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EXPLORATION MAINTENANCE VOLUME 112/6 | JULY 2020

MINING EQUIPMENT



EXPLORATION MAINTENANCE MINING EQUIPMENT

VOLUME 112/6 | JULY 2020

DIGITAL DREAMS

TECHNOLOGY’S TIME TO SHINE

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COMMENT

TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION ACCELERATES AT A RAPID PACE BEN CREAGH

Ben.Creagh@primecreative.com.au

COVID-19 HAS HIGHLIGHTED WHY IT’S IMPORTANT FOR MINING COMPANIES TO EFFICIENTLY MOVE THROUGH THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS WHEN THEY INTRODUCE NEW TECHNOLOGIES.

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asn’t the mining industry’s commitment to technology and innovation over the past decade paid off this year? With COVID-19 limiting mobility across Australia, mining companies have increased their focus on introducing new technology or effectively using what’s already available to them. And this may benefit future technology projects and mining’s digital transformation in the years ahead. Technology projects inevitably pose significant risk, in addition to the costs that are associated with them. Managing both factors through planning, feasibility studies and cost evaluation has been known to slow the digitalisation of mining operations. These challenges, among others, have historically given mining a reputation for being slow at adopting technology. The risk adverse nature of the industry has, however, relented as mining companies have managed the challenges of COVID-19. Analysts and experts (including a few in this issue) have urged mining companies to accelerate their implementation of technology to create a smarter and more autonomous environment. Automation, for example, is being recognised as a mechanism for not only the traditional safety concerns at mine sites, but also for the risks that COVID-19 presents. It has helped companies maintain productivity when workers, such as those on FIFO arrangements, are unable to travel to site.

Thousands of interstate-based workers were affected by border closures that stopped them from travelling to a state like Western Australia, which heavily relies on FIFO. Using technology to aid these employees in doing their job remotely, as a result, has become a priority. And in many cases, mining companies have realised that investment in new technology hasn’t been required to achieve this; they have instead used technology already available to them to continue operations as close to normal as possible. Mining companies may have already been on a path to digital transformation, but if there’s one positive of the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be that it accelerates this move. Fittingly, this edition includes a special feature on digital mining, which covers the strategies being taken by the major producers to the products developed by technology suppliers. By all reports, COVID-19’s impact has enabled companies to be more efficient in how they plan technology projects and then use the innovations. Time will tell if this process becomes the norm beyond the pandemic.

Ben Creagh Managing Editor

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FRONT COVER

In this edition, we focus on digital technology and its growing impact on the mining industry, particularly in response to COVID-19. This issue includes a special feature on digital mining, with in-depth coverage of the latest products and services from suppliers in this area. We talk to Fortescue Metals Group about the iron ore company’s remote operations centre in Perth and its benefits in the modern mining industry. PwC analyses how COVID-19 has forced mining companies to re-think the process they take when executing technology projects. And as usual, we review the latest mining equipment and technology in our regular products section.

Cover image: Hexagon Mining / Pilbara Minerals.

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CONTENTS DIGITAL MINING A RARE LOOK AT REMOTE OPERATIONS Fortescue’s integrated operations take centre stage

42-49

DIGITAL MINING THE NEEDS OF FUTURE MINES Companies equip mine sites with digital solutions

12-13

COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

15-16

HITTING THE NICKEL JACKPOT Legend, Galileo and Chalice pursue nickel riches

SEEKING SECURITY IN A DOWNTURN The changing fortunes of coal, iron ore and gold

51-53 MINING SERVICES

FUTURE OF MINING

18-20

THE TECH LESSONS OF COVID-19 PwC addresses mobility and cyber security issues

54

EVADING TAILINGS FACILITIES DANGERS Erizon builds rubber tracks to stay safe

CRUSHING & SCREENING

MINING EQUIPMENT

22

AUSDRILL CHOOSES CAT MD6310 DRILLS Efficiency not akin to safety compromises

A WHOLE-OF-LIFE APPROACH Schenck Process stays ahead of screener trends

55 MINERALS PROCESSING

INTERNATIONAL THE TRUTH ABOUT PAPUA NEW GUINEA St Barbara and Geopacific tell their PNG stories

25-26

THE LATEST INNOVATIONS THAT WORK A wet processing plant and mill liner that turn heads

56-57

EXPLORATION

28-29

BURGEONING MINERALS EXPLORATION PROSPECTS Virus can’t slow the excitement for exploration roles

PROSPECT AWARDS

58-59

THE GAWLER CHALLENGE IS ON Scratching the surface of South Australia’s landscape

MAINTENANCE

TECHNOLOGY ROCKWELL AUTOMATION SHAPES THE FUTURE How digital twin technology is emerging to guide modern mining operations

GROWING REMANUFACTURING PROGRAM Liebherr-Australia creates a circular economy

30

60

TECHNOLOGY

INDUSTRY COMMENT THE PURPOSE OF AUTONOMY Corporate responsibility that hits the bottom line

30

LASE TECHNOLOGY ENSURES EFFICIENCY Laser measurement tech accepts diverse challenges

32-33

61 MAINTENANCE

MATERIALS HANDLING OVERCOMING MATERIALS HANDLING CHALLENGES Effective initiatives from Altra Motion and ASME

THE ALARMING SOUND OF VIBRATIONS AspenTech helps prevent asset failures

62-63

34-35

INDUSTRY COMMENT

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

64

KAL TIRE TURNS THE WHEEL OF DIVERSITY Inclusion for those who are best for the job

THE PATH TO SUCCESSFUL REMOTE DELIVERY Austmine speaks with Mipac about remote work

38-39

EVENT SPOTLIGHT

AUTOMATION

65

TELE-REMOTE ON THE MOVE Sandvik technology put to use during COVID-19

QME 2020 TO ARRIVE IN MACKAY Keeping up with METS technologies

40 RISK MANAGEMENT READY FOR ANYTHING Cyclone Mangga reminds us why mines must be ready for anything

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

66-67

41

WHAT’S ESSENTIAL TO A MINING OPERATION? Inenco, BesTech present solutions that count

REGULARS NEWS 9-10

PRODUCTS 68-69 AUSTRALIANMINING

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EVENTS 70



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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. MACMAHON BUILDS ON 25 YEARS AT OLYMPIC DAM Macmahon has celebrated 25 years of presence at BHP’s Olympic Dam polymetallic mine in South Australia. The mining services provider has been drilling ventilation raises at Olympic Dam for more than 20 years and has signed on for another twoyear contract extension. One of Macmahon’s workhorses on site is the surface 121R rig, which despite being almost 50 years old, is capable of pulling five-metre diameter rises for ventilation on site. Macmahon’s crew (pictured) are underground employees who rarely have to go underground. Macmahon’s six underground operating rigs are primarily used for the development of slot rises for stopes, but are also used for ventilation holes, backfill holes and escape ways. The company also operates the much smaller 73R rig, which is considered one of its bigger underground drills. Macmahon also rigged up a 121R raise drill rig that has commenced pilot drilling of RB41 at the Olympic Dam mine. RB41 is an exhaust ventilation raise, which when complete, will have a total depth

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.

MACMAHON CREW AT BHP’S OLYMPIC DAM MINE.

of around 406 metres and final diameter of 4.5 metres. This raise will contribute to the removal of heat and airborne contaminants from the mine.

Macmahon stated that the set up had been particularly challenging as the construction of the exhaust fan support structures and splash pads was happening

simultaneously with drilling operations, greatly improving the commissioning time of the fan. It has continued to work closely with BHP to ensure that all site works can be completed safely and on schedule. As soon as the raise drill has pulled the reaming head through to the surface, the drill will be rigged down and moved off the hole and collar sprayed with fibrecrete using the Macmahon Shaft Liner (SLUG).

ANCIENT GOLD DEPOSITS COULD LEAD TO NEW DISCOVERIES: CSIRO CSIRO has discovered that distinctive rock patterns in the Yilgarn province in Western Australia could indicate the presence of gold deposits. While traditional methods of mineral exploration focus on geological and geophysical mapping to uncover hidden deposits in rocks, researchers from CSIRO analysed the chemical systems of sediments in the area instead. When ancient gold deposits formed over 2.5 billion years ago, patterns of chemical alteration were formed on nearby rocks. This could provide valuable clues towards finding new gold deposits.

CSIRO is confident in the potential of this method to assist with exploration projects across the globe. For CSIRO director of mineral resources Rob Hough, the research will encourage more beneficial and sustainable mineral exploration. “This research project is a great example of CSIRO’s close collaboration with the Western Australian Government and MRIWA (Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia) to support a productive, sustainable and globally competitive mineral resources industry for the benefit

of Australia,” Hough said. “We have world-leading research capabilities in Perth and welcome opportunities to develop minerals sector innovation in partnership with the industry and government.” The research project was backed by the Western Australian Government through the MRIWA. Western Australia’s Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the discovery would help bring attention towards overlooked areas in the eastern Yilgarn province. “The discovery of these chemical signatures could greatly assist exploration in the eastern

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Yilgarn which, despite sharing its geology with the Eastern Goldfields, has produced fewer gold discoveries than expected,” he said. “This research will help reduce the risk in targeting ore bodies buried beneath the surface, that conventional exploration has failed to identify, and will encourage investment in under-explored areas in our state. “By investing in MRIWA research, the McGowan Government is supporting the mineral exploration industry with the tools and insights needed to find the next generation of gold deposits.”


NEWS

WEST IS BEST, WA PREMIER TELLS FIFO WORKERS Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan is encouraging fly-in, flyout (FIFO) workers to relocate to the state permanently, following an announcement of new home building incentives. The state government is working with the Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) to attract FIFO workers from the eastern states to Western Australia.

travelled to Western Australia to work in the mining and resources industry. Western Australia’s strict border closure caused many FIFO workers to stay in the state temporarily. “Western Australia is a great place to live and has a lot to offer those who already work here, but currently reside in homes in the eastern states,” McGowan said. “We expect by offering the building

A $20,000 building bonus grant is available for workers who want to build a new home in Western Australia. The state government is hoping that FIFO workers will build new homes in regional areas, where CME will also assist with relocation costs and mortgage payment incentives. Prior to COVID-19’s travel restrictions, an estimated 5000–6000 FIFO workers from eastern states

bonus to these workers, it will provide a strong incentive for them to make the move to WA, and build a new home. “They are already working here on mining or oil and gas sites across the state. We want as many of these workers as possible to consider making a home in WA, and I’d particularly encourage them to learn about some of our fantastic communities in regional WA.”

MANY INTERSTATE FIFO WORKERS HAVE STAYED IN WA DURING COVID-19.

BHP TARGETS RESPONSIBLE SUPPLY CHAIN BHP has reiterated its commitment to socially responsible partnerships in the area of human rights with the launch of the BHP Ethical Supply Chain program. The company recognised that many men, women and children were victims of human rights abuse, and that growth in regulatory instruments was indicative of the increasing expectations on businesses to address human rights risks.

The program continues the mining giant’s pledge to increase a level of transparency in its supply chain, with this being a key consideration for any company wishing to partner with BHP. BHP stated the program helped its suppliers to manage human rights risks across their own supply chains. “We remain committed to the ongoing partnership with our suppliers to build long-lasting productive and sustainable

relationships to unlock shared value for all of our businesses,” BHP stated. “As the world’s leading resources company with a procurement spend of $US20 billion ($28.6 billion) across 10,000 suppliers, BHP recognises the responsibility and opportunity we have to identify understand and seek to mitigate human rights across our supply chain together.” BHP chief procurement officer Sundeep Singh said that human

rights violations were the furthest anyone could be from the shared value it wished to generate with its partners. “The Ethical Supply Chain program continues our commitment to increasing the level of transparency in our supply chain and partnering with our supply base to do this,” he said. “It remains a critical consideration for anyone that wants to do business with us.”

FORTESCUE SELECTS DOWNER FOR $450M ELIWANA CONTRACT Fortescue Metals Group has again contracted Downer to complete works at the Eliwana iron ore project in Western Australia, this time for early mining and maintenance services. It will be Downer’s second Eliwana project package, having been awarded a contract for the bulk earthworks in late 2019. Under the early mining and

maintenance services contract, Downer will complete early works operations over two years while the mine site is established. Fortescue will then transition Eliwana to its autonomous mining fleets, while Downer will remain onsite to provide maintenance services for a further three years. “Downer has a long-standing AUSTRALIANMINING

relationship with Fortescue and we are very pleased to be expanding our services,” Downer chief executive Grant Fenn said. “We are proud to be supporting the development of the Western Hub and the communities that will benefit from the mine.” The five-year early mining and maintenance services contract is

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valued at around $450 million. The Eliwana mine and rail project will include a 30 million tonne per annum dry ore processing facility and 143 kilometres of rail connecting it to the Herb Elliott Port at Port Hedland. It will be along the same rail route as Fortescue’s existing iron ore operations, Solomon Hub and the Iron Bridge project.



DIGITAL MINING

FORTESCUE’S INTEGRATED OPERATIONS CONTROL CENTRE.

INSIDE FORTESCUE’S MISSION CONTROL FORTESCUE METALS GROUP’S INTEGRATED OPERATIONS CENTRE ALLOWS WORKERS TO OPERATE A MINE, RAIL AND PORT NETWORK THAT IS 1200 KILOMETRES AWAY. AND DURING COVID-19, IT SETS A BLUEPRINT FOR WHAT THE INDUSTRY CAN DO TO SAFEGUARD OPERATIONS IN THE FUTURE. NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA WRITES.

I

n an unprecedented time of social distancing, travel bans and lockdowns, the mining industry has remained buoyant in sustaining many of its major operations throughout Australia. For leading miners such as Fortescue Metals Group, developing a remote mining control centre in Western Australia has become even more of a precious asset to keep business flowing and its workers safe. Fortescue’s Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) is in Perth, the capital city of Australia’s largest mining jurisdiction and where the iron ore company centres the bulk of its activities. What started with the company’s Train Control Centre for its Pilbara rail system over 10 years ago has continued to push boundaries as it has developed, moving the industry towards the next generation of mining. This year, Fortescue pledged that its Pilbara vehicle fleet would become fully autonomous – something that has the ability to prevent a virus such as COVID-19 from spreading in the workplace when compared to a manually-operated site.

Fortescue chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman believes the company’s people are what push the envelope through determination, rather than the technology on its own. “We are operating a mine, rail and port network 1200 kilometres away from where it is located, so there is a lot involved, however, we have always believed it’s our people, not simply the technology that drives improvements,” Lilleyman tells Australian Mining. “In order to embrace the benefits of automation and technology, we need a workforce committed to challenging the status quo and generating new ideas. “That is why we have always focussed on employing people who share our values, which drive our culture and performance through a strong focus on safety, family and courage and determination. “More specifically, remote operations require some different skills such as being able to think in a virtual world. This can be particularly helpful when completing tasks like building dump plans for stockpiles and keeping the mine model accurate.” Fortescue’s IOC continues to grow to include additional sites that will allow AUSTRALIANMINING

for further automation of operations from mine to port. “We are currently expanding our IOC to include additional site operations, together with our shipping and marketing functions, which will increase our ability to deliver efficiencies by sharing knowledge and skills,” Lilleyman says. The IOC also allows Fortescue’s extensive team of male and female workers to have much more flexible work arrangements, while also preventing the need for travelling hundreds of kilometres to regional areas. Avoiding regional travel has been particular important during COVID-19. “Our IOC allows us to provide more flexibility to our team members, including for women who have returned to work after having children,” Lilleyman explains. “Their positions in the IOC mean they no longer need to regularly travel to site. “Today, during the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the fact that we can still run our mining hubs while limiting the number of people flying to site is also valuable.” With health and safety playing a huge part at any mining operation,

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the adoption of automated technology prevents injury from occurring on-site. “Automated mines are safer through the removal of people from potentially risky situations,” Lilleyman says. “If you take AHS trucks as an example; when people drive trucks they speed up, slow down, get tired and assess risk differently, whereas AHS trucks operate consistently and predictably. “To date, our autonomous haulage fleet has safely moved over 1.3 billion tonnes and travelled over 43 million kilometres. Or to put it another way, in the month of March alone, our fleet travelled the equivalent of two return trips to the moon – safely.” By embracing technological advancements, 3000 Fortescue team members have been trained and upskilled to master automation technology. Lilleyman says Fortescue’s unique culture has been the foundation for an appetite for embracing technology and generating ideas from the beginning. “At Fortescue, we believe innovation shouldn’t come at the risk of jobs and the key to our successful automation projects is our people,” he says. “Our training and redeployment


IMAGE COURTESY OF FORTESCUE METALS GROUP.

DIGITAL MINING

program has successfully transferred or upskilled employees to new roles across the business, resulting in no redundancies as a result of the roll out of autonomous haulage.” And Fortescue’s Cloudbreak iron ore mine in the Pilbara region shows just how far the company progressed with its focus on autonomous operations. “Cloudbreak is the first remote mining operation in the world to use the Cat MineStar Command system in production mode,” Lilleyman says.

MineStar Command

Caterpillar chief engineer, mining automation Carl Hendricks tells Australian Mining that MineStar Command has been a hit amongst mining companies investing in automated technology. “The MineStar Command system is one of several automation solutions that have taken the industry by storm,” he says. In May, the company announced it had reached a milestone of over two billion tonnes being hauled using Cat Minestar Command. “Autonomous haulage has seen adoption by many remote sites that have challenges with maintaining local staffing levels. The benefits autonomy has delivered in assuring operational availability of haul fleets are amplified in the face of any additional challenges in getting operational resources to remote locations,” Hendricks says.

“The move by Fortescue to centralised remote operations represents an organisational milestone in recognition of the technology as an entrenched, key operational element of the enterprise.”

Mining from home

COVID-19’s impact on the mining industry has not been taken lightly. Many companies are now looking for new methods of productivity at a mine site to eliminate the risk of future transmission of the virus. The shutdown of a mine due to a worker being infected with COVID-19 can be catastrophic to a company’s financial position. However, automation can act as a saving grace during a mine site’s shutdown. Beckhoff Automation’s PC-based control systems are opening avenues for several industries to be controlled autonomously from a computer. The primary benefit with any piece of automation equipment at a mining site is reliance in the face of adversity, Beckhoff managing director Nick Psahoulias tells Australian Mining. “A remote operation opens up availability of qualified operators working from many locations,” he says. “Having the ability to monitor, adapt and control an operation remotely gives you greater resilience as an organisation and especially in times with COVID-19 or inclement AUSTRALIANMINING

weather or labour shortages.” Beckhoff’s control systems are designed to have the ability to make automated decisions depending on what they are assigned to do. “At Beckhoff, we provide high level control systems that bridge the IT and operational technology fields to then bring all the information from a site back into the master controller, which then can make decisions on behalf of operators,” Psahoulias explains. “The control system becomes the brain of the operations.” For Psahoulias, Australia’s mining industry is ready for a wider adoption of automated technology after witnessing

the havoc COVID-19 has caused. “If you look at the last month (April), we have proven how adaptable we are as a country and as a workforce. Everyone comes together to find a solution and that’s the Australian way so I think we can start to look at widespread adoption of automation,” Psahoulias says. “I think COVID-19 has definitely made the industry more aware of what it’s capable of. Greater levels of automation and remote operations would allow sites to continue to a greater degree in any new foreseeable world event or disruption to an operation.” AM

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COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

STRIKING THE NICKEL JACKPOT INVESTORS ARE EYEING JUNIOR MINERS WHO ARE IN THE MIDST OF EXPLORING FOR NICKEL-COPPER SULPHIDES ACROSS WESTERN AUSTRALIA. AUSTRALIAN MINING SPEAKS WITH SOME OF THE EMERGING COMPANIES LEADING THE CHARGE.

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ight years ago, Sirius Resources discovered the Nova deposit in the Fraser Range, today a major mine forecast to produce up to 30,000 tonnes of nickel and 12,500 tonnes of copper in the 2020 financial year The highly coveted success story saw Sirius’ market value catapult from under $10 million to around $600 million. In 2015, IGO inked a deal to acquire Sirius for $1.8 billion, which highlighted the golden ticket that greenfield nickel exploration could gift to hopeful mineral explorers. Veteran prospector Mark Creasy, through his private entity Creasy Group, has orchestrated the Fraser Range’s nickel exploration potential into a reality. Creasy Group was a major shareholder in Sirius during its discovery of Nova and has remained a major shareholder of IGO. Junior explorers Legend Mining and Galileo Mining – both backed by Creasy – have claimed some of Creasy Group’s best ground in the Fraser Range. The spotlight has returned to the area with Legend’s game-changing discovery late last year suggesting the company is on the verge of something big.

Legendary opportunity

Legend’s Rockford project has reignited anticipation for another Nova-style discovery. The company has worked with Creasy Group since 2015 to discover potential nickel deposits that lay under thick layers of soil cover at Rockford. Its Mawson prospect first made a mark in December last year, when

Legend discovered one of its drill holes – RKDD007 – was part of a large mineralised system in the Fraser Range nickel belt. This launched Legend’s market capitalisation to $200 million, with director Mark Wilson describing the discovery as a “watershed moment” at the time. Since December 2019, the company has enjoyed a string of successes at Mawson, which have further cemented the possibility of a significant orebody in the area. “We always had the belief, what the assays from RKDD007 did was to confirm our belief had substance,” Wilson tells Australian Mining. “What we’ve been saying to people is our interpretation of what we have drilled into is a squirt off the main orebody and our mission now is to find that.” Legend has ramped up its exploration activity this year, with the company securing $20 million in funding during June to conduct further aircore drilling and a gravity survey to provide its next round of drilling targets. “Our market cap has grown dramatically, our annual spend has doubled this year and generally we have a much higher profile in the sector,” Wilson says. While comparisons have been drawn between the Mawson prospect and Sirius’ Nova discovery, Wilson points to the parallels between the Fraser Range’s nickel belt and the Thompson belt in Canada. “The interpretation of this Fraser zone, which is about 400 kilometres long and about 50 kilometres wide, is an identical footprint to what the Thompson belt in Canada is,” Wilson explains. “Going way back to the 1960s,

the Canadian Geological Survey identified this Fraser zone as an analogous situation to Thompson. “What’s really important at Thompson is the mineralisation occurs in clusters of economic deposits and the total endowment in the Thompson belt is 2.7 million tonnes of nickel. At the moment in an identical footprint of 400 kilometres by 50, we’ve only got 300,000 tonnes of nickel in the Fraser zone.” Legend is confident that more nickel discoveries will sprout from the region in the near future. “Legend has clearly drilled the three most important intercepts of massive nickel-copper sulphide in this entire area since the discovery of Nova. I think that’s why the market is giving us such a strong recognition for what we’ve done,” Wilson says.

