Tag Archives: Young-Davidson

Adria ready to make BEV statement with revamped charging platform

The emergence of Adria Power Systems’ latest charging solution is evidence of just how quickly the industry is adopting battery-electric vehicles underground and on surface, while highlighting an incoming interoperability issue the industry is likely to face.

The charger in question – a 1 MW bi-directional system with four bridgeable outputs – has been designed as part of a federal and provincial government electrification program centred around Nouveau Monde Graphite’s Matawinie project in Quebec, Canada.

The collaboration, involving the Innovative Vehicle Institute, Propulsion Québec, the National Research Council of Canada, Adria, Dana TM4, Fournier et fils and NMG, would result in the development of a new electric propulsion system with a rapid recharging infrastructure adapted to heavy vehicles in the open-pit mining industry.

For Adria’s part, it was tasked with creating a charging platform that could energise a battery-electric converted Western Star 6900XD truck with a 40 ton (36 t) loading capacity.

Jean-Francois Couillard, President of Adria, told IM that this charger, initially planned as an 800-kW model, would be used for a “slower and opportunity charging application” at Matawinie, with the site’s operating philosophy not requiring a fast charge solution.

While 800 kW and a slower/opportunity charging solution was all that was required, the company has outdone itself, developing a 1 MW model that, Adria says, can be used in a variety of applications in both underground and surface mining.

It is a step up from the CCS-type charger deployed at Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine in 2020, which had two DC/AC outputs and offered Level 3 DC fast charging with a type 2 plug as recommended by the GMG BEV guideline.

Such a change required a revamped design philosophy, according to Couillard.

“Technically, when we started to plan for this prototype, we wanted to be conservative, but, down the road with the design work, we realised we could go to 1 MW with this same system,” he said.

This watt capacity is high when compared with other charging solutions to have recently hit the market.

Adria Power Systems’ new 1 MW charger comes with a state-of-the-art user interface that will allow user friendly use and status reporting, according to the company

The new Cat® MEC500 Mobile Equipment Charger, for instance, comes with a 500-kW capability able to charge its R1700 XE in less than 20 minutes (when using parallel charging units), while the Tritium RT175-S charger re-energising Miller Technology’s Relay utility vehicles at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Broadmeadow mine in Queensland, Australia, comes with 175 kW of output and a stated battery charge time of as little as 20 minutes.

The flexibility of Adria’s new solution is greater than many chargers on the market too, with Couillard saying the charger could end up being used as a 1 MW solution where all four outputs are bridged together for an extremely fast charge, or where one LHD from one OEM is fast charged with a 500 kW input from two of the charger’s bridged outputs while two utility vehicles from two different manufacturers are plugged into the other vacant outputs, each taking 250 kW of charge.

“The four outputs are totally independent; you can charge with four different protocols to communicate with various batteries at the same time, and you can charge with different power levels at the same time,” Couillard said. “It really can adapt very easily to any situation.”

This is the ideal solution for an industry still transitioning to electrification, where different applications may require fast charge, battery swap, opportunity charging or some other option.

On top of this, Adria’s new charging platform can be connected directly to a mine site’s medium-voltage infrastructure. There is no need for them to acquire an additional transformer to step down/up the voltage, according to Couillard.

“There are no other accessories required, which brings a lot of savings to customers,” he said.

Couillard sees the 1 MW charger in question as proving sufficient to fast charge the new higher tonnage battery-electric vehicles coming onto the market – Sandvik’s upcoming 65 t BEV being a good example here – yet he anticipates future requirements to go beyond the 1 MW mark with the introduction of bigger trucks and larger electric fleets on surface and underground.

Adria is more than prepared for this.

“We expect the power needs to go higher, but there will be a technical limit at one point, probably driven by customer infrastructure,” he said. “If you talk about high power for fast charging, then you will have a very big peak on the network that will have to be compensated somehow.”

Even with this theoretical technical limit, Adria is currently engaged with one mining company on a 5 MW charging system for surface mining trucks.

While recognising this as a “good challenge” for Adria’s team, Couillard says the new charging platform has been designed to accommodate this scale and potential problems that may come with it.

“We know there are a lot more challenges coming up at these higher power levels, namely harmonics,” he said. “With a small number of smaller capacity chargers, you don’t really see a harmonics impact. By the time you get to using multiple chargers, it can be a really big problem.”

The draw of highly distorted currents and voltages caused by high harmonics levels can potentially cause additional power losses and failures in distribution transformers, feeders and some conventional loads, such as AC motors, according to industry reports. It can also lead to higher power consumption costs, according to Adria.

