Tag Archives: water

ICMM aims to align and improve mining industry water reporting with latest guide

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has launched an updated Water Reporting: Good Practice Guide to, it says, improve the quality and consistency of corporate water reporting that will enhance stakeholders’ understanding of, and ability to use, water reports and associated data.

The guidance broadens ICMM’s minimum reporting commitments to include new metrics for disclosure, such as holistic reporting of how water is used to meet operational demands and how it is actively managed; and reporting of aggregated water metrics for all sites within a company as well as a separate aggregated total for all sites situated in water-stressed areas, according to the ICMM.

“It supports mining companies to disclose water data in a consistent way that allows for easier comparison of performance by interested stakeholders,” the ICMM said.

The guide builds directly on external reporting guidance and definitions, including CEO Water Mandate, GRI, CDP Water and the MCA Water Accounting Framework. It captures practical experience from companies operating in diverse geographies, commodities and regulatory systems, and was developed in consultation with industry experts and investors, helping to make this resource a strong global tool, the ICMM said.

Aidan Davy, COO, ICMM, said: “Transparent reporting is important so that stakeholders such as investors, government, local communities and civil society have greater line of sight over mining companies’ water management practices and related data. The external reporting landscape is evolving, and ICMM’s updated Water Reporting: Good Practice Guide will help companies strengthen their management of this precious and shared resource for the benefit of all users, while reducing corporate risk exposure.”

Briana Gunn, Group Executive of Environment, Newmont, said: “The ICMM Water Reporting: Good Practice Guide was updated to support alignment between members on the information and methodologies for accounting for the inflow, use, loss, storage and discharge of water at our operations. Having a standardised method of reporting provides a higher level of comparability and increased transparency for member companies.”

Chris McCombe, General Manager – Sustainability, Minerals Council of Australia, said: “Australia’s minerals industry is proud to support ICMM’s new Water Reporting: Good Practice Guide, which reinforces the industry’s commitment to water stewardship through responsible water use and transparent and consistent reporting.”

ICMM members commit to apply strong and transparent corporate water governance, including to publicly report company water performance, material risks, opportunities and management response using consistent industry metrics and recognised approaches, the ICMM said. This guide builds on good practice principles from ICMM’s 2017 publication ‘A Practical Guide to Consistent Water Reporting’ as well as practical member learnings from its implementation, and is publicly available on ICMM’s website for use by the wider industry.

ANDRITZ ups the filtration ante with new ME2500 filter press

ANDRITZ has introduced a new filter press, the ME2500, to complete its range of “proven” A4F and the SE series filter presses for the mining and minerals industry.

The ME2500 is the best-fit for fast processing of tailings (also with high clay content) or mining concentrates like iron, copper, lead or zinc, the company says. The new model has an hourly processing capacity of up to 450 kg/sq.m, a filtration area of up to 840 sq.m, and features chained plates for faster filter cake discharge. These attributes enable the highest throughputs without compromising on safety, while reflecting a customer focus on saving water, ANDRITZ says.

The innovative closure system on the ME2500 largely replaces hydraulic components with electrical ones and further reduces cycle times, thus increasing capacity and operating availability.

“The increased use of electrical components enables highly sustainable operation of the filter press by reducing the amount of hydraulic oil needed, as well as improving safety thanks to more precise control and less reliance on high-pressure lines that are susceptible to leaks,” the company said.

In addition, and to further optimise the productivity of single machines or plants with multiple filter presses, all modules of the ANDRITZ intelligent filter press – controlled by the Metris addIQ control system – are also available for the ME2500 filter press and can be provided with the full range of options. This draws on smart sensors, data analytics and augmented reality, including multiple sensors to allow for online safety monitoring of the plate package and moveable parts.

The company concluded: “The safe disposal of tailings generated by the mining and minerals sector is a significant cost factor for the industry. ANDRITZ is known for its innovative range of overhead and sidebar filter presses that meet the industry’s most stringent requirements with regard to fast cake discharge and saving water and costs. The maintenance-friendly equipment from ANDRITZ is easily upgradeable, with a modular design for customised process solutions.”

Orica to take CRC ORE’s IES cloud-based simulation technology global

Orica has been selected as the commercialisation partner for the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction’s (CRC ORE) Integrated Extraction Simulator, a cloud-based software platform designed to reduce the use of energy and water in mining through the application of simulation, optimisation and machine learning.

