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TECHNOLOGY MINING EQUIPMENT KALGOORLIE SPOTLIGHT

VOLUME 112/5 | JUNE 2020

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TECHNOLOGY MINING EQUIPMENT KALGOORLIE SPOTLIGHT

VOLUME 112/5 | JUNE 2020

GOLDEN HORIZON

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR MINING

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COMMENT

REDUCING REGULATORY BURDEN TO DRIVE GROWTH BEN CREAGH

Ben.Creagh@primecreative.com.au

HOW CAN MINING FULFIL ITS POTENTIAL DURING THE POST COVID-19 RECOVERY? A STREAMLINED PATH TO EXPLORING AND DEVELOPING NEW PROJECTS WILL BE A START.

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ustralia’s mining industry is in demand as the country plots its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As the economy has stalled, state governments have moved to make it easier for companies to explore and develop early stage projects. The New South Wales Government, for example, deferred payments for exploration licences and assessment lease applicants by up to six months in a bid to support mining companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. NSW also extended commencement dates for new licences, giving explorers additional time to secure funding. This is in addition to the state’s cooperative drilling program, which allocates funds to explorers looking for deposits of gold, copper and high-tech minerals. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the state was looking to the resources sector to support the economy during this hard time through payment of royalties, and by creating jobs and business opportunities. He conceded that the state was relying on the mining industry to help lead it through to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. NSW was one of the last Australian states to ease regulations for exploration companies in response to the coronavirus’ challenges, with similar changes also introduced in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia. While these moves will be appreciated by explorers across the country, they will hopefully be the start of further regulatory changes that help accelerate the development of Australian projects.

It is almost a year since the Productivity Commission launched a 12-month review into how governments could streamline regulation in the resources sector. The review is looking at best-practice examples of regulation that remove unnecessary costs for business. It is focussing on improving the efficiency of environmental approvals, in particular, reducing regulatory burden on business, with the aim of ensuring that resources projects are transparently and efficiently assessed. From a bigger picture perspective, and one as relevant as ever under current circumstances, streamlining these stages of approval would truly drive growth in the mining sector and broader national economy. It will be interesting to read if/how the COVID-19 pandemic influences the Productivity Commission’s findings when they are released. As the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures for the March quarter demonstrated, mining exports are driving the country’s trade at the moment. Further easing of regulatory burden that slows mine development would help the industry contribute to the economy in an even bigger way when it’s needed most.

Ben Creagh Managing Editor

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FRONT COVER

In this issue, we talk to Sandvik about the latest release by Artisan Vehicles a year on since it acquired the American manufacturer. This edition highlights the development of the critical minerals sector in Australia and how the country can secure trade partners for these resources. Australian Mining explores a number of technology developments, including innovations that are helping the industry manage the impact of COVID-19. We throw the spotlight on three mining regions, including the Goldfields in Western Australia, Tasmania, and internationally on Spain. And as usual, we review the latest mining equipment and technology in our products section.

Cover image: EMR Capital’s Golden Grove site.

PRINTED BY MANARK PRINTING 28 Dingley Ave Dandenong VIC 3175 Ph: (03) 9794 8337 Published 12 issues a year


CONTENTS INTERNATIONAL

MINING EQUIPMENT

SPAIN AS A MINING DESTINATION Junior miners break through geopolitical barriers

BATTERY-ELECTRIC MACHINERY CHARGES UP Welcome to Sandvik’s Artisan Z50 underground truck

50-51

14-15 FUTURE OF MINING EMERGING RELIANCE ON CRITICAL MINERALS Australian mining sector’s pursuit of trade partners

52-54

17-18

SUSTAINABILITY MINE CLOSURES DONE RIGHT Australia takes all-hands-on-deck approach

EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

ENJOYING THE FRUITS OF OTHERS’ LABOUR Key ingredients: innovation, good planning and technology

IS GOLD AS GOOD AS IT PROMISES TO BE? The safe haven commodity for turbulent times

20-21

56-61 INDUSTRY COMMENT

MINING SERVICES

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23-24

STRENGTHS OF LOCAL MANUFACTURING Fenner Dunlop, Flexco deliver Australian supply

METS MANOEUVER THROUGH COVID-19 Austmine speaks with Interlate, Palaris and Sentient

INDUSTRY COMMENT

MINING SERVICES

A TRACK RECORD OF RESILIENCE National Group’s journey through mining challenges

LIGHTING THAT ENHANCES SAFETY AEI stays ahead of lighting trends for mine sites

26-27 ENVIRONMENT

64-65

28-29

66-68

CLIMATE CHANGE DOMINATES AGENDA Deloitte’s keys to understanding the social investor

CRUSHING & SCREENING

MATERIALS HANDLING INNOVATIVE CONVEYOR DEVELOPMENTS Presenting an intuitive cleaner and containerised system

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

30

BIGGEST CRUSHER FOR IRON ORE CONTRACTS thyssenkrupp to assist Fortescue at Iron Bridge

THE CASE FOR HYDROGEN ON DEMAND Fuel offers lower emissions and fuel consumption

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REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

TECHNOLOGY

32-37

THE NEXT CHAPTER OF MINING GROWTH Expansion for Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Tasmania

KEEPING THE MINING WHEEL GOING A2K Technologies preserves social distancing rules

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TECHNOLOGY

MINING SERVICES

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TECHNOLOGY MYTHS DEBUNKED OSIsoft, Rockwell Automation weigh in

SAVING A BELT’S LIFE CBC and Gates partner for a perfect solution

38-40 PROFILE

PROSPECT AWARDS

42-43

EMR CAPITAL BOSS EYES EXPANSION Owen Hegarty reveals aspirations for Ravenswood

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CRC INDUSTRIES WALKS THE TALK Hear from a 2020 Prospect Awards sponsor

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

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THE EMERGING NEED FOR COBALT What is the metal’s current and future state-of-play?

A GOOD SET OF TOOLS GOES FAR IN MINING What’s different about customisable SP Tools?

44-46

TRAINING & EDUCATION DEVELOPING THE NEXT GENERATION Graduate programs at Glencore, Hastings Deering

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48-49

EVENT SPOTLIGHT ROLL OUT THE RED CARPET AusIMM presents 2020 Lithium and Battery Metals Conference

REGULARS NEWS 9-13

PRODUCTS 76-77 AUSTRALIANMINING

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EVENTS 78


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NEWS

THE LATEST MINING AND SAFETY NEWS AUSTRALIAN MINING PRESENTS THE LATEST NEWS FROM THE BOARDROOM TO THE MINE AND EVERYWHERE IN BETWEEN. VISIT WWW.AUSTRALIANMINING.COM.AU TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING. GOLD PRICE TO REACH $US3000: BANK OF AMERICA GOLD’S RISE IN VALUE IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE.

AUSTRALIAN MINING GETS THE LATEST NEWS EVERY DAY, PROVIDING MINING PROFESSIONALS WITH UP-TOTHE-MINUTE INFORMATION ON SAFETY, NEWS AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE AUSTRALIAN MINING AND RESOURCES INDUSTRY.

Bank of America (BofA) has raised its gold price forecast to $US3000 ($4751.10) an ounce over the next 18 months in a report titled, ‘The Fed can’t Print Gold’. This is a 50 per cent jump on its previous 18-month target of $US2000 an ounce. BofA predicted that the precious metal could reach the price of $US2063 by 2021, which translates

sharply, fiscal outlays surge, and central bank balance sheets double, fiat currencies could come under pressure,” BofA analysts including Michael Widmer and Francisco Blanch said in the report. “Beyond traditional gold supply and demand fundamentals, financial repression is back on an extraordinary scale.

to $3182 at the exchange rate at the time of writing. Gold is forecast to average $US1695 an ounce this year. The BofA analysts noted, however, that the appreciation of the US Dollar, reduced volatility in the equity market and weak jewellery demand in China and India could hold back the forecast gold price. “As economic output contracts

“Rates in the US and most G-10 economies will likely be at or below zero for a very long period of time as central banks attempt to push inflation back above their targets. Investors will aim for gold.” The Perth Mint chief executive Richard Hayes said this was a very attractive time for Australian gold miners. “We refine almost all of Australia’s gold and we’re certainly seeing that miners continue to be very busy, producing as much gold as they can,” Hayes told Australian Mining.

BHP INVESTIGATES RAISING PORT HEDLAND EXPORT CAPACITY BHP is exploring options with stakeholders to increase its licensed iron ore export capacity from Port Hedland to beyond 290 million tonnes a year. The mining giant is focussed on reaching 290 million tonnes per annum in the medium term and is making the necessary improvements across its supply chain to reach this goal. This has provided options to increase future productivity, subject to market conditions. “BHP is committed to the longterm sustainable future of the

Pilbara as an economic powerhouse, both during and post the COVID-19 recovery,” BHP acting asset president Western Australian Iron Ore Tim Day said. “Any increase in our production has the potential to deliver flowon benefits for local jobs, local businesses and additional royalty revenues for the state and we want to ensure we remain open and transparent about our planned footprint in Western Australia. “Any future increase to licensed throughput would be submitted to the Department of Water

and Environmental Regulation for approval.” BHP also plans to invest $300 million over the next five years to improve air quality and dust emissions across its Pilbara operations, ensuring its long-term future in the region is sustainable. The Pilbara region, which hosts the company’s Port Hedland export base, is the company’s economic powerhouse, housing many of its largest projects including the Newman, Mining Area C, Yandi and Jimblebar sites. BHP general manager port

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Nilson Davila said the company had reviewed the best global dust management and air quality control measures to improve its approach. “The planned investment signals BHP’s strong commitment to the Pilbara, particularly to the revitalisation of the West End into a vibrant commercial hub,” Davila said. “In consultation with the community we want to ensure we help to improve local amenities, while also continuing to provide jobs and economic opportunity for the region.”


NEWS

NEWCREST BANKS ON GROWTH WITH $1.1BN RAISING Newcrest Mining has raised $1.1 billion to fund future growth at its mine sites globally as other companies preserve cash due to concerns over economic uncertainty. The move will also expand Newcrest’s exposure to gold production at Lundin Gold’s Fruta del Norte mine in Ecuador after raising its ownership stake in Lundin to 32 per cent in December last year. Newcrest has acquired the gold prepay, stream facilities and an offtake

see today, Newcrest expects to receive significant cash flows which will rank ahead of Lundin Gold’s equity holders.” Lundin’s offtake agreement allows Newcrest to acquire 50 per cent of refined gold production from Fruta del Norte up to 2.5 million ounces. Newcrest also intends to use the funding to construct declines at the Havieron and Red Chris projects in Western Australia and Canada respectively. During the March quarter, Newcrest

agreement in respect to Fruta del Norte for $US460 million ($701.6 million). Newcrest managing director Sandeep Biswas said the purchase was in line with the company’s growth strategy. “The acquisition is expected to be earnings accretive with the gold prepay and stream facilities expected to provide Newcrest with economic exposure to approximately 400,000 ounces of gold from the mine between 2020 and 2026,” Biswas said. “With gold prices at the levels we

produced 519,000 ounces of gold and 35,000 tonnes of copper, down from 550,000 ounces and 38,000 tonnes in the previous period. Production at Telfer was 6 per cent lower than the prior quarter due to a reduction in underground ore mill feed, while both of Cadia’s concentrators were shut according to planned maintenance. Newcrest expects its gold production in the June quarter to exceed that achieved in the March period.

ADANI AWARDS $220M RAILWAY CONTRACT FOR CARMICHAEL MINE Adani Mining has continued the construction of the Carmichael mine and rail project in Queensland during the COVID-19 crisis, with employees working under strict safety measures. The company has awarded Australian rail company Martinus a civil construction contract worth over $220 million to build the rail requirements for the Carmichael mine.

Under this contract, Martinus will deliver 86-kilometres of rail formation works, a road over rail bridge, nine waterway bridges, more than 200 culverts and 35 rail crossings. Adani Mining chief executive officer Lucas Dow said the Martinus contract would create about 600 jobs, which was more important than ever as the community braced for the economic shifts brought about

by the coronavirus. Once construction is complete, the Carmichael mine will be one of 125 coal mines in Australia and in its first stage will produce 10 million tonnes of coal per annum. The civil construction contract is the second major package of works awarded to Martinus, following the $100 million contract announced in October 2019.

As part of the earlier contract, Martinus was awarded the track works package to deliver approximately 200 kilometres of narrow-gauge rail from the Carmichael mine to the existing rail infrastructure. Assembly of Adani’s first mining trucks has been completed, with two heavy vehicles leaving Mackay to make the 300-kilometre trip to the Carmichael mine in April.

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CM

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TWO CAT 797F AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS BEING LOADED IN PIT.

CATERPILLAR REGISTERS TWO BILLION TONNES WITH AUTONOMOUS HAULAGE SYSTEM Caterpillar has doubled its autonomous haulage figures in under two years after recording two billion tonnes hauled with its autonomous trucks system. The Cat Minestar Command System has been on the market for more than six years, and the new milestone was achieved much faster than the competition, according

to MineStar Solutions production manager Sean McGinnis. “This milestone makes Command for hauling the most productive commercially available solution, and it’s something mining people are noticing,” he said. In November 2018, Caterpillar’s autonomous trucks system hit the one-billion-tonne mark, and AUSTRALIANMINING

the company stated its continuing improvements to the speed of implementing MineStar Solutions had significantly ramped up the amount of productivity. “We’re launching Command on more sites and implementing it more quickly, so more of our customers can experience the safety and productivity gains that autonomous

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hauling delivers,” McGinnis said. Since its launch in 2013, the MineStar Solutions range has been extended to autonomous dozers, drills and underground loaders. There are 276 Cat autonomous trucks in operation across the world and counting. “The push toward autonomous mining doesn’t show any signs of slowing,” McGinnis said.



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NEWS

EMMERSON, NT BULLION ADVANCE TENNANT CREEK GOLD PROJECTS Emmerson Resources has formed a partnership with NT Bullion to boost the Northern Territory’s gold mining prospects in the Tennant Creek area. An investment of $2 million worth of Emmerson shares (14 cents per share) was provided by NT Bullion under the partnership. The two companies will now aim to discover new deposits and extensions

owned by local Indigenous investors. The strategic alliance will also see NT Bullion fund the next $5 million of exploration for the two companies. Plans for construction of a gold processing plant at Tennant Creek are already under way, with the new alliance extending the exploration area by 1600 square kilometres under Emmerson.

to existing gold, cobalt and copper projects. These projects include Mauretania, Jasper Hills, Hermitage, Golden Slipper, Marathon and Troy — all of which are located in the Northern Project Area (NPA) at Tennant Creek. NT Bullion has a strong local presence in the Northern Territory, with 45 per cent of the company

Emmerson managing director Rob Bills said the partnership would drive the local Tennant Creek economy. “This multifaceted deal over the Northern Project Area augments the existing alliance with Territory Resources over the Southern Project Area and is another boost for the local Tennant Creek economy,” he said.

NATHAN RIVER IRON ORE MINE TO CREATE 250 JOBS IN NT Nathan River Resources has received further approval to move the Nathan River iron ore project in the Roper Gulf region of the Northern Territory into the next stage of development. The British Marine Group-owned company took over the former Western Desert Resources Roper Bar mine in 2017 after its previous owner went into liquidation.

The project, located in Ngukurr has an established open cut which has been in care and maintenance since April 2015. Nathan River received an approval to reopen the mine, ship existing stockpiled minerals and process low-grade ore in 2018. With this latest approval now granted, Nathan River estimates

around one million tonnes of highgrade iron ore will be mined and exported from the existing open pit mines, and transported via the haul road to the Bing Bong load-out facility. Nathan River chief executive Stefan Murphy said the operations were anticipated to commence in the third quarter of this year, with more than 250 full-time positions to start

across mining, haulage, marine and support functions. “The Nathan River project is a significant mining operation for the Northern Territory, with over $250 million spent on infrastructure to date to open up iron ore mining and employment opportunities for Territorians and the Roper region,” he said.

EPIROC UPGRADES LARGEST UNDERGROUND TRUCK Epiroc has enhanced the Minetruck MT65 with an upgrade that lowers the emissions that are generated from the world’s largest capacity underground mine truck. The Minetruck MT65 has been given a range of improvements since 2016, with the addition of a new engine that lowers emissions significantly and provides more efficient operations. This has allowed Epiroc’s updated engine to reach Tier 4 final/stage five requirements, receiving certifications of North American standards from Canada’s Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology (CANMET) and the United States’ Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The engine includes a 45 per cent reduction in nitric oxide (NOx), along with an 80 per cent reduction to diesel particle emissions compared with a Tier 2 engine. According to Epiroc, this reduces the need for ventilation in the working environment, allowing for lower operating costs and a reduced environmental footprint. The updated MT65 truck also includes an additional load-weighing display to allow monitoring that determines if the truck is fully loaded every time to maximise payload and reduce the threat of overfilling. “We keep a constant dialogue

with our customers around the world to receive feedback from the field. These updates are the direct result of this feedback,” Epiroc’s underground

division global product manager Daniel Sandström said. Another upgrade for Minetruck MT65 is an optional ejector dump box option designed for compact

EPIROC HAS MADE THE MT65 MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.

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envelop applications. The modular design is a “pin-on solution” that attaches to the truck’s load frame, allowing it to be swapped back to the standard dump box.


MINING EQUIPMENT

A SIDE VIEW OF THE COMPACT ARTISAN Z50 TRUCK.

SANDVIK SHIFTS MINDSET UNDERGROUND WITH ARTISAN Z50 THE ARTISAN Z50 BATTERY-ELECTRIC HAUL TRUCK HAS GIVEN UNDERGROUND MINING COMPANIES A VISION OF WHAT A CLEANER, SAFER MINING FUTURE COULD LOOK LIKE IN AUSTRALIA EARLIER THAN MANY EXPECTED. BEN CREAGH EXPLAINS.

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hanging the mindset towards batteryelectric machinery has been a challenge in the underground mining sector in Australia. The benefits of electrification are widely known. Once operational, electric mines improve the economics of underground mining by lowering energy costs. Electrification also delivers a safer, more environmentally friendly working environment as it eliminates diesel emissions, while also maintaining high

levels of productivity. Despite these advantages, the interest in battery-electric machinery has been limited in Australia, particularly compared with mining regions in the Northern Hemisphere. Battery technology, so far, hasn’t been well suited to the demands of Australia’s long underground declines. The machines also have a reputation for being capital intensive despite then offering a lower total cost of ownership compared with diesel alternatives. Additionally, battery-electric machines have not been able to match

the capacities of the 60-plus-tonne diesel trucks or 20-plus-tonne diesel loaders available on the market. Shifting this mindset remains a work in progress for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but if Sandvik’s Australian roadshow of the Artisan Z50 underground haul truck is any guide, the company is moving in the right direction. The equipment manufacturer displayed the Artisan Z50 across Australia earlier this year, giving companies and contractors in Queensland, New South Wales,

CAPTION MALCOLM MAUGER EXPLAINS THE TRUCK TO ROADSHOW ATTENDEES.

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Western Australia and South Australia an opportunity to view the machine. Sandvik Asia Pacific business line manager for load and haul, Malcolm Mauger, says the Artisan Z50 truck surprised many people by how advanced it is. “There was a real appetite in the market to see the truck, understand it, feel it and ask questions about it,” Mauger tells Australian Mining. “What we found more and more was that people really thought that the technology was years away when in fact it is here today. “The industry just needs a change of mindset and has to develop in a way where we are going to use it.” Sandvik reinforced its mindset towards electrification by last year acquiring California-based Artisan Vehicle Systems, an innovative manufacturer of battery-electric underground vehicles. Artisan has developed underground battery loaders and trucks with zero exhaust emissions for a decade, with the company’s machines operating underground for more than 400,000 hours. The Artisan Z50 builds off the Z40 truck that was first used by Kirkland Lake Gold at the Macassa underground gold mine in Canada. It combines Artisan’s leading battery-electric technology with a design that delivers the largest capacity battery-electric truck on the market. Artisan has developed the truck to generate twice the peak horsepower


MINING EQUIPMENT

and just one-eighth of the heat of its diesel equivalent. The Z50 is powered by four electric motors that generate 560kW and 8200Nm of torque. What sets Artisan apart is the company’s expertise and track record as a manufacturer of safe, efficient batteries. Before it diversified into manufacturing equipment, Artisan developed and manufactured electric powertrains and battery technology, focussing on lithium-iron phosphate chemistry to create its patented battery system. The power is not constrained by ventilation limitations and therefore Artisan can use the most powerful electric motors available, minimising risk to the safety of operations. “Artisan views things differently from other equipment manufacturers because of their background in battery technology,” Mauger says. “The lithium iron phosphate battery is considered the safest option and essentially that is what we want underground. “In all of the 10 years that Artisan’s batteries have been in operation there have been no fire incidents.” To ensure battery recharging doesn’t impact productivity underground, Artisan has optimised the process to enable the machines to haul maximum tonnes per day. Sandvik product line manager, trucks, Pia Sundberg says Artisan’s charging station is both compact and convenient compared with other alternatives in the market. “The charging station can be placed wherever it makes the most sense within the mine,” Finland-based Sundberg says. “If a mine decides to move the

THE ARTISAN Z50 WITH ITS BATTERY REMOVED.

recharging spot, they can change the location in the time it takes to physically shift the station to another spot. In just six minutes you can change from one battery to another one, it is clever in that regard.” Artisan also uses spring applied hydraulically released (SAHR) brakes with electric regeneration, allowing the battery to recharge during the braking process by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. These features reflect why interest in the Artisan Z50 was high during the roadshow, and also why Sandvik is confident about the machine’s prospects ahead of next year’s relaunch in Australia. Sundberg believes the Z50’s

potential could prove to be a factor that helps change the mindset of an Australian underground sector still dominated by diesel machinery. “I think we will soon see within our Australian customer group there are companies that will be the first to jump in and start the move (towards battery-electric machinery),” Sundberg says. A change in this mindset will, however, require a fundamental shift from mining companies that extends far beyond their choice of mining machinery. Analysis of mine electrification by Ernst & Young (EY) in 2019 revealed that reaping the full benefits of an electricity-powered future would need rethinking of mine designs, reskilling

THE MACHINE HAS THE HIGHEST PAYLOAD FOR AN UNDERGROUND ELECTRIC TRUCK WITH 50 TONNES.

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of workforces, and collaboration between OEMs, mining companies and governments. According to EY, gaining the full value out of electrification requires a thorough consideration and understanding of the technology road map, in parallel with the strategic plan for the mine. “Any change, and this is not going to be easy, will require new ways of thinking to lay out the mine, such as where to put the chargers – there will also be a lot of references to the ventilation and battery requirements,” Mauger says. “In the background at Sandvik, we have an application team that has a simulation tool and can start working with customers to work out how long a battery will last on the decline in their mine. “It is going to be different, there will be a lot of changes required and many learnings along the way.” As EY outlines, electrification has the potential to spark the next wave of mining innovation. And as time passes, the technology will only become cheaper with batteries that last longer, a prospect that has Sandvik excited about what a mine of the future with the Artisan machines might look like. “It would be nice to have them at an operation that also has a wind or solar farm so there are literally zero emissions,” Mauger says. “The mine would also be an underground block cave operation, essentially with a shaft – that would be perfect.” While a site such as this may sound futuristic now, the Artisan Z50 has proven to many Australian operators that the opportunity is closer to a reality than they previously thought. AM


We had a ground man that did nothing but constantly clean up; that was his job. Now we don’t have a ground man. We haven’t shoveled the We had a ground man that did nothing but constantly clean up; that tail wheel or cleared anything out from under the conveyor since we installed was his job. Now we don’t have a ground man. We haven’t shoveled the these cleaners. I’m amazed by CleanScrape®, it’s been on for a year now tail wheel or cleared anything out from under the conveyor since we installed and I haven’t touched it. This material is sloppy, it’s just muck that we’re these cleaners. I’m amazed by CleanScrape®, it’s been on for a year now running. And then you look at the return side of the belt and the proof is right and I haven’t touched it. This material is sloppy, it’s just muck that we’re there. Absolutely phenomenal. Try it out for yourself, it’s amazing. running. And then you look at the return side of the belt and the proof is right – Trey Poulson | Fairplay Gold Mine, CO, USA there. Absolutely phenomenal. Try it out for yourself, it’s amazing.

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® Registered trademark of Martin Engineering Company in the US and other select locations. © 2020 Martin Engineering Company. Additional information can be obtained at www.martin-eng.com/trademarks and www.martin-eng.com/patents.


FUTURE OF MINING

AUSTRALIA’S CRITICAL RELATIONSHIPS DRIVE NEXT ERA OF MINING AS AUSTRALIA ESTABLISHES ITSELF AS A HUB FOR CRITICAL MINERALS, ITS RELATIONSHIPS WITH NATIONS SUCH AS CHINA, INDIA, KOREA AND JAPAN ARE ALSO DEVELOPING. SALOMAE HASELGROVE INVESTIGATES HOW INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN THE CRITICAL MINERALS SPACE WILL BE UNIQUE.

