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49 Managing Editor: Michael Cairnduff Editor: Thomas Smith Contributing Editor: Tim Treadgold Journalists: Alison Middleton, Vetti Kakulas Production Manager: Mata Henry Senior Layout Designer: Diane Thornley Layout Designer: Catherine Hogan Chief Sub-Editor: Gerald Bradley Sub-Editors: Melanie Jenkins, Maxine Brown Contributors: Robin Bromby, Michael Pascoe, John McIlwraith, Stephen Bell, Mitchell Hooke National Sales Manager: Angela Smith Advertising Sales: Richa Fuller, Nigel D’Silva, Vanessa Monastra 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 Ph: (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 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.

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

Cover Story

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Perseus Mining is flying the flag for Australia at its Edikan project in Ghana, reminding others that Africa is still a land of opportunity.

Features

23 Mining Consultants 31 Conveyor Equipment & Services 40 Underground Mining 48 Australians Mining Sweden 62 Shaft Development 70 Mine Ventilation 80 Minesite Visit: Iron Ore Holdings

Regulars Editor’s Notebook On The Move Hardware Michael Pascoe Robin Bromby

04 10 12 20 28

Mining Software ASX Update Market Watch What’s New Dryblower

82 87 88 92 96

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NOTEBOOK

EDITOR’S

All right, so far...

Australia’s Mining Monthly is (cautiously) optimistic about the start to 2013. So is it good or bad, up or down for the industry in the year ahead? I’ve yet to be convinced, fully, by any particular argument. There are many barometers by which we’ll measure the health of the resources sector. Sprinkle some lies, statistics and political spin and you’re left with a confusing stew, lacking definition and distinction. Okay, let’s state the obvious. If 2013 draws to a close with fewer job losses and zero project reductions or cancellations than 2012, then the year will go down in history as one of growth. We’re only weeks into the new year, with most of us only recently getting back into the swing of things after the festive break. It’s too early for predictions – most of which are usually right at the time but inevitably end up wrong! No, let’s wait until companies present their

first reports of 2013 before taking a view on the health of mining. Enjoy the February edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly. thomas.smith@aspermont.com

See the March issue for the

ReadeR

2013

I

t’s been a relatively steady start to 2013. In truth, anything less than chaos and meltdown would appear tranquil compared to 2012. On reflection, it’s almost like many mining companies planned it that way – get the bad news out of the way now, then start the new year with a clean slate. Fresh start. Well, that’s the theory anyway. Companies are no different to governments. The same political machinations exist in the boardroom as they do in the corridors of power. The final months of 2012 were littered with project postponements and cancellations, redundancies and predictions of armageddon. These events, and the economic climate within which they were framed, bring many challenges to the Australian mining industry – to companies and employees alike.

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Your contribution will help define regular and feature content in future editions. We look forward to your valuable feedback.

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Cover Story

Perseus conquers Africa West Australian-based Perseus Mining won’t stop until it’s producing 400,000oz of gold per year at its Edikan project in Ghana. By Stephen Bell

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ustralian investors have fallen out of love with most west African gold explorers in the past year or so as capital flowed into safer

havens. Yet the soured love affair can’t extinguish the heady exploration successes of recent years that enabled west Africa to churn out gold mines like an assembly line. Perseus Mining chief executive Mark Calderwood likes reminding African sceptics that the region has delivered 21 new gold mines in the past seven years, including one for his Perth-based outfit. Sixteen years of fossicking paid off for Perseus in late 2011 when it commissioned its Edikan project in Ghana. Since then, Edikan has overcome the odd mechanical glitch to cement Perseus’s status as a relatively

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KEY FACTS • Market interest in many west African gold explorers has cooled • Investors wary of political and fiscal risks in the region • West Africa has delivered 21 new gold mines in the past seven years • Perseus Mining aims to produce 400,000oz a year from 2014 • Perseus mines in Ghana, aiming for new operation in the Ivory Coast

low-cost miner producing around 250,000 ounces a year. Having made the tricky transition from explorer (9 million ounces

discovered) to producer, Calderwood would be forgiven for feeling complacent. Instead, he is pushing for Perseus to grow into a 400,000oz a year mining house from 2014. This would catapult it into the same bracket as St Barbara, Resolute Mining and Alacer, a cluster of ASX-listed gold miners jostling for second place behind industry leader Newcrest. But to join that pack, Perseus needs to navigate its way through Africa’s usual grabbag of risks – in this instance a mooted “super profits tax” in the Ivory Coast, site of its next gold venture. Calderwood had hoped to approve its Sissingue project for development last September but was forced to delay the green light after the country foreshadowed a tax on excessive profits. At the time of writing,

FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


Mining at night: Perseus Mining’s Edikan project in Ghana.

Perseus was in talks with the Ivory Coast government to clarify the new impost. More taxes, and the Ivory Coast’s long history of violence and armed struggles, probably explain why the company’s $1 billion-odd share market value is lower than many analysts’ calculations. “West Africa does get a discount, certainly in Australia,” Calderwood told Australia’s Mining Monthly. “There were periods when there was a love affair between the ASX and west African explorers, but that’s finished. “As far as west African production goes, Australians certainly discount Africa as a whole, probably unfairly.” Even strong backers of Perseus concede this harsh reality. Investment bank JP Morgan, for instance, has an “overweight” recommendation on Perseus due to its

AMM FEBRUARY 2013

“sizable discount to valuation, strong balance sheet and large production ramp-up”. Yet the bank remains conscious of Perseus’ “higher sovereign risk relative to its peers”, it said recently. A similar assessment could be levelled at many African-focused gold diggers with solid assets, but diminishing recognition back in the home country. Investor fascination with the region peaked in late 2011, as a wave of nimble juniors and mid-caps rode the strong bullion price by uncovering oodles of gold in countries such as Ghana, Burkina Faso and Mali. “The mini-explorer boom did press pretty hard,” Calderwood explained. Then a few arrows were slung that quickly punctured the boom: Ghana raised its corporate tax rate from 25% to 35%,

prompting a move to windfall taxes in several other African countries, such as the Ivory Coast. And Guinea’s fickle government raised the spectre of resource nationalism by flagging it would take a hefty equity stake in new projects. Combined with the general commodities downturn and a cooling of interest in “risky” mining ventures, the get-out-of Africa theme found a ready audience in Australia. But, outside capital-intensive bulk commodities like iron ore, west African gold can still excite investors if the story is strong enough. Papillon Resources, for instance, bucked the downtrend by posting a 170% share price hike in 2012. That’s because investors believed its Fekola gold project in Mali would be a definite goer, based on a positive scoping study from last October on a maiden 3.1

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Cover Story

Edikan project: Producing 250,000 ounces of gold per year.

million-ounce resource. The mini-army of Australian service companies in west Africa hope that more stories like Papillon keep emerging to justify their big bets on a region that is regularly bad-mouthed by investors as too risky. A military coup in Mali last March reinforced those concerns. But Perth-based contractor Ausdrill, for one, believes the scare stories have been overdone, particularly in stable countries like Ghana. “We’ve been in Africa for 20-odd years and never had an issue where we’ve lost plant and equipment, or lost any of our people from unrest,” one Ausdrill executive told AMM. “In fact, Africa is the biggest area of growth for our business,” he said. The contractor, which reaps about 30% of its revenue from Africa, won its biggest ever job in the country six months ago; a US$540 million contract for Resolute’s Syama gold mine in Mali. Calderwood, meanwhile, is focused mainly on Ghana and the Ivory Coast for his company’s growth ambitions. The two nations share borders on the southern “rump” of west Africa but otherwise are a bit like chalk and cheese in a mining context. Ghana is dubbed “Kalgoorlie by the sea” by expatriates because of its skilled workforce, infrastructure and mature mining culture. But Perseus may face a tougher journey to production at Sissingue, across the border. For starters, the Ivory Coast is Frenchspeaking, an encumbrance in comparison to Ghana’s English language and Britishinfluenced legal system.

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Local skills are less developed and the Ivory Coast is still emerging from a decade of “civil issues” that began with a 2002 armed rebellion that split the nation in two. After repeated delays, elections aimed at ending the long-running conflict were held in October 2010. But more bloody violence ensued when the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede victory to the recognised winner, Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo was eventually captured and transferred to The Hague, where he faces charges of war crimes.

But to join that pack, Perseus needs to navigate its way through Africa’s usual grab-bag of risks – in this instance a mooted “super profits tax” in the Ivory Coast, site of its next gold venture. “The Ivory Coast has to rebuild its reputation,” Calderwood said. Nevertheless, he accepts that the country has a right to levy corporate taxes as it tries to speed its emergence out of the recent dark years. “At the moment, of the four key countries in west Africa, they are the lowest taxing,” he said. “But if they are not careful they will be the most expensive taxing country in west Africa.”

The fiscal changes are likely to affect not only new mines such as Sissingue but existing operations: Randgold Resources’ Tongon and Newcrest’s Bonikro, which the Australia miner inherited several years ago from its Lihir takeover. Perseus proposes to produce up to 170,000oz a year from Sissingue in the initial years. Assuming a speedy resolution of tax issues and no construction holdups, production could begin in the first quarter of 2014. Calderwood is confident further mines will be added in coming years, given west Africa’s track record of unearthing new gold deposits. “It is the stand-out region in the past seven years, so we have a reasonable chance of adding more mines onto our portfolio without having to leave west Africa,” he said. “We’ll bolt on other projects, we hope, from 2016 onwards,” Calderwood said. “We have a very strong exploration team, so we can also grow by the drill bit as much as possible.” While Calderwood has no grand merger and acquisition aspirations, he is willing to look at “early stage” assets. “Not necessarily anything that is ready to go – they are all too expensive,” he said. “We have a philosophy of keeping our all-in costs below $1000/oz, that includes discovery, or acquisition, development, operation, royalties. And you can’t do that if you want to do too much M&A.” Rising costs, the bane of many a gold miner in Australia facing declining grades and a more expensive operating environment, is one reason why Perseus is more than happy with its west African address, as opposed to Kalgoorlie. There have been a few hiccups at Edikan’s start up – recent problems with the crusher forced the company to downgrade its December quarter production by 5-10% – but the mine’s all-in cash costs of around $US700-800/oz would be the envy of many Australian diggers. West Africa’s advantage over Australia, where costs often push beyond $1000/oz, is mostly due to the quality of the ore bodies, Calderwood believes. Most Aussie gold assets “wouldn’t get a guernsey in west Africa”, he said. Meanwhile, Perseus will try to improve reliability at Edikan, given that some analysts are worried the plant’s mechanical problems may extend into 2013. As for rekindling that brief African love affair, Calderwood accepts that the only aphrodisiac Aussie investors will swallow is a track record of finding more ounces and delivering them into production. “As Australian mines get tougher, and their margins slip, all we can do is to try to keep our margins robust. At the end of the day, that is what shareholders want – a return on their investment.” editorial@miningmonthly.com

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


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on the move

editorial@miningmonthly.com

MINING and resources consultant CSA Global has welcomed David Macoboy as nonexecutive chairman replacing Rupert Crowe, who will continue to be involved with the company as a nonRupert Crowe executive director. Macoboy is an experienced chairman and director with more than 40 years experience in the finance and mining industries. He is chairman of exploration company Vital Metals and was previously chairman of Ammtec, Ironclad Mining, Grange Resources and Territory Resources. Crowe co-founded CSA Global in 1984 and has had an active involvement with the firm for 30 years.

ONE of Australia’s largest gold producers Norton Gold Fields has announced key changes to its executive team. Steven Thanh Phan has been appointed chief financial officer and Richard Jones as general counsel and joint company secretary. Leni Stanley will remain as joint company secretary. Phan has more than 10 years experience in financial management and reporting and advisory for Canadian and US mining companies. He previously worked for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in Canada and KPMG in China. IRON ore producer Gindalbie Metals has announced Christopher Gerrard as company secretary following the resignation of Ian Gregory. COAL export operator Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator has announced the departure of its inaugural chief executive officer Jonathan Vandervoort, who has left to pursue other opportunities. HVCCC chairman Tony Haraldson said Vandervoort had done a wonderful job creating order and efficiency in the very complex Hunter Valley Coal Chain. “It says something when supply chains around the world look to the HVCCC for

‘Critical’ appointment WESTERN Australia’s Curtin University has appointed Dudley Kingsnorth to lead its new Critical Materials Initiative. Kingsnorth has more than 40 years experience in the international mining industry, previously working for Rio Tinto, Shell, Alcoa, Ashton Mining and Bechtel. Curtin deputy vice-chancellor research and development Graeme Wright said Kingsnorth’s expertise would be used to develop the CMI, which aims to combine knowledge from governments and researchers worldwide to determine demand for independent research and advice on mining materials. It Dudley Kingsnorth will study rare earths, platinum, lithium and tungsten. “There’s recognition worldwide for total supply chain management of critical materials, from mine to original equipment showroom, calling for an initiative to develop research capability,” Wright said. “Professor Kingsnorth’s unique understanding of the supply and demand dynamics of critical materials and experience in providing advice with different organisations will be crucial for the new initiative.” guidance and advice on how things can work more effectively,” Haraldson said. “Jonathan can take great credit for this. “We will always remember his extraordinary contributions and wish him well as he pursues a new career direction.” Shanthi Herd has been appointed acting CEO while HVCCC seeks a replacement. EMERGING iron ore producer IronClad Mining has appointed Robert Mencel as managing director. Mencel was previously IronClad’s acting chief executive officer and chief operating officer. Robert Mencel Prior to working at IronClad Mencel held senior positions with Mount Gibson Iron, Tenix Projects, Tenix Defence, Western Mining Corporation and Normandy Mining (now known as Newmont). COPPER producer Tiger Resources has appointed Michael Griffiths as non-executive director.

Griffiths is a geologist with more than 30 years experience in the minerals and energy industries in Australia and Africa. He is the non-executive chairman of Mozambi Coal and is a consultant to Chalice Gold Mines. Tiger’s projects are located in the Katanga province, Democratic Republic of Congo, central Africa. PERTH-based exploration company Dourado Resources has announced the resignation of Shane Casley as non-executive director. IRON ore miner IMX Resources has welcomed Stuart McKenzie as company secretary, replacing Caroline Rainsford. McKenzie was previously company secretary at Anvil Mining. POTASH-focused Elemental Minerals has announced the resignation of executive director John Sanders. Elemental said Sanders was instrumental in the company’s progress and integral to the development of the Sintoukola project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Hardware

Made to order When you’re buying something this big, you probably want to make sure it is capable of doing the job. Keech Australia has promised to save mining companies time and money by supplying customised buckets. By Alison Middleton

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ustomer demand prompted steel castings manufacturer Keech Australia to launch a service supplying custom made buckets for the mining industry. The company’s mining supplies division is leading the service, which will enable Keech mining clients to benefit from having an original equipment manufacturer bucket specifically designed from the outset. Tailored to meet the unique demands of the operating environment, Keech said the service would also increase the life span of the bucket on minesites. The research and development team, based at Keech’s headquarters in Bendigo, Victoria, is also working to help mining companies overcome common issues such as high wear on the bucket corners. Keech mining supplies business manager Brad Clark said minesites would usually customise their own OEM buckets – a process taking up to four days and costing thousands of dollars. “While a lot of companies claim to supply custom-made buckets, in reality

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“While a lot of companies claim to supply custommade buckets, in reality these buckets are not manufactured from the outset to meet the specific needs of individual mines.” – Brad Clark these buckets are not manufactured from the outset to meet the specific needs of individual mines,” he said. “However, in developing our business model, we’ve met with a number of clients across the country and one of the common complaints is the time and cost required to customise buckets to protect high wearing areas and increase the life of the bucket. “Given this feedback, we decided to branch out and include custom made buckets in our service offering. “Under the business model, we can supply a customised bucket directly to the OEM or alternatively, we can deliver the custom made bucket directly to the site.” The cost of the new buckets will be

comparable to standard OEM buckets, with a similar lead time. Clark said Keech Mining Supplies was launched last year to respond to the market through the provision of customised solutions. “Mine operators will be saving money as they no longer have to invest company time in customising their bucket,” he added. “They will also be able to increase the lifespan of their buckets, again adding to the cost saving. “The development of custom made buckets is the next logical step in our business model. “A lot of mines have expressed a keen interest so we’re confident we’re on the right track to delivering a real need in the industry.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


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News

Northern fleet IsaMills grinding machines have been selected for Xstrata Zinc’s McArthur River mine expansion. By Alison Middleton The M10,000 Isamill grinding machine.

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strata Zinc is to increase its fleet of high intensity large-scale grinding machines to support a planned increase in production at its McArthur River mine in the Northern Territory. MRM has ordered two additional M10,000 IsaMill grinding machines to complement the eight machines currently onsite. Developed by Brisbane-based subsidiary Xstrata Technology, the machines are due to be commissioned in the second half of this year as part of the mine’s phase 3 development project. The project is targeting increased mining capacity from 2.5 million tonnes per annum to up to 5.5Mtpa from the open pit, producing an average of 380,000tpa of contained zinc.

Production will also increase from 360,000tpa of bulk concentrate to 800,000tpa. The machines are used in both the primary grinding and regrinding circuits of the processing facility. Xstrata Technology mineral processing general manager Lindsay Clark said MRM was a leader in the use of IsaMill technology and its continued development from regrind applications to mainstream coarse grinding. “IsaMill technology has enabled Xstrata Zinc to process the ultra-fine grained ore at MRM,” he said. Brisbane-basd Xstrata Zinc Australia said the $360 million project would more than double capacity and extend mine life to 2038. Chief operating officer Brian Hearne said the latest increase in IsaMills followed a similar

expansion in 2007 which supported a 39% increase in production capacity at that time. “We find the IsaMills to be simple and functional from an operator’s point of view, which for us supports low cost and reliable production,” Hearne said. “The IsaMills presented the best option to get the volumetric efficiency, grind sizes and energy efficiency we are now looking for in the phase 3 development project.” IsaMills were developed to be much more energy efficient than other grinding technologies and to improve flotation recovery due to inert attrition grinding. The two new M10,000 IsaMills will take MRM to a total of 10 IsaMills, six M3000s and four M10,000s. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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News

Cutifani quits CEO swaps AngloGold for Anglo American. By Kristie Batten

A

ngloGold Ashanti chief executive officer Mark Cutifani has resigned to take on the top job at Anglo American. Rumours had earlier emerged that Australian Cutifani was the top pick for the job due to his links to South Africa. Cutifani will remain as CEO of AngloGold until March 31 and will take up his new role on April 3. AngloGold said a search would begin for his replacement but chief financial officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan and business and technical development executive vicepresident Tony O’Neill will act as interim joint CEOs. Chairman Tito Mboweni thanked Cutifani for his service.

