Tag Archives: Venetia

De Beers taps Sandvik expertise for Venetia underground diamond mine transition

De Beers Group has ordered 19 units of high-tech equipment from Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology for its Venetia Underground Project (VUP), in South Africa.

According to Simon Andrews, Managing Director at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Southern Africa, the company will supply a range of intelligent equipment including LHDs, ADTs, twin-boom drill rigs, roof bolters and cable bolters. Amongst the advanced models are the 17 t LH517i and 21 t LH621i LHDs, 51 t TH551i ADTs, DD422i face drills, DS412i roof bolters and DS422i cable bolters.

Partnership will be the watchword in the technological collaboration between the global diamond leader and mining OEM.

South Africa’s largest diamond mine, Venetia has been mined as an open pit since 1992. De Beers Group is investing circa-$2 billion to start mining underground from 2022, extending the mine’s life beyond 2045. The VUP represents the biggest single investment in South Africa’s diamond industry in decades, according to the company.

Allan Rodel, Project Director of the VUP, says the use of new technology is critical in building the mine of the future and will ensure the safety of its people, as well as create unique employment opportunities.

He adds that the successful implementation of this technology holds the key to further improve the mine’s productivity and cost effectiveness, enabling the quality and accuracy required for precision mining. This will also provide real-time geospatially referenced data that supports digitalisation of processes and provide a wealth of data for analysis and continuous improvement.

The underground mine will use sublevel caving to extract material from its K01 and K02 orebodies. Initially the ore will be hauled to surface using a combination of underground and surface haul trucks. As the operation matures, the hauling systems will transition to an automated truck loop in combination with vertical shafts for steady state production.

Sandvik’s Andrews said: “As important as the equipment itself is, De Beers Group was looking to partner with a company who would support them through the VUP journey. Taking a mine from surface to underground has many challenges, including the change in operational philosophy.”

Andrews highlighted that change management processes are as crucial to success as the capacity and performance of the mining equipment. The implementation of the new technology is seldom a straightforward process, and always requires a collaborative effort.

“The expectation of the customer is for a strong relationship with a technology partner who will help them to apply, develop and fine-tune the systems they need, over a period of time,” he says. “This way, the technology is assured to deliver the safety, efficiency and other positive results that the new mine will demand.”

Andrews believes Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology leads the pack from a technology point of view, having introduced its intelligent i-Series machines to enhance remote operation capability. This advanced range combines automation with data management capacity, aligning with the philosophy that De Beers Group has applied to this world-class operation, which prioritises the safety of its people.

Also included in the package for VUP is the Sandvik OptiMine® control system which enables continuous process management and optimisation, focusing on key areas such as face utilisation and visualisation of the operation in near real time. Using data generated by the i Series machines, OptiMine helps mining operations to achieve the lowest operating costs and highest levels of productivity.

Andrews noted that Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology is not new to the Venetia site, having worked with Venetia’s surface operations for some years, providing tools for drilling as part of a performance contract.

“We’ve been following the VUP with great interest and were ideally placed to contribute as we have extensive South African experience with mining customers in transitioning from opencast to underground,” he said. “This has involved providing equipment, implementing the systems and getting a full operation running with the latest equipment.”

He added: “Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has successfully completed numerous large and ambitious projects, and it reflects our experience in applying automation technologies from first principles. The learnings from these projects will be seen in the VUP as the mining systems are rolled out. We will take the very latest technology and assist the mine to implement it in an underground environment through a collaborative approach using local skills and supporting it from a local base of expertise.”

He emphasises that the automation will be applied through a phased approach, beginning with manual operation and closely monitoring performance through data analytics. Automation can be gradually introduced with the necessary training and experience, ensuring consistency of operation which is the key to success.

“This will allow costs to be driven steadily lower, using the data from the operation of the fleet to guide the transition to automation,” he says. “We will work with the mine to introduce automation and further data management as work progresses deeper into the mine, and as mine employees become more comfortable with this way of working.”

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology (soon to be Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions) is geared to support the trackless systems implemented at the mine through the full lifecycle of the machines by supplying spare parts, tooling and components from an on-site Vendor Managed Inventory stockroom and its other South African based facilities.

Worley out to help miners on their open pit to underground mining transition

As open-pit mines reach their economic end of life, mine owners are considering the viability of transitioning their open-pit operations to underground.

Drawing on its deep level mining expertise in South Africa, Worley helps mine owners around the world to explore the feasibility of underground life of mine extensions and identify the most efficient and safe underground mining methods.

Among the driving factors in the transition to underground mining are declining ore grades, deeper ore deposits, and an increase in demand for minerals required for the global energy transition, such as copper, lithium, manganese and nickel, Worley says.

“Worley’s centre of excellence for copper in Chile has been supporting open-pit copper mine customers for nearly three decades,” the company said. “The company is gearing up its underground capability as these mines shift their operations to below surface to access deeper ore reserves.”

Going deep in South Africa

Worley’s South Africa operations is one of the company’s mining centres of excellence with niche experience in deep level mining.

