Tag Archives: Victoria

Kirkland Lake Gold to trial battery-powered Sandvik LH518B at Fosterville

Kirkland Lake Gold, one of the leaders in battery-electric vehicle adoption in mining, is to trial a Sandvik LH518B LHD next year at its Fosterville underground mine, in Victoria, Australia, Rob McLean, the operation’s Chief Mining Engineer, has confirmed.

Speaking during a session titled: ‘What are Fosterville’s Current and Future Technology and Innovation Requirements, and Why?’ at the IMARC Online event, McLean said the trial is part of the company’s vision to “have a fully electric mine”, with the immediate goals being to remove diesel emissions and reduce heat at the operation.

Longer-term, electrifying the company’s fleet could result in the need for less ventilation, lower power costs and the elimination of infrastructure upgrades at the high-grade gold operation, he said.

Sandvik launched the 18 t battery-electric LH518B during its Innovation in Mining event in late September.

The loader, a Sandvik and Artisan Vehicle Systems joint development effort, has been designed from the ground up, entirely around the loader’s Artisan™ battery system and electric driveline to best leverage the possibilities the battery technology brings, Sandvik says. It can fit in a 4.5 x 4.5 m tunnel and is equipped with three 2,000 Nm permanent magnet motors and 450 kN of tractive effort. It can operate at speeds of up to 30 km/h and has 560 kW of continuous power output (peak power output of 660 kW).

McLean said the trial of the LH518B would inform the mine’s future electrification direction, but he said the company was also considering the use of battery-electric or trolley assist trucks at the operation, in addition to battery-electric charging/spraying rigs.

Kirkland Lake says its Macassa mine, in Ontario, Canada, is a “world leader in the use of battery-powered equipment” with more than 80% of its fleet made up of battery-powered vehicles from the likes of Artisan, Epiroc and RDH Scharf.

Chrysos PhotonAssay unit delivered to Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville gold mine

Kirkland Lake Gold is to install a Chrysos PhotonAssay unit at its Fosterville mine, in Victoria, Australia, as it looks to simplify, speed up and improve its mineral assaying process.

The agreement with Chrysos has seen the unit delivered to Fosterville, with the installation to be fully operational by early October.

Originally developed at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, PhotonAssay delivers faster, more accurate gold analysis, Chrysos says, being a quantitative, chemistry-free replacement for fire assay on-site and in the laboratory.

“Hitting samples with high-energy X-rays, the technology causes excitation of atomic nuclei allowing enhanced analysis of gold, silver, and complementary elements in as little as two minutes,” the company says. “Importantly, Chrysos PhotonAssay allows large samples of up to 500 g to be measured and provides a true bulk reading independent of the chemical or physical form of the sample. The process is completely non-destructive, and all samples can be retained for further testing or analysis if required.”

Wess Edgar, Chief Geologist for Kirkland Lake Gold in Australia, said: “We believe the PhotonAssay method has potential benefits for our business that include simple sample preparation, fast turnaround times for high-quality results, and improved outcomes related to health, environment, and the community.

“The sample charge used in the PhotonAssay method is approximately 10-20 times larger than existing fire assay, and thus has potential for a more representative assay result of the entire crushed sample, which is considered important for samples containing high gold grades and/or visible gold, as are often found at Fosterville.”

Fosterville is one of the highest grade gold mines operating across the industry, having produced 619,000 oz in 2019 at an average grade of 39.6 g/t.

PhotonAssay’s latest market success has drawn a positive response from CSIRO’s Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, according to Chrysos.

“It’s very rewarding to have a global leader like Kirkland Lake embrace this new Aussie technology, which sees our research continuing to improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of the industry around the world,” Dr Marshall said.

Highlighting the benefits of PhotonAssay for miners, Chrysos CEO, Dirk Treasure, stated: “Our PhotonAssay installations provide single-touch operation and improved safety outcomes, whilst also reducing labour requirements and the potential for human error. The technology’s fast turnaround on high sample volumes provides customers with time-critical operational data and drives optimisation through their entire value chain.

