MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT PNG MINING VOLUME 115/10 | NOVEMBER 2023
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MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT PNG MINING VOLUME 115/10 | NOVEMBER 2023
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THIS MONTH WE ASK – AND ANSWER – SOME KEY QUESTIONS ABOUT MODERN MINING PRACTICES.
f you were to ask the average person on the street whether they understand how mining is done, you’d likely get the same broadly similar answer. Something along the lines of, ‘They use big machines to dig metals and minerals out of the ground’. And that broadly similar answer is broadly correct, but it also barely scratches the surface of the many and varied facets of the modern resources sector. One of those many and varied facets that has recently been in the news is deep-sea mining, something of a new frontier for the sector as it looks to meet growing global demand for critical minerals. The ocean holds a trove of critical minerals – including copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, zinc, silver, gold and even rare earth elements – and we take a deep dive (pardon the pun) into this underwater process, examining how and why it’s done. At a different end of the mining value chain, the issue of mine waste management maintains its place at the top of many companies’ lists of concerns. Mine waste is an unavoidable aspect of the industry, but as has been made clear by overseas disasters, if it’s handled incorrectly the consequences can be dire. But there are of course many ways to ensure mine waste is removed and handled
sustainably, and this month’s issue of Australian Mining looks at three ways in which mining operations can reduce and manage waste. We also examine the new global industry standard on tailings management (GISTM), a set of 15 principles that includes 77 individual requirements for tailings facilities. Elsewhere, we continue our focus on international mining with a look at the critical minerals that are mined in Papua New Guinea (PNG). And speaking of PNG, we are also announcing the launch of a new sister publication, PNG Mining, an exciting new business-to-business news source that offers a fresh perspective on the resources sector of Australia’s closest neighbour. We understand that the mining industry does not stop at the Australian border and are committed to looking beyond our own horizons for the latest in news, technology and innovations.
Paul Hayes Managing Editor
Komatsu has stood for quality and reliability since 1921. “Our enduring global success stems from the principles of our founder, Meitaro Takeuchi, who envisioned a sustainable future built through technology, talent development and a commitment to the community,” the company said on its website. Komatsu has added many brands to its family as it expand its capabilities. The company aims to leverage its teams around the world to “push beyond what can be done and create what can be imagined”. “Komatsu is an indispensable partner to the construction, mining, industrial and forestry industries that maximises value for customers through innovative solutions,” the company said. “With a full line of products supported by our advanced IoT technologies, regional distribution channels and a global service network, we help customers safely and sustainably optimise their operations.” Cover image: Komatsu
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AUSTRALIANMINING 5 NOVEMBER 2023
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IN THIS ISSUE 28
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
A critical future Papua New Guinea is set to take off as a critical mineral powerhouse on the global stage.
An opportunity not to be wasted While producing mine waste and tailings is unavoidable, there are ways to ensure they are removed and handled sustainably.
Ironing out the exports The September 2023 Resources and Energy Quarterly report may have detailed a commodity export decline, but the news is not as bad as it seems.
A Hawk’s eye view Hawk Measurement sat down with Australian Mining to discuss some of its most important systems for tailings management.
Making the grade When the new Komatsu GD955-7 grader landed in Australia in October, it set off on a roadshow so local mining customers across the country could get their first look.
In pursuit of safety and excellence Epiroc’s Explorac RC30 Smart reverse circulation drill rig is a testament to the company’s commitment to innovation.
Worth its weight in ore Diminishing ore grades can be the scourge of the resources sector, but FLSmidth has stepped up to help miners get the most out of what they dig up.
A new shark in town Australian Mining spoke with Andromeda Metals CEO Bob Katsiouleris about the company’s Great White project.
Into the blue As net-zero targets loom, deep-sea mining may soon have its day in the sun. But what is it? And how will it change the future of mining?
REGULARS 5 COMMENT 8 NEWS 76 PRODUCTS 78 EVENTS
AUSTRALIANMINING 6 NOVEMBER 2023
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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. HEMS PROGRAM TAKES OFF THE HELICOPTER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES (HEMS) PROGRAM WAS CREATED BY BHP AND RIO TINTO.
AUSTRALIAN MINING GETS THE LATEST NEWS EVERY DAY, PROVIDING MINING PROFESSIONALS WITH UP-TO-THE-MINUTE INFORMATION ON SAFETY, NEWS AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE AUSTRALIAN MINING AND RESOURCES INDUSTRY.
Major miners BHP and Rio Tinto collaborated in September to create the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) program. The program was originated by BHP, and it aims to offer quick emergency medical response through the Pilbara region in WA, a large and remote area in which both miners operate. As part of the HEMS program, a twin-engine BK117 aircraft was provided by Heliwest, a helicopter service company in WA.
The aircraft is equipped with night vision capabilities, a weather radar, and can fly under almost all weather conditions. BHP said it currently has seven staff members trained and endorsed to operate the aircraft. The operational capacity and resources of the HEMS program has been amplified by Rio Tinto, which has increased the probability of rapid medical responses to incidents and emergencies in the Pilbara region.
In periods of high demand or when a scene is difficult to access, various WA emergency services have called upon the HEMS program for help. BHP WAIO head of health, safety and environment Justin Williams said the HEMS program plays a critical role in providing rapid and lifesaving medical assistance. “By offering swift transport of medical professionals and equipment to the scene of emergencies, HEMS significantly improves the chances
of survival and reduces the risk of long-term health complications for individuals in need,” Williams said. Rio Tinto Yandicoogina mine general manager Kent Franey said by combining its resources with BHP’s, medical emergencies can be effectively addressed. “We believe that safety should extend beyond organisational boundaries, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their employer, receives the highest level of care when they need it most,” Franey said. BHP and Rio Tinto also collaborated in May to invite interest for a range of new tailings technology partners.
Sandvik DR410i rotary blasthole drill rigs are designed for rotary and DTH holes up to 254mm, with a mast offering a first pass capability of 14m and a max depth of 32.3m. The Leopard DI650i is a selfcontained, crawler-mounted DTH drill rig designed for high-capacity production drilling applications. Pantera DP1500i is a hydraulic, self-propelled top hammer drill rig used for production or pre-split drilling in large quarries or open-pit mines and construction sites.
Founded in 2002, MACA specialises in mining, crushing, civil construction, infrastructure and mineral processing. The company employs more than 3000 people across operations in Australia and internationally. Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions is a business area within the Sandvik Group, a global supplier of equipment and tools, parts, service, digital solutions and sustainability-driving technologies for the mining and construction industries.
SANDVIK TO REPLACE MACA FLEET Australian mining, civil and minerals processing contracting group MACA selected Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions to supply nine new surface drill rigs in September. The rigs will serve as a complete replacement for an aging mixed surface fleet at the Gruyere openpit gold mine in the Western Australian Goldfields. MACA, a subsidiary of Thiess Group, was recently awarded a five-year contract extension at the mine.
The company has provided various services at Gruyere, a joint venture between Gold Fields and Gold Road Resources, since the contractor initiated bulk earthworks in 2017. Gruyere is expected to produce an annual average of 350,000 ounces of gold through to at least 2032. The replacement rigs include include six Sandvik DR410i rotary blasthole drills, two Leopard DI650i down-the-hole (DTH) drill rigs and a Pantera DP1500i top hammer drill rig.
AUSTRALIANMINING 8 NOVEMBER 2023
GLENCORE RECEIVED A CERTIFICATION OF REHABILITATION FOR 76 HECTARES OF ITS ULAN COAL MINE COMPLEX.
GLENCORE GETS TICK OF APPROVAL FOR REHABILITATION The NSW Government has provided Glencore with a certification of rehabilitation for 76 hectares of land at its Ulan coal mine complex. The certification acknowledges that Glencore has met all closure criteria and objectives set by the Department of Planning and Environment and the NSW Resources Regulator. According to Ulan coal environment and community manager Lucy Stuart,
rehabilitating the land meant that native fauna and flora have a new habitat to call home. “The certification covers two former open-cut mining areas that now comprise 57 hectares of red iron bark and grey box forest and 79 hectares of native woodland,” Stuart said. “Our detailed monitoring programs have identified the presence of eight threatened species within
these areas, including the Painted Honeyeater and Glossy Black cockatoo, which is a fantastic result.” Ulan coal general manager Peter Ostermann said the achievement is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the workforce. “This marks the second major milestone for our Ulan coal mine complex, having achieved Government certification on 50
hectares of rehabilitation back in 2020,” he said. “Our process involves planning rehabilitation as early in a mine’s life as possible and ensures it is resourced, budgeted and delivered.” The Ulan coal mine complex is one of NSW’s longest running coal operations, producing thermal coal for export and employing around 650 people.
BUXTON STRIKES “GLOBALLY SIGNIFICANT” MINERAL SYSTEM Visual observations from Buxton Resources’ second diamond drillhole at Copper Wolf in Arizona indicate the presence of a globally significant copper-molybdenum mineral system. Buxton announced 626.88m of porphyry Cu–Mo sulphide observed in a second drillhole at Copper Wolf, which the company described as a highly encouraging result. The first drillhole at the site reached a depth of 611.67m, intersecting 81.93m of basement rocks with mineralisation throughout.
“The intersection of significant thicknesses of continuous alteration, veining and mineralisation in the second drillhole establishes Copper Wolf as a porphyry coppermolybdenum project of global relevance,” Buxton chief executive officer Marty Moloney said. “Our second drillhole shows that historical drilling has barely scratched the surface. It’s time to wake the giant which has been lying low at Copper Wolf for the last 74 million years.” The drilling penetrated the cover sequence at 527.61m and
immediately intersected visual copper and molybdenum mineralisation. The hole was terminated in mineralised rocks at 1174.40m for a total of 646.79m of basement diamond drilling. The scale and continuity of mineralisation intersected in the second drillhole provide strong evidence of the presence of a large porphyry copper-molybdenum mineral system, with Buxton finding that high-grade zones are potentially preserved at depth and along strike.
AUSTRALIANMINING 10 NOVEMBER 2023
Buxton reported that the drilling program has greatly improved the company’s confidence the Copper Wolf project has potential to host economic mineralisation with sufficient grades and thicknesses for modern underground bulk mining methods to be feasible. Buxton and joint venture partner IGO, who fund the operation, said the companies are continuing to generate high quality data and interpretations from the first drilling program in 30 years on the site to optimise follow-up geophysical and drilling programs.
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RECORD MINERAL EXPLORATION IN TASMANIA Mineral exploration expenditure in Tasmania has hit a new record, with the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures showing $43.1 million was spent in the 2022– 23 financial year. The jump marks a 31 per cent boost in mineral exploration in the state, which Tasmanian minister for resources Felix Ellis said is the highest level on record. “The mining and mineral processing sector is a key pillar of the economy and contributes more
than $2.8 billion a year in exports and supports more than 5800 jobs,” he said. “We know the world will need the key and critical minerals that Tasmania has to help power the global shift to renewable energy and to support defence manufacturing.” Ellis pointed to programs like the Tasmanian Government’s exploration drilling grant initiative (EDGI) and geoscience initiative as examples of its commitment to growth in the industry.
“The EDGI grants provide cofunding for greenfield targets that may lead to the discovery of Tasmania’s next new mine,” he said. “Since the program began, there have been eight rounds released, with funding provided facilitating more than 16,000 metres of drilling. “It is pleasing to see that the greenfield exploration investment of $5.3 million is the highest in a decade. “The $2 million geoscience initiative is providing new data
to underpin and de-risk the next generation of mineral exploration.” Resource production is ramping up in Tasmania with a recent feasibility study between the Tasmanian Government and the Rotterdam Port Authority marking the state as a potential green hydrogen powerhouse. The state hopes to begin exporting green hydrogen by 2030, with the study confirming conditions in the island state for production, domestic use and export are world-class.
work – they just pass the buck. We are here at UNGA as a heavy emitter that is saying no to a future of fossil fuels and yes to a better future for our company.” Speaking at the launch of Fortescue’s Break Up from Fossil Fuels campaign at UNHQ, the company’s metals chief executive officer Dino Otranto said that Fortescue aims to reach its peak emissions by 2025 as part of its real zero by 2030 target. “We are the only heavy emitter
in the world to stop purchasing voluntary offsets. We will focus our efforts on eliminating the million litres of diesel we use per year, rather than offsetting them,” he said. “Our first battery electric haul truck is now on site as we prepare to replace our fleet with zeroemission trucks and equipment with battery electric and green hydrogen models. We are also ramping up our renewable power on-site to replace fossil fuel power with renewable electricity.”
FORTESCUE CLOSES DOOR ON CARBON OFFSETS Iron ore giant Fortescue has said it will no longer buy carbon offsets as part of the company’s ‘real zero’ carbon elimination target. The announcement was made during Climate Week at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September. All funds allocated to carbon offsets will be diverted to Fortescue’s decarbonisation plan to achieve real zero by 2030, the equivalent of more than several hundred million dollars in the next year.
“In recent months, we have all seen the harrowing images of extreme weather happening on every continent, and heat records being broken on an almost daily basis,” Fortescue Energy chief executive officer Mark Hutchinson said. “The world is changing faster than we are, but Fortescue isn’t in that boat. Our decision to lead during the climate crisis reflects our commitment to our shareholders. “For years we have been saying that voluntary offsets don’t
FORTESCUE WILL NO LONGER BUY CARBON OFFSETS AS PART OF THE COMPANY’S ‘REAL ZERO’ TARGET.
AUSTRALIANMINING 12 NOVEMBER 2023
By utilising the latest technologies we provide an advanced combination of innovative solutions which optimise our customers mining operations performance, sustainability, availability and safety, around the globe. We supply: • Wear parts and solutions for mineral processing, mobile and fixed plant operations • Digital and equipment connectivity • Asset condition and performance monitoring • Design, engineering and manufacturing solutions
MINRES SEES LITHIUM BOOST MINRES ANNOUNCED A 107 PER CENT INCREASE IN ITS ORE RESERVE AT MOUNT MARION.
Mineral Resources (MinRes) has announced a 107 per cent increase in its ore reserve at Mount Marion in the Goldfields region of WA. In a recent mineral resources and ore reserves report, MinRes gave updates on its Mount Marion deposit, its Wodgina deposit in the Pilbara, and its maiden Ken’s Bore iron ore deposit in the western Pilbara region. Mount Marion also saw a 26 per cent increase in mineral resources
from June last year and the Wodgina ore reserve jumped 12 per cent. While mineral resources at the Wodgina deposit declined 16 per cent over last year, the Ken’s Bore deposit showed great promise revealing 58.1 per cent ore reserve and 56.4 per cent mineral resource increases. “This update confirms the quality of MinRes’ lithium and iron ore assets, which are some of the best in the world,” MinRes managing director Chris Ellison said.
“Across Mount Marion and Wodgina, our lithium reserves now total more than 200 million tonnes, while successful drilling at Mount Marion has confirmed it has a longer life and excellent potential for underground mining. “Our maiden ore reserve and mineral resources at Ken’s Bore underpins the transformational Onslow iron project ... and together with the other joint venture resources will see MinRes deliver low-cost, quality iron ore for decades to come.”
