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November 2013

IRON RESURRECTION Australian iron ore giant awakens

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Cover Story

08 TWO CENTURIES

Australia’s first iron ore mine is restarted almost 100 years after it began.

NOVEMBER 2013

CONTENTS

22

News & Features 14

FMG goes auto

22

Is uranium’s wait over?

24

Merlin mach II

65

Australian Mining Towns

75

Minesite Vehicle

Fortescue installs a Minestar.

Production may be imminent in Western Australia.

24

Second chance for the Northern Territory mine.

Ron Berryman travels to the Northern Territory.

Michael Cairnduff tests Holden’s Colorado 7.

75


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CONTENTS Technical Features 35

Drill & Blast

49

Wear Resistant Materials

59

Engineering & Construction

81

Mine & Plant Maintenance

91

Minesite Accommodation

99

Power Generation

Drilling through the pain and a billion dollar year.

60

Two become one to forge a specialist partnership.

The engineering firm supporting Aboriginal employment.

Safe equipment means safer mines.

Houses for miners assembled in 30 seconds.

88

A cleaner future for Australia.

105

Machine Guidance

111

Shaft Development

Guiding the world’s largest excavators.

Meet the contractor who handles the toughest jobs.

105

Regulars 06 From the Editor’s chair 12 Hardware 20 Michael Pascoe

28 Robin Bromby 30 Mining Software 120 Mining Recruitment

123 On The Move 128 What’s New 132 Dryblower


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From the Editor’s chair

Managing Editor: Michael Cairnduff Senior Editor – Mining: Thomas Smith Contributing Editor: Tim Treadgold Production Manager: Mata Henry Senior Layout Designer: Matt Leigh Layout Designer: Catherine Hogan Graphic Designer: Sun Moon Sub-Editors: Melanie Jenkins, Maxine Brown Journalists: Alison Middleton, Vetti Kakulas, Tess Ingram Contributors: Robin Bromby, Michael Pascoe, John McIlwraith, Stephen Bell National Sales Manager: Angela Smith Advertising Sales: Richa Fuller, Nigel D’Silva, Vanessa Monastra, Con Giannas Advertising Production: Isaac Burrows (adproduction@aspermont.com) Subscriptions: Ph: (08) 6263 9100 Email: subscriptions@aspermont.com 12 issues per annum – Australia $A156.00 (GST included); Regional (PNG, NZ, SE Asia) $A252.00; International $A300.00 Executive: Colm O’Brien – Chief Executive Officer Trish Seeney – General Manager John Detwiler – Chief Financial Officer Head Office: Australia’s Mining Monthly, 613-619 Wellington Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000; PO Box 78, Leederville WA 6902

Phone: (08) 6263 9100 Fax: (08) 6263 9148 Email: editorial@miningmonthly.com subscriptions@aspermont.com advertising@miningmonthly.com Website: www.industry-news.net www.miningmonthly.com Twitter: @AUMiningMonthly

COPYRIGHT WARNING All editorial copy and some advertisements in this publication are subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written authorisation of the managing editor. Offenders will be prosecuted.

GOOD MONTH FOR GOOD NEWS Rio Tinto officially unveils the port expansion that will lift production to 290Mtpa, just as Western Australia sets a new exports record.

I

t’s been a better month for the Australian mining industry. Not perfect, but better. Rio Tinto officially unveiled the Cape Lambert Port B expansion, lifting exports to 290Mtpa. We also discovered that work is already underway on the second phase of the project, which will further boost export capacity to 360Mtpa – see page 26. Iron ore remains strong. We knew that. It’s just a pity that strength isn’t more evident elsewhere across the resources sector. Still, there was further positive news from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Its figures revealed that August was a record month for iron ore exports from Western Australia – see page 16 for the full story. The state shipped $6 billion of ore – up more than 15% on the previous month, or about $200 million per day. Again, we know that iron ore prices remain strong and represent a stable sector of the Australian mining industry. Nevertheless, Rio Tinto’s drive towards 360Mtpa and WA’s performance on the exports shipping and balance sheet are reasons for optimism as we staqrt looking toward 2014. Many commentators, depending on who you listen to, predicted a recovery in the last quarter of this year. We were also led to believe that the federal election would trigger a bounce across all resource sectors, not just iron ore. The coming weeks will determine if that prophecy is fulfilled. We live in hope. In the meantime, congratulations to Rio Tinto and WA for ending the year with some good news. Let’s hope this Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert Port B. continues into 2014.

Hello. Goodbye. Australia’s Mining Monthly average audited monthly circulation: 8,269

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Visit www.industry-news.net/subscribe phone +61 8 6263 9100 or email subscriptions@aspermont.com

A VERY warm welcome to new Australia’s Mining Monthly’s reporter Tess Ingram. Ingram joins our team this month after transferring from one of AMM’s sister online publications. After just a few weeks in the job, Ingram has already been to Melbourne in pursuit of the latest mining industry news. Welcome, Tess. We also bid farewell to Alison Middleton, who has been a valued member of the AMM team since mid-2012. Middleton is the new editor of another publication in the Aspermont family. Farewell Alison, and sincere thanks for your contribution to AMM. We wish you luck in your promotion. Enjoy the November edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly. thomas.smith@aspermont.com


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COVER STORY

A new century Almost 100 years ago, mining began at Australia’s first iron ore mine. Now, for the first time in 15 years, work is underway to breathe new life into a project that crosses two centuries. Vetti Kakulas examines the history of Iron Knob and asks what the future holds for an Australian mining legend.

Iron Knob’s first quarry, the C pit.

8 AMM November 2013

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COVER STORY

AT A GLANCE • Iron Knob is located 50km north of Whyalla, South Australia • English explorer Edward John Eyre discovered the mineral region in 1839 • The first major iron ore mine at Iron Knob was opened by BHP in 1915 • Arrium Mining is preparing for mining the area for the first time in 15 years • The producer is targeting 12Mtpa of iron ore exports for the next 10 years

I

t all began in 1915 – South Australia became the birthplace of the country’s iron ore mining industry when Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) opened the Iron Knob mine, 50km north of Whyalla. At one time Iron Knob was said to be the largest commercially viable quantity of iron ore in Australia. The state remained Australia’s iron ore powerhouse until 1952 when the late Lang Hancock, father of Gina Rinehart, discovered iron ore in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Before this, iron ore was thought to be scarce in the state. In the early 1960s, export controls were lifted and WA iron ore projects were established. Today, 98 years after BHP opened the Iron Knob mine, Arrium Mining has received approval to revitalise the historic site. Work is already underway to resurrect mining at one of Australia’s most iconic mining sites. Sydney-based Arrium Mining will invest $82 million towards developing the Iron Knob mining area. Work has commenced on building roads and offices in and around the minesite in preparation for the commencement of full mining activities. The iron ore producer has a target of maintaining export iron ore sales of 12 million

Iron Knob senior executives watching miners load ore in the C quarry pit.

tonnes per annum for the next 10 years, with production expected to start next year. Arrium has already started reclaiming iron ore over the past few years from historic waste dumps. Arrium Mining development general manager Gavin Hobart said the project was expected to include mining operations in the Iron Monarch and Iron Princess pits. Construction of crushing and screening operations will also be carried out, along with the reinstatement of the mine’s rail line. “Work on the rail line is vital to the efficiency and safety of these operations and will eliminate the need for regular trucking of iron ore from the site, therefore helping to minimise the amount of heavy traffic on that stretch of road,” Hobart said. “A vital aspect in all of this work was to develop a strong relationship with the local Barngarla people, working closely with them to ensure that mining activities respect the area’s indigenous heritage sites and minimise impacts. “We would like to acknowledge the support of the Barngarla people to date in allowing mining to recommence in the area.” Mining has played a vital role in the economic fortunes of SA, with the first mineral discoveries just two years after the

first non-convict settlers landed on Kangaroo Island in 1836. The town was inhabited by 3000 people when the mine was operating but that number dwindled to less than 200 after the mine closed. The Iron Knob region is rich in indigenous heritage sites, which is why Arrium Mining said it would continue to work closely with the Barngarla people once mining was underway. Hobart said proactively engaging the Iron Knob community was also paramount in the development process of Iron Knob. “Since we commenced the trucking of ore last year, we have had ongoing community meetings and one-on-one consultation to ensure everyone’s needs are taken into consideration,” he added. “We appreciate the support and guidance we have received to date from the Iron Knob community and look forward to working closely with them going forward.” Arrium Mining recently secured its place among the top four Australian iron ore exporters after the official opening of its expanded Whyalla port facility and Southern Iron operations, also in SA. According to South Australian Mineral Resources Group senior geologist Greg Drew, minerals are the state’s largest export item, earning about $2 billion annually.

Miners load iron ore with shovels.

A historic image taken at Iron Knob – two ladies in an excavator bucket.

www.miningmonthly.com

November 2013 AMM 9


Mining in South Australia

COVER STORY

An aerial view of Iron Knob town and the Monarch mine.

“The majority of this comes from the world-class Olympic Dam mine, operated by BHP Billiton but there are a number of developing mines,” Drew said. “Mining now directly employs more than 10,000 people and it has been predicted to be the major driving force in the state’s economy for the next 30 to 40 years. “This is a case of history repeating itself, as South Australia’s early economic development also relied heavily on the mining industry.” It has been a long time since Iron Knob

SOutH Australia is a state rich in historic mining achievements. Not only did SA produce the first iron ore mine in Australia, it also established the first metal mine. A young man named James Nicholls discovered pieces of silver and lead ore in the Mt Lofty Ranges in 1838. His discovery, which he “stumbled” upon, wasn’t mined until 1842 and was named Wheal Gawler – after the colony’s first governor, LieutenantColonel George Gawler. Wheal Gawler is located close to SA’s capital, with Adelaide about 6km away. As for the state’s copper industry, historians claimed sheep were indirectly responsible for SA becoming one of the world’s major producers – at one time SA was ranked third in the world – with shepherds making the discoveries of copper in SA. The first major copper strikes were made at Kapunda in 1842, Burra in 1845, Moonta and Wallaroo in 1860 and Kadina in 1861. Interestingly, the population of Moonta was more than 10,000 in 1870. today, it has halved to 5000.

Arrium Mining has a target of maintaining export iron ore sales of 12 million tonnes per year for the next 10 years. claimed the title of Australia’s main iron ore producer. With an expected production target of 12Mtpa, it won’t overtake Australia’s major producers, which ship hundreds of millions of tonnes overseas every year.

But it represents a solid link between Australia’s past and present and reminds us of just how important the industry has been to generations of Australians, going right back to the first visitors to these shores. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Blast furnaces at Yelta mine, South Australia.

10 AMM November 2013

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HARDWARE

Tried and tested Sandvik Mining’s latest underground haul truck is no stranger to the pages of Australia’s Mining Monthly. We take a look at how it’s performed in trials in Western Australia. By Vetti Kakulas

Sandvik Mining’s TH663 underground haul truck.

W

here do you send an underground haul truck if you want to push it to its limits? Western Australia would be a good start. A prototype of Sandvik Mining’s newest underground hard rock haul truck is being trialled at a gold mine in WA. Early reports indicate the new arrival is performing exceptionally well on practically every front. Sandvik said that during the first three months of trials, the TH663, with its 63-tonne payload, had set new standards in

12 AMM November 2013

productivity, safety and performance. Sandvik international field-test supervisor Kimmo Martin and Sandvik national product support team member Barry Martin supervised the trials. Together, they’ve trained operators and maintenance staff and are providing ongoing technical support to Sandvik’s truck manufacturing plant in Turku, Finland. At the Turku plant, a second prototype has been developed to match the recommendations from the WA trials and incorporate the experience gained during the hard rock mining conditions.

Martin said the TH663 had significantly lifted productivity at the underground mine and that its onboard weighing system ensured every load was close to maximum. “The system is accurate to within 25kg at full load, with a red-amber-green light array on the cab’s rear providing the operator with a visual indication of available capacity,” he said. A total of 56,000 tonnes of ore was hauled by the entire project’s fleet in July – with the Sandvik TH663 shifting 24,000t of the combined total. During that time, the TH663 logged 480

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View from the operator’s seat.

The TH663 was trialled at an underground gold mine in Western Australia.

Payload is 63 tonnes with a standard body capacity of 36 cubic metres.

hours, hauling 54 tonnes per hour – fairly close to its 63t payload. Compared to predecessor the TH660, the TH663 is 8t lighter and 50% faster. The difference is an extra 2700t hauled a month for the mining company. As well as being lighter and faster, the TH663 is also fuel efficient. Throughout the three-month trial, its average fuel consumption was 50 litres per hour, a stark contrast to other Sandvik models, which can burn more than 70L/h. Martin added: “Cutting your fuel burn by a third on a 480-hour-a-month basis could add

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up to an annual saving per truck in the order of $200,000 at current diesel prices. “Prices are likely to continue escalating, making fuel economy an increasingly important factor in the equipment selection equation.” The TH663 is so quiet that drivers are not required to wear earplugs, because the soundproof cab eliminates engine noise. Martin said the TH663 was well-received at the site, with one miner participating in the trial saying that it was the best underground truck he’d ever driven. “The suspension creates a really smooth

ride and that’s important, not just in terms of day-to-day comfort and productivity, but also for long-term driver health,” Martin added. Powered by a Cummins QSK19 diesel engine, the TH663 has a 38cu.m body, which can climb steep mine grades at 12km/h. Sandvik says the haul truck has more than 60 safety features. These features include a four-point driver harness, bonnet guardrails for the protection of maintenance staff, and ground level access for every service point covered in the daily maintenance schedule. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 13


FOCUS

FMG goes auto Fortescue Metals Group installs an autonomous trucking system at a mine in Western Australia. By Thomas Smith

F

MG has joined forces with Caterpillar and installed a Cat MineStar System at the Solomon mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The technology was already installed for the first phase of the iron ore operation in October last year at the 20Mtpa Firetail mine. Now FMG has chosen Caterpillar’s autonomous solution for the second-phase King’s Mine phase at Solomon, which will produce 40Mtpa. Eight Command for hauling CAT 793F CMD trucks have been commissioned. The fleet began operations earlier this year. FMG’s mine plan calls for a progressive ramp up to 45 autonomous trucks over the next several years. Other CAT MineStar System capability sets, Fleet, Terrain, Detect, and Health, are being utilised across the mobile equipment fleet, including support equipment and light vehicles. Chris Curfman is Caterpillar Global Mining president of sales and support. He said: “Caterpillar is pleased to team

with Fortescue and Leighton Contractors for the operations of our autonomous mining solution. “Working with all the partners, we look forward to managing the entire CAT MineStar System suite of technology products at Solomon in order to drive process efficiency, increase productivity and enhance safety.

“Fortescue’s Solomon mine is the first project of its kind for Caterpillar.” – Hans Haefeli “The Solomon project is an excellent fit for our progression to the next level of technology and sustainable mining — with the ultimate goal of delivering greater value for our customers.” “Fortescue’s Solomon mine is the first project of its kind for Caterpillar,” said Hans Haefeli, Caterpillar Advanced Components

Autonomous: CAT 793F trucks at FMG’s Solomon Mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

& Systems Division vice-president. Utilising the entire CAT MineStar System suite of surface mining technologies, both autonomous and manned machines are producing iron ore from two mines at Solomon. “The depth and breadth of the CAT precision technology, coupled with skilled control personnel, is designed to enable the dual fleet to work safely and efficiently, and to reach production goals quickly.” Fortescue CEO Nev Power added: “Innovation and creativity led to Fortescue’s discovery of Solomon in 2005 and we are maintaining that spirit of innovation with the implementation of CAT MineStar System. “Autonomous haulage will provide a highly efficient, productive and safe environment that complements manned operations. “It also provides new opportunities for people with different skill sets and enhances safety through reduced interaction between heavy equipment and people in mining areas utilising collision avoidance technology.”

What is Cat MineStar? CATErPILLAr’S Minestar System is defined by five key elements towards total mine management: FLEET: TErrAIN: DETECT: HEALTH: COMMAND Or as CAT so eloquently put it: “The Industry’s broadest, most comprehensive, integrated mine operations and mobile equipment management.” That’s quite a declaration, even coming from a global brand such as CAT. I travelled to Brisbane recently for a guided tour of CAT’s technology centre. Top of the agenda was the flagship Minestar System. CAT assembled a team that included key figures from each of the five key elements of Minestar. So what exactly is Minestar? Here’s an outline of the system’s capabilities – • FLEET: Vehicle tracking. CAT says they’ve recorded up to 15% productivity increase. Available for non-CAT machines.

14 AMM November 2013

• TERRAIN: Machine control. Guidance system for everything from wheel loaders to draglines. CAT believes the system can deliver a 30% increase in productivity across operations. • DETECT: Camera system that provides object detection and proximity awareness. Personnel wear locator tags that helps prevent contact with operational machinery. • HEALTH: ‘real time’ machine data. Maintenance, condition monitoring support. Available for CAT and other equipment manufacturers. • COMMAND: remote control, semiautonomous or fully autonomous mining equipment. Put simply, Minestar promotes operational integration. Identifying potential bottlenecks and connecting each section of a minesite, so

that everyone knows what the other person is doing. One by one, CAT specialists from each of the above-listed, five disciplines, stood up and outlined what Minestar offers. Operational efficiency, safety and preventative machine maintenance are among the obvious benefits. But CAT believes the system can deliver up to 30% productivity increases, based on minesite trials. That equals a significant dollar saving, at a time when cost is the focus for all operations. Andrew ransley is General Manager, Asia Pacific, Caterpillar Global Mining. He said: “Australia is the mining technology epi-centre. Things happen quicker here. Technology, such as Command, offers project cost reductions.” In the current climate of efficiency and optimisation, CAT is selling the right product at the right time. thomas.smith@aspermont.com

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MINING BRIEF

Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group’s export terminal.

Growing to meet demand The Port of Newcastle, one of the world’s largest coal export sites, just got even bigger. By Tess Ingram

T

he final stage of a $2.5 billion coal terminal at the Port of Newcastle is now complete. Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group’s coal export terminal was developed in three stages after its initial approval bv the New South Wales government in 2007. This final stage included a third ship berth, a fourth stacker reclaimer, plus associated stockyards, conveyors and a rail flyover. It was no small job, but would boost combined export capacity at the terminal to its planned, maximum capability of 66 million tonnes per annum. The terminal has been operating for over two years at a maximum capacity of 53Mtpa. And in that time, an estimated 1000 vessels have been successfully loaded with 80Mt of coal. NCIG chief executive officer Rob Yeates said the project was delivered on time and on budget. “On an annualised basis, the Hunter Valley coal chain is delivering at a rate of more than 150Mtpa for export though the Port of Newcastle,” Yeates said at the terminal’s official opening. “This is a tribute to the thousands of people who have worked to bring the project to a successful conclusion.”

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AT A GLANCE • The $2.5 billion NCIG terminal project began in 2008 and was completed this September • More than 80Mt of coal has already left the port for international destinations • The final stage of development included a third ship berth and a fourth stacker reclaimer • In 2012, coal exports from the Port of Newcastle topped a record 142Mt • Coal exports generated about $13 billion for the NSW economy in 2012

Construction clocked up just two lost-time injuries in more than 8 million hours worked. More than 800 people were working at any time during this phase, with more than 5500 onsite inductions since the terminal development began in 2008. NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell joined the company at the opening and highlighted the port’s contribution to the NSW economy and the Hunter region. “This project has already been supporting the Hunter economy over the past five years,

with more than 800 people working on the site at any given time. “The benefits to the region and NSW are set to continue, with the NCIG export terminal expected to lead to the creation of around 5000 jobs across NSW,” O’Farrell said. What was once a vacant 136ha site has been dredged for capesize shipping channels and three berths. Today, it hosts two dump stations, five stockyards, four stacker reclaimers, two shiploaders and a network of rail loops. NCIG said the shiploaders were worth $25 million each and had a capacity of about 10,500 tonnes per hour. The NCIG consortium consists of BHP Billiton, Banpu subsidiary Centennial Coal, Yancoal Australia, Peabody Energy and Whitehaven Coal. The Port of Newcastle is on Kooragang Island on the Hunter River, where it serves as an economic and trade centre for the resource -rich region, with coal exports representing more than 90% of its total throughput tonnage. Both the port and NCIG’s terminal service major coal mines in the Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Gunnedah and Gloucester coal fields of NSW. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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MINING BRIEF

Record breaking An economics professor believes the Australian resources industry is simply in a state of metamorphosis. By Tess Ingram

R

ecent figures show that exports from Western Australia to China hit a record $6 billion during August, or about $200 million a day. That’s an increase of 15.4% month on month and 50% year on year. But Curtin Business School economics head Professor Michael Thorpe insists the mining industry hasn’t been experiencing problems but it has been displaying signs of transition. “This was always going to be the case. This isn’t because of a sudden spike in demand from China but instead we are gradually fulfilling contractual arrangements that have been in place for some time and we are in a position now to start shipping higher volumes as things come onstream,” he said.

Thorpe said the job losses and cost cutting that had sent waves of concern through the industry were part of the boom’s shift to a predominantly export focus. “Moving to production and export involves less labour,” he said. “There’s lot of anecdotal stories going around about companies cutting back on staff but that doesn’t mean the boom is over in terms of generating export revenues. “We are reaping the gradual rewards now but it’s a different mix of resources so we are not employing the same number of people in the same capacities as we did before.” The statistics from the ABS certainly support this theory, showing that national August iron ore exports raked in

Curtin Business School economics head Michael Thorpe.

$6.5 billion, which is 27.3% of the country’s total merchandise exports for the month. WA contributes the largest majority of exports to China, adding $6 billion to a total $8.7 billion generated in August. And Thorpe said this growth was likely to continue with more mines commencing production as China’s demand remained flat and the export contracts signed continued to tick over. “Certainly, in the next stage we are going to see a big pick-up in volumes compared to what we have now,” he added. “It’s very upbeat news for the mining industry and for the Australian economy as well.” tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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12/09/13 2:08 PM


Michael Pascoe editorial@miningmonthly.com

Forecast: Predicting the weather is easier than determining resource prices.

Forecasting a mug’s game Hedge your bets. Cover all bases. Keep your options open. Pascoe’s guide to the unpredictable world of forecasting.

W

ere you the sort of child who would take pleasure in pulling the wings off flies to turn them into walks? Are you still doing it? Then you’re probably just the type of mean individual, like me, who files away analysts’ forecasts to use as tools of torture. It’s a very long time since I detached a fly’s wings and doubt I even have the reflexes to catch one. Besides, storing the odd forecast for later ridicule is much easier sport, especially when the forecast strikes me as being a little sensational at the time. And so it was that I packed away in the April edition of this esteemed journal the “brave” forecast by UBS’s global iron ore analyst that the red metal would be down to $70 a tonne in September. Well, September has come and gone and iron ore has remained stubbornly buoyant, nowhere remotely near $70. Picking on UBS on this occasion might be a little unfair, as the general consensus earlier

20 AMM November 2013

this year was that iron ore would indeed be cheaper by September. Even the bulls weren’t predicting Pilbara rust would be holding above $US130 a tonne come October 1. But the UBS forecast was on the dramatically low side – a headline grabber – and there was the little issue of the UBS global iron ore analyst’s name: Tom Price. It’s very hard to forget something like that. It’s like the bloke who used to run the RSPCA: Mr Barker. Nonetheless, reminding forecasters of their folly is a mean pastime, because forecasting is by nature a mug’s game. Those who do it for a living tend to be either brave, foolish or both. So as an act of kindness, here are the five secrets of successful forecasting: 1. Never put a time frame on a forecast. Everything happens eventually and, when it does, you can stick up your hand and claim you predicted it. 2. Make multiple forecasts. Confidently predict that iron ore, for example, will be volatile and will trade at $140 in certain

conditions and at $80 in others. Whichever price point is hit first, stick up your hand and remind people that you predicted it. Don’t remind them about all the other forecasts that failed to bear fruit. 3. Make all your forecasts vague, absolutely Delphic. This art was perfected by Nostradamus. You leave the door open to explain your mumbo-jumbo later to mean whatever eventually happens. 4. Skip trying to forecast ahead of the event and just claim later that you did forecast it. Most people are very trusting and never check wild claims. How else could Alan Jones have become a successful broadcaster? 5. Speak loudly and with an air of absolute certainty, however spurious your waffle might be. Many people will believe you and think you are right, even when you obviously are not so. In certain circumstances, this method can make you prime minister. There, that’s my good deed for the year.