This issue is not something many battery charging companies and mine site operators are considering, according to Couillard.

“The four outputs are totally independent; you can charge with four different protocols to communicate with various batteries at the same time, and you can charge with different power levels at the same time,” Jean-Francois Couillard says

“You see a lot of studies right now that mention the ease of building a charger up to 100 kW capacity, but, when they get to a higher power, the management or mitigation of the harmonics becomes more problematic,” he said.

“This is an issue we have solved on our platform, making it easy to scale to a different power level while keeping the same efficiency and low harmonics.”

The 1 MW charger to be used at Matawinie could end up charging more than just the Western Star truck conversion, with Adria using standardised industry protocols that all OEMs can subscribe to.

Whether all OEMs will follow such protocols is up for debate, according to Couillard.

“Some OEMs see these proprietary charging infrastructure solutions as very strategic,” he said. “A lot of them know that if they sell their charger to a mining company, they can lock that mining company into using their equipment.

“That makes strategic sense from their perspective, but it doesn’t make sense for the mining customer. The mining customer needs to have maximum flexibility and be in control of their future if they are to adopt electrification across their fleet. They cannot tie themselves to one manufacturer for the lifetime of the mine.”

This interoperability issue is one the industry knows well given the ongoing struggle to access machine telemetry data to improve fleet efficiency and reduce downtime.

And, it should be remembered, these charging systems are not cheap, so the idea of having multiple proprietary chargers to energise a mixed fleet is not something mine operators will want to consider.

“I think the mine operators will put a lot of pressure on the OEMs to offer some standardised options, or make their machines compatible with alternative platforms,” Couillard predicted.

As the industry ponders this predicament, Adria is continuing its in-house testing of the 1 MW charger. With plans to finish this testing and the charger assembly early in 2022, and the current schedule at Matawinie requiring the arrival of the charger next year, Couillard is hoping to take advantage of that spare time to test the charger underground in real mine-site conditions.

“We have a couple of prospects already, but we’re open for solicitation,” he said. “Ideally, we would have a couple of 2-3 month mine site trials under our belt before the charger arrives at Matawinie.”

He concluded: “I can say with confidence that this is the most interesting offering on the market right now. We are looking forward to putting this charger into service and show the charging advancement to mining companies.”

Miller Technology’s Relay battery-electric utility vehicles heading to Australia

Miller Technology has sealed a significant contract for its Relay battery-electric utility vehicles, with units set to start up underground at an operation owned by an Australian major miner.

Having passed the evaluation stage and been selected for purchase over competitors’ units, the Relays are en route to Australia, Miller Technology’s Dean Robinson, Vice President (Asia-Pacific & Africa) Director, Global Sales, told IM.

Designed for the harsh environment and rigorous duty cycle required to operate in underground mines, the Relay features an industry first dual charging system allowing for both off-board DC fast charging and on-board AC opportunity charging, according to the company. This can see a single 25-minute charge time provide enough power for a 10-hour mining shift, according to Robinson.

The Relay comes with a mid-ship mounted dual output motor, 100 kW continuous mechanical power output rating (170 kW peak), 680 Nm continuous mechanical torque output rating (1,770 Nm peak) and IP67 ingress protection.

At least one Relay unit has already had an outing in the industry, running at Alamos Gold’s Young-Davidson mine, in Ontario, Canada. On reviewing data from this trial, Paul Summers, Lead Developer, Electric Drive Systems, at Miller, previously told IM that it was clear battery-electric vehicles were suitable for utility and support applications, even in hard-rock mines with steep ramps.

On top of the Relay, Miller Technology also produces a Toyota Land Cruiser BEV, “believed to the best of its type by all those miners who have compared the three major units on the market”, Robinson says, while the company is also preparing to release a battery-electric underground grader.

“Around Q2 (June quarter) next year, we’ll also have an underground grader available utilising the same drivetrain as the Relay and, therefore, the same fast chargers,” he said.

The company has also received requests from the unnamed major Australian miner to produce 12-seat personnel carriers based on the Relay platform, according to Robinson.

Alamos’ Island III goes on sinking mission for more gold

Having weighed five scenarios for a Phase III expansion at the Island gold mine, in Ontario, Canada, Alamos Gold is proceeding with a plan to carry out a blind sink down to the 1,373 m level, build a paste plant, and expand the mill and tailings facility at the operation to boost production.

The company is no stranger to shaft sinking; its Young-Davidson mine, also in Ontario, has just had its Northgate shaft commissioned after Cementation used large diameter raiseboring technology to establish it as part of an engineer, procure and construct contract.