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ritical minerals, also called rare earths, are vital in futuristic spaces such as aerospace, electric cars, renewable energy, battery energy storage and electronics. They include better known minerals such as cobalt, manganese and rutile, and lesser known commodities like ilmenite. As an emerging area that has been dominated by China, the way Australia approaches producing and exporting critical minerals will be different to raw mineral commodities such as iron ore, gold and coal. In demand by high value industries, primarily Asian trade partners in China and India, finding out who to form relationships with and what is needed from the partnership before starting it, is essential to success. University of Western Australia Perth USAsia Centre research director Jeff Wilson says when it comes to critical minerals, the who is as important as the what, if Australian companies are to be successful traders. “The economics of the industry internationally are very different from the ore-based metals that are Australia’s main exports,” Wilson

tells Australian Mining. “Most other mineral commodities are traded at spot price. “Because these critical mineral products are very small volume but very high prices and going into specialised electronic and scientific applications, you don’t just sell rare earth oxides. “To successfully sell critical minerals, you need a particular supplier relationship already in place where you have the customers’ specific needs in mind because the products are all so unique.” As Wilson explains, the critical minerals mining and selling processes are backwards to traditional Australian mining processes. “It isn’t a matter of simply saying ‘I’ve got the world’s third best copper deposit, how do I get it to market?’, you need to work backwards and go back to the geophysics and through the various financing, marketing and engineering steps,” Wilson says. The process therefore differs from Australia’s traditional raw mineral commodity exports, which are based on Australian mining and exploration companies finding mineral deposits, mining them and selling them. In the critical minerals sector, companies need to know which companies they are selling the

RELATIONSHIPS WITH ASIAN BUYERS WILL BE KEY TO AUSTRALIA BECOMING A WORLD-CLASS CRITICAL MINERALS EXPORTER.

AUSTRALIANMINING

AUSTRALIAN VANADIUM MANAGING DIRECTOR VINCENT ALGAR.

minerals to, what they intend to make with the minerals and find the trading customer first rather than the deposit. Finding the most strategic regions and companies to build the relationships with is just the first step, with long-term relationships essential for exporting critical minerals, being such high investment projects. With the cultivation of critical minerals having a much more customised end goal than other commodities, this makes critical minerals a potentially risky investment. “The commercial risk of critical minerals is significantly higher,” Wilson says. “There are a lot of extra risks in the sector that you don’t see in others. “As the projects are tied to a specific customer or country, there’s the market risk that you will not be able to easily pivot from one customer to another if you make a product specifically for one customer.” Despite these risks, growing the critical minerals sector is still a positive way forward for Australia with a huge potential to become a key industry. “Because critical minerals are used in high-tech devices and all growth

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industries, it’s a big growth market with very nice prices to tap into,” Wilson says. “Long term partnerships are the answers to the risks and the best way to develop those relationships is for your customers to have a financial equity stake in your success as a producer.” Australia has a unique advantage over other key countries in this space due to it having the trust of powerhouse customers such as the United States, in addition to a positive social and environmental image. Wilson attributes this to Australia not having any perception from outside countries of unfree labour or child labour as some third world country producers do. Long-term sales relationships and contracts are also an advantage for customers, as well as the producer, Wilson explains. “Volatility is hard for the consumer too,” he says. “They don’t want to price going up and down like a yo-yo, so using contracts to manage volatility is a good thing for both ends. “Typically, critical minerals can be stocked in high volumes too, so the product can sit there for a couple of months and the processing plant can


FUTURE OF MINING

process two years’ worth of product because of it’s high value weight and volume.” An exciting metal in the critical minerals space is vanadium, which is a steel industry micro-alloy heavily used in the Chinese construction industry, as well as in chemical processing, defence and aerospace applications and energy storage. The vanadium space is dominated by China, which produces and uses about 60 per cent of the world’s vanadium internally. But similarly with other critical minerals, Australia is well-positioned to establish itself in this industry. Australian Vanadium, which has a high-grade vanadium-tin-iron deposit in Western Australia’s Murchison province, 740 kilometres north-east of Perth is a leader in the emerging vanadium sector. The Perth-based company has the goal of splitting the offtake view to match global supply and demand requirements. It plans to make relationships with Chinese sellers but also build on these working partnerships with other large steel producing countries such as North Korea, South Korea, Japan, India and some European nations. The company’s deposit, known as the Australian Vanadium project consists of 11 tenements and has an estimated mineral resource of 208.2 million tonnes at 0.74 per cent

vanadium pentoxide. Australian Vanadium managing director Vincent Algar recognises these nations, particularly in Asia as vital new markets for the company. He says they produce little to no vanadium themselves and are reliant on feedstocks from China or other producers such as Russia, South Africa or Brazil. “Critical minerals such as vanadium require more specialist attention and benefit from additional processing,” Algar tells Australian Mining. “Here in Australia, we are able to add value before we sell the products overseas, which is a benefit to us and also for countries looking for a quality product.” Vanadium offers not only exciting market opportunities, but also futuristic energy storage opportunities that are often overshadowed by the capabilities of nickel and lithium. High-purity vanadium can be used to produce a vanadium electrolyte, which is used in the Australianinvented vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs). As Algar explains, these may not be as well-known as lithium-ion batteries but are much simpler to build and far more enduring than their lithium counterparts. “Vanadium is perfect for the delivery of renewable energy,” he says. “What happens in a VRFB is you have a liquid storage device,

the vanadium, dissolved in a light sulphuric acid mixture. “Solar panels pump electricity into the battery and through a membrane and puts charge into the vanadium electrifier that stores enough energy for 100 kilowatts, which for a domestic house is 20 or 30 hours’ worth of storage.” This process is continuous and so long as the pump is running, can last for more than 20 years. “Lithium achieves the same thing but degrades over time, like with mobile phone batteries, it will start to lose charge,” Algar explains. “Because of the nature of vanadium, it doesn’t have this issue as it never loses charge.” With this exciting potential use for vanadium, Australian Vanadium is working to push for further usage of vanadium for energy storage, particularly in remote Australian communities. With its ability to withstand extremely high temperatures and harsh weather conditions, vanadium is also essential for high-wearing parts of defence and commercial aircraft, as well as regular tools like spanners, which sound simple, but keep the world’s construction industries going. Pure vanadium is also useful in producing a catalyst for acid production during chemical processes, which again, allows industrial production to continue.

VANADIUM HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS A CRITICAL MINERAL OF THE FUTURE.

AUSTRALIANMINING

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Algar says with Australia’s traditional allies such as the United States and its very good track record in mining, the nation is a perfect partner for the vanadium and wider critical minerals sectors. “Australia is a Tier 1 nation and our mining knowledge is regarded as the top nation in the world,” he says. “Our operating costs are wellknown for being really spot on, we use technology well and the ability to make new discoveries is there, which makes us a perfect partner from a North American perspective.” Despite the fact there is no current production of vanadium in Australia, Algar says the nation’s future in this space is positive, with several companies, including Australian Vanadium, working to re-start old projects or bring new ones into production. “With the strength of our team, the unique quality of the ore body and our knowledge, we feel that Australian Vanadium has the best opportunity for success,” Algar concludes. “The development of new applications and markets locally, specifically around large scale renewable energy storage using VRFBs offers upside for jobs, technology development and market growth internally and for Australian Vanadium and Australia as an exporter.” AM


OUR TECHNOLOGY

DARES in MINING SECTOR

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites allows obtaining images of the Earth’s surface by emitting electromagnetic waves and analyzing the backscattered signal.

DARES TECHNOLOGY delivers ground deformation reports in the mining sector with frequencies of up to one week, as well as historical reports. This information is crucial to guarantee safety and efficiency in operations, where geotechnical managers are increasingly using InSAR data to identify precursors, prevent accidents and improve productivity in Open Pits, Tailings Storage Facilities, Waste Dumps, Leach Pads and Infrastructures.

DARES TECHNLOGY have developed a unique SAR Interferometry (InSAR) algorithm that allows exploiting differences in the round-trip delay of electromagnetic waves between multi-temporal pairs of SAR images, in order to obtain time-series of deformation processes.

OUR PRODUCTS DARES TECHNOLOGY provides deformation reports and a web-based platform integrating the detected deformations, key indicators revealing changes in the trend of deformation time-series. DARES delivers interactive maps of ground deformation over all areas of the mine with millimetric accuracy with updates up to one week. DARES monitoring does not need any installation or maintenance on site. Mine operators can control the ground deformation remotely and accuratetly.

Tailings Dams. Time-Series

Open Pit. Cross-Section


COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

GOLDEN REWARDS DURING AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN NOT MANY COMMODITIES ARE AS GOOD AS GOLD WHEN A CRISIS HITS. VANESSA ZHOU SPEAKS WITH THE WORLD GOLD COUNCIL AND THE PERTH MINT ABOUT THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE PRECIOUS METAL.

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he severity of the dwindling global economies that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on the development of many mining prospects. While mining is declared an essential activity by government heads in Australia and overseas, commodity prices can’t escape the bitter taste of global financial decline. This includes widely used products such as iron ore and copper, along with precious metals such as platinum and silver, according to Deloitte’s ‘Impacts of COVID-19 on the Mining Sector’ report. One outlier emerges from the corresponding price drops: gold. This is another indication of the commodity’s established strength as a safe haven asset during troubled times and market duress, World Gold Council (WGC) director of member and market relations, John Mulligan, says. “Gold has performed well during this difficult period and been fairly robust, in sharp contrast to many other asset classes that have struggled, with their values plummeting in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns,” he tells Australian Mining. “Year to date, we’ve seen the gold price rise around 10 per cent in US dollar terms, but local gold prices, particularly in producer nations, have been far stronger, breaking records in many cases. “At the time of writing, gold had risen 24 per cent in Australian dollars since the beginning of the year.” The robustness of gold defies around two weeks of panic selling that heralded the global slowdown, according to The Perth Mint chief executive Richard Hayes. Gold exchange-traded funds (ETF) were one of the assets that acted as investor means to meet their margin calls, Hayes adds. “The wholesale markets overseas have seen quite heavy selling from time to time, but we’ve seen a lot of that tailing off. A lot of that (panic

THE PERTH MINT CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER RICHARD HAYES. CREDIT: THE PERTH MINT.

YEAR TO DATE, WE’VE SEEN THE GOLD PRICE RISE AROUND 10 PER CENT IN US DOLLAR TERMS, BUT LOCAL GOLD PRICES, PARTICULARLY IN PRODUCER NATIONS, HAVE BEEN FAR STRONGER, BREAKING RECORDS IN MANY CASES.” selling) has walked itself out of the system,” he says. Mulligan shares the same view, stating that the WGC has seen a “very strong investment demand” for gold, particularly from professional and institutional investors. In March alone, the WGC saw net inflows into gold ETFs of 151 tonnes, valued at $US8.1 billion ($12.8 billion), boosting global assets under management for these products to a new all-time high of 3185 tonnes. Similarly, The Perth Mint has AUSTRALIANMINING

observed a definite increase in demand for its depository and minted products from Australian buyers. Although Australia is not a big market for retail demand, the spike is undeniable. “Most of our depository and minted products are purchased by people who buy and hold,” Hayes says. “We didn’t see much panic selling among our Australian and overseas clients in that sense.” What’s more, The Perth Mint’s online products for gold have

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increased by 22 per cent, a trend that is congruently seen across the board over the first three months of 2020. Commenting on the rising demand for gold in Australia, Mulligan says: “We recognise local investor interest in the country has been growing lately and has significant potential to grow further.” In fact, Hayes considers gold’s role as a safe haven asset to be more cemented and mainstream today than it’s ever been in the last 100 years. “If you look at the big upheavals of the 20th century such as World War II, those who were able to survive and prosper in Europe afterwards were those who have held gold,” he says. “You look at the 1970s when Vietnam collapsed – all those Vietnamese who were able to emigrate to Australia, the United


COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

States and Canada were those who took their gold with them and used them to re-establish themselves in the west. “You look at the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s and the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008/2009 – what’s the common theme across all those? “It’s been where people used gold as a great insurance policy against periods of economic upheaval and political turmoil.” In the months and years ahead, gold prices are still biased towards the upside. Even more so given the devastating damage that coronavirus inflicted on the world’s economies. Bank of America analysts have even raised their gold price prediction to $US3000 ($4650) an ounce by 2022, up from its previous 18-month target of $US2000. The strength of gold as an asset is proven by its advantage over global reserve currencies such as the US dollar, Euro and Pound Sterling. When the currencies failed to fulfil the role of a global currency reserve during the GFC, gold did. “Had the US economy been much weaker prior to COVID-19, you’d see a much higher gold price right now, because gold would have started to fill its prior role as a global reserve currency to a degree,” Hayes says. Projekt1 04.05.20 07:26 Seite 1

THE SAFE-HAVEN COMMODITY HAS REMAINED ROBUST DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS. CREDIT: THE PERTH MINT.

Looking ahead, demand for gold products looks buoyant. Mulligan predicts there will be some pent-up demand as key physical gold markets reopen and consumer confidence returns. Gold will also play a role as an

AUSTRALIANMINING

asset as global economies get back on their feet and recover from the corrosive impacts of the pandemic. “One thing everybody will learn is, nobody learns from history. Everyone forgets what happened. When another catastrophe occurs,

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people start piling gold and sell them when it’s over. The cycle continues,” Hayes concludes. “Those who have kept gold consistently throughout those times have prospered. Not always, but there’s an underlying theme.” AM


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MINING SERVICES

MANUFACTURING A MINING INDUSTRY THAT STAYS ON TRACK WITH MINING IMPACTED BY THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, FENNER DUNLOP AND FLEXCO EMPHASISE THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING AUSTRALIAN-BASED MANUFACTURERS AND SUPPLIERS DURING A CRISIS. SALOMAE HASELGROVE WRITES.

FENNER DUNLOP IS PROVIDING AUSTRALIAN CLIENTS WITH SUPPORT AND SERVICES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.

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he coronavirus pandemic has affected Australian jobs, trade and livelihoods since hitting the nation in the early months of 2020. The Australian Government deemed the mining and resources sectors as essential, meaning work has continued as normal as possible under stringent safety measures, including social distancing, regular health checks and limits to businessrelated travel. Having localised services in each Australian state, Fenner Dunlop has been able to keep supplying its clients with conveyor products, including belts, idlers, pulley, drive systems and access to local labour forces to keep their operations running. Fenner Dunlop Australia chief operating officer Steve Abbott says manufacturing companies with

Australian facilities have been critical in keeping the mining industry afloat during this time. “Being an Australian manufacturer, we are not subject to the shipping constraints that an imported product would be constrained by,” Abbott tells Australian Mining. “Having a distributed model of Australian localised services enables us to meet our clients’ needs and work within each state, not just within the country, which is important given flight and border restrictions.” Fenner Dunlop has been endorsed by many clients from the mining and power industries that have recognised the company’s importance in keeping their operations going. “We’ve had support from large miners, calling us a critical supply, which is really important in our future to continue operating in the event that COVID-19 AUSTRALIANMINING

escalates,” Abbott says. “This demonstrates how important we are to the continued operating of mining in Australia.” While the conveyor is only a part of the long-winded process of unearthing materials and transforming them into the valuable exports and infrastructure Australia depends on, it is one of the most important steps in the process. As Abbott explains, the conveyor is the bridge between the product coming out of the ground and moving it to port, rail or road so producers earn their keep. This is particularly so for underground coal mining, where the only way for the mined coal to be taken out of the mine is via the conveyor system, or for iron ore operations where the infrastructure is built around the conveyor system. “If the conveyor stops, it’s like not having access to a road,” Abbott

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says. “The goods can’t get to market, and miners can’t get paid for their products. “A conveyor is as critical as a train, road or ship in moving material between points, the criticality of conveyors being fundamental in getting goods to market cannot be underestimated.” With this in mind, Fenner Dunlop has taken precautionary measures to ensure it remains in action as the virus runs its course, both to prevent the risk of its employees becoming infected and keeping the supply chain updated with regular communication. The company’s employees are working from home where possible and it has also introduced a number of measures for those still working on site, including daily temperature checks when employees start their day, social distancing, initial personal protective equipment (PPE)


MINING SERVICES

FLEXCO RAMPED UP ITS MANUFACTURING IN CASE AUSTRALIA MOVED INTO A FULL LOCKDOWN.

including masks and hand sanitiser and strict cleaning procedures. At the time of writing, these measures have worked, with no Fenner Dunlop employees or contractors being diagnosed with the virus so far. “We put control measures in place in mid-March to ensure we managed the risk of infection as best we could,” Abbott says. “If we can get through this process without having an issue in our manufacturing plants or service teams, we’ll be satisfied that we have done the right thing.” As well as promoting physical health, Fenner Dunlop has ensured its workers are supported mentally with initiatives such as sending hampers to families and colouring competitions for workers’ children during the school holidays. “These are only little things, but they all add up and are important to us,” Abbott says. Conveyor solutions company Flexco is another manufacturing business with Australian facilities that is working hard to support its clients and operate as normally as possible. Like Fenner Dunlop, Flexco’s operations have changed but it is focussed on keeping clients in the loop and highly productive despite the complications associated with coronavirus. This has included cancelling training sessions with clients and instead introducing an online version. The company has also ramped up production of stock in case Australia moved into a full lockdown. As Flexco Australia’s managing

director Mark Colbourn explains, the pandemic has outlined the importance of a healthy Australian manufacturing industry. “The day we found out about Australia starting to go into lockdown, we started working overtime that afternoon to ensure we had the stock required for critical mining operations,” Colbourn tells Australian Mining. “As a business, we prepared for three possible levels of lockdown; our Sydney or Perth warehouse shutting, both of our warehouses shutting or the whole country shutting down. “By producing more stock each day, within a couple of weeks our available stock was 20 per cent higher than usual and now we have almost double the amount of stock we make locally for critical mine components.” With shipping times from overseas taking up to 10 weeks normally, let alone during the pandemic, this means that thanks to businesses like Flexco, Australian mines will not be kept waiting for materials during the pandemic. By manufacturing its conveyors locally, industries including mining, recycling, sewage and food can purchase materials from Flexco without the long waiting period of overseas manufacturers, which has become even longer due to shipping hold-ups because of coronavirus. If the worst case scenario of an Australia-wide lockdown did occur, in addition to its Sydney and Perth warehouses, Flexco has containers removing materials to remote locations so they could be left on site, ensuring mines are equipped AUSTRALIANMINING

with the essentials they need to keep providing the country with power and other essential materials. Colbourn believes the pandemic has exposed the threat of what outsourcing manufacturing to overseas businesses means for Australia during the time of a crisis.

“It’s exposed that we need to look after our own manufacturing, if it’s all gone and something like this happens again, we can’t just turn the Australian manufacturing switch back on if the skilled labour force and machinery is all gone,” he says. “We need to ensure that as a nation we continue to invest in our manufacturing industry, so we have that resource. “The government needs to be part of the process of trying to get a percentage of our manufacturing shored up in Australia so we can keep investing in it.” Companies manufacturing goods in Australia are allowing the nation to have control over its materials and stocks, which is the first step in keeping the country running as normal during this time of crisis. “Labour costs may be cheaper overseas but Australian manufacturing is an investment and it’s worth it to have control of our stocks,” Colbourn concludes. “It means we have a contingency plan, it’s keeping jobs and manufacturing here in Australia. We have that control of the quality and are able to change quickly to respond to market changes, and it keeps investment and cash here in Australia for our people and our government.” AM

FLEXCO’S TEDDY TEWDROS ON THE JOB AT THE COMPANY’S AUSTRALIAN FACILITIES.

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INDUSTRY COMMENT

ACKROYD REMAINS POSITIVE ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MINING’S POSITION DURING CORONAVIRUS NATIONAL GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR MARK ACKROYD HAS EXPERIENCED THE MINING INDUSTRY’S RECORD-BREAKING HIGHS AND LOWS DURING THE PAST TWO DECADES. AUSTRALIAN MINING SPEAKS WITH ACKROYD ABOUT THE IMPACT THE PANDEMIC WILL HAVE.

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ince founding National Plant & Equipment, part of the National Group in 1997, Mark Ackroyd has overcome the challenges of the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2015 commodity market downturn, two of the toughest periods in recent history the mining industry in Australia has faced. In 2020, the industry has been confronted by a new challenge in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen industries such as the hospitality, travel, tourism and entertainment close their doors. Only services classified as “essential” by the Australian Government have seen less impact during this crisis. Mining is classified as an “essential service” and has therefore been impacted far less than other industries that help keep the Australian economy strong. The mining industry, although less affected than other industries, has quickly had to adapt to new ways of operating. With state governments such as Queensland and Western Australia closing their borders, and being home to some of Australia’s key mining operations, this was bound to have an impact on the Australian mining industry. Fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employees have worked under revised rosters in order to reduce interstate travel and avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine period. Governments at all levels have also imposed strict social distancing measures to help reduce the spread of the virus. As Ackroyd explains, the coronavirus pandemic has solidified the importance of the mining industry to the Australian economy, as operations and supporting industries help to keep the nation afloat in a time of uncertainty. “Coronavirus has impacted everyone including businesses and employees, but the mining industry is still very strong,” Ackroyd tells Australian Mining.

NATIONAL GROUP MANAGING DIRECTOR MARK ACKROYD.

According to research by the Grattan Institute, the Australian unemployment rate may rise as high as 10 to 15 per cent due to the impact of the coronavirus, meaning industries such as mining that can not only remain operational, but also create new roles are crucial in keeping the economy healthy. BHP is an example of this. The company announced in March that it would provide employment opportunities for 1500 workers across its iron ore, coal and copper operations in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. “The mining industry will continue to employ people as the demand for people in the industry has been quite high,” Ackroyd says. “The coronavirus pandemic is even bringing people back into the industry who have left previously or bringing in new people who are looking for more secure work.” AUSTRALIANMINING

Despite the threat of the virus, both to businesses and individuals, it is not all bad news for the Australian mining industry. In mid-late April 2020, oil prices moved into negative territory for the first in history to as low as -$40. The price of oil suffered its biggest single day drop since the Gulf War in 1991, falling by more than 30 per cent. This was due to the pairing of the Russia and Saudi Arabia oil price war and the coronavirus, resulting in an oversupply and a lack of demand. “Although diesel prices haven’t dropped as much as oil and unleaded fuel, they have come down,” Ackroyd says. “This makes it cheaper for mining companies to operate equipment, therefore increasing cost efficiency of operating gear on site.” In mid-late March 2020, the Australian dollar dropped to nearly 57 US cents, its lowest value in 17 years. The Australian Securities

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Exchange (ASX) and international stock markets such as the Dow Jones also dropped as much as 35 per cent, down from recent all-time highs. Australia is currently an attractive market internationally to purchase commodities and resources from due to the Australian dollar’s low value against its United States equivalent, according to Ackroyd. “A lot of other sectors in Australia have been terribly affected by coronavirus, but mining is still quite positive in this respect,” he says. “Because the dollar is so low, Australian ore makes for a very attractive purchase for overseas markets such as China and the United States.” The low prices are not only an advantage from an export point of view, but also for operational costs at mining projects themselves. With nationwide lockdowns across South American nations including Argentina, Peru and Chile and in African countries such as South Africa and Gambia, the demand for products from Australia could rise. “Seeing other countries being forced to shut mining down due to lockdowns means importers will turn to other suppliers, such as Australia to find their product,” Ackroyd says. “Increasing the capacity of Australia’s mines to meet this demand will be positive for the Australian economy and Australian mines, allowing them to continue functioning as normal.” The demand for the mining industry to continue functioning as normal also has a flow on to other areas, including the original equipment manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu and Liebherr, which provide the equipment required for mining, as well as the transport and freight industries. Despite operating as normally as possible, the mining industry is implementing strict safety measures to keep employees, contractors and customers safe.


INDUSTRY COMMENT

NATIONAL GROUP CONTINUES TO WORK AS NORMALLY AS POSSIBLE DURING CORONAVIRUS.

The National Group for example had to develop responsive measures and contingency plans. Social distancing measures have been implemented, including limiting the number of employees in the office to the minimum level required in order to continue to operate. Most staff are working from home where possible, with regular video conference tools being used to communicate effectively. Office-based employees are following government directions and staying at least 1.5 metres apart, and if they are reporting symptoms of feeling unwell, they are encouraged to stay at home and self-isolate. On mine sites, the National Group staggers meal breaks so large groups are not congregating in the same room all at once, splitting pre-start meetings and revising processes where required such as the way equipment is maintained. With more Australian mines trialling or operating automated or semi-automated equipment, it is another beneficial way in distancing employees while keeping operations going. “Autonomous mines and remote operations are attractive at the best of times for improving business outcomes and safety, so this could be a game-changer for miners who have embraced autonomy during the worst of times,” Ackroyd says. “With less human contact and less people required to get the job done, autonomous mines and remote operations are a good way to keep businesses running safely if coronavirus has affected a mine site and staff are required to self-isolate or quarantine. “Reducing staff during this period

to say two people per shift in order to remotely operate autonomous equipment, would allow them to work in a safer environment with less risk of spreading the virus.” Despite the impact of the virus on the Australian economy, leaders within the resources sector, such as Ackroyd, are positive that the industry will continue to be one of Australia’s most successful.