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INSIGHT | MICHAEL PASCOE

Rumours of China’s demise... WHATEVER happened to China’s hard landing? Perhaps it’s hiding out with the Budget Emergency. As Australia settles in for another long, hot summer, it’s hard to remember the threatened winter of our discontent when the China bear industry was promising the imminent collapse of the Chinese economy earlier this year – just as they have been forecasting for a couple of decades. The constant misunderstanding of what the various Chinese purchasing managers’ indices meant for industrial production was particularly annoying. Some of us have had a little more faith in the cadres’ ability to manage their control economy. Beijing is well aware of the massive challenges that face China’s transition, but the leadership is working hard on it, which is more than can be said for some countries. It’s a constant refrain that Australia is in trouble because it relies on China too much. In some fictional perfect world, one’s country would be wonderfully self-reliant, floating above the concerns of the rest of the world. It also would be nice to win Powerball, cure the common cold and for no child to live in poverty. Unlike the China bears, I take some comfort in our economy being linked to China’s: the price of failure there is rather high and that tends to focus the mind. Of course there are no guarantees, but there has been a great calming of the hot air generated over the Chinese economy, as it has become more obvious that the hard landing was never on and growth has stabilised at a very healthy 7.5% or so. Yes, we’re ramping up supply of raw materials and prices should come off a bit, but our biggest customer is continuing to grow strongly. The Reserve Bank board minutes have been making the point that our trading partners are growing at about their average pace of the past decade – booms and GFCs notwithstanding. Yet for all I know, in the time between me writing this column and you reading it, the iron ore price might have crashed to $60 – or risen to $150. If either happens, remember that I told you so.

AUSTRALIAN

MINING TOWNS Australia’s Mining Monthly is charting the history of Australian mining. Our in-depth features will take you back to the excitement of their boom-time beginnings and trace their fascinating history right up until today. Join us as we travel to these historic towns to uncover Australia’s mining history first-hand.

What Budget Emergency? KNOWING that Australia’s Mining Monthly is read in some of Australia’s more remote regions, as another public service, could readers please keep an eye out for the missing Budget Emergency. It disappeared from sight two days before the federal election. The Walkley Award-winning cartoonist for Crikey.com.au, First Dog on the Moon ( a name not much stranger for a cartoonist than Tom Price is for an iron ore analyst), has launched a campaign to find the Budget Emergency and I figure it must be somewhere well out of reach of a standard mobile phone. Apparently, the Budget Emergency was huge, ginormous, gargantuan ... so large that it threatened to crush the nation and enslave generations of our kiddies. Thus, to go completely missing I figure it must have stumbled down a disused open cut somewhere back of beyond. Indeed, we’ve been told it has something to do with a black hole, so approach with caution, lest you be sucked into its maws and find your pockets emptied. There is an alternative theory to the Budget Emergency falling down a mine: it never really existed. But that would mean the nation’s Prime Minister and Treasurer have been lying to us for the past three years. Or perhaps I’m just underestimating Joe Hockey’s incredible healing powers. The Coalition’s “savings”, unveiled almost on election eve, disclosed that Big Joe would shave $6 billion off the federal budget over four years – an average $1.5 billion year, obviously. On a budget of about $400 billion a year, that works out to be an adjustment of just 0.37% per cent to turn a Budget Emergency into healthy, stimulatory fiscal policy. The man is clearly a genius!

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In the December issue, we will be looking at the mining history of Western Australia, in particular Hall’s Creek, Kununurra and Wyndham.

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November 2013 AMM 21


FOCUS

Is uranium’s wait over? John McIlwraith examines Western Australia’s uranium potential, with production perhaps just three years away – depending on the environmental approvals process.

Uranium: ready for a revival?

A

rich basket of uranium prospects may be reopened in Western Australia after more than 40 years of frustration. Yeelirrie, the state’s first uranium discovery, was of world class when reported by the now defunct Western Mining Corporation in 1972. It was just months from commissioning when the Labor government introduced its anti-uranium policy - halting all new projects in their tracks. Today, Yeelirrie is owned by a Canadian company that is hoping to take it into production with its other uranium prospects. And there are more potential players

22 AMM November 2013

on the horizon, with the Canadians active participants. One of these, Mega Uranium, has sold its Lake Maitland prospect near Wiluna to local company Toro Energy. In return, it acquired a 28% holding worth $37 million. Toro plans to build the state’s first uranium mine at Wiluna, 90km away. Managing director Vanessa Guthrie says the Lake Maitland project will increase its resource base by more than 40%. The prospect contains higher-grade material that is expected to improve the overall blended head grade from the Wiluna deposits.

Toro still needs to secure project financing and hopes to complete a definitive feasibility study next year. “Over the next six to 12 months, we’ll be bringing the resources together, proceeding and maintaining our focus on delivery of Wiluna into production, and then bringing the other resources onstream as their approvals are secured,” said Guthrie. Reflecting a long-standing obstacle for uranium miners, Toro expects it will take two to three years to gain environmental approvals. However, Guthrie said this would fit with the production start target of 2016. It would also provide sufficient time to then merge the other deposits with the project.

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FOCUS

“Our currently approved venture is 10-14 years and with Lake Maitland and our other deposits added, we now can move to beyond a 20-year mine life,” she said. This was a significant benefit for project financing and investors. Yeelirrie is again being promoted as a major source of uranium, after a number of disappointments in the past 40 years. It is now owned by Cameco, which is also working on the Kintyre prospect in WA’s Kimberley. Yeelirrie’s considerable reserves were confirmed by BHP Billiton while it still owned the project last year and it remains a major resource by world standards. Cameco says it is working on both projects, but there is still much to be done before decisions are made about their future. It has only been in recent years that opportunities to develop WA uranium deposits resurfaced. This followed a long spell that saw Labor governments in Canberra and in the west steadfastly opposed to expansion of the industry. Uranium prices have been depressed since the Fukushima tsunami power plant meltdown disaster, which effectively shut down Japan’s nuclear power industry. Michael Angwin, Chief Executive of the

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Australian Uranium Association, expects prices to stay low until about 2017-18, when demand will exceed supply. “We expect those circumstances to give an incentive to the development of new mines,” he said. “The most nimble uranium businesses will capture the excess demand and we think Australian companies are in that category.

Toro expects it will take two to three years to gain environmental approvals. “In the longer term, say, out to 2035, we expect an increase in nuclear power capability around the world, especially in Asia. And Australian companies are well-placed to meet the supply needs of a bigger nuclear industry.” Australia’s major customers were in North America, Europe and Asia. “We expect to retain these customers and potentially serve new customers in China, India, the Middle East and Russia,” added Angwin. “Asia will be the main source of growth in the nuclear industry. Australia will be a major producer because our resources industry is a very reliable supplier.

“We have a large endowment of uranium and we have a strong record of exporting under conditions that ensure uranium is only used for domestic, electricity production. We regard the latter as a competitive advantage.” The Australian Uranium Association expects prices to start rising from 2016-17 as demand starts to exceed supply. A fifth of all the power generated in advanced countries comes from nuclear reactors. The association said this should provide an incentive for the development of new mines around the world. Guthrie acknowledged that the timeline for commissioning Toro could be longer if there were delays in the recovery. She pointed to the decision to recommission the Japanese reactors and the ending of the secondary uranium agreement later this year as positive factors. There was no new primary production available, “so all of the signals are there that uranium prices from 2016 will not just recover, but the longer the price stays low, the sharper the rise that is predicted,” added Guthrie. The industry says China will become a key customer for Australian uranium in the future, followed by other emerging nations such as India, the Middle East and Russia. editorial@miningmonthly.com

November 2013 AMM 23


FOCUS

Increasing demand: diamonds.

Merlin mach II Low on volume but high in quality, the Merlin mine in the Northern Territory has been given a second chance to produce world class gems. John McIlwraith plots the history of a fascinating project.

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24 AMM November 2013

A

ustralia’s quiescent diamond industry has received a modest stimulus with the reopening of the Merlin mine in the Northern Territory. Joe Gutnick, a legendary figure in the Australian mining industry and managing director of Merlin Diamonds, expects the mine to benefit from stronger demand for diamonds and continued growth in the market. An authoritative Canadian study has forecast that demand will increase by 5% a year, not a stellar rate of growth but offering promise in an industry where the sources of high quality stones are diminishing. While it produced only modest volumes of gems in the nearly four years it operated in the early part of the 2000s, it was notable for the high proportion of high quality stones.

– Merlin Diamonds managing director Joe Gutnick

2014

Two-thirds of the 500,000 carats it produced were gem quality, a striking contrast to one of the world’s biggest mines, Argyle in the Pilbara, which produced up to 40 million carats a year but with only about 5% gem quality. The huge open cut mine operated for many years and is to be replaced by a costly underground mine with lower production. The average return of high quality stones globally is 20%, although the skillful marketing of Argyle’s lower quality stones was one of the major factors in the mine’s extraordinary success. There was one event that ensured the small Merlin mine would be

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FOCUS

remembered. Eleven years ago Australia’s biggest diamond, weighing nearly 105ct, was discovered there. Gutnick says the company is hopeful of finding even bigger diamonds. “We’ve got a mine life of at least 15 years, so the probability of us finding more of those and bigger ones is there,” he said. Merlin has an estimated resource of only 7.2Mct, so quality will be important in the economics of the project. Gutnick describes the current diamond market as “buoyant”. “The supply is dwindling and demand is growing, especially from Asia,” he said. “So we’re confident that demand will grow in the coming years. The Bank of Montreal, among others, expects growth to be about 5% a year.” In full production mode, the company hopes to produce 250,000ct a year. Merlin’s history is intertwined with the earliest history of the Australian diamond industry. It was discovered by Ashton Mining soon after the discovery of the vast Argyle project, in which it was a shareholder. Even earlier, it had given its name to the Ashton Joint Venture, which replaced an earlier structure that pioneered exploration for diamonds in the Kimberley.

That was 40 years ago and the group, with limited resources, found a number of small diamond and alluvial deposits. Four years after its formation, the consortium was joined by CRA, now Rio Tinto, which provided the money and exploration resources to launch a major program.

Merlin’s history is intertwined with the earliest history of the Australian diamond industry. It followed an exploration philosophy that had little recognition in the industry, based on lamproitic minerals identified with diamonds in South Africa – and found in the Kimberley region. University of Western Australia geology professor Rex Prider, had noticed this resemblance, offering the opinion that these lamproites indicated that they might be similar and occur with kimberlites, then believed to be the only host rock for diamonds.

His speculation remained just that for a third of a century but one of his students never put aside this piece of lateral thinking. Ewen Tyler was later the driving force behind Ashton’s exploration and his pursuit of the unfashionable lamproites was a key factor in the development of the Australian diamond industry. Soon after, Ashton commissioned Merlin in the NT and was later acquired by Rio Tinto. Ashton typified the boldness of small, often undercapitalised explorers in those years. The Argyle project was still under development when Ashton led a group examining big areas of the NT. Later, the group flirted with prospects in Finland, North America, Africa and Indonesia. It was an interesting hybrid, Australian in its exploration philosophy but before the CRA takeover, half its shares were held by a major Malaysian company. Argyle was still being developed when it announced the discovery of 22 kimberlite pipes close to the Queensland border, in the NT. Its examination of more than 800,000sq.km of the territory led to the development of Merlin, now expected to have a second life as Merlin Diamonds. thomas.smith@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 25


MINING BRIEF

Record reds Rio Tinto’s Argyle tender for 2013 has been its most successful yet. By Vetti Kakulas One of the Fancy Reds sold for more than $2.1 million.

A

ustralia’s Mining Monthly readers might remember us featuring Rio Tinto’s Fancy Red Argyle diamond range in the July edition. The three Fancy Reds were sold recently at the annual Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender, regarded as the world’s most exclusive rare diamonds sale. Known as the Red Edition, this year’s tender included the Fancy Reds and 64 pink, red and blue diamonds – ranging from 0.20 carats to 3.02 carats. This year’s tender delivered strong results, with the most valuable diamonds of all time from Rio Tinto’s Western Australian Argyle Diamond mine being sold. The entire collection went for above pre-tender estimates, with two significant

records broken. There was a record number of bids of more than $1 million and bids broke the $2.1 million mark for a single stone. The Argyle Phoenix, a 1.56 carat Fancy Red diamond, recorded the highest per carat price for a diamond ever produced from the Argyle mine. Argyle Dauphine, a 2.51 carat Fancy Deep Pink diamond, broke the record for the highest price paid for an Argyle diamond in overall value terms. The tender also saw a record price paid for a Fancy Deep Pink diamond. Rio Tinto Diamonds managing director Jean-Marc Lieberherr said the sell-out tender indicated increasing demand from the world’s best jewellers, designers, collectors and connoisseurs.

“We are delighted with the results for the 2013 tender collection, which are a reflection of their rarity, provenance and global reach,” he said. “The Argyle orebody is extraordinary and after 30 years of production, continues to produce the world’s most coveted diamonds.” Rio Tinto’s underground Argyle mine produces more than 90% of the world’s rare pink diamonds. Commissioned in April 2013, Argyle diamond fanatics will be pleased to know that the mine’s life has been extended to at least 2020. This year’s tender event was held at venues in Sydney and Perth. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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8/6/13 9:00 AM


Robin Bromby editorial@miningmonthly.com

Bauxite: the fall of the USSR triggered a world surplus of aluminium.

State of mining A look at the past explains the current state of the mining industry, as researchers use history to gauge what to expect in the future.

D

emand is important, of course, in determining prices. However, the McKinsey Global Institute has come up with a plausible case to argue that the cost of production – both upwards and downwards – can also affect prices. On the downward side, the researchers cite the commercialisation for the decade beginning 1910 of the low-cost processing of bauxite into alumina. As a result, aluminium prices dropped sharply. Again in the 1960s, the development of solvent extraction and electrowinning

Economic activity becomes more services-driven and per capita use of metals begins to stagnate (every miner’s fear in regard to China these days). technology enabled the relatively low-cost processing of copper oxide resources. Then along came the large bulk-scale mining operations and the modern bulk carriers to haul away the proceeds of that mining. As a result, Australia, Brazil and Chile saw new resource basins opened up.

It is not just technology that has led to lower costs and, therefore, the ability of the industry to sustain lower prices. What about the discovery of low-cost deposits? McKinsey cites the opening of the Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile in 1915 as such a case. But as the report notes in a

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INSIGHT | ROBIN BROMBY

deadpan sort of way that “such significant discoveries have become rather rare since 1995”. New capacity has been another big influence. Look at the 1990s and aluminium following the break-up of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Suddenly, at least 80% of the country’s aluminium was no longer required for jet fighters and other military material. Russian aluminium then flooded into the world market. Stages of development are another issue. As McKinsey notes, consumption of metals typically grows in line with per capita income until the country reaches the threshold between $US15,000 and $20,000 per capita income (in purchasing power parity terms). The main industrialisation and infrastruture-building phases have reached their apogee at that point. Economic activity becomes more services-driven and per capita use of metals begins to stagnate (every miner’s fear in regard to China these days). But now we have – in parallel – a situation

Searching for gold MINING companies mined more gold in the years 1990 to 2012 than they found yet gold exploration budgets kept rising, reaching a record $US6 billion in 2012, according to Canada-based Metals Economics Group Research. In the 1990-97 period, 103 gold discoveries studied by MEGR were made at an average cost of $94.4 million. In the period 19982002, 31 discoveries were made at an average cost of $132.7 million each. There were 69 discoveries counted between 2003 and 2012. The average cost: $202.5 million. See a trend? The breakdown in terms of regions is also interesting. Of the 107 discoveries made between 1998 and 2012, they were in:

where mining costs are rising. It’s just as well that so too have the higher prices: in nominal terms, costs are up 176% since 2000. Copper is up 344%. Steel hasn’t done too badly, up 167% since 2000, largely due to China consuming more steel in the decade to 2010 than it did in the previous 60 years (even remembering that the period 1940-1999 includes the industrialisation programs of the Mao Tse-tung years). The report breaks down the components of the cost rises. In the case of gold, cost inflation between 2001 and 2011 was due to geological factors, which McKinsey believes will persist (think those deep South African mines). Some 30% of gold’s extra costs was due to shortages of equipment and/or skilled labour. The conclusion: the costs of metals extraction will continue rising. Depletion, mining lower grade, mining in areas that wouldn’t have been your first choice (more than half of all planned new copper projects are in countries with high political risk) – all make for challenging years ahead.

Discoveries

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THAT HIT THE MARK

Exploration cost per oz ($US)

US/Canada – 23 $49.48 Latin America – 28 $49.06 Africa/Middle East – 23 $31.00 Europe/former USSR – 17 $20.78 Australia – 8 $61.27 Pacific Ocean – 5 $29.91 Asia – 3 $75.19 A few things stand out. One, Latin America seeing the greatest number of discoveries, despite all the west Africa enthusiasm. Australia’s costs, of course. And also how few discoveries were made in Asia. Shortages of gold ahead, perhaps?

Good news for mining WE ALL know China has been the big story. But how big? Thanks to the latest Global Economic Prospects report from the World Bank, we now have a firm number. In 1990, the world consumed less than 43 million tonnes a year of metals. In 2012, it consumed 91Mt. It will not be a great surprise that almost all of this growth was driven by China. In 1990, China accounted for just 4% of global metals consumption. Now the figure is 45%. Again, no great surprise but at least we have a solid figure. As the World Bank points out, metal consumption by China during the past

TARGETED FEATURES

decade has been so strong that it reversed the downward trend of global metal intensity — that is, metal consumption per unit of GDP. Metal consumption is now at the same intensity as it was in the early 1970s. By contrast, food and energy intensities continue their long, downward trends. In essence, this means that rising GDP rates in the developing countries have left people with more money, which in turn means they have more left over after paying their food and energy bills. Yet metal consumption rates have matched the rising wealth. The mining industry should start popping corks on that basis.

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November 2013 AMM 29


Mining Software Mining Software mInIng

sofTware

Dumping costs

As cost-cutting becomes a vital issue for Australian mining companies, efficiently designing expensive mine areas such as waste dumps and haul roads is a key part of the planning process. By Tess Ingram

S

oftware developer Geovia has introduced a new Minex Dump Scheduling and Haulage Planning module to help address ongoing issues within the mining industry. Geovia, formerly known as Gemcom Software, released the module as part of its new Minex 6.2 system and said it aimed to help users control one of the largest costs associated with mining coal and other stratified deposits – the removal of waste.

“Dump scheduling and haulage planning tools allowed the company to easily integrate different scenarios for hauling waste.” – Mine planning and development manager David Delbridge The module allows users to design waste dumps and haul roads, schedule the dumping of waste, calculate haulage cycle times and report on all aspects of the waste removal and haulage process. PT Bayan Resources mine planning and development manager David Delbridge said the dump scheduling and haulage planning tools allowed the company to easily integrate

The Dump Scheduling and Haulage Planning module’s Scenario Manager.

different scenarios for hauling waste from pits to dumps into its mine scheduling process. “In addition, they enable us to analyse our major cost drivers and help us make better decisions about minimising our operating costs,” he said. Through a single interface, users can create various dump scenarios and take control of the priority, sequence and direction in which they are filled. To help with haulage planning, Geovia has included tools that let mine planners

effectively manage and analyse the efficiency of truck cycle times, and optimise truck fleet and haul road selection for improved cost control. Advanced reporting functions also help provide mine planners with flexibility to summarise the movement of waste and effectively communicate results to key stakeholders. Canadian-based Geovia was acquired by three-dimensional software developers Dassault Systèmes in 2012.

Scheduling savings POLARIS Metals has saved its Carina project unnecessary capital expenditure by using Evorelution software to plan ahead. The open-pit mine scheduling software was used by Carina’s superintendent of technical services Craig Harris to examine scheduling options for two potential production rates. “Before engaging Evorelution this year,

30 AMM November 2013

we were under the impression we would require a fleet of 16 trucks and four diggers to achieve our production targets for the next 12 months,” Harris explained. The Evorelution software revealed that the project needed just 13 trucks and three diggers, saving the company unnecessary expenditure. “The savings to us was the most

significant benefit,” he said. “The software also generated haulage routes, a waste dump development plan and provided both short-term and life-of-mine planning for the project using the same data set. “It’s capable of handling a lot more variables and parameters in a much shorter space of time than traditional software,” Harris added.

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MINING SOFTWARE

The Atlas Copco Kiosk app.

Atlas at your fingertips EQuIpMEnT manufacturer Atlas Copco has launched a new mobile application for its compressor business that provides users with instant access to product information and calculation tools. Compatible with iOS and Android tablets as well as pC and Mac computers, the app is free to download and available in several languages.

The app includes an energy savings calculation tool that allows users to input their current energy costs per kilowatt hour to determine power use. They can then cost differences between traditional fixed-speed compressors and Atlas’s new range of GA VSD+ compressors. Interactive leaflets containing product information and specifications are also

available through the app, accompanied by 360 degree animations. Atlas products detailed in the leaflets include oil-injected rotary screw compressors, compressed air filters, nitrogen and oxygen generators, and vacuum pumps. Once downloaded, all leaflets and the calculator tool can be accessed offline, with notifications of new published versions.

Staying on Trak RAY Gudgeon and Associates has given its ToolTrakka software a complete facelift with the latest Microsoft technology in its Version 7 release. The ToolTrakka software solution allows organisations to track the whereabouts of tools, equipment and consumables issued to employees, jobs or to third party contractors. With the latest version, RGA says it has revised the software’s user interface to make it more accessible and efficient. In a significant accessibility update, the software now supports MS Access and SQL Server data base backends,. which makes the product capable of supporting multiple tool stores and allows centralised management of all of an organisation’s tools over wide area networks. Other new features include drag-and-drop clothing and consumable ordering, and Test and Tag management. The software also has the ability to store

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The ToolTrakka.

documents or images associated with any tool and display them on demand. It can also record store locations for all items.

RGA is based in Campbelltown, southwestern Sydney. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 31


MINING SOFTWARE

Up to speed Prepare operators for the minesite before they even put on their steel-cap boots with CAT Simulators’ articulated truck system.

F

ew would argue that it’s better, cheaper and safer to make mistakes in a simulator than on a working mine site. Dump trucks are huge machines. They can tip easily if an operator doesn’t know what they’re doing. Caterpillar has developed simulator software that trains operators how to drive their dump trucks – and how not to drive them. The latest offering from CAT’s simulation licensee Simformation is suitable for both mining and construction projects. Set in a construction environment, the simulator adequately prepares operators to use the equipment, combining authentic Caterpillar dump truck controls with simulated applications.