Outgoing AngloGold CEO Mark Cutifani.

“Mark led a significant operations and financial turnaround with industry-leading returns and built a leadership team with outstanding breadth and depth,” he said. Cutifani said it had been a privilege working with the company. “But it’s the focus on people, the rebuilding of the management team and their delivery of significant safety, environment and community development improvements that will help AngloGold Ashanti prosper in the long term,” Cutifani said. He said he was delighted to have an opportunity to lead Anglo American at an “important stage in its journey”. “Anglo American has some of the highest quality mining operations and projects amongst its diversified peer group, bound

together within a company with a deep sense of responsibility,” he added. Cutifani has been CEO of AngloGold since 2007. In November – in the midst of crippling industry-wide strikes – Cutifani was elected as president of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa after previously serving as vice-president. Anglo’s current CEO, Cynthia Carroll, announced her resignation in late October after five years in the role but agreed to remain with the company until a successor was found. She will depart at the end of April. Cutifani will have plenty to do at Anglo, with the underperforming company worth about two-thirds of what it was before Carroll took over. editorial@miningmonthly.com • This article appeared on MiningNews. net

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Advantage in proximity?

Kilometres or clocks, that is the question. Is it better to be closer to Asia, in terms of distance, or does Australia benefit from being in the same time zone as Beijing?

T

ucked away in the very silliest part of the silly season (the doldrums between Christmas and New Year, when markets are open but noone’s at home, when those of us not actually at the beach find our minds are anyway), the national tabloid ran a feature by Australia’s pre-eminent mining and resources historian, the lively octogenarian Geoffrey Blainey. That was most unfortunate – not that they ran it, but that the timing meant it would have gone even more unread than the usual stuff in what passes for our two national papers.

Melbourne and London to Beijing might be similar distances, but Melbourne has the advantage of being in much the same time zone. The Financial Review increasingly serves up what its editor seems to think conservative business lobbyists want to read, while the Oz writers continue to write what they know Rupert wants them to and, apparently, what Gina Hancock enjoys hearing. (Damned if I know why the Pilbara Princess is bothering with Fairfax when most of the Australia’s papers already are right up her dragline. And if all media reflected the considered wisdom of Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones, who would those two have to complain about?) But I digress. As the odds are very strongly in favour of you not having read Professor Blainey’s December 27 spray, I figure I can pretty safely get away with ripping some of it off as a public service. The Prof is increasingly known as a climate change sceptic, to put it mildly, which clouds his great service as a prolific writer on and of our history, a history in which he gives due credit to the role of the mining industry. He’s been at it for quite a while, as he reminds the reader in his first sentence: “It is nearly half a century since I coined the words, ‘the tyranny of distance’.”

20

Which is closest? Time v distance.

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


Yes, that phrase did catch on. At the risk of digressing, let me digress to say it would be nice to come up with a phrase that becomes part of the national identity. I haven’t managed it yet, though I thought I might have been in with a chance for a while by first referring to private equity firms as “private equiteers” (or so I think), but it didn’t take off. How cool would it be to have noted in your obituary that you gave the world the phrase “as useless as t*** on a bull”, or “dry as a dead dingo’s ... ”? Of such moments of creativity we mere mortals dream. Anyway, the Professor goes on to say: “Rightly or wrongly, the phrase soon became a distinctive way by which Australians expressed their past and present, and their isolation from the world’s centres of power. “This year, however, the federal government has declared that the tyrant is drying. It is not alone in that opinion. “In Australia in the Asian Century – that path-finding report quaintly called a white paper – Canberra affirms that Australia’s future lies primarily in Asia. We are close to what will become the world’s great commercial honey-pot, China. For Australia the tyranny of distance has been replaced by advantage or the ‘prospects of proximity’.” Yes, Prof Blainey does a nice line in put down, but he misses a chance to have a whack at the “quaintly called a white paper” authors for going with a poor imitation of a better phrase coined in an Economist magazine special report on Australia in May 2011 – “the advantage of adjacency”. Never mind – he has a bigger aim: defending his tyranny of distance line, or at least promising that it will die hard. Over the rest of the feature, Geoff gets out his Google maps to show it’s really only WA and Queensland that benefit from prospects of proximity or the advantage of adjacency, as what presently counts is the shipping distance to China of a couple of relatively cheap commodities: “Australia is not uniquely close to Asia,” admonishes Geoff. “In Russia only one footstep is needed to cross from Europe to Asia. Every city in Europe is closer to continental Asia than Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. “Australia – or the region where most of us live – is not close to China ... even London is not much further from Beijing than is Canberra ... Perth of course is close to India ... but even a direct flight from Perth to the huge city of Mumbai is slightly longer than a flight from Rome. In essence, we often exaggerate Australia’s proximity to Asia.” Also in essence, Blainey seems to be saying that the tyranny line still works for that part of Australia that he calls the “Hume Highway axis”. He added: “Australia is slowly developing into two nations or distinct regions. Probably one region overall gains in importance

amm FEBRUARY 2013

because of its proximity to east Asia, whereas the other region – more remote – loses politically and perhaps commercially.” It’s an interesting piece that goes further on a number of fronts than I can summarise here. There is a timely reminder that, while Australia has done well out of China, China has done well out of Australia in that we had highly efficient and productive mines just when China needed more steel and electricity. There is an admission that in some ways the world is shrinking anyway – “the distance is dead” argument – thanks to the communications and logistics revolutions. But he concludes with the line that, while some economists might downplay the importance of distance, military strategists do not.

“Every city in Europe is closer to continental Asia than Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.” – Geoffrey Blainey Distance still counts, but its impact is changing. Better transport and more productive mining within China and from other parts of the world could and, eventually, probably will erode some of our present adjacency advantage, while our competitors in many non-mining fields are as close to China as we are anyway. Yet I fear the esteemed professor makes one important omission: the time zone effect on distance. For many purposes, especially in tertiary industries and absolutely in thought industries, distance is measured by time, not by kilometres, by perception more than fact. Melbourne and London to Beijing might be similar distances, but Melbourne has the advantage of being in much the same time zone. Sure, there are 24-hour operations, but an email sent from a Shanghai university to a London college is likely to be answered the next day rather than the same day. (Hmmm, given the poor managerial performances of some Australian universities, the answer might take a couple of weeks ... ) So there remains some advantage in our adjacency, but it’s not as large as some outside the bulk commodities sector might like to think. This great window of opportunity delivered by the resources industry to kickstart this Asian Century doesn’t stay open indefinitely and the industries that we would like to see rise don’t necessarily have any particular advantage over the global competition – and, most of all, from the rising Asian competition. It promises to be a most interesting century indeed. editorial@miningmonthly.com

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9/01/13 9:34 PM


Mining Consultants pitt&sherry’s hydrocarbon separator at Savage River.

Savage River An engineering and infrastructure consultancy company has won an award for one of its environmental solutions at a minesite. By Vetti Kakulas

T

asmanian consulting firm pitt&sherry has provided its awardwinning solution to ensure that no hydrocarbons are released into the Savage River in Tasmania. Iron ore producer Grange Resources had stringent requirements to protect a river close to its mining operations. Grange Resources operates Australia’s largest integrated iron ore mining and pellet production facility, located in the northwest region of Tasmania. According to pitt&sherry senior consultant Steve Edwards, mining projects are increasingly being judged on their environmental credentials. Which is why pitt&sherry says it is focused on providing a positive influence on sustainability through its project works. A team from pitt&sherry designed a hydrocarbon separator to ensure no hydrocarbons were released into the Savage River. “This design achieved what no commercial hydrocarbon separator could, complete trapping under all conceivable flow situations,” Edwards said. “Our design included two components, a hydrocarbon separator and an overflow

AMM FEBRUARY 2013

chute, which work together as required.” Early analysis conducted by pitt&sherry identified almost all of the water coming from the mine that ended up in the site’s artificial lake, South Lens. Edwards said the lake became the integral focus of the design process and its capacity was increased to accommodate water rises experienced during heavy rainfall and storms. “Lake water travels through the hydrocarbon separator before discharging to the river,” he said. “A unique feature of our design is a flow limiter that works on the principle of limiting flow through multiple small holes.” The number and size of the exit holes controls the flow through the unit and ensures the separator isn’t exposed to flow levels beyond its capacity. One of the major challenges for the river project was addressing the mining operation’s flows as well as flows from the large natural catchment area that drains through the mine operations. The Tasmanian climate is dry in summer and has heavy rainfall in the wetter seasons, so the design had to be capable of processing all flows. Additionally, the design had to be able to

treat small oil or diesel leaks from machinery, as well as fuel truck spills. Other challenges pitt&sherry encountered from the Savage River site development involved a remote location without power, a landscape with fluctuating annual rainfall and delivering a solution that didn’t require constant human intervention. “The only human intervention needed is to empty trapped hydrocarbon using a suction truck. Future plans, including the installation of a powered oil detector and skimmer, will negate that,” Edwards said. It was possible for Grange Resources to install commercial separators. However, it would have been a costly initiative. “We estimated 25 separators were needed to deal with a 1-in-100 year rainfall event, a $5 million investment,” he added. “Coupled with the expense were space limitations and the level of maintenance required to ensure redundant equipment was always in operating condition.” Edwards said pitt&sherry’s solution cost less than $500,000. He said commercial separators would not be able to withstand the site’s broad range of water flows and tanker fuel spills during high rainfall conditions. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Mining Consultants

Golden passage Mining consultant Golder Associates has expanded its services in New South Wales.

Before: the Toowoomba railway in Southern Queensland needed repairing after flooding.

C

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onsulting, design and construction services company Golder Associates has integrated with Strata Engineering to meet client demand in Australia’s underground coal mining industry. Based in Newcastle, New South Wales, Strata Engineering has more than 8,000 people in 180 offices worldwide. The merger adds to Golder’s presence in the Hunter Valley region, NSW. Golder managing director of Australia Adam Kilsby said the integration would create new opportunities for clients. “Golder can now provide clients with all the specialist mining services required, from mine planning to mine closure and beyond, and for both underground and open cut mining,” Kilsby said. “Strata Engineering has a proven track record of reliable and consistent geotechnical services.” Its services include geotechnical assessment and design, due diligence and feasibility studies, onsite strata management and underground stress and ground deformation monitoring. Kilsby said Golder would focus on assisting Strata Engineering with a greater range of projects from concept to extraction across the coal industry, nationally and internationally. “Golder has rapidly expanded its presence in the Hunter Valley and we see strong opportunities for further growth, given the

solid long-term demand for coal and the region’s other resources,” he said. Strata Engineering principal geotechnical engineer Rob Thomas said joining the Golder network would give Strata’s clients and employees access to greater opportunities and project diversity. “It allows us to export Australian mining knowledge into established and developing coalfields around the world, as well as importing knowledge gained from other countries into the Australian underground coal industry,” Thomas said.” Golder said mining companies are concerned that Australia’s cost environment needs to reflect current commodity price realities. According to Golder’s national manager client development mining Ian Lipton, it’s a demand which fits well with Golder’s focus on maximising efficiencies. “Demand for our global consulting, design and construction services in Australia has remained strong, however, like our clients we are focused on improving cost efficiencies,” Lipton said. Introducing energy efficient technology and other operational improvements, such as optimising drill and blast techniques, are key areas for mining companies to target cost savings. Golder has an energy optimisation and carbon management team, designed to help its clients reduce costs, such as the

FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


After: An Aurizon (formerly QR National) train crosses the new railway bridge.

carbon price, through energy audits, energy management and renewable energy sources. “We’ve also built a new pipe loop test facility in Melbourne which allows large-scale testing of slurry characteristics,” Lipton said. “This improves the design of tailings and backfill systems which can result in lower capital and energy costs.” Lipton said last year was notable for the large amount of consulting projects in the iron ore sector, including mine expansion projects in the Pilbara and the Port Spencer development, in South Australia. Golder was also involved with a range of railroad, port and stockpile works including

the Toowoomba Range railway, in Southern Queensland, an important railway for freighting resources in the coal region. Engineers Australia presented Golder with an Australian Engineering Excellence award for repairs to the Toowoomba railway project, last September. “This year will be a year of consolidation, helping clients lower operating costs without compromising safety or product quality,” Lipton said. “Having operated in Australia for more than 40 years, we have been through these cycles before and know how to help clients adapt and prosper.” vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Golder Australia managing director Adam Kilsby.

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Direction dependent

M

ining consultant Snowden has a quarter of a century’s experience in open pit slope stability in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Now, in partnership with Canadian company Rocscience, WA-based Snowden has created a “sheer strength criterion”. The Snowden Modified Anisotropic Linear Model has been included as an additional feature of its Slide 6.0 limit state slope stability analysis software. Anisotropy is essentially the difference in a material’s physical or mechanical properties. Slide 6.0 is a program which analyses groundwater seepage, rapid drawdown, sensitivity and probabilistic analysis and support design. Snowden said the Slide 6.0 can analyse all types of soil and rock slope, embankments, earth dams and retaining walls. The linear model was developed to accurately model the highly anisotropic strength of bedded rock masses. “The intensively bedded nature of the Pilbara’s sedimentary rocks results in a high potential for failures to develop in open pit mines,” Snowden geotechnical engineering manager Ken Mercer said. “So it’s essential that we model the anisotropic shear strength of these types of rocks as accurately as possible.” Tendency for failure in anisotropic strength rocks are a result of the weak nature of the rock’s mass, due to intensive weathering, with relatively low shear strength of bedding planes. “It’s especially relevant in areas where bedding is dipping towards the pit as a result of regional or localised folding,” Mercer said. The model was original developed for analysing highly anisotropic bedded rock masses of Pilbara iron ore formations but Mercer said it could be applied to similar rock masses anywhere. It includes two updated features – one being that bedding and rock mass strength can now be defined by non-linear shear-normal functions. “This is a significant improvement on the old model which allowed only [mathematical model] Mohr-Coulomb parameters to be used to represent the shear strengths of the rock mass and bedding,” Mercer said. Another improvement is that the model allows anisotropy to be modelled non-symmetrically. The Snowden geotechnical team’s research has identified modelling non-symmetrically as a critical factor in anisotropic rock mass behaviour. “Other anisotropic models have an abrupt strength change at critical orientations, the Snowden model provides a more realistic transition of strength with orientation,” Rocscience chief software developer Brent Corkum said. Corkum said key benefits of the model included an improvement in estimating the limit state factor of a pit slope and predicting the shape of the critical slip surface failure mechanism. Snowden has Australian offices in Perth and Brisbane, as well as globally in Canada, South Africa, the UK and Brazil. Toronto-based Rocscience has been creating geotechnical software since 1996. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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BROMBY ROBIN

2013: Same challenges We’re just one month into the new year, but some developers could do with a history lesson in order to avoid mistakes of the past.

W

e can all remember examples where getting a mine into operation threw up some unexpected problems. If not, think back to September 15, 1997. On that day the then West Australian resources development minister Colin Barnett presided at the official opening of the airstrip at the new Murrin Murrin nickel project. “Murrin Murrin represents the new face of Western Australia’s nickel industry,” glowed Barnett. “There will be full processing from ore to nickel metal on site, confirming the growing importance of nickel in the state’s vast resources portfolio.” Mmm. It didn’t quite turn out that way. Fast forward to January 2001. Andrew Forrest’s Anaconda Nickel had announced lower than expected nickel and cobalt output after the company closed the acid plant.

How come so many developers fail to take into account such basic considerations? The operation was running at 46% design capacity. As Miningnews.net put it: “Anaconda has struggled to bring the plant, which began producing in 1999, to full capacity because of problems with technology.” That, of course, was putting it mildly and BHP Billiton was to have its own laterite problems at Ravensthorpe so many years later.

These have been two of the more spectacular examples, but there have been plenty, big and small. Commissioning risk is a subject touched on in a recent client note from Canaccord Genuity’s Warwick Grigor, who is not only a former business partner of Forrest’s, but – more importantly – one of the few analysts to have stuck with the resource sector through thick and thin over many years. As he points out, the commissioning stage is the highest risk period for serious investors, but one that many do not take into account. (Actually, given the continuing commissioning dramas unfolding, perhaps this stage is not fully appreciated in some board rooms either.) “What can go wrong?” asks Grigor rhetorically. Well, plenty, as he explains. Grade estimates need to be reassessed once there is a chance to reconcile what is on the mining plan and what actually goes through the mill. It’s common for gold miners to experience greater dilution in mining, leading to lower grades and lower tonnages. Underground mines frequently experience congestion due to insufficient development and limited numbers of stopes providing ore, which leads to the inability to deliver ore to the mill at the planned rates. (And let me interpose another comment here: read that back, that bit about “frequently experience congestion”. “Frequently”? How come so many developers fail to take into account such basic considerations?) Grigor notes that underground mines always have great propensity to disappoint, particularly in the first two years.

False prophet? WA Premier Colin Barnett.

