Global Mining Review Nov/Dec 2022

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Navigating Underground Mining Hazards With Technology

Suraj Suryavanshi, Transparency Market Research (TMR), India, outlines how the increasing reliance on technology is shaping the underground mining market.



Optimise For A Sustainable Mining Future

Matteo Colombo, OTP, Italy, analyses the benefit of a new approach to sustainability for the mining industry.

The Role Of Hydrocyclones In Tailings Management

Javier Lopez, Weir Minerals, Chile, reviews a sustainable tailings management solution for miners trying to reduce their water consumption.


It All Starts With Training

Shantanu Gupta, Tecknotrove, India, explains how digital training can improve safety and productivity in mines.


Edge Solutions Enhance OEM Options

Thishen Naidoo, Emerson, Canada, considers why mining operators are relying more heavily on their OEM suppliers to improve uptime and support, and why in response these equipment providers are enlisting edge technologies.

30 2022 Exploration & Development Review

Learn about some of the up-and-coming mining companies and projects operating around the world.


Celebrating A Decade Of AHS And Private Wireless

David Haukeness, Komatsu, and Jaime Laguna, Nokia, discuss the success of autonomous haulage systems (AHS), the role of private wireless, and the future of the mining industry.

45 Utility Vehicles In Underground Operations

Roland Herr, International Freelance Journalist on behalf of Normet, Germany, explores how safe and efficient logistics can ensure profitable underground operations.

03 Guest Comment 05 World News 07 Product News
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Guest Comment

Mining projects routinely require land that is already owned or occupied by other users. Historically, global mining interests have prevailed, often disrupting local social, environmental, and economic systems.

In the context of climate change, there is pressure for markets to deliver more minerals and metals to support a rapid transition toward renewable energy technologies.

The threat of an irreversible climate disaster creates a new type of temporal ‘crunch’, as mineral resource markets hurry to deliver energy transition minerals and metals (ETMs). Amidst this rush, it is important to consider the pressures that will be placed on people in the locations where these minerals will be extracted.


James Little


Callum O’Reilly

EDITOR Will Owen


Joe Toft



Ryan Freeman


Kyla Waller


Laura White




Leah Jones


Indigenous peoples’ claims to land are based on sets of collective rights that are recognised in international instruments, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).1 Research by the Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) shows that these lands overlap with the location of many resource projects set to enable the energy transition.

SMI has been working to understand the pressures that rights-holding groups may face as the world looks to mine its way out of the climate crisis. The results of its research highlight high exposure to risks and issues that land-connected peoples could encounter as energy markets adapt to changing global priorities.

In the international policy arena, it is now well-accepted that local and land-connected peoples should be consulted when resource development projects may affect them. Across most national and sub-national jurisdictions, community consultation is a requirement of project approval, as well as related environmental and social impact assessment processes.

The notion of free prior and informed consent (FPIC) is an internationally-accepted procedural mechanism to safeguard individual and collective rights, land and resources rights of certain groups, such as indigenous peoples, and their right to self-determination.

These rights to consultation and consent are invoked not just in major international instruments, such as UNDRIP, but by the global mining industry itself through voluntary commitments to consultation and consent, and through corporate standards and certification schemes.2

Recent global trends suggest that the industry’s commitments are going to be increasingly more difficult to operationalise. In response to the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, major mining jurisdictions have started ‘simplifying’ and ‘relaxing’ regulatory requirements to ‘push’ and ‘unlock’ mining’s potential by ‘fast-tracking’ and ‘streamlining’ project approval and mine permitting processes.

This puts existing commitments to consultation and consent in jeopardy; by squeezing the timeframes within which to consult local and land-connected people, study the social and environmental impacts of different project propositions, agree on measures to reduce their effect, and to negotiate conditions of consent with rights-holding groups.

Resource developers cannot disregard due process – no matter the pressures to extract minerals. If global priorities prevail at the expense of people’s rights and interests, the industry will re-produce conditions of social and environmental harm faster than it has in the past.

The pressures and trade-offs between the local and global must be part of international policy debates if the mining industry is to claim any positive contribution to a ‘just’ energy transition.

To read more, check out the SMI’s latest research.3


1. ‘United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, United Nations, (13 September 2007),

2. ‘Indigenous Peoples and Mining: Position Statement’, ICMM, (16 May 2013), our-principles/position-statements/indigenous-peoples

3. OWEN, J.R., KEMP, D., HARRIS, J., LECHNER, A.M., and LÈBRE, É., ‘Fast track to failure? Energy transition minerals and the future of consultation and consent’, Energy, Research & Social Science, Volume 89, (July 2022),

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AUSTRIA BASF and Moleaer partner to enhance copper recovery at existing mines

BASF and MoleaerTM Inc. have announced an exclusive partnership to combine expertise in mineral processing, hydrometallurgy, gas transfer, and nanobubble technology to develop innovative processes for mining. The initial aim is to target the copper leaching process and improve extraction rates of copper ores containing high levels of chalcopyrite, which have historically been difficult to leach.

Demand for copper is expected to increase significantly, as it is an essential raw material for driving the electric revolution. This will play a key role as an enabler to decarbonising the global economy. According to a report released in July by S&P Global Market Intelligence, the annual demand for copper is projected to reach 50 million t by 2035, from the current level of 25 million t. The study also identified a potential copper deficit of as much as 10 million t.

As existing mines deplete their resources, higher demand will require new mines. In addition, ore grades are declining, ore mineralogy is becoming more complex, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) responsibilities are increasing. The result is that new mines are taking longer and longer to come to fruition. Therefore, maximising the recovery of copper from existing reserves has never been more crucial.

Copper is extracted from primary sulfide ores through a flotation process, and low-grade ores are traditionally discarded

because they are too costly to process. Currently, an alternative hydrometallurgical heap leach process is employed for low grade oxide and secondary sulfide ores. It is, however, very difficult to leach primary sulfide ores, such as chalcopyrite, which leads to low recovery efficiencies.

Based on test work conducted by BASF, Moleaer’s nanobubble technology improves the extraction process of valuable metals, such as copper. When combined with BASF’s LixTRA™ reagent, the mineral recovery rates and efficiencies are compounded, especially in sulfide-based ores such as chalcopyrite, which have historically been challenging to leach effectively.

Caren Hoffman, who leads the global mining solutions business at BASF, stated: “By combining BASF’s LixTRA reagent, allowing greater ore-lixiviant contact, together with Moleaer’s nanobubble technology to facilitate a higher oxidative environment, we offer technology to the industry to significantly increase copper recoveries.”

Nick Dyner, CEO of Moleaer, added: “This important collaboration comes at a time when the ability of mining copper is only getting more costly and challenging. Moleaer’s nanobubble technology will allow the mining industry to improve the efficiency and efficacy in existing mines and narrow the gap between supply and demand of copper.”

FINLAND Metso Outotec expands Metrics monitoring system portfolio to screens

Metso Outotec’s innovative cloud-based Metrics monitoring system portfolio is one of its key digital solutions for customers. The company is now expanding Metrics to cover the tools, sensors, and dashboard access for monitoring customers’ stationary screening equipment.

With its 24/7 online monitoring capabilities, Metrics offers improved safety, increased uptime and throughput, and reduced unplanned maintenance. It enables operators, controllers, and service professionals to see real-time analysis of vibrating screen performance and bearing condition. Metrics is designed for intuitive operation. An easy-to-read screen dashboard with OEM insights makes it possible to quickly detect potential issues and take corrective action in time.

In June 2022, Metso Outotec announced a global cooperation agreement with Dynamox, which offers an innovative condition monitoring platform. Metrics for screens is the first solution utilising Dynamox’s easy-to-install instrumentation that can be complemented with comprehensive value-added services and remote monitoring capabilities in the customer’s value chain.

Jan Wirth, Technology Director with Metso Outotec’s Screening Solutions business, commented: “The customer feedback received has helped us to offer a solution focused on customer centricity and sustainability. Metrics for screens helps customers to optimise their process, as they can easily see how the changes implemented have impacted their screening operations. In addition, continuous monitoring helps in the avoidance of several potential breakdowns.”

5 GLOBal mining review // November/December 2022


Diary Dates

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ZIMBABWE Caledonia Mining acquires Motapa gold exploration project

Caledonia Mining Corp. Plc has purchased Motapa Mining Co. UK Ltd, the parent company of a Zimbabwe subsidiary which holds a registered mining lease over the Motapa gold exploration property in Southern Zimbabwe.

The company has made the purchase from Bulawayo Mining Co. Ltd, a privately owned UK company. The purchase price is undisclosed, but is below the regulatory disclosure threshold.

Caledonia considers Motapa to be highly prospective and strategically important to its growth ambitions in Zimbabwe in terms of both location and scale.

Motapa is a large exploration property which is contiguous to the Bilboes gold project, in respect of which Caledonia announced that it had entered into a binding sale and purchase agreement in July 2022.

The project was formerly owned and explored by Anglo American Zimbabwe prior to its exit from the Zimbabwean gold sector in the late 1990s. The project is approximately 75 km north of Bulawayo with a mining lease covering approximately 2200 ha.

The Motapa asset has been mined throughout most of the second half of the 20th Century, Caledonia Mining understands that during this period the region produced as much as 300 000 oz of gold. Whilst none of the mining infrastructure remains, the evidence of historical mining will provide guidance to its exploration team in best understanding the prospectivity of the region.

Neoen has signed a 70 MW renewable energy baseload contract with BHP. The contract will supply power to BHP’s Olympic Dam operations in South Australia, one of the world’s most significant deposits of copper, gold, and uranium. It is expected to meet half of Olympic Dam’s overall electricity needs from July 2025.

Under the contract, Neoen will deliver a green energy solution 24/7 to the mine, along with the associated large-scale certificates (LGC). Neoen will dedicate to this contract half of the output of Goyder South Stage 1 wind farm. Neoen will firm the intermittent wind energy combining the storage capacity of Blyth Battery and its energy management expertise.

Goyder South Stage 1 is a 412 MW wind farm currently under construction. It is the first phase of Neoen’s flagship project, known as Goyder Renewables Zone, a hybrid wind, solar and storage project, located near Burra in South Australia’s Mid North region. The exceptional wind resources of the area are making this project world-class in terms of both size and competitiveness.

Stage 1 consists of two parts: 209 MW underpinned by two long term power purchase agreements with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government and Flow Power; and 203 MW underpinned by this new 70 MW baseload contract with BHP.

Blyth Battery is a utility scale battery project located in Blyth, South Australia. The project has been developed by Neoen over the last two years and received planning consent for up to 300 MW in April 2022.

6 November/December 2022 // global mining review
AUSTRALIA Neoen and BHP sign renewable energy baseload contract

Product NEWS

TESMEC: Mining in the Black Box

At Bauma 2022, Tesmec Group made an important announcement for the mining industry: the ‘Black Box’, showcasing digital content related to a brand-new model of surface miner – the ‘1150 Dynamic Drive’ and the ‘Tesmec Smart Mining’ project, which combines machine teleoperation and autonomous vehicle technology.

Firstly, the 1150 Dynamic Drive is Tesmec’s brand-new model of surface miner that is going to set the rules for surface mining of soft rock. This unit features a chainless, high-speed cutting drum and is optimal for coal and industrial minerals, such as: phosphates, gypsum, and salt. Its light weight (54 t), 451 HP Cummins engine and 300 cm (118 in.) wide drum allow for high productivity with reduced environmental footprint; thanks to the ease-of-transport, reduced fuel consumption, and less ancillary equipment required onsite.

The high-speed cutting drum can dig up to 40 cm (16 in.) deep and provides high productivity with reduced operation costs. The brand-new design of the drum, with optimised tooth pattern, leads to a further decrease in operational expenditures, thanks to the improved Tesmec digging technology and teeth. The lower centre of gravity and visible digging attachment increase safety for the operator and ground personnel alike.