Gallant Galileo

Galileo is another junior explorer that is backed by Creasy Group, with valuable tenements in the Fraser Range through joint ventures together. The company’s chairman and managing director, Brad Underwood,

previously worked for Creasy to explore the area between 2010 and 2018, where he played a major role in discovering the Silver Knight nickel-copper deposit – another major discovery in the Fraser Range. “Exploration is an optimist’s pursuit,” Underwood tells Australian Mining. “We believe that the Fraser Range will develop into a new nickel belt and that the potential for new and large discoveries in the region is very high. “It is not like the traditional nickel camps in WA, which were effectively explored using surface prospecting techniques. The Fraser Range is a demonstration area for modern exploration methods and we are starting to see results already.” Galileo is exploring two areas of the Fraser Range, with the Nova and Silver Knight deposits located between them. On the back of the Fraser Range’s two major discoveries, Galileo’s projects position the company to uncover similar findings. While greenfields exploration may pose some risk to investors, the Fraser Range has the advantage of strong research over the past 10 years, combined with promising discoveries that suggest a nickel belt is somewhere in the area. “What we are doing is testing the ground for mineable resources,” Underwood says. “It is similar to a fishing trip which would not usually be described as a gamble. The fisherman’s knowledge will definitely improve the likelihood of success, but it cannot be guaranteed.” Galileo has completed its first RC drilling program in the Fraser Range at the Lantern prospect, with the knowledge the rock types in the area of both its tenements could be hiding something large that is ready to be

DIAMOND DRILL RIG SET UP AT LEGEND’S ROCKFORD PROJECT IN THE FRASER RANGE. AUSTRALIANMINING

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COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

when we started. By the time I left the Creasy Group, we’d done a huge amount of drilling, a lot of detailed magnetic surveys, a lot of detailed gravity. “So, it’s gone from a very low base to a moderately well-explored area.” With a strong need for nickel, the commodity has remained an attractive option for investors. “Nickel is a commodity with strong demand growth, both from the steel industry and from new battery technologies,” Underwood says. “Nickel exploration companies like ourselves that are focussed on discovering high value nickel deposits are a great way to leverage an investment in nickel.”

A golden Chalice

BRAD UNDERWOOD ON SITE AT THE LANTERN PROSPECT.

uncovered with future drilling. “The highlight for us so far has been the discovery of disseminated nickel-copper sulphides at our Lantern prospect,” Underwood says. “The mineralisation is not yet of economic grade, however it is a fantastic start from our first ever RC drilling program. We know we

have the right rock types in the right area at both the northern and southern tenements.” For Underwood, exploration in the Fraser Range has transformed significantly over the course of the past 10 years. “It’s changed hugely,” he says. “There was almost no drilling

The Fraser Range is not the only area in Western Australia rife with greenfield exploration projects in places that have previously been overlooked. Chalice Gold Mines’ Julimar project is just an hour’s drive from Perth’s doorstep, and has proven to be a key asset in the company’s search for nickel sulphides. The company’s luck at Julimar is already paying off with initial drilling results revealing high-grade massive sulphides of nickel-copper PGEs earlier this year — and it wasn’t simply beginner’s luck. Chalice is now sitting in a promising position off the back of these results after raising $30 million from investors in May. “We’re anticipating that $25 million of that funding essentially goes directly to the Julimar project over the next few years,” Chalice managing director Alex Dorsch tells Australian

DRILLCORE FROM LEGEND’S DIAMOND DRILLHOLE RKDD011.

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Mining. “Our aim is to get to a point where we have a resource to develop.” For Dorsch, Julimar is an attractive project for investors due to the unique discovery of high-grade PGEs. “High-grade nickel sulphide intercepts are always popular with investors,” he says. “What’s different about our project is we’ve got highgrade PGEs as well. “Most PGE production comes from South Africa and Russia, so for us to find a potential new source just outside of Perth is significant from a strategic standpoint.” Chalice’s impressive cash position also reflects its approach to early stage greenfield exploration. “There’s a bit of a perception in the industry that all greenfield exploration is high risk,” Dorsch adds. “Exploration can be high risk when the quantum of spend is high, because you’re betting a lot of capital on a low probability outcome. At Julimar though, we spent a very small amount of money – less than $100,000 – prior to drilling the discovery hole. “We completed a small scale but very targeted reconnaissance program, essentially taking the project from a concept to a discovery.” While 2020 has caused worldwide business chaos from COVID-19, Chalice has continued to grow and set the scene for the next generation of Western Australian nickel projects. “Our exploration team has grown from six to more than 12 people in the space of two months, and we are still hiring. The project has well and truly become a key focus for the company, alongside a large exploration program running at our Pyramid Hill gold project in Victoria,” Dorsch concludes. AM


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FUTURE OF MINING

IS COVID-19 CHANGING MINING FOR THE BETTER? THE COVID-19 CRISIS HAS FORCED THE MINING INDUSTRY TO CHANGE HOW IT OPERATES. AND IN MANY CASES, THE CHANGES COULD SHAPE WHAT MINING LOOKS LIKE IN THE FUTURE. BEN CREAGH DISCUSSES WHAT’S DIFFERENT WITH PWC AUSTRALIA.

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ood luck and good management, sometimes, go handin-hand.” This is how PwC Australian mining leader Chris Dodd sums up the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian mining industry and its response. Dodd is reluctant to say the industry’s leaders should pat themselves on the back for how the crisis has been managed, but he believes there is much to be thankful for. His first point, that mining has been lucky, stems from it being deemed essential, unlike so many other industries in Australia that were shut down by COVID-19. A sector like oil and gas, on the

other hand, has not only managed the impact of the pandemic, but also a historic price crash caused by a disagreement between the world’s major oil producing countries. However, mining deserves credit. Australian companies have still needed to contend with some notable challenges, not the least the restrictions on worker mobility as state borders closed. Australia’s fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) model has been put to the test as interstate travel almost completely vanished. The infrastructure and technologies that drive mining companies, from their corporate offices to activities on-site, have also been put under unprecedented pressure. “When you think through risk

management and disaster recovery plans, all of the ‘black swan’ type events are thought about,” Dodd tells Australian Mining. “But it’s almost hard to think, what if travel stopped immediately and no human could leave their house? “So, it was actually a different calamity to grapple with for the fact that it was also business as usual at the same time. It was harder to contemplate and wasn’t quite how they had trained for the event.” Now, several months since the realities of the pandemic hit, Dodd and PwC Australia global consulting mining leader, Franz Wentzel, believe there should be optimism about how the industry can emerge from the crisis. They say the industry has developed in a positive way from a

DIGITAL IMPLEMENTATION HAS ACCELERATED ACROSS MINING DURING COVID-19. AUSTRALIANMINING

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technology, workforce and supply chain perspective that can benefit its future.

Technology trade offs

COVID-19 is shifting how technology projects in mining are executed, in some ways accelerating the industry’s digital transformation. Wentzel says mining companies are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to invest in technology projects despite the economic pressures created by the pandemic. “Technology transformation, major or moderate, was already on their radar and they are maintaining their investment,” Wentzel says. “Obviously, there’s a laser-like focus on the costs associated with it because they want to accelerate the value they get out of it.


FUTURE OF MINING

“It is all about the pace and impact they can do this in at a well thought out capital investment level.” Mining companies have accelerated the use of technology by quickly pushing through the oftencomplex design and scope phases that had previously slowed digital projects. Wentzel says many companies have taken advantage of technology already available to them and quickly operationalised it in many cases. “We traditionally have capital projects with feasibility studies and an investment evaluation phase, a lot of that process has been fast tracked where they could be tested and implemented in a more agile way instead of trying to design the perfect solution on paper,” Wentzel says. “By necessity they have adapted to what they have, and it has actually proven to work quite well. It is an interesting mind shift where the whole governance and evaluation has formed part of the business as usual requirements – they have trusted the process and made it work.” Cyber security has become a key consideration for mining companies as reliance on technology and automation has expanded. How cyber protection is applied, however, has not always

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protected each of the digital blind spots that hackers attack. In PwC’s Global Mine 2020 (an annual report that reviews the top 40 largest global mining organisations), it warns that cyber security has been falling as a key threat among mining CEOs over the past three years. This is despite the fact that the number of reported cyber breaches among mining companies increased four-fold, prompting PwC to highlight reasons why they should increase their focus. Firstly, companies have inadvertently created multiple new entry points for hackers as they have increased their use of automated or connected operational technologies (OT). The motives for OT attacks have also become increasingly diverse and include politically or ideologically motivated reasons. “Cyber security has been a bolton part of digital transformation, so the business becomes digitised with all the back-office systems first and they then overlay the security over that,” Wentzel says. “A fundamental shift in their thinking is needed. Cyber security should be at the heart of their digital strategy and architecture because there are so many entry points. Cyber security is definitely something they

can’t be complacent about. They need to be much more vigilant.”

Workforce makeover

Technology has augmented the role of mining employees over the past decade. Now, COVID-19 has highlighted an inevitability for further changes as the mobility of workforces has been compromised. Mining companies emphasise that existing employees will be retrained, or skills rebranded as automation and other digital opportunities are implemented. COVID-19 shapes as an instigator of further changes to how employees work after it placed pressure on FIFO models, particularly in Western Australia (WA). In early April, the WA Government formally placed a hard border closure on the state to protect communities from COVID-19. Australia’s leading iron ore miners – Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group – then introduced measures for their Pilbara operations in tune with government requirements. “COVID-19 has put a lot of emphasis on and created a challenge on the FIFO workforce and that model that has been created over the last 20 to 30 years,” Wentzel says.

CYBER SECURITY SHOULD BE AT THE HEART OF THEIR DIGITAL STRATEGY AND ARCHITECTURE BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY ENTRY POINTS (FOR HACKERS).”

PWC AUSTRALIAN MINING LEADER CHRIS DODD.

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FUTURE OF MINING

“They can’t do that anymore or they can, but it will come back to how they fundamentally change their operating model to allow for people who, say, live on the Sunshine Coast and fly over to the Pilbara every second week. “How do they enable those people to do that work remotely, relocate or become more self-sustaining through these technologies? It will cause a shift in the type of people companies attract and the way they work.” When restrictions eased in late May, the iron ore giants gradually returned to their usual FIFO schedules, but Dodd expects these companies and others will consider reshaping their workforces at remote sites. “It could go back to the old way when we had mining villages and communities near mines right throughout the country, before FIFO took a lot of that away,” Dodd says. “The value proposition has shifted. We might find the attractiveness of building mining towns becomes different again. People might like the idea of being close to work and being with their families, especially as we all consider the likelihood of something like this happening again.”

Supply chain shapes up

A modern focus to turn supply chain relationships into stronger partnerships and less of a transactional function has come to the fore during the pandemic. Mining companies have taken the opportunity to work with their supply chain to protect the communities in which they operate from COVID-19’s potential impact. BHP, for example, set up the $50 million Vital Resources Fund and accelerated payments to suppliers to support the businesses and communities it works with. “There has been a significant opportunity for mining in their communities and many companies have jumped on it well through the crisis,” Wentzel says. “They have helped set up COVID-19 testing centres, some health care facilities or moved PPE equipment through the existing supply chain they have in their natural way of doing business. “That is a link where I see they can capitalise on their brand and that social licence to operate.” PwC expects the role of the supply chain to become even more

critical after work programs were suspended or deferred due to travel restrictions. Resources companies have been forced to delay construction, shutdowns and routine maintenance activities across their sites. By the time these projects are able to ramp up again, Wentzel anticipates that mining companies will be competing for labour among their peers and other industries. “I expect there’s going to be a point in time when there will be a shortage of specific skills to cover the backlog of major overhaul, refurbishment or maintenance work that has been pushed out due to the lack of movement,” Wentzel says. “Now that will affect mining but also oil and gas, utility transmission and distribution and local council projects – they will all have a competing demand for skills.”

The road out

As the mining industry navigates a COVID-19 impacted environment, it does so in a position that leaves most industries envious. PwC’s Global Mine 2020 reported that the world’s top 40 mining

companies have weathered the COVID-19 storm and emerged in relatively sound financial shape, particularly compared with other sectors, thanks to strong balance sheets and liquidity at the end of 2019. The report also acknowledges that the industry has adapted and evolved while managing the crisis. “There will be some strong learnings out of this, such as the ability to use technology differently,” Dodd says. “We have seen executive teams (remotely) get together for 30 minutes every morning to work out the decisions they need to make that day. “Some of these things would have been two- or three-month initiatives, but now you are getting decisions made in a short period of time. They might just now need to keep some extra capacity available if these events happen again.” As more of these initiatives are successfully implemented, mining may indeed see its COVID-19 legacy become a permanent way of working in the future. AM For more details and insight, please visit https://www.pwc.com.au/ globalmine to download the report.

CAT AND OTHER AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS HAVE KEPT MINING MOVING. IMAGE: CATERPILLAR.

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ACCURATE AND EFFICIENT DRILLING WITH CAT MD6310 AUSDRILL IS USING CAT MD6310 DRILLS TO IMPROVE SAFETY AND EFFICIENCY IN DRILL AND BLAST OPERATIONS AT THE MIDDLEMOUNT COAL MINE IN QUEENSLAND.

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hen drilling services company, Ausdrill, secured a threeyear contract in 2019 to carry out drill and blast operations at Middlemount coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, the team was set in motion to source the right machinery to deliver the project. Ausdrill decided to purchase two new Cat MD6310 drills to take advantage of the machines’ advanced drilling accuracy and scalability to remote and autonomous drilling. Hastings Deering, in collaboration with Caterpillar, delivered the machines, which started a journey of approximately 100 days, travelling from the United States to Central Queensland to commence work earlier this year. Building on the solid legacy of the MD6420C, the Cat MD6310 blasthole drill offers substantial

technology, efficiency and productivity improvements. A key advantage of the machine, Cat electronics deliver advanced troubleshooting for efficient drill operation and scalable automation. The building blocks include drill assist, semi-autonomous and remote control operation and machine health reporting to improve drilling accuracy, reduce fuel consumption and lower total cost of ownership. Caterpillar’s Terrain for drilling system helps to guide the drill for greater pattern accuracy. This ensures that every hole is accurately placed and drilled to plan. Cat Terrain is built around a high precision global positioning system (GPS) focussed on accurate hole placement, depth and angle. The advanced technology also feeds back crucial strata data to assist in accurate placement of explosives within the hole. Ausdrill’s operations manager

at Middlemount coal mine, Eric Gobbert, says as a leader in the industry, the mining services company is always looking at how technology can improve both safety and productivity to provide increased value for its clients. “One of the things that attracted us to the Cat crawler mounted MD6310 drill was its advanced electronics, its ability to integrate with our systems and its scalable automation potential,” says Gobbert. “Working hand in hand with the client’s database, along with our onboard system, the Cat Terrain system integrates all of the data and analytics that are required to manage the contract in a fluid and seamless way.” The focus on accuracy in drilling and blasting helps to make every other aspect of the mining operation safer and more productive. Even minor deviation from the pattern can have a big impact, resulting in higher cost per tonne for the

AUSDRILL IS USING TWO CAT MD6310 DRILLS AT THE MIDDLEMOUNT COAL MINE IN QUEENSLAND.

AUSTRALIANMINING

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entire operation. Gobbert says Ausdrill also plans to leverage the autonomous potential of the drills to improve drilling efficiencies and operational performance on-site. “Not only are these machines capable of reaching 74.6 metres in depth at a 270-millimetre diameter, but the technology provides us with the opportunity to improve safety and productivity,” he says. “Caterpillar and Hastings Deering have a history of delivering successful machines and that in turn gives us confidence that we will be able to deliver the project for our customers.” With high precision and more accurate hole tracking, Cat drills have been designed with autonomy in mind. Building on the precision of terrain for drilling, the MD6310 allows operators to choose the level of automation to suit the application. Hastings Deering mining account manager Jason Garea says the drill comes out of the factory with basic functionality of the Cat electronic system, with all the building blocks to take on full autonomy. “With one push of a button this machine gives the option to use auto drill functions, auto level functions and auto mast up, which protects the drill and decreases cycle times. This means more bottom-line dollars for the client,” says Garea. “In terms of automation, we go from the semi-automated functions into line of sight operation, with both single and multi-pass drilling. The next block is to go to full autonomy where the machine will drill a whole row by itself. Eventually, we will then build the machines into a multi-pass, multi-row capability.” With temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius on-site, the Hastings Deering team of assembly specialists, constructed the mast, calibrated the machine, and carried out the final commissioning of the machines in December 2019. “The Hastings Deering team has supported us through this process and the transition on to site and we look forward to working with them together in the future,” Gobbert concludes. AM


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INTERNATIONAL

ST BARBARA’S SIMBERI PROJECT IS A SMALL AND SAFE OPERATION IN THE NEW IRELAND PROVINCE OF PNG.

AUSTRALIA’S GOLD AMBITIONS PAINT PNG SUCCESS MINING AFFAIRS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA ARE OFTEN PORTRAYED AS TRICKY, BUT ST BARBARA AND GEOPACIFIC RESOURCES ARE TWO AUSTRALIAN COMPANIES THAT SAY OTHERWISE. VANESSA ZHOU WRITES.

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avourable relationships with the local community and all levels of government are the common thread of conversation among ASX-listed companies that operate in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Home to some of the world’s standout gold deposits, PNG is therefore no stranger to some of its leading gold miners. This includes Newcrest Mining, the largest gold producer listed on the ASX, and ASX200 company, St Barbara. Newcrest’s former executive general manager of Cadia, Lihir and global technical services, Craig Jetson, now oversees St Barbara’s Simberi operation as the company’s chief executive officer. Simberi is in the New Ireland province of PNG. It is a successful gold mining operation that will produce over 100,000 ounces this financial year. The site is a valuable part of St Barbara’s global footprint. After a couple of years of re-establishing the mine since its acquisition from Allied Gold in 2012, operations at Simberi have consistently been strong, setting the site up for its next expansion. A Simberi pre-feasibility study (PFS) released in May shows that its mine life could be extended to the 2035 financial year. The study highlights a 38 per cent increase in ore reserve from 1.3 million ounces

to 1.8 million ounces. This is aligned with St Barbara’s plan to transition the operation from the processing of oxides to sulphides. “We just increased our reserves and resource statement on the back of the PFS, and we believe that we have a strong business investment model that can expand the operation and extend its mine life,” Jetson tells Australian Mining. “Today, our oxides sit between two and three years of life. But the PFS presented an opportunity for us to transition from oxides to sulphides and extend the life of mine by 12 to 13 additional years. “This transition would be a simple step and it is not technically challenging. We have a far better understanding of the Simberi orebodies than we did two or three years ago.” The lack of technical complexity involved in the transition makes the idea highly appealing for the company. St Barbara would receive a return on investment from two years after commissioning with a gold price of at least $US1300 ($1874) an ounce. “There wouldn’t be many mines where you can find a production of 100,000 to 120,000 ounces for 10 years for just $US150 million, so we’re very excited about it,” Jetson says. St Barbara anticipates reaching a potential investment decision in March next year, with construction taking AUSTRALIANMINING

place within two years. Simberi has an existing mine lease in place until December 2028, thanks to a successful 10-year renewal application process last year. Of note, St Barbara operates under a traditional mining licence rather than a special mining licence, which applies to some other mining operations in PNG. “There are many proof points that supported the successful signing of a new mining licence. If you look at the impact Simberi has and the reason for our support on the island, it’s because around 70 per cent of our workers are

ST BARBARA MANAGER OF ENVIRONMENT AT SIMBERI, BASIL BULKUA, WITH THE LOCAL SCHOOL CHILDREN.

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local people. We work closely with the provincial government, who has been supportive of Simberi’s continuity,” Jetson says, noting this as the reason production at Simberi has not been affected by COVID-19. “We have a small amount of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) national workforce, with extremely small portion of expatriates. That’s significantly different to what you may see in other operations. Simberi is a nice, small operation that has run very, very safely for many years. “We have an experience working in


INTERNATIONAL

BARGES USED TO TRANSPORT GOODS INTO THE WOODLARK ISLAND.

PNG and with all levels of government for the last eight years; we are located in the middle of the South Pacific; and we are able to operate for 12 years under the proposed framework. All these lessen our operational complexity and provide stability for our future.” Jetson says St Barbara has all the processes and systems in place to continue operating, stating that, “We certainly understand the political environment in PNG very, very well, and we’ve got very good experience on the ground, particularly with the land owners. “These pieces put together a very good base for an operation 12-13 years from now.” Jetson himself also has a limited proficiency in Tok Pisin – a spoken language in PNG. He acknowledges that this ability in the language helps to establish relationships in PNG. “I can reasonably talk to our national PNG workforce, clan leaders and communities,” Jetson, who once lived on Lihir Island not far away from Simberi, says. Jetson, recipient of the MaiMai (chief) status in the Namatanai district, PNG, is looking forward to putting his linguistic skills to use again as COVID-19 restrictions lift and he is able to visit Simberi. In the meantime, he remains confident in the capabilities of the operations team, which has capably and confidently managed Simberi throughout COVID-19. Ron Heeks, who stepped down as CEO and managing director of PNGfocussed explorer-developer Geopacific Resources in May, also testifies about the success of Simberi. This is evident in the amount of investment St Barbara has made in the Simberi project over the past couple of years, Heeks says. “St Barbara has been working so successfully in the New Ireland province of PNG and they’ve been

pumping a huge amount of cash in the past couple of years,” he tells Australian Mining. “One-hundred per cent of our issues is people having a perception that operating in PNG is very difficult. “I’ve worked in many countries before … (But) we have the friendliest people in PNG. If you talk to anybody about that, they’ll agree.” At the Woodlark gold project on its namesake island off the coast of PNG, Heeks says the company’s faces no inter-tribal issues because everybody is of the same tribe and speaks the same language: English. This makes operating on the island a lot easier, despite PNG having over 700 distinct languages across the country. Geopacific also faces no logistical issues thanks to the flat surface of the island, as it moves things around by barge. “The two big issues that you have in PNG, we don’t have,” Heeks says

confidently. “The issue is, everybody has a perception that the government is funny. I’m not 100 per cent sure why that is. “We’ve changed seven prime ministers in Australia during the time that they’ve changed (three). They’re somewhat more stable than we are. Certainly you have third world problems, but we don’t deal at that level. “You don’t see the mines minister, you see the mines department. I’ve worked in many countries, but PNG is easily the best I’ve dealt with. They’re very professional.” The PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum is supportive of the continuity of mining operations in the country. It reiterated the importance of Barrick Gold’s embattled Porgera project to the country’s economy and investor confidence in May. Though the chamber did not wish to discuss the legal rights of the parties, it expressed a firm belief that optimal outcomes would come about when the national government and investors work together and respect the rule of law. Geopacific, whose PNG mining licence has been renewed twice, has also received assistance from the mining department, which was working on site and helping local residents see the progress of the mine construction. “They are very proactive in getting us to where we want to go. In addition, we employ walk-in, walkout employees rather than FIFO,” Heeks says. Given this experience, it’s not surprising that Heeks hails PNG as one of the world’s greatest countries for

AROUND 70 PER CENT OF THE SIMBERI WORKFORCE IS MADE UP OF LOCAL PEOPLE.

