Tag Archives: USA

SLR validates International Battery Metals’ modular, mobile lithium extraction tech

International Battery Metals Ltd says SLR International Corporation (SLR), a leader in environmental and engineering services, has completed its independent review of IBAT’s first-of-its-kind modular, mobile lithium extraction plant and verified the patented technology extracts more than 65% of available lithium from brine, effectively strips out impurities and recycles and reuses more than 94% of water.

The third-party independent review also confirmed the robust modular design of the plant and ease of transportation and relocation, which could allow access and a means to capitalise on a more diverse range of lithium-bearing brine resources globally, including smaller sites in varied terrain – such as those in the US – that are currently considered uneconomical due to the current, dominant extraction technologies, according to the company.

“The results of this independent review are a strong validation of our ground-breaking technology,” Dr John Burba, IBAT CEO, said. “IBAT’s technology is faster and more economical because it can be built, deployed and brought online in a fraction of the time, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional lithium mining models and, further, we can extract more lithium from a given resource with less environmental impact than any other available technology.”

The modular direct lithium extraction (MDLE) plant located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has been flow testing lithium-bearing brine since early May 2022, and extracting lithium chloride (LiCl) since mid-May, making IBAT the first company globally to successfully operate a commercial-scale mobile lithium extraction plant, it says.

“From the beginning, our goal has been to create a technology that is environmentally friendlier than any technology currently in operation, while demonstrating consistently superior lithium recovery, scalability and mobility, and we believed we could do it all at a lower cost,” Dr Burba said. “We are thrilled that a team as experienced, technically skilled and globally-renowned as SLR were able to validate the technology on our first operational and commercially available plant.”

The SLR review, International Battery Metals says, assessed and confirmed:

  • The modularity and mobility of the plant design;
  • The ability to extract lithium, including:
    • Lithium extraction from the source lithium-bearing brine; and
    • Recovery of quality lithium chloride (LiCl) from the absorbent
  • Efficiency of impurity rejection;
  • Performance consistency through multiple cycles; and
  • Water recovery determined from water balance calculation.

As configured, the plant is designed to produce 5,738 t/y of LiCl, or 5,000 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent from a brine with a lithium concentration of 1,800 parts per million (ppm) of lithium.

SLR’s operational review consisted of observation of continuous processing of a brine, containing 300 ppm of lithium, through the plant and monitoring the solution chemistry by sampling at regular intervals to determine the performance of the process equipment and the absorption media through three loading and elution (extraction with a solvent) cycles.

The brine was sourced in the US and delivered in significant volume to the plant via tanker truck. In the first phase of extraction from the raw brine, SLR found that “lithium extraction for the three cycles ranged from 72.6% Li to 87.5% Li with an average extraction of 81% Li”. In the second phase, which recovers the lithium from the absorbent material to develop commercial-grade lithium chloride and lithium carbonate, recovery “ranged from 58.3% Li to 89.0% Li with an average of 68.8% Li”.

This is significantly higher than the industry-wide average of 50% for evaporative lithium processing, based on data from the National Renewable Energy Agency (NREL), a laboratory of the US Department of Energy, the company said.

An important part of IBAT’s MDLE process is the selectivity of the absorbent, which strips out the lithium but leaves other naturally occurring elements in the brine, which allows the brine to be reintroduced into the environment, vastly reducing the overall environmental impact.

Specifically, the SLR report states that the tests: “indicate the clear selectivity of the absorption media in favour of lithium over calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium. During the absorption cycle, the lithium concentration of the spent brine decreases from a fresh feed concentration of approximately 300 ppm Li to approximately 10 ppm Li while the concentrations of the impurity metals remain essentially unchanged.”

Thanks to its modular design, the Lake Charles plant has the potential to be expanded to produce up to 20,000 t/y of LiCl, based on the capacity and composition of the brine resource.

Rio Tinto funds initial underground development at Kennecott copper ops

Rio Tinto has approved a $55 million investment in development capital to start underground mining and expand production at its Kennecott copper operations in Utah, USA.

Underground mining will initially focus on an area known as the Lower Commercial Skarn (LCS), which will deliver a total of around 30,000 t of additional high-quality mined copper through the period to 2027 alongside open-pit operations, Rio says. The first ore is expected to be produced in early 2023, with full production in the second half of the year. It will be processed through the existing facilities at Kennecott, one of only two operating copper smelters in the US.