He goes on with some of the other issues – the often unexpected complexity of the ore, actual costs not really known for some months of operation and whether the company has sufficient money to endure problems and delays. And he cites some recent examples. There was Hillgrove Resources’ copper mine in South Australia where a second-hand crusher proved inadequate, leading to costs blowing out $500,000 a month. For Cobar Consolidated’s silver project, the ore proved harder than expected, costs rose and production targets were not met. And for Red 5 in the Philippines, sludge in the pit affected mining. So, all it shows is that this may be 2013 but mining is still no cakewalk.

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Need any help, anyone? IT’S the nuts and bolts end of the mining business that rarely gets much media attention, but the role of state governments – other than permitting – is vital in so many ways. The most obvious is making money available for drilling programs, which has been a vital fallback for explorers in times when they’re finding it hard to rustle up some cash. South Australia has been in the forefront in that regard, its Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) providing a national example. PACE recently stumped up $750,000 to finance a program aimed at retaining locally trained geoscientists within South Australia. It has been pronounced a success; 33 graduates having been placed with mining companies, junior explorers or technical services companies. The announcement claimed a 96% success rate, which means that only one (possibly two) of the graduates could not be placed. The pilot program was a response to the global financial crisis; the state did not want to lose graduates who might not be able to find jobs. It seems a key element might have been to provide training in areas not covered by university courses, such as remote first aid, intensive four-wheel driving lessons, and training in mining software. This was the actual hands-on knowledge that new employers would normally have to provide. But the aid is not quite generous as in the olden days. In 1912, Victoria provided assistance to mining companies, including building tracks and erecting batteries, to the tune of £581,468. That, according to the Reserve Bank’s inflation calculator, is equivalent to $62.2 million in today’s highly debased currency. Tasmania, under the Deep-Sinking Encouragement Act 1899, provided grants of up to £5000 ($535,096 in today‘s money) for new shafts or tunnels. You wouldn’t have to ask the crowd in West Perth a second time if those sort of handouts were still around. editorial@miningmonthly.com

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Conveyor Equipment & Services

The clean-up crew An engineering and manufacturing firm has developed a solution for coal miners faced with spills when conveyors change direction. By Alison Middleton

H

eavy engineering and fabrication firm TW Woods Group has developed a low-height transfer chute to overcome space, spillage and conveyor bulking problems. The company, which specialises in machining bulk handling equipment for coal miners, designed the chute to eliminate conveyor spills at coal mining and coal handling facilities. TW Woods said spills and bulking issues were common in coal mining and could lead to a disruption in production. Based in Tomago, near Newcastle in New South Wales, the company’s transfer chutes are designed and fabricated to overcome the issue, preventing spillage and downtime. The company’s low-height transfer chute

amm FEBRUARY 2013

features a conical head to maintain high volume and high flow rates of up to 2000 tons an hour when conveyors change direction either underground or on the surface. It can be fitted into lower overall heights than conventional designs, operating with a separation distance between belts of 12001500mm. Company director Tom Woods said the chute’s conical head was configured to provide a smooth transition through the turn for coal moving at 3m a second and dropping up to 1500mm onto a belt below. “In underground mines you get 90 degree turns as coal conveyors emerge from one shaft and have to transfer into another within very tight spaces,” he said. “It’s usually very difficult to get coal to turn

that quickly without spillage and bulking up on the conveyor belts as coal is dropped from the belt above onto the one below while changing direction. “We set out to eliminate the spills, splatters and bulking that can disrupt production in mines, where time is money.” Woods said eliminating frustration, delay and cost was vital in today’s economic climate. “The design has already been proven in service with some of Australia’s leading coal producers,” he added. “A bonus of the design is that it’s been quality engineered to easily outlast conventional designs and far exceed typical warranties.” TW Woods also manufactures products for mineshaft development. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

31


Conveyor Equipment & Services

Australia and beyond A slowdown in the underground coal sector has prompted Nepean Conveyors to set its sights on WA’s iron ore mines – and further afield.

A

winning combination of customer service and global ambition is driving Nepean Conveyors forward to new markets, according to the company’s managing director. With new manufacturing facilities and markets in sight, the company is continuing to forecast growth, despite a downturn in the underground coal sector. Nepean said it expected the general downturn in the underground coal market to last between 18-24 months, but continued to forecast growth. With its eye on prospective mining clients both at home and abroad, Nepean opened a new manufacturing facility at Unanderra, New South Wales, in October, which is already at full capacity. In addition, a sales office has been opened in Perth, Western Australia, as the company moves to target the iron ore market in WA. The company also has factories in Mackay, Queensland, Narellan near Sydney and another near Picton, NSW. A facility in South Africa has also been opened as the firm moves into key African markets.

“We are entrepreneurial by nature and we can make quick decisions. If we see an opportunity we’ll certainly jump at it.” – Rolf Van Rooyen

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Leading the company’s vision is Rolf Van Rooyen, who was promoted to managing director in June from the post of general manager of Nepean Meco Conveyors, a manufacturing division of Nepean Conveyors. While the majority of Nepean’s contracts are repeat customers, Van Rooyen said he already had plans to take Nepean to new markets, including the iron ore mines of WA. “A big part of my drive with Nepean Conveyors is to take it beyond the traditional markets,” he said. “We’re a pretty big organisation today, but until a year or two ago we were mostly focussed on the underground coal market on the east coast of Australia. “We are well-regarded in the industry and well-known for offering innovative solution to customers – not just products.” Xstrata, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American are among Nepean’s key clients, and a lot of the company’s current projects have come from development of new capital projects and infrastructure. Based in Picton, Nepean Conveyors specialises in providing complete, engineered turnkey conveying and materials handling solutions for surface mining, underground coal, hard rock mining, port facilities and process plants. Essentially, the company intends to follow in the footsteps of major mining houses as it seeks out new, low-cost markets which will be the most profitable. But Van Rooyen said Nepean differed from its competitors in that the company’s expertise was geared towards providing tailored

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


The drift and skyline project installed at Narrabri coal mine for Whitehaven Coal.

solutions, rather than just selling products from a catalogue. “We want to build on our really good name in the underground coal space on the east coast, and take that into WA,” he added. “And we’ve started moving into the bigger African markets from our Johannesburg office. “The whole plan is to keep on offering these solutions to customers in major international markets. Nepean has started the journey to becoming a global conveyor supplier. “We are 100% Australian owned, born and bred and we are very proud of that. We want to keep building on that reputation, because we are acutely aware that Australian mining companies and suppliers are well-regarded internationally for expertise.” He said the obvious international markets were Africa and South America, but the company had a presence in China for supply chain management. “However, it is not out of the question that we may move into that market,” Van Rooyen said. “We are talking about moving into Canada and America. They are big markets, but the business model may be different. “It may be through acquisition, but it’s not on the cards in the short-term. “Being a privately owned company we are entrepreneurial by nature and we can make quick decisions. If we see an opportunity we’ll certainly jump at it.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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                           

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Conveyor Equipment & Services

Pilbara-proof An engineering specialist tested its new conveyor drives in one of the world’s harshest environments – the Pilbara.

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hen it came to testing its CX series conveyor drives, global engineering firm David Brown sought out one of the world’s toughest mining regions. Its CX series of gearboxes was tested under the glare of Western Australia’s Pilbara sunshine, long before it was launched at Minexpo 2012 amid the bright lights of Las Vegas in the US. The UK-based company’s customised conveyor drive system was installed at iron ore mines and ports to test its reliability, bearing life and thermal capacity ahead of the launch onto the Australian mining market. Designed to operate at high defined levels of torque, speed, power and thermal ratings, David Brown said the advanced technologies of the CX series provided key product solutions for mining operations. The technology is designed to incorporate key solutions for the mining sector where performance, bearing reliability and increased thermal life are primary concerns. A new gear case and fan design deliver up to 20% increased thermal capacity compared to standard alternatives and reduce the need for additional cooling equipment.

David Brown’s CX series conveyor drive.

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The gear geometry has been optimised for reduced transmission noise, increasing the bearing life by up to four times. “The CX series has been field tested in one of the world’s most remote locations, the Pilbara iron ore region,” David Brown mining director Ian Chew said. “It has been operating in ports and mines with ambient temperatures exceeding 45C.

“The CX series has been field tested in one of the world’s most remote locations, the Pilbara iron ore region.” – Ian Chew “All field and rig test experience has been further verified by state-of-the-art analysis. “We’re very excited to showcase the CX series to the mining industry and strongly believe that it represents the best optimised capacities for conveying drives on the market today. “It has already been proven to be extremely reliable and low in maintenance and stands

to make a significant and positive impact in mining operations.” The company said its CX design had undergone a stringent development and testing regimen and the system had been successfully operating in the Pilbara for more than five years. Aspects of David Brown’s “Stealth” range of conveyor drives are also included in the CX design, coupled with recent advances in design and precision manufacturing to ensure the CX range meets customers’ environmental noise emission requirements. Asia-Pacific business development director Tom Cross said the company had chosen the Australian iron ore industry and the Pilbara because it had the most demanding conveyor duty requirements possible. “We knew if our CX could make it in the Pilbara it would be a truly global product,” he said. “In designing the CX we listened to the industry and we certainly looked at the shortcomings of our competitors’ units operating in the field. “David Brown has an installed base of around 150 drives at many of the major ports and mines, including Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto. “Our customers wanted a robust, reliable product that could run relatively maintenance free, 24/7, for many years, including thermal efficiency without the need for expensive auxiliary cooling. “With growing focus on occupational health and safety issues – and the fact that a number of our installations are at export ports and in close proximity to residential development – it was essential that CX was environmentally compliant.” Cross said David Brown had been at the forefront of gear design and manufacture for more than 150 years. “We have drawn on our global team of experienced design engineers to produce what we believe to be the new benchmark in modern conveyor drive design,” he added. “Our team has employed the very latest finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics and macro/micro gear geometry optimisation to ensure that the CX provides absolute optimum power density versus unit size.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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David Brown’s Multi CX (4 X 1000 Kw) drives in action at an iron ore ship loading facility in Pilbara.

Onsite precision Millimetres of misalignment can disable conveyors, cause premature wear and disrupt production, an engineering company has warns. Machining specialist Hydratight is urging mining companies to be aware of the importance of precision machining at major resources materials handling plants. The UK-based firm, which has Australian headquarters in Perth, Western Australia, has launched an onsite machining service for its iron ore and coal mining clients. Hydratight machining technicians travel to minesites across Australia to provide in situ milling and machining services for conveyors. Onsite work on equipment including heat exchangers, pump and motor pads, steel mill stands, turbine split lines, large mobile materials handling machinery and static forming and fabrication machinery is also carried out by the company’s technicians. “Conveyor pulleys are just one area where precision machining is critical,” Hydratight commercial leader Neil Ferguson said.

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“If bearings are not flush, torsional stress can and will cut out bearings and interrupt production. “We have seen it happen in Australia in major projects. “Companies involved in maintenance programs often can’t afford the time to dismantle heavy plant to take it offsite for servicing – it’s just not practical to do so. “But onsite servicing in Australia is complicated by the fact that there is a definite shortage here of onsite milling and machining services. “That is why we are introducing an onsite machining service with technologies already proven with global leaders in the resources sector.” Ferguson said results from onsite machining conducted by Hydratight’s technicians was comparable to stationary machining for a range of applications. Hydratight said its onsite skills were complemented by technologies such as trunnion grinders, all-axis milling machines and mini mills, which increase plant uptime and safety.

Hydratight’s trunnion grinder provides portable onsite solutions.

“Our three-axis portable milling machine is our most versatile and accurate milling tool, capable of travelling and machining in all axes,” Ferguson added. “Three-axis is ideal for onsite machining large and small rectangular areas accurately. This portable mill can be clamped or bolted directly onto the part being machined or fabricated.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Conveyor Equipment & Services

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utomation and robotics are among the most groundbreaking applications for mining conveyor equipment innovations, according to an industrial automation manufacturer. Machinery Automation & Robotics (MAR) said key factors of conveyor operation and failure at minesites could be quantified for autonomous assessment. The company has designed and manufactured a mobile robotic inspection unit capable of inspecting idlers on loaded, operational conveyors. Providing online “live” idler inspection, the unit guides itself along the conveyor and positions inspection equipment to scan each idler before repositioning itself at the next idler frame. Equipped with a suite of optional attachments, such as an under-belt debris removal tool, MAR said the idler inspection system was capable of completing multiple tasks alongside the conveyor and throughout the inspection process. Based in Silverwater in New South Wales, MAR’s autonomous idler inspection system was developed to increase conveyor uptime, obtain optimum value from investment and boost health and safety. Company automation engineer Mark Lix said the benefits of the system to the mining industry were astronomical. “Innovations such as the autonomous idler inspection system allow minesites to increase operational gain through predictive maintenance while removing the previous associated risks,” he said. “Minesites can finally see what is really happening and have the information to act without wasted time or resource. This means the ability to predict failures before they actually happen.” MAR conducted trials and analysis to gain an understanding of factors and signs that can pinpoint impending idler failure at minesites. And the company’s automation team believes the capability of monitoring idler life with a mobile robotic inspection unit could become an industry game-changer. Data from the analysis of each idler is collected and presented directly to the operating system for analysis and has the ability to be integrated with an existing, scheduled maintenance planning system. Collected data also allows for the timely identification of idlers that need replacement, either immediately or as part of future maintenance plans. Lix added: “There is no questioning the crucial nature of conveyor operation within the mining business or the detrimental impact of down time. “Automation and robotics are among the most ground-breaking applications for conveyor equipment innovations. “It is anticipated that such innovations are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to critical areas such as servicing and monitoring conveyors and associated equipment.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Focus: Destination India

Indian frontier Australia’s iron ore exporters questioning China’s appetite for growth and expansion may find a new trading partner in India. By John McIlwraith

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ndia offers an opportunity – and also an enigma – to Australian iron ore exporters. Until recently the third-biggest global exporter, albeit a long way behind Australia and Brazil, India’s exports are now falling rapidly and its steel mills are expected to import ore. In a confused situation, India, Asia’s second-biggest economic engine, may offer opportunities to Australian miners. At the very least, the country’s recent decisions regarding iron ore exports reduce competition for markets in Asia and particularly China. There is no formal indication that Australian miners are negotiating with the Indian steel industry but the reticence of

several of them, when approached, suggest there is at least an interest in the market. Atlas Iron, an emerging producer in Western Australia, recently reported that it “continues to have discussions around new term contracts with a variety of other parties both inside and outside of China”. It declined to reveal details. Rio Tinto already has a major iron ore deposit in the State of Orissa, which it describes as “one of the key underdeveloped iron ore regions of the world”. It has a joint venture with the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation and holds rights to extensive iron ore leases. Rio Tinto describes the project: “With expectations of significant infrastructure and industrial growth in India in the medium

and long term, Rio Tinto remains keen to contribute to the development of the Indian iron ore sector. “Plans for the JV align production to meet growing domestic demand for iron ore and the partners intend to commence work on the project in the near term.” Indian trade sources suggest that the Rio Tinto deposit holds at least several hundred million tonnes of good quality ore but it will be some time before further proving and development takes place. In any case, the Rio Tinto deposit is not immediately affected by the current confusion in the industry. India exported nearly 120 million tonnes of ore in 2010 but the figure has fallen by about two-thirds since.

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There has been a shortage of ore for some steel mills and the industry is confused by a series of rulings at national and state level, as well as judgments in the country’s legal system. The shortages in the industry are baffling, when the country has extensive reserves, much of it high grade. One analyst reports that Indian production has declined steadily over the past three years and is expected to settle at less than 145Mt for the year just ended (down from 185Mt in 2011). In the iron ore producing states of Karnataka, Goa and Orissa there have been severe restrictions on production, some associated with a commission investigating the industry, others introduced by state governments, often to check illegal mining. Some issues are still waiting to be heard in India’s Supreme Court. The iron ore mining ban in Goa, one of India’s largest iron ore producing states, is the latest in a series of rulings which has sent the Indian iron ore sector into crisis. The series of mining and export bans, started by a mining ban in Karnataka in July 2010, was aimed at halting illegal mining which had surged in response to strong import demand from China. Iron ore production in Karnataka has

slumped to 13Mt, down from 47Mt, with similar effects on exports. These issues have spread to other iron ore producing states including Goa, Orissa and, to a lesser extent, Jharkhand. Production slowed or ceased in these regions and exports have slumped from 117Mt in 2009-2010 to about 35Mt last year. Some smaller steel mills in Karnataka are operating at 50-60% of capacity. The iron ore industry has been encouraged by negotiations sanctioned by the Indian government to resume limited imports to South Korea and Japan. But the shipments, of a few million tonnes, would make little difference to the overall picture. The resources research group Salva says pressure is increasing to ban all iron ore exports, led by the Indian steel sector, which believes that iron ore reserves are being depleted at a rate that will undermine the steel sector’s expansion. India is estimated to have 28.5 billion tonnes of iron ore resources and, based on Salva’s steel production forecasts, this would be sufficient to last another 40-50 years. However, this measurement is based on an arbitrary 55% iron cut-off. About 10Bt of resources have been added over the past 30 years as exploration activities have increased.

Based on these factors, Salva’s view is that resources are unlikely to be exhausted in the next 60-70 years, even allowing for very strong growth in the Indian steel sector. Salva predicts that Indian iron ore production and exports are likely to continue falling, resulting in the removal of cheap iron ore (so far, 85 million tonnes per annum, with more to follow) from the global seaborne market. If measures to reduce or ban exports continue, there could be strong growth in the Indian steel sector, supported by cheap domestic iron ore. If overall iron ore mining is restricted, there could be further growth in iron ore investments overseas by Indian steel producers. There could also be increases in iron ore imports in the short to mid-term. “Signs of this are already emerging, particularly on the west coast which has been particularly hard hit due to its distance from the main domestic production, with import inquiries in the market at present from distressed steel producers,” Salva stated. Salva says it is possible India will become a significant – if volatile – importer of iron ore, following the route it has taken in the coal sector, despite having abundant domestic resources of both. editorial@miningmonthly.com

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Underground Mining ThoroughTec Simulation has released a range of soft rock mining simulators.