The award followed a competitive selection process, with the global mining explosives and services giant set to take the reins of the platform’s growth strategy from July 2021, with plans for global expansion of the technology.

Orica’s interest was initially driven by IES’s introduction of blast simulation into the mineral processing value chain, CRC ORE said. While mine operators can use controlled blasting techniques as an effective augmentation of the rock breakage process, Orica also saw the wider application of IES as an obvious fit with its expanding digital solutions offer across the whole mining value chain.

“By harnessing the virtually limitless scalability available through cloud computing services, mining companies can now use IES to configure multiple design options for a mineral processing plant,” CRC ORE said. “IES then tasks each design and simulates its performance for every day of operation over the life of a mine. This high-resolution simulation of each design leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of optimal mineral processing.”

Orica intends to expand this capability into a global solution for mining companies, enabling them to design their mineral processing using IES, and then leverage IES’s capability every day to drive continual operational improvements.

CRC ORE Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ben Adair, said having a company the calibre of Orica as commercialisation partner is testament to the enormous opportunity and benefits that the simulator provides to the mining industry.

“We have worked with our Participants over many years to refine our simulation platform,” Dr Adair said. “As a foundation Participant in CRC ORE, Orica shares our commitment to optimising resource extraction and our passion for the continued development of the simulator.

“The scale offered by Orica’s global reach, in addition to its sustained investment in research and development and unwavering focus on innovation, makes it the ideal custodian of IES.”

Orica has been evolving towards its vision of an integrated ore extraction mining services company, with this vision including investing in digital solutions where continuous innovation and open integration with other industry systems across the mining value chain are key to the delivery of whole of mine optimisation for customers, CRC ORE said.

Orica Chief Commercial and Technology Officer, Angus Melbourne, said Orica is primed to take the simulator global and continually evolve the technology to meet the ever changing needs of the industry.

“This is a great example of industry collaboration developing solutions to industry level problems, and we are extremely proud to be part of it,” he said. “It is a fantastic opportunity to continue Orica’s 11-year relationship with CRC ORE and further expand our digital solutions offering by combining our blasting domain expertise with this leading simulation technology to customers and beyond worldwide.”

Orica Vice President Digital Solutions, Rajkumar Mathiravedu, said: “From a technology perspective, we see enormous synergies with our existing blasting and measurement solutions, including BlastIQ, FRAGTrack and ORETrack. We are also excited to integrate our automated, data science enabled blast design technology and solutions with IES, offering end-to-end digitised workflow solutions from orebody knowledge through to mineral processing in an open, secure, and connected platform.”

CRC ORE’s team of developers and consultant engineers will integrate into Orica from July 2021 and will continue to be led by CRC ORE’s current General Manager for the simulator, Nick Beaton.

Beaton said: “IES is now at the right point in its development to become commercially sustainable while continuing to develop new capabilities. It will be thrilling to continue this with Orica.

“We have demonstrated that the simulator can improve the value of major mine sites by some 5-6; this is significant for the mines using the simulator and for the whole industry.

“Optimisation of processing operations by use of IES will also enable step-change reductions in power and water consumption, while greatly improving recoveries of marginal ores, all contributing to the future sustainability of mining operations.”

The transition of the IES business to Orica will take place in the middle of 2021 when CRC ORE’s term comes to an end. In the meantime, CRC ORE and Orica, together with industry partners, will continue developing innovations to drive continual improvements throughout the mining industry. Continuing this innovation, Orica looks forward to IES participation in the next iteration of the Amira P9 project.

Lost Dutchman Mine ready to tell its metal separation tale

A company out of Arizona, USA, believes it has come up with a density separation technology that could upgrade heavy metal concentrates without the need for water or chemicals.

Lost Dutchman Mine (LDM), named after the legend of a rich Arizona gold deposit discovered by an elusive Dutch prospector, never since located, is the company in question. Being supported along the way by the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) out of Sudbury, Ontario, the firm is looking to find a way into the mining sector at a time when environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns have reached a new high.

Mark Ogram, one of three Co-founders of LDM, explained the company’s aim and name, saying: “We’ve been able to find gold where people could not find it.

“We have now come up with a solution that requires no chemicals or water to purify a gold ore.”

While gold is the company’s initial focus, the process can be applied to most heavy metals including silver, copper and tungsten, according to Ogram. Some encouraging results have also been seen removing sulphides from gold ore ahead of further processing, in addition to ‘cleaning’ coal, he added.