Its compact design eases logistics and saves time – the machine can be transported in one load, thus there is no need to disassemble and reassemble the unit pre and post transport.

Another appreciated advantage of this unit, compared to other surface miners available on the market for soft rock applications, is its high manoeuvrability – the reduced steering radius allows for faster passes and turnaround time.

The unit is equipped with the latest electronic devices for highest level of performance and reliability. TrenchTronic 5.0 is the latest release of embedded electronic control system, with modern and digital HMI for all versions of the Tesmec surface miners range – aimed at improving the ease of use of the unit, increasing productivity, and making it less dependent on operator skills. Advanced diagnostic and troubleshooting are also available.

TrenchIntel is the GNSS automatic guidance system able to automatically maintain and control the running line with high accuracy, as well as the appropriate depth and grade. The integration between TrenchIntel and TrenchTronic 5.0 provides fully automatic operation capability and alignment control through integrated auto steering.

The remote monitoring system monitors machine health, performance, and other KPIs to reach optimal excavation results.

It provides operating, predictive maintenance, and troubleshooting information – facilitating 24/7 fleet monitoring, optimisation of maintenance operations, and high efficiency in service activity.

The TRC Radio Control system enables operators to control the machine remotely, replicating the majority of the functions and information available in the cabin.

The other special showcase from the Black Box at bauma was Tesmec Smart Mining, an R&D project which aims to offer a reliable and consolidated solution for the mining process to control several surface miners at the same time from a remote-control room – providing further benefits in costs reduction, productivity maximisation, and increased personnel safety.

Teleoperation is a growing technology; it has been already adopted in the mining sector, but never before to continuous surface miners. Its main advantages are improved ergonomic working environment for the operator and safety in high-risk operating conditions. In combination with autonomous vehicles, it allows a single operator to supervise multiple machines. At the moment, Tesmec surface miners are partially automated. Machine automation is an early-stage technology, it is growing in the mining sector, as well as in agriculture. Machine automation benefits are machine usage optimisation, improved machine performances, and reduction of machine misuse.

Tesmec is integrating both technologies to create a teleoperated and highly automated machine. At the same time, its R&D project foresees the integration of safety devices on board, in order to prevent accidents and improve self-diagnosis.

7 GLOBal mining review // November/December 2022
Figure 1. The 1150 Dynamic Drive – Tesmec’s brand-new surface miner for soft rock applications.
8 November/December 2022 // global mining review

Underground mining is one of the many modern mining methods, however it is one of the more cost-intensive and hazardous. Surprisingly, over the years, mining companies

have placed more reliance on underground mining for a variety of materials that are usually characterised by high commercial value, than perhaps opencast mining.

The commercialisation of cutting-edge technologies, methods, and mining equipment has allowed industry players to dig deeper into the underground mining market. Mining companies are, in particular, harnessing a range of autonomous technologies to plan their operations more efficiently than ever before.

Several factors at play

Aside from the significant technological push, the entire economics of underground mining has evolved greatly over the decades. The changing paradigm has shaped the large-scale adoption of new methods. The constant drive for improving productivity and reducing costs has facilitated the rise of new OPEX and CAPEX business models in the underground mining market. The models influence the economics of the methods that are adopted, however operators still have little freedom as to what methods they can use. Some of the less commonly adopted methods might be popular due to benefits of lower OPEX. This is, for instance, determined by labour productivity and the prevailing regulatory frameworks. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act) are examples of regulatory institutions that are in place to help and protect workers in underground mines .

The economics of demand and consumption of high-value minerals comprises another chief macroeconomic factor influencing the mine-to-market value chain. Gold mining is a prime example here, as demand for gold has continued to increase, influencing the value chain.

Opening a world of possibilities

The extraction of minerals has been an industry of ample opportunity for several centuries now. Companies have been fervently hauling mines all over the world for coal, gold, copper, etc. Underground mines have contributed to a sizable proportion of global mining over the past few years, making it a lucrative industry.

However, in recent years there has been a conscious shift towards making underground mines more environmentally sustainable, often through reducing waste disposal and making them more targeted. The increased attention to the safety and reliability of operations has spurred investments in the underground mining market. Sustainability in mining is an important topic, given the speed at which mineral consumption among end users has risen in industrialised nations around the world. The issues behind the concept of sustainability stem from a failure to achieve market equilibrium regarding the demand and supply of critical mineral resources. As global demand for commodities continues to rise, so too will the demand for mineral resources. As a result, the demand for mining companies to increase production rates is sky-rocketing at a rate that is not environmentally, or economically, sustainable.

The inherent complexity of underground mining underpins the cost-intensive nature of the mining operations. For the industry to move forward in a sustainable way, increased reliance will be placed on new technologies, and in particular on automation.

Suraj Suryavanshi, Transparency Market Research (TMR), India, outlines how the increasing reliance on technology is shaping the underground mining market.
9 global mining review // November/December 2022

Underground drones in high-precision mining

As a result of an increasing focus on improving safety in mines, technologies, such as drones, are being used to help keep personnel away from hazardous areas.

In recent years, autonomous technologies have been gathering traction in the exploration and monitoring of hazardous areas in underground operations. The size, type, and complexity of underground operations have opened a new avenue for drones, which are being used to gain access to significant amounts of underground data in GPS-denied environments. Although drones, for the most part, are still yet to be adopted by mainstream companies, they are viewed as a transformative technology for extracting all the crucial data in underground mines. Mining companies are now collaborating to accelerate the mainstream application of flying drones within the industry.

For example, there is a growing initiative by service providers in the underground mining market to implement a large-scale adoption of drones in coal mining. The use of drones for stope mapping is anticipated to open vast revenue streams in the foreseeable future. LiDAR is one of the technologies that has enabled mining companies to extract high-fidelity, actionable data. A number of surveys conducted for underground mining activities found that the application of drones in underground operations will help optimise future drill and blast designs. Another way drones can be useful in underground mining is through the inspection of waste passes, in order to prevent hazards for workers.

Utilising autonomous capabilities to carve out superior value propositions

Robotic companies are scouring the value chain to enrich autonomous capabilities for mining companies. Manufacturers of autonomous aerial robot systems are expanding their product portfolio to capture the emerging revenue streams in the underground mining market. In this regard, open-ended explorations – especially those that are free from human interaction – have created significant opportunities for drone manufacturers. Companies, such as Exyn Technologies, are increasing the level of automation to gain a competitive edge over their competition. The drone mapping applications are growing fast with the incorporation of new wireless technologies, which enables miners to gain a full 360˚ field-of-view for 3D data.

The introduction of 6G technologies to remote, underground mines has the potential to disrupt the underground mining market across the entire value chain. A long-range Wi-Fi system, based on 6G, is likely to transmit data in mission-critical applications in the mining industry, and will extend the horizon for players in the market. These are characterised by ultra-low latency and remarkable data rates, and are expected to unlock new avenues moving forward in the industry.

Another area where drones are being used is in backfilling, however this is both time consuming and expensive. For the most part, there is still an unmet need

for automation within this area of the mining process. Various inspection technologies are also pushing the case for the commercialisation of drones in the underground mining market, especially in the case of inspecting the height and conditions of a stope.

Underground mining operations in key regional markets are harnessing drones for a range of inspection applications, which is evident in the Lac Des Iles mine near Ontario, Canada, where service providers eye a vast revenue stream from the growing use of drones.

Furthermore, contractual mining services and equipment inspection solutions for hard rock mining operations have also opened up vast revenue potential. The overall valuation of the underground mining market is projected to climb to US$25 billion by 2031, in large part due to the increased use of technology.

Financial possibilities in hard rock mining operations

Hard rock mining operations present significant revenue possibilities in the underground mining market. Hard rock underground mining is one of the most challenging geological conditions mining companies can face. Various globally prominent construction machinery and equipment companies are keen on tapping into the lucrative revenue streams here by offering cutting-edge technology solutions, such as the offering by US-based company Caterpillar Inc. The heavyweight has been offering uniquely designed tools which have added to the flexibility and simplicity of installation for miners, notably in Canada and the US. The company is flaunting its capabilities in underground hard rock mining by offering innovative ground engaging tools, notably its weldless BOHA.

Companies have been offering advanced precise controls to help mining companies increase operational efficiencies and durability in the most challenging terrain.

As comprehensive as it gets

In addition to these, the demand for truck bodies and LHD buckets has also spurred the growth prospects of players in the underground mining market. Equipment manufacturers are incorporating advanced controls for hard rock underground loaders in order to meet the high demands set by the consumers.

The growing appetite for such technologies in mines all over the world has sparked opportunities for new contractual agreements. Analysts at TMR have concurred that in the coming years contractual mining services and equipment inspection solutions will unearth new revenue streams in the market. Solutions for equipment health are expected to witness a steady growth in demand, since they are crucial to preventing unplanned downtime and costly equipment failures.

The demand for hard rock mining operations is high for companies that specialise in mining gold and base metals. Equipment manufacturers and service providers are harping on significant cost and productivity gains as value propositions for customers in the underground mining market.

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Safety aside, these manufacturers are also unveiling hard rock underground mining equipment that is sustainable, with a low carbon footprint.

State-of-the-art fleet management solutions

The need for multi-criterion decision-making has helped boost the demand for integrated assessment solutions.

Top players in the market are securing their position by introducing and integrating various technology offerings that are directly focused on the automation of hardware and software. These solutions include: geotechnical characterisations, gas detection, waste management, and mine rescue operations.

Solutions for rock reinforcement technologies are gathering traction in underground mines. In recent years, underground rescue systems have also become a mainstream adoption among key mining companies across the world. Of note, mining companies are overhauling their emergency and evacuation plans, which can be seen in the deployment of emergency evacuation guidance systems for gold mines in the US.

These solutions are expected to make a mark on fleet management. Solution providers have integrated these with other solutions, and service providers are notably integrating AI-based scheduling algorithms to automate the workflows, which is visible in the growing popularity of simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) algorithms.

The future of underground mining in Latin America

Underground mining operations are gaining popularity all over the world, but are more prominent in some regions than others. A growing number of underground mining projects in Latin America, South America, and Central America has spurred investment prospects for stakeholders in the global underground mining market. They are a mix of greenfield and brownfield projects, mainly including copper and gold mines, which are demonstrating a vast scope of improvements in mining methods to augment ROI.

Latin America has emerged as a highly lucrative region in the global landscape. Brazil alone has a sizable number of underground mining operations, and Peru is another lucrative region. The fact that most Latin American mines are expected to remain operational for the next few years will reinforce the revenue potential of players in the market. Furthermore, the region has shown a good appetite for new automation technologies, including drones, and, interestingly, equipment manufacturers based out of North America are eyeing significant opportunities in the progress that the underground mining industry has made in Latin American countries.

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12 November/December 2022 // global mining review

The global mining industry is experiencing transformational change. As demand for minerals surge, new players are emerging and business is becoming more challenging. India is witnessing an explosive growth in the mining sector supported by generous reserves of coal, iron ore, and other minerals. In fact, mineral exploration is predicted to be a key agenda for the government, which is automatically triggering demand for improved equipment.

With the growth in the mining industry, competition is inevitable. Companies are constantly under pressure to increase production, while at the same time bringing down costs. They are investing in the latest mining machines and equipment – such as excavators, wheel loaders, backhoe loaders, bulldozers, dump trucks or haul trucks, tippers, graders and rope shovels, etc. – that can deliver maximum output in the most efficient way. However, the global mining industry is also experiencing several key challenges, which is affecting the productivity of individual companies within the industry.

What is affecting the productivity of mines?