Simformation president Ken Pflederer said the group had many requests over the past couple of years to develop an articulated truck simulator. “The actual machine itself is a beast,” Pflederer explained. “Drivers can tip the truck easily if they don’t know the correct operations. This affects production, maintenance costs, insurance costs, potential fines and more.” As well as having an open training mode, the articulated truck simulator teaches control familiarisation, how to perform a machine walk around, driving, hauling, braking, two loading methods, unloading and full production cycle. Like other CAT simulators, the articulated truck is fitted with SimU Campus software

The new CAT articulated truck simulator from Simformation.

that records and reports all teaching sessions to instructors to allow progress to be tracked. Hundreds of benchmarks based on real Caterpillar operators are included in the system, with the operator’s performance measured against them. Pflederer said allowing operators to learn the same production applications found on actual worksites helped alleviate many of the issues associated with tipping and driving such a large piece of equipment. “Using the simulator system for training gets the operators up to speed before they drive the actual trucks and have an accident,” Pflederer added. Bonus features of the new system inlude companion iPad training and an available motion platform.

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Out with the old MSSO improves flexibility MINTEC has released an improved version of its MineSight Schedule Optimizer that allows a more flexible approach to scheduling. The MSSO determines the most productive mining sequence to achieve the highest project profitability and then generates practical short to medium term project schedules. In the updated Version 7.5, Mintec has included a non-fallible scheduling option that will automatically relax some constraints to get a solution when no initial solution can be obtained.

Selected constraints can be applied or copied to any period of the operator’s choosing, Melbourne-based Mintec said. Also added is the ability to vary stockpile reclaim cost and mill processing costs and selling price by destination, by material and by period. MSSO has undergone considerable upgrades over the past year and now features an improved calculation engine and a more user-friendly graphic interface among other things.

MSSO offers a clear and effective way to report equipment fleet usage.

PERTH-based industrial technology solutions provider Intellect Systems has been awarded an electrical and control systems upgrade contract at a BHP Billiton iron ore mine. Lend Lease Services, an infrastructure management group, appointed Intellect Systems to replace part of the ageing MOSCAD telemetry control system at the Mount Whaleback mine in Newman, Western Australia. Intellect Systems added that it will be specifically replacing the V18 Bore Switchboard. The scope of work will include engineering design services, software development and commissioning, Intellect Systems said. “We are delighted to be able to carry out this work for Lend Lease and ultimately BHP Billiton,” Intellect’s managing director Jason Monzu said. The company has had previous experience working on similar infrastructure projects in the Pilbara region, including commissioning and optimisation works for a number of reclaimers, stackers and shiploaders recently delivered to a prominent international OEM supplier there. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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Newcrest shake-up Changes in the boardroom at Newcrest Mining. By MiningNews.net editor Kristie Batten

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old producer Newcrest Mining has announced the retirement of chairman Don Mercer while appointing a successor to chief executive Greg Robinson, who is expected to leave the company in the second half of next year. The company has appointed chemical engineer and former Pacific Aluminium CEO Sandeep Biswas as chief operating officer and executive director from January 1, 2014. Biswas is expected to succeed Robinson in the second half of 2014. “After eight years with Newcrest as CEO and previously chief financial officer, it is time to ensure there is an organised succession for the CEO role, with a successor who is committed to delivering the company’s longterm strategic objectives,” Robinson said. “Sandeep has a highly successful operations

and management background across multiple commodities. “His skills and background will assist Newcrest to deliver the high performance outcomes we expect from our existing operations, and progress the strong development opportunities in our asset portfolio.” Meanwhile, 72-year-old Mercer will step down as chairman in December, with August appointee Peter Hay his replacement. Mercer said he had indicated to the board earlier this year that he would retire, prompting the appointment of directors Hay and Philip Aiken. “Peter Hay is an extremely experienced and capable director, whose skills and intellect will help lead Newcrest into the next stage of its development as a major gold producer,” he said.

Hay is a member of the Takeovers Panel, chairman of Lazard and a director of ANZ. “Newcrest is a company with great assets, a talented and committed workforce and is well-positioned Newcrest CEO Greg Robinson. for the future, having completed its major expansion projects,” Hay said. “However, in view of volatile market conditions, the board will continue to ensure that the corporate strategy, asset portfolio, operating strategy and balance sheet remain appropriate, assessing all options to enhance shareholder value.” editorial@miningmonthly.com

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Innovation from necessity An Australian contractor has created a “revolutionary” product for drill and blast safety. By Vetti Kakulas

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io Tinto’s Western Turner Syncline mine was experiencing a “challenging” contour at its drilling site. Located in the Pilbara, Rio wanted to improve safety and productivity at its iron ore mine, so it enlisted the help of Action Drill & Blast. ADB was asked to create a safer working environment for Rio’s workers and use the best form of transport to carry its ammonium nitrate fuel oil – a bulk explosive. It had to eliminate the use of buckets and allow the recording of charge weights per hole to comply with legislative requirements. Consequently, ADB developed the ANFO Hopper, which is described as an engineering innovation for drill and blast projects.

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Developing early benches can be challenging.

ADB’s ANFO Hopper is an attachment for its stemming loaders when operating on contours. In conjunction with manufacturer International Explosives Equipment and the WA Department of Minerals and Energy, ADB assembled its brief for the construction of the ANFO Hopper. The ANFO Hopper has a 1.5-2 tonne carrying capacity, 100kg per minute delivery capacity and hitch and quick release couplings for integrated tool carriers on either side of the attachment. ADB said its product could improve record keeping of explosives and increase productivity through faster mobile processing unit turnaround. Additionally, tight areas that are difficult to access can be loaded with the hopper.

“The ANFO Hopper reduces manual handling and facilitates the continuous loading of explosives.” – ADB operations manager Paul Guthrie

ADB operations manager Paul Guthrie said the ANFO Hopper ensured Rio’s project was completed safely, efficiently and within budget. “The ANFO Hopper reduces manual handling and facilitates the continuous loading of explosives,” Guthrie said. “While the bomb truck is reloading from the explosives facility, which can be far away,

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the hopper enables blast work to continue, greatly increasing productivity. It has made a huge improvement to our safety and productivity performance.” Rio Tinto Western Turner superintendent Mark Lanyon said the ANFO Hopper was a revolution for drill and blast safety. “A drill and blast operation is an extremely hazardous environment which requires strict safety standards and procedures,” he said. “This innovation has now set the benchmark in safety best practice. Its capability to improve operating efficiency is also a bonus.” Contouring produces the greatest risks for drill and blast operators in open cut mine developments. Drilling issues can be resolved with specialised drills, specific procedures and greater attention to drill pattern clean-up. However, mitigating blasting risks presents many challenges. “The shot crew must physically walk contours of up to 20 degrees and of uncertain footing to prime, load, stem and tie in the shot,” Guthrie added. “Simultaneously, the crew is carrying boxes of explosives, detonators and buckets of ANFO. “The manual handling risks associated with this activity are enormous and this task is among those with the greatest potential for minesite injuries.” A reduction of manhandled loads by the crew can be controlled by reducing container sizes and allowable limits. But Guthrie said this sequence could increase the number of trips required and increase potential injury for miners.

Less staff are needed using the ANFO Hopper.

“While the blasting accessories can be carried to the hole in manageable loads, the delivery of bulk explosives to the hole has always been an issue,” he said. Pumpable bulk explosives delivered through a 40m hose can resolve some problems but commercial issues and availability can prevent its use. Manually handling a lengthy hose can also be risky, particularly if it is filled with explosives and used on an unsteady slope. Mining and civil contractor NRW awarded its subsidiary ADB the drill and blast contract. The $257 million contract is for civil works and bulk earthworks at two Western Turner sites. ADB is providing Rio Tinto with a full service, including drill and blast design, drilling of multiple diameter blastholes, loading and firing and sampling. The ANFO Hopper is used by drill and blast operations nationwide. ADB has a head office in Perth and another regional office in Rockhampton, Queensland. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 37


DRILL & BLAST

Biggest is better Sandvik Mining says it has launched the world’s largest top hammer rock drill.

S

andvik Mining’s new RD2045C hydraulic rock top hammer goes deeper, harder and longer to boost drilling capacity, increase efficiency and improve blast fragmentation. It was designed specially for Sandvik’s Next Generation Pantera DP2000 top hammer drill rig, and combines hammer drilling with lower operating costs for working at surface. Product manager Jukka Naapuri said Sandvik Mining used state-of-the-art simulation technology to develop the RD2045C. “The end result is another industry-leading rock drill concept, combining Sandvik’s years of experience with its proven rock drill design philosophy,” Naapuri said. The rock drill incorporates two rotation motors that deliver a maximum 4800 newton-

38 AMM November 2013

metres of rotation torque, ensuring smooth rotation and optimal energy transfer. Sandvik’s largest top hammer rock drill has 45kW of power and features a new ST94127 tube-drilling system for 152-178mm diameter blastholes. Its chassis is based on three main body modules tied together with four short side bolts, along with two moving parts in the percussion mechanism. “For the first time on the market, RD2045C introduces a closed-loop shank lubrication system for surface drills,” Naapuri said. “This environmentally friendly closed-loop lubrication technology is an example of how Sandvik successfully integrates environment, health and safety in its product design.” For drilling work, Sandvik has designed the Pantera DP2000 and Pantera DI6400, used for

Sandvik Mining’s new DI6400 platform for downhole drilling jobs.

top hammer and down-the-hole respectively. The Pantera D16400 is designed for 115203mm diameter blastholes up to 45m deep, while the DP2000 can drill 152-178mm holes 36m deep. Sandvik said the Pantera range delivered increased drilling capacity, lower fuel consumption, improved safety as well as a fresh new design. Designed for wall control, pit development and production drilling in open pit mines, the Pantera products share the same platform, control system and automation infrastructure. The Pantera DI6400 will be available before the end of the year and the top hammer DP2000 will be released in 2014. Sandvik’s headquarters are in Amsterdam, Holland. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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DRILL & BLAST

Drilling through the pain A Queensland drilling specialist speaks about the savage impact of the coal downturn and how his business is adapting.

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HERE’S nothing like the pressurecooker environment of a resources sector downturn to bring out the best in our more entrepreneurialminded companies. WDS Energy Drilling and Completions general manager Declan Rooney believes that pressure on Australian coal companies is sparking greater innovation within local service industries. The mining business landscape is undergoing enormous change due to cost pressures. “Australia’s coal industry is doing it tough and controlling costs is a top priority, but there is a silver lining,” Rooney said. “Miners are looking for integrated suppliers in a highly competitive market, so service industries and contractors are becoming more efficient and productive.”

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From a drilling perspective, one of the biggest challenges WDS has experienced is the downturn in the coal mining industry. Consequently, some of its client’s projects have been postponed and other projects that are going ahead have needed to reduce their project’s scale. Rooney said: “It’s changing the business model slightly so that we can be more flexible and work with the clients. We also need to reduce our costs as much as we can.” WDS clients are predominantly NSW and Queensland coal miners. “The drilling service we provide is niche,” Rooney added. “It’s highly skilled. We don’t focus on exploration, but the production side of projects. We drain the gas from the mines so they can produce from the longwall.”

The Aussie drilling market is exctremely competitive today, so WDS is focusing on controlling costs. Communication is vital for WDS, so it is working closely with clients with advice on how to perform tasks more efficiently while still producing a high-quality product. An addition to WDS is its Earth to Energy concept, which offers a whole suite of ‘worldclass’ services and new drilling technologies – including a seismic service. “Our drilling business works closely with other parts of the WDS group providing pipelines, fabrication, gas drainage and field services to make sure we can offer our customers a one-stop shop,” operations manager Doug Henderson said. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 41


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Ausdrill managing director Ron Sayers and team.

Billion dollar year Drill and blast specialist Ausdrill has celebrated more than $1.12 billion of sales revenue for the 2013 financial year.

M

ining services company Ausdrill was pleased to post its second consecutive year of revenue in excess of $1 billion. Sales revenue of $1.12 billion was up 6.6%, although there was a decrease in earnings due to the slowdown of mining activities in Australia and Africa. Profit after tax was $90.4 million – down 19.4%. Ausdrill managing director Ron Sayers said it had been a tough year for commodity prices. “This has resulted in many mining companies cancelling or significantly reducing spend on exploration and capital expenditure programs, revising production schedules for ore and waste volumes and deferring all non-essential expenditure as much as possible,” he said. “Ausdrill has in turn experienced lower profitability due to lower profits from the exploration and equipment sales, hire and parts businesses, which accounted for 19.5% of group revenues. “Our focus on the production phase of the mining cycle provided a solid base for the business in 2013.” Ausdrill said it would continue pursuing a strategy of providing a complete mining service solution to the mining industry. Highlights of Ausdrill’s financial year include works commencing on its largest contract for Resolute Mining in east Africa. The client has a project at Syama in Mali and the contract involves load and haul, drill and blast, grade control drilling and crusher feed and rehabilitation services. Gold mining at Syama commenced in September 2012 and is expected to be completed in August 2017. Ausdrill said conditions in Mali remained stable for the operations, post-election. Additionally, Ausdrill’s connector drilling fleet has expanded to 12, with three additional rig suites being added for FY14. The environment for mining services companies remains competitive and Ausdrill believes it is likely to become even more competitive beyond FY14, with exploration activity showing no sign of improving. Ausdrill’s head office is in Perth, Western Australia. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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DRILL & BLAST

Early advantage Blasting is one of the first stages of mining, which is why it’s important it remains efficient and on schedule to support production levels.

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eica Geosystems Mining believes a key aspect to improve production efficiencies, from mine to mill, can be tracked to how effective blasting operations are managed. Historically, mining companies would blast without an accurate drill and blast process, although companies now understand how important this process is to improve overall efficiencies. To help improve blasting operations, Leica Geosystems has devloped a high-precision guidance product, Leica J2drill, which helps drill and blast engineers and operators with the process. The J2drill provides instant feedback via its onboard computer in the cabin and at the dispatch centre.

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It was designed to ensure the best decisions were made before they affected operations. Leica Geosystems product manager Brendon Lilly said several different areas contributed to blasting inefficiencies. “Irregular hole placement can cause poor fragmentation, which results in difficult digging for the loading equipment and increased processing time at the mill,” he said. “Inaccurate depths can result in uneven benches. A misunderstanding of how hard the ground is can lead to a poor choice of explosive product for a particular blast.” Newmont Mining is using the J2drill for blasting at its Boddington gold mine in Boddington, southern Western Australia. The J2drill has system settings to improve blast efficiencies, including navigation,

Newmont’s Boddington gold mine is using Leica Geosystems Mining’s J2drill.

production, consumables, time utilisation, hardness, reporting and support. Founded in Switzerland, Leica Geosystems has an Australian head office in Brisbane and another office in Perth. Leica Geosystems is part of the Hexagon Group, Sweden. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Performance enhancer Nalco Australia promises to improve process control and monitoring with its latest program. By Vetti Kakulas

M

ost gold and precious metal producers aim to maximise output and eliminate costly downturns to operations. With this in mind, processing provider Nalco Australia has developed a new technology that will improve plant availability. Based in Sydney, Nalco said it has improved its scale control product range following a series of upgrades to its anti-scale portfolio. The company will introduce a three-step program with improved chemistry and application technology, as well as advances in process control and monitoring. Dubbed the ScaleGuard, the anti-scalant compounds were created following Nalco’s merger with water and energy technologies company Ecolab. ScaleGuard is said to be more cost-effective,

with laboratory and site testing revealing up to 20% less of the new compounds are required to achieve the same level of protection. The molecular architecture of the existing anti-scalants has been adjusted to improve operational efficiency with performance enhancements including inhibition, crystal modification and dispersion. Global mining and mineral processing product manager Nik Zwaneveld said this step was impacting the company’s tailored approach to anti-scalant chemistry toward water chemistry, process and stress factors. “Changes to application technology have spurred advances in product feed and monitoring equipment, particularly around treatment rates and deposition rates, with the aim of consistent performance and cost minimisation,” he said.

Nalco’s new chemistry and technology reduces scale and improves plant availability.

“Process control and monitoring improvements will include changes to chemistry monitoring, analytical support and troubleshooting.” vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Wear-resistant

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Partners forged in steel A common goal and approach to business prompted Bisalloy Steel and Davies Wear Plate Systems to begin a cooperative relationship. By Alison Middleton

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teel plate manufacturer Bisalloy Steel and wear plate systems manufacturer Davies Wear Plate Systems have struck a partnership deal. The companies agreed to work together,

50 AMM November 2013

amid growing demand for wear plate technology. Staff at both companies have begun working together, undertaking cross-promotional activities, while business development and

sales personnel carry out joint visits to mining clients. As mining companies seek to reduce maintenance costs, production downtime and reduce capital expenditure, the partnership

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aims to increase awareness of the products and services available through Bisalloy and Davies. Joint activities are also being carried out between the technical and business development teams of both companies to develop and deliver products to the industry. Bisalloy is the preferred material choice of Davies, while Bisalloy recommends the benefits of the Davies wear solution products to mining customers. While both Davies and Bisalloy will continue to operate as separate businesses, the companies said the partnership was a collaborative effort aimed at offering Australian mining operations exactly what they needed.

Davies’ wear plate systems are based around the bolting design, which are principally used in fixed plant applications such as hoppers, chutes and ore bins. Using a bolt head shape, the design does not require a countersunk hole to be drilled, as it fits into a tapered hole that is the entire depth of the plate and sits flush with the plate surface to eliminate premature wear. As Davies supplied more of its systems onto the market, the company said it had created a new-found demand for the materials within Australia and manufacturers and distributors had increased their stocking and production of harder grades of plate. Bisalloy is Australia’s only manufacturer of quenched and tempered steel plate. The

Davies’ EzyLock and WearSense systems were installed at FMG’s Firetail and Kings Valley mines as part of the Solomon iron ore project in the Pilbara, using Bisplate 500 and cast liners wear liner material.

company is known for its Bisplate range, which is traditionally used by equipment manufacturers for dump truck bodies, wear liners and mining buckets. Its latest product, Bisplate 600, has a 600 Brinell hardness level and is the hardest steel produced by Bisalloy. Having reworked their strategy in recent years, Bisalloy is looking to not just manufacture and supply a commodity but to offer engineered solutions to end users. Davies Wear Plate System projects manager Campbell Anderson said he was pleased with the closer relationship it now had with Bisalloy. “It has been refreshing to see a steel producer look at the bigger picture – how their product will be processed and installed – and actually respond to what is missing in the market,” he said. “For years, companies have just been looking to improve the hardness or composition of the plate and not consider the attachment methods, installation issues or processing implications for the material. “Bisalloy doesn’t only deal with their distributors but also the processors and the end users to thoroughly understand what the market needs. “It was great to see them identify our systems and accomplishments as being in line with their own strategy and that working together is the best way to deliver the most beneficial outcome for all of our clients.”

“Working together is the best way to deliver the most beneficial outcome for all of our clients.” – Campbell Anderson Both companies said they shared a common goal and approach to business, making the recent collaboration “a logical decision” with the aim of delivering reliable, local manufacture and supply of marketleading, cost-effective wear systems, which was supported by readily accessible technical expertise. Bisalloy product applications engineer Justin Suwart added: “Our customers no longer want to just purchase any wear material at any cost, as long as it is available. “Now they are looking for a fit-for-purpose wear product that provides the best return over the life of the equipment. “This is something that Bisalloy Steels is well-positioned to assist with. “We have an experienced and dedicated team, coupled with the fact that we are local, which allows us to be more attentive to the special needs of our customers’ applications.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

www.miningmonthly.com

November 2013 AMM 51


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3D digital approach Development time on one manufacturer’s wear products will speed up thanks to 3D printing.

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eech Australia will use 3D printers to design and develop a range of new ground engaging tools from digital models. The company already designs and supplies a range of ground engaging tools for heavy machinery such as excavators, shovels, loaders and draglines. Keech also supplies GET components for mining procedures, including the Keech cast lip system, adaptors, points and shrouds. But increasing demand from miners has prompted the company to investigate the use of 3D printing technology. Keech Australia CEO Herbert Hermens said: “The affordability and speed offered by 3D printing technology opens up a world of opportunities to move ideas from concept stage to fully functional prototypes.

52 AMM November 2013

“It’s clear that companies such as Keech are competing in a global environment and that means that we need to adapt our products faster, and to design for a broader range of machines and specifications.” The printers will produce hard-wearing polymer products. They will be operated by Keech subsidiary BDM 3D Technologies. BDM was awarded a $141,700 grant by the Victorian Department of State Development, Business and Innovations Investment in Manufacturing Innovation Fund to buy a 3D printer. Following an additional investment of $430,000, three 3D printers are scheduled to be running by Christmas. This means BDM will be the first company in Central Victoria to make large format 3D printing commercially available. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

BPM 3D Technologies business manager Doug Baird and Minister for Manufacturing David Hodgett with a fully automated contact scanning system used during the 3D printing process. Watching on are Keech Australia director Garth Keech and CEO Herbert Hermens.

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Now for the world The Australian mining industry is crucial to MTG successfully going global. By Alison Middleton MTG’s hammerless system.

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ear product materials manufacturer MTG has set its sights on expansion, driven by demand from the Australian resources industry. The company, which specialises in teeth, adapters, shrouds and locking elements for earth-moving machinery, plans to release more products over the next couple of years while devoting the next five to mining equipment. Tooth-adapter systems specially designed to boost the productivity of excavators, loaders, shovels and lip and wing shrouds are proving popular with companies that replace and remove wear parts on Australian mine sites. The Spanish company said its hammerless system was one of its biggest product assets, thanks to the speed and extra

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safety provided when replacing or removing wear parts onsite. MTG product manager Joan Cesar Galobardes said: “We have an ambitious global expansion plan and right now we are being consolidated in some markets with upcoming heavy mining orders, in territories like Australia and Chile. “MTG’s target for the next five years is completely focused on mining and we are expanding our current range of products plus developing several new ones. “Our whole team is focusing on this and this year we are inaugurating an additional factory in Spain that will produce exclusively MTG’s mining range of Ground Engaging Tools, especially the biggest sizes, which will allow us to meet up the demand of current and potential clients.”

Galobardes said an amazing volume of new launches were planned for the next two years, with products for draglines, front shovels and electrical cable shovels becoming available. With growing demand from the Australian market, MTG has been careful to take the local environment into account when developing GETs to improve the life of buckets, blades and other components. “A key factor is the type, the abrasiveness and the condition of the terrain,” Galobardes said. “We use different steels based on the product nature itself and in some cases, based on the application. “In some specific applications and products, we use tungsten carbide and other materials to extend the life of teeth.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 55


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Beware of fakes Swedish Steel AB has stepped up measures to protect its intellectual property. By Tess Ingram The SSAB Hardox wear plate.

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wedish Steel AB has made brand protection “a real priority” after a number of false Hardox wear plates were identified in the Asia Pacific

region. SSAB APAC general sales manager Shane Gleeson said the company had really stepped up its efforts in the region to protect its intellectual property and branding over the last 18 months. “It’s happening all the time, so we actually have a brand protection manager now who is based in Shanghai,” Gleeson said. “They chase down copied brands and parts, as well as people who are saying that their product is Hardox when it actually isn’t.” He said due to Hardox’s strong position in the wear plate market, more and more

trademark infringements had been found in many countries, especially in China. “The interesting thing is we generally pick them up or identify them from reports of a product not working. We receive complaints that the product is faulty, so we send out our technical managers who discover that it actually isn’t our plate,” Gleeson said. He said while he understood this was the reality of working in a global market, it was very frustrating and could cause serious safety and cost problems for customers. “It is disappointing for us when we have put so much work and effort into establishing a quality brand and supporting it and then you have these cheap knock-offs appearing around the place. It’s very frustrating,” Gleeson said.