“We are seeing increasing interest in Chrysos PhotonAssay from both laboratories and miners. Recent developments across the sector are driving a desire for technological solutions that deliver measurable productivity gains and true competitive advantage. This is an exciting time, not just for us, but for the entire industry.”

On Site Laboratory Services, a company based in Bendigo, will staff and operate the unit at Fosterville on behalf of Kirkland Lake Gold, Chrysos said.

Australia METS sector receives government boost

Australia’s mining equipment and technology services (METS) sector is set to benefit from further funding from the government’s SME Export Hubs Initiative after being named in the Australia Government’s recent financial support program.

Karen Andrews, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, and Simon Birmingham, the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said the funding would allow small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia to tap into new markets around the world.

In the METS sector, specifically, the SME METS Export Hub Initiative will be expanded into Victoria and Western Australia through the A$1.025 million grant, according to industry-led, Australia government-funded, growth centre for the METS sector, METS Ignited.

The growth centre said the news was a boost for Western Australia METS where the Digital Mining Export Hub aims to build a digital mining capability network. In Victoria, meanwhile, the Export Hub will focus on METS capability acceleration, with both programs linking SMEs to international growth opportunities.

METS Ignited CEO, Adrian Beer, said the expansion of the initiative was great news for METS exporters across the country, providing growth and capability development opportunities and increased international market access.

“METS Ignited is very supportive of the SME Export Hub funding announcement which highlights the importance of the METS sector to the national economy,” he said. “The expansion of the program to include Austmine to lead the Export Hubs for Western Australia and Victoria will not only provide growth and capability development opportunities for METS exporters but also an opportunity to enhance Australian METS’ reputation internationally.

“We look forward to seeing the growth outcomes for the sector.”

The SME Export Hubs Initiative is supported by Industry Growth Centres to advance the establishment of local and regional hubs to assist Australia businesses to take their products and services to the global market, according to METS Ignited.

McLanahan and Mincore collaborate on gold processing plant upgrade

McLanahan recently helped process consultancy firm, Mincore, come up with a solution for managing the gold leach tailings at one of Australia’s oldest gold operations near Bendigo, Victoria.

With the gold processing plant recently undergoing a series of process upgrades, several technology partners were engaged by Mincore. McLanahan was one, with its 10M Elevated Thickener coming into play.

Richard Williams, McLanahan Global Product Manager, said: “Mincore and McLanahan have worked on a number of project studies previously. Having local engineering capability and support on both sides made the engagement much more efficient in being able to review process data and confirm the specific thickener operation and construction requirements.”

Williams said a local manufacture and relatively low overall delivered cost solution would be the best fit for the client. “Modular design provides the flexibility to manufacture in more locations and provides more certainty around time-sensitive projects,” he explained.

Due to the nature of the processing plant, Mincore specified material and design aspects to account for the highly acidic and corrosive process streams, according to McLanahan. A specific sealant was procured for the thickener flanges to perform at the correct duty, as well as stringent paint quality assurance including DFT, WFT, pinhole and holiday testing specified by Mincore to confirm coating integrity.

The thickener was designed in-house at McLanahan’s New South Wales location and included several process instruments, including bed pressure, bed level, rake torque and overflow clarity. The tank, support structures and bridge were all manufactured locally for a faster delivery time, taking only 14 weeks for final delivery to the customer’s site, according to the company.

Mincore’s site team was able to support installation by using four experienced technicians and one small mobile crane to place the thickener onto a prepared concrete-bunded hardstand. The modular nature of the tank and bridge allowed for safe, fast and efficient site installation, McLanahan remarked.

Dry commissioning includes checking for correct tank assembly, along with the installation and application of protective treatments, the company said. “During this time, the drive and instrumentation are wired, and the mechanism is checked for correct alignment.”

Once successfully completed, a wet commissioning will be conducted, where the feed to the thickener is introduced and the process outcomes are evaluated for consistency. The process will ensure the instrumentation is operating correctly, and that the data received, and process outcomes, meet the design requirements and overall client specifications.

