Tag Archives: underground mining

Epiroc slims Sweden workforce following COVID-19 related demand drop

Epiroc has provided a notice of termination to 425 employees in Sweden as it looks to adapt to the changing COVID-19 demand situation in the mining and infrastructure sectors.

The move is in response to lower global demand from these sectors amid the pandemic, and to position the company better for the future, it said.

Some 350 positions are expected to go at the company’s Örebro facilities, with 75 positions being removed in Fagersta, Sweden, of which half are positions in production, the company said.

Örebro is a main manufacturing and research and development hub for Epiroc’s underground and surface equipment as well as for service and spare parts supply, while Fagersta is home to Epiroc’s rock drilling tools business. Epiroc has about 3,100 employees in Sweden, out of a global workforce of some 14,000.

Epiroc said: “The action is the result of Epiroc facing a significant drop in demand from customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the global economy. The work reductions are also part of Epiroc’s continuous effort to become as agile and efficient as possible and follows various efficiency measures taken worldwide since 2019.”

The company, in April, announced it would consolidate the manufacturing of exploration drilling tools in Canada, gradually moving its base from North Bay to Montreal and Sweden over the course of 2020, with around 65 employees in North Bay, Ontario, being affected.

Helena Hedblom, Epiroc’s President and CEO, said: “We are taking these actions to adapt to the new market situation following the COVID-19 pandemic and to make us stronger and more resilient for the future. Unfortunately, we must take such a drastic action as giving notice of termination. We regret the negative consequences this will have for our colleagues and those close to them, and we will support our employees in this difficult situation.

“These actions will allow us to continue to prioritise innovation and to develop our technology leadership in order to support our customers’ operations and improve their productivity.”

Epiroc’s innovation investments have led to the mining and infrastructure industries becoming more productive, safe and climate friendly, according to the company, following the adoption of its automation, digitalisation and electrification solutions.

Redpath Australia to work on Silver Lake’s Rothsay gold project

Redpath Australia says it has been awarded a contract to carry out underground mining services at Silver Lake Resources’ Rothsay gold project, in Western Australia.

The contract includes portal and decline development, which is due to commence in the September quarter of 2020, according to the company.

Rothsay is within the Warriedar Greenstone gold belt of the Yalgoo Goldfield in the Southern Murchison Region of Western Australia. The current project plan would see mineralised ore extracted from narrow sub-vertical structures, according to Redpath.

“Rothsay has a rich mining history dating back to the discovery of gold in 1894 and including several phases of mining, most recently by Metana Minerals in the early 1990s,” it said.

Redpath Managing Director, Gavin Ramage, said: “We are looking forward to working with the Silver Lake Resources team in increasing value for their shareholders through safe and efficient delivery of underground mining services.”

In its March quarter results, Silver Lake Resources said pre-development activities had continued at Rothsay, including the commencement of the tendering process for key construction and operational contracts.

It said it expected Rothsay ore to form part of the Deflector mine feed from the September quarter of 2022, “in parallel with the Deflector plant upgrade”.

When the company announced plans to acquire Egan Street Resources – thereby adding Rothsay to its books – last year, it said Rothsay would bring an additional 454,000 oz of gold JORC resources and 200,000 oz of gold reserves to its portfolio.

It also said the addition of Rothsay provided it with a near-term development opportunity to introduce a new high-grade ore source to an upgraded Deflector processing facility.

The Deflector gold-copper mine is around 85 km from Rothsay, and produced first gold in May 2016.

A shallow narrow vein, high-grade gold and copper underground mine, Deflector also has a fit-for-purpose processing facility to enable recovery of gold from a gravity circuit, prior to the production of a copper-gold concentrate via flotation.

New GHH 45 t capacity dump truck about to enter underground market

GHH has developed a new 42 t payload dump truck that, it says, offers maximum drive power, improved turning radius, steep dumping angle and excellent ergonomics and safety.

The German manufacturer of heavy machinery for civil engineering, tunnelling and mining, which has roots that go back to 1758, has three other underground dump trucks in its underground mining portfolio (in addition to two within its low profile dump truck offering and one within its flameproof portfolio) spanning 15-35 t payload applications. The new truck is the largest in its portfolio.

The new MK-42 offers an up to 45 t payload, 19-24 m³ dump body capacity, maximum drive power, a great turning radius, improved dumping angle and excellent ergonomics and safety, according to the company. It has a streamlined, innovative product design, which just received the Red Dot Design Award, GHH added.