As well as false Hardox plates, the company’s brand protection unit is also pursuing the incorrect use of its branding. “There are some data sheets floating around the Australian market right now which refer to our product being equivalent to other people’s product – and they aren’t,” he said. “We will be pursuing those as well.” SSAB said in a June statement that it was committed to pursuing legal action against any of the infringers. As of the end of September, Gleeson added, 49 serious breaches of Hardox brand abuse, either copied or fake plates, were being pursued by the company. “It’s become a real priority for us. We need to protect our customers,” Gleeson said. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 57


MINING BRIEF

Another iron in the fire Western Australia’s economy has much to celebrate after the opening of another mine. By Vetti Kakulas

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A Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion has opened Atlas Iron’s fourth mine in the northern Pilbara. The Abydos iron ore mine, 130km southeast of Port Hedland, will ramp up its production rate to 2-3 million tonnes per annum. This target will help Atlas Iron achieve its production guidance of 9.8-10.3Mt for 2013 and further grow the company’s cashflow. Abydos is an integral part of Atlas Iron’s Horizon I Growth Strategy portfolio. Managing director Ken Brinsden said the Abydos mine further strengthened Horizon I’s production base while giving it a greater diversity of ore sources. “Abydos is our fourth mine since the start of operations in late 2008, which is

a remarkable achievement and a credit to our staff, contractors and all of our service providers,” he said. The project has created 150 jobs to date. It’s been a good year for the opening of new mining projects in WA. Other WA operations to officially open mines this year include Sandfire Resources with its DeGrussa copper-gold mine, Norton Goldfields and its Enterprise mine, and Fortescue Metals Group’s Firetail iron ore mine. As well as officially opening Abydos, Marmion and Atlas Iron chairman David Flanagan visited the producer’s Mt Webber site for a ceremonial groundbreaking. The mid-tier mining company has a corporate office in Perth. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Atlas Iron non-executive chairman David Flanagan and Minister for Mines Bill Marmion cut the ribbon to officially open Abydos.

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58 AMM November 2013

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Engineering & Construction

PROUDLY sPOnsOReD bY


ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION

Aboriginal support Aboriginal communities and businesses rarely support mining on their land, which is why engineering company Brierty has a focus on providing Australia’s indigenous people with jobs and support. By Vetti Kakulas

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ining companies are realising the importance of forging strong relationships with Aboriginal communities ... and this has never been more apparent than in the past 12 months. Fortescue Metals Group’s announcement that it had awarded $1 billion of contracts to indigenous businesses dominated headlines across the nation recently. And Rio Tinto awarded more than $1 billion in Aboriginal joint venture and direct business contracts for its Pilbara expansion projects last year.

BHP Billiton recently announced a new Reconciliation Action Plan for 2013-15 to strengthen its relationship with Aboriginal communities and support their businesses. Adding to the list of philanthropic companies is civil and mining contractor Brierty, which recently announced a joint venture with Karlayura Construction services. The Brierty Karlayura joint venture will pursue civil and mining infrastructure works, including bulk earthworks, road and rail works, pavement construction and maintenance, dewatering, rehabilitation and utility services.

Brierty managing director Peter McBain said the joint venture was important in achieving his company’s indigenous engagement vision and crucial to its Reconciliation Action Plan. The deal will allow Brierty clients to engage an Aboriginal contracting company with strong staff representation on traditional Pilbara lands. McBain said while indigenous companies did not particularly support mining, they accepted it would happen. “They see mining as damaging. So a real cultural fit is doing rehabilitation, turning the

Brierty celebrated National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week in 2012 with mining equipment painted with Aboriginal artwork.

60 AMM November 2013

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Karlayura managing director Brian Tucker shakes hands with Brierty MD Peter McBain.

country that has been disturbed by mining and infrastructure activities back to its original state,” he said. “It’s about the healing process. We’re targeting maintenance and rehabilitation works. “Karlayura is a company in its infancy and its needs a big brother, someone who can work with it to help develop its business operating systems and administration systems.” Karlayura managing director Brian Tucker added: “As an elder of the Bunjima and Nyiyaparli people in the Pilbara, finding the right joint venture business partner is very important to the success and sustainable future for local Aboriginal businesses in the Pilbara. “The Brierty Karlayura joint venture will provide Karlayura with the capability, business mentoring and support required from day one.” Brierty plans to provide valuable employment and training opportunities for Tucker’s people. “They’re a young group, so we formed the joint venture to look at getting work together,” McBain added. Brierty’s standard contracts include projects worth $10-20 million, although the Brierty Karlayura joint venture was a ‘vehicle’

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“Indigenous companies see mining as damaging. So a real cultural fit is doing rehabilitation, turning the country that has been disturbed by mining and infrastructure activities back to its original state.” – Peter McBain that could work on $600,000 to $1 million projects for FMG, Rio, BHP and other heavy hitters in the region. McBain said the smaller mining projects would give Brierty a chance to develop Karlayura’s staff and business systems. Christine Sindely was recently made Aboriginal engagement manager, with a focus on mentoring, recruitment and retention of staff. “As an Aboriginal person observing the joint venture, the process has been very respectful,” she said. “There’s no overwhelming or pushy behaviour. “We have to ask if they’re ready to take the next step, otherwise you scare people off.” In addition, Brierty formed a joint venture with the Ngarluma Yindjbarndi Foundation, ongoing for the past 18 months. The joint venture is working on Rio Tinto’s Wickham accommodation project.

And while business was going well, McBain said it had softened from a year ago. “The iron ore shock of September 2012 has slowed things down a bit,” he said. “There’s a reasonable amount of tender activity coming into the current financial year. “But we also know we have to be adaptable. We would like to refocus on training younger people and to do that, you need really good mentors.” While Tucker is based in Onslow, his personnel work from Brierty’s office in Perth. Brierty, established in 1981, said it had always supported Aboriginal employment. Founder Alan Brierty has always been a big supporter of indigenous communities. In fact, he was one of the founding contributors to Clontarf Aboriginal College, in Perth. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 61


ENGINEERING & CONSTRUCTION

Project Pilbara Rio Tinto has awarded Monadelphous Group a $235 million construction contract at its project in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

A

ustralian engineering group Monadelphous will undertake works for Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert Port B project. The contract includes structural, mechanical and piping works for the supply and installation of a screenhouse, two car dumpers and associated conveyor, as well as transfer stations. Rio Tinto operates an integrated network of 14 iron ore mines, three port facilities and a 1400km rail network in the ore-rich region. The $235 million construction contract follows other recently completed works at Cape Lambert, including a screenhouse and car dumper installation. Once commissioned, Rio Tinto’s iron ore capacity across its mine, rail and port operations in the Pilbara will reach 290 million tonnes per annum. Rio Tinto said the expansion was the largest integrated mining project in Australia. Contract works are expected to be finished by this time next year. Monadelphous managing director Rob Velletri said the contract win built on its longterm relationship with Rio. “We look forward to the successful delivery of other larger-scale projects, which continues our extensive support for Rio Tinto in the expansion and maintenance of its Pilbara iron ore operations over many years,” Velletri said. The contract will support solid sales

The first shipment recently left Rio’s B wharf.

revenue momentum into the new financial year.” Rio Tinto awarded the contract in the same week it reached a key milestone in its iron ore growth plans, loading the first shipment of ore from the enlarged operations. That

shipment, 165,000t of Pilbara blend fines bound for Tokyo, set off from the new port. WA Premier Colin Barnett officially opened the new facility last month. Monadelphous’ head office is in Perth, with another office in Brisbane.

Ultimate birthday gift ENGENIUM has celebrated its 10-year anniversary by opening the ultimate birthday gift - a new office in the Pilbara. The project delivery company says its second Western Australian office will up its interaction and response levels for clients with projects in the Pilbara. “Through our Pilbara office we will be able to respond daily to the needs of our clients,” managing director Wayne Peel said. “This includes having personnel attend a client meeting or conduct a site visit at short notice. The office will also act as a central hub for all our staff working in the Pilbara.” Clients include Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton,

62 AMM November 2013

Fortescue Metals Group, Atlas Iron and a plethora of junior explorers. The office will be managed by a team of people who are widely experienced in the industrial and mining industries. In addition, Engenium has expanded its project delivery in Africa through a strategic partnership with South African company ULS Mineral Resource Projects. Peel said the partnership would assist Perth-based resource companies transition their Australian studies into operations. “It’s always a challenge to establish a mine on another continent and in Africa, it’s made harder due to logistical, political and socio economic factors,” Peel added.

“By offering this kind of partnership to Australian resource companies, we aim to make the transition easier for them.” ULS has an extensive project footprint in Africa, having undertaken hundreds of mining and processing projects in more than 20 of its nations. The company has offices in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Engenium said it had an established reputation for turning explorers into producers. Its key services are project management, multi-disciplined engineering, procurement and construction management services. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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D IE AR E R AW S E ING THNN I W

Arltunga police station, Northern Territory.

Join Ron Berryman on his first visit to the Northern Territory, as he continues exploring Australian Mining Towns. First stop on his epic journey is the historic gold mining township of Arltunga. *Ron Berryman, winner of the 2013 AMEC (Association Of Mining And Exploration Companies) Print Journalism (Magazine) Award for Australian Mining Towns.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

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AUSTRALIAN

MINING TOWNS


Preserved: Arltunga House.

Arid centre. Golden glow Few of Australia’s mining pioneers could have had it as tough as those who mined the first gold in the Northern Territory. Ron Berryman retraces the path they took.

I

t was quite an experience, visiting and exploring the historic gold mining township of Arltunga. Located 110km northeast of Alice Springs, the goldfield holds a special place in Australian mining history but not necessarily for the quantity or quality of the gold produced there. Arltunga was the first town established in Central Australia and was at least partly responsible for the creation of a settlement at a place that later became Alice Springs. Its location in one of the remotest regions in Australia places it very high on my list of historic Australian mining towns to visit in the early planning for these features. I was not disappointed. There is something intrinsically exciting about the extraordinary way in which our great country was opened up by explorers and prospectors travelling across inhospitable terrain to realise their dreams of fame, fortune, or a bit of both.

Each successive state or territory seems to offer its own set of difficult conditions for man and beast to conquer. Many became part of the diggings in remote corners of Australia, some as miners, some as traders, some barely eking out a living and others interred too soon in the ground they tried so desperately to tame. Arltunga today is a charming, if remote and dry, historic precinct that has been carefully maintained and restored by the Northern Territory government, featuring myriad walks through old mining sites displaying a range of ruins. These include residential and government structures, mining and processing machinery, mines, wells, alluvial diggings, claim markers, roads, stores and cemeteries. Each major site has a marker with information available on the particular walk, how difficult it is, how long it is likely to take and what part it played in the Arltunga story. For such a remote location it showed

that a little effort by authorities can protect important parts of our history, unlike many parts of Australia where both the physical and factual elements of our past are gradually being eroded by time, the elements, vandals and apathy. Arltunga’s physical history includes Paddy’s Rockhole, government buildings, the old police station and lock-up, the Joker mine (be prepared for a 150m vertical climb), MacDonnell Range Reef mine, the Golden Chance mine, the Great Western mine and the Crossroads and White Range cemeteries. The Arltunga story basically started when South Australian explorer and surveyor David Lindsay passed through the area on a five-week trek from Port Darwin to the SA coast in 1887 and spent time examining the MacDonnell Ranges. He observed what he thought to be rubies in the sandy bed of the Hale River in a gorge to the east of Arltunga, now known as Ruby

1933: the town of Stuart was renamed Alice Springs.

66 AMM November 2013

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AUSTRALIAN MINING TOWNS | NORTHERN TERRITORY

There is something intrinsically exciting about the extraordinary way in which our great country was opened up by explorers and prospectors travelling across inhospitable terrain to realise their dreams of fame, fortune, or a bit of both. Gap, which led to a short-lived gemstone rush until it was discovered they were garnets. However, the arrival of prospectors in the area encouraged further exploration and the discovery of gold in 1887 at a site called Paddy’s Rockhole changed the game. By 1888, something like 18 gold-bearing reefs had been discovered, with miners using hand-operated dry blowers to separate gold from creek sands and gravel, or dug into the soft schist rock to extract the gold-bearing quartz for crushing. The rush was on, although the cards were stacked against Australia’s remotest and toughest gold find from the start. Drought ridden, a lack of ground water, difficult rocky terrain and patchy gold, the region was also plagued by the tyranny of distance. Supplies, when they arrived, were from Oodnadatta – some 800km south – and were not only often late but the haulage was expensive with horse and camel teams taking between six and 10 weeks to complete the journey. Mining equipment, including tools and ore buckets, clothes and bulk foods all required storage capacity with fresh food at a premium in an arid and rocky environment in the MacDonnell Ranges. But amazingly, some were able to make something out of what little they had. Kate Holmes, in a report for the Australian Historical Archaeology in 1989, pointed out that the lack of water and poor soils made market gardening almost impossible. “It seems that a Chinese market gardener visited the goldfield from Alice Springs, possibly during the 1890s and almost certainly in the early 1900s. The need for such fresh foods was well known but the price of such items would have been high.” She also reported the existence of a unique wind tunnel, which was discovered during excavation and cleverly adapted for use by the miners. “The site was identified as the store before fieldwork began and excavation confirmed this function. Its features were a comparative lack of artefacts, the large storage capacity in the timber structure and the smaller, wellbuilt stone structure cooled by the wind tunnel. This neat attempt at passive cooling is one of the most significant expressions of local attempts to cope with the high summer temperatures experienced at Arltunga and

is another indication of the importance of perishable food items on the goldfield.” However, conditions were extreme and, with meagre returns for effort by 1890, the field was dying, with less than 30 miners working claims. The SA government (under whose jurisdiction the territory belonged until 1911) tried hard to assist the struggling goldfield and appointed geologist HYL Brown to visit the area. He inspected the near deserted field in mid-1890 and found a lack of water and equipment meant that many of the miners had to improvise, some even using hollow logs to sluice their diggings. His report to the government indicated that the goldfield had no future unless the water and machinery problems could be solved. It was another five years before the government decided to provide machinery and plant support, giving increased impetus to the field. The government 10-stamper battery, steam

engine and cyanide works arrived at Arltunga in 1896 after an epic trip from Oodnadatta, then had to be dismantled and relocated when a well supplying water to the steam engine ran dry. While the battery was well received, it did not prove to be very reliable and in 1901 it suffered a major breakdown when the boiler burst. Repairs took six months to remedy. Miners were unable to treat their ore for months and had to live on credit, placing pressure on the local store and other suppliers. The discovery of the White Range gold mine by Henry Luce helped ignite some interest. But it was the Winneckie Depot discovery in 1903 that helped save Arltunga at the time, attracting several hundred newcomers to the area. In 1905, a township was surveyed at the crossroads and it became the commercial centre of Arltunga, with a well, store and a hotel. However, activity on the field was waning and as gold became harder to get, the miners moved on. The battery kept the town active until 1916. Despite covering an area of almost 40sq.km, the goldfield was of minor interest in terms of population and gold production. In 1911, the population was 56 and by 1933 it had fallen to 25. The White Range mine was reopened in the 1950s for a period and there are still murmurings of possible mining by several companies.

Shaft: Joker mine at Arltunga.

1911: population of Arltunga = 56. By 1933, it had fallen to 25.

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November 2013 AMM 67


Joker mine, Arltunga.

No self-respecting goldfield can exist without some act that brings fame or notoriety and Arltunga was no exception. The timing and location of the goldfield wasn’t lost on those who followed the accounts of Lasseter’s Reef and wondered if it may have been Arltunga that Harold Lasseter passed through when he found his alleged gold specimens on his way west. That scenario was highly unlikely. More likely was the supposition that press reports on spectacular finds in Central Australia, especially the Paddy’s Goose fiasco at Winneckie and White Range, may have come to his attention and provided him with some information to embellish his story.

In fact, Lasseter was committed to a reformatory in Pakenham, Victoria, in 1896 for some burglaries committed in Colac according to Murray Hubbard, author of The Search for Harold Lasseter. He apparently arrived at the reformatory in 1896, aged about 17 and absconded in October 1897, making any connection with Arltunga prior to this time highly unlikely. However, gold spoke all languages in the 1900s and the discoveries at Arltunga were instrumental in the SA government’s decision to lay out a town on the banks of the Todd River and proclaim the town of Stuart (now Alice Springs). The original townsite was 6km up the Todd River from Heavitree Gap where

the first permanent police presence in Central Australia was established in April 1886, more than a decade before the police station at Arltunga. It was closed in 1909 and prisoners removed to Stuart where a police station and gaol had been constructed. The town of Stuart was proclaimed the administrative capital of Central Australia in February 1927 and that same year the railway extension from Oodnadatta to Stuart was surveyed by David Douglas Smith and was finally connected in 1929 thanks to renewed speculation in Arltunga. On August 30, 1933, the name of Stuart was changed to Alice Springs. editorial@aspermont.com

1896: the government 10-stamper battery, steam engine and cyanide works arrive at Arltunga.

68 AMM November 2013

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AUSTRALIAN MINING TOWNS | NORTHERN TERRITORY

Connecting Australia In an age of smartphones and GPS, the humble telegraph has been technologically irrelevant for quite some time. But in the 1870s, it held the key to unlocking the Northern Territory’s wealth.

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he construction of the Overland Telegraph from Adelaide to Darwin in 1872 was not only one of the greatest Australian engineering achievements of the 19th century but it unlocked previously hidden treasures in Australia’s newest territory. Irrespective of the importance of linking communication to England through the submarine cable that ended at Java, it introduced Australia to land and opportunities in the central and northern regions of the country. Under the direction of Charles Todd, the South Australian government agreed to build a 3200km overland telegraph line connecting Darwin with Port Augusta, if the BritishAustralian Telegraph Company would lay a submarine cable from Java to Darwin. The building of this line over a period of only two years opened up the Northern Territory, speeded up settlement and the growth of pastoral and other industries. One of the unintentional side effects in the building of this line was the discovery of gold deposits at Yam Creek, Sandy Creek, Pine Creek and many other sites. During construction, posthole diggers discovered traces of gold at Pine Creek and this led to the gold rush of 1871, which caused gold fever, speculation and the formation of hundreds of gold mining companies during the early 1870s. The first major gold discovery at Pine Creek, about 250km south of Darwin, led to an influx of southern settlers and, more significantly, large numbers of Chinese immigrants. Historian David Carment noted that Chinese miners ultimately outnumbered white miners by seven to one, although South Australia’s Chinese Restriction Act 1868 was intended to limit the numbers of Chinese immigrants to the territory. Pine Creek became a busy little mining town with about 200 Europeans and as many as 4000 Chinese working the goldfields in 1885. In 1897, gold was discovered at Arltunga, 110km east of Alice Springs. Other mineral discoveries during this period included copper at Pine Creek in 1872; Daly River, southwest of Darwin in 1882;

Connecting a country: the humble telegraph.

mica at Harts Range, 215km northeast of Alice Springs in 1892; tin at Mount Wells and also near Pine Creek in 1898; and wolfram at Hatches Creek, between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, in 1892. The Commonwealth Archives state that in 1902 the government established smelting works just outside of Palmerston (Darwin), at a place known as 2.5 Mile. One year later, the works were relocated to Daly River to assist with the mining of copper. But by 1908 they had closed down. Despite the discoveries and despite the government’s high hopes for the industry, there were few mining successes during the

South Australian era. Conditions on the goldfields and in the mines were harsh. The distance from settlements, remoteness, the vagaries of the seasons, high prices for goods and services, and fluctuating metal prices all combined to limit the effectiveness of the mining industry. While the government gave considerable encouragement to the industry with the construction of batteries and plants – by 1911, there were 14 batteries and six cyanide plants in the territory – only two mines were producing anything of value, gold from Pine Creek and tin from Mount Wells. editorial@miningmonthly.com

1872: Overland telegraph from Adelaide to Darwin is established.

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November 2013 AMM 69


AUSTRALIAN MINING TOWNS | NORTHERN TERRITORY

Rumble in the Jungle Rum Jungle produced military-grade uranium in the 1950s. For a time, it provided swimmers with the only crocodile-free body of water in the Darwin region. Ron Berryman investigates.

Rum Jungle lake: Crocodile-free swimming or uranium mine?

R

um Jungle is an interesting place. Apart from its unusual name, it was Australia’s first large-scale uranium mine producing the metal or the American and British nuclear weapons program from 1954 to 1971. That alone gave it more than a modicum of notoriety and certainly made it interesting from a historical point of view. Even more interesting is the name. The surrounding terrain is not exactly a jungle, more like native bushland in a tropical climate. But if local legend is to be believed, Rum Rumble might have better fitted the incident that was the catalyst for the name. Rum Jungle is in the Northern Territory, about 65km south of Darwin on the East Finniss River. It was discovered in 1949 by a local prospector, Jack White, and developed to produce uranium, copper and lead in 1950-58. It was reputedly named following an incident in 1871, with the title given to a

nearby creek that was the scene of a battle between rival bullock teams who met there . One was outward bound hauling a load of rum, the other homeward bound and parched. The prize was possession of the cargo of rum kegs. But there is little information on which side toasted victory once the dust settled, although historic reports say that the celebrations lasted a week. Initially, the Rum Jungle uranium deposit was planned as an underground mine. However, exploration revealed unstable ground conditions, and mining switched to open cut from three locations at White’s, Dyson’s and Rum Jungle Creek South. As well as uranium, the mine also produced a small amount of copper, sourced mainly from the additional, intermediate open cut mine. The project was owned by the Australian government, through the Australian Atomic Energy Commission at the time, and operated under contract by a former Rio Tinto

subsidiary, Territory Enterprises Pty Ltd. Rum Jungle’s economic geology was based on sulphide ores and a system was used to allow the sulphides to oxidise in the tropical climate. Despite the potential for pollution from this process, the project went ahead mainly due to its political and military importance. The mine operated in 1954 to 1971 and from conversations I had with locals from the nearby township of Batchelor, it appears to be something they would like to forget rather than a significant part of their past. Batchelor was a private mining town built in 1954 that was designed in an octagonal shape. It set a high standard for mining housing and community amenities, becoming a model on how mining companies could provide comfortable and attractive towns for employees. Batchelor is a lush, green, respectable township today, deriving its income primarily from tourism because of its proximity to the popular Litchfield National Park.

1949: Rum Jungle is discovered by local prospector Jack White, producing uranium, copper and lead.

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November 2013 AMM 71


AUSTRALIAN MINING TOWNS | NORTHERN TERRITORY

A visit to one of the Rum Jungle sites provided an immediate image of a project well and truly under wraps, although some locals say it is under care and maintenance until commodity prices improve, when it will be reopened and mined principally for cobalt. It is securely fenced off with security signs, but there is little indication of the current leaseholders of the property. Sydney-based Compass Resources Limited holds tenure over some of the old mines. In December 2001, Compass lodged a referral for a proposed development of a large-scale mining project at the Brown’s site that would produce lead, cobalt, copper, nickel and silver over a project life of at least 15 years. The company suspended its work on the polymetallic proposal in 2002 when low metal prices caused the withdrawal of Compass’s financial partner. However in 2005, it lodged another application for a much smaller project focusing on cobalt, nickel and copper mining. Pending final Commonwealth approval, the project was set to be in production by early 2007.

But like many smaller listed companies, the financial economic crisis did not help Compass and it has struggled to recover. In January 2009, the company went into administration/receivership, only to emerge in November 2011. The hiccup caused the Brown’s sulphide project to be shelved, apart from some limited resource definition drilling and metallurgical test work. Compass emerged from administration with the project jointly funded by HNC (Australia) Resources, a subsidiary of Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation (HNM). HNM was established as a joint stock company in the People’s Republic of China in 2005 and was listed on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong in 2006. It is the largest producer of cemented carbides, zinc and antimony in China, as well as a major producer of lead, silver, indium, tantalum and niobium. In January, Compass entered into a financial agreement with HNC and its parent and is now struggling to meet its repayment obligations. Payments were deferred from November 2012 until April 2013.