Yet, the shaft sinking route was not a foregone conclusion, with three of the five scenarios involving ramp haulage.

The Phase III Expansion Study, carried out with assistance from Hatch, Cementation, Airfinders, Golder, Halyard, SRK and DRC Estimating, looked at these scenarios using Deswik planning software to find further growth at the mine.

Having added 900,000 oz of the yellow metal to its reserve base already this year and hit a rate of 1,240 t/d in the March quarter (ahead of the nameplate 1,200 t/d rate), the company was keen to leverage these ounces at the same time as come up with a sound economic proposition for expanding and extending the mine.

Of the five scenarios, three involved ramp haulage (two retaining the 1,200 t/d capacity and one at 1,600 t/d) and two would see a shaft installed (at 1,600 t/d or 2,000 t/d). All apart from one option included the addition of a paste plant.

The company settled on expanding throughput to 2,000 t/d, from 1,200 t/d, through a shaft and paste plant build, explaining that this option presented the best economics.

As a result, the Phase III expansion will involve an initial blind sink down to 1,373 m, that new paste plant, and an expansion of the mill and tailings facility.

These investments, which would see the mine life double to 16 years from the eight years currently outlined in the reserve base, are covered in the total capital of $1.07 billion, which the company says is offset by the lower sustaining capital and operating costs of this scenario versus all that were evaluated.

Following the completion of the shaft construction in 2025, it is envisaged the operation will transition from trucking ore and waste to skipping ore and waste to surface through the new shaft infrastructure.

Output would rise to 236,000 oz/y starting in 2025, 72% higher than the mid-point of previously issued guidance for the mine in 2020, while mine-site all-in sustaining costs would fall to $534/oz, a 30% drop on the 2020 guidance.

Combined, this made for an after-tax net present value (NPV) of $1.02 billion at a 5% discount rate, and an after-tax internal rate of return of 17%, using a base case gold price assumption of $1,450/oz.

“These are also the lowest costs of any scenario evaluated reflecting the significant productivity improvements, decreased ventilation requirements, increased automation, and higher throughput rates associated with the shaft,” the company said.

While the company did not spell out what automation elements would be included in this expansion, on a webcast discussing the results, Chris Bostwick, VP, Technical Services, included details of an LTE network underground installation at Island as one continuous improvement project for 2020.

An Alamos Gold spokesperson later confirmed to IM that the LTE network was in the process of being installed with the project expected to be completed by the end of this year. “The network is primarily being installed for voice communications and real-time data gathering,” the spokesperson said.

Asked whether it was a pre-cursor to the use of autonomous haulage at the operation ahead of the expansion, the spokesperson replied: “We don’t have any firm plans for increased automation of our mobile equipment currently, but are actively monitoring the progress with the technology and this remains a potential down the road.”

With regards to automation within the expanded mine scenario, the only aspect currently being considered is the automation or tele-remote operation of the rock breakers and skipping, the spokesperson confirmed.

“Some of the trucking requirements could be automated down the road as noted above,” the spokesperson said. “The shaft expansion will make the entire operation more automated and productive.”

John A McCluskey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alamos Gold, reviewing the study, said Island Gold had proven to be a “tremendous acquisition” for Alamos.

“We acquired Island Gold in 2017 at a cost of approximately $600 million when it had 1.8 Moz of mineral reserves and resources,” he said. “This high-grade deposit has more than doubled to 3.7 Moz and we expect further growth yet.”

While the planned expansion would make Island more profitable through increased production and lower costs, it would also “best position the operation to benefit from additional exploration success”, he said.

Long-hole open stoping will continue to be utilised as the primary mining method at Island, however, increased development and key infrastructure changes including the addition of a paste plant and shaft will allow for mining rates to increase to 2,000 t/d, it said.

The addition of paste fill underground will allow for faster stope cycling, thereby supporting higher mining rates and providing increased geotechnical stability, according to Alamos. It will also increase mining recovery, resulting in an additional 100,000 oz of gold recovered over the life of mine (from existing pillars). This represented an in-situ value of $145 million at a gold price of $1,450/oz.

The paste plant will have a capacity of 2,000 t/d and capital cost of $34 million with the plant expected to be completed in the December quarter of 2023, Alamos said.

When it comes to the shaft options, which Alamos Gold evaluated with the help of Cementation, it was decided that a conventional blind sink methodology would be used to provide “improved schedule reliability with minimal impact on existing operations”.

A combined raisebore from the 840 m level, and blind sink option below the 840 m level was evaluated, however, this option would significantly impact existing operations, Alamos said. “The cuttings from the raisebore in the upper mine, and waste generated from the conventional sink in the lower mine, would displace underground throughput capacity and significantly reduce mining rates below 1,200 t/d by as much as 400 t/d over the next several years,” it said.