MinRes recently announced a three-year partnership with the Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry in WA to support the Onslow business community. The company said it is committed to the growth of businesses in the region as it moves forward with its Onslow iron ore project. A joint venture with Red Hill Iron, the project aims to unlock billions of tonnes of iron ore in the Pilbara region.
“The R 9300 was chosen not only for its capacity to assist in meeting the production targets of its client, but also for the excavator’s fuel efficiency, its state-of-the-art technology such as Liebherr’s assistance systems, and its operational effectiveness,” Liebherr said. “MACA has expressed its excitement in seeing what the
new R 9300 is able to accomplish on-site, based on the impressive performance of its existing fleet of Liebherr machines.” The R 9300 being delivered to the Karlawinda gold project continues Liebherr’s Australian streak, with the company also recently deploying a fleet of four T 264 to a mine site in WA to commence on-site system validation.
LIEBHERR R 9300 MAKES AUSTRALIAN DEBUT Liebherr Australia has delivered an R 9300 mining excavator to MACA at the Karlawinda gold project. MACA is a specialised mining and civil contracting company based in Western Australia, and is a subsidiary of Thiess. The Karlawinda gold project is located in the Pilbara region of WA, 65km south-east of Newman, and is owned and operated by Capricorn
Metals. It achieved a record annual gold production of 120,014 ounces for the 2022–23 financial year (FY23). Liebherr’s R 9300 mining excavator was first commissioned at Karlawinda in late August, and it now joins three Liebherr R 9200 excavators already at the gold operation. This expands MACA’s Liebherr fleet to over twenty excavators.
AUSTRALIANMINING 14 NOVEMBER 2023
YANCOAL UPLIFTS RETIRING OPERATORS Yancoal has celebrated 13 production operators who worked at its Premier coal mine and are now retiring. The retirement of these workers was marked by an afternoon tea celebration and presentation held on September 7. Each production operator celebrated serving more than 10
years at the Premier coal mine, and they all contributed a combined 440 years of service to the operation. Premier Coal operations manager Braedon Gaske thanked the retirees for their dedication to the mine site. “This is a big milestone for Premier Coal, and we were thrilled we could celebrate together at the event. We
are extremely grateful for all the individuals’ dedicated service to the mine,” Gaske said. “They were all hardworking, skilled, knowledgeable, and integral members of the team, who will not be forgotten. Some of these employees started when they were 15 years old and have worked in several roles over the decades.
“They have also witnessed a lot of change in the mining industry over that time and this knowledge will be missed on-site.” Yancoal recently welcomed year 11 students from John Calvin Christian College to its Premier coal mine as part of their geography class.
“Motheo is a long-life asset in the Kalahari copper belt and the expansion of our role here is in keeping with our strategy of disciplined growth within top-tier mining jurisdictions with high quality partners.” The T3 and A4 open pits are expected to be operated as a larger, integrated mining operation, leveraging the benefits of scale and operational synergies, which include optimisation of existing infrastructure, mining equipment, maintenance facilities and both technical and operational management.
“Since Barminco commenced operations in 2019 and AMS later in 2021, Perenti has established itself as the leading international mining contractor in the Kalahari copper belt,” Perenti’s contract mining president Paul Muller said. “With the award of our third mine in the region, we look forward to playing our part in Sandfire’s expansion of their world class Motheo copper mine. “I am proud of the contribution Barminco, AMS and Perenti continue to make in the development of Botswana’s mining industry.”
PERENTI AWARDED $360 MILLION CONTRACT Mining services giant Perenti has announced it has been awarded a $US235 million ($360 million) contract expansion at the Motheo copper mine in Ghanzi, Botswana. Perenti’s surface mining business in Africa, African Mining Services (AMS), has been awarded the contract for open-pit mining services at the Sandfire Resources A4 open pit within the larger Motheo mine. AMS will deliver all surface mining services associated with development and production activities at the A4 open pit.
The A4 open pit is about 8km to the west of Sandfire’s existing T3 open pit, where AMS has already progressed from development into production works. Perenti anticipates A4 preproduction and development work to commence in September 2023, with pre-strip mining to start in October 2023. “We are excited about the opportunity to expand our partnership with Sandfire Resources,” Perenti managing director and chief executive officer Mark Norwell said.
PERENTI HAS BEEN AWARDED A $US235 MILLION CONTRACT EXPANSION AT THE MOTHEO COPPER MINE IN BOTSWANA.
AUSTRALIANMINING 16 NOVEMBER 2023
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FOLLOW THE LEADERS: THE LATEST EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENTS
KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST EXECUTIVE MOVEMENTS ACROSS THE MINING SECTOR, INCLUDING AT NEWMONT, YANCOAL AND BHP. s Newmont cleared another regulatory hurdle to acquire Newcrest in October, it also announced new leadership appointments to support the acquisition. Natascha Viljoen was one such appointment, joining Newmont as chief operating officer (COO) on October 2. Viljoen will assume accountability for the Australian, North American and Papua New Guinea (PNG) business units on November 1 and will oversee critical activities associated with incorporating Newcrest’s people and assets into Newmont. Rob Atkinson will continue leading Newmont’s Africa, Peru, Latin America and Caribbean business units and global projects, as well as support the transition of critical operational integration activities. Viljoen will assume full accountability for all Newmont business units in early 2024, and Atkinson will transition into a strategic role. In PNG, Alwyn Pretorius will assume the role of managing director as part of the company’s efforts to establish a dedicated business unit in PNG. And alongside her role as chief safety and sustainability officer, Suzy Retallack will act as Newmont’s executive Australia to support Newmont’s increased presence in Australia.
“These new appointments will allow Newmont to safely and efficiently make decisions to deliver the integration of Newcrest and ensure long-term world-class leadership across the larger business,” Newmont chief executive officer (CEO) Tom Palmer said. Yancoal Australia announced the appointment of Ning Yue as an executive director, co-vice chairman of the Yancoal board, chair of the executive committee and a member of the health, safety, environment and community committee. Yue is a senior engineer who has more than 20 years of experience in coal mining operations and management. His appointment to all four roles was effective from September 27. “The board would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Yue on his appointment to the board and it looks forward to his involvement in helping support the company’s continued success,” the company said. Yue will replace Ning Zhang in the roles. The coal miner cited the pursuit of new career opportunities as the reason for Zhang’s departure. “Zhang made a significant contribution to Yancoal; he oversaw the company navigate the combined challenges of COVID-19, wet weather and labour shortages,” the company said. “During this difficult period, Yancoal achieved record profits and retired all external interest-bearing
loans. The board thanks Zhang for his service and wishes him well in the future.” Following the retirement of Baocai Zhang in mid-September, Yancoal has appointed chairman Gang Ru as a member of the nomination and remuneration committee, who will also be appointed as the chair of the strategy and development committee. BHP has reshuffled its coal leadership as NSW coal vice president Adam Lancey moved up to Queensland to begin the role of asset president of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance. Lancey will replace Mauro Neves in the role, and he said the move was a challenging but exciting one. “My current role working as part of the Mt Arthur team has been so rewarding and I have been privileged to play a part in some truly unique work to shape a legacy in the Upper Hunter,” he said in a LinkedIn post. “I was probably assuming I’d help close the gates in 2030 (the year mining will cease at Mt Arthur), but when an opportunity comes up like the one that has been presented – it makes you look at things differently and consider very seriously what is an exciting opportunity.” In September, Lancey said that while he would miss working with the Mt Arthur team, he is excited to see what the future holds.
AUSTRALIANMINING 18 NOVEMBER 2023
“The BMA business is one that presents a lot of challenge and growth for me both professionally and personally, and I am looking forward to supporting my Queensland colleagues to drive performance and reach their full potential,” he said. “I feel very proud and fortunate to have carved out a career at BHP Mt Arthur. It’s been so meaningful to me and a lot of that has to do with the people I have worked with over many years. William Oplinger has been promoted from COO to CEO of Alcoa. Oplinger began serving as both president and CEO from September 24, succeeding Roy Harvey who will serve as strategic advisor to the CEO until December 31. Harvey has been Alcoa’s CEO since November 2016 and the president since May 2017. “Roy has guided Alcoa since its launch as a public company in November 2016, helping to transform Alcoa into the stronger and more resilient company that it is today,” Alcoa non-executive chairman of the board Steven Williams said. “On behalf of the entire board of directors, we extend our sincerest gratitude to Roy for his service and his lasting contributions to Alcoa. “Our board believes Bill’s (William Oplinger’s) extensive experience with Alcoa makes him well-positioned to carry the company forward.” AM
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PNG’S MINING INDUSTRY HAS A PARTICULAR FOCUS ON COPPER, GOLD, SILVER, AND OIL AND GAS.
PRIME CREATIVE MEDIA LAUNCHES PNG MINING THE NEW ONLINE NEWS SOURCE OFFERS A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON THE RESOURCES SECTOR OF AUSTRALIA’S CLOSEST NEIGHBOUR.
rime Creative Media is excited to announce the launch of the latest addition to its resources stable, PNG Mining, a new Australian-based business-to-business online news resource focused on the mining industry in Papua New Guinea. As a premier source of information on the latest updates in the industry, PNG Mining keeps readers up to date on news, trends and industry insights, including the movements of major miners in the region. PNG Mining offers a unique perspective on the ins and outs of the broader resources sector of Australia’s closest neighbour. It is also the official news resource of the PNG Industrial and Mining Resources Exhibition and Conference. Prime Creative Media acquired the event in July of this year, adding to its established track record in resources media and delivering on its brand promise to create the best articles and events that showcase the industry. Prime Creative Media, which has decades of combined knowledge and experience in delivering world-class exhibitions and conferences, will
lead the creation of PNG2024 in July next year. Prime Creative Media chief executive officer John Murphy travelled to PNG in October to meet with government delegates and heads of top miners in the country. “It was great to connect with industry leaders and officials to launch PNG Mining,” he said. “We had great feedback from these meetings and are looking forward to working closely together in the future. “This online news resource will be a champion for the entire Papua New Guinea resources sector, so it was important that we meet with professionals and decision makers from across the local industry.” Prime Creative Media has a history of supporting the resources industry, with magazines such as Australian Mining, Safe to Work and Quarry, and PNG Mining expands that support and focus across the Pacific. “Prime Creative Media is thrilled to welcome PNG Mining to its family of news resources,” Murphy said. “The resources industry plays such a critical role in keeping the world turning. We look forward to investing in
this online news resource and the wider industry to support its growth. “We are committed to investing the time and resources needed to grow PNG Mining and our supporting event.”
PNG Industrial and Mining Resources Exhibition and Conference is the premier event bringing together all sectors of the industrial, mining and resources industries into one location to create a marketplace where business is done. To be held in the PNG capital Port Moresby from July 3–4, the 2024 event will feature more than 100 displays of equipment and stands, while the conference will showcase
experts from across the mining and resources sector presenting on challenges and opportunities for the local industry. The conference is an opportunity to hear from national and international industry professionals. Sessions will focus on a variety of topics, featuring presentations followed by an engaging panel discussion with the audience. A networking reception and official dinner will also provide attendees with the chance to meet potential customers and partners in a relaxed setting. AM Visit pngmining.com for more information on PNG Mining, and pngexpo.com for more information on PNG2024.
L–R: PRIME CREATIVE MEDIA CEO JOHN MURPHY; PRIME CREATIVE MEDIA SALES MANAGER ASANKA GURUSINHA; MINERALS RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT CEO AUGUSTINE S. MANO.
AUSTRALIANMINING 20 NOVEMBER 2023
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AUSTRALIA’S NICKEL AND LITHIUM STOCK WILL BE ESSENTIAL IN THE TRANSITION TO ELECTRIC VEHICLES.
IRONING OUT THE EXPORTS THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S SEPTEMBER 2023 RESOURCES AND ENERGY QUARTERLY REPORT MAY HAVE DETAILED A COMMODITY EXPORT DECLINE, BUT THE NEWS IS NOT AS BAD AS IT SEEMS.
here is no denying that the world is changing. From the COVID-19 pandemic, to the Russian– Ukraine war, to the weather events of La Niña and El Niño, global events don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Throughout all of these events, the Australian resources sector has remained strong and prepared to export the millions of tonnes of ore for which it is so well known. But as economies slow as interest rates rise, Australian resources exports are projected to fall in the years ahead. This comes as critical minerals demand only continues to rise, ushering in a new way of mining for the Australian sector.
The 2022–23 financial year saw the Australian resources industry set a new record of commodity export earnings at $467 billion. Although the September Resources and Energy Quarterly, produced by the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources, is not forecasting a new record for 2023–24 or 2024–25, the growth outlook remains solid, with $1 billion invested in exploration in the June 2023 quarter. “Global investment continues to surge in all stages of the supply chain of low-emission and critical technologies, underpinned by government assistance in many nations,” the Department of Industry, Science and Resources said. “Government actions are being driven by concerns over both supply
chain security and carbon emissions. Investment is likely to pick up even further if interest rates start to fall.”
Nickel and lithium, battery metals that are two of the most important critical minerals needed for the global energy transition, were standouts from the report. As Chinese demand drives stronger consumption, Australian nickel exploration expenditure over the past 12 months was the highest it has been since 2008. Most of Australia’s major nickel and lithium deposits are centred in WA, with Australia refining lithium domestically more and more as lithium hydroxide takes off.
AUSTRALIANMINING 22 NOVEMBER 2023
“Australian lithium mine production continues growing due to expansions and new mines,” the report stated. “Australia accounts for half of global lithium extraction, and rising production meets growing global battery demand for lithium.” As major economies like the US and European Union increase their support for electric vehicles (EVs), the need for lithium and nickel will only continue to grow. “These economies are targeting higher EV uptake in line with emissions reduction targets, as well as the development of domestic EV supply chains,” the report stated. “Global EV sales are projected to more than double between 2022 and 2025 (11 million to 23 million cars per annum).”
Australia has been fascinated by this precious metal since the first gold rush in 1851 – and for good reason. The country has an abundance of it, and continues to find more. However, the September report is forecasting export earnings to fall in the coming years as lower prices outweigh higher volumes. Gold earnings are expected to decrease to $22 billion in 2024–25, down from $24 billion in 2022–23. “After a very strong 2022, world gold consumption in 2023 is forecast to decrease by 9.5 per cent to about 4300 tonnes,” the report said. “Australian gold production is forecast to rise from 302 tonnes in 2022–23 to 312 tonnes in 2024–25, as significant new projects and mine expansions come online.” Recently commenced projects such as Red 5’s King of the Hills mine and Calidus’ Warrawoona gold project, both in WA, will also see production continue to ramp up, which will support a rise in Australian gold production over the next two years.
The crown jewel of the Australian mining sector has long been iron ore, and this trend has not diminished. While exploration expenditure is still robust, future export earnings for iron ore are tipped to fall as prices decline. “Australian export volumes remain strong, with further greenfield supply from established and emerging producers expected to come online in the next few years,” the report stated. “Spot iron ore prices have been volatile in the September quarter but have generally moderated since the start of the year, driven by slowing global economic growth and China’s property sector weakness.” Australia can expect to see a fall in iron ore export earnings from $124 billion in 2022–23 to $120 billion in 2023–24, and $99 billion in 2024–25. Given China accounts for almost 60 per cent of iron ore demand, global iron ore prices generally reflect the country’s steel output. And since China is projected to see a modest fall in total steel output to 2025, this could see Australian iron ore prices moderate. Australia’s Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King said that while traditional commodity earnings were easing, Australia’s resources and energy exports remain strong and will continue to underpin the country’s economic wellbeing.