Kennecott holds the potential for significant and attractive underground development. The LCS is the first step towards this, with a mineral resource of 7.5 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.84 g/t Au, 11.26 g/t Ag and 0.015% Mo identified based on drilling and a probable reserve of 1.7 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.71 g/t Au, 10.07 g/t Ag and 0.044% Mo.

Underground battery-electric vehicles are currently being trialled at Kennecott to improve employee health and safety, increase productivity and reduce carbon emissions from future underground mining fleets. A battery-electric haul truck and loader supplied by Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions – a Sandvik LH518B 18 t battery-electric LHD and a Sandvik Z50 50 t battery-electric haul truck – are being used to evaluate performance and suitability as part of underground development work.

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive, Bold Baatar, said: “This investment will allow us to quickly bring additional volumes of high-quality copper to the market and build our knowledge and capabilities as we evaluate larger scale underground mining at Kennecott. We are progressing a range of options for a significant resource that is yet to be developed at Kennecott, which could extend our supply of copper and other critical materials needed for electric vehicles and renewable power technologies.

“Trialling underground battery-electric vehicles is an exciting step in our work to create a safer workplace for our employees, increase the productivity of the mine and reduce emissions from our operations. We look forward to seeing their potential for deployment.”

Existing undergound infrastructure is currently being extended to enable early access to the next underground resource and undertake characterisation studies. A feasibility study to inform decisions on the next phase of underground production is expected to be completed in 2023. This will be one of several potential stages currently being investigated.

Feasibility studies are also being progressed to extend open-pit mining at Kennecott beyond 2032.

South32 making engineering and design headway at Hermosa project

A stellar set of annual financial results has provided the ideal backdrop for South32 to update shareholders on its rapidly progressing Hermosa project in Arizona, USA.

Released late last month, the company’s 2022 financial year results showed off record earnings of $2.6 billion, record free cash flow from operations of $2.6 billion and record return on invested capital of 30.1%.

With group copper-equivalent production expected to increase by 14% in the next financial year, South32 looked to be well leveraged to in-demand metal markets at the right time.

The company has progressively been repositioning its portfolio toward metals critical for a low-carbon future, having already established a pipeline of high-quality development options. One of these high-quality development options is Hermosa.

Hermosa, which the company acquired outright back in 2018 as part of a takeover of Arizona Mining, is key to the company’s critical metals pursuit, having exposure to base and battery metals that are expected to grow in demand – both domestically in the US and internationally.

It is being designed as South32’s first ‘next generation mine’, according to Hermosa President, Pat Risner, with a series of technical reports highlighting its use of automation and technology to minimise its impact on the environment and target a carbon-neutral mining scenario in support of the group’s goal of achieving net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

These same reports also highlighted the potential to develop a sustainable, low-cost operation producing zinc, lead and silver from the Taylor deposit, with the bonus of possible battery-grade manganese output for rapidly growing domestic markets from the Clark deposit.

In the latest results, the company said it was devoting $290 million of growth capital expenditure in the 2023 financial year to progressing Hermosa as it invests in infrastructure to support critical path dewatering and progress study work for the Taylor Deposit. This is ahead of a planned final investment decision expected in mid-2023, which should coincide with the feasibility study.

South32 is devoting $290 million of growth capital expenditure in the 2023 financial year to progress Hermosa

Some $110 million of this was assigned to construction of a second water treatment plant (WTP2) to support orebody dewatering at the asset, alongside dewatering wells, piping systems and dewatering power infrastructure.

An additional $95 million was slated for engineering and initial construction ahead of shaft sinking at the operation, plus work to support power infrastructure and road construction.

The remaining amount was expected to support work across the broader Hermosa project, including Clark study costs and the Taylor feasibility study.

All signs from these results are that the company is laying the groundwork to develop this project ahead of that mid-2023 deadline.

In another sign of progress, South32 recently signed a “limited notice to proceed” for shaft engineering and design at Hermosa with contractor Redpath, Risner confirmed, adding that the award represented a positive step forward for the project.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with local communities and all of our stakeholders as we make further progress with the project,” he said.

Redpath will no doubt be evaluating the technical studies that have been signed off to this point and informing future reports.

The PFS design for Taylor is a dual shaft mine which prioritises early access to higher grade mineralisation, supporting zinc-equivalent average grades of approximately 12% in the first five years of the mine plan. The proposed mining method, longhole open stoping, is similar to that used at Cannington, in Australia, and maximises productivity and enables a single stage ramp-up to the miner’s preferred development scenario of up to 4.3 Mt/y.

