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The mining industry’s leading magazine

Established

1909

Power generation

Whatever happened to clean coal? MM looks at the future of carbon capture and sequestration

Surface drilling

A round-up of new products, technologies and industry developments from around the globe

Mining consultants 2013 was a tough year for the consulting business. The world’s top firms detail their plans for 2014 and beyond

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June 2014

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LOW CONSUMPTION WAS YESTERDAY’S NEWS. READY FOR THE FUTURE? THIS WAY! Sandvik drill rigs have been developed for maximal cost-efficiency for decades. Still living by the same rule in consumption, we developed a percussive drill platform that will elevate surface drilling to a whole new level. Built to meet the needs of tomorrows mining industry as well as future requirements for automation, the new PANTERA™ is an intelligent, forceful and safe drill with variants for both down-thehole and top hammer drilling. Designed for enhanced drilling efficiency, lower cost per meter and reduced environmental impact, it stands for utmost productivity. Join the movement towards The Future of Mining. It’s This Way: mining.sandvik.com

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FEATURE CONTENTS NAME

1

A call to action

S

hould more be done to promote women in mining? This is the title of a discussion that was posed on Aspermont’s Mining News & Networking LinkedIn group in early April, and which is still running now having solicited a high number of responses, some quite controversial. Many of the respondents lamented the fact that, once again, we were debating a topic that really shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age. To a certain extent, I agree. I don’t wish to harp on about an issue that has been covered a thousand times and, frankly, the idea of having to promote the employment of women in any industry is as outdated as some of the views which were posted on that LinkedIn discussion. But the fact of the matter remains; women still make up a woefully low proportion of the global mining workforce, and the only way that is going to change is if we keep making a stand. There is a skills shortage in mining and we cannot afford to pass on half of the potential talent pool because of their gender. While there are companies and operations that offer equal opportunities for men and women, and flexible working arrangements that allow women to juggle their careers with other priorities, there are a good deal which do not create an environment in which women could, or would want to work. And, more “Mining is, forgive me worryingly, do not care to do anything about this. for being blunt here, The industry as a whole needs to work harder to promote itself to women as a potential employer, and yes, part of that does involve promoting women in mining, because one of the biggest barriers to women entering mining at the moment is their perception of the industry.

run mainly by middleaged men”

Mining is, forgive me for being blunt here, run mainly by middle-aged men. Mine Staffing International recently reported that of the top 125 mining companies globally, only two have female CEOs, and the average age is around 50. Mining has an ageing workforce, and the industry is as slow to embrace fresh working practices and recruitment initiatives as it is new technologies (just some of the reasons why the oil-and-gas and manufacturing sectors are leaps and bounds ahead of us). On the surface, mining is not an enticing prospect and it is easy for women working in the industry to feel isolated. However, when the conditions are right, mining can offer an exciting and fulfilling career. Mining companies, and in fact any company involved in the mining business, need to do more to make this known. They need to look at their business models and make opportunities from board level to shovel more accessible to women – not just admin and marketing roles. They need to get into classrooms, support university projects and make more graduate roles available, as well as encouraging mentoring programmes among their female employees. And until companies across the globe, large and small, put their money where their mouths are and make this happen, people like me are going to keep talking about it. Mining as an industry is fast approaching a crossroads. One where it will have to embrace change in order to keep up with the existential challenges it faces. Replenishing and revitalising its pool of expertise will play a large part in this, and I hope that women will take a greater role in the mining industry going forward. CARLY LEONIDA, EDITOR carly.leonida@mining-magazine.com Twitter: @MM_Ed_Carly

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News

2

Features Special report: Money Mining

12

Special report: Veolia

18

Interview: CRCMining

22

Surface drilling

28

Snapshot

50

Power generation

52

Ground support

60

Pumps

72

Mining consultants

80

Flashback & contacts

87

Classified advertising

88

Next month Automation and remote mining Comminution Longwalls and shearers Narrow-vein mining

COVER

The three-year multimillion-dollar expansion project commences at KSB’s Grovetown and Thomson, Georgia (USA), production facilities. The project includes a new distribution centre, and increased foundry and heat-treat capacity. This investment in increased large casting capacity meets the need for faster and more efficient handling of the larger equipment pieces. When complete, these new facilities will more than triple its manufacturing capabilities and provide customers with one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world. www.giwindustries.com

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2

NEWS

BHP Billiton shakes up Nickel West unit BHP Billiton is reviewing its Western Australian Nickel West business, which encompasses the Mt Keith, Cliffs and Leinster mines and associated concentrators, Kalgoorlie smelter, Kambalda concentrator and the Kwinana refinery. The review is considering all options for the long-term future of Nickel West, including the potential sale of all or parts of the business. It follows BHP’s decision in December 2013 to cease operations in the sublevel cave at its Perseverance mine due to safety concerns. Paul Harvey, Nickel West asset president at BHP Billiton, said: “Nickel West is one of the world’s leading nickel producers. Our focus on working safely and continuing to find and deliver ways to improve the competitiveness of our business is unchanged.”

Phoenix gets Gekko cyanide detox system Gekko Systems is supplying a complete turnkey cyanide detox system to Rubicon Mineral Corp’s high-grade Phoenix gold project in Red Lake, Ontario, Canada. The cyanide detox system is designed to reduce cyanide in the plant discharge to less than 1ppm weak acid dissociable (WAD) cyanide using liquid sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxygen generators. The supplied plant will include the cyanide-destruction tank, liquid SO2 handling, storage and dosing systems, oxygen-generation system and control instrumentation. Gekko Systems aims to improve processing outcomes for the mining industry, and has a particular interest in capital-effective plants with low environmental footprint.

Rubicon’s Phoenix gold project Over the past 10 years the company has developed and applied alternative, low-energy flowsheets using gangue rejection and pre-concentration concepts to minimise comminution. Dan Labine, vice-president of operations for Rubicon Mineral Corp, said: “Gekko’s experience gives us great confidence in the

successful design and operation of this critical process, ensuring we continue a responsible and environmentally sustainable development.” Gekko draws on proven technologies for detoxifying cyanide, including SO2/O2, peroxide and Caro’s Acid processes. The company said it understands the benefits and pitfalls of each detox method and will be providing specialist knowledge in developing the Phoenix plant design. Gekko provides a full range of client support from test work, design and supply to commissioning and process optimisation to ensure the best possible outcome. In 2012 Gekko’s technical team created a Cyanide Detox Group in conjunction with Randy Agius, a knowledge leader in this field. Work undertaken by the Gekko Cyanide Detox Group won the Mining Magazine Award for Environmental Excellence in 2012.

Rio Tinto hits expansion target early

Super Portables operating on the South Stargo pad at Morenci

TNT bags Morenci contract TNT has secured a contract for Freeport-McMoRan’s Morenci operations in southeast Arizona, US. The contract will cover the design, supply and erection of 4.8km of overland conveyors and a Super Portable stacking system for the southwest leach pad at Morenci. The scope includes four new 1.4m overland conveyors – S26, S27, S28 and S29 – which have lengths of 211.5m, 1,103m, 1,396m and 2,096m respectively. Conveyor S28 includes a horizontal curve of 1,829m radius and return-belt turnover system. With more than 3,728kW of installed power, the conveyors will be powered via three new electrical rooms and distribution gear designed, supplied and installed by TNT. The longest of these overland

conveyors will feed, via a new mobile tripper, a new mobile stacking system that features TNT’s Super Portable technology. This technology allows fully independent movement of each piece of mobile conveying equipment on the stacking pad. The system will initially comprise nine new conveyors: five 1.8m x 76.2m ramp portables, a 39.6m-long portable transfer conveyor, a 33.5m-long horizontal feed conveyor, 86.9m-long horizontal conveyor, and a 54.9m/64m-long radial stacker with 9.1m telescoping stinger. Immediately after start-up on the new pad, TNT will upgrade four Super Portables that it supplied for the South Stargo pad between 2007 and 2014 and will add these to the Southwest pad’s mobile stacking system.

Rio Tinto’s Pilbara iron-ore system of mines, railways and ports has reached a run rate of 290Mt/y two months ahead of schedule, which the firm referred to as a “major milestone for Australia’s largest integrated mining project”. It also stated that the early completion of the expansion has added significant value to its Pilbara operation, with continued ramp-up of the system contributing to achieving a record March-quarter production. It follows completion of the infrastructure phase in September 2013, which was delivered four months ahead of schedule and US$400 million under budget. Andrew Harding, chief executive of Rio Tinto Iron Ore, said: “This is a significant milestone that adds real value for

our business and our shareholders by moving more iron ore through the Pilbara at low cost. It builds on an impressive track record of delivery, achieved through our culture of driving performance and the quality of our people. “We are now focused on the next phase of our expansion towards 360Mt/y. The infrastructure is on schedule for completion in a little over 12 months and we have a rapid, low-cost pathway to increase mine-production capacity by more than 60Mt/y between now and 2017.” Rio Tinto noted that there is likely to be some run-rate variability in coming months as the company completes its 360Mt/y expansion and realises the integration of AutoHaul, an automated heavy-haul rail system.

Escondida awards work to Boart Longyear Boart Longyear has won a contract for exploration drilling services at the Escondida copper mine. Escondida, in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile at an altitude of 3,100m, is operated by BHP Billiton. On the contract, Boart Longyear will drill with at least 16 rigs using a variety of techniques, including semi-automated hands-free diamond coring, reverse-circulation and rotary rigs for mine dewatering. Scott Whitt, general manager of drilling services in Latin America, said: “Being selected by Minera Escondida to do their exploration work is an honour for the team of drillers, helpers and support personnel to prove on a daily basis that we can deliver safe metres to one of the world’s top miners.”

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MAKING A COMMITMENT TO LOWERING YOUR COSTS At Caterpillar, our relationship with our customers goes way beyond selling and supporting the machines we manufacture. Our goal is to combine our products and technologies with our mining industry expertise to help you achieve your definition of success — whether that’s controlling expenses by using less fuel, getting the longest possible life out of your equipment through machine rebuilds, optimizing your site with a customized technology solution, or reducing your debt through our structured financing offerings. Get more information at

M I N I N G . C AT. C O M

© 2014 Caterpillar. All Rights Reserved. CAT, CATERPILLAR, their respective logos, “Caterpillar Yellow,” the “Power Edge” trade dress as well as corporate and product identity used herein, are trademarks of Caterpillar and may not be used without permission.

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Caterpillar 2014 Campaign Pub / date: Mining Magazine — June 2014

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NEWS

RPM offers software package for oil sands RungePincockMinarco (RPM) launched its new Oil Sands XPAC Solution (OSS) at the annual CIM Convention in Vancouver, Canada. It is the latest commodity-based packages to be added to RPM’s suite of scheduling software. Craig Halliday, vice-president of software at RPM, said: “We have been working with oil-sands operators for over 20 years, and the development of OSS is a direct result of our long-standing partnership with them and our continued commitment to deliver solutions that tackle the major challenges faced by the oil-sands industry.” OSS is an end-to-end scheduling solution that is purpose built for oil-sands mines. It streamlines the entire mine-scheduling process

from geology to scheduling, haulage and product optimisation. Alun Philips, product manager – scheduling at RPM, explained: “In the past, scheduling solutions have relied on inputs from a number of different data sources. OSS manages scheduling in one place from start to finish. It is now very easy to use the latest geological and haulage information to ensure that schedules are accurate and achievable.” OSS also integrates directly with XERAS for Enterprise, RPM’s enterprise financial-modelling solution. It has been built on the XPAC scheduling engine and is ‘script-free’, which allows schedulers to harness the underlying scheduling power to deliver results quickly.

The bigger picture

Martin Engineering is helping conveyor users to cut operating costs and improve safety with inspection and maintenance programmes. ‘Walk the Belt’ provides scheduled reviews of belts, cleaners, tracking, chutes, dust control and other components from specialists with the training and expertise to maximise productivity and reduce downtime. The programme establishes an evolving record of each belt for analysis and reference. By taking responsibility for maintenance and identifying potential issues before components fail, technicians help customers maintain performance and extend service life, while minimising fugitive material and unplanned shutdowns.

Weir rolls out WEMCO across European market

Weir Minerals’ WEMCO type M8C pump

Weir Minerals has launched its WEMCO range of extra-heavyduty vortex pumps across Europe, following its success in the French market. This now complements Weir Minerals’ WARMAN range of slurry pumps across the rest of Europe. The WEMCO range, which is designed to handle large and abrasive solids and corrosive fluids, has been manufactured and sold in France for 60 years. WEMCO pumps use vortex

Metso to service ball mills at Chuquicamata

technology, with a recessed impeller that allows pipe-sized solids to pass easily. This technology reduces abrasion and minimises the risk of clogging, reducing the down-time in blockage-prone applications. A simple design with minimal components and thick-walled castings allows WEMCO pumps to deliver a rugged performance for heavy-duty applications in industries including mining and dredging.

ME Elecmetal opens its latest plant in China ME Elecmetal opened a new mill-liner plant in the city of Changzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, on May 8. The plant, designed for an annual production capacity of 30,000t of steel liners, involved an investment of US$45 million and will employ 300 staff. ME Elecmetal stated that the construction was completed in record time and without accidents. Jaime Claro, chairman of ME Elecmetal, said in a speech: “Years ago we decided that it was

necessary to have a manufacturing facility in China. “We needed to supply our customers with operations in Asia, Oceania and Africa. Teams from China, Chile and the US worked in the design and construction of an

ultra-modern plant destined to become another great asset to our company.” It is the sixth steel foundry fully owned by ME Elecmetal, with three other plants in Chile and two in the US.

Opening ceremony for the new plant at Changzhou

Metso has signed an 18-month services contract for Codelco’s Chuquicamata mine, which covers changing the components of 33 ball mills operating in the mine’s A0 and A1 plants. The work will involve changing the pinion-gear assembly as well as repairs to the shell. Metso will repair two mills per month and also take care of continuous monitoring of the status of the equipment. Eduardo Nilo, services director for Metso Mining and Construction in Chile, said: “Codelco chose Metso due to our expertise in similar projects. Metso’s specialised, high-quality services are focused on optimisation and improved reliability of the mills. As a result, the customer will gain the desired return on their investment.” The agreement, which covers gear disassembly, new gear assembly, pinion assembly, gear alignment (slow rotation) and mantle repair, took effect in April. The contract will create 30 new Metso services jobs in northern Chile.

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WE NEVER STOP The Pit Viper 311 has everything you want in a blasthole drill: reliable technology with our Rig Control System, increased productivity, ergonomical cab design, and multiple service access points that lead to reduced downtime. Contact your nearest Atlas Copco customer center to learn more. www.atlascopco.com/blastholedrills

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NEWS

FLSmidth wins Mongolian work, expands in India FLSmidth has received orders worth US$43 million from Mongolian company Mongolyn Alt (MAK) Group to supply engineering, procurement and site-construction services for the Tsagaan Suvarga copper-molybdenum concentrator project. This greenfield plant, with a capacity of 40,000t/d of ore, will be located in the central part of the

Oyu Tolgoi south Gobi porphyry copper belt in southeast Mongolia. FLSmidth is currently supplying all the main process technology for the project under a separate, previously awarded contract announced in 2011. The order will be booked by the Mineral Processing division and will contribute beneficially to FLSmidth’s earnings until mid-2017.

Meanwhile, FLSmidth MAAG Gear inaugurated its first assembly and service unit in India in April, as part of the FLSmidth manufacturing unit at the Bawal Growth Centre of Rewari District in Haryana. The new FLSmidth MAAG Gear facility will assemble selected types and sizes of gearboxes locally, for the cement, minerals and power industries.

Using this local base in India means that over 200 gearbox types will be supported more efficiently. Services such as inspection, maintenance and overhaul for different gearboxes in the cement, minerals and power industries are now offered. FLSmidth MAAG Gear plans to build around 30 gearboxes a year in the new assembly plant.

LiuGong supplies Cummins-powered wheel loaders LiuGong Machinery has begun to deliver wheel loaders equipped with the brand new Guangxi Cummins L9.3 engine to the international market. The ZL50CN, 855N, 856 and all other LiuGong Tier II 5t wheel loaders are the first to be equipped with the L9.3 engine manufactured by Guangxi Cummins. The engine is designed especially for the wheel-loader market and optimised for a 5t bucket capacity. The L9.3 is built is built at Guangxi Cummins’ state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and is produced to meet the various demands of both the Chinese and international markets. Guangxi Cummins is a joint venture of LiuGong Machinery and Cummins, founded in Liuzhou in 2011. It started operations in 2013 and volume is planned to reach 50,000 units with the capability to expand in the future. The JV focuses on designing and producing engines for construction equipment in developing and emerging markets.

Cat and Immersive extend partnership Caterpillar Global Mining and Immersive Technologies have extended their decade-long partnership for another five years. Through this formal agreement, Caterpillar Global Mining will continue to exclusively recommend Immersive Technologies’ high- and medium-fidelity training simulator products while providing the confidential technical information required to develop the simulators.

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NewS

7

NEW

RIEGL VMZ ®

Mobilize your RIEGL 3D Terrestrial Laser Scanner

Mining companies can monitor a variety of operational parameters relating to their underground machinery with an on-board metering technology developed by Booyco Electronics. The technology was originally developed in 2012 at the request of a platinum mine in Mpumalanga, South Africa, but has since become commercially available to the rest of the industry. Parameters include monitoring the running hours of vehicles, the percussion running hours of drill rigs and roof-bolter machines as well as operator fatigue, driver identity and machine abuse. It also provides management with detailed information on the actual production hours of the machine,

including when the drill was running and the amount of vibration the operator was subjected to. Jaco du Plessis, operations manager at Booyco Electronics, said: “In the current economic climate, mining companies need to know exactly how many hours their underground machinery is physically running and how long this machinery stands idle during a given shift. “Until now, there was no way to access this information, but the introduction of the on-board monitor with this capability makes it possible to access the detailed, accurate and real-time data necessary for optimum underground mine management.”

Ridgidrain pipes installed at Namoya Polypipe’s Ridgidrain solution for sub-soil drainage is now in operation at the tailings-management facility of the Namoya gold project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Polypipe supplied 1,386m of 500mm diameter and 190m of 600mm diameter of its Ridgidrain twin-wall pipe. The Namoya mine, at the southwestern end of the TwangizaNamoya gold belt, covers 174km² and is expected to double the owner’s projected gold production to more than 225,000oz/y. The site houses a substantial tailings-management facility to process the leftover materials and waste water from the gold extraction, and also ensures that

mobil tic to

easy mounting

From s ta

Booyco launches metering technology

MOBILE scanning

e scan

ning in

a few

steps!

Booyco’s latest metering equipment

STATIC scanning

RIEGL® VMZ Highlights • fully integrated IMU/GNSS unit to support RIEGL VZ-400 or VZ-1000 scanners for mobile (kinematic) data acquisition • fast transition from tripod to mobile mount – no boresight calibration necessary after re-mounting for mobile scanning • image acquistion with fully integrated NIKON® DSLR camera or POINTGREY ladybug® camera • easy system operation and data processing with RIEGL’s standard software packages for static and mobile scanning applications ® registered trademarks

any harmful particles do not enter the soil or groundwater. Manufactured in high-density polyethylene (HDPE), Polypipe stated that Ridgidrain has excellent abrasion resistance both internally and externally – protecting against both sediment within the wastewater and the rugged mine environment. It also offers a high compression strength to withstand imposed loadings, yet is still lightweight for ease of installation and transport.

IMU/GNSS unit

Meet us at

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June 10 - 12, 2014 Skelleftea, Sweden Hall Copper, Booth 214

www.riegl.com RIEGL LMS GmbH, Austria

www.

RIEGL VMZ horizontal setup

RIEGL VMZ vertical setup

RIEGL USA Inc.

RIEGL Japan Ltd.

RIEGL China Ltd.

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8

NEWS

In Brief Ventyx joins the cloud Ventyx’s asset-management software is now available as ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) delivered via the cloud. The SaaS solution provides options for small and medium-sized mining companies that require a lower total cost of ownership but need a comprehensive asset-management solution.

Magni sends to Zambia Magni delivered four telescopic handlers to a First Quantum Minerals mine in Zambia in April: two RTH 5.23 models and two HTH 30.12. The HTH 30.12 units are being used with tyre- and cylinder-clamp attachments to change damaged haul-truck tyres up to 64in (164cm) in diameter and cylinders up to 10t in weight in the active part of the mine.

Rajant unveils node Rajant Corp unveiled its BreadCrumb LX5 Portable Wireless Mesh Network Node at the CIM 2014 Convention in Vancouver, Canada. It is the latest in a line of multi-radio nodes in the BreadCrumb family that, when paired with other Rajant products, create a rugged and reliable mesh network.

Magnetek gets certified Magnetek has announced the availability of wireless controls certified for use in potentially hazardous locations. The company received both ATEX and IECEx certifications for its XLTX and MLTX2 wireless controls, which are now approved for use in EX Zone 0, Zone 1, and Zone 2 hazardous environments.

winmate rugged tablet Winmate has released the Class 1 Division 2 M101B tablet computer, its newest tablet for the hazardous location market. The 10.1in touch-screen M101B features Intel’s Bay Trail 1.83GHz quad-core N2930 processor and Windows Embedded 8.1 operating system.

SNC-Lavalin completes order for Russian diamond mine SNC-Lavalin’s South African office has fulfilled an order for the engineering of the civil layout and procurement of equipment for a 60t/h dense medium separation (DMS) plant for a diamond-mining company in Russia. The plant is part of a greater greenfield operation, and the equipment procured by SNC-Lavalin will tie in with equipment provided by other suppliers. Roger Rousseau, manager of SNC-Lavalin’s modular team at the South African office, said: “We established a modular group in 2010 to focus on the specific market requirement for compact plants that can be broken down

SNC-Lavalin DMS plant into smaller sections and easily transported anywhere in the world. “This approach reduces time spent on site, because the equipment can be cold-commissioned prior to being delivered to

the customer. Another benefit is that additional modules can be installed at a later stage to increase capacity. In addition, the modular group specialises in building containerised plants, which also makes logistics far simpler.” Rousseau said that on this particular project, his team was able to tap into SNC-Lavalin’s global network of technical resources and specialists. These experts provided valuable input with regard to the properties, standards and specifications of the structural steel needed to construct the DMS plant for the harsh northern hemisphere climate.