THE SUPER PIT GOLD MINE IN KALGOORLIE, WA.
“Australia remains a reliable and stable supplier of resources and energy to our export customers, and we are working to build investment, partnerships and
supply chains for our critical minerals sector which will help the world meet commitments to lower emissions,” King said.
AUSTRALIA IS THE LARGEST EXPORTER OF IRON ORE IN THE WORLD.
AUSTRALIANMINING 23 NOVEMBER 2023
“Demand for Australian minerals is growing as the world works to build the technology needed to decarbonise. AM
A STRONGER UNIT THE MERGER OF REGAL REXNORD AND ALTRA INDUSTRIAL MOTION HAS ALLOWED THE COMPANIES TO PROVIDE TOTAL POWERTRAIN SOLUTIONS TO THE AUSTRALIAN MINING INDUSTRY.
ith the incredible scale of mining in Australia, the sourcing and maintenance of parts from a hoard of different suppliers can take up valuable time and money. That’s why Regal Rexnord and Altra Industrial Motion have joined forces to become a one-stop shop for Australian mining’s industrial powertrain solutions. The two businesses are now under the umbrella of Regal Rexnord Industrial Powertrain Solutions (IPS), combining decades of experience under one roof. Separately, the businesses have been providing some of the most respected heavy industrial brands, including Falk, Svendborg Brakes, Rexnord, Stieber, Marland Clutch, Tollok and Autogard. And now that the merger is complete, Regal Rexnord IPS can take its proven service to the next level. Rather than providing individual power transmission products, the
company can offer a united suite of powertrain solutions. Harnessing its extensive engineering expertise from some of the best in the business, Regal Rexnord IPS can work as one unit to provide solutions that go beyond the initial sale of the product. The company plans to work with customers to provide maintenance and bespoke solutions to any project with the flexibility of an engineering powerhouse. “Regal Rexnord IPS is now even better placed to offer highly engineered solutions,” Regal Rexnord IPS general manager Shane Rock told Australian Mining. “We’re seeing a lot of opportunities in being able to offer solutions that aren’t just standard off the shelf. “Our ability to do bespoke modifications locally has certainly expanded with the merger given the much broader product range.” The aim of Regal Rexnord IPS is to establish synergies in application expertise that ensure end-to-end client support.
“Being able to engineer those products together is something very few suppliers are able to do,” Rock said. One way the company is putting this into action is through its Internet of Things (IoT) digital platform, Perceptiv intelligent reliability solutions. An interconnected matrix of smart digital solutions that have the potential to empower and elevate everything in the Regal Rexnord universe, Perceptiv uses cloud technology to track, report, communicate and share performance data. “In the near future, I expect Perceptiv will be able to communicate between our products and offer the customer even more valuable information on their drive system,” Rock said. The merger also means Regal Rexnord IPS is expanding the way it does business. The company is incorporating Altra Motion’s strong field service work capabilities into its offering, bringing maintenance and engineering solutions
REGAL REXNORD IPS’ PERCEPTIV SYSTEM CAN GATHER DATA FROM AROUND THE WORLD. AUSTRALIANMINING 24 NOVEMBER 2023
direct to the customer like never before. “Now that we have this field service capability, it’s something we can expand into,” Rock said. “I think the customers will be happy that someone can go to site and have knowledge of the complete drive train and do service work for them.” The plan is to provide everything from commissioning through to repairs and general servicing; for example, maintenance works on Svendborg Brakes. Regal Rexnord IPS wants to ensure its team are equipped with knowledge it needs to provide the best customer experience possible. “In the past, we’ve looked around to other suppliers. Now, everything is internal – our own products,” Rock said. “That means we can optimise our engineering design and become more agile, as we’re involved the whole way through.” Agility in an industry as massive as mining in Australia cannot be
underestimated, and it’s Regal Rexnord IPS’ customers who are the first to benefit. “Early feedback from the customers is they think the merger is a good thing,” Rock said. “They can see the benefit of speaking to one company about the entire drive train. “All of the brands that we have now are all well respected market leaders in the mining industry, so customers know they can trust in our offering.” Regal Rexnord IPS sales director Junior Eltagonde told Australian Mining the company’s increased scope of knowledge paired with its name-brand recognition is what sets it apart. “We’re a one-stop project management package in regards to complete drive solutions for application,” he said. “Particularly in a mine site, where there’s critical areas where our product is well known, Falk being one of the biggest players in gearing in the world today.” Falk’s gear products have offered industrial mechanical power transmission solutions for more than 100 years, and the company has become a major contributor to mining. “We’ve heard from customers in the past that they’re looking for avenues for complete solutions where they can utilise brands that are well known in the marketplace,” Eltagonde said. “We offer a complete package – the depth of knowledge we have for engineering and the quality of our gearing range means the whole team can work together collaboratively to provide a solution for the customer. “We go from selling the product to helping the customer commission it onsite to providing extra technical support and troubleshooting for areas they need assistance with.” As eyes turn to net-zero targets, the renewable space is opening up a new world in need of power train solutions. “Svendborg Brakes is involved in wind energy,” Rock said. “Renewable energy
REGAL REXNORD IPS’ STATE-OF-THE-ART SOBO SYSTEM FROM SVENDBORG BRAKES.
was not an area Regal Rexnord was heavily involved in, so the Altra Motion merger has really opened that up.” Although expansion into other industries is in the air for Regal Rexnord IPS, Rock said the company will continue to set its sights on mining. “The products we offer lend themselves to the bigger end of the scale,” he said. “Targeting mining certainly remains the biggest part of our focus.” The Regal Rexnord–Altra Motion merger is also opening some interesting doors for crossover in the workshop.
Rock said Altra Motion’s mobile service is something the company plans to on foster under the Regal Rexnord IPS banner. “We’re looking to expand what Altra can do to cover the entire product range so the customer gets someone on-site who can service the complete drive train,” Rock said. Work is already underway in Western Australia to ensure Regal Rexnord IPS’ engineers are trained across the company’s range. “We have to ensure Regal Rexnord quality service,” Rock said. “We
THE MERGER HAS CREATED A ONESTOP SHOP FOR AUSTRALIAN MINING’S INDUSTRIAL POWERTRAIN SOLUTIONS.
AUSTRALIANMINING 25 NOVEMBER 2023
want our expert engineers backed up by knowledge.” The company plans to roll out its expert services to on-site operations early in 2024, with teams across the world working on interconnecting Regal Rexnord IPS’ range. The merger allows Regal Rexnord IPS to grow its footprint in Australian mining like never before, with a culture of knowledge and focus on customer service that has been a cornerstone of Regal Rexnord and Altra Motion for decades. AM
MAKING THE GRADE WHEN THE NEW KOMATSU GD955-7 GRADER LANDED IN AUSTRALIA IN OCTOBER, IT SET OFF ON A ROADSHOW SO LOCAL MINING CUSTOMERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY COULD GET THEIR FIRST LOOK.
omatsu machines have become synonymous with efficiency, strength and durability, and these values were front and centre when the company released its GD955-7 grader in October. After making its debut in Mackay, Queensland, the grader took the rest of Australia by storm as it set off on a crosscountry road trip to local miners. Built specifically for mining operations, the GD955-7 has a big focus on productivity thanks to its blade design, which allows for more efficient ground penetration. According to Komatsu national mining product manager Michael
Hall, the grader has been a hot topic of conversation for some time. “The GD955-7 is a ground-up designed mining grader,” Hall said. “It can grade 33 per cent more area per hour than the previous model, with a standard 5.5m blade, or an optional 6.1m blade width for even more productivity. “It also has the highest blade downforce in class and the highest engine power in class. It’s a durable machine designed for highpower grading.” As mine sites employ larger and more powerful haul trucks, there is a renewed need for graders to be larger and more productive to support them. “The GD955-7 is well matched to larger haul trucks anywhere from 90
to over 240 tonnes, making it a great addition to mining fleets,” Hall said. With Komatsu’s 360° camera system, KomVision, included in the grader, the GD955-7 is one of safest graders to hit the market. “KomVision increases visibility for operators so they can get a full view of activity around the grader,” Hall said. “The monitor informs them if another machine is approaching or is in their line of movement, a great safety feature for busy mine sites.” KomVision was introduced as a standard safety feature for Komatsu excavators in January 2018 and has since been implemented in various pieces of the company’s equipment.
THE NEW KOMATSU GD955-7 GRADER. AUSTRALIANMINING 26 NOVEMBER 2023
In the GD955-7, the five-camera system is positioned to provide a view around the entire vehicle, with an additional rear-view monitor for reversing and ripping operations. KomVision means the GD955-7 can better avoid contacts or collisions in blind spots, giving the operator a real-time bird’s eye view of the machine’s surroundings. And KomVision is not the only safety feature at home in the GD955-7. The grader features fingertip fine control functionality, along with a palm steer option, to enable precise and safe grading. At nearly 47 tonnes and with 426 horsepower, the grader is designed to be a highly productive unit, which has been
THE WE1850-3 WHEEL LOADER.
a key selling feature of the machine. “The GD955-7 is also 50 per cent heavier than the previous model, meaning it can more easily grade hardpacked road surfaces and take on more demanding jobs,” Hall said. As part of the launch of the GD955-7, a number of customers visited Komatsu’s Ibaraki Plant in Japan to see first-hand where the grader was manufactured and get a sneak peek before it made its debut in Mackay. Hall said Komatsu was pleased with the reaction it received. “We had really good feedback from the customers who joined us, and we plan to start delivering this new model to customers come December,” he said. And if a new grader wasn’t enough, Komatsu has also released its WE1850-3 wheel loader for Australian customers. “Interest (in the WE1850-3) is incredible,” Komatsu national product manager for mining Mark Petersen said.
AS MINE SITES EMPLOY LARGER AND MORE POWERFUL HAUL TRUCKS, THERE IS A RENEWED NEED FOR GRADERS TO BE LARGER AND MORE PRODUCTIVE TO SUPPORT THEM.” “Customer conversations are very much around carbon reduction as the main driver in the decision-making process, but the WE1850-3 also offers great versatility, with some customers planning to use it as a frontline production machine in place of a hydraulic excavator, for example.” According to Komatsu, demand for the WE1850-3 was so high that twothirds of the wheel loader’s factory 2024
production slots have been allocated to Australia. The first Australian machine will go to work in Queensland’s Bowen Basin; however, customers were queuing to buy one before it had even entered the site. And it’s not hard to see why. In addition to being a frontline production machine, the loader is suited to tasks across the entire mining value chain. From frequent equipment relocations to keeping the pit floor clean and level without support equipment, the WE1850-3 can just about do it all. The machine also utilises SR hybrid drive in place of mechanical drive, which results in significantly lower fuel consumption compared to equivalent mechanical drive systems. Komatsu has ensured the SR hybrid drive system is fully regenerative so power can be fed back into the electrical system during braking. The model also features a kinetic energy storage system that works in
AUSTRALIANMINING 27 NOVEMBER 2023
concert with the SR hybrid drive to store significant power captured from braking so it can supplement peak power demand, resulting in substantial CO2 reduction per tonne of material moved. The result? Fast cycle times without a commensurate increase in fuel usage. Lower cycle times and increased payload equates to higher productivity and more tonnes moved, with new features designed to minimise fuel and maintenance costs. “The WE1850-3 can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 35 per cent,” Petersen said. “There’s a lot of excitement around this new model and we expect demand to remain strong.” With two new machines already seeing peak excitement from the Australian mining industry, it’s only a matter of time before many more in the sector adopt the GD955-7 grader and WE1850-3 wheel loader as must-haves for each mine site. AM
CORRECT INSTALLATION AND REGULAR MAINTENANCE KEEP THE COMPRESSOR IN OPTIMAL CONDITION.
KEEPING IT COOL ATLAS COPCO EXPLORES HOW MINERS CAN KEEP THEIR COMPRESSORS FUNCTIONING EVEN ON THE HOTTEST DAYS.
t’s no secret that the Australian mining landscape is a warm one. With average daily temperatures in the WA’s Pilbara region exceeding 35°C across the summer months, miners must work hard to keep their sites – and the equipment that powers them – cool. This is especially true when it comes to a mine’s air compressors. “Compressed air is essential for a mine because it’s used in every part of the mining process,” Atlas Copco national sales and marketing manager Greg Gillespie told Australian Mining. “With the increasing cost of energy, having the most efficient machines is extremely important. Luckily, Atlas
Copco is a market leader in efficiency.” Compressed air is used throughout a mine to ventilate underground spaces, help set off explosives safely, and to assist with crushing and screening, among other uses. But how can a mine ensure the compressors can perform these essential functions every day, no matter the weather? According to Gillespie, it all starts with ensuring the compressor is well maintained. “The single largest cost on the lifecycle of a compressor is the energy it uses,” he said. “So making sure that your machine is well maintained is super important to reduce the cost of your compressed air.
“And that is even more important in the warmer months because that heat has such an impact on the efficiency of the machine.” But there are a number of other factors that can influence how well a compressor deals with the heat, including something as simple as where the compressor is located. “If a compressor installation is facing west, then they’re going to get all of that afternoon sun, which is generally the hottest part of the day,” Gillespie said. “I always say you should think about your compressor like it’s your lungs, because like your lungs it’s sucking in air and everything in it. So it needs a good, clean airflow.”
AUSTRALIANMINING 28 NOVEMBER 2023
In the summer months, as the ambient temperature increases, so too does the operating temperature of the compressor. “The higher the operating temperature, the more energy a compressor consumes,” Gillespie said. “So ventilation, location and maintenance are some of the most important factors in keeping compressors as cool and efficient as possible.” If an air compressor reaches an unsafe level of operating temperature, it will shut down and result in interrupted air supply, as well as increased energy cost. This can start a problematic cycle as the shutdowns start to happen faster.
ATLAS COPCO’S SMARTLINK SYSTEM ALLOWS THE TEAM TO SEE THE HEALTH OF THE COMPRESSOR IN REAL-TIME.
“The higher the operating temperature of a lubricated machine, the more oil it will pass,” Gillespie said. “Now, with less oil in the machine, it will overheat faster and increase the likelihood of a shutdown. “So keeping a compressor as cool as possible is imperative.” Keeping equipment as cool as possible can be easier said than done in a warm climate, but Atlas Copco is ready to assist if a mine is facing the challenge of overheating. “We have a full team of field service technicians who help our customers with routine maintenance or any breakdowns,” Gillespie said. “Ideally, we avoid these breakdowns with on time routine maintenance, because breakdowns are inefficient for the customer.”