According to Deloitte’s recent Impacts of COVID-19 on the Mining Sector report, large mining companies will be in better financial shape after coronavirus than they were after the 2008 global financial crisis and 2015 commodity market downturn. With this in mind, Ackroyd believes the industry is wellpositioned to persevere through the difficulties of 2020 and remain strong for years to come. “I think mining will be one of the few industries that is least affected by the coronavirus and will help lead the charge coming out the other end of this pandemic,” Ackroyd says. In mid-late March 2020, during the height of the pandemic in Australia, the Australian Government pledged a total of $189 billion in order to keep Australians in work and businesses in business. This included $17.6 billion for the government’s first economic stimulus package, $90 billion from the RBA, $15 billion from the government to deliver easier access to finance and $66.1 billion in an economic support package. Between 2015 and 2017, Australia’s mining sector doubled its contribution to funding roads, schools, hospitals, police and other essential services through a massive increase in company tax and

ACKROYD BELIEVES THE INDUSTRY IS IN GOOD SHAPE TO BOUNCE BACK. AUSTRALIANMINING

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royalty payments. Research by Deloitte Access Economics reveals that Australian mining companies paid $18.6 billion in company tax in 2017-18, the highest since the mining investment boom in 2011-12. Mining companies also paid $12 billion in royalties in 201718, providing total revenue to Commonwealth and state governments of nearly $31 billion. “Mining will be one of the key industries that helps to build the economy back up and reduce the deficit. The dollars in taxes that mining contributes to the Australian Government will help kick-start the economy into a positive position,” Ackroyd says. In addition to the economic impact, Ackroyd commended workers for their efforts in keeping businesses running smoothly, despite the effect changes to their work conditions are having on their personal lives, such as longer periods of time away from their families. “The world wasn’t prepared for this pandemic and there are numerous lessons we will take from it moving forward. The key thing is we need to learn our lessons and take comfort in knowing we have tried and tested contingency plans in place for the future,” Ackroyd concludes. AM


ENVIRONMENT CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVITISTS AND RALLIES SUCH AS THIS HAVE IMPACTED THE PERCEPTION OF MINING INVESTORS.

SOCIAL INFLUENCES SHIFT INVESTOR EXPECTATIONS MINING COMPANIES MUST CONSIDER A NUMBER OF FACTORS IN THEIR EFFORTS TO APPEASE THE DEMANDS OF TODAY’S INVESTORS. CLIMATE CHANGE INCREASINGLY STANDS OUT ABOVE ALL OF THESE ELEMENTS. BEN CREAGH WRITES.

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taying on top of the constantly evolving expectations of investors is a different proposition compared with the mining industry of the past. Investors, more than ever, demand greater transparency around the social, economic and environmental impact of an industry like mining. Deloitte, in its 2020 Tracking the Trends report, labels this new breed of shareholder the ‘social investor,’ someone who demands that mining companies prove their value beyond compliance. These so-called responsible investors are placing a greater emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles when they make funding decisions. They are monitoring how mining companies approach issues like climate change, water management, health and safety, and the treatment of their workforces and the communities in which they operate. As Deloitte points out, mining companies have traditionally

looked at factors such as asset quality, geography, intrinsic value, shareholders and the risks associated with investments when making decisions. They must now look beyond these factors to consider the societal impact of their decisions and assess how they will appease broader expectations. While a variety of factors require consideration, it is climate change, and particularly how operations are being decarbonised, that has emerged as the standout point shaping investor behaviour. Deloitte partner and renewable energy expert John O’Brien believes climate change and decarbonisation have almost become public topics of conversation for mining companies on a day-to-day basis. He says internal expertise in these areas, once a nice to have, has become a must have for companies that plan to portray a positive image with investors. “Globally, there have been some clear drivers of this, including the Paris Climate agreement, which AUSTRALIANMINING

started some government action,” O’Brien, who founded Australian CleanTech in 2007, tells Australian Mining. “More importantly for industry and mining in particular, it also drove the setting up of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, which in many ways has been what really made the big difference. “It created the need for all big companies to report on their climate risks and pushed investors to care about what the answers are – it really changed the whole dynamic. “This reporting has changed from a nice to have if we want to attract investors to now, we have to do this.” The expectations of individual mining companies are, however, inconsistent across the industry as the demands of social investors evolve. O’Brien says the pressure on multinational miners, such as Rio Tinto and BHP, to take action on climate change is different to what mid or junior miners face. Geography also plays a role in how this investor pressure is being applied,

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he continues. “If you are listed or have major shareholders in Europe you will see more pressure. Australia isn’t to that extent yet, especially if you are not a big company,” O’Brien says. “The multinationals will have different levels of pressure across their register, but the European-based investor would be pushing them a lot harder than the Australian ones.” From mining’s perspective, the majors – Rio Tinto and BHP – have therefore been at the forefront of the industry’s push towards decarbonisation. Rio Tinto, which hosted a Climate and Water Seminar in April, stresses that the company’s products mirror global demand themes in this area. The company points to its iron ore, aluminium and copper divisions in particular, with all three being essential to societal growth, but in the case of the latter two also driving decarbonisation beyond the company’s mines. Rio Tinto chief executive officer Jean-Sébastien Jacques says the company is transforming its portfolio


ENVIRONMENT

of products to support the transition to a low carbon economy. “There is no doubt that the conversation on sustainability is complex. As one example, let’s take a step back and consider the transition to a low-carbon future,” Jacques explains in a seminar speech. “There are no easy answers. There is no clear pathway right now for the world to get to net zero emissions by 2050. “The ambition is clear but the pathway is not. This will require electrification of transport; energy and resource efficiency across the value chain; decarbonisation of energy generation; transformation of agriculture and land use, to name but a few.” Rio Tinto has pledged to spend $US1 billion ($1.53 billion) on climate-related projects and is striving for net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Likewise, BHP has been a leading voice in the climate conversation, itself committing $US400 million to a climate investment program to develop technologies to reduce emissions at its operations, as well as those generated from the use of its resources. “Now, clearly, the world trend is towards decarbonisation. We’ve been active advocates for this and have been taking tangible action on the things we can control,” BHP chief executive Mike Henry comments in a February speech. “Some of you may be aware that we have recently announced we are moving towards fully renewable power in our Chilean business. “This will reduce our carbon footprint there by 60 per cent, and

BHP’s overall footprint over the next few years by 15 per cent. We are looking at similar opportunities elsewhere. “Notably, we already produce some of the products that will support the transition to a lower carbon economy and will continue to prosper in a decarbonised world.” Reminders such as Henry’s that mining companies are contributing to decarbonisation by producing the products that support the move help to change the image of the industry in the eyes of investors, according to Deloitte. To retake control of the sector’s narrative, Deloitte urges companies to tell stories of not only their decarbonisation efforts, but also their innovation, collaboration, safety, genuine rehabilitation and diversity achievements. “They are heavily interlooped under the concept of social value – decarbonisation is a part of that in some ways,” O’Brien says. “If you look at managing each of the different stakeholders, from communities, employees, activists and government, you have to be moving on all of those fronts to be successful. “When there is a mismatch between stakeholder expectations and performance, that is where companies get themselves into trouble.” And while the COVID-19 crisis has overshadowed the evolution of the social investor for much of 2019, their expectations are simmering in the background. Jacques believes a global health pandemic creates another dimension to consider, around how to balance

COAL MINING COMPANIES HAVE BEEN UNDER THE SOCIAL INVESTOR SPOTLIGHT.

the delivery of a short-term economic stimulus with the action needed to meet climate goals. “The challenge for the world and for the resources industry is to continue the focus on poverty reduction and wealth creation, while delivering climate action,” Jacques says. “This will require effort and co-operation between businesses, consumers, governments and shareholders.” O’Brien has two schools of thought about what impact COVID-19 will have on how the expectations of social investors evolve.

“Will a pandemic change the world view of the big risks and what they might do to us? If yes, then we need to move quickly on climate,” he says. “Oil is also dirt cheap, so the economics of fuel replacement are suddenly looking in trouble for the next couple of years. “There’s no doubt that capital projects are going to be delayed, but my view is that it certainly isn’t going away. Once the smoke clears, we will see investors go even harder because they will see the reality of some of the downside climate risks are more real.” AM

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CRUSHING & SCREENING

A BIG MACHINE FOR BIG REQUIREMENTS AUSTRALIA’S TOP MINING COMPANIES ARE DRIVEN BY THE AMBITION TO BECOME THE BIGGEST AND BEST AT WHAT THEY DO. WITH THE HELP OF THYSSENKRUPP INDUSTRIAL SOLUTIONS, A LEADING IRON ORE MINER WILL HAVE TWO OF THE BIGGEST CRUSHERS IN THE COUNTRY.

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n April 2020, thyssenkrupp was awarded two consecutive contracts from the Fortescue Metals Group and Formosa Steel IB joint venture to provide two of the world’s largest crushers for their highly-prospective Iron Bridge magnetite project in Western Australia. With completion scheduled for 2022, an expected 22 million tonnes of high-grade 67 per cent iron magnetite concentrate product is set to be produced at the Iron Bridge project each year. Twin KB 63-130 type gyratory

crushers will be installed at the project, which is south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region. The gyratory crushers will be paramount to the site’s massive scale of operations with a colossal maximum throughput capacity of 14,400 tonnes per hour. Weighing in at just shy of half a tonne, the KB 63-130 features a 1600-millimetre feed opening. Ahead of their deployment at Iron Bridge, thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions Australia national sales manager – strategic accounts, Luke Bennett explains why the KB 63-130 gyratory crushers are a

ONE OF THE FOUR THYSSENKRUPP SEMI-MOBILE CRUSHING PLANTS AT CITIC PACIFIC MINING’S SINO IRON PROJECT IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

AUSTRALIANMINING

TWO THYSSENKRUPP KB 63-130 GYRATORY CRUSHERS WILL BE SUPPLIED TO THE IRON BRIDGE PROJECT.

huge leap forward for Australia’s resources industry. “The KB 63-130 machine is still new to the world of primary crushing and these machines will show Australian clients the performance and throughput they can gain from such a machine,” Bennett tells Australian Mining. According to Bennett, there are “advantages galore” for the crusher compared with its closest competitors. “The crusher design has the highest installed power which means it will continue to perform through hard ore,” Bennett says. The design has the highest throughput available in the market for gyratory crushers. Other benefits include a design that resembles thyssenkrupp’s smaller machines. “Such design has been a result of the continuous improvements of our primary semi-mobile crushing plants, which are now capable to exchange the smaller KB 63-89 and KB 63-130 one by one,” Bennett explains. “This means clients save a lot of money on infrastructure works for fixed and semi-mobile installations. “Major items are serviceable through the top of the machine so work under the crusher is minimal.” Like all of thyssenkrupp’s crushers, reliability is a key factor of their designs, with the KB 63-130 being no different. “In all machines reliability is essential, as this determines the availability of the machine for production,” Bennett says. “thyssenkrupp gyratory crushers

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are well known globally for being reliable and long lasting under tough conditions. “The KB 63-130 leads the way for thyssenkrupp with its top serviceability – this means the majority of components can be removed from the top of the machine, which is a safer practice and typically clients will have the lifting capacity available for servicing through the top, reducing additional requirements for servicing underneath the machine.” Fortescue will also have the option to automate the crushers through thyssenkrupp’s Gyromatic control system. “thyssenkrupp crushers come with our proprietary control system — the Gyromatic — which controls the machine and interlocks for machine protection and safe operation,” Bennett says. “The Gyromatic enables customers to control the machine in place or remotely. If requested such a set-up also allows thyssenkrupp to provide teleservice support.” The Australian debut of the KB 63-130 will help bring in more clients across the country, according to Bennett. “The KB 63-130 has in fact made one of our machines redundant – the 63-114,” Bennett says. “This machine was very heavy, very tall and only achieved a marginal gain in performance from its more common counterpart, the 63-89. Now clients can take a large step in performance and look towards the future of high capacity plants.” AM



REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

LYNAS’ MT WELD RARE EARTHS MINE NORTH OF KALGOORLIE-BOULDER.

KALGOORLIE-BOULDER TAKES RARE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND LEGACY KALGOORLIE-BOULDER IS ONE OF, IF NOT THE MOST FAMOUS MINING CENTRE IN AUSTRALIA, WITH A GOLDEN HISTORY DATING BACK TO THE 1890S. SALOMAE HASELGROVE LOOKS AT WHAT ITS FUTURE HOLDS IN THE RARE EARTHS SECTOR.

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he city of KalgoorlieBoulder and the wider Goldfields region is still one of the most significant gold mining areas in Australia, being home to one of the country’s largest open cut mines, the Super Pit. The historic operation started the new decade under all-Australian ownership after Northern Star Resources finalised its acquisition

of a 50 per cent stake in the operation during January. Northern Star joined Saracen Mineral Holdings, which acquired the other half stake in November 2019, as co-owners of the site. As the famous city, which is just shy of 600 kilometres east of Perth, continues its reign as one of the world’s top gold regions, other new and exciting mining opportunities are emerging.

In December 2019, Lynas Corporation selected Kalgoorlie to host a new cracking and leaching plant for the processing of the company’s rare earth materials. The announcement highlights Kalgoorlie’s promising future as an Australian rare earths processing hub, bringing the first step of processing materials mined from the nearby Mt Weld lathanide deposit to Australia. Lynas also has a rare earths

LYNAS’ EXISTING RARE EARTHS CRACKING AND LEACHING PLANT IN MALAYSIA.

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processing plant in Malaysia, but as the company’s vice president of production Kam Leung explains, a move to Kalgoorlie has the potential to deliver a big spin-off effect for long-term operations in the Goldfields region. “Kalgoorlie ticked the boxes of what we wanted for our Australian site in terms of it being strategically located between Mt Weld and Fremantle Port,” Leung tells Australian Mining. “The day after we announced we were looking for an Australian site, representatives from Kalgoorlie were in touch and invited us to come to Kalgoorlie and gave us an idea of the kind of support the city would provide Lynas with. “The city has been very supportive and the Western Australian Government has been very supportive in providing us with assistance granting the project lead agency status, as well as the Australian Government granting us major project status.” Lynas and Kalgoorlie-Boulder have come together as partners during the process, launching the company’s heightened presence in the town by co-investing in its future in the historic region. This investment has deeper ambitions than the financial benefits, with Lynas looking to deliver a longterm contribution to the community and town. For example, Lynas is aiming to create a residential operation to attract more full-term residents in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community rather than a majority fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforce. “This is a really long-term


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REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

WORKERS AT MT WELD, 400 KILOMETRES NORTH OF KALGOORLIE-BOULDER.

investment and operation for Lynas,” Leung says. “This will create a big spin-off effect for not only our long-term operation but the businesses we engage with, such as supply of chemicals, maintenance, engineering, parts and transport. “There is then the flow-on effect into the local Kalgoorlie economy in terms of people working and living there, sending their kids to the local school and shopping for supples.” Kalgoorlie’s existing infrastructure and skillset in mining isn’t the only promising opportunity for Lynas’ future in the Goldfields centre, with many of Australian mining’s future leaders studying at Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) and the local TAFE. “The people graduating from the WASM and the TAFE are very well trained from two strong educational institutions,” Leung says. “A number of our team based from Mt Weld and even our Malaysian operations are actually WASM past graduates, so we know there is a strong future workforce for us in Kalgoorlie.”

The cracking and leaching plant will create about 100 direct jobs, with other companies supporting Lynas employing more workers, as well as other industries enjoying the flow-on effect, including transport, logistics and the chemical industry. Since the announcement of the cracking and leaching plant last year, Lynas has focussed on the design and engineering of the plant, in addition to completing environmental approvals and baseline studies for the project. With this first stage of the project moving ahead, Lynas is considering the potential for expansion in the future. “Cracking and leaching is the first part of the rare earths process and it does open potential doors to treat other feed materials in Kalgoorlie in future,” Leung says. “The intention is that we will produce concentrate at Mt Weld, do the cracking and leaching in Kalgoorlie, then send it to Malaysia for the rare earths separation. “By bringing cracking and leaching to Australia it opens up the opportunity for the next stages to potentially come here in the long-term.” AUSTRALIANMINING

With a 25-plus-year ore reserve and the new plant coming, KalgoorlieBoulder will be well placed to embark on the next chapter in its rich mining and minerals processing history. The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Council is excited for this opportunity to diversify its local economy and increase the number of skilled residential jobs in the historic city. “There are so many exciting opportunities that this partnership brings about,” City of KalgoorlieBoulder Council chief executive officer John Walker says. “This plant provides new education and training opportunities in future and forward-facing jobs (that) will help support the establishment of renewable energy production in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.” Like Leung, Walker believes there is huge potential for growth in the city with the establishment of this plant, bringing not only people from the processing and rare earths sectors, but also the industries that will support the plant. “There’s a bright future in extractive industries and the support

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and service industries, with key mineral commodities being gold, as well as future facing minerals like nickel, lithium, vanadium, cobalt potash and rare earths,” he says. Gold of course, is not a new commodity for the historic city, with the other exciting development in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in 2019-20 being the Super Pit becoming 100 per cent Australian owned. Walker says this is another reason to entice people from outside of the region to relocate to KalgoorlieBoulder to live and work. “We have been very pleased to see the new joint venture partners (Northern Star and Saracen) publicly committing to working with the city and other stakeholders to make residential sites,” he says. “The Mayor (John Bowler) and I have had some really positive conversations with the partners about this (and) there has been strong indication from Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) that they are committed to retaining and growing residential jobs.” Kalgoorlie-Boulder’s forwardthinking mindset isn’t just focussed on its existing commodities like gold, battery metals and rare earths though. Walker says the region is also open to building up the green energy sector within the area, putting this regional centre in a position to become the backbone to much of Australia’s power and metals used for the nation’s key infrastructure. “We are working collaboratively with government and private proponents to see investment and project development in areas like renewable energy,” he says. “(This includes) green hydrogen production, manufacturing of industrial chemicals, expanding our local recycling industry and other additional upstream processing such as solvent extraction.” Whether it be continuing its legacy as one of the country’s top gold regions, or forging a new name as Australia’s first rare earths hub, in the case of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, west is best in the eyes of locals. “Having the Lynas plant here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder will be a catalyst to attract similar industries that align with the Australian Government’s critical minerals strategy and the city and state’s objective for more downstream mineral processing,” Walker concludes. “There are so many exciting opportunities that this partnership brings about and we look forward to working with all key stakeholders to further support downstream processing here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.” AM



REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

A NEW ERA IGNITES TASMANIA LESS THAN FIVE YEARS AGO, TASMANIA WAS IN THE MIDST OF A MINING DOWNTURN. TODAY, SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL IS ON THE HORIZON AS THE STATE’S INVESTMENT ATTRACTIVENESS SOARS. NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA WRITES.

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n February, the Fraser Institute’s 2019 Annual Survey of Mining Companies was released. Tasmania received its highest score in almost 15 years. The state’s investment attractiveness rating soared from a score of 60.31 in 2018 to 75.70 in 2019, placing it 22nd out of the 76 mining jurisdictions surveyed. Equipped with a wide range of traditional mineral deposits across the state, the untapped potential of Tasmania’s resources is vast, according to Tasmanian Minerals, Manufacturing and Energy Council chief executive officer Ray Mostogl. “We’re really blessed in Tasmania,” Mostogl says. “We’ve got the Mount Read volcanics over on the west and there’s a really broad range of metallic minerals there. “And then on the north east we’re pretty rich with gold, so there are some great opportunities.” Tasmania’s mining industry has also taken notable strides from a technology perspective in recent years, unlocking the potential to uncover new mineral deposits in hard to reach areas across the state.

“The west coast of Tasmania is a really tough terrain and as technology for exploration improves, we’re able to identify more of the resources there – we’re even doing it remotely now,” Mostogl says. “Tasmanians are innovative by nature and therefore we have some great technology designers who are based in Tasmania. The METS sector is vibrant and works hand-inglove with the mines and processors to ensure the industry remains internationally competitive.” With the state being home to generations of mining families, its mining industry shares a strong bond with local communities, according to Mostogl. “We’ve got multi-generations of workers that have lived and grown up around the mines, so we’ve got very strong community ties to those mines,” he says. “Mining companies that are here today have built a really strong reputation within their communities. We probably fly under the radar despite the fact we’re more than 50 per cent of the state’s export wealth.” On top of this, Tasmania is the

A BALL MILL AT THE BEACONSFIELD GOLD MINE.

country’s largest generator of clean renewable energy, which translates over to its mining activities. For Mostogl, this is a key reason why Tasmania is attracting investor attention. “I think the green energy we produce is the sleeper that will continue to raise Tasmania’s profile internationally,” he says. “We are largely 100 per cent renewable. For anybody in this day and age that is a big factor in

THE FLOTATION PROCESS AT THE HELLYER GOLD MINE.

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terms of being able to market their product and show their sustainability credentials. “Using the renewable energy from our magnificent hydro and wind assets, Tasmania’s potential to be a supplier of low-cost green hydrogen should further enhance the export wealth generated by our sector.”

A new golden age

Tasmania’s Beaconsfield gold mine has been shut since 2012, with previous owner BCD Resources describing the closure as an economic decision. At the time, the company stated that the gold price was “not viable to mine below the current depth of 1210 metres”. Fast forward to the present day and gold prices have enjoyed massive spikes in value in Australian dollars, which has lured more investors to explore Tasmania’s prospects in the sector. NQ Minerals plans to revive the historic Beaconsfield site to uncover gold deposits that lay dormant beneath that 1210-metre mark. “From 1999 through to 2012, the average grade was 11 grams per tonne, so this a high-grade gold mine – it’s significant,” NQ Minerals executive director Roger Jackson says. “It’s opened at depth of over 1200 metres and there’s significant amounts of gold left in the remnants. “The Beaconsfield load itself is probably one of four parallel systems – the main layer and the one that was mined over the last 100 years being the Tasmanian reef is the most


REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT

significant but not necessarily the only reef. “Given that there was a number of times that there were issues around water, wars, labour etc – there’s potential that the old-time miners may have missed some reefs during that and we’re confident around the Beaconsfield precinct.” NQ Minerals signed a $2 million deal to acquire Beaconsfield in February and expects to complete due diligence at the site this year. “Having a gold endowment – such as the existing remnants that were at Beaconsfield – will provide plenty more added depth to our portfolio,” Jackson says. “The mine is right in Beaconsfield — and Beaconsfield has been a mining town since the 1860s. “The town is looking forward to us restarting because there’s a lot of miners that have previously worked at Beaconsfield, it’s a significant mine for employing locals. It would be a predominately local workforce.”

Out west

The west coast of Tasmania is home to some of the state’s most prosperous operations. With volcanic sulphide systems scattered across areas such as Mount Read, NQ Minerals is also anticipating positive exploration results at its flagship Hellyer gold project. The Hellyer site includes a polymetallic deposit with the potential for expansion. NQ Minerals predicts that the project will exceed $1 billion in revenue over a 10-year period. “There’s a lot of high-grade material in the Mount Read volcanics in and around Hellyer,” Jackson says.

“We’re talking volcanic massive sulphide systems that have averaged greater than 20 per cent zinc or zincblende equivalent over many years. “We hold a good part of the area around Hellyer and we are exploring at the moment – we are pretty confident that we are going to have positive results.” NQ Minerals acquired the Hellyer gold mine in 2017 and plans to restart its mining operations in the future, which in turn will provide more jobs to local workers. Tasmania is also home to the largest tin deposit in Australia – the Renison mine, which is also positioned along the west coast. “Renison is a very historic operation, having been producing now for more than 50 years. The project is well located and geologically blessed, allowing it to be a long-life, stable, profitable operation,” Metals X chief executive officer Mike Spreadborough says. Metals X has a 50 per cent equity interest in the Renison tin mine under the Bluestone Mines Tasmania Joint Venture with the Australian subsidiary of Yunnan Tin Group. For Spreadborough, tin is entering a new phase, with demand for the commodity emerging from the battery industry. “Tin is an important commodity for Tasmania, Australia and globally. We believe the tin market is entering an exciting period supported by diversification and growth of applications in new technologies,” Spreadborough says. “Solder is still, by far, the largest use for tin but we are seeing it become more critical in applications such as the battery industry.”

THE RENISON SITE HAS HISTORICALLY BEEN AUSTRALIA’S LEADING TIN MINE.

With forecasts that tin will be the top metal benefitted by new technology, Spreadborough is convinced of the opportunities that lie ahead for the commodity. “The tin market has been in deficit since 2014 with the emergence of China as a major

importer, and with limited supply growth forecast and existing production from major producing regions expected to decline over the next decade, all the ingredients are there for a potential uplift in the tin price and a bright future for Renison,” he concludes. AM

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TECHNOLOGY

VUFORIA CHALK ALSO COMES IN A DESKTOP VERSION, REMOVING THE NEED TO BE ON THE PHONE.

MOUNTING TECH ABILITY LIVES UP TO THE HYPE WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH AUTOMATION AND AUGMENTED REALITY? OSISOFT AND ROCKWELL AUTOMATION DEBUNK HIGH TECHNOLOGY MYTHS WITH VANESSA ZHOU.