Cat upgrades available for 785 and 789 trucks Caterpillar and Cat dealers now offer Cat Certified Rebuild Upgrade (CCRU) services for older 785 and 789 large mining trucks. The rebuild programme for the original series and the B-series models of these trucks incorporates the technological advancements introduced with the C series to improve operation, performance and engine emissions. The CCRU provides a full rebuild and warranty along with an upgraded cab and chassis updates. This results in better fuel economy, performance and productivity, a modernised cab for operator comfort and improved engine emissions equivalent to US

The month in numbers

40 Cat 785 truck

EPA Tier 1 standards. The Cat 3512B EUI engine for the 785 and the 3516B EUI engine for the 789 deliver about 5% more power and provide the potential for fuel savings of 3-4%. Also, recommended service intervals are extended from 250 to 500 hours. The CCRU programme for 785 and 789 trucks is now available in the US, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Chile and Russia.

wharf cuts blinding with Flex-Mat 3 Major Wire’s Flex-Mat 3 Tensioned Series S screen media has been successfully used at Wharf Resources’ gold mine in South Dakota, US. The 60,000oz/y mine often struggled with blinding of its screening media. Wharf Resources’ local supplier, General Equipment & Supplies, was familiar with Major Wire and recommended using Flex-Mat 3 high-performance screen media to eliminate the blinding.

Wharf Resources installed a new twin-deck screen plant in its tertiary grinding circuit fitted with the Flex-Mat 3 media. The new combination has made it possible to keep producing in even the wettest weather, while reducing the load on the tertiary circuit by up to 30%. The Flex-Mat 3 screens are lasting three weeks before having to be changed, saving downtime, man-hours and hassle.

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The number of staff employed at the Orange High Productivity Centre, a new Sandvik repair, rebuild and support centre in Orange, New South Wales, Australia.

50

The percentage reduction in noise level that the new Boart Longyear S250-M3 rock drill offers over the existing S250 rock drill.

100

The size in millions of Australian dollars (US$93.5 million) of the infrastructure contract awarded to Leighton Holdings operator John Holland by Rio Tinto, for the expansion of its iron-ore operations in the Pilbara region of Australia.

460

The number of attendees, including customers and Cat dealers, at the surface session of Caterpillar’s Global Mining Forum in Tucson, Arizona, US in May. There were a further 85 at the underground session.

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.com 16/05/2014 11:25


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special report

11

Whittling away the waste Ailbhe Goodbody attended Whittle Consulting’s Money Mining seminar in London in March, and learned about a fresh approach to optimising mining enterprises

W

hittle Consulting is a family business based in Melbourne, Australia, which is represented in South Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Europe and effectively operating worldwide. The company offers a service called ‘enterprise optimisation’, a complete approach to extracting maximum value from a mining enterprise. Enterprise optimisation is the culmination of 30 years of development by Jeff Whittle, technical director of Whittle Consulting. The company’s vision is to be the global standard for strategic mine planning, and its mission is to transform the economic performance of mining globally. A recent alliance with JKTech in March 2013 added a sustainability framework to the approach. Whittle Consulting runs Money Mining seminars throughout the year to give a comprehensive briefing on the latest techniques in enterprise optimisation. The London seminar was presented by Gerald Whittle, managing director of Whittle Consulting. He comments: “Mining is a technical business, run by technical people with a focus on the physicals. We need this, but an economic focus is also needed.” Whittle Consulting says that its Money Mining approach can increase the net present value (NPV) of mining properties by 5-35%, regardless of the optimisation done to date to the mine and/or the processing plant. However, Whittle explained that based on 80-100 studies done by the company, the improvement can be anything from 15% to 120%, fundamentally changing economic performance. The goal is to create significant short-term cash gains for all types of mine, without conceding long-term value.

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Whittle notes: “Mining is a technical and complex industry – that complexity is what gives us the opportunity.” Whittle Consulting states that most mining companies are not maximising economic values, and are distracted by confusing organisational silo-based objectives that prevent them from seeing the solution that is best for the entire enterprise. These conventional objectives include maximising reserves, minimising costs, maximising equipment utilisation, maximising recovery, having consistent production/operations, minimising capital outlay and maximising mine life – however, all of these aims can be counterproductive to maximising value. Over 2,000 mining professionals have participated in the seminars. In addition, Whittle Consulting’s methods have been used by a number of companies in the mining industry, including Peabody Energy, BANPU,

Gold Fields, Rio Tinto, Kinross, Anglo American, Anglo Platinum, Glencore Xstrata, African Rainbow Minerals, Perseus Mining and Barrick Gold.

the Money Mining Way The basic philosophy behind Money Mining is that a mine is a commercial enterprise with the main aim of making money, rather than the main aim being to extract the commodity; without money, a company will not have the opportunity to exist or expand. The focus on tonnes, truck hours and material movement can distract from this aim. Whittle explains to MM: “If you’re not making money, why are you doing it? If you’re not making money, are you just driving trucks around and picking up rocks for fun, risking the environment and people’s safety?” Money also has a time value; a million dollars is worth more today than

Whittle Consulting has applied its principles at mines such as Kumba Iron Ore’s Kolomela project in South Africa

“Mining is a technical and complex industry – that is what gives us the opportunity”

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special report

In this case, optimising the operation of a gold mine increased its NPV by 89%

“Six Sigma and constancy have no place in strategic mine planning. If the plan is constant, it is not optimal”

Net present value

it will be worth in a year’s time, but many companies ignore this as they make their calculations in constant dollars. The timing of cash spent and generated is very important when evaluating a mining business, which is why Whittle Consulting uses NPV as a basic measure of value. Bottlenecks are the main hurdle that stops mining companies from getting all the money instantly – if there were no such constraints, a company could mine and process the orebody in one year to get all the cash immediately and to achieve an excellent NPV. As a result, Whittle Consulting states that it is not only the amount of money in an orebody that is important, but also the rate at which the cash can be realised – this is determined by the bottlenecks. Mining companies need to study, understand and manage the economic bottlenecks to maximise the value of the mine. Enterprise optimisation involves a study of how money/value flows through the system, and what can be done to increase it and speed it up. Generally, the mines do not need any extra capital – just to work better with what they already have to accelerate the flow of cash through the business.

The result is a business plan with a significantly better cash-flow profile. Software allows methodology to be applied in terms of modelling the economic impact of any decisions. Whittle Programming and its associated software was sold to Gemcom (now Geovia) in 2002, but Whittle Consulting has maintained a partnership with the software company.

the planning fraMeWork

NPV is a basic measure of economic value that is widely used, and reflects the time value of money, including opportunity cost and risk. It is a central tool in discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. It is not a perfect measurement, particularly in terms of how it accounts for risk and uncertainty, but it is a good starting point. The advantages of NPV as a measurement unit include: • Its simplicity – the whole industry understands it; • It accounts for the time value of money, including opportunity cost and risk; and • It is good for comparing mining projects that have different timeframes, capital etc. However, NPV has some disadvantages too, such as: • The discount rate is subjective (although not arbitrary); for example, riskier projects should have a higher discount rate, but there is no set way to decide on these figures as risk is not tangible; • It is not great for long-term projects, as it ignores the long-term potential; • It can be overly simplistic, especially when compared with the science involved in calculating everything else – it is the weakest link in the chain.

A long-term strategic plan is needed for mining, and capital needs to be optimised to reduce bottlenecks in the system. Many decisions are fixed, but they should be dynamic; in addition, many decisions are made too early, before the options are fully analysed. Any orebody changes as it is worked through, so the optimal plan changes. As a result, factors such as the strip ratio should not be constant. The mine plan should change with the orebody – that’s where the opportunity and value are. Whittle comments: “Six Sigma and constancy have no place in strategic mine planning. If the plan is constant, it is not optimal.” A decision on one step in the value chain affects all of the others, but they

are usually assigned to different departments or silos – such as mining, processing or marketing – so co-operation between the various groups working on a mine is essential. Whittle Consulting states that enterprise optimisation overcomes the analytical challenges in dealing with this.

money. They may have used Whittle software, but not systematically. Red-line mining is economically optimised; simultaneous, integrated, crossing organisational boundaries, accelerating cash through the bottlenecks. Units are ‘net value per bottleneck unit’, rather than focusing on the physicals – cash flow, rather than the ore or the commodity. Whittle Consulting has been using this approach for years.

Green-line mining goes up another level, and maximises economics with the social/political/environmental context within which a company operates. It covers sustainability, licence to operate and engagement with all stakeholders. Whittle Consulting has been carrying this out recently with JKTech. Whittle notes: “It’s no use having a great mine plan if the locals are throwing rocks at you.”

Terminology Whittle Consulting uses the terms ‘blue line’, ‘red line’ and ‘green line’ to describe the different approaches of mining companies. Blue-line mining is what most mining companies do – the focus is on maximising reserves, minimising costs, maximising recoveries, maximising efficiency and maximising life of mine (LOM). The units are described in physical terms (such as tonnes or ounces) and may not even mention the

June 2014 SR_whittle_MM1406.indd 12

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special report

15

case study: Marvin copper-gold project The Marvin copper-gold project is a hypothetical, but realistic, project that Whittle Consulting uses as an example for mine optimisation. From a mining point of view, the background and how the deposit got there is irrelevant. Whittle says that this fictitious but realistic case was developed so that they can demonstrate clearly the mechanisms involved in optimisation without client confidentiality issues. The gold is higher grade at the centre of the deposit (over 1g/t), and the gold grade is higher near the surface than at depth. The copper grade is higher to the southeast of the deposit and at depth – it is a typical copper porphyry deposit. The Marvin project NPV is US$1.6 billion, which is the sum of DCFs after approximately US$600 million capital at a 10% discount rate. The calculations for the base case were all made manually, without the use of software. While enterprise optimisation is about simultaneous optimisation, looking at the mechanism one step at a time can demonstrate the effect of each. The steps do not have to be in this particular order, as long as there is a plan. Step 1: Optimised pits The pit is optimised using the Lerchs-Grossman algorithm; the resulting model is only subtly different in shape, but manual modelling cannot beat software. The pit is almost exactly the same size, but has 10% more ore than the manually calculated pit and a more efficient shape. Step 2: Optimised phases Mining benches that are straight across are the worst way to approach a pit, according to Whittle, as this means that the highest mining rate is early in the life of mine (LOM) and the costs are concentrated at the beginning, which is terrible for the NPV. The best-case mining has pushbacks, and a low stripping ratio at the beginning. An auto-pushback selector and skin analysis is used on the model. In this case, it leads to an 18% smaller pit with different phases selected, and reduces the ore by stopping at shell 12 instead of shell 16. This is because the aim is to maximise the NPV, rather than maximise the ore recovered – continuing past shell 12 affects the NPV, so it should be considered waste rock.

www. SR_whittle_MM1406.indd 15

.com

Step 3: Scheduling The Milawa scheduling algorithm is used for bench scheduling. It optimises the schedule, taking into account production and economic constraints, while seeking to maximise NPV. It decides which benches in each pushback should be mined in each period, focusing on the phase that currently has the biggest grade. Milawa can result in large fluctuations in mining rates. While the variable mining rate improves NPV, this idea is not popular with mining engineers as they typically like a constant mining rate. However, a constant mining rate is not the objective – increased NPV is the objective. Whittle comments: “People say it’s ‘not realistic’ – well, it is. Is it not possible, or is it just not what you’re used to?” Step 4: Cut-off grade Inspired by Ken Lane (1988), this step raises early cut-off to increase production, even if positive margin material is discarded. Marginal cut-off grade is the break-even grade, where revenue equals processing cost. Nothing under this should ever be processed, according to Whittle. The cut-off grade should be raised above the marginal cut-off, particularly early in the mine life, to increase NPV (if the plant is the bottleneck). There is an ‘opportunity cost’ of processing low-value ore where there is higher-value ore available in the future. However, the sooner high grade is reached, the more it is worth. The calculations are complicated, though, and software is needed to get it right. This concept goes against the grain of

what geologists and mining engineers are taught. However, if there is limited capacity for production, it should not be wasted it on low-grade ore. Whittle explains: “If you have just spent, for example, US$500 million building a processing plant with a capacity of 4Mt/y, why waste that precious capacity putting material with a margin of US$1/t through it, when you could put more US$30-40/t material through?” Whittle says that some people think it is mad to drive 2g/t material to the stockpile, but that when the high-grade zone is achieved, that’s the time to raise the cut-off grade and put the rest in the stockpile. When the ore is back in the low-grade zone, the company can process the stockpile then. Reducing this bottleneck can result in 50% more revenue, and increases profit from an NPV point of view. Fewer than 20% of mines are currently using this mechanism, so there is great potential for improvement, according to Whittle. Step 5: Stockpiles Rather than throwing the lower-grade rock away, some mining companies prefer to stockpile some of it and process it nearer the end of the LOM, which can add 2-5% to the NPV. However, there are re-handling costs and there may be some deterioration, so not all the value will be preserved. Whittle cautions that projects to process lower-grade material can be misguided – companies may choose to blend it in, expand the plant, add a heap leach or add a concentrator/ore sorter/ beneficiation plant, but all of these strategies would get better return if applied to high-grade ore. He adds: “Don’t let the lack of stockpiling prevent you from raising the cut-off grade anyway. All the paradigms in the industry cling to lower grades.”

Whittle has worked with Glencore Xstrata on optimising its Mt Isa mines in Queensland, Australia

“All the paradigms in the industry cling to lower grades”

Marvin facts at a glance • Copper/gold pit with four phases (pushbacks); • 60Mt/y mining, max eight benches per year; • 20Mt/y crush/grind/float; • Fixed recoveries: Cu = 88%, Au = 60%; • Producing 28% Cu concentrate; • 70km, 600,000t/y concentrate pipeline to port; • Offshore smelter/refinery; • Gold price US$900/oz (Whittle Consulting made this •

case study 4.5 years ago – most companies use a fixed price for estimates); Copper price US$2.50/lb declining to US$1.50/lb

June 2014 16/05/2014 11:34


16

special report

Gerald Whittle, managing director of Whittle Consulting, explains Money Mining to a London audience

“The financial success of the project is the fundamental justification for its existence and the security for its survival”

Stockpiles can also lead to significant accounting distortions, as they tie up working capital and remove cash from the balance sheet. Step 6: Simultaneous optimisation The conventional mining wisdom is that reserves are estimated first, and then the mine plan is drawn up. However, Whittle declares that it should be the other way around, and that mining companies are focusing on the wrong thing. He comments: “I don’t care what the resource is, unlike geologists, engineers and the people who release statements. I care about cashflow and NPV.” Raising the cut-off grade should affect the mine schedule, and changing the mine schedule should affect the phase selection and the ultimate pit. Geovia’s single-pit simultaneous optimisation (SIMO) module, which was released in 2010, can combine steps 1-5 simultaneously for a better calculation – the highest-grade material goes directly to the plant, and it creates several segmented stockpiles. The calculation also considers all periods in the mine life at the same time, and knows when the stockpiled material will be used. Step 7: Dynamic processing parameters The Marvin base case assumed that the plant will be run at 20Mt/y, but in reality

Marvin case-study steps and results Step

Evolution

Gain (%)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Base case Pits Phase Mine schedule Cut-off Stockpile Simultaneous Process calib Product spec Logistics Capital Total

– 7.2% 6.4% 4.4% 15.1% 4.6% 14.1% 4.4% 5.5% 7.1% 4.9% 73.7%

Gain (US$) NPV (US$) – $115m $102m $70m $241m $74m $226m $70m $88m $113m $78m $1,177m

$1,598m $1,713m $1,815m $1,885m $2,126m $2,200m $2,426m $2,496m $2,584m $2,697m $2,775m $2,775m

it could be run faster or slower with a significant impact on the recoveries. There are times when a higher-throughput, lower-recovery option is the best decision for the business. For example, if material is ground very finely, it will get a lower throughput as it has to stay in the processing stage for longer. Metallurgists will not choose lower recovery, as a general rule. However, if 30% more throughput is achieved and only 5% recovery is lost, that is a 25% improvement. Whittle says that while cut-off grade is well understood (but less often practised), this very similar mechanism is seldom exploited. Step 8: Dynamic product specification The base case also assumed that 28% copper concentrate would be produced, but in fact a range of concentrates could be produced with a significant impact on recovery as well as an effect on transportation of a more or less bulky concentrate product. The benefits of higher throughput are balanced by factors such as shipping costs. In the Marvin project example, when the copper price is US$2.50/lb, the best solution is a 24% concentration as the benefit of extra recovery outweighs the extra transport cost of the product. However, when the copper price is US$1.50/ lb (as it is long-term in this case), the best solution is a 28% concentrate as used in the base case. The pipeline has become the bottleneck in the system, and the optimiser uses flexibility, at the expense of metal recovery, to get more metal to market through the restrictive pipeline. A metallurgist would not necessarily recommend a 32% concentrate involving an 8% lower recovery. However, the optimiser has shown this to be the best decision for the business under many circumstances. Maximising recovery is not the objective – it is maximising revenue. Step 9: Logistics If the pipeline is the bottleneck in the system, it may be possible to put trucks on for extra capacity. This additional concentrate capacity allows the previous mechanism of processing and product specification to pursue margin rather than throughput. The logistics are more costly, but it is better value overall. Minimising costs isn’t the objective – it is getting the concentrate to port. Increasing costs in this way can massively increase revenue – in the Marvin project example, additional trucking of

concentrate at US$30/t adds approximately US$10 million in operating expenditure (OPEX) over two years, but results in trucking up to 300,000t/y in certain years with an added revenue of US$27 million overall. Step 10: Capital Enterprise optimisation can determine how much capital is worth spending on each constraint at a mine, simultaneously, while rebalancing the pit, phase, schedule, cut-off, stockpile, processing, product and logistics at the same time. In the Marvin project example, adding extra mining capacity at US$1.25/t per year adds US$29 million in capital expenditure (CAPEX), while adding extra pipeline capacity at US$20/t per year adds US$8 million in CAPEX. While this is an extra US$37 million capital spend, the mining capacity goes up to 83Mt/y, and the pipeline to 1Mt/y, so trucking is no longer required. Whittle explains: “What we’re doing here is playing the bottleneck game. You should have all the mining equipment you need – don’t let it be the bottleneck.”

results The optimum decisions for the business are often counterintuitive. In the case of the Marvin project: • The ultimate pit is 18% smaller, and contains less reserves; • Costs have increased, including the mining cost, plant cost and logistics cost; • Economic material is discarded/ stockpiled and plant recovery is down; • Capital expenditure has increased by 5%; • LOM is decreased by three years; but • The value of the business has been increased by 73.7%. Whittle says: “None of these decisions would have been made if they were left to the individual managers concerned, as they are counterintuitive, yet together they increase the value of the business significantly. Any of these actions alone would be a disaster – it must be part of a carefully co-ordinated plan.” He adds that the financial success of the project is the fundamental justification for its existence and the security for its survival. Of the 10 mechanisms involved, many mining companies are optimising only two or three of them separately, and making unsupported decisions on the rest. Whittle Consulting states that the benefits of optimising all of these together remains untapped.

June 2014 SR_whittle_MM1406.indd 16

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.com 16/05/2014 11:35


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SPECIAL REPORT

Cleaning Kensington’s water When Coeur Alaska’s Kensington mine needed to double its mine-water treatment capacity, it turned to high-rate ballasted clarification technology. Chris Howell and Paul Hoeferlin report Aerial view of Kensington’s Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment Plant

“Coeur Alaska contracted Veolia Water Tech­ nologies to design the expansion for an additional treatment capacity of 5.7m3/min”

C

oeur Alaska’s Kensington gold mine, a historic underground mine 72km north of Juneau, was discovered in the late 1800s and operated into the early 1900s. Coeur acquired ownership of the mine in 1995 and launched extensive development efforts before resuming commercial production in July 2010. The underground mine produces mine-water discharge stemming from snow and rain infiltration. The Kensington mine is situated in the middle of a temperate rainforest and the site receives an annual average of 190cm of rain – making for an abundance of storm water and creating unique mine-water treatment challenges. Kensington’s first mine-water treatment plant was built as a pilot plant and consisted of a lamella clarifier followed by sand filtration. In 2007, this was replaced with a 5.7m3/min (1,500gpm) treatment plant that includes a 21m-diameter solids contacting clarifier and a four-plex multimedia filter system. The plant utilises a conventional coagulant and polymer feed system for clarification in the solids contacting clarifier, followed by multimedia filtration. Mine water is directed through a series of ditches, sumps and pipelines out through an adit and into a 1.5 million litre (0.4 million gallons) flow equalisation pond. Water from the pond is pumped to the site’s Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment Plant, where it is treated to remove soluble and nonsoluble metals and suspended solids.

TreaTmenT expansion Kensington’s mine-water treatment plant had been performing well and consistently meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) effluent limits. However, Coeur determined that additional capacity would be necessary, as continued mine development and record snowfall levels would ultimately increase the treatment capacity needs of the mine. Coeur determined that it needed to double the capacity of the plant in order to meet the projected demand. The company contracted Veolia Water Technologies to design the expansion

for an additional treatment capacity of 5.7m3/min. Since 2005, Veolia has worked closely with the mine in providing water and waste-water treatment engineering design services, systems and technologies. It designed a mine-water treatment plant expansion that utilises the same treatment processes as the existing plant, but high-rate sand-ballasted flocculation and clarification is used rather than a conventional clarifier. An ACTIFLO clarifier and four-plex multimedia filter system were installed to work in tandem with the existing mine-water treatment plant. Coeur bought the proprietary equipment from Veolia, along with start-up, commissioning, controls design, and civil engineering services. Coeur executed the civil engineering work and building expansion using its local mechanical and electrical contractors and its local controls contractor to integrate the new plant’s controls into the existing plant. Because the ACTIFLO process allows for high overflow rates and short retention times, it has the same capacity but provides a significantly smaller footprint than the conventional clarifier system serving Comet Beach Plant #1. The new system (Comet Beach Plant #2) is small enough to be housed inside the

mine’s expanded equipment building, protected from the harsh winter weather and the danger of freezing.

TreaTmenT overview Mine water is pumped from the equalisation pond to a conditioning tank, where hydrochloric acid and coagulant are added before the water enters the ACTIFLO clarifier. Typically, pH adjustment through acid addition is not necessary. The pH adjustment is necessary only when grouting operations are in process in the mine, because the grout raises the pH of the mine water. The new plant’s flocculant feed system (also serving Comet Beach Plant #1), consists of two 5.7m3 tanks that makedown powdered flocculant to a liquid for the ACTIFLO clarifier. The high-rate ballasted flocculation process includes: • an injection tank; • a maturation tank; • a settling tank; • a recirculation pump; and • a hydrocyclone. Raw water is first mixed with a coagulant in a high-shear environment, where it is retained for two minutes. In the next tank, the water is injected with a polymer along with microsand and mixed aggressively for about another

June 2014 SR_veolia_MM1406.indd 18

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SPECIAL REPORT

centrifugal force on the particles. Clean microsand falls back into the injection tank and the solids and metals precipitated in the clarifier are removed as sludge and sent to a holding tank.

final poliShing

Multi-media filters at the Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment plant

“Kensington mine’s Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment Plant #2 is today meeting all regulatory require­ ments”

two minutes. Flocculant feed flow is proportional to the flow of water into the clarifier system. The water then enters a maturation zone, where gentle shear is applied for an additional six minutes.

