Tag Archives: Whitehaven Coal

Mastermyne goes back to Whitehaven’s Narrabri coal mine

Mastermyne, a subsidiary of Metarock Group Ltd, has secured a new two-year fixed term contract (plus two-year extension option) with Whitehaven Coal, a Tier 1 client, for the cut and flit mining method at its Narrabri Mine, in New South Wales, Australia.

This contract is a remobilisation of a former similar cut and flit contract which Mastermyne performed for Narrabri from 2017-2020.

The scope includes the installation and retraction of the panel conveyor belts, associated ventilation and mining services, the company said, adding that the contract reinforces its strong reputation to deliver quality development services.

Narrabri mine, which has been operating successfully since 2012, is Whitehaven’s only underground operation. It is approved to produce 11 Mt/y of high-quality thermal coal until 2031.

The Narrabri longwall is fully automated and is one of the most advanced in Australia, according to Whitehaven.

IMARC panel tackles decarbonisation need and rising power costs dilemma

The second day of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), in Sydney, Australia, has put a spotlight on the industry’s response to ESG and energy transition.

The keynote address was a panel discussion focusing on energy transition and decarbonisation. The panel was made up of global heavyweights from the energy, mining, infrastructure and digital sectors.

Setting the scene, David Solsky, Vice President Sustainability Software Solutions at IBM, said: “We are on the verge of the biggest transformation of the global economy in a century.”

Sarah Barker, Head of Climate Risk Governance at Minter Ellison, added to this, saying: “What is certain is that the energy transition is going to happen. What is unknown is when or how. We do know, however, transitions are not linear; they tend to be bumpy.”

Talking to the mammoth task ahead, Sue Brown, Executive Group Director Sustainability at Worley, said: “The scale of investment needed in energy infrastructure alone will need to increase four or five times every year for the next 20 to 30 years.”

However, the transition comes with risk warns Michael van Maanen, Executive General Manager, Corporate, Government and Community at Whitehaven Coal. Maanen understands the social and economic imperative of transitioning to green and renewable energy but believes the transition must not come at the expense of exponentially higher power prices.

“Investors are accelerating the transition much faster than customers can bear and that’s problematic,” he said.

Eng. Suliman Bin Khaled Almazroua, CEO of the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, explained how Saudi Arabia is tackling energy costs amid their rapid transition to renewable and green energy.

“We have added sustainability to our equation when determining risk in new projects,” he said. “What we have found is that by doing that we are creating long-term value for companies who want to invest new projects.”

Over the three-day conference from November 2-4, delegates at IMARC have discussed how to best approach energy transition and the need to decarbonise, using the forum to determine global best practices and to explore new technologies that can with the transition.

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

IMARC to put spotlight on Indigenous participation in mining

The 2022 International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) is putting the spotlight on Indigenous participation within the sector through multiple partnerships, opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander industry leaders, and a panel discussion dedicated to First Nations people working in the field at the ICC Sydney from November 2 to 4.

Several influential leaders will discuss the importance of Indigenous participation across the supply chain including Florence Drummond, the CEO of Indigenous Women in Mining and Resources Australia (IWIMRA). The organisation has partnered with IMARC, working to raise the profile of First Nations women and contributing to best practice solutions ensuring the visibility, voice and quality participation of Indigenous women within the sector.

“We are so excited to have a formal partnership with IMARC and it’s only now that we are starting to recognise how truly impactful it will be,” Drummond says.

“From our history of compounded disadvantage and continued systemic challenges, it is understandable that many of our people are fatigued and frustrated at yet another mechanism for change. However, we have worked hard to agree on what shared value is in this context and to deliver this significant opportunity for all stakeholders.

“Based on trust, we plan for our delegates to be a part of the conversation and to ask the hard questions so that they can be the spark or the catalyst for change back in their home.”

Also on the panel is Chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Transformation in Mining Economies’ (CRC TiME) First Nations Advisory Team, Jim Walker, who works with the mine closure and rehabilitation firm to ensure First Nations engagement, participation and outcomes are considered in their projects.