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gold exploration. The junior company acquired all of Kula Gold’s rights and interests in the Woodlark operation last year to have 100 per cent ownership in the project. Since then, the company has redone all of the mining studies and transitioned the plant from 1.8 million to 2.4 million tonnes a year. It has also revised Woodlark’s entire mining schedule, reduced the strip ratio and increased mining dilution effects. “We’re using 25 per cent mining dilution so we’ve got something real, whereas most plants are using 5–8 per cent dilution. That is the single reason you’re seeing gold operations in Western Australia fail,” Heeks says. “They have been using dilution factors that are way, way too low and nobody picks up on it. It is the single factor that is sending most mines broke.” Upon Heeks’ departure from Geopacific, acting managing director and executive chairman Ian Clyne now oversees the Woodlark project. “We would not be in a position where we’re in discussions with debt providers and future equity raisers without all the efforts of Ron Heeks,” he says. “It’s a mutual view that for the second build phase, we needed a different skill set, a new set of eyes to ensure that we deliver on our commitments to stakeholders.” As for PNG’s national executive council, it has approved a commission report to review the controversial Mining Act of 1992 and the Environment Act 2000. It speaks loudly of PNG’s intention to improve the safety of mining activities in the country. AM


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EXPLORATION

THE EXPLORATION SECTOR IS CONTINUALLY INVESTING IN ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES.

EXPLORATION: A FIELD OF JOBS FOR THOSE WHO WANDER MINING CAREERS BEHOLD GREAT PROSPECTS FOR THE NEXT GENERATION. AUSTRALIAN MINING INVESTIGATES A HOTSPOT FOR MINING JOBS BEFITTING OF MILLENNIAL AMBITIONS.

T

he jobs outlook in the mining sector has proven to be resilient despite the unprecedented threat of COVID-19. With mining deemed as an essential industry by the Australian Government, the sector is among the industries that have felt the least impact from the pandemic. It defies a reduction in mining’s scope of activities, despite exploration drilling being one of the major areas where activities have decreased, according to BDO’s global head of natural resources Sherif Andrawes. Australian Institute of Geoscientists (AIG) president Andrew Waltho has also observed many companies that are deliberately “trying to do the right thing by their people.” “Mining companies are keeping their employees busy so they’re ready to kick off again as soon as they can, which is really good to

see,” Waltho tells Australian Mining. “They’re looking to hold on to their staff as they know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “I’m aware of a number of companies that have active drilling programs in Queensland and New South Wales. “People are out in the field working. If they don’t retain their staff and keep them busy during this difficult period, they’ll find it hard to restart their programs once the crisis is over.” The Queensland Government knows full well the importance of maintaining a pipeline of resources projects and jobs in the state. It has delivered a multi-milliondollar package, including the release of nearly 7000 square kilometres of land for gas and mineral exploration. The state government has also brought forward $2.8 million in grant funds for exploration in the north west minerals province. Queensland Mines Minister AUSTRALIANMINING

Anthony Lynham believes the state needs to ensure the survival of its explorers, many of them small to medium businesses, until the situation improves and economy recovers. The state has also embraced a more relaxed approach to travel restrictions compared with New South Wales and Victoria. People who need to travel for work within the state could do so, allowing companies to even charter aircrafts to transport workers, Waltho says. Geoscientists in New South Wales and Victoria may not find themselves as lucky as their counterparts in Queensland. “Some businesses, and certainly mineral producers, iron ore, coal seam gas and coal producers, are doing well. Their order book seems to be pretty full,” Waltho says. “We’re also seeing a restart in industry in China. If that continues, we might be in a better shape than we feared.”

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Waltho is confident that exploration companies are also doing what they can to be resilient. However, what is needed is a greater level of investment in greenfields exploration. “I think junior explorers are finding it very, very hard to raise funds to get their projects going,” Waltho says. “There’s not much reduction in exploration expenditures, but rather an industry contraction. There are some advanced projects that are attracting investment, but we’re not seeing the same level in greenfields exploration. “I believe there’s still a lot to find within reasonable depths of surface using smarter techniques and different models (that show how) the deposits form and what sort of rocks they’re going to be in.” As future deposits may look different mineralogically, it opens the door for more fundamental research and exploration jobs.


EXPLORATION

The prospects of exploration

There is a perception with some observers that Australia is fully explored, but Waltho begs to differ. In fact, a greater amount of investment has been put in to look at mineralogical data using advanced exploration technologies. “There’s some really wonderful technologies like infrared mineralogy where you can take an instrument into the field and analyse a rock while you’re standing on an outcrop,” Waltho says. “You can see the mineralogy in that rock as well as the geochemistry. That really opens doors to prospecting in existing mineral terrains. Geology and mining are anything but low-tech.” In recent years, there has been improved access to satellite imagery that goes beyond visual imagery. It includes infrared and hyperspectral signals of minerals, which can help people to understand exploration data better. This development also calls for an appropriate skillset and people to work in that field. “It’s concerning that the industry is finding it hard to attract new talent to study geoscience,” Waltho says. “There’s a perception among some people that mining exploration is an old-world industry. It’s anything but. “The exploration sector is one of the earliest adopters of technologies and advanced techniques, because at a stage of exploration there is a high risk involved. We always try to improve the return of investment and reduce exploration risks.” This coincides with a finding from BDO, which states in a report titled, Social Licence to Operate in Mining, that millennials’ perception of mining as a sector is

one that lacks the excitement of entrepreneurial endeavour. The report also reveals that millennials are not aware of the mining industry’s urgent need for digital skillsets as it transitions to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. For this reason, a shift in mining’s narrative needs to start as early as school ages to address the perception children have of mining, Andrawes says. “One of the messages you should get across is how multifaceted

mining is. Mining in the 21st century is not about picking up an axe and doing some digging as some might perceive,” he says. “Millennials lack the understanding that mining is a very high-tech industry. In Western Australia, for example, we’ve got world-leading technologies that are very lucrative.” With career options starting from greenfields exploration right through to the operations of major miners, a shift in perception is urgently required as it takes time to nurture

the next generation. “We’re going to see fewer people who are committed in the mining industry in the short-term, so we have to start making these changes as soon as possible,” Andrawes says. “We want the mining talent pool to be as wide as possible.” With the notion of exploration being “completely rubbish” and the investment in technology that is being made, it could prove to not only be the foundation of mining, but also future careers in the industry. AM BDO GLOBAL HEAD OF NATURAL RESOURCES, SHERIF ANDRAWES.

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MAINTENANCE

LIEBHERR REMANUFACTURES AFTERSALES VISION LIEBHERR-AUSTRALIA MAY HAVE STARTED REMANUFACTURING COMPONENTS TO BOLSTER ITS AFTERSALES OFFERING, BUT THE CAPABILITY IS NOW PROVIDING BENEFITS THAT EXTEND BEYOND THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE. BEN CREAGH EXPLAINS.

LIEBHERR-AUSTRALIA’S REMANUFACTURING FACILITY IN ADELAIDE.

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he Liebherr Reman Program was launched in Australia during the challenges of the last mining downturn in 2014 to support the largest Liebherr mining equipment fleet in the world. Liebherr’s global management team had realised that the company needed to diversify its Australian aftersales service to help protect the mining business against the cyclical nature of the industry. Six years on, the industry is in a stronger place and the remanufacturing program has grown exponentially to become a key capability for the company in Australia. In 2015, Liebherr-Australia remanufactured 660 mining components with a small team of about 25, before expanding the program to recondition 950 components the following year. The number of remanufactured components has continued to grow by between 15 and 20 percent year on year since then, hitting more than 1300 in 2019. Liebherr-Australia expects that number to rise to around 1800 components this year, with 2021 shaping as the year the program breaks through 2000 components. Marius Pretorius, general manager – production at LiebherrAustralia, joined the company as the foundations of the program were

being put in place in 2014. He says Liebherr’s $60 million investment in the program’s facility in Adelaide has paid off as its customers have identified the advantages remanufacturing offers. “The Liebherr mining division started to think that we needed to buffer ourselves against the downturns in the mining industry in 2014,” Pretorius tells Australian Mining. “If we are tied to capital sales and that drops off, and as we know the mining industry is cyclical, revenue dries up for the business too. A good way to mitigate this is to have a stronger footprint in the aftersales business once the machines are sold

to the customers. “The most typical avenue is servicing the machines and supplying spare parts, but a more beneficial one is to have a remanufacturing business: especially when you are the ones who made those components in the first place.” The program has served its initial purpose by successfully diversifying Liebherr-Australia’s operations, but it has also delivered notable benefits on two fronts beyond the company’s bottom line. Firstly, it has helped Liebherr’s Australian mining customers to better manage their maintenance budgets by giving them an alternative to ordering new components or parts. The Liebherr Reman Program aims to provide an economic solution for all of the company’s machines, remanufacturing components as new while providing the same warranty as a part straight out of one of its factories. As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Liebherr brings its latest technical developments to the Reman Program and tests every remanufactured component to the same standard as original factory produced parts. There is also no major threat of machine downtime when components are being remanufactured, as Liebherr replaces the unit in machines with one in stock from a company branch while it is being reconditioned.

AN EXCAVATOR TRAVEL DRIVE DURING THE REMANUFACTURING PROCESS.

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“Customers have gravitated to this model because of the advantages of using an OEM remanufactured component versus a component from a third-party supplier,” Pretorius says. “We draw on our manufacturing capabilities and our vertically integrated business with the majority of components in mining equipment designed and manufactured by Liebherr. “The remanufactured components are always manufactured using the most up to date technical specifications, taking advantage of the new technologies in the business, and the feedback from field experiences of our engineers and technical support teams.” The second benefit, and increasingly the one having the broadest impact, is the advantage remanufacturing provides to the environment by developing a circular economy for the OEM’s components. Pretorius says more than 1500 tonnes of steel are being reclaimed through the program each year at its current size. “It is a great story that Liebherr is reclaiming so much steel each year with the remanufacturing program,” Pretorius says. “It saves energy, is better for the environment, and it keeps people employed. We currently employ almost 90 tradespeople directly within our remanufacturing business in Australia, in addition to being a significant employer indirectly through our engineering service supply base of over 20 Australian SMEs.” As the social expectations of mining grow, the industry’s supply chain has responded by developing initiatives that make it more sustainable. The Liebherr Reman Program is an example of an initiative that has a two-fold effect by not only benefitting the environment but also positively impacting the budgets of its customers. “It is smart business and just the right thing to do. Liebherr-Australia is committed to being a valuable and sustainable partner in the mining supply chain, and the Reman Program is just one of the many activities that enables us to demonstrate this,” Pretorius concludes. AM


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INDUSTRY COMMENT

PIONEERS OF AUTONOMY DAVID BURNS, GLOBAL MINING LEAD AT ACCENTURE AND DEAN FELTON, A MANAGING DIRECTOR AT ACCENTURE’S MINING PRACTICE DISCUSS WHY AUSTRALIA’S MINING INDUSTRY MUST EMBRACE THE AUTONOMOUS REVOLUTION.

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s mining operations in Australia are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with projects either put on hold or running with significantly reduced headcount, now is the time to harness the potential of autonomous operations in order to develop strong, resilient businesses. While Australia’s mining industry has long been at the forefront of global innovations in autonomous operations and were early pioneers of this technology, from drilling, charging and blasting through to self-driving trucks and trains, this is just scratching the surface of how autonomous systems can and should be used in the industry. With technology becoming increasingly advanced, especially in artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics, autonomous operations have the potential to significantly increase efficiency and productivity, while also increasing safety and sustainability in mining.

Purpose as a critical factor

The mining sector operates on a massive scale and is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace, which means

ACCENTURE GLOBAL MINING LEAD, DAVID BURNS.

it needs to get smarter and more creative in how it approaches the business of mining. Today, the demands of a broad stakeholder base mean mining companies will need to integrate corporate responsibility strategies in order to drive value across the triple bottom line of financial, environmental and social performance to strengthen their

DEAN FELTON, A MANAGING DIRECTOR AT ACCENTURE’S MINING PRACTICE.

strategic positioning. Consumers are demanding responsibly sourced products from companies that provide fair and safe employment for their workforces, while looking after the environment and the communities in which they operate. And those consumers are far more informed than they once were, thanks to the internet and social media.

Investors, too, are weighing in. Increasingly, they are assessing companies on social factors along with their safety record and workforce benefits and are seeing value in behaviour that leads to less risk and more reward. Crucial to this is a focus on what Accenture refers to as ‘triple zero’: ideas, design and technologies that help achieve zero harm to workers and machines, zero loss across the value chain, and zero waste for sustainability. Recently, BHP announced that ‘social value’ considerations such as climate change and water policies will underpin its business decisions and believes it is the key to the business staying competitive in a changing world. While the growing pressure for environmental and social action is likely to accelerate in the next few years, the traditional pressures to be efficient and cost-competitive are still very much in force. Autonomous operations have the potential to succeed on both fronts – but the extent of that success will depend on how new autonomous capabilities are built and deployed. With the right approach, mining companies can use analytics and data to target opportunities to deliver the same or greater amount of product, with lower emissions, decreased costs, improved productivity and enhanced safety.

The big picture

While only 3 per cent of mobile equipment in the mining industry is autonomous, most of which is self-driving trucks and trains, several mining companies are in the early stages of exploring the use of automated equipment such as the remote operation of haul truck fleets. Autonomous mine operations can and will go much further. Rather than just automating equipment, autonomous operations will encompass entire processes – in engineering, production and supporting business activities – that manage themselves and adjust to changing conditions with little or no human intervention. Today, an automated truck will follow a pre-programmed path from one point to the next. It is not connected to other pieces

RESOLUTE MINING’S CONTROL CENTRE AT THE SYAMA GOLD MINE. IMAGE: SANDVIK.

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INDUSTRY COMMENT

of equipment around it, and it is operated through a central control system, with humans frequently needing to correct its actions. In a more advanced stage, autonomous trucks will operate largely on their own and automatically adjust their paths to accommodate obstacles and variations in conditions. Autonomous operations can not only enhance productivity and reduce costs, they can help miners meet increasingly important social goals as well. More efficient and productive operations go hand-inhand with greater sustainability.

From one truck to full autonomy

With full autonomy an entire operation can be optimised for the best overall outcome and can ensure increased equipment utilisation rates and continuous operations. So much so, some mining companies report productivity improvements of 15 to 30 per cent from autonomous hauling. One heavy equipment

AUTONOMOUS OPERATIONS CAN NOT ONLY ENHANCE PRODUCTIVITY AND REDUCE COSTS, THEY CAN HELP MINERS MEET INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT SOCIAL GOALS AS WELL.�

manufacturer reports that the tyres on its autonomous trucks last 40 per cent longer because those vehicles experience less sudden acceleration and abrupt steering movements. But perhaps the fullest example of autonomy at work is a Resolute Mining operation in Mali. There, the company operates the world’s first purpose-built, fully autonomous, sub-level cave gold mine. The entire production operation is carried out via an autonomous system. This has reduced the cost of gold production

by $135 per ounce and cut mining costs by 30 percent.

Four key factors to success

To achieve success, there are key factors that companies need to address: • Focus on value. The autonomous path to value will be as different as each business. Having clear visibility of the key value drivers is critical to avoiding false starts and matching stakeholder expectations. • Address the foundation. To take advantage of intelligent technologies, companies should ensure their IT architectures are ready to support communications between various systems and types of equipment. • Ensure data readiness. Being able to use data from various sources is critical to AI and analytics-based insights and decision-making. Companies need to consider their data-handling capabilities to capture and manage ever-growing volumes of data, while ensuring the data used to drive decision-making is accurate and trusted

• Manage the change. As a rule, technology changes faster than people, and the shift to autonomy could leave employees behind if not carefully managed. Mining companies can help their people feel more comfortable with new approaches by communicating clearly, building trust and preparing them to succeed in the new environment. As mining companies in Australia are seeing their operations disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to accelerate autonomous operations. For miners, the widespread implementation of autonomous operations will represent a significant break from the past – and it is coming soon. The technology is advancing quickly, and the demands of Triple Bottom Line reporting are only growing. This means mining companies need to move ahead rapidly – and embrace new autonomy-based ways of working that will be fundamental to competing in the years ahead. AM

SAFETY EFFICIENCY EXPECTATIONS

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MATERIALS HANDLING

ENHANCING CONVEYOR SAFETY WITH THE RIGHT BACKSTOP SOLUTION ALTRA MOTION AUSTRALIA HAS SUPPLIED THE LARGEST BACKSTOP THE COMPANY HAS EVER INSTALLED IN AUSTRALIA TO A MAJOR GOLD PRODUCER. AUSTRALIAN MINING WRITES.

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ackstops – or holdbacks – are critical components for any mine site that relies on conveyor belts for materials handling. While most commonly used as an anti-runback device to prevent reverse movement of belts in inclined conveyors, backstops are also deployed on flat overland conveyors to avoid the severe shock loading on start-up. Altra Motion Australia, the local subsidiary of global company Altra Industrial Motion, has been active in the bulk handling space for more than 85 years. The company specialises in backstopping technology and has introduced a number of well-regarded backstop brands – namely Formsprag Clutch, Marland Clutch and Stieber – to the global market. These brands provide a range of backstopping solutions, including lowspeed, high-speed (internal) and highspeed (external) backstops. While low-speed backstops are installed directly on the pulley, high-speed backstops mount onto the gear box of the conveyor drive and work together to stop product rollback on a stopped conveyor or in case of drive failure. The Altra backstopping products are widely used on inclined conveyor drives and bucket excavators in both open pit and underground coal, copper, nickel, gold and iron ore mines, processing plants and shore-toship loading and unloading facilities. Altra Motion Australia has supplied the largest backstop that the company has ever installed to the Australian market to a major gold producer. The Marland backstop, a BC MA roller-type, can handle backstopping torques over 1.2 million newtonmetres. To enable the backstop to handle such a high torque load, the unit was built with a shaft size of 400 millimetres and a torque arm length of nearly four metres, measured to the centerline of the bore, according to Paul Pavlou, national contracts manager at Altra Motion Australia. “The backstop unit itself measures 1.2 metres in length, 1.4 metres in width and 67 centimetres in depth and weighs over five tonnes,” he adds.

THE MARLAND BC MA ROLLER-TYPE BACKSTOP CAN HANDLE TORQUES OVER 1.2 MILLION NEWTON-METRES.

Marland BC MA bearing supported backstops are designed to be mounted on the drive. The self-contained, oil lubricated units feature a grease labyrinth that prevents dust from attacking oil lip seals. Pavlou says the backstop unit installed on the mine site is designed to last at least 15 to 20 years without requiring any major repair or replacement. “Altra Motions Australia is currently working with the client to formulate a maintenance plan, which would include annual inspections of the backstops and the brakes on the same conveyor,” he adds. Altra Motion Australia national sales manager, Rex Sinclair says the strength of the company lies not just in providing a wide portfolio of backstopping solutions, but also in supporting customers with a complete servicing package. “The Altra Motion Australia team consists of well-trained and seasoned sales engineers. When these engineers visit any site or interact with customers, they understand the customer’s needs and then work AUSTRALIANMINING

with the brands to provide the right solution,” he says. Sinclair says the team helped a mining company find reliable replacements for its existing backstops, which helped reduce maintenance costs considerably. “This customer was faced with the issue that their existing backstops needed to be replaced every two years. This frequent replacement was costing them in downtime and repair costs,” he explains. “Our team helped develop a replacement backstop that would fit in the same envelope and use the same mounting and anchor points as the existing competitor units. The new backstops don’t need frequent inspections and the customer is guaranteed to get a service life of 10 years or more from them.” In addition to sales offices across Australia, Altra Motion Australia has service workshops in Perth, Sydney and Mackay, where the service technicians are trained in overhauling the backstops for repair or rebuild under the supervision of service managers. The technicians also

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frequently visit sites to offer on-site maintenance services. “All of our maintenance and overhaul team members are trained to handle any technical issues with backstops. When they visit the mine sites, they can do anything from commissioning new backstops to carrying out routine servicing or fault finding,” says Sinclair. “At the workshop, they can overhaul backstops back to new condition using genuine parts covered with a factory warranty.” Where an application requires unique backstop solutions that are not readily available, Sinclair says the team at Altra Motion Australia can go back to the design engineers at each brand’s factory to works out a custombuilt solution for the customer. “When we sell backstops, we don’t just sell a unit. We also support our customers throughout the product’s lifespan, from cradle to grave. Our aim is to provide the best backstopping solutions in Australia and Altra Motion undeniably have the experience to support that goal,” Sinclair concludes. AM


MATERIALS HANDLING

SOLUTION ENGINEERING IN ACTION AUSTRALIAN MINING EXPLAINS HOW ENGINEERING SOLUTIONS COMPANY, ASME PROJECTS, HAS OVERCOME THE CHALLENGE OF STORING AND HANDLING AMMONIUM NITRATE ON MINE SITES WITH AN INNOVATIVE SOLUTION.

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THE CONTAINERS ARE HYDRAULICALLY TILTED AND UNLOADED INTO A TRANSFER HOPPER.

mmonium nitrate is used extensively in the mining industry for blasting operations. Because of its infamously explosive nature, bulk ammonium nitrate cannot be stored at the actual mining or quarrying operation, so it is stored at a safe distance on-site, typically in the blasting compound. This creates logistical problems when it comes to storing and handling the material at the storage area. The conventional handling method involves using tipper trucks to offload the ammonium nitrate into purposebuilt vehicles – known as mobile processing units or MPUs – that then carry it to the blasting location. But an Australian engineering company has designed a more efficient way of storing and handling ammonium nitrate that can save mines millions of dollars a year in logistical and labour costs. ASME Projects, a provider of endto-end engineering and maintenance services across the mining and energy sectors, has created the Dual Tipper Module that can be used for efficient storage and handling of ammonium nitrate – as well as any other dry products that need to be stored in bulk. Ross Barnes, managing director of ASME Projects and one of the brains behind the design of the Dual Tipper Module, says it was initially developed in 2013 for a major mining company that was looking for a better way to store ammonium nitrate at its coal mines. “The mining company had been incurring huge costs in delivering the material to their blasting compounds,” Barnes tells Australian Mining.

“Once the tipper trucks arrived at the compound, they had to wait – sometimes up to a week – for their turn to offload because there was not enough storage space on site. This was costing the mine thousands of dollars a day in truck hiring demurrage charges.” The Dual Tipper Module eliminates the need for hire trucks, as well as the personnel that would be required to offload the bulk material to the storage. The 20foot containers that are used for delivering the ammonium nitrate are stored on the site and loaded onto the Dual Tipper Module two at a

time with the help of a forklift. The containers are then hydraulically tilted by user-friendly controls and unloaded into a transfer hopper and pumped to the MPU continuously. “The beauty of this system,” Barnes says, “is that you can run the operation flawlessly and uninterrupted. Because there are two containers on the module at any given time, when one container is emptied, it can be taken off and replaced while the other container continues to load the MPU.” ASME Projects has added improvements to the original design, which include a vibrator control unit to help with the flow of material from the container and flow control stoppers to prevent over-loading of the transfer hopper. Barnes says major mining and quarrying companies using the modules at their operations are achieving significant cost savings. “For example, we installed two Dual Tipper Modules at a major coal mine in Queensland and the return on investment was achieved in only six months on a total cost of nearly $600,000,” he says. “In another instance, our customer estimated that they had saved $8.5 million

ASME’S DUAL TIPPER MODULE ELIMINATES THE NEED FOR HIRE TRUCKS.