Seeding the floc The microsand serves as a seed for floc formation, providing surface area that enhances flocculation and also acts as a ballast to aid a rapid settlement, resulting in very high rate of settling. The microsand-ballasted flocs increase in size, trapping smaller flocs before the water enters the sedimentation tank where the large flocs immediately begin to settle. The clarified water at this stage then counter-flows upward through settling tubes to collection troughs. The microsand and other solids in the ballasted flocs that settle in the base of the tank are pumped to a hydrocyclone centrifuge. Sludge and microsand are separated at the hydrocyclones by creating a vortex effect and exerting

Clarifier effluent proceeds to the system’s clarified water tank, where it is pumped to four parallel multimedia filters for final polishing. Filter media includes garnet and anthracite. The filter system operates with all units in service and each unit is equipped with an air scour to ensure adequate backwashing and removal of particulates. Effluent from the multimedia filters is discharged to the Sherman Creek NPDES Outfall. Filter backwash operates sequentially. When a filter’s differential pressure exceeds the user adjustable set-point, it goes through a backwash cycle to remove the trapped particulate matter. Backwashing is performed with clean filtered water from the other filters in service. Filter backwash is recycled through the treatment process and the sludge produced in the clarifier is de-watered and disposed of in the mine.

ReSultS Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment Plant #2 was started up and commissioned during the March quarter of 2011. With the added capacity brought online by the new plant expansion, the mine has sufficient treatment capacity to meet projected flows. After the new plant initially came

online, operators reported that it was not achieving the required level of water quality expected. Upon investigation, the technology provider determined that the chemistry of the mine water was interfering with the chemistry in the ACTIFLO treatment process. Once the mine rectified this, the clarification system immediately began producing crystal-clear water as per the design specifications. Kensington mine’s Comet Beach Mine Water Treatment Plant #2 is today meeting all regulatory requirements, and its efficiency and flexibility ensure the plant’s performance over a range of operating conditions. The short 10-minute hydraulic residence time in the clarifier enables the operator to quickly see the effects of process changes made to the system, thereby enabling quick system optimisation and adjustments. The addition of the new mine-water treatment plant benefits the Kensington mine in several ways: it has provided an innovative solution for expanding capacity to meet current and projected needs, while minimising total installation and long-term operating costs. In addition, Coeur Alaska has an excellent reputation for environmental protection. With the safety and well-being of the land, waters and population in mind, Coeur Alaska is committed to operating an ultra-safe and environmentally sound mining operation. The newly expanded mine-water treatment plant is just one more example of that.

Chris Howell is global director of mining & primary metals for Veolia Environment and Paul Hoeferlin is a senior sales engineer for Veolia Water Technologies. See www.veoliawaterstna.com

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22

INTERVIEW

Join the club Q

Could you start by telling us a bit about CRCMining’s background, structure and what the centre does?

Carly Leonida asks Kevin Greenwood, chief operating officer, what sets Aussie powerhouse CRCMining apart from other mineresearch organisations?

CRCMining is the pre-eminent industry-driven centre for global mining research and innovation. We specialise in research and technology transfer in hard rock and surface mining; underground coal mining; automation; energy and power; and performance and reliability. Our role is critical in the mining industry. Since 1991, CRCMining has developed ground-breaking innovations that have significantly improved industry productivity, safety, resource utilisation and sustainability. CRCMining operates very differently to other research centres, as a non-profit joint venture that collaborates and partners with global leading mining companies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and world-class universities to achieve industry-focused outcomes. Our members include the largest mining companies and OEMs in the world. We focus on developing step-change innovations, including new and modified mining methods and processes, cutting-edge mining equipment, operational control of the mining value chain (short- and long-term). Importantly, to ensure the transfer of knowledge and take up of technologies, we educate and train highly skilled people to drive the adoption of these innovations.

Q

I understand that 2014 is something of a milestone for CRCMining as you transition from a government-led programme to being fully controlled by your members?

Mohammad Amanzadeh, one of CRCMining’s researchers

• •

research funding opportunities that were not accessible as a CRC; Participate in funding opportunities from international research funding sources, as an industry representative organisation; and Develop multiple, more flexible partnerships with other research organisations (both domestic and international) to ensure our research is carried out by top-rated researchers across the globe.

In addition, we are able to reduce costs and requirements associated with CRC program reporting and review requirements, resulting in a lower-cost, more agile research centre. The benefits of being a CRCMining member will increase significantly once we transition to being a fully membercontrolled centre. Our members will be even more involved in directing how CRCMining operates, with more control over the research strategy and the terms to convert research outputs into useful products.

Q

How would a mining company or vendor go about joining CRCMining and what are the benefits available to members?

Organisations can join as a member at any time. The membership period is eight years, with the option to leave with one year’s notice. The key benefits to members are: • Members control the focus of our research efforts, with exclusive access to research outcomes, and effective technology transfer. Members participate in our research commit-

tees, where they can direct the research for benefit to their company, and they can control the terms to convert research outputs generated by centre researchers into useful products. Members have access to CRCMining projects, world-class researchers and a unique range of resources. Members also have a watching brief over our portfolio of technology development projects, and regular interaction with mining industry and OEM colleagues. They can access our group of research engineers to solve specific problems directly with individual members or

In June, CRCMining will transition from being an Australian government-funded co-operative research centre under the CRC Program, to a fully member-controlled organisation. As the government funding is only a small percentage of our overall revenue, this will not affect us greatly in a financial sense. In fact, this will be a positive milestone for us for a number of reasons; there will be many more benefits for our organisation and for our members. We will be able to expand business operations beyond the constraints of the CRC Program. This means we can: • Participate in a wider range of Australian federal and state government

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further developing SmartCap within the mining industry. CRCMining’s shovel load assist project (SLAP) is another example of a successful collaboration. This involved our researchers at the University of Queensland, as well as funding from our members and ACARP, and a significant contribution by one of our OEM members, JoyGlobal. SLAP has produced the world’s first semi-automated shovel. The technology is so advanced it is operating on a large rope shovel in Central Queensland as we speak.

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The CRCMining model ensures that research projects are much more likely to target common industry challenges, and consequently will be adopted by a broader crosssection of industry

Q

How does CRCMining make its solutions available to the mining industry?

collaboratively with other members, without having to form separate agreements. Members also have exclusive access to our extensive research library of over 1,000 research reports, including Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) reports, for all CRCMining projects developed over the past 20 years. By pooling funds and resources with other CRCMining members, they can gain greater leverage from their research dollars and conduct large-scale projects at far lower cost and less risk than if their business funded the research independently.

Q

Industry collaboration is obviously a big part of your work. Would you say that this is a distinguishing factor between you and other mining research establishments? Our collaborative model is one of our unique competitive advantages. There is no other forum in the world where the leading mining companies and OEMs sit around the table together to solve industry problems. The CRCMining model ensures that research projects are much more likely to target common industry challenges, and consequently will be adopted by a broader cross-section of industry. By

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collaborating with top researchers throughout the world, and with our unique facilities and access to a wide range of resources, our capabilities are unmatched by any other mining research centre.

Q

Could you tell us about some of your research partnerships and give some examples of solutions which have been developed as a result?

SmartCap is a great example of successful collaboration to bring about a step-change technology for the mining industry. SmartCap is a fatigue monitoring technology, which determines the fatigue levels of machine operators by measuring their brainwaves. The operators wear a special baseball cap, which looks and feels almost identical to a normal cap, but has electronics embedded in it to detect the small electrical signals that represent brain activity. The original SmartCap research was carried out by our University of Queensland researchers, funded by the CRCMining members and ACARP. On successful completion of the research, Anglo American and CRCMining funded the development of the SmartCap product, and now the CRCMining subsidiary company, EdanSafe, is successfully marketing and

We focus on effective technology transfer, which means we choose the most effective approach in order to successfully commercialise or transfer technology, so that it provides a benefit to the mining industry. Partnerships with our OEM members are a very important part of this strategy, but not the only one. We partner with members, external manufacturers and industry service providers to ensure that research outputs will result in products and services that our members can apply on their sites. In some cases, we have established special-purpose spin-off companies and set up licensing agreements to take our technologies to market.

Q

It sounds like people are one of CRCMining’s most valuable assets. What are your thoughts on the current mining skills shortage, and how can it be addressed?

Over the past decade, there have been a number of factors contributing to the current skills shortage problem, including poor human resource strategies, significant increases in costs of labour, decreasing labour productivity, and need for a change in the industry skills base. The industry can address these problems by focusing on developing better workforce planning strategies, training people to match human resourcing requirements more closely, putting in place programmes to retain highly skilled staff, and facilitating effective knowledge transfer to enable the rapid adoption of new technologies, equipment and processes. We feel we contribute significantly to improving this situation by developing a large number of higher-degree graduates from the CRCMining

“Organ­ isations can join as a member at any time. The membership period is eight years, with the option to leave with one year’s notice”

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INTERVIEW

Q

What is CRCMining doing in response to these challenges? Could you give some examples of current research projects?

Right: Cave Tracker enables real-time measurement of the flow of the material within a block cave. Below: draw points can be managed to ensure material is being extracted optimally, so that the caving process is being optimally controlled

CRCMining has developed a roadmap of research activity that aims to work towards addressing 20-year challenges over an eight-year roadmap, with outcomes from our research delivered regularly along the journey. We focus our planning on Horizon 1 (one to three years), Horizon 2 (four to eight years) and Horizon 3 (beyond eight years) outcomes, as we need to ensure we provide short-term benefit to the industry, and learn and develop in our areas of research by applying innovation in a practical way, as soon as that is feasible. We are focused on all areas of the mining extraction process, from blasthole drilling and blasting, to dumping into the run-of-mine stockpile. Some projects include: • High-intensity blasting aimed at reducing geotechnical damage and increasing pit wall angles; • Productivity optimisation of loading equipment by optimising fragmentation and bucket performance; • Major steps in methane sensing, moving towards distributed, more accurate sensing; • Novel drilling technologies for ground support and coal-seam degassing which significant improve mining productivity and safety; • Automation of mobile machines, providing process control within the mining value chain; • Technologies for the electric underground mine, and many more.

“CRCMining has developed a roadmap of research activity that aims to work towards addressing 20­year challenges over an eight­ year roadmap”

Q

Tell us about the Automation Implementation project, its aims and how it came about.

programme, the vast majority of whom remain in the mining industry.

Q

Aside from the skills shortage, what do you regard as the biggest challenges facing the mining industry right now? The most significant challenge is declining productivity. In the short term, the industry must quickly address many

challenges brought about by the loss of operational efficiency put in place as a consequence of high commodity prices and significantly increased demand in the past 10 boom-years. An industry-supported strategic research agenda that works collaboratively to develop and implement the needed innovations in mining technology and processes is crucial in order to meet these challenges.

The Automation Implementation framework came about as part of our work in developing a common Mining Automation Reference Architecture – working towards a common approach to implementing automation in mining operations, particularly considering automation technologies from disparate OEMs and original technology manufacturers (OTMs). One of our early realisations was that the most effective framework had to be based on a mature understanding of the risks around the implementation of technology within an operation. Every technology introduced into a mining operation requires an understanding of its impact on risk, its cost and the value it provides.

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For example, an automated machine potentially provides significant productivity benefits. However, it comes at a cost and there are risks it may add to downtime. Our Automation Implementation framework is a set of software tools and a methodology that enables a formal development of the understanding of the risk, cost and value of implementing and sustaining technology, and enables clear identification of the actions needed to successfully adopt technology. This is a very exciting development for the mining industry, and will go a long way to informing end-users, and in fact equipment suppliers, on the benefits, and the gaps within proposed solutions.

Q

The Cave Tracker CRCMining is developing and testing with Newcrest, Rio Tinto and Elexon Electronics sounds really interesting. What is the role of each party and how is the project progressing? CRCMining’s Cave Tracking technology will have an incredible impact on the mining industry. Currently, the flow of materials within block caves is not really understood – while models exist, the

actual results regularly do not match, and consequently these multi-billion-dollar investments are not being managed optimally, and are regularly under-performing. Cave Tracker simply enables real-time measurement of the flow of the material within a block cave. This means draw points can be managed to ensure material is being extracted optimally, so that the caving process is being optimally controlled. CRCMining has developed the core intellectual property for the Cave Tracker, and Elexon Electronics, which is already the leading supplier of an early version of tracking technologies for block caves, was the obvious commercialisation partner with its proven expertise and knowledge. Newcrest and Rio Tinto have both been incredibly supportive, funding much of the development and providing access to real sites in order to test, develop and prove the technology.

Q

CRCMining is also working on a project with Joy Global to develop hard-rock cutting technologies. How did this partnership come about and what will be the next steps in the project?

CRCMining has been working in the area of hard-rock cutting technologies since the centre’s inception in 1991. Continuous mechanical hard-rock mining systems have been, and remain a key focus and aspiration for the mining industry. The forces to cut hard rock in compression are vastly higher than in tension, so the key to any hard-rock cutting technology is to break the rock under tension. CRCMining’s Oscillating Disc Cutting (ODC) technology is unique in that it also introduces vibration at the contact point of the machine and the rock, which is the really exciting part of the ODC approach. JoyGlobal is a long-term member of CRCMining, and we have been working with them on hard-rock cutting systems for many years. JoyGlobal now has two prototype ODC machines operating, and has really put an impressive effort into turning the core technology into a new mining system. The latest field trials in Australia in particular are achieving impressive cutting rates and depths. We are very excited with these milestones and the path forward for ODC with JoyGlobal.

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“CRC­ Mining’s Oscillating Disc Cutting technology is unique in that it also introduces vibration at the contact point of the machine and the rock”

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INTERVIEW

CRCMining member JoyGlobal has two prototype Oscillating Disc Cutting machines operating, and recent field trials in Australia scored impressive cutting rates and depths

Q

What other developments/ initiatives can we expect to see from CRCMining in 2014? CRCMining has a vast number of developments, at all stages of maturity, which we continue to work on. We have a number of really exciting projects under way, which we will announce to the industry as they reach key milestones and as they become available. In our last newsletter, we showcased how the combination of two of our newer technologies will create a new

E

T SI

paradigm for drilling operations in underground coal mining. The centre’s high-speed cross-panel and cross-measure drilling system will reduce gas drainage costs with rapid drilling rates and accurate steering capability, and also reduce the amount of downhole equipment and labour needed for drilling operations. CRCMining’s ACARP project ‘Linear Gas Flow Measurement System for Gas Drainage Boreholes’ is aimed at developing state-of-the-art gas sensing technologies that provide real-time accurate monitoring of gas inflows along

the complete length of the in-seam borehole, enabling remote detection of areas with poor drainage within boreholes. Having better knowledge of the gas inflows along a borehole reduces the risk of having areas with high residual gas concentrations. Where poor gas flows are detected, targeted drilling for de-gassing can then be carried out using high-speed cross-panel drilling. The combination of these approaches means that the burden of pre-drilling ahead of underground coal mining for degassing purposes can be immensely reduced. Alternatively, degassing drilling can be carried out much closer in time to mining operations. This is a new paradigm for drilling operations in underground coal mining, enabling lower-cost mine development as well as providing huge gains in drilling rates and labour efficiencies, significant increases in productivity, plus a raft of health and safety benefits. This is just one of the many interesting developments that will arise out of CRCMining. We have a range of developments under way with the potential to have a dramatic impact on the mining industry.

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SURFACE DRILLING

Hard rock calling Eric Wilkinson, drills product manager at Joy Global Surface Mining, talks us through key design features on the new P&H 285XPC rotary blasthole drill rig

J

oy Global has recently expanded its rotary drill product line to provide a wider range of solutions for hard-rock applications. The new P&H 285XPC provides up to 53,524kg (118,000lb) of bit loading, and is specifically designed for 270mm and 311mm (105/8in and 12¼in)-diameter holes, making it well suited for most copper and iron applications. The 285XPC provides a mobile and flexible drilling platform for customers drilling larger-diameter holes.

“The 285XPC’s heavy-duty crawler system provides a SAFETY FIRST broad, Safety is a top priority at Joy Global, makes product design itself one stable base which of the most important initiatives in the during company’s drive toward achieving its reposition- goal of zero harm. With the 285XPC, Joy Global engineers have focused on ing, and is providing the operator with a safe built to and comfortable cab. The expansive windows give the withstand operator clear, unobstructed views of the difficult drill deck and his/her surroundings mine con- during movement. Four cameras enhance visibility from these windows by ditions” eliminating blind spots and improving the operator’s overall situational awareness. The operator is protected from the drilling environment with a Falling Object Protection System II (FOPS

II)-rated structure that has two doors for easy egress. Fatigue is a contributing factor to accidents and the cab is designed to provide an ergonomic environment to help the operator remain alert during a 12-hour shift. The cab’s special isolation mounts help minimise the transfer of vibration from the drill to the cab. An air-ride suspension seat offers further protection by reducing any latent vibration from making its way to the operator. The well-insulated cab also keeps noise levels low and further minimises fatigue. The 285XPC also includes improvements and features that make the drill safer to maintain and repair. Efforts have been made to reduce the need for maintenance personnel to work at heights. On the cab, all maintainable items, such as lights and the heating, ventilation and air condition (HVAC) system, have been placed in locations that can be accessed from deck level. Unlike chain or cable systems that may require accessing sheaves and other components at the top of the mast, the 285XPC’s rack-and-pinion pulldown allows for the pinions and back-up rollers to be accessed from the deck level. The cab is also surrounded by a walk-around platform that enables the operator to safely and easily perform daily maintenance tasks like cleaning windows.

POWER AND PROPELLING

Right: the rackand-pinion pulldown system minimises component wear

The 285XPC employs a rugged, reliable rotary and pulldown system to deliver the metres required while drilling throughout a range of rock conditions. With over 100 years of experience in gear manufacturing, Joy Global has designed and built two P&H gear cases, which lie at the heart of the 285XPC’s carriage. The P&H gearing inside the rotary and pulldown gear cases are designed to provide exceptionally long life. The carriage is driven by a rack-andpinion pulldown system. This system not only provides firm and continuous bit loading, but also minimises maintenance activities for the pulldown

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system. Unlike other drills in its class, there are no chains, cables, cylinders or sheaves to service and all of the maintainable components are located on the carriage so that they can be easily accessed from deck level. The rotary motors and gear case are able to generate up to 17,626Nm (13,000ft-lb) of torque. The 285XPC’s heavy-duty crawler system provides a broad, stable base during repositioning, and is built to withstand difficult mine conditions. With propel speeds up to 3km/h (1.9mph), the 285XPC provides excellent mobility and flexibility. All hydraulic components are nested and protected within the crawler frame for better protection and reliability. The track uses sealed and greased chains to provide longer life, while the heavy-duty crawler frame offers resistance to cracking, which helps to minimise unnecessary system repairs.

PROVEN COMPRESSOR Major contributors to the reliability of P&H drills are the compressors used throughout the product line. The 285XPC is fitted as standard with a 97m³/min (3,450cfm) oil-flooded rotary screw compressor. This product has been a part of the P&H product line for over 20 years and has consistently demonstrated high availability and long life. An additional feature of this compressor is the ability to adjust the output downward to around 60% of its maximum capacity. This allows the compressor to be tuned to the specific conditions at the mine in order to strike a balance between supplying enough bailing air to clear the hole without causing excessive wear to the drill pipe. Additional compressor options are available to ensure that the right compressor is selected to meet a specific mine’s bailing air requirements. Powering the compressor is a 772kW (1,050hp) Cummins QST 30 diesel engine. (Tier 2 engines and higher horsepower options for high altitudes are also available). The P&H 285XPC rotary blasthole drill rig offers a host of new features

LEVELLING Major improvements were made to the auxiliary hydraulic system that provides power to components such as the levelling jacks. The hydraulic controls and hardware were simplified and consolidated into fewer manifolds. This has led to over a 40% reduction in the number of connections, fittings and rubber hoses used throughout the system. This reduction in components correspondingly reduces the potential for leaks and contamination within the system that can lead to extra maintenance and downtime. The 285XPC features the improved levelling system that Joy Global introduced in 2013 for the 250XPC drill. This patented design improves the overall performance and robustness of the levelling system by combining both control and load holding valves into a single control valve mounted directly onto each levelling jack. This design significantly reduces the hosing and connections needed for levelling and provides greater reliability. It also can improve the responsiveness of the overall system. This reduces levelling times and enables the auto-levelling system to even out the drill closer to the ground for a more stable platform and less machine vibration.

BETTER BREAKING The P&H SureWrench breakout wrench, with which all P&H drills are equipped, helps to prevent unnecessary delays. The wrench incorporates floating dies that allow the drill to achieve and maintain a firm grip on pipe that has become tapered and worn. This feature, coupled with the wrench’s substantial clamping and breaking force, allows pipe joints to be broken easily by the operator. The large, open rear deck of the 285XPC provides ample space to facilitate the safe change-out of bits and pipe on the drill. Although designed for 270mm and 311mm applications, the 285XPC provides a flexible platform for mining operations that drill 229mm (9in) to 349mm (13¾in) holes. With the 285XPC’s two pipe racks, the drill can be set up to handle and switch between different bit and corresponding pipe diameters with minimal effort. This broad range of hole diameters affords a mine the flexibility to move the drill between ore and overburden patterns.

MAINTENANCE AND DIAGNOSIS The 285XPC incorporates several features to help maintenance teams quickly diagnose any operating issues

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Electrical components Electrical and control system components were designed and selected for maximum reliability and ease of maintenance. LED lighting provides longer life and greater dependability. IP67-rated components, such as the I/O modules, are used extensively on the drill to better withstand harsh mining environments. and return the drill to production. The control system offers service technicians maintenance screens that display a visual status of the electrical components and sensors on the drill. With a glance, a faulty sensor or control module can be identified and replaced quickly so that downtime is minimised. Joy Global’s PreVail Remote Health Management (RHM) system is also available to assist the maintenance and operations teams in identifying operating conditions or machine issues that are preventing the drill from achieving its peak performance. The PreVail RHM system gathers high-resolution data from hundreds of data points on the drill and, using models and analysis by factory and field service representatives, actionable information is provided to the mine site so that potential issues can be addressed before they lead to disruptive unplanned downtime events.