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utomation is a key enabler of improved health and safety in mining, but it is not the only solution. Just as an airplane wouldn’t fly on autopilot and be left without a pilot on duty, the mining sector requires the presence of employees even in autonomous environments. Such is the belief of industry principal, mining, metals and materials at software company OSIsoft, Martin Provencher, a former production manager who now works with companies to help improve their production results, reduce their costs and heighten on-site protection of workers. “Having access to real time

operational data can help people know what’s happening and when it will happen, and even in prescribing the best actions to take in certain circumstances,” Provencher tells Australian Mining. “We have a client who is an operator in the cement industry. They have transitioned to an autonomous operation of kilns, but even though the kilns can operate on autopilot and their processing ability has improved significantly, they still have people on-site. “You still want your people even if you have an autonomous truck. We need someone to monitor on-site or remote operation in real-time to make sure it’s safe and everything goes as planned.” OSIsoft conducted a health and

OSISOFT’S PI VISION HELPS OPERATORS ACCESS CRITICAL DATA THAT RESIDES IN INCOMPATIBLE SYSTEMS.

AUSTRALIANMINING

safety survey. Out of 192 mining companies that responded to the survey, 95 per cent believe that technology is a key enabler of health and safety. Fifty-eight per cent have seen the adverse effects of injuries and fatalities on productivity, 50 per cent on costs and 35 per cent on company reputation. “Technology is definitely a key enabler, but it doesn’t necessarily replace people,” Provencher says. A Canadian mining company, for example, was battling with noncompliant events when a series of incidents occurred during ore dumping by truck drivers. “While operators want to do a good job, they want to maximise the throughput,” Provencher says. “So they were going quickly on dumping to get to the new ore faster. The problem is, if you dump too fast, it creates risks. “If the operator doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s doing a good thing. Now, the company uses realtime data so the operator can see if he is compliant with the dumping procedure. “The truck drivers subsequently adjust their behaviour and dump the ore properly, reducing 85 per cent of incident rate.” Real-time operational data, coupled with technology, not only allows a company to improve a process, productivity or safety one at a time, but multiple areas such as quality, environment, compliancy and reporting at the same time.

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Mining companies can collect realtime data from their assets, including the trucks, crushers and individuals, to improve asset reliability, regulatory compliance and safety. Provencher has gauged rising interest among mining companies that are yet to exploit increased tech capability to improve their workers’ safety. “In 2012, I talked about bearings that will tell us when they need changing. They’re called intelligent bearings,” he says. “Today, I’m still talking about that example, but I see more companies being engaged with it. And it’s not going to be about transformation just among mining companies, but also a business transformation for the manufacturers. “They will start offering intelligent bearings – value-added bearings – not just plain bearings. That transformation is coming. “The use of real-time operational data is the next revolution that’s coming from the mining industry, and it has started.” Rockwell Automation enterprise account manager, Murray Phillips, believes as technology evolves, mining companies will continuously be on a journey towards autonomous production. For every business case the mining companies fund, there needs to be a sufficient return of investment (ROI) to justify the investment. Due to the ever-changing environment, companies need to revisit their business cases as often



TECHNOLOGY

as every six months to get a robust, end-to-end understanding of the opportunities that are available for their operations. “Autonomous fleets, for example, are multi-billion-dollar investments, so they must have a significant multi domain payback, for example safety and productivity.” The dynamic environment that businesses operate in has been particularly highlighted by the first few months of 2020. Phillips says that in some manufacturing sectors the sense of urgency to introduce automation has significantly increased from January to April. “If you look at Victoria’s surgical supply provider, Med-Con, there is suddenly a huge urgency to increase production from two million to 50 million surgical masks a year within 12 weeks, so automation has become absolutely essential to achieve that scalability,” he says. Human resources can also become a bottleneck for being the decision makers when the human gets flooded with having to make decisions within a short period of time. “Typically, the way workflows have been designed, all data is delivered to the control room operators, so they can end up being the bottleneck in non-ideal conditions,” Rockwell Automation technical consultant Mike Smith says. “Therefore, the next step in the automation journey is decision automation which can, as a minimum, assist the operator with decision making and when required, can also make authorised decisions autonomously.” “That may be execution management, where operators

VUFORIA CHALK ALLOWS USERS TO FREELY ENGAGE IN THE VIDEO CHAT THROUGH ANNOTATIONS.

now need to only do 20 per cent of the job in setting up a piece of equipment, because the 80 per cent has been autonomously preconfigured and ready to go.” “This allows the operators to dedicate more time to process improvement rather than having to make all the decisions that can be automated.” Strategic partnerships between technology companies, including Rockwell Automation, have powered the world of automation into the reality that it is today.

SYNCRUDE PARTNERS WITH OSISOFT TO BUILD A MOBILE EQUIPMENT EVENTS SYNTHESIS SOLUTION THAT ANALYSES MECHANICAL EVENTS.

AUSTRALIANMINING

Rockwell Automation and PTC formed a strategic partnership in 2018 that provides an integrated Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform to customers with analytics that matter most to them and drive results. Rockwell Automation now gathers data from different sources, allowing it to do more predictive control and analytics, and also provide decision support required by mining companies. The partnership also helps smooth the journey for a company’s automation strategy. PTC’s augmented reality (AR) solution allows two or more people to collaborate and troubleshoot equipment without requiring the subject matter expert’s physical onsite presence. Cutting hours of flying or driving to the non-functioning equipment, PTC’s AR remote assistance app, Vuforia Chalk, is a solution that allows an on-site operator to show a subject matter expert, who may be miles away, the exact machine in trouble via a video chat. Chalk is being offered free of charge until June 2020. Chalk enables chat participants to annotate on the video, and the subject matter expert to point at the exact wiring or object that needs fixing, and how. This helps remove the possibility

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of creating further damage, safety issues and equipment downtime as a result of communication barriers and using incorrect procedures. “It’s hard for people to put into words what the system is doing wrong, but Chalk provides over-theshoulder assistance, where experts can collaboratively solve a problem while keeping the actual context going via the video chat,” Phillips says. “It gives you the opportunity to animate the screen, circle the exact area of problem and see what others see.” Chalk’s capability is so versatile that it can also assist with equipment commissioning. With the onset of coronavirus and its resulting travel restrictions, Chalk has conveniently become the go-to tool for mining operators, including many of Australia’s mining giants. Indeed, Rockwell Automation has observed a spike in the amount of app downloads since the world became more isolated to limit the virus’ spread. The good news is, Chalk has become a Rockwell Automation standard offering with equipment since 2018. Though technology is not a sole answer to all problems, it has proven to be an enabler of better safety, communication and turnaround times. AM


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MINING BOSS PROVES STEADFAST IN BULL OR BEAR MARKETS UNDER THE VISIONARY LEADERSHIP OF CHAIRMAN OWEN HEGARTY, PRIVATE EQUITY MANAGER EMR CAPITAL IS BULLISH EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. VANESSA ZHOU WRITES.

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t a time when the mining industry is wounded by the coronavirus pandemic, EMR Capital chairman Owen Hegarty is spearheading the transition of ownership at the Ravenswood gold mine in Queensland. Just as many Australian and international mining companies shift down a gear, EMR Capital is preparing to further develop the formerly Resolute Mining-owned operation. Hegarty envisions Ravenswood as a long-term, sustainable and competitive 200,000-ounce-a-year gold operation. Without laying off any employees post-acquisition, jobs at the Ravenswood mine were instead solidified with a chief executive and management team that is set to

GOLDEN GROVE HAS BEEN OPERATING FOR OVER 20 YEARS BUT WE’RE CONVINCED IT’S GOT ANOTHER 20 YEARS OF LIFE IN IT. IN FACT, WE THINK THE BEST IS YET TO COME.” execute a new strategy for the mine. “For us, Ravenswood has got a terrific potential and good resource base, but it needs work and a new sense of direction – more capital expenditure, more drilling and a move from an underground to open pit operation,” Hegarty, the winner of the Liebherr Lifetime Achievement title at the 2019 Australian Mining Prospect Awards, says. “Since announcing our planned acquisition in January, we’ve been transmigrating ourselves in terms of management positions, systems and workforce to get ourselves

into position to take over and start implementing our plan for Ravenswood. “As you know, Resolute is a West African-focussed company and Ravenswood was its only remaining asset in Australia. The company didn’t want to take on the role of expanding Ravenswood, creating a terrific opportunity for us.” The focus at Ravenswood will be increased drilling activities and completing its expansion study for mining, processing and tailings storage facility. This strategy would drive the

EMR CAPITAL ACQUIRED THE QUEENSLAND-BASED KESTREL METALLURGICAL COAL OPERATION FROM RIO TINTO IN 2018. AUSTRALIANMINING

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operation to be an annual producer of 200,000 ounces of gold by the end of next year. The Australian dollar gold price is also perched on EMR Capital’s side, with prices floating at the higher end of the spectrum when other commodities suffer from dropping prices during periods of volatility in 2019–2020. The way Hegarty describes it, “The whole world has changed since COVID-19 occurred in the last few months.” But this doesn’t break his determination to solidify all nine of EMR Capital’s operations worldwide. “We’ve increased our volume of production at the Kestrel coal operation (in Queensland) by up to 60 per cent since acquiring the mine from Rio Tinto in 2018. Costs also came down accordingly,” Hegarty says.


PROFILE

EMR CAPITAL CHAIRMAN OWEN HEGARTY.

“Our expansion model is our best friend when it comes to reducing costs and increasing labour and equipment productivity. We’ve certainly done that at Kestrel.” This strategy also served EMR Capital well at the Golden Grove copper-lead-silver-zinc-gold mine near Yalgoo in Western Australia. EMR managed to lift the mine’s production volumes, keep its costs down and increased the resource and reserve levels. “What we aspire to do is ultimately

convert the operation into a longterm, sustainable and competitive position,” Hegarty says. “Golden Grove has been operating for over 20 years but we’re convinced it’s got another 20 years of life in it. In fact, we think the best is yet to come. “We’ve discovered a new orebody and will bring that into production, pushing our volume past two million tonnes a year. And we’re on track to achieve that.” Hegarty describes Golden Grove as “a natural hedge,” owing to its

polymetallic volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) endowment. The lift in one commodity’s price, such as that of gold, can balance out other underperforming metals, such as copper and zinc. Despite a volatile price environment, EMR Capital’s ambition for the long term remains the same, and its operations are proceeding according to plan. “What we’ve been doing, like virtually every other company or institution in the world does, is to focus on ensuring the safety, health, hygiene and welfare of our people, work sites, projects, offices and operations around the world and the nearby communities in which we operate,” Hegarty says. “We want to make sure everyone’s well protected, and so are our assets from the topsy-turvy prices, and interruptions to the supply chain and production.” In Zambia, in the famous Copperbelt, EMR Capital is in the process of ramping up the partly government-owned Lubambe copper mine to a higher volume. Its production is sitting at a capacity of 20,000–30,000 tonnes a year, but EMR Capital has bigger ambitions. The company will ramp up Lubambe to nearly double its current rates to 40,000 tonnes a year through a lift in mining rate.

EMR Capital is also looking to expand the Lubambe mine by conducting further drilling and studies on the much higher-grade and larger extension orebody. “The orebody is deeper in the system but accessible from the existing mine,” Hegarty says optimistically. “We can process the material through existing infrastructure so there is no major permitting required. “We’re on track doing both of those things: taking the production volume up and extending the orebody, which will take Lubambe north of 100,000 tonnes a year.” Despite having three other preproduction assets that are in the final stages of permitting – two potash projects in Spain and the United States, and a metallurgical coal project in the United Kingdom – Hegarty is keeping an eye open for opportunities EMR Capital can jump on once the coronavirus crisis ends. It isn’t business as usual, he admits, but there are some opportunities to take advantage of. “It’ll take time to clear up, but the mining sector in general, especially in Australia, is quite resilient, so we’ll get out of the crisis with time. And in our own world in EMR Capital, we’ll come out the other side stronger and be well placed to take on more opportunities,” Hegarty concludes. AM

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COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

FIRST DRILLING AT THE WOLLOGORANG PROJECT.

AUSTRALIA’S OPPORTUNITY IN THE COBALT INDUSTRY TWO YEARS AGO, COBALT WAS ON ITS WAY TO BECOMING THE MINING INDUSTRY’S NEXT BIG THING. THAT ALL CHANGED AFTER A TURBULENT CRASH IN MARKET VALUE. WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE RESOURCE? NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA FINDS OUT.

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n a world of electronic vehicles, smartphones and laptops, the prominence of rechargeable lithiumion batteries is becoming increasingly vital to our everyday way of life. More than half of cobalt’s global supply is used for batteries. And while cobalt may not receive the same attention as lithium, it is a vital component for battery manufacturing. Cobalt Blue is one of the many ASX-listed Australian companies that recognises the importance of cobalt as a commodity. The company’s sights are set on becoming a pioneer for Australia’s domestic battery industry through its Broken Hill cobalt project in New South Wales.

Broken Hill is designed to operate as both a cobalt mine and refinery that produces battery-ready cobalt sulphate, which will give the company significant advantages and control over its resource, according to Cobalt Blue chief executive Joe Kaderavek. “We are working collaboratively via a three-year partnership with the Australian Government’s Future Battery Industries Project and major domestic lithium, nickel and manganese producers to assess whether Broken Hill cobalt can supply a future Australian battery industry,” Kaderavek tells Australian Mining. “Australia produces roughly 4000 tonnes of cobalt per annum – around 3 per cent of global production – despite possessing over 16 per cent of the world’s cobalt resource.

COBALT SULPHATE PRODUCED BY COBALT BLUE.

AUSTRALIANMINING

“If successful, the Broken Hill cobalt project will double Australian production with a further 4000 tonnes per annum. “The project is an integrated mine and refinery which aims to produce a high-quality battery ready cobalt sulphate rather than a lower value concentrate, in effect the beginning of a domestic battery industry.” Cobalt Blue has also developed a unique method of extracting cobalt from pyrite at a lower cost. Notably, this strategy has attracted international project interest from technology companies such as LG International. “Over the last three years we have specialised in developing an environmentally friendly, low cost cobalt extraction process from sulphide orebodies,” Kaderavek says. Cobalt is one of the primary minerals used to manufacture lithiumion batteries. The mineral is used to develop battery cathodes. According to Kaderavek, lithium-ion batteries remain important due to their energy-dense properties. “For two fundamental reasons lithium-ion is a standout for energy storage and those sorts of technologies,” he says. “Energy storage is a broader name for batteries but that includes things like hydro dams, which can also be considered a battery. “Energy density and power density are the two key reasons lithiumion batteries are a standout within energy storage. And of all the battery technologies, lithium ion is certainly one of the more applicable to fast charge discharge.

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“In other words, you can charge and discharge that battery very quickly. You don’t want to be charging your electronic vehicle for 24 hours, you want to ideally do it in five to 10 minutes just like you would with a petrol engine.”

Tracing the ethics of cobalt

Cobalt mining has often been a subject of controversy due to the unethical practices taken by artisanal miners predominately located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the largest supplier of cobalt. The DRC produces around 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt. However, roughly 20 per cent of DRC cobalt comes from artisanal sources, with a portion of them violating environmental and human rights standards. To combat this, several companies within the industry are supporting cobalt blockchain technologies, which use a method of chemical “fingerprinting” to track down where cobalt has come from. End user companies have also turned away from using unethically mined cobalt in their products, with their eyes set on other parts of the world that produce the metal. Australia’s emerging cobalt sector has a chance to lead the way for ethical and environmentally responsible cobalt mining in the future, according to Resolution Minerals managing director Duncan Chessell. “Tracing cobalt all the way to the source allows companies like Apple and Samsung, who are some of the big


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COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

end users of this to turn around to their customers and say the cobalt used in their batteries is produced ethically,” Chessell states. “In the end there are some constraints to that because there’s only a limited number of battery factories in the world that can produce products in certain ways and they tend to end up batching all the cobalt together from all over the world, so it’s going to be difficult to apply tracing right down the supply chain. “I think you’re probably starting to see that the big end users of cobalt are starting to scour the world for resources outside of Africa to de-risk being so reliant on one country.”

What’s next?

Resolution Minerals (previously known as Northern Cobalt) was one of several companies that shifted its focus to cobalt during the commodity’s price bubble through the Wollogorang project in the Northern Territory. “The Wollogorang project with the Stanton cobalt deposit is a touch under one million tonnes at 0.13 per cent cobalt,” Chessell says. “We spent probably about 18 months exploring quite extensively nearby and we were hoping to increase the resource base, but we weren’t able to move the needle past that initial resource (Stanton) so it was a bit disappointing for us.” As Resolution Minerals targets its exploration projects in Alaska, the next stage of the Wollogorang project will focus on its polymetallic coppercobalt potential after discovering

copper systems within the area. “I think we need to look at the project as being part of a polymetallic system for Resolution. There’s the potential there for copper-cobalt resources,” Chessell says. “Clearly the drive to electric vehicles and the longer-term shift away from coal-fired power and that type of activity for generating power is the fundamental driver of cobalt’s price. “The timing on that seems to be a little bit slower than people initially thought – and when there was this realisation that the cobalt supply was quite restricted a few years ago, the price rose dramatically in response because it is quite a small resource space in that sense.” Despite the company easing away from its focus on cobalt, Chessell believes the commodity’s potential has a chance to reignite once the DRC’s cobalt mines reach their end of life – which is expected sometime this decade. “The number of years of world supply of cobalt in resources is also quite limited,” Chessell says. “Compared to copper, lithium and some of the other metals that are required in the battery space, cobalt is the one that’s got the smallest amount of world supply. So you’re going to see that fluctuation in the cobalt price.” For Argonaut director of metals, mining and energy research Matthew Keane, a demand recovery for cobalt might be looming. “There is a current market balance or slight surplus for cobalt for battery manufacturing today, particularly

THE WOLLOGORANG PROJECT HAS FOUND NEAR SURFACE SEDIMENTARY HOSTED COBALT AND COPPER RESOURCES.

into China. However, with recent incentives emplaced by China to stimulate battery and electric vehicle manufacturing, we expect cobalt demand to once again pick up,” he says. “Even as new technology batteries use a lower proportion of cobalt, the metal is still a vital part of the battery chemistry. With an 811 battery, that is

THE BROKEN HILL COBALT PROJECT HAS THE LOGISTICAL BENEFIT OF BEING LOCATED NEXT TO A RAILWAY.

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eight parts nickel, one part cobalt, one part magnesium. “Cobalt has been viewed as an ethically challenged commodity due to environmentally lax mining and the use of child labour in the DRC.” And how will Australia’s cobalt industry secure investor support? According to Keane, a strong financial strategy is needed. “The desire for socially and environmentally sourced cobalt, along with a growing supply deficit should encourage supply from countries such as Australia,” Keane explains. “However, for Australia’s cobalt industry to get investor support, a strong financial strategy is required to reduce disparity between market capitalisation and the development capital required to build projects. “The equity component of project funding is perhaps the hardest piece. The equity markets are more likely to favour projects which have strategic or downstream investment to help bridge financial hurdles. “I think the future of Australian cobalt is probably driven largely by a need and a want by a lot of the downstream users of battery mineral products to diversify outside high risk jurisdictions. “Particularly if you’re an electric vehicle manufacturer, you don’t want to be taking your cobalt out of where the majority comes from in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where you have unethical mining practices.” AM


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TRAINING & EDUCATION

NAVIGATING THE NEW LANDSCAPE OF MINING JOBS GRADUATE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS PROVIDE A PATHWAY TO JOBS IN THE MINING SECTOR. WHAT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ATTRACT THE NEXT GENERATION TO CHOOSE A CAREER IN MINING? TARA HAMID FINDS OUT.

CATERPILLAR DEALER, HASTINGS DEERING OFFERS A GRADUATE PROGRAM WITH ON-THE-JOB TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES.

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s digitisation in mining gains momentum, the nature of jobs that the sector is creating and therefore the skillsets that are required in the sector are changing. Deloitte research in 2017 indicated that globally 69 per cent of mining companies were looking at introducing remote operations and monitoring centres, 29 per cent robotics and 27 per cent unmanned drones.1

Since then, the uptake of digitisation by mining companies has accelerated, with the latest Deloitte report on the top 10 trends transforming mining identifying digitisation and intelligent mining as a key trend that has escalated over the past two to three years. Reserve Bank of Australia head of economic analysis Alexandra Heath, in her address to the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) in June last year, pointed to the increasing reliance of the

resources sector on people with IT skills of various kind. She noted that reports by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Reserve Bank of Australia showed a significant growth in the number of non-routine cognitive jobs. In her explanation, jobs, irrespective of the sector, can be classified by whether they are routine or not and whether they mainly use manual skills or cognitive skills. In Australia, there has been less growth over the past 30 years in the number of routine jobs, which by their nature are relatively straightforward to automate, according to Heath. “The most significant growth has been in non-routine jobs, particularly non-routine cognitive jobs. Nonroutine jobs have features such as interacting with people, or diagnosing and solving irregular problems, that are harder to automate,” Heath comments in the speech. The growing requirement for a more technology-focussed skill force in the mining sector has resulted in AUSTRALIANMINING

some mining and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) companies offering graduate programs to train the next generation of workforce. Glencore is one such company that offers its graduate program mainly to the regional communities where its operations are based. The company operates 24 mines across regional Australia, from Mount Isa in north-west Queensland, McArthur River mine in the Northern Territory, Queensland’s Bowen Basin to the NSW Hunter Valley and the Goldfields region of Western Australia. In April, Glencore extended its 2021 graduate development program to provide further career opportunities across its coal, copper and zinc operations. Over 100 graduates have participated in Glencore’s program this year, bringing the total number of current enrolled graduates to 220. “A key aim of our graduate, apprentice and trainee programs is to foster and support the next generation of talent that will make a positive and

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lasting contribution to our business. For many that will be in the regional communities they have grown up in,” a Glencore spokesperson tells Australian Mining. Glencore offers a range of job pathways programs, including school leavers programs, vacation programs, traineeships, apprenticeships, graduate programs and employment programs tailored specifically for local Indigenous groups. “Our graduate program is important not only for the career development opportunities it provides across regional Australia, but also because it helps nurture our future leaders. So many of our graduates or apprentices have gone on to leadership positions and are now helping shape the future of our business,” the Glencore spokesperson says. Caterpillar dealer, Hastings Deering is another example of a METS company that is nurturing the future mining workforce through its in-house graduate program. Hastings Deering’s talent development specialist, Rowena Fraser, says Hastings Deering has employed graduates in a variety of roles for a number of years, with several having moved into senior roles within the company. “In the past five years our program has evolved into a leading graduate rotation program. We currently have 10 graduates participating in our program in the areas of human resources (HR), finance, IT, engineering and marketing and sales,” she explains. The Hastings Deering program consists of two- to three-year structured rotations, dependent on the area of discipline, with dedicated support from talent specialists and rotation sponsors. “The rotations are designed to provide our graduates with a depth and breadth of experience both in their field of expertise and the Hasting Deering business, along with providing them the foundation to be leaders of the future,” says Fraser. Graduates are recruited by Hastings Deering via a comprehensive recruitment process, according to Fraser. “We have hired graduates from across the region with one


TRAINING & EDUCATION

current graduate from Mackay. Our engineering and HR graduates also undertake a regional rotation to gain exposure to the broader Hasting Deering business,” she says. In addition to the various rotations, the graduates also participate in a variety of development initiatives including networking events, professional accreditation and general professional and leadership training. “We also regularly employ undergraduate students on internships to provide them practical exposure and complement their formal studies. A number of our interns have joined Hastings Deering on a permanent basis on completion of their studies,” says Fraser. While graduate development programs offered by mining and METS companies provide opportunities to fill up the increasingly technical and cognitive roles in mining, the sector’s analysts say more needs to be done to improve the image of the mining sector as a brand. The report ‘Mining: what story are we telling?’ by Deloitte2 looks at the practical steps that the sector’s leaders can take to change the public perception of mining. These include, among other steps, changing the current image of the mining workforce. “When we think about the average worker in mining, this is the first image that comes to mind: masculine,

THE HASTINGS DEERING PROGRAM CONSISTS OF TWO- TO THREE-YEAR STRUCTURED ROTATIONS.

physical, remote and low tech,” says Nicki Ivory, Deloitte’s Western Australia mining leader. “We would like that (instead) to be: diverse, tech-enabled, not necessarily remote but maybe (working from) remote operation centres. That’s the sort of image where we think a shift needs to happen.”

Through this shift in the dialogues and perception, the report suggests, the mining sector could attract a more diverse workforce, including a greater population of females, in addition to other benefits. “Let’s start to change the conversation. Let’s start to tell positive stories about our industry and in that

way we can shift the image of mining,” Ivory concludes. AM Sources: 1- D eloitte. The digital revolution – Mining starts to reinvent the future, February 2017. 2- Mining: what story are we telling? Let’s change the conversation, Diggers & Dealers 2019.

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INTERNATIONAL

ASX-LISTED JUNIORS GAIN A SPANISH FOOTHOLD THE DETERMINATION OF AUSTRALIAN MINING COMPANIES IS OVERCOMING GEOPOLITICAL CHALLENGES THAT ARISE AT OVERSEAS OPERATIONS. VANESSA ZHOU SPEAKS WITH RAFAELLA RESOURCES AND HIGHFIELD RESOURCES ABOUT THEIR SPANISH AMBITIONS.