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in one year in equipment hire and manpower saving by switching to our Tipper Module.” Barnes says ASME Projects has a team of 40-50 employees specialising in mechanical and civil engineering, project management, quality and performance control (QAPC) and welding inspection. The company also has a Channel Partnership with T.D. Williamson – a global specialist in pipeline hot tapping and flow stopling. When design is completed, the Dual Tipper Module is fabricated at the company’s workshop facilities in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. “Our fabrication facilities allow us to build the Tipper Modules close to the work site. We also have the option to fabricate the units at our overseas facility for large orders to further optimise the costs,” Barnes says. Further, Barnes says the modules can be custom-made. “We can fabricate Tipper Modules in various sizes, optimised for the intended use. Our in-house mechanical and electrical engineers design the modules and control circuitry to meet the highest national and international standards.” AM


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DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

KAL TIRE KEEPS THE DIVERSITY WHEEL TURNING THE TYRE INDUSTRY HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN MALE DOMINATED, WITH FEMALE WORKERS MOST COMMONLY SEEN IN ADMINISTRATION ROLES. KAL TIRE IS BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS AND HIRING THE BEST WORKERS FOR THE JOB, MALE OR FEMALE. SALOMAE HASELGROVE WRITES.

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al Tire’s philosophy for equality in the workforce is simple, creating opportunity and fostering pathways into mining. The company’s journey to a more equal workplace doesn’t involve quotas or a gendered hiring process, but it has made efforts to create an inclusive workplace with its training programs, career development support and investment in innovation to remove barriers. The company has seen an increase in women applying for and gaining roles in Kal Tire’s locations around Australia, including Monique Dyer, who is based at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia and Tie-Gan Smith, who works at a mine site in South Australia. Kal Tire western region manager Dave Ryan says with more women starting their training with the company, word is spreading about the opportunities. As a result, Ryan believes more women are seeing the tyre industry as a career option and Kal Tire as a

MONIQUE DYER HAS SURPASSED FIVE YEARS WORKING AS A TYRE TECHNICIAN FOR KAL TIRE.

potential employer. “At Kal Tire, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. You’re not treated any differently and you go through all the same processes,” Ryan tells Australian Mining. “We don’t target our advertising to specific diversity groups. We encourage people of all backgrounds to apply for positions. There has been AUSTRALIANMINING

a shift in the mining industry as a whole to attract more women into our workforce and we are enjoying the new ideas our female team members bring to Kal Tire.” Ryan says team members like Dyer and Smith have been extremely efficient in their roles associated with tyre maintenance. According to Ryan, Kal Tire has also

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experienced a lift in the attention to detail and general standards of work from other team members. “Our female team members work hard, they get in and get their tasks done and their attention to detail means their work is very well done and it has helped lifted the standard for all team members,” Ryan explains. It isn’t just work standards benefitting from more female team members at Kal Tire though; Ryan has noticed more appropriate behaviour around work sites from all team members. While there has been a positive change in the behaviour of team members, both Dyer and Smith have made it clear they do not want to be treated differently to anybody else within the team and instead be treated simply as fellow workers. “The feedback I’ve had from our female team members is they don’t want to be treated any differently to other workers,” Ryan says. “The women we do have in our teams have been accepted into their teams like a big family. Everyone looks out for one


DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

TIE-GAN SMITH HAS BEEN WORKING FOR KAL TIRE AT A MINE SITE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS.

KAL TIRE AIMS TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY AND FOSTER PATHWAYS INTO MINING FOR MEN AND WOMEN.

another and new team members feel like a part of the team really quickly.” While the number of women in tyre fitting is on the rise, it is still considered unique by some of Kal Tire’s clients. Any doubt they feel when Dyer or Smith arrive at a site is quickly abated after they see the standard of their work and the pride they take in it. “Monique can travel five to six hours to remote mine sites to complete mobile tyre service call-outs,” Ryan explains. “Some of our customers are surprised when they see her get out of the truck, but mostly they are very positive in saying it’s great to see females out on site. “A few times we’ve had someone on-site ring our manager and ask if we’re sure they can do it, so we just say ‘watch her work, mate, she can do what the boys can do if not better’.” Kal Tire aims to change this mindset for good, by not only preparing more women for careers in tyre fitting through the company’s traineeships, but also providing career pathways at Kal Tire to move into management positions. “The more female team members we can start off in training roles, the more it spreads the word that tyre

fitting is a good career opportunity and entry into the mining industry,” Ryan says. “Some people worry about getting into such a physically demanding occupation and traditionally a male dominated industry so the more opportunities we can create and the more we innovate, the better for improving the perception about tyre fitting as a career choice for women. “Once we can get more women up through the ranks as managers that know how to fit tyres, rather than just knowing management skills, we’re going to see a big shift and that’s what I’m looking forward to.” Kal Tire has introduced numerous innovation tools to its operations and training programs, which have also helped to remove barriers to a career in tyre management, as well as increase safety. One example is its gravity assist system (GAS) that makes lifting and working with a 36-kilogram torque gun weightless. The GAS provides an advantage for any Kal Tire team member as it helps to prevent injuries from the strain of heavy lifting. Smith, a former horse breaker, is still fresh in her role with Kal Tire, having commenced her Certificate II in Automotive Tyre Servicing AUSTRALIANMINING

Technology five months ago. In this short amount of time, she has gone from being a novice in fitting tyres to becoming a valued worker within the Kal Tire team. “I came in with no knowledge at all on tyres,” she says. “I couldn’t even change a tyre if I got a flat on the side of the road in my car.” Despite being the only female not in Kal Tire’s administration team on the mine site, Smith is enjoying the physical nature of the role and learning something new every day to complete her tasks to the best of her ability. “It’s a job anyone can do as long as they’re physically up to it,” Smith says. “It’s definitely a job a lot of women could look into. I’m really enjoying it and I feel as though with the training Kal Tire has given me, I execute my daily jobs knowledgably and to a high standard.” Dyer surpassed the five-year mark as a tyre technician in November 2019, but it wasn’t the job she intended to finish up with. “I literally accidentally applied for the wrong job,” she says. “I came out of school and wanted to get into an LV mechanic apprenticeship. “The job title said LV technician and when I turned up to the interviews I noticed they were talking

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a lot about tyres. I figured out what I’d done and thought, ‘I’ll just give it a go,’ and if I still wanted to pursue mechanics later it’s a foot in the door.” This lucky mistake turned out to be what Dyer describes as “one of the best careers I’ve gotten myself into.” Dyer has thrived at Kal Tire. Growing into her role, she notes the company’s support in preparing its team members for promotions and continuing to learn every day. “No two days are ever the same. I could be in the workshop one day and another I could be travelling somewhere 200 kilometres away to do a job,” she says. Looking ahead, Dyer shares Kal Tire’s view of wanting to see more women in the industry and the company, particularly in leadership roles, which is something that could be on the horizon for Dyer herself in the future. “I want to keep working to achieve everything I can on the floor in my role and look to pursue a leadership role in future,” she says. “I would love to be able to train more females in the industry. It’s been such an incredible journey for me and it’s such a male-dominated field, it would be awesome to see more women in the field.” AM


AUTOMATION

WORLD-FIRST USE OF TELE-REMOTE TECHNOLOGY DURING COVID-19 PUTTING AN UPGRADED SANDVIK DD422I DEVELOPMENT DRILL TO WORK AT PROMINENT HILL MINE IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA HAS SEEN CONTRACT MINER BYRNECUT AUSTRALIA AND ITS CUSTOMER OZ MINERALS ACHIEVE A WORLD FIRST IN TELE-REMOTE DEVELOPMENT DRILLING.

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he feat between Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik at the copper-gold mine is all the more remarkable for having been achieved during the coronavirus pandemic. Like most working environments, the Australian mining sector has been impacted by COVID-19 and the tough social-distancing regulations and travel restrictions for workers and consultants. Despite these circumstances, contract miner Byrnecut Australia has made a notable achievement, becoming the first underground operator in the world to successfully use a new tele-remote package for Sandvik development drills. Byrnecut introduced a Sandvik DD422i development drill featuring the technology package to OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine, south east of Coober Pedy in March. With travel restrictions preventing Sandvik staff from attending site, Byrnecut, OZ Minerals and Sandvik experts collaborated via phone, teleconference and email to complete remote commissioning of the rig. The two-boom rig can now be monitored and controlled from the surface and features a sophisticated boom-collision-avoidance system. Byrnecut Australia managing director Pat Boniwell says the

THE TELE-REMOTE SCREEN FOR THE SANDVIK DRILL.

new automation features allow for enhanced drill operation across shift changes – historically a period when development drilling has stopped or been significantly reduced. “We’re conservatively looking at a 10-per cent increase in productivity with this machine through being able to drill extra holes and the machine being used more consistently,” he says. “It picks up on the deadtime, and if it does stop for any reason, we’re able to remotely reset it.” Sandvik first moved to address the challenge of shift-change downtime in 2014 with the release of the DD422i development drill featuring a range of autonomous features that allowed it to operate a single boom across the shift change. Byrnecut drill master Noah Wilkinson explains the features of the new technology upgrade package include a boom-collision-avoidance system, tele-remote operation from the surface, and semi-autonomous bit changing, and allow for even more efficient operation over the shift change. “With the tele-remote feature, we can now supervise the machine remotely from the surface and we can operate both booms at the same time,” Wilkinson says. “With the collision avoidance system, there’s also less risk of damaging the machine. What that AUSTRALIANMINING

means for us is we can almost bore the entire face out remotely, which we couldn’t do before.” In the first few weeks of operation, the DD422i drilled 60-70 holes while being operated autonomously and remotely from the surface. The remote drill operator on the surface at Prominent Hill sits alongside operators using the Sandvik AutoMine system to coordinate the running of the autonomous loader fleet on site. Wilkinson says the remote collaboration around the commissioning of the drill was remarkable. “People from the Sandvik factory in Finland were able to remote into the machine over the internet and adjust settings that were stopping some of the functions from working,” says Wilkinson. A handy feature of the set-up during the current period of social distancing has been the virtual network computing (VNC) capability that allows the control panel of the drill to be viewed remotely on a tablet. This means that during operator training, the instructor need not be in the cabin with the operator. Wilkinson says Byrnecut has also successfully trialled the new semiautonomous bit change function on the drill. Boniwell says Byrnecut’s position of being the first miner in the world to use all the features of the DD422i’s automation upgrade reflects its close working

relationship with Sandvik. “Over the past three years we have taken the relationship to a different level,” he says. “We’ve opened up the lines of communication. Our experts in different disciplines are providing feedback to the Sandvik R&D team in Europe. We get more proactive feedback than before and they get greater insight on what the real issues on the ground are.” General manager of OZ Minerals’ Prominent Hill operation, Gabrielle Iwanow, says when Byrnecut approached her about trialling the upgraded development drill, she was immediately interested. “OZ Minerals is a modern mining company,” she says. “We’re interested in innovation and looking for safer, faster, and more efficient ways of doing our work.” Iwanow says the commissioning of the drill in such trying times is a true credit to all those involved and shows the positive working relationship between OZ Minerals, Byrnecut and Sandvik. Sandvik’s global account manager for Byrnecut, Andrew Atkinson, paid credit to Byrnecut’s openness to adopting autonomous technologies in areas including development drilling, loader operation, production drilling and ore trucks. He says feedback from Byrnecut is allowing Sandvik to further develop its equipment offering, including forthcoming improvements for remote access to the DD422i’s operator settings. AM

THE UPGRADED SANDVIK DD422I DEVELOPMENT DRILL AT PROMINENT HILL.

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RISK MANAGEMENT

CYCLONE MANGGA REMINDS US WHY MINES MUST BE READY FOR ANYTHING THIS YEAR HAS HIGHLIGHTED THE NEED TO BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED. WHILE MINING SITES ARE IN GENERAL VERY RESILIENT OPERATIONS, THIS GOES FOR MINERS TOO. FM GLOBAL GROUP MANAGER, ACCOUNT ENGINEERING MICHAEL BEAUMONT WRITES.

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s if a pandemic and global unrest was not enough to drive the point home, outof-season Cyclone Mangga came rolling through Western Australia in May. The storm struck WA on May 25, bringing with it wind gusts of up to 132 kilometres an hour, causing structural and roof damage as well as power cuts for thousands. All despite the cyclone season officially ending in April. While the mining town of Kalgoorlie lost power, there does not appear to have been any major damage to mining sites as a result of the cyclone’s passage. Yet Mangga’s message remains clear: miners need to be ready for anything, at any time. As storms become more frequent and severe due to changes in climate, this is particularly important. Too often we see a level of complacency among operators. Even in areas regularly exposed to cyclones, many mistakenly believe they have weathered a severe cyclone without significant damage just because one came within 30 kilometres of their location. While a major storm was in the area, local weather data often indicates that weather suffered at that site was less severe. As you move away from the eye of the storm, the damaging effects decrease exponentially. While a cyclone can often be seen coming for days, many severe weather events eventuate a lot faster. Many mining operators, particularly those who manage bulk materials, will find themselves subject to significant wind events all year around. Historically, we see losses resulting from these noncyclonic wind events through damage to balance equipment such as stackers, reclaimers and ship loaders.

A year-round approach

To successfully minimise the chance of losses and business interruption in the event of any natural hazard, it’s critical that businesses look to how they can use engineering to support loss

EVEN KALGOORLIE 600KM INLAND WAS AFFECTED BY CYCLONE MANGGA.

prevention. FM Global’s experience providing insurance and engineering support to a third of companies in the Fortune 1000 proves time and time again that loss can be prevented, and resilience built into operations through proactive engineering. It’s also a must for businesses to develop a year-round emergency response plan that is site specific and identifies potential points of failure that could be critical to the business. Any plan must have full management and employee support. Without employee buy in, it will not be effective. Ensure employees not only understand the plan itself, but the reasoning behind it, and are aware of the management’s support of the plan. It is also critical that the plan is tested. The last thing you want to do is to wait until the moment you need to enact the plan to find out if it’s feasible and if everyone knows the role they have to play. This includes those who have the authority to activate or alter the plan. Practice makes perfect – and can significantly reduce the chance of losses. The plan should also be considered a living document, updated regularly as new information comes to light, AUSTRALIANMINING

and reviewed at least once a year. Its performance should also be reviewed post cyclone to see if there are opportunities to improve.

Combatting complacency

FM Global advises businesses that they should look back long-term at what has happened in their area to get a better gauge of their risk when it comes to natural hazards. Flooding or localised rain events can create surface water and run-off damage. Small earthquakes can also hit mines, such as the 4.3 magnitude earthquake which occurred in Orange in 2017. Bushfires are another common hazard for certain mines, particularly those in south-east Australia, Tasmania, and southwest Western Australia where they are surrounded by dense bushland. Still, in most areas of Australia there can be some threat of bushfire exposure from low lying scrub that may expose key buildings or power lines feeding the site. It’s also important to look beyond existing standards if they want to minimise financial losses and impact to operations. In the case of tropical cyclones, for example, standards and

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building codes merely represent the legal minimum that can be applied in structural design and do not always ensure the highest level of protection. Standards also often focus on structural integrity, however damage can still occur to the occupancy where a building has not suffered catastrophic structural failure. Most of our loss history related to windstorms comes from damage to cladding, allowing water and moisture to cause peripheral damage to items inside. The value of undertaking these kinds of wide-ranging preparations is clear. When natural hazards strike sites with thorough human element loss prevention programs (emergency response plans), we see a significant difference in outcomes. Recent loss history shows that almost half of our losses can be directly attributed to a human error, either something done directly to cause the loss, a lack of planning for an event or an inadequate response following one. While we may not be able to predict what else will strike this year or beyond – we do know that preparation is a powerful way to increase business resilience and protect your assets from anything, at any time. AM


DIGITAL MINING

TALKING DIGITALISATION, AGILE AND SMART MINES WITH TI MINING FOUNDED BY A COMPUTER SCIENTIST WHO STARTED WORKING WITH MINERS 20 YEARS AGO, TI MINING HAS GROWN INTO A COMPANY THAT HELPS DIGITALISE MINES AROUND THE WORLD. AUSTRALIAN MINING SPEAKS WITH CHIEF EXECUTIVE NICOLAS JUBERA.

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I Mining chief executive Nicolas Jubera was an innovation and strategy consultant before stepping up into his leadership position and joining as a late co-founder three years ago. TI Mining was a small boutique development firm when Jubera started, but the company has now grown to employ 55 people, with offices in Chile, Australia and Canada. Australian Mining speaks with Jubera about the digital transformation he has witnessed and what has led the sector’s change.

In Chile, some of the biggest copper mines in the world are now using TI Mining solutions. How did the company get there?

Mining is the main world-class industry of Chile. It attracts a huge pool of talent who want to work in the sector. The country’s mining industry and its ecosystem attract the United States’ equivalent of MIT or Stanford University graduates. Hence, we have high-level professionals.

A TYPICAL BRAINSTORMING SESSION AT TI MINING.

Recognising our big mines portfolio in Chile, we saw the opportunity to go beyond that. If world-class miners are using our solutions, why not take them worldwide? A big motivation for us is creating impact. And we only create impact when our clients create value using the solutions we develop. Australia is a big focus for us because of its large mining industry

and high interest in the adoption of new technologies for smart mining.

What’s driving the uptake of advanced mining technologies today?

Through the commodities super cycle, the focus of the mining industry was on increasing production. Most operations were not focussed on improving efficiency, because commodity prices

were very favourable. Operators had no time to optimise. But that’s changed a lot in the past five years. The industry realised those prices would not come back, so they needed to work smarter and embrace smart mining. Most operators have an effective equipment performance of less than 50 per cent today. So this presents a massive opportunity to create value and use equipment more efficiently.

WE AS DEVELOPERS MUST WORK HARD TO MAKE SYSTEMS INTUITIVE, EASY AND ‘FUN’ TO USE, SO NEW USERS CAN BECOME COMPETENT VERY QUICKLY.”

AUGMENTED INTELLIGENCE: HOLOGRAPHIC DIGITAL TWIN OF AN OPEN PIT MINE DEVELOPED BY TI MINING. AUSTRALIANMINING

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DIGITAL MINING

You ask, why only 50 per cent? Because mining companies deal with big uncertainties, from geology and geotechnical issues, equipment failure, weather, and interference between processes that are managed independently. It’s a very challenging environment. Agile methods and new technologies can help improve efficiency in uncertain and variable environments.

How can Agile be applied to the mine? What are the challenges?

In an uncertain environment, you can’t foresee the challenges that are coming, so the corrections obviously won’t be incorporated to the original plan. The logic behind agile is that if you make planning cycles very short, you can incorporate the new information to the new plan very quickly. An agile athlete can react and change directions very fast. In mining, some people call it short interval control. It’s the same agile principles but with a different name. It talks about the PDCA cycle – plan, do, check, act – and trying to make that cycle as short as possible. But there is a big challenge for miners due the quality and speed of the information they get. When Christopher Columbus went on a sail that led him to discover America, he wasn’t sure of his direction during the day. When the night came and he could see the stars, he’d realise if he deviated from the plan and correct his direction. He could do the PDCA cycle only once a day, because he was restrained by the check step – the information needed for situation awareness was available only at night. Today, ships navigate with GPS, and the rudder corrections are

done every second. Some big, world-class mines only realise that they have deviated from their plan once a month. The best ones do once a week. And you ask why? Again, it’s because decision makers don’t have access to the right information at the right time. And that’s where technology can help.

What’s the state of readiness for these technologies?

The base technologies are ready. They have gone through a lot of improvement in the past few years. Wireless networks, sensors, computer hardware and software platforms have improved dramatically. Now you’ve got hundreds of sensors and GPS in every piece of equipment, drones with laser systems, cameras, satellite images, all connected. The data is there. But then there is another challenge. You must transform data into useful

information, and into insights for the decision maker – information that can improve their situation awareness, help them understand what is happening and project scenarios for the future. So, you must keep the user and his challenges at the centre, not technology. A lot of people say we need apps, we need digital twins, we need artificial intelligence (AI), but they don’t know why. You cannot be successful if you don’t know why you’re doing it.

What about people? Are they ready?

I think we still have some way to go, but things are looking good. You’ve got millennials, who grew up playing video games, today becoming managers and sitting in decision-making positions. This generation is a lot more open to adopting new technology and taking risks. You won’t have innovation without some failures, which is part of

the iterative innovation process. On the other hand, this same generation and the ones following are not very keen on staying in their positions for long. They want rotation. So we as developers must work hard to make systems intuitive, easy and “fun” to use, so new users can become competent very quickly. Making systems intuitive and incorporating user experience design at the core of the solutions is key. And I insist: keep the user at the centre. Some people talk about AI replacing experts. We don’t see that happening in mining soon. The environment is too challenging. We prefer to talk about augmented intelligence – systems that work along with experts and help them improve decision making. The coming years are going to be a lot of fun. We’re really looking forward to the digital transformation of the mining industry. AM

TI MINING REINVENTS THE FAMOUS MANTRA ‘WORK HARD. PLAY HARD,’ WITH, ‘HAVE FUN WHILE DOING IT’.

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DIGITAL MINING

CUMMINS PREVENTS PROBLEMS WITH PREVENTECH FOR MINING IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO NOT ONLY DIGITALLY MONITOR WHAT MINING EQUIPMENT IS DOING IN REAL-TIME BUT PERFORM PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE AND STOP MALFUNCTIONS OR BREAK DOWNS BEFORE THEY BECOME AN ISSUE. CUMMINS IS MAKING THIS A REALITY.

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ith PrevenTech for Mining, Cummins helps customers connect to their machines on a futuristic level, allowing them to obtain data from the machine remotely, without having to go on-site. With Australian mining operations often being in remote locations, this saves valuable time that would often be spent travelling hundreds of kilometres from the nearest Cummins branch. This helps mining companies limit unplanned downtime, reduces production costs and improves maintenance and service planning. Once the machine’s engine is connected, operators obtain the data on a cloud-based program, enabling them to connect from the machine to their desktop. Cummins PrevenTech senior project manager Matt Ferguson says there are many methods of obtaining data out of engines nowadays, but the company’s team specialises in analysing the condition of engines via algorithms in depth, creating a point of

difference from other options. “Once customers get this information from us, even something as basic as a fault code, we can delve into it deeper and give further insights into what the problem is,” Ferguson tells Australian Mining. “From here, we can look over the history of the machine and see if there are any trends of faults and guide the customer to a solution.” This allows operators to graph and monitor the results to predict potential failures before they occur, so maintenance can be planned in advance rather than having unexpected downtime impacting mine operations. Ferguson says there are two options of PrevenTech for Mining available,

A PIECE OF MINING EQUIPMENT IS LIKE A CAR, THE LONGER YOU LEAVE SOMETHING, THE MORE COSTS IT CREATES TO REPAIR.”

one that allows operators to primarily self-manage the process via a customer portal or the option for Cummins to be responsible for the entire process. “Cummins has 24/7 support centres where trained agents manage the alerts and send insights to the clients,” he says. “The Cummins agents will call a customer for an issue that is immediate or urgent, or they will supply a periodical report within three to seven days, depending on the severity of the issue.” PrevenTech for Mining is so advanced, the issues it picks up are often small concerns that are overlooked but can become large issues if left alone. “A piece of mining equipment is like a car, the longer you leave something, the more costs it creates to repair,” Ferguson says. “With PrevenTech for Mining, Cummins is getting in at the front end on a piece of equipment that is potentially broken or worn out, but we are ensuring it doesn’t create further consequential damage.” This not only helps to keep equipment in the best possible

CUMMINS SOUTH PACIFIC PREVENTECH SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER MATT FERGUSON.