For this thickener, McLanahan’s customised approach included minimising the number of different fastener sizes and increasing assembly speed by minimising tooling and guesswork on site.
Additionally, McLanahan designed in the following aspects:

  • Integrated lifting attachment points preventing damage to paint and eliminating the need for the customer to source specialised lifting equipment;
  • A completely match-marked assembly system using large weld metal as marking to increase assembly speed;
  • Integrated electrical cable trays and conduits that reduce site work and damage to paint coating;
  • Local marshalling panel readout of all instruments complete with trending and status providing operator feedback in real time without needing to return to the control room;
  • Maximised space and clearance under the tank, facilitating pump and instrument access and maintenance; and
  • Integrated product sampling points at multiple locations around the tank to confirm process outcomes.

Costerfield gold-antimony mine firing on all cylinders thanks to RCT solution

Removing personnel from underground loading operations at Mandalay Resources’ Costerfield gold-antimony mine in Victoria, Australia, through RCT’s ControlMaster® Teleremote and Guidance Automation, has led to time and cost savings, as well as maintenance and safety benefits, according to a recent case study from the automation specialist.

Costerfield produces ore via a single portal underground mine with narrow vein mining carried out to extract vertical veins of ore. The mine produces up to 80,000 gold-antimony-equivalent ounces per year in a concentrate comprising around 54% antimony and 60 g/t gold.

The nature of narrow vein mining dictates that ore drives are quite thin to reduce the amount of waste material that is captured, with Costerfield’s drilling and blasting program designed to maximise ore recovery by throwing the ore towards the draw point. Historically, however, the site could only recover 75% of the ore, according to RCT, due to the remaining ore sitting in the stope void out of reach of the underground LHD as manually operated loaders could not exceed the stope brow.

Looking to increase productivity, Mandalay investigated implementing a loader that could be managed remotely to extract additional ore and to safeguard equipment operators from hazardous situations at the mine face. This led to it, in 2015, engaging RCT to implement its ControlMaster Teleremote and Guidance Automation product on a Sandvik LH203 LHD.

The automated loader enabled Mandalay Resources to retrieve significant amounts of ore that were previously unreachable, RCT said.

In recent years RCT has increased the autonomous fleet at Costerfield by commissioning ControlMaster Teleremote and Guidance Automation on a second Sandvik LH203 as well as a Sandvik LH151D.

The machines are managed from Fibre Optic Control Stations at secure locations in the underground mine protected by Laser Guard Containment Units as well as stations on the mine’s surface.

Jayson Guzzo, Major Projects and Innovation Manager – Costerfield, Mandalay Resources, said removing operators from the machine is the “best outcome” as it eliminates their exposure from one of the highest risk jobs, which is working at a stope brow.

“The small loaders we use are very rigid which has the potential for repetitive strain injuries,” he said. “They also have open cabs and, in this environment, dust, machine exhaust and debris can be an added safety concern.”

In mid-2019, Mandalay made the decision to implement a digital mine communications network to accommodate future technological growth.

Guzzo said: “Given that we are a narrow vein operation we may have to access ore a significant distance from the mine access point so we are looking at going to a digital platform so we can run a fibre backbone and autonomously operate machines over a vast distance.

“In a traditional mine, you might spend a whole week bogging a single stope before moving, but at Costerfield we might bog three or four headings in one shift, so the number of sites that we have to have set up at any one time are multiple, hence a digital system will significantly speed up the process of commissioning new drives.”

Mandalay has reported that ControlMaster Guidance Automation enabled them to carry out bogging and firing operations simultaneously, saving them substantial time which was previously spent clearing personnel to a safe distance, RCT said.

Guzzo said the solution has enabled the company to reduce shift changeover time by two thirds – which is a significant cost saving – and the site has also experienced less unplanned machine downtime.

“At Costerfield, the drives are roughly 2 m wide so Guidance Automation keeps the machines off the walls and stops them bouncing around the tunnels, so the damage to the machines is a lot less and results in significantly reduced unplanned maintenance time,” he said.

Guzzo concluded: “Relocating operators from the cab of our loaders to safer environments on the mine’s surface is essential and being able to continue bogging during firing as well as significantly reducing shift changeover time is critical to improving site productivity.