New in 2013 A new year brings a range of new products from mining simulator cab designer ThoroughTec Simulation. By Vetti Kakulas

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horoughTec Simulation has extended its range of underground mining simulators for the resources industry. The South African firm has introduced a range of Caterpillar underground mining simulators and extended its range specifically for the soft rock resources industry. ThoroughTec said its new products were developed in response to customer demand. The cab products include the Cat R1600G and R2900 load-haul-dump loaders and AD30, AD45B and AD55B articulated dump trucks. Additionally, ThoroughTec has introduced a simulator cab for the Cat 495HR rope shovel, which was previously owned by equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International. This year, ThoroughTec has released a range of underground soft rock mining simulators for a Joy continuous miner and shuttle car, a Fletcher bolter, a Sandvik load-haul-dump truck and two utility-type vehicles. “The CYBERMINE range of simulators has been extremely successful in realising productivity gains and safety improvements in the hard rock, underground mining environment and in surface coal mining operations,” ThoroughTec executive director John Waltham said. “So it was a rational progression for us to apply these proven training technologies and techniques to the underground soft rock environment.” All of the latest ThoroughTec products add to the family of surface Cat 992 wheel loaders, 773, 777F and 793F haul trucks and D10T and D11R dozers. “These CAT products join the widest and fastest growing range of simulator cabs on the market, covering all major manufacturers, such as Sandvik, Atlas Copco, Liebherr, Komatsu, P&H and Hitachi,” Waltham said. BHP Billiton’s Khutala Colliery coal mine

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The Caterpillar 1600G load-haul-dump loader simulator.

in South Africa has purchased a full range of underground soft rock mining simulators. The Khutala Colliery mine is located 55km from Witbank in the Mpumalanga province and has 14 underground coal cutting sections in the room and pillar. BHP has also acquired ThoroughTec’s complete CYBERMINE training suite for its South African mine. The suite includes a computer-based trainer (CBT) system and an operator familiarisation trainer (OFT). Waltham said the CYBERMINE CBT system would be used to teach trainee operators at the Khutala Colliery mine the theory needed to operate specific pieces of underground mining equipment. “The system uses photographic still shots, two-dimensional and three-dimensional computer animations, and site video, overlaid with audio to walk the trainee through the controls and operation of the equipment,” he said. Trainee miners can operate the OFT system and controls of the replicated cab via

a single touch-screen display. ThoroughTec has previously sold its CYBEMINE 4 mining simulators to Rio Tinto’s Block Cave Knowledge Centre of Excellence at Northparkes Mine, New South Wales, and to Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines. Both purchased Sandvik underground mining simulators, including the DD420 drill rig, and the LH517 and LH514 load-hauldump loaders. The latest CYBERMINE dragline simulator has been installed at the Wesfarmers Curragh mine in the Bowen Basin, central Queensland. And a Sandvik LH514E underground load-haul-dump loader simulator cab is now being used to train staff at Rio Tinto’s Argyle diamond mine in the east Kimberley region of WA. Manufacturing simulators for more than 20 years, ThoroughTec supplies simulator systems to the South African military, selling more than 500 simulator units to the mining and construction industries worldwide. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Underground Mining

Simple is best Although scheduling rates for mining development haven’t improved in decades, a mining specialist believes there is potential for companies to improve. By Vetti Kakulas

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eep it simple. Think of ways you can improve productivity. That’s the message mining specialist and engineer AnneMarie Ebbels is telling the mining industry. Ebbels is a principal consultant for mining at SRK Consulting in Melbourne. According to the Mining in Australia 20122027 report, employment growth will not be able to keep up with the forecast expansion in production, with labour productivity at its weakest point since 1987. The report, developed by economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel, said pressure from lower commodity prices plus high and rising costs had ignited a new war on costs in the mining sector. “Labour productivity in the mining sector

is an absolute disaster,” BIS infrastructure and mining unit senior manager Adrian Hart said. Hart said labour productivity was now 60% off its peak from 2000-01, when miners had to respond to the Asian financial crisis and then a global downturn. The report said a new boom was developing in mining production and services, predicting miners would ramp up production from new mines and expansions. Ebbels says in underground mining the scheduling rates for development have not improved significantly in the past 20 years. Contractors are still providing development rates between 165m and 200m per month for single heading development. Gold producer Newcrest Mining has incorporated rapid tunnelling technologies

and improved its development by 60%, above the Australian benchmark rate of 5.258m per day. “Which demonstrates that it’s possible to make improvements to the development rates,” Ebbels said. Potential impacts that can improve an underground mine’s development rate include accessing production areas faster, reducing the development jumbo fleet or not acquiring additional capital to purchase a fleet. “Bringing new mines into production earlier results in earlier payback of capital,” Ebbels said. “This has a large impact on the economics of block caving, which relies on the development of the infrastructure and extraction levels before full production is achieved.”

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FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


Ebbels said production could be improved by understanding how the truck and loader fleets operated. Miners should recognise any unnecessary stops made during haulage by the trucks; whether all operators maintained a similar rate; and whether downtime was planned or unplanned.

“Productivity improvement doesn’t have to be a big ticket item, usually the simplest solution is the best.” – Anne-Marie Ebbels Ebbels said miners should identify whether loaders and trucks were suitably matched and if the fragmentation of the rock was suitable for the bogging of stopes. A mine owner Ebbels previously worked with decided to investigate complaints that the truck fleet was being delayed by other light vehicles in the underground decline shaft. Consequently, spotters were placed in the trucks to log the number of times a truck had to stop and why. “The results revealed that the high number of stops was mainly due to the contractor’s light vehicles not giving the truck right-ofway,” Ebbels said. “The mine has now improved, hitting their production targets by simply reminding employees that the trucks have right-of-way. “Productivity improvement doesn’t have to be a big ticket item, usually the simplest solution is the best and the challenge is identifying where the improvement can be made and changed.”

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Underground mining production can be improved by understanding how the truck and loader fleets operate.

Measures of productivity are based on multi-factor productivity which, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, provides a measure of changes in technical progress or efficiency in the economy over time. MFP represents the effects of technical progress, work force improvements and management practices and economies of scale improvements. “The MFP is difficult to measure in the mining industry because of the large number of projects in construction and the lag time between construction and production capacity,” Ebbels said. Additionally, the amount of inexperienced people entering the workforce contributes to

the “perceived” decline in productivity. “While the high-level statistics are indicating a decline in productivity in the mining industry, there are very few mines that would be able to claim that they cannot improve their productivity,” Ebbels said. “Engineers, managers and operators onsite need to identify what they can do to improve productivity at their mines. “Each individual activity undertaken on a mine has individual steps that may be improved.” SRK Consulting has more than 45 offices on six continents. Its Australian offices are based in Perth, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Underground Mining

The revolutionary Equipment giant Caterpillar has developed a prototype that promises to improve underground mining.

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oal mining companies are continually searching for faster underground hard rock development for large block caving to increase production rates. According to the Australian Coal Association, exports have increased by more than 50% over the past 10 years. Black coal supplies 54% of Australian households and businesses with their electricity needs. Caterpillar has developed a prototype of a continuous hard rock cutting system that uses a new concept in cutting technology. Continuous mining machines use a large rotating steel drum with tungsten carbide cutting bits to scrape coal from the seam. Caterpillar’s cutting head promises to

revolutionise hard rock mine development and selective mining of ore. “We’ve been working on technology for continuous cutting of hard rock for some time and we begin trialling the technology in mines soon,” Caterpillar Global Mining general manager underground products Ulrich Paschedag said. The technical details of the cutting technology are yet to be released due to ongoing development work. Paschedag said the technology was similar to the success of percussive drilling, as compared to conventional drilling. Percussive drilling is said to be the best method for drilling rock, as it can drill deeper and its bore holes are smaller and easier to seal from surface water. Caterpillar engineers

expect the cutting head technology will be used in different types of hard rock mining systems. One example, such as a compact unit, could cut and load hard rock in a continuous, automated process. “Such a system would enable high-speed mine development and faster access to ore deposits,” Paschedag said. “Guidance systems and automated cutting processes would ensure maximum cutting path accuracy, and selective extraction of ore and waste would improve mine yield and cut disposal costs.” The cutting system eliminates the need for explosives used in conventional drill and blast work, resulting in a reduction of personnel working at the face. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Underground Mining

Talking chamber MineARC Systems has released its latest refuge chamber, which can “talk” to its occupants.

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afer mining is crucial, particularly for those working in dangerous environments such as an underground mine. The worst-case scenario for miners in such cases is being trapped at the mine face by fire or rock falls where no one can escape. Refuge chamber specialist MineARC Systems has acknowledged the importance of miner safety and continues to improve its products. Consequently, MineARC has launched its latest model of refuge chambers to the hard rock mining industry, the hard rock mine (HRM) series IV. The series represents the next generation of refuge chambers for the metalliferous mining industry and features the latest in safe-refuge technology.

MineARC general manager Mike Lincoln said: “It’s safer, smarter and easier to maintain and service. We’ve also included a number of structural modifications that make it easier to position onsite.” An unique feature of the series IV is the “intelligent” voice audio navigation system (iVAN). In an emergency, the iVAN system “talks” the occupants through the operating procedures and alerts, notifying them when to change the scrubber chemicals and monitor gas levels. The iVAN system is multilingual. One of the upgrades of the series IV includes a new carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide scrubbing system. Using the new scrubbing system eliminates the need for “free-pour” chemicals. Instead, the series IV uses pre-packaged

chemical canisters that are easy to load and handle and can be stored for longer periods of time. MineARC’s HRM, extra-low voltage portable range of refuge chambers already uses the canister systems. Other features of the digital controller interface include 12 hours of selfmaintenance, a battery back-up lasting a maximum 96 hours and an inverter. A remote system monitoring device has live internal video streaming and its internal LCD monitor incorporates a USB port, PC docking station and Ethernet connectivity. MineARC’s hard rock mining range is used in more than 100 underground mining operations in 35 countries. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Explosive results Our Mine-Mate AC-3 ANFO Charger is a safe, reliable and cost effective solution for quality explosives charging of bulk ANFO in underground trackless mines. And it can be converted to become an Emulsion Loader in just one shift with two men. Most importantly you know you can rely on the safety and integrity of this specialist underground machine because it proudly wears the MacLean brand. • Complete drift coverage from single set-up • One or two person operation • Rapid tramming between work locations • Cost benefits in materials handling and in use of bulk explosives • Up to 3,000 lbs (1360 kg) ANFO carrying capacity

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Minesite Visit: Nunasvaara, Sweden

Forget the mine, look at the port Trains, trucks, frozen ports and skidoos – what it takes for an Australian company to go mining in northern Sweden. By Tim Treadgold

Look at that body: Talga chief executive Mark Thompson next to the graphite ore at Nunasvaara.

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o port, no project” is a principle of bulk-commodity mining that an emerging Australian explorer has taken to heart in a country (and climate) that is far from home. Talga Resources, a junior vying for a position in the race to be one of the next generation of graphite miners, has been investing more management time in securing port, rail and road access for its assets in northern Sweden than it has on the resource in the ground. There are three reasons for the emphasis on infrastructure: • Talga already has its foot on a world-class graphite resource; • Gaining access to rail, road and power supplies is an essential step for all bulk commodities; and • Port access is even more important. Other explorers with stranded deposits of bulk commodities, such as iron ore and coal, could learn valuable lessons from Talga’s approach to converting its Nunasvaara

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graphite resource from the status of a remote ore deposit to a potentially valuable business. Demonstrating access to critically important infrastructure was the primary reason a recent trip to northern Sweden took place at the worst time of the year and began at the port rather than the orebody.

“If we don’t have port access, we will not have a graphite project.” – Mark Thompson Initially, members of the small tour group comprising London-based analysts and me, as a representative of Australia’s Mining Monthly, wondered why the expedition started in the port city of Lulea rather than the orebody which is close to Sweden’s iron ore mining centre of Kiruna. The answer, which is the same for mining

projects in Australia, is that bulk mining often has little to do with the orebody and everything to do with the specialised world of transport economics. At Lulea, Talga has secured something that most of its rivals in the graphite race lack – a first-phase agreement with the local port authority ensuring space to handle annually up to 80,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate, or more advanced products. The non-binding memorandum of understanding is an act of good faith on the part of the port’s management keen to expand what is already the biggest bulk goods port in Sweden, handling part of Kiruna’s iron ore exports which arrive by train and are loaded in the same way as at any Australian iron ore port, with one important difference – the Baltic Sea around the port freezes in winter. Icebreakers routinely cut a path for ore carriers to use the port all year round and while workers in Australia’s bulk mineral ports in Western Australia and Queensland might dream of an ice-filled harbour, it

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presents a challenge that requires constant monitoring. “If we don’t have port access, we will not have a graphite project,” Talga chief executive officer Mark Thompson said at a signing ceremony with Port of Lulea managing director Roger Danell. From bitterly cold Lulea, where the overnight temperature dropped to minus 14C (and the wind chill took it even lower) Thompson led his guests on a 300km drive to Kiruna with a steady snowfall producing near white-out conditions and laying the foundations for the biggest disappointment of the three days in the field. So heavy was the snow in near windless conditions and so burdened was the forest that even snowmobile-riding locals advised against making the final 3km trip to the graphite orebody which features an impressive cliff-face of the carbon-rich ore. Curiously, not seeing the graphite wasn’t the disappointment that it might seem because of that all-important bulk commodity factor, transport economics. What Thompson was able to demonstrate – and why Talga could be onto a winner – could be seen in: • The quality of the road access, even in white-out conditions north of the Arctic Circle; • Access to a heavy-haul railway linking the iron ore mine at Kiruna with the port at Lulea; • Abundant professional mining services and skilled mining labour in a region with a deep mining history; • Low-cost and abundant electrical power from a combination of hydro and nuclear sources; and • A location within easy delivery distance of major European consumers of graphite, especially vehicle makers who are quickly developing their electric car capacity. For followers of graphite – as one of the minerals made fashionable by a combination of Chinese production controls and demand in new technologies such as long-life batteries – the Talga situation is an emerging success story in reverse. There is no question that at Nunasvaara the small Australian company has the world’s highest-grade (and second biggest) graphite deposit in the world, with an initial JORCcode compliant resource of 7.6 million tonnes grading 24.4% graphite for 1.86Mt of graphite. It is the grade, more than the tonnes, which should be the making of Nunasvaara and while the 24.4% average is measurably higher than its nearest competitor (19.3% at Lac Gueret in Canada) there is potential for even higher grades and more tonnes because exploration at Nunasvaara is far from finished. In fact, graphite in the Kiruna region of northern Sweden has been known for decades, examined at one stage as a possible fuel

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In agreement: Talga has struck a deal with the local port authority at Lulea.

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Minesite Visit: Nunasvaara, Sweden source, given graphite’s alternative status as the highest grade of coal, one notch up from anthracite. Talga’s orebody has been picked over by earlier explorers with the previous immediate owner being the big Canadian resources group, Teck. It quit its northern Swedish assets to concentrate on bigger targets elsewhere, flicking across to Thompson and his team a perfect opportunity to develop a “starter mine”.

Given that Lulea is about 600km by sea from Stockholm and another 700km to Germany’s biggest port, Hamburg, it puts Talga’s graphite within easy delivery distance of big European consumers.

All mapped out: Talga Resources in Sweden.

Drop of the hot stuff: Tim needs his sustenance.

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Graphite connection: Talga CEO Mark Thompson.

Cracking open a niche in the specialised world of graphite, with its multiple grades and variable specifications, will be a challenge for Talga that could be made easier by bringing in a major end-user of the material as a development and end-product offtake partner. Given that Lulea is about 600km by sea from Stockholm and another 700km to Germany’s biggest port, Hamburg, it puts Talga’s graphite within easy delivery distance of big European consumers and provides another transport economics advantage over more remote graphite deposits in Africa or Australia. More detail on Talga’s graphite plans will become available in the next few months as a preliminary scoping study is finalised and as exploration continues to find the highest grade deposit as a pit starting location – preferably an orebody rich in premiumquality “flake” graphite. Never an easy story for investors to follow, graphite is both a scarce and abundant commodity. Scarce because of Chinese market control and abundant because there is no shortage of graphite, natural or synthetic. It is the economic factors which will probably restrict the development of graphite mines, with some experts in the business tipping an opening for three or four new mines over the next few years. And it is the transport economic advantage (and high grades) which should make Talga’s mine one of the new producers – a prediction made without ever actually seeing the orebody but after getting a good look at the port, rail, road and power lines which combine to make a bulk mine possible. editorial@miningmonthly.com

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Mining Brief

Housing fix BHP Billiton helps combat the housing shortage in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. By Vetti Kakulas

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boriginal groups in the northern region of Western Australia have embarked on an exciting housing project. Located in South Hedland, Kariyarra Mugarinya Developments is a joint venture between the Kariyarra, traditional owners of the Hedland area, and the Mugarinya community, based at Yandeeyarra. With the help of the state government and BHP Billiton, the groups have formed a partnership to develop the $24 million, 12 hectare land project. Once complete, it will provide 125 new housing sites for the Pilbara town. The Kariyarra Mugarinya project will establish an Aboriginal property trust to build 22 homes and lease them to other businesses

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to generate income for housing Aboriginals in the area. Kariyarra Mugarinya Developments chief executive officer Kate George praised the WA government’s Royalties for Regions Pilbara Cities program and BHP Billiton for playing “vital” roles in the project. “The Royalties for Regions funding and BHP Billiton’s early commitment to purchasing housing lots in the development were critical to getting this project off the ground,” George said. “They have helped Aboriginal people establish a successful business venture that allows them to share in the Pilbara’s rich economy, providing housing for their people.” George said it was not a native title project but a business venture initiated by

From left to right: Brett Banting (Westpac), Kate George, Kerry Robinson (Marapikurrinya) and Diana Robinson (KMJV).