On May 10 this year, Compass signed a “Patience Letter” with the Chinese companies further delaying the debt repayment. To add to its woes, the company reported that it had suffered a net loss of $6.1 million to June 30, compared to $4m for the same time last year. It has since failed to pay its annual listing fees for the current financial year to the Australian Securities Commission and been removed from the official list. A quarterly report released by Compass in March stated that the Brown’s sulphide project comprised a large polymetallic ore body that “leading Australian-based engineering firm Ausenco” was commissioned to undertake a prefeasibility study of the open pit onsite processing model. Ausenco is in turn owned by HNC. The draft PFS projected unacceptably high capital costs associated with complex technical processing issues and it was decided that a scoping study would be conducted to look at a new approach to the ore body. The people of Batchelor may well be waiting some time for an alternative source of employment for the town.

On the outside looking in: Rum Jungle.

1954 – 1971: Rum Jungle produced uranium for the UK and US nuclear weapons programmes.

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Rum Jungle: the mine manager’s house.

However, the real problem facing any restart mining at Rum Jungle lies in the rehabilitation of the old uranium mines. One of the principal issues with rehabilitating the Rum Jungle Creek South open cut was that the area was converted to a lake after mining ceased. As the only crocodile-free water body in the Darwin region, the site quickly became very popular with locals and Darwin residents as a recreation reserve. The mine area was reportedly characterised by high external gamma levels, alpharadioactive dust and significant levels of radon daughters in prevailing air with worrying levels of radioactivity. An initial attempt to clean up Rum Jungle was made in 1977. This led to the establishment of a working group to examine more comprehensive rehabilitation, financed by a $16.2 million commonwealth-funded program initiated in 1983-88, followed by a supplementary $1.8m program to improve Rum Jungle Creek South waste dumps in 1990-91. In 2003, a government survey of the tailings piles at Rum Jungle found that capping, which was supposed to help contain radioactive waste for at least 100 years, had failed. In October 2009, the federal and Northern Territory governments entered into a four-year, $7.05m National Partnership Agreement on the management of the former Rum Jungle Mine site to undertake various studies for the development of an updated

Batchelor is a lush, green, respectable township today, deriving its income primarily from tourism because of its proximity to the popular Litchfield National Park. rehabilitation strategy, which could lead to future rehabilitation works. The studies were completed after about three years. In November 2010, the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve was closed due to lowlevel radiation in the area. In August of this year, then-federal Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray, with NT Mines and Energy Minister Willem Westra van Holthe, announced that the Australian government had allocated a further $14.5m to accelerate work on the rehabilitation of the former Rum Jungle mine. “The commonwealth will provide an additional $14.5 million over the next three years to continue work on a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for the site,” Gray said. “It is our intention to create a landscape that is safe for people and wildlife and significantly reduces contaminant loads downstream of the site. “This work has the support of traditional Aboriginal owners and it will go a long way towards resolving the outstanding land claim.” Westra van Holthe welcomed the decision to take the next step towards full rehabilitation of legacy issues at the former uranium mine,

following the development of a conceptual plan by the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy. “The minerals and energy sectors are an important part of our economy, but industry must realise the community and government expects and demands the best possible environmental performance from the commencement of the operation through to post-closure of the site,” he said. During its operation, the mine produced apbout 3500 tonnes of uranium oxide, 20,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and smaller quantities of nickel and lead. The minister said the national benefit from Rum Jungle was substantial, through its contribution to the Northern Territory’s development, and provided useful lessons and experience in mining in monsoonal conditions. Gray stressed that the future of Australia’s mining industry was dependent on the legacy it left after mining finished. This has become more of a key issue in recent years for mining companies across the country. editorial@miningmonthly.com • In the December edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly: Australian Mining Towns – Western Australia

1977: Attempts are made to clean up radioactivity levels at Rum Jungle.

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November 2013 AMM 73


MINING BRIEF

Nickel’s best hope Western Australian developer Poseidon Nickel believes the commodity’s price outlook offers hope to the sector. By Tess Ingram

T

he nickel price forecast remains the “best-looking metals commodity price” in the world, says Poseidon Nickel chief executive David Singleton. While short-term nickel prospects might not be bright, they would undoubtedly improve in time, he told a recent nickel conference in Perth. “The dynamics of this metal in the world is one of the best-looking stories in the medium term,” he said, adding that a longer-term outlook predicted a 49% price rise. “There is no other metal that comes near that, although nickel can expect some price point pressure in the short term, coming off the market difficulties remnant from the 2008 global financial crisis.” WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion also used the conference to acknowledge nickel’s bumpy ride, but gave Poseidon a shout out for its exploration success in the state. “The last couple of years have been particularly difficult for the sector,” Marmion said. “But despite the obvious difficulties, it hasn’t been all bad. In recent times, we have seen nickel at the forefront of a number of exploration successes.”

David Singleton: Poseidon Nickel.

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“Western Areas, Hannans Reward, Rox Resources, Poseidon Nickel and BHP Billiton have all announced major upgrades or discoveries in Western Australia this year.” Poseidon is developing the historic Windarra nickel project in West Australia’s Goldfields, northeast of Kalgoorlie. The Windarra deposit was discovered in 1969 and triggered a nickel boom in the 1970s with the promise of a new supply boosting shares in the company from $1.16 a share to more than $280 in a matter of months. However, by the time Poseidon started producing nickel, the price had fallen and the ore was a lower grade than originally thought. In 1976, Poseidon was delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange and in the early 1990s, the mine was shut down. Now Poseidon rises again, with sixth months of extensive drilling completed in July, confirming an increase in Mt Windarra’s reserves and resources. First production for the $197 million, 9600 tonne per annum operation is scheduled to coincide with projected supply shortfalls for nickel in 2015. “All our documentation for offtake and mine financing is now ready,” added Singleton. “Our estimated operating costs of $US3.35 per pound mean Windarra is a project ready to implement. “All permits are in place and current and being a brownfields development, it presents as low risk.” He said he was confident the financing would be secured by the beginning of next year, with “construction to start almost instantly”. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

MINESITE VEHICLE

Holden Colorado 7

Minesite vehicles make up the support fleet that keeps a healthy site ticking over. Australia’s Mining Monthly slips behind the wheel of the Holden Colorado 7.


MINESITE VEHICLE

4x4, Holden-style.

Holden back on the wagon The Colorado 7 is the first genuine seven-seat four-wheel-drive wagon from Holden in about a decade. It offers the serious off-road credentials of the more established Colorado utility with improved passenger comfort and seating versatility. Michael Cairnduff put the vehicle to the test

I

t has been a long time between drinks for Holden in terms of having a serious off-road wagon in its line-up, but if popularity alone is an indicator of success, the Colorado 7 appears to be fitting the bill for loyalists. In fact, you need to go back to the popular Jackaroo, which discontinued in 2003, to find the last offering of a true four-wheel-drive wagon with decent clearance and a low-range transfer case. The Colorado 7 is, of course, a wagon

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variant of the popular Holden Colorado utility range, which Australia’s Mining Monthly put to the test a few months back. Readers may recall we dubbed it a solid all-rounder with a strong drive train. Although this method of product development offers some advantages, not the least of which is cost-effectiveness, it also sees some limitations to the form and function that attracts buyers to traditional seven-seat four-wheel-drive wagons. On this front, I personally thought that

Holden could have put another 30cm on the overall length of the Colorado 7 to make it more than just an occasional seven-seater. It looked like it finished abruptly at the rear, which detracted from the aggressive stance and stature achieved by the utility version. The Colorado 7 is not alone here and let’s face it, it is not trying to compete with the likes of the Toyota Prado, but it is competitive with the other ute-based four-wheel drive wagons on the market such as the Mitsubishi Challenger and Nissan Pathfinder.

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MINESITE VEHICLE

AMM tested the top-of-the-range LTZ version, which was extremely well-appointed for a car in this class and helped shake off some of the preconception that you were perhaps just driving a dressed up commercial vehicle. The fruit on the LTX included 18-inch alloy wheels, leather appointed seats, climate control, projector headlamps, LED tail lamps, and power fold mirrors. The rugged underpinning of the Colorado 7 does deliver to the overall package. It is a genuine option for commercial and industrial fleet buyers looking to add a tough and versatile wagon its portfolio – as you will see illustrated on these pages, the Colorado 7 scrubs up alright in mining specification. The vehicle also shares its safety credentials with its crew cab stablemate, which is recognised with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating. Colorado’s robust structural design is backed by a comprehensive array of safety features including electronic stability control, dual front airbags and full-length curtain airbags that extend to the third row. The one powertrain and transmission combination available is the 2.8-litre diesel engine with 6-speed automatic transmission, which is standard on both LT and LTZ. The Duramax diesel engine achieves 132kW power and 470Nm of torque.

Spacious: The Colorado 7’s rear seats fold flat.

Colorado 7’s chassis has been engineered independently of the Colorado ute and was biased towards passenger comfort, according to Holden, which pointed out that while both models shared an independent doublewishbone front suspension, Colorado 7 featured a five-link, live axle rear-suspension

configuration, unique to the SUV, and coil springs front and rear. The vehicle’s off-road performance is underpinned by a part-time four-wheeldrive system with low and high-ratio gears, shift-on-the-fly, a limited-slip differential and hill-descent control.

Interior view.

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November 2013 AMM 77


MINESITE VEHICLE

Holden Colorado 7.

The high-tech diesel engine is designed to achieve a balance of load-carrying performance and fuel economy. It returns 9.4L per 100km and emits 252 grams of CO2 /km. Towing capacity is a respectable 3000kg, with its stable footprint and robust drivetrain

likely to cope alright with a heavy load on the back at highway speeds. We did not venture offroad with the Colorado 7 because we have previously given its mechanically similar cousins a good run in this area. We simply put it to use for a week in the

exact manner we imagined the majority of buyers would – mixed-suburban use, family load lugging, city commuting and the inevitable school run. It did all this with little fuss and proved a pleasant place to spend time on the road. editorial@miningmonthly.com

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MINING BRIEF

Prominent achievement When OZ Minerals was faced with its first simultaneous mill shutdown at its Prominent Hill operation in South Australia, it turned to Outotec for help with the daunting task. By Tess Ingram

E

xtended downtime is an unnerving prospect for any operation. So when the time came for the Prominent Hill copper and gold mine to shut down not one, but two mills for simultaneous relining, they needed specialist help. Minerals and metals processing technology providers Outotec’s specialised mill relining capabilities were called upon to tackle the challenge of the site’s first dual shutdown since the liners were installed in 2008. Taking both mills offline at the same time was a big task, but Outotec said its team managed to complete the removal and replacement of over 1200 parts with no harm to personnel, equipment or the environment. A team from Outotec’s services division said that a preliminary site audit extended the

initial scope of works from the replacement of only the shell lifters, feed-end lifters and plates and discharge grates on the SAG mill to include the replacement of all the shell plates, along with the discharge-end outer grates. The second mill, the Ball mill, also required feed-end outer and inner plates, as well as shell and discharge plates, to be replaced. A team of 56 worked to reduce relineincurred downtime, completing each mill in under 73 hours. There were challenges during the relining, including other maintenance scheduled during the shutdown causing high foot traffic and equipment congestion. “It was critical to ensure that strict safety standards were adhered to and a strong working relationship forged with mill staff

Outotec staff perform maintenance work at Prominent Hill.

and the other work forces onsite,” Outotec said. “This had proven results, in that the job was completed without incident or injury to the teams or equipment.” tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

If plant, equipment and mining infrastructure are not maintained properly, the risk of budget-sapping failure and breakdown spirals. Miners must regularly maintain their equipment and employ services teams to ensure their sites perform optimally around the clock. Equipment breakdowns hurt productivity and increase the risk of worker injury. Maintenance is essential.


MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

Safe equipment, safe miners An Australian law firm says equipment maintenance and management is critical to workplace health and safety. By Vetti Kakulas

M

ining companies and users of plant and equipment are constantly looking at ways of reducing costs and maintaining

productivity. However, it presents potential work health and safety risks, focusing on cost at the expense of asset integrity and personal safety. Thomsons Lawyers partner Karl Luke said owners, managers and operators of plant and equipment fleets needed to be fully aware of this. Based in Thomsons’ head office in Adelaide, South Australia, Luke said Australia’s WHS

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laws required management of plant and equipment to ensure there were no risks to the health and safety of miners. “This requires mining companies to undertake a risk management approach to asset integrity, including a cost benefit analysis that compares risks against costs,” he said. “Company directors and senior managers must exercise due diligence to ensure asset and people safety. Especially since directors and senior managers face individual criminal prosecution should cost-cutting result in safety incidents.”

Thomsons believes a risk management approach to asset integrity is important in a market downturn. Receiving the highest quality of assistance from suppliers is the best way to ensure effective maintenance planning and to mitigate asset failure and other safety incidents. Some issues to consider when altering original plant and equipment and using non-OEM parts are maintenance tolerances, engineering design, preserving warranty and machine performance. Many Australian and international safety incidents have resulted from deficiencies in

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MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE Australia’s work health and safety laws require management of plant and equipment to ensure there are no risks to the health and safety of miners.

“Proper maintenance planning will maintain or even increase productivity and ensure plant and equipment is free from risks to health and safety.” – Karl Luke ensuring the integrity of assets or from using inadequate systems to ensure this. Cost cutting can result in equipment failure, from deteriorating plant or poor selections of parts and components. Luke said careful investment in processes and procedures was required to optimise productivity and minimise unnecessary costs. “Proper maintenance planning will maintain or even increase productivity and ensure plant and equipment is free from risks to health and safety,” he said. “The design and expected behaviour of wear parts in equipment requires access to detailed information about the part’s integrity and likely performance across a range of operating conditions and applications.” Subsequently, extending the life of wear parts is an important element of asset management. Information about the design, maintenance and likely wear time is critical in a risk-based approach to maintenance planning. Without accurate information from

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suppliers, miners must conduct their own risk assessments of wear parts to plan maintenance and maintain asset integrity and personal safety. Original equipment manufacturers must ensure the plant, equipment and associated spare parts they supply are designed not to harm a miners’ health and safety. “Relying on technical information provided by OEMs is an efficient way of reducing the need for individual risk assessments, which would be necessary if using untested, nonOEM spare parts for maintenance,” Luke added. “Components with higher reliability, whether they are OEM or non-OEM, are preferable since reliability is closely linked to asset integrity and safety. “This is especially the case when a particular spare part is critical to the safety and efficient operation of a piece of plant or equipment.” Plant and equipment owners and operators must comply with WHS regulations and

Thomsons Lawyers partner Karl Luke.

Safe Work Australia’s code of practice for managing risks of plant in the workplace. WHS regulations state that maintenance of plant is carried out by the manufacturer’s recommendations, as well as emphasising the importance of inspection and maintenance of equipment and understanding wear part fatigue rates. Thomsons has other offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and employs more than 420 staff. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 83


MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

Using their Smarts

The Smart Marker has been used at Resolute Mining’s Ravenswood mine in Queensland.

An innovative product is helping a Queensland mining company maintain its ore recovery.

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MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

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racking ore specialist Elexon Mining has created a tool to help mining companies improve their underground operations. And Resolute Mining says the Smart Marker system has had a positive effect at its Ravenswood mining operation in northeast Queensland. The gold miner used the Smart Marker for sub-level shrinkage at its Mt Wright underground mine 95km southwest of Townsville. Sub-level shrinkage, which is similar to sub-level caving, is a mining method used for steep dips and large ore bodies underground. Smart Marker is a blast-resistant, long-life radio frequency identification device that is able to measure ore flow electronically in sublevel and block caving mining operations. Resolute senior mining engineer Stuart Long described the Smart Marker system as a window into sublevel shrinkage at its Mt Wright operation. Created by Elexon Mining, the technology has been used by Resolute for the past two years and has been very beneficial for the mining company. Elexon product manager Simon Steffen described it as the world’s first system for automated measuring of ore recovery and flow in cave mining.

It provides mines with information required to improve ore recovery, mining performance, identifies areas for improvement and tackles safety issues. The reader automatically detects, logs and time-stamps the Smart Markers as the devices are extracted with the ore on the production level. “Your mining production will not be interrupted by the Smart Marker detection,” Steffen said. “Ore recovery is then analysed to show mining performance, while identifying areas for improvement. “Every mine is different, which is why it is important to update and improve mining practices to suit the geotechnical conditions of a project. “The team at Resolute have been very innovative and proactive with the mining techniques they’ve been using.” One of the challenges encountered with sublevel shrinkage at Mt Wright is that you cannot see what is happening underground. Long said: “The Smart Marker system has enabled us to make improvements to our drill and blast activities, which has resulted in better ore recovery. “It has also enabled us to identify where we weren’t utilising drilling and explosives appropriately and to make improvements to get the best possible ore extraction results.”

Elexon Mining Smart Marker system for tracking ore underground.

To assist with the evaluation of the overdraw stage, the Smart Marker data, has been used to validate the cave modelling software. Long said using the cave modelling software with the Smart Marker data has provided a better insight into the mine and assisted with the extraction of the remaining ore. “The team at Elexon have also been great to work with and have been able to make further improvements for us when it was suggested,” he added. Elexon has a head office in Brisbane. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Miners install the Smart Marker system at Mt Wright underground mine.

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November 2013 AMM 85


MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

Simply clean Two products from Chemsearch have reduced the time and potential safety hazards associated with dismantling and cleaning mechanical parts. By Tess Ingram

I

ndustrial maintenance product manufacturer Chemsearch has developed a penetrating release agent and an environmentally friendly parts washing system. Chemsearch’s Yield release agent is designed to loosen rust from stuck metal parts, including bolts, without damaging the parts or threads. They were both trialled at the Esso natural gas plant in Longford, Victoria, recently. Esso Longford Crude Plant mechanical supervisor Matthew Henry used the product to disassemble and overhaul a GE Frame Three gas turbine and said he was pleased the task could be conducted without the need for hot work. “For past overhauls, we have needed hot

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work to assist us with the removal of bolts and in some cases to remove broken bolts we just couldn’t remove,” Henry said. “Since we have introduced Yield to our site it has made our job a lot safer. We are now able to remove all bolts in a timely manner without the need for exposing our team to hot work in our work environment.” Chemsearch marketing coordinator Stuart Dunlop said the Yield made work safer and easier. “It can be used for any sorts of mining applications,” Dunlop said. “We sell millions a year.” Once the engine was disassembled, Esso used another Chemsearch product to clean the individual parts. Chemsearch said that its Torrent system

The Chemsearch Torrent.

combined pressure, temperature and chemistry to clean parts five times faster than traditional cleaners. The fully enclosed unit protects the operator from direct contact with the cleaning solution, providing a safer working environment, and generated up to 12 times less hazardous waste by eliminating organic solvents. “The safety features of this unit are now our new standard,” Henry added. Chemsearch is a division of US-based NCH Corporation. Chemsearch’s Australian headquarters are in Sydney. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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Macmahon expansion Macmahon has expanded its maintenance services offerings to the Australian mining industry.

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ngineering and mining services company Macmahon has expanded its plant maintenance services, offering dedicated shutdown services for mining companies. With extensive experience in operating and maintaining fixed mining plant, Macmahon’s shutdown team adds to the company’s range of plant maintenance services. Other services include onsite maintenance and plant management support service for Macmahon’s fleet. Macmahon plant general manager Peter Truscott said his company’s additional capability would strengthen its complete plant maintenance solution for its clients. “Through our three workshop locations across Australia and our dedicated plant maintenance staff, Macmahon is able to offer an efficient and cost-effective option for our mining clients,” Truscott said. “The development of a dedicated shutdown services team was a response to the needs of our clients and has been highly successful during its initial period of operation. “The team works collaboratively with

88 AMM November 2013

“Through our three workshop locations across Australia and our dedicated plant maintenance staff, Macmahon is able to offer an efficient and cost-effective option for our mining clients.” – Peter Truscott clients to minimise potential disruptions and meet the needs of each project.” Macmahon’s shutdown maintenance management services include the maintenance of crushers and conveyors and the refurbishment of components, including train load-out chutes. Truscott said his company could offer customised component refurbishment, which is a distinct advantage for clients who are looking to maximise profitability in the current market conditions. “Our buying power and wide range of products ensures clients are provided with the best possible wear package for each application, therefore increasing wear life,” he said. “We are also able to provide clients with an

alternative to service exchange components from the original equipment manufacturers.” Macmahon’s shutdown services team is based at the “WAC” workshop in Perth, Western Australia – its main workshop facility and transport hub for domestic and international operations. International clients include surface and underground mining companies in New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Mongolia and Africa. The WAC workshop provides a “full circle” service for its external clients, offering a full strip and assess, condition report and plant refurbishment. Situated on 6000 square metres, the WAC workshop has enough undercover area to house rebuild, quarantine, sand blast and

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MINE & PLANT MAINTENANCE

Macmahon personnel outside the WAC workshop in Perth.

Inside the Perth WAC workshop.

paint, as well as providing a component workshop and warehouse store. Its undercover washdown facility can clean machinery to quarantine standard. Other Macmahon workshops are located in Nebo, central Queensland and Adelaide in South Australia, providing heavy equipment componentry refurbishment and maintenance for earthmoving, mining and construction machinery. Each workshop is capable of providing boiler making and fabrication work, including bucket and equipment attachment refurbishment, sand blasting and painting. Additionally, the workshops offer ongoing training for Macmahon’s plant maintenance employees. “Many of our plant maintenance employees began their career in Macmahon’s award winning apprenticeship and traineeship programs,” Truscott added. “We ensure every employee receives the right training to ensure continuous improvement of our service offering.” Along with a dedicated team at each workshop, Macmahon offers specialised support personnel and field service technicians to project sites nationwide. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 89


MINING BRIEF

Mining indigenous talent Two initiatives are helping indigenous workers in WA move up the career ladder. By Vetti Kakulas

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our scholarships for indigenous miners are being offered by The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia in partnership with the Australian Institute of Management WA. Aboriginal students undertaking AIM WA’s nationally accredited Certificate IV in Frontline Management will have the chance to take the next step toward a managerial role. CME chief executive officer Reg HowardSmith said the resources sector was proud of its commitment to indigenous training and employment. “The resources sector is proud to be the largest employer of indigenous people, making up about 4.2% of the sector’s workforce,” Howard-Smith said. “The scholarship program will help four

indigenous employees step into a managerial role within the companies they are working for, allowing them to fully realise their potential. “The program has been tailored specifically to meet the needs and learning styles of indigenous managers and supervisors, and there’s a strong emphasis on mentoring and learning in a culturally appropriate environment.” Additionally, Howard-Smith is encouraging CME member companies to discuss the program with their indigenous staff who are looking to further their career in the resources sector with a nationally recognised qualification. To be eligible, applicants must be currently employed in a team leader or supervisor role, and be employed by a CME member

BB-0403 LoosenMaterial.qxd_Layout 1 1/18/13 9:22 AM Page 1

Reg Howard-Smith.

organisation – including mining, oil and gas or service providers. The deadline for applications is November 22. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

MINESITE

ACCOMMODATION & CATERING

Minesite accommodation has been revolutionised in the past 15 years, predominantly due to increased employee expectations and competitive working conditions. This month’s feature will focus on new and innovative accommodation available to the miners – including a house that can be installed in 30 seconds.


MINESITE ACCOMMODATION & CATERING

Designer touch The MAC Services Group has created a unique dining experience for miners in New South Wales. By Vetti Kakulas

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he task was simple. Minesite accommodation specialist The MAC Services Group was asked to build an accommodation village for coal miners in the town of Boggabri, 346km northeast of Newcastle in New South Wales. MAC enlisted help from prominent interior designer Paul Kelly to help deliver the project. Kelly is renowned for his work on more than 150 luxury restaurants, bars and hotels across Australia. One of his most recent projects included designing two restaurants at The Star casino in Sydney. The Boggabri project description was to create a new dining experience for the town’s guests.

