the company was committed to the highest standards of environmental performance.

“Over the next five years (2019 – 2023), we’re investing more than A$162 million on industry-leading rehabilitation activities across our five mine sites,” he said.

Anglo American’s Australian operations include five metallurgical coal mines in central Queensland; two open pit and three underground. Around A$83 million will be spent on rehabilitation at the open-pit Dawson mine, near Moura, and almost A$40 million at Capcoal open-pit mine, near Middlemount, over five years.

“We continue to innovate and pursue best practice mine rehabilitation across our business, and this approach is already delivering outstanding results,” Mitchelson said.

“Anglo American’s Dawson mine has been leading the way in innovative rehabilitation approaches, including the successful rehabilitation of an area previously containing void highwall, and use of rehabilitated land for cattle grazing.

“In partnership with emapper, other miners and industry suppliers, our Dawson mine has also been part of an innovative METS Ignited (the Federal Government Growth Centre for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services) project using drone technology to aerially map rehabilitation areas.

“Rehabilitated areas at our Dawson mine cover more than 1,800 ha so this project is a significant step forward in improving the safety, efficiency and accuracy of our mine rehabilitation monitoring programmes,” he said.

The project, delivered through environmental monitoring web-mapping platform, emapper, has used drone technology to collect environmental monitoring data including landform geometry, erosion and vegetation. All data is processed in the emapper platform against pre-determined rehabilitation performance standards, according to Anglo American Australia. All metrics are uploaded to the secure emapper platform allowing on-demand access to data visualisation, reporting and data collaboration and sharing, it said.

“A key part of Anglo American’s global Sustainable Mining Plan is to maintain a healthy environment – particularly in the local areas around our operations,” Mitchelson said.

“We’re committed to innovative and sustainable environmental practices, including rehabilitation, and our work in this area is a clear demonstration of this.”

The Emapper project, METS Ignited said, aims to develop a multi-scale and multi-source environmental data platform to monitor, manage and reduce mining’s footprint with application and transferability within the global mining industry.

The key focus of the solution is deriving maximum benefit from digital sensing technology, including integrated analysis of the data and functionality to enable technical and non-technical staff to use the platform for reporting and management decisions. In this way, the platform will accelerate the wider adoption of sensors and data analytics in the industry, METS Ignited said.

The project will result in cost reduction for environmental management and compliance for mining operations.