Aboriginal people to improve the lives of other Aboriginals. “The first goal of this land development is to generate as much profit as possible so we can make a difference for generations to come,” she said. “The next step is to draw on our proven track record with this project and obtain more land so that we can focus on providing social and affordable housing for Aboriginal people, as they often find it difficult to find affordable housing, leaving some homeless. Renting a four bedroom, two bathroom house in Port Hedland can cost more than $2500 a week. The project received $11.5 million from the state government initiative. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


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Mine & Plant Maintenance

A Hedweld Trilift variable work table XC30 with a universal wheel motor jig removing a Terex MT6300 wheel motor.

Train and prepare A Hunter Valley manufacturing firm says investment in new equipment should be accompanied by training for mine maintenance workers. By Alison Middleton

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he latest technology is helping miners hit efficiency targets and prolong the working life of specialist equipment. Equipment manufacturer Hedweld Group says new technology has given mining companies the opportunity to increase operational efficiency. But the company’s global product manager Mark Gream believes the training of maintenance staff is equally important to investment in new technology. “The increasing size of mining equipment places a priority on safety and workshop efficiency,” he said. “Advancements in technology continue to offer opportunities to dramatically improve safety performance and to achieve operational excellence while maintaining mining equipment. “New technology has given mining companies the ability to increase safety and efficiency if properly implemented. “The technology itself is great but training is equally important. “To properly use the technology, mines must invest in training and maintenance personnel who are trained accordingly, or these machines will not reach their desired potential.” Based in Mt Thorley in New South Wales, Hedweld designs and manufactures its Trilift maintenance support equipment and Safe-

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Away ladder and stairway access systems for large mining and earthmoving vehicles. Heldweld also developed its Trilift transmission hoist to give maintenance staff more control over components. Gream said: “As the size of mining equipment grows, traditional methods for handling components have become more hazardous. “The components that maintenance personnel must routinely handle, such as tyres, hubs and struts, drive lines, wheel motors and suspensions, have all increased in size and weight,” he said. “The problem, however, is not just the size and weight. These components also require additional reach and height to access them. “Hedweld’s machines can help mines overcome these issues, as safety and efficiency is a key factor in the design of this world leading technology.” International markets are beckoning for the firm, which has its sights set on increasing export sales. The company said it had identified opportunities to tap into emerging markets and planned to increase its number of international agents and distributors over the next two years. India, Indonesia, Tanzania, Mongolia, Russia, Zambia, New Caledonia and Belgium are the main target markets on the company’s radar for international growth.

It follows a 20% growth in export revenue in the 2011-12 financial year, driven by new products and ongoing success in Mozambique and China, as well as South America and Mongolia. Hedweld director Jan Hedley added: “I would like to thank our entire team for their dedication and commitment. “We are proud of our business and export achievements and look forward to new export opportunities in the future.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

A Hedweld Trilift variable work table XC20 with a multi jig tilt head and cylinder handler reaching in to remove a wheel.

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Mine & Plant Maintenance

ResCo to the rescue Mining companies are increasingly investing in plant maintenance to avoid a capital spend on new equipment.

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slowdown in the mining market is prompting a renewed focus on the benefits that plant maintenance services can bring to a business, according to a mine services provider. ResCo Services said there was a heightened awareness of the importance of maintaining existing equipment for mining companies reducing investment in new equipment.

The firm has seen an increase in demand for its plant maintenance field services, particularly from coal mining clients in the Hunter Valley. And while the resources sector moves to decrease capital expenditure, several key areas of growth have been identified by ResCo’s plant maintenance team over the past 12 months.

Fully maintained and “zero downtime” solutions, satellite and GPS management, maintenance planning and reliability programs are among the key areas of interest to mining companies. ResCo Services chief operating officer Jason Sweeney said maintenance planning and reliability programs had become critical to mining companies.

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ResCo’s technicians are experienced in both light and heavy vehicle mechanics.

“Having access to high standard, reliable equipment is absolutely crucial to ensuring a mine is able to operate efficiently and safely,” he said. “While they are reducing their capital investment in new equipment, maintaining their current equipment becomes critical. “It maintains reliability of equipment on the minesites during these times when changing to new equipment is restricted. “There has been a general view in the mining industry that everything is a consumable and companies can replace equipment when needed.” Sweeney said mines had been driven hard trying to meet demand for productivity. “Now the demand is softening, miners are realising that they need to get more out of their equipment,” he said. “What has been highlighted is that there are opportunities for cost rationalisation and efficiencies in the way they are maintaining their fleet. “We are using predictive maintenance so they’re not having to hold additional assets in the workshop when they could be out on site.” Specialising in fleet maintenance of four wheel drives, trucks, plant and equipment for the resources sector, ResCo Services’ vehicle and plant division has continued to grow since the service was launched in 2000. Sweeney said the Singleton-based company

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Vehicle fleet management and maintenance is a key service provided by ResCo.

understood the challenges faced by businesses operating in the resources sector and appreciated the important role of extraction equipment and vehicles in operations. “Vehicles and plant equipment, particularly four wheel drives, are an integral part of a mine operation,” he said.

“From the coalface to the coal loader, ResCo Services’ vehicle and plant services assists clients in extracting maximum value for their resources in a safe and efficient manner.” – Jason Sweeney

“Our reliability programs and maintenance planning support become critical for a mine when we are actually predicting potential failures in equipment before they occur. “We repair them as quickly as possible, which improves efficiency and availability but also keeps the overall cost under control.” ResCo also manages the equipment planning processes and timescales and ensures reliability and conditional monitoring

programs are specifically tailored to reflect the harsh mining environment. However, when mining companies are seeking to invest in new equipment, the firm works with clients to complete risk assessments that ensure that new plant equipment is fit for purpose. Sweeney said one of the greatest risks to a business was getting the risk assessment process right before purchasing a plant item. Some mining companies attempted to source alternative equipment at a capital cost but ultimately they were “not the right tools for the job”. “In some organisations, there is a disconnect whereby the absolute importance of the risk assessment is set aside through business process, budget, economic conditions and many other factors,” Sweeney added. “Taking an active role in our clients’ businesses allows ResCo Services to identify whether the plant is fit for purpose for the task required. “Simple technical information sharing can result in cost-saving improvements throughout the coal industry. “From the coalface to the coal loader, ResCo Services’ vehicle and plant services assists clients in extracting maximum value for their resources in a safe and efficient manner.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Mine & Plant Maintenance

Shining light Word of mouth has spurred demand for lighting towers designed especially for the mining sector.

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emote-controlled mobile lighting towers are helping mining companies reduce maintenance times and boost safety. Jonker Plant Hire and Engineering says its lighting towers reduce labour, maintenance and running costs while cutting lost time injuries by eliminating manual handling. Fully hydraulic with wireless remote control, demand for both the JL-24 and the JL-18 lighting towers has grown through word of mouth from resources companies. Both lighting towers are fully mine compliant, have a 360 degree mast rotation, produce up to 40,000 watts and replace up to five standard lighting plants. The JL-18 has an extended boom height of 18m, while the JL-24 extends to a boom height of 24m. Both machines use diesel and need to be refuelled every 30 hours. Based at Rocklea, near Brisbane in Queensland, the company’s client list includes

Fortescue Metals Group, Xstrata, Thiess, Leighton, Macarthur Coal and BHP Billiton. Jonker’s towers are also in place at Blackwater mine, operated by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance. And while most of the lighting towers can be found in the Bowen Basin in Queensland, Jonker is moving into Western Australia in a marked effort to gain clients which are working in the Pilbara, as well as targeting New South Wales clients. Jonker national operations manager Chris Jonker said the lights had a 500 hour service interval, resulting in less frequent maintenance, minimised manual handling and decreased labour costs. But the towers also offer improved lighting conditions for mining companies carrying out essential mine and plant maintenance onsite. “The lighting towers replace up to five standard lights – so mining companies will

only have one machine to service instead of five,” Jonker added. “The Jonker light is our attempt to improve a critical safety issue for adequate lighting that is capable of servicing the growing size of heavy plant and earthmoving equipment. “Additionally, our aim is to serve the need for improved lighting conditions for site maintenance usually conducted on night shift.” Managing director John Jonker said the towers were developed in response to requests from a mining client. “If they want to light up the outside of the maintenance workshop, they’ll put one of our lights there instead of four,” he said. “The lights are so much higher so you don’t have any dark, shady spots as with the smaller lights. Mining companies will put them on the high wall and move them as required. “Everything has been designed to ensure less maintenance.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Focus: Coal

How healthy is coal? Confusion, contradiction and a sea of statistics and opinion – all part of the coal debate. By John McIlwraith

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onfusing signals about the future of coal – immediate and long term – offer challenges to the Australian industry, until recently the world’s biggest exporter. At one end of the spectrum we have a recent report from the International Energy Agency which predicts that coal will come close to overtaking oil as the top energy source within five years. More immediately, BHP Billiton has warned that no near-term rise in coking coal prices should be expected. Providing a gloomy prognosis for resources generally, BHP chairman Jack Nasser pointed to widespread economic problems throughout the world, and his company did not expect much improvement “for some considerable time”. The more cheerful news for coal miners from the IEA report was balanced by the grim effect on CO2 emissions and offered little comfort. The report predicts the world will burn about 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal annually within four years. Analysts say part of the shift can be blamed on high oil prices, driven by two main factors. Resources analyst David Lennox says political unrest in oil-rich countries like Libya and Syria have interrupted supply and there has been a significant rise in petrol use in Asia. He says coal-fired power is becoming the preferred option. “The differential between operating a diesel-fired power station and a coal-fired power station is significantly in favour of the coal-fired power station,” Lennox said. “We would expect if oil keeps trading in the area of $US90 a tonne or better, there would be a natural flow of diesel-generated power stations closing and being replaced with cheaper coal-fired stations.” The IEA report found coal demand was increasing in nearly every region of the world apart from the US, where natural gas was displacing coal. Lennox says that trend is unlikely to appear in other countries. Offering a judgment that would be heresy to the growing Australian LNG industry, he notes that “around the rest of the globe, natural gas is not an easy commodity to be transported”. “It does require billions of dollars to

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actually convert it to a state where it can be moved,” he said. “This makes coal very competitive and hence coal will, for probably many years to come, actually stay a significant supplier to the energy market and especially electricity generation markets. “This report highlights how critically important it is that real climate change policies start to be implemented, both in Australia but also elsewhere. “Because in China, for example, in the current five-year plan, they are projecting to build more than 200 gigawatts or 200,000 megawatts of coal-fired power over five years. “If that happens without carbon capture, we’ll have a problem.”

The Queensland Resources Council is warning that Australia will fail to regain its position as the world’s top coal exporter unless costs can be reduced. Despite a healthy forecast for coal globally, the outlook is not as positive for Australia’s coal sector. It has been replaced as the largest coal exporter for the first time in 30 years, with Indonesia overtaking Australia as it is more cost competitive. Lennox says low commodity prices, high operating costs and a strong Australian dollar will remain a problem for the Australian industry in the short term, an assessment shared by Nasser. The Queensland Resources Council is warning that Australia will fail to regain its position as the world’s top coal exporter unless costs can be reduced. The IEA’s medium-term market report says Australia will regain its position within five years because of several proposed mining developments. However, QRC spokesman Michael Roche says Australia is becoming internationally uncompetitive and those major projects may not go ahead unless costs can be reduced. “They have in front of them a menu of

opportunities in Queensland, opportunities in New South Wales but also opportunities in South Africa, Mozambique, Colombia and Mongolia,” Roche said. He says it cannot be assumed environmental approvals will lead to project investment. “We can’t take for granted that just because an environmental impact statement has been drawn up that the project will attract the capital,” he added. Turning to immediate prospects, a decline in prices for premium low-volume coking coal is expected, with price projections revised downward by 10% to $213 per tonne free-on-board Australia for 2013 and 5% to $205 FOB for 2014, due to supply growing faster than demand, according to a recent Commonwealth Bank report. Previous forecasts for 2013 and 2014 had been $237 and $216 respectively. Demand will fall in that time, with global steel mills growing at a “more moderate pace than we had expected”, the report said. The exceptions were China and India, which would continue to support global coking coal demand due to limited domestic availability. China’s steel industry, in particular, was “more resilient than the rest of the world”, with output at the end of 2012 expected to have been “some 2-4 per cent higher than in 2011”, based on forecasts by the bank. China accounted for about 46% of the world’s coal production in 2011, while Chinese imports increased 20% to roughly 223 million tonnes — a 78% year-over-year increase. By 2016, Chinese imports are projected to reach 450Mt. Strong growth in the supply of coking coal growth “should be dominated by Australia, Mongolia, Mozambique and China’s Shanxi province”. Meanwhile, international publishing house Platts analyst Edwin Yeo added some imponderables that could influence the fortunes of the Australian coal industry: • Will China continue to stimulate economic growth? • Can we expect an improvement in the steel markets of India, Japan, South Korea and Europe? • Will new sources of coal in Mongolia and Mozambique encroach on Australia’s coking coal markets? editorial@miningmonthly.com

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Shaft Development

New depths European tunnel boring machine manufacturer sets its sights on entry into the Australian resources sector. By Alison Middleton

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uropean tunnel boring system manufacturer Herrenknecht is hoping to expand into the Australian mining market with technical innovations for sinking vertical shafts. The German company is promising faster and more efficient exploration of raw materials through mechanised tunnelling technologies. While its tunnelling systems are predominantly used for the development of railroads, metros and utilities, Herrenknecht said it had adapted its product portfolio for the mining industry. Shaft boring machines for raw materials deposits, vertical shaft sinking machines, raise boring rigs and boxhole boring machines are being offered to miners, along with a shaft

sinking jumbo for high production rates in deep and large diameter shafts. Herrenknecht’s mining clients in Australia include mining services company Mancala and diversified mining and construction services firm MRD. Key design criteria for the machinery include promising a higher degree of job safety, improved automation and mechanisation, and ability to work in minimum space requirements while maintaining high production rates. The company said: “The fast and efficient exploration of raw material deposits underground at depths of down to 2000m plays an increasingly important strategic role for the leading mining companies. “Conventional methods for developing the

concomitant infrastructures are too timeconsuming. “Herrenknecht therefore continuously adapts the comprehensive product portfolio to the needs of the customers. “To do so, Herrenknecht uses its technological know-how across sectors. Tunnel construction methods and technologies are increasingly being used in greenfield mining.” Herrenknecht said it offered innovative, mechanised tunnelling technology for safe and effective use in the mining industry. Mining application and business development graduate engineer Benjamin Künstle said Herrenknecht also provided applications for underground production processes.

TELE REMOTE SHAFTLINING APPLICATION & SPECIALISED SHOTCRETE CONTRACTORS • Established remote shaft lining bases in Australia and North America. • More than ten years of success in applying shotcrete to support vertical shafts used for vent, escape ways and ore passes in the mining industry. • Experience and safety are paramount when using Jetcrete’s specialised equipment. • Highest safety levels with designed equipment to operate in areas between 1.5m to 6m in diameter and 350m in depth for Shotcrete application and up to 600mtr for Camera Survey. • Highly experienced and trained shaftlining teams to focus on smoother lining.

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E-mail: jahr@jetcrete.com.au www.jetcrete.com.au 62

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Herrenknecht has developed a new boxhole boring machine.

“For deep vertical shafts with depths up to 2000m, Herrenknecht has developed mechanised shaft boring systems enabling excavation diameters of up to 12m in hard and medium soft geology,” he said. “Our strong raise boring rigs can sink and extend shafts to depths of up to 2000m. “The rigs incorporated a proven, variable frequency drive concept, used by other Herrenknecht machines, which enabled variable control of speed and torque.” As part of its move to gain clients in the resources sector, Herrenknecht travelled to attend Goldfields Mining Expo at KalgoorlieBoulder Racecourse in Western Australia last year. The company promoted its newly developed boxhole boring machine for drilling vertical or inclined small-diameter slot holes that need to be excavated in many underground mines. Künstle said the machine was based on pipe-jacking technology. “The BBM can be used for fast and safe construction of vertical and inclined slot holes with a diameter of up to 1.5m and a maximum length of 60m in hard rock formations,” he added. Herrenknecht has a wide range of equipment and products for mechanised tunneling and the company said they would develop system solutions to meet clients’ special requirements. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Ready: Herrenknecht’s raise boring rig.

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Mining Brief

Crane agreement Ertech opts for Konecranes at its newly opened maintenance facility. By Vetti Kakulas

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ivil contractor Ertech has acquired lifting equipment specialist Konecranes’ latest overhead cranes for its new maintenance facility. The workshop, in the industrial suburb of Wangara in Western Australia, will service about 170 plant products including scrapers, excavators, loaders and bulldozers. The contractor is involved in a range of projects including earthworks, pipelines, roads, treatment plants and accommodation villages for the resources, land development and infrastructure industries. “We chose Konecranes for our new maintenance workshop because we knew the product and liked what Konecranes had to offer,” Ertech plant manager Liam Keegan said. The five and 10-tonne Konecranes CXT wire rope hoist cranes were installed at Ertech’s maintenance facility. CXT cranes are available in single and double girder construction and can hoist a maximum 80t. The 10t overhead crane has a 20m span and the 5t, which straddles the automated welding bay, has a 9m span. Konecranes has signed a maintenance agreement with Ertech to service and inspect the cranes. “We were delighted to be awarded the maintenance contract, which is by no means a certainty with the sale of cranes,” Konecranes WA and South Australia sales manager Trevor Ednie said. “It’s a tribute to the trust enjoyed by Konecranes customers, both new and established.” Konecranes installed the cranes, supplying and fitting the 50x25mm crane rails welded to the top I-beams, which are fitted across the length of the Wangara workshop. “The cranes have excellent hook approaches at both ends of the crane,” Ednie said. “Only minimal headroom is required, which is useful in applications where there are space constraints.” Each crane uses radio control, with the load displayed in the handset. “Using radio remotes is safer for the operator, who can stand well away from the loads being lifted and shifted,” he said. “The remotes also give freedom of movement, ensuring the operators can choose a position where they have the best view of the cranes and loads.” Ednie said one of the major benefits of the cranes was the trolley travel inverter.

