Tag Archives: Vietnam

Blackstone Minerals engages Metso for nickel, cobalt refinery plans in Vietnam

Blackstone Minerals Ltd has announced the inclusion of Metso as the technology supplier for the definitive feasibility study of the company’s pCAM (precursor cathode active material) processing plant in its Ta Khoa refinery in Vietnam.

Metso is already involved in the design of the pCAM plant and will also conduct independent pCAM test work to validate the nickel and cobalt sulphates generated during the pilot program for suitability in pCAM generation, the OEM says.

Metso is currently designing the pCAM plant with Wood, providing experience and engineering technical support.

Scott Williamson, Managing Director at Blackstone Minerals Ltd, said: “Blackstone intends to leverage off Metso’s engineering services and know-how into the pCAM facility design, thus de-risking the project and confirming Blackstone’s intent to be a real player in the pCAM space. Securing another world leader to the Ta Khoa project is yet another jigsaw piece in the battery value chain puzzle. Blackstone continues to look forward to project success as it marches towards developing the greenest and most resilient nickel business in the world.”

Blackstone highlighted the OEM’s high value technology in the context of the pCAM facility design, such as the modular OKTOP® reactors (with industrial references for scaling-up pCAM precipitation processes), Larox® filtration technologies and Courier® HX continuous product quality analyser equipment to enable precision control and real-time optimisation.

“Metso has shown that precursors precipitated with OKTOP reactor technology are proven to meet the required chemical and physical properties for high-performance cathode active material,” it said.

Rudi Rautenbach, Director, Minerals Sales, Asia-Pacific, Metso, said: “We are confident that our experience in nickel processing and battery metals technologies will contribute positively to the project. Many of our offerings that are planned to be used in this project are selected from our range of Planet Positive products, which are demonstrably more energy or water efficient than the industry benchmark or Metso’s previous generation products in the market, to help our customers cut their CO2 emissions and/or to achieve other sustainability priorities. We believe these are all in line with Blackstone’s objectives towards developing the greenest and most resilient nickel business in the world.”

Metso says it provides sustainable technology and equipment for the entire lithium, nickel, and cobalt production chain from the mine to battery materials and black mass recycling with project scopes ranging from equipment packages to plant deliveries. Metso has its own pCAM testing facilities.

A February 2022 prefeasibility study on the 90%-owned Ta Khoa project outlined first concentrate production in in 2025, ramping up to nameplate design of 8 Mt/y in 2027. It expected a steady-state average annual nickel output (recovered in concentrate) of circa-18,000 t/y and steady-state average annual concentrate production of circa-225,000 t/y. The project also came with a steady-state refining capacity of 400,000 t/y, with first production of NCM811 precursor material commencing in early 2025.

GR Engineering to deliver feasibility study on Ta Khoa nickel project

Blackstone Minerals Ltd has appointed GR Engineering Services Ltd (GRES) as the primary consultant in the delivery of the Upstream Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) for its Ta Khoa nickel project (TKNP), in Vietnam.

As the primary consultant, GRES will focus on the delivery of major workstreams including process infrastructure, metallurgical test work and co-disposal tailings storage. GRES will also coordinate, collaborate with and collate information from other key workstreams including mining studies, Blackstone said.

Blackstone says GRES has a proven track record and relevant experience to deliver the TKNP DFS, having completed a DFS for OZ Minerals on its West Musgrave nickel project and completed engineering, procurement and construction work on the Cosmos Expansion project (Western Areas Ltd), the Nova Nickel project (now IGO Ltd), the Cosmic Boy nickel project (Western Areas) and the Sinclair nickel project (now Northern Star Resources Ltd).

Further, GRES provides full life-cycle engineering services from feasibility studies through to delivery of projects under both EPC and engineering, procurement and construction management models, Blackstone said.

Scott Williamson, Blackstone’s Managing Director, said: “GRES adds to an already impressive team of engineers that are contributing to the design and development of the Ta Khoa Project.

“Blackstone continues to de-risk its development strategy both from a technical and funding perspective, and looks forward to updating the market as we take key steps towards a final investment decision.”

The TKNP is 160 km west of Hanoi in the Son La Province of Vietnam and includes an existing modern nickel mine built to Australian standards, which is currently being used to process nickel ore delivered by the underground bulk sample program, the company said. The Ban Phuc nickel mine successfully operated as a mechanised underground nickel mine from 2013 to 2016.