Globally, mines are facing some serious challenges which are becoming a deterrent to improving productivity. Some of the common challenges include:

n Shortage of skilled operators: The mining industry, globally, is experiencing a significant labour shortage, leading to production cuts. The industry is in constant need of skilled manpower to support its growth plans and fill talent gaps – caused by retirements and injuries.

n Increasing costs: Prices are soaring, whether it is fuel costs, resource costs, or operating costs. The industry is under constant pressure to look at ways to improve productivity at reduced costs to remain profitable, but there is an urgent need for mining companies to find suitable ways to keep costs under control.

n High risks: The mining industry has always been known for its risky and hazardous working environments. Research shows that the majority of incidents at mines

Shantanu Gupta, Tecknotrove, India, explains how digital training can improve safety and productivity in mines.
13 global mining review // November/December 2022

take place because of human error, the control of which would enhance safety levels in working sites considerably. The risk involved with mining is also dissuading young workers from embracing the mining industry as a potential career path.

n Knowledge drain: Knowledge and skills within mining can drain away when old and experienced employees retire, which is a serious loss to any company and can significantly impact business. There is an urgent need for mines to retain this rich knowledge gathered over a period of time. However, knowledge transfer has not always been easy. Although classroom training and lectures are not new, they have not always worked well with blue collared mine operators. There is a need for education and knowledge sharing in an engaging format, so that operators are able to learn the skills needed and understand the potential dangers involved in a hands-on manner.

Identifying challenges at mines: Case study

As the Indian economy is growing rapidly post-pandemic, the use of electricity has been expanding, increasing the demand for coal up to 7% more than pre-pandemic levels. With growing demand, coal mines in India are under serious pressure to increase their manpower and machine efficiency to improve productivity.

To combat this, a leading coal mine in India updated their fleet by adding a range of hydraulic excavators and dumper/haul trucks with varying tonnage. A large number of novice operators were thus hired to fulfil the increasing

workload and demand. As a result, the number of incidents at the mine, especially involving excavators, increased significantly. This was not only a safety concern, but also one of the reasons for a general loss in productivity. In order to understand the possible causes of the increasing number of incidents and productivity loss, research was conducted which discovered that most of the machine related incidents mainly occured due to human error. Analysis also showed that poor maintenance of the machines caused an increase in machine downtime and a loss in productivity.

Because the operators were inexperienced, the mine also witnessed a serious number of accidents and injuries – due to a lack of training. Mining sites were often located in remote places, making it difficult for engineers and operators to access them for training. Furthermore, the machines were never available for training because they were all constantly being used at work, and unsafe mines made training on site too dangerous. As a result, there was nowhere available to train these new operators regularly, other than in a classroom.

Identifying operator behaviour

Tecknotrove was appointed to the discussed mine to implement training gap solutions. The company deployed an advanced excavator simulator at the mine site to test the operators and analyse the underlying problems. 30 operators were made to use an advanced TecknoSIM Excavator Simulator and complete a simulated test, including a clinical test.

The test results showed that 18% of operators failed to notice potential driving hazards, such as workers on the ground or parked vehicles, and hence experienced collisions. Over 25% of the operators drove an excavator too quickly over uneven terrain, which resulted in the excavator rolling over. Although excavator accidents occurred in a variety of situations, the most common incidents occurred through collisions with machinery or workers, rollovers, and ditch collapses. Interestingly, it was found that since the mine’s excavators originated from a variety of OEMs – such as Komatsu, Tata Hitachi, Caterpillar, and BEML – at least 10% of the operators were not familiarised with the controls, which could be the underlying reason for frequent breakdowns and unscheduled maintenance during operations.

Solving real problems with simulator training

With its ability to identify training gaps and its capacity to train operators without the need of working equipment, the simulator acted as a necessary tool in improving the safety and productivity of that particular mine in India. Tecknotrove offers a comprehensive training solution for all mines that includes the following: n Full motion simulators for realistic training: When it comes to training operators, the simulators used need to be highly realistic. Tecknotrove designed its excavator simulator with a realistic integrated motion platform for immersive and advanced training. Full motion simulators with 3DOF provide a realistic feedback of acceleration, turns, suspension, terrain gradients, jerks, collisions, machine vibrations, and other dynamics.

14 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 2. Training scenario from Komatsu PC1250 Crawler Excavator. Figure 1. Incab view from the TecknoSIM Backhoe Excavator Simulator.
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Learn more at Go smarter.

n Economising training with convertible kits: In order to accommodate training on multiple excavator models on the same simulator, Tecknotrove designed an advanced excavator simulator base platform with multiple convertible kits. TecknoSIM convertible kits are interchangeable simulator kits that fit onto the same simulator platform, in order to accommodate training on multiple simulation models from different OEMs.

n Making remote training possible: A 20 ft container has been designed to fit the simulator and instructor station, the clinical testing stations, and the VR Kit for maintenance training. Simulators were containerised in the mobile simulation lab, meaning they can be moved from site to site when needed. The containerised simulator allows the client to deliver continuous training, without having to worry about the operators leaving the mine site.

n Training with digital twins: Digital twins are exact replicas of mines that are mapped using AutoCAD drawings, photographs, and videos to provide a photo realistic replica of a mine site. Digital twins allow for the familiarisation of a mine site, the learning of standard operating procedures, the practice of machine operations, the practice of identifying hazard spots, and the rehearsal of emergency situations.

n VR training for equipment maintenance: Tecknotrove has developed a virtual reality training solution for each of the excavator models, to train and test operators on the different parameters of equipment maintenance. Separate modules were created for standard operating procedures for monthly, weekly, and daily checks. Using an immersive visual content with inbuilt training cues, the application is suitable for both experienced and novice operators.

n Training management system: It is important for mining companies to not only implement the training, but also understand the training process and its effectiveness. The TecknoSIM training management system (TMS) enables management to be able to deploy the simulator at multiple sites, whilst monitoring the progress remotely. TecknoSIM TMS is a unique platform that allows blended learning through multiple technologies – such as VR, simulation, and E-learning – all in one system. TecknoSIM TMS allows organisations to replace or assist existing traditional training methods, and implement standardised training at multiple locations around the world.

Real training, real benefits

With regards to the use of the TecknoSIM in the discussed mine in India, simulator training enabled the operators to be trained and assessed without removing the real machines and equipment from production, and allowed novice operators to hone their skills before being placed into an actual mine. Because operators were consistently trained and assessed on the proper operating techniques, they had a better understanding and knowledge of the real machine. The improvements in operator training led to a reduction in machine downtime, which subsequently increased productivity and efficiency.

VR training on equipment maintenance also reduced the need for unscheduled maintenance, resulting in significant cost savings. Operators were able to identify the faults in advance, which enabled the practice of preventive maintenance.

The simulator generated automated reports that helped the instructors assess the operators and identify the various skills gaps in their mines. Reduced spotting times and reduction in fuel consumption were two of the common improvements observed by operators.

Owing to the introduction of simulators, training became four times faster and safer, as operators were better prepared to identify hazards in advance and deal with emergency situations.


Simulation training has been successfully used by many high-risk industries, such as aviation, nuclear powerplants, and oil and gas. It has generally been implemented to reduce risk, cut costs, reduce unscheduled maintenance and improve training retention, but ultimately to improve operator productivity and efficiency. Within the mining industry, simulation training has gained a reputation for being integral to improving safety and profitability through the development of operator skills.

16 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 3. Instructor view of Tata Hitachi Excavator loading a dumper in a virtual mine site. Figure 4. TecknoSIM Containerised Simulator lab for remote training (interior view).

The concept of sustainability is becoming an increasingly talked about phenomenon, but what does it really mean and how does it apply to the mining industry?

The application of sustainability principles to mining is a complicated procedure, due to the environmental and economic trade-offs that circulate discourse within the industry. However, sustainable development – where resources are allocated to meet present needs without undermining the security of future needs – is being increasingly incorporated into mining operations, and is

now a key element to the success of any business in the industry.

For OTP, the challenge of sustainable development is of paramount importance, as it strives to develop technological solutions for mining companies trying to improve their industrial processes.

A new support division

OTP optimise performance is a specialised division set up to support mining companies in identifying areas for

Matteo Colombo, OTP,
Italy, analyses the benefits of a new approach to sustainability for the mining industry.
17 global mining review // November/December 2022

improvement and optimisation with regards to emissions and plant digitalisation. With sustainable development its main goal, this specialised division uses various methods to introduce systems, specifically de-dusting solutions, to help companies reach their desired performance goals.

Typically, de-dusting solutions focus predominantly on dust filters when tackling issues within an industrial process, however the source of the problem often originates elsewhere. High dust levels and filter and ducting clogging have many causes, yet filters may be only partially involved. The ambiguity and complexity involved in dust processes demonstrates why a full assessment of an existing system and process is required before any solutions can occur.

Full dust collector project: Case study

An example of where this has occurred is where the OTP division produced an assessment and optimisation of 15 dust collector lines, run by a leading mining company. The client highlighted the following issues with its systems:

n Clogging and high slip of dust all along the process.

n Difficulty in staying below the limits imposed by local authorities.

n Risk to health and safety of personnel working on the site.

The primary issue that the client had was the high quantity of dust in the working area, and the exposition of personnel to dust being released into the air. Furthermore, the environmental impacts of this were of great concern to the client, especially as a business looking to remain sustainable in operations. In addition, two lines presented a higher criticality compared to the others, without a clear reason.

As a result, the OTP division aimed to:

n Eliminate the clogging of dust on the process.

n Improve the de-dusting action and implement an efficient and adequate air pollution control (APC) system.

n Monitor all filter parameters and dust collector operations in order to prevent future malfunctioning.

To attain these goals and reduce the overall dust output on the site, the first step was for OTP technical support to carry out a thorough site survey and obtain an in-depth assessment of the existing de-dusting system and process. The role of the site survey was to map the suction points, ensure the dust could not be removed using existing equipment, and provide a basis on which to develop a clear plan moving forward.

The survey successfully established the characteristics of the dust, the requirements of the served machines and the layout of the site, enabling OTP to get to grips with the project at hand, which would include rerouting the ducts and producing a full review of the engineering design of the APC system.

The main issues surrounding all of the assessed lines mostly stemmed from upstream equipment, and, in the case of eight of the lines, demonstrated the need to add additional de-dusting units. This meant that in 50% of the cases dust problems were to be solved with a deep engineering re-study, including a newly calculated geometry of the suction points and re-routing of the necessary ducts. In order to do this, OTP implemented a gap analysis and a computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulation.

The larger hood design, seen in Figure 1, combined with the optimisation of all the devices and components within the system, reduces the capturing speed, keeping the total air flow unchanged. The CFD simulation of the optimised solution allows verification of the feasibility of the new geometry and technical calculations.

Key components of the project:

n Optimised the capturing speed, so that it could be monitored to avoid draft product.

n Kept minimum flow velocity at suction points to reduce the dust load and avoid clogging inside the ducts. n Started/stopped control philosophy.

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Figure 1. CFD simulation of gases passing thought the ducts. Total air flow is the same, but the capturing speed is now relaxed.

n Adhered to guidelines for proper rubber skirt and enclosure at belt installation.


OTP provides full support during its maintenance procedures. All the machines that are installed are equipped with high-quality spare parts, and each system can be easily upgraded, as well as controlled remotely, thanks to remote monitoring technology.

The manufacturing of the steelworks and inspections are carried out internally, in order to guarantee the validity of the technical solutions, and so that high standards are upheld within the company.

The challenge: Balance of suction points

Figure 2. Preliminary sketch of the optimised solution on paper and the new duct routing, and the installation of the additional filter unit on site.

Figure 3. 3D models of the existing ducts and the new routing – the sloping ducts allow for a reduction in dust clogging.