Walker says: “We’ve got to talk about how to involve Indigenous people, especially in the context of where to mine, how to mine and the impact of the mine as it moves through its estimated useful life. There’s a lot of Indigenous knowledge that can be utilised to mitigate the impact of mines, especially at the time of mine closures. Under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we are ‘rightsholders’ not merely ‘stakeholders’ and as such, engagement with us as Indigenous peoples becomes mandatory.”

Walker hopes IMARC will be not only an opportunity to collaborate and advance these conversations in Australia, but to have an impact on Indigenous communities around the world.

“If we can set the scene within Australia at IMARC then international delegates will take that message back and we may see more effective and impactful Indigenous engagement and participation across the global mining industry.”

In partnership with Whitehaven Coal, IMARC is also giving First Nations mining and resources leaders complimentary passes to attend the conference, providing opportunities to network, learn and be a part of the conversations at the Australian industry’s most influential mining event.

Indigenous executives are being encouraged to nominate themselves or can be nominated by colleagues here before the Monday, 17 October deadline to be in the running to receive one of 10 full access passes that include access to the IMARC gala dinner on November 3.

Whitehaven Coal’s Executive General Manager of Corporate, Government and Community Affairs, Michael van Maanen, is enormously proud of the initiative, saying: “We need to see more engagement with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community. It’s such a central part of the Australian economy and as an industry, given our geographic distribution across the country, we would have to be better positioned than most other sectors to really form functional, rewarding partnerships with traditional owners.”

“Last year we spent A$8.73 million ($5.5 million) with 14 local Aboriginal-run businesses in the area and that’s really significant for us because we’re a big piece of the local economy, and through procurement we’re trying to ensure diversification and help Aboriginal businesses stand on their own two feet and have access to the various opportunities that can come from having a commercial relationship with Whitehaven,” van Mannen says.

Striving to enable equal opportunity, Whitehaven Coal has surpassed their initial Indigenous employment quotas with 20% of employees at its Maules Creek site and 11% of their total workforce identifying as Indigenous.

Walker adds: “There’s no reason you can’t exceed Indigenous employment quotas and it’s only to the betterment of companies when we talk about Indigenous engagement, especially when it comes to knowledge of the land and engagement in and around repurposing mine sites to benefit Indigenous people and Australia as a whole.”

International Mining is a media sponsor of IMARC

Metarock set to leverage competitive contractor advantage

Mastermyne’s contract mining growth ambitions became very clear in September when it proposed a buyout of contractor PYBAR Mining Services in a deal valuing PYBAR equity at A$47 million ($35 million).

The deal, which has just completed, sees Mastermyne, up until this point a company focused on the Australian coal sector, expand into the domestic hard-rock space through exposure to PYBAR’s gold, copper, zinc and lead-related revenues. In the process, it has been restructured under Metarock Group Limited.

The transaction is expected to create a leading Australia-based diversified mining services business with material scale, Mastermyne said, adding that the combined group will have a A$1.7 billion-plus order book and an active tender pipeline of A$2.7 billion-plus after completion. PYBAR will continue to operate as an independent business unit within the group with the existing management team.

Tony Caruso, Managing Director of Metarock (pictured), said the company had identified some time ago the need to diversify into “adjacent markets” to ensure its business retained “resilient and sustained earnings”.

“To be clear, we are very supportive of the coal industry, and we will continue to grow our coal business,” he told IM. “What we do know from 30 years of experience of operating in this market is it is very cyclic.”

When coal prices are strong, it is a great market to be a contractor, Caruso explained. Yet, when prices come down, contractor workforces or scope reductions often follow as mine owners look to cut their “flex costs”.

A diversified Metarock would be able to better cope with such a market dip.

“The theory (behind the PYBAR acquisition) is that when coal is down, other commodities will be up,” Caruso said.