AUSTRALIANMINING

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condition, but also makes for a safer mine site. PrevenTech for Mining allows operators to diagnose issues from the safety of their desktop, rather than having to visit the mine site and shut off the machinery impacting regular operations. “From a safety point of view, the ability to remotely view live engine data has substantial benefits around being able to diagnose issues from your desktop,” Ferguson says. “This means Cummins agents do not need to interact with mining equipment in the workshop, as a lot of mining companies are trying to remove live testing of machines completely. “Once you switch off batteries, you can’t download the information to your laptop and being able to get this information remotely is a massive safety factor.” In addition to ensuring safe equipment, PrevenTech for Mining can also be used to monitor equipment location via GPS. “PrevenTech for Mining can also be used for operational monitoring, so we can tell if an operator is using the equipment properly,” Ferguson says. “We can tell where the issues occur via GPS, so if we are getting the same alert at a certain time or location on the map you know to go and check that haul road to see if it is too steep, or if the operator is pulling up too quick, for example. “From here, managers can make the decision as to whether they need


DIGITAL MINING

CUMMINS’ PREVENTECH FOR MINING ALLOWS MINING OPERATIONS TO PERFORM PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE, STOPPING MALFUNCTIONS BEFORE THEY BECOME AN ISSUE.

to pull a truck or piece of equipment from a certain location to avoid being damaged.” This is all transmitted via the WiFi network within the vehicle or using mobile phone service to relay the information, while Cummins works on future developments to integrate this data into customers’ existing networks. The GPS and transmitted data are all protected by Cummins’ cyber security network, to ensure client information is not accessed externally. “Cummins takes cyber security extremely seriously,” Ferguson says. “It’s the first and foremost thing for

us, we must transmit customers’ data as safely as possible. “We do not want anyone unauthorised coming into our business via a rogue device or anyone who shouldn’t access our customers’ data being able to do so.” As more mine sites integrate automated trucks, Ferguson says monitoring these machines is even more crucial than in the past, as people are less of a part of the process than in previous years. “The next step in automation is understanding what every piece of equipment is doing from a

distance,” he explains. “Automation is very clever, of course, but we don’t yet have all the insights into the engine. A lot of faults don’t present themselves in an obvious way, particularly if there isn’t a person operating that truck in person to feel what is wrong. “PrevenTech for Mining helps us to answer this from a distance and know what is happening from an engine point of view, even for automated vehicles.” Another element of PrevenTech engine monitoring is the ability to combine it with Cummins’ Fleetguard

FIT, or filtration intelligence technology, which is additional hardware sensors that monitor oil, air and fuel filters and oil condition. This allows Cummins to report on the condition of oil and engine filters on mining equipment, and the company can advise customers of pending filtration blockages prior to being serviced, so this can be repaired during planned downtime rather than becoming a breakdown event. “We’ve had one customer go from a filter service interval of every 500 hours to every 2000 hours by combining PrevenTech for Mining with Fleetguard FIT,” Ferguson says. “This is a huge saving in labour and machine interaction and the time trucks are sitting in the shop, so using FIT is another way Cummins helps you to ensure the maximum value out of your equipment.” While PrevenTech for Mining does not allow remote operators to physically see the engine from afar, monitoring the engine remotely has already helped many mining companies to prevent issues that would have caused unplanned downtime that would have impacted production and profit. Using this technology, mining companies can plan their maintenance more flawlessly than ever before, making PrevenTech for Mining a worthy investment for elongating the life of mining equipment for as long as possible. “For me, the analogy is like fitting a heart rate monitor. On a young, fit human, it’s probably not going to pick up on much, but by predicting the small issues earlier in life, you can sort out the problem before the machine gets older, ensuring it has the best chance to make expected life,” Ferguson concludes. AM

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DIGITAL MINING

HEXAGON’S CYBER MINES OF TODAY AS A NEW DECADE IS USHERED IN FOR THE MINING INDUSTRY, CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DIGITALISATION AND AUTOMATION ARE BECOMING MORE PREVALENT THAN EVER BEFORE. NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA WRITES.

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hen developing new gadgets, understanding what works and what doesn’t in the eyes of the consumer is a key factor in successful innovation. The first smartphone, the IBM Simon, was released in 1994. However, it wasn’t until almost 15-years later that Apple’s iPhone would bring ‘smart’ devices – interactive and autonomous technology that is connected via wireless signals – to the forefront of customer demand. This is all part of Industry 4.0, which is beginning to transform major industries by breaking new ground in areas such as virtual and autonomous operations. With that in mind, Hexagon has introduced several suites of digital solutions for conventional mine sites to be revamped into what’s known as a smart mine. “I’ve always liked the quote from Peter Drucker, ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ and I think by adopting some of these technologies, we are getting more insights and better insights into our businesses,” Hexagon Mining chief technology officer Rob Daw tells Australian Mining. Hexagon supplies sensor, software

HEXAGON PROVIDES DIGITAL SOLUTIONS FOR A WIDE RANGE OF MINING APPLICATIONS.

and autonomous solutions for major industries across the globe. Its mining division – Hexagon Mining – offers a range of technologies for mine planning, operations and safety. These solutions not only aim to push mining to its maximum potential, but also save costs in the process. “Technology has always been vital to the mining industry,” Daw says. “But we’ve probably seen a steady increase in the amount of technology that’s been adopted at various stages within the mining cycle. “With smart mines and adopting that technology, it gives businesses the opportunity to manage their business in a much different way.” Sustainability in mining mainly consists of both environmental and economic aspects, according to Daw. “The more people I talk to, the conversation is around either financial sustainability within your business or environmental sustainability,” he says. Hexagon’s operations portfolio – HxGN MineOperate – uses a suite of data-centric digital technology to enable machine guidance, semiautonomous technology and machine and asset health to maintain a fluid and efficient operation. “I think our operations portfolio is really enabling us to leverage a mine’s optimisation engines and dispatching AUSTRALIANMINING

capabilities,” Daw says. “It also helps the health of our equipment to maximise productivity.” On the back of its planning and operations portfolios is Hexagon’s safety technologies, which include a suite of digital solutions to prevent accidents and maintain fluid and stable operations for a mine site. The solutions include MineProtect Personal Alert, which implements time-of-flight technology in personnel rather than just vehicles to keep workers safe from accidents. “When we look at the operations technologies, the safety technologies – we’re trying to do more with less,” Daw says. “Our main aim there is ‘Can we reduce emissions? Can we reduce all SAFETY IS A KEY ASPECT IN HEXAGON’S SUITE OF AUTONOMOUS TECHNOLOGIES.

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the ancillary works that go around this by doing these jobs in a more optimal way?’ and I think that helps us drive that sustainability aspect as well.” For Daw, COVID-19 has brought with it the vitality of autonomous mining due to the benefits that datafication and digital technology can provide to mining companies which may be forced to work remotely. “It’s going to be interesting what comes out of this from the other side of COVID-19, and what changes are going to be here to stay,” Daw adds. “COVID-19 has definitely driven us into a more collaborative industry. And I think from a technology front, it’s really showing the value of how we can share this data while dismantling silos within a business.” AM


DIGITAL MINING

NOKIA CONNECTS AUSTRALIAN MINES TO DIGITAL FUTURE THE MINING INDUSTRY WAS ALREADY AT THE CROSSROAD OF CHANGE VIA AUTOMATION AND DIGITISATION BEFORE COVID-19 HIT. SALOMAE HASELGROVE WRITES ABOUT HOW NOKIA’S WIRELESS SOLUTIONS WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE THE WAY MINES ARE CONNECTED.

NOKIA IS HELPING MINING COMPANIES TO STAY CONNECTED WITH ITS INDUSTRIAL GRADE PRIVATE WIRELESS NETWORK.

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efore COVID-19 forced many businesses and offices into remote working, a digital transformation had already significantly impacted the mining industry. The mining companies that have embraced digitisation and introduced technology such as automation at their mines have already experienced improvement in the safety, productivity and efficiency of their operations. This has put mining in a strong position to ride out the pandemic, when many other industries have been faced with the prospect of an indefinite slow down or shut down. Digital transformation is already taking the mining industry by storm, creating smarter mines and revolutionising operations, but it will now be increasingly essential for the future of the industry after COVID-19. Nokia head of mining Gary Conway says companies that adopt digital solutions not only reap safety and productivity benefits, leading

to greater capital benefits, but they are also in a good position to make use of in-depth data analysis and insights. “The companies that do embrace digital transformation stand to see more productivity benefits,” Conway says. “They also gain the opportunity to use data insights to forge closer relationships with stakeholders, facilitate knowledge sharing and training, drive new revenue streams and access new markets to enhance operational safety.” Nokia is connecting Australia’s most futuristic mines with its industrial-grade private wireless network, which provides businesses with a single network to connect its voices, machinery, data and internet of things (IoT) communications. This means a mine site, its employees and data are all connected on a secure network, keeping crucial data safe from external threats and providing a much more reliable connection than conventional wireless networks such as WiFi. “A critical detail which is easily AUSTRALIANMINING

overlooked is the current wireless networks, such as WiFi weren’t designed for frequently changing environments that need permanent, pervasive and predictive network coverage,” Conway explains. “They don’t provide for necessary coverage, mobility, precision or service prioritisation and in fact most of us carry better wireless technology in our pockets today.” These mobile, or long-term evolution (LTE) networks have most of the necessary features required by mining operations, but in the past have not been accessible. “Until very recently, LTE was reserved for mobile operators, who had a monopoly on the LTE radio spectrum,” Conway says. “Governments around the world are now releasing a new spectrum specifically designed for private networks and mobile network operators are also willing to lease their spectrum. “It will allow you to collect and analyse data from IoT sensors, cameras and drones to monitor operations in real-time and respond quickly to critical events.” Nokia’s industrial-grade private wireless network is providing mining operations with a dedicated network that provides 360-degree situational awareness for remotely operated environments. Operators are guided by the widest available situational awareness technology for safety and sustainability. Digitally automating technology with Nokia’s dedicated network also allows companies to remove their workers from the most dangerous parts of the mine, which is consistent with the company’s vision of creating safer overall mining operations. “The need for continuous improvement of safety, productivity and efficiency has created an unprecedented demand for digitising, automating and optimising all aspects of mining, from the pit to the port, above and below ground,” Conway says. “In the future we envisage mining operations that are free of

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injuries or fatalities.” As well as creating a safer working environment for mining employees, which have often found themselves working in a position riskier than the average office job, the benefits extend beyond safety to productivity, allowing operations to deliver higher tonnage on demand. “With a private LTE network in place you can bring new levels of automation and innovation to your mines, which supports applications that will enable and empower the next wave of business transformation,” Conway says. “We’re seeing that with automation today, such as (Komatsu) experiencing a (30 per cent) reduction in shovel hang time and (Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s) reduction (in 2.5 million hours) in zero lost time through injuries. “Automation is enabling all of these use cases and return on technology, innovation and investment.” Mining has been recognised as one of the best-prepared industries for the coronavirus pandemic. Many mines had already gone digital, enabling companies to operate as normally as possible and keeping the global economy rolling while other industries were forced to slow or halt operations. With the coronavirus being the push many companies were waiting for to transition to more digitised operations, Conway urges them to optimise their on-site technology to keep up to date following COVID-19. “Dealing with this situation is a short-term challenge, but in my opinion, the post coronavirus era is going to be even more interesting,” he says. “The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of us, with many mining operations being suspended or operating at a reduced level. “Our whole industry should see this as an opportunity to speed up digital transformation, as innovation and automation will be needed more than ever.” AM


DIGITAL MINING

DIGITAL TWINNING UNEARTHS REVENUE STREAMS DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IS PAVING THE WAY FOR THE MINING INDUSTRY’S NEXT ERA, AND THE EXPERTS AT DIGITAL TWINNING AUSTRALIA ARE PROVIDING COMPANIES WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO UNLOCK A FULL SUITE OF FINANCIAL BENEFITS IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD. NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA WRITES.

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re we living in a simulation? It’s a question that has remained central to the debates of science fiction moviegoers for decades. While it’s not likely that we are living in The Matrix, many industries have taken advantage of Industry 4.0’s data-focussed and automated technologies to create virtual reproductions of physical working environments through digital twinning. At its core, digital twin technology replicates physical assets through a digital duplication that incorporates sensor data to provide detailed operating information about efficiency and wear levels in real time. This provides an enhanced level of understanding towards the reliability, lifespan and uptime of machinery – referred to as legacy asset management – which prevents maintenance costs, reduces break-fix cycles and catastrophic failures that disrupt operations. The company builds its digital twinning services using common

off-the-shelf software to create Industry 4.0 technology, capable of receiving operating data from sensors in a self-managed Digital Twin Platform (DTP). Using cloud-based technology, the DTP can import live data from machines, pipes and structures for a company to access through its digital replication of a physical asset. For mining, this can be expanded to an entire site’s operation, visualising core operating systems down to lowest maintainable critical unit/s. As data stores build and evidence becomes accessible, Digital Twinning Australia implements machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver predictive suggestions to keep sites running at potential. Being able to predict maintenance reduces costs. “Digital twinning is part of the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 revolution,” Digital Twinning Australia chief executive officer Genene Kleppe tells Australian Mining. “The purpose of IoT is dual: it’s to bring together a reduction in cost and to uncover new revenue streams.”

THE DIGITAL TWINNING AUSTRALIA TEAM: DOUG GREEN, EDWARD CRONIN AND GENENE KLEPPE (LEFT TO RIGHT).

AUSTRALIANMINING

DOUG GREEN OF DIGITAL TWINNING AUSTRALIA.

The ethos surrounding these revenue streams continues down the supply chain of an operation. According to Kleppe, some of these areas involve a revamp to age-old methods to even the least expected fields. “Mining companies engage suppliers to do the work that needs to be done, they expect their suppliers to deliver improvements, be smart and add value,” Kleppe explains. “Digital twinning technologies allow suppliers to deliver on these expectations. “For brownfield constructors and maintenance service providers having a digital twin is the difference between proactively planning remediation and not being able to respond to a breakdown simply because resources are deployed elsewhere.” “Concreters doing works at mining sites could be putting sensors into concrete footings for example. This could enable them to pour concrete and uncover all the environmental and deterioration factors through sensor technology. That opens a whole new revenue stream for them.” Acting as a virtual counterpart to a real-world mine, digital twin technology has proven its worth during the COVID-19 pandemic, where fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) air

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travel has faced global shutdowns. Travel bans have severely impacted traditional methods of maintenance for mining machinery, which are usually conducted by a team of engineers alongside maintenance personnel. This is where digital twinning technology can rescue an operation from a potential shutdown. “In a twinning situation, you can actually have those engineers located anywhere in the world and all be looking at exactly the same thing,” Kleppe says. Rather than simply monitoring data from just a specific component in a mining operation, digital twinning allows for a more holistic approach, e.g. systems level analysis. “We’re at a crossroads in the mining industry. Mining organisations collect an enormous amount of data, but that data is collected principally at a component level,” Kleppe explains. “With digital twinning, it’s not just the pump – it’s all the mechanisms in the pump as well as the purpose of the pump. It’s comprehensive measurement focussed on operational impact. “What a digital twin does is show you how different systems are interacting, which ones are redundant, which ones are useful. It’s a different way of thinking, looking at and using data.” AM


DIGITAL MINING

MAKING PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE A REALITY OSISOFT INDUSTRY PRINCIPAL MARTIN PROVENCHER REVEALS HOW MINING COMPANIES CAN MOVE TOWARDS PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE AND BEYOND. REAL-TIME OPERATIONAL DATA IS THE KEY TO THIS AMBITION.

OSISOFT INDUSTRY PRINCIPAL, MINING, METALS AND MATERIALS, MARTIN PROVENCHER.

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nowledge is power and information is money. When BHP implemented OSIsoft’s flagship product to record operational data across 32 sites, approximately five million data points were collected. This number is still growing, and BHP has since deployed more than 120 solutions that empower the company’s people to optimise its operations. Elsewhere, data collected throughout ArcelorMittal’s whole supply chain using the PI System has allowed the steel maker to identify significant events, optimise activities and adjust its plans across the entire chain. ArcelorMittal has generated an additional three million tonnes in shipments in a year, delivering $C120 million ($132 million) in revenue growth. “This is achieved just by collecting real-time operational data and covering all events,” OSIsoft industry principal, mining, metals and materials, Martin Provencher tells Australian Mining. “There is so much information in real-time operational data that it opens up new ways for mining companies to bring significant improvements in their operations.” Real-time condition-based monitoring can be done for many

aspects of a mining operation, whether it is maintenance, process or environmental compliance. It is a phase in the journey towards predictive maintenance, an approach that executives crave, according to a survey conducted by OSIsoft last year. In fact, predictive maintenance comes second in the top interests of mining executives behind only health and safety. With ISO 55000 emerging a key international asset management standard to help companies cope with the huge challenge of having reliable assets while keeping costs down, maintenance has increased as a focus for mining executives, according to Provencher. Most mining companies are, however, at a planned maintenance strategy, which gives an overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) of 50–75 per cent, according to a 2017 Deloitte study. “Mining executives have the desire to move from a reactive maintenance mode, where they were having problems with asset unavailability, to an advanced mode where they can plan maintenance activities in advance but assets were still broken,” Provencher says. “From there on, you take another step towards predictive maintenance, and then prescriptive maintenance where artificial intelligence (AI) is used to recommend the best approach and actions to take to optimise the asset life. “The recommended schedule represents an optimum time where the relevant asset, parts and team will all be available. “It’s very important for mining companies to move from reactive to predictive or prescriptive maintenance as much as possible to reach an OEE of 90 per cent or more. But you can’t move from one stage to the next in one step.” The key to this progress is realtime operational data. This provides key information such as an asset’s engine speed, exhaust temperature or cylinders pressure, giving a clue to the cause of equipment failure. That’s when mining companies can talk about launching predictive maintenance, perform analytics in real time and predict future failures. AUSTRALIANMINING

Only then can mining companies also reduce the time required for maintenance activities by 20–50 per cent, increase equipment availability by 10–20 per cent and decrease overall maintenance costs by 5–10 per cent, according to Deloitte Analytics. Canada’s major crude oil producer, Syncrude, is a company that has moved in this direction, implementing the PI System to cover 131 haul trucks and five shovels. The fleet covered long distances in harsh operating conditions, which when interacting with oil sand ore, can put a significant toll on shovel teeth, buckets and haul truck bodies. The PI System’s insight about potential future failure generated cost savings valued at $C20 million in the first year of implementation, while also improving equipment reliability and safety during the dumping procedure. For Barrick Gold, the PI System is used at the Cortez mine in Nevada, United States for the implementation of a predictive maintenance approach using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors. The battery-powered sensors are glued on the assets and send vibration information to the PI System for predictive analysis to take place and help determine potential failure. By doing so, Barrick identified a major scrubber potential failure in advance only 36 days PI SYSTEM CAN ASSIST WITH MAINTENANCE ACROSS PROCESS, ASSET HEALTH, ENERGY AND WATER, AND MORE.

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after deployment, which saved approximately $US600,000 ($863,000) of potential downtime in just one instance. Barrick also used the same technology, the PI System, as a preliminary step towards reducing environmental deviations at the Goldstrike mine in Nevada during an expansion project. By putting compliance rules into the PI System, the technology was able to inform Barrick of potential deviations and enabled sustainable operations. This reduced the mine’s environmental deviations by 45 per cent and fan trips by 61 per cent when compared with a similar eight-month periods pre-implementation. “Magic doesn’t exist. If you don’t collect real-time operational data, you don’t have it,” Provencher says. “But you need to know what’s happening to your asset in real time, capture the context of that data, and analyse and implement it to real-time infrastructure if you want to move towards predictive or prescriptive maintenance. “With the PI System, you can collect millions and millions of data in real time with nearly no limitation. And of course, once you have access to it you can start improving many critical operational aspects such as process, energy and water, asset health, environment, health and safety, quality and KPI and reporting.” AM


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COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

COMMODITIES IN A CRISIS WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE KEY COMMODITIES MINED IN AUSTRALIA IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19? BEN CREAGH TALKS WITH SEAN HOLMES OF DELOITTE TO FIND OUT.

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eloitte urged mining companies to prepare for the next downturn when it released the 2020 Tracking the Trends report earlier this year. The consultancy outlined ways in which the industry could seize opportunities amid the uncertainty that would be created by the next downturn. Little did we know, but this uncertainty was imminent, and emerged rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Deloitte states in the annual trends report, commodity prices rise and fall in tune with economic

the best shape. Price forecasts for the precious metal have ranged from anywhere between $US2000 ($2860) and $US5000 an ounce since COVID-19 became a pandemic. “If you turn your mind to how Australia looks and you are a gold miner, then you would be highly excited by coverage that gold may go to $US2000 an ounce,” Deloitte director – financial advisory, restructuring Sean Holmes tells Australian Mining. “There’s capital moving in the direction of gold and a lot that we have seen is US capital.” The Australian and international gold sector has experienced a wave

explore those transactions. “We have seen capital leaving the US and there is going to be capital in other parts of the world, including Europe and Asia, that will want to find a home in safe mining projects in a stable geopolitical region such as Australia. “The key takeaway there is: don’t be afraid to explore both the buy side and sell side.” Iron ore joins gold as the next major commodity mined in Australia that will see out COVID-19 without being heavily impacted, despite some volatility. Prices for the steel-making ingredient moved above $US100 per tonne in the June quarter as Brazil

of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity over the past two years. Holmes believes gold M&A and more activity on the equity markets could continue due to the market dynamics that have been created by COVID-19. “Now is the time for miners with a strong balance sheet to hunt for opportunities, but conversely it is also the time to not be afraid of making strategic divestments,” Holmes says. “If you have underperforming assets that don’t fit your core portfolio then now is the time to

became the latest epicentre for COVID-19, impacting supply from the country. Question marks also surfaced around Australia’s iron ore export market following an escalation in trade tensions with China. “Iron ore, I think, will remain broadly consistent with where it has been,” Holmes says. “I can’t see much inflection forcing it upwards or downwards, absent of the Chinese trade wars escalating. “I probably agree with broader commentary in the market that iron ore and other base metals

GOLD PRICES HAVE CONTINUED TO RISE IN 2020.

trends, which were foreshadowing the potential of a downturn. Its analysts advised companies to consider some bold plays to prepare for this downturn and avoid being blindsided. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to prepare before the onset of COVID-19. Deloitte has responded to the crisis by taking a commodityby-commodity view of how the resources industry can manage the situation. Gold, more than any other commodity, has risen from the change in market conditions in

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are absolutely critical to China’s economic calibration.” Most base metals and battery metals have been flat during the COVID-19 period, a trend that started for both commodity sectors prior to the onset of the virus. Holmes expects a battery metal like lithium, which has expanded as a sector significantly in Australia over the past decade, has a challenging time ahead. “The demand for electric vehicles just hasn’t been there. Until such time that consumer demand kicks in, it is going to be flat and there will be a downward trajectory curve on the price of lithium,” Holmes says. “The deposits and supply chain infrastructure are all there and there is the capital movement towards lithium – it is just that the end consumer needs to have more appetite. “If you don’t have the end consumer, particularly around electric vehicles rather than just consumer batteries, then I can’t see lithium going anywhere fast, anytime soon.” As for thermal coal, Holmes believes some companies will be in “a world of pain” because of COVID-19, especially as prices drop and China changes its approach to imports. “It is cheaper for China to get its coal at a lesser quality from other countries at a closer proximity than it is to take our Queensland or New South Wales-based coal,” he says. “I think there are a lot of highlylevered operators out there that are going to either need some form of debt restructuring or formal process to navigate through this.” Deloitte, in the 2020 trends report, suggests that acquiring resources should be a key strategy ahead of the next downturn. In the midst of COVID-19, that recommendation remains consistent. Holmes says this is already happening, either through M&A or via the debt and equity markets. “There’s a two-fold approach to it; there are some balance sheets capable of executing transactions and I think there will be aggressive buy side M&A. Conversely when the balance sheet is poor, I think those companies will try to tap the debt and equity markets,” Holmes concludes. AM


COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

THE COAL DEBATE: SHOULD THE INDUSTRY PREPARE FOR BIG CHANGES? WITH GLOBAL DEMAND FOR THERMAL COAL FORECASTED TO DECLINE IN THE COMING YEARS, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR AUSTRALIAN COAL AND THE PLAYERS INVOLVED? GRATTAN INSTITUTE’S TONY WOOD SAYS THERE MAY BE A LIFELINE IF WE START PREPARING NOW. TARA HAMID REPORTS.