“Plant automation is definitely the way of the future in the mining industry and RCT are the leaders in that area, which is why they are our preferred supplier with this equipment.”

Victoria brown coal to hydrogen pilot project takes off

Construction has started on a A$500 million ($353 million) pilot project looking at the feasibility of turning brown coal from the Latrobe Valley, in Victoria, Australia, into hydrogen for liquefaction and export to Japan.

Works have begun on liquefaction facilities linked to the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project at Port Hastings, Victoria, which the government says has the potential to create A$2 billion in exports for Australia.

On the other side of Australia, Fortescue Metals recently partnered with CSIRO on hydrogen technologies to support the development of new industries, create jobs and pave the way for low emissions export opportunities for the country.

Hydrogen production operations for the pilot phase of HSEC have been established at the AGL Loy Yang mine, with operations leveraging existing coal gasification technologies adapted specifically for Victorian brown coal. Hydrogen will then be transported to a liquefaction and loading terminal at the Port of Hastings Victoria, Australia.

“Once converted to liquid, hydrogen will be shipped to Japan using a world-first, innovative liquefied hydrogen carrier, purpose built for hydrogen transport,” the HESC said.

Australia’s Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, said today’s sod turn symbolised new job and investment opportunities for the region, as well as the nation.

“Australia is well placed to become a global leader in hydrogen production and this pilot project is a crucial step towards making this vision a reality. The Australian and Victorian Governments have committed A$50 million each to the A$500 million project, which is also supported by the Japanese Government and Japanese industry,” he said.

“This project promises to be of huge benefit to both nations and particularly the state of Victoria, which has the opportunity to develop an alternative and value-adding use of its abundant brown coal reserves in the Latrobe Valley.

“The use of hydrogen is part of Japan’s vision of a clean energy future and any emissions from the pilot project will be fully offset, with commercial scale operations required to use carbon capture and storage to ensure a low emission source of hydrogen.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, said the project was the first of its kind in Australia and was built on the strong and long-standing trade partnership between Australia and Japan.

“This pilot project is the first step in creating a commercial scale hydrogen supply chain which could lead to billions of dollars in export earnings for Australia and help Japan meet its strategic energy targets for 2030 and beyond,” he said.

“As global demand for hydrogen continues to grow, strategic investments such as this one have the potential to turn Australia into a major global exporter of hydrogen, particularly to countries such as Japan and South Korea.

“Australia has long been a reliable supplier of energy needs and there is no doubt that we are uniquely placed to continue to meet those global needs by becoming a leader in hydrogen energy. Future commercial scale operations in the Latrobe Valley and around the country will help transform Australia into a hydrogen powerhouse, delivering significant economic benefits and thousands of extra jobs for Australians.”

For funding purposes, the pilot phase is split into different delivery portions – a Japanese funded portion and an Australia funded portion.

The Australia funded portion is coordinated by Hydrogen Engineering Australia (HEA), a consortium comprised of project partners including Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), J-POWER, Iwatani Corporation, Marubeni Corporation and AGL. This portion involves refining the hydrogen gas in the Latrobe Valley, transporting it to the Port of Hastings, converting it to liquid and then loading it onto the marine carrier.

The Japan funded portion of the HESC pilot phase is coordinated by the CO2-Free Hydrogen Supply Chain Technology Association (HySTRA), acting on behalf of KHI, J-POWER, Iwatani Corporation and Shell. The Japanese funded portion includes converting brown coal to gas in the Latrobe Valley, transporting liquid hydrogen by sea and then unloading it in Japan.

The HSEC project will be developed in two phases:

  • The pilot phase will demonstrate a fully integrated supply chain between Australia and Japan over one year by 2021;
  • The decision to proceed to a commercial phase will be made in the 2020s with operations targeted in the 2030s, depending on the successful completion of the pilot phase, regulatory approvals, social licence to operate and hydrogen demand.

CSIRO’s Swirl Flow in the mix at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine

Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville gold mine, in Victoria, Australia, has employed one of CSIRO’s innovative gold processing solutions to improve safety for workers maintaining the slurry mixing tanks at the operation.