As already explained, the re-routing of ducts, the study of the geometry, and the support of the CFD analysis has led to the optimisation of the de-dusting system. However, the challenge of balancing the suction points effectively still remains relevant. All the suctions points are connected by one single duct, affecting each other during standard operation, so during the fine tuning of the system it is simple for the technical support team to control all of the shutter’s positions simultaneously for the best de-dusting results.

The project in short:

n Review of ducts engineering and size of APC system.

n CFD study of existing equipment.

n New equipment and optimisation of existing hoods.

n Supply of high-quality spare parts.

n Maintenance and technical service.

n Assistance during commissioning and start-up.

n Full system fine tuning.

n Plan of preventive maintenance.

The optimisation of each component within the project made its own important contribution towards achieving a reliable de-dusting system. Furthermore, optimisation procedures are integral in the reduction of operating

expenses, through more efficient maintenance procedures, higher quality spare parts, and better management of equipment for more productive systems.

Finally, future upgrades to the remote monitoring technology will allow for a significant reduction in unplanned shutdowns, resulting in an important reduction in emissions.


This approach allows mining companies to maintain satisfactory operations of their plants, especially in terms of quality and safety of the working environment, as well as meeting sustainability goals through the reduction of pollutant emissions to below 10mg/Nm3. The optimised solution is designed to keep dust emissions below this target, and during the performance tests the equipment achieved this.

Within brownfield projects, contemporary technical solutions often cannot always meet the necessary requirements of running a successful plant. Therefore, choosing a partner with an abundance of industrial experience is necessary to finding the best comprehensive solutions for all aspects of the control and management of the whole system.

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20 November/December 2022 // global mining review

Tailings management is, by its very nature, site specific; every tailings storage facility (TSF) has to contend with a unique series of risk factors depending on the site’s local climate, topography, hydrology, and the physical and chemical properties of the tailings themselves.

As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Weir Minerals cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Instead, the company works closely with its customers to understand their requirements and their site’s particular challenges; its process engineers help develop innovative flowsheets; and its product experts draw on their know-how and experience to support miners at every stage of the project.

This close customer collaboration has been fundamental in the development of Weir Minerals’ Cavex® DE

hydrocyclone. This double-effect classification unit – with two stages of separation incorporated into the one piece of equipment – works without the need for intermediary pumping, piping, or sumps.

Aside from being highly efficient, it is also increasingly being utilised to address some of its customers’ other operational challenges.

Tailings storage facility dam wall construction

The development and success of the Cavex DE hydrocyclone is attributable, in part, to the fact that South America is one of the most earthquake-prone regions in the world. Seismic activity is caused by complex interactions of the South American tectonic plate with adjacent plates along

Figure 1. Weir Minerals Cavex DE cyclone cluster at a tailings facility in South America.

Javier Lopez, Weir Minerals, Chile, reviews a sustainable tailings management solution for miners trying to reduce their water consumption.
21 global mining review // November/December 2022

the Pacific, Caribbean and Antarctic coastlines, as well as by several hundred faults located throughout the South American plate itself.

Therefore, TSF dam walls need to be stable and reliable in the event of an earthquake. It is not uncommon for operators to utilise tailings in the construction of the dam wall; however, the sand needs to be of a certain consistency and quality to ensure the TSF’s integrity. The plant tailings are hydro-cycloned, producing a relatively coarse free draining sand that can be used to build the dam wall.

The relatively free-draining characteristic of the sand is defined by the mass fraction of particles of less than -200 mesh (75µm). This is a concept borrowed from the soil sciences where, by definition, free drainage occurs at a particle mass fraction of 5% passing -200 mesh. In tailings dam construction, sand is commonly regarded as relatively-free draining at 15% passing -200 mesh.

This requirement helps prevent liquefaction, the process by which water-saturated, unconsolidated sediments are transformed into a substance that acts like a liquid. For this reason, the Cavex DE hydrocyclone is also the ideal solution for mines located in regions that experience high levels of rainfall, where the risk of liquefaction is most severe.

Typically, tailings would have to pass through several stages of hydro-cycloning to achieve this sand quality; however, with the Cavex DE hydrocyclone, it can be achieved in a single stage.

With a conventional hydrocyclone, 35 – 40% of mass is usually sent to the underflow, however, with Cavex DE, it is approximately 45 – 55%.

Water savings

By 2030, the United Nations predicts that demand for water will outstrip supply by 40%. Water efficiency is, therefore, of paramount importance to miners if they are to continue producing the minerals that will be essential for the transition to a low-carbon economy. Moreover, with the rising cost of water in many parts of the world, water efficiency is increasingly becoming a precondition of being able to operate. While these challenges are site and region-specific, mines in arid parts of the world – where low

rainfall and high evaporation is the norm – are already experiencing water-acute related challenges.

As an OEM, Weir Minerals is focused on developing and delivering water efficient equipment, as well as developing and implementing innovative flowsheets that help miners reduce their water consumption and operating costs.

This has underpinned the development of the Cavex DE hydrocyclones in tailings applications. Put simply, Cavex DE produces sand of a size, quality, and quantity required to construct TSF dam walls more efficiently than conventional cyclones. This, in turn, means that significantly less water is required to dilute the tailings.

The total water consumption will vary from site to site, but, based on work carried out by Weir Minerals, the savings are significant. Compared to conventional hydrocyclones, Cavex DE can reduce water consumption by up to 70%.

A smarter way to reclassify fines

One of the features that differentiates Cavex DE from other double classification equipment is its cleansing chamber. This component, which is located in the lower part of the primary hydrocyclone, consists of a water injection and a moveable inverted dart valve. The dart valve adjusts the annular space for the pulp to go through, between the valve and the hydrocyclone wall.

As the slurry travels down the wall of the hydrocyclone, the outer layer attached to the wall contains not only coarse particles, but also a fraction of fine particles that are trapped in this highly viscous layer. The cleansing chamber in the Cavex DE hydrocyclone allows for the modification of the viscous layer, descending close to the cyclone wall in the first stage, through wash water injection.

The viscous head breaks, or changes, in the first-stage cleansing chamber, allowing fine particles to be released and, therefore, providing an opportunity to create a new classification. The fine particles are dragged into the zone of the ascendant vortex to be discharged to the overflow. At the same time, bigger and heavier particles have more energy and can overcome the attractive force of the water-cleansing, following its path towards the transition zone and on to the second stage of classification.

The variable annular space of the Cavex DE hydrocyclone increases, or decreases, the inlet area between the walls, generating a modification in the rate of acceleration of liquid suspension and upstream particles, as if it were a variable apex. This variation adjusts the cut size between the two stages and, therefore, the mass partition between them.

Synergy produced between the in-series classification, plus the effect of the release of the viscous layers, is what enables Cavex DE to produce a lower by-pass of fine values compared to conventional hydrocyclones.

Cavex DE hydrocyclone design

The Cavex DE hydrocyclone utilises an involute head without sharp corners or abrupt edges to ensure a more laminar flow within the hydrocyclone. In addition, it operates with decreased turbulence inside the hydrocyclone, resulting in increased wear life, increased hydraulic capacity, and improved separation efficiency.

22 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 2. Weir Minerals Cavex DE cyclone installation can reduce water consumption by up to 70%.

This first classification stage is performed in a cylindrical hydrocyclone and terminated in the expansion zone, which features the wash water injection and an inverted conical body. As the coarse particles travel down the hydrocyclone and migrate to the outside wall of the hydrocyclone, fine particles are trapped and move with the coarse particles into the expansion zone. The expansion zone creates conditions for the fine particles to be dragged to the first-stage overflow by the ascendent air cone. The probability of fine particles being released from the coarse particles, and reporting to the hydrocyclone overflow, is further increased when water is injected into the cleansing chamber or expansion zone. The decreasing coarse material is washed, providing an adequate dilution for the classification in the second stage.

Moreover, operators can modify the load distribution between both hydrocyclone units through a hand wheel, attached to the bottom exterior of the primary hydrocyclone. This wheel generates a change in height between the vortex finder and the bottom of the hydrocyclone.

The change in the opening of the washing zone – caused by increasing or decreasing the height of the inverted cone – generates a change in the area where the particle washing occurs. This, along with the amount of water injected, allows the operator to quickly and efficiently control the cut sizes without changing the apex or vortex finder under

different operating conditions, providing greater process flexibility.

The ability to add water in the washing chamber provides further control over the amount of fines in the discharge. Thus, the Cavex DE hydrocyclone is well suited to applications in which the operator needs to achieve a certain particle size in the underflow; for instance, when tailings are being utilised in the construction of TSF dam walls.

Technical centres

All Weir Minerals’ tailings products and solutions are backed by on-going advanced research and in-house test facilities at Weir Technical Centres across the globe, providing innovative and sustainable tailings and pipeline solutions for its customers worldwide.

The Weir Technical Centres allow Weir Minerals to carry out test work and partner with miners to develop tailings management solutions based on their specific needs and unique site requirements. In a world where clean, fresh water can be scarce, the centres are playing an integral part in helping Weir Minerals’ customers utilise every drop of water and reduce excess consumption wherever possible.

By focusing on the utilisation of mine tailings for applications such as TSF dam wall construction, Weir Minerals can develop new, innovative ways to not just reduce its customers’ operational costs, but also to minimise the environmental impacts of mining.

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24 November/December 2022 // global mining review

Mining is a long-established industry with many traditional aspects, however this does not mean it enjoys completely stable conditions. In fact, a scarcity of labour, rising OpEx costs, and dynamic market conditions are pushing mining operators to achieve new levels of flexibility and capability.

One way mining operators can do so is to partner more closely with their original equipment manufacturer (OEM) suppliers, urging them to add technologies and capabilities for maximising uptime, delivering superior performance, and enabling new methods of improving responsiveness (Figure 1). Digital transformation, through the application of edge technologies and industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions, is a fundamental way for OEMs to deliver these capabilities. A better-connected asset is more effective over its lifetime, and the opportunity to employ advanced machine learning and analytics provides new opportunities for optimisation.

Although OEMs are experienced at delivering machinery for specific mining operations, many are still in the early phases of their digital transformation journey to deliver advanced features capable of helping end users coordinate site-wide systems. End users know they can benefit from IIoT and remote connectivity, but they are not always positioned to completely specify which technologies provide the best mix. Indeed, OEMs and end users alike may expect that a custom mixture of hardware, software and networking

Thishen Naidoo, Emerson, Canada, considers why mining operators are relying more heavily on their OEM suppliers to improve uptime and support, and why in response these equipment providers are enlisting edge technologies.
25 global mining review // November/December 2022

products are required, and recognise this can involve significant risk and cost.

All those involved, especially the OEMs supplying equipment to the mining industry, may find that a better method is to select the required automation and connectivity products from a coordinated portfolio, supplied by an industry leader with established experience. Proven, ready-to-develop edge solutions reduce the risk and effort needed to deliver rapid results, enabling open system implementations scalable to any size, while maintaining cybersecurity.

Digging into the details

By nature, many goals of an OEM equipment supplier and a mining end user are in alignment. They both want the equipment to perform reliably and be cost-effective,

as proven by metrics, such as mean time between failure (MTBF), overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), and energy monitoring. However, sometimes the parties involved pursue objectives that may diverge.

For instance, the mining industry equipment arena is dominated by specialised OEMs using a variety of automation platforms, and often offering limited, or even proprietary, connectivity. These OEMs will inherently focus their efforts on new equipment and their core market.

However, as the industry shifts toward higher levels of autonomy, there is an end user push for more functionality, openness, and connectivity. In part, this is to enable optimisation, scalability and integration within mining operations, but obtaining IIoT and remote connectivity is becoming equally important to support data acquisition, analysis, control, and diagnostics.