Above: the 285XPC features the improved levelling system that Joy Global introduced in 2013 for the 250XPC drill. Top: the maintenance screen helps quick diagnosis of operating issues

“The large, open rear deck of the 285XPC provides ample space to facilitate the safe changeout of bits and pipe on the drill”

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SURFACE DRILLING

Enhanced and expanded Caterpillar continues to develop the drill lines acquired as part of its Bucyrus purchase in 2011. The company’s manufacturing facility in Denison, Texas, has also been upgraded recently with the addition of the Caterpillar Production System. MM looks at three key new products

I

The Cat MD6420B rotary drill

The Cat MD5150C track drill

n March, Caterpillar announced the first of its C Series track drills: the MD5150C. The C Series drills incorp­ orate many proven Cat components, such as the Cat C11 ACERT engine. The MD5150C delivers top­of­class power and high airflow for fast, efficient drilling of holes from 101.6mm to 152mm in diameter. The MD5150C offers a choice of three different rock drills, patented carousel rod changer, ergonomic cab and many other features that boost pro­ ductivity and reduce operating costs. Compared to the MD5125, which the MD5150C will replace, the new drill boasts 18% more power, a compressor that can deliver 33% more air volume and 40% more air pressure, 19% faster tram speed and 40% greater ground clearance. The MD5150C also has fewer moving parts and the simple, reliable design offers dependable performance. Caterpillar’s rock drills are also designed to be serviced on site in order to reduce downtime and control costs. Servicing does not require a clean room, and there is no need to incur freight costs to ship the rock drill to the OEM for maintenance, or to keep a spare rock drill in stock to accommodate mainte­ nance downtime. The rock drill features an automated lube system, which eliminates the need to stop the machine for manual greasing every two hours. Three different rock­drill choices enable matching the selection to the application to achieve the highest production

rate. The standard rock drill on the MD5150C is the HPR5128, which uses 51mm drill steel. Also available are the HPR6832 rock drill, which uses a 68mm speed rod, and the HPR6030 designed for 60mm drill steel. The MD5150C dramatically lowers set­up time, thanks to its carousel rod changer. The system holds six rods and accommodates two lengths and multiple diameters of drill steel. The design enables the operator to select any drill steel in the carousel, which can extend drill­steel life. Powerful dual­rod grippers and a unique gate design allow the rod and gate to move simultane­ ously, reducing cycle time.

Cat rotary drills Caterpillar has also enhanced its rotary drill line with the next generation of its top­selling MD6420 rotary drill: the new MD6420B. Highlights include the new Cat 345 excavator undercarriage with a durable greased and lubricated track, and three different power trains to choose from to match the drill to the application for optimum performance and productivity. The MD6240B is designed for both rotary and DTH drilling methods for expanded versatility.

Three mast height choices are available: 10m, 13m and 16m, and the multi­pass drill depth can reach 74.4m. Hole sizes are as large as 311mm in diameter. A new hydraulically operated bit basket smooths bit changes, and the advanced drill control system makes the drill easier and more comfortable to operate. The MD6420B can now be ordered with Terrain for Drilling, a Cat MineStar System capability set that uses advanced GNSS guidance technology and production monitoring and reporting to improve drilling safety, efficiency and productivity. Furthermore, by integrating with mine management systems, communications networks and safety systems, the new MD6420B drill is ready for autonomous operation. Lastly, Caterpillar has updated its top­selling electric rotary drill: the MD6640. The new Cat 390 under­ carriage enhances tramming capabilities, manoeuvrability and track tensioning while reducing operating costs. Introduced in 1986, the MD6640 drills holes from 244­406mm in diameter. It can drill holes angled up to 25º, and has a maximum bit load of 63.9t.

Carousel on the Cat MD5150C

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SURFACE DRILLING

optimising the blast process: getting it right from the start Leica Geosystems Mining looks at how high-precision drill guidance systems can help mining operations to improve their drill and blast activities, benefiting every step of the mining process Newmont Boddington Gold’s drilling operations with J2drill installed

Below: navigation to the hole. Bottom: positioning over the hole

B

lasting is one of the first stages of a mining operation. Other down­ stream activities, such as excava­ tion or milling that lead to delivering the end product, rely on the blasting opera­ tion to be efficient and on schedule. This means a key ingredient in improving production efficiencies, from mine to mill, can be tracked back to how effect­ ively blasting operations are carried out. “Historically, mining companies would blast without an efficient or accurate drill and blast process. However, they now realise that these are important to improve the overall efficiencies from mine to mill,” says Dr Brendon Lilly, product manager for J2drill and Jps at Leica Geosystems Mining. Several different areas contribute to blasting inefficiencies. Irregular hole placement can cause poor fragmentation which results in difficult digging for the loading equipment and increased processing time at the mill. Inaccurate depths can result in uneven benches. A misunderstanding of how hard the ground is can lead to a poor choice of explosive product for a particular blast. In order to help improve blasting

operations, Leica Geosystems Mining has developed a high­precision guidance product called J2drill. J2drill helps drill and blast engineers, as well as operators, to carry out tasks to plan. The system provides valuable feedback in real time (via the on­board computer in the cabin, and also at the dispatch centre) to ensure better decisions are made before they affect downstream operations. There are several areas where a drill guidance product, such as J2drill, can contribute to improvements in production efficiencies and have a positive impact on the overall blast quality. These are: navigation, product­ ion, consumables, time utilisation, hardness, reporting and support.

HigH-precision navigation Using navigation or guidance systems to improve hole placement provides significant efficiency improvements. It reduces the time the drill operator spends positioning over the hole, reducing the overall time for completing the pattern. Improved hole placement also results in predictable blast fragmentation, which improves material extraction by the loading equipment. This results in less wear on digging implements, thus reducing costs. J2drill provides machine guidance for both rotary blasthole production rigs and

articulated drill rigs. The drill rig is displayed on the in­cabin J2drill display in relation to a virtual drill pattern. The operator uses this to guide the drill into position over the hole to be drilled. The system will automatically zoom as the machine approaches the hole and, once close enough, displays the distance they have left to travel to get to the top of the hole. High­precision GPS positioning fitted to every machine means that surveyors no longer have to set out patterns. This removes the need for them to be in the field, reducing both the risk of injury and resulting in a subsequent reduction of light vehicle and heavy vehicle interaction. “A mine site’s number­one priority is their employees’ safety. By removing the surveyor from the environment, their exposure to dangerous areas and to mine site equipment is significantly reduced,” states Lilly. Of particular note, the J2drill system supports vertical, angle and articulated drilling. This includes drilling to a specified toe position or elevation, and dynamic compensation of collar position. J2drill automatically compensates for any sloping ground to achieve the correct position of the hole and surveys the correct depth to which to drill. All machines fitted with a Leica Jigsaw

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Drilling a hole to the correct depth (far left); KPIs (left)

system are displayed on each operator’s screen. This ensures that all operators with a J2drill system can see the location of other drills, as well as other machines such as dozers, auxiliary units or supervisors/light vehicles which may be on or near the pattern. As one rig drills a hole, all other J2drill systems are updated so that all operators have a clear understanding of what holes have been completed and what remain.

increased production Guidance systems can also assist the drill production process, ensuring that holes are drilled to the correct depth. Once guided to the hole, the system automatically calculates the target depth based on the actual bench elevation and

the designed toe elevation. Once the operator has levelled the drill, placed the bit on the ground and zeroed the hole, J2drill automatically switches to the production screen. On this screen, the operator can see a graphical representation of the position of the bit in the hole, the hole depth, rate of penetration (ROP), a graph of the ROP down the current and previous holes, and other production related information. The system detects steel changes automatically and once the target depth has been reached, the operator is The manual entering of reasons for stoppage

informed. This ensures that over­drilling is minimised, leading to flatter benches and greater adherence to design. During drilling, the operator is shown a number of statistics of the progress down the hole. The operator can view key performance indicators (KPIs) at any time during their shift, and track performance against pre­defined targets. This gives the operator an immediate insight into how they are tracking against the planned outcomes. All of this information is available in the office for the drill­and­blast and dispatch teams, as well as other users.

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SURFACE DRILLING

Right: hardness bands displayed to operator. Far right: drill pattern displayed in the Leica Jminops office application

consumable tracking

Greg Green, drill operator at Newmont Boddington Gold

Web interface of reporting and dashboards

Efficient drilling relies on having consumables, such as drill bits, in good condition. Drilling with a worn­out bit will slow operations and replacing consumables too early will result in lost time and additional replacement costs. J2drill tracks the use of drilling consumables on the machine so that the mine can optimise the life of each component. The list of consumables is either entered manually or imported using a custom import via the Leica Jmineops software platform. The information is downloaded to the drills and the operator selects the drill components that are currently mounted on the machine. J2drill then tracks the time and metres

of each component, and whether the component is a rebuild or not.

applied to achieve optimal fragmenta­ tion for the mill.

efficient utilisation

reporting for business intelligence

While it is important for an operator to have better tools to drill more holes more accurately and more efficiently, it is also important to capture time utilisation. Leica J2drill automatically detects the activity changes during the hole, minimising operator­to­screen interaction. This function, as well as the manual entering of reasons for stoppages, enables the system to provide utilisation data to improve practices in drilling operations. By analysing where delays occur, and by putting actions into place to address these occurrences, the drilling process can be further optimised.

Making use of all of the recorded information is achieved though reporting. The ‘as drilled’ data is replicated back to the server in real time, and this allows the data to be further analysed, trends established and responses to real­time deviations to the plan initiated. Using a web­based client, a reporting bundle provides dashboards, periodic reporting and the ability to drill down and find out what has occurred. OLAP cubes are also used to efficiently process large amounts of data into a format that is user­friendly, and provides the user with access to data that can drive drilling operation efficiencies.

Hardness identification Another area that helps to optimise blast efficiency stems from knowing the hardness of the material drilled using measurement while drilling (MWD) techniques. This can be used to improve blast design while providing real­time feedback to the operator to optimise drilling down the hole. In coal mines, down­the­hole profiling data can be used to detect coal seams and adjust the mine model or perform through­seam blasting. It can also identify hard bands to change the loading design. In harder rock mines, a contouring profile across the pattern can be displayed to understand where different blasting techniques need to be

operational support Finally, drill and blast activities often take place in the harshest of environments, where uptime and the support of any technology is a critical success factor. The Leica Jigsaw system is designed to be easily maintained. Through on­board diagnostics and remote connections, staff can see what the operator is seeing in real time. This global support aids on­the­spot training and provides the ability to upgrade the system from anywhere in the world. Optimising all of the key process factors mentioned above will lead to a more efficient mining operation across the entire production cycle.

June 2014 surfacedrilling_leica_MM1406.indd 34

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36

SURFACE DRILLING

Coming soon… Sandvik Mining is about to launch its next generation of rotary drills. Ken Stapylton, vice president of surface drilling, talks MM through features of the new DR461i The DR461i is offered with a heavy-duty undercarriage designed specifically for mining machines, as opposed to the traditional excavator-type undercarriage commonly used

I

nnovation lies at the core of Sandvik Mining. This does not just mean using technology, but rather implementing the right technology for a particular operation. The customers’ needs and challenges are constantly changing and Sandvik is evolving its product offering to continue to meet those needs. Sandvik invests almost SEK3 billion (US$460 million) each year in R&D, and has 2,700 employees active in this area. The Sandvik Group has about 8,000 active patents and, last year, the Sandvik Mining Drilling Equipment division launched a new product every quarter. Sandvik also launched the 160D rotary blasthole drill rig made in India for the Indian market, and the 1175E electric rotary blasthole drill rig made in China for emerging markets. Today, it is in the final stages of testing the latest addition to our drilling equipment product line: the DR461i rotary blasthole drill rig.

INTRODUCING THE DR461i

The new DR461i is a development of the DR460 (shown here at the Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan)

The DR461i is the first in the series of next-generation rotary drills from Sandvik. It was developed from the DR460 and is manufactured in Alachua, Florida, US. This diesel-powered, self-propelled crawler-mounted blasthole drill was built for bulk mining operations. It is equipped for drilling in rotary or down-the-hole (DTH) configuration, and 229-270mm (9-105/8in)-diameter holes. The DR461i has a rugged design for drilling in hard or soft rock. The drill is offered in either single- or multi-pass configuration: • The single-pass configuration offers a

first-pass depth capability of 18m (59ft) and a maximum depth capacity up to 33.2m (109ft). The multi-pass configuration offers a first-pass depth capacity of 12.3m (40.5ft) and a maximum depth capacity of 75m (246ft).

The standard hydraulic motor and chain feed delivers up to 356kN (80,000lb/ft) maximum pulldown, and up to 400kN (90,000lb/ft) bit load for superior penetration rates, even in hard-rock formations. The newest generation of Sandvik Mining rotary drills incorporates an advanced modular platform and scaleable automation. It includes features that enhance safety, durability and usability.

ENHANCED SAFETY Safety is a top priority for the mining industry, and certainly for Sandvik. The DR461i was designed with worldwide standards in mind, such as Mining Design Guidelines (MDG) for mobile and transportable equipment in mines, Earth Moving Equipment Safety Roundtable (EMESRT) design philosophies and the CE conformity marking for products sold in the European Economic Area (EEA). One of these enhanced safety options is a main access stairway that runs off its own hydraulic supply. Developed to meet the AS 1657 standard, it is an alternative method for accessing the drill rig rather than using vertical hanging steps. The stairway lowers the risk of falling when operators or maintenance personnel bring tools up onto the drill. It has been designed to be self-levelling, depending on the topography of the ground around the drill. The stairway is also built to accommodate the different heights the drill reaches depending on the height of jack extension. Regardless of the height of the machine, the steps are always parallel to the work deck, with the angle of the stairs at between 30º and 45º. Improved safety is also designed into the DR461i in the form of: • easier access for routine maintenance,

service and refuelling;

• multiple control interlocks to promote

an efficient drilling process and allow for longer machine life. This control system can help operators avoid some of the common errors that slow production or damage the drill; and scaleable automation.

BUILT TO LAST The key to developing this new generation of rotary drills has been listening to customers and designing to meet their needs. Sandvik took customer feedback into the research and development lab and included options that will enhance the life of the drill. For example, the DR461i is offered with a heavy-duty undercarriage designed specifically for mining machines, as opposed to the traditional excavator-type undercarriage commonly used throughout the industry. The DR461i also features an improved design for its hydraulic system that is now CAN bus-controlled, a similar technology to that used on today’s automobiles. One of the biggest changes to the system is the particle counter option. This system automatically monitors particles in the circuit, allowing for operator notification when the particle count does not fall within the desired range. Monitoring contamination in the hydraulic system allows preventative maintenance to be performed before premature failure of a component.

ERGONOMICALLY DESIGNED The next generation of Sandvik rotary drills, including the DR461i, features a completely new cab, designed to ensure maximum comfort and productivity for the operator. The cab’s shape has been designed to increase visibility. Likewise, the windows on the drill have an outward 5º tilt to reduce glare from the sun, improving the operator’s view and helping to keep the temperature down in the cab. The air conditioner has been removed from the roof of the DR461i and

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.com 14/05/2014 16:01


SURFACE DRILLING

“The DR461i is being tested in production at one of the world’s largest and lowestcost gold mines located in Nevada. It should be officially launched this year”

relocated so that there is no rooftop equipment. Therefore, there should be no reason for maintenance personnel to go up on to the roof, decreasing the risk of a fall. The roof has been designed with a canopy, known as a ‘safari roof’, which sits above the actual roof with a 10cm (4in) air gap between them. The air gap keeps the roof cooler, keeping the cabin more comfortable and reducing air-conditioning requirements. The operator’s controls, Sandvik CAN bus joysticks, are located on each arm rest. This allows the operator to sit comfortably in a fully-ergonomic seat and operate the machine. One of the most interesting features included in the operator controls is the graphical user interface (GUI) system. It digitally displays the various components of the drill while the operator is drilling or tramming. Running off the CAN bus system on the drill, the GUI system displays the needed data, such as depth, rotation and feed parameters, along with status of drill components via diagnostic screens. It collects information from sensors in different parts of the machine – such as the motor, compressor and rotary head – and then reports exceptions of normal

operating conditions through the interactive touch screen. The operator can scroll through the data to monitor and adjust the parameters of the drill, see how it is performing and whether it needs maintenance.

37

Inset, left: the DR461i’s mast towers overhead in this view from below

COMING TO A MINE NEAR YOU The DR461i is being tested in production at one of the world’s largest and lowest-cost gold mines located in Nevada. It should be officially launched this year.

For more information, visit www.mining.sandvik.com

www.

.com

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38

suRFACE DRILLING

opening up minds and pits worldwide Atlas Copco’s Pit Viper automation system is extending productivity and increasing safety through functions such as teleremote operation. Here, the company provides details of its progress

A

utomated drilling in surface “A master mines is here, it’s successful, and driller might it’s already at work in mines beat a around the globe. Coal, copper, iron and mines in large mining countries computer’s gold such as Australia, South Africa, Canada, time in a the US and Chile are meeting objectives single previously ruled out as unattainable. Atlas Copco’s Pit Viper automation repetition, system allows operators to accomplish but for most their objectives more safely. Operatorfunctions like AutoLevel, AutoDrill, tasks, the assist Auto Rod Changer, and multi-rig computer teleremote control are just a few of the will outpace features mines are using to gain consistent, sustainable productivity, the driller shift after shift. by the bENEFIt oF RCs shift’s end” FuLL Since Atlas Copco first introduced its

Below: this mobile remote Pit Viper operator station is a purposebuilt solution to teleremotely control a Pit Viper from outside the pit

electronic Rig Control System (RCS) in 1998, many features have been added. Automating the control of various rig functions reduces the need for human observation and electronic inputs from joysticks and switches, with computerised inputs based on sensors and programming. The most noticeable gain from automation is that the computer will not vary from how it was trained to perform. While even the most skilled driller varies slightly in performance from one

repetition to the next due to fatigue, distraction or simple error, a computer performs each repetition with reliable precision. A master driller might beat a computer’s time in a single repetition, but for most tasks, the computer will outpace the driller by the shift’s end. It also means that automated operating performance can be replicated shift after shift no matter which human operator is monitoring the system. Fifteen years and four RCS generations later, automation packages are now available for any Atlas Copco Pit Viper drill, and a suite of office-based software tools, such as Surface Manager, complements the automation packages with easy-to-use reporting interfaces. Surface Manager displays Pit Viper data in a sensible layout to map drill usage, evaluate production statistics, track consumables and compare planned outcomes against actual results. Portrayed on charts and graphs, such active management tools help with driller training and provide decisionmaking support for all stakeholders.

INCREAsED utILIsAtIoN Paulyn Espíndola, product manager for Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions in Chile, reports that one of his copper and molybdenum mining customers is using

automation to increase utilisation by expanding where it can use its drills. The Atlas Copco PV-351 diesel rig, which joined a fleet of five PV-351 rigs in April, is the first teleremote rig for pit mining operations in Chile. Complete wireless control of the rig allows the operator to now drill in and around an impact crater at the mine, since the driller is well away from the operation. The Pit Viper automation package has also allowed the mine to choose features and upgrade packages that precisely matched its operational needs.

“Automating the control of various rig functions reduces the need for human observation and electronic inputs from joysticks and switches”

June 2014

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.com


suRFACE DRILLING 39 Left: an Atlas Copco Automation Engineer at home in the field is visiting a Pit Viper 275 equipped with a complete automation package. He is field testing and trialing the latest in Pit Viper Automation products

Below: no one in the drill. This Pit Viper 275 is being teleremotely controlled from a trailer-mounted remote operating station out of sight of the rig

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suRFACE DRILLING AutoMAtIoN FoR LIMItED REsouRCEs

“Combined with the decreased downtime at shift changes, automation promotes greater utilisation”

Dustin Penn, business line manager for Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions in Australia, has several iron-ore mines with RCS-based PV-271 blasthole rigs. Some have pushed forward from the AutoLevel and AutoDrill functions to more advanced systems. “The issue in Australia,” Penn says, “is the limited workforce and expense of personnel logistics for our customers, everything from employee housing and food to transportation. It’s a two-hour flight for them to get in and out of the mine.” The goal for these mines is to expand their capabilities by growing a fleet with the quality drillers they have. That means automation. Penn explains: “With automation, the driller can become a supervisor of a drill fleet, not just a single driller operating one machine. Automation doesn’t just lower production costs but will also streamline servicing. Multiple services such as water, fuel and visual inspection can be performed at once, more efficiently. Combined with the decreased downtime at shift changes, automation promotes greater utilisation. Penn emphasises that transitioning to

automation requires unified dedication from all management groups at a mine, from senior management to IT and human resources departments, to drilling, planning and blasting. Then the mine has to integrate with the supplier; Penn’s customers set up cross-functional teams to work with Atlas Copco as they incorporate automation into the mine’s operations. The rewards make the integration process worth it, Penn says, resulting in predictable productivity that will help the mine accurately calculate capital from its drilling and blasting plans. Automation also brings a greater level of equipment reliability with fewer mistakes.

commonality of the operating system, similar ergonomics and drill functions reduce training time as drillers adjust to auto-modes. If a mine wants to add drills to its mine plan, multiple Pit Vipers can be operated by the same operator or by multiple operators, in the safety and comfort of the teleremote control centre. With Pit Viper rigs, monitoring and supervision is a remote feature that can be done as easily in the cab as back in the office, at the mine or anywhere in the world.

PREDICtAbLE AND REPEAtAbLE Tyler Berens, product line manager for automation products on surface drills, says: “Automation isn’t about having a good day or bad day. It’s about having a predictable and repeatable day.” There are three key features in Pit Viper automation that help to achieve this: • The automated features are based on the RCS system familiar to all drillers who have operated Atlas Copco RCS-equipped rigs. Therefore,

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suRFACE DRILLING ADDING Auto RoD CHANGE Berens gave an example of putting technology to work at a coal mine running two PV-275 rigs. One rig uses RCS electronic control, while the other, newer one has received automation upgrades that include automatic rod changing and teleremote operation. The new drill was commissioned by Bryan Scoggin, one of Atlas Copco’s drill-

masters. He says: “I have plenty of experience with changing pipe in multi-pass operations, and while I may beat the system over a couple of holes, it usually beats me over the course of a few hours of drilling. The Auto Rod Change is one of the smoothest, most consistent, automation systems that I have had the opportunity to work with.” Berens said that this customer prides itself on its world-class productivity and looks to use automation to eliminate variances from shift to shift and driller to driller. As the Auto Rod Change feature demonstrates, automation helps newer drillers reach the productivity of experienced drillers faster.