But Atlas Copco’s support does not begin or end with regular maintenance. The company also works with the mine sites to explore the best spaces for the compressors to be installed and will educate employees on how to keep the machines running smoothly right from the word go. “Something as simple as daily, weekly, and monthly checks can help avoid the compressor overheating in the warmer months,” Gillespie said. “We encourage our customers to engage us through a service plan, and we can fully automate that process so they don’t miss a service.” This service plan is typically a five-year agreement and gives Atlas Copco the ability to monitor the compressor and its health through its SMARTLINK system. This allows the
team to see the health of the compressor in real-time. “We can then adjust the service plan to meet the operating hours of a compressor, and if the option is available we’ll send parts directly to sites and the service technician can just go to site and get to work,” Gillespie said. “We do have some customers who have really embedded us on their site; so we’ll have our own storage facility on their site. “What that means is the parts get put in that storage facility and no one else can access them other than the person running the logistics on the mine site and our service technician, and that works really well.” From there, the parts needed for the equipment get automatically ordered and maintenance can begin.
AUSTRALIANMINING 29 NOVEMBER 2023
“The SMARTLINK system can also allow us to trend data on the compressor and provide predictive maintenance, not just reactive or preventive maintenance,” Gillespie said. “At the end of the day, heat is energy, and we want to get the heat away from the compressor. That energy can then go into other areas of the mine, like a boiler, so it can be reused.” When asked about the most important piece of advice for keeping a compressor cool, Gillespie said keeping it simple is best. “The initial purchase cost and the maintenance cost will pale into insignificance if you don’t have the most efficient solution,” he said. “Seek out the most economical machine for your application, install it correctly and then maintain it well.” AM
IN PURSUIT OF SAFETY AND EXCELLENCE EPIROC’S EXPLORAC RC30 SMART REVERSE CIRCULATION DRILL RIG CELEBRATES THE OEM’S KNACK FOR INNOVATION.
piroc has been a market leader in the automated drilling sphere for years, but the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has truly outdone itself with its latest Explorac RC30 Smart reverse circulation drill rig. The Explorac RC30 Smart is finetuned for reverse circulation drilling, boasting 30 tonnes of pullback force to drive the drill deep into rock. “The Explorac RC30 Smart is a highcapacity rig which can achieve the depth of hole geologists demand in Australia and other markets,” Epiroc global product manager – surface exploration David Benton told Australian Mining. Drill rod changes have been known to be hazardous, requiring operators and offsiders to work close to powerful machinery. Epiroc saw an opportunity to improve safety in the operation of drill rigs and designed the Explorac RC30 Smart to bridge this gap.
WE DESIGNED THE EXPLORAC RC30 SMART IN A WAY THAT MEANS WE CAN LAYER ON ADDITIONAL LEVELS OF AUTOMATION OVER TIME, SAFEGUARDING THE CUSTOMER’S INVESTMENT.” While the drilling is still guided by an operator’s trained hand, Epiroc has automated the drill rod changeover in the Explorac RC30 Smart to keep mine workers out of the line of fire. “Operating a drill rig used to be a two-person operation, with the operator working in tandem with an offsider to sequence rod changes,” Benton said. “The Explorac RC30 Smart automates that process, allowing the machine to do a full rod changeover sequence with the push of a single button. “This is a much safer way of doing things since there’s less opportunity for human error. “The rig’s operating system is constantly monitoring and ensuring that the rod has been handed over to the next part of the sequence. This means the
THE EXPLORAC RC30 SMART IS FINE-TUNED FOR REVERSE CIRCULATION DRILLING.
system is constantly on the lookout for errors in the handling sequence. “In the unlikely event of an incorrectly threaded joint, for example, the drill will enter a safe state and prompt drillers to investigate the situation. “So, overall, it provides an exceptionally high level of safety and control over the drilling process. “Automating the rod-handling sequence prevents unexpected operating errors, protecting operators and the customer’s capital asset. “The control system also ensures that the drill rig is always operating within its design parameters. This can be difficult to manage when you have people operating the machine.” Operating within set parameters means the Explorac RC30 Smart is performing with optimal efficiency, in turn helping to maximise the lifespan of the asset. Beyond safety, the Explorac RC30 Smart is built sturdy with a range of smart features, such as feed beam centralisers with variable grip force, automatic deck spanner and break out, all providing a next-level drilling experience. Epiroc is an OEM known for continual innovation, allowing its products to realise further gains and possibilities as technology and the mining industry itself evolve. As such, the Explorac RC30 Smart is designed with future configuration and scaling in mind, so the rig will keep paying dividends long after it hits a mine site. “We designed the Explorac RC30 Smart in a way that means we can layer on additional levels of automation over time, safeguarding the customer’s investment,” Benton said. “We can achieve this through a combination of hardware and software updates, which the Explorac RC30 Smart has been specifically designed to handle.” Epiroc aims to be the leader as the industry shifts towards automation, digitalisation and carbon reduction. With this comes a strong focus on safety and the Explorac RC30 Smart gives users the ability to safely replace the rods from a distance, without exposure to live work. Through a raft of intelligent features, Epiroc’s latest drill rig is keeping workers safe, protecting customers’ investments, and delivering heavy-duty drilling to the Australian mining industry. AM AUSTRALIANMINING 30 NOVEMBER 2023
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ATLAS COPCO’S BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS ARE POWERED BY LITHIUM-ION PHOSPHATE BATTERIES.
NEXT-LEVEL SUSTAINABILITY SINCE THEIR DEBUT IN 2022, ATLAS COPCO’S ZENERGIZE BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS HAVE PROVIDED CLEAN POWER WITHOUT COMPROMISING ON EFFICIENCY OR THE ENVIRONMENT.
ccording to the 2023 Clean Energy Australia report, battery storage is expected to grow significantly as an essential part of the world’s ongoing energy transition. A battery energy storage system (BESS) is used in off-grid applications and can boost the limited grid available by efficiently storing and delivering energy to match the load demand. To match growing demand for these systems, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Atlas Copco introduced its Zenergize range in 2022. BESS units in the Zenergize range are powered by lithium-ion (li-ion) phosphate batteries and are 70 per cent more compact than traditional alternatives – making transportation and usability easier. “There are many different types of lithium that can be used, but lithium-ion phosphate is considered the safest,” Atlas CEA general sales manager Kevin Ennis told Australian Mining.
Atlas Copco’s BESS units can deliver more than 12 hours of power with a single charge. They can also be charged from very low to full in fewer than 60 minutes, helping to ensure operators don’t experience unnecessary downtime. Zenergize units can be used as standalone sources of power or in conjunction with other sources such as diesel, solar, mains power and wind. If operated alone, the Zenergize system will generate zero greenhouse gas emissions, while any emissions reduced by up to 50 per cent when operated in hybrid mode alongside a generator. “They can offset the diesel generators, so (operators) aren’t running them as much,” Ennis said. Units in the Zenergize range can replace a generator when noise levels are a concern or when fumes from diesel are not allowed. “Where we’re seeing a big niche now is, where a generator would be used 24–7, these batteries supplement the generator, so the site is run from the battery and the generator feeds the battery,” Ennis said.
THE ZENERGIZE RANGE CAN RUN IN CONJUNCTION WITH DIESEL GENERATORS, SOLAR OR WIND.
Customers who purchase a Zenergize unit are able to choose a size best suited for their specific operations. As part of the range’s expansion, Atlas Copco announced five new models in July. The additions include a mediumsized ZBC 300-300 unit, a line of four smaller battery-based storage systems – the ZPB 45-60, ZBP 45-75, ZBP 15-60 – and the ZBP 2000 with two flexible solar panels. “The range has changed to suit the market,” Ennis said. “A far larger model has been introduced. It’s a 1000-kilowatt (kW) machine, which means it can run at 1000kW for one hour. When it comes to portable products that can be shipped in 20-foot containers, we’re currently not aware of any competitive brands that currently stock anything that matches this size. “We’ve diversified the sizes that we believe are required in the market, so we have a 45kW, 100kW, 250kW, 500kW, and now the 1000kW.”
AUSTRALIANMINING 32 NOVEMBER 2023
Anyone who invests in a Zenergize BESS unit will be investing in quality and longevity. The range offers 40,000 hours of uninterrupted operation and an overload capability of 150 per cent – leading to low total cost of ownership and maintenance. “At one site, it was calculated they were saving about $1200 a week in diesel on only a 45kW unit,” Ennis said “Not only are these units being used more than diesel generators, but you’d go from 18 services a year to under three, so you don’t have all those service costs. It’s a massive difference; a game-changer.” In Australia, servicing for the Zenergize BESS units is carried out by Atlas CEA – Atlas Copco’s Australian distributor – with trained technicians available to help customers if any difficulties arise. “Atlas Copco is putting a lot of their focus on battery technology and hybrid technology,” Ennis said. “It’s an exciting time for Atlas CEA.” AM
CHANGING THE COAL GAME GAINWELL ENGINEERING HAS ENTERED THE AUSTRALIAN MARKET BY SUPPLYING A HIGHWALL MINER TO SUPPORT A COAL MINE COMPLEX.
ince 2022, Gainwell Engineering has worked to establish itself as a leading mining equipment supplier in Australia and the Pacific region, and the company’s partnership with Vitrinite has been a key factor in that process. In fact, that partnership led to Gainwell Engineering’s first sale into Australia with its Highwall Miner, a safe and innovative method for extracting coal from exposed seams. “The two companies started to work together in 2020,” Gainwell Engineering Pacific managing director Paul Mulley told Australian Mining. “The relationship developed from there, which led to the signing of the contract for the Highwall Miner in March 2021. “Since signing the contract with Vitrinite, we have moved on to open up a workshop in Gateshead, New South Wales, and consequently we now assemble, repair and provide parts for equipment in the Australian underground coal market. “We will develop the Highwall product in Australia with Vitrinite and provide quality training for operators and maintenance staff at the project, as it is so critical for both parties given its uniqueness and future potential.”
The Gainwell Highwall Miner is considered safer, in some respects, than traditional underground mining as it only sends equipment underground not people. It also works very economically with a small crew and minimal support equipment. “It uses the latest technology available to cut highwall coal down to 750mm and up to 10m that would be otherwise left in-site due to extraction economics,” Mulley said. “We have a very unique coal conveyance system that is second to none and more robust than anything else on the market for mining in this way. “The cost per tonne is low (varying from site to site) and the number of personnel required to operate this product is at an absolute minimum to maintain a safe and productive operation. “The Highwall Miner uses touchscreen technology to operate from a remote cab and it provides cameras and steering systems to ensure the coal extraction is maximised and the cutting technology is maintained in the coal seam. “The key applications of the Highwall Miner in terms of coal extraction include final highwall mining, contour mining and trench mining. “The key benefit for a highwall mining machine of this type is that it will recover reserves that would
GAINWELL ENGINEERING HAS MADE THE HIGHWALL MINER ITS OWN SINCE OBTAINING IT FROM CATERPILLAR IN 2017.
typically be left in the ground and ultimately wasted.” The Gainwell Highwall Miner is currently best suited for coal extraction but there are plans to expand to other markets and resources. “We have focused mainly on coal in the past but would welcome the
THE GAINWELL HIGHWALL MINER IS A SAFE METHOD FOR COAL EXTRACTION.
AUSTRALIANMINING 34 NOVEMBER 2023
opportunity to extend our expertise with this product to other applications where we believe the product could add value to an operation,” Mulley said. The Highwall Miner has not always been part of the Gainwell stable. Formerly known as the Caterpillar Highwall Miner, it was the first product Caterpillar offered Gainwell to manufacture in India under a technology licensing agreement the two companies signed in 2017. Gainwell Engineering has made the Highwall Miner its own, adding several changes and innovations to the machine’s design. These upgrades include a new lighting design; a new retrofitable rear conveyor design with motor conveyor mounting changes; new software to simplify operations; a cutter module to cut down to a minimum height of 900mm – requiring much less maintenance; a compliance review for the Australian market; all motors being approved for use in Australia; more robust communication cables from the coal face to the operator; and a new water circuit design. “We have sold one Highwall Miner every year since signing the agreement with Caterpillar,” Mulley said. “Gainwell Engineering have really started to make a mark on innovation for the product.” AM
UTILISING AUTOMATION AND PROCESS ENHANCEMENTS, GEOGRAPHE’S BUNBURY FACILITY OFFERS A LEADING LEVEL OF QUALITY TO CUSTOMERS.
IMPROVING MINE SAFETY ON CATERPILLAR HAUL TRUCKS IN CLOSE COLLABORATION WITH A TIER 1 MINER, GEOGRAPHE HAS DESIGNED A LIGHTWEIGHT HAUL TRUCK TRAY LINKAGE PIN THAT SOLVED A SAFETY CHALLENGE ASSOCIATED WITH HEAVY OEM PINS.
n the Pilbara region of Western Australia, a Tier 1 miner encountered a significant safety concern related to handling 12kg steel original equipment manufacturer (OEM) tray sling retaining pins on their Caterpillar 793F haul trucks.
THE LIGHTWEIGHT TRAY SLING RETAINING PINS HAVE CREATED A SAFER ALTERNATIVE TO PIN HANDLING.
Having collaborated with Geographe in the past to find a solution for difficult ball stud change-outs, the miner reached out to its partner once again. Geographe investigated the possibility of creating a lighter and safer method for removing the heavy tray sling retaining pins provided by original equipment manufacturers. “People in their workshop raised a safety concern regarding the OEM tray sling retaining pins,” Geographe project sales manager Lincoln Meeking told Australian Mining. “They approached us, explaining that lifting a 12kg pin with a U-shaped handle was cumbersome. They were searching for a solution to simplify the insertion and removal of the linkage pin from the haul truck. “At the back of each haul truck, there is a linkage pin and a tray rope. This pin acts as a safety mechanism to secure the rope to the tray when it’s lifted.
“Considering the pin’s location and its sheer weight, it posed a safety risk to workshop staff who repeatedly had to lift and remove the heavy pin from their haul trucks.” Geographe utilised its vertically integrated Western Australian production facility to manufacture a lightweight linkage pin suitable for Caterpillar 793F haul trucks. “Our production facility was the ideal location to manufacture the lightweight tray sling retaining pins,” Geographe innovation manager Geoff Mutton told Australian Mining. “We have all the necessary processes available internally. We utilise incremental and simultaneous manufacturing processes, combining them to deliver an unmatched level of quality in the final product to our customers.” Meeking explained what makes the Geographe pin unique. “Our lightweight tray sling retaining pins design weighs about a third of the OEM linkage pin but possesses the same
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strength,” he said. “It has the same size and fitment; however, ours is made of a different, much lighter material, making it easier to use.” Unlike the U-shaped handle design attached to the OEM pin, Geographe’s pin uses a D-shape, allowing it to be handled with two hands where required. “We also conducted a formal trial with the Tier 1 miner, ensuring that our pin design was effective,” Meeking said. “We did all the necessary due diligence with the customer, who was incredibly pleased to work with us again to resolve another site challenge.” Reconnecting with its partner, Geographe, the Tier 1 miner was able to address its major safety concern and significantly improve pin handling – another industry example of how incremental safety gains can be achieved through shared expertise and commitment to safety. AM For more information, visit geographe.com.au
CONCRETE No longer a liability Remove the guesswork – Should we, shouldn’t we? At around $500k for the civils for our workshop, it’s not economical to put in a concrete floor because if the market drops and the project is no longer viable, the concrete will have to be ripped up and disposed of! Cranes, Rockbreakers and dumping = Major cost!! If your situation changes and you no longer need it- SELL IT! Remote Area Concrete Pty Ltd’s relocatable concrete modules are heavy duty modules designed and engineered specifically for industry – particularly Mining, but are more than suitable for other industry. Modules can be anywhere between 6m and 12m in length. Lifting is carried out by container sideloader, which alleviates the need for Cranes and crew reducing costs and setting up, increases weather suitability ( low crane height reduces risk of lightning strikes) and container type connection and low module height gives greater control of suspended loads. Once transported to site installation can happen in as quick as 1 day and requiring the truck driver and 2 other persons Removal from site can happen in as quick as 1 day, with only 1 person other than the truck driver required. Speak to us about your layout and jointly we can configure and sequence a layout to suit your requirements.