In addition to increased commodity diversity, there are also a huge number of synergies that could be realised with the combination of the two companies.

PYBAR offers raiseboring services that can be used in coal, while Mastermyne offers ground support services (through its recently acquired Wilson Mining business) that can be used in the hard-rock space.

Both have registered training organisations that could share industry best practice across sectors, too.

What Mastermyne learned in the coal boom when it developed the “clean skin” training program, using a simulated underground coal mine with a bespoke program to train people for working in an underground coal mine, may have relevance in the hard-rock sector given the recent ‘boom’ perceptions, according to Caruso.

There are also more specific technology synergies that could benefit both hard-rock and soft-rock customers.

PYBAR has embraced automation and digitalisation with, for example, teleremote loading operations at the Dargues gold mine in Western Australia (pictured below, credit: PYBAR) and the use of Digital Terrain’s Simbio data entry and processing solution on its mining fleet.

Mastermyne has been running a similar project where real-time data is “taken off” machinery and, through proprietary software, converted into real-time dashboards for the operators to track performance against operational targets. Mastermyne used such a system with great success at the Narrabri underground operation, owned by Whitehaven Coal.

Caruso said on the latter: “We were looking at building out that software into other areas of our business – we used that in our production machines when we were cutting coal, but we were starting to look at bringing that across to a lot of the other support services we provide to customers as well.”

Should PYBAR come on board, Simbio could end up being used on its coal development machines, according to Caruso.

It works the other way round, too, with Mastermyne’s proximity detection expertise in coal having applications in the hard-rock space.

“Not only are these solutions OEM-agnostic; they are sector-agnostic,” Caruso said. “The same technology is applicable for coal and metalliferous markets.”

The benefits of the business combination do not stop here.

Growth in the coal space has mostly been tied to sustaining capital projects – the overall production levels have remained flat, if slightly increased – whereas, in the hard-rock sector, brownfield and greenfield projects have been the order of the day, catalysed by higher prices and projections of increased demand.

This means the pressure dynamics around skilled labour are slightly different between the two.

Mastermyne has, to this point, benefitted from the ongoing trend of majors exiting their thermal coal businesses to deliver on ambitious ESG targets, with smaller companies taking on these assets and outsourcing work to contractors. Mining contracts at Crinum (Sojitz Blue Pty Ltd) and Cook (QCoal) in Queensland are two examples of the company taking advantage of this trend.

This type of sustaining growth capital expenditure in the coal sector is very different to the greenfield growth witnessed in 2010-2012, Caruso said. “The significant volume increase in greenfield expansion, which drove real pressure on labour, is not there,” he said.

In the hard-rock space, the dynamic is much more reminiscent of that boom a decade ago.

“There are a lot of new projects in Western Australia opening up so there is a lot more pressure on resources because the demand is far outstripping the supply in the hard-rock labour pool,” he said.

While there has not, typically, been a transfer of labour between the coal and hard-rock contracting sectors, if Metarock is able to facilitate such a shift, it could gain a competitive advantage over peers scrabbling for talent that are focused wholly on the hard-rock mining space.

“We have a workforce of 2,000-2,500 people at the moment, and we want to have a fluid workforce that can move across sectors,” Caruso said. “This will enable us to send our best people to projects to make sure we replicate good performance at these operations, regardless of where they are, geographically, or what type of work they are doing.”

Not only could this provide Metarock with the ability to shift employees between sectors, but it could also allow them to offer employees long-term security beyond the current Australian coal demand horizon.

Redpath Australia wins cut and flit contract at Whitehaven’s Narrabri operations

Redpath Australia says it has been awarded the Cut and Flit Development Contract for Whitehaven Coal at its Narrabri operations in New South Wales, Australia.

Situated around 28 km southeast of Narrabri on the North West Slopes in New South Wales, the Narrabri operations mine site is one of Australia’s most productive underground coal mines. Whitehaven is the majority owner – with a 77.5% interest – and the operation has approval to extract up to 11 Mt/y of coal from the longwall operations.