Also, while some installations will be new from the ground up, there are many cases where legacy systems must be accommodated, or the existing fleet needs to be upgraded. End users need solutions for all these cases.

Extracting answers

Traditional OEM automation systems have largely been based on programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human-machine interfaces (HMIs). While these are excellent choices for basic automation, there are newer options providing improved interconnectivity and communications.

Figure 1. OEMs harness the power of IIoT and edge solutions to help mining operators unlock more productivity from their assets. Using proven hardware/software platforms instead of custom developed projects minimises risk and project costs.

To progress from standalone equipment towards better integration and IIoT capability, it becomes necessary to incorporate higher-level controllers – along with advanced networking and computing capability – in conjunction with on-premises and/or cloud-based data handling. In order to provide these and other capabilities,

26 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 2. Emerson PACSystems edge solutions are ready-to-develop combinations of hardware and software, built on open standards and pre-tested for a variety of roles, so users can focus on developing applications instead of creating an edge platform.

designers can build their automation systems using some, or all, of the following components:

n Programmable automation controllers (PACs).

n Edge controllers.

n Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, hosted on standard PCs or industrial PCs (IPCs).

n Operational technology (OT) industrial communication protocols like PROFINET and OPC UA.

n Information technology (IT) capable protocols, such as MQTT.

n Edge-enabled software.

In the face of overwhelming choice, there may be a tendency for designers to mix and match a variety of products from different vendors to create the desired solution. Sometimes there is even a sense that choosing products in this way can be the most economical approach.

However, a realistic review must include the many hours of research, development, and testing to deploy such a solution. This assessment involves not only the up-front costs, but also the ongoing costs of maintaining a bespoke IIoT platform, which includes future firmware updates and retesting. And it must consider newly introduced issues, such as cybersecurity.

Evaluating cybersecurity

Digital transformation presents many benefits and opportunities for mining operators, but edge and IIoT connectivity also introduce new concerns around cybersecurity, which must be addressed head-on. Ernst & Young’s Global Information Security Survey, published in mid-2021, indicates that 71% of mining respondents had seen an increase in disruptive attacks during the preceding 12 months, and about 55% of mining executives are worried about their ability to manage a cyber threat.1

Ensuring that an edge and IIoT solution meets all functional and performance needs, is supportable and offers comprehensive cybersecurity, is a tall order. A custom solution created from individual products involves many different tools and programming environments for PLC/PAC, HMI/SCADA, edge computing, IIoT, and more. It is impractical for OEMs

and end users to train their staff on so many products, and it can be difficult to guarantee operational results – and cybersecurity aligned with industry standards – using this type of approach.

A rock-solid foundation

To address these, and other concerns, OEMs and end users should build their edge and IIoT solutions upon comprehensive and coordinated product families of hardware, software, and networking products. Truly pre-tested options are limited, but available. What should implementers look for?

One initial consideration for industrial use is to choose products with a proven reliability record when installed in the most challenging locations. Evaluating the hardiness

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and suitability of hardware can be straightforward, but the path is less clear for software. Consumer or commercial-grade software is simply not sufficient for always-on mining applications.

From a hardware standpoint, PLCs/PACs will continue to be necessary, but in many cases newer options – such as edge controllers – can be a preferred way to apply deterministic control, closely combined with general-purpose computing. For equipment control, designers should choose product families, enabling them to port and deploy proven control logic seamlessly among all these control platforms, using a consistent toolset to minimise training.

Edge and IIoT software must run on and interact with edge controllers, IPCs, or site/cloud computing resources as needed. They must fluidly work with all popular OT and IT communication protocols, including OPC UA, PROFIBUS, MQTT, and many more. Developers may need these platforms to host their own custom code, but in many cases, they would prefer to rely on standard software module for common needs, such as OEE analytics and energy/utility monitoring. These developers also need a way to incorporate commercial software apps, and a consistent development environment.

For the most flexibility, edge software should itself be built on modern standards like Microsoft .NET and .NET core, ensuring it can be deployed seamlessly to any type of end point – whether an edge controller, a panel PC, or a full IPC – running Windows or Linux. Similarly, edge platforms need to support secure access from any type of end user mobile device, such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Another benefit provided with some automation platforms is the convenience of ready-to-develop hardware/software configurations (Figure 2). These are available for the most common edge roles, such as: visualisation, edge computing, edge control, supervisory, and analytical. Interoperability testing has already been performed for these configurations, and software and licensing are pre-installed, so developers can focus their efforts on rapidly creating the application at hand, instead of qualifying the platform.

Ready-to-develop configurations are also a dependable way to scale up configurations to span production lines and

fleets of equipment. Home-grown implementations can become exponentially complex as they are expanded, and may be hampered by communication driver limitations, a need for more third-party products, custom scripting/code, and complications involved with patching and updating these items. A ready-to-develop platform accommodates all these issues.

Beyond functionality and ease-of-use, one other advantage of single-vendor hardware/software platform combinations is they can offer built-in cybersecurity at all levels, demonstrated by the supplier to meet cybersecurity standards, such as IEC 62443-3-3. This provides a more trustworthy path for users to address cybersecurity, as opposed to attempting to self-verify a configuration.

Edge enables better OEM support for mining

Navigating the digital transformation journey and incorporation of IIoT technologies can be daunting. Mining operations consist of an assortment of OEM equipment types and vintages, typically distributed over great distances. End users must deal with new challenges with respect to labour scarcity, escalating costs and unstable markets, in addition to the usual needs for improving uptime and production. Addressing these issues on a machine-by-machine basis is unwieldy.

Thankfully, an established edge platform reduces the development timeframe, letting OEMs focus on addressing solutions for known problems. Some of the key challenges for mining are centred around overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and energy efficiency (Figure 3).

At the machine automation level, it is possible to collect a huge amount of data at a high frequency to measure various parameters, via sensors and instrumentation, that translates into availability, operational performance, and quality metrics. Data can be translated into a visualisation of OEE for the machine. Providing this clear view can then lead to the development of more sophisticated condition monitoring analytics to predict downtime by consolidating vibration, temperature and other key parameters, in order to detect operational anomalies. In a similar way, energy consumption can be visualised and analysed to improve energy efficiency across machines or a process circuit.


OEMs and mining operators alike benefit from the careful application of reliable edge automation and IIoT connectivity technologies, in order to overcome the complications of efficiently and safely extracting and processing materials. Tailored solutions for mining equipment automation and integration are best built upon a comprehensive edge platform, consisting of a coordinated portfolio of industrial-specific hardware and software offered by a provider with deep domain experience.


1. MITCHELL, P., ‘Does cyber risk only become a priority once you’ve been attacked?’, EY, (8 March 2022),

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Figure 3. Clear OEE and energy visualisation, supplied using Emerson Movicon with Pro.Lean and Pro.Energy modules, helps users develop improved operating strategies and more sophisticated analytics.
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Figure 1. Laguna Verde, Chile (Image courtesy of CleanTech Lithium).

Welcome to Global Mining Review’s 2022 Exploration & Development Review. Read on to learn about some of the up-and-coming mining companies and projects operating around the world.

31 global mining review // November/December 2022

Akobo Minerals AB

According to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Ethiopia, a country in East Africa, has a mineral endowment that exceeds 200 t of gold. With an emerging effective governance structure, Ethiopia is presenting itself as an attractive investment destination. However, to develop a successful mining project in Ethiopia requires an understanding of the context.

Ethiopia has a unique and proud history as the only country on the continent never to have been colonised. After centuries of being ruled by descendants of Solomon and Sheba, the last emperor was Haile Selassie, whose reign ended with a communist takeover in the 1970’s. Following 20 years of civil and political unrest, in 1994 the Ethiopian Constitution was enacted, defining the country as a federal state comprising 10 semi-autonomous regions.

Following a period of relative stability, internal conflict between separatist movements in some of the regions, and most recently the troubles in the Tigray region in the north of the country, have fostered a degree of instability and tensions that restrict the development of this country and its abundant mineral resources.

From both a mining and ethical perspective, the federal structure of the country means that a mining project’s host region is the main beneficiary of royalties paid and associated development. For Akobo, this means the Gambella Region, situated in the far west of the country is both host and the main beneficiary. Akobo Minerals began its exploration for gold in a remote part of the Gambella Region, between the Baro and Akobo Rivers, bordering South Sudan, more than 10 years ago.

The resulting Segele Gold Project will be the second of two operational gold mining projects in a country that should be hosting a thriving global mining industry.

Akobo intends the Segele Gold Mine to be a small operation – operating at a peak production of 5000 tpm and boasting an average grade of 22.7g/t. With a capital expenditure of just over US$8 million, the mine will generate a free cash flow of US$50 million over two years.

Gold mining in the immediate area, as elsewhere in the country, is dominated by under regulated artisanal and small-scale mining. As a small operation with a strong ethical approach to the planning, development and implementation of its mining project, Akobo coined the term ‘boutique’ to distinguish itself from the less responsible operations in the region, and to promote its extended shared value philosophy as a new business model for mining in Africa.

Embedding the concept of good environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practice has been both a corporate and operational priority from the outset. Akobo envisages a small, clean operation with tangible benefits for the communities and ecosystems that host it.

The Segele Project development (outlined in the July/August 2021 issue of Global Mining Review) has made considerable progress in its first year, in partnership with ESG technical partners, Sazani Associates – a not for profit ESG technical support provider.

Working with Sazani, natural resource use has been mapped, significant changes in the area investigated, and a participatory and multi-stakeholder dialogue process has been utilised to establish the Sustainable Chamo Group. Sazani are currently building the capacity of Akobo’s ESG Team to promote and drive change towards sustainable natural resource management. This is being achieved through a series of actions alongside the Segele mining operation, to provide lasting benefits to the communities living and working within the Chamo Kabele.

There are three focal areas: n Education and awareness of communities through the adaptation of Sazani Associates’ award winning Healthy and Sustainable Schools Programme. n Livelihoods and training to improve the technical, environmental and safeguarding practices of artisanal gold mining and processing, as well as alternative livelihoods and use of appropriate technologies.

n The ‘Green Gold’ project; a payment for ecosystem services scheme that will combine rehabilitation of land damaged by artisanal and small-scale gold mining with conservation of areas, planting of indigenous trees, and use of solar technologies to generate carbon credits and associated income for the Chamo community.

Each benefit has been developed with an in-depth understanding of the complex context of the area and fostering a number of exciting collaborations at local, regional, national, and international levels. These range from working with Dimma Polytechnic to expand technical and vocational training opportunities; to building on an existing collaboration between Oslo, Addis Ababa, and Jima Universities to map and measure the area’s ecology; to linking with a number of international non-government organisations to support the implementation of Sustainable Chamo projects.

With ESG embedded, Akobo intends to be the leading exploration and mining company in Ethiopia, and is already seeing expansion opportunities. As the company begins new projects, the flagship Segele Mine will demonstrate the benefits that mining can bring. With supportive host communities and profitable mining projects, Akobo Minerals’ new business model will support continued company growth at Segele, and further afield.

32 November/December 2022 // global mining review 2022 EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT REVIEW

African Lion Gold plc

African Lion Gold (ALG) is a UK-based gold exploration company. The company’s flagship Chifunde Gold Project is a 17 000 ha. mining concession located in north-western Mozambique; 220 km north of Tete, Mozambique, and 60 km west of Lilongwe, Malawi. The site is easy to access via a series of tar and dirt roads.

The project began back in early 2016 after the ALG team set-out to explore and evaluate over 200 gold concessions across Mozambique, before they selected the Chifunde concession as their flagship gold project. Exploration work on the project started with conventional field mapping and grab sampling, followed-up with an airborne aeromagnetic and radiometric survey across the entire concession.