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he drop in global powersector coal demand resulting from the coronavirus pandemic has once again brought to light discussions around the future of Australia’s coal industry. With the longer-term prospect for the coal industry already uncertain as more and more countries accelerate their move away from coal-powered energy to meet their carbon emission targets, the industry has also been hit in recent months with slower shortterm market demands. In April, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted the effects of the COVID-19 virus would see thermal coal demand decline worldwide by 8 per cent in 2020, the largest drop since the Second World War. IEA’s 2020 coal market projection was largely influenced by slower demand expected from China and India, the largest and third-largest electricity users in the world, respectively. With Australia exporting three-quarters of its coal, largely to China, India and other Southeast Asian countries, the concern for the future of the industry is the highest it’s been for a long time. Tony Wood, director of the Energy Program at Grattan Institute, believes while demand for Australia’s coal could eventually recover in the short and medium term, the country is now at a critical juncture that will define the future for coal workers and other players in the industry. “There are a number of things happening in the world of coal today that make it difficult to forecast what is going to happen,” he tells Australian Mining. “If you look at exports of coal in Australia, they grew very strongly in the first 10 to 15 years of the century, particularly to meet China’s demands. But that demand has been much more flat in recent years. “Globally, the trend has been for the closure of coal-fired power stations to be more than new ones opening. That trend is probably not going to change.” Wood is the co-author of Start with

Steel, a report published by Grattan Institute in May, which argues that creating a green steel industry might be Australia’s best chance to leverage its rich iron ore resources, renewable energy potential and the large number of carbon workers – a term used in the report to describe those working in carbon-intensive industries, including coal mining. The term “green steel” is used to describe steel produced using hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources rather than from metallurgical coal. The report states that the opportunity for growing a manufacturing base for green steel in Australia over the next decades could create job opportunities for many of the nearly 55,000 carbon workers, while placing Australia as a major player in steel manufacturing. “It’s difficult to predict how fast or how slow the world’s demand for coal will decline,” Wood says. “If the world’s demand for coal remains reasonably strong for a while yet, which it may very well do, then we won’t necessarily have to rush into steel production very quickly. We could start now to make sure that we are ready for that eventuality. “However, if there’s an interval of significant acceleration in the rate of climate change being addressed, then that would mean that the rate of coal consumption and export demand would start to decline more rapidly and we absolutely want to be in a position that we can take advantage of that.” Wood says the report’s recommendation to prioritise building a strong green steel manufacturing industry based on Australia’s hydrogen production was picked out after closely considering other alternatives, including opportunities in green cement, aluminum and ammonia production or even using hydrogen to produce a fuel for the aviation sector. “None of those has the potential to provide the same number of jobs as steel manufacturing and none of them is as economically viable. The other options are not off the table, but we

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believe green steel is what we need to start with,” he says. While iron ore required for steel production is mostly produced in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, Grattan’s report argues that the skills required in green steel are likely to be similar to those currently used in carbon-intensive metal smelting, and these skills overlap broadly with those of coal workers. The majority of these skilled

CONCERNS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE COAL INDUSTRY CONTINUE TO INCREASE AS ALTERNATIVES EMERGE.

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carbon-workers are geographically concentrated in the coal mining regions of central Queensland and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Grattan’s report points out that if coal mining declines, workers in these “carbon-intensive regions” face more acute social and economic challenges than carbon workers distributed across the rest of Australia and close to metropolitan area. So what would a move to steel manufacturing mean for


COMMODITY SPOTLIGHT

the workers already employed in the coal sector? “I don’t think they should be worried. I think they should be planning for the possibility of a new future, because this is not something that’s going to happen tomorrow,” Wood says. “I think when people talk about the coal industry closing down, that is unnecessary doom and gloom. But it’s also true that people who say coal is going to be around forever are unrealistically optimistic about the future of coal. “Somewhere in the middle is where you need to be and the issues that will determine which it’s going to be, are decisions that will be made in other parts of the world about how long they will continue to buy our coal.” The need for re-skilling the workforce is something that should be addressed once the eventuality of the shift is realised, according to Wood. “For example, Newcastle is the world’s largest export port for coal and when you talk to the workers in the Hunter Valley and Newcastle, they

GLOBALLY, THE TREND HAS BEEN FOR THE CLOSURE OF COALFIRED POWER STATIONS TO BE MORE THAN NEW ONES OPENING. THAT TREND IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO CHANGE.” TONY WOOD, ENERGY PROGRAM DIRECTOR, GRATTAN INSTITUTE.

understand that not tomorrow, not next week, and not even next year, but over time the demand for coal almost certainly will start to decline. Therefore they recognise that it’s important to plan for that future now so that when that happens, we can be ready,” he says. “The workers who are currently heavily employed in the carbon industry, including coal, can

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transition and find jobs and these jobs will still be well-paid jobs. They’ll probably even be cleaner jobs than working in a coal mine. Newcastle has already experienced this (transition) once before when BHP closed its steel manufacturing facility over 20 years ago. “So, it’s possible that the region will once again become a major source of steel manufacturing and export. But having a plan is important. And that plan means preparing our workers, preparing our industry and preparing

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our infrastructure for a different future.” Wood says even though his team began working on the report back in December before the economy was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the argument for a stronger manufacturing sector in Australia has become even stronger since. “In some ways, there’s a connection between (our report and) the way the government is thinking about what it does to simulate the economy after the pandemic. However, the things we are talking about in this report are not things that can be done quickly. They are things that will be done over quite a long period of time by their nature,” he continues. “People often ask ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if Australia could be a major manufacturer?’ Well, it wouldn’t just be wonderful. This could be real. But it needs to be based upon strong economics, not just wishful thinking. And that’s why we argue we should start planning now so that Australia is in the best place to take advantage of this opportunity.” AM


MINING SERVICES

JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF A TAILINGS STORAGE FACILITY HOW CAN DUST SUPPRESSION ACTIVITIES BE CONDUCTED SAFELY AT AN ACCIDENT-PRONE SITE LIKE A TAILINGS DAM? AUSTRALIAN MINING LEARNS THE ART FROM ERIZON OPERATIONS MANAGER TOM CORKHILL.

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he rehabilitation and dust suppression experts at Erizon can go to places where others can’t. This includes driving directly on to the surface of a tailings storage facility. Some could liken such an activity to a near, if not complete impossibility. The uneven, unstable and often volatile tailings storage facility surface is composed of tailings, ash and water that have compacted over time. A walking human may exert a ground pressure of around 11.5 pounds per square inch (psi), which sits above the safe bearing capacity limits for ultra-low bearing capacity tailings storage facilities. With equipment often weighing more than 26 tonnes, Erizon, which has completed multiple dust suppression and revegetation works Australia-wide for large mining and civil companies including Rio Tinto, Hillgrove Resources, Newcrest Mining and AGL Energy, has been able to spread its vehicle’s weight equally and reach below 5.8 psi. The vehicle has been built using technologies adapted from the agricultural sector and is fitted with a track system that enables Erizon to drive directly on a tailings dam or other low-bearing capacity surfaces. The HydroTruck track system comprises custom rubber tracks that increase stability, while reducing surface pressure up to 850 per cent. Fabricated in-house, the system can be added or removed from the HydroTrucks according to the ongoing needs of dust suppression and rehabilitation operations. This is complemented by the use of drones, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras and surface pressure testing to identify the safety of the ground for the HydroTrucks. “Safety is our number one priority. We have seen first hand or heard stories of vehicles get bogged or collapse below ground while working on tailing storage facilities,” Erizon operations manager Tom Corkhill tells Australian Mining. “Our ongoing research and development department has

engineered a system that can deliver a psi as little as 0.87 which, with additional safety requirements allows us to safely, quickly and efficiently apply any substrate. “As well as using our HydroTrucks that can spray 80 to 100 metres away, we utilise aerial application when the ground is too unsafe. With multiple application methods and a strong understanding of the substrate materials, we now take complete ownership of our clients’ dust suppression requirements.” Erizon proves that dust suppression, an activity that’s considered essential at mine sites and power stations, doesn’t have to pose danger to the humans around it when managed correctly. The scenario offered by Erizon is a long way from the collapse of diggers or excavators that could cost companies a hefty fine and threaten the health and wellbeing of employees.

“We’ve been working on tailings storage facilities since we were registered as a company. We know that with such a hazardous environment, experience of the substrate is key to understanding all safety elements,” Corkhill says. “We developed the track system to increase safety in a cost-effective manner that adds benefits to our partners.” Its low-bearing capacity HydroTrucks also deliver another benefit: they won’t compact the soil like other heavy equipment do, and therefore help maintain an ideal environment for revegetation or dust suppression in the soil. “If you’re trying to grow vegetations, it requires an ideal substrate where root systems can establish. Standard equipment can cause compaction in the soil, providing another barrier for establishment,” Corkhill explains. “If you’re driving heavy

ERIZON’S HYDROTRUCK TRACK SYSTEM MAKES A JOURNEY INTO TAILINGS DAMS POSSIBLE.

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equipment over the land, you’re compacting the soil and making it a less than ideal environment.” Indeed, Erizon has risen up to the challenge of working in a tailings storage facility safely. Erizon’s innovative approach extends to its engineered dust suppression product, FibreLoc. It is a superior dust suppression product that is scientifically engineered for the harshest of conditions, where polymer solutions aren’t suitable and sustainable longevity is required. FibreLoc uses interlocking organic wood fibres to form a flexible and stable blanket, suitable for uneven substrate terrains such as tailings storage facilities. “Our solutions have a functional longevity of up to 24 months when standard polymer can only last up to 12 months at maximum. Our supply, apply guarantee is something that’s unique to us within our industry,” Corkhill concludes. AM


CRUSHING & SCREENING

A WHOLE-OF-LIFE APPROACH TO SCREENING SCHENCK PROCESS HAS STRENGTHENED HOW THE COMPANY WORKS WITH MINING CLIENTS BY TAKING A WHOLE-OF-LIFE OUTLOOK TO THE SCREENS IT DESIGNS AND SUPPLIES TO THE INDUSTRY.

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igger is often viewed as better, but in the minerals processing sector size is just one factor that original equipment manufacturers (OEM) must consider when developing and supplying modern screens. Schenck Process, for example, has been part of the journey to design larger screens for mining operations, including iron ore, coal, copper and other base metal sites around the world. The Beast screen (pictured, top) launched by Schenck Process in 2018 is a standout case of the company’s achievements in large scale separation technology. At more than 72 tonnes, using four DF704 exciters and processing around 10,000 tonnes/hour of slurry in a metal extraction process, the vibrating screen is up there with the largest ever built. While screens The Beast’s size have been welcomed at mine sites, Schenck Process Australia managing

THE CONIQ MONITOR DASHBOARD THAT SCHENCK PROCESS HAS CREATED.

director Max Wijasuriya says market demands have expanded to include broader needs. “The focus now is much more around a whole-of-life outlook and optimising and maximising the balance between productivity and asset life,” Wijasuriya tells Australian Mining. Schenck Process’ strategy in response to this shift has been to design screens for damage tolerance and economic whole-of-life ownership, including maintenance and decommissioning. The company, with its own screening media design and production facilities, has a closed loop process that ensures screening media selection and screen integrity are harmonised. Schenck Process’ designs now feature thicker panels to increase deck life, increased throughput, larger exciters and excitation forces, and coating types to protect from corrosion. The company is also constantly working on the development of screening media to improve efficiency AUSTRALIANMINING

while delivering better wear life. Wijasuriya says sophisticated and intelligent condition monitoring systems, such as Schenck Process’ ConiQ Monitor, help the company to design more damage tolerant screens as a result of the lessons learned from ongoing operational monitoring. “ConiQ Monitor has the ability to identify uncharacteristic oncoming failure trends, which enables planners to predict oncoming failures, put plans in place, and reduce the safety risks associated with emergency breakdown repair,” Wijasuriya says. “ConiQ Monitor, coupled with the Cumulative Damage Prediction system provides an indication of the health of the machine, as well as its loading, which provides feedback to enable deliberate control over feed and screen operating speeds to achieve an optimised productivity:asset life ratio.” Schenck Process’ whole-of-life approach ultimately relies on its people and how they collaborate with mining clients to develop the right solution

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for their operation. The company achieved a successful outcome with a customer in a copper application where it supplied a 10,000 tonne/hour screen following a collaborative process. Schenck Process designed the screen so when the plant’s trommel blocked up, the slurry could be run across the screen, which was large enough to handle the additional loading. What would have previously resulted in a module shut down to unblock the trommel now delivers increased uptime at the copper site. Wijasuriya says this result would not have been possible without effective collaboration between Schenck Process and the mining company. “The key is communication. We are always striving to improve on this front, but working closely with our customers we’ve been able to design screens that have improved reliability, enabling them to push out service intervals, and having improved efficiency at higher throughput rates, so you end up with more uptime tonnes,” Wijasuriya says. “We’re always looking to see if we can uprate our screens in order to increase throughput on the same footprint. We have all the pieces of the puzzle, and we bring people together within our company to provide a coordinated approach to screening. In the end it is our people that set us apart.” Schenck Process has enhanced its aftersales service by providing tools for frontline teams in the field that allow hands-free remote collaboration with two-way video and audio. The tools give them access to critical information in real time to get the best outcomes out in the field. “By having more efficient interactions, we reduce the need for unnecessary visits, which is critical in industry now more than ever. We’re also trying to think outside the square in terms of our screening media solutions to try and identify wear and improve how we change screening media,” Wijasuriya adds. Wijasuriya says Schenck Process aims to be a partner of choice in the mining industry by taking this whole-of-life approach, leveraging the organisation’s global technology hubs to find innovative solutions for the pit to port value chain. AM


MINERALS PROCESSING

DECONSTRUCTING CDE’S MODULAR APPROACH MINING IS DEMANDING MORE ECONOMICALLY SUSTAINABLE WAYS TO OPERATE SITES. CDE’S WET PROCESSING PLANTS MEET THIS DEMAND FOR AUSTRALIAN AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONS.

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any of Australia’s mine sites operate in some of the most dry and desolate regions of the

country. A significant ‘Achilles’ heel’ to the expenses of many operations is the cost of water, which often has to be transported significant distances to reach mineral processing plants. Water usage and transportation costs to sites in areas such as the Pilbara region can take a significant chunk of money out of a mining company’s cash supply. However, these costs are often seen as insurmountable, with tailings dams used to store water and waste from mineral by-products. Tailings dams remain a common feature at mine sites across Australia. CDE has spearheaded alternatives to traditional tailings dams for a number of years through its wet processing plants, which have the ability to recover up to 98 per cent of water for reuse during minerals processing through various dewatering technologies. CDE head of mining business development Adam Holland says the company’s award-winning wet processing plants combine economic and environmental sustainability in its cost-effective solutions approach. “Our wet processing plants are bringing environmental and economically sustainable solutions to the mining industry as a result of many years of innovation and

diversification from related materials processing sectors,” he tells Australian Mining. “Meeting environmental challenges in a cost-effective way is possible through CDE’s unique modular approach whilst also providing the ability for mining companies to add, remove or augment modules offline to react to feed material or product specification changes in a flexible manner. CDE is really quite unique in being able to offer economic sustainability and flexibility on top of the environmental sustainability aspect.” The company has earned the tried and trusted investment of mining companies internationally, with tailings management representing a significant area of interest. Brazil was one of the first countries to implement CDE technology for tailings dewatering in early 2014 in an effort to reduce reliance on tailings storage facilities. “In the simplest term, it’s about dewatering of that tailings feed,” Holland says. “Utilising compact modular technology our processing solutions can effectively de-slime and de-water tails, while recovering quality coarser particles for reuse or resale. Wet processing allows for optimal recovery, and is complemented by our water recycling system, which ensures we can operate in remote, arid and ecologically sensitive locations.” And while there are obvious advantages in reducing the requirement for tailings dams,

there are many benefits to CDE’s wet processing solutions that can specifically interest Australia’s mining market. Rather than adopting a traditional, more expensive and less flexible stick build approach for its wet processing plants, CDE’s modular ofering delivers comparable results at a much lower price-point by allowing faster and easier installation in a package that is significantly smaller than traditional processing plants. “It’s not mobile but certainly moveable. If you set up your plant at a dam and you’re reprocessing what’s in the dam for dry stacking, it is possible to set that plant up, operate it for a period of time and then break it down, move it and recommission it,” Holland says. CDE’s modular approach allows for complete deconstruction and reconstruction of a minerals processing plant, which has been achieved on sites in America in under two weeks. As a modular plant, CDE’s wet processing plants include equipment such as the company’s AquaCycle, which has the ability to recycle wastewater at a rate of up to 90 per cent. Further recovery is then possible through the addition of further filtration modules. Another staple of a CDE dewatering plant is its EvoWash machine, which uses cyclone technology combined with the company’s infinity screen range as a method of separating fine materials while dewatering courser sand sized

particles. SIMEC Mining was an early Australian adopter of CDE’s wet processing plants, installing two of them for its South Australian iron ore operations. “Initially, the return on investment justification to SIMEC was based around the value that the CDE modular approach brought to the company, rather than a ‘stick build’ approach,” Holland says “A traditional stick build plant was unviable for SIMEC due to the level of capital expenditure required. While there was value to be gained from their waste stockpiles, SIMEC knew they needed a novel method for processing and approached CDE to design a custom solution.” Holland believes a huge advantage of the CDE modular approach is the ability to change the plant’s configuration and operating parameters easily and quickly to cope with any production changes, which SIMEC have done as a result of a continually changing legacy waste feed material. “The benefit here is that ability to react to changing feed, meaning the plant consistently performs at maximum productivity to produce a 63 per cent grade iron ore, even as the characteristics of the feed change.” Holland concludes that he looks forward to positively widening CDE’s mineral processing envelope through challenging projects that are currently moving through design stages in the fields of manganese, rare earth mineral sands and gold, to name a few. AM CDE GLOBAL’S WET PROCESSING PLANT IS USED BY MINING COMPANIES SUCH AS CENTREX.

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MINERALS PROCESSING

ERIEZ MAGNETIC MILL LINER PROVIDES UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE ERIEZ MAGNETIC MILL LINERS USE MAGNETIC FORCE TO NOT ONLY HOLD THE METAL LINER TO THE SHELL BUT ALSO TO ATTRACT BALL CHIPS AND MAGNETICALLY SUSCEPTIBLE MINERALS TO THE LINER SURFACE. INSTALLATION OF ERIEZ MAGNETIC MILL LINER WITHOUT CRANES.

ERIEZ CAN DESIGN A MAGNETIC MILL LINER TO SUIT ALL BALL MILLS.

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riez, an expert company in separation technologies, has developed a magnetic mill liner (MML) which combines the best qualities of steel and magnetic technology to create an advanced liner. The MML is essentially a wearresistant steel-encased magnet. The magnet not only holds the metal liner to the shell but also attracts ball chips and magnetically susceptible minerals to the liner surface, thus forming a compacted layer of material which serves as a wear facing. The ball chips and magnetic minerals form a protective layer; thereby extending the liner’s life by years and reducing the need for maintenance.

Eriez states that this innovative mill liner has proven performance in milling operations and delivered improved grinding efficiency. The thickness of the MML, together with the protection layer, is less than a conventional liner. This adds a further benefit of potentially creating a greater working volume. The MML also creates a wave form that is generated by the magnetic force, optimising attrition by helping to lift the material being ground. Higher attrition results in less abrasion and impact and promotes a higher charge pressure and more efficient grinding. Grinding ball chips and other debris discharged from a ball mill can cause extreme wear to downstream processing equipment. These ball chips and debris can AUSTRALIANMINING

circulate in the milling circuit and cause excessive damage to pumps, cyclones and piping. Energy is unnecessarily consumed by chips and the debris that must eventually be ground to a particle size small enough to allow for its discharge from the mill circuit through cyclone overflow. Instead, the Eriez metal magnetic mill liner concentrates ball chips and debris to the working surface and prevents discharge from the mill while the solid protection layer is formed. These smaller sized ball chips are removed from the primary ball charge and work as the liner, which delivers a significant drop in energy consumption. There are further benefits associated with using the MML, according to Eriez.

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Compared to traditional steel liners, the safety and ease of installing the MML is enhanced due to the size of each light-weight component being less than 20 kilograms. Based on Eriez observations, installations of MML to date have reported longer service lives with up to six times the life of a manganese steel liner and up to three times the life of most bolt-type liners. Eriez is now offering customers the opportunity to determine if they can save money by installing a MML in their grinding mills. The company’s technicians will gather relevant data from customers and model cost-savings projection. Eriez will also provide free plant audits to help customers uncover additional profit-generating improvements. Eriez has created this special program to prove that the MML system is a more economical choice than typical heavier liners. The design combines the best qualities of typical steel and magnetic liners to reduce or eliminate installation, maintenance and replacement expenses. Eriez custom designs liners to suit customers’ specific needs and provides a guaranteed service life with each liner. The magnetic mill liner is tailormade based on unique mill operation parameters, milling circuit, and DEM simulation. The DEM simulation optimises the best liner profile for customer to achieve the best milling performance while keeping the magnetic mill liner lasting. Operation of the MML has shown decreases in shutdown time, improved mill availability, reduced noise levels and increases in productivity and profitability. The magnetic mill liner has been installed in over 600 applications throughout the mining industry worldwide, which includes both secondary ball mills and regrind ball mills. Eriez manufactures and markets its products through 12 international facilities across six continents. AM


PROSPECT AWARDS

WILL THE GAWLER CHALLENGE LEAD TO SA’S NEXT MAJOR DRILLING CAMPAIGN?