A gravity separation process that uses air flow rather than water to separate these materials by density, the obvious comparisons are with Knelson concentrators or other separation technologies – all of which tend to use water or another medium for their processes. Ogram says Knelson concentrators are also for free gold, not refractory gold, the latter of which the LDM technology can cope with.

allmineral’s allair® technology also comes to mind as a comparison. This is a process that leverages many of the functions of the water-operated alljig® technology but, instead, uses air as the pulsating medium. So far, allair’s applications have been confined to mostly coal and other minerals.

Like many of these technologies, it is feed preparation that will prove decisive for the application of LDM technology, with ore crush size and moisture content the two key factors.

“We don’t think we would need ball mills to get the feed down to the right size,” LDM Co-founder Ken Abbott said. “A standard crushing and screening setup should be suitable.”

While test work to date has been with material in the 30-60 mesh range, Abbott is confident the technology will work with material from 100-200 mesh.

“It will be a little more of a sensitive process, but it does work should people require it,” he said.

When it comes to moisture content, a drying process will most likely be needed ahead of feeding to the LDM unit.

“The material needs to flow freely to work well,” Abbott said.

In-field test work involved the company using a tumble-type continuous screener/dryer to reach the appropriate moisture content, but a more ‘industrial’ process will be required in commercial applications.

The best results are likely to be achieved when both factors are consistent, according to LDM.

“The system requires a steady and uniform distribution in the feed cycle that includes surge capacity and automated material flow to ensure a steady feed rate,” the company says.

Dale A Shay, a consultant with RIMCON advising LDM, said vat leaching operations were already producing material at the appropriate size for the LDM technology to be tested. “They are also reducing the moisture content to an appropriate level,” he said.

Despite this, the company feels tailings applications may be the most suitable place to start with. This harks back to the ESG concerns miners are feeling – some of which revolves around tailings impoundment areas – as well as the fact the ‘conservative’ mining industry is generally more comfortable testing new technologies on material they already consider to be ‘waste’.

For the technology to prove out, the company will have to scale up its testing.

LDM has, to date, carried out benchtop, laboratory scale and in-field tests on low-grade material, but it has only reached a 1 ton (0.9 t) per hour rate.

“We would put in a tonne and get a few grams out,” Ogram said. “That is how we developed the technology.”

Despite there being a linear progression of recoveries from benchtop to lab to the field, LDM will need to go bigger to find the widescale applications it is after.

Yet, its potential entry into the market is well timed.

Removing the use of chemicals and water in a process that will most likely come after initial crushing could prove cost-effective, as well as environmentally sound.

Yes, the air flow component and feed drying will consume power on mine sites, but this ‘upfront’ operating cost will pay off further downstream as not as much material will be transported to make its way down the process flowsheet. It is more likely to go straight to tailings or backfill material feed.

Abbott explains: “The technology drastically reduces the material that will move onto final concentration, which substantially reduces material movement on site.”

For new developments, there is a knock-on benefit for permitting; the regulatory boxes are much more likely to be ticked when the words ‘water’ and ‘cyanide’ are absent from applications.

LDM Co-founder, Wayne Rod, sums this up: “Although from a cost perspective, it is expected to be competitive with other concentration technologies, the real savings will come on the ESG front and being able to reduce any environmental issues you may have.”

This is a message Rod and the rest of the LDM team are taking to the headquarters of major mining companies, where executives and board members are treating ESG challenges like a ‘cost’ they need to reduce to stay viable.

“As that ESG issue becomes even more prevalent, I see technology becoming a much bigger focus area,” Rod says. “Taking water and chemicals out of the concentration process will help alleviate some of that pressure.”

Westgold helps Australian Vanadium with water, road access in WA

Australian Vanadium Ltd and Westgold Resources have signed a co-operation agreement that could see surplus water from operations at the Meekatharra asset used at the Australian Vanadium project in Western Australia.

Westgold’s Meekatharra operations comprise several active and inactive mines south of Meekatharra, 25 km to the west of the Australian Vanadium project, with continuous inflows into a number of these active and inactive pits and underground mines leading to the generation of significant amounts of surplus water. This water can be utilised in processing Australian Vanadium’s vanadium ore, the Australian Vanadium said.

In addition to the water access, the agreement provides a platform for “friendly collaboration” over access and the use of new and existing roads to move ore, materials and products within the companies’ tenements, Australian Vanadium added.