Geologically, the project area is situated within the Pan-African collision zone, which is an extension of the gold-rich Arabian-Nubian Shield. The gold deposit found on the Chifunde Gold Project is classified as a Thermal Aureole Gold (TAG) Deposit. This type of deposit forms from hydrothermal fluids associated with

granitic intrusions, and is known to extend from surface to a depth of several kilometres. TAG deposits form some of the world’s largest gold deposits.

ALG has completed channel sampling on several mining faces that yielded between 33.1 g/t to 124.5 g/t gold at depths of between 40 – 110 m. Drilling of 7200 m has been completed on three prospect areas, intersecting both discrete high-grade zones of up to 38.0 g/t gold, as well as wide (up to 80 m) lower grade (0.4 g/t to 1.5 g/t) disseminated mineralised halos around these high-grade zones. Intersections of such wide mineralisation from surface, e.g. 0 – 15 m at 2.35 g/t gold, which includes 4 m at 8.35 g/t gold, significantly boosts the potential to commence an opencast operation within the next three years.

Based on the drilling at only three prospect areas, SRK Wales defined an exploration target of 220 540 – 1.36 million oz of gold. The next phase of drilling, a 6100 m diamond drill programme, aims to expand the mineralised zones along strike and in depth to 250 m below surface. A maiden mineral resource

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estimate and listing on a major stock exchange is planned for 2023.

Using the TAG model, drilling and channel sampling data, ALG identified 17 additional prospect areas across the concession. These prospects, with a similar geology, present significant blue-sky potential of a multi-million-ounce gold deposit, and are progressively explored using soil sampling programmes, in order to develop a pipe-line of drill targets.

The successful conversion of the prospecting licence into a mining concession in September 2021 has allowed ALG to appoint a short-term early-stage contract miner to mine and produce gold. The contract miner is only allowed to mine to a depth of 25 m, so as not to compromise future open-pit designs. Cashflow from early production may make ALG self-funded for future drilling across the remainder of the concession, with the ultimate goal of proving a multi-million-ounce gold deposit.

Alien Metals Ltd

The Pilbara region of Western Australia is widely recognised as one of, if not the global leader for iron ore mining in the world, boasting excellent infrastructure, local expertise, geopolitical security, and the right geology. Under the eclectic ticker ‘UFO’, Alien Metals Ltd has progressed its acquisition-based strategy to now have a portfolio of key projects in key commodities of high-grade iron ore, PGMs, nickel, silver, and gold; with the Hancock Iron Ore Project being a key project for the company’s near term growth.

Through its subsidiary, the Iron Ore Company of Australia (IOCA), Alien is currently 51% owner of the Hamersley Iron Ore Project, which contains the Hancock and Brockman tenements, and is working to increase its holding to 90% in the near future. Alien produced a maiden inferred JORC compliant inferred resource on the Hancock tenement of 10.4 million t @ 60.4% Fe, spanning three deposits, since obtaining the project in early 2020.

In August 2022, the IOCA granted Anglo American an exclusive right to negotiate and agree terms for up to US$15 million in funding and 100% of offtake from the Hancock Project, including: US$10 million in advance payment facility, 100% offtake for sinter fines and lump from the Hancock Project, and

offtake terms to include vessel prepayments for up to US$5 million for the first 12 months.

The company believes there is huge upside potential yet to be drilled that will significantly increase the resource of the tenement as a whole, with the Brockman tenement to the west still to be drilled and the exciting Vivash Gorge Iron Ore tenement just acquired, also adding upside potential to the IOCA portfolio.

Prospectivity of the Hancock Iron Ore Tenement, July 2022

An initial scoping study of the Hancock tenement demonstrated that the asset has excellent project economics, and could be advanced very easily with fully engaged third-party support for production once all necessary permitting is granted. An assumed mining rate of 1.25 million tpy with a pre-production capital estimate of less than US$30 million and exceptionally low strip ratios, have resulted in very attainable operating costs in the region of US$60/t FOB. Key to this is the direct shipping ore grade of the deposits, which negate any further processing once extracted from the ground, combined with a pre-established transport route to the Port Hedland Utah Point Public port.

34 November/December 2022 // global mining review 2022 EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Figure 1. Cobus van Wyk (Chairman), Franco Jordaan (CEO), and Dirk Muntingh (Technical Director). Inset of drill core from ALG’s 2021 drill program.

In June 2022, Alien made further progress on the Hancock Project by confirming that direct shipping grade ores and product specification had been confirmed by an initial bulk sample from the Ridge C deposit, with the Pilbara Fines product confirmed to be at a high grade of 62.7% with significantly low levels of impurities.

According to Alien Metals CEO and Technical Director, Bill Brodie Good, it was a “significant positive step in the progress of the Hancock Project, further confirming the excellent quality of the product.” He continued to say that it “indicates that only simple crushing and screening will be required prior to shipping, a key element in keeping CAPEX and OPEX to a minimum, whilst minimising environmental and energy usages once in production.”

With many of the world’s major and emerging economies targeting extensive infrastructure upgrades in the near future, high-grade and responsibly sourced deposits of iron ore, such as the Hancock Project, are set to be in incredibly high demand, emphasising to the market Alien’s position as an attractive proposition for investors looking to gain exposure in the junior miner space.

Alien Metals is pushing to begin production on its Hancock Project in early 2023. The company’s Brockman tenement and newly acquired highly prospective Vivash Gorge tenement, adjacent to FMG’s Vivash South West deposit of 28 million t @ 58% Fe, are also set to commence drilling in early 2023.

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Figure 1. Prospectivity of the Hancock Iron Ore Tenement (July 2022).
Figure 2. High Grade DSO ore from Hancock Project (July 2022).

CleanTech Lithium

CleanTech Lithium (CTL) is working to advance the next generation of sustainable lithium projects in Chile. The company’s mission is to produce carbon-neutral lithium for the electric vehicle (EV) future. With proven sustainable direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology, powered by clean energy, it plans to be the greenest lithium supplier to the EV market.

CTL has two main projects, offering near-term production potential. Its Laguna Verde and Francisco Basin projects are in the lithium triangle – the world’s centre for battery grade lithium production. They are situated within basins entirely controlled by CTL, which affords significant potential development and operational advantages. The projects have direct access to excellent infrastructure and renewable power. CTL has also further applied for an additional 119 exploration licences at Llamara, as a low cost and commitment greenfield project to complement the existing more advanced projects.

The company is committed to using renewable power for processing and reducing the environmental impact of its lithium production by utilising DLE. DLE is a transformative technology which only removes lithium from brine, with higher recoveries and purities. The method offers short development lead times, low upfront capex, with no extensive site construction and no evaporation pond development, so there is no water depletion from the aquifer or harm to the local environment.

A recent announcement confirmed a JORC compliant resource upgrade at Laguna Verde of 1.51 million t lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at a grade of 206 mg/L, with a maiden JORC inferred resource

estimate of 0.53 million t LCE at a grade of 305 mg/L at the Francisco Basin.

The signing of an MoU with world leading DLE company, SunResin New Materials Co. Ltd, for the further development of the company’s projects, including the provision of facilities for the Laguna Verde pilot plant testing programme in Chile, is a gamechanger. SunResin has over 10 years of experience in DLE, having executed nine commercial DLE contracts representing a total capacity of 73 000 tpy of lithium.

Laguna Verde

At the low point of the basin is a deep hypersaline lake, the ‘surface brine resource’, covering 15.2 km 2 . A deep sediment hosted aquifer lies directly beneath.

CleanTech Lithium announced a JORC compliant resource estimate increase of 22% to 1.51 million t LCE at a grade of 206 mg/L, with 53% of the resource now in the ‘measured and indicated’ category. Assuming base production of 20 000 tpy, this would equate to over 30 years operation. This resource upgrade was based on three of the four wells drilled, so there is a good chance of a further upgrade being announced in the near term. There is a clear runway for key milestones to increase valuation: resource estimation, DLE process test-work and piloting, along with environmental permitting and feasibility studies as production is targeted for 2025.

Francisco Basin

Francisco Basin features a salar and lagoon with shallow surface brine, and a gradually rising plain to the south. This southern plain is the focus area of the project.

Previous surface brine sampling programmes produced average lithium grades of 375 mg/L and 694 mg/L. In August 2022, CTL announced that assays for the brine samples were received from an independent laboratory, ALS Chile, with a peak grade of 324 mg/L and an average grade of 305 mg/L.

More recently, the maiden JORC inferred resource estimate recorded 0.53 million t of LCE at a grade of 305 mg/L lithium from the first well at Francisco Basin. This resource estimate provides the basis for a scoping study with a base case production rate of 20 000 tpy of LCE, expected to utilise 100% renewable energy for process power providing green lithium to the EV industry.

36 November/December 2022 // global mining review 2022 EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
Figure 1. Francisco Basin, Chile.

Cornish Lithium

Cornish Lithium is an innovative mineral exploration and development company, focused on the environmentally responsible extraction of lithium from geothermal waters and hard rock in the historic mining district of Cornwall. The company has secured agreements with the owners of mineral rights over a large area of the county, and is using modern technology to re-evaluate the region for its potential to produce lithium and other vital technology metals, in a low carbon and low impact manner.

Geothermal potential

Lithium-enriched geothermal waters circulate naturally within permeable geological structures, which cut across Cornwall. The lithium enriched waters within them can be accessed via boreholes drilled from the surface. Heat from the water can also be used to provide a zero-carbon geothermal heat source, which can be utilised to decarbonise local businesses.

Cornish Lithium has used historical mining data to build a comprehensive 3D subsurface model of the area. This identified United Downs, near Redruth, as the optimum initial test location to drill for and to extract lithium

bearing waters. Cornish Lithium completed two boreholes to approximately 1 km below surface and used innovative sampling methods to isolate individual structures, in order to prove that they contain lithium-enriched geothermal waters.


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Figure 1. RC drilling rig.

The company is currently drilling and testing a third borehole, located approximately 1.5 miles from United Downs. This borehole is being drilled to a depth of approximately 1800 m and is in the process of being tested. Cornish Lithium has also entered into an agreement with Rodda’s, the iconic clotted cream producer, to drill a research borehole on the site of their creamery.

Direct lithium extraction (DLE) technologies will be used to extract lithium from the geothermal waters encountered deep beneath the surface of Cornwall. Cornish Lithium has built the UK’s first DLE pilot plant, which was constructed with grant funded support from the UK Government, via the Getting Building Fund.

Trelavour project

The Trelavour Project repurposes a former china clay pit near St Austell, where lithium is present in mica minerals within the granite. A suitable brownfield industrial site, in close proximity to the mine, has been secured for the project’s processing plant, which benefits from excellent logistics and existing infrastructure, including: power, rail, road, and port facilities.

Lithium will be extracted utilising a low-carbon process developed by Australian company Lepidico, which has been used to produce battery grade lithium hydroxide using ore from Trelavour. Cornish Lithium has acquired an exclusive licence to use this technology across the St Austell region.

In November 2021, Cornish Lithium published a maiden JORC-compliant inferred resource of 51.7 million t at a

grade of 0.24% lithium oxide, equating to over 300 000 t of contained lithium carbonate equivalent. A scoping study has been completed for the project with the following highlights:

n 20-year mine life with average production of 7800 tpy of lithium hydroxide.

n Post-tax NPV (8%) of US$318.6 million and IRR of 24.4%.

n Initial capital expenditure of US$243.8 million.

n Payback within 3.8 years from first production.

These numbers will be optimised over coming months and the inclusion of by-product credits are expected to result in further optimisation. Whilst the scoping study includes the capital expenditure to produce a number of by-products, such as caesium and rubidium, the current results do not include the additional revenue from such by-products. Test work is currently being completed that will allow their additional value to be estimated.