Mark Donghi, General Manager – Mechanical Excavation for Redpath, says the project will employ around 55 personnel and the aim is to start recruiting immediately.

Redpath Australia’s Managing Director, Gavin Ramage, said the company is looking forward to working closely with Narrabri operations in delivering the project safely and efficiently.

The company said: “As a market leader in providing advanced development solutions to mine owners across Australia and around the globe, Redpath is well placed to deliver this project for Narrabri Coal Operations.”

Hitachi to trial autonomous tech on ultra-large hydraulic excavators in Australia

Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCM) is looking at trialling autonomous ultra-large hydraulic excavators at an Australia mine site as part of a series of verification tests.

The tests, set to begin from the start of the 2021 financial year (from April 1, 2021), are geared towards improving future mining site safety and productivity, HCM said.

“The remote controlled ultra-large hydraulic excavator will be developed in order to improve the working environment and ensure the safety of operators,” the company stated. “This excavator will be equipped with operator support systems, such as a collision avoidance system with other mining equipment, to ensure the same level of operability as with the operator on board the machinery.”

Following the initial development, some part of the excavation and loading operation will be automated to allow a single remote operator to operate multiple ultra-large hydraulic excavators, the company said.

“The incremental development will eventually realise the ultra-large hydraulic excavators with autonomous operation features,” HCM said.

The remote control, driving support system for manned excavators and autonomous operation features are all retrofittable onto the EX-7 series of ultra-large hydraulic excavators to enable mining site customers to use the equipment they currently operate, while supporting autonomous operation at mining sites in the future, HCM said.

The company explains: “Mining resources including iron ore and copper sustain the activities of global industries, and the sites which mine these resources are required to operate in a stable manner 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“In contrast, the operators of ultra-large hydraulic excavators are required to repeatedly perform complex operations for a long period of time while paying attention to avoid collision with surrounding equipment and the stability of the vehicle, in order to excavate and load mining resources in an efficient manner.”

Because the safety and productivity of ultra-large hydraulic excavator operation largely depends on the operator’s skill and experience, building a production system that does not depend on these skills and reduces the operator’s workload are important issues at mining sites, it said.

Such developments have been coming from the group considering the company entered the mining machinery business in the late 1970s, and has made leaps in tele-remote operations of excavators within other sectors.

For example, the company used a remote-controlled unmanned excavator to advance the development of technologies in the reconstruction work at Mount Unzen Fugen-dake volcanic eruption in 1992. In 2013, it also led the industry by advancing the development of technologies for long-distance remote control by remotely operating a hydraulic excavator located in the Urahoro test site, Hokkaido, over an internet connection from approximately 800 km away in Tsuchiura City, Ibaraki Prefecture.

“Now, we have decided to begin verification tests at an actual mining site to advance the development of autonomous driving for ultra-large hydraulic excavators, reflecting the needs of customers,” it said.

The autonomous operation for ultra-large hydraulic excavators can be deployed as a standalone system, or as a part of fleet management system (FMS), such as the Fleet Control from Wenco International Mining Systems, a HCM subsidiary with a solid implementation track record at large-scale mines.

“Our goal is to balance a high degree of safety and productivity by having autonomous operation through sharing the information among the autonomous ultra-large hydraulic excavators, dump trucks and other equipment,” the company said.

Operation support system

Because it is difficult to assess the conditions around the vehicle and the inclination of the vehicle during remote control compared with a manned operation, the actual machinery will be equipped with a collision avoidance system and a vehicle stability monitoring system to reduce the burden on the operator performing the remote control during the verification tests, HCM said.

In addition, Wenco has been advancing the development of an excavator payload monitoring system, which measures the weight of the material inside the bucket, and plans to test this feature at the same time.

Reflecting the needs of actual customers through verification testing will further improve remote control and driving support technologies in ultra-large hydraulic excavators, HCM said.