Atlas Copco has seen consistent performance from the automated PV-275 in line with some of the mine’s better operators. Berens says: “While it can’t out-drill the best operators yet, it is able to keep up with and out-drill many of them consistently, shift after shift, day after day – and that’s the real payback you get from the RCS technology.” Berens continues: “The operators at this mine told us in the beginning that they had their doubts, but they regularly comment now how impressed they are with the technology. In the end, that’s what’s important.”

tELEREMotE oPERAtIoN The mine also reported that its operators found the transition from being on board their drills to running them teleremotely straightforward: “The mine already had one RCS-equipped PV-275. The two rigs run the same, so the drillers knew what to expect,” says Berens. “Several operators told us that in the future, they don’t know who would want to go back on a rig after sitting in the comfort of the teleremote station.” Sales support manager for Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions in Canada, Chris Graves, says that the first mine to use teleremote operation in his country was

Pit Vipers have been subject to years of use in the dust and extreme heat of US desert copper mines, as well as in the extreme subarctic cold of interior Canada and Northern Europe

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SURFACE DRILLING

“The mine has also been success­ fully controlling two PV-235 drill rigs simul­ taneously”

a gold-mining customer. The company had approached Atlas Copco for a solution to overcome two major safety concerns (see ‘Safety concerns’ box). Atlas Copco upgraded the mine’s PV-235 with a teleremote kit. The first drill was operated from a protected operator station installed on the bed of a pick-up truck. It was so successful that the mine ordered another conversion, this time mounting a PV-235 cab on a trailer, which can be relocated by a wheeled truck or tracked vehicle. The cab is compact enough to move easily about the mine, yet gives the operator the same room and comfort of the rig itself, without any of the noise or dust. The remote control station does not need to be within sight of the rig, since every gauge and display on the rig is replicated within the station. In principle, the only limitation for how far the remote control facility can be from the rig is the capability of the network used for remote communication. The customer has the choice of running teleremote on the customer’s own wireless network or on a separate radio network set up by Atlas Copco. The mine has also been successfully controlling two PV-235 drill rigs simultaneously. “From a single remote

Safety concerns raised by a Canadian gold miner • F irst, the region is plagued seasonally by severe electrical storms. Lightning

detectors placed beyond the mine’s periphery give enough time to safely recall drillers from their rigs, which sit exposed to the storm on open-pit benches. During the storms, which can be daily occurrences, the mine had been losing two to three hours of drilling. S  econd, the mine also wanted to extend its surface pit over a historical network of underground workings. Remote operation removes any concern for the driller’s well-being over a previously worked property.

operating station, the driller moves one drill over its hole and starts the auto drilling process, and then he moves the second drill over its hole and begins its auto drilling process,” says Graves. He adds that the mine may entertain the idea of having a single driller controlling more machines, but right now, it sees sufficient benefit in just being able to cover for a driller who is sick or has taken time off, or being able to add drills without waiting to add new drillers.

Robust When developing Pit Viper automation technologies, Atlas Copco subjects them to the most extreme conditions it can find in order to ensure that the products are as robust as their operating platform. Pit Vipers have been subject to years

of use in the dust and extreme heat of US desert copper mines, as well as in the extreme subarctic cold of interior Canada and Northern Europe. Teleremote operation of a PV-235 in the Canada gold mine, for instance, was unaffected during this past winter, even in temperatures that fell below -40ºC, and the Chilean mine’s PV-351 rigs have no trouble operating at over 3,500m elevation. Berens believe that 2014 is going to be “an exciting year with much more to come in the way of technology for Atlas Copco drill rigs”. Multi-rig remote control is the first in a series of high-tech advancements which Atlas Copco plans to launch throughout the year, with fully auto­ nomous drilling now a realistic target in the not-too-distant future.

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SURFACE drilling surface DRILLING

Mincon’s MQ range of DTH hammers

footloose W Mincon Group discusses its new MQ range of standard DTH hammers and explains the benefit of removing the foot valves from the design

“Downtime due to failure of tooling can be one of the most expensive costs for drilling”

hen looking at production blasthole drilling, the key to productivity is to minimise the amount of time that the drill rig is not drilling. Downtime due to failure of tooling can be one of the most expensive costs for drilling operations. In the last few years, the trend with drill-rig manufacturers has been to offer larger compressors that provide higher output and pressure. This increases the productivity of down-the-hole (DTH) hammers, but it also increases the potential for component failure while drilling. It has long been recognised that one of the main components that cause downtime due to failure is the foot valve, or blow tube as it is also known. The foot valve is a thermoplastic tube in the top of the drill bit that is used to create an air chamber in the bottom of the hammer that is part of the hammer’s operating cycle. It is quite common in blasthole drilling to experience spline wear in the chuck and drill bit, especially in broken ground conditions. The net effect of this wear is to allow lateral movement of the drill bit within the chuck. The piston can then strike the drill bit off its

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axis and break the foot valve, causing the hammer to stop drilling. The hammer’s chuck or drive sub needs to be opened and the drill bit must be changed, or the broken piece removed and a new foot valve installed. Heat issues can also change the properties of the thermoplastic material that the foot valves are made from and cause the valve to gradually come out of the drill bit.

Problem solved To eliminate the foot valve from the drill bit while maintaining high productivity or increasing performance has usually meant changing to proprietary shanks. This leaves unused products in stock and can increase lead times to ramp up stocks of the new product. The new Mincon MQ range of DTH hammers has now eliminated the need for the foot valve while maintaining the use of industry-accepted drill bits. In developing this range of hammers, a number of design features were incorporated to increase performance over Mincon’s standard models that use these shanks with the foot valve. During extensive testing in Australia and the US, increases in penetration rates in some instances of 10% or more were experienced. The drilling performance increases even further when downtime caused by broken foot valves is eliminated. Another benefit that comes from removing the foot valve from the drill

bit is more efficient exhausting of the operating air from the hammer. When using a drill bit with a foot valve, the air does not exhaust from the bottom air chamber until the piston clears the foot valve and the air can escape down through the centre of the drill bit. Removing the foot valve allows the hammer to exhaust from the moment the piston strikes the drill bit. This aids in removing the cuttings from the drill-bit face quicker and thus increases the penetration rate. This more efficient exhausting of the hammers’ operating

45

air also helps greatly when drilling in wet holes where ground water is encountered. The drill-bit shanks that are used with the Mincon MQ range are accepted industry standards with their foot valves removed. The MQ40 hammer uses the TD40 shank, the MQ55 uses the QL50 shank and the MQ60 and MQ65 uses the QL60 shank. The Mincon MQ68 is a large-bore production hammer for drilling 6¼in (159mm) to 7½in (190mm) holes and uses the QL60 shank with no foot valve.

PROVEN PERFORMANCE IN THE MOST EXTREME CONDITIONS. At MINCON, we understand that high quality products increase productivity. The New Mncon MQ Range of premium performance DTH hammers raises the bar once again for productivity, reliability and longevity in blast hole applications. Utilizing industry standard shanks without need for a foot valve the Mincon MQ Range delivers high performance and greatly reduces downtime. Visit mincon.com to find out how our superior products deliver savings, improve performance and reduce downtime.

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46

SURFACE DRILLING

Expert advice Bill Krasnozon, Boart Longyear’s Western Canada territory manager, offers the following tips to ensure success when drilling in difficult conditions and remote areas Understand the logistics – get the gear to site on time and on budget

If drilling in the cold, ensure the crew has the proper clothing

Review topographic maps to determine access points and routes to a remote site when planning the type of transportation, supplies, people and cost. Types of transportation can range from all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), swamp buggies, charter boats, helicopters or any combination. With limited access, equipment can be restricted to the capacity of the mode of transportation. For example, if equipment is available by helicopter only, the drilling equipment must meet the helicopter’s limits. Additional factors include the depth of the hole, size of the hole, type of mud systems, and other variable production elements necessary.

Have the right equipment for the conditions

A modular, heliportable rig is an ideal solution for extremely remote locations where the site is only accessible by helicopter

When assessing the types of equipment to bring to a remote site, site location, footprint and ground conditions are big factors. A modular, heli-portable rig is an ideal solution for extremely remote locations where the site is only accessible by helicopter. Limited access for fly-in projects means the drill footprint is a critical consideration. Boart Longyear has a series of flyable rigs including the LF 130F and LF 70. These rigs allow the drillers access to the rough terrain and the ability to reach target depth in the

time frame required. The rigs have been designed to be flown into remote locations and to be rugged enough to withstand extreme conditions. Modular components have increasingly been implemented into the design of drill rigs, which means easier assembly and dismantling. This is a key factor in rough terrain as the wear and tear on the equipment can take a toll rather quickly and a service centre is not always a feasible option. If access to the site allows for a rig to be driven in, a multipurpose rig is a good solution when a targeted core sample is deep and there is a significant amount of overburden. Adequate supplies to keep the job going are important to an efficient, productive drill site. This is a common pitfall for remote locations. Keep important component parts at the drill site, especially heavy wear items such as in-hole tools, filters, etc. Stay on top of these items by keeping an inventory and, if running low, resupply during shift changes. Also, identify the closest locations to replenish supplies if needed.

Consider the water source Is there water available on-site or does the job require water to be brought in? Water is very important and is used in mud mixtures to provide hydrostatic pressure in the borehole. This prevents naturally occurring groundwater from entering the borehole and keeps the drill

bit cool and clean during drilling. The mud mixture is also used to carry out cuttings (samples). If water is available on-site, follow environmental guidelines to be a good citizen and to mitigate any regulatory violations that may result in preventable extra costs. Monitor water levels to avoid drawing too much, and continuously monitor the chemical make-up of the water to ensure drilling activities are not contaminating the water source.

Monitor core to ensure quality samples Shortening the drill run when there is missing core cuts the drill run depth in half and provides a better sample. Also, adjusting the mud mixture to better match the ground formation can help core recovery. Once the casing is through the overburden and into rock, using the reverse-circulation (RC) method to hammer while collecting chip samples can be sufficient and cost-effective. Once the targeted ore zone is reached, diamond coring can deliver an accurate core trail sample. This saves costs because only one rig needs to be used. Understand issues like altitude, extreme temperatures and the impact to people and equipment. If drilling in the cold, ensure the crew has the proper clothing and access to shelters to stay warm. If battling the heat, the crew must practise good hydration and keep cool, which may

June 2014 surfacedrilling_boart_MM1406.indd 46

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.com 14/05/2014 15:53


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SURFACE DRILLING

Higher altitudes can put a large amount of stress on a rig

mean often resting in the shade. For equipment, in hotter temperatures, turn drill fans toward the rig to help keep it cool. Higher temperatures also call for thicker fluids when drilling. In the cold, turn drill fans away from the rig to keep the rig from freezing up. Keep the mud mixture warm – frozen fluids are not useful – also, use thinner fluids when drilling in colder temperatures. At high altitudes, there is less air, which means less horsepower. Do not work the drill rig too hard and damage costly parts and equipment by operating the rig in what might be normal at lower altitudes. Higher altitudes can put a large amount of stress on a rig.

Understand ground conditions and have the right tooling on hand

Knowledge of past drill sites and geographical tendencies of the region can be the most useful information

Ground formation is a big consideration when choosing the right bits. It is important to determine (even if speculating) what lies beneath the surface. Since it is not always possible to know exactly what ground conditions are below the surface, knowledge of past drill sites and geographical tendencies of the region can be the most useful information. Ground formations are gauged on a hardness scale – starting with unconsolidated then jumping into the Mohs scale of hardness, ranging from 1 to 10. The hardness of the ground leads to the selection of the appropriate impregnated bit formula, and having a bit that can handle a range of ground formations can lengthen the life of the bit.

The size and the depth of the borehole is also a factor in bit selection. Taller bits can significantly improve productivity through reduced rod tripping as the bit stays in the hole longer. Tall crowns compatible with broken ground and soft formations, like the Boart Longyear Stage waterway designs, generate even higher efficiency by advancing the hole farther in challenging conditions at depth. Avoiding unnecessary rig downtime is always important, but can be critical on a remote site. Regular preventative maintenance is essential. Pre-op checks on-site, following manufacturer specifications, and utilising a certified mechanic when needed are all recommended. The same rules apply to rigs as to performance tooling. As a valuable safeguard against unexpected repair costs, preventative maintenance ensures equipment continues to run at peak efficiency. Maintenance requires a commitment and properly trained drill operators, which also results in more ownership of the job at hand.

Safety is the priority The most successful day of drilling results in everyone going home to their loved ones. Safety is the most important aspect to any Boart Longyear drill site. Incorporate and promote a safety culture. Encourage drill crews to think before acting – take five minutes before doing anything. This allows the crew to focus on the task

at hand; one task at a time. Boart Longyear gives all employees stop-work authority. An empowered workforce understands safety is everyone’s responsibility and provides transparent accident and incident reporting. Lastly, be prepared for any emergencies by knowing the longitude and latitude of your location in case response teams need to be able to find the crew and rig.

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50

SNAPSHOT

All-time high On December 14, 2010 at 7pm, a mega blast was detonated at Boliden’s Aitik copper mine situated 100km north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden. The charge was loaded with 1,327t of explosives distributed across 1,220 blast holes of 165mm in diameter, and 431 holes of 125mm diameter. The blast released a total of 3.7Mt of rock. Alexander Flyckt at PRiMAB succeeded in catching the blast on camera in a photo beautifully framed by starlight and the Aurora Borealis. Photo: Alexander Flyckt

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.com 14/05/2014 15:44


SNAPSHOT

51

Love photography? Each month Snapshot will feature the best image sent to us by MM’s readers. For a chance to have your image featured, send your photo plus a 100-word caption to: carly.leonida@miningmagazine.com

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POWER GENERATION

C

The Basin Electric Dakota Gas Synfuels plant in Beulah, North Dakota, US

limate change represents perhaps the ultimate human paradox: the wonders of our society are largely predicated on cheap, plentiful and reliable energy. Yet the generation of that energy, specifically the externalities generated through the energy conversion process, is, to paraphrase and simplify the last few massive reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “cooking and killing the biosphere of the planet”. Since global collapse is obviously not the point of powering up tomorrow’s iPods, a definitive course correction to avoid the worst of climate change is in order. But how? One of the most

Catch 22

ballyhooed solutions is the widespread adoption of cutting-edge clean coal carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. But how proven and feasible is CCS, and what steps need to be taken to clean up coal? Globally, the largest single-point source creators of greenhouse gasses are the 7,000-odd coal-fired power units that operate within almost 2,500 plants across advanced and developing nations. Hands-down, in terms of carbon dioxide (CO2) creation, coal is considered the dirtiest fuel out there. The shift towards more natural-gas production and – now a growing dependency – has largely been framed (at least in the US, the new world leader in natural-gas

output) as a step in the right direction for climate change mitigation. Though many scientists now challenge the claim that natural gas is actually a cleaner fuel overall than coal, the point is that the burning of either fossil fuel is having deleterious results on the atmosphere. And if humanity is going to continue to depend on fossil fuels for the bulk of future electrical generation, a way to safely, economically and permanently mitigate, capture and store CO2 post-combustion is vital. And it must happen post-haste. The problem is that very few companies are confident enough that a proven, economically feasible technological path exists for them to go it alone

Burning coal more cleanly and storing the CO2 is technologically feasible, but very expensive. However, the alternatives are even more costly. Lee Buchsbaum investigates

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POWER GENERATION

and bring CCS to scale. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in its ‘World Energy Outlook 2013’ comments on the enormity of the problem that “while deploying CCS technologies and retrofitting existing fossil fuel plants with CCS avoids the need to retire large parts of the coal-fired fleet prematurely, progress in developing CCS has been disappointingly slow”. On the other hand, once successfully demonstrated, a large-scale adoption may also “potentially reduce the overall cost of power sector decarbonisation by around US$1 trillion between 2012 and 2035”. That is an estimate of the aggregated value of assets now at risk if CCS fails.

CLEAN COAL & CCS GLOBALLY In February, the Global CCS Institute, an Australian agency, published the ‘Status of CCS’, a realistic and sobering report on the status of clean-coal and CCS projects worldwide. Accepting without a doubt the premise that “CCS is essential if we are to keep global temperature increases below 2°C”, the report states that (as of February 2014) there are: • 12 CCS projects in operation globally; • nine under construction; and • 39 in various stages of development planning, of which six may make a final investment decision this year.

since 2011, a sign of growing confidence in the application of CCS technology at large scale,” the report says. Combined, the 21 ‘active’ large-scale CCS projects worldwide have a total capture capacity of almost 40Mt/y of CO2. Appropriately, North America has been leading the implementation of CCS technology, although China is quickly increasing its build-out and adoption of CCS facilities as newer plants come online. However, the construction of any future conventional coal-fired power plants in the US has more or less ground

53

“North America has been leading the implementation of CCS technology”

“The 21 projects in operation or under construction represent a 50% increase

“Very few companies are confident enough that a proven, economically feasible technological path exists for them to go it alone and bring CCS to scale”

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POWER GENERATION

to a halt following the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) promulgation of rules requiring CCS technology on all new facilities. Elsewhere, one CCS project is moving forward in the UK, though far from any real completion date, and the rest of continental Europe and the EU are not moving forward with any large-scale project implementation. Straddling the Canadian-US border, the first large CCS project, the Boundary Dam Integrated Carbon Capture and Sequestration project, is nearing operational status in Saskatchewan. Further south in Mississippi, the Southern Co’s Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) project is nearing completion. These two facilities represent the cutting edge of today’s state-of-the-art clean-coal plants and are the first two projects in North America to come online since the proposal and ultimate collapse of the Bush-era FutureGen project. FutureGen 2.0, however, is now in the final stages of its front-end engineering and development (FEED) studies, and preconstruction work on the new site in Meredosia, Illinois, is slowly beginning. Six further projects with a combined capacity of another 10Mt/y of CO2 worldwide are nearing a point of ‘final investment decision’ during the year:

• US: the Lake Charles CCS project; • US: the NRG Energy Parish project; • US: the Texas Clean Energy project; • China: the Yanchang Integrated

Carbon Capture and Storage Demonstration project • China: the Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical CCS project; and • The Netherlands: the ROAD project (close to the tipping point).

An expensive but vitAl fix Since carbon mitigation is a global concern, scientists and engineers from the IPCC – the largest and most prominent body dedicated to relatively impartial, peer-reviewed analysis and policy suggestions regarding climate change – recently issued a massive 443-page report on emerging CO2 capture and sequestration techniques.

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American Electric Power’s Mountaineer facility. The company owns and operates the largest fleet of coal-fired power plants in the US

A North American test case After years of experimentation, by many estimates, only now is the very first coal-fired fully CCS-equipped unit coming into operation: SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station. Unit 3, while continuing to burn local lignite coal, will be transformed into a “reliable, long-term producer of more than 110MW of clean base-load electricity, while enhancing provincial oil production and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by capturing over 1Mt/y of CO2”. After stripping out the CO2, SaskPower will dispatch it into an existing oil field for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The new Boundary Dam project is greatly indebted conceptually, and feeds into the same oil formation as the largest and cumulatively oldest carbon-capturing plants in the world: Basin Electric’s Dakota Gas Synfuels plant in Beulah, North Dakota. Commissioned in the 1970s during the Carter administration in response to a fear that the US would soon run out of natural gas, the plant takes locally mined lignite coal and, in the process of converting it into natural gas, separates out a host of other chemical streams and monetises almost all of them. Captured CO2 from the plant has long been dispatched into a pipeline network that pumps the gas into depleting oilfields across the border in Weymoth, Alberta – the same fields the new Boundary Dam facility will help to re-pressurise as well.

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However, with coal’s power generation market share falling rapidly in North America, even in the face of rising and historically volatile natural-gas prices, CCS is vital if the industry has a long-term future in a carbon-constrained economy. “Given the volatility of natural-gas prices, the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gases worldwide and the available supply of coal, there is considerable interest in finding more environmentally sustainable ways to use coal in electrical production. [This plant represents] a means to keep coal in the electricity supply mix, thus utilising an existing supply of reliable, low-cost fuel,” says Saskpower in a press release. However, the price tag to remove roughly 1Mt/y of carbon and rehabilitate the unit is budgeted at over US$1.5 billion. That high maths, even taking into account the secondary benefit of selling most of the captured CO2, is why the entire industry remains flummoxed by the CCS conundrum. SaskPower, the main supplier of electricity throughout Saskatchewan, serves almost 482,000 customers and manages around US$6.3 billion in assets, including a fleet of coal-fired power plants, seven hydro-facilities, five natural-gas stations and two wind facilities with an aggregate generating capacity of 3,513MW. But the newest 3% of that capacity cost almost a quarter of the company’s net worth.

“The price tag to remove roughly 1Mt/y of carbon and rehabilitate the unit is budgeted at over US$1.5bn”

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POWER GENERATION

“Worldwide, the tech­ nology required for pre­ combustion capture is widely applied in fertiliser manu­ facturing and in hydrogen production”

The report found that available technology captures about 85-95% of the CO2 processed in a facility. However, a power plant equipped with a CCS system (with access to geological or ocean storage) would need around 10-40% more energy than a plant of equivalent output without CCS, for successful capture and compression. Depending on how and into what type of formation the carbon is sequestered within, CCS systems might need “60-180% more energy than a plant of equivalent output without CCS”. That is a sobering concern because now not only does coal lose its edge in terms of cost-competitiveness with other fuels, in order to capture existing CO2 emissions, future CCS plants are going to require even more fuel to generate more power in order to capture more emissions. This cycle could have the effect of outpricing coal against cheap natural gas, as well as other fossil-fuel and renewable sources. However, the IPCC does firmly state that the post-combustion capture of CO2 in power plants is economically feasible under specific conditions. The technology works when it is used to capture CO2 from part of the flue gases from a number of existing power plants. Separation of CO2 in the natural-gas processing industry, which uses similar technology, already operates in a mature market. Worldwide, the technology required for pre-combustion capture is widely applied in fertiliser manufacturing and in hydrogen production. Although the initial fuel conversion steps of pre-combustion are more elaborate and costly, the higher concentrations of CO2 in the gas stream and the higher pressure make the separation easier. Oxy-fuel combustion, which is in the demonstration phase, uses high-purity

Separation of CO2 in the natural-gas processing industry already operates in a mature market

oxygen. This results in high CO2 concentrations in the gas stream and, hence, in the easier separation of CO2 and in increased energy requirements in the separation of oxygen from air. Currently available literature about the matches between large CO2 point sources with suitable geological storage formations is limited. Scenario studies by the IPCC indicate that the number of large point sources is projected to increase in the future and that, by 2050, given expected technical limitations, around 20-40% of global fossil-fuel CO2 emissions could be technically suitable for capture, including 30-60% of the CO2 emissions from electricity generation and 30-40% of those from industry. Emissions from large-scale biomass conversion facilities could also be technically suitable for capture. Application of CCS to electricity production, under the 2002 conditions studied by the IPCC, are estimated to increase electricity generation costs by about US$0.01-0.05/kWh, depending on the fuel, the specific technology, the location and the national circumstances. Inclusion of the benefits of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) would reduce additional electricity production costs due to CCS by around US$0.01-0.02/ kWh. Increases in market prices of coal and natural gas used for power generation would generally tend to increase the cost of CCS. However, the revenue from EOR would generally increase with higher oil prices, creating a growing income stream from what is today only a waste product.

first mover feArs To support and advance CCS development, the US Department of Energy (DoE) has approved US$264.1 million in funding for the Lake Charles CCS project

and around US$1 billion for the FutureGen 2.0 Oxy-Combustion project under a co-operative agreement with the reorganised FutureGen Alliance. Illustrative of the current levels of support for CCS and perhaps those industries that are most concerned about the technology’s ultimate adoption, while a decade ago the Alliance members were a mixture of coal supporters, today the revised Alliance surprisingly includes no actual electricity generators. Instead, the newly created 501 (c)(3) non-profit organisation has a membership of only coal producers, suppliers and traders, including Alpha Natural Resources, AngloAmerican, Peabody Energy, Xstrata Coal and OEM Joy Global. Although the Kemper County project is a subsidiary of the Southern Co, one of the early movers behind FutureGen, both that company and American Electric Power (AEP owns and operates the largest fleet of coal-fired plants in the US) withdrew from the FutureGen Alliance in mid-2009 at the start of the Obama Administration in order to go its own way. Free from FutureGen’s constraints, AEP aggressively pursued several CCS projects including the conversion and development of the first-of-its-kind 20MW Mountaineer Plant CCS facility in New Haven, West Virginia. Retrofitted on a huge older coal-fired plant that was both representative of the bulk of AEP’s dispatch fleet and also had supportive geology, between September 2009 and May 2011 the pilot CCS facility operated for over 6,500 hours, captured in excess of 50,000t of CO2 and stored around 37,000Mt of it underground. Although the company achieved the objectives it expected to from the validation-scale CCS installation, AEP terminated the project exactly three years ago. While AEP continues to participate in other clean-coal projects and initiatives, the company laments that “despite significant efforts, CCS has yet to be demonstrated on a large scale as many technical, financial and legal questions remain unanswered. Though innovative carbon-capture research is still under way worldwide, no leading technology has emerged. “We believe the industry needs to focus on technologies with the greatest promise so that available dollars can fund significant advances in fewer technologies, rather than small advances in a large number of technologies”.