Environmental surveys and studies have commenced to support the project’s feasibility study and the next drilling programme is now underway. This drilling programme aims to expand the Trelavour Mineral Resource and allow conversion from an ‘inferred’ to a ‘measured and indicated’ classification under the JORC Code.

The construction of a demonstration plant will commence shortly to further refine the process flow sheet at Trelavour, which will progress the company’s plans to be in production in 2026.

Greatland Gold

When Shaun Day was approached for the Managing Director role at Greatland Gold there were two aspects which convinced him to take on the task: the opportunity to work on an asset the calibre of the world class Havieron gold and copper deposit, and the challenge to build the Greatland platform into a successful operator. At the time, Day said: “Few people in our industry have the chance to work on a discovery such as Havieron in their lifetime.”

Havieron evolution

After purchasing the E45/4701 tenement in the Paterson region of Western Australia in 2017, junior explorer, Greatland Gold, embarked on its maiden exploration drill programme using intelligence from previous geological work, airborne and gravity surveys. A year later a significant high grade hit 75 million @ 12.3 g/t Au, 0.56% Cu, and the discovery hole was born. The rest is quickly becoming history.

With Newcrest Mining, Australia’s largest gold producer and tier one operator, coming on board as a joint

venture partner, the investment and rate of change at Havieron has to be seen to be believed. The pace of work is rapid; from 24/7 drilling to the emergence of above and underground infrastructure and the team in place to take Havieron into production, which can leverage the existing Telfer infrastructure just 45 km down the road. The race is now on to develop one of Australia’s newest gold-copper deposits into a 21st Century, long-life, and world-leading operation.

Organisational transformation

Since Day’s appointment, he has assembled a quality team at the London-listed company, with the diverse range of skills needed to be develop this world class asset and bring it to a production life. From geology and mine engineering to processing, sustainability and cultural heritage, Greatland Gold is now well positioned; not only to oversee Havieron but to embark on its strategy to become a multi-asset resource company of significant scale, whilst enhancing its core strength in undercover exploration.

38 November/December 2022 // global mining review 2022 EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT REVIEW

At Greatland, the team is energetic, dynamic, and technically excellent. It was this world class team that was able to produce an updated resources and mine plan for Havieron, within only two months, to demonstrate the value growth at Havieron.

Combined strengths

Being an owner of a world class asset such as Havieron is a tremendous opportunity. “We are fortunate to work with Newcrest, an experienced tier one operator, with substantial experience on the ground in the Paterson region. The Greatland team works collaboratively with Newcrest and complements them to make it a stronger joint venture”, Day said.

Greatland, together with Newcrest, are committed to sustainable, responsible mining with a vision that focuses on safety, sustainability, and responsible engagement. The joint venture leverages the existing infrastructure, providing a low carbon pathway to production and low life of mine emissions

to deliver a preferred green gold and green copper outcome.

As the decline at Havieron burrows under the surface, paving the way for one of Australia’s newest mining operations, the team at Greatland, led by Day, are excited about what lies ahead for this developer and emerging operator. Greatland has grand ambitions to become a multi-asset producer, something shareholders should be very excited about.

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Figure 1. Havieron, Australia (2018 – 2022).

The Corihuarmi Gold Mine – which translates from the Quechua language as the Golden Woman – is located at 5000 m above sea level, in the Andes Mountains of Central Peru, approximately 160 km southeast of Peru’s capital city, Lima.

Corihuarmi started commercial production in 2008, based on an initial feasibility study completed in 2006 by Kappes, Cassiday, and Associates (KCA). This study established an estimated life span of only four years, with total reserves of 144 000 oz of gold. Since then, the life of mine has been extended three times, with Corihuarmi delivering consistent production results since the first gold pour was announced in March 2008. In 2021, the mine produced almost 25 000 oz of gold, up 11% from the production target established for the year (22 500 oz of gold).

Gold mineralisation at Corihuarmi is mined by opencast methods within 14 mining concessions totalling 9830 ha. Between January and August 2022, a total of 14 332 oz of gold was shipped, with an average grade of 0.21 g/t Au.

As part of its plan to continue extending the estimated life of mine of Corihuarmi, the company has

decided to pursue additional exploratory efforts targeting current operating areas and exploration targets.

As a result, a diamond drill programme was started in July 2022. The initial results of the drill programme were announced in the press release issued by the company on 14 September 2022, titled: ‘Minera IRL Announces Initial Infill Drilling Results at the Corihuarmi Gold Mine’. This press release also announced the engagement of Australian engineering firm Mining Plus to update the mineral resource estimate in accordance with the requirements of Canadian National Instrument 43-101.

Some of the highlights announced in the press release are detailed in Table 1.

The diamond drill programme

The diamond drill programme consists of 25 diamond drill holes, totalling over 2000 m. The drill targets were defined by Minera’s exploration team through extensive review of historical drilling data including reverse circulation (RC) and diamond drill holes (DDH), as well as production drilling, which includes long holes and blast holes.

The diamond drill programme was primarily designed for: n Extending the boundaries of gold mineralisation in advance of and below current production benches. n Assessing the continuity of gold mineralisation at depth. n Updating the current Corihuarmi mineral resource estimate to extend the estimated life of mine.

In addition, ongoing exploration has identified a new target area located within the concessions named Chantal. This area has been subject to preliminary mapping, sampling and analysis work, and has produced favourable initial results. The company plans to carry out trenching and drilling at Chantal during 2023, with the aim of further extending the life of mine at Corihuarmi, and in line with Minera’s strategy to ensure the continuity of long-term mining operations.

Table 1. Initial drill programme results highlights announced in a press release issued on 14 September 2022 Drill hole Mineral Length AU PPM DDH22-13B Moraine 22.80 m 1.233 g/t Au DDH22-10 Oxides 31.20 m 0.886 g/t Au DDH22-07 Oxides 34.70 m 0.344 g/t Au DDH22-02 Oxides 42.60 m 0.282 g/t Au
IRL 40 November/December 2022 // global mining review 2022 EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT REVIEW
1. Unlocking further potential in the Corihuarmi Gold Mine in Peru – current exploration and drilling efforts are targeting the continuity of gold mineralisation within the current concessions held by Minera IRL.

David Haukeness, Komatsu, and

Nokia, discuss the success of autonomous haulage systems (AHS), the role of private wireless, and the future of the mining industry.

Figure 1. LTE access point at Komatsu’s Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) near Tucson.

After almost two decades of development, the first commercial autonomous haulage systems (AHS) from Komatsu rolled out in 2007 at Codelco’s Gabriela Mistral (Gaby) copper mine in Chile. 15 years later, Komatsu’s AHS business is growing steadily, with over 500 commissioned AHS systems that have moved 5 billion t with zero system-related injuries being reported.

Jaime Laguna,
41 global mining review // November/December 2022

Until Rio Tinto and Nokia deployed the first LTE network at a Pilbara opencast iron mine in 2012, UHF and Wi-Fi had controlled autonomous trucks. After a decade of working together, Komatsu and Nokia have moved billions of tonnes of ore by dump trucks communicating over private wireless networks.

Today’s joint customers include big names in mining, such as: Codelco, Vale, Teck Resources, and Antofagasta Minerals.

This article provides an outline of a recent Q&A with David Haukeness, AHS product manager for Komatsu, and Jaime Laguna, Head of Mining and Natural Resources business for Nokia, in which the success of AHS, the role of private wireless, and the future of mining were discussed.


There is a lot of talk these days about automation in mining, but Komatsu has been working on the AHS systems for a couple of decades. When did you start down this road?

Answer (David)

You’re right, we’ve been at this for a while. Actually, more than a couple of decades. It goes back to 1979, when Modular Mining created the first computer-based mine optimisation system called DISPATCH. Then, Komatsu and Modular Mining did their first AHS testing in 1990, with our first field trial of the FrontRunner AHS system happening in 1998. Commercial deployments began with Codelco in Chile in 2007 and Rio Tinto in Australia in 2008.

In the 1990s, the communications piece was, of course, more primitive. We used UHF 4800 baud repeaters in the beginning. Over time, we moved to Wi-Fi. Then, with Nokia’s help, we started trialing private LTE, which is our preferred communications technology today.


How did Nokia first get involved with AHS systems and Komatsu? LTE was a pretty new technology in 2013 and

was mostly used for public mobile networks. What led you to use it for AHS?

Answer (Jaime)

As with many innovations, it wasn’t originally our idea, but the customer’s. The AHS system at Rio Tinto’s West Angelas mine was working on Wi-Fi, but there were issues with trucks losing connectivity to the network. The Rio Tinto engineer in charge of the project finally figured out that there were nine different Wi-Fi networks running in this one area, and it was creating havoc with the system. After auditing the various wireless technologies available, he realised that they needed access to protected spectrum – Wi-Fi unfortunately runs in open, shared spectrum. 4G/LTE runs in licensed spectrum, which led him to us.


How easy was it to find an LTE spectrum for a private network?

Answer (Jaime)

It wasn’t easy at all. Industrial applications of the technology had been considered, but at that point the LTE spectrum was almost universally leased to mobile operators. We had to go to the Australian government and, after making our case, they agreed to release specific radio spectrums for use by Rio Tinto. It helped that the Pilbara is so remote. We weren’t competing with a city full of mobile phone users nearby. The project was a success. In 2014, the Rio Tinto project won an Australian innovation award. Furthermore, one reporter wrote, “I’m in a very big hole in the middle of nowhere and there’s better mobile internet than in my Parliament House office.” 1


This must have been a big step for Komatsu as well. How did the transition happen for you?

Answer (David)

Well, Komatsu went through a lot of testing so the system would work on LTE. We regression tested the components and protocols multiple times, but the gains were immediately apparent when we deployed the live system. We’d been losing 4 – 6% of our samples with Wi-Fi. In the first LTE test, we lost four samples, in total. The two technologies weren’t in the same league. Wi-Fi not only uses a shared spectrum, but it’s also not designed for mobile applications. As the trucks would move from one Wi-Fi radio zone to another, there was never any guarantee whether the handoff would work.

LTE is designed for mission-critical mobile applications. It also can be forced to meet the needs of the application. A Wi-Fi access point has no control over the clients. If some application starts eating up all the bandwidth, like Pac-Man eating up dots, there is no way for the Wi-Fi radio to limit it in favour of a more critical application, like an AHS system on

42 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 2. Komatsu 930E autonomous haul truck.

a truck. With LTE, it’s possible to prioritise users and applications. The radio assigns blocks of bandwidth to the client and can meet the required service level agreement (SLA), which means we can also support new use cases that we would never have considered on Wi-Fi.

Answer (Jaime)

As David says, it’s not fair to compare LTE and Wi-Fi. They are very different technologies. Wi-Fi has lots of roles to play, the problem was that it was being over-extended because there weren’t any other options. What Rio Tinto and the Australian government did was ground-breaking, using LTE like that. It has jump-started the field of industrial-grade private wireless based on LTE, and now also on 5G. Nokia is a global leader in providing 4.9G/LTE and 5G networks to many different industries. As end-to-end validation is important, we work closely with ecosystem partners like Komatsu to figure out the best uses and optimise our solutions.


What were some of the differences between running LTE vs. Wi-Fi? Can you quantify some of the savings your customers are achieving using LTE?

Answer (David)

Absolutely. We did a year-long study at an operational customer site. We learned that with Wi-Fi, communications equipment problems at the site accounted for 15% of the time lost in the haul truck cycle (each day), which was close to 80 hours of lost production time (per year, per truck). In terms of ore production, that’s almost 320 000 tpy lost. By converting from Wi-Fi to LTE, there was close to an 85% reduction in communications issues for the customer.