“These operator support systems can be retrofitted onto the EX-7 series of ultra-large hydraulic excavators and are scheduled to be ready for the market during the 2022 financial year (April 1, 2022 onwards) as systems installed on actual machinery to increase operation safety,” the company said.

Integration with the autonomous haulage system (AHS)

HCM began researching AHS in 2009, with six EH5000 rigid dump trucks now starting 24-hour autonomous haulage at Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine in New South Wales, Australia.

Because a diverse and large quantity of manned and unmanned machineries mix together in a large-scale mining operation, the radio communication needed for the operating control must be managed in a stable manner, HCM explained.

“The AHS from Hitachi Construction Machinery runs on the Wenco FMS and utilises various technologies from the Hitachi Group to realise a significant advantage by extending its range of control up to a maximum of 100 vehicles,” the company said.

The goal of autonomous ultra-large hydraulic excavators is to balance a high level of safety and productivity, even in the autonomous mining sites of the future, by sharing information with dump trucks and other machinery.

The Hitachi Construction Machinery Group has thus far been engaged in realising “reliable solutions” to solve social issues as a close and reliable partner for our customers, it said.

“Going forward, we will continue to promote the development of long-distance remote control and autonomous driving, ultra-large hydraulic excavators using ICT and IoT for mining industry customers around the world to help provide the higher level of safety and mine management productivity improvements that our customers require,” the company concluded.

Whitehaven Coal hits automation milestone at Maules Creek mine

Whitehaven Coal says autonomous haulage operations have now commenced at its Maules Creek coal operation in New South Wales, Australia.

In its latest quarterly report to March 31, 2020, the miner said the autonomous haulage system (AHS) started up in the three-month period and autonomous haulage of overburden had commenced.

Back in July 2018, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd and Whitehaven announced the two had come to an agreement to implement the first commercial Hitachi autonomous truck fleet at Maules Creek. The collaboration between the two companies entailed scoping the delivery and commissioning of phased AHS deployment for the fleet of Hitachi EH5000AC3 trucks at Maules Creek and the establishment of the physical and technological infrastructure to support AHS capability.

At this point, the two companies said the AHS solution would leverage the fleet management system provided by Hitachi’s Wenco International Mining Systems subsidiary, in addition to Hitachi Construction Machinery’s Smart Mining Truck with Advanced Vehicle Stabilisation Controls using Hitachi robotics, AC motor and drive control unit technologies. The Blockage management system from Hitachi’s railway business would also play a role in this solution, as would a sensing technology and navigation system developed in Hitachi Group’s automobile industry segment.

Initial on-site testing of Hitachi’s AHS took place last year and the company has since been ramping up these tests to reach the commercial deployment stage.

As planned, a fleet of six EH5000 trucks and one excavator (an EX3600) started operation last month, Whitehaven said. During the current quarter, additional labour resources will be trained and deployed to allow for seven-day operation of AHS by end of June, according to the miner.

At an investor day presentation in September 2019, Whitehaven Coal Chief Operating Officer, Jamie Frankcombe, said following a six-month period of operating the initial fleet, a transition to one EX8000 excavator and nine EH5000 trucks could occur. Then, additional EX8000 fleets would be added in six-monthly intervals based on “performance gateway” achievements, with a target of five fleets and up to 45 trucks within three years.

This ramp-up of automation comes at the same time Maules Creek is being expanded, with Whitehaven expecting production to go from 11.7 Mt run of mine (ROM) in the year ended June 30, 2019, to 16 Mt/y of ROM coal.

Bis Razor makes the cut for Whitehaven Coal operation

Bis’ latest innovation, Razor, has sparked strong interest from Australia’s mining community shortly after launching, with Whitehaven Coal securing one of the underground graders and another miner committing to taking two units.

The orders follow a product launch in October and a customer roadshow across Queensland and New South Wales in November.

Bis CEO, Brad Rogers, said: “We are delighted in the industry response for Razor, and I am pleased that two long-term customers of Bis are the first to secure the technology. Razor was designed with miners, for miners – offering a step change in efficiency and importantly, operator safety.”