The 460 kW Mercedes OM473 forms the engine base, fulfilling the latest EU Stage V emission standards. GHH also offers Tier 3 and 4 versions for less regulated markets, while an alternative Volvo Penta TAD1651 or 1671 engine option is available.

The vehicle rests on Kessler axles with oscillating articulation and front axle suspension, while the power is transmitted by a converter and gearbox combination from the Dana 8000 series.

Designed for use in harsh environments, especially in underground hard-rock mining applications, the MK-42’s dimensions are surprisingly compact at 3,062 x 10,535 x 2,719 mm (WxLxH). A steep dumping angle of 68° leads to high efficiency productivity and improved cycle time, according to GHH.

The company said special emphasis was placed on a safe and simple design, with low maintenance and repair costs, and operator safety and comfort kept in mind through the entire design process. The ROPS/FOPS certified cab is ergonomically designed to be spacious, quiet, pressurised and effectively air-conditioned to ensure maximum operator comfort while minimising fatigue, GHH says. The strategically placed trainer seat, meanwhile, provides for effective operator training.

The new MK-42 fits seamlessly into the manufacturer’s range of dump trucks and is the perfect haulage partner for GHH’s LF-14 loader, with the combination of the two offering three pass loading, GHH said. Extensive consulting, aftermarket support, parts sales and technical training are just a few of the services GHH offers to all customers worldwide.

Global sales will start shortly as the prototype truck enters its final stage of rigorous testing, GHH said, which added that a special version, the MK-A45, will be marketed exclusively for the Russia market.

Emeco to go underground with Pit N Portal acquisition

Emeco Holdings looks to have found an entry into the underground contract mining and equipment rental space after having signed an agreement to acquire Pit N Portal in a deal that comes with an enterprise value of A$72 million ($49 million).

The binding agreement would see Emeco acquire Pit N Portal Mining Services and Pit N Portal Equipment Hire, two entities that come with over 100 pieces of specialised underground mining equipment, over 500 pieces of infrastructure equipment and employs more than 300 people across strategic locations in Perth and Kalgoorlie and customer sites across Australia.

Emeco made this announcement on the same day it issued its 2020 financial half year results, which saw the company post revenue of A$246 million (up 10% year-on-year), operating EBITDA of A$119 million (up 16%) and operating EBIT of A$67 million (up 12%). The company has, in the last few years, acquired Force Equipment and Matilda Equipment as it looked to strengthen its equipment rental business in surface mining.

The consideration for the acquisition consists of A$62 million in cash and A$10 million in Emeco shares to the vendors, with the buy expected to be earnings per share accretive on a financial year 2019 pro-forma basis, post transaction.

Emeco Managing Director and CEO, Ian Testrow, said: “Pit N Portal allows Emeco to leverage its current core capabilities and expand into a new market. The underground mining sector is undoubtedly growing, and this represents an attractive adjacency for Emeco, providing Emeco with a solid platform for growth. Pit N Portal also provides us with significant commodity diversification by immediately more than doubling our gold exposure with strong opportunities for further growth in hard-rock projects.”

Established in 2002, Pit N Portal specialises in the provision of hard-rock underground mining equipment and services to the Australia underground mining sector. Core operations include equipment rental as well as mining services and maintenance solutions for underground mines. It operates the largest underground equipment rental fleet in Australia, according to Emeco.

Continued growth in Pit N Portal is expected post-completion driven by new project and scope expansion opportunities, with major projects’ earnings realised in the 2021 financial year.

“Pit N Portal’s key services add to the core of Emeco’s existing business, including equipment hire and maintenance solutions,” the company said. “Pit N Portal also adds a vast array of additional value-added services to its customers, providing a complete mining services offering.”

Steve Versteegen, Co-Founder and CEO of Pit N Portal, said: “I truly believe the combination of the two companies will help accelerate the growth of Pit N Portal and am excited by the opportunity to extend the application of what we do to the broader Emeco business.”

Emeco said the transaction provides a strong platform for Emeco to grow as a provider of underground mining services with a solid tender pipeline, particularly in Western Australia-based gold, nickel and base metals projects. There are also potential operational advantages through Pit N Portal’s strategically located workshops in Perth and Kalgoorlie, it added.

It would also significantly diversify Emeco’s commodity exposure, with gold more than doubling immediately to from 12% to 27% of Emeco’s revenue and becoming the number two exposure.

Pit N Portal is also focused on innovation and technology, with tele-remote and autonomous equipment and delivers a wide range of specialised services, the company said.