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ustralian companies are breathing new life into Spain’s mining industry and overcoming a perception that it is difficult to get operations moving in the country. Mining is a historic activity for the people of Spain, dating as far back as Roman times when the country supplied metals to its conqueror of the period. In spite of a long history in mining, operating a mine in modern-day Spain has a reputation for being challenging. Australian-based junior Rafaella Resources is one foreign company that has not been put off by these challenges. Spain holds appeal for Rafaella when it comes to mining in Europe. For one, it is one of the world’s top producers of tungsten, a metal commonly used

risks,” Turner tells Australian Mining. “But as far as Spain goes, it has got significant advantages over other European countries. “The country has a highly-skilled mining labour force because there’s a long history of mining right across the country.” Spain is home to strong mining universities, Turner adds, with graduates who often end up in South America or Africa for training before returning to the country with international exposure. The talent pool is mostly comprised of junior employees. They are much cheaper to recruit than their counterparts in Australia, reducing mining costs as a whole, Turner continues. What’s more, Rafaella also enjoys the benefits of operating in a Spanish promining jurisdiction such as Galicia.

in heavy metal alloys. Acquiring project approvals in Spain may take time, but Rafaella has conveniently sidestepped this hurdle. By the time Rafaella acquired the Santa Comba tungsten-tin project in Galicia, north-west Spain from Galicia Tin and Tungsten, all project permits were included in the deal. This factor attracted Rafaella managing director Steven Turner to join the company’s board in 2019. With the endowment of a 30-year, twice renewable mining concession, Rafaella has an extensive opportunity in front of it – until 2068, to be exact – to expand Santa Comba without having to revisit permitting decisions. “I’d be cautious about investing in a project that’s not permitted, because even though it’s a good mining jurisdiction, you have to know where you’re going and understand your

THE SANTA COMBA TUNGSTEN-TIN OPERATION IS RAFAELLA RESOURCES’ FLAGSHIP PROJECT IN NORTH-WEST SPAIN.

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“We’re actually being chased by the local government of Galicia to start operation. They want us to start now,” Turner says. “It’s a short timeline to get Santa Comba into production, which is targeted for the first half of 2021, and for mining that’s really, really quick. “We already have a resource and infrastructure in place. Once our feasibility study is complete, we won’t need much more capital. “And that’s what I like about this project. It doesn’t have any red lights or obvious obstacles that would get in the way of getting into production.” Rafaella has secured three-year offtake for all of Santa Comba’s tungsten and tin with Genevaheadquartered Transamine Trading. The world’s oldest independent and privately-held commodities trading company will buy Santa Comba’s tungsten concentrate at the mine gate and sell it to end user, Germany’s HC Starck GmbH. This will provide Rafaella with funding for working capital. Santa Comba’s strong prospects have even pushed Turner to almost entirely relocate his family to Spain. That was, until the coronavirus pandemic forced the world into a lockdown. Turner has since recruited a project manager to help oversee activities at the site during his absence. “We’ve been very fortunate. We are going through our drilling campaign and feasibility study at Santa Comba right now, and our resource drilling campaign finished on March 5, just as (cases of coronavirus) were ramping up,” Turner says. “We demobilised our rigs and everyone went home. Our geologists were on site until March 12 taking core samples and sending those off. We had all our site work done before the lockdown.” With Santa Comba’s JORC resource released in April, Rafaella is moving towards completing a feasibility study for Santa Comba in July. In spite of the precarious time presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the company decided to go “full steam ahead”, thanks to a clear continuity of activities at Santa Comba. “Not all locations face the same


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amount of lockdown. Our operations in Germany and the United Kingdom, where we conduct our test work, for example, aren’t shut down,” Turner says. “All these countries are treating mining as essential services, and because of that common treatment, they’re continuing to operate in this environment.” The advantage of owning an international operation is not lost on Rafaella, which, despite already having operations in Western Australia (gold) and Canada (cobalt-copper), is looking at other opportunities. The Santa Comba project is the third tungsten operation in Spain, but there are many mines operating and others that are yet to start in the country, according to Turner. “This current environment is creating opportunities,” he adds. “If you have a good shareholder base, there are opportunities for you to grow and diversify.” Spain’s mining prospects have also driven ASX-listed Highfield Resources to push through a multi-year environmental approvals process. The company received its approval in June last year after dealing with three mining authorities due to the location of the Muga potash deposit, which straddles the Navarra and Aragon regions. Highfield chairman and acting chief executive Richard Crookes considers this to be standard, especially in countries with a rigorous permitting process. “I think there’s a perception that (acquiring an environmental approval in Spain) can be quite a challenge. There have been a couple of projects that go through a protracted process,” Crookes says. “Our experience is that it is fair and transparent, and in the scheme of things, it’s a function of the project scale.

“We’re very supportive of the regulators because it’s quite challenging for environmental authorities who don’t see such project scale very often.” Highfield is looking at developing Muga into a 500,000-tonne-a-year operation during its first phase, before ramping up to a million tonnes a year in the second phase. “This module manages two things. Firstly, the capital,” Crookes says. “You can build a one million tonnes a year project straight away but the capital cost will be more. So we’re starting with a smaller project to keep it manageable for a junior company to finance. “Secondly, it’s about establishing the market. Unlike copper or gold where you sell the products to a smelter or refiner, starting at a smaller scale allows us in potash mining to establish our markets in Europe and Brazil.” Crookes says global demand for potash is 65 million tonnes a year, but Highfield is not in the business of putting too much pressure on prices or causing much disruption in the market. To keep the momentum going, Highfield submitted an application for Muga’s mining concession in March this year. The company expects to receive the mining concession before the end of 2020, allowing it to start construction early next year. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Crookes says it has been business as usual for Highfield and the company is fortunate that it’s not in production yet. “We know that the government regulators who are approving our mining concession are working on our project and submission,” Crookes says. “We’re very optimistic with the timeline for our mining concession award being at the end of the year. And our project represents a silver lining in a way.

AUSTRALIANMINING

“There’s been high unemployment in Spain due to the virus, so our project can be a good solution for the government to create jobs in the local regions when we come out of this pandemic.” Unlike Australia, fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mining operations are rare in Spain. The mine’s workforce will be made up of local residents adjacent to the project location. Crookes says mining projects in Spain offer relief to local communities as the country suffers from rural depopulation, where working-age people move to bigger cities to find employment. “A mining operation in Spain typically lies outside of major city centres, so local mayors are very supportive of our project because they know it’s going to bring people and deliver economic benefits to the town,” he adds. The future of the Muga project is backed by two offtakes secured with Swiss-based agri-traders, Ameropa and Keytrade. Highfield will initially supply up to 300,000 tonnes a year of muriate of potash to Keytrade and 250,000 tonnes to Ameropa. The company is also talking to other potential offtake partners and plans to sell salt as a by-product of its potash production.

“Once we’ve established the Muga operation, we will look at expanding our footprint in that area,” Crookes says. “But the major goal for us is to build a safe, sustainable potash business with the support of local and regional stakeholders. Communities are very important to us.” According to Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable, Australian mining companies are major outward investors in their own right. This enables other countries to translate their natural riches into better living standards for their people, in the same way that Australia has done successfully over many decades. “While it will be challenging with borders closed during the COVID-19 pandemic for Australian miners to establish a new presence outside of the country, our mining and METS businesses will be in great demand over the long term as other countries look to bring their mining industry up to world’s best practice,” Constable says. With Rafaella and Highfield Resources just two examples of a mining link between Australia and Spain, the mutually-beneficial relationship is set to deliver benefits that transcend generations in both countries. This makes their time and investment worthwhile. AM

RAFAELLA RESOURCES IS IN THE PROCESS OF COMPLETING GEOTECHNICAL DRILLING AND A FEASIBILITY STUDY AT THE SANTA COMBA OPERATION.

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SUSTAINABILITY

MINE CLOSURES: IN PURSUIT OF HAPPY ENDINGS HOW DOES THE LATEST COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT-FUNDED COOPERATIVE RESEARCH CENTRE AIM TO DRIVE SUSTAINABLE POST-MINING TRANSITIONS? TARA HAMID REPORTS.

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ithin the next decade, several large mines in Australia will reach the end of their lifecycle. Ensuring that mine closures are done responsibly and with the least impact on regional mine-dependent economies is the focus of the newly-funded Cooperative Research Centre for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC-TiME). Sustainable and responsible mine closure practices have been highlighted as a priority by the Commonwealth Government in the National Resource Statement 2019. It is also viewed as an area

where Australia could create new opportunities by exporting its technologies and expertise globally. To support that objective, the CRCTiME is looking to spend over $130 million, contributed in cash and kind by its partners on collaborative research and development projects over the next 10 years. The funding includes $30 million announced by the federal government in March. The CRC-TiME is jointly led by the University of Western Australia and the University of Queensland, and brings together over 70 industry partners, including major mining and METS (mining equipment, technology and services) companies, regional development organisations, local, state

and Commonwealth Governments, and research partners. The Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) are intended to improve collective action to increase the competitiveness of Australian industries. While the new CRC-TiME is still at the beginning of its collaborative journey, University of Western Australia professor and CRC-TiME chief executive officer Guy Boggs believes the initiative is a step forward for the mining sector. “We have a world-leading mining industry here in Australia. We also have well-structured government regulations when it comes to mine closure and rehabilitation. But what we have not

done well enough in the past is to look at opportunity areas where we can position the regional communities to successfully transition post mining,” he tells Australian Mining. “As a community, we have this understanding that mines start, operate and then just put back what was there before. But, as a broader community, we have never dealt with the issue that mines actually do change the landscape. “So that rather than just thinking about putting back what was there before, since we are already asking mining companies to spend millions of dollars on rehabilitation work, let’s make sure that this money is actually spent for the best interest of the community.”

ERIZON HELPED WITH EARLY REHABILITATION OF HILLGROVE RESOURCES’ KANMANTOO COPPER MINE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA. IMAGE: ERIZON.

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SUSTAINABILITY

Professor Anna Littleboy, from the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland, has been appointed as research director for CRCTiME. Together, the two academicians will be hosting the western and the eastern presence of CRC-TiME. She concurs with Boggs on the importance of shifting the focus to communities. “One of the things that we asked ourselves as we went through the planning for CRC-TiME was ‘what are we trying to achieve with this CRC?’ And eventually the conversation evolved from asking ‘what does it mean to close a mine?’ to ‘what does it mean to transition the mining community?” Littleboy says.

CRC’s foundational programs

Seeking to answer this question will be the focus of the first of the three foundational programs that the CRC plans to undertake over the next 12-18 months, Littleboy explains. “Over the next months, we will be conducting a range of consultations around Australia for each program of research that we anticipate the CRC to undertake. We call the first program, Regional Economic Development, and this is where we anticipate the regional and community groups to come together with the mining industry and the state governments to discuss the best post-mining opportunities for their relevant regions,” she says. “For example, in the Bowen Basin where we have a predominantly coal mining economy, we expect a whole range of conversations to be held about regional development. Researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of Western Australia and CSIRO can all come together as part of virtual research teams to collaborate.” And what solutions will the research teams focus on? According to Boggs, these could include a range of options for the mining regions. “Part of this might be around reestablishing the land’s biodiversity values, part of it might be looking at the commercial opportunities and part of it might be looking at the way the mines are constructed in the first place to ensure that the legacy that they leave is one that the communities can use,” Boggs explains. “There are a lot of opportunities for energy production and agricultural development post mining. There’s a whole suite of different uses that mines could be suitable for that would help the communities that have come to be dependent on the mine to transition and be economically resilient after the mine closes.” While the first program puts communities at the centre of decision-making for their regions, the second program that would form the

GUY BOGGS, CEO OF THE TRANSFORMATIONS IN MINING ECONOMIES CRC.

CRC TIME’S RESEARCH DIRECTOR, PROFESSOR ANNA LITTLEBOY.

THERE ARE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENERGY PRODUCTION AND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT POST MINING. THERE’S A WHOLE SUITE OF DIFFERENT USES THAT MINES COULD BE SUITABLE FOR THAT WOULD HELP THE COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE COME TO BE DEPENDENT ON THE MINE TO TRANSITION AND BE ECONOMICALLY RESILIENT AFTER THE MINE CLOSES.” foundation of CRC-TiME, Professor Littleboy says, will focus on what the mining companies can do at the planning stage. “There are a lot of things mining companies can do whilst operating that can help to facilitate what will happen in the future. But we need to understand how to factor that into risk modelling, mine planning and mine scheduling,” she says. “That’s where we anticipate research that will be more closely aligned with the mining companies. We’ll be talking to mining companies about how do they do mine planning at the moment? How do they factor social performance and community engagement into their operations? How can we embed that a little more strongly in operations?” And finally the third program of focus for the CRC-TiME will revolve around technological solutions to minimise risk from mining operations. “Here in Australia, we have really strong research capabilities. Because of our historically strong mining industry, the research community has been able to grow around that – particularly in areas related to bio-diversity and ecosystem restoration in mining rehabilitation,” says Professor Boggs.

Economic impact of CRC-TiME In its economic modelling, the CRC-TiME estimates that through

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consultative works with relevant research bodies and mining companies and the resulting economic opportunities, the CRC could help generate as much as $2.4 billion for the mining industry and broader community during its 10 years of work. The figure, Littleboy says, comes from detailed modelling, primarily driven through interviews with end users, the community and the state governments involved in the program. Part of this economic impact, according to the academician, could be driven from increased certainty around mine relinquishments, resulting in more investor confidence. “One of the issues facing Australia’s mining industry is that there are very few cases of successfully closed and relinquished sites. And if the mining industry cannot demonstrate that they can close mines, then obviously that has an impact on their ability to get investment to open new mines,” Littleboy says. An independent study by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) in 2017 suggested that up to 50,000 mines in Australia have been abandoned. In a study in the same year, the Australian Institute estimated the number to be more than 60,000, adding that one case was identified between 2007 to 2017 where a mine had been

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fully rehabilitated and relinquished. Professor Boggs says part of CRCTiME’s efforts to increase certainty of mine relinquishment will be working with the Western Australian, Queensland and South Australian governments to find solutions for remediating the legacy sites. “We have a number of government departments that are very interested in the work that the CRC could do around abandoned sites. We will be looking at how to better remediate some of these legacy sites,” Boggs says “Legacy sites also provide opportunities to test and trial new technologies and innovations – which would be difficult to trial in operational mine sites. “So we will be exploring whether we can use legacy sites as testing grounds to help develop new technologies that help with closing operational mines.”

Global market opportunities

Another area where CRC-TiME sees opportunities for positive economic impact on the mining sector is in global supply growth opportunities. “There’s a burgeoning global market for closure solutions as the industry matures around the world everywhere. All mining jurisdictions are facing this issue of rehabilitating the mines and handing them back to the people,” says Littleboy. “So we calculate that if Australia can position itself as a global leader in providing these solutions for mine closure, there is potentially a billion dollars out there in terms of a global market to access and the intellectual property and commercial services to meet that market.” The value of rehabilitated land post mining is the third area of economic impact that the CRC-TiME economic modelling considered. “Obviously if we can deliver back some productive land for agriculture or horticulture, then that land has an economic value post mining,” says Littleboy. “We haven’t actually managed to quantify the environmental value of the land that we return to people, nor have we managed to quantify the value that for example Indigenous people will get out of retaining access to country, but those are obviously very important impacts that we can deliver through this CRC as well.” Decipher is one of the partners on the CRC-TiME program. Having grown out of the Industrials Division of Wesfarmers, Decipher will bring expertise around software solutions in mine closure and rehabilitation, tailings reporting and monitoring, and data processing to CRC-TiME. Decipher chief executive Anthony Walker says he is optimistic about the


SUSTAINABILITY

ERIZON HELPED WITH THE SUCCESSFUL REHABILITATION OF RIO TINTO’S HAIL CREEK MINE IN THE BOWEN BASIN. IMAGE: ERIZON.

cultural change in the mining sector. “Decisions about mine closure in Australia have tended to have little consideration of how the land might be used post-mining. However, this is beginning to change, particularly with increased stakeholder pressure, environmental concerns and regulatory changes,” Walker says. The company is looking to leverage its satellite and LiDAR-based tools and data processing technology to facilitate research on mine rehabilitation. “The CRC-TiME could not have come at a better time, and I’m really excited that we have the technology to help revolutionise the task of mine rehabilitation and closure and ultimately improve those rates of relinquishment of land,” Walker says. “It’s exciting and encouraging to see a cultural shift in the industry in recent years with an increased appetite for collaboration by industry, research bodies and government in this space.” Anglo American and Komatsu have this year demonstrated a modern example of this collaboration between a major miner and METS company. The two companies announced a collaborative mine rehabilitation partnership that will see more than 9000 trees planted at Anglo American’s

Dawson coal mine in the Bowen Basin, Queensland as part of a five-year rehabilitation project. The project includes a pilot of biodegradable Cocoon planting technology, which reduces the need for irrigation, to help drought-proof the newly-planted trees. The Cocoon pods require 100 times less water than traditional methods and can support a young plant through its critical first year with an accessible reservoir of water and moisture.

Positive changes on the way

Another industry partner on the CRC-TiME program is Erizon, which brings extensive expertise around soil stabilisation, revegetation and site rehabilitation work. The company has delivered rehabilitation solutions to major mining companies, including revegetation and soil stabilisation work on Rio Tinto’s Hail Creek mine in the Bowen Basin and early rehabilitation at Hillgrove Resources’ Kanmantoo copper mine in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Erizon environmental consultant Glenn Sullivan says when it comes to revegetation and soil management, early planning is key to a successful AUSTRALIANMINING

and low-cost mine rehabilitation program. “One challenge that the mines are facing at the moment is around availability of high-quality top soil for revegetation. When the soil is stockpiled for many years, it loses its biological value and without a long-term plan, it can get completely eroded or depleted,” Sullivan says. As part of its range of solutions and products for mine rehabilitation, Erizon has developed EnviroSoil as a top soil alternative that can be applied hydraulically to the depleted stockpile to bring back organic matter and nutrients to the soil. “Even if the mine is halfway through its life and the operators realise that they are going to run out of top soil, for example due to soil erosion or depletion, there are still ways to create suitable top soil with early planning,” Sullivan says. In Sullivan’s observation, the re-vegetation approach in Australia needs to be upgraded in line with the latest innovations. “When it comes to re-vegetation, certain parts in Australia are renowned for using the same old methods that were used decades ago and not really embracing innovation and new ways of

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doing things,” he says. But the trend is changing as regulations around mine rehabilitation tighten, Sullivan continues. “We are certainly having more discussions around forward planning for mine rehabilitation with our customers now that we had, say, three years ago,”he says. The team of experts behind CRCTiME sees the positive response from the mining community as a positive sign that the sector is getting ready for more collaboration. “One of the most exciting things about the CRC-TiME is that a large number of mining companies have supported this initiative – which shows that they see value in cooperating around mine closure,” Boggs says. “Mine rehabilitations have historically been seen as areas of commercial conflict between the mining companies. So there has been a lack of sharing in the past. Now the industry as a whole is realising that it needs to work collaboratively to achieve better outcomes in mine closure. “This cannot be achieved with the mines working in silos and CRCTiME is hoping to facilitate a greater transparency.” AM



EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

ORBIZ GUIDES MINING COMPANIES THROUGH INDUSTRY HIGHS AND LOWS ORBIZ HELPS COMPANIES TO STREAMLINE THEIR OPERATIONS TO DELIVER SIGNIFICANT AND SUSTAINABLE IMPROVEMENTS IN BOTTOM LINE PERFORMANCE. SALOMAE HASELGROVE FINDS OUT HOW THE ORBIZ METHODOLOGY HAS ENABLED EVOLUTION MINING TO OPTIMISE OPERATIONS AND MAXIMISE VALUE AT THE MUNGARI GOLD MINE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

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ith experience across a range of industries, including rail, construction and mining, ORBIZ deploys its performance specialists to provide expert knowledge that helps companies achieve maximum value for more sustainable operations. ORBIZ takes it upon itself to become a part of the company it is advising, going on-site to observe the business, make initial reviews and reports, and work together with its client’s people to create and implement a plan for improvement. Consulting manager Mike Troop says he and his colleagues at ORBIZ are rarely found in a corporate office; they work on-site to provide a consistently high level of support every step of the way. “We’re essentially a hands-on implementation support service, working side by side with our clients. It’s not a report and walk away type of relationship,” Troop tells Australian Mining. Mining companies generally engage the services of ORBIZ when they are experiencing challenges with operational performance and short-term planning targets or the deployment of strategic objectives such as life of mine and capital plans. “We advise how businesses can improve their operational effectiveness and then support them to implement the changes,” Troop says. “To do this, we identify sustainable ways of driving down internal costs, stabilising operational performance and maximising the efficiency of how mine managers run and operate their assets.” A key area that ORBIZ reviews is the identification and removal of wasteful activities that cause delays to otherwise efficient operations. ORBIZ generally assists its clients to improve the visibility of performance, establish clear accountabilities, develop an improvement process and promote a collaborative approach between

EVOLUTION MINING’S MUNGARI GOLD MINE IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

planning, technical services and operations. ORBIZ services a global client base through a large consulting team which has a background in a range of industries, giving the company a unique blend of knowledge and the ability to enter new industries and quickly adapt. A key attribute members of the team share is extensive experience working in organisations that are recognised as industry leaders around the world, so they know how highly effective businesses function. As ORBIZ co-founder and director Peter Walker explains, improving a mine site’s operational efficiency AUSTRALIANMINING

often requires an outside point of view to coordinate a forward-looking plan that isn’t focussed purely on capital. “We are not miners here at ORBIZ, but we have a lot of experience improving the performance of mining operations,” Walker says. “Improvements within the mining industry are often capital focussed, mining managers will often look to the design of a plant or a changed orebody as part of the process to improvement. “The way we typically help organisations to improve their business is by establishing simple systems to visually monitor and

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manage performance, solve problems as they occur and drive continuous improvement to ensure strategic and tactical objectives are achieved, resulting in reduced capital expenditure and increased output.” ORBIZ operates on a personal level by engaging teams to visualise and understand current processes, then designs and implements solutions that encourage the required leadership routines. “Our tag line is ‘performance specialists,” says Troop. “We don’t come in with a technology-based solution, what we do is improve the way leaders coordinate and manage their resources to get the best out of


EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

what they already have.” ORBIZ offers its services across a multitude of commodities, but frequently works with gold mining companies, due to the price cycle habits of the precious metal that drive the nature of the industry. The company supports gold producers to reduce their all-in sustaining costs (AISC), improve their margins and increase profitability. This is achieved throughout the commodity price cycle which

companies to become more profitable, its programs focus on continuous coaching and development of leadership behaviours and processes, to increase control of performance and the ability to identify and resolve problems. Troop adds: “After we’ve completed a review and developed a specific approach on how to tackle the issues we’ve identified, we work with the site teams to implement the solution from end to end.

WITH ORBIZ’S ASSISTANCE, EVOLUTION MINING HAS TURNED THE MUNGARI MINE INTO A KEY ASSET IN THE COMPANY’S PORTFOLIO.

ORBIZ SUPPORTS GOLD PRODUCERS TO REDUCE THEIR ALL-IN SUSTAINING COSTS (AISC), IMPROVE THEIR MARGINS AND INCREASE PROFITABILITY. THIS IS DONE THROUGHOUT THE COMMODITY PRICE CYCLE WHICH ENSURES MAXIMUM PROFITABILITY.”

ensures maximum profitability during the high end of the cycle and sustainability of the business when the cycle changes and gold prices drop. Walker says the current climate of record-high gold prices has created a perfect environment for gold operations to consider maximising their value to best take advantage of these extraordinary operating conditions. “It’s the perfect time to capitalise on gold assets,” Walker says. “Not only is the gold price high, it remains in high demand due to the current economic environment.” While ORBIZ is there to assist

“This continues all the way through to an effective handover to ensure maximum benefit over the long-term through sustainability of the new ways of operating.” Evolution Mining’s Mungari operation in Western Australia is a gold mining operation that has firsthand experience of the high level of support and service that ORBIZ provides. While in a transition phase as a mine, Evolution realised the company was not delivering to plan, so approached ORBIZ to help overcome some of the roadblocks the operation was experiencing. Evolution general manager AUSTRALIANMINING

Andrew Millar says ORBIZ helped the Mungari workforce to not only understand the process of lifting the performance of the mine to its full potential, but also how to continue running the mine in a way to maintain this standard. “We approached ORBIZ to assist us in getting the line supervision to get a better understanding of the current state of the operation and in developing plans to improve. You can only improve if you fully understand the issues,” Millar tells Australian Mining. “The ORBIZ process was to transfer the information from spreadsheets to some really simple and visual-like problem-solving tools. “The process is very much focussed on taking people on the journey and is customised for each different business.” With this process, Millar was able to educate his supervisors and other staff to allow them to manage and control the processes. This gave the Evolution staff ownership of the outcomes and changes in the business, but also made it a more involved procedure for all staff from a grassroots level up, rather than everything coming from higher management. The ORBIZ techniques to keep value in gold businesses throughout the price cycle suits Evolution’s business model to be sustainable

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throughout downturns and strong in upturns. “At Evolution we set high targets. Our business needs to be sustainable in a low gold price environment and in the current times of a high gold price environment we need to ensure we maintain our cost discipline and higher prices directly result in higher margins,” Millar explains. “We certainly don’t control gold prices but it’s our job to be in a position where we can run the business to get the real value out of periods like now, where we’re seeing high gold prices.” Now, a year and a half since ORBIZ first started working with the Evolution team at Mungari, the gold miner is on track in leading the process within different areas of the business. “We identified seven ‘champions’ on site who are now leading the process within their areas rather than relying on ORBIZ to do the job for them,” Millar says. “ORBIZ still come to site to complete audits and ensure sustainability, but we are well into moving on to the next phase of collecting the data, managing it correctly and understanding our opportunities. “Mungari has delivered a very positive transformation and is now a key growth asset in Evolution’s portfolio.” AM


EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

MINING DARES TO DREAM ABOUT REMOTE OPERATIONS REMOVING MINERS FROM DANGEROUS OR MONOTONOUS TASKS BY USING AUTOMATION AND REMOTE OPERATING TECHNOLOGY HELPS COMPANIES TO WORK SAFER AND MORE PRODUCTIVELY. DARES TECHNOLOGY HAS ANOTHER METHOD THAT HELPS MONITOR CONDITIONS FROM AFAR.