CSIRO’s Swirl Flow offered Fosterville workers superior mixing and suspension, while minimising problems associated with dead zones and sedimentation, according to Australia’s national science agency.

Slurry mixing is an integral part of the Fosterville operation, CSIRO said. “Due to their configuration, conventional agitators tend to create dead zones in which there is little movement in the mixture, resulting in the precipitation and build-up of unwanted scale.

“Fosterville Gold Mine was managing scale build-up through frequent tank wall cleaning and ‘dropping’ (ie draining) tanks,” CSIRO said.

However, the possibility of pieces of scale breaking off and falling when the tank is drained, or when the agitator is removed for maintenance, creates a health and safety risk for employees cleaning and maintaining the tanks.

A meeting between technical teams from CSIRO and Fosterville identified Swirl Flow as a possible option to reduce the amount of maintenance required, according to CSIRO.

“Swirl Flow offered Fosterville Gold Mine superior mixing and suspension, while minimising problems associated with dead zones and sedimentation, and has since been installed at their operation,” CSIRO said.

With an innovative, yet simple, impeller design, Swirl Flow creates a vortex, or tornado-like motion, in the tank, which prevents stagnant flow, while creating higher wall velocities to help cleanse the walls to reduce scale and build up in the tank,” CSIRO said.

Fosterville Gold Mine’s Technical Process Superintendent, Susan Mills, said: “For us, the driving benefit of Swirl Flow was the health and safety aspect. The safety of our people is paramount and the benefit of reducing the hazards of falling scale during maintenance made the decision simple.”

Mills said there other benefits.

“The actual conversion process is very straightforward and not costly to retrofit from a maintenance perspective, plus the reduction in scale build-up is anticipated to reduce operational costs incurred for cleaning,” she said.

A comparison suggests that, for a greenfields installation in the gold industry, Swirl Flow has the potential to be more cost effective than traditional systems, according to CSIRO. “It is cheaper due to its simple, light engineering design, and because steel baffle structures are not required. This lightweight design also means that retrofit costs are low to replace failed conventional agitators,” the agency said.

CSIRO Lead Scientist, Jie Wu, said: “Currently, companies tend to buy a complete processing system and not look at the individual components within that system to see if there are better alternatives.

“Processes and mixing applications vary from industry to industry, so we design a Swirl Flow system for the process or requirements of a producer’s particular processing, mixing or tank requirements.

“We look at the process, we model it and then we work with the manufacturer and the client company to optimise the performance of the Swirl Flow installation.”

CSIRO is looking to expand the applications of Swirl Flow and is interested in working with both producers and mining equipment technology and services supplier companies to help resolve operational mixing problems.

“We started in the alumina industry and are now making inroads with applications and plant trials in gold processing, uranium leaching and other minerals sectors,” Dr Wu said.

“We hope that Swirl Flow will become a mainstream alternative mixing technology for a number of applications in the minerals sector.”

Swirl Flow technology was developed with CSIRO partners at Queensland Alumina. The technology enhances the agitation process by mixing liquids and suspended solids to create a tornado-like vortex in a tank. It uses a motor, gearbox and a specially-designed radial impeller with a short shaft near the top of the tank. The system improves agitator reliability, resulting in reduced maintenance and shutdowns. Due to higher and more uniform wall veolcities, the scale formation rate is also reduced, according to CSIRO.

AuStar Gold hopes Gekko’s ILR can cope with Morning Star middlings

AuStar Gold has announced the re-commencement of gold processing at its Morning Star process plant in Victoria, Australia, and, at the same time, signed an agreement with Gekko Systems to acquire a custom-made intense leach reactor for the processing of residual sulphide/gold concentrate.

The agreement with Gekko, which should enable increased overall gold recoveries from the process plant, was the last remaining processing hurdle for AuStar, given the small component of non-free milling gold present in its ore, to maximise commercial gold recoveries, it said.

The AuStar Gold process plant at the Morning Star mine site uses standard gravity methods (enhanced by recent investment in a high-speed centrifugal concentrator to recover gold from the Morning Star and Rose of Denmark ores.