The project description was to create a new dining experience for Boggabri’s guests.

Kelly created the kitchen dining room design for miners and visitors to relax and unwind, with miners staying at the 508room village. MAC managing director Peter McCann said his Australian mining clients were increasingly looking for high-quality products to attract the best employees. “We wanted to create a custom-designed restaurant aimed at setting a new benchmark in an industry not known for its good looks,” McCann said. “Miners are becoming more discerning with their tastes and want to feel like they are dining out with friends in a bistro restaurant, not simply consuming their meals in a sterile staff room. “In an industry often characterised by its lack of attention to detail, our villages seek to create a home-away-from-home experience, offering a high-quality, healthy environment for guests.” Construction is still underway on the recently opened Boggabri village, with all stages of work set to be completed by the end of the year. Once completed, the village will provide MAC’s full suite of accommodation services including kitchen facilities, a fully equipped gym, a pool, landscaping, bus and car parking and WiFi. McCann said the flagship kitchen dining room project was part of his business’ plan to develop best in class amenities across its portfolio of villages in NSW, Queensland and Western Australia. “The MAC’s Boggabri village has been

The kitchen dining room in Boggabri, New South Wales.

built to the highest standard. The difference in the look and feel of our amenities, such as the kitchen dining room building, is an example of our gold standard service offering,” he said. “You won’t find anything else like it on the market.” Additionally, MAC’s Design Innovation Group is developing “innovative” design solutions for its existing products. To improve the experience and wellbeing of miners, DIG is reviewing ways to enhance bedroom design. The group hopes the new design will provide greater comfort and function, minimise worker fatigue and create a retreat for guests to relax and connect with family and friends. McCann added: “This is an exciting time for the business as we aim to expand our presence, pursue new opportunities and build on our service offering.” As well as the Boggabri village, MAC has 10 workforce accommodation villages across Australia, located in the Bowen Basin region of Queensland, northwestern NSW and Karratha and Kambalda in Western Australia. The MAC Services Group has offices in Brisbane and Perth as well as its head office in Sydney. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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MINESITE ACCOMMODATION & CATERING

Built in 30 seconds Easy and quick to install, a Melbourne company’s house designs are a boon for miners.

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solation, inadequate accommodation, poor diet and difficulties in accessing services are major concerns for fly-in, fly-out workers. A study by professional services provider KPMG revealed that 65% of the mining workforce is under the age of 49 and 50% of workers are Generation Y – born in the 1980s and onwards. Gen Y demographics expect their own bedrooms, bathrooms, high-speed broadband and Foxtel. With this in mind, JAYZ Building Solutions has launched its latest generation of SMART2 accommodation buildings, including the transportable Butterfly and InstantSlide models. JAYZ business development director Jackson Yin said the design of the models could address some of the key issues

InstantSlide house can be installed in less than a minute.

associated with a long distance commuter workforce, such as poor accommodation. “Our buildings are stylish, smart, flexible and attractive,” Yin said.

BGC Modular provides the full transportable building solution for regional clients, from simple accommodation and offices to mess halls and even entire villages. With a vertically integrated business model through supply via BGC’s manufacturing and services companies, BGC Modular offers cost effective and streamlined delivery of your transportable building needs. No matter where.

BUILDING INNOVATION

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“The Butterfly and InstantSlide houses provide outstanding living and working conditions in even the most remote locations.” JAYZ claims the InstantSlide model can be

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JAYZ Building Solutions’ Butterfly house can be installed in just a few hours.

An interior view of the Butterfly house, including six bedrooms and six ensuites.

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assembled in 30 seconds, using a touch of a button on a remote control. Developed with a fold-out design, the Butterfly models can be installed onsite in less than four hours with four workers. “These features will enable large-scale deployment of dwelling units to meet the demand for community housing needs quickly,” Yin said. Yin said his company’s products were contemporary, yet cost-effective. The Butterfly house can accommodate two to eight miners and is available in two sizes, 42 square metres or 82sq.m, while InstantSlide fits two to four – either 25sq.m or 50sq.m. JAYZ said its minesite accomodation can be easily transported in a 6m or 12m container nationwide. Upon arrival the houses can be expanded as a temporary or permanent home, or attached to existing buildings as an extension. The Butterfly and InstantSlide models are manufactured in the Fujian province of southern China, which is strategically located close to a port. “Thanks to the patented technologies, the container-based design helps save significant time and money for our clients during the transportation and onsite installation,” Yin said. The robust houses are designed to withstand severe weather conditions, including earthquakes up to 7.6 magnitude and cyclones rated to D2 – which is up to 270 kilometres per hour. JAYZ’s modular homes can be unloaded by forklift, self-discharging truck or a crane onsite. The container module is specifically designed for land transportation and is said to be easy to transport and reuse at various locations. Designed for a 50-year lifespan, JAYZ’s “environmentally friendly” buildings comply with the Australian building code and other electrical and plumbing standards. Recyclable panels are used to enhance the house’s lifecycle and onsite installation produces no waste or pollution, therefore conserving resource consumption and reducing the impact on the surrounding environment. The houses have a 6-Star energy rating and can include pre-installed bathrooms and kitchen cabinets and bamboo flooring on termite treated ply bases, which are set on structural steel subframes. Each unit has electrical hardwiring for lighting, television, internet and telephone, while including a hot water system and waste removal system. “JAYZ is proud of providing SMART2 dwellings to situations that call for a fast, flexible and cost-effective accommodation solution that is also tasteful and architecturally sophisticated,” Yin added. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 95


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MINESITE ACCOMMODATION & CATERING

Home grown One of Western Australia’s largest home builders is expanding a regional town for Rio Tinto’s operations. The Wickham housing expansion project in WA’s Pilbara region.

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GC Modular has signed an agreement with Rio Tinto to build 71 modular homes in Wickham, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The $25 million contract will assist with the mining company’s growing accommodation requirements for its Cape Lambert port expansions. BGC Modular’s residential houses include the Amethyst, the Emerald and the Ruby, which will be delivered to the site in stages – the first was delivered by BGC Transport in June. About 50 homes have already been delivered to the project site, which will be completed by the end of this year. BGC Modular general manager Lloyd

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Jenkins said costs had been kept to a minimum by contracting other BGC subsidiaries. “Around 75% of the materials used in the houses are manufactured and supplied by BGC companies, including BGC Plumbing, BGC Builders Supplies and BGC Commercial Windows,” he said. “It’s this vertical integration which ensures a continuous supply of materials and seamless flow of operation, allowing us to deliver the product on time and on budget.” Rio Tinto project manager David Giovannini said the housing would assist in transforming the town of Wickham, located 65km from Karratha, with a population of 2000 people. With the company’s target to produce 290 million tonnes per annum of iron ore from its Pilbara operations, Giovannini said in

order to support these volumes, Rio’s business infrastructure, including port, rail and towns, also needed to expand. “As a result, the population of Wickham will increase substantially and it’s our aim to attract a strong local workforce through the provision of quality housing, community and recreational facilities,” he said. “The collaborative approach with BGC Modular in the design and delivery of the modular housing is contributing to a contemporary and functional residential development.” Wickham’s homes are six star rated and energy efficient, using solar power and landscaped with native plants for water conservation. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 97


MINING BRIEF

Managing Safety Poor management is a major issue on Pilbara minesites, according to Western Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum. By Tess Ingram

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MP’s mine safety branch said it was cracking down on management and supervision at mine sites in the Pilbara region during September to help improve safety standards. The department’s inspector of mines, Craig Cullen, said poor management was a major issue that needed to be addressed, with two fundamental factors requiring immediate attention. “We will be making sure supervisors always have a presence onsite, and don’t simply sit in an office,” Cullen said. “Inspectors will also be ensuring all workers participate in the safety management processes of their company – that they are fully aware of the procedures and know

how to carry them out should there be an emergency. “You can have the best safety processes in the world, but it’s all useless if no one knows about them.” DMP said that from the incidents that occurred at Pilbara open pit mines over the 11 months from January 2011, 44% of those involving equipment were caused by operator error. About 12% were as a result of poor practice or planning. The department said that these accidents might not have happened if adequate supervisors were present. “There is a concern that with the current economic climate, there may be less time and money invested in supervision and management, which are necessary to ensure

Safety first: Mines in WA’s Pilbara region are under scrutiny.

safety systems are maintained, monitored and implemented,” Cullen added. “It isn’t just the fault of supervisors and managers however, everyone must play a part in making WA’s mining industry as safe as possible. “Companies must provide relevant training, support and mentoring, build teams, have clear communication and recruit the right people to ensure the best supervisors and managers are leading their teams.” DMP is expected to release a report containing its findings and recommendations by the beginning of November. The push to improve safety on mine sites in the region comes after the recent tragic death of a contractor at Fortescue Metal Group’s Christmas Creek mine. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

POWER GENERATION

Power generation is the life blood of any modern minesite, where it is used for communications, electricity, power plant operations and to drive construction forward. We take a look at some of the latest, safe and environmentally friendly power products that are available for miners.


POWER GENERATION

Australia’s ‘clean’ future Demand for renewable energy in the mining industry continues to grow.

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ustralia is considered to be one of the fastest-growing renewable energy users in the world. That’s according to the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics’ latest report, which revealed that renewables accounted for almost 10% of Australia’s total electricity generation in 2011-12. “Australia is making progress towards a cleaner energy future, but transforming the existing energy infrastructure will be an incremental process,” Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) chairman Greg Bourne said. “We see hybrid projects as a low-cost method to develop new, renewable energy solutions by using established infrastructure, hard and soft. “Existing fossil fuel sites offer many benefits for renewable energy projects, including

an existing community to provide energy workers, reduced costs due to availability of existing grid connections and transmission infrastructure.” Traditionally, energy in remote mining areas across Australia was supplied by fossil fuels, particularly diesel and natural gas. Bourne said Australia’s growing energy demand in off-grid areas, coupled with the high cost of liquid fuels, presented a timely opportunity to increase the uptake of renewable energy sources in mining areas. ARENA is commissioning a study to examine the potential for integrating renewable energy into existing power stations. The Regional Australia’s Renewable initiative aims to provide a portfolio of renewable solutions, such as hybrid systems in remote and regional areas. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

There’s a growing demand for solar panels at minesites throughout Australia.

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POWER GENERATION

Inete and HSI have created a solar powered water release point for environmental dams.

Sun power With the majority of minesites focusing on reducing operating costs, solar power solutions offer the mining industry a different option.

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lectrical engineering company Inete has released a green energy solution to the mining industry. Inete has joined forces with communications and network infrastructure specialist HIS to construct a solar powered water release point for an environmental dam. The innovative, environmentally friendly product can be remotely operated and is said to offer mining companies significant cost savings. Based in Brisbane, Inete electrical operations manager Jeff McKerihan said his team was extremely proud of the solution. “In partnership with HSI, we were able to deliver the project from start to finish, including design, manufacturing, installation and commissioning, without having to engage any other third parties,” he said. “This is a safe, reliable and efficient way to control water movement on minesites and as it is solar powered, it’s ideal for remote sites with no access to mains power.” Powering mining projects completely with solar energy can cut costs as it eliminates the need to run power lines to remote minesites. HSI director Jason Smith says it’s important for companies to know there are customised, environmentally sustainable solutions available. “With green energy technology and communications advancing rapidly, clients can enjoy tailor-made solutions virtually anywhere,” he said.

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HSI and Inete’s solution has built-in redundancy, with dual radio communication and SMS services, as well as excess capacity in the battery banks to ensure extended longevity. Its solar panels and batteries are large enough to provide minesites with several days of autonomous operation, even in extreme weather conditions. Designed with a supervisory control and data acquisition interface, the system can be operated remotely through its wireless network connectivity. “Even when it isn’t possible to get to the minesite, the operator can still see a full overview of what is happening and control the equipment,” McKerihan added. HSI offers installation and maintenance of its environmental monitoring stations, which can be semi or fully automated when connected to the required monitoring stations. Although if a client requires semiautomation, they can still upgrade to a full automation solution. The system is fully scalable, so additional functionality or system integration can be added easily – such as CCTV or meteorological sensors. With safety a main priority for miners, the product’s extra low voltage, solar and battery solution, at 24 volts direct current, ensures electrical risks are minimised. Besides solar powered solutions, Inete

Solar power is an efficient way to control water movement on a minesite.

specialises in fixed and mobile mining asset project management, including relocation, shutdown, overhaul, maintenance and commissioning. Inete said all of its products focused on energy efficiency and reducing the impact on a minesite’s surrounding environment. Other projects Inete has worked on include constructing a large excavator shovel for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s Blackwater mine, near Moranbah, in central Queensland. Inete has commissioned various projects throughout Queensland, along with constructing and executing shutdowns on dragline equipment. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 101


POWER GENERATION

Safety for life Global power generation company Aggreko has launched its latest range for the Australian mining industry.

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afety in the mining industry is paramount, especially when using workplace equipment – which is why temporary power generation provider Aggreko believes equipment suppliers need to focus more on safety. While incident and fatality figures have significantly decreased over the past years, Aggreko still believes safety can improve. Each state has safety legislations that are adhered to but suppliers can also play a role in ensuring minesites are safe places to work. With this in mind, Aggreko has launched a range of specialised generators that can provide safer and more environmentally friendly practices for minesites. The UK-based firm’s rental “mine safe” fleet is similar to its “rig safe” fleet for offshore oil and gas platforms.

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Aggreko Australia-Pacific operational managing director George Whyte said a lack of power availability resulted in hazardous environments. “As a generator specialist, we at Aggreko pride ourselves on ensuring our fleet is engineered for supreme safety, particularly in industries like mining where people can be exposed to hazards in their day-to-day tasks,” Whyte said. “Quality, health, safety and environment programs are vital to the successful running of any international company – especially Aggreko, who install and operate electrical generation and distribution equipment in remote environments which sometimes lack the most basic infrastructure. “The philosophy followed by Aggreko is ‘Safety for life’ – a guiding principle

Aggreko Australia-Pacific operational managing director George Whyte.

that defines the culture of our company in everything we do. This philosophy is epitomised by the new ‘mine safe’ fleet of generators we have launched.” One of the key safety features of the mine safe fleet is the bunded wall, which acts as a secondary containment system and protects the environment from chemical or fuel spills. To prevent electrical hazards onsite, the generators include an additional number of internal and external safety features. Whyte said constant upgrades and improvements on workplace equipment would allow the mining industry to become a safe and informed workforce. Aggreko operates on more than 300 Australian minesites and performs safety audits and assessments at each site. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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POWER GENERATION

Sumo strength Want a mine-spec distribution board that packs a punch and carries like a briefcase? Read on. By Vetti Kakulas

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edstar Equipment’s latest electrical distribution board and Denyo generators for prime fixed and mobile procedures get the business

done. The Sumo Jumbo range of distribution boards was designed to provide mine specification electrical distribution capability. Sumo can be driven from mains or generator power and be cascaded or daisy-chained together. “The Sumo Jumbo boards combine stateof-the-art functionality and performance with superior safety standards compliance,” Redstar national sales manager Paul Sass said. “This model includes three-phase and single-phase outlets, all residual-current device and miniature circuit breaker protected, with a main isolating switch for overall protection,” Manufactured using European electrical components, the boards are assembled in Australia. Sumo distribution boards include lightweight alloy tie-off rails, which can be used as certified lift points allowing the units to be moved around site by hand, forklift or crane.

Sass said the Sumo Jumbo’s portability was further enhanced by its briefcase-style design. Designed in conjunction with Redstar engineers, Denyo’s new Series II generators are said to offer significant cost and efficiency benefits for prime power procedures, including remote mine sites and accommodation facilities. “Denyo and Redstar have built a 10-year association, resulting in a generator product that is famous for its reliability, efficiency and ability to withstand the harshest Australian conditions,” Sass added. “We’ve deployed Denyo generators, running 24/7, over multi-year periods in extreme weathers, from 50C in the Pilbara to snow regions in NSW, Tasmania and Victoria.” Redstar said it could upgrade older Denyo products with mine-specification features including 110% bunding, emergency stop buttons, three-way fuel valves and auto cutout switches on access doors. The 110% refers to regulations requiring a holding capacity of 110%. Sumo Jumbo joins the existing Redstar Sumo range, which includes Sumo Half Squat and Squat.

Sumo Jumbo electrical distribution board.

A Super Jumbo board is expected to join the range next year. Redstar’s head office is in Brisbane, with one other operation in Perth. As well as representing Denyo generators, Redstar said it can offer all the capabilities of a one-stop-shop provider. Services include in-house engineering, electrical, mechanical and fabrication capabilities, and a variety of customisation and modifications to suit any specification. Redstar stocks a range of spare parts backed by service vehicles and technicians, who are able to cover emergency breakdowns and repairs 365 days a year. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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November 2013 AMM 103


MINING BRIEF

No more duplication Australian explorers have been handed a solution to the lengthy duplication process. By Tess Ingram

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he Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum has doubled the time frame for companies to complete exploration

works. New rules have increased the validity period of programs of work from two to four years in an attempt to reduce duplication from the system.

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“Automation makes mining safer“

WA’s decision follows feedback from stakeholders and a December extension that saw PoWs increased from one to two years. “This will improve efficiency and reduce duplication for the resources industry, while at the same time ensuring strict environmental standards,” Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion said. The Minister said the changes would also create efficiencies for the department by reducing the number of PoWs requiring annual review, with a whopping 1160 PoW applications received in the first two quarters of 2013 and 2596 applications recorded in total during 2012. Constant calls from the industry have bemoaned the fact that companies had to endure duplicated and inefficient regulatory approvals processes, with significant jurisdictional overlap. Less tangles of green and red tape have been requested and in response, many jurisdictions have initiated efforts to streamline bureaucratic processes in the resources industry, including the Queensland government’s recent decision to reduce the wait time for approvals for coal and minerals exploration in Queensland. The government’s overhaul, which has been applauded by the Australian Mines and Metals Association, means that general exploration permits will be ruled on within 90 days of application. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

MACHINE GUIDANCE

The role of machine guidance technology in Australia’s resources industry is increasing as mining companies seek to use more reliable and accurate positioning signals. Designed to have high precision capabilities, machine guidance systems offer increased certainty while boosting the productivity of equipment including drill rigs, shovels, excavators and dozers.


MACHINE GUIDANCE

Advanced positioning Automated Positioning Systems worked with mining contractor Thiess to install an advanced machine guidance system on one of the world’s largest hydraulic excavators. By Alison Middleton

An operator using the Liebherr 9800 at Thiess’ Lake Vermont operations.

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MACHINE GUIDANCE

APS installed its machine guidance system on the Liebherr 9800 hydraulic excavator.

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ne of the world’s largest hydraulic excavators has been fitted with an advanced global positioning system. Automated Positioning Systems said it had set a new standard for machine guidance system application following the installation of a system on the Liebherr 9800 at Thiess’ Lake Vermont open cut coal operations in Queensland. Brisbane-based firm APS has been working with Thiess to install the global navigation, satellite system-based mineAPS Excavator guidance system on the excavator. It follows Thiess’ collaboration with Liebherr to develop the 9800 hydraulic excavator to further improve production capabilities. “Thiess has been working with APS solutions on a number of our Australian minesites,” Thiess Australian mining executive general manager Michael Wright said. “We first used Automated Positioning System’s software guidance systems in 2003 on machines at our Collinsville mine operations and since then its sophistication has evolved significantly.

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“Thiess has always been an industry leader when it comes to trialling and implementing new technologies that improve productivity and deliver greater certainty.” – Michael Wright “Thiess has always been an industry leader when it comes to trialling and implementing new technologies that improve productivity and deliver greater certainty for our clients. “When we collaborated with Liebherr to develop the 9800 to meet our production needs, we knew the APS mineAPS Excavator system was the best guidance solution for it.” Designed to have high precision capabilities, the mineAPS Excavator system provides improved mining productivity through accurate measurement of the bucket position relative to the target cutting point. The movement and exact position of the excavator and bucket is made visible to the operator via a high quality LCD screen. Operator safety is also increased with built-in proximity warnings and fixed hazard warnings to vastly improve situational

awareness. Current operator activity, machine status and the location of the machine is also visible to site managers or supervisors for better management of the machine utilisation. APS chief executive office Dush Wimal said: “We were pleased to provide Thiess with the technology best suited to their latest project in advancing mine production. “To see the utilisation of our mineAPS Excavator system in this capacity is exciting. The application is a great example of the scalability of our mineAPS systems to new machines types and sizes. “We strive to ensure our systems and our support are second to none and we will continue developing our solutions to take mine operations and production management to the next level.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 107


MACHINE GUIDANCE

Oz inspired International information management specialists are taking inspiration from Australian mining.

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n international mining systems company has turned to Australian mining to develop its latest machine guidance system. Modular Mining Systems has been in discussion with Australian mining companies and contractors ahead of the latest release of its ProVision machine guidance system. The company introduced the ProVision system in 1996 to support shovels and give miners the ability to monitor bucket location via an ultra-high frequency network. Since its inception, the ProVision system has expanded to include drills, dozers, loaders and backhoes, and to incorporate onboard design capability and support for Modular’s MasterLink wireless mesh network. Modular said the ProVision system’s use of global positioning system technology,

The ProVision machine guidance system has expanded to include backhoe loaders for mining.

as opposed to radio frequency or infrared, enabled continuous position monitoring for greater accuracy. And valuable input from mining customers in the Asia Pacific region has helped shape the upcoming version of the mining system – particularly in new key performance indicators and user interface enhancements. Modular has not yet confirmed a release date, but the company has relied heavily on feedback from mining companies in Australia. Product manager for machine guidance and safety systems William Nassauer said: “We’re close to releasing the next generation of the drill system, which is heavily influenced by feedback from our Australian customers. “Our customers have been very helpful in the development of sensor systems and OEM

interfaces, specifically designed to handle the rugged environment found throughout Australia.” High-precision, global navigation satellite (HP-GNS) system technology provides continuous navigation and guidance information for equipment operators on mine sites. When combined with a reference ground station, HP-GNS systems can typically calculate equipment position to subcentimetre accuracy. Information from the satellites is presented to the machine operator, showing where the machine is positioned in relation to features in the work area such as the dig face, virtual dig limits and desired elevation. Headquartered in the US, Modular has an Australian base in Tuggerah in NSW. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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MACHINE GUIDANCE The Leica Jigsaw positioning system in place at Newmont’s Boddington gold mine.

Gold reception Radio location technology that replicates global positioning systems satellites on the ground has been successfully installed at an Australian gold mine.