Remote Area Concrete Pty Ltd Ph: 0427 480 845 Web: www.remoteconcrete.com.au Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A CRITICAL FUTURE
AS OUR CLOSEST NEIGHBOUR, AUSTRALIA IS POISED TO INVEST IN PNG’S CRITICAL MINERALS FUTURE.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS SET TO TAKE OFF AS A CRITICAL MINERAL POWERHOUSE ON THE GLOBAL STAGE.
s the race to reach net-zero emissions takes off around the globe, countries are looking to renewable energy to meet sustainability targets and transition into a greener economy. But in order to implement those allimportant cleaner energies, the demand for critical minerals is set to explode in the coming years, with demand estimates in the millions of tonnes. The mining sector is no stranger to hard work, and it has taken to the critical minerals challenge with gusto. As the race to net-zero continues, mineralrich countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG) are becoming mining hubs to watch. PNG already has existing operations in the critical minerals space, and as Australia’s closest neighbour, we are well positioned to facilitate the flourishing of PNG’s industry into the future. Copper, nickel and cobalt are three key critical minerals at the apex of the
green energy transition, each one a crucial element across the spectrum of renewable technology. And each one is mined in PNG. Because copper is a highly efficient conduit essential to electrification, it is vital to a future powered by renewable energy. Used in clean electric, solar, hydro, thermal and wind power across the world, achieving net-zero is dependent on copper and those who mine it. But here’s the rub: Renewable energy sources contain up to six times more copper than conventional systems. Wind and solar are considered to be the most copper intensive energies, with a single wind turbine using up to 350kg of copper and over 7000 tonnes to power an entire farm. As governments race towards netzero, the demand for copper is set to rise dramatically, with some research predicting it will skyrocket to 50 million tonnes a year by 2050. And if the world is to achieve its decarbonisation aspirations, we need
mining projects with the resources to keep up with this demand. The Ok Tedi mine knows a thing or two about mining copper. As the longest running open-pit copper, gold and silver mine in PNG, the Ok Tedi mine has supplied critical minerals to the world for over 30 years, with the total copper production to date standing at a mighty 5.17 million tonnes. Nestled in the valleys of Mount Fubilan in the Western Province of
MINING EFFORTS HAVE BARELY SCRATCHED THE SURFACE OF WHAT PNG HAS TO OFFER. AUSTRALIANMINING 38 NOVEMBER 2023
PNG, Ok Tedi, alongside its owner Ok Tedi Mining (OTML), is a determined contributor to the PNG economy as a 100-per-cent PNG-owned project. The mine boasts mammoth production – about 60,000 tonnes of ore and up to 240,000 tonnes of waste rock are mined each day from the 2.6 square kilometre pit. From there the copper, gold and silver concentrates are packed off to smelting and refinery markets across the world.
The single largest employer in the Western Province, OTML is heavily involved in development projects throughout the area, having a hand in building health centres, school classrooms, houses, roads, air and water infrastructure and communications systems. In August this year, OTML signed two project agreements for upgrading roads in the area. The mine’s managing director and chief executive officer Kedi Ilimbit said the project was just one of many the company has in store. “Since 1997, OTML has spent over PGK$600 million on infrastructure tax credit scheme (ITCS) projects in Western Province and Telefomin District in Sandaun Province,” he said. “These include high impact priority projects in health, education, law and justice, and transport infrastructure and utilities.” Additionally, OTML alone contributes 7.4 per cent of GDP to the PNG economy each year for a total of PGK$65 billion ($27.8 billion) across the mine’s life to date. All of this is possible thanks to the prolific production at the mine. When it comes to its mining operations, OTML uses conventional drill and blast techniques, with ore processed on site via the company’s flotation processing plant capable of treating up to 24 million tonnes a year. Once a concentrate is produced from ore processing it is snaked through 156km of piping to the company’s Kiunga port facility on the Fly River where it is treated and exported. As well as supplying copper to global markets to meet their sustainability goals, OTML also maintains a local environmental focus, with PGK$3 billion ($1.3 billion) invested in environmental remediation since 1998. With a focus primarily on the mine’s surrounding river system, GOVERNMENTS ARE LOOKING TO RENEWABLES IN THE RACE TO NET-ZERO.
OTML’s projects include dredging for sediment mitigation, acid rock drainage mitigation, monitoring dissolved copper concentrations and fish stock biodiversity. The company expects to generate around PGK$30 billion ($12.8 billion) over the next decade, after the mine’s life was extended to 2050 in September. With such a massive, proven operation underway it is no surprise eyes are turning to PNG as a future hub of critical minerals mining. As the island nation is Australia’s closest neighbour, Australia’s strong mining sector is already expanding relations in the area as demand for critical minerals rises. Earlier this year Australian mining giant Newcrest teamed up with South African partner Harmony Gold to sign a framework agreement with the PNG Government setting out a joint development of the Wafi-Golpu copper and gold project. Located 65km from the city of Lae in the Morobe Province on the north coast, Wafi-Golpu (WGJV) is a 50/50 joint venture between the two companies. The project encompasses separate but genetically related deposits including the Golpu copper-gold porphyry deposit, the Nambonga copper-gold porphyry deposit and the Wafi high sulphidation epithermal gold deposit. Deep drilling at the site has uncovered an extensive copper and gold porphyry deposit that Newcrest is hoping to mine with similar techniques it already uses at its Cadia operation in New South Wales. The proposed mining method is block caving, which involves using the controlled collapse of a near-vertical ore body through drilling and blasting in order to shatter rock at the bottom and extract ore. With assessments of WGJV revealing a 28-year mine life as one of the highestgrade porphyry copper systems in
southeast Asia, the proposed mine is truly set up for success. WGJV has a projected grade of 1.27 per cent copper, forecast to generate over 150,000 tonnes of copper a year at peak production. That much copper could mean all the difference in the race to net-zero. If developed, WGJV would mean significant economic and social contribution to PNG over the life of the mine, with Newcrest committed to ensuring benefits are shared with the community with a focus on environmental responsibility. “WGJV’s ongoing commitment to PNG is to develop and operate the Wafi-Golpu project in a way that is economically viable, environmentally responsible and socially acceptable,” the companies said in a statement. Wafi-Golpu is up for a special mining lease (SML) from the PNG Government, who said it hopes to have it issued by the end of 2023. Once the lease is granted, WGJV expects first ore to be mined within five years. But copper is not the only critical mineral showing promise in the island nation, with nickel and cobalt deposits proven to be prosperous and having the potential for expansion across the country. Nickel is a major cathode material in the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs), but the metal also contributes to a broad spectrum of clean energy technologies including hydrogen, wind, solar, nuclear, and geothermal. The biggest advantage of using nickel in batteries is its capacity to increase energy density and storage capacity for a lower cost than other sources. This advantage is critical in allowing electric cars to travel further before needing to recharge, making them more competitive with petrol cars. Nickel is highly recyclable, but its long lifespan means the metal could be in use for decades before it even needs to be reused. Also sought after for its versatility, recycled nickel can be returned to its original state or transformed for use in other resources. That means nickel used in batteries can be collected and used in the production of nickel-containing stainless steel, which is proven to be stronger, tougher and more corrosion resistant. Cobalt is another metal essential to the green energy transition. Like nickel, cobalt is a critical component in lithium-ion batteries for EVs, which has seen the demand for cobalt skyrocket in recent years. This demand will only continue to grow as governments push to reach netzero targets. Most modern electric vehicles use lithium-nickel-manganese-cobaltoxide batteries which have a cathode containing up to 20 per cent cobalt.
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It’s ability to improve performance and efficiency is what makes cobalt’s role in these batteries crucial. Through surface and underground mining, cobalt is produced across the world, with 98 per cent of that production coming as a by-product of mining other minerals such as nickel and copper. With cobalt mine production last year estimated at over 175,600 tonnes, PNG was the world’s seventh-largest producer of the metal, accounting for two per cent of global production. The Ramu nickel-cobalt project near Madang on the north coast of PNG is touted as the largest battery metals mining and processing operations the country has seen, valued at US$1.4 billion ($2.1 billion). The mine is an unincorporated joint venture between China’s MCC Ramu (MCC) as an 85 per cent stakeholder, two subsidiaries of the PNG Government’s Mineral Resource Development Corporation (MRDC) and Canadian miner Nickel 28. The mine has a number of supporting facilities and infrastructure setting it up for the long haul, including 135km of slurry pipeline, high pressure acid leaching and deep sea tailings placements. Operating for over 10 years, the project utilises conventional mining techniques for the laterite open-pit mine including truck and shovel, loader and hydraulic mining, as well as hydrosluicing, which accounts for 30 per cent of production. The end result is an intermediary product containing the aggregate nickel and cobalt metals which is then smelted by Ramu’s customers around the world. The mine is currently pumping out an impressive 34,000 tonnes of nickel and 3000 tonnes of cobalt per year. But Ramu isn’t stopping there. It is currently looking to future expansion with strong production numbers and drilling results from surrounding areas. The venture aims to take a more active approach to geological exploration in the coming year. MCC chairman Wang Zhou said the mine’s life could be extended by a further 40 years through expanded drilling into the Ramu West and Great Ramu areas. As the demand for all critical minerals rises in the coming years, modern mining must rise to the challenge of supplying the world with the resources to make the shift to renewable energy. Though there are significant projects operating in PNG already, the industry has barely scratched the surface of what the island nation has to offer. As Australia’s closest neighbour, the Australian mining sector is primed to invest in PNG mining for the long term, delivering the resources we need to safeguard the future. AM
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
AN OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE WASTED WHILE PRODUCING MINE WASTE AND TAILINGS IS UNAVOIDABLE, THERE ARE WAYS TO ENSURE THEY ARE REMOVED AND HANDLED SUSTAINABLY.
aste is an inevitable part of the mining cycle. As thousands of tonnes of ore are processed each day across the industry, not all of that ore will end up being exported or used, and will instead become waste. While mine waste may be a fact of the industry, what is subject to change is the way in which waste is dealt with. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s National Waste Report 2022 showed that Australia’s mining sector generated substantial waste during 2020–21, with During this time Australia’s total mining waste was estimated at 620 million tonnes (Mt), a 118Mt increase from 2018–19.
TAILINGS CAN HAVE CONSEQUENCES ON THE SURROUNDING ECOSYSTEM IF NOT PROPERLY MANAGED.
About 96 per cent of the mining waste produced was deposited in tailings dams, which are used to store by-products of mining operations after the ore is separated from the waste. While tailings dams are common ways of storing mine waste, they are usually highly toxic. And if any mine waste is mismanaged, it can lead to environmental and human harm. Australian Mining looks at three ways in which mining operations can reduce and manage waste.
In August this year, major miners Rio Tinto, Glencore and Anglo American released information on their tailings facilities to the public for the first time. The reports included information on how the companies plan to meet the
global industry standard on tailings management (GISTM). The GISTM is directed at mining operators and applies to tailings facilities, whether they already exist or are set to be built. A set of 15 principles, including 77 individual requirements for tailings facilities, operators conduct selfassessments against the requirements before a third party audits the company’s conformance. The results are then published publicly. Created in August 2020 following the Samarco and Brumadinho dam disasters in 2015 and 2019, respectively, the GISTM makes it clear that extreme consequences to people and the environment from catastrophic tailings facility failures are unacceptable.
AUSTRALIANMINING 40 NOVEMBER 2023
“Since the tragic failure of the tailings facility at Brumadinho in Brazil in 2019, the entire industry has been working to improve the way we manage tailings facilities,” Rio Tinto chief technology officer Mark Davies said when announcing information on the company’s tailings. “Responsible tailings management is critical to ensure the safety of our people and communities and to protect the environment. It is fundamental for our business and social license. “The GISTM has meant a steep change in how the industry manages its tailings facilities.” Anglo American and Glencore echoed similar sentiments when announcing their tailings information. Mining companies such as BHP, Newmont, Newcrest and Sibanye-
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
Stillwater have pledged to implement responsible stewardship of their tailings storage facilities, aligning them with the GISTM.
Repurposing mine waste
In late May, Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King announced the Atlas of Australian Mine Waste, a collaboration between Geoscience Australia and researchers from the School of Engineering at RMIT University and the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland. An interactive online mapping tool, the atlas was created to provide governments, the resources sector and the community with accurate information about Australian mine tailings, waste rock, smelter residues and related mine waste materials. King was keen to point out the potential benefits of what has long been considered waste. “Some of the minerals we need now and into the future may not just be in the ground – they’re also in rock piles and tailings on mine sites around the country,” King said when announcing the atlas. “These minerals might not have been of interest when first extracted but could now be in hot demand as the world seeks to decarbonise; for example, cobalt in the tailings of old copper mines. “This new atlas puts these potentially lucrative sites on the map for the first time and may open up new sources of critical materials.” King said the new publication could help facilitate the discovery of critical minerals in a more efficient and sustainable way. “Reprocessing rocks and earth that have been previously excavated during mining operations can give new life to old mining towns, create jobs and rejuvenate local economies,” she said. And it seems to be doing its job. As of May 31 2023, the atlas has identified 1050 sites as possible critical minerals sources that can be used to accelerate the global energy transition. Reusing existing materials is a key example of a circular economy, which refers to a model of production and consumption involving sharing, recycling and reusing existing materials and products for as long as possible. “Creating a circular economy for mine residues creates cost-effective benefits through offsetting raw material requirements, reducing the carbon footprint associated with obtaining them, and reducing the volumes of waste and related environmental impacts,” the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia said. “It also delivers social benefits, boosting job creation, manufacturing self-sufficiency and opportunities for regional growth.”
Rio Tinto has adopted a circular economy through its aluminium business, where 85 per cent of the waste generated has been used to create new products. “We have turned anhydrite, a byproduct from our Vaudreuil alumina refinery in Canada, into a safe and effective fertiliser for local blueberry growers,” Rio Tinto said on its website.