The Australian Vanadium project is currently one of the highest-grade vanadium projects being advanced globally, according to the company, with 208.2 Mt at 0.74% V₂O₅, containing a high-grade zone of 87.9 Mt at 1.06% V₂O₅ reported in compliance with the JORC Code 2012.

A December 2018 prefeasibility study laid out plans for an open-pit operation, with a crushing, milling and beneficiation plant, and refining plant for final conversion and sale of high-quality vanadium pentoxide.

Vincent Algar, Australian Vanadium’s Managing Director, said securing access to sufficient quality water resources to use in the mining and beneficiation process was one of the company’s highest priorities. “Access to excess water flowing into Westgold’s pits allows us to progress the project with increasing confidence,” he added.

“Western Australia has limited high-quality water resources, so innovative collaborations such as this agreement with Westgold can assist both the EPA (Environmental Protection Authority) and DWER (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation) with their water management and environmental custodianship, whilst allowing this critical project to progress.”

The key terms of the agreement are:

  • Westgold will not object to AVL’s proposed Miscellaneous Licence applications to enable Australian Vanadium to access, extract and establish infrastructure for pumping and relocation of water from one of the Reedy’s location open pits to the company’s desired location;
  • Any works will be undertaken at AVL’s cost and risk;
  • Access to Westgold and Australian Vanadium’s access roads will be permitted on a reciprocal basis;
  • Co-operation will be undertaken in good faith and in a timely manner;
  • A formal access agreement to secure Australian Vanadium’s Miscellaneous Licences and associated pumping infrastructure can be established, if required; and
  • The letter of agreement is set to progress to a formal agreement within three years, otherwise the agreement expires.

Miners need to spell out future value drivers to survive, Deloitte says

In Deloitte’s Tracking the Trends 2019 report, the company has urged mining companies to clarify how they plan to drive value into the future how they intend to respond when prices inevitably drop again.

The report highlighted disruption and volatility as two key issues the mining sector is facing that made long-term planning and decision making more important.

“In this new world order, miners must go beyond communicating the value that they currently bring to communities and will need to articulate what they stand for by developing differentiated business models designed to drive long-term value,” Deloitte said in the report.

Deloitte’s ten trends to watch for 2019 included:

  • Rethinking mining strategy;
  • The frontier of analytics and artificial intelligence;
  • Managing risk in the digital era;
  • Digitising the supply chain;
  • Driving sustainable shared social outcomes;
  • Exploring the water-energy nexus;
  • Decoding capital projects;
  • Reimagining work, workers, and the workplace;
  • Operationalising diversity and inclusion programmes, and;
  • Demanding provenance.

On rethinking mining strategy, Deloitte said: “Mining companies have typically anchored their strategic planning on producing the highest volumes of ore at the lowest possible cost. However, in today’s environment, companies must take an ever-expanding range of issues into account when setting corporate strategy.

“Consumers, governments, and communities are becoming more vocal and irrevocably altering industry dynamics. As a result, corporate social responsibility initiatives are now morphing into stakeholder engagement programmes, and social license to operate is becoming a pivotal strategic issue that will either differentiate mining companies or derail them.

“Looking at these factors alone – consumer awareness, social license to operate, geographic risk, and access to input commodities – it becomes clear that mining companies must take an ever-expanding range of issues into account when setting corporate strategy if they hope to create competitive portfolios robust enough to generate value across multiple scenarios. This is especially critical as the industry shifts into a new stage of growth.”

On the frontier of analytics and artificial intelligence, Deloitte said: “Although mining companies are exploring and investing in analytics and AI, there is still a long way to go. Three horizons in AI are emerging and, to date, most organisations are working in Horizon One, where machine intelligence requires human assistance and interpretation.

“To move up the analytics maturity curve into Horizons Two and Three, organisations must answer progressively complex questions. The first is ‘what happened?’ The second is ‘why did those things happen?’, this allows organisations to identify the root causes.

“Only with this foundation in place can organisations answer the third question: “what will happen?” This is the key that empowers organisations to predict variability, mitigate emerging risks, and manage stakeholder expectations.”

On managing risk in the digital era, Deloitte said: “The current risk landscape is characterised by a host of issues such as mounting tariffs and sanctions, potential trade wars, cyber threats, uncertain tax and royalty regimes, rising input costs, heightened scrutiny from the investment community, environmental disasters, and infrastructure breakdowns.