UNEARTHING SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S MINES OF THE FUTURE LAST YEAR, UNEARTHED’S EXPLORER CHALLENGE ATTRACTED DATA SCIENTISTS AND GEOLOGISTS FROM MORE THAN 60 COUNTRIES AROUND THE GLOBE. FOR THIS YEAR’S GAWLER CHALLENGE, THERE ARE ALREADY PARTICIPANTS FROM OVER 90 COUNTRIES INVOLVED.

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he joint winner of the 2019 Prospect Award for Innovation Mining Solution (with OZ Minerals) has been busy since taking home the honour, launching the Gawler Challenge in South Australia last December. Similarly with the Explorer Challenge, data scientists and geologists from around the world will come together to gather new data on prospective exploration regions. Although working together, those participating in the challenge are competing for $250,000 in prize money for the most innovative mineral exploration learning methods and models. Unlike the Explorer Challenge though, this time the results will be shared with the public, allowing exploration companies to view these results and make educated decisions on which areas to explore, giving them an idea of what is waiting to be unearthed. Running from December to July,

the Gawler Challenge aims to give development opportunities to data scientists, geologists and exploration companies, while shining a light on South Australia as a prospective region for discovering new mineral deposits, according to Unearthed industry lead –

crowdsourcing Holly Bridgwater. “For South Australia, there’s lots of benefits from the Gawler Challenge in helping to build the exploration sector there, which can lead to the development of new businesses and draw significant global investment

into South Australia,” Bridgwater tells Australian Mining. “The way the Gawler Challenge works is people all over the world can enter no matter where they are and connect to others with digital skills and distribute these skillsets globally.” THE GAWLER CHALLENGE IS ATTRACTING DATA SCIENTISTS AND GEOLOGISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

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PROSPECT AWARDS

Unearthed’s winner of the Explorer Challenge, which was the first challenge of this kind it hosted, Team Guru comprising of Michael Rodda, Jesse Ober and Glen Willis combined their skills to create interpretable machine learning models for mineral exploration. The organisation has high hopes for the competitors this time around, as it expects double the participants to have signed up for the Gawler Challenge as did the Explorer Challenge, when the competition closes at the end of July. “The key difference from the last challenge was it was run with OZ Minerals, a private mining company, whereas the Gawler Challenge is being run by the South Australian government,” Bridgwater explains. “This means all of the results will be made public at the conclusion of the challenge so the entire mineral exploration community will be able to benefit. “By the time the competition ends on July 31, it looks like we will have over 2000 people registered to take part, which is double what we had in the Explorer Challenge, it’s fantastic to see the growth of the community of people taking part in these challenges.” After six weeks of reviewing and combining each team’s results, Unearthed will release the data to the public during September and select the winning team. From here, exploration companies will be able to assess the data and take the opportunity to discover South Australia’s next Olympic Dam or Prominent Hill. “There’s a lot to be discovered in South Australia, it houses some world class deposits,” Bridgwater says. “Olympic Dam is one of the biggest koyo-AD-f.pdf 1 2020/02/27 20:18:32 copper deposits in the world and some of the deposits we are gathering data on are quite similar, deep styles to other prospective sites like Prominent Hill and Carrapateena. “South Australia is one of the most prospective regions in the world in

SA WANTS TO FIND THE NEXT KEY DISCOVERY IN THE STATE.

terms of the density of world-class deposits and as we saw in 2018 when BHP discovered Oak Dam West, there’s still a lot of major discoveries waiting to be found.” This also means exploration companies can obtain completed data and targeting exercises, saving time and allowing them to make more educated decisions about which mineral resources to target for the best chance of making a discovery. “People working in the exploration sector don’t often have the time or people to go out and complete targeting exercises,” Bridgwater says. “The Gawler Challenge will provide a whole part of that process done by the community of data scientists and geologists, bridging the gap between data and discoveries. “This way, people in the exploration sector can make better decisions and choose which targets to go for and get out and start drilling to make discoveries sooner.” While other industries are experiencing a slowdown due to the

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coronavirus, Unearthed has seen more interest than ever in the Gawler Challenge, as people look to new opportunities for careers or even just as something to do on the side with their spare time. “It is really good timing for Unearthed to attract people to partake in an activity like the Gawler Challenge,” Bridgwater explains. “Many people can’t get out on the ground for exploration, so being able to come together and add value to this data is great forward-planning for when we can get back out on the ground.” As well as unearthing the next prospective deposits in South Australia, the challenge also provides a foundation for data scientists and geologists to build their skills in an industry they may not have considered working in before. In the case of some of the Explorer Challenge participants, some even used the opportunity as a platform to build their own new businesses within the industry. “Unearthed is a big believer

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of doing these open innovation challenges because it helps everybody to improve and learn industry-wide knowledge,” Bridgwater says. “Exercises such as the Gawler Challenge in the data science space are good opportunity for everyone to learn new skills and apply them to mining and exploration.” With this influx of new people coming into the industry and bringing with them fresh ideas, Bridgwater believes activities such as the Gawler Challenge are helping to build a strong future within the industry. “It’s a great way to get new people and businesses into the industry,” she continues. “A lot of people don’t experience mining in everyday life, so this is a good opportunity to attract more people into the industry to understand it better. “Some of the best stories we get out of our challenges is seeing people find opportunities to start a business, especially for people who have never worked in the mining industry before.” AM


TECHNOLOGY

SECURING MINES WITH DIGITAL TWIN TECHNOLOGY A DIGITAL TWIN DOESN’T NEED TO STAY INSIDE THE PLANT INSTALLATION OR COMMISSIONING BOX. ROCKWELL AUTOMATION ILLUSTRATES HOW IT CAN BE USED TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF 21ST CENTURY MINES.

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he rise of the coronavirus pandemic has driven mining professionals to rethink the way they operate. According to Rockwell Automation enterprise account manager Geoff Irvine, the mining sector has long sought to remove workers from unsafe areas and operate as remotely as possible. But this goal has been given a fresh focus and urgency due to the unprecedented pandemic. “For a number of years now, miners have caught the idea of having remote operations,” Irvine, speaking in a Rockwell Automation webinar titled, ‘Safety and Digital Transformation in Mining’, says. “Typically that means gathering people in a remote centre that controls and gives guidance to the operators of the mines communicating with it. “COVID-19 takes that a step further: is it possible for the workers in a remote operations centre to work remotely from the centre?” One way to enhance on-site safety is by extending the use of certain technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for safety assessments and processes. Leveraging on AR and VR capabilities, miners can build a virtual model of equipment, process, product or service that imitates what the physical object is actually doing, a concept that we know as digital twin. It is so versatile that it is also applicable

to safety applications. Miners can incorporate a mine’s control and safety system functionality into the digital twin, to observe in an immersive 3D environment what happens with the actual machine. The digital twin is increasingly being applied at mining operations, but very few sites have applied them to safety applications. “Despite safety making very good business sense, analyst firm LNS Research found that there were a lot of companies that had safety in their core values, but the actual numbers of companies that were investing in it were less than those that claimed safety as a core value,” Irvine says. With a digital twin that is enhanced by AR and VR, risk assessors can identify risks a lot more rapidly during a safety assessment. The digital twin can immediately show the limits of moving machines as they operate in the virtual realms. Operational and maintenance personnel participating in the risk assessment process can quickly identify potential nip points, dragging hazards and pinch crush hazards from different angles, speeding up the assessment process rather than examining 2D drawings. The Rockwell Automation risk assessment software for Windows (RASWin) can leverage the images extracted from the digital twin and reference these images within the RASWin software tool. RASWin can assist in managing

ROCKWELL AUTOMATION CAN MANAGE PROGRESSION THROUGH THE SAFETY LIFECYCLE.

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CONDITION MONITORING IS CENTRAL TO PLANT SAFETY.

one’s progression through the safety lifecycle, from the definition of hazardous areas, through to the selection of corrective measures, to reporting and online monitoring tools. “Designers apply the hierarchy of control principles when considering the required risk reduction recommendation from the risk assessment,” Wayne Pearse, consulting manager at Industrial Machine Safety Consultants (IMSC), says. “It might not be possible to eliminate the hazards, but we need to put in engineering control providing safe access to the equipment, this could involve guarding and safety interlocking. “Designing a safety system offline utilising the digital twin principles before building the real solutions, can save mining companies time and money.” Miners can enhance the digital twin by having a digital platform that accepts data from real-time control systems, historical data gathering systems and Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) devices. A Rockwell Automation partner and tech company, PTC has developed one such digital platform called Thingworx. It helps bring context and meaning to the data. In addition to the digital platform providing functions such as AR and VR, the platform can perform predictive condition monitoring of equipment to predict when failures will occur at a future time.

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The system can then generate maintenance orders automatically to ensure scheduled maintenance is carried out on the machine before an unplanned outage occurs. Studies have shown significant losses and safety incidents occur due to unexpected mechanical failures on machines, so predictive condition monitoring assists in increasing safety of the plant. Industry sales manager at Rockwell Automation, Australia and New Zealand, Kevin Cole recommends that operators look into the unintended consequences of launching new technologies. “All miners need social licence to operate. The business environment is extremely complex for them. With fewer people working in remote mine sites, workers’ safety becomes more critical,” he reasons. But a safety journey doesn’t end with the implementation of a safety system – mechanical systems can wear, operating procedures often need to be adjusted, new workers need comprehensive training, and safety assessments need updating. “A digital twin can increase safety of your plant and can be part of your overall digital transformation program. It can help you achieve compliance to internal and external standards, minimise unplanned and safety-related loss of production and increase productivity. It can improve your work processes,” Irvine concludes. AM


TECHNOLOGY

LASER MEASUREMENT TECH ACCEPTS DIVERSE CHALLENGES LASE’S INCREASINGLY POPULAR LASER TECHNOLOGY IS ENSURING THAT MINING COMPANIES AREN’T SNOWED UNDER BY MEASUREMENT OBSTACLES. AUSTRALIAN MINING REVIEWS THE SYSTEM.

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n April this year, Germanybased measurement technology provider LASE received a unique order from Russia. The country had just experienced unusually warm temperatures during the 2019/2020 winter, which the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia called the warmest in the meteorological chronicle of Russia. While an Australian city like Melbourne, on the other hand, experienced its coldest April day in over 20 years in 2020, the opposite was happening from Moscow’s perspective. But the winter in Russia still had its bite, blanketing urban areas and major cities with snow. To keep the city’s infrastructure clean from snow, LASE supplied 68 LaseTVM (Truck Volume Measurement) systems to help measure the volume of cleared snow that was carried on trucks. “They have to clear the streets from snow every day or couple of days, carry it to snow melting facilities and pour it back into the rivers and/or drinking water systems after purification,” LASE general manager Lars Mohr tells Australian Mining. This is where LASE’s truck volume measurement systems come into the picture. They can be used across many applications in a diverse range of environments. The systems do not discriminate against the type of truck or carrier they are coming into contact with, whether it is a road truck or a mining dump truck. It doesn’t matter what the truck carries either, whether it is snow, sand, aggregate, ore, wood pellets or coal. “We’re only interested in measuring a surface profile and calculating the volume based on that,” Mohr says. “And the good thing about measuring a truck’s volume instead of its weight is that the measurement will remain accurate despite heavy rain soaking the products on the truck bed.” By the same token, the TVM is not vulnerable to harsh environments, including Australia’s mining conditions. The TVM withstands scorching hot days with strong wind and sandstorms, just as well as it does temperatures well below zero Celsius with heavy snowfall. The device can also be

AN EXAMPLE OF LASE’S 2D LASER SCANNERS, RFID AND HD CAMERA.

LASE TRUCK VOLUME MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS COME IN TWO OPTIONS: MOBILE OR STATIC.

equipped with active heating and cooling systems, if required. LASE’s ability to develop such robust sensor technology is founded on decades of industry experience, collaboration with laser manufacturers and advancement of technology. The company is, in fact, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Launched with a focus on laser technology for crane position and crane positioning systems, LASE’s business has evolved into facilitating the automation of container terminals and cranes using 2D and 3D measurement systems. “We have several main 3D scanners and also several main 2D scanners in our portfolio. When used together, this single component can deliver an individual product application based on a unique software solution,” Mohr explains. “In other words, same hardware components with different software for different applications. This software is not a third-party development either; it is developed in-house. That means AUSTRALIANMINING

mining companies don’t have to deal with multiple providers for each of their hardware and software.” LASE’s TVM works simply by sending raw data of measured volumes, which is delivered to a software package that will compute the actual volume. What’s more fascinating about the TVM is that it is also available in mobile or dynamic option (i.e. LaseTVM-3D-M). Trucks will no longer be required to

stop for a measurement. It prevents instances of harsh braking and damage to the hardware (i.e. actual scale), and simultaneously reduces the amount of wear and tear in mining and measuring equipment. “When you have a 200-tonne truck, you don’t really want to stop for it for measurement. Instead, you can drive the truck through and measure its volume while it’s moving. It gives you greater time saving benefits,” Mohr says. “Even with non-contactless systems – the LaseTVM-3D-S, with the S standing for static – they will still be a massive help in ensuring that you have transferred all your load to its destination. “You don’t want to have a bit of production tonnage left on the truck bed and then carry it all the way back to the mine pit where it came from. With the TVM, you can achieve a more optimised process and higher output.” Mohr says the TVM has developed into a state-of-the-art technology that complies with current market demands, accompanied by the newest hardware and state-of-theart software. It can integrate with existing hardware, software and management systems – the result of more than 30 years’ worth of experience. “As you can tell with the project in Russia, we still have a lot of business going on in spite of the coronavirus crisis. We have projects in the pipeline before COVID-19 hit. Our German production facility is still producing at 100 per cent capacity and we are fully operational to serve the mining industry,” Mohr concludes. AM

A SOFTWARE VIEW OF A LOADED TRUCK.

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MAINTENANCE

DIGITALLY ENABLED RELIABILITY: BEYOND PREDICTIVE MAINTENANCE IN MINING ASSET FAILURES ARE COSTLY AND STRESSFUL. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE FOR MINING OPERATIONS, WHERE A SINGLE HOUR OF DOWNTIME CAN RESULT IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF LOST REVENUE.

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ome mining companies try to avoid these losses by stocking extra spare parts or through over-maintaining equipment. But these solutions often only add more financial burdens in CAPEX and maintenance costs. But what if all of this extra cost could be avoided? What if the machines could warn their operators about impending breakdowns days, even weeks in advance? And what if this was possible without further instrumenting existing equipment? Real-time condition-based monitoring of assets is an attractive solution for mining companies to minimise their unscheduled downtime and improve reliability of critical equipment. While many companies already have systems in place to record maintenance and reliability data with the help of sensors and control systems, collecting the data is only part of the story. The success of an asset monitoring program depends on how well this data is analysed, filtered and categorised to enable accurate

predictions of impending failures. Focussing on the behavior of an asset only tells a small portion of the story. To fully predict failures, the trends of the entire process must be considered as a whole. Aspen Mtell is an application that uses machine learning to monitor and analyse data across the entirety of the process, from any equipment or system in real-time to detect anomalies and predict failures, and their causes, before they occur. Using Aspen Mtell, operators can address any abnormal behavior of the equipment before it becomes a serious problem, saving a lot of money to the business. Michel Bachoir, principal solutions consultant at AspenTech, says Aspen Mtell goes beyond a predictive maintenance (predictive failure detection) tool to offer a prescriptive solution (diagnosis about the causes). “Most condition monitoring products can only speculate on timeto-failure and require further analysis to identify the problem. On the other hand, Aspen Mtell can detect precisely how and when the failure will occur by analysing anomalies and comparing them against historical AUSTRALIANMINING

IF YOU HAVE VIBRATION MONITORING SENSORS SET UP ON A ROTATING EQUIPMENT, YOU CAN DETECT WHEN THE VIBRATIONS ESCALATE BEYOND SET LIMITS.” failure patterns. The maintenance team can then take action to mitigate or prevent the failure altogether,” he explains. Bachoir elaborates on the prescriptive maintenance approach with the help of an example. “If you have vibration monitoring sensors set up on a rotating equipment, you can detect when the vibrations escalate beyond set limits. In all these cases the data need to be further interpreted to identify the real problem. Vibration can be caused by several factors such as wear on the bearing, an impeller/rotor imbalance or a loose mounting bolt,” he says. “Additionally, its cause and

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impacts can be seen upstream and downstream of the equipment in the process data, but this is not indicated with vibration sensors. In this case, predictive maintenance cannot tell you exactly what the problem is without further analysis and validation. By using multivariate analysis – which looks at mechanical and process variables – Aspen Mtell looks at signatures that the human eye cannot see way before a sensor reading reaches its set limit and can tell you exactly what the incoming problem is. “With vibration monitoring alone, by the time the alarm sounds, the equipment may be already damaged and you may have a very short timeframe to repair or replace that equipment,” Bachoir says This precision in predicting failures is rooted in Aspen Mtell’s smart algorithms. Aspen Mtell is flexible and can integrate with most OEM and third-party condition monitoring systems, as well as with existing process and mechanical sensors. Once set up, the system uses software elements – known as agents – to identify signatures for both


MAINTENANCE

ASPEN MTELL USES MACHINE LEARNING TO MONITOR AND ANALYSE DATA ACROSS THE ENTIRETY OF THE PROCESS.

normal and failure behaviors. When any failure behavior is detected, Aspen Mtell agents send alerts to users, prescribing appropriate maintenance activity based on the machine’s historic behaviour. The operations and maintenance teams have an extended warning of the potential for failure and can make decisions to remediate the failure in the most cost-effective way or adjust production. “Moreover,” says Bachoir, “Each time a new anomaly is detected that is not historically recorded, the maintenance team can investigate the cause and categorise it either as a new normal behaviour or a new failure signature.” While in the traditional preventive maintenance approach it is quite common for mining companies to schedule regular maintenance sessions at fixed intervals, Bachoir says Aspen Mtell’s prescriptive approach allows the maintenance teams to manage repair or replacement choices over the lifecycle of their assets. “Scheduled maintenance shutdowns are often planned based on the expected life of the equipment. But in practice the equipment’s useful life depends on so many other factors such as

process variations or equipment defects,” says Bachoir. So in the preventive model, the equipment is still prone to breakdowns. On the other hand, stopping the machines at fixed intervals for regular maintenance schedules is also a waste of valuable time and resources, as in many cases the full life of the equipment is not utilised.” The increased reliability with asset monitoring allows plant managers to use their resources more efficiently. “For critical operations, plant managers tend to have standby equipment in place to deploy in case of an emergency. Using Aspen Mtell allows them to avoid such emergencies by improving the reliability of the existing equipment. Having the equipment run at optimal efficiency and energy consumption also results in higher overall yield,” says Bachoir. While some asset monitoring systems require expert skills and knowledge of industrial equipment, Bachoir says Aspen Mtell is far simpler to implement and offers faster payback. “Aspen Mtell is very user-friendly. It requires minimal input from the end user and is very fast to implement. After a quick initial set up, the asset owners are trained to AUSTRALIANMINING

fine-tune the system and improve the agents as they go along,” he explains. Combining the Aspen Mtell solution with the client’s domain knowledge is a key driver for success, as it minimises any delay between a notification, investigation and remediation. “The beauty of Aspen Mtell’s

algorithm is that once set up, it continues to learn and adapt to the system. This means more and more reliability and peace of mind for the asset owners,” Bachoir concludes. AM Sources: 1- J. Donald, Kirpatrick, Causes of Industrial Accidents

HAVING AN EFFICIENT ASSET MONITORING SYSTEM MEANS MORE SAFETY FOR THE PERSONNEL: • It provides a stable operation with well-planned work that is less likely to miss hazards. Planned work is not only more efficient but also safer. • Plant operators can also minimise the number of inspections that would expose personnel to the risks of interacting with the equipment. • Aspen Mtell also facilitates better remote monitoring of the equipment so that fewer personnel are required to be present on the site. • Aspen Mtell provides an alternative to further instrumenting equipment currently monitored mainly via visual inspection. • If an abnormal behaviour

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is detected in a machine or component, the supervisors can carefully assess the situation before sending a staff member to inspect the machine. • Research evidence indicates that about 80 per cent of industrial accidents are caused by such human factors as fatigue and anxiety.1 A stressful environment where the norm is reactive work can also increase the likelihood of accidents. Timing is also crucial, well planned work can be executed during adequate hours of the day rather than breakdowns that can happen during the last hours of a shift or during the night where a lack of attention can increase the probability of accidents.


INDUSTRY COMMENT THE EFFECTIVENESS OF REMOTE MINING RIVALS THAT OF AN ON-SITE DELIVERY.

INDUSTRY Q&A: REMOTE DELIVERY AND SERVICES AUSTMINE TALKS WITH MIPAC ABOUT THE GROWING DEMAND FOR REMOTE DELIVERY IN THE MINING INDUSTRY AND THE TECHNOLOGIES THAT THE COMPANY EXPECTS WILL SHAPE THE FUTURE IN THIS AREA.

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emote delivery has existed in mining for many decades as a method of removing workers from hazardous areas. However, in recent months the industry has seen its demand increase dramatically with the unique challenges of COVID-19. As an expert in the remote delivery space, Mipac continually evolves its capabilities to enable expansion in terms of both the volume and type of projects it delivers remotely. Austmine sat down with Dominic Stoll, digital solutions manager at Mipac, to gain a greater understanding about the company’s remote delivery capabilities. Stoll discusses which technologies Mipac sees impacting the mining and minerals exploration industry and what mining companies should be aware of when looking to implement remote delivery to projects.

Increased demand for remote delivery

It is clear to see why COVID-19 has accelerated remote delivery projects. “Some of the benefits of remote delivery include improved resource availability to forward project delivery and NPV, expansion of knowledge repositories to limit loss of corporate knowledge and reduced travel time and cost, which increases return on interest,” Stoll says. “Innovations such as Mipac’s Online Project Portal and the utilisation of

technology such as helmet mounted cameras, audio and heads-up displays enable the team to make remote project execution as effective as on-site delivery.” Mipac has proven capabilities as demonstrated recently with the design and commission of a truck loading chute safety system at an underground zinc mine. The original estimate of three days was completed by the team within a few hours. While the benefits are alluring, it is imperative companies consider their approach to ensure success. Remote delivery engagements are dependent on both the vendor and mining company working together in order to achieve a successful outcome, according to Mipac. As companies are increasing their interest and demand for remote delivery, Stoll advises companies risk assess the appropriateness of remote delivery for the project, and look at all the factors that need to be considered and covered when introducing a vendor to a project remotely. “Companies should be aware of who the stakeholders are and what their needs are, expected project and communication timelines, the vendor’s experience with successful remote delivery and what access will need to be provided and how this will be restricted to specific systems,” Stoll says. “There need to be clear guidelines of how to approach cybersecurity challenges as well as other potential issues including how to partner site AUSTRALIANMINING

MIPAC HAS PERFECTED ITS REMOTE DELIVERY CAPABILITY FOR OVER A DECADE.

resources with a remote vendor when performing complex or high-risk activities, such as commissioning. “Successful remote delivery requires excellent communication between multiple stakeholders who understand and own their respective role responsibilities. “At project kick-off, Mipac uses our extensive remote delivery experience to assist with ensuring all stakeholder roles and responsibilities are clearly mapped, understood and executed.”