Connectivity is not just a boost for productivity. The trucks proactively communicate their position and intended trajectories to surrounding equipment and workers. Centralised software applications use this information to manage proximity in working conditions. Of course, autonomous haul trucks (AHTs) do have backup systems, like on-board LiDAR, to sense obstacles, and they can use dead reckoning from their last known position if they lose connectivity, but that is extremely rare with LTE.

There are also other costs, such as monetary and environmental. When the trucks lose a connection to the server, they are programmed to slow down. On regaining connectivity, they speed back up again, which causes them to burn more fuel.

Answer (Jaime)

Fuel actually accounts for 12 – 20% of mine OPEX. Nokia estimates that, assuming a 10% reduction in fuel consumption thanks to AHS, an average mine site with a production of 150 million tpy can reduce CO 2 emissions by 15 000 t – which is the equivalent of 3300 cars being taken off the road.


Many people would question whether the transition from LTE to Wi-Fi is worth the cost. Some compelling numbers have been presented, but how do the technologies compare?

Answer (Jaime)

You’re right, and we get that question a lot, but in fact both technologies are quite comparable cost-wise. You have to look at it from a total cost of ownership perspective. Wi-Fi access points are cheap, for sure, but there are day-to-day operational costs associated with deploying Wi-Fi in a mine that LTE doesn’t have.

It takes roughly 5 – 8 times as many Wi-Fi access points to cover the same terrain as an LTE antenna. What this means in practice is that there is a lot more field equipment to manage. That results in more power systems, backhaul cabling, and operational tasks. In an opencast mine, this is an operational headache because there’s a lot of blasting and the terrain is constantly changing. As the surface changes, there’s a lot of driving around picking up access points and re-deploying them in new positions. Wi-Fi signals are also difficult to engineer, so ensuring the coverage is seamless takes time. LTE cells cover much larger areas and even when they must be moved, which is rare, coverage is much simpler to re-establish.

Finally, LTE is a multiservice technology that can be used for other applications, such as: environmental sensors, video monitoring, connected PPE, and even mission-critical push-to-talk and push-to-video communications.


There is a lot of excitement about 5G around the world at the moment, what plans do Nokia and Komatsu have for using 5G for AHS, and should mines wait for 5G?

Answer (David)

For now, LTE is the key technology for us. It is such a huge improvement that there is no reason not to deploy AHS on LTE now. 5G is less of a revolution and more an evolution or upgrade to LTE. Of course, we’re already playing with 5G, which will offer us some new capabilities.

One of the features I like about 5G is its massive machine-to-machine communications capabilities. Most of the network traffic from AHS systems goes upstream, from the truck to the network cloud. Both LTE and Wi-Fi are designed for people to download and stream information and entertainment from the cloud. 5G is designed for industrial automation systems and will give us a lot more upstream capacity. Using video upstreaming from the AHT to remote supervisors is one use case we’re exploring.

5G also supports sideways communications between an AHT and its surrounding equipment. This is sometimes referred to as cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) communications, meaning autonomous vehicles can communicate back to the cloud and other autonomous entities in their vicinity – such as other vehicles, a shovel, or even workers wearing Smart PPE.

Answer (Jaime)

It’s great to work directly with Komatsu and its customers on real-world mining applications because it helps us to

move the communications standards and technology forward. Nokia is heavily involved with the standards body (3GPP) in the definition of 5G and 5G-Advanced. We lead many of the technical workgroups that define new releases. Our leadership in industrial private wireless means that we’re constantly pushing mining and other industrial use cases to the fore during the technical discussions.

For instance, the 3GPP standard today only allows for one antenna per vehicle. But, when an AHT is being loaded by a shovel, the antenna can get blanketed by these big steel vehicles, interfering with the propagation of the radio signal. We are working with 3GPP to allow for multiple antennas. This is just one of many ways that our direct collaboration is helping to evolve the technology.


What other future technologies and applications are you working on?

Answer (Jaime)

With climate change and carbon footprint being on everyone’s minds these days, at Nokia, we’re already thinking about the electrification of the mine. We work closely with power utilities who are using private wireless to help manage microgrids and adapt to the different power generation patterns associated with renewables. Furthermore, all of our industrial clients are expanding their use of sensors and machine learning, making their operations more data-driven and automated. This is leading to new technical requirements, which might be incorporated in future releases of LTE and 5G.

Answer (David)

At Komatsu, we’re very interested in vehicle-to-vehicle communications and the possibility of sending over-the-air messages between systems for improved synchronisation. We’re also keen to explore the low latency features of 5G for emergency stop and proximity warnings. The reliability of these systems translates into productivity, but can also promote safety. As the number of autonomous operations increases, the stakes also go up, so we need to keep pushing the envelope on responsiveness, reliability, and safety.

We’ve been really happy with the success of AHS, which is in no small part due to our collaborations with Nokia on LTE. But for me, the most exciting thing about this success is what it says about automation in the mining sector. 5G, sensor technologies, AI, and machine learning hold so much promise. Komatsu has been working at this for nearly four decades, but, when I look ahead, it seems we are only at the beginning – we have a lot to look forward to. As we make the transition to renewables and electric vehicles, the mining sector is very much in the spotlight and automation is one of the ways we can rise to the challenge.


1. ‘Making connection in the middle of nowhere’, SBS News, (10 July 2014),

44 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 3. Nokia industrial-grade private wireless cell on wheels (COW). Figure 4. AHS trucks managed from a central control centre.


Roland Herr, International Freelance Journalist on behalf of Normet, Germany, explores how safe and efficient logistics can ensure profitable underground operations.

The productivity of an underground mine is largely dependent on the skillful use of utility vehicles and mining equipment. To ensure a safe and economically viable selection of machine, both the size and the conditions of the mine must be taken into consideration. To choose the right utility vehicles, it is advisable to work with an experienced equipment manufacturer who has many years of experience and specialised knowledge of operating a mine.

Both underground mining and the development of a mine are synonymous with hard work in harsh, inhospitable conditions. In countries with lax regulations, machines built for above-ground

45 global mining review // November/December 2022
1. The LF 700: Utimec LF 700 Agitator is available with a Volvo Penta Stage V engine, which is the latest upgrade in decreasing the diesel particles of the equipment working underground.

are used cautiously because of the initial costs. Although they are cheap to buy, they often do not withstand the harsh conditions of everyday mining for long. Therefore, it makes sense to choose durable, robust, and safe utility vehicles from a manufacturer that has developed its machines precisely for these harsh working conditions, and in accordance with the needs of the mine operator.

Dedicated equipment ensures productivity

The productivity levels of an underground mine significantly depend on the timely and reliable carriage of personnel and materials across the site. Utility vehicles, therefore, should be precisely designed, manoeuverable and robust, in order to ensure dependable use in a mine. However, there are limited manufacturers that offer vehicles with interchangeable working modules for the payload, as well as larger machines with permanently installed platforms dedicated for underground use.

Normet’s utility vehicles, specially designed for underground mining and tunnelling, enable the safe transport of all materials and personnel to any location in a mine. The multi-functional machines are characterised by a high degree of standardisation, flexibility and efficiency, and can be easily configured for many types of operation.

Safety and ergonomics

The Finnish manufacturer’s commercial vehicles have falling-objective protective structure/roll-over protective structure (FOPS/ROPS) standard approved cabins, with good visibility and ergonomics, in order to ensure a safe and comfortable driving experience.

All Normet Variomecs, Multimecs, and Utimecs have FOPS/ROPS approved cabins for two to three people. Standardisation of the Normet cabins, meaning that all previously-mentioned equipment shares the new modular cabin, provides cost benefits in spare parts, as well as improves safety and work efficiency as the environment is always familiar.

Compact and manoeuvrable Variomec XS utility vehicles

Normet’s latest utility vehicle development is the compact Variomec XS offering. This underground machine has been specifically designed to minimise the total cost of ownership, whilst having high safety level and payload capacity. The transporter can be used very flexibly in a tight space, as well as with different equipment configurations. The payload ranges up to 4 t for the transportation of material, people, or both.

Standardisation ensures that the spare parts, maintenance tasks and operating environments are the same, or similar, for many models, which has a significant positive impact on operating costs and safety. As a result, maintenance and inspection are much easier, and investments for different spare parts are also lower. Additionally, all checks can be carried out from the ground, and like the larger Normet machines, the smaller version has the same safety features and robustness.

The XS has a fully suspended chassis with hydrostatic drive, which ensures a comfortable ride even in rough conditions and on ramps. The braking system is specially designed for underground use, consisting of oil-filled axle brakes and a SHAR-type parking/safety brake.

Solution for fast changing transportation needs

The cassette system is the ideal solution for mines that need carriers with the ability to change function quickly and handle different transportation needs. With the right selection of cassettes, the Normet Multimec system offers safe and economical transport of personnel, materials, and many other types of transportation needs. Normet offers three different sizes of Multimec carriers, and a range of cassettes for different purposes. The cassettes can be changed easily in a couple of minutes. The Multimec MF 100 is also available with Normet SmartDrive battery electric technology, for quiet operation without local emissions.

Tailored for purpose

Normet Utimecs are tailored for certain purposes, so they offer high productivity with top features and simple, robust structures. The Utimec product range can be used for any underground transportation purpose, including: fuel, lubrication, personnel, or material transport. The Utimec range consists of many different sizes of machines, and covers all emission class requirements globally.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs)

Not only does battery electric technology makes the use of commercial underground vehicles safer and more efficient, they also make them more sustainable. Normet’s SmartDrive technology enables higher performance with zero local emissions. BEVs are equipped with the latest Li-ion battery technology and fast charging capability. Their high-torque electric motors provide instant torque and efficient operation without local emissions, and the fully reversible all-wheel drive ensures safe movement in difficult conditions.

46 November/December 2022 // global mining review
Figure 2. 205 PER SD: Normet’s latest addition to the SmartDrive product family, the Utimec MF 205 PER SD personnel carrier is completely FOPS/ROPS approved, providing safe and comfortable transportation for personnel.

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15 South Street, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7QU, UK

T: +44 (0)1252 718999 F: +44 (0)1252 821115

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GMR_GlobalPublications.indd 1 19/04/2018 11:04

Built-in energy recuperation technology maximises the storing of regenerative braking energy during downhill driving and deceleration. In addition, efficient hydraulic dual-circuit oil immersed brakes provide additional braking power when it is needed.

Normet SmartDrive is a modular BEV architecture, designed to optimise energy consumption and performance in underground mining and tunnel construction. The technology features industrial-grade components and a redundant design for maximum availability.

For demanding operations where tramming distances are long, Normet provides fast charging solutions; optional fast chargers can charge batteries quickly during operation, or a break, so there is no need for costly battery swapping. With strategically placed fast chargers, battery charging can

become a part of normal operations. Normet provides easy-to-use fast chargers for on-site installation. The fast chargers are based on the global CCS standard, and are specifically designed for challenging environments. All Normet’s fast chargers can be used to charge any compatible CCS capable vehicle.

Normet provides both complete turnkey solutions and flexibility, in order to integrate SmartDrive equipment step-by-step into existing operational models.

Services and spare parts

The maintenance and repair of commercial vehicles operating in the content harsh conditions of an underground mine is a significant economical factor. Normet has a global support network with highly qualified service technicians to ensure worry-free operation. Throughout the lifecycle of the equipment, it ensures that all efficiency, environmental, and health and safety standards are met. The service offering includes training, commissioning, on-site service and support, genuine spare parts, upgrades and modifications, and remanufacturing. Lastly, Normet also offers rental and leasing options.


The requirements for commercial vehicles used in mining are extremely high. The machines must not only be especially flexible to use and robust, but must also achieve a high level of safety and be able to be operated in an environmentally compatible manner with minimum cost.

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