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The inverter is a separate control which delivers “smooth” starts, providing load acceleration, deceleration and positioning. Konecranes designs its cranes to eliminate unused space, having the ability to operate close to walls and still lift high loads.

Ertech’s clients include Chevron Australia, BHP Billiton and LandCorp. Based in Finland, Konecranes has offices across Australia and has 11,700 employees spanning 47 countries. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Underground Contractors

Setting records Ahead of schedule, records broken – Barminco delivers a $100 million underground mining contract. By Alison Middleton

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nderground mining contractor Barminco has achieved record results during a $100 million contract at one of the world’s largest undeveloped lead-zinc-silver deposits. Barminco said it had exceeded its project schedule during works at Minerals and Metals Group’s (MMG) Dugald River deposit in northern Queensland. The firm was commissioned to advance the project’s two exploration declines to access and develop the ore body, establish production levels and other infrastructure. With potential to extend the term and scope of the contract after the initial development is completed in June 2014, the two-and-a-half year contract builds on the company’s long standing relationship with MMG.

Underground drilling underway at Dugald River.

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Barminco’s jumbo underground development rig.

Work is already well underway at Dugald River and Barminco has confirmed it had set an internal development record by advancing both exploration declines at 561m in August using a single jumbo and development crew. Barminco said it had demonstrated its ability to perform safe, high-speed development by averaging 530m per month over the four months until October 2012. Chief executive officer Jock Muir said the quality of Barminco’s people and culture of safety, integrity and excellence set it apart from competitors. “This record result is down to the hard work of our crew, the application of proven methods and the optimisation of development cycle times,” he said. “We’re very happy with the team’s progress but it’s not unexpected. “Our highly efficient and capable crew are committed to delivering a safe service to our clients – on time and on budget. “We usually meet or beat our schedules, but this was an exceptional result from a great team of guys. “Being a greenfield operation, we had a very good set up. “We put some of our best people on it – good managers and operators. “We backed up that with great equipment availability. “I think the major thing was the project

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planning that went into this, followed by the execution. And the ground conditions were very good. “It’s all down to good people, and experienced operators, especially the jumbo drillers. “But the whole team did a great job.” MMG said the Dugald River project was one of the world’s largest and highest grade undeveloped lead-zinc-silver deposits, with a resource of 53 million tonnes at 12.5% zinc, 1.9% lead and 36g/t silver. Feasibility studies showed the viability of a two million tonne per annum underground mine with a life of more than 22 years. And test work has confirmed high metal recovery rates could be achieved with standard crushing, grinding and flotation processing. Dugald River is expected to produce an average of at least 200,000 tonnes of zinc, 25,000 tonnes of lead and 900,000 ounces of silver in concentrate per year. Barminco have a workforce of 44 on site with an equipment fleet consisting of one Tamrock jumbo underground development rig, one Caterpillar 2900 bogger and Caterpillar AD55 articulated dump trucks. Ground support in the decline has predominately been completed using fibrecrete in-cycle to reinforce the rock structure.

And while Barminco is continuing to set internal development records at home, looking to the future the company has its sights set on growth, expansion and new markets abroad. Greenfield start-ups for gold projects are a key part of the Perth-based company’s workload and Barminco is currently working on submitting tenders for several projects in Australia, as well as pursuing work in Africa. Muir added: “Any expansion these days is around gold and copper because of the commodity prices, and by far the majority of our turnover is in gold and copper. “That gives us a lot of confidence in the future,” he said. “We continue to pursue all activities domestically because we need a strong home base, but we are actively pursuing activities in Africa. “In our own right we currently work in Egypt and South Africa and in our joint venture, African Underground Mining Services with Ausdrill, we operate in Mali, Ghana and Burkina Faso. “There are a lot of opportunities in that west African region – mainly in gold.” Muir added: “We are looking for growth. We’ve had as fantastic year this year, both in profitability and revenue growth and we want that to continue.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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Underground Contractors

Coal danger Underground coal mining continues to be a major health and safety risk in New South Wales, according to recently released figures.

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ncidents and injuries in underground coal mines represented 70% of incidents reported to the NSW Department of Trade and Investment in the 2012 financial year, a report has revealed. Overall, the coal sector reported 2615 incidents during the year – the highest of any other mining sector in the state, according to the NSW Mine Safety Performance Report. It was nine times the average reported for the past five years (2001-02 to 2005-06) under former legislation. The increase partly reflected the new and more inclusive reporting requirements of the current legislation. Figures published in the report state that more than three-quarters of all coal incidents occurred in underground operations.

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There were 2024 underground coal incidents in FY2012, compared to 591 surface coal mining incidents. And the three biggest contributors to the coal incidents reported related to mobile mechanical equipment (930), gas (652) and work environment (515). While the coal sector reported four fatalities in each of the previous two five-year periods, the report also showed the coal surface sector hadn’t reported any fatalities for the eighth consecutive year. The coal lost-time injury frequency rate of 5.25 was 24.79% below the five-year average of 6.98. Data collated in the Mine Safety Performance Report showed that coal sector hours worked rose by 15.5%, doubling since 2005-06.

The number of injuries in underground mines was captured in the Mine Safety Performance Report 2011-2012.

Underground coal hours worked rose by 11.9%, while coal surface hours worked rose by 18.1%. The number of coal underground total recordable injuries fell by 6.47%, from 819 to 766. Coal surface TRIs rose 5.73%, from 227 to 240, while total coal TRIs fell 3.82%, from 1046 to 1006. The coal sector serious body injury frequency rate of 0.7 was 5.41% below the five-year average of 0.74. Coal sector serious body injuries rose 25.57%, from 28 to 36. However, national OHS strategy targets to reduce fatalities by 20% and serious injuries by 40% in the 10 years to 2012 have both been achieved. editorial@miningmonthly.com • This story first appeared online at International Longwall News – Longwalls.com

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


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Mine Ventilation

Understanding is key Understanding the long-term behaviour of structural devices is crucial in ventilating underground mines. By Vetti Kakulas

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n Australian manufacturer and provider of ventilation control has revealed the secret to extending an underground mine’s life – understand the behavioural characteristics of its structural devices. In particular, close attention must be paid to dam walls and bulkheads at an underground minesite. Based in Mandurah, 70km south of Perth, Western Australia, Aquacrete supplies products to more than 90% of Australia’s underground coal mines. The firm is also establishing relationships with an “increasing number” of Australian underground gold, nickel, copper and lead mines. Due to the high level of risk associated with

As mines age and become more developed, more attention needs to be placed on monitoring the structural integrity of installed devices. the design and construction of dam walls and bulkheads Aquacrete decided to closely monitor the processes at a New South Wales minesite. A combination of dam walls and bulkheads were constructed with Aquacrete’s Wet-Repel product. Wet-Repel is a water-resistant, single component, “high-strength” product designed specifically for applications where erosion from water may occur. Aquacrete business development manager

Greg Kay said the most significant factors influencing long-term bulkhead performance were the interfaces of the bulkhead with the surrounding strata. Kay described one onsite example, where an unplanned power outage prevented water from being pumped away. The site engineer reported the water head reached a height of 2.5m; as a result the water pressure was exceeding the bulkhead’s design’s specifications. “While site engineers took all necessary

MTi Group is proud to have been appointed an Australian and New Zealand dealer for the world renowned Mine Ventilation System Ventiflex from Protan. Used worldwide, Protan Ventiflex is an industry leading ventilation system suitable for underground mining applications and other tunnel projects. At MTi Group we seek to provide the very best products, backed by the best advice and support in the industry.

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An Aquacrete employee uses Wet-Repel.

precautions to maintain site safety during the event, inspecting the dam walls after the event confirmed no water leakage occurred and the dam wall maintained full integrity,” Kay said.

“In many instances, the risk of a device failure has the potential to be catastrophic.” – Greg Kay “In many instances, the risk of a device failure has the potential to be catastrophic.” Consequently, as mines age and become more developed more attention needs to be placed on monitoring structural integrity of installed devices. “Mine managers are looking for solutions that are not just cost-effective, but more importantly provides long-term reassurance that the installations are safe and strong,” Kay said. “Having a reliable and accurate audit process – including our ability to nondestructively test devices in situ, provides substantial operational and safety benefits to the industry. “We are constantly developing new technologies and we have tried and tested our solutions to reassure miners.”

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Getting the job done: Aquacrete.

Additionally, Aquacrete offers mining companies its Flexible Sail Stoppings, which provides a flexible, fire-resistant, anti-static barrier for a range of underground conditions. The Flexible Sail Stoppings are designed to provide a two pounds per square inch, or 5psi, overpressure rating, designed to maintain ventilation control in hostile conditions. For a two-year period Aquacrete offers

regular site audits to mining companies, including visual inspections and nondestructive testing. Key areas of assessment include inspection of surrounding strata to identify leakage, potential softening of the devices, erosion and breakdown of structural integrity. Aquacrete has offices in Kalgoorlie, WA, and Newcastle, New South Wales. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Mining Brief

Research alliance A government initiative will contribute $7.5 million towards mineral research in Western Australia. By Vetti Kakulas

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he Western Australian government has announced it will contribute $7.5 million over the next three years to establish a new WA Minerals Research Institute. Perth-based University of Western Australia vice-chancellor Paul Johnson welcomed the announcement and said UWA was looking forward to working with WAMRI to expand the university’s contribution to mineral research. “It will directly benefit WA and the nation through the advancement of knowledge and education in an area vital to the Australian economy and the nation’s future,” Johnson said. WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the institute would

bolster minerals research in the state and build on the achievements of the previous Minerals and Energy Research Institute of WA. “The new institute will become a globally recognised body coordinating and targeting minerals research in WA,” Moore said. UWA Energy and Minerals Institute director Tim Shanahan said WAMRI would foster improved exploration techniques and promote new processing methods for WA’s minerals industry. “We greatly appreciate Minister Moore’s support for bringing government, researchers and industry together for minerals research and the benefit of Western Australia,” Shanahan said. “This announcement will enhance Energy

and Minerals Institute’s research capabilities and outcomes in the minerals sector through greater industry participation.” WAMRI will use the funds to focus on researching technologies that improve exploration techniques and promote new processing methods for WA’s minerals industry. The institute will also focus on managing and promoting minerals research in WA. An interim board will be led by BHP Billiton senior research and development manager Peter Lilly. Other directors include Rio Tinto general manager for innovation Andrew Shook and Resources Capital Fund co-founder and managing partner James McClements. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Plant Hire

Powerful start A mine ventilation specialist is offering its testing facility for hire. By Vetti Kakulas

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ining ventilation equipment supplier Clemcorp has warned that it is crucial mining companies test their fans prior to use to reduce production downtime. Clemcorp said the primary ventilation system on a minesite was often the most overlooked part of the entire mine’s operating infrastructure. Fan downtime can severely reduce a mine’s production rates and increase the expense of onsite servicing. “An incorrectly specified or poorly designed system can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional power consumption,” Clemcorp Australia general manager Justin Coetzee said. Based in Perth, Western Australia, Clemcorp provides fan repairing services, spare parts and accessories for underground mining and tunnelling. One of Clemcorp’s manufacturing activities includes testing electric motors in fan applications at its facility in Perth’s northern suburbs. The electrical testing facility is powered

by a site-based 415-volt 1 megavolt ampere Western Power distribution transformer, fed directly from the 22-kilovolt 130MVA Western Power zone substation. Its area is serviced by a 10 tonne overhead gantry crane or 7t forklift. “While the primary purpose of this facility is for the internal testing of fans, we are able to offer this facility out to prospective clients on a hire basis,” Coetzee said. “We have teams of engineers and electrical fitters available to assist with connections and logging.” Clemcorp technical service manager Saul Holbeck said no other fan manufacturer in Australia had the same capability as Clemcorp’s facility. “While it’s primarily used for fan quality assurance testing, essentially anything that requires a large variable voltage variable frequency power source can be energised and tested,” Holbeck said. “This would include pumps, compressors, hydraulic power packs, pretty much anything electrical. “No more messing around with hiring

Access Power’s principal electrical engineer Noel Mackie testing the 450-kilowatt 2.45m diameter primary ventilation fan from BHP Billiton’s Cliffs nickel mine at the Clemcorp test facility.

fossil-fuel powered generators and transformers, this facility can do it all. “We have practically eliminated the setup and packdown time associated with ISO5801 fan testing with the test bay, it’s just so easy.” Clemcorp said the facility had been well received by clients including BHP Billiton, Xstrata, Barrick and Rio Tinto. It has enabled the mining companies to test their primary ventilation fans at full capacity, prior to delivering to site. Power equipment importer and manufacturer Access Power was pleased with Clemcorp’s facility. “Being so new and effectively one of a kind for electrical test purposes, this facility is a true asset for industry in Western Australia,” Access Power principal electrical engineer Noel Mackie said. The electrical test facility is powered by an ABB ACS800 variable speed drive and output transformer, supporting loads of up to 504 kilowatts, depending on voltage. Clemcorp has another facility located in Mount Isa, Queensland. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

Omega Heavy Trucks are the market leaders in Australia and New Zealand, and can be seen in operation in virtually ever major port, transport yard, or other facility where heavy loads need to be moved. The Omega range stretches from 12 tonne forklifts up to 50 tonne container handlers, and are designed, manufactured and distributed by Clark Equipment at over 20 locations across Australia and New Zealand.

Call Clark, They make it happen 1300 736 848 www.clarkequipment.com clark@clarkequipment.com

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Plant Hire The Sleipner is a wheeled transport system used for moving excavators and mining shovels around minesites.

Skates on

Finnish transportation system could revolutionise heavy machinery transportation around minesites.

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lant hire and sales provider Equipment Placement has introduced a unique European transport system for moving heavy machinery around minesites. Based in Perth, Western Australia, Equipment Placement is the sole distributor of the Sleipner, a transport system used for moving excavators and mining shovels onsite. The Sleipner system helps reduce maintenance costs and improve the safety of heavy loading equipment, resulting in a more productive minesite. No hydraulics are used by the Sleipner, it’s all mechanical. Excavators moved by the system don’t need any technical alterations. Equipment Placement purchased their first Sleipner system at the end of November last year. “We thought it was a very innovative product and were pretty surprised no one else had introduced it, so we jumped at the opportunity,” Equipment Placement owner Brian Bondi said. “We bought it to express to the mining industry we are serious about this system and we are confident it will sell.” Using the Sleipner system reduces vibration caused by driving the excavator on tracks. Driving on tracks causes more undercarriage and machine wear than actual loading. “Using Sleipner, the undercarriage lifetime can be doubled or even tripled, resulting in further reductions in maintenance costs,” Equipment Placement sales representative Nick Bolton said. The time it takes to transport and load an excavator around site can be significantly reduced using the Sleipner system. Service and maintenance can be done at the workshop, as

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moving the equipment is no longer an issue. “Servicing a big machine would previously require servicing in the pit. This machine allows the equipment to be taken back to the service bay and you don’t have to take all your tools with you,” Bondi said. The system is currently being trialed at Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) iron ore project Cloudbreak in the Pilbara, WA. The trial will end in mid-January, at which stage FMG will complete its evaluation of the product.

“It’s like a set of roller skates. You drive the excavator tracks into it and change the machine from being a tractor-type to a wheeled-type machine.” – Brian Bondi Bolton said the feedback received from FMG miners using the Sleipner system was positive. “We moved the digger distances within the mine that under normal walking conditions would take some hours,” he said. “This method reduces the relocation time. “Everyone is using it quite comfortably and it was amazing to see how quickly they learned to use the system.” Bolton said anyone who can operate an excavator could use the Sleipner easily. And it’s not just FMG that has expressed interest in the Sleipner systems. Bondi said he had given numerous quotes to companies

nationwide, along with Papua New Guinean and Mongolian companies. “Most people would like to see somebody else use it first, before hiring or purchasing one, which is why we offered our Sleipner to FMG,” Bondi said. Sleipner systems are available in a variety of sizes and are designed to accommodate excavators and front shovels ranging up to 550 tonnes. The range includes eight weight ranges and different track sizes. “It’s like a set of roller skates,” Bondi said. “You drive the excavator tracks into it and change the machine from being a tractor-type to a wheeled-type machine, but not under its own power. “It turns into its own trailer and is a costeffective transport system for shovels and excavators.” The Sleipner system was developed at the Elijärvi chrome mine in the arctic region of Finnish Lapland by mining specialist Ossi Kortesalmi. Driven by determination to improve the efficiency of moving heavy mining and construction equipment, Kortesalmi developed the concept of the Sleipner in 1996. The Sleipner system has been developed to suit a range of diverse applications and climates. It has previously been used at limestone quarries in central Europe, the Andes mountains, South America and central Africa. According to the Sleipner company, which is based in central Finland, the first Sleipners sold are still in operating condition. Bondi and his brother, John, established Equipment Placement in 2002, providing products, parts and services to the mining and construction industries. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Plant Hire

Power up A Western Australian sales and rental power-generating firm is providing services to a remote Queensland minesite.