Yet, the Clark deposit opportunity – which has become even more tantalising with the US Government invoking the Defense Production Act and supporting the production of critical metals including manganese – could see the plan change.

The company says it may accelerate the prefeasibility study for the Clark deposit, which is spatially linked to the Taylor deposit. A scoping study has previously confirmed the potential for a separate, integrated underground mining operation producing battery-grade manganese, as well as zinc and silver from the deposit.

South32 previously said Clark has the potential to underpin a second development stage at Hermosa, with future studies to consider the opportunity to integrate its development with Taylor, potentially unlocking further operating and capital efficiencies.

With a PFS selection study expected later this year, investors and interested parties will soon know the role Clark could play in the wider Hermosa project.

What is easy to gauge already is that Hermosa is progressing on a track that many other development projects in in-demand sectors have gone down.

Chemours kicks off commissioning at Trail Ridge South mineral sands mine

The Chemours Company has begun commissioning its newest mineral sand mine, Trail Ridge South, in Florida, USA.

The new mining operation represents a $93 million investment that will create approximately 50 new jobs in the three-county area, and will incorporate Mobile Mining Units (MMUs) that were previously tested out at the company’s Jesup, Georgia mining site, allowing for reduced dependency on traditional dredge or truck and shovel mining processes.

Commissioning work to test operational aspects of the new mine has begun, with startup anticipated later this year. Expansion of its mining operations will allow Chemours – the only domestic producer of titanium and zirconium minerals and one of only two domestic producers of rare earth minerals – to have additional access to these high-quality concentrated deposits used to produce Chemours’ Ti-Pure™ brand of titanium dioxide (TiO₂).

“The commissioning of our new Trail Ridge South mine is much more than an operational milestone – it represents a huge win for our customers, community, and our country,” Jody Sciance, co-Director of Minerals Operations for Chemours, said. “This secure, domestic mineral supply means more tonnes of TiO₂ for our pigment customers, more jobs for Clay County residents, and access to critical materials identified by the U.S. Department of the Interior as vital to our nation’s security and economic prosperity – all with minimal impact on our local environment. We are extremely proud to expand our footprint in Florida and look forward to partnering with this community for years to come.”

The MMUs to be used at Trail Ridge South, an expansion of its existing Trail Ridge operation, allow the site to have much lower emissions, reduced dust levels and improved safety by removing conventional hauling trucks, Chemours says. In addition, the Trail Ridge South facility will recycle 98% of its water used in the manufacturing process – providing sustainable solutions while still meeting the company’s commitment to process minerals. Trail Ridge South process water and water treatment ponds are all constructed above ground, with approximately 39 million gallons (177 million litres) of storage capacity.

A high-performance solution, the MMUs for both Jesup and Trail Ridge South have been designed by Carrara, Queensland, Australia-headquartered Downer company Mineral Technologies (MT). MT told IM in 2021 that these units are aimed at mining sites where traditional dredging is not an option, or not cost effective. The technology delivers improvements in availability, orebody yields, throughput and overall mineral recovery. Suited to sand environments that include organics such as tree roots, light clay and soft or friable rock, MMUs can reduce operating costs by also eliminating the need for conventional truck and shovel mining. MT said the Chemours MMUs are extracting difficult-to-reach mineral sand deposits where traditional mining methods don’t stack up as the best business case. The MMUs provide a far safer and substantially reduced cost per tonne solution compared with other options.

MT says the MMU has a 750 t/h nominal operation with peak at 900 t/h. It offers complete remote control via a tablet device eliminating the need for on-board personnel. Dozers push run of mine ore to the unit where a hopper is loaded via hydraulic excavator, with the material then crushed to a suitable size for pumping of slurried ore to downstream processes.

Boston Metal looks to disrupt and decarbonise steel and iron ore industries

Boston Metal is looking to decarbonise the steel-making sector at the same time as helping iron ore producers with their Scope 3 emissions dilemma.

The concept of ‘green steel’ has been widely discussed over the last few years, with LKAB, SSAB and Vattenfall’s HYBRIT project being the most cited case study, thanks to both its advanced stage of development – it has already produced fossil-free steel on a trial basis – and its revolutionary way of introducing hydrogen in place of coke as the iron ore reduction method in the steel-making process.