The key features of Razor include high engine power and grader mass that has been optimised to increase tractive effort by over 30%. Bis says it designed the grader with safety front-of-mind, resulting in a modular drivers’ cabin that improves ergonomics and a safer, more reliable, braking system.

The key features of Razor, according to Bis, include:

  • Fifty-five percent greater engine power than comparable machines;
  • Four gears rather than three, giving greater flexibility on difficult ground;
  • The operator compartment layout improves access to all controls and provides greater visibility of the blade and steering tyres;
  • Access to the cab from both sides;
  • Improved structural/fatigue integrity of the chassis; and
  • The braking system incorporates dual SAHR emergency/park brakes directly coupled to the rear drive wheels for increased safety and reliability.

Rogers continued: “Bis is a resources logistics business that is differentiated in the market by our range of patented mining solutions. We harness the talent and experience of our team and design innovations and invest in new technology which delivers efficiency improvements for our customers.”

He said the company has a pipeline of innovations planned for the sector over the coming 12-18 months, with these new products and services adding new markets and geographies to its current portfolio.

The release of Razor comes little over a year after Bis unveiled Rexx, its revolutionary 20-wheel dump truck to the market.

Whitehaven Coal reveals cost benefits of autonomous haulage with Hitachi

At an investor day presentation last week, Whitehaven Coal Chief Operating Officer, Jamie Frankcombe, confronted the topic of autonomous haulage systems (AHS), spelling out why the Australia-based coal miner is planning to leverage this technology at its expanding Maules Creek operation in northwest New South Wales, Australia.

In what was an honest assessment of AHS performance to date, he said miners and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) had made “broad suggestions about the scale of improvements” that came with automating equipment, but the “detailed underpinnings” of these improvements have not been disclosed publicly.

He gave a few reasons why this was the case: First, each mine is structurally different in nature, so performance metrics are not ‘one-size-fits-all’. Second, the underlying performance of each AHS fleet is proprietary information to the operator and OEM.

Despite this, productivity improvements of around 15-20% had been discussed by miners and OEMs – linked to higher availability and utilisation rates in fewer trucks being required – along with anecdotal reports of maintenance savings, tyre life improvement, equipment life improvement and safety benefits.

On the capital expenditure side, AHS was also expected to reduce fleet sizes by allowing more tonnes to be mined with existing equipment.

Frankcombe was speaking about automation at a time when the coal miner is embarking on its own AHS journey.

Back in July 2018, Hitachi Construction Machinery Co Ltd and Whitehaven announced the two had come to an agreement to implement the first commercial Hitachi autonomous truck fleet at the Maules Creek coal operation in northwest New South Wales, Australia.

The collaboration between the two companies entailed scoping the delivery and commissioning of phased AHS deployment for the fleet of Hitachi EH5000AC3 trucks at Maules Creek and the establishment of the physical and technological infrastructure to support AHS capability.

The original release was short on detail, but said the AHS solution would leverage the fleet management system provided by Hitachi’s Wenco International Mining Systems subsidiary, in addition to Hitachi Construction Machinery’s Smart Mining Truck with Advanced Vehicle Stabilisation Controls using Hitachi robotics, AC motor and drive control unit technologies. The Blockage management system from Hitachi’s railway business would also play a role in this solution, as would a sensing technology and navigation system cultivated in Hitachi Group’s automobile industry segment.

In Whitehaven Coal’s results for the six months ending December 31, 2018, it said testing of the Hitachi AHS system had begun and, in August, it confirmed the first fleet trials would take place by the end of June 2020.

During Frankcombe’s presentation to investors, he narrowed down those timelines, saying the Hitachi AHS had been approved for operational implementation, and commissioning and training was to follow in a segregated area of the mine. This was before the mine transitioned to an operational area for AHS from December 2019.