As the global mining industry transitions towards a greener future, companies will need innovative technology to support this change. This of course means miners will need to adapt these new technologies to their mine waste processes to ensure it is managed in a sustainable manner. BHP and Rio Tinto have long been at the forefront of adopting new technologies, forming a partnership in October 2022 to accelerate the development of tailing technologies and management such as tailings dewatering and transport technologies, chemical amendment, and dust mitigation. In May 2023, both miners invited expressions of interest for a range of new tailings technology partners. The majors will continue to collaborate to identify a portfolio of tailings management partners with whom they can work to accelerate the development of technologies that have
the potential to increase water recovery, and reduce potential safety risks and environmental footprints associated with tailings storage facilities. “There are so many innovative thinkers out there and we want to bring them in as partners to help us improve in this critical area for safety and sustainability of our operations,” BHP head of sustainability innovation Ingrid Oyarzun said when announcing the partnership. Comments from Rio Tinto chief advisor of research and development
Saskia Duyvesteyn paralleled those from Oyarzun. “We want to tap into the wealth of great ideas and innovations we know are out there and work together to find ways to improve safety and reduce the environmental footprint of tailings facilities,” Duyvesteyn said. As the future of mine waste management continues to develop, one thing remains clear: major mining companies are committed to ensuring the waste they produce is handled with care. AM
ABOUT 96 PER CENT OF MINING WASTE PRODUCED DURING 2020–21 WAS DEPOSITED IN TAILINGS DAMS.
THE GLOBAL INDUSTRY STANDARD ON TAILINGS MANAGEMENT WAS CREATED IN THE WAKE OF TWO MAJOR DISASTERS.
AUSTRALIANMINING 41 NOVEMBER 2023
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
A HAWK’S EYE VIEW HAWK MEASUREMENT SAT DOWN WITH AUSTRALIAN MINING TO DISCUSS SOME OF ITS MOST IMPORTANT SYSTEMS FOR TAILINGS MANAGEMENT.
ailings dams are built as earthen structures, and there are many factors that can lead to their failure. The last 20 years have seen a marked increase in the failure of tailings, which has had significant consequences on the environment and human safety. But the mining industry recognises this issue and is making major efforts to mitigate – and ultimately eliminate – the potential dangers. One company that understands this pressing issue, and offers a range of solutions, is Hawk Measurement Systems. Hawk Measurement has been solving solid- and liquid-related issues in several
industries, including mining and mineral processing, for 35 years. To help mining companies monitor tailings dams efficiently, Hawk Measurement developed the Praetorian fibre optic sensing (FOS) conveyor health-monitoring system. “It started from a Melbourne Water grant who were having major pipeline leak issues,” Hawk Measurement fibre optic product manager Mathew Cook told Australian Mining. “I’ve spent five years taking that same sensor and adapting it to different applications. “You can take the same fibre optic and stick it to a fence, which then becomes a smart fence that can detect intruders. We can also put it in a conveyor so it can monitor idler condition.”
The FOS system looks after three key areas: acoustic/vibration/sound, temperature, and strain. “We can do a combination of those three to monitor many different applications,” Cook said. “We are currently working on solutions for tailings dams, so we’re putting fibres within the earthen structure itself and putting out information that geophysics can look at. “It depends on the application, but the main pitch of the unit is that it completes linear asset monitoring – so any large object that’s roughly line-shaped or that you can draw a line around.” An effective method of reducing failures in tailings dams is to monitor the strain within the dam’s earthen
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structure by putting the fibre in when various lifts are done. “The basic concept is you can either put them in the lifts or boreholes,” Cook said. “You stick the fibre to something and then it will measure the strain on that – whether that’s a layer within the earth or the borehole, or whether you want to monitor just the ground structure or the layer.” One of the FOS system’s notable features is the fact it doesn’t require any power or communications in the field. “It’s totally immune to electromagnetic forces because it’s a light-based system. You can throw electricity, magnetism or radiation at these cables and they won’t react,” Cook said.
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
THE ORCA SYSTEM WAS DESIGNED FOR THE DEWATERING OF TAILINGS.
THE FOS SYSTEM IS PASSIVE, MEANING NO ELECTRICITY IS REQUIRED IN THE FIELD.
The system can also be placed in areas where it is unsafe for workers to be located, increasing safety of people as well as productivity. “When talking about conveyors, we can monitor the historical condition of each idler or group of idlers, but typically each idler on the left and right-hand side, and we can watch that deterioration over time,” Cook said. “When you’ve got enough of that data, you can start making smarter decisions and can schedule and target your maintenance better. “The system is a machine, so it won’t get lazy, tired or distracted – humans are likely to miss things unless they’re really switched on. And if it’s something you do every day, you tend to be less vigilant and more complacent.” Customers who have used the FOS system have been impressed with its reliability.
IT’S TOTALLY IMMUNE TO ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCES BECAUSE IT’S A LIGHT-BASED SYSTEM. YOU CAN THROW ELECTRICITY, MAGNETISM OR RADIATION AT THESE CABLES AND THEY WON’T REACT.” “You can potentially reduce the amount of downtime you have in a particular shut down for a particular belt,” Cook said. “Some belts are quite valuable in that respect, especially if they feed your point of transfer.” In addition to helping mining companies monitor their tailings dams, Hawk Measurement also has a solution for controlling tailings thickeners, the ORCA sonar bed level system. “(The ORCA system is) a lower frequency sonar. It was designed for dewatering of tailings and can typically be used in concentrate thickness,” Cook said. “The vast majority of what it’s trying to do is allow control of thickener and you can go to an automatic control-based system. “It was specifically designed to be more rugged. It has an auto-cleaning
THE FOS UNIT REQUIRES NO MAINTENANCE OR CALIBRATION AFTER COMMISSIONING.
function, so it dips into the water and that shearing action prevents like scumming and build-up. “It works in thickeners where you’ve got a lot higher density materials suspended in the column.” One of the biggest problems mining companies face with tailings thickeners is the fact they can get into an uncontrolled condition and can be slow moving in their responses. “You can put (the ORCA) system in there, take a couple of feeds from other bits of information you have, and you’re able to control the thickener and keep it stable,” Cook said. “You can very slowly go to an uncontrolled condition and then will need to overclock the tank or add too much chemical to try and get the material to settle out. “You can do all sorts of things to effectively deal with the
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problem, but those things can be incredibly expensive. “The idea with the ORCA is that it maintains and gives you an output that you can then make very small micro adjustments to. For example, you don’t want over height settling bed in the bottom of the thickener. “With the settling layer, you can predict when you’ll start losing material by maintaining and keeping it controlled with very small but consistent doses of flocculent.” Since its inception in 1988, Hawk Measurement’s bread and butter has been primary level solutions for a wide range of industries. “Hawk has always focused on not necessarily going down the path of having a million features but trying to get the strongest and best return signal we can from the primary sensing element,” Cook said. AM
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
TAILINGS ARE THE BY-PRODUCT OF ORE PROCESSING.
TOP AND TAILINGS
GHD IS HELPING MINERS ADOPT BEST PRACTICES WHEN IT COMES TO MANAGING TAILINGS DAMS. s jurisdictions like Australia shift to greener policies for governing industrial activity, miners must navigate a shifting landscape of liability and social license. Few know this better than GHD, a multi-disciplinary engineering, environmental and diverse professional services group with a long history of delivering mine waste management services, from concept design through to closure and repurposing. GHD technical director – tailings and mine rehabilitation Rob Longey spoke to Australian Mining about the adoption of best practices and emerging trends. “Unfortunately, the global mining industry experiences around two tailings dam failures each year, and some of these have significant and unacceptable impacts on the environment and downstream communities,” Longey said. “Australia has seen a lower failure rate, which is likely due to our drier climate and flatter terrain, resulting
in lower dam heights and fewer issues managing excess water. “Industry is working hard to eliminate these failures, trying to steer the thinking away from treating tailings dams as an operating cost, giving these large and critical assets the attention they deserve. “Tailings dams have a design expectation of 1000 years. These are structures that are going to be around in perpetuity. So it’s not something that you take lightly as a consultant or mine owner.” Longey said that good tailings management starts with looking ahead. “GHD’s approach to tailings management is to take a holistic view of the site we’re working with, starting with understanding the mine waste production volumes, geochemical and geotechnical characteristics, engaging with stakeholders and developing the site’s closure plan,” he said. “Once you have developed a design for what a site should look like once it’s closed and rehabilitated to safe and stable final
landform, you can work backwards from there. “Depending on the closure plan, we design a facility based on that endpoint. For instance, if you wanted to end up with a stable facility which could potentially host a trafficable surface for a renewable energy solar farm, we may adopt a technology like filtered tailings and dry stacking. “GHD is as concerned with decreasing the footprint of mine waste onsite as it is in putting unavoidable waste to its best use. “We have done a number of projects where we integrate two mine waste facilities into one, such as integrating waste rock dumps downstream of the tailings dam or co-disposing tailings and waste rock for geotechnical and environmental benefits. The end result is a suitably stable dam where the risk of failure is nearly inconceivable.” GHD not only helps build mine waste management projects from the ground up, but it also has a hand in revitalising existing facilities.
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“Another trend we’re seeing is an improved focus on sustainability, with owners investigating ways to maximise value from waste. Some find they possess potentially valuable secondary critical minerals within their tailings facilities, that can be reprocessed,” Longey said. “Some of these legacy tailings sites go back 100 years to a time when processing wasn’t as efficient and operations didn’t achieve full modern recovery of the primary mineral they were mining, or secondary minerals were not recognised or valued like they are now. “Reprocessing tailings presents a great opportunity to modernise older facilities that might carry residual risks, like stability or seepage, or proximity to a community. In some cases we’re able to recover the tailings, reprocess them and relocate them somewhere like a disused mine void, or design a new modern facility to contain them.” GHD works with miners throughout all stages of a project’s lifecycle.
MINE WASTE MANAGEMENT
InsightVision helps manage some of the challenges of these long-life assets, reassuring asset owners and operators. “Many of these facilities have been around for decades. Over that time, different owners and consultants have all had a part in developing the facility, and sometimes you’ll find records are spread all over the place and in many different formats,” Longey said. “InsightVision is able to bring all of that data into one place making for a powerful asset and knowledge management solution, which can be scaled to integrate a tailings facility digital twin where required. Visualisation and live performance monitoring data become vital for critical decision-making when and where you need it.” Digital tools like InsightVision give sites access to essential data at a time where mines are under increasing pressure to responsibly manage mine waste. Through a holistic approach to tailings management, GHD is helping mine sites navigate a shifting landscape. AM
TAILINGS DAM FAILURE CAN HAVE HARMFUL EFFECTS ON THE SURROUNDING ENVIRONMENT.
“Good tailings management is about continual improvement through a multi-disciplinary and holistic view aimed at facility risk reduction and maximising beneficial uses of mine waste,” Longey said. “We work with site owners via a staged approach across a facility’s
lifecycle, changing the design where needed to suit the changing mine life.” Nothing captures the ethos of GHD’s ongoing commitment to clients like InsightVision, the company’s integrated digital monitoring platform for tailings and water dam assets.
Through automation and visualisation, site operators and stakeholders can monitor the vital elements of their assets, with real-time alerts from a range of instruments like GPS monitoring and piezometers.
GHD is a proud Austmine member. With more than 650 members nationally, Austmine is the leading industry body for the Australian METS sector. The notfor-profit organisation exists to promote the global advancement of technology and innovation in mining.
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AUSTRALIANMINING 45 NOVEMBER 2023
HIGH-TECH CONVEYING SOLUTIONS HIGH IN THE SKY CONTINENTAL CONVEYING SOLUTIONS’ NEW HUB IS DESIGNED TO PRESENT CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGIES USED ALL OVER THE WORLD.
unique high-tech ‘HUB’ office on the 26th floor of one of Perth’s most iconic skyscrapers has been designed to help mining companies better plan their conveying requirements by presenting the latest global innovations in conveying. In what is said to be a world-first, the Continental Conveying Solutions (CCS) HUB will showcase the company’s global innovations and conveying capabilities to the mining and mineral processing sectors. Having first been established in Hanover, Germany, in 1871, Continental still keeps its global headquarters in Hanover; however, the company now has 527 locations throughout 58 different countries and markets. The Continental Group is divided into four group sectors: Automotive, Tyres, ContiTech and Contract Manufacturing. These four sectors cover a total of 18 business areas around the world, with conveying solutions falling under the ContiTech sector. No expense has been spared in ensuring the CCS HUB’s technology, interior design and functionality support its objective of presenting cutting-edge conveyor technologies used all over the world.
According to Continental, the HUB features state-of-the-art digital technology so clients, staff members from all over the globe, and other visitors can connect in real-time to discuss, collaborate and explore a superior economic, sustainable, efficient conveying environment. The HUB is home to many dynamic screens and devices, as well as private and open areas to meet and discuss the latest projects while enjoying the views over the Perth CBD, the Swan River and Kings Park. The intention is to encourage creativity and imaginative thinking. The CCS HUB was created and developed by Adam Cornelius, head of the Conveying Solutions HUB. He has a strong background in business development, from success building relationships and developing strategies with executives in Melbourne and Sydney to securing construction work at Perth’s new Stadium Rail and Lithium Refineries in Kwinana.
Key themes and experts
Cornelius said the CCS HUB has a clear focus on digital, decarbonisation and services. He sees an increased need for delivering faster solutions and the re-use and recycling of materials as the HUB helps miners operate more efficiently in a safer, carbon-friendly environment.
ONE OF THE DISPLAYS AT THE CCS HUB.
“In service solutions, we’re concentrating on three major areas: heavy equipment and belt handling systems; breakthrough methodology in conveyor change-outs; and accessories and components,” he said. “We have appointed Raphael De Simoni as our conveying solutions consultant. He brings over 20 years of experience across the whole spectrum of the conveyor value chain, from planning and commissioning to technical advice, training, digital monitoring and on-site maintenance. “With his work on the ground in South America with Vale and BHP, he’s looking forward to informing, engaging and collaborating with miners on the best site-specific fit for their conveying operational requirements.” In terms of decarbonisation, Cornelius said the CCS HUB is committed to its goals and is encouraged by the fact mining companies have been showing “true accountability”. “Mining players of all sizes have committed to net-zero emissions goals to meet the pressing 2050 climate change target, so we need to be leaner, cleaner and greener to collectively manage Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions,” he said. “To head up this section, we have appointed Karen Meagher as our decarbonisation advisor. “Karen has joined us after several years working in environmental accounting, technical and research roles.
ADAM CORNELIUS (RIGHT) DISCUSSES CONVEYING OPTIONS FOR A NEW MINE IN THE PILBARA.
She is supported by a strong academic background, having recently completed a master of environmental science and a bachelor’s degree in both science and commerce at UWA.” As an example of its commitment, Continental has developed energyoptimised rubber compounds that minimise rolling resistance on the conveyor belt system. This enables significant energy consumption reductions during operations. Continental said this new compound can save more than 3000kW of input power on a 5km system. The amount of energy saved over a period of 1.5 hours is equivalent to the consumption of an average four-person household during an entire year.
THE HUB IS HOME TO SEVERAL PRIVATE AND OPEN PLANNING AREAS FITTED OUT WITH ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION DEVICES.
AUSTRALIANMINING 46 NOVEMBER 2023
L–R: RAPHAEL DE SIMONI, CONVEYING SOLUTIONS CONSULTANT; ADAM CORNELIUS, HEAD OF THE CCS HUB; KAREN MEAGHER, DECARBONISATION ADVISOR.