SSAB and LKAB are leveraging HYBRIT to completely transform their production processes: SSAB is building new hydrogen-based steel making facilities able to match its current base of 8.8 Mt/y of steel by 2030 and LKAB is moving from iron ore pellet production to direct reduced iron (DRI) in line with this.

Tadeu Carneiro, Chairman & CEO of Boston Metal

The ambitions of such a project are impressive, but can such a green steel-making process be applied to the circa-1,900 Mt of steel currently being produced for the world market?

The answer is no, according to Tadeu Carneiro, Chairman & CEO of Boston Metal.

He expands on this: “There are four ways of reducing iron oxides into a metal for steel-making. One is through the use of carbon; another way is through using another metal as a reductant, which is currently not feasible; the third one is with hydrogen, which is possible – as HYBRIT has shown – but is limited to premium iron ores; and the last is through our solution.”

The solution in question is – like HYBRIT – a green option, but – unlike HYBRIT – is applicable to all iron ores, regardless of grade, according to Carneiro.

Boston Metal’s process, which it calls Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE), works by adding iron ore to an electrolytic cell and passing electricity through said cell. The electricity both breaks the bonds of the iron oxides present, as well as heats up the whole batch within the cell, creating molten iron that sinks to the bottom of the cell ready for collection (tapping).

During the bond breaking and heating process, MOE produces oxygen as a by-product, with the resultant oxides forming the electolyte and remaining in said electrolyte (floating above the liquid iron).

“Because it is molten, the iron gets separated from the electrolyte and sits in the bottom of the cell,” Carneiro said. “As the molten iron is heavier than the electrolyte, the impurities float to the top and can be tapped separately.”

So, not only do companies using MOE get a molten iron product, they also get a slag by-product that can be used in various applications in the construction industry – all without using coking coal or coke.

“In traditional blast furnace-based steel making, you have to pelletise or sinter the iron ore, you need to process coking coal into coke and you then have to mix the two in the blast furnace and blow air to get pig iron,” Carneiro explained. “This pig iron contains around 4% carbon, which needs to be burnt off through, typically, a process in the basic oxygen furnace to get molten iron.”

Boston Metal’s MOE process gets to this same point using just iron ore and electricity, according to Carneiro.

“All of this is replaced by a battery of cells that, when assembled in significant numbers, can compete with blast furnaces in terms of molten iron capacity,” he said.

Carneiro expanded on what he meant by ‘significant numbers’, offering up an example of 300 MOE modules assembled in two lines of 150 able to produce 1 Mt of steel.

And all of this is in an incremental capital expenditure range within the millions of dollars, instead of the billions of dollars often required to build a traditional steel-making plant.

This puts a green process in the reach of not only steel-makers but iron ore producers, according to Carneiro.

“If you have green electricity at an iron ore mine, you can bring the cells there, melt the iron and ship a metallic product to steel-makers,” Carneiro said.

This pure iron product can be remelted elsewhere and processed into flat and long steel products for the automotive and construction industries.

“This represents a higher value-added product for iron ore miners, enabling them to ship a product that is 40% lighter in terms of weight,” Carneiro explained.

Finding a ‘green’ end-user that brings down a miners’ Scope 3 emissions while holding a molten iron ore product is a lot easier than finding one when shipping iron fines, concentrate or sinter: hence the reason why iron ore miners’ Scope 3 emission goals appear a lot less ambitious than the Scope 1 and 2 targets within their control.

It is no wonder BHP and Vale have been early backers of Boston Metal.

It sounds too good to be true, and there is a reason for that.

From speaking to Carneiro, the company could start producing molten iron through the chosen method today – not at a scale the steel-industry would yet consider commercial, but at a pilot scale at least.

For the commercial process to be considered green, the company would need renewable electricity to do this; and lots of it.

Carneiro doesn’t shy away from this, explaining that MOE will require 4 MWh of electricity per tonne of steel to work at such a scale. This is the equivalent of up to 500 MW for a 1 Mt/y molten iron plant.

The incumbent process Carneiro and his US-based team are looking to take market share from requires 5.5-6 MWh of energy per tonne of steel, while the electric arc furnace (EAF) method of making steel – which uses predominantly scrap metal – has a much smaller electricity requirement.

“If you had 2 billion tonnes of scrap to be melted, the EAF route is the best way to make steel, hands down,” Carneiro admits. “The problem is you don’t have such scrap availability and, in order to increase supply, you would need lots more steel coming from iron ore.”