Trust and practical experience

Mipac’s reputation is built on its practical experience within the

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remote delivery space. “Mipac has been evolving our remote delivery capability for over a decade,” Stoll says. “These relationships have resulted in Mipac developing a reputation for our deep practical knowledge of industrial operations, which means we are trusted to execute complex projects remotely and provide quantifiable benefits.” The company’s wealth of onsite and remote project delivery experience allows the team to effectively identify, manage and mitigate risks associated with remote delivery. AM


EVENT SPOTLIGHT

QME CAPTURES TRANSFORMATION WITH A NUMBER OF MINING TECHNOLOGIES RISING TO THE FORE, THERE’S A GREATER NEED TO KEEP UP WITH THE SECTOR’S DIGITAL LANDSCAPE. THE QUEENSLAND MINING & ENGINEERING EXHIBITION WILL BE AN IDEAL PLACE FOR THIS.

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ackay will become a forum for budding technology talks and ideas when the Queensland Mining & Engineering Exhibition (QME) returns in September. As the largest mining event in Queensland, attracting over 4500 visitors in the past, QME will maintain its 25-year tradition in hailing the most credible experts from organisations across Australia. The three-day event will feature the latest technological innovations and collaborative approaches to improve productivity for the mining sector, presented in seminar series, live demonstrations and networking opportunities. The Queensland Government will deliver a seminar on the application of technology in the manufacturing and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector at QME on September 23. It will include speakers from CSIRO, AlphaBeta, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and the Queensland Government funded Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub. CSIRO research director, cyber physical systems, Data61, Sue Keay, believes that the next wave of transformation will be moving from automation to true autonomy. This will showcase smarter vehicles and other robots, and less remote control. “In this transformation, smart machines will need less guidance and will be able to make their own limited decisions about the best course of actions,” Keay tells Australian Mining. AlphBeta principal Shaun Chau adds: “All automation waves combine a mixture of productivity, efficiency and safety. “For example, autonomous vehicles are safer (as they have fewer touch points with workers), increase capital productivity as they can be run for longer and faster and are more efficient as they often use less input, for example, diesel. “The balance of these objectives will differ by the specific technology, asset and location.” QUT technical director and fellow speaker Jonathan Roberts agrees, saying that the three objectives are interlinked and the result can be powerful when automation is

CSIRO RESEARCH DIRECTOR, CYBER PHYSICAL SYSTEMS, DATA61, SUE KEAY.

introduced correctly. “Conversely the fact that all three things are so interdependent, it is critical that automation is done properly,” Roberts says. According to Keay, the main objective of this change is safety. But as technology advancement takes its course, mine operators can expect better productivity and efficiency, which will be of maximum benefit to new mines as planning can be done around smart technology. This will trump the benefits felt by existing mines where robots have to adapt to an environment that is largely built for humans, Keay says. “In the next 10 years or more, mining companies can build a site that is designed to accommodate robots,” she adds. “This will create more jobs in remote operation centres than those on site. Mining and METS companies need to support workers to adapt to these changing conditions and develop the skills required to operate mines remotely via technology rather than by being physically present on-site. The move to equipment operators working remotely rather than on-site is expected to encourage flexible work arrangements and improved work/life balance for staff. AUSTRALIANMINING

“(For example,) Rio Tinto has worked with Western Australian Technical and Further Education to develop a course to train up people to be field technicians, servicing automated equipment, to help people adapt and transition from more traditional roles in the mining industry such as truck driver.” The value of those staff cannot be more underlined, with Roberts labelling them as “the real experts” in an automation project. “Success is more likely if they are part of the design effort,” he says. Chau adds that mining companies will need to be aware of two mayor hurdles during this transition. “The first is social licence. Mining communities are generally supportive of new technology, but only if industry introduces technology in a way that appropriately manages the impacts on those communities,” he says. “This will entail a number of components: early communication of plans and community engagement, developing worker skills to prepare for new technology adoption, supporting the development of the regional METS sector and providing additional support for those workers whose roles might be affected.” Moreover, Chau says that the other

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hurdle is the effective implementation of the technology, as new technology needs to be incorporated into the value chain. “Mining companies will have to be patient, flexible and willing to innovate to get the most out of the new technology,” he says. “They will also have to invest time in the METS sector to ensure that the sector also has the necessary skills and can contribute to the development of technology over the long term.” According to Roberts, everyone must enter an automation project with an “all hands” attitude and be prepared to admit when things are not working and then all work together to rectify the issues. “Some of the major barriers to automation are not obvious at the start of the process and only emerge later when a project is well under way,” he says. This will also enable collaboration between METS sector and mining companies. “A similar situation exists in the automotive industry with component/ system suppliers and the large car manufacturers,” Roberts says. “It is the standardisation of many of the digital interfaces that has enabled that industry to create such complex machines (i.e. cars) for a relatively low-cost. “Even though the METS-mining industry is smaller in terms of the number of machines produced/used each year, the same ideas could be more widely applied.” The benefits of new technologies will also not be lost on emerging and mid-tier mining companies. New technologies will allow mining at smaller scales than was economically feasible in the past, with “the holy grail” being in-situ resource extraction. “With this, you are not transporting material from the mine face to a processing plant but extracting mineral resources in place using smallscale equipment that reduces the mine footprint, environmental damage and paves the way for mining-ondemand,” Keay concludes. AM QME 2020 runs from September 22-24 and will feature over 230 suppliers, live demonstrations, a free-to attend seminar series and numerous networking opportunities. Register at www.qmeexpo.com.au


PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

BEATING THE ABRASION GAME: NEW SOLUTIONS TO OLD PROBLEMS A NEW PRODUCT FROM HENKEL HAS ADDED SIGNIFICANT LIFE TO AN IMPORTANT PART OF A MINERALS PROCESSING PLANT IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. AUSTRALIAN MINING DISCUSSES THE EXCITING PRODUCT.

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he mineral processing plant was able to avoid replacing its stainless-steel waste gas venturi control doors and triple its useful life with the help of a new coating compound. The coating used was the new LOCTITE PC 7332 silicon carbide filled epoxy system produced by Henkel and made available to customers in Australia through CBC. The waste gas venturi control doors at the plant were getting accelerated wear caused by excess blow-over of product from kiln due to fine particle feedstock. The loss of venturi throat control due to worn doors reduced output, which prompted the plant operators to replace the venturi doors every three months. By applying a six to eight-millimetre coating of LOCTITE PC 7332 silicon carbide compound on the surface of the stainless-steel doors, their useful life was extended by 200 per cent at only 25-30 per cent of replacement costs. Henkel product manager Andrea Campi says Australia is the first country in the Asia-Pacific region where LOCTITE PC 7332 will be available commercially. The key and unique feature of this

new silicon carbide epoxy system is that it can effectively resist erosion and abrasion from both wet and dry slurry. “Abrasion is a common problem in any mineral processing or beneficiation plant that deals with abrasive wet or dry slurries,” says Michael Rowe, CBC’s product manager for adhesives and sealants. “But, that said, plant owners can get more life out of their equipment and components by taking preventive measures.” As a product manager with over 11 years of experience in the adhesives industry segment, Rowe says he has come across two types of customers: those who are proactive and those who are reactive. “While component failures are often inevitable in fluid and slurry transportation, by taking the proactive approach, machine operators can extend the time intervals between each replacement and avoid unexpected shutdowns,” Rowe says. CBC, in collaboration with Henkel, offers plant surveys for customers who would rather detect the wear signs early before serious damage occurs. “When a customer contacts us, the CBC technical team, in conjunction with the Henkel engineering team, can conduct a thorough plant survey

REPAIRED VENTURI CONTROL DOORS INSPECTED TWO MONTHS AFTER THE REPAIR.

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AUSTRALIA IS THE FIRST APAC COUNTRY WHERE LOCTITE PC 7332 WILL BE AVAILABLE.

ABRASION IS A COMMON PROBLEM IN ANY MINERAL PROCESSING OR BENEFICIATION PLANT THAT DEALS WITH ABRASIVE WET OR DRY SLURRIES.” to assess the state of their respective plants,” he adds. “This way, we can advise them on the best maintenance practices and help them find ways to improve the life of their equipment, in some instances by over twice the component’s life.” Henkel Australia regional business manager Kalyan Roychowdhury says Henkel introduced the LOCTITE PC 7332 in response to customers’ needs for a resistive agent that could handle both wet slurries and dry particle abrasion. Desulphurisation pumps and ducts, slurry pumps and slag granulation pumps are some equipment commonly subjected to wet abrasions. Elbows and chutes are other components often subjected to dry particle abrasion. “The silicon carbide filler in LOCTITE PC 7332 offers higher resilience to wear and abrasion compared to the aluminium oxidebased alternatives. It is also highly resistive to high temperatures in the slurry, with temperature resistance of 90 degrees Celsius for wet slurries,” Roychowdhury explains. Campi says LOCTITE PC 7332 has been tested extensively, both in Australia and abroad, and proven to offer significant savings for the customers.

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“The LOCTITE PC 7332 has a six-hour curing time, which means even with the time required for surface preparation and application of the repair compound, the repaired equipment can be up and running within 12 hours for most applications,” Campi says. “This significantly reduces the shutdown time required if the component failed or if it was being replaced.” CBC and Henkel have shared a strong partnership for over 40 years, with Henkel offering its range of adhesives, sealants and coatings through CBC’s branches available nationally across Australia. Rowe says the collaboration works perfectly for customers as they can benefit from the technical expertise of both the CBC and Henkel engineering teams. “While some clients have their own maintenance personnel who can apply the repair compound to the required surface, there are some that ask for assistance,” he says. “We can help customers by either offering our technical guidance or sending our own team to carry out the job. Either way, the CBC team and the Henkel team work closely to find a solution that works best for the customer.” AM


PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT

CONDITION MONITORING OF MINING ASSETS AND MACHINERY INTEGRATING SENSOR TECHNOLOGY HAS BEEN LINKED TO PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY GAINS. BESTECH AUSTRALIA DISCUSSES HOW EDDY CURRENT SENSORS CAN ADD VALUE IN CONDITION MONITORING APPLICATIONS.

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any factors contribute to how smoothly a mining equipment fleet performs. More often than not, they are things that go unseen. These unheralded factors may be hidden behind a shiny metal casing, but they prove why people famously say that: small things can leave a big impact. A truck tray is unable to make dirt slide smoothly to a dumping station without an appropriate liner, just like rotating machinery can’t perform optimally for its maximum operating lifetime without appropriate sensors and monitoring systems. Rotating machinery such as conveyor belts, pumps or turbines are vital for continuing and smooth operations at the mine site. Scheduling frequent maintenance, which involves equipment shutdown, reduces the process efficiency. However, this process is absolutely necessary to prevent equipment failure, which consequences can be fatal and catastrophic. Using sensors for condition monitoring of these vital equipment is essential to achieve its maximum operating lifetime. Eddy current sensors from Bestech Australia, local sensors, instrumentation and teaching equipment supplier, are ideal for such applications. Eddy current sensors have been used for monitoring gap in hydraulic pumps. When operating a hydraulic pump, the gap between the cylindrical piston and plate must be narrow to ensure good sliding properties. This is an essential part of improving the pump’s efficiency in building hydraulic pressure. The bearings in rotating machinery such as turbines and engines, meanwhile, are subjected to wear and require regular maintenance. The eddy current sensor can be installed to monitor the bearing gap, identify the signs of wear and allow the operator to schedule an early maintenance plan to address the issue. This approach can ultimately extend the service life of the machinery. The eddy current sensor is ideal for measurement in such an environment

THE NEW COMPACT EDDY CURRENT SENSOR FOR INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS, KNOWN AS EDDYNCDT 3060.

as it is specifically designed to survive operation in extreme applications, including high temperature and high pressure, such as those in the abovementioned applications. “Previously, the gap measurement within the hydraulic pump was not possible as the sensor needed to be able to survive under extreme requirements, such as high vibration level, high pressure up to 1000 bar and temperature above 100 degrees Celsius. There was no sensor compact enough to fit into the pump while being able to withstand extreme environment,” Bestech marketing engineer Wirhan Prationo tells Australian Mining. “The eddy current sensor is suitable for real-time monitoring in this type of application. The gap analysis (for the hydraulic pump) can be done to optimise the operational efficiency of the pump, and the sensor can also reliably monitor the bearing movement for a long-term operation of rotating machinery. It survives the operation in harsh temperatures.” The eddy current sensor is tested to withstand pressure up to 2000 bar and temperatures up to 200 degrees Celsius, respectively. It is also encased in IP67 protective housing for protection against dirt, dust, water and oil ingress. It is suitable for measurement of only ferromagnetic and non-ferromagnetic materials. The measurement results are stable and highly precise, even when used for measuring dynamic

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events with frequency up to 100 kilohertz (kHz). In particular, the eddy current sensor is an ideal non-contact displacement sensor for condition monitoring in the mining site. It is a suitable alternative to conventional inductive LVDT (linear variable differential transformer) displacement sensors. Thanks to its design, efficiency and ease of integration, it can be used for applications where high linearity, high-speed and high-resolution measurement is required. “Its wear-free and non-contact measurement also sets it apart from the typical inductive sensors such as LVDT. The non-contact inductive eddy current sensor has a superior capability in measuring displacement and position,” Prationo says. Now, how does an eddy current sensor work in measuring distances? The sensing element of an eddy current sensor consists of a coil that is supplied with alternating current, causing a MINIATURE EDDY CURRENT SENSORS.

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magnetic field to form around the coil. When an electrically conducting object is placed in this magnetic field, eddy currents are generated. This changes the impedance of the coil and is correlated to the change in distance between the sensor and the object. “Accuracy, and robustness, is why eddy current sensors are considered as ideal sensing technologies for rotating assets and their condition monitoring applications,” Prationo says. “They are compact and miniature in size and can even be customised according to specific requirements of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for mass building.” Condition monitoring is an integral part of the maintenance process for rotating machinery to extend the machinery lifetime, as well as to improve production efficiency. “As we are going through challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mining industry could look to invest in productivity and efficiency by choosing the right sensors,” Prationo says. “Since 2002, Bestech has been supplying sensors and data acquisition systems for test and measurement and condition monitoring applications to mining companies through contractors and solution providers. “In addition to the eddy current sensor, we also have a wide range of intrinsically-safe pressure sensor or accelerometer for hazardous area monitoring, as well as wireless sensor, displacement sensor, strain gauge and fibre optic sensor. “We complement our products with full local technical supports throughout the entire product lifecycle including product specification, commissioning, training and repair.” AM


PRODUCTS

RPMGLOBAL’S AMT SOFTWARE FOR ASSET MANAGEMENT

SANDVIK ARTISAN Z50 HAUL TRUCK

With its unique dynamic life cycle costing (DLCC) engine, RPMGlobal’s AMT software is ideal for managing assets. AMT can help identify asset life cycle risks, budget maintenance costs to reduce unplanned downtime and analyse engineering, maintenance and asset performance to create accurate reports. The AMT asset maintenance software is the only in-shift maintenance solution that links to lifecycle costing and strategy to provide accurate lifecycle positions and optimal strategies using the DLCC calculator. This constantly updates using actual events and real-time condition data to generate the asset’s full forward life-cycle view. • rpmglobal.com

Sandvik’s Artisan Z50 battery electric haul truck has been developed to lower energy costs and provide the cleaner underground mining advantages that come with electrification. This truck combines Artisan’s popular designs with its leading batteryelectric technology. The Z50 generates twice the peak horsepower at one-eighth of the heat of its diesel equivalent and is powered by four electric motors that generate 560kW and 8200Nm of torque. It has been optimised to haul maximum tonnes per day, to ensure recharging the batteries doesn’t impact underground productivity. The power of Artisan’s battery isn’t constrained by ventilation limitations and can be used with most available electric motors for safety and convenience. Sandvik acquired Artisan in 2019.

• rocktechnology.sandvik

INMARSAT’S TAILINGS INSIGHT SUPPORTS SAFER MANAGEMENT

MICROMINE RELEASE CONVERTS MINING, EXPLORATION RESULTS TO 3D

Inmarsat’s latest Internet of Things (IoT) solution for monitoring mining tailings storage facilities, Tailings Insight is helping miners to build more transparent and safer tailings storage management options. Tailings Insight is available in two forms: Tailings Insight – Cloud, and Tailings Insight – Plus, to reflect different miners’ needs. It gathers data from a range of industry-established sensors on a longrange wide area network (LoRaWAN), which is then transferred across Inmarsat’s L-band network to a dashboard, where mining companies can see the status of key metrics in real time. Tailings Insight – Cloud and Tailings Insight – Plus can be used in conjunction with one another at different sites across global portfolios, and upgrading from Cloud to Plus is simple.

MICROMINE has updated its software suite with the 2020.5 upgrade, which can turn raw mining and exploration results into 3D models to give engineers, designers and planners a picture-perfect view. In the 2020.5 upgrade, MICROMINE has provided 100-plus updates and enhancements, such as changes to charting tools, key fields and annotations. The new innovations include the ability to convert laser scans of underground workings into wireframes, to simplify and accelerate the process of creating advanced ring designs. Harnessing the value of geological, exploration and operational data, MICROMINE 2020.5 helps operators produce precise mine designs and schedules.

• inmarsat.com

• micromine.com

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PRODUCTS

NIVEK’S LIFT ASSIST 40

DYNO NOBEL’S DIGISHOT PLUS.4G FOR ELECTRONIC BLASTS

What is the Lift Assist 40? The LA- 40 is an articulated tooling arm designed to take the weight out of tooling up to 40 kilograms. Featuring a fantastic range of fluid movement, quick release tool couplings and a clever design to overcome potential pinch points, the LA-40 is a tough, well-designed piece of gear. What context would you use the LA-40 in? The LA-40 can be used to support rattle guns and torque tools, lending itself perfectly to typically labour intensive jobs such as cutting edges and strut bolts. It is also an asset in the tyre bay, reaching heights up to three metres when attached to the Lift Assist Stand. What benefits can you expect from the LA-40? The LA-40 has massive short-term fatigue reduction benefits, helping your fitters stay safer and more efficient for longer. By taking the weight out of tooling often held in awkward, cramped positions, the LA-40 is sure to offer long term physical benefits.

Dyno Nobel is rolling out its DigiShot Plus.4G system to allow miners to further improve their safety and productivity at their operations. The DigiShot electronic detonators can be connected to the bus line in any order, for user convenience, not just the firing order. For safety purposes, the detonators are fully testable with two-way communication for easy fault identification and repair. DigiShot Plus.4G was used in BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s Caval Ridge world record blast last December. This particular blast saw 8144 DigiShot electronic detonators fired in one blast, demonstrating its power. The DigiShot Plus.4G is available in both standard and premium extreme conditions (XTM) configurations.

• dynonobel.com/apac

• nivekindustries.com.au

CATERPILLAR’S HEAVY DUTY BOLT-ON GET FOR LHD BUCKETS Caterpillar has introduced a bolt-on half arrow ground engaging tools (GET), the BOHA65 for large underground loaders working in extreme applications for Cat’s load, haul, dump (LHD) buckets. The key feature of the BOHA65 is extended wear life, with BOHA65 segments for a Cat R2900 LHD boasting 35 per cent more wear material than BOHA50 when used on the same loader. The BOHA65 reduces the GET cost per operating hour by up to 39 per cent, as demonstrated at a Canadian gold mine. Its bolt-on design enables simple and fast removal, and replacement takes one to two hours, while the average weld-on set can take an experienced worker more than 20 hours to replace.

• cat.com

CRC INDUSTRIES’ GREEN SMARTWASHER SOLUTION CRC Industries’ SmartWasher parts cleaner is a product that uses microorganisms or plant enzymes to detoxify contaminants, aligning with the company’s focus for environmentally friendly solutions. The SmartWasher uses CRC’s specialty formula, known as Ozzy Juice to clean oil and other contaminants, while ensuring zero risk of skin irritation or environmental pollution. The machine has changed parts cleaning with its flexible faucet, flow through brush, heated cleaning solution and advanced controls for ease and efficiency, with options that are price conscious without compromising on the SmartWasher’s best features and benefits. This allows mine employees to keep workspaces clean without using chemicals that are harmful both to themselves and the environment in which they work.

• crcindustries.com.au

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EVENTS

CONFERENCES, SEMINARS & WORKSHOPS EVENT SUBMISSIONS CAN BE EMAILED TO EDITOR@AUSTRALIANMINING.COM.AU 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 Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference 2020, Online August 18-19, August 25-26 AusIMM’s Lithium and Battery Metals Digital Conference provides detailed coverage of both lithium and other battery metals in the expanding market. Delivered virtually by AusIMM and Murdoch University, the conference gives attendees the opportunity to hear from influential keynote speakers on the future of the lithium and battery metals industry, development trends of lithium extraction, the impact of COVID-19 on global commodities and more. The conference also opens doors for networking opportunities with global industry leaders on the latest research, developments and

innovative technologies relating to the expanding lithium industry. • lithium.ausimm.com Minesafe International Digital Conference 2020, Online, September 22-23 AusIMM‘s Minesafe International Digital Conference will be delivered as a completely new digital experience. Held 100 per cent online, government regulators, health and safety practitioners and other resource industry professionals will come together to share the achievements and challenges within their operations and showcase new workplace safety innovations. Setting the benchmark for industry best practice, the conference will cover current and emerging health issues, legislation and regulations, policies and strategies, risk management and critical controls, as well as highlight effective leadership strategies and psychosocial management that promotes a zero-harm workplace safety culture. This conference will also include live and on demand presentations from industry experts, live Q&A sessions, panel discussions and networking opportunities. • minesafe.ausimm.com 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

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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

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

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August to October following the 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 worldclass 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



EXPECT MORE PRODUCTIVITY Equipment availability is critical to your mining operation and your fleet needs are unique. That’s why Kal Tire’s Mining Tire Group delivers productivity expertise and innovative solutions to help achieve your targets for tyre performance and fleet availability. With highly trained people to safely and consistently execute to standard, our tyre management approach leaves nothing to chance. z Proactive tyre maintenance & management z TOMS, Kal Tire’s proprietary & productivity-driven Tire Operations Management System z Application-specific tyre products z Repairs & Ultra Repair™ for large-scale injuries z Proprietary tooling that improves safety & efficiency