Mining has been the mainstay of South Africa’s economy for well over a century, and a major source of employment as well as foreign investment. Consequently, Worley has grown its South Africa mining team in one of the best mining environments in the world, with a collective experience of over 120 years in deep level mining and process expertise.

Robert Hull, Vice President for Mining, Minerals & Metals in Africa, says Worley’s South African operation is recognised for its deep level shaft experience, and the company also has experience across most commodities including base metals, coal, platinum, gold, diamonds and ferrous metals.

Hull says Worley has a strong global workshare philosophy and culture of collaboration. The specialist skills in South Africa gained from working on some of the biggest underground projects in the world are an integral part of Worley’s mining, minerals and metals global project delivery offering.

Deep level mine skills

Some of South Africa’s specialist deep underground skills include shaft design, ventilation and refrigeration shafts, high pressure pumping, and deep level hoisting.

Worley says it is one of the few companies in the world that has the expertise to design hoisting systems for mass hoisting, such as at the Venetia Underground Project, which will hoist approximately 6 Mt/y of rock.

The De Beers Venetia Mine in South Africa is the biggest source of rough diamonds in the country, according to Worley. The mine is in the process of transitioning from open pit to underground, to extend its life by some 25 years.

As engineering procurement and construction management contractor for South Africa’s largest mining execution project, Worley is using 3D designs for the project infrastructure to provide 3D models for the entire project’s surface and underground infrastructure, it said.

Intelligent mines

Hull says Worley is leading the way in developing digital solutions for the planning, design and execution of mining projects, with the South Africa office having played a key role in the design and development of much of the group’s digital technology in mining and minerals processing.

Hull (pictured) cites the Wafi-Golpu (owned by Harmony Gold Mining and Newcrest Mining) feasibility study update, in Papua New Guinea, where the South Africa team drew on SmartPlant design technology, which uses rapid prototyping and Building Information Modelling. The technology allowed the entire project team to visualise project objectives as never before, greatly improving operational efficiency in a dynamic time and cost-saving environment, according to Worley.

The Wafi-Golpu project is ranked as a world-class deposit in terms of its size and the grade of gold and copper within it. If developed, it will be the largest, deepest and most complex underground mine in Papua New Guinea, with a mine life of 28 years, Worley says.

Integrated project delivery teams

Worley’s South Africa team is also supporting its Australia counterparts to project manage the delivery of the deepening and expansion of an underground gold mine. This includes construction of a 1,460 m shaft, additional capacity in the processing plant, and supporting infrastructure to enable profitable recovery of ore at depth to 2 140m below surface. IM understands the project in question is the Newmont-owned Tanami Expansion 2 project, in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Mega machines for mega mines

Hull says every underground project Worley has executed has drawn on the company’s large material handling capabilities.

“In South Africa, we have a dedicated materials handling department that has the latest tools including discrete element modelling and finite element analysis, and advanced simulation tools for conveyer design,” he said.

Coenie Mynhardt, Winder Engineering at Worley, adds that mine payloads have increased dramatically in the last two decades in pursuit of higher productivity rates. Mines such as Impala and Phalaborwa, in South Africa, with an approximate 12-t per skipload, were considered ‘mega mines’ in their day. The mines of the future are more than double that size.

“The mega mines of the future need mega machines to be able to handle such big payloads,” Mynhardt says. “Materials handling technology for such deep, high tonnage operations will test current technology for capacity and reliability to bring the ore from the production levels to surface. We have the skills and expertise to find the solutions to these challenges.”

Global project delivery

“Countries such as Chile have immense potential for transitioning from open pit to underground if the geology supports it,” commented Hull. “With the wealth of experience across locations and over 4,000 staff in our mining, minerals and metals business line, we can safely and successfully deliver our customers’ underground mine assets through collaborative development of the mine and associated infrastructure anywhere in the world.”

Metso equipment to rough up diamonds at De Beers Venetia mine

Metso is to install high-performance crushing and material handling equipment underground at the De Beers Group’s Venetia diamond mine, in South Africa, as part of an order booked in the September quarter.

In the throes of a transition from open-pit mining to underground operations, Venetia is reported to produce around 4 Mct/y, making it one of South Africa’s biggest diamond mines.

In 2013, an underground extension project commenced with plans to start producing carats in 2022, climbing to full production in 2025 and extending the mine life to 2046.

Metso said Venetia approached Metso to deliver two primary jaw crushers and a number of feeders. All the equipment will be installed underground, which is a very challenging installation, especially given the shaft constraints (dimensions) and weight limitations for transportation underground, the company added.

Venetia decided on Metso’s Nordberg® C Series™ jaw crusher range as the pinned and bolted design of the crusher allowed for the extensive disassembly, Metso said. “This enhances ease of transportation and installation, especially where there are critical space constraints such as an underground installation – as is the case with this project.”

The Metso apron feeders, meanwhile, are used for extracting or feeding ores that are wet, sticky, dry or even frozen.