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.com 14/05/2014 15:52


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POWER GENERATION

The case for hybrid power plants Power generation is a key concern for mining operations in remote locations. James Macnaghten, CEO of Isentropic, discusses the economic benefit of using solar PV and electricity storage alongside diesel power plants Right: chart showing potential return from photovoltaic energy sources compared to diesel

U

K-based technology provider Isentropic is prototyping a revolutionary technology for storing electricity at grid scale, called Pumped Heat Electricity Storage (PHES). The system is being developed in response to the need to move the world from being dependent on fossil fuels to a more sustainable and, given the recent drop in prices for renewable energy sources, cheaper approach of using primarily intermittent low-carbon energy in conjunction with energy storage.

How iT works

Computergenerated image showing Isentropic’s Pumped Heat Electricity Storage prototype

PHES is a highly reversible gas cycle machine that works as both an engine and a heat pump. It is the first time that a reversible system has been developed to store and recover electricity using a thermodynamic approach. The storage system utilises two large containers, using heat and cold stored in crushed rock (gravel) as the storage medium. Electricity is used to pump heat from one vessel to the other, resulting in the gravel in the cold container cooling to around -160°C and the gravel in the hot container warming to around 500°C. The specially-designed heat pump machine can be thermodynamically reversed to operate as an engine, and the electricity is recovered by passing the heat from the hot container back through the machine to the cold container. Using this process, the machine drives a generator. During the process, the containers return to nearly their original temperatures. What distinguishes the technology is that the machinery and stores have been developed in-house. This has allowed Isentropic to ensure that each process in the cycle is performed with minimal losses, resulting in an electricity-in to electricity-out (round trip efficiency) in the range of 72-80%.

Unlike traditional storage methods, it combines a low cost with no geographical constraints, minimal environmental impact and the ability to be built to contain anything between 5MWh and 50MWh at a time. We anticipate this technology being paired with low-cost renewables to provide cheap electricity to off-grid sites.

ideal for installation and use at a mining operation. But it isn’t just the ready availability of storage media and ease of installation that should be attractive to the mining industry. The savings that incorporating electricity storage can offer to a mine’s energy bills are significant.

making economic sense?

How iT applies To mining The PHES system consists of two large insulated tanks filled with crushed rock connected to a number of ‘storage engines’. These storage engines are similar in size and function to diesel generator equipment. The footprint of a 25MW Isentropic PHES system able to discharge for six hours will be 90m x 50m, with the steel-framed building occupying most of the site. The storage material (crushed rock) is ideally sourced from a local quarry or mine. Assuming suitable rock is available, the only operations required are to crush the rock, grade it, wash it and dry it. The stores are designed so that they can be easily transported in smaller sections and then assembled on site, making them

Diesel-engine power plants at the multi-megawatt scale are used the world over where electricity is needed but a grid connection is either not possible or very expensive. However, diesel as a fuel is very expensive and likely to become more so over time: the fuel-cost element of diesel-generated electricity is US$0.27-0.37/kWh, representing around 98% of the total levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) including capital expenditure (capex) and operation and maintenance (O&M). Photovoltaic (PV) modules, on the other hand, have fallen in price by 40% per annum since 2008, surprising everyone in the industry. Utility-scale PV systems, as would be used for a mine site, can be installed today in sunny countries at a LCOE of US$0.10/kWh or

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.com 14/05/2014 15:51


POWER GENERATION

less. This price is predicted to fall much further over the next six years, so it should be a simple business decision to use PV electricity on mining sites, albeit only while the sun shines. Unfortunately, the intermittency of solar irradiation, primarily due to varying cloud cover, prevents this. Only a limited amount of PV can be added to a system before the variability of the PV output affects the overall system stability. The current solution is to limit the amount of PV added, and to ensure that a certain number of diesel engines are always running. This keeps the system stable, but limits the potential fuel savings from adding PV to about 10% per annum. However, with energy storage, it is possible to run a system diesel free over a 24-hour period, by using the electricity from the PV panels directly, while in addition using the PV to generate energy for storage. The stored energy is then discharged overnight. The diesel engines then only need to be switched on when there are extended periods of cloud cover. With energy storage, the potential diesel-fuel savings rise to 70% or more. Hybrid power systems also bring

59

additional value in that they:

• Reduce the effect of variations in the price of diesel, and

• Improve the environmental profile of the site.

So why is the use of energy storage not yet best practice everywhere? The answer is that conventional technologies are either too site-specific, too expensive or both to provide electricity cost-effectively compared with simply running the diesel generators. Cheaper, efficient next-generation storage technologies, however, even when capex, O&M and efficiency are taken into account, will be able to out-compete diesel generation – in the case of Isentropic PHES, the electricity it discharges could cost around 60% of the equivalent amount generated by a diesel generator.

poTenTial markeTs Hybrid power systems made up of a combination of storage, solar PV and diesel-generating sets are most relevant to: • Any sites currently using diesel generators – for example, mining

camps, remote research stations, military bases and islands; and Industrial and commercial applications in countries where the industrial power price of electricity is above US$0.20/kWh.

The contribution that renewable energy can make to a mining firm’s bottom line is being recognised more and more. However, the economic potential of cheap power from these sources can only be fully realised with the coming of the next generation of energy storage technologies.

Graph showing the difference in solar irradiation during the dry and rainy seasons in Kabwe, Zambia, over two selected days in 2004 Source: SoDA Service

For more information, see www.isentropic.co.uk

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Ground support

Bolting in the deep T Atlas Copco says its Swellex Mn rock bolt is its most suitable product for deep mining applications

Ground support is important in underground mining and tunnelling to control ground movement and deformation, and it becomes more critical as mines get deeper. Ailbhe Goodbody investigates

here is an increasing global trend for deep underground mines, which frequently reach depths of over 1,000m, and a few of which operate below 4,000m. As mining activity drives deeper, in-situ vertical stresses on mine pillars or drift walls/ribs increase. In general, this presents two main challenges: rock deformation/squeezing and rock outbursts (rock bursts). Rock may deform or squeeze to a large extent, particularly in softer ground,

including pillar and/or drift wall squeezing, and then gradually break up and fall. From a ground-support point of view, the main challenge in this occurrence is to control the strain or convergence. Rock bursts in dynamic surges are also a challenge – hard rock may fail in a violent way and eject blocks or debris. A rock-burst event may be caused either by the stress concentration (strain rock burst) or by the fault slippage (fault-slip rock burst).

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The Narrow Fletcher Model N3114-AD/E Roof Bolter is designed for bolting in stope conditions as narrow as 6.5’ (2 m). This machine finally presents narrow stope mines with the opportunity to replace jacklegs and “get the man off of the muckpile.” Drilling, resin insertion, and bolting is all done from the canopy protected operator’s basket that is mounted on a boom that lifts and swings to allow multiple installations. Basket swing allows parallel offset and maneuvering around tight corners. Man-in-basket design allows maximum versatility in bolt type and length. Designed to allow access to tram compartment and drill platform from both sides of machine.  Heavy-duty system assures long life  Maximum reliability and productivity  Diesel tram/electric drill with inch tram capability from bolting platform

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www.jhfletcher.com - 304.525.7811 - sales@jhfletcher.com - www.facebook.com/JHFletcherMiningEquipment J.H. Fletcher & Co. cannot anticipate every mine hazard that may develop during use of these products. Follow your mine plan and/or roof control plan prior to use of the product. Proper use, maintenance and continued use of (OEM) original equipment parts will be essential for maximum operating results. 2014 J.H. Fletcher & Co. All Rights reserved.

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Ground support

Stress builds up in the surrounding rock after excavation, and strain rock burst occurs when the stress is beyond the strength of the rock. Excavation may also activate some pre-existing faults nearby so that slippage occurs suddenly along the faults. Fault slippage brings about strain waves propagating in the rock mass. When the strain waves reach the wall of the underground opening, rock blocks may be ejected down and thus a fault-slip rock burst occurs. Rock-burst events can lead to dangerous rock fall that needs to be controlled by yieldable rock-reinforcement systems. Renn Oler, engineering director for North and South America at DYWIDAG-Systems International (DSI), says: “The ideal bolting system is required to absorb the sudden dynamic or slow static release of the strain energy stored within the rock strata surrounding a drift or entry.” A bolting system should have significant elongation capacity when loading capacity is fully developed, as well as dynamic yielding capabilities to contain seismic bursts/loads without the system going into failure. Trond Skogseth, vice-president, rock reinforcement at Normet International, notes: “In either case, the function of a modern rock-support system is to allow for some of the deformation and through that absorb some of the energy and reduce the risk or consequences of rock falls, which of course represents a great danger to people and equipment, and also causes costly disruption to mine operations.”

100m of depth. You also get additional stress that is induced from the mining itself. “In sum, you get conditions that are very different from near the surface and that need a different support regime that can deal safely and efficiently with the stresses.” Anssi Kouhia, product manager, rock support at Sandvik Mining, says: “Deeper mines usually use smaller heading sizes and long bolt lengths – the mechanised installation process is challenging if the bolt lengths are longer and heading sizes are smaller. The dimensions of the bolter machine are also critical; the same mechanised

HiGHer stress The convergence stress found in deep mining, where significant fracturing of the rock takes place, is higher then what is typically experienced in shallower mines. As a result, the ground-support techniques need to be able to deal with higher energy. The ground-support techniques are similar, but bolt types could vary depending on how deep the mine is, and higher volumes of ground-support materials (such as bolts, mesh and shotcrete) might be used in deeper mines. At great depths, typically around 1,000m and deeper, the support system must be both strong (in order to provide a high support load) and deformable (in order to accommodate rock deformation). Skogseth recommends: “As a rule of thumb, the inherent vertical stress in the rock increases by approximately 2.5MPa per

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bolter machine should fit into smaller headings.” Typically in the past, the deep-mining community has had to rely on either cable and grout or mechanical bolting systems in order to control convergence. Chris Cranford, product manager, rock reinforcement at Atlas Copco, explains: “While both of these methods are still very much as valid today as they were yesterday, the current trend is to think outside the box. “The challenge when dealing with high convergence and stress is to develop a system that allows the ground, and the supporting rock

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A Sandvik DS411 rock bolter

Types of bolting The rock-bolting methods used for underground mining depend on the ground conditions in the surrounding area. Each of the bolting methods has its pros and cons, so the mine engineer will choose the methods that he or she feels are best suited to the conditions at their site. Based on anchoring methods, there are three main categories of rigid rock bolts: point anchored bolts, friction bolts and fully grouted bolts. • Point anchored bolts are anchored only in the end, for example by an expansion shell, and are typically used for temporary support, as the expansion shell is vulnerable to vibrations or they will fail prematurely in the plate or the thread. • Friction bolts, including split sets and expandable types, are anchored by the friction between the bolt tube and the rock and can accommodate rock deformation by slippage but at a relatively low load. Friction bolts are prone to corrosion and have low resistance to shear, since they are hollow. • Fully grouted bolts, which include static types and dynamic types, are completely encapsu-

lated in either cement mortar or resin and achieve their anchoring between the bolt anchors and the grout. These solid bolts are more resistant to corrosion and shear than the hollow friction bolts, but are typically only used in local areas where the rock strata is less fractured. “One can also distinguish between static and dynamic bolts,” says Skogseth. “Static bolts, such as fully grouted rebar bolts, are strong and can support high loads, but have little ability to accommodate deformations in the rock. “Other dynamic or energy bolts, such as Normet’s D-Bolt, can yield and deform and thus absorb some of the energy released by the rock. The D-Bolt in addition has similar static capabilities to a rebar, and can therefore be used as a standard bolt, for both static and dynamic conditions.” Along with rigid bolts, there are also several types of cable bolts used as rock reinforcement. Typically, these are very long, fully grouted bolts to improve the shear and tensile strength of the rock mass.

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Ground support

Rock bolts are commonly combined with mesh. Here, Geobrugg’s MESHA installation handler is being used

reinforcement, to move with the convergence yet still retain its ability to support the load induced by the rock. With this mind-set there have been a number of products developed along these lines.” There are now several systems on the market that have been developed to deform and thus absorb energy released in the rock mass. These range from several versions of ploughing anchor bolts, via friction bolts to different types of debonded rebars/ threadbars. In shallow tunnels, simple static systems may be sufficient. However, it should be noted that it is not only deep mines that require ground-support systems; there are mining regions throughout the world where the rock type and conditions can lead to high stress even in shallow mines, and where residual horizontal stress is abnormally high, so a ground-support system might be required.

“There are mining regions throughout the world where the rock type and conditions can lead to high stress strateGy even in Ground-support Static rock bolts may be used alone shallow under certain conditions; for example, mines” in shallow mines or tunnels with little

stress, where no rock burst threat exists and the rock classification shows good

conditions (eg no spalling, minimal fracturing, no local rock falls, stable ground that is not too badly broken). However, such optimal conditions are very rare these days, especially as the rock-burst threat level grows drastically with mine depth. As soon as a mine encounters stress-induced problems, such as rock failure and rock deformation, it is common to combine the rock bolts in a system with either mesh and/or sprayed concrete (shotcrete). Geologists and mine engineers typically determine what kind of rock-support method is used. The main factors in deciding on a ground-support system are the quality of the rock mass and the stress state or integrity of the surrounding strata. It is typical to use bolts plus mesh in locations where the ground is extremely broken and the mesh is used to contain the smaller rock fractures. The service life of the drift or entry is also an important consideration – if a drift or an entry will service the entire life of an underground mine, the use of both rock bolts and mesh/shotcrete is preferable. Miroslaw Mrozik, head of product management at Geobrugg, comments: “Experience shows that mesh

membranes are the safest and most reliable solutions, especially when it comes to high-tensile steel meshes, which are able to transfer sudden, dynamic loads on the bolting system.

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FOR TOUGH JOBS UNDERGROUND

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Moreover, such meshes show a very effective mixture of both strength (even above 9kJ) and stiffness (deformation in the range of 300mm with common bolting patterns).”

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Cranford explains: “There are two very distinct thought patterns on the use of shotcrete in conjunction with mesh, based on whether you are asking a mine engineer in Australia or one in North America. “One train of thought is that the use of shotcrete and mesh stiffens and reinforces the mine shaft, thereby allowing the higher stress to be redirected to the outside of the shaft and in essence to flow around the opening. “The other train of thought is that by using mesh and shotcrete to reinforce the shaft, you set up a scenario by which the stresses, and subsequent movement, are constrained and build up until there is a sudden release of energy in the form of a rock burst.” With the trend towards deeper and more stressful mining levels, there has been a lot of effort put into developing rock-support systems that are able to deal effectively with the dynamic conditions. From this work, yieldable or energy-absorbing bolts and mesh have been developed. There has also been a strong focus on learning more about how the ground-support systems behave, through dynamic testing and

the use of instrumented bolts, for example equipped with strain gauges. There are test reports available for different systems, which were tested in different countries in different testing facilities. The oldest test results were delivered in the early 1990s in Canada and South Africa. At the moment, there are advanced testing facilities, in terms of instrumentation and the way the rock-burst phenomena itself is simulated, located at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM), with Prof Ernesto Villaescusa as the project leader; at Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories in Ottawa, Canada; and at a facility in Switzerland that is owned by Geobrugg. Mrozik says: “Rock bolts are understood as reinforcement, while any rock-face element is seen as a surface-support system. “The main goal of tests in Australia and Switzerland is to describe the dynamic load capacity of reinforcement and support together (called ground support), which corresponds to real mining conditions. The ability of a load transfer between those is obviously a critical element.”

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“Rock bolts are understood as reinforcement, while any rock-face element is seen as a surfacesupport system”

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Vendors A number of manufacturers produce ground-support systems and rock bolts, including those for deep-level mines. Some of the main players are detailed below; others that work in this area include Bergteamet, Hilti, Jennmar and Minova (part of the Orica Group).

dyWidaG-systems international (dsi)

Atlas Copco rock bolts

“We at Atlas Copco realise the necessity of having safe, reliable products that can be used in deep mining applications” Atlas Copco’s Swellex rock bolts with the installation system

atlas CopCo Atlas Copco currently offers three types of bolt to the mining market; however, the company feels that its manganese bolt, the Swellex Mn rock bolt, is the best suited to deep mining applications. The main feature of the Mn bolt is its ability to absorb the energy in a

high-convergence environment. The Mn bolt, with its strong load/strain curve, offers the type of energy absorption that is required by deep mining. Cranford explains: “Atlas Copco has always known that the Mn bolt was well suited to the deep mining industry, but it is just recently that we have gone through extensive testing to quantify the bolt as suitable to high-convergence and dynamic applications.” Cranford adds: “We at Atlas Copco realise the necessity of having safe, reliable products that can be used in deep mining applications and have always strived to uphold this ideal. With that in mind, we have patented a new process using our inflatable Mn bolt that we feel will offer the deep-mining community all the benefits of an expandable bolt in conjunction with the safety of a high energy-absorption bolt. We have been conducting extensive tests with the Canmet testing labs to determine the parameters of this new offering before we commit to market.” Atlas Copco has supplied the Swellex Mn bolt to various deep-mining customers in the past, but was not able to detail any information about its customers. The company is currently in discussion with a number of mining consortia that it says are very interested in its latest offering for the high-convergence market. Cranford says: “We anticipate being in the position to release this new innovation to the deep-mining community by the December quarter of 2014.”

DSI now offers a new dynamic yielding product called the Dynatork bolt. This product was specifically designed based on limitations of existing products on the market, including: higher prices; inconsistent dynamic yield, elongation and deformation (or uncontrollable movement); higher statistical probability of quality issues based on complexity and excess manufacturing steps; the ability to withstand up to 30kJ of energy with limited deflection; and to exceed the industry limit of two dynamic impacts. The Dynatork bolt uses a patented helix mixing tip to ensure that the resin is thoroughly mixed. Its simplified design decreases quality failures by limiting process and excess components. Oler states: “The cone and frictional coefficient of the bar are combined with a thoroughly mixed resin to optimise dynamic energy transfer. Unlike current product offerings, this dynamic energy transfer is nondestructive to the product, subsequently allowing for innumerable impacts.” The Dynatork bolt functions both as a dynamic and static bolt, and has a simplistic and inexpensive design. It utilises a patented mixing helix to achieve thorough resin mix. It is applicable as primary support and is compatible with existing ground-control installation machines. The Dynatork bolt performs with over six impacts, unlike current products, and provides shear resistance, the company says.

Technical drawing of a DSI rock bolt

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Ground support

Other products in DSI’s range include the Posimix bolt, the Dywidag bolt and the Power Set self-drilling friction bolt. DSI’s R&D group focuses on many new developments and initiatives, including yielding bolts and mesh. For example, the DynaPower bolt, which will be released at the end of 2014, is a tensionable cable bolt that yields under dynamic loads up to 45kJ and static loads of 22.7-25.4t. The load and movement can be controlled or specified by the miner, and it also shows the amount of ground movement in any bolted area without instrumentation. Oler says: “The transference of dynamic energy through deformation and yield occurs at the surface near the head of the bolt versus deeper horizontally along the bolt. “This means that if the rock creates a recess around the anchored portion or fractures, decreasing anchorage, or a shift occurs shearing the bolt, the DynaPower bolt will continue to provide dynamic yielding and elongation support.” In addition, DSI has introduced 24t Omega bolts with an increased elongation of 30%. This allows for more

Geobrugg’s MESHA installation handler allows fast and fully mechanised mesh installation

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ground movement in the deeper parts of the mine. DSI has also been developing a high energy-absorption (HEA) mesh. This product helps to absorb rock bursts on the surface that would normally cause dangerous seismic rock projectiles and roof falls. The HEA mesh is designed to elongate and absorb bursts that range up to 45kJ. DSI has sold and trialled products in North and South America. The company hopes to formally present specific case studies after launching the new DynaPower product.

GeobruGG Geobrugg offers two basic products for underground applications. The first is a mesh called Minax – a general ground-support membrane, which is a high-tensile chain link suitable for all zones with no rock-burst threat. It is very quick to install and handle while offering high strength, as it is lightweight, delivered in rolls and mechanised installation is possible. Geobrugg’s other mesh, TECCO G80/4, is a heavy-duty mesh designed to withstand rock bursts and capable of absorbing 9kJ of dynamic impact. This product has been tested by experts

in both Australia and Switzerland. Both meshes are designed to work optimally with an installation (unrolling) device called MESHA, which can be mounted on any two-arm bolter/jumbo available on the market. MESHA allows fast and fully mechanised installation, which makes worker presence in the unprotected area unnecessary. Mrozik recommends: “Both mesh types can also work with any bolting system; however, the best results can be achieved if dynamic bolts are installed.” Mesh installation is executed parallel to bolting, and the meshes can be delivered in mine-specific sizes. Mrozik says: “Together with the mechanised installation using the MESHA handler, it saves costs and drastically increases miners’ safety.” Both products are currently undergoing underground field trials, where their features have been confirmed. The trials are occurring in South Africa, Australia, Sweden, the US and Poland. Geobrugg is currently negotiating a couple of long-term agreements, but could not give any more detail at this stage.