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he ability to operate and monitor mines remotely has become even more important during the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused countries including Peru, Chile, Argentina and South Africa to impose nationwide lockdowns. The coronavirus halted mining activities in some countries, meaning the sector could not provide its usual economic contribution. Fortunately, companies such as Dares Technology are making it easier to monitor sites without having to be on-site, or even in the office. The Barcelona-based company provides operators with high-quality ground deformation maps, using radar satellites to monitor the stability of slopes in open pits, waste dumps and leach pads; rock stability in underground mines; and prevent tailings dam failures. Chief executive officer and founder Javier Duro says the technology helps monitor slopes, leach pads and stability from home, making Dares’ role critical under current circumstances “When we have companies in the mining industry removing people from sites and automating the process, our technology can assist mine managers in making decisions for the remote management of operations,” Duro says. “In a scenario like the coronavirus pandemic, our remote sensing technology is more important than ever because you don’t need to send anyone out to the field to calibrate, maintain or validate the technology. “It is all automatic, so all the miner needs to do is set up the project then we take and process the satellite images and send the results back to the miner through the server.” The satellite images show where a mine’s hotspots are, allowing companies to geographically review the operation and receive updates – weekly, fortnightly or monthly – based on their preference. This technology is ideal for mines aiming to reduce their workforce during the pandemic and is especially suited to Australian operations. “In Australia, most of the mines are

IN A SCENARIO LIKE THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, OUR REMOTE SENSING TECHNOLOGY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BECAUSE YOU DON’T NEED TO SEND ANYONE OUT TO THE FIELD TO CALIBRATE, MAINTAIN OR VALIDATE THE TECHNOLOGY.”

DARES TECHNOLOGY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND FOUNDER JAVIER DURO.

in quite remote locations and it is a very big country,” he says. “So this kind of technology is wellsuited to Australian operations, this tool can be used by mine managers to monitor all of their mines from their own home in a unique web browser.” Satellite monitoring also significantly improves safety, preventing dangers such as slope collapses and tailings dam failures. Monitoring the stability of ground settlement, substance and heat allows companies to monitor the rate of movement of slopes, allowing them to prevent the potential of disasters before they occur. “In open pit mines, slopes are activated after removing material from the bottom and they start creeping towards the centre,” Duro explains. “We can see from the satellite image what the velocity rate of the creeping is, which gives the mine operator hints about potential accelerations and how much the risk of a collapse is increasing.” Satellite monitoring prevents disasters from interrupting mining and potentially hazardous situations for workers, while also helping to avoid damage to surrounding environments. “If liquids and chemical water or AUSTRALIANMINING

mud from a mine collapse goes into a river and is merged with fresh water, this can be a serious problem for the local environment,” Duro says. “We can monitor all of these environmental adaptations and the ground settlement’s relation to the potential risk for collapses in different areas of the mine.” Dares Technology’s satellite monitoring is also useful in the construction and oil and gas industries, the latter being the first sector it broke into in Australia. “We monitor some construction projects, such as the extension of the Brisbane Airport in 2012,” Duro says. “This technology can be applied to the ground, like in mining projects and settlement monitoring in urban areas. “It’s a good application as well for the oil and gas sector, which is where we started in Australia many years ago, monitoring around 9000 square kilometres of the Surat and Bowen basins in North Queensland.” Regardless of the industry, Dares Technology’s systems can be modified to suit any operation or budget, without compromising on quality. Dares Technology prides itself on offering a system that is accurate and of high standard, but also affordable in

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comparison with other options. “We have different levels of products that all have the same quality and precision,” Duro explains. “The quality and precision are the most important things, because without quality measurements, you cannot ensure that you will see the risks. The cheaper versions do not change the level of quality but rather the frequency of the update.” This means Tier 1 companies looking for a complete satellite monitoring experience can opt for weekly updates, whereas more budget conscious companies can opt for updates every two weeks or month. Satellite monitoring technology can also be used to complement other monitoring technologies, such as GPS and underground sensors to optimise monitoring and knowledge of mines. “If a mine has GPS, it does see a lot of what is going on in the ground, but you do not see the surroundings, which is where Dares Technology comes in,” Duro concludes. “With this data, you can manage decisions about the mine’s whole picture responsibly. It’s not all about removing people from the picture, it is a technology to complement human judgement to make better decisions.” AM


EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

INNOVATION IN GET MANUFACTURING OPTIMISES MINING KEECH AUSTRALIA HAS PROVED THAT INNOVATION AND QUALITY AREN’T DILUTED, BUT CONTINUALLY IMPROVED OVER ALMOST A CENTURY OF OPERATION. AUSTRALIAN MINING SPEAKS WITH CO-OWNERS AND DIRECTORS DAVID AND GARTH KEECH ABOUT HOW THIS LEGACY HAS BEEN PRESERVED.

KEECH AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER AND DIRECTOR OF MANUFACTURING GARTH KEECH.

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nnovation is at the heart of Keech Australia, a fourgeneration family business with extensive links in the mining industry. It is also the key ingredient that improves efficiency and optimises mine operations. Keech Australia is a local designer and manufacturer of high-integrity steel castings. The company particularly specialises in aboveground excavator ground engaging tools (GET) for the mining industry. Founded by Gordon Keech Sr in 1934, the company hasn’t stopped growing and building lasting relationships with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) under the vigorous leadership of its modern-day team. Incumbent owners David Keech, also the director of sales and marketing, and Garth Keech, director of manufacturing, started their journey with the company in the mid-1970s under the guidance of their fathers. “We had intensive training throughout all facets of the company over many years, up to the point where we took over running the business in 1986,” Garth Keech says. “We recognised the need for innovation and we encourage it across all our staff, whether they are family members or not. “We’d like to provide a better solution to service our customers.

That’s the company culture and ethos we’ve been trained to preserve.” Keech Australia has become known as the developer of the Keech 6-series GET system called Keesharp. The bucket teeth and bucket edge systems, suitable for a range of machine sizes from 90 to 360 tonnes, are selfsharpening, lightweight and proven to increase digging load capacity, load bearing and operational life. The company philosophy for innovation also stands out through the introduction of the Keelock retention system, which eliminates any requirement for a tool to install the GET. “No hands will need to go underneath the buckets during change-outs,” David Keech says. Garth Keech adds: “Keelock can be fitted without a tool and is simply pushed in by hand. From the point of pouring the casting during the manufacturing stage to the fitting of the finished product in the field, safety is paramount during the entire process. “We benchmark our creations against the opposition and work with our customers and in-house design team to come up with a solution that always brings an improvement to an existing product. “We’re very proud of what we’ve done in our development towards the system, and we can see this GET series take us on a bigger growth path AUSTRALIANMINING

in the near future.” As a result of the innovation, equipment downtime is minimised. In fact, it is one of the main areas Keech Australia addresses when manufacturing above ground GETs. The fast change-out facilitated by Keelock was developed on the back of the company’s ongoing investment in manufacturing equipment and technology, and documented training procedures for employees. Keech, which employs 130 workers and owns one of the remaining foundries in Australia, invested more than $6 million in moulding equipment and manufacturing facilities to meet client demands and quality expectations. “We own one of the only foundries in Australia that has invested in new equipment in a very long time,” Garth Keech says. “We’re constantly bringing them up to global manufacturing standard and we’ve acquired three-dimensional printing gear to assist with our inhouse design and development.” Manufacturing isn’t the only skill that Keech Australia has perfected over many decades of innovation. The company has established a sales team across Australia, secured overseas distributors in Canada, South

America and South Africa, and hired employees close to mining centres to expand its relationships with mine operators. Keech’s supply and design flexibility, and local supply chain and manufacturing capabilities (in Bendigo, Victoria), means it has minimised any product waiting time for companies that are enquiring locally or from overseas. “Given the COVID-19 disruptions in the current climate, it’s a strength to manufacture in Australia, close to the mine sites, with no issues in our supply chain,” Garth Keech says. David Keech continues: “It’s our intention to continue our supply while keeping our customers regularly informed, as well as our employees safe as we adapt our manufacturing process to abide by government recommendations.” After all, employee training is one of the most important aspects of Keech Australia as it strengthens a multi-generational business. Company culture and employee skills have been retained and backed by its workers who have stayed loyal over several decades. This is a reminder of Keech Australia’s track record in innovation and employee culture. AM

KEECH AUSTRALIA OPERATES ONE OF THE MOST PROGRESSIVE AND LAST REMAINING FOUNDRIES IN AUSTRALIA.

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EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

THE BANLAW SOLUTION CAN CONTROL ONE LIQUID OR MANY SERVICE FLUIDS JUST AS EASILY.

BREAKTHROUGH SERVICE TRUCK TECHNOLOGIES UNLOCK OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCIES BANLAW IS DELIVERING A CLEANER, FASTER AND SAFER SERVICE TRUCK FILLING PROCESS WITH AN ELEGANT SOLUTION FOR FUELS, OILS AND MAINTENANCE FLUIDS OF ALL TYPES.

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hen mines seek to manage the multiple fluid types their service trucks carry around on-site, the technologies available to do the job have been far from perfect. Until now. There are a number of common issues, including slow filling of service trucks or an inability to bottom-fill, compartments regularly overfilling, operability issues as fluid transfer components degrade, contamination of service fluids being pumped into the mining fleet, inability to know

which tanks are actually full, and even vehicles that become unsafe to drive because of the amount of liquid onboard. Fluid management company Banlaw has been successfully deploying a unique electronic solution to overcome these service truck challenges, both retrofitting problem machines, and on new truck bodies. Banlaw mechanical engineer Mark Fretwell says the company is seeing a lot of interest in FillSafe Power, the company’s electronic tank overfill protection product. “It is a pressureless solution that neatly circumvents the issues AUSTRALIANMINING

associated with hardware designed exclusively for diesel, and with pneumatic solutions,” Fretwell tells Australian Mining. “FillSafe Power has been popular on excavators and diesel locomotives for over a decade, but the latest version continuously performs system checks, which helps pinpoint a problem if there is one with relative ease. “This makes it just perfect for service vehicles, which can have a number of these systems onboard the same truck. Recent projects in New South Wales, Queensland and Papua New Guinea demonstrate this clearly.” Two of the challenges Banlaw

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has been overcoming on service trucks relate to fluid compartments overfilling, and also of operators simply not knowing when the tank is full. When it’s unclear whether a tank is full, operators can inadvertently pump more fluid into an already-full tank, or somebody has to climb up on top of the vehicle to open hatches and check. Besides the obvious risks from overfilling tanks and climbing up oily ladders and on top of vehicles, it is incredibly time intensive to fill perhaps nine different storage tanks incrementally or sequentially because the system can’t be trusted to do what it is meant to be doing automatically.


EFFICIENCY & OPTIMISATION

BANLAW FILLSAFE POWER FOR NINE FLUID TYPES RETROFITTED TO A CAT 777 SERVICE VEHICLE.

WE SEE A LOT OF SERVICE TRUCKS THAT LACK FUNCTIONAL OVERFILL PROTECTION, WITH FILLING SYSTEMS THAT ARE NEEDLESSLY COMPLEX, OR WITH TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE ACTUALLY DESIGNED FOR DIESEL, AND WERE NEVER INTENDED TO BE USED WITH COOLANT, HYDRAULIC OIL, OR OTHER LIQUIDS. OF COURSE, THERE ARE GOING TO BE ISSUES ON THOSE MACHINES.” Fretwell explains how this can be overcome using Banlaw’s solution, saying that one benefit of the electronic solution is visible immediately. “If there is a green light turnedon then you can fill that fluid compartment, and if there’s only a red light then you know the tank is already full,” Fretwell says. “The status for each compartment is evident at a glance with no wasted time.” The faster the service truck bulk diesel storage is filled, the faster that machine can be back in the pit, refuelling the mining fleet. This contributes to overall site productivity and also limits the number of service vehicles required on-site for larger operations. Service trucks are filled at a wide range of flow rates which require an engineered solution unique to each truck, but it is not uncommon for these machines to sit at a refuelling bay for an hour filling up. The FillSafe Power solution uses an actuated ball valve, allowing unrestricted flow into the tank. “Some of our service truck projects have enabled the onboard diesel bulk storage tanks to be filled at a rate of 1500 litres per minute. The result is that service trucks spend more time doing their job, and vehicle queues at refuelling facilities are resolved,” Fretwell says. Service fluids such as oils and

coolant represent a different set of challenges. They don’t behave like diesel, and therefore overfill protection systems designed for diesel fuel are not an appropriate choice. For example, a system designed for use with diesel will often fail to shut off when operated at flow rates below 100 litres per minute, or it might quickly degrade when exposed to thicker liquids or those with corrosive attributes. “The FillSafe Power product is easy to maintain and is elegant in its simplicity,” Fretwell says. “It’s just an actuated valve of the correct diameter and construction for the fluid being managed, a stainless-

steel electronic level switch, and a very smart controller that indicates tank status to the user with LEDs, ensures that the ball valve closes automatically at the correct fill level, and communicates any system integrity issues with an alarm rather than an expensive surprise.” Banlaw recently upgraded a Cat 777 service truck for a gold miner, addressing many of the challenges discussed above. Due to the steep incline of some areas the truck needed to access, driving the vehicle with the diesel tank completely full represented a safety concern. An electronic level switch was installed through the side of the tank to terminate filling at the lower, revised safe fill level. This would not have been possible using a traditional top-mounted mechanical level sensor or float. The truck was also not able to bottom-fill service fluids because of two problems related to the filling process. The pneumatic system was failing to reliably allow any fluids to be pumped in. Some compartments were also failing to cease filling at the correct level, causing overfills. It was identified that several floats had broken-off inside the tanks due to the continuous sloshing around of liquids, and the complex arrangement of pneumatic lines was suffering wear and tear, regularly failing. Banlaw’s simple ball valve, level switch and controller setup for each tank removed the need for mechanical and pneumatic parts inside the tanks, which can be prone to fail in this way. The Banlaw distributor on-site replaced the existing system with a bank of FillSafe Power controllers with LED tank status displays, all colour coded and located adjacent to the service fluid fill points. Banlaw’s new approach to use an

BANLAW’S SOLUTION CAN BE APPLIED TO ALL KINDS OF SERVICE TRUCKS, CONTROLLING ONE LIQUID OR MANY SERVICE FLUIDS.

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electronic solution for service truck filling and tank safety has helped miners in Australia and the Pacific overcome tank filling efficiency, safety and reliability concerns. The service trucks from these projects do more work, more safely, and operators know at a glance which fluid storages are full, and which can be topped up. Banlaw’s FillSafe Power is a unique modular solution, suitable for all fluid types and all flow rates, with integrated tank status indicators at the fill point, and visual alarms just in case anything goes wrong. AM BANLAW’S FILLSAFE POWER SOLUTION • A simple pressureless tank filling solution that cannot be overridden. There is no way to overfill tanks when the actuated valve is closed. • Bright LED indicators at the fill point show operators whether a tank is already full, or that it is able to be filled. • A bank of controllers at the fill point ensures safe filling for any number of fluid types. • Systems can be engineered to cater for any flow and any fluid. It works perfectly for service fluids at low fill rates and diesel fuel at very high/efficient flow rates. • Suitable for oils, coolant, AdBlue, diesel and all other liquids. • Can be used with oil couplings, dry break refuelling equipment, camlocks and other fluid transfer fittings of all makes. • Includes none of the mechanical parts or pneumatic components inside the tank, which often fail from the rigors of day-to-day mine site operation. • Level switches have builtin redundancy and can be manufactured with up to five pre-set fill levels which can be selected with a key switch. • Actuated valves are closed automatically at the appropriate fill level for each fluid storage, stopping tanks from overfilling. • Ball valves are maintained in a closed position when not filling to avoid potential spills. • The FillSafe Power Controller has built-in visual alarm warnings should the system identify a malfunction in any of the major system components. • Banlaw FillSafe Power is simple to install on-site using standard Banlaw products and following simple guidelines.


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INDUSTRY COMMENT

RISING TO THE COVID-19 CHALLENGE THE COVID-19 OUTBREAK CONTINUES TO AFFECT BUSINESSES AND INDUSTRIES AROUND THE GLOBE. ALTHOUGH COVID-19 ROSE QUICKLY ON A GLOBAL SCALE, THE AUSTRALIAN METS SECTOR HAS BEEN ABLE TO RAPIDLY ADAPT TO THE IMPACT AND ASSOCIATED CHALLENGES.

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hile the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector is by no means immune, its prevailing innovation focus and entrepreneurial spirit has uniquely positioned companies to adapt their offerings to quickly changing client needs. Austmine, the leading industry body for the Australian METS sector, explores these factors and more with industry thought leaders George McCullough, Interlate director – strategy; John Pala, Palaris managing director; and Scott Dumaresq, Sentient Queensland state manager.

Helping in a time of need

The combination of collaboration with entrepreneurial spirit has greatly assisted the METS sector in this time. Pala says, “The METS sector has a history of being agile, nimble footed and resilient. Companies come together and work collaboratively for a better outcome for the industry.” In addition to collaborative efforts, companies are also sharing knowledge and resources. Interlate has made its centre accessible to industry contacts in need. McCullough says, “Interlate has been able to offer a place to mining companies for any stranded employees who were no longer able to travel. “Our centre is amenable to providing safe work zones during this pandemic as it has multiple isolated zones, hyper connectivity and regular hospital-grade cleaning.”

Digital connection

Worldwide companies are shifting to new working from home demands in compliance with government health and safety restrictions. With this shift, there has been an increased need to connect digitally. Pala notes the rapid establishment of online forums for the sector and attributes this to the sector’s agility. Austmine has increased its digital offerings and launched regular weekly meetups in order to help members be aware of the latest industry developments and opportunities.

AUSTRALIAN MINING ROLLS ON DESPITE THE IMPACT OF COVID-19.

Technologically savvy

With travel restrictions, one of the major challenges for companies has been around remote accessibility. Many METS companies were already operating in the space, whereas other industries needed to transition. McCullough says, “Much of the METS sector is technologically savvy, making remote working seamless and easier for the sector.” The mining industry has been undergoing a digital transformation prior to the pandemic, where miners have been turning to the METS sector for emerging technologies and solutions as a way of increasing efficiency and safety. As such Australian METS companies are adept at operating and assisting with the Internet of Things, automation, remote access and other digital transformation areas. Dumaresq says, “Sentient has been working with 3D visualisation for some time. Mining companies have been seeking these solutions, and there has been an increase in interest around remote applications. “Our interest in remote operation has increased in the current environment and we will continue with this through to the other end.” McCullough adds, “At Interlate, we have a technology backbone. Interlate has seen a stronger pull on our services, as technical experts are no longer allowed to travel to sites. “Our business is a remote operation business, which means we’ve been able to help people move into that mode.” AUSTRALIANMINING

METS leaders note that a positive consequence from COVID-19 travel and site restrictions has been a greater appetite for investment in technology and a quicker transition into the digital age.

Entrepreneurial spirit

In addition to collaboration and existing digital skill sets, the speed of adaptation within the Australian METS sector stems from the entrepreneurial spirit for which it is world-renowned. Flexibility, innovation and the ability to create a rapid response are entrepreneurial skills which transfer well to reacting to the current pandemic. Pala says, “Palaris operates in some remote places internationally, where there aren’t always the greatest telecommunications.” These communication restrictions required an ingenious yet simple solution. “We’re currently utilising work hats and cameras on site, allowing our offices in Sydney, Brisbane or London to assess remotely and send through reports to banks and financial institutions,” Pala adds. Sentient worked with National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) to create a COVID-19 game for children, Social Distance Dash. Dumaresq says, “Using gamification is a fun way to make health and safety guidelines accessible to children. But gamification helps adults learn too.” Sentient already assists companies with VR training, online inductions

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and other e-learning tools. As e-learning isn’t location specific, it’s a great way to ensure that employees feel valued and connected during this period. “Looking after your people at this time is of the utmost importance. I’ve seen companies making use of down time by implementing e-learning,” Dumaresq says. “The more information and resources companies have available online means their employees are staying engaged and focussed.”

Moving Forward

New challenges will arise as COVID-19 progresses, but this isn’t a daunting prospect. McCullough says, “There is a feeling of optimism, which stems from the importance of the mining industry in Australia. “There is a bit more assurance being connected to an essential industry. We’ve been lucky in our ability to continue to deliver good service.” The Australian mining industry remains fundamental to the economic stability of our nation and the quality of life of millions of people around the world. The METS sector will continue to rise to the challenges our future may hold, and provide the innovations, ideas and unique solutions to ensure that mining remains strong and sustainable. AM For more information about Austmine and the capabilities of our member organisations, contact membership@ austmine.com.au.


MINING SERVICES

FROM HALOGEN TO LED: IONNIC PIONEERS SAFETY LIGHTING SYSTEMS AEI MANAGING DIRECTOR NORMAN HAUPT DISCUSSES HOW THE LIGHTING SECTOR HAS EVOLVED TO POSITIVELY IMPACT SAFETY IN MINING AND OTHER MAJOR INDUSTRIES IN AUSTRALIA.

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odern mining operations need cutting-edge equipment. Quality lighting is paramount and Australian-based Auto Electrical Imports (AEI) has pioneered safety lighting across the country. AEI managing director Norman Haupt says the company has been developing safety lighting systems for more than 20 years. “When it comes to lighting there has always been a constant demand for lights with improved output and less current draw,” Haupt tells Australian Mining. “At AEI we have continued to evolve our product line and design systems to suit our mining customers’ requirements. “We are not only offering lights with high output but are focussed on providing lamps with even, usable light patterns and a light colour temperature that is proven to reduce operator fatigue.” The company designs, manufactures and distributes worldleading electrical, lighting and safety solutions for the automotive, mining,

original equipment manufacturer (OEM), transport and construction industries globally. “Because we know the mining industry, as technology has improved, we are often first to market with new solutions, from halogen lights to highintensity discharge (HID) and now light emitting diodes (LED),” Haupt says.

Halogen to HID: saving hours of downtime When AEI first entered the industry, halogen lighting was the only option and typically only had a lifespan of 200–300 hours. This increased dramatically with HID lighting, offering a lifespan of around 3000 hours, and although the cost was high, there was significantly less downtime. Haupt says when halogen lighting was common in the 1990s, few companies were investing in lighting solutions. “Like every new technology, safety lighting has taken time to be affordable for the mass market,” Haupt says. AEI pioneered the HID market in Australia, partnering with leading

WE ARE NOT ONLY OFFERING LIGHTS WITH HIGH OUTPUT BUT ARE FOCUSSED ON PROVIDING LAMPS WITH EVEN, USABLE LIGHT PATTERNS AND A LIGHT COLOUR TEMPERATURE THAT IS PROVEN TO REDUCE OPERATOR FATIGUE.” global lighting manufacturer, NORDIC, to develop a range of products suitable for local mining applications. HIDs were initially a tough sell, convincing customers to spend significantly more on HID compared with the less expensive halogen was difficult. But, less downtime, better output and colour temperature saw the products take off, particularly after AEI began supplying one of the world’s leading manufacturers of construction and mining equipment.

LED: a game-changer

The advent of large-scale LED technology became a game-changer with lighting lasting up to 50,000 hours. LED offered the market a step up

AEI’S CORPORATE OFFICE.

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again in performance, lifespan and light output. LED light patterns can be controlled more precisely than halogen and HID, enabling a much wider range of patterns on offer. From an occupational health and safety (OHS) perspective, the less unscheduled maintenance work that needs to be carried out in a high-risk environment, the better. AEI has in-house programmers and engineers and the ability to create, test and prove safety lighting systems before manufacturing. Haupt says this has allowed the company to work with NORDIC Lights to develop products specifically for the Australian market. AEI has brought premium, hightech LED lighting for heavy-duty vehicles into mining, with unrivalled lifespans of up to 100,000 hours.