The settled-on option will see a 5 m diameter concrete-lined shaft constructed with a steel head frame. The shaft will house two 12 t skips in dedicated compartments for ore and waste movement and a double-deck service cage for the transport of personnel and materials.

The company estimated an overall shaft sinking rate of around 9.6 ft (2.9 m)/d, which included a ramp-up period.

While the shaft will be sunk to an initial depth of 1,373 m, the hoisting plant will be designed for an ultimate depth of 2,000 m providing flexibility to accommodate future exploration success, the company said.

At the initial depth of 1,373 m, the shaft has a capacity of 4,500 t/d, more than sufficient to accommodate the peak mining rates of 3,300 t/d (ore and waste), according to Alamos.

The underground ore and waste handling and loading pocket will be a conventional configuration like that of Young-Davidson, the company said.

Once skipped to surface, ore will be trucked to the expanded mill circuit.

On top of the payback being sweeter for the shaft expansion, ventilation requirements are also lower than under the ramp scenarios given the significantly smaller mobile fleet, Alamos said. This allows the shaft to serve as the only new required fresh air source.

The total construction capital for the shaft installation including all supporting infrastructure is anticipated to be $232 million.

Further, 56% of tailings will be placed underground reducing tailings dam raise requirements, a capital saving of $13 million, according to Alamos.

The mining rate ramp-up to 2,000 t/d after the shaft expansion will be supported by a total of five 42 t haul trucks. This compares with a peak of 18 haul trucks required to sustain ramp haulage at 1,200 t/d and 25 haul trucks for ramp haulage at 1,600 t/d, the company said.

“This contributes to the lower ventilation requirements with the shaft expansion, and significantly lower diesel usage and greenhouse gas emissions,” the company said.

The mill expansion will include upgrading the crushing circuit, adding a second parallel ball mill, and a new elution and carbon in pulp (CIP) circuit with carbon screens. The total cost of the mill expansion is expected to be around $40 million.

The flowsheet of the new circuit includes upgrades and expansions for the following major process operations:

  • New vibratory grizzly feeder;
  • New primary crusher;
  • New fine ore stockpile and conveyors;
  • Additional primary ball mill;
  • Primary ball mill screen for both ball mill circuits;
  • Existing thickener converted to high rate thickener;
  • Two additional leach tanks;
  • New elution plant and kiln (ADR); and
  • Tailing pumps.

Mill recoveries are expected to average 96.5% over the life of mine, consistent with the historical performance of the existing operation, it said.

To accommodate the increased electricity requirements with the larger mill and shaft, the power line to site will be upgraded at a cost of $14 million, it added.

Despite the backfill options with the envisaged paste plant, an expansion of the existing tailings impoundment area is underway and required under all scenarios to accommodate the growth in the deposit over the last several years, Alamos said.

“With two planned future raises beyond 2020 and the addition of the paste plant, the tailings facility has sufficient capacity to accommodate existing mineral reserves and resources,” it added.

Alamos Gold to hit new highs after reaching new depth at Young-Davidson

Alamos Gold says it has completed the lower mine expansion at Young-Davidson, in Ontario, Canada, with the successful commissioning of the Northgate shaft.

The lower mine expansion project was designed to boost underground production at Young-Davidson from 6,000 t/d to 8,000 t/d as the existing mid-mine infrastructure was replaced with the new lower mine infrastructure.

The project involved Cementation using large diameter raiseboring technology to establish the new shaft at Young-Davidson as part of an engineer, procure and construct contract.

Alamos Gold says the newly constructed lower mine infrastructure is larger, highly automated and more productive, with the transition expected to drive gold production higher and costs lower starting in the second half of 2020.

John A McCluskey, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alamos Gold, said: “This marks a significant milestone for Young-Davidson and turning point for Alamos as we transition from a reinvestment phase to a period of strong free cash flow growth.

“I would like to congratulate the entire team at Young-Davidson for this historic achievement, which will unlock the full potential of the operation. With a 13-year mineral reserve life, large resource base, and significant exploration potential, Young-Davidson is well positioned to deliver solid free cash flow over the long term.”

In addition to the Northgate shaft (pictured), the underground crusher and conveyor system have also been successfully commissioned, Alamos Gold said. Mining rates are expected to ramp up through the second half of the year to 7,500 t/d by the end of 2020.

The mine produced 188,000 oz of gold in 2019 at mine site all-in sustaining costs of $1,047/oz, Alamos said.