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normet In 2013, Normet acquired the Norwegian company Dynamic Rock Support, which had developed and commercialised the D-Bolt. The D-Bolt was invented by Professor Charlie Li at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU); before joining NTNU in 2004 and aiding in the launch of Dynamic Rock Support in 2008-09, Li had worked in the Swedish mining industry for many years. There he started examining better alternatives to the traditional bolts widely used in mines. The D-Bolt is a patented, energyabsorbing rock bolt that consists of a smooth steel bar with several large anchor points along its length, with smooth sections between. The bolt is designed to be fully grouted in the borehole with either cement grout or resin. The anchor points are firmly fixed in the grout, while the smooth bar sections between anchors have no or very weak bonding to the grout. When rock dilates between two adjacent anchors, the anchors tend to restrain the rock dilation so that a tensile load is induced in the smooth bar section between the anchors. The

“The D-Bolt was invented by Professor Charlie Li at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology”

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section elongates elastically in the beginning, but it will soon yield after a small amount of rock dilation. After that, the bar section elongates plastically until the ultimate strain limit is reached. Both the strength and the deformation capacity of the bolt material become mobilised in this process, allowing the bolt sections to absorb large amounts of energy. The D-Bolt product line is a key part of Normet’s rock-reinforcement offering, and the company is working to develop its range of world-class support elements, and to help its clients operate safely, effectively and efficiently at constantly larger depths. Specifically regarding rock reinforcement, Normet is still working to develop a wider range of D-Bolts, including different diameters and lengths, optimal anchor-point placements, improved accessories, connectable D-Bolts and corrosion protection. Skogseth tells MM: “The D-Bolt technology is very versatile and can be tailored to accommodate a wide range of local conditions. We are also working to reap more of the synergies from offering solutions based on rock reinforcement, construction chemicals and equipment.” The D-Bolt is currently used in deep and high-stress mines in Scandinavia, North America, Australia, South Africa and Latin America. Some of Normet’s largest customers are mines that are using the D-Bolt to reinforce the infrastructure that is built in relation to new long-life main levels in large caving operations. The D-Bolt was recently selected as reinforcement in one of the world’s

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deepest mines in South Africa, which extends to below 4,000m in depth. Skogseth concludes: “In addition to the obvious safety aspect of good support elements, more and more customers are seeing the financial benefits of investing in a superior support element that reduces the need for rehabilitation and increases the uptime of the mine. In a total cost-benefit analysis, the business case of the D-Bolt is very attractive.”

sandvik All of Sandvik’s rock-reinforcement products are suitable for deeper mines. Kouhia says: “The size class of bolter and bolt types are selected carefully with customers. If the temperature is high, then some standard components are changed.” The Sandvik rock-reinforcement products typically used for deep mines are the DS311 rock bolter, the DS411 rock bolter and the DS421 cable bolter. Kouhia explains: “The naming logic in underground drill rigs is easy to understand. The first digit after the letters (DS) tells the minimum heading size that the drill rig fits.” For example, the DS311 rock bolter needs a minimum heading size of 3m x 3m. Some optional components might increase the size of the machine though, so every case has to be reviewed carefully. Sandvik’s components have been selected for maximum temperature range. In addition, the company’s rock-reinforcement products can handle several different bolt types and lengths on the same machine, as some mines could use different bolt lengths in different areas of the mine. The bolting

head is designed so that the total length of bolting head is as short as possible for certain bolt lengths. Furthermore, Sandvik’s rock bolters can handle meshes on a dedicated mesh manipulator. Sandvik is developing products all the time. Kouhia reveals: “We have also noticed that new products have to fit deeper mines, and this is one of the design requirements. The environmental challenges are taken into account during the design process.” Several mines in different countries are using Sandvik equipment, including deep mines in Canada and Finland.

Normet’s Trond Skogseth with part of a D-Bolt

“New products have to fit deeper mines, and this is one of the design requirements”

A Sandvik DS421 cable bolter being used in a mine

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PUMPS

Protecting pump integrity Jacques Visser of Morgan Advanced Materials examines the technologies available for ensuring pump safety and looks at how modern materials and designs are bringing new dimensions of performance to these applications

C

“The rapid increase in pressure can lead to the failure of a pump and, even worse, a pump explosion with the potential for severe injury or even death to operatives working nearby”

A bursting disc installed within a pump

entrifugal pumps are widely used in most types of mining, primarily for the removal of slurry, but also for other tasks such as water removal. Their effective and continued operation is key, as any interruption can result in the undesired build-up of liquids in working areas, with the potential to compromise both process efficiency and the safety of operatives. However, the uniquely demanding conditions under which these pumps operate mean that they can be subject to the build-up of pressure when, for example, suction or delivery valves become closed or operate incorrectly, or lines become blocked due to the presence of solids such as sand, grit or small pieces of rock. In these instances, the rapid increase in pressure can lead to the failure of a pump and, even worse, a pump explosion with the potential for severe injury or even death to operatives working nearby. And while the cost of a specialist replacement pump may be significant, to say nothing of the cost of downtime while this critical component is sourced and installed, even these costs pale into insignificance when compared with the financial and reputational damage resulting from a workplace fatality. Even this may not be the end of the matter, with companies facing heavy fines and directors even subject to imprisonment if investigations reveal that safety measures required by local or international law were in any way neglected. The risk is illustrated by several well-documented cases, such as an incident in Virginia, US, in 2002, when a fine coal transfer pump, which had been left standing for two days, was started without gland service water and quickly overheated. The pump was stopped by an operator, but the gland service water then entered the red hot all-metal casing, rapidly creating a build-up of steam that caused the pump to explode and the operative to lose his life.

AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGIES To combat this risk and to help maximise pump life, a variety of technologies have been developed over the years. These are designed to shut off operation before pressure within the pump reaches a level where it is prone to fail. Among them is the use of electrical current detection equipment, whose success is based on the premise that current drops when pump valves are closed. However, research on motors between 2kW and 110kW in duty shows that there is frequently no relationship between the current change and the size of the pump, or the speed or duty of the motor, making this technology of questionable value in many applications. Another alternative is the use of pressure sensing equipment, although once again, a question arises as to the relationship between pressure at immediate delivery before and after valve closures or the occurrence of blockages. Furthermore, any rise in pressure is only likely to be detectable at the point when the fluid starts to boil, which is by definition too close to the point at which the pump may explode. Meanwhile, any probes used with this equipment are likely to have their effectiveness hampered by the presence of chemicals and slurries, while these systems are in the main considered an expensive option. The same issue also has the potential to cause problems with temperaturemonitoring equipment. While generally a more reliable option than pressure sensing as the temperature increases immediately when valves are closed, this option is again expensive as probes or thermocouples not only have to be hardwired to the breaker, but are also subject to the effects of slurry build-up, again reducing their performance and ability to provide the rapid, reliable data needed to trigger a shutdown. Strain gauges are a further option for

system designers, but again are not always found to be reliable, while fusible plugs are reliant on the same technology as temperature and pressure sensing, and so do not overcome the issues associated with these technologies. Meanwhile, pressure relief valves again add to cost while their presence may compromise the water-tightness of the whole system and they may not react quickly enough to relieve a rapid pressure build-up. While most pumps are fitted as a matter of course with safety valves, these components require regular testing and maintenance to ensure they will come into action at the desired pressure. Indeed, the issue of maintenance is a key one given that many mines operate a continuous shift pattern, meaning that downtime for routine maintenance to pumps and associated components has to be minimised.

RUPTURE DISCS Concerns over the effectiveness and cost of these technologies, as well as the need for a truly maintenance-free solution, led to the development of the first bursting discs or rupture discs. A rupture disc is a sacrificial part containing a domed membrane that fails instantly – within milliseconds – at a predetermined pressure and cannot reseal itself. This is ideal in scenarios where pressure may be subject to rapid build-up and other forms of pressure relief may be unable to respond quickly enough. Many of the early discs were made from foil, in many ways an ideal material, but one which is relatively delicate and can therefore be susceptible to damage such as bending and scratching – which is most likely to occur when the disc is inserted into its holder. In these instances, the performance of the disc may be compromised, with the most likely scenario being that it will ‘burst’ at too low a pressure, resulting in unnecessary downtime and the cost of a replacement. This cost is by no means insignificant – around US$700/unit is not untypical, depending on the application – while ancillary items such as the specialist holder raise purchase costs further, meaning that foil discs represent an expensive option given their relative fragility. The issues with foil discs drove leading materials companies to seek a more

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cost-effective and practical solution using a more robust material that did not require a specialist holder, and that was less prone to damage during the installation process and so to premature failure resulting from accidental alterations to the disc’s shape or surface profile. The solution came in the late 1980s in the form of the first graphite discs. These were designed to fit between the bolts within the standard ANSI flanges found on most pumps, eliminating the need for a separate holder and easing installation. Furthermore, with graphite being a harder and tougher material, the discs can withstand a certain amount of scratching with no compromise to their burst pressure, and can operate at a broad range of temperatures between –50oC and 250oC. The use of a PTFE material bonded to the disc optimises resistance to any alkalis present and ensures that their presence does not reduce the disc’s service life or performance. The flexibility and versatility of graphite enables the production of discs to very precise customer parameters – indeed, there are very few, if any, ‘standard’ products on the market. Rather than relying on calculations using

pump casing pressures, burst pressure is typically calculated by taking the working pressure and adding 75%, meaning a pump with a working pressure of 1bar will require a disc with a burst pressure of 1.75bar. Destructive testing of sample discs from individual batches before they leave the facility guarantees that the discs will operate to the agreed customer parameters, with test certificates provided to ensure that local and international safety regulations are satisfied.

MODERN DEVELOPMENTS The sophistication of modern manufacturing techniques even allows the production of discs that can cope with negative or vacuum pressure. For these applications, for example where the system is subject to hydraulic back pressure, discs can be manufactured with a vacuum bar inside the orifice, meaning they will still operate

effectively in the presence of any vacuum ‘pull’. Discs can be manufactured in diameters of between 0.5in and 16in in a variety of thicknesses to suit virtually any application. If fitted correctly, graphite rupture discs have an almost unlimited service life, require no interim maintenance, and can typically be changed within a matter of minutes. While they are frequently used in conjunction with a safety valve, a rupture disc on its own is more than capable of ensuring that predetermined pressure within a pump cannot be exceeded. The latest development has seen the introduction of ‘centreline’ discs to completely negate the issue of scratch damage. The versatility and costeffectiveness of graphite discs has seen them tested against other methods specified by many of the leading international mining companies as the preferred system for protecting pumps from excess pressure build-up.

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A Morgan Advanced Materials disc

“The latest development has seen the introduction of ‘centreline’ discs to completely negate the issue of scratch damage”

For further information visit www.morganadvancedmaterials.com

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Knight at the museum ECS Engineering Services is helping to keep England’s National Coal Mining Museum above water The National Coal Mining Museum has been offering visitors the chance to learn more about the mining for over 25 years

T

he National Coal Mining Museum in England has been offering visitors the chance to learn more about the UK mining industry for over 25 years. As with most coal mines, there is constant water ingress in the underground workings that accumulates in the old mineshafts. This water needs to be pumped out and treated before it is discharged into the local watercourse. ECS Engineering Services has been responsible for maintaining the pumps and treatment works at the mine for the past 18 years, and ensuring that the water levels remain under control.

BACKGROUND

The water passes over a cascade to increase oxygen levels and into a settling lagoon, which is the starting point in the process to remove solids, mainly iron ochre

The museum is based at the site of Caphouse Colliery in Overton, West Yorkshire, and originally opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum after the colliery was closed in 1985. In 1995, it gained national status and at this point ECS was appointed to maintain the water pumping equipment and the treatment works, which it has been doing ever since. The contract called for a permanent presence of ECS engineers, who are responsible for preventing the museum from filling up with ground water, and ensuring that the treated water meets the standards set by the UK Environment Agency (EA). There are a number of disused coal mines in the area, all of which collect groundwater – which is carefully monitored by the ECS team. Using level

readings from four satellite boreholes, the engineers are able to determine the waterflow into the Hope mineshaft adjacent to the museum, which was originally sunk in the 1820s. This level is constantly monitored and recorded so that the pumping capacity can be maintained at the required level. The ongoing contract with the National Coal Mining Museum starts with two 3.3kV, 260kW pumps located in the Hope shaft, some 140m below the surface. These pumps are used to keep the water level within the required limits and pump out the excess to the water treatment plant. The water passes over a cascade to increase oxygen levels and into a settling lagoon, which is the starting point in the process to remove the majority of the solids, mainly iron ochre. From the lagoon, the water transfers to a balancing tank, which is designed as a storage point to ensure that the flow rate into the settlement tanks is optimised. After passing through the settlement tanks, the water passes into reed beds, which remove the majority of any

remaining ochre before it is discharged into the nearby stream (or ‘beck’ as it is called locally). Water quality readings are taken at the discharge point to ensure compliance with the consent levels set by the EA. In this case, readings for both suspended solids and pH are required. The raw water from the mine contains 30-40ppm of iron ochre, but after treatment the final discharge is 3ppm or below. Neil Ardron, project engineer at ECS, says: “We use remote level monitoring equipment at the four boreholes to give us an ‘early-warning’ of the amount of water that could flow into the National Mining Museum and would need to be pumped from Hope shaft. “This information is combined with monthly readings from an additional 14 satellite stations to give a complete picture of the groundwater levels in the area. Along with the pumping data and the water sampling results, all this information is reported to the Coal Authority on a regular basis.”

MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR ECS has a permanent presence on site and works closely with both the museum and the Coal Authority to collate all of the data and to maintain all of the equipment involved in the mine-water treatment process, as well as investigate new treatment methods that can be used in other locations. This work is crucial considering the huge number of disused coal mines, not only in the UK, but across Europe, many

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of which require the groundwater to be treated before it is discharged into the local watercourse. Due to the essential nature of the pumping station, the operational status of the pumps is constantly monitored. In the event of a pump failing to operate, an alarm signal is sent via the telemetry system to the ECS engineers responsible for the site maintenance. The alarm initiates an immediate site visit to determine the cause of the alarm, and to confirm that the standby pump is online; ensuring that the safe working levels are maintained within the mine. The maintenance aspect of the contract aims to ensure continued efficient operation of the pumping and treatment equipment. The main issue to be addressed is the continuous build-up of ochre deposits, which restrict pipes, block the cascade and fill up the settlement lagoons. The pumps themselves are removed for maintenance on a rotational basis about every 18 months, but this is no small operation. The Hope shaft in which the pumps are located is within the museum area, with the head works still in place above the mineshaft. In order to remove a pump, the head works must be lifted off of the building to allow the discharge pipework and pump to be lifted out of the shaft. Once the replacement pump has been installed, the head works have to be replaced to maintain the appearance of what is a historic building. The pipework, which transfers the water to the cascade is prone to ochre build-up and is continuously monitored for flow rate. Without intervention, this restriction can cause increased load on the pumps, so as soon as the flow rate drops to a defined limit, the pipes are cleaned to ensure continued reliable service from the pumps. This ochre build-up also affects the cascade which needs to be cleaned every week – otherwise the water will not be oxygenated properly.

ONGOING MANAGEMENT The groundwater levels are affected by seasonal rainfall, which leads to increased pumping activity during the winter. While the buffer tank can deal with some increase in water levels, the increased flow rate through the settlement tanks can reduce the efficiency of the process. During these circumstances, the treatment plant employs a lime dosing system that increases the rate at which the iron ochre settles out from the water and thereby ensures continued

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The maintenance aspect of the contract aims to ensure continued efficient operation of the pumps compliance with the discharge consent. This ongoing contract is carefully managed by ECS to ensure that the public can continue to visit the National Coal Mining Museum, safe in the knowledge that a trip down the mine will not involve getting their feet wet.

Freedom Series 4450 Jaw A JAW CRUSHER TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING First introduced in 1906, the jaw crusher has remained pretty much the same over the last century. Until now. Collaborating with customers, McLanahan re-engineered the jaw to create a whole new crusher able to meet today’s challenges. The Freedom Series 4450 Jaw is designed to help liberate our customers from age-old problems at the primary and to empower the operator to get more efficiency and productivity from the primary crushing station than ever before. Safety lock pins and hydraulic assist for wear parts change out makes maintenance SAFER. Our engineers designed a SIMPLER way to adjust close-side settings and provide tramp iron relief. Hydraulic rams are isolated from crushing action, allowing longer life and full automation – while virtually eliminating toggle migration. The “attack angle” and crushing stroke pattern are engineered SMARTER to actually increase capacity up to 15% while minimizing wear on jaw dies.

Another innovation from McLanahan, helping customers Do More since 1835!

mclanahan.com www.

.com

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Pumping iron KSB Australia is currently working on one of the most expansive pump projects in its history: supplying process pumps to a new iron-ore mine in northwestern Australia

KSB pumps will be playing a big role in Rio Tinto’s new Hope Downs 4 development in Australia

GIW LCC-M slurry pump

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n 2011, KSB was awarded the contract to supply Rio Tinto’s new Hope Downs 4 development with its heavyduty slurry and water pumps. This is the first project of this size where both slurry and nonslurry pumps have been awarded to a KSB company. David Tuckwell, mining sales engineer for KSB Australia, explains why providing both types of pumps offers a unique and beneficial situation for the customer. “As a supplier, we have experts who work in the slurry field and other experts who work with water pumps. Being able to work on both sides of the project is a specialty for us,” he says.

As with any new site, a great deal of thought and engineering expertise goes into creating effectively integrated systems. By being involved in

both sides of the pumping process from the ground up, KSB was able to ensure that the Hope Downs 4 mine received the most reliable, long-lasting mining and processing systems for its needs. Tuckwell says that this comprehensive involvement has allowed KSB engineers to get the most out of their equipment: “KSB and GIW [units] are quality pumps with many advantages and our equipment has proven to be extremely reliable,” he explains.

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PUMPS

In addition to enhanced equipment functionality, the arrangement has been beneficial for the mine in other ways. “It’s been easier for the end-users because they’ve been able to just use one supplier,” Tuckwell says. “So rather than having to go to different suppliers for water pumps and slurry pumps, we supplied the whole package, making it easier for the mine.”

The righT PUMPS for The job To ensure that the slurry and water pumps were optimal for the mine’s intense extraction and wet-processing practices, the KSB team relied on its engineering expertise and GIW’s SLYSEL program. “The SLYSEL program is one of the best slurry-pump selection tools in the world,” Tuckwell says. “It’s a complex programme, but it makes our job easy because it’s very comprehensive. It enables us to look at the design of the system and identify the equipment that can go in and run at optimal levels for the application.” Not only did the KSB and GIW teams look at the technical requirements of the Hope Downs 4 mining processes, but they also had to consider its unique environmental factors – the site is situated in the Pilbara, 32km northwest of the nearest town and 1,250km from Perth. In addition to being isolated, the mine also faces temperatures that average 30-47ºC in the summer months. After deliberation and testing, KSB chose several pumping packages to outfit the mine’s systems. The fire- and raw-water pump package and sump-pump package on site include a total of 31 pumps. The slurry-pump package features eight 10 LSA pumps and LCC pumps. The process-water pumping package includes eighteen 18 LSA pumps, LCC process-water pumps, vacuum-seal area water pumps, gland water pumps, and waste fines pumps.

enSUring long-TerM SUcceSS The entire system is currently undergoing extensive testing before the mine goes into production. “Throughout the process of installing and testing, which is happening now, there’s a lot of optimisation that goes on,” Tuckwell explains. “Sometimes the design criteria are different from what the actual pumping conditions at the mine demand. We make sure each individual piece of equipment works well with the rest of the system.”

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Testing has been beneficial for the pumping systems at Hope Downs 4 because of the aggressive nature of the iron-ore mining process. The KSB team changed out the wet-end parts on some of its pumps from rubber to metal to improve the wear life. When the team realised that some of the cloth wash return pumps were seeing more slurry than they were designed for, they were able to fit a bigger wet end quickly.

“Because of the interchangeability of the parts, it was an easy upgrade – we can use the same pedestal and change out the parts to increase the flow,” Tuckwell explains. “It’s important to measure wear on equipment quickly, keep up with ongoing maintenance, and provide 100% customer support,” he adds. “It gives the end user satisfaction, results and confidence in KSB and GIW products as a solution for all their pump and servicing requirements.”

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“SLYSEL is one of the best slurrypump selection tools in the world”

KSB Mining Expanding our global slurry solutions Your GIW slurry products have a new look and logo as we unite under the KSB corporate brand. All slurry products have been rebranded under the umbrella of GIW® Minerals. What this means to you is well over a century’s worth of experience in pumps and hydrotransport. But the developments don’t stop here. We want to help you maximize your process efficiencies and meet those tough production goals. That’s why we are expanding our manufacturing and service facilities globally to better serve our customers all over the world. Our KSB mining team strives to be an innovative partner that provides you with the best and longest wearing slurry and process solutions. We are your partner, today and in the future. GIW Industries, Inc. (A KSB Company) · www.giwindustries.com

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pumps

Reporting for severe duty BJM’s KZNR slurry pump is helping a coal mine in Illinois deal with the extreme conditions that have hampered competitors’ models. Here the company details the challenges involved

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“Because the pumping components of the KZN – the agitator, impeller and wear plate – are constructed with abrasiveresistant, high-chrome iron, the pump has been a workhorse at the Illinois mine”

oal is America’s most important source of power. It generates more than 43% of all electric utility and industrial power produced in the US. In 2010, the country’s 1,400 coal mines produced more than one billion short tons of coal. Given that it can take 11m3 (3,000 gallons) of water to extract, process, transport, store and dispose of every tonne of coal safely and efficiently, managing the industry’s process and wastewater streams plays an important role in the economics and environmental performance of coal production and use. Water is a constant presence in and around a coal mine: sprayed water suppresses explosive coal dust; water seeps into mine tunnels; rain percolates through stockpiles of newly mined coal; and trucks must be washed before they can be driven on highways. Submersible pumps are installed in many locations to help manage water levels, including in the mine itself to clear tunnels of accumulated spray water

Two of BJM’s heavy-duty pumps designed specifically for coal-mine work: the KZNR37 (left) and HAZ (right), which is optimised for use in hazardous environments

and seepage; in runoff ponds or reclaim tunnels that run under outdoor coal stockpiles; in sumps that collect material that falls off and is washed away from conveyor belts; and in truck-wash sumps. In almost every case, the pumps are required to handle a muddy, acidic slurry of water, chunks of coal and coal fines, dust, dirt and rocks. The debris is heavy to pump and quickly wears out standard submersible dewatering pumps. Large pieces of material that fall out of solution usually collect at the intake and will clog or destroy an inferior pump. Coal fines are extremely abrasive to the internal components of a pump and dramatically shorten the life of a traditional pump when used in such harsh conditions. Coal extractors, processors, transporters and electricity generators have typically used submersible pumps built for sewage handling to manage water in their operations, usually with poor results. Even the most rugged of these pumps are usually not up to the job, requiring the manual removal of

solids from sumps, wastewater pits and holding ponds. Additionally, the failure rate of these pumps in the coal industry’s tough conditions has been consistently high, requiring frequent repair, rebuilding and replacement of pumps. It also results in unacceptable rates of downtime, high labour costs, unsafe working conditions and risks of regulatory noncompliance or environmentally destructive spills. Here we look at how a coal operator with nine coal-mining facilities, including surface and underground mines, in southern Illinois dealt with the problem.