MINING SERVICES

Continuously driving technology and materials forward, the new Scorpius PRO 445 incorporates design, material and technology not seen before in this product category. Compared with existing lighting with comparable light output, the Scorpius Pro is smaller, lighter in weight and available in multiple light patterns, all with an incredible 4400lm operational output. The Scorpius PRO 445 withstands shocks of 60G and vibration 15.3G RMS 24–2000 Hz. With an input current of 2.1A at 24V, 9–32V and maximum power consumption of 50 watts, the Scorpius is highly efficient and produces a theoretical lumen output of 7000lm with an operating lumen output of 4400lm. The Scorpius Pro has a fiveyear warranty and IP68 and IP6K9K ratings. AEI recommends checking the lumen output claims for lighting manufacturers in detail. Often there is a mathematically calculated lumen figure based upon trigger pulse measurements provided by LED component makers that has no relationship to a completed product’s actual light output. So, the real light output depends upon many factors, including how effective the lamp body is at dissipating heat, plus the quality and the efficiency of the electronics and lens. That’s why the company provides an operating lumen wherever possible.

Building fit-for-purpose safety lighting systems

AEI employs some of the best technical minds in the business, who specialise in designing and manufacturing innovative systems, customised to meet the needs of customers. From IONNIC beacons, light bars and minebars to surface mount LED lighting modules, AEI has an extensive range of advanced and robust emergency lighting solutions that put safety first, keeping vehicles compliant and people and equipment safe. AEI’s product range allows for fit-for-purpose design and has high vibration and impact ratings of up to 60G, especially suitable for heavy duty applications, and rough terrain. With a range of high output lighting, numerous designs, series and sizes and multiple light patterns, AEI has the product to suit your specific needs. AEI’s IONNIC emergency lighting minebars are tough, Australian designed and manufactured using only quality components. IONNIC Minebars

feature extruded aluminium to provide greater strength and adaptability. “We design and manufacture all minebars in-house and control every aspect of design and manufacture. If the configuration is not available within our standard range we can design and build to your specification, with a turnaround time often less than five working days,” Haupt says. IONNIC’s range of beacons uses advanced LED technology to deliver high output with a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours. With a low power consumption and resistance to high levels of shock and vibration, they are ideal for emergency lighting. Offered in both low profile and traditional heights, the IONNIC 103 and 106 series LED beacon ranges are proven performers in the mining, construction and heavy-duty industries. The IONNIC 103 series is a lowprofile, high output beacon range perfect for mining and heavy-duty applications. Sharing many of the same features, the 106 series is offered in a more traditional height beacon. The soon-to-be-released GEN2 103 and 106 series beacons draw on the proven performance of their predecessors and take it a step further. Featuring a new, more efficient base design, as well as totally new and improved optics for even brighter light output. Both ranges are designed and built to exacting standards and feature SAE class one light output, 12-24V operation, environmentally sealed to IP67 and are backed by a five-year warranty. AM

IONNIC SCORPIUS PRO 445.

AEI MANAGEMENT TEAM (FROM LEFT): LUKE KINDT, GENERAL MANAGER OPERATIONS; NORMAN HAUPT, MANAGING DIRECTOR; KARL MAURER, GENERAL MANAGER; AND COLIN UPCROFT, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER.

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MATERIALS HANDLING

AUTOMATED MONITORING AND REPORTING SYSTEM FOR CONVEYOR BELT CLEANERS MARTIN ENGINEERING CONTINUES TO BE A LEADER OF THE MATERIALS HANDLING SECTOR WITH ITS LATEST INNOVATION THAT ENHANCES THE CLEANING OF CONVEYOR BELTS AT MINE SITES AND IN OTHER INDUSTRIES.

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n a move to continue leadership in the development and implementation of advanced technologies for conveyors and other bulk material handling applications, Martin Engineering has announced a belt cleaner position indicator that monitors the blade, tracking and reporting remaining service life. The intuitive Martin N2 Position Indicator (PI) monitors primary belt cleaner blades, notifying Martin Engineering service technicians and plant operations personnel when retensioning or replacement is required and/or when abnormal conditions occur. The PI can be part of a new installation or directly retrofitted to existing mainframes that use the company’s replacement blades. Managers and service technicians can quickly access info on any networked cleaner via mobile phone.

With approximately 1000 operating systems currently in service and installations continuing daily, the technology has been embraced by bulk material handlers in a wide range of industries and applications. Designed in-house by the engineering team at Martin’s Centre for Innovation (CFI), the N2 Position Indicator is produced solely in company-owned facilities to ensure the highest standards for quality control. In fact, the firm also engineered and built the proprietary equipment used to manufacture the new devices. Martin offers the equipment, monitoring service and batteries free of charge to qualifying customers. The company will also support the PI components and provide customer alerts without cost as needed, with mainframes and tensioners replaced free for users of Martin belt cleaner blades. “There are no annual maintenance

fees, and no add-on charges for cell phone access,” Martin Engineering global marketing director Brad Pronschinske confirms. “Most customers using our cleaner blades can take advantage of this technology.” Position indicators can be mounted anywhere from three to 800 metres from the cellular gateway, and the robust, sealed construction means it is virtually immune from damage. Up to 50 units can be monitored by a single gateway connecting to the Internet, usually located at the highest point in the plant, where the cell signal is strongest. The system does not require a cellular line for each PI, instead communicating via radio frequency from each sensor to the gateway. Operating independently of any plant communications infrastructure, the small physical size and low power requirements deliver a projected battery life of two years.

The self-contained model was developed by Martin in order to minimise the dependency on in-plant resources. Only the gateway requires a constant 110-volt power point. The device eliminates the need for manual inspections by giving technicians precise information, delivering critical real-time intelligence and reducing exposure to moving conveyors, improving both efficiency and safety. Maintenance planning is simplified by having detailed information available on demand, allowing service personnel to deliver and install replacement wear parts during scheduled outages. Alerts are also provided automatically when: A blade change is required; re-tensioning is needed; a cleaner has been backed off the belt; there is an abnormal condition: substantial change in temperature occurs; and batteries need replacing.

Conveyor evolution

The Position Indicator is just one component of the company’s decadeslong push to develop new and evolving technologies to improve bulk material handling and reduce the associated hazards. It’s part of the same product family as Martin’s automatic tensioning system to continuously maintain optimum blade pressure without any operator intervention. “This capability is a true enabler, bringing a number of benefits. Belt cleaner inspection time is basically eliminated, as maintenance personnel no longer need to physically view the cleaner to determine the tension or wear status,” Pronschinske says. “It also reduces the time workers need to spend near the moving conveyor, helping to minimise the potential for accidents.” Pronschinske describes the innovation as a game-changer in the industry, with a positive impact on productivity, operating costs and safety. Relying on actual operating conditions instead of human judgement

THE N2 PI NOTIFIES SERVICE PERSONNEL WHEN A CLEANER REQUIRES RE-TENSIONING OR REPLACEMENT.

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MATERIALS HANDLING

to monitor blade wear and tension for optimal cleaning performance, the indicator maximises the blade’s usable surface area and reports with certainty when a blade is nearing the end of its useful life. Delivering instant, continuous feedback while eliminating guesswork – tracking the individual performance and status of each cleaner – the detailed history also provides a maintenance log with service dates and work performed. The result is an improved return on belt cleaner investments. Replacement parts can be scheduled for just-in-time delivery, and installation can occur during planned downtime instead of emergency stoppages. “By monitoring the rotation of the belt cleaner mainframe, the N2 Position Indicator helps managers plan tensioner adjustments and blade replacements during scheduled outages,” Pronschinske continues. The Position Indicator itself is a self-contained system that does not require an external power source. Manufactured from a proprietary grade of polyurethane that is very resistant to bumps, shocks and knocks, the device is extremely robust.

This material was chosen after Martin investigated numerous options and determined that other materials were simply not able to handle the challenges of severe operating environments. Able to handle a typical mining environment, the device can be installed inside or outside the transfer chute. It has also been designed to be reliable in the challenging ambient environment found at operator sites, such as handling wet and sticky materials. “The system recognises how much rotation is acceptable before tensioner adjustment is required,” Pronschinske explains. “It allows our service technicians to know exactly when a belt cleaner needs replacement, even before the customer does. And if excessive movement is detected on any cleaner, an alarm notice will automatically be sent to alert operators to check it immediately.” The software tracks and displays blade status, remaining life, next scheduled tensioning, run time, wear rate, cleaner model, blade type and a number of other details. “No other manufacturer has done more to advance the science of bulk material handling over the last three quarter of a century, and Martin Engineering’s workshops

have been teaching customers how to operate and maintain clean and safe belt conveyors for nearly 30 years,” Pronschinske concludes. The company’s Foundations reference books are an internationally-recognised resource

for safety, maintenance and operations training, with more than 20,000 print copies in circulation around the world. Like all Martin products, the new N2 products are covered by the firm’s Absolutely No Excuses guarantee. AM

BELT CLEANER INSPECTION TIME IS BASICALLY ELIMINATED, AS MAINTENANCE PERSONNEL NO LONGER NEED TO PHYSICALLY VIEW THE CLEANER TO DETERMINE THE TENSION OR WEAR STATUS.”

UP TO 50 UNITS CAN BE MONITORED BY A SINGLE GATEWAY CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET.

EMPLOYEES AND TECHNICIANS ACCESS INFORMATION VIA THEIR MOBILE PHONE.

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MATERIALS HANDLING

SOLVING THE HAULAGE EQUATION CONVEYOR MANUFACTURERS AUSTRALIA HAS DESIGNED A MODULAR, RELOCATABLE AND REUSABLE SURFACE CONVEYOR SYSTEM USING GENERAL SHIPPING CONTAINERS.

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n the choice between deploying haul trucks or conveyor systems to carry materials in surface mining operations, the argument is often won by the trucks. But this could change with an innovative technology that overcomes the common limitations in conveyor systems. Truck and shovel operations are currently the staple haulage method in most surface mining operations. They can be purchased off the shelf, have comparatively low capital acquisition costs, and provide flexibility when designing mines. On the negative side, truck and shovel operations have high labour requirements, energy inefficiencies relative to alternatives, and dependence on the logistics of diesel fuel and consumables such as tyres. Coupled with these downsides are the safety implications of operating large fleets of mobile mining operations – roughly one third of all work-related fatal accidents in Australia result from vehicle collision.1 The industry still frequently experiences truck and mobile fleetrelated collisions and incidents. Conventional surface conveyor systems pose three primary limitations, according to Ben Smith, director of business development for Conveyor Manufacturers Australia (CMA). “These include high upfront capital cost, lack of flexibility and the difficulty in arranging finance due to traditional surface conveyors being hard to recover and often costing more to overhaul and reinstall than a brand new purchase,” Smith tells Australian Mining. Conveyor Manufacturers Australia’s answer to all three limitations is one innovative solution: the Containerveyor. Designed as modular units based on shipping containers, the Containerveyor is a flexible conveying system that offers a plug and play solution. That is, they are built and completely fitted out off-site at low capital cost, transported to site as a shipping container, installed using the container as the installation framework, and re-located and re-used as mining moves further away, or to another pit or site altogether. “Being modular gives Containerveyor a great degree of flexibility. It can be

THE CONTAINERVEYOR IS A FLEXIBLE CONVEYING SYSTEM THAT OFFERS A PLUG AND PLAY SOLUTION.

used for any application that a normal conveyor system is used for – including on vertical and horizontal curves. But, the Containerveyor has the additional advantage that it can be buried below or partially-below surface, installed as an elevated gantry conveyor or fitted with a range of options to suit the site and surrounding environment,” Smith says. “Moreover, it’s now possible for operators to get financing from the banks to purchase or lease the Containerveyor system because once the work is finished, it’s easy to recover the units and use them for another project. The whole cost of expensive re-work and refurbishment is now a thing of the past.” Conveyor Manufacturers Australia first came up with the idea for designing Containerveyor in 2014. In the years since, the company’s engineering team has worked with international manufacturing partner, COSCO – the largest shipping line and one of the largest container manufacturers in the world – to perfect the design and manufacturing. This included rigorous engineering and certification testing. “Our teams in Australia and internationally work together on a daily basis to factor in the requirements for each customer,” Smith says. “Given our strong manufacturing and engineering partners and divisions, we have the ability to scale rapidly to meet short timeframes.” This is particularly useful when some new projects look to short-term trucking while conventional overland AUSTRALIANMINING

conveyors are built – usually a slow process. With the Containerveyor, the process, time and cost is significantly reduced. “We don’t believe in a one-size fits all approach and assess and engineer each application and installation on its own merits,” Smith says. “For example, one customer might want external walkways while another prefers internal walkways, some mines might need two conveyors installed in the same module to carry different products and some might want a very wide container for a higher capacity. We can accommodate all of those requirements.” Moreover, mines have the option of extending the conveyor system as the haulage lengths increase, Smith says. “Some customers are looking to be able to extend their conveyor, say by a couple of hundred metres every year. It’s very easy as you just need to add more modules. Plug and play,” he says. Another benefit of Containerveyor, Smith says, is that since the conveyor is contained, it reduces the level of sound, vibration and dust generated. “This is particularly beneficial if the operation is close to a residential area. Not only are the aesthetics improved, there’s also huge environmental benefit as the conveyor system does not generate any dust into the air. Others may be in noise-sensitive areas and need to fit our sound-attenuation paneling,” Smith adds. Containerveyor is not the only innovation that CMA prides itself on. The company also won the Flexco Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S Award at the 2018 Australian Mining

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Prospect Awards for its trademarked and patented Redline underground conveyor system – a modular conveyor system which is hung from an overhead monorail system and propelled by a hydraulic traction unit. The Roll-Over Idler is another patented and trademarked innovation by the company, which allows conveyor operators to replace idlers when convenient and without lifting equipment. It can also be completed while the conveyor is still operating – saving enormous amounts of time. Smith says the company was founded with the sole purpose of being a “solution finder” in the mining industry. “So often a new thing is designed and made in search of a problem to solve, but that’s not how we go about it. We start with the problem first and let that drive the solution,” Smith says. “The team at CMA consists of practical and highly-experienced mining people, who together bring over 100 years of mining operation and engineering experience to the mix,” he adds. Smith says time and cost savings in mining operations are the driving vision behind all of the company’s innovative solutions. “You can replace every other resource, but you cannot replace time. Everything that we do at CMA is aimed at saving time, and conveyor systems just happen to be one area where great time and cost savings are possible through innovation,” he concludes. AM Source: 1- https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

HYDROGEN ON DEMAND TO ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA THE ADVANTAGES OF HAVING A SYSTEM THAT DELIVERS HYDROGEN ON DEMAND EXCEED WHAT HYDROGEN STORAGE CAN OFFER. REDUCED FUEL CONSUMPTION, CARBON MONOXIDE EMISSIONS AND DIESEL PARTICULATE MATTER ARE JUST THE BEGINNING.

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t is a breath of fresh air when an 11-year project that reduces diesel particulate matter from diesel-powered engines is finally being commercialised. HYDI, derived from Hydrogen Direct Injection, has developed hydrogen injection units as a solution to help eliminate hydrocarbons emitted by heavy industries such as mining. This is a ground-breaking accomplishment that no company in the world has been able to achieve, using only minimal water and power. “It has been a long journey,” HYDI managing director, John Wilson tells Australian Mining. “The inspiration behind this project comes from the benefits of hydrogen itself. Being able to deliver those with a safe, chemical free product was an incentive to maintain our research and development (R&D) and field testing over the last 11 years. “What was previously a nighttime/morning/weekend job turned into a full-time project once we had confirmed our technology was robust, reliable and marketable to a range of applications.” The HYDI system is designed to generate hydrogen on demand to supplement fuel for diesel-powered engines. “All we need is minimal power from the host engine to run the unit and a gas line into the air intake system,” Wilson continues. “HYDI has a number of configurations to optimise packaging for retrofit on existing diesel engines and generators of all sizes and applications. “Mining applications which require a customised solution to suit a specialised or significant volume application can be accommodated.” The hydrogen is not stored, meaning that it poses no health or safety issues, including risks of explosion that are often linked to stored hydrogen. University of South Australia’s (UniSA) science, technology, engineering and mathematics

A HYDI UNIT INSTALLED ON A NEW KENWORTH TRUCK.

(STEM) senior lecturer Saiful Bari also notes: “The risk of the storage of hydrogen/oxygen mixture is minimum as they are produced ondemand (i.e. no storage).” Instead, a controlled amount of hydrogen produced is introduced into the air intake of a diesel engine, which provides a cleaner burn, and in turn reduces fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and diesel particulate matter (DPM). Results from long-term field trials on heavy transport and initial data from independent testing on a 100 kVA diesel generator at UniSA show the hydrogen fuel supplementation has reduced diesel consumption in the range of 5–13 per cent, removed 7–25 per cent of carbon monoxide, and lowered DPM by 25–80 per cent. AUSTRALIANMINING

Independent testing and trials are continuing on other equipment, including a Scania public transport bus and large mining equipment. Wilson says the statistics for deaths in Europe associated with asthma, lung and brain cancer purported to be linked to DPM was a motive to persist with the project, which is expected to gain international interest. “Moreover, a significant cut in air pollution-generating activities caused by the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates how much clearer the air can be with a drop in emissions from heavy industry engines,” Wilson says. According to HYDI chief executive Roger van der Lee, the primary motivation for HYDI’s

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innovation was to harness the environmental benefits of using hydrogen as a fuel because it has no environmental impacts at all on consumption. “It’s particularly relevant to diesel because it’s got about three times the energy value when it’s combusted. So that’s where the fuel efficiency and economy comes from – because you get more power from less fuel,” van der Lee says. “The intense burn consumes diesel fuel carbon, which would otherwise be emitted as DPM or end up in the crankcase oil.” The benefits of hydrogen as a fuel are well known, as are the challenges in terms of capital cost, risk and lead time for hydrogen generation and distribution as a single fuel. There is a persuasive case for HYDI’s system in terms of return on investment (ROI). Fuel savings alone offset the cost, while savings for reduced oil and filter servicing for a cleaner running engine are also predicted. “Aside from the economic incentive, any large consumer of diesel has the opportunity, many would say obligation, to reduce their carbon footprint. For every litre of diesel usage reduction, the planet benefits from 2.68 kilograms of carbon dioxide not being added to our climate,” van der Lee says. There’s not much impact operation-wise, van der Lee adds. The HYDI system is a low maintenance unit, which only requires a demineralised water top up at long intervals and unit servicing once every six months. HYDI has attracted interest from mobile equipment manufacturers that are looking to reduce the amount of DPM generated by a diesel power plant, used in collaboration with existing filter technology. “In the meantime, one thing is certain. HYDI gives something to the world by introducing a system to suit existing assets that can reduce emissions dramatically in an economically sustainable way,” Wilson concludes. AM


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TECHNOLOGY

A2K TECHNOLOGIES MANAGES COVID-19 WITH FLICK OF THE WRIST A2K TECHNOLOGIES’ ITWOSAFE TECHNOLOGY IS PREVENTING MINING WORKPLACES FROM SHUTTING DOWN DURING COVID-19 BY SIMPLY USING A SMARTPHONE AND A WRISTBAND. NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA WRITES.

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he mining industry is bursting with technological advancements, some of which are becoming more valuable than ever in the wake of COVID-19. Workplaces have encountered a flurry of social distancing rules – and in more extreme cases sitewide shutdowns due to infected workers. Outbreaks of COVID-19 can quickly spiral out of control if companies fail to track down those who have been in contact with infected employees. When this occurs, management is often forced to put the entire workplace into quarantine to negate any sort of risk. And for mining businesses, this can cause a domino effect which can impact profits right down the supply chain. But A2K Technologies believes it has a solution that will protect mine workers and businesses from the impacts that a COVID-19 infection at a site could potentially cause. The company’s iTWOsafe technology incorporates a wristband and smartphone app to monitor workers who breach social distancing rules. “It’s designed for workplaces and manages social distancing. For example, if two employees are within two metres of one another, the wrist

band will start to vibrate to warn you if you’re about to break the safe distancing level,” A2K Technologies chief executive officer Paul Laycock says. “If that safe distancing level is broken, it will record it and upload it to a cloud dashboard so that the managers in charge can see where the breaches are happening. “iTWOsafe tells us who the breaches were with and the geolocation of the breaches so then management can decide whether they need to change the processes in the workplace if they’ve got people working too closely together.” Laycock believes the technology is particularly valuable for tracking down workers who have been in close contact with an infected worker if a case arises. The idea behind iTWOsafe struck Laycock while being confined in an Ipswich hospital for COVID-19 testing earlier in the year. He later returned a negative test result for the virus, but it brought home the very real impacts that this virus would have at a personal, as well as business level for many people. “I was doing a lot of international business trips and came back from the US and I wasn’t feeling well,” Laycock reflects.

THE ITWOSAFE APP DETECTS IF WORKERS BREACH SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES.

“I went into self-quarantine at home and then got a phone call from Queensland Health saying there was somebody on the plane near me that had tested positive for COVID-19. I was then forced into strict quarantine and had to go to the hospital for a couple of days — despite having already returned one negative test. “I was just watching the nurses and the frontline people and thinking, ‘they have to breach social distancing measures to do their jobs, but

ITWOSAFE ALLOWS WORKERS TO KEEP AT A SAFE DISTANCE USING BLUETOOTH WRIST BANDS.

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wouldn’t it be nice if they knew who they breached those rules with so if someone actually tested positive they could straight away work out who’s most at risk?’” The iTWOsafe wristband uses a low energy Bluetooth technology to relay location data back to the app, which is then sent to the secure cloud dashboard. A2K Technologies wants the new technology to encourage social distancing while managing the risk and stopping the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces. “The whole goal of this technology is to educate people and remind them about social distancing,” Laycock says. “From my understanding, mining companies are trying to look at ways they can stay open and won’t be shut down so this is going to put in place a management program that will allow them to be able to have those discussions.” Technology such as the iTWOsafe wristband can help keep Australia’s vital industries afloat, such as mining, construction and agriculture. “To me, taking on this whole process of managing COVID-19 is absolutely critical. This is how Australia will keep going versus other parts of the world,” he says. “It’s vital that we protect the mining industry from shutting down unnecessarily due to infection.” AM


MINING SERVICES

CBC AND GATES SOLUTION A PERFECT MIX FOR CEMENT AUSTRALIA WHEN JAMES DARRACH NOTICED HIS CUSTOMER, CEMENT AUSTRALIA, HAD REPEAT ORDERS FOR THE SAME BELT IN SHORT INTERVALS, IT RAISED A FLAG. CEMENT AUSTRALIA NOW HAS A MORE RELIABLE OPERATION.

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ames Darrach wanted to propose a better drive solution for Cement Australia. “The belt they were using in one of their mill blowers was being regularly replaced – around every three months. It was an older belt type on the drive and was a special width, which meant it wasn’t an off-the-shelf replacement,” explains Darrach, who is the technical sales representative for CBC Australia’s Gladstone branch in Queensland. “So when they came through with a purchase order for another one of these belts, I thought to myself that they were going through these too regularly.” Darrach didn’t keep those thoughts to himself – he took a proactive approach that would result in considerable savings for the customer down the line. “I contacted them to gain a better understanding of the application and in the process learned that they intended on using the same belt in

their set up on another mill blower as well,” Darrach says. “So I proposed they try a different belt solution – the Gates Poly Chain GT Carbon.” As CBC is both a trusted supplier and service provider of power transmission and engineering services, Cement Australia was willing to give Darrach and the CBC team in Gladstone the opportunity to propose a new belt drive design. What ensued was a collaborative effort between CBC’s technical staff and its premium partner, Gates, to provide an ideal solution. “They gave us the opportunity to come up with a superior design but we also had a tight deadline to adhere to as they were in need of change outs and had originally been planning to convert their other mill blower with the older belt set up,” Darrach notes. “Initially, it was another CBC technical engineer and myself who visited the site and collated all the information that we could from their existing set up – such as the motor power, the speed it runs on and so on. AUSTRALIANMINING

Then we came back to the office to work out the details.” The solution that was recommended gave the Gates Poly Chain GT Carbon belt a life expectancy of two years – or eight times that of the previous belt used – and the customer has almost reached that two-year milestone with the belt completely intact. “We were meticulous in our approach. We worked closely together with Gates to come up with a design that could handle the job and really deliver on what we had proposed to the customer,” Darrach recalls. “We checked everything using the Gates tools and worked with their engineering technical services team to ensure we ticked all the boxes in the design we were proposing. We did the lot – pulleys, bushes, belts – even turnbuckles – for tensioning.” At first, Cement Australia was skeptical that the proposed design with the Poly Chain belt would meet the requirements out at the Gladstone quarry. “I was on call 24/7 when this was first put in place – it was seen as a trial, and they also had a spare belt ready to go, just in case,” Darrach says. “But from day one – since the installation – there has not been a singular problem.” According to Darrach, Cement Australia is pleased with the outcome. “They’re pretty rapt with this solution. Especially since they were under the impression that the original belt was giving them a decent service life,” Darrach points out. “They would’ve continued buying that belt without realising there was a better option.” On a personal level, being able to solve problems and save his customers some money is what drives Darrach in his work. “The industry is highly competitive for these businesses so we try and target any line issues they might be experiencing by coming up with better solutions,” he explains. “If we can save them money and the panic of a breakdown, then we’ve done a decent job.” Being part of a team that is both close knit and highly supportive is also

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integral to the level of service Darrach and his colleagues can provide to customers. “I feel very supported in my area up in North and Central Queensland. We have specialists all over Queensland and they’re only a phone call away. That’s been really helpful for me as we can and do provide an around the clock service,” Darrach highlights. “Because in this region accessibility can be a challenge. But if the customer needs something urgently, we’ll do whatever it takes to deliver that to them. That’s a common goal among all our people here – we’re all customerfirst-focussed.” The Cement Australia Poly Chain solution is an example of how CBC puts this customer-first approach into practice. “I spoke with the customer just recently and the belt is showing no signs of wear at all. I’m confident we’ll go past the two-year timeframe we put on it. In any case, the customer is very happy with it. And I’m happy we’ve been able to help out,” Darrach concludes. AM

KEY FEATURES OF GATES POLY CHAIN GT CARBON SYNCHRONOUS BELTS • Maintenance free • 400% greater capacity than HTD timing belts • 5% energy savings over V-belts • 99% efficiency for life of the drive • Reduce downtime • Reduce weight and overhung loads • Over 120,000 possible drive combinations • Inert to most acids, chemicals and water • Width-for-width roller chain conversions • No stretch, no lubrication, no re-tensioning • Outlasts roller chain up to 4 to 1 • Outlasts roller chain sprockets up to 10 to 1 • Inside and backside idlers can be used.