He also said the initial AHS fleet would comprise one EX3600 excavator and six EH5000 trucks. Following a six-month period, a transition to one EX8000 excavator and nine EH5000 trucks would occur, he said. Then, additional EX800 fleets would be added in six-monthly intervals based on “performance gateway” achievements, with a target of five fleets and up to 45 trucks within three years.

This is a rapid ramp-up of automation, but Maules Creek is being expanded over this timeframe, with Whitehaven expecting production to go from 11.7 Mt run of mine (ROM) in the year ended June 30, 2019, to 16 Mt/y of ROM coal. This expansion will also see the company incorporate in-pit dumping into its operations as it looks to lower its operating cost.

Frankcombe went further than a lot of other miners using AHS in outlining the estimated operating cost impact of introducing this technology into the operation.

He said the cost benefit of integrating autonomous haulage into Maules Creek equated to A$3.70-$4.10 ($2.53-2.81) per product tonne – including the related 16 Mt/y expansion.

The operating costs benefits included the direct savings associated with AHS across personnel – offset by AHS service fees – of A$1.40/product tonne, in addition to a A$0.90-$1.10/product tonne impact from increased productivity leading to lower capital intensity and a reduction in fixed costs across overheads, wages, equipment hire and coal handling preparation plant fixed costs.

On the capital benefits side, the low capital intensity of the expansion derived from in-pit dumping, cast blasting and the AHS trucking fleet would drive a capital saving on a unit basis of A$1.40-$1.60/product tonne, he outlined.

Not many other miners have gone into such detail about the cost benefits of AHS.

Of the major adopters, BHP has previously said safety incidents relating to heavy vehicles have fallen by 80% at its Jimblebar iron ore operation, in the Pilbara, while truck productivity has risen 18%. Fortescue Metals Group – on its way to having the world’s first fully-autonomous iron ore fleet – has reported a 32% increase in truck productivity; and Rio has previously said each of its AHS truck operates at a 15% lower load and haul unit cost vs manned trucks.

It will be interesting to see just how accurate Whitehaven’s predictions turn out to be in a few years’ time.

Whitehaven Coal looks to MICROMINE’s Geobank software to find more coal

MICROMINE’s geological data management system, Geobank, has extended its presence in Australia’s coal mining sector by securing a contract with Whitehaven Coal, according to the mining software solutions provider.

One of Australia’s largest independent coal producers, Whitehaven Coal, has implemented Geobank across all of its projects in New South Wales and Queensland, MICROMINE said. The company produced 16 Mt of coal in 2018, contributing to record Australian coal export results.

Geobank is a geological data management software solution that provides a flexible and efficient environment for capturing, validating and managing data, according to MICROMINE.

MICROMINE Senior Geobank Data Management Specialist, Ibo Mango, said Geobank provided an important tool for coal miners to hone, manage and direct their exploration and production processes.

“Geobank helps companies of all sizes to better record, access, review, integrate and utilise their essential geological data,” Mango said. “Problems with inaccurate data are often invisible. Loss of data, poor accessibility or quality control issues can cost millions of dollars and cause inaccurate decision making, especially in a high-yield sector like coal.”

As a strong player in the Australia coal mining industry, and with a major expansion project underway, Whitehaven Coal procured Geobank to provide a robust, flexible data management solution, MICROMINE says. Geobank has adapted to suit Whitehaven’s specific work flow requirements, including data collection, validation and depth adjustment, browsing and advanced reporting needs.

“Geobank’s fully customisable solution provided Whitehaven with extended functionality designed specifically for their exploration and mining needs. Geobank provides specialised utilities for displaying and managing drillhole data,” Mango said.

Geobank also integrates the Australian CoalLog Standard, which was introduced in 2012. Before CoalLog, around 30 different data formats and over 100 different data code translation tables were used in the capture of geological and geotechnical data, which led to major inefficiencies in the collection, transfer, and analysis of coal borehole data.

Members of MICROMINE’s Geobank team played a role in the development of CoalLog and ensured its integration into Geobank’s suite of products.