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orking in remote areas can be tough, particularly when it comes to finding a continuous source of power. Adelaide-based construction company Zebra Constructions was searching for a power solution to supply ongoing, uninterrupted power for its client at an exploration site in Queensland. Western Australian firm PR Power was appointed by Zebra to design and supply a “turnkey” solution for the 30 person campsite. The brief was to supply a durable mobile power generation system that would be able to withstand any unforeseen events, such as difficult weather conditions. PR Power specialises in the sales and rental of diesel generators, lighting towers and water and environment equipment solutions for the mining and construction industries. However, the challenge presented was that the campsite would remain in one location for only 4-6 weeks before relocating elsewhere. The entire Queensland project is expected to operate for two years. “One of the main problems faced by Zebra Constructions for this project was that conventional camp set-ups would have limitations with the repeated relocation of the site,” PR Power business development and sales manager Mike Corbett said. “To overcome this, we supplied a containerised modular camp system for the buildings, enabling quick set-up and disassembly times, ease of transportation and improved durability.” Perth-based PR Power designed a generator power system using two 80 kilovolt prime powered engine generators, dubbed model PR11OPSAE. The generators were mounted on a common skid base with a 4500 litre bulk fuel tank and power connection points, including an automatic transfer switch. Both generators are fitted with three-way fuel valves which allow them to operate from their own fuel tanks within the generator enclosures. For emergencies and unforeseen events, such as flooding, the PR110-SAE generators are designed with 550L fuel tanks, each providing 38 hours of power. “This will ensure, if the fuel supply is not able to get to the camp in time, the camp will have an additional two-and-a-half days of emergency fuel supply,” Corbett said. Additionally, the generators are completely bunded for environmental protection. PR Power specifically developed the generator models so that one generator would be the primary power supply, receiving its fuel from the bulk tank. The second unit would act as a backup power source during servicing or if the first generator failed so the generators would still have about 10 days of continuous, uninterrupted power. “The changeover from the primary generator to the secondary is all done automatically without any human intervention, it’s a seamless process,” Corbett said. “Provisions were also made for the main camp distribution board to be mounted on the unit to make connection quicker and easier each time.” PR Power has offices in Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

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Minesite Visit: Iron Ore Holdings

Project Stokes

Bungaroo South camp site.

Kerry Stokes is “delighted” with the release of Iron Ore Holdings’ Buckland project prefeasibility study and the company is now in search of a partner. Vetti Kakulas visited the explorer’s tenements in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

I

t was a journey I’ll never forget – and the first time I’ve ever been on a helicopter. After the media trip to the Iron Ore Holdings sites was delayed, twice, the exploration company finally secured a tour of its tenements, with myself and two other journalists. It was worth the wait. Although the helicopter ride gave me slight motion sickness, viewing WA’s Pilbara region from the air was simply breathtaking. And we received a VIP tour courtesy of IOH managing director Alwyn Vorster and director Malcolm Randall, enjoying lunch standing in the middle of the company’s promising exploration site at Bungaroo South. As you’d expect, Vorster was enthusiastic about IOH’s projects. The company’s goals for 2013 include

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minimising capital expenditure and developing key infrastructure for its projects. Based in Perth, IOH is 53%-owned by media mogul Kerry Stokes and is valued at $122 million.

Fortescue Metals Group remains the logical partner for Iron Ore Holdings’ projects. The company’s highlights for 2012 included a 50% increase in mineral resources, as well as native title and mining lease approvals for its Iron Valley and Buckland projects in the Pilbara.

Furthermore, there’s more than $100 million in the bank for IOH. According to Vorster, Fortescue Metals Group remains the logical partner for the company’s projects. FMG paid IOH a $25 million option fee to conduct feasibility studies in the Pilbara until March 2013. FMG already has two operating iron ore mines in the Pilbara, Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak, as well as its own shipping terminal at Herb Elliott Port in Port Hedland and its own railway line from its sites to port. “If we can strike a deal on Iron Valley it’s very possible it will be IOH’s first ore to market,” Vorster said. Iron Valley is bordered by FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton mining operations and is located near Yandi, 300km south of Port Hedland. “FMG’s infrastructure is ready, we will get

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


environmental approvals first quarter of this year and once funding and partnership is in place, by June we could start the development.” Vorster said its Iron Valley project should be “construction ready” in the first quarter of 2013. Another important focus for IOH is how it plans to export ore from site to port, while also minimising capex. Developing a railway line was ruled out and road hauling was found far more economical. “We don’t need a railway line, as it can cost $1.4-1.5 million and make up 20-25% of operating costs.” IOH has plans to develop its own port and has acquired two sites, Cape Preston and Mardie on WA’s northern coast. Cape Preston, situated next to CITIC Pacific’s port, is the more logical option. “This coastline has been scaled over the years by major miners to find port sites but they’ve been unsuccessful,” Vorster said. “They had all been looking for a deepwater port solution. All we need is a site where we can avoid channel dredging.” Installing a barging facility capable of loading 15,000 tonnes per barge requires five and a half metres of deep water. IOH has plans to settle an agreement with the Dampier Port Authority, although the company can’t sign any binding obligations until the next state elections, held on March 9. “If the current government is re-elected it should be in March that we finalise the process,” Vorster said. “We will be the first junior in the Pilbara with a completely independent infrastructure. “We’ll own the mine, road, port and our part of the infrastructure 100%. “It will make us a little bit different than any other junior mining companies in WA.” IOH’s Buckland project comprises a new mine, a 195km private haul road and a small-scale barging facility at Cape Preston East. Buckland ore will be mined from the Bungaroo South mining lease, which will include the Western pit, two eastern pits and the Dragon pit. The study assessed the viability of a 4 million tonne per annum operation at Bungaroo South, ramping up to 8Mtpa within three years. vetti.kakulas@aspermont.com

IOH plans to build a barging facility similar to CITIC Pacific’s A-Frame finger jetty.

Greg Tossel photography

IOH director Malcolm Randall (left) and managing director Alwyn Vorster.

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Mining Software

Mapping Australia A world-first suite of maps is changing the way explorers look for Australian minerals. By Alison Middleton

A

ustralia’s national science agency is using its own software to analyse maps revealing the mineralogy of the Earth’s surface. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is working to help explorers in Australia benefit from world-first maps that were generated from a 10-year archive of raw Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection (ASTER) data. Collected by NASA and the Japanese government’s Japan Space Systems, the data forms the first and only suite of mineral maps of an entire continent that is freely accessible online. After securing access to the complete archive of ASTER imagery over Australia,

ASTER map showing the mineral distribution across Australia.

Australian Mining Towns

Australia’s Mining Monthly is digging up the history on Australia’s oldest mining towns. 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 chart the history of mining in Australia. This feature will run in early 2013.

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CSIRO used its own software to transform the raw satellite data. The result is the most up-to-date and detailed suite of land surface composition maps of the entire Australian continent. Explorers can view the maps in three dimensions when draped over digital elevation models and gather information about rock units, superimposed alteration and weathered and transported materials known as regoliths. Potential prospectors and geoscientists now have better insight into where to sample and drill for resource exploration. And geologists can now zoom into areas of interest of just a few kilometres or look at the wider picture of continental mineral disposition across many thousands of kilometres. Dr Thomas Cudahy, director of CSIRO’s Centre of Excellence for 3D Mineral Mapping, said the ASTER maps had already had an impact on mineral exploration. “ASTER is a bit like seeing the Earth through fuzzy glasses,” he said. “It can measure only the top few microns of the land surface. ‘We add to the geological picture by incorporating data on hyperspectral mineralogy from airborne surveys and from our own drill core logging technologies.” CSIRO has brought another dimension into the project through the use of a Hylogger system that performs hyperspectral analysis of drill cores, employing the same methods of reflectance spectroscopy that ASTER does from space. Dr Cudahy said Australia was now many years ahead of other countries in generating geoscience information that is of value to the resources community. “In this regard, we are the envy of the world,” he said. “There are many others countries who now want the same capabilities and information.” Dr Cudahy pointed to a recent mineral deposit now being surveyed by Queenslandbased Kentor Gold, a mid-tier gold company with advanced projects in Australia and the Kyrgyz republic. The company followed up on ASTER data, which revealed an anomaly in one of its Northern Territory tenements, now known as the Chubka prospect. The anomaly indicated high gold, silver and copper grades. Subsequent mapping and surveying revealed enormous potential, according to Kentor Gold managing director Simon Milroy. “Without the initial ASTER input we would never have surveyed the area – maybe not for another 10 years or so,” Milroy said. Kentor Gold was formed in 1998 and listed on the ASX in 2005. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

AMM FEBRUARY 2013

Map revealing the distribution of clay minerals.

Australia’s silica index as captured by ASTER imagery.

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Mining Software

Star-studded software US-BASED software developer Mintec is promising to unveil a star-studded line-up of new products. The company is preparing to host its 30th annual collaborative seminar at its headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. MineQuest 2013 will feature workshops, presentations and one-to-one consultations, introducing nine new products to clients before they are rolled out to Mintec branches around the world. Mintec said the quest for productivity was at the core of MineQuest through a global pursuit shared by Mintec and MineSight clients to get more from MineSight software. Among the products to be unveiled at MineQuest 2013 are the new MineSight Atlas activity and resource-based scheduler, and the MineSight Implicit Modeling Utility, which will enable geologists to build complex shapes directly from drill holes. Consolidated reporting and true mining analytics have been added to MineSight’s operational product suite with the MineSight

MineSight Stope will be launched this year to assist in stope design, scheduling and reporting.

Performance Manager. The MineSight Reserve features a completely integrated reserve calculation and reporting engine, and the MineSight Stope has been hailed as a “complete toolkit for stope design, scheduling and reporting”. Mintec president John Davies said: “While we’re proud of this event’s 30-year history,

we’re even more excited about sharing so much new MineSight technology with our clients. “In addition to new products, we will also be showing off numerous improvements to some of our flagship products,” he added. MineQuest 2013 will take place from April 15-19.

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FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


Gold star for Micromine A MINING software provider has received accreditation from global software company Microsoft. Perth-based Micromine has been awarded Microsoft gold partner certification as an independent software vendor for the second year running. In order to achieve the accreditation, the company’s namesake geological exploration and mine design solution Micromine was certified as Windows 8-compatible. Micromine said the gold partner certification was recognition from Microsoft that its software solutions were of the highest possible quality in the global marketplace. The company had to demonstrate excellence in technical expertise and outstanding experience in the field of information technology in order to gain the accreditation.

Platform building UK-BASED Adrok is hoping to capture the attention of the Australian resources industry with the launch of “virtual drilling” technology. Adrok said its atomic dielectric resonance (ADR) scanner offered a faster, cheaper and greener alternative to traditional drilling methods. The ADR mapping scanner uses radiowaves and microwaves to locate, identify and map sub-surface natural resources. Unlike other 3D seismic technologies, ADR makes use of spectroscopy to measure the wavelengths and identify the rock type under the surface. Adrok is on schedule to set up a base in Perth, Western Australia, by June this year to provide exploration companies with onshore surveys for oil, gas and minerals. It has worked extensively in many countries, including Australia and even in the Arctic Circle.

Digital champ MINING services company GroundProbe has been labelled a “digital champion” in Brisbane, Queensland. GroundProbe specialises in slope stability radar surveillance and monitoring equipment for mining and infrastructure projects. Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said GroundProbe was an exemplar in digital capabilities, following an audit of Brisbane’s digital landscape. “The Brisbane Digital Audit was commissioned by economic development board Brisbane Marketing to identify opportunities for Brisbane businesses to tap into the estimated $US20 trillion global digital economy,” Quirk said. It assessed 500 Brisbane businesses from 19 different industries, including single operators to companies of more than 5000 employees. “The 25 digital champions identified in the audit will act as digital advocates within their business sectors and through this process ultimately encourage other businesses to adopt digital technology,” Quirk said. GroundProbe was awarded the digital champion title for using customer-focused, state-of-the-art digital technologies that assisted mining and infrastructure projects. “GroundProbe’s services provide mining and infrastructure projects with real-time reliable and accurate geotechnical data on slope movements gathered from the installed hardware,” GroundProbe chief operating officer Jacques Janse said. “This is paramount to ensuring greater levels of safety and production efficiencies for customers.” editorial@miningmonthly.com

AMM FEBRUARY 2013

Faster Rivet Driving, Longer Lasting Belt Splices Installation of Flexco® SR™ rivet hinged belt fasteners just got easier … and faster. With just a single trigger pull, the Pneumatic Single Rivet Driver takes the guesswork out of rivet driving and provides for a uniform, long-lasting splice every time. The heavy-duty tool is built to withstand tough mining conditions, plus the air powered operation reduces worker fatigue.

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Expert led conferences for the resources sector in 2013

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16 -18 April 2013, Royal on the Park, Brisbane

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Assessing Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUAS) Developing and negotiating compensation agreements Native Title, Land Access and Cultural Heritage Avoiding common pitfalls for permit approval success Minimising risks of approval delays Increasing efficiency in EIS approval procedures www.permitapprovalsNSW.com

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Mitigating the environmental risks Rehabilitation and closure planning Proactive compliance management in industry regulation Impact of the new Mining Rehabilitation Fund Amendments to the Native Title Act 1993 Maintaining social licence to operate

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ASX Update MyIndices.com

AMM Mining Services Index

The AMM Mining Services Index has risen steadily during the past month. It opened at 1190 points, reached a high of 1380 in early January and closed the period at 1355 points. The chart above – developed exclusively for AMM by MyIndices.com – illustrates a market-weighted index of 16 ASX-listed mining service companies, with prices adjusted for float and corporate events. The index is based to 1000 on January 1, 2005.

NEW LISTINGS DECEMBER 17, 2012

Tungsten Mining NL

CODE: TGN Principal activities: Tungsten and molybdenum exploration Opening price: 21c

DECEMBER 18, 2012

Fortunis Resources Limited

CODE: FOT Principal activities: Gold, copper and vanadiumtitanium-iron exploration Opening price: 24c

DECEMBER 20, 2012

Enterprise Uranium Limited

CODE: (ENU) Principal activities: Mineral exploration Opening price: 19c

DECEMBER 20, 2012

Paringa Resources Limited

CODE: PNL Principal activities: Exploration of gold, copper and other base metals and strategic minerals in Brazil Opening price: 30c

DECEMBER 21, 2012

Crescent Resources Corp

CODE: CYY Principal activity: Gold exploration Opening price: 0c (yet to be traded)

DECEMBER 28, 2012

Krakatoa Resources Limited

CODE: KTA Principal activities: Exploration for gold in Indonesia Opening price: 20c

amm FEBRUARY 2013

JANUARY 8, 2013

Marengo Mining Canada Limited

CODE: MMC Principal activities: Exploration and development of the Yandera copper-molybdenum-gold project in Papua New Guinea Opening price: 14c

JANUARY 9, 2013

Mgt Resources Limited

CODE: MGS Principal activities: Mineral exploration for tin and gold in Queensland Opening price: 15c

FORTHCOMING FLOATS FEBRUARY 28, 2013

Coke Resources Limited

Proposed code: CKE Principal activity: Exploration in coal

Issue price: 20c Corporate: James Carter (non-executive chairman); Claude Strnadica (executive director); Les Pereira (non-executive director); Rafael Nitiyudo (non-executive director); Simon Penney (company secretary) 08 6336 6400 www.cokeresources.com

TO BE ADVISED Gossan Hill Gold Limited Kin Mining NL Messina Resources Limited Perpetual Resources Limited SolGold PLC Vesuvius Minerals Limited Zeus Resources Limited Listings updated as of January 15

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market watch Extinction event?

Are regulations strangling the Australian mining industry? By Anthony Barich

I

ncreasing regulatory burdens are contributing to rising costs that are killing Australia’s mining boom and will see juniors extinct within 20 years. That’s the view of Perth-based Mincor Resources managing director David Moore. Though his company continues to expand in Australia and overseas, Moore believes people like himself persist in the industry despite increasing regulatory burdens because they get used to it: “Kind of like being the frog in the slowly warming up cup of water”. “I think that it will go the same way as the rest of the developed world,” he said. “In the end, the cost becomes so high because of the regulatory burden that only the very richest and highest-grade mines can operate.

“That’s the way it’s gone almost everywhere else – all the other developed nations in the world except Canada and Australia – but we’re heading in that direction pretty fast.”

“I think that it will go the same way as the rest of the developed world.” – David Moore Though the demand for Australia’s resources is still strong and will remain so for the foreseeable decades, it hasn’t stopped costs from rising.

“With the mining boom, if anything, prices have come off but they’re still quite high. It is costs that are killing the boom and the regulatory burden is one element of those costs,” he said. “Every government at every level in Australia loves to regulate. The economy is getting increasingly regulated. “I don’t know why, there just seems to be a natural tendency of governments to do that. “Maybe they have to be seen to be doing something.” Moore said the reason for the increasing regulatory burden came from those living in cities who “don’t even know what the country looks like but they hear of a mine and think, ‘God, we can’t have that, let’s stop that’”.

Tungsten race Despite the tungsten price tailing off by the end of 2012 to $A45/kg for the first time since 2011, 2012 also saw the price peak at $55/kg for the first time, meaning that the time is nigh for a major breakthrough. With the tungsten price forecast to increase over the coming months, New Zealand-focused tungsten explorer Siburan Resources managing director Noel Ong said whichever company made the next large discovery would be reaping massive rewards. “When I was at Mines and Money London recently, I met with a lot of German manufacturers,” he said. “After discussions with them, I reached the conclusion that without a doubt, whoever can find the next tungsten deposit that proves to be economical will be laughing all the way to the bank.” Ong believes that as there is no steady mine outside of Russia and China – and China is still an importer of the concentrate – the price of tungsten can only go one way in the coming months and years. Pointing to the rise of tin as an indicator, he added: “It had been floating between $18,000 and $21,000 per tonne but rose to $24,000/t.”

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Still worth it Copper is still a worthwhile long-term investment, despite the fact that the equity market is unlikely to improve greatly in 2013, according to the man who discovered the past decade’s standout greenfields discovery in Australia. Derek Carter founded Minotaur Exploration, which discovered the Prominent Hill copper-gold deposit in South Australia before it was taken over by OZ Minerals in 2005. He said that while the difficult capital raising market had no commodity favourites, copper was one which gave hope to investors.

“You’ve got a good market for copper – it’s traded on the London Metal Exchange, unlike tungsten and graphite, so you can do forward sales and it’s a very well-regulated market, so you know what the stockpiles are, you know who’s buying it,” he said. “It’s a relatively transparent market, in the same way as gold. You can forward-sell gold, you can hedge your production. These are commodities that you can sink your teeth [into].” editorial@miningmonthly.com Barich is editor of • Anthony RESOURCESTOCKS magazine.