In February 2022, Blackstone completed a prefeasibility study for the TKNP, and presented this on an integrated basis with the proposed Ta Khoa Refinery (TKR) development. The TKR is being designed to have a refining capacity of 400,000 t/y, with feedstock provided from a combination of concentrate from the TKNP and third-party feed sources.

Jacon, MAAS Group reflect on underground mining opportunities

Jacon Equipment, an Australia-owned specialist supplier of underground shotcreting and related equipment, says it has received a new lease of life in the past two years since it became a fully owned subsidiary of MAAS Group.

MAAS Group, a diversified supplier of construction materials, equipment and services, floated on the Australian Securities Exchange in December 2020.

The group’s offerings include regional quarries throughout New South Wales and in Queensland, crushing and screening services, civil contracting, plant hire – across civil construction and infrastructure, as well as underground mining and tunnelling, electrical infrastructure and property development.

And now Jacon is backed by MAAS Group’s strong financial resources, management expertise and engagement in the infrastructure and construction industries.

According to Jacon Product Manager, Michael Rutten, becoming part of MAAS Group represented a major step forward in the brand’s ability to service and support customers.

“With the size and financial backing of MAAS Group, we can offer customers the peace of mind of knowing that we have the resources and capability to meet all our customers’ supply, parts, service and support needs,” he said.

“For example, we now stock a full complement of spares, our parts availability is right up where it needs to be, and we are able to support all our machines out in the field as an OEM should.

“As well as that, Jacon now has significantly more funding for R&D, with a whole line of new products in development – and which we’ll be announcing in the near future. That means we can continue to develop innovative products and solutions for underground mining, tunnelling infrastructure and construction.”

For many years, Jacon’s products have been designed and developed in Australia, with engineering and manufacturing carried out in Vietnam. The company has recently opened a new state-of-the-art 21,000 sq.m design and manufacturing facility in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Following our purchase by MAAS Group, we have also increased the number of engineers and technicians in our Ho Chi Minh City factory, giving us the ability to not only put more resources into the development of our product, but also to increase our holdings of stock machines, as well as parts and components,” Rutten said.

The bulk of Jacon’s customers are mining contractors operating in Australia, including some of the biggest contractors in the business, as well as smaller mine operators and contractors. Jacon rigs are also in operation at some of the largest underground hard-rock mining projects in the world, according to the company.

Rutten said that, in addition to supplying innovative products that offer features not available with other brands, a key competitive advantage for Jacon is its ability to offer much shorter lead times for new equipment orders.

“Our philosophy is to be ‘component-ready’, so we can build and deliver new machines as quickly as possible,” he said.

“And since we’ve been a part of MAAS Group, that philosophy has been enhanced so that we have the right components ready for our core products, including throughout the lockdowns associated with the COVID pandemic.”

Another result of MAAS Group’s ownership of Jacon has been to move towards a more streamlined and standardised product offering.

“In the past, Jacon has had a reputation that every single machine out in the field is different,” Rutten said. “That’s come about because of the way we’ve traditionally worked with customers, designing and building machines to suit their specific needs.

“Now with this more standardised approach, combined with improved engineering and design, we can continue to meet each customer’s unique site operating requirements, but with a higher commonality of parts across machines – which also helps keep operating costs down – and improves order turnaround for new machines.”

Another product differentiator of Jacon products has been their lower operating costs, compared with other suppliers, the company says.

“Two of our core products, our Maxijet shotcrete rigs (one pictured), and our Transmix machines, have a reputation in the industry as being very low-operating-cost products,” Rutten said.

Reasons for this include:

  • A high percentage of parts and components designed in-house, allowing the company to keep parts prices down;
  • A philosophy of not “over-complicating” the product line; and
  • A commitment to ensuring all Jacon products are easy to maintain and repair.

Rutten said: “Our shotcrete machines are all rigid chassis, rather than articulated, so they are simpler and less complex, they have fewer ‘pinch points’ which can be a safety hazard, and they can move around mine sites more easily.”

As an emerging player in the underground shotcreting equipment supply market, Jacon says it has always been able to maintain short lines of communication between customers and its management.

“That’s always allowed us to have a streamlined decision-making process, which enables us to be flexible and dynamic in how we respond to customer feedback and requests,” Rutten said.