Aramine and Epiroc sign mining and tunnelling distribution deal

Building on an already strong partnership, Epiroc and Aramine have signed a distribution contract that will see the France-based company become Epiroc’s official distributor of underground mining and tunnelling equipment in France and several Central and West African countries.

Aramine, which is already the official distributor of Epiroc drilling, loading and rock transport products, said: “The Epiroc product range for mines and tunnels perfectly completes the portfolio of machines dedicated to galleries of small and medium sections designed by Aramine.”

The African countries that Aramine will service include the Central African Republic, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, according to the company.

Marc Melkonian, President of Aramine, said: “Epiroc’s trust is a mark of recognition of our long-standing partnership, and this obvious collaboration between our two companies allows us to offer a wide and complete solutions range for mines and tunnels to our customers.”

Aramine is strengthening its presence in certain countries in line with the Epiroc distribution deal.

For France, Pierre Donnadieu, a specialise in underground mining and tunnelling will join as the new Regional Sales Manager, while, on the African continent, the distribution of Epiroc products is ensured by Aramine Burkina, located in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.

Jean-Baptiste Corona, Director Epiroc France, said: “The long-term link between Aramine and Epiroc is historic regarding both our collaboration and the distribution of the products of our respective brands. It is therefore an important evolution of these relations since we work hand in hand in very active and demanding markets such as France and West Africa. We are developing a new local offer with this partnership, combining expertise, services and quality products.”

Sandvik narrows down market for new class of underground drills

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has launched a new class of narrow size drills specifically aimed at the requirements of specialist mining companies as well as drill and blast contractors requiring safe, productive, mobile rigs for use in narrow vein and other confined areas.

The new 2711 class of drills are simple and safe to operate, with robust components, and provide an excellent performance to ownership cost ratio, according to the company.

The 2711 class drills have been developed to cater to the needs of certain mining and tunnelling operations.

Sandvik explained: “Selective mining methods and small tunnel developments have proved to be a good way to extract ore economically, and control the dilution when ore is distributed in narrow veins typically less than 2-3 m in width. Sandvik’s narrow size underground drills are thus designed specifically with the requirements of drilling narrow vein drifts and that of small tunnels projects in mind.”

The drills are also equipped with Sandvik’s Fleet Data Monitoring systems, enabling mines and tunnelling contractors to improve fleet performance and management.

The 2711 class is an ideal solution for specialist mines and drilling contractors looking for smarter control of ore dilution and increasing selective process in mining, according to Sandvik. The series consists of three drill types using a common platform covering different applications: namely development drilling DD2711, rock support bolting DS2711 and long hole production drilling DL2711 and DL2721.

The DD2711 (pictured) is a compact and flexible single boom electro-hydraulic jumbo for mining development and construction in small and medium size tunnels with a minimum cross section of 2.7 m x 2.7 m. The versatile boom delivers large coverage and fully automatic parallelism for fast and accurate face drilling, while 20 kW of drilling percussion power is provided through Sandvik’s HXL5 rock drill.

The rig is designed for underground hard-rock applications that require high capacity and reliability in development blast holes ranging from 3.7 m to 4.3 m in length.

The DS2711, meanwhile, is a one-man operated electro-hydraulic, fully mechanised bolter for rock reinforcement in underground hard-rock mines. The operator works from supported ground while protected under a FOPS-certified canopy structure. “Mechanisation of the bolting process ensures efficient, constant and durable rock bolts integrity,” Sandvik said.

The DS2711 provides “excellent” bolting performance to cost ratio for small and medium size tunnels with minimum cross section of 2.7 m (width) x 3 m (height), according to Sandvik.

“Designed with proven and reliable components, the DS2711 provides high reach, and is able to install all types of mechanised rock bolts ranging in length from 1.5 m to 2.4 m. It is in effect a small premium bolter, compact, mobile and designed for global needs.

The next addition to the range will happen in 2020 with Sandvik DL2711 & DL2721 long hole drills.

Sandvik concluded: “The new 2711 drill family provides, in one modular platform, accurate drilling with high performance, large coverage and drill capacity, with enhanced product safety and excellent mobility, tramming smoothly into small mining drifts and tunnels.

“The selected reliable components and simple electro-hydraulic systems are designed to be used in conjunction with Sandvik’s comprehensive range of underground drills, loaders and trucks, all being supported worldwide by the Sandvik network.”

EU-funded robotics project to confront underground mining challenges

The European Union (EU) has agreed to fund a project through its Horizon 2020 program looking into the development of a “bio-inspired, modular and reconfigurable robot-miner” for small and difficult to access underground mineral deposits.