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echnology developed to resolve issues around the loss of GPS signals in deep pit mines has been tried and tested at a gold mine in Western Australia. Leica Geosystems Mining and Locata Corporation have been working with Newmont Mining to provide reliable and accurate positioning signals to its highprecision drill fleet. Canberra-based Locata created a radio location technology that replicated GPS satellites on the ground, while Swiss company Leica combined the system with GPS to develop the Leica Jigsaw positioning system. The system was designed to address drop-outs at Newmont’s Boddington gold mine when GPS signals failed to reach the machinery receivers, which high precision guidance systems rely on for reliable positioning. Obstruction of these signals results in drop-out areas, or black spots, which cause mining machinery to park and stop working, affecting productivity and safety. At the time of writing, Boddington was the only mining operation in the world using Leica Jps technology. But Boddington senior technical specialist John Carr said he believed it was only a

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matter of time before others in the mining industry recognised the benefits and used the product. “Newmont’s association with Locata and Leica Jps evolved from a need to achieve reliable and consistent GPS coverage across its high-precision fleet, something that we now know from experience to be an idealistic but near-impossible dream,” he said. “Jps eliminates the need to temporarily halt production when a positional fix through GPS isn’t possible, enabling mining companies to save time and money. “In my opinion and that of many others in mining, we have reached the limits of what a GPS-based system can offer in open cut mines. “Using even the most current GPS technology, we cannot overcome coverage issues at the bottom of the mine. Under the spectre of the current global economic environment, it is paramount for miners to maximise the efficiency of their operations.” Boddington has deployed Leica Jps over two pits and fitted most of its high precision fleet with Jps receivers. The system provides accurate, consistent, real-time, kinematic satellite navigation positioning to machine guidance systems, augmenting the global navigation satellite

system and Locata signals with no interruption to machine operation. Jps reported a 98.8% signal availability that equated to a 6.5% increase in operational productivity. Field tests have concluded that Leica Jps provided not only immediate improvement in positioning signals but additionally, increased overall mining production and performance. “Two drills over a two-month period reporting an increase of 6.5% in coverage equates to 112.7 hours of additional guidance,” Leica Geosystems Mining product manager Dr Brendon Lilly said. “The downtime cost for a high precision drill due to no signal availability is about $1000 per hour and applying the additional coverage of 112.7 hours results in $112,700 of savings for two drills over two months. “These operational cost savings for a mine dramatically boost the bottom line. “Newmont Boddington Gold is so happy with the results that they have turned off their GNSS-only solutions altogether and now rely solely and successfully on Leica Jps alone. “They have already installed Jps on all their drills and have started to equip the remaining high-precision fleet of shovels, excavators and dozers with Jps.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 109


MINING BRIEF

Terminal upgrade A global petroleum supplier is offering increased fuel efficiency at its Queensland terminal. By Vetti Kakulas

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ritish Petroleum (BP) Australia has successfully upgraded the filtration systems at its Mackay Terminal in Queensland. The company says the upgrade offers cleaner and more efficient diesel fuel to the mining industry, with the diesel now four times cleaner than the required particulate cleanliness recommended by the Worldwide Fuel Charter. BP Mackay Terminal has eight tanks in service, with a combined capacity of 88 million litres. Mackay Terminal’s new filtration will enable miners to increase fuel efficiency and vehicle performance, while reducing emissions, fuel system maintenance cost and critical equipment downtime due to maintenance.

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BP said the filtration system was installed in response to the increasing demand for cleaner fuels in the mining industry. In the past decade, an increased adoption of advanced engine technologies have resulted in increased sensitivity to water and dirt contamination. Clean fuel is essential to increase the life of injectors and other ‘sensitive’ fuel system components, including common highpressure pumps. BP global technology manager mining John Appleyard said while micro particulates were not necessarily a problem you can see, they can cost a business. “Even small particles have the potential to cost our customers in the mining industry huge sums,” he said. “Particles that are impossible for the naked eye to see can still

BP Australia provides ongoing clean fuel assessments to mining companies and operational training to manage fuel.

damage sensitive fuel-injection systems. “Replacement costs can be significant. We’re talking state-of-the-art machinery, not to mention the operational efficiencies and productivity lost from significant amount of machine down time.” New engine technologies use fuel-injection systems, which operate at high pressures and temperatures to suit engine emission requirements. These injector types have fine tolerances and are more prone to wear and deposits, consequently increasing the importance of an effective filtration method. Besides the filtration unit installed at the Mackay Terminal, similar units have been installed at sites across Australia, including the Port Hedland Terminal. BP’s international headquarters are based in the UK. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

SHAFT DEVELOPMENT

Mining companies often seek specialised consultation when it comes to the design and development of a shaft system. With the need for faster, safer and more reliable shaft boring, raiseboring technology has also advanced to allow the creation of a mine shaft without interruption to production.


SHAFT DEVELOPMENT

The Redbore 100 raisedrill.

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SHAFT DEVELOPMENT

Due diligence A mining infrastructure company is working to raise the standard in risk assessment of drill holes. By Alison Middleton

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aise-boring technology for shaft development in the underground mining industry is moving at such a rapid pace that it’s jeopardising risk awareness, warns mine engineering consultancy pitt&sherry. Mining companies now have the ability to raise-bore deeper holes at wider diameters than before, with manufacturers expanding their fleets in recent years to include the largest machines the industry has seen. It said Australia was starting to experience an influx of the latest raise-boring machines into its mining industry, which had caused mining companies to start assessing the risks involved with applying them to operations. Examples include the Redbore 100 by Redpath Mining, which is capable of drilling at diameters of up to 8m, and the RBR 900VF rig, designed by German manufacturer Herrenknecht for the construction of shafts in rock to 2000m in depth at diameters of 3-8m. Dan O’Toole is national mining manager for pitt&sherry. He said demand for the larger machines would continue to grow as mining companies pursued more efficient operations. “As the industry heads in this direction, mining companies will also require a renewed awareness of the risks involved when drilling raise-bore holes,” he said. “Over time, the industry has become comfortable, almost complacent, around the risks associated with raise-boring shafts up to a 4m diameter range, which was an industry standard for many years. “But for companies that are now using these new larger machines, it is crucial they gain that next level of understanding around the risks involved with larger diameter holes, and are diligent in taking the next step in assessing risk. “The advent of this technology in some cases reduces risk, because there is greater capability in the machine and drill strength to deal with adverse ground conditions. “However, the other side of that is just because you have the machine it doesn’t remove the risk – the risk still ultimately sits in the ground conditions.” Twenty years ago, it was a substantial achievement for a mining company to raise bore a 4m diameter hole. But O’Toole said companies had become

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pitt&sherry national mining manager Dan O’Toole.

“For companies using these new, larger machines it is crucial they gain that next level of understanding around the risks involved with larger diameter holes.” – pitt&sherry national mining manager Dan O’Toole accustomed to the risk profile, investigation requirements and degree of diligence associated with reaming holes at that size. He said it was vital for resources companies to undertake a thorough geotechnical investigation that complemented a larger machine. Pitt&sherry is also encouraging mining companies to drill more than one investigation hole and to carry out broad hydrogeological assessments. “When an operator moves from a three to

4m diameter hole up to 8m, which is now possible, it is elevating the ground risks they need to be aware of,” O’Toole added. “The key element of this is to raise the awareness of the risks involved – you cannot simply translate the experience gained from smaller holes. “Just because these machines have the capability to drill larger holes does not mean the ground is going to stand up as it would for a smaller machine.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 113


SHAFT DEVELOPMENT

Blind benchmark A mining contractor has won a reputation for completing complex blind-boring projects.

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ustralian contractor Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure says it has set a benchmark for mechanised shaft excavation. The company can bore large-diameter shafts for ventilation, as well as access and foundations. Abergeldie has successfully completed the development of blind-bored ventilation shafts for clients including BHP Billiton, North Goonyella Coal and Springvale Coal. Managing director Mick Boyle said the company’s drill rigs used innovative technology and set a benchmark for mechanised shaft excavation. “Abergeldie undertakes the construction of a diverse range of complex infrastructure for communities across eastern Australia and New Zealand,” “Our drilling capabilities range from 1.5m

to 6.5m diameter up to 700m deep,” he said. “Our methods and equipment are particularly effective through difficult ground conditions including fractured strata, high-pressure aquifers and deep, hard rock. “Shafts can be built without interruption to mine production,” Mr Boyle said. “Safety is a paramount concern. “We provide a high-quality lined shaft without any personnel having to work inside the shaft during construction, making blind-boring the safest method of shaft construction. “As well as shaft drilling and lining, Abergeldie can deliver all facets of mining infrastructure.” Abergeldie’s current projects include the Appin Mine vent shaft near Sydney for BHP Billiton subsidiary llawarra Coal.

Work is underway on a vent shaft at Appin Mine near Sydney for BHP Billiton subsidiary llawarra Coal.

Abergeldie has offices in New South Wales, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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MINING BRIEF

Indigenous jobs on menu Fortescue Metals Group has awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a Queensland company and indigenous groups. By Vetti Kakulas

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atering and hospitality company Morris Corporation is dishing up job opportunities to indigenous groups in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Morris was awarded a $500 million contract in August to provide accommodation services for Fortescue Metals Group’s mining operations. The total facilities management agreement will cover seven villages, including 6800 rooms, and airport management. More than 600 people will be working on the five-year contract, including 85 indigenous people from the Martu Idja Banyjima (MIB), Nyiyarpli, Palkyu and Kariyarra groups. The four groups have strong cultural and heritage history with the Pilbara region.

Morris chief executive officer Rodney Molla is thrilled with the contract win, which is worth $100M a year in revenue for his company. “We’ve had two-thirds of FMG’s business for the last couple of years,” he said. “In October, we picked up the rest of its works including the rail camps and Hamilton Motel at Port Hedland. “Fortescue deserves high praise for their vision in encouraging indigenous groups to work closely with the private sector.” Molla said the contract took his company a step closer to its goal of increasing the Aboriginal workforce to 15%. The Martu Idja Banyjima group said it was pleased to enter into another joint venture with Morris.

“The new venture continues to offer opportunities for local Aboriginal people and our group to continue developing its commercial expertise in operating catering and facilities serices,” MIB spokeswoman Carmen Murdock said. Morris has joint venture partners in most mining areas of Australia, including the Bowen and Surat basins in Queensland, and the Pilbara and WA goldfields. The company has 1700 employees and turned over $250 million for the last financial year. Its head office is in Brisbane, with one other office in Perth. Archaeological evidence suggests the MIB people have lived continuously in the Shire of Ashburton for more than 35,000 years. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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FEATURE

GEOMECHANICS & GROUND CONTROL

Geomechanical and ground control expertise are an essential component of discovering prospective geology in areas that show a high potential for mineral discovery. Slope optimisation, data collection and monitoring systems are key factors in optimising data collection for the geotechnical design process.


GEOMECHANICS & GROUND CONTROL

A Coffey geomechanics expert collecting geotechnical data in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Back to basics Mining companies have been urged to increase their focus on grass roots data collection. By Alison Middleton

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hen it comes to geomechanics, mining companies should focus on capturing the most effective data possible, according to industry consultants. Mining consultant Coffey received industry recognition with 11 research papers presented at the recent Slope Stability Conference in Brisbane. Geotechnical design, operation implementation, slope optimisation, data collection and monitoring systems were among the topics covered at the event, which was attended by more than 300 delegates from Australia and overseas. While there is a growing industry focus towards increasingly complex geological modelling, miners were encouraged to get the most out of their geotechnical investigations, including optimising core logging, data collection and monitoring systems. Coffey geomechanics manager for Western Australia Dr Sanjive Narendranathan, who is on the conference organising committee, said the papers presented reflected the changing needs of the sector and how mining practices and technology could best be employed. “One of the main things we wanted our mining clients to take away from this conference is to really appreciate the importance of grass roots data collection,” he said. “Geomechanics is a heuristic field and it’s gone through a lot of evolution over the last 35 years in particular. Most of that evolution

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“Ultimately, in the geotechnical field we are data limited. We have to design seven or eight kilometre-long pits based on a handful of data points from limited boreholes, which results in a lot of interpretation and data extrapolation.” – Dr Sanjive Narendranathan

has been focused on downstream modelling and design approaches. “Ultimately, in the geotechnical field we are data limited. We have to design seven or eight kilometre-long pits based on a handful of data points from limited boreholes, which results in a lot of interpretation and data extrapolation.” Narendranathan said while there had been some marvellous advancements in computational abilities, data was essentially still being collected in the same way it was 50 or 60 years ago. “There has been very little evolution in that particular aspect,” he said. “What has come out in recent years is the advent of geophysical tools to collect this sort of data. “Tools such as acoustic televiewers are slowly beginning to take off but often very little is usually done in the way of integrating this information with the rest of the geotechnical design process.” Delegates at the conference heard from Coffey experts who discussed ways of optimising data collection with modelling and final pit designs. Coffey experts also gave a workshop on

the integration of real-time monitoring systems with the overall running of the mine to manage risk and optimise costs while ensuring safety. “With the fall in metal prices, there has been a lot more of a focus on operational optimisation and that was the focus of some of the papers we presented,” Narendranathan added. “There was a very strong focus on how we manage risk with monitoring systems and integrating real-time monitoring with the broader mine dispatch and management systems. “We have also taken a step away from the typically employed paradigm of slope design methodologies, which might have served us well during times when metal prices were fairly high. “Now the focus is on cost reduction and slope optimisation and increasing slope angles in a safe manner. There is a requirement for a more targeted approach that involves thinking outside the box to achieve an optimum slope excavation angle while maintaining safety.” Coffey has offices throughout Australia. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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GEOMECHANICS & GROUND CONTROL

Greener pastures Australia has untapped, greenfields minerals potential, says a leading geosciences expert.

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ustralia’s leading geoscience expert has urged mining companies to return to greenfield mineral exploration. Geoscience Australia minerals and natural hazards division chief Andy Barnicoat believes vast areas of Australia remain prospective, with untapped potential for the majority of commodities. Addressing delegates at the recent Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Convention in Western Australia, Barnicoat said there had been a downward trend in greenfield exploration since 2006, while costs continued to rise as the number of metres drilled decreased. Speaking on the topic of Geoscience to Support Greenfield Mineral Exploration, he said the high cost and low success rate of greenfield exploration had prompted many companies to focus on brownfield exploration. In his keynote presentation at the conference, Barnicoat unveiled a program aimed at reducing the geological risks of exploring covered greenfield terrain. Geoscience Australia will collaborate with state and territory geological surveys and the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre on the program. They will develop and test models through

drilling of the covered geology from areas that show a high potential for mineral discovery. All geophysical data and results from drilling and sample analyses will be available through Geoscience Australia as work in each area is completed.

“Much of Australia’s prospective geology is covered, and there is no reason to believe that what resides beneath that cover is any less prospective.” – Andy Barnicoat Barnicoat also told AMEC delegates that Australia faced a big challenge in terms of exploration. “Data on the amount of drilling undertaken, particularly in the last decade, shows a steady divergence to brownfields drilling,” he said. “We think this is really significant – and it is a problem for the pipeline of opportunities for Australia and for the national economic good.

A map showing Australia’s crustal architecture. Image courtesy of Geoscience Australia.

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Geoscience Australia chief of minerals and natural hazards division Andy Barnicoat.

“We consider there is a vast amount of untapped, covered potential for both extensions of known mineral provinces, such as Mt Isa and new mineral provinces, which are there for the finding if we go and look.” Barnicoat said Australia remains prospective for the vast majority of elements shown on the periodic table, highlighting key, resource-rich areas. “Initial areas of focus would include western Victoria, the Thompson Belt across the NSW-Queensland border, and across the Nullarbor from the Albany-Fraser Belt in WA to the Gawler Craton in South Australia,” Barnicoat said. “Much of Australia’s prospective geology is covered and there is no reason to believe that what resides beneath that cover is any less prospective. “We know that prospectivity extends undercover across a wide variety of Australian terrain such as the Yilgarn and Mount Isa. “And until recently, terrains once considered unprospective have revealed great opportunities, such as in the Albany-Fraser belt with Tropicana gold and Nova nickel. “As well as commodities such as iron, coal, gold and nickel, Australia has both known resources and exploration opportunities for many other commodities. “This includes those regarded as critical, like rare earth and platinum group elements that are used in smartphones and televisions.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 119


RECRUITMENT MINING

Eradicating the risk

A risk management training provider is urging companies to turn their attention to workrelated injuries and illnesses, as tens of billions of dollars in occupational health and safety claims are racked up across the country. By Tess Ingram

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ork-related injuries and illnesses cost the Australian economy more than $60 billion dollars a year – accounting for a staggering 4.8% of GDP, according to 2012 Safe Work Australia statistics. SAI Global OHS trainer Ray Bedson says workplace injuries are generally the result of a lack of resources or expertise. He says an effective plan that identifies and reduces workplace risks can be easily developed and maintained. “A risk plan can’t be carried out once and put aside,” Bedson said, adding that OHS was everyone’s responsibility. “It’s an ongoing commitment. In an organisation of 100 employees, a risk or OHS

manager may need to commit 80 hours per month, while remaining employees may need to commit another 120 hours per month collectively.” Bedson highlighted the importance of communication to properly identify risks in a workplace and said employees should be consulted at least monthly on any risks or injuries that had occurred. “Writing it down makes it harder to ignore and it lets your team know you’re considering solutions to any issues,” Bedson said. “Take into consideration the likelihood of an incident occurring and the level of consequence that this could have. This will allow you to prioritise your actions.”

Implementing controls that eliminate the risk altogether or minimise it through an engineering solution such as noise reduction are obviously preferable actions over constant monitoring, with a monthly review recommended to ensure that controls in place are working. Investing in training new employees is also critical. Bedson admits there is no “real secret” to optimum workplace safety, stating that the most effective OHS management systems are simple to implement and understand. “Don’t develop overly detailed plans with confusing forms – these discourage use and, before you know it, workplace hazards are ignored,” he added.

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MINING RECRUITMENT

Union wants more regional jobs Union drive calls for communities to reap the benefits of regional mining.

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wo billboards have been erected in Far North Queensland as part of a union push to ensure local communities receive the “full benefits” of mining in the region. The billboards are part of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s “Let’s Spread It Around” campaign and call for mining companies to provide jobs for locals, rather than using fly-in, fly-out workforces. According to the union, FIFO work arrangements meant for special circumstances, such as geographical isolation, are increasingly becoming “the order of the day”. The billboards bare slogans such as “100% FIFO for a job in our town? That’s not fair. I want to work where I live” – and have been installed on the Bruce Highway at Farleigh and the Peak Downs Highway at Nebo. CFMEU mining division Queensland president Stephen Smyth said with youth unemployment at around 7.3% in the local

electorates of Dawson and Capricornia, mining companies in the Bowen Basin should be employing local workers. “The local community was absolutely disgusted earlier this year when BHP announced it would be using a 100% FIFO workforce in its two big central Queensland mines, robbing local towns of 1000 direct jobs and millions in flow-on economic benefits that this work could have produced,” Smyth said. “Our nation’s future prosperity is linked to our ability to provide quality jobs for our kids. “That means more investment in training, greater use of locally produced manufactured products and a requirement that more of the proceeds of our mining boom are invested in health, education, infrastructure and the other needs of our regional communities.” The CFMEU’s national campaign aims to encourage greater investment in regional communities, including the development of the necessary infrastructure and services to attract permanent residents.

One of the CFMEU’s billboards in Queensland.

Wealthy Australians MORE than 70% of mining and resources workers worldwide will experience a permanent base salary rise this year – up 10% from last year. That is according to the 2013 Hays Resources & Mining global salary guide. Published by recruitment firm Hays, the worldwide study of remuneration trends revealed that last year 21% of employers increased salaries up to 5%. “But looking ahead 32% will increase up to this level,” Hays regional director Simon Winfield said. “Forty-one per cent of employers increased

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by more than 5% and this year 40% expect to do so.” The guide said contractor day rates were highest in the Australasian region at $710, followed by Europe ($450) then the US ($420). Last year, 31% of employers kept salaries static but this year that number has fallen to 25%. Additionally, 7% of employers decreased salaries last year but only 3% plan to do so in the next year. The salary guide is based on a survey of more than 10,000 people working in 37 countries. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Matthew Gibbs

‘A quiet confidence’ LOOKING ahead to what remains of the current financial year, Stellar Recruitment says there is “a quiet confidence” that the market is steadily improving. In the company’s salary guide for 2013-14, Stellar Recruitment mining operations division manager Matthew Gibbs said positive signs are already evident, with significant projects forging ahead and driving momentum in the market. Gibbs said the last 12 months had been challenging for mining companies, with many taking the period as an opportunity to review their operations and make significant changes, a move that had resulted in frozen salaries and recruitment across the board. “Salaries are expected to stay constant but less flexibility on flyin-out rosters or added benefits are expected due to an increasing demand in cost-saving,” Gibbs said. The company expects key technical and statutory positions to still be in high demand across the industry, with a primary need in underground operations as the challenge of sourcing and securing these professionals remains.

November 2013 AMM 121


MINING RECRUITMENT

Building from within A mining tool manufacturer says staff development and retention helped the company create a high-performance culture. By Alison Middleton

M

ining technology company Hilti Australia has doubled its profits and saved more than $1 million in recruiter fees over the past four years. The company says investment in training and a high-performance culture are driving productivity and growth. While the company will generally promote 15 managers annually, 85% are appointed internally through an internal leadership development program. Hilti Australia managing director Jan Pacas said the company’s employees took ownership of their role in achieving business goals and strove to achieve them. “At Hilti, we set ambitious goals and know it’s our employees who are the key to delivering growth,” he said. “In 2011, we set a target of doubling growth in Australia by 2015 and we are on track to achieve this, having already doubled our profits over the past four years. “Staff development, business transparency and a high performance culture has ensured strong attraction, retention and employee engagement. “Hilti’s ongoing investment in our staff has been instrumental in achieving growth and continues to set Hilti apart as a best employer in a slow market.”

The Sydney-based company, which manufactures mining ground control and infrastructure systems, has implemented a ‘triple-bottom line’ approach that contributes to overall engagement and business results by connecting employees with customers and company performance. Pacas said the strategy had been an integral part of Hilti’s sustained levels of growth. “Our combination of a high-performance culture and employee engagement leads to high customer satisfaction, solid financial results and happy shareholders,” he said. “Hilti has been focused on building a highperformance culture that promotes employee engagement, increases productivity and delivers a career path for employees. “Our aim is to find and retain the right people who are interested in the company for a career and for what we do, not just remuneration. “Employees want to know that there is a career path for them to progress into, and our leadership development program provides opportunities to grow within the company.” “Training our own staff into the next role is important to retain company knowledge, skills and expertise in the field. It also reduces the need to pay high recruiter fees for each managerial appointment.” Hilti said business transparency, including

Hilti Australia managing director Jan Pacas.

communication of in-depth financial information, empowered staff to contribute to the organisation’s goals and objectives. In the past 12 months, the company introduced an internal program that shared financial information, including revenue, profitability and capital expenditure, with all staff on a quarterly basis. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

Hilti Australia staff members.