“And now, as a part of MAAS Group, we’re able to continue with simple lines of communication between our people in the field, our factory and engineering people, and senior management, while now having this very significant financial backing and security.

“That means that while we are continuing to compete in the OEM market, we are able to combine the best of strong financial backing, with a focused and dedicated management team.”

MAAS Group and Jacon, prior to the transaction, already had a long-term relationship, through MAAS Group’s ownership of a number of pieces of Jacon equipment for its underground services hire fleet, according to Wes Maas, CEO of MAAS Group Holdings.

“Both companies are a good fit for each other,” he said. “Plus, there are some excellent opportunities for us to significantly expand these operations.”

For example, MAAS Group owns 23 quarries throughout Australia, and there is design and manufacturing capability within Jacon’s Vietnam factory to build crushers and other types of quarrying and processing equipment.

The company is exploring additional synergies with another company of Maas Group, JLE Mining & Tunnelling.

JLE is a dedicated electrical division specialising in electrical services and supplies for the underground mining, tunnelling, civil construction and rail industries across Australia.

“Jacon’s Vietnam factory has excellent capability engineering and manufacturing quality products for the mining and construction industry,” Maas said. “With this long-standing relationship between the two companies, MAAS could see real opportunities in the Jacon brand, in building it up to achieve its full potential.

He concluded: “We’re now at the point where we want to take a more prominent position in the global underground mining and construction marketplace – and we have some exciting new products and innovations coming out in the next 12 months. Following the acquisition of Jacon, we completed a major review, and identified 118 items that we can improve in the Jacon business. As of mid-September 2021, we are about halfway through that improvement program.”

PT Anggun Makmur Energy and CIC enter ‘clean coal’ offtake agreement

PT Anggun Makmur Energy (PT AME) is to supply steam coal to power plants in Vietnam as part of an offtake agreement agreed with Commodities Intelligence Centre (CIC) on behalf of its trading platform registered users.

The total contract value is $8.5 million, with the first coal shipment produced by “clean coal technologies” commencing in October 2019.

This agreement will reduce cross-border transaction costs and achieve greater trading synergies in the region, strengthening Singapore’s role as an international trading hub, according to CIC. It also has the potential to influence expansion into other markets in Asia, such as China and the Philippines.

Coal dominates world power generation and is an important and crucial commodity for Asia Pacific, according to CIC. The International Energy Agency, in 2018, estimated Asia produced 70% of the world’s coal, with coal demand projected to grow 5% year-on-year to support the growth of Southeast Asia.

CIC said: “Despite its strong demand, low-cost coal runs counter to the global trend that is looking to cut carbon emissions. As coal continues to be the dominant fuel for power generation in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific, the development of clean coal technology and innovative solutions can reduce the environmental pollution that coal brings to the world.”

PT AME is an Indonesia-based coal miner that, through its mining practices, is enabling independent power plants (IPPs) to comply with global CO2 emission standards. Its mines generate less coal ash than others in the industry, according to CIC.

“Their (PT AME’s) technology is able to revive the region’s economically dead mines or old mines with good coal, producing lower volumes of waste material when extracting one-unit tonne of coal,” CIC said. “The overall cost of coal mining is also reduced by up to 80%, providing cost savings to the operation and maintenance of IPPs.”

Peter Yu, Chief Executive Officer of CIC, said: “This partnership with PT AME marks a significant milestone achieved by CIC that will facilitate intra-ASEAN trade and strengthens Singapore’s role as an international trading hub in the digital realm.”

Pak Djoko, President Director of PT AME (pictured left), quoting a 2017 report from Danish Energy Agency, said Vietnam’s import share of total primary energy supply is set to increase to 37.5% in 2025 and 58.5% in 2035 with high demand on imported fuel, especially coal.

He added: “We believe that PT AME will be able to use best practices garnered from our experience in the Asia-Pacific region in supplying the necessary energy source, to meet the demands of Vietnam. Moreover, CIC’s eTrade Platform extensive network and market knowledge will allow us to enter the Vietnam market with confidence and help bring our sustainable and environmental-friendly mining practices to the country.”

CIC is a Singapore-based platform backed by Enterprise Singapore, and is a joint venture between ZALL Smart Commerce Group, a business-to-business (B2B) platform in China; Singapore Exchange; and Global eTrade Services, a subsidiary of eGovernment products and services provider CrimsonLogic. CIC aims to create an interoperable global B2B physical commodities trading platform with global connectivity.