For reference, the HYBRIT process is expected to require 600 MW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity to 2025 to get LKAB to the 1.3 Mt/y sponge iron (DRI) mark.

Yet, scrap steel is not the only thing in short supply currently. Green electricity is far from abundant, with only the likes of Quebec (hydro power capacity) and some Nordic countries having a plentiful supply – a fact Carneiro acknowledges.

“If you don’t believe that green electricity will be available, abundant, reliable and cheap in the future, you can forget about the MOE process,” he said. “But then you also have to forget about a lot of other processes that are set to use green electricity and the massive amounts of investment the green energy space is seeing on an annual basis.

“Society has decided to go electric and to go electric in a green way, so it is only reasonable to expect that, in the future, electricity will be all of this.”

Carneiro is planning for such a transition, with his company in the process of commissioning a full-size industrial MOE cell at its Woburn, Massachusetts headquarters. This could be ready as early as next month.

It follows a trial of a pilot cell at Brazil-based ferroniobium producer CBMM’s production plant in Araxá, Brazil, where the technology was able to use the same process to turn niobium ore into high-value ferroniobium-based products.

“We were able to prove out the process with CBMM on a smaller scale, which has given us the confidence to make a much bigger cell.”

The company plans to use this bigger cell and, through a subsidiary in Brazil, take advantage of other opportunities to extract value from mining waste using the MOE technology. This could see Boston Metal assemble a battery of MOE cells to manufacture some 5,000-10,000 t of high value-added metals.

While this is deemed ‘pilot scale’ for steel producers, it is sizeable for those producing high value-added products such as niobium, vanadium, tantalum, chrome and others, Carneiro said. And the project will only aide the company’s steel-making ambitions.

“By developing the cell for these high value-added metals, we are finding lots of the answers for the steel-sized cells as well,” he said.

Such groundwork today is preparing the company for a time when steel-makers and iron ore miners have assessed the green electricity landscape and are ready to invest in such technology.

“All the leading steel-making companies have made pledges to be carbon neutral by the 2050s,” Carneiro said. “This means they need to phase out carbon reduction by the mid- to late-2030s. By this point in time, we will be ready to offer our solution on a commercial scale, allowing them to take advantage of the abundance of iron ores – low and high grade – around the world.”

Strayos, Squadrone combine AI and drone mapping nous to optimise Indian mining sector

US-based Strayos and India-based Squadrone have announced a new partnership that will combine mine-to-mill artificial intelligence-based solutions with drone surveying to “bring futuristic mines to more sites in India”, Strayos CEO, Ravi Sahu, says.

Squadrone bills itself as being one of the most progressive companies in the application of aerial intelligence in the mining industry in India, providing tailor-made UAV solutions for various applications from mining to drilling & blasting to disaster management. It provides drone mapping, surveying and site digitalisation services to its clients to efficiently manage their site’s day-to-day operations in mining, it says.

Strayos is an AI-based company that uses data from a diverse range of smart tools, edge devices and sensors, including drones, to create 3D digital models of sites. Site digitalisation is further enhanced by Strayos’ end-to-end site AI tools that analyse data from various sources to shape safe and immediately usable key insights, automation and accurate predictions, it says.

This collaboration will pave the way for novel holistic site-level insights, according to the companies. Along with the digital 3D site model created from drone data, users can now leverage Strayos’ Geology Detection AI, Drill & Blast AI and Site Analytics AI, with inventory management. With the addition of these tools, mining stakeholders across numerous site operations will be able to pool and access data from the entire operation, according to the companies.

For instance, blasting engineers will have access to geological data when designing blasts, drillers will be able to accurately predict how their drilling affects the mill’s performance and mine engineers will be able to plan site design with precision based on up-to-date geology and optimised drilling & blasting to reduce load and haul costs.

Brad Gyngell, COO, Strayos, said: “Mining in India is going through a major transformation presently, with drones and AI being the perfect tools to accelerate these advancements. We couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with Squadrone and deliver superior solutions to our customers in India.”

Cyriac Joseph, CEO, Squadrone, Bangalore, India, said: “We pride ourselves on being able to provide the mining industry with the best services and the best products in open-pit mining, drilling and blasting, rock mechanics, mine safety and underground mining. Our boots on the ground and Strayos’ cloud-based Al tools will greatly benefit the Indian mining industry with these specialised applications to facilitate amazing analytics with visual intelligence through drone technology.”