Digitalisation is critical across the value chain as mines seek to become more productive with cross-functional engagement and the ability to work remotely and autonomously. “We are developing digital solutions to assist in preventive maintenance
and condition-monitoring,” Cornelius said. “Tara Bennett-Connell has joined us as product manager, digital solutions (IAPAC). Tara has over 29 years’ experience in the mining and metals industry, starting as a geologist, moving through to data, digital product
management and digital innovation in mining and exploration.” An example of digital innovation is Continental’s drone-assisted conveyormonitoring solution. This is significantly more functional in preventive maintenance and condition-monitoring,
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AUSTRALIANMINING 47 NOVEMBER 2023
as the company’s data analytics and algorithms result in a vast improvement with idler monitoring and trend analysis. “I like to think of the CCS HUB as like connecting all the dots,” Cornelius said. “Sharing tomorrow’s methodology all in the one place, today.” AM
WORTH ITS WEIGHT IN ORE DIMINISHING ORE GRADES CAN BE THE SCOURGE OF THE RESOURCES SECTOR, BUT FLSMIDTH HAS STEPPED UP TO HELP MINERS GET THE MOST OUT OF WHAT THEY DIG UP.
any would be familiar with FLSmidth’s (FLS) Reflux Classifier (RC), an advanced gravity-based separator that allows miners to separate particles based on size and density. But as the mining industry continues to face the challenge of diminishing ore grades, which is somewhat paradoxically coupled with an increased demand for metals, lower-grade ores and tailings must be processed to extract the minerals needed. FLS understands this challenge, and that understanding was behind the decision to start the process of refining its RC technology into the REFLUX Classifying Concentrator (RCC). “By reducing the size of the mixing chamber and introducing a split
THE REFLUX CLASSIFIER CONCENTRATOR BUILDS ON THE ALREADY SUCCESSFUL REFLUX CLASSIFIER.
fluidisation water system in the RCC, we can accommodate low-grade markets,” FLSmidth product line manager – global Nicolas Boonzaier told Australian Mining. “We’ve been busy collaborating with our stakeholders, lab partners and engineers to create technology we know will work for our customers.” Valuable minerals can certainly still be found in low-grade ore, but processing them can be costly and capital intensive. But with the RCC, FLS has developed a way to overcome this situation. “In the testing phase of development, we put the RCC toe-to-toe with the RC and had both process low-grade ore,” Boonzaier said. “We were really pleased with the results. We had close to a 200 per cent improvement in processing from the RCC. “The photos taken from the samples were very telling. In the one from the RC, you can see a lot of lighter-coloured silica but in the RCC, the sample is all black, which is an indication that it has rejected all the gangue, or waste, particles.” The RCC features secondary fluidisation water above the bed, augmenting upward flux without disturbing the bed and removing lightweight gangue particles. This feature increases the selectivity of particles that form part of the bed, which results in a higher quality and more dense bed. “This feature is something that adds real value to the technology,” Boonzaier said. “It means the existing bed is not going to be disturbed, and we can create an upward flux that will reject the particles before they can enter the bed. “I’m quite excited to see how we can continue to use this concept in our existing product lines.” FLS is dedicated to the continuous improvement of its technologies. Boonzaier is particularly proud of the fact the development of the RCC has given miners the ability to process lowgrade ore that would have previously been discarded.
BY REDUCING THE SIZE OF THE MIXING CHAMBER AND INTRODUCING A SPLIT FLUIDISATION WATER SYSTEM IN THE RCC, WE CAN ACCOMMODATE LOW-GRADE MARKETS.”
ALWAYS DEDICATED TO INNOVATION, FLSMIDTH HAS ENSURED ALL CUSTOMERS CAN BENEFIT FROM THE RCC.
“These low-grade streams are sometimes considered not economically viable because of the capital outlay that’s required to process them,” he said. “I’m extremely confident that with the RCC, customers can turn something that was once wasteful into an economically viable project. “This development really stands in line with FLS’s ethical obligation towards environmental sustainability.”
Using the original RC as a jumping off point for the RCC technology, FLS was able to understand what would and would not work in the new iteration. “If you look at what the RC looked like in 2005, and then 2010, 2015, 2019 … you can see the continuous updates it’s gone through,” Boonzaier said. “We were able to have and use consistent feedback from our customers, and actually travel to the sites ourselves to see how our designs can be improved. “When we commission a new unit, I typically go out onsite myself and make the observations on how our technologies can work with the site, then I take that back to the engineers. “It’s in our DNA to collaborate and brainstorm ways of overcoming challenges that our customers might have, and the RCC is another way we’ve done this.” AM
AUSTRALIANMINING 48 NOVEMBER 2023
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TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE AUSTRALIAN MINING SPOKE WITH RIO TINTO MANAGING DIRECTOR BATTERY METALS MARNIE FINLAYSON AHEAD OF AUSIMM’S CRITICAL MINERALS CONFERENCE 2023.
s AusIMM gears up to host its inaugural Critical Minerals Conference in Perth from November 21–23, Australian Mining sat down with Rio Tinto managing director battery metals Marnie Finlayson to discuss her keynote speech and the broader critical minerals industry.
Can you tell me about your role at Rio Tinto?
I grew up on a large sheep station in the Northern Goldfields region of WA, where our property was surrounded by both gold and nickel mining. This gave me an early taste of the industry as well as the deep understanding of Traditional Owners’ connection to land. I have taken these early experiences into my professional career and am passionate about minimising impact to mining on the environment, partnering with local communities and First Nations people to create meaningful and sustainable partnerships, whilst delivering the materials that the world needs to decarbonise.
My role at Rio Tinto allows me to follow these passions and integrate them into our business unit strategy, with my primary objective to build a worldleading battery materials business.
What is the greatest challenge facing the Australian critical minerals industry?
Australia has the natural resources, industry, experience and R&D (research and development) required to drive the clean energy transition and extract maximum potential for our industry to the benefit of Australia. We have heard from other jurisdictions that are impressed with how Australia has been at the forefront of the critical minerals issue. But Australia will need to act quickly as competition increases in this market. Government and industry support will need to be focused over the longterm, as existing positions have taken a long time to form, and commitment and dedication will be required to build more resilient supply chains. From a regional community perspective, it is important that suppliers of critical minerals (miners, processors
and other service providers), as well the providers of the renewable energy linkages, engage early with communities to understand their needs, mitigate and manage negative impacts, and ensure potential economic and social benefits are optimised.
What are your hopes for critical minerals mining?
Global demand for the critical minerals that enable the energy transition is quickly outpacing supply, setting the scene for a new kind of mining boom in Australia and beyond. My hope is that this mining boom delivers jobs and skills, whilst prioritising environmental impact. This is no mean feat and will require a change in mindset in terms of what we mine, how we mine and who we partner with. I will be talking more about this in my keynote at the AusIMM Critical Minerals Conference.
provide for these needs at pace, reliably and with a low-carbon footprint in partnership with society. Against this context, and drawing on experience and examples, I will be talking about the challenges and opportunities for the mining industry to meet the demand for critical minerals that are fundamental to the energy transition.
Can you give me an overview on your speech?
Who should attend the conference?
Our job at Rio Tinto is to find better ways to provide the materials the world needs and the key challenge will be to
RIO TINTO MANAGING DIRECTOR BATTERY METALS MARNIE FINLAYSON.
In addition to anyone directly involved in the critical minerals industry, I would encourage those interested in technology and innovation, sustainability, market development and the role of governments and industry in finding solutions to complex problems. This is a broad ranging conference with wide appeal – it isn’t just about electric vehicles.
What would people be surprised to learn about critical minerals?
I think people may be surprised at how far a company like Rio Tinto, built on the back of bulk commodities like iron ore, aluminium and copper, has pivoted in its commitment to climate change and decarbonisation – we see ourselves as a critical enabler for the energy transition. I appreciate many are sceptical about the ability of the mining industry to deliver on the climate front, beyond issuing ambitious and long-dated targets. That’s why we’re sharing a clear pathway to material reductions by the end of the decade, including setting up our battery materials business, working hard on technology partnerships together with a strong commitment to circularity. The road to net-zero needs mining – electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and the like – but we must mitigate the risk to the environment and the communities we operate in, around the world. AM
AUSIMM’S CRITICAL MINERALS CONFERENCE 2023 WILL KICK OFF AT THE END OF NOVEMBER.
AUSTRALIANMINING 50 NOVEMBER 2023
Gravity-based separation with maximum efficiency The REFLUX Classifier is our advanced fine particle, gravity-based separator, offering significant advantages in capacity, adaptability and efficiency Key benefits
Improved efficiency produces higher recoveries Compact design delivers high throughput ■ Low OPEX ■ Decreased environmental impact ■ ■
Introducing the REFLUX™ Classifying Concentrator (RCC™) a new variation of the established REFLUX™ Classifier (RC™) specifically designed for low grade, high value ores.
The RCC™ builds upon the success of our original REFLUX™ Classifier, by optimizing bed formation and split fluidization utilising gravity-based separation techniques to tackle the recovery challenges associated with low-grade minerals.
Read more at flsmidth.eco/3RE7pqo
THE BEDESCHI AUSTRALIA MINING TRUCK.
A FORCE IN SERVICE SUPPORT AFTER STARTING ITS AUSTRALIAN OPERATIONS AT THE BEGINNING OF 2023, THE BEDESCHI GROUP HAS QUICKLY BUILT A STRONG AND STABLE ORGANISATION TO SERVICE CUSTOMERS ACROSS THE MINING SECTOR.
aving been operating as a family-owned and managed business since 1908, the Bedeschi Group knows the value of customer care and relationships. So when the group saw a chance to support more customers in Australia, it jumped at the opportunity. As a global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the bulk material handling and balanced machine space, Bedeschi has continued to grow its presence in many regions of the world, expanding into offices on either side of Australia, in Perth and Port Hedland in Western Australia and in Brisbane in Queensland. With its head office based in Padua, Italy, Bedeschi is currently under the leadership of its fourth-generation chief executive officer (CEO), Rino Bedeschi. “My clear vision for the Bedeschi Group is to be the global number-one in balanced machines and material handling technology,” Bedeschi told Australian Mining. “To achieve this goal – and to maintain this position – we need to have a strong organisation and footprint in Australia. “Australia is an extremely important market for Bedeschi and a good relationship with clients is paramount. “Our quality and performance, regardless of product or scope we deliver, always needs to be at the highest level in terms of quality and turnaround times paired with competitive pricing.”
Thanks to strong organic growth in the past 12 months, the Bedeschi Group has nearly doubled its engineering capacity in Australia and Italy. It has also established two new offices in Germany. “We are also operating a number of company-owned fabrication workshops and assembly yards globally,” Bedeschi said. “We are a full line supplier for new machine projects and all aspects of aftermarket services.” As part of its expansion down under, the company hired Uwe Zulehner as the CEO of Bedeschi Australia. “Since the start of 2023, we have hired a strong workforce with decades of experience and extensive knowledge of our customer operations and the
equipment and technologies that are applied,” Zulehner said. “We have intensively engaged with our customers to ensure a sound understanding of their current and future demands for services in an everchanging environment. “The organisation we have built in Australia, paired with over 100 years of history and experience of the Bedeschi Group globally, gives us the leading edge as an ‘all out of one hand’ market leader in the area of balanced machines such as reclaimers, stackers, ship loaders and other mining equipment.” The next stepping-stone for Bedeschi will be to further the company’s growth by opening its first wholly owned workshop and warehouse facility.
BEDESCHI WILL OPEN ITS FIRST WHOLLY OWNED WORKSHOP AND WAREHOUSE FACILITY IN PERTH.
AUSTRALIANMINING 52 NOVEMBER 2023
Located south of Perth, this facility will provide additional opportunities for the business to expand. “We have built strong relationships with customers across our portfolio and have successfully completed balance machine inspections and major shutdowns, providing our technical expertise, site supervisors and shutdown crews for our customer on-site in the Pilbara,” Bedeschi general manager aftermarket Marco Ringe said. “Our spare parts and engineering teams are supporting operations on an ongoing basis with the supply and continuous improvement of spare, wear and replacement parts. “Our new workshop and warehouse will provide us with the capacity to serve our customers more efficiently and costeffectively, with the highest industry quality and performance.” Zulehner is excited to be welcoming these developments into the Australian arm of the business. “With these developments and considering the current demands and requirement from the market, I am extremely confident the Bedeschi Group business will continue to grow and will build a team of the best available talents to ensure our customers are served in the most efficient and effective way possible,” he said. “The Bedeschi Australia engineering and aftermarket teams are always available for our clients.” AM
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AUSTRALIA IS A KEY PLAYER IN THE RACE TO NET-ZERO.
THE POWER OF COLLABORATION REACHING NET-ZERO CAN’T BE ACCOMPLISHED BY ONE COUNTRY ALONE. AUSTRALIA HAS TURNED TO EUROPE TO PARTNER UP IN THE RACE TO DECARBONISE.
ritical minerals. Those two simple words seem to have been in the news every week as the world marches towards a net-zero future. But with all that news, it can be easy to lose sight of what critical minerals actually are – and just how important they will continue to be. Critical minerals are the drivers of modern technology. They can be found in anything from fibre-optic cables to mobile phones to medical applications and are essential players in keeping the modern world working. In Australia, there are a total of 26 commodities counted on the Federal Government’s Critical Minerals List, including cobalt, lithium, tungsten and magnesium. As the world’s leading producer of unprocessed lithium, the world’s third largest cobalt exporter and the fourthlargest exporter of rare earths, Australia is in a prime position to lead the charge for net-zero.
But Australia cannot be the only country mining and sending these minerals out for the world to use. To reach net-zero, countries must band together to create meaningful supply chains. And this type of collaboration was the agenda when Australia’s Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King recently travelled to France. King and France’s Minister for the Energy Transition Agnés PannierRunacher signed the Bilateral Dialogue on Critical Minerals agreement in September, kicking off a collaboration to study critical minerals supply chains and the specific needs for both countries. “The joint study will also look at what the governments of France and Australia can do to overcome obstacles to secure stable supply chains for critical minerals,” King said. “Australia has abundant reserves of critical minerals and our Critical Minerals Strategy sets out the pathway for Australia to diversify global supply chains and become a globally significant supplier by 2030.
“Australia also has a reputation as a reliable export partner, has strong environmental and social standards and corporate governance frameworks, and is an attractive place for foreign investment, particularly in the resources sector.” France isn’t the only European country with which Australia is keen to fortify ties. During her trip to Paris, King stopped by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Summit to speak with delegates from Germany, the EU, and the UK. The event was the first-ever summit on critical minerals and focussed on measures to promote the secure, sustainable and responsible supply of these raw materials. The summit comes after the IEA was given a ministerial mandate by member governments to deepen its work on critical minerals. And with countries across the world tuning in, the Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Summit was a big event.
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King’s talks involved industry representatives from across Europe and the UK, including Europe’s automotive industry, which will need more critical minerals to manufacture electric vehicles. “Australia has the critical minerals the world needs to help lower emissions and we have well-established export supply chains built over decades through our iron ore and gas industries,” King said. “Australia’s resources sector also has high environmental, social and governance standards (ESG). “I released Australia’s new Critical Minerals Strategy in June, which lays out Australia’s support for the industry and our plan to become a globally significant supplier of critical minerals by 2030.” King said the European visit was a chance to outline the ways in which Australia is working with the sector and cooperating with international partners to diversify global supply chains. “The world’s clean-energy transition will ride on the back of Australia’s critical minerals,” King said.