PROSPECT AWARDS

GREEN SOLUTIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE MINE MANAGEMENT CRC INDUSTRIES, THE SPONSOR OF THE MINE MANAGER OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE AUSTRALIAN MINING PROSPECT AWARDS, OFFERS SAFE AND GREEN SOLUTIONS FOR THE MINING SECTOR. THE CRC SMARTWASHER PARTS CLEANER IS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF BIOREMEDIATION.

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est practices in mine management involve, as a key factor, having a clear program to manage the environmental impacts of miningrelated activities. CRC Industries, as the sponsor for the Mine Manager of the Year award at the 2020 Australian Mining Prospect Awards, provides a range of solutions for managers of mining companies and mine-related industries that help minimise these impacts. As a global supplier of lubricants and specialty products, including a range of non-toxic and non-flammable industrial cleaning formulations, environmental safety and the safety of people are key focus areas for CRC Australia, national marketing manager Simon Hatton says. “Among the so many factors involved with managing a mine, safety is perhaps the most important component,” he says.

“That is why a key priority for us at CRC is to constantly, and closely, work with customers around our research and development (R&D) capabilities to find safer solutions for the sector.” R&D collaborations between CRC and its customers often lead to identifying new products and solutions that the sector can use to enhance safety and efficiency, Hatton says. “For example, when our customers recently came to us with requirement for surface sanitisers, our Australian R&D team used the experience and expertise of CRC’s New Zealand division to deliver on those requirements,” Hatton says. While CRC is a global supplier with over 26 facilities across the world, CRC Australia has been manufacturing products locally at its Sydney manufacturing site for over 50 years. This, according to Hatton, is an important factor in enabling CRC to react quickly to the immediate needs of AUSTRALIANMINING

customers, without relying on a global supply chain. “The mining industry is very heavily regulated sector and there are multiple standards of safety to be met. Being connected to a global R&D team helps us remain updated on the latest global changes in safety requirements and to bring those solutions to the local market,” says Hatton. Part of CRC’s innovations to improve safety at mine sites, Hatton says, has been through developing nonflammable and non-toxic alternatives for a range of industrial cleaning products. These include, among other products, the CRC NF Contact Cleaner, which is a clean-inplace aerosol solution to remove contamination from precision electrical/ electronic equipment. CRC has also released a water-based bio-degreaser, which is a biodegradable formula for fast and effective cleaning of engines, parts, bearings, motors, generators and other similar equipment. “CRC’s water-based bio degreaser is not caustic and completely safe to use, both for the personnel working on the site as well as for the environment. By comparison, if a solvent-based degreaser is used, the maintenance staff would need to use the relevant personal protective equipment (PPE),” Hatton explains. In June, CRC Australia will launch a new aerosol-based oil stain remover that makes it easy to manage oil spills on the site, further enhancing personnel safety on mine sites and in other applications. “The traditional oil stain removers are sold in bulk packages of 20 litres or more. The aerosol-based cleaner that CRC will be launching is a wet formulation that absorbs the oil from any tiled or concrete surface quickly and efficiently,” says Hatton. The CRC SmartWasher parts cleaner is another CRC product that Hatton says aligns completely with the company’s focus on environmental safety. SmartWasher is based on the principle of bioremediation – a biotechnological process that uses microorganisms or plant enzymes to detoxify contaminants.

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In CRC’s SmartWasher, a specialty formulation, known as Ozzy Juice, is used to clean oil and other contaminants – ensuring zero risk of skin irritation or environmental hazard. This focus on personnel safety reflects how CRC, as a company, has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic’s health and safety concerns, Hatton says. “Our global head office is based in the US and they enacted safety regulations against COVID-19 risks very carefully and proactively. By having all of our office staff working from home and putting our onsite personnel through relevant safety trainings, we have been able to maintain a business-as-usual engagement with our customers despite the situation,” he says. Hatton says the mining industry’s move towards more environmentallyfriendly solutions is a key reason why CRC supports the Prospect Awards. “We absolutely support the Awards as a way of remaining engaged with the mining industry and ensuring that our R&D capabilities are aligned with the sector’s changes,” he says. “In the mining sector all over the world, now more than ever there’s a focus on implementing greener solutions. And as a market leader working in this space, we see it as our responsibility to always walk a step ahead.” AM

THE CRC NF CONTACT CLEANER REMOVES CONTAMINATION FROM PRECISION ELECTRICAL/ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT.


PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

AUSTRALIAN TRADIES CHOOSE CUSTOMISABLE SP TOOLS KITS FOR MINING JOBS WHEN PROFESSIONAL TRADESMEN FROM LANGE FITTING & MECHANICAL DRIVE THEIR 4X4 VEHICLES OR TRUCKS THROUGH THE DUSTY ROADS LEADING TO A MINING OR QUARRYING SITE, THEY CARRY AT THE BACK OF THEIR VEHICLE A METAL BOX IMPRINTED WITH THESE WORDS: SP PROFESSIONAL TOOLS.

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ny professional tradesperson would tell you that if there’s one thing they could absolutely not do without, that’s a good set of tools. The SP Tools brand has built a reputation among Australian tradesmen over the years as the goto brand when the best quality is demanded. Queensland-based maintenance and repair company, Lange Fitting & Mechanical, has equipped its service vehicles with the field service series of SP toolboxes. The company’s employees deal with heavy earthmoving equipment, cranes, crushers and trucks on multiple mining and construction projects. Cam, a diesel fitter working with Lange Fitting & Mechanical says the SP Tools field service toolkit stays firmly at the back of a utility vehicle or truck, even when driving in rough terrains. “The SP field service toolkits have everything that I need, including a full range of sockets, full metric and imperial set of spanners, all the screwdrivers and allen keys. The rollers are very sturdy and hold up well when the tool box sits on the back of a Ute or truck,” he says. As a leading national supplier to a wide range of industries in Australia, BSC has been working closely with SP Tools over the past 10 years, offering premium tool solutions for different market segments. BSC’s industrial and engineering consumables category manager, Dominic Arena says SP’s large range of tools and toolkit solutions allows BSC to service both professional tradesmen and apprentices working in a wide range of industries. “Whether your requirements are for mining, manufacturing, agricultural, mechanical or general servicing needs, we have the products to service our customers with SP Tools,” he adds. Arena says what makes the range of toolkits and cabinets offered by SP Tools truly unique, is that they are

customisable to meet the requirements of each end user. “Having customisable toolkits means customers don’t have to pay for tools they don’t need. There are already over 100 toolkits in the SP range and for high-volume orders, we can also mix and match the kits in conjunction with SP Tools to optimise to our customer’s requirements,” he says. High durability, accuracy and strength are what SP Tools have become well known for. All the hand

tools in the SP Tools range come with a life-time warranty. SP’s toolboxes and roller cabinets have also been designed to carry a substantially heavy load. “SP Tools is a fully Australian-owned brand offering what we consider as the highest quality toolkits available. All the products in the SP Tools range have been designed by professional tradespeople to well exceed the ANSI and DIN standards,” says Arena. Another benefit for customers, Arena says, is the Click & Collect

option with SP Tools. “Whenever we receive a large order, we assemble the tool boxes or cabinets as per the specific order on the same day and customers can collect their order from our branches,” he explains. “With the Click & Collect option, our customers can purchase their SP Tools products online at www.sptools.com and then collect them from any BSC branch across Australia.” This option is particularly attractive in view of the current precautions in place with the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are taking every measure to ensure the safety of our employees and customers,” says Arena. “Please talk to us about delivery options for your SP Tools orders whereby you may be a shift worker, you may be located remotely, or if you can’t visit us during normal operating hours. We will continue to offer our customers solutions as always, it’s in our DNA.” AM

AN SP TOOLS KIT FIT FOR MINING.

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EVENT SPOTLIGHT

AUSIMM GOES DIGITAL FOR LITHIUM AND BATTERY METALS CONFERENCE CORONAVIRUS HAS FORCED THE CANCELLATION OR POSTPONEMENT OF MAJOR EVENTS WORLDWIDE, WITH LIMITS ON TRAVEL AND THE SIZE OF GROUPS ALLOWED TO CONGREGATE WITHIN ONE AREA. THE AUSTRALASIAN INSTITUTE OF MINING AND METALLURGY (AUSIMM) IS NOT LETTING THIS STOP THE 2020 LITHIUM AND BATTERY METALS CONFERENCE.

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his August, AusIMM will bring together experts, executives and leaders virtually, with the biggest change to the conference’s agenda not being coronavirus-related, but an expansion. For the past two years, AusIMM has hosted lithium-focussed conferences in collaboration with Murdoch University and AusIMM Perth Branch Committee. In 2020, the event will expand to the Lithium and Battery Metals Conference and include discussion about the wider battery metals sector. Key industry speakers will share their knowledge of the conference themes: investment risks and economics; exploration and geology; mineralogy and hard rocks versus brines versus other; mineral processing and extractive metallurgy; downstream processing, batteries and capacitors for energy storage; battery metals, recycling, environmental and safety; and data science. Conference co-chairs professor Colin Roberts and associate professor Gamini Senanayake are excited to bring lithium and battery metals stakeholders together digitally, running as close to a normal conference as possible. “It will be safer and more socially responsible to attend a digital conference during the current COVID-19 pandemic as it eliminates the environment for virus transmission to occur,” they tell Australian Mining. “The digital conference will operate in the same format as traditional conferences with the keynotes and other selected speakers presenting to the audience. “The audience will be invited to participate, asking questions and comments and sharing ideas via the internet.” To keep the conference as realistic as possible, delegates will be able to enjoy virtual plant visits, such as Talison Lithium, and webinars, all from the comfort of their own homes or offices. Poster presenters will have an opportunity to record a short audio presentation accompanied with the poster to communicate their findings

to the delegates. Also like in-person conferences, delegates will have the opportunity to participate in online networking opportunities and contact exchange. Despite the difference to AusIMM’s usual events, Senanayake says there are many advantages to digital conferences. “Digital conferences avoid travel time and costs and give more exposure and contact time on real issues, as more people such as investors, exhibitors, managers, industry professionals, academics, researchers and higher degree research students can participate,” he says. Deemed an essential service by the Australian Government, mining has not seen the complete shutdown that other industries have, but as Roberts explains, operations have still been impacted around the world. With many office employees transitioning to working from home and mine site workers taking on changed rosters, staying connected and informed of movements within the industry at events such as the Lithium and Battery Metals conference is arguably more important than ever. “COVID-19 has impacted mining operations, perhaps dropping the demand and price of mineral commodities and impacting individual mines directly requiring changes in occupational health and safety to prevent the spread of the virus amongst employees,” Roberts says. “However, mine sites and mineral and metallurgical processing plants are continuing with minor changes to fly-

in, fly-out (FIFO) rosters, indicating that the metallurgical production slowed down only temporarily.” The lithium and battery metals space has had its challenges long before coronavirus, due to an oversupplied market impacting prices. However, during the past couple of years, lithium and other battery metals have experienced an upturn, as demand for electric vehicles, battery storage infrastructure and other major applications such as alloys, glass, ceramics and lubricants continues to grow. “There is strong evidence for continuous growth in the lithium and battery metals industries in the future,” Senanayake says. “Lithium and other battery metals and materials will be utilised in construction of large-scale battery storage infrastructure. “Batteries and capacitors will facilitate increased integration of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar into power grids and to increase reliability and efficiency of power grids.” These technologies that use lithium batteries and flow cell batteries will not only increase the demand for lithium itself, but other commodities, including vanadium, cerium, zinc, uranium, nickel, cobalt, bismuth and tin. Due to this flow-on effect, Roberts says that the Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference will serve a larger community than ever before for the 2020 event. Batteries are the most well-known use for lithium but there are other

MURDOCH PROFESSOR GAMINI SENANAYAKE, NATURAL RESOURCE GEO-STRATEGY PROFESSOR COLIN ROBERTS, WA GOVERNOR KIM BEAZLEY, AUSIMM PRESIDENT JANINE HERZIG AND MINERALS RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF WA CEO NICOLE ROOCKE.

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applications in which lithium is useful for, such as lithium bromide in adsorption chillers, used in air conditioning or generator systems. With all of these exciting developments in the lithium and wider battery metals industry, the 2020 Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference is going to be an event not to be missed by stakeholders in the sector. With more opportunities to tune into a wide range of speakers from around the world, including the opportunity to engage in panel discussions and ask speakers live questions, Roberts and Senanayake believe that the event will be as interactive as ever, despite being held virtually. “The 2020 Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference will be more convenient to attend as you can access the conference anytime from anywhere in the world if you have access to internet connection,” they say. “Online conferences enjoy higher levels of active audience participation than face to face conferences and are more environmentally friendly, with significantly lower carbon footprint than traditional conferences. “COVID-19 seems to challenge us, but undoubtedly it also offers new opportunities for us to find new ways to efficiently connect with the globe.” AM The Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference 2020 will be held digitally on August 18-19 and 25-26. For more information, visit lithium.ausimm.com.


PRODUCTS

DIACON SAFETY PANEL PROVIDES SAFE ISOLATION OF EQUIPMENT The Diacon Safety Panel is a plastic mesh panel guard that is corrosionfree, lightweight and requires no painting. It is speedily installed and removed, using the ‘hook, hang and lock’ protocol. Hooks vertically stiffen the panel and SS angle iron gives strength in horizontal plane. The safety panel is custom shaped and made of high-density polyethylene with holes for visibility and ventilation. It comes with unsupported paneling at the bottom edge, allowing for custom on-site fitment to equipment and thereby avoiding the need for on-site hot work and permits. The Diacon Safety Panel meets Australian Standard AS4024.1-2006 and AS1755-2000. • diaconaust.com.au

IFM EFECTOR UNVEILS 3D SMART SENSOR ifm’s O3M vision sensor is a 3D vision sensor that can be applied for rear, forward and side detection to improve the overall functionality and safety around mobile machinery and plants. It was specifically designed for outdoor use where there is high shock, vibration and environmental resistance. It is especially useful with difficult ambient light situations such as sunlight, or materials with different reflective characteristics that do not influence the repeatability of the measured data. Installed on loaders, mining machinery, automated guided vehicles (AGV) or other machines and vehicles, the sensor can be used as a warning or interact with the control system to apply the brakes. Reliable automatic 3D object detection can, for example, be used as collision warning and avoidance.

• ifm.com/au

BEND-TECH PROMOTES ORGANISED EQUIPMENT STORAGE

CRC INDUSTRIES INTRODUCES OIL FIGHTER TO THE AUSTRALIAN MARKET

Bend-Tech provides a variety of storage solutions that help minimise the risks of life-threatening incidents. The racks can be used to store drill hammer parts, pipes, electrical cables, chains and other equipment (pictured is a bore pump cradle frame), without leaving them on the ground and posing a threat of incident to workers on-site. All products are certified and compliant with Australian Standards, providing structural integrity and serving their intended purpose. Storage solutions are designed, engineered and tested to outperform specifications. Bend-Tech storage solutions also help minimise a loss of time taken to locate the material required for the job, helping operators and workers focus on carrying out production tasks safely.

Oil Fighter is an award-winning product that spoils oil stains by removing them from porous surfaces using a simple spray on, brush off formula. Ideal for industrial needs, Oil Fighter is effective on concrete floors and driveways, paving, cobbles, masonry, timber, heavy-duty carpets and mats. “Whether you are tackling leaks, spills, drips, drops or stains, simply spray Oil Fighter on the oil stain and let the product get to work with its rapid action formula,” CRC Industries Australia managing director Murray Walbran said. “Across one to two hours, the product will dry to a powder, absorbing the oil and pulling it to the surface in the process. Then all you need to do is give the area an easy sweep and the stain is gone.” Oil Fighter has been immensely successful in New Zealand, culminating in it winning an Innovation Award at Genuine Parts Company (GPC) Asia Pacific’s awards night.

• bendtechgroup.com.au

• crcindustries.com.au

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PRODUCTS

MINPROVISE LAUNCHES LARGER SIZED LUWIREP REPAIR CARTRIDGE

RHINO 100 LEAVES IMPRINT ON UNDERGROUND DRILLING

As an Australasian distributor for German brand, LUTZE’s Luwirep-070 conveyor belt repair systems, Minprovise has been able to introduce this technologically-advanced product into the market. Based on feedback provided by Minprovise, LUTZE has developed a larger 1500 millilitre cartridge, allowing for bigger repairs to take place. This two-component repair material was developed especially for the repair of damaged rubber conveyor belts. In particular, the adhesion and abrasion were optimised to the rubber‘s characteristics. Damage can be repaired in as little as 40 minutes, leaving the conveyor immediately operational again once the work has been finished.

The arrival of the Rhino 100 mobile raise borer has changed the game for underground contractor Raising Australia, part of the Byrnecut Group. Developed by TRB-Raise Borers and distributed by Sandvik, the Rhino 100 could travel under its own power within a mine, requires just one operator and could begin boring within 45 minutes of arrival on site. “That first Rhino (in 2017) went straight to (Saracen Mineral’s) Carosue Dam operation near Kalgoorlie and it’s been there ever since,” Raising Australia general manager Mark Hanigan said. “The previous contractors were drilling 150 metres a month, and we have achieved up to 400-metres-plus a month. Between October 2017 and December 2019, we drilled just under 5000 metres, so we’ve doubled their output.” Raising Australia ordered another Rhino 100, which was sent to Northern Star Resources’ Jundee gold mine in Western Australia. “We have significantly increased our revenues since 2017 when we took delivery of the first Rhino, and we’re hoping the next two Rhinos will help us grow again,” Hanigan said.

• rocktechnology.sandvik

• minprovise.com.au

HAVER & BOECKER NIAGARA F-CLASS PORTABLE PLANT

AN UPGRADE FROM MICROMINE’S PITRAM VOICE TO PITRAM MOBILE

Haver & Boecker has incorporated several technologies that improve set-up time and equipment longevity in mining operations. The F-class portable plant features a custom-built chassis, which is equipped with six hydraulic run-on jacks that quickly level the plant. The jacks also ensure that the chassis stays level during the operation, thus minimising equipment wear. Producers can move and set up the portable F-class in less than 30 minutes. The chassis’ hydraulic system raises the vibrating screen to its inclined operation position, which is usually 20 degrees. Takedown is even faster, requiring less than 20 minutes to lower the unit so it can move to the next location. Haver & Boecker Niagara’s F-class portable plant offers as many as three screen decks. Its feed conveyor, cross conveyor and fines conveyor are hydraulically operated for precise material placement. The F-Class is ideal for screening situations that require consistent, load independent performance at constant g-force.

Upgrading from a voice-based fleet management system to an automated mobile solution enables mine managers to gain critical efficiencies across sites. The upgrade to Pitram Mobile can assist mine operators in managing safety, integrating the fleet management system and decreasing mine radio traffic more effectively. Benefits also include automatic detection of load-haul-dump events, integration of autonomous mining fleet with the rest of the Pitram solution and increased accuracy of time-sensitive data. IGO upgraded its mobile software from Pitram Voice to Pitram Mobile at the Nova mine in Western Australia. Touchscreen tablets were installed in vehicle cabs and integrated with the Pitram software to facilitate data transfer between on-board computers and the Pitram control room, which provides full fleet management insights and analytics functionality.

• haveraustralia.com.au

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• micromine.com

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EVENTS

CONFERENCES, SEMINARS & WORKSHOPS EVENT SUBMISSIONS CAN BE EMAILED TO EDITOR@AUSTRALIANMINING.COM.AU International Uranium Digital Conference 2020, June 30 - July 1; July 7-8 AusIMM’s International Uranium Conference is returning for its 15th consecutive year in 2020, this time in a digital format. The conference will provide delegates with unparalleled opportunities to network with some of the world’s top uranium experts. Delegates will learn about the current state of the global uranium industry with experts presenting on the turnaround in the uranium and nuclear market. Presentations will discuss the growing global demand for more new uranium production and the opportunities to re-commence standby projects and explore new projects. The conference will showcase the latest innovations in the uranium industry and discuss how to prepare and position ourselves for a market upturn. • uranium.ausimm.com Women in Industry Awards, Melbourne, August 13 The Women in Industry Awards acknowledges the exceptional women who have achieved success through their invaluable leadership, innovation and commitment to their sector. The awards recognise and reward the achievements of women working within the resources, engineering, manufacturing, process control and commercial road transport industries, and aim to raise the profile of women within the industry, as well as promote and encourage excellence. Australian Mining, PACE, Manufacturers’ Monthly, MHD Supply Chain Solutions, Prime Mover, Trailer, Waste Management Review, Rail Express,

Roads & Infrastructure Australia and Australian Bulk Handling Review have partnered to bring the event to life. • womeninindustry.com.au Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition, Mackay, September 22-24 Having been staged for more than 25 years, the Queensland Mining and Engineering Exhibition (QME) is recognised as the largest mining expo in the Sunshine State. Held in Mackay, the gateway to the Bowen Basin region, the event is right on the doorstep of some of the country’s largest coal mines. QME will feature over 250 suppliers showcasing leading products and solutions and will host a free-to-attend seminar series that will provide a unique opportunity to hear from industry professionals who will address the current needs of the industry. Sessions will cover mine management and maintenance, health and safety, coal processing strategies and automation, future skills, policy outlook, engineering excellence and more. QME will be held from September 22 to 24 at the Mackay Showground. The event was delayed from July due to COVID-19. • queenslandminingexpo.com.au

face with vendors and make valuable new connections. The expo showcases all of the latest cutting-edge equipment, innovations, services and technologies to take your operations to a new level and fuel long term growth. MINExpo attendees have the buying power and influence to purchase the equipment, products and services that are brought to the show. In just three days, meet thousands of mine operators from all over the world – all in one place. • minexpo.com

Australian Mining Prospect Awards 2020, Brisbane, October 8 The Australian mining industry’s biggest awards celebration returns to the Sunshine State for the second straight year. Since 2004, the Australian Mining Prospect Awards have been the only national awards program to stop, take a look at what the mining industry is doing, and reward those who are excelling and going above and beyond, recognising and rewarding innovation. That trend is set to continue this year, with 14 awards on offer for mining’s highest achievers, including two new awards. Visit the Prospect Awards website for information about nominating for the 2020 awards. • prospectawards.com.au

MINExpo International, Las Vegas, September 28-30

Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum, Kalgoorlie, October 12-14

MINExpo International is the world’s largest and most comprehensive global mining event. Held every four years, MINExpo brings together worldwide industry leaders who are ready to purchase the latest equipment and services, see innovative new technologies, meet face-to-

This annual conference brings mining and exploration companies, brokers, bankers, investors, financiers and mining services companies together in Australia’s unofficial gold mining capital, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The event, which has been moved from August to October following the

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impact of the coronavirus, combines presentations by listed companies with a large display area, housing a range of exhibitors from within the sector. Diggers and Dealers also features a world-class entertainment program, including a keynote address from a world-class speaker, Oxford University professor, Ian Goldin. Previous keynote speakers have included former Prime Minister John Howard and British economist and public servant Mervyn King. It is also possible to visit sites within the Kalgoorlie-Goldfields region during the conference by contacting companies directly. • diggersndealers.com.au IMARC, Melbourne, October 27-29 The seventh International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) + Expo will connect over 7000 decision makers, mining leaders, policy makers, technical experts, innovators and educators from over 100 countries to Melbourne. The conference will give plenty of opportunities for learning, deal making and unparalleled networking, while also facilitating exhibitions and workshops (the latter of which will be taking place on October 26.) As the largest mining conference in Australia, the IMARC program will cover the entire mining supply chain and explore numerous topics such as exploration, plant and processing, social licence, workforce attraction and retention and mine optimisation. More than 400 global mining companies participated in IMARC 2019, setting off a strong momentum for the 2020 conference. • imarcmelbourne.com



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CALL 1300 170 590 OR VISIT HASTINGSDEERINGS.COM.AU/AUSMIN