Warrior Met Coal to relaunch Blue Creek longwall mine

Warrior Met Coal says it is relaunching the development of its Blue Creek reserves into a new, world-class longwall mine located in Alabama, USA, near its existing mines.

Once completed, this investment will reinforce Warrior’s position as the premier US pure-play producer of premium metallurgical coal products that are sought by customers throughout the global steel industry, it said.

Previously, the company had delayed the development of the Blue Creek reserves due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, as well as market conditions and the labour strike. As market conditions have significantly improved and the company’s cash generation and cash on hand have significantly increased, the company has decided now to move forward with the development, it said.

Since the initial announcement, inflation in steel and other commodity prices, including labour costs, have increased the total capital spending requirements of the project. However, during a refresh of the project, the company has identified potential production increases of approximately 10% and anticipates being able to accelerate the start of longwall production by approximately 15 months based on design modifications and projected stronger available liquidity to fund the project. Based on an assumed met coal price of $150/t, the projected net present value (NPV) is approximately $1 billion over the life of the mine with a projected after-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of nearly 30% and an expected payback of approximately two years from initial longwall production, the company said.

“We are extremely excited about this organic growth project, which will transform Warrior and allow us to build upon our proven track record of creating value for stockholders,” Walt Scheller, CEO of Warrior, said. “Blue Creek is truly a world-class asset and our commitment to this new initiative demonstrates our continued, highly focused business strategy as a premium pure-play met coal producer.”

The Blue Creek development will be a single longwall mine and is expected to have the capacity to produce an average of 4.8 million short tons per annum (mstpa) of premium High-Vol A met coal over the first 10 years of production. It is one of the last remaining large-scale, untapped premium High Vol A met coal reserves in the US, according to the company.

Once fully developed, the company expects Blue Creek to increase Warrior’s annual production capacity by 60% and expand its product portfolio to its global customers, by offering three premium hard coking coals that are expected to achieve the highest premium met coal prices in the seaborne markets. Warrior controls approximately 70 million short tons of recoverable reserves and 49 million short tons of resources at Blue Creek, which totals to over 119 million short tons. Warrior has the ability to acquire adjacent reserves that would increase total recoverable reserves at the mine, it says. The inclusion of all coal reserves, resources and adjacent properties would extend the life of mine reserves to approximately 170 million short tons. Under this expanded mine plan, Blue Creek is expected to have a mine life of approximately 50 years assuming a single longwall operation.

The company’s third-party reserve report indicates that Blue Creek would produce a premium High Vol A metallurgical coal that will differentiate itself from the industry benchmark with lower sulphur and higher coke strength after reaction (CSR). High Vol A has historically priced at a slight discount to the Australian Premium and US Low Vol coals, and that trend has continued over the last two years, it explained. Warrior expects High Vol A coals will continue to become increasingly scarce as a result of Central Appalachian producers mining thinner and deeper reserves, which is expected to continue to support this pricing level.

Likewise, Warrior expects premium hard coking coals to become even more highly valued by customers due to their blending characteristics and ability to improve coke oven efficiency. Warrior believes this creates an opportunity for Blue Creek to take advantage of favourable pricing dynamics driven by the declining supply of premium High Vol A coals.

Blue Creek’s estimated production cost per short ton is expected to be in the first quartile of the US and global seaborne hard coking coal cost curve and to be approximately 30-35% lower than Warrior’s existing mines today.

Warrior expects to invest approximately $650 to $700 million over the next five years to develop Blue Creek with expected spending in 2022 of approximately $45 million to begin the project. Based on the current schedule, Warrior expects the first development tonnes from continuous miner units to occur in the September quarter of 2024 with the longwall scheduled to start up in the June quarter of 2026.

Warrior’s strong cash flow generation and current available liquidity, as well as the ability to finance $120 – $130 million of capital expenditures through equipment leases, allows the company to be opportunistic as it evaluates funding options for Blue Creek with the goal of maintaining an efficient and low-cost capital structure.

Resolution Copper, Stantec leverage hydropanel tech to provide new clean water source for locals

Native American communities in eastern Arizona, USA, look set to benefit from a new source of clean drinking water through a project sponsored by Resolution Copper and Stantec to deploy innovative renewable “hydropanel” technology, the mine developer says.