THE AUSTRALIAN LANDSCAPE IS HOME TO LARGE SWATHES OF CRITICAL MINERALS BURIED UNDER THE SOIL.
LITHIUM, ESSENTIAL FOR BATTERIES, IS A BIG AUSTRALIAN EXPORT.
“Critical minerals are crucial components of clean-energy technologies such as batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage.” Representative from almost 50 countries were at the summit to share their experiences and discuss effective courses of critical action.
“The level of over-concentration that we see in critical minerals markets today is unlike that for any other major commodity we have come to rely on in the modern world,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said. “History has shown us that failing to properly diversify supplies and trade
routes of essential resources comes with profound risks. “Locking in secure and sustainable supplies of critical minerals for the cleanenergy transition has quickly become a top priority for governments, companies and investors around the world.” The summit also sought to deliver six key actions to ensure a secure, sustainable and reliable supply of critical minerals: • Accelerating progress towards diversified minerals supplies • Unlocking the power of technology and recycling • Promoting transparency in markets • Enhancing the availability of reliable information • Creating incentives for sustainable and responsible practices • Fostering international collaboration. “Fostering inclusive dialogue must be at the forefront of the critical minerals agenda as we navigate this complex and multifaceted issue within the cleanenergy transition,” Birol said. “Through its analysis and data, it is the IEA’s mission to ensure that critical minerals become a symbol of international cooperation rather than resource anxiety. “With many stakeholders now asking how well prepared they are for this new reality, the IEA is expanding
AUSTRALIANMINING 55 NOVEMBER 2023
and deepening our work to help countries around the world develop robust and resilient clean-energy supply chains.” The IEA will hold a ministerial meeting in February 2024 to provide a key opportunity for countries to assess what critical minerals mean for the changing landscape of the world. Where Australia sits in that landscape seems to be fairly certain, and as a top exporter of critical minerals, the country remains a key player in the race to net-zero. As King has said, the road to netzero runs through the Australian resources sector. “What do I mean when I say the road to net-zero runs through the resources sector?” King said in a March 2023 resources statement to Parliament. “It means that our resources and minerals will be essential to build a decarbonised economy. “Unlocking the full potential of our critical minerals endowments is a core part of realising our ambition to be a clean-energy superpower. “Our determination to get the settings right underscores how strongly we believe critical minerals can create economic opportunities across the nation.” AM
SURFACE MINING AT ITS ZENITH WITH ITS NEXT GENERATION OF GROUND-ENGAGING TOOLS, SUPPORTED BY INTELLIGENT DIGITAL OFFERINGS, BRADKEN IS DRIVING THE FUTURE OF SURFACE MINING.
ZENITH IN ACTION.
radken has evolved over the past 100 years to become a leading wear solutions provider to the global mining and resources market, delivering ground-engaging tools (GET), bucket and undercarriage solutions that equip customers to achieve their production objectives. The company’s range includes mining buckets for excavators, face shovels and front-end loaders. Its buckets have long been known for their proven quality, reliability and performance. The cast beam bucket, the latest in Bradken’s bucket range, takes that proven history of success and dials it up to 11. “Buckets are traditionally fabricated and that inherently means you have structural welds in areas that are highly stressed and fatigue prone – particularly around the upper structure or beam of the bucket,” Bradken head of product and marketing, Simon Burgoyne, told Australian Mining.
“This results in a lot of bucket maintenance cost and asset downtime. “We have leveraged our foundry expertise to design a new bucket that converts the entire beam into a casting. The cast structure gave us the freedom to design smoother and more organic transitions, placing steel where it’s needed to reduce stress throughout the beam. Importantly, the design eliminates welds from fatigue-prone areas and that, along with Bradken’s proprietary alloy, has produced a structure with significantly longer fatigue life that is more durable and reliable.” The result is a bucket that delivers a stronger, safer, and more productive solution than a fabricated counterpart. “We’re projecting that the cast beam will last up to 2.5 times longer than a fabricated bucket,” Burgoyne said. “This gives the customer a reliable asset, less downtime repairing buckets, and better productivity as the shape of the bucket has been optimised for dig efficiency.”
The Zenith plate lip GET system is also new to Bradken’s range. Engineered to minimise dig energy and extend the wear life of its points, the Zenith design is reliable and intuitive to use. “Zenith is a next-generation plate lip GET system from Bradken and has been engineered to suit excavators from 100-tonne up to the 250-tonne class,” Burgoyne said. The Zenith plate lips currently come in standard, long and heavyduty options, to suit all application requirements. Beyond efficiency, Zenith is designed to keep workers safe. “Once GET has been used for a long time, it can become fused to the bucket and requires tools like sledgehammers and oxy torches to remove it,” Burgoyne said. “This exposes operators to all sorts of hazards, including burns, hammer strikes and dangerous metal shards. “The industry has been trying to move away from using hammers with GET for a while now. A lot of vendors
AUSTRALIANMINING 56 NOVEMBER 2023
have been able to introduce locking systems that don’t require hammers to remove points, but very few have been able to produce a truly hammer-free GET system like Zenith. “Zenith has been designed so that it doesn’t require a hammer on the lock or in the removal of any part from the lip. It stays on when you want it to stay on, and it’s easily removed when you want to take it off.” In support of these innovations and building on its longstanding digital product, SmartLiner, used in fixed plant for asset management and condition monitoring, Bradken is further expanding its digital offerings to include a range of solutions that enable customers to get the most out of their GET. Bradken’s GETVision solution provides a remote monitoring system that detects GET on mining buckets and alerts operators if they become lost, delivering an operational benefit that reduces downtime and costs related to delayed production.
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“Through the use of a vision system and object detection algorithms, GETVision detects the loss of GET on a machine, which can be quite disruptive to production were it to fall into plant equipment,” Bradken principal product manager, digital, Tim Radbone told Australian Mining. “It’s a huge problem when an uncrushable bit of steel falls off and gets stuck inside a crusher, for example.” GETVision alerts operators in the event of GET loss, helping mine sites avoid catastrophic and expensive disruptions. Bradken Inspect is another digital tool the company has developed. Bradken Inspect is a mobile app allowing operators to digitally capture wear-life data for GET, helping to efficiently coordinate change-out timing for maintenance scheduling and monitor wear trends for forecasting maintenance programs. “GET wear-life data has historically been captured on paper which is easily lost and difficult to collate for any useful
analysis or insights,” Radbone said. “Bradken Inspect allows workers to capture that information digitally to provide sites with a more detailed level of understanding of their GET usage.” Bradken Inspect can be used both online and offline to capture information and supply detailed reports. Report outcomes allow the operations to determine wear metrics relevant to conditions and maintenance requirements. “Whether a site’s GET is lasting three months or they’re chewing through parts on a daily basis, Bradken Inspect can help customers understand GET wear rates and performance across their fleet,” Radbone said. The latest additions to Bradken’s range of GET, along with the supporting digital tools, are helping to make operations more predictable, safer and efficient. From its traditional manufacturing origins to today’s mining solutions brand, Bradken is constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to surface mining technology. AM AUSTRALIANMINING 57 NOVEMBER 2023
THE GREAT WHITE PROJECT IS SET TO PRODUCE A HIGH-QUALITY KAOLIN PRODUCT.
A NEW SHARK IN TOWN AUSTRALIAN MINING SPOKE WITH ANDROMEDA METALS CEO BOB KATSIOULERIS ABOUT THE COMPANY’S GREAT WHITE PROJECT.
soft white clay, kaolin’s stark colour and composition means it can be used in everything from paint to ceramics. In late August, South Australia’s Andromeda Metals released an updated definitive feasibility study for its Great White project on the Eyre Peninsula, about 635km west of Adelaide, which increased its net present value by 65 per cent to over $1 billion. Australian Mining sat down with Andromeda Metals chief executive officer Bob Katsiouleris to discuss the details.
What is the significance of the updated DFS?
The DFS was updated because we’re going after those higher value markets. The net present value has gone up to over a billion dollars, which is great, but it really speaks to the quality of our kaolin in being able to charge premium prices. We’re looking at selling smaller volumes but across several high-end markets like tableware, porcelain, ceramic tiles, slabs and glazes. Being in Australia, this deposit is very far away from the traditional kaolin market in America, China and Europe. Fortunately, it’s also extremely high quality.
ANDROMEDA HAS OTHER NEARBY DEPOSITS OF KAOLIN WHICH WILL ONE DAY EXTEND THE GREAT WHITE PROJECT’S 28-YEAR LIFE.
THE GREAT WHITE PROJECT IS LOCATED ON SA’S EYRE PENINSULA, ABOUT 635KM WEST OF ADELAIDE.
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KAOLIN’S STARK COLOUR AND COMPOSITION MEANS IT CAN BE USED IN EVERYTHING FROM PAINT TO CERAMICS.
BEING IN AUSTRALIA, (THE GREAT WHITE) DEPOSIT IS VERY FAR AWAY FROM THE TRADITIONAL KAOLIN MARKET IN AMERICA, CHINA AND EUROPE. FORTUNATELY, IT’S ALSO EXTREMELY HIGH QUALITY.” It also contains a very rare form of kaolin called halloysite, which means it’s extremely strong when fired in a kiln. This DFS has targeted very highend uses of kaolin rather than bulk commodity markets, so we can start charging premium prices. This will allow us to offset the cost of getting it to those traditional overseas markets.
Can you tell me about the offtake agreement with Plantan Yamada? Plantan Yamada is a well-respected Japanese manufacturer of porcelain and ceramics. They took three years of testing our kaolin in their recipes before they signed with us. A lot of the traditional pottery and fine bone china is white. When kaolin – being a white clay – is fired in the kiln it burns white. So Plantan Yamada
was looking for an extraordinary level of whiteness and brightness for their premium products, and our kaolin fit the bill. Because the testing phase is so rigorous, the company tends to stick with its kaolin suppliers. One of the deposits we have is actually one of the largest in the world, with a current lifeof-mine of 28 years, so we’re expecting a very long partnership there.
How is the Great White project tracking in terms of development?
We are fully permitted and constructionready. We’ve passed all of our environmental hurdles and now have a South Australian mining licence. We have got most of our long lead items ordered and starting to be built and delivered. We are actually ready to go; the only thing that’s stopping us right now is our funding. Right now we have $15 million in the bank, but we’re going to be talking to debt investors for the next couple of months. Once we’re fully funded, we can move onto construction in the coming months.
What would surprise people about kaolin?
It’s an incredibly low-impact resource. We literally take it out of the ground, add some water to separate the sand, and separate the kaolin in finer and finer particles. Then we dry it out and we bag it. There are virtually no chemicals used in the process.
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The Great White project sits in the remote Eyre Peninsula in SA, so we’re very interested in working with the locals. They’re very concerned around water, and thanks to the nature of kaolin, we’re able to recycle over 90 per cent of our water to minimise our impact on the area. We really want to build and work with the people there, so we are very much focused on buying from local and First Nations businesses and giving them the first opportunity to help build our projects. All of that is very important to us because we do expect to be operating there for the next 28 years.
What comes next for Andromeda?
A couple of things. Firstly, the Great White project is currently only one deposit, but we’ve actually got two other resources nearby which we will be looking at developing. So we see this as a potential to actually grow the project for many, many generations after the 28-year lifespan of that main deposit. Secondly, we’re exploring a number of adjacent markets. Our kaolin actually has one of the highest global percentages of aluminium at over 36 – sometimes 37 – per cent. That’s a great feedstock for creating high purity alumina (HPA). We have novel processes that we’re looking to shore up. Once the Great White project is generating revenue, we’ll be looking at ways to generate another income stream through the HPA market. AM
ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES WITH THE DEMANDS OF MINE SITES CHANGING DAILY, TINGER ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES ARE BUILT TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE.
mine site can be a dangerous place, and it’s no secret Australia’s mines operate in some of the harshest conditions in the most remote areas
of the country. When getting where you need to go can mean crossing multiple elevations and unpredictable terrains, you need a reliable way to move around that can handle any situation. At Tinger, the goal is providing the mining industry with the ultimate un-stoppable, go anywhere all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Well known for its ATVs’ builtin safety features, including rollover protection structures (ROPs) and roof frames, Tinger is rising to the challenge of keeping miners safe on the job. Tinger ATVs boast 57-horsepower motors, commercial-grade transmission and a quality fit out that refuses to compromise on cabin comforts. With extreme weather from scorching summers to flash flooding becoming the norm, Tinger ATVs are designed to keep up with demand. Built tough to handle any sort of terrain, Tinger ATVs keep people moving, whether facing swampy flooded water ways, extreme muddy conditions, overgrown scrub lands, hilly and rocky mountains, or soft sandy areas. If it’s dry and sunny one day, then raining and flooding the next, Tinger is ready for whatever a given day offers up. Tinger told Australian Mining that its ATVs are especially popular with Australia’s largest companies – widely used across government and council departments, as well as by farmers, hunters and, of course, the mining sector. “It’s as simple as turning the key and off you go on your adventure,” the company said. “Tinger ATVs are used across many different industries for many different applications and can be easily modified to suit customers’ requirements.” Often used as first-response vehicles, including for search, rescue and recovery, Tinger ATVs provide a dynamic solution for quick access in hard-to-reach areas – useful on the ever-changing landscape of a mine site. In addition to gaining access to remote and isolated locations, the vehicles can be used to easily transport people, fuel and water, and can aid in the service of machinery, conducting property maintenance and vegetation management.
TINGER ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES CAN RISE TO THE CHALLENGE OF ANY CONDITIONS.
DESIGNED TO TACKLE THE HARSHEST ENVIRONMENTS, TINGER ATVS ARE A RELIABLE CHOICE.
Tinger fully amphibious ATVs are designed to rise to the challenge of any weather conditions, making the vehicles not just all-terrain, but all-seasons. Tinger said the release of its new Taran 4x4 has been well received by customers in its rollout to sites across Australia. This monster utility vehicle comes with balloon tyres and a minimum ground clearance of 500mm.
Ideal for hauling goods and equipment to any mine site, the Taran 4x4 is versatile as a potential emergency response vehicle or as a people-mover with room for six adults with room to stretch out their legs. Heating, air-conditioning, seatbelts and ROPs are just a few of the safety features on offer from the mammoth mover.
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BUILT TOUGH TO HANDLE ANY SORT OF TERRAIN, TINGER ATVS KEEP PEOPLE MOVING, WHETHER FACING SWAMPY FLOODED WATER WAYS, EXTREME MUDDY CONDITIONS, OVERGROWN SCRUB LANDS, HILLY AND ROCKY MOUNTAINS OR SOFT SANDY AREAS. “Our new Taran is loaded with accessories, whether you have to travel over mud, water, snow, rocks, hills, dust or sand, it doesn’t matter,” Tinger said. “This is the most advanced and only monster ATV out there, outstanding value starting from just $66,000. “Get excited and feel confident when you start your adventure.” AM
A GREENER FORREST IRON ORE GIANT FORTESCUE HAS TURNED ITS ATTENTION TO RENEWABLE TECHNOLOGY