122 AMM November 2013

www.miningmonthly.com


on the move

editorial@miningmonthly.com

Austmine appoints industry veteran MINING equipment, technology and services association Austmine has welcomed Peter Hill as regional manager for Western Australia. Hill will support Austmine’s members in the WA region and help expand his company’s products and services. Austmine CEO Robert Trzebski said Hill was well connected and respected in the mining industry. “Peter brings a wealth of experience

FORMER US diplomat Robin McClellan has joined Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia, as director of minerals research initiatives. McClellan previously lectured at the Curtin Robin McClellan Graduate School of Business in Perth while serving as the director of the committee for the economic development of Australia. Curtin deputy vice-chancellor of research and development Graeme Wright said he was thrilled to have McClellan join his team. “Robin’s links with Curtin and her experience in government and corporate spheres will be invaluable to the future development of minerals research at the University,” he said. “One of the key parts of this role is attracting co-investment from government, business, industry and charitable foundations for research, teaching and engagement in minerals research. “Robin spent 23 years working in the US Department of State and also has great experience in the corporate and resources environment.” She previously worked as a senior government relations advisor at Exxon Mobil in Singapore. URANEX has announced banking specialist Peter Sarantzouklis as a non-executive director. Sarantzouklis has more than 19 years experience in the banking industry and is currently the chief financial officer at the St George Banking Group. He previously worked at Westpac in New Zealand and was with General Electric for 10 years. Chairman Johann Jacobs commented:

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and networks, he is an invaluable asset to Austmine and its members,” he said. “This appointment is our response to adding value and support to our member companies in WA in these challenging times for the industry.” Hill previously held significant roles with industry bodies including Mining & Energy Services Council of Australia, Heavy Engineering Manufacturers Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“It’s with great pleasure we welcome Peter to the board, his skills and experience will be a huge asset as we progress our exciting Nachu graphite project, in Tanzania.” SOUTH Australian-focused Archer Exploration says its managing director, Gerard Anderson, has signed a three-year contract with the company. Archer chairman Greg English said the reappointment of Anderson came at a critical time for the company as it continued to develop its Campoona graphite project. “Over the past three years, Gerard and his team have made significant achievements,” he said. “Archer is now in a financially strong position and the Campoona graphite project has been significantly derisked.” Anderson is a geologist with 40 years’ experience in Gerard Anderson exploration, mine geology, resource assessment and mine management. He was previously general manager at the Golden Grove base metals mine in Western Australia. GOLD explorer and developer Blackham Resources has appointed Mike Robbins as company secretary following the resignation of Julie Hill. Hill has accepted a role at the Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy as general manager of corporate services. Robbins has more than 20 years experience in the resources industry in operational and corporate positions in Australia and overseas. He has previously worked in management positions and company secretarial roles at Hodges Resources, Bannerman Resources,

Peter Hill

Moto Gold Mines and Asian Mineral Resources. WEST African iron ore explorer Kogi Iron has appointed Iggy Tan as managing director. Based in their Perth head office, Tan will be responsible for managing and implementing the Iggy Tan development of Kogi’s Agbaja iron ore project, in the Republic of Nigeria. Prior to this role, Tan was MD at lithium company Galaxy Resources. Tan has more than 30 years of experience in the mining and chemical industry. IMX Resources has announced Stephen Hunt has resigned as non-executive director. Hunt has been with the iron ore mining and exploration company since 2007. IMX chairman John Nitschke said Hunt had played in important role in the development of the company’s Cairn Hill magnetite-copper mine – which produces 1.8 million tonnes of ore per year. “He has positioned the company for future growth in South Australia, in particular with our Mt Woods magnetite project,” Nitschke said. “We’re grateful for Stephen’s contribution and wish him well in his future endeavours.” EASTERN Goldfields explorer Crest Minerals has announced its founding managing director Angus Middleton has resigned. Middleton said he had stepped down to focus on other interests. Crest has started an extensive search for a new managing director. Additionally, Crest has appointed Jaroslaw Kopias as director. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

November 2013 AMM 123


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MINING BRIEF

FIFO priorities

Safety – Quality Technical Support Ground Support Systems

Recent research from the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute has found that high salaries alone are not enough to retain fly-in, fly-out workers in remote locations. By Tess Ingram

F

amily, friends and home comforts are more important to fly-in, fly-out workers than high salaries. A study by the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute has found that workers have more important priorities than the size of their pay cheque. Research found that in order to remain satisfied with their work, FIFO workers required comfortable personal space and time alone to communicate with family and friends. The study surveyed 286 FIFO workers employed in the resources sector in Australia over a six-month period. Lead researcher Mary Anne Barclay from SMI’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining said the institute’s research showed that the workers preferred good phone and internet connections to swimming pools or high-end dining and recreation facilities. “Contrary to popular assumptions that employees enjoy the ‘resort feel’ of some modern FIFO accommodation, our findings suggest that FIFO workers are more interested in quiet, comfortable rooms,” Barclay said. “The ability to connect with family and friends is important for the psychological health of FIFO workers – a sense of belonging reduces stress and loneliness and reassures the workers that they play an important role in the lives of the people closest to them.” Joint researcher Philipp Kirsch, an associate professor at SMI’s Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, said the study was quite unique for the sector, in that 70% of

respondents held a university degree and 40% were female. “While confirming many of the findings from previous research, our study provides unique insights into the challenges that managerial workers face in the FIFO work experience,” Kirsch said. The report concluded that the majority of FIFO workers who participated in the survey were satisfied with the FIFO lifestyle and with most of the specific work and accommodation arrangements they experienced. It said that for this group of respondents, the benefits of the lifestyle outweighed the disadvantages. But despite this, almost half reported that they intended to change jobs in the next 12 months. The research report provides a number of accommodation and health strategies for companies to increase employee wellbeing and retention. “Improvements in accommodation villages that focus on enhancing people’s personal space and communication channels are likely to be valued by more workers than the ever-more sophisticated array of communal recreational facilities such as games rooms, sporting competitions or media rooms that are being provided at some sites,” the study revealed. “Camps should be designed to maximise peace and privacy.” The report also suggests that an information booklet that discusses the common challenges faced by FIFO workers and provides contact details for agencies that provide support may be helpful. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

Enhancing the safety and production levels of underground mines by providing the highest quality ground support products and services possible. THE SOLUTION Jennmar Australia will provide the complete ground support solution incorporating: • Complete range of ground support products for coal and hardrock • Innovation and problem solving tailored to specific mine sites • Continual training and support by industry experts • The most responsive and reliable supply • Experienced mine service technicians in the hub of the mining districts

Retaining FIFO workers may be as simple as providing more privacy and quiet time.

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November 2013 AMM 125


EQUIPMENT CLASSIFIEDS

MACHINERY COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Skidsteers Australia Pty Ltd Cougar 600s 2013 +61 7 5537 5015

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Skidsteers Australia Pty Ltd Cougar 5700 2013 +61 7 5537 5015

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Skidsteers Australia Pty Ltd Cougar 5700 2013 +61 7 5537 5015

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Skidsteers Australia Pty Ltd Cougar 600s 2013 +61 7 5537 5015

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Machinery Action Group Dynapac CA302 Padfoot roller 2006 3350 +61 438 300 220

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Machinery Action Group Volvo A25D 2006 9400 +61 438 300 220

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Machinery Action Group Kobelco SK200-8 2006 8560 +61 438 300 220

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Machinery Action Group Hino FM3H Water truck 1995 +61 438 300 220

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

CJD Equipment Bobcat S130 2008 1814 +61 7 3276 3700

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CJD Equipment Kobelco 2008 2008 8750 +61 3 9305 2566

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CJD Equipment Pty Ltd Hitachi ZX230LC 2005 6350 +61 8 9478 0062

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CJD Equipment Kawasaki 70ZV-IV 2004 8000 +61 8 9277 0111

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BOST Group Maximus MX512 2013 +61 2 6932 6900

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BOST Group Portafill 3000ST 2013 +61 2 6932 6900

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BOST Group Gasparin GI06 Diablo 2012 +61 2 6932 6900

COMPANY: BOST Group MODEL: Portafill 4000T YEAR: 2013 HOURS: PHONE: +61 2 6932 6900

www.mascus.com.au


POWERED BY

EQUIPMENT CLASSIFIEDS COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE: COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Tadano Oceania Pty ltd Tadnano ATF65G-4 2006 +61 7 3120 8750

Tadano Oceania Pty ltd Tadano GR-160N-2-00102 2011 8326 +61 7 3120 8750

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Tadano Oceania Pty ltd Demag AC205 1994 26522 +61 7 3120 8750

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Tadano Oceania Pty ltd Tadano TR-600EX 2005 9297 +61 7 3120 8750

ADT-MOXY Moxy MT41 Water Cart 2007 9297 +61 8 9434 4566

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Smith Broughton & Sons Caterpillar IT62H 2009 3650 +61 8 9374 9222

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Smith Broughton & Sons Caterpillar 432E 2012 +61 8 9374 9222

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Smith Broughton & Sons Caterpillar 930H 2012 +61 8 9374 9222

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Smith Broughton & Sons Komatsu PC350LC-8 2011 2381 +61 8 9374 9222

COMPANY: Worldwide Construction Machinery MODEL: Caterpillar CAT 740B YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

WATER TRUCK 2007 8397 +61 8 9493 6266

COMPANY: MODEL: YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

Worldwide Construction Machinery Triton TA-800 WATER TANK 2012 +61 8 9493 6266

ADT-MOXY Moxy MT41 2007 7194 +61 8 9434 4566

COMPANY: Worldwide Construction Machinery MODEL: Caterpillar CAT 773E YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

WATER TRUCK FROM NEW 2006 4900 +61 8 9493 6266

COMPANY: Worldwide Construction Machinery MODEL: Caterpillar 950H WHEEL YEAR: HOURS: PHONE:

LOADER w/ Forks 2009 1080 +61 8 9493 6266

Contact: Garry Llewellyn Operations Manager Mascus Australia Pty Ltd Tel: +61 8 6263 9141 Mob: +61 405 776 905 www.mascus.com.au


WHAT’S NEW

Isuzu D-Max deluxe bull bar.

D-Max out the potential You can now get more out of the Isuzu D-Max with a range of add-ons designed and manufactured by ARB 4X4 Accessories. By Tess Ingram

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A

new range of products has been launched for the Isuzu D-Max dual-cab ute. The range, from Melbournebased ARB, includes bull bars, canopies, rearstep tow bars, side rails, steps and suspension systems. As well as providing the vehicle with frontal protection, the D-Max bull bar also has extensive under-bar protection panels on the centre and either side for offroad travel. ARB said the bull bar was suitable for winch and non-winch applications and featured twin hi-lift jacking points, as well as provision to mount two aerials.

Isuzu D-Max canopy.

Extending the protection to the rear, side and lower sills of the vehicle, rear-step tow bars and side rails and steps are also available for the D-Max and can all be colour coded to suit each vehicle. Complementing the updated design of the D-Max, ARB canopies are available to suit the crew cab and space cab 4x4 and 4x2 ute variants in a standard height roof version. The canopies maximise the carrying capability of the D-Max, as well as offering protection for gear, with lockable rear and side windows. A range of canopy roof racks and bars are also able to be mounted for further versatility. And for those after a little bit more from their D-Max, ARB is offering installation of the Australian-designed and engineered Old Man Emu suspension system. Designed to improve ride, handling and load-carrying ability, the replacement suspension system is tailored to the individual driver’s requirements and takes into consideration the unique conditions the vehicle will be used under, a particularly handy upgrade for rough-and-tumble offsite conditions.

Clever cleaning AUSTRALIA’S largest supplier of lubrication equipment, Alemlube, has developed two oil filtration systems designed to help service providers achieve international oil cleanliness levels. Designed for 205L drums and 1000L intermediate bulk containers, the systems have been developed to help equipment achieve its maximum life by delivering clean oil filtered to the International Organisation for Standardisation 16/13 cleanliness levels. Capable of recirculating oil in a “closedloop”, the systems operate with clean, dry air at 90 pounds per square inch, making them suitable for use with a range of oil grades, from SAE 10 hydraulic oil up to 85W-140 gear oil. Alemlube’s Oil Filtration Drum Trolley

Alemlube’s oil filtration system drum trolley.

allows a full 205L drum of oil to be easily loaded into position and incorporates full bunding for the drum and all filtration and transfer equipment, including an oil stub pump with pick-up tube and connections, hose reel and non-bypass filter head. Alemlube’s head office is in Sydney.

An operator wearing Aussie Pump’s new range of protective clothing.

Safety under pressure A NEW range of protection equipment designed to keep high-pressure water operators safe on the job has been released by Sydney-based Aussie Pumps. The high-pressure water equipment manufacturer said its Safe Operator range used a new lightweight material called Dyneema. “Considering that 90% of all professional pressure cleaning is carried out in the range of under 500 bar (that’s 7300 pounds per square inch), operators using machines in the 2000psi to 7300psi range can now be safely protected,” Aussie Pumps’ product safety manager Martine Musumeci said. The range of overalls, jackets, trousers and aprons are made with waterproof zippers with overlapping flaps and integrated underarm ventilation. Detachable hoods are standard on jackets and overalls. Both products feature adjustable waterproof cuffs and pockets. “Our research has shown that operators perform better when they’re feeling confident and safe,” Musumeci added.

Compressor success COMPRESSED-AIR technology specialist Ingersoll Rand has released a new R-Series range. The R-Series 55-75kW, 75-100hp range is available with either fixed or variable speed drivers at capacities of up to 3.23-13.56cu.m per minute. IR’s new high-tech range can be controlled remotely from any computer, tablet or smartphone with online access and can send automatic email notifications of trips and warnings to designated personnel. A Total Air System (TAS) dryer and filtration option comes with the new range

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of compressors and provides clean, dry air in a single package, reducing installation costs while allowing single-point maintenance and monitoring for the whole system. The TAS option utilises a patented three-inone heat exchanger, which improves energy efficiency while delivering International Organisation for Standardisation Class 1-4-2 quality air standards. Ingersoll Rand compressor products are exclusively distributed in Australia by Perthbased Compressed Air and Power Solutions Australia. tess.ingram@aspermont.com

The Ingersoll Rand variable speed drive R-Series compressor.

November 2013 AMM 129


WHAT’S NEW

Breaking bad habits Since its inception in 2004, Prime Mover Workwear has grown rapidly to become a prominent player in the industrial clothing market.

P

rime Mover Workwear founder and owner Brett Birkill spent many years after high school helping to rebuild his parents’ clothing business, badly hit by the recession. Once it was back on its feet, Birkill decided to start his own venture – and Prime Mover was born.

Brett Birkill in Prime Mover Workwear.

130 AMM November 2013

“In Europe at the time, there was already a huge demand for high-visibility workwear,” Birkill said. “We had a look at the market and Australia was yet to move into that sector. “Workers in Australia were still wearing navy shirts and khaki pants, and that was as far as workwear went, but we recognised that that was going to change.” Prime Mover has grown since then, from its 12-style opening workwear range to more than 270 styles, products and services offered today. A flame-retardant range is the latest addition and Birkill said he was continually researching and developing new fabrics to constantly improve the product. “The women’s range has also really developed because of the mining sector,” Birkill added. “A few years ago it was just accepted, especially by women, that because they were only a very small minority of the workforce, that they just got men’s shirts and men’s pants.” But this had changed, Birkill said, and the company’s women’s range now makes up 20% of its tenders. The group turnover is rising to $15m annually and it has secured a lucrative 6% of the Australian workwear market. Birkill said one of the reasons his products were so well received was because they are both affordable and good quality. “We control the manufacturing process from start to finish,” Birkill added. “We are able to pack the product full of features like 3M reflective tape and treatments on the garments to help with water-proofing, stain resistance and breathability.

The Prime Mover Water Repellent Fleecy Hoodie.

“But because we are doing all these extra features direct, the pricing is kept under control.” Prime Mover Workwear has distribution warehouses in Melbourne, Shanghai, Auckland and Perth. • For your chance to win a prize pack containing a Prime Mover Workwear hoodie, shirt, pants and wet weather jacket valued at $250, email your name and contact details to editorial@miningmonthly.com

www.miningmonthly.com


Companies & organisations in this issue

Inside the GEARBAG.

One bag to rule them all AFTER more than a decade traveling for work in the mining industry, Jack Shelley was frustrated enough with juggling his many bags of equipment to go out and create his own all-encompassing backpack. “The GEARBAG was designed and manufactured by myself out of sheer need,” Shelley said. It is the only backpack currently on the market that has been specifically designed to carry all of the industry standard minimum personal protection equipment in the one bag, according to Shelley. The GEARBAG has separate compartments and divisions for easy access and can be separated into three individual bags for ease at airport security.

It has been made with Australian standard hi-vis material with 3M reflective striping and is completely water resistant. Steel cap boots and a hard hat fit snuggly into the base of the bag, and safety glasses have been given their own protective compartment. The bag is also divided with liners to prevent work gear rubbing on clothes and transferring dirt. Able to carry all of the necessary site gear, a few days’ clothing and personal items such as computers and waterbottles while remaining compact, the Gear Bag also complies with airline overhead locker specifications. Shelley also said that the bag allowed users to talk on the phone or listen to music while in transit, with an earpiece hole in the front.

Next generation A NEW-GENERATION electric chain hoist has been launched by Konecranes. It said the steel-framed and sturdy CLX chain hoist was particularly suitable for individual workstation applications in mining, such as vehicle and plant maintenance. The CLX chain hoist incorporates a longer lifetime, with up to 1600 hours on most models with a full load, and a durable aluminium construction. Durability of the lift chain is a key element in the CLX’s design, in addition to the oil lubrication-based transmission, which reduces the operating temperature to enable increased power. A wider speed range has also been incorporated to make the CLX chain hoist

25% faster than its predecessor. All components that require maintenance are easily accessible and do not require the removal of any parts. The company said all electronics were located compactly on reliable circuit boards – minimising the amount of internal wiring – compared to the previous model. Safety functions had also been improved, with the brake and the clutch now installed on the same axle to prevent the load from dropping even if the clutch breaks down. Konecranes sales and marketing manager Warren Ashton said: “Konecranes CLX chain hoist is designed to perform in applications where reliability, safety and efficiency is critical.”

Bouncy and mellow PERMANENT compression in metal coil springs can cause expensive breakages and production interruptions. To counter the problem, Firestone has developed rubber-and-fabric Marsh Mellow springs, which it says are 20% less likely to develop compression set than metal coil springs. The Marsh Mellow springs are distributed throughout Australia by Meadowbankbased Air Springs Supply, whose sales and marketing manager James Maslin says the product offers considerable advantages over

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both conventional coils and solid rubber springs. The hollow-centre springs operate silently with more spring travel and greater load capacities than conventional coil springs, while outperforming all-rubber alternatives in many areas, such as greater load capacity and more compact size for comparable tasks, Maslin added. They can’t break, splinter or fragment like a metal spring and one of their big advantages is that they suffer only a maximum of 7% compression set over the life of the part.

Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure 114 Action Drill & Blast 36, 37 Aggreko 102 Alemlube 129 ARB 129 Arrium Mining 9 Association of Mining & Exploration Companies 119 Atlas Copco 31 Atlas Iron 58, 62 Ausdrill 45 Aussie Pumps 129 Austmine 123 Australian Institute of Management WA 90 Australian Uranium Association 23 Automated Positioning Systems 107 BGC Modular 97 BHP Billiton 9, 10, 23, 62, 114 Bisalloy Steel 50, 51 BP Australia 110 Brierty 60, 61 Bureau of Resources & Energy Economics 100 Cameco 23 Caterpillar 14, 32 Chemsearch 86 Coffey 118 Compass Resources 72 Curtin Business School 18 Davies Wear Plate Systems 50, 51 Elexon Mining 84, 85 Engenium 62 Firestone 131 Fortescue Metals Group 14, 62, 116, 132 GEARBAG 131 Geoscience Australia 119 Geovia 30 Hardox 57 Hays 121 Hilti Australia 122 HIS 101 Holden 77-79 Inete 101 Ingersoll Rand 129 JAYZ Building Solutions 94, 95 Keech Australia 52 Konecranes 131 Leica Geosystems Mining 46, 109 Locata Corporation 109 MAC Services Group 92 Macmahon 88, 89 McKinsey Global Institute 28 Mega Uranium 22 Merlin Diamonds 24 Metals Economics Group Research 29 Mintec 3 Modular Mining Systems 108 Monadelphous 62 Morris Corporation 116 MTG 55 Nalco Australia 48 Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group 16 Newcrest Mining 34, 46 Outotec 80 Oz Minerals 80 pitt&sherry 113 Polaris Metals 30 Poseidon Nickel 74 Prime Mover Workwear 130 Ray Gudgeon & Associates 31 Redpath Mining 113 Redstar Equipment 103 Rio Tinto 26, 36, 62, 97 SAI Global 120 Sandvik Mining 12, 13, 38 South Australian Mineral Resources Group 9 Stellar Recruitment 121 Swedish Steel AB 57 Thiess 107 Thomsons Lawyers 82, 83 Toro Energy 22, 23 University of Queensland 125 WA Chamber of Minerals & Energy 90 WA Department of Mines & Petroleum 98, 104 WDS Energy Drilling & Completions 41 World Bank 29

November 2013 AMM 131


Viewpoint

dryblower

editorial@miningmonthly.com

why did Fortescue step in? Fortescue Metals Group invoked a “step-in” clause at its Christmas Creek operation in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Dryblower analyses why.

H

ave you ever had a feeling, such as the one Dryblower experienced last month, that something deeply significant has happened but you can’t quite put your finger on why it was so important? The event which passed as a one-day wonder was the “step-in” by Fortescue Metals Group at a processing facility operated by Mineral Resources at FMG’s Christmas Creek mine. Apart from causing a short-term dip in the share price of MinRes, the incident was glossed over by most investment analysts that follow the mining sector and by most sections of the news media. It was the lack of a loud response that caused Blower to wonder whether he was out of touch with the rest of the mining industry and his colleagues in the media. Perhaps this sort of thing has happened before, though after asking around it seems that there have been few similar incidents involving a miner taking control of a contract under the so-called “step-in” clause – not to mention the fact that very few people have ever heard of such a clause in a mineral processing contract. What happened is that on August 15 a worker at the MinRes-operated crushing

facility was killed at work, a loss that is not just a shattering blow for the family of the deceased but a kick in the corporate teeth of the companies involved. In the Christmas Creek case it was MinRes that ran the 25 million tonne per annum plant under a long-term contract with FMG. For five weeks after the death not much more was heard. But that changed on September 24 when FMG invoked the “step-in” clause, which indicated that FMG had either suddenly woken to the problems of having a worker killed on one of its sites (even if it is contractor-operated), or that inquiries had revealed problems associated with the way the plant operated, or someone in a government agency, or lawyers for the deceased, started to stir the pot. Whatever the cause of the reaction, there is something deeply significant about that fiveweek gap between the death and the step-in – and while Blower does not know what it is he’s pretty certain that there’s a lot bubbling beneath the surface. No company, whether in mining or some other business, can tolerate the death of a worker on one of its sites, though in the FMG/ MinRes case, there is that tricky matter of the relationship between client and contractor.

Forced buy-out? MAGNEtItE iron ore processing, in case no one had noticed, is not Blower’s favorite sector of the mining industry for several reasons, not least being that it is a business with a higher cost structure than conventional direct shipping ore and most participants struggle to operate their projects successfully. The worst offender in the magnetite sector is China-owned company Sino Iron, which appears to have become so entangled in plant operational problems and legal arguments that it is struggling to produce much saleable material at all.

Gindalbie Metals is not far behind Sino, having just called for a fresh financial rescue package from its Chinese parent, AnSteel, for the operationally and financially challenged Karara project. At some point – and that point might not be too far away – AnSteel will be forced to step in and buy Gindalbie out of Karara, a move which could be the best news in years for Gindalbie shareholders because a buy-out would need to be priced at around $380 million (according to JP Morgan), which is equivalent to 25c per Gindalbie share, or double what the stock has been trading at recently.

Taking control: FMG has taken control of a contract at its Christmas Creek iron ore operation.

Investment analysts, in their somewhat callous way, have absorbed the site death in their stride. Macquarie Equities noted the step-in, said it would have no effect on MinRes’ earnings and maintained a buy tip on the stock. JP Morgan also noted the “small financial impact” but added that the MinRes subsidiary involved, Crushing Services, had incurred “reputational damage”. There is, in fact, something far more important ticking away in the background for the entire mine services and mine contracting business, because while a case can be mounted that the immediate costs in the FMG/MinRes situation are not high, the long-term consequences could be severe. Big mining companies are already hunting for cost savings by bringing more of their dayto-day processes in-house, eliminating the contract profit margin. The biggest so far was the decision two years ago by BHP Billiton to buy Henry Walker Eltin subsidiaries out of contracts on its Yandi and Area C operations. Achieving financial savings is one objective being pursued by the mining companies. Achieving a better reputation with its own workforce and government regulators on matters relating to safety is an equally important objective. That’s why Blower suspects that FMG’s stepin at Christmas Creek could have more farreaching consequences for the contracting industry than has so far been realised.

“It is true that liberty is precious, so precious that it must be rationed.” – Vladimir Ilyich lenin 132 AMM November 2013

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Australias Mining Monthly magazine - November 2013  

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