FEBRUARY 2013 amm


The new standard is coming. How will it impact your cyclone screens?

On the 1st of May 2013, the Australian Standard’s building code requirements for cyclone screens are changing. Fortunately ClearShield’s TornadoShield won’t need to. We already comply to the new, more stringent safety guidelines, which call for public cyclone shelters to provide eight times more impact protection than the current requirement. If you haven’t already got our new screens, the chances are, you may not meet the new Standards. Independent tests show that, at 158km/h a 4kg piece of wood can hit with extreme force causing major destruction and threat to human life. TornadoShield stops these missiles in their tracks without breaking the glass surface behind it. So you can rely on TornadoShield, whatever the storm throws at you. We offer a full range of impact resistant screens that comply with various levels up to the highest requirement in both the AS1170.2.2011 and Public Cyclone Shelters in Region D. Call Stephen Smith on 0418 922 714 to find out more about TornadoShield, HurricaneShield and CycloneShield for all your safety screen solutions.

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Mining Monthly FP.indd 1

21/09/12 5:03 PM


Mining Brief

Expanding Queensland Hertz has announced a major expansion to support Queensland’s mining industry. By Alison Middleton

C

ar rental firm Hertz Australia has announced a major expansion of its activities in central Queensland to service the coal mining and natural gas regions of the Bowen and Surat basins. The company has opened five rental locations and expanded two others in response to demand from the state’s resources sector. Vehicle hire provides an ongoing challenge for the resources industries, particularly in remote locations. Through a commercial agreement with Central Queensland Hotels Group, Hertz has established rental offices in hotels and motels used by the mining industry in Blackwater, Dysart, Moura and Tieri.

The Melbourne-based company has also opened its own rental facility at Roma in the state’s southwest. In each of the five locations, Hertz is offering both passenger and commercial vehicles, including four wheel drive single and dual cab utilities, 4x4 wagons and 12-seater minibuses, largely for use by resources companies. Hertz has also expanded its activities in the regional cities of Toowoomba and Roma, adding commercial and passenger vehicles in both locations. The expansion follows the recent establishment of another two rental locations in the central Queensland mining town of Moranbah, west of Mackay. “The resources boom in Queensland has led to significant demand not only for infrastructure

but also for vehicles in remote mining regions,” Hertz Australasia region vice-president and managing director Chris Rusden said. “To meet the requirements of the resources companies and of corporate travellers visiting the mines, we are positioning a large fleet of passenger and commercial vehicles in these areas. “Hertz has introduced a variety of specialty mine-equipped vehicles, including vehicles equipped to BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance standards.” As well as providing vehicles specifically developed for use in mining regions, Hertz also offers companies the option to rent vehicles as required, instead of purchasing or entering into long-term lease arrangements. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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FEBRUARY 2013 amm


No job too big

MECCA WMM0099

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• Self centralising pipe guide head • Submersible pump assembly with hydraulic driven wheels to assist ascent/descent • Maximum flow rate of 200 L/S at max 100m head, 200m head booster option available • Weir Minerals designed heavy duty submersible slurry pump • Hydrau-Flo® fuel valves as standard to ensure safe reliable filling • Legendary Multiflo® product reliability and aftermarket support

Excellent Minerals Solutions

MULTIFLO® Mine Dewatering Solutions Copyright © 2012 Weir Minerals Australia Ltd. All rights reserved. MULTIFLO and HYDRAU-FLO are registered trademarks of Weir Minerals Australia Ltd. WEIR is a registered trademark of Weir Engineering Services Ltd.


What’s New

Loaded in Australia THE world’s largest skid loader has been launched in Australia. Compact equipment manufacturer Gehl has unveiled the vertical lift V400 skid loader, which boasts an operating capacity of 1814kg and a true vertical lift height of 3647mm. Gehl said the V400 was suitable for open pit mining operations and the company was investigating possible applications for underground operations. The loader’s lift path follows a vertical line rather than s-shaped and can easily load high trailers and trucks. It comes equipped with a Cummins diesel engine, while a hydraulic fan with swing-out cooler reduces fuel consumption and noise levels. All daily maintenance and service checks can be performed through the large rear engine hood. Gehl said the V400 had been designed to minimise loss of material and optimised the driver’s view of the bucket, while offering increased operator comfort.

A standard pressurised cab enclosure is fitted with sound reduction material and a rear mounted air filter to provide a cleaner and quieter operating environment. Manufactured at Gehl’s headquarters in Wisconsin in the US, the loader is being distributed by Manitou Australia, a subsidiary of French parent company Manitou. “Gehl is excited to regain the throne as the world’s largest skid loader,” Gehl product manager Sean Bifani said. “The V400 fulfills the market’s demand for a high capacity skid loader.

“Paired with its high lifting height, the V400 enters the high-end of the skid loader market, where product options are minimal. “The V400 provides maximum capacity and the industry’s largest breakout force at 4150kg.” alison.middleton@aspermont.com

The Gehl vertical lift V400 skid loader.

Your journey begins… Australia’s Mining Monthly provides you with essential industry news, from high-profile surveys and in-depth reports, to the latest in mining issues and technical trends.

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FEBRUARY 2013 AMM


Tanked up

The T200 diesel storage tank and pumping enclosure.

The largest self-bunded fuel storage tank of its kind has been unveiled to miners in Western Australia. By Alison Middleton

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emand from mining companies has prompted a fuel tank hire firm to launch the industry’s largest self-bunded fuel storage tank. Fuelfix & Tanks2Go has unveiled the T200 diesel storage tank, which can hold up to 200,000l of fuel. The self-contained tank is already on mine sites in Western Australia, and is scheduled to be available to miners in other states later in the year. Designed as a replacement for mining companies avoiding capital expenditure and disruption on site, additional capacity can be added or removed as required without cutting or welding. Fuelfix said safety to both personnel and the environment was paramount, with the fuel fully bunded throughout the transportation, storage and dispensing process. Company founder and managing director Mark Westbrook said the company had received a “very positive” response from mining clients.

AMM FEBRUARY 2013

“The T200 represents the latest innovation from Fuelfix & Tanks2Go offering 200,000 litres of fuel storage in an individual tank,” he said. “This represents a ground breaking step in the fuel and hydrocarbon management services channel. “It’s stimulated a whole raft of new inquiries because miners are seeing it now as a genuine alternative to constructed, permanently installed tanks – without the risks or costs of construction.” The T200 comes with two submersible pumps contained internally and an unloading pump. And it is suitable for both heavy and light vehicle refuelling, has a Hydac filtration system, and associated pipework. The service also includes fuel spill containment grates and emergency shower and eye wash stations. Fuelfix & Tanks2Go’s hire fleet has also grown rapidly to more than 1000 assets, including fuel tanks and mobile fuel trailers.

Delivery solutions range from 1000l to several million litre tank farms supplying entire mine sites. Westbrook said the T200 was the result of listening to mining customers and working closely with suppliers to bring technology and innovation to the West Australian diesel storage market. “The T200 is something we are very proud of,” he continued. “Fuelfix is constantly looking for innovations that improve the cost and efficiency of handling fuel for our customers. The T200 is perhaps our greatest innovation yet. “We identified that our mining customers were looking for a self-bunded fuel storage solution that could be rapidly deployed so they could have a fully functioning fuel farm on site and installed within a very short period of time.” Based in Perth, Fuelfix & Tanks2Go also has offices in Brisbane, Newcastle and Townsville. alison.middleton@aspermont.com

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What’s New EVA Robotics’ EvoDrive motor-mounted stepper drives.

Step up Sydney-based firm Motion Technologies has been appointed Australian distributor for EVA Robotics’ range of closed loop stepper drives. The EvoDrive motor-mounted stepper drives and controllers are available as either a packaged stepper motor, drive and encoder assembly or as a separate printed circuit board-mounted stepper drive module. It has been designed to provide full torque control even at high speed without the usual stepper motor heat issues. Motion Technologies said the product had been designed to sit on motor controls without additional cabling.

It is particularly suitable for small, portable mining equipment and accurately measuring processes such as hydraulics on mine sites. Available in sizes 17, 23 and 34, the drives can be supplied with or without motors. Standard encoder resolution is 16,384 counts, but it can be run open-loop as a 512

Mine clean

The next generation of Ultima hand pumps.

Smaller, but more powerful Hydraulic equipment manufacturer Enerpac has launched its next generation of Ultima hand pumps for maintenance and fabrication work on minesites. Designed to reduce handle effort and minimise operator effort and fatigue, the pumps have a two-speed operation that reaches 700 bar and 10,000psi. Enerpac said the series packed more power into a smaller and more portable pump that was lighter and quicker.

micro-stepper drive with accuracy up to 102,400 steps per revolution. The standard evaluation kit includes a motor with integral drive, cables, power supply and PC interface software. Custom hardware solutions can also be supplied.

Handle effort is reduced by up to 20% and the pumps can comfortably handle cylinders of between five to 25 tons capacity. A power push handle grip and linkage design means loads are better distributed, further reducing felt load while pumping to minimise operator fatigue. Based in Milwaukee in the United States, the company also has a base in Sydney for the Australian market.

DUE to customer demand, Australian Pump has launched a Yanmar diesel high-pressure cold water blaster for the mining and construction industries. Better known as Aussie Pumps, the Sydneybased pump manufacturer’s Aussie mine spec blaster joins the Aussie Scud revolution range. Powered by a Yanmar 10 horsepower electric start engine, the Aussie mine spec complies with the national mine specification MDG15 and provides a high-pressure power of 4000 pounds per square inch. Aussie Pumps product manager Adam Scully said a high-pressure blaster resulted in quicker cleaning times, maximum efficiency and a reduction in the amount of water and fuel used. “The Mine Scud system is all about costeffective cleaning, with minimal impact on the environment,” he said. “The blasters’ benefits include greater fuel economy with lower through life costs.”

Reels supply AN AUSTRALIAN manufacturer has launched hose reels for hydraulic oils to suit moving applications in the mining sector. ReCoila’s Automation Series of constant tension automation reels was specifically designed to supply hydraulic oil from fixed to moving points. The reels are suitable for cranes, truckmounted cranes, forklift trucks and other

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materials handling equipment. Due to the varying demands across the mining industry, the series can accommodate up to six hoses. ReCoila said the reels were designed to handle constant repetitive unwind and rewind motions of crane arms or forklift lifting mechanisms, ensuring reliable operation on mine sites. alison.middleton@aspermont,com

The Yanmar diesel high-pressure cold water blaster at work.

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Companies & organisations in this issue Made in Milan ITALIAN manufacturer of brakes and clutches Coremo Ocmea has expanded its operations into Australia. Based in Milan, Coremo provides products and services for the mining and resources industry, specifically for dragline, coal conveyor and crushing mill production and maintenance. New South Wales supplier Australian Brake Controls (ABC) has been announced as the distributor for Coremo Ocmea’s products. The company said it was expanding its expertise into the design and supply of industrial braking systems used extensively by major Australian industries. ABC industrial brakes division engineer and designer Gerry Lewis said ABC’s complete engineered braking solution would benefit from Coremo’s hydraulic springapplied failsafe brakes. The brakes are used in bulk material conveyors on main drives, pulleys and takeup winches. Coremo’s hydraulic brakes are robust against corrosion and are designed for extreme resources environments. “The brakes supply a high braking force within a very compact width of the brake body to ensure easy installation, even when space is limited,” Lewis said. “Another practical advantage is that replacement of main wear parts, pads, seals and springs is quick and easy.” “The braking load is not transmitted to the piston and seals, ensuring long life for these components.” Coremo says its brakes are reliable, easy to use and maintain, and have a long lifecycle. “Reliability is further enhanced by proximity switches and pad wear indicators to ensure proper monitoring of the brake,” Lewis added. “The friction pad surface is properly sized to ensure high heat dissipation in gradual stops of the conveyor.”

Coremo’s hydraulic spring-applied failsafe brake.

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Adrok Anglo American AngloGold Ashanti Aquacrete Australian Brake Controls Australian Pump Barminco BHP Billiton Caterpillar Clemcorp Australia CSIRO David Brown Enerpac Equipment Placement Ertech Fortescue Metals Group Fuelfix & Tanks2Go Gehl Gindalbie Metals Golder Associates Grange Resources GroundProbe Hedweld Group Herrenknecht Hertz Australia Hydratight IMX Resources Iron Ore Holdings Jonker Plant Hire and Engineering Keech Australia Kentor Gold Konecranes Machinery Automation & Robotics Micromine Microsoft Mincor MineARC Minerals and Metals Group Minetec Minotaur Exploration Motion Technologies Nepean Conveyors Norton Gold Fields NSW Department of Trade and Investment Perseus Mining pitt&sherry Queensland Resources Council ReCoila ResCo Services Rio Tinto Sandvik Snowden SRK Consulting Talga Resources ThoroughTec Simulation Tiger Resources TW Woods Group University of Western Australia Xstrata Zinc Zebra Constructions

85 18 18 70 95 94 66 41, 52, 60 44, 67 73 82 34 94 75 65 75, 80 93 92 10 24 23 85 55 62 90 35 10 80 58 12 83 65 36 85 85 88 46 66 84 88 94 32 10 68 6 23 60 94 56 38 41 26 42 48 41 10 31 72 14 76

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Viewpoint

dryblower

editorial@miningmonthly.com

The new normal

It’s 2013 and the mining industry’s definition of what’s normal has changed. Significantly.

F

orecasting is always tricky, as some stockbrokers discovered last year, and which Dryblower suspects more will discover this year – along with their colleagues in the mining industry, who yearn for a return of the boom. What last year’s crop of failures did not recognise, and which this year’s crop are also failing to see, is that normal ain’t what it used to be. Gone is the time when anyone could get a job in mining or stockbroking, gullible investors swallowed any nonsense about new projects being developed no matter what the cost, and bankers funded anything without asking too many questions. Those attitudes, all built on a foundation of greed, will not survive in a business environment driven by the cult of cost-cutting.

They are, for anyone older than 30, a return to a time when talented people prospered in the private sector and the rest worked for government. Sobering as these thoughts might seem they are not the end of the world. They are a return to a time when talented people prospered in the private sector and the rest worked for government.

Normal today is slower growth, steady demand and abundant supply. It is a time when costs rule, not grand uncosted expansion plans, or grossly ambitious forecasts of future commodity and share prices. One example of misplaced optimism which has been on Dryblower’s watchlist for the past few months is the share price tips for a uranium and rare earth hopeful, Greenland Minerals and Energy. Last year, as the uranium industry tried to shake off the bad press associated with Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown, stockbrokers “discovered” the Greenland story, with one even tipping it as a stock destined to soar from 31c to $7. The last time Dryblower looked, Greenland’s share price had fallen, not risen, trading at around 28c. Next for a wake-up slap in the face could be the tipsters (and company promoters) who expect the iron ore price to surge back to near-record levels in 2013. According to recently published predictions, some iron ore analysts see the price soaring back to $US160 a tonne. A more likely price path for iron ore is to enjoy a brief period of trading above the $US130/t mark, before retreating to as low as $US100/t. The reason for such a cautious view is that the swings and roundabouts effect is in the process of seeking out the new-normal which economists call equilibrium, a point at which economic forces are in balance – which sounds easy, but is rarely achieved.

Pick a side IF THE year ahead for Australian mining is going to be one of caution when it comes to commodity prices, capital raising and project development, the same cannot be said for how Australian mining manages its political relationships. A national election later in the year, and a state election in the country’s premier mining state of WA, means that miners and their lobby groups will be forced to take sides.

Gone will be the comfort of sitting on the fence, debating the pros and cons of conservative and socialist philosophies. This time around, the threat of harsher tax treatment and tougher land use laws from the Labor/Green alliance means the mining industry will have no choice but to nail its colours to the conservative mast, or risk a re-run of the mining tax and carbon tax fiascos of the past three years.

Normal isn’t what it used to be.

To understand, consider what happened to iron ore and many other minerals in the decade up to 2008, a time when the forces of demand blew off the Richter scale normally used to measure earthquakes thanks to Chinese demand. The Global Financial Crisis then kicked off four years of instability, complete with a deep recession in Europe and the U.S. and excess printing of money, some of which found its way into an ongoing resource-project building boom. Today, those new projects are hitting the market with their additional supply, just in time to meet the reduced demand as governments and consumers rein in their spending habits. In effect, the world’s twin “economic metronomes” of supply and demand have flicked from being out of sync on the demand side to out of sync on the supply side. Starting today is the new normal which will look awfully like the 1980s, a time when real commodity prices remained flat, or fell slightly, and when demand was muted by cautious consumer spending and costwatching by companies and governments. Good projects, well-managed companies and talented people will perform well in 2013. Poor projects and badly-run companies will struggle to survive. As for people who only got into mining or investment banking because of the boom, they can now find a niche in a sector to which they are better suited – government, perhaps?

“In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from side to side, thinking they will be more comfortable.” – Johan Wolfgang van Goethe 96

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Maximum tonnage under extreme conditions? Absolutely.

The history of belt conveyor systems started in the early sixties. Ever since, ABB has been supplying engineering solutions for electrical control, automation and drive equipment for large scale conveyors such as a 13-kilometer overland conveyor system for a high-altitude copper mine in Collahuasi, Chile – with downhill conveyor and electric power regeneration. Our expertise shows in more than 700 kilometers of belt conveyor systems worldwide, meeting the challenges of long distances in extreme environments and transportation conditions as well as ever increasing belt loads. Our new gearless conveyor drive (GCD) combines all our experience in conveyor drive solutions meeting the highest demands such as minimum wear plus maximum efficiency and controllability. For more information, please visit us at www.abbaustralia.com.au/minerals

ABB Australia Pty Limited 36 Archerfield Road Darra QLD 4076 www.abbaustralia.com.au



Australia's Mining Monthly February 2013