Resolution Copper and Stantec are partnering with White Mountain Apache community members to provide 64 hydropanels on the Fort Apache Reservation and supporting hydropanel installation programs in other Native American communities.

White Mountain Apache Tribe District II Councilman, Jerold Altaha, said: “Water is valuable; it’s the life force of humanity. Thanks to this wonderful opportunity with Resolution Copper, our community of Carrizo will have access to safe, clean drinking water. Due to high levels of manganese in the main water wells, our community has had to depend on portable water tanks as a means to obtain drinking/cooking water for years. The hydropanels will now enable us to draw water from the air which will provide up to 10 litres of water or about 20 16 oz bottles a day, at no cost to the family. We are grateful for these opportunities which continue to make a difference in everyday life for our people and community.”

Stantec Water Business Operating Unit Leader, John Take, added: “We are proud to be a part of this effort to provide safe, reliable drinking water to the Native American communities in eastern Arizona. Innovative and renewable methods such as the hydropanel technology are playing an increased role in helping solve these complex problems in a sustainable manner.”

Hydropanels are a one-of-a-kind renewable water technology that uses the solar energy to provide a safe and consistent supply of drinking water by drawing pure, constantly replenished water vapour out of the sky, according to Resolution Copper. The self-contained system converts water molecules in the air into liquid water, which is collected and mineralised in a reservoir inside the panel, creating high-quality drinking water that can be delivered directly to homes, businesses, and community distribution centres.

Resolution Copper Project Director, Andrew Lye, said: “Water is a fundamental resource, and many members of our neighbouring Tribes do not have reliable access to safe drinking water. Projects like the hydropanel deployment will help alleviate some of the burden, and make a difference where it matters most. Resolution Copper continues to look for ways in which we can work in partnership to be part of the solution and support the communities around us.”

So far, Resolution Copper has invested nearly $2.8 million through partnerships and donations to projects with Native American Tribes and other communities in the Copper Corridor in 2021.

The Resolution Copper project is a proposed underground mine 96 km east of Phoenix, Arizona, near the town of Superior. The project is a joint venture owned by Rio Tinto (55%) and BHP (45%).

To date, more than $2 billion has been spent to develop and permit the project, including reclamation of the historic Magma Copper Mine site, sinking a second shaft to mining depth, rehabilitating an existing shaft and deepening to mining depth, extensive drilling and orebody testing, and the federal approval and public engagement process.

Rio Tinto’s U.S. Borax starts 5,000-hour ‘renewable diesel’ trial on haul truck

U.S. Borax has become the first site across Rio Tinto to trial “renewable diesel” fuel in one of its haul trucks, the company confirmed.

The Boron mine in California is currently conducting a 5,000-hour trial to ensure the truck’s performance meets its standards and that the renewable diesel does not impact the truck’s fuel system components life, it said. The renewable diesel is running on an mtu engine, it confirmed.

Renewable diesel, the company said, is a like-for-like replacement for the standard diesel that currently runs its trucks.

“The major difference with is that renewable diesel is manufactured using organic biomass, such as vegetable oil and a variety of waste including tallow and residues,” it said. “These materials are hydro-treated in the same manner as normal diesel, but the feed stock used means renewable diesel fuel produces significantly less emissions – between 70-80% less.”

Whereas biodiesel can only, typically, be used as a blend of up to 20% volume of normal diesel, renewable diesel can be used as a complete replacement or mixed with normal diesel, the company explained.

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, supplies around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from its open-pit mine in Boron, California, about 160 km northeast of Los Angeles.

Metso Outotec to supply VSFX tech for Li-Cycle battery recycling plant

Metso Outotec says it has signed an agreement with Li-Cycle North America Hub Inc for the supply of manganese, cobalt, and nickel solvent extraction technology for a battery recycling plant to be built in Rochester, New York in the US.

The contract value, which is not disclosed, has been booked in the Metals December quarter 2021 orders received.

The Metso Outotec delivery includes three modular VSF®X solvent extraction plants and related Dual Media Filters, and basic engineering.

Jari Ålgars, President of the Metals business area at Metso Outotec, said: “We are looking forward to working with Li-Cycle on this battery recycling project. The energy-efficient, modular VSFX solvent extraction plant, which is part of our Planet Positive product range, reduces emissions and is safe to operate. The Li-Cycle project will be an important new reference for Metso Outotec in the battery recycling business.”