“To stem this tide, mining companies must take their cue from organisations that take a more holistic view of risk. Increasingly, these leaders are moving towards the next generation of internal audit, Internal Audit 3.0.

“This approach should help mining companies address risk at an enterprise-wide level, rather than assessing isolated risks at the functional or mine site level and develop appropriate controls to both mitigate and manage the expanding array of risks they face.”

On digitising the supply chain, Deloitte said: “The mining supply chain is ripe for transformation, as supply chain improvements remain incremental instead of delivering innovations designed to optimise mining operations.

“To create a more interconnected and responsive supply chain, mining companies need to stop thinking in linear terms and imagine instead a circular system that we call the digital supply network.

“The ultimate goal is to leverage advanced algorithms, AI, and machine learning to turn data into insights that allow companies to reduce their capital expenditures, respond to changing project requirements quickly, and optimise mine planning to integrate real-time changes.”

On driving sustainable shared social outcomes, Deloitte said: “Until recently, mining companies’ social spend has been seen as a cost of compliance, rather than a way to deliver measurable and sustainable benefits to host countries and communities. If mining companies hope to drive different social outcomes, that dynamic has to change. A social enterprise is an organisation whose mission combines revenue growth and profit making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network.

“Finding value beyond compliance is no easy task. It requires miners to listen more closely to their constituents to determine what stakeholders truly want, and then to shift their operational processes in response.

“To deliver on the social breadth of these programmes, mining companies cannot work in isolation. Instead, they should look for opportunities to collaborate with other companies working in the region.”

On exploring the water-energy nexus, Deloitte said: “True value from energy management can only be derived by addressing the triple bottom line of social, environmental, and financial performance. This requires companies to approach energy management as an integrated corporate initiative.

“Yet energy isn’t the only input at risk. Mining companies must now contend with water scarcity as well as risks associated with excess rainfall, which can result in flooding.

“With a constant knowledge of how every drop of water is being used, and an understanding of all the parameters associated with its use, mining companies can manage water in the way they have begun to manage electricity, as a valuable resource.”

On decoding capital projects, Deloitte said: “Burdened by years of sub-par returns, cost overruns, and impairment charges, many mining companies opted to concentrate on maximising output from their existing operations rather than investing in new mine supply and exploration.

“This resulted in supply shortages for commodities such as copper, zinc, cobalt, lithium, and gold. But with the cycle turning, mining companies will need to engage in a wave of new capital projects to offset production declines and meet demand.

“To overcome these challenges, mining companies must build their maturity in five key areas: delivery models, data and technology, project controls, license to operate and collaboration.”

On reimagining work, workers, and the workplace, Deloitte said: “The mining industry is facing a changing talent landscape, with digitisation necessitating new skillsets, a massive generational shift when considering C-suite succession planning and a younger generation of workers who measure loyalty to an employer in months instead of years.

“To prepare for this imminent future, organisations need to clarify not only their business goals and aspirations, but also the role that their talent strategy should play to deliver on them.

“They will also need to identify the workers of the future by considering what the employee experience will look like, and the role that innovation will play in that experience. Finally, they must reconceive how employees will interact with each other and conduct their work, be it in a physical location or remotely.”

On operationalising diversity and inclusion programmes, Deloitte said: “The mining industry is not attracting sufficient numbers of diverse candidates and, to shift this balance, companies will not only need to change their talent attraction and retention policies, they will also need to change historical perceptions about the mining industry.

“Instead of approaching the issue by adopting point initiatives, they must design integrated programmes to tackle the challenge holistically. This extends into the area of talent retention, because when companies do attract women, they often struggle to retain them.

“In tandem with shifting the way they operate, mining companies must take steps to amend their public image. This starts with the image they portray on their reports and in their advertisements.”

And, finally, on demanding provenance, Deloitte said: “Rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is increasing demand for EV battery materials such as cobalt, lithium, graphite, and copper.

“However, socially-conscious consumers are now questioning the provenance of raw materials. As a result, downstream customers, such as automotive manufacturers and technology giants, are demanding ethically-sourced minerals.

“This is putting unprecedented pressure on mining companies to create a more transparent interface with their customers and driving the adoption of technologies such as blockchain to enhance the traceability of commodities.”

To download the full report, go to deloitte.com/trackingthetrends