The 48-month ROBOMINERS project held its kick-off meeting in Madrid, Spain, on June 13-14, 2019.

The project has been set up with the long-term strategic objective to facilitate EU access to raw materials – including those considered strategic or critical for the global energy transition – from domestic resources. This is all in an effort to decrease the EU’s import dependency.

ROBOMINERS’ approach combines the creation of a new mining ecosystem with novel ideas from other sectors, in particular the inclusion of disruptive concepts from robotics, the European Commission said.

“The use of the robot miner will especially be relevant for mineral deposits that are small or difficult to access,” it said. “This covers both abandoned, nowadays flooded mines, that are not accessible anymore for conventional mining techniques, or places that have formerly been explored but whose exploitation was considered as uneconomic due to the small size of the deposits or the difficulty to access them.”

Within the project duration, the consortium aims to:

  • Construct a fully functional modular robot miner prototype following a bio-inspired design, capable of operating, navigating and performing selective mining in a flooded underground environment;
  • Design a mining ecosystem of expected future upstream/downstream raw materials processes via simulations, modelling and virtual prototyping;
  • Validate all key functions of the robot-miner to a Technology Readiness Level 4, and;
  • Use the prototypes to study and advance future research challenges concerning scalability, resilience, re-configurability, self-repair, collective behaviour, operation in harsh environments, selective mining, production methods as well as for the necessary converging technologies on an overall mining ecosystem level.

Led by the Centre for Automation and Robotics of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the Spanish National Research Council, ROBOMINERS will be implemented by a consortium of 14 partners from 11 EU countries, that covers a wide range specialities, consisting of geo-scientific SMEs, academics covering both mining and robotics, non-governmental organisations, and governmental bodies.

The European Federation of Geologists, which has a network of more than 45,000 geoscientists across Europe, will lead the dissemination and communication efforts within ROBOMINERS.

Newcrest, Epiroc and Volvo weigh up new underground mining system

Newcrest Mining, in collaboration with Epiroc and Volvo, is working on a potential new system of mining to improve the safety and efficiency of underground load and haul involving the use of a Häggloader, haul truck and LHD.

The proof of concept trial with Newcrest Mining has already seen testing in Sweden at the Epiroc Kvarntorp mine and at SweRock’s Atle quarry, which saw Newcrest, Epiroc and Volvo contributing equipment and personnel, Epiroc said. This saw an Epiroc Häggloader and Scooptram ST18 interact with a Volvo truck.

Tony Sprague, Group Manager Technology & Innovation, Newcrest Mining, Australia, said: “As mines are getting deeper, and with escalating energy and haulage costs, mining companies must be constantly on the lookout for better ways to work.

“The goal with this proof of concept trial was about setting a baseline on what can be achieved with Häggloader, Volvo trucks and Scooptram ST18.”

The team came together to observe the Häggloader, Volvo trucks and Scooptram ST18 in action both underground (Kvarntorp) and on surface (Atle). Data was collected and improvements were identified by the team, according to Epiroc.

Sprague continued: “We will now move onto the next phase which involves working with Epiroc and Volvo to progress the system to higher productivities and efficiencies.

“Newcrest is setting a rapid pace of technology and innovation change to improve our mining operations. Without the collaborative support from our selected partners, we will not move fast enough, or be as successful. And we select our partners based on their attitude and culture towards innovation. In Epiroc and Volvo, both two great Swedish success stories, we see like-minded companies willing to work together to achieve great outcomes for our people, companies and the environment.”

He concluded: “We are looking for win-win outcomes where all parties involved stand to gain – that’s the best way to drive effective collaborations. With the Häggloader, Epiroc has a unique system of loading that has not been widely utilised into the global mining industry, and Newcrest is keen to help change this.”

GMG publishes new short interval control guideline

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) says it has published the Guideline for Implementing Short Interval Control (SIC) in Underground Mining Operations.

SIC is a structured system in which data from mining processes are periodically reviewed and action is taken in response to them, GMG explained. “This guideline provides a roadmap to increase the speed and likelihood of success during SIC implementation while avoiding common pitfalls.”

Specifically, the publication presents a conceptual model of what SIC could look like that includes an operational framework, detailed workflows, and an outline of data enablement at various levels of maturity, according to GMG.

SIC has only recently begun to be used in underground mining, although it has a long history in the manufacturing industry.

GMG said: “One challenge in implementing SIC is tailoring it to the operation at hand because underground mining conditions can be unpredictable, but the guideline offers mining stakeholders a base of knowledge of how it can be applied.”