Case study The company was using a sewage-style submersible dewatering pump at the bottom of an 11m3-capacity runoff pond that collects thick slurry draining from several raw and clean coal piles. The water in the pond is so abrasive and acidic that the company was getting no more than six months of use out of each pump. To address this, the mine replaced its submersible pump with a BJM KZNR150 severe-duty slurry pump. This 15kW pump with the ‘R’ designation is a toughened version of BJM’s KZN series pumps; it features hardened ductile-iron volutes cast with extra thick walls where pumped slurry enters the discharge. Capable of handling more than 4.2m3/ min (1,100gpm), the KZNR150 pumps roughly 2m2/min, eight hours a day, at the Illinois mine. Constructed especially for the thick and abrasive slurries unique to the coal industry, the KZN is an extremely durable, top-discharge pump with a mechanical

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pumps msHa CeRtifiCation

agitator and wide clearances. Because it has a straight path from intake to discharge, the KZN uses the pumped liquid to cool the motor, and because it does not have an elbow joint like a side-discharge pump, it has fewer surfaces that can wear and potentially fail. Because the pumping components of

the KZN – the agitator, impeller and wear plate – are constructed with abrasive-resistant, high-chrome iron, the pump has been a workhorse at the Illinois mine. The KZNRs have lasted twice as long as their predecessors, with benefits in cost savings, uptime and reduced threats of a spill.

Of particular concern in coal mines is the danger of an explosion from the ignition of airborne coal dust or methane gas. The mines’ ventilation system is intended to keep air moving and minimise the risk of ignition within the tunnels. It is important, however, that the motors of all machinery in a mine be certified by the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and that they do not create sparks that could ignite gas or coal dust. BJM’s standard KZN pumps are appropriate for use in underground settings, but only in non-hazardous locations such as behind the ventilation blowers. To address applications deeper within mines where methane and airborne coal dust are more of a problem, BJM developed its HAZ Series of slurry pumps. These feature the same durability and abrasion resistance while performing the same functions as KZNs, but they are MSHA certified. Introduced in January 2011 after five years of development, these are the first MSHA-permissible pumps designed specifically for the coal industry, with hardened metal agitators to handle the industry’s slurries.

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A coal-mine operator in Illinois is making good use of BJM submersible pumps

“In almost every case, the pumps are required to handle a muddy, acidic slurry of water, chunks of coal and coal fines, dust, dirt and rocks”

Minimize your costs with millMAX™ pumps Add a KREBS® millMAX™ pump to your separation process and watch your pumping costs drop. The new millMAX pump utilizes patented design improvements to minimize key costs associated with pumping mill discharge and other abrasive slurries. As the leader in cyclone technology, FLSmidth Krebs also makes sure your pumping system optimizes your separation requirements. The same wet-end components can be offered as a conversion kit to existing pumps, without the need to disturb the foundation or existing bearing frame assembly. Take advantage of everything our pumps offer, from increased wear life to lower power consumption, and enjoy the benefits of using the best equipment in the industry. For more information, visit us at www.flsmidth.com/krebs

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End of the big freeze? Mining consulting firms are stockpiling CVs again as they think about better times after a disastrous 2013

Right: consultants from SRK, the world’s largest mining consulting firm

“We think the bottom has been reached, but it could get uglier”

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key mining-service growth area of the past decade or so, the billion-dollar-a-year technical consulting sector had its annus horribilus last year. Company chiefs are sounding reasonably confident that 2014 will not be a repeat. They are, like their clients, geoscientists and miners – in other words, born optimists. There was much finger-pointing last year among consultancies who saw rivals heavily discounting to win what work was available. Revenues were down across the industry by 10-40%, and that meant personnel numbers built up during the boom, and sustained in large part even during the global finacial crisis fallout, were culled with varying degrees of urgency. “There was both less work available

due to mining companies having limited external consultants’ budget and the work that was available was hotly contested,” says Richard Mathews, managing director and CEO of ASXlisted RungePincockMinarco (RPM). The company’s consulting revenue dipped 30% to A$51.6 million (US$46.1 million) in FY13; overall employee numbers were similarly down 30% to about 340 by year’s end. “We saw our competitors quoting for work at prices that appeared to be at or even under cost.” By the end of calendar 2013, fingers were in the air to feel for the strength and direction of market winds. Signals remained mixed. ‘Cautious’ was the recurring refrain of company leaders. “We think the bottom has been reached, but it could get uglier,” says veteran AMC Consultants chairman Peter McCarthy. Jean-François Bolduc, president of Golder Associates’ European business, comments: “We began 2013 on a strong footing with a robust backlog, giving us a strong performance in the first half of the year. However, we have experienced a noticeable contraction in client spend over the last 12 months. This was particularly evident at the junior end of the market, affected by a distinct lack of capital investment, and with the majors focusing heavily on consolidation and cost-cutting. Interestingly, our proposal activity remained strong during the latter part of 2013. However, like many of our competitors, we found that project starts were delayed due to the inevitable squeeze on spending.”

“We believe the market will continue to be tough in some jurisdictions for a combination of political and economic reasons,” the chief executive (CEO) of the world’s largest mining consulting firm, SRK, says. Vancouver-based Andy Barrett says: “These markets include Australia, Indonesia, Mongolia and India. “We see the market starting to improve in Brazil as the new mining code nears approval. Although the market will remain subdued in other areas – at least for the first half of the year – there will continue to be opportunities where we can assist clients to progress their projects and improve their business. “We see M&A activity continuing and, potentially, increasing.” SRK expanded from 450 consultants to 1,600 in nine years as the mining boom and global infrastructure and construction development activity drove growth in the privately owned group. “We have continued to see reasonable demand in our larger practices – mainly South Africa, North America and the UK,” Barrett says. “The trends that we have seen are consistent with previous slower periods – exploration more focused on brownfields than greenfields, a reduction in study work,

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more optimisation and operations improvement [and) more care and maintenance and closure. “As valuations – particularly of junior companies – have fallen, M&A activity has increased. There is still a reluctance to raise equity on the main markets as valuations remain low [and] more junior companies seem to be remaining private for longer. “[But generally] more decisions on expenditure seem to be being made now that had been deferred early-to-mid last year as companies appear to be accepting the market conditions and carrying on with life. There is also still a lot of ongoing exploration for bulk commodities such as iron, bauxite and potash, despite the slowdown in growth in China.”

A GOOd STArT After a flat and lacklustre 2013, David Smith, director of mining at UK-based IMC (part of Germany’s Deutsche Montan Technologie GmbH), says: “Touch wood, so far we’ve probably had the best start to a year that we’ve had for several years in terms of confirmed work. “Some of that

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work was proposed in 2013 and has only just come to fruition, but some has come in since the turn of the year. So at the moment we’re extremely busy. Whether that’s going to continue, I don’t know.” Bolduc says that, for Golder, 2014 has (not surprisingly) begun slowly, but the company remains cautiously optimistic for improvement through the year. “We have started to see some early signs of a return to more normal spending patterns, with money beginning to flow within the London financial markets. This is good news for junior mining activity, particularly within Europe and Africa,” he explains. “Consequently, our backlog for 2014 is growing, and we are currently on budget. Despite this, we expect to remain in a relatively tough and highly competitive marketplace for the foreseeable future.” Bolduc explains that clients are increasingly looking to consultants to reduce costs and add tangible value. “At Golder, we are building heavily on our extensive operational mining experience to meet this demand. We are consistently developing innovative and practical solutions that minimise risk, optimise operational efficiency, and deliver positive return on investment.” Despite the tough market forces over the last year, Golder has continued to invest strategically in recruitment. “While currently we have a relatively muted need for recruitment during 2014, we will continue to target tactical appointments with strong CVs in operational mining,” says Bolduc. “We have seen some very impressive talent in the marketplace, with prospective candidates increasingly seeking work from client and competitor organisations, universities, and an increase in those looking to relocate from Australia to Europe.” Golder is expecting conditions to continue to slowly improve into 2015, although says it is clear that the focus on cost and operational efficiencies will be a continuing trend in the years to come. “As a number of majors have indicated in recent weeks, the freeze on new project spending and efficiency drives in production can only last so long,”

explains Bolduc. “Expansions to existing operations, or new projects to replace depleting reserves, must happen. We are fortunate to have an established network of regional teams which cover the core mining markets worldwide, from the Americas to Europe and Central Asia to Africa. Despite a tough year for the mining sector as a whole, our global and regional teams continue to perform well, so we’re relatively confident as we approach the third quarter of 2014.”

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Left: AMC says the major mining companies in particular are realising they “cannot operate without consultants” Photo: AMC Consultants

JOb vArIETy The diversity of the work has encouraged IMC’s Smith. Regionally, Indonesia, India, and parts of Europe are contributing factors. Work is also spread across iron ore, coal and metals. To add to the mix, IMC is doing competent person’s reports (CPRs), mineral expert reports (MERs) and due diligence, financial, resource assessment and engineering assignments. The 67-year-old IMC has historically been strong in the coal sector, but now has about 60% of its work in other commodities. “The sector that still seems to be fairly active is iron ore,” Smith says. “Quite a lot of companies are still doing studies and wanting to talk about doing studies. And coal, strangely, is still fairly strong, particularly in places such as Indonesia and India.” One of the hardest hit global consulting businesses, ASX-listed Coffey International’s geosciences arm, contributed most of the company’s 290 job losses last year. Mining consulting accounted for about A$90 million (fee revenue was A$67 million) of Coffey’s A$350 million geosciences business in FY13. About 100 employees were sent on leave without pay in Ghana, once a stronghold of the minerals consulting company. “The structure of the business is flatter, the number of technical and support staff have been reduced, and some offices have been consolidated,” Coffey International managing director John Douglas says.

“There are many oppor­ tunities, some real but due to low [comm­ odity] prices there are also many that are not economic and may not be in the future”

Below: Golder consultants in action on site for Rio Tinto in Guinea Photo: Golder Associates

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“there are many opportunities, some real, but due to low [commodity] prices there are also many that are not economic and may not be in the future”, McCombe says. “We also see a growing need for experienced professionals providing sound due-diligence advice for investors,” she says.

GLObAL GrOwTh

Above: an SRK consultant with staff at the Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia

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While “cautiously optimistic” about her own firm’s prospects in 2014 after defying the general sector trend by posting modest growth in 2013, RPA president and CEO Deborah McCombe says the Canadian-based consultancy is “assuming the sector slowdown will continue”. In a bid to further broaden its development platform for the future, RPA expects to establish an African office outside South Africa. There were “numerous projects at all stages [requiring] financing due diligence” in Africa and South America. More broadly,

Another consulting group that came out of 2013 looking for opportunities to add to its geographic reach after opening a Moscow office mid-year was CSA Global. The Australian-headquartered firm saw revenues contract 16% in FY13, but that came at the end of a three-year period in which revenues grew 82%. “It’s [2014] going to be another tough year, but there is still plenty of opportunity out there if you work with the right people,” CSA managing director Jeff Elliott says. “The opening of our office in Moscow in June was a considerable milestone as it’s been a long-held strategy to expand on our capabilities and experience in the region. “We have been servicing Russia and the CIS from Europe and Australia for more than 20 years, so it was well

overdue and it has been a very successful move so far. “We see the trend continuing of Russian and CIS companies looking to dually report mineral resources and ore reserves to both national and international reporting codes to broaden their investment appeal and increase their market capitalisation relative to their resource and reserve inventory.” Direct representation in South America could be next for CSA, which has also expanded in Canada and South Africa in recent years. “We believe that our 30 years of experience in the industry has helped to transform CSA Global into a well-balanced, diversified consultancy that can dynamically react to market conditions and trends,” Elliott says. “Our services are in demand throughout the lifecycle of a project and we have skills to add value throughout economic cycles.” George McCullough, general manager marketing and innovation at Snowden, says the Downer EDI consulting business shed about one-sixth of its staff, or 30 people, during 2013. “We are positive but cautious in our optimism [about 2014],” he says. “We still see some volatility, but there is

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Markets run hot… and cold AMC continues to rate ‘Latin America very highly, based on its mineral endowment and potential for discovery and development’ Photo: AMC Consultants

The eyes of the football world are on Brazil in this World Cup year. Fair to say the world’s mining consultants have been lining up goals in Latin America, too, in recent years and have decided being close is best after some longerrange misses. Many see the region as the key to their growth this decade. “We continue to rate Latin America very highly, based on its mineral endowment and potential for discovery and development as indicated by an increase in exploration investment over the past 18 months compared to Australia and North America,” said CSA Global managing director Jeff Elliott. “It also has relatively lower operating costs – particularly for exploration. Sovereign risk does vary considerably from country to country, so government policy making will determine where investment flows. We do expect the major mining economies of Mexico, Chile and Brazil to continue to dominate the mining scene in this region, but we see plenty of opportunity in less developed markets such as Peru, Argentina, Colombia and smaller central American states.” Elliott is not alone in these views. Mining Plus managing director Ben Auld’s decision to push ahead with the opening of an office in Lima, Peru, in the second half of 2012, when the mining investment boom was cooling proved particularly prescient over the following 12 months when new consulting work in the region compensated for contraction in Australia and elsewhere. “The opportunities in the pipeline there are amazing,” he said. “Peru and South America more generally have been… impacted [by the mining investment slowdown] and people are conscious about spending money, but a lot are still continuing to develop their projects. “Our presence there has definitely opened up opportunities across the region. The fact that we have Spanish-speaking mining professionals based in Peru does add that extra dimension to us and has helped us to win that work.” Snowden’s George McCullough said the company was seeing strong demand in Latin America for operating improvement consulting services. And IMC director of mining David Smith said the company recently opened an office in Lima and was looking at setting up another in Turkey. IMC is in the process of winding up a protracted deal to acquire a small South African consulting firm, which it intends to expand, and also

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recently finalised the establishment of a Russian-incorporated joint-venture entity in Moscow, under the IMC Montan banner. Outside of South and Central America, key emerging markets for Western consultancies include Russia, the Middle East and central Asia, and parts of Africa. SRK Consulting CEO Andy Barrett said the group was “watching Colombia and Finland carefully” and would consider an increased presence when markets improved. “We are increasingly seeing requests from investors and lenders based in the Middle East,” he said. CSA’s Elliott said Russia and the CIS had to be rated highly for their “excellent mineral endowment”. “We believe the trend to attract more foreign investment will continue to increase over the next decade,” he said. “Although sovereign-risk issues tend to put off the ASX companies, the UK market is more familiar with the region and we will continue to focus on providing assistance to those who can benefit from our understanding of both Western reporting codes and investor requirements, and the Russian ways of exploration, mining and doing business. “Longer term, the Middle East and North Africa are sure to attract more and more interest as regional tensions settle to levels where more investors are prepared to accept the risks.” AMC Consultants chairman Peter McCarthy said Russia shared top billing with Southeast Asia on the consultancy’s list of outstanding longer-term growth markets. Nearer term, investors in the latter region were seeking or assessing assets elsewhere that had fallen in value, creating consulting work. Snowden’s McCullough said the company was looking to Russia because of increasing demand for compliance work, and operations optimisation. “China is similarly a good prospect. Increasing investment and interest in developing mineral resources make it a good prospect for feasibility studies,” he said. “Australia is still on our long-term growth agenda, especially with our offerings in operations optimisation and improvement.” Mining Plus’ Auld said: “One market that we’ve found is a challenge but that we’re definitely jumping on, is India. We see a huge amount of work coming out of India [in future]. We’re starting to build more of a work book and… we’ll be looking to expand it as we did in Peru.”

“Longer term, the Middle East and North Africa are sure to attract more and more interest as regional tensions settle to levels where more investors are pre­ pared to accept the risks”

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Activity in Indonesia. CSA sees ‘plenty of opportunity out there if you work with the right people’ Photo: CSA Global

“While 2013 was a year of so­called ‘right­ sizing’, many consulting firms are back in the hunt for people in a sure sign the mood – if not yet the market – has changed”

definitely a sense of improving conditions for mining companies and explorers. Our focus is on helping customers run their operations profitably.”

– and closely assessing options in Russia. “We do not have a date yet,” McCullough says of a Russian move. Managing director of Palaris, John Pala, says miners have eased the brakes on spending – though not necessarily new capital spending – brakes that were pressed hard in the second half of 2012 as the reality of regulatory-compliance, environmental, operations support, fleet-management and other manpower-intensive requirements had set back in. “There has been a refocusing on projects that are important just to sustain the business,” Pala says. “Accompanied by the realisation that if they’re allowed to fall too far behind, the [mine or company] is actually going to end up in a bigger hole. “So we’re finding that whereas 12 months ago a fair chunk of our work was in the capital growth [area] it’s now in the sustaining part of the business. I don’t expect that’s going to taper because I think companies will become more reliant on external labour and input.

Geographically, Snowden is also on the move, finalising the opening of an office in Beijing – “a great platform for our push into Asia”, says McCullough

Innovation to the fore Key technical and financial trends in mining have elicited a range of responses from the best consulting firms. Several are seeing opportunities where none existed five years ago. Ben Worst, general manager of fast-growing niche consulting firm ATI Solutions, says that while the industry as a whole had been going through a tough time, several Australian mining companies had looked to technology to drive operational efficiency improvements. “The change in focus from rapid growth to operational efficiency across the industry has led to substantial opportunity for ATI as we assist clients with the effective application of operations technology in the automation, information technology/ operations technology integration, and integrated operations domains. “We see opportunity across the world as the benefits of technology innovation and improved business practice is adopted by the wider industry. “Although ATI is a fairly young company, we feel that 2013 has been a ground-breaking year for us, with a number of large engagements having been delivered and the success of those leading to a substantial broadening of our client footprint in terms of both geographical reach and domain diversity.”

The firm would see its current complement of about 40 personnel expand this year as project commitments ramped up. Worst says: “We’ve seen a marked increase in the requirement for innovation in the application of operational and automation technologies, as well as the integration of those into traditional transactional IT environments. “This has led to the development of various specific solutions in areas such as mobility, integrated operations, operational visibility and technology platform integration.” CSA Global boss Jeff Elliott says rapid access to project data via high-speed networks is enabling faster and smarter analysis of larger quantities of data that can then be used to make decisions that drive productivity increases at the drill rig or mine face, across the industry. “Investors are demanding greater returns from their investments and this will require significant capital investment in technical aspects of exploration and mining operations,” he says. “We have put more focus and added capability in our mining services to assist clients to optimise existing operations via better grade control, mining and reconciliation practices, and

to provide more tools to those in the early stages of project evaluation. “We also continued to invest in internal systems and products to help our own business run more efficiently, a major outcome being… a new project data management tool, Spring Portal. Spring was developed by our data services team to give our staff and clients a cloud-based set of project management and administration tools that are simple to use and enable rapid integration of project information, whether users are across the office, the road, or the globe.” Snowden’s innovation general manager George McCullough says operational improvement and productivity management is now a focus across the mining industry. “We anticipated this about two years ago, which is why we invested heavily in solutions to help clients rapidly do more with less,” he says. “Now they are ready for commercial release. From our point of view, the drive for increased productivity is the most significant trend in the industry as it is operationally challenging and financially impactful.” Enthalpy CEO John Buffington, a veteran consulting sector figure, says having been burnt by cost and timing blowouts on projects globally in recent years, mining investors are demanding

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MINING CONSULTANTS

“I think we’ll also see, most definitely, a pick-up in M&A activity. We’re starting to see work in the due diligence space tick up.”

rECrUITS bACk ON ThE rAdAr While 2013 was a year of so-called ‘right-sizing’, many consulting firms are back in the hunt for people in a sure sign the mood – if not yet the market – has changed. The emphasis is also different, though. SRK’s Barrett says the group’s recruiting focus will be on senior industry people with mining experience – still as sought-after as 10g/t gold deposits. “There is some exceptional talent available at the moment,” Snowden’s McCullough says. “We believe the recruitment challenge will reflect the transition in the mining landscape from project development to operational optimisation. In Australia, the challenge will be to recruit people that have a good deal of experience and success in mining operations management.”

Elliott, from CSA Global, concurs with this assessment. “The opportunity to recruit high-value staff has never been better, but in consulting it is all about cash flow from client activities and we see it remaining slow for the first quarter, or half, particularly in exploration,” he says. “But a quarter can be a long time in the mining industry and it doesn’t take much to change your fortunes, so we

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are constantly talking to those with the skills we need – for example, solid operational experience.” John Buffington, who was until very recently CEO of Enthalpy, says there is a widening gap in the industry between retiring-age professionals among the experienced project managers and controls specialists for large projects still around, and the “good young performers that need more experience under their belts”.

This article was previously published in Mining Journal, February 14

increased rigour and risk management with respect to feasibility studies and financial decision-making, followed by stronger contracting strategies and project management. Consulting firms with the tools and expertise to facilitate improved transparency, and decision-making, are well placed to grow. New Zealand-based mining consultant Rod Redden, of Redden Mining, says there is frequently a widening gap between the capabilities of new-generation smart mining tools such as the latest software, and the staff tasked with using it. “I think there is already some kickback to the black-box mining approach,” he says. “Senior company managers and boards are really going to come under the microscope for their ability to make smart decisions with shareholders’ funds.” AMC chairman and principal mining consultant Peter McCarthy says the major mining companies in particular are realising they “cannot operate without consultants”. He believes they will “re-engage with the major consulting firms on a preferred relationship basis”. “This will replace the current hostile contract approach, which is run by their commercial departments,” he added.

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Mining Magazine June 2014  

Mining Magazine is the industry's leading title, founded in 1909 by the future US President Herbert Hoover. The magazine targets the leadin...

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