“Through the gravity process, the gold room captures approximately 65% to 75% of the gold directly to bullion, with an additional 15% of fine free gold residing in the middlings as concentrate and up to 10% of fine free gold in the gold room table rejects,” AuStar said.

The material containing the fine free gold (concentrate) not captured directly into bullion at the Morning Star plant is to be treated by Gekko Systems offsite, with expected recoveries in these two fractions of approximately 95% of the contained gold, the company said. This is expected to lift total gold recovered and sold from ore supplied to the mill to better than 90%, AuStar added.

Meanwhile, a high-speed centrifugal concentrator has been purchased to replace the smaller, hired unit presently located in the process plant which produces concentrate to be provided to Gekko. This larger unit is being installed in March.

A custom-made intense leach reactor is under construction at Gekko’s Ballarat facility, designed to suit Morning Star concentrate, and will be operational in early April, the company concluded.

Just last month, AuStar confirmed it would re-start mining activity at the historic Morning Star and Rose of Denmark mines in February, with processing at the Morning Star gravity processing plant expected before the end of that month.

Morning Star is a proven past operator, with 830,000 oz of gold at 26.5 g/t Au previously produced.

Kirkland Lake Gold cements approvals at Fosterville gold mine

Kirkland Lake Gold has received regulatory and planning approval for an on-site cement plant at its rapidly-expanding Fosterville gold mine in Victoria, Australia.

Victoria’s Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes, confirmed the approvals on site at Fosterville last week.

The new cement infrastructure plant will enable by-product rock to be re-inserted underground, reducing tailings and extending the life of the mine, according to the government. It will also lead to production increasing at the underground mine, it added.

Estimated gold reserves at Fosterville were recently upgraded 60% to 2.7 Moz, with production in 2019 set to come in at 550,000-610,000 oz, up from 350,000 oz in 2018.

In August, Kirkland Lake Gold secured GR Engineering’s EPC services for a paste backfill plant at Fosterville which, when in production, could produce 65 m³/h of paste to fill the stopes in the gold mine.

AuStar Gold about to start operations at Morning Star and Rose of Denmark mines

ASX-listed AuStar Gold has confirmed it will re-start mining activity at the historic Morning Star and Rose of Denmark mines in Victoria, Australia, this month.

The company, in December, said it was looking to reach the mining milestone at both projects this quarter. AuStar said it had now gained a “requisite level of confidence in its minerals inventory estimation and mine planning to start production”.

AuStar Gold CEO Tom de Vries said the decision to commence production reflected the progress that had been achieved with recent exploration activity.

de Vries said: “We have repeatedly witnessed diamond drill core with visible gold and accompanying outstanding high-grade assay results, which gives us confidence that mining can be undertaken successfully.

“Our process plant is proven, the infrastructure is all well tested, and our exploration work gives us confidence that we have high-grade material available for mining. We have conducted extensive work internally to assess potential production rates and costs and the board and management are confident the decision to commence production will generate positive results for shareholders. While initial throughput rates will be modest, further exploration success will enable increased production over time,” he said.

AuStar Gold’s mine development plan will initially focus on exposing the reef at McNally’s and thereafter develop along the structure then targeting the stoping on the highest-grade drill holes.

Following an initial pre-development stage, a similar approach will be taken to the selective mining of Stone’s Reef, targeting zones where high-grade gold drill holes proliferated.

Development is expected to begin in the first week of February with logistics and procurement activity already underway. Processing at the Morning Star gravity processing plant is expected to start before the end of February.

The company said it has identified an initial gold mineral inventory to sustain production over the next six months, with the objective of continuing to replace and add to the current mineral inventory via ongoing exploration. The plant will initially operate at around 85,000 t/d throughput on a week on/week off basis, which is expected to increase in the next six months.

AuStar Gold said Morning Star is a proven past producer, with 830,000 oz at 26.5 g/t Au. It also comes with significant shaft access infrastructure in place and multiple high-grade zones identified and untested high grade intercepts.

The Rose of Denmark mine, meanwhile, has a long predictable dyke zone, vastly unexplored, with a fully refurbished circa-3 m wide adit suitable for mechanised mining and ore capable of processing through the fully recommissioned processing plant, AuStar said.