Greg Sandblom, Operation and Business Technology Lead at Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, a Glencore Company, says the guideline “can provide a valuable reference to mining companies during all phases of SIC deployments at existing mines or new mine projects”.

He continued: “It can effectively act as a checkpoint to validate that lessons learned and experience from leaders across the mining industry are applied to their implementations.”

Lisa Önnerlov, Development Engineer – Industrial Design at Boliden, said there was potential for the application of the guideline for those already using a SIC system.

“Even though we have been working with SIC for many years, we still have a lot to improve,” she said. “We face challenges like refining the overall coordination and to take advantage of new technological possibilities and make it useful in reality. We hope that this guideline will be a tool for both benchmarking and as a common reference in collaboration with other mining companies working with SIC.”

SIC has the potential to increase productivity and lower costs, according to GMG. As the practice becomes more common, it will, in turn, become increasingly accessible, according to Gordon Fellows, President of Fellows Mining and Digital Solutions.

“Achieving the greatest benefit from SIC comes from monitoring and controlling the shortest interval, but results are possible even at lower levels of maturity and at lower cost,” he said. “As technology evolves, it will make it simpler and less expensive to reach higher levels of maturity.”

One highlight of the process of developing the guideline, according to Liv Carroll, Senior Principal, Mining Transformation and Applied Intelligence at Accenture, has been the input from and cooperation between various stakeholders in the mining industry.

Carroll said there had been “effective collaboration between operators, service providers, consultants and technology specialists alongside the GMG team; our industry working as one for the benefit of all”.

She added: “In working together, we have drawn on a breadth of global and diverse experience to amalgamate leading practices into the guideline considering all levels of maturity and allowing for future evolution.”

Looking ahead, implementing SIC offers great potential for positive change in the industry because it facilitates better planning, quicker decisions, increased production, lower costs and creates a safer working environment, according to GMG.

GMG Chair, Michelle Ash, says: “I am very excited to see the publication of the SIC guideline because it is not only the culmination of a lot of work from many people, but also a fundamental building block for the transformation of our industry. I am looking forward to visiting mines post implementation and seeing the case studies that arise from their efforts.”

Hindustan Zinc after improved safety, productivity with Epiroc’s Mobilaris solution

Hindustan Zinc, India’s only zinc-lead-silver producer, has selected Epiroc to equip its flagship Rampura Agucha mine with Mobilaris Mining Intelligence™ (MMI).

A decision support solution for mine safety and efficiency, MMI enables superior situational awareness and is designed to visualise and support mining operations in all its complexities, in real-time, Epiroc says.

Hindustan Zinc has introduced various technologies and innovations and has obtained success in enhancing safety, efficiency and exploration, according to Epiroc.

Back in 2017, the miner looked to automate many of its operations, acquiring Epiroc drill rigs, LHDs, haul trucks (including the MT65) and exploration equipment to be used in five of its mines in northwestern India. The automation and other high-technology features of the equipment were enabled through the common Rig Control System, with most machines are equipped with the telematics solution CERTIQ.

Following the latest MMI order, Sunil Duggal, CEO, Hindustan Zinc, said: “We are continuously making efforts to develop better, connected and intelligent mines. The partnership with Epiroc will support our direction to develop safer and more productive operations at Rampura Agucha mine”.

Ulla Korsman-Kopra, Global Business Manager, Automation and Information Management at Epiroc, said the company would support Hindustan Zinc’s operational (mining) improvement processes with the MMI solution. “The globally-acclaimed features will take Hindustan Zinc’s operations to the next level of performance gains,” she said.

The MMI portfolio features situational awareness, short interval control, including machine data integrations, and traffic awareness promises to get maximum productivity and efficiency out of a customer’s mine, according to Epiroc.

“Thanks to the openness and transparency of the MMI solution, integrations with mixed fleet machines, sensors and more will create the foundation for vital real-time analytics,” Korsman-Kopra said.

The system is expected to be operational during once the networking is up and running at the Rampura Agucha mine.

Rampura Agucha is the second largest zinc mine in the world, according to Hindustan, with production of 3.9 Mt in the company’s 2018 financial year. It has a zinc-lead reserve grade averaging 15.7% Zn+Pb, with total reserves of 46 Mt as of March 31, 2018.

The ongoing underground mine project is being developed with a vision of producing 5 Mt/y of ore and includes a main production shaft of 955 m depth, 7.5 m diameter and hauling capacity of 3.75 Mt/y; two ventilation shafts, two declines from surface and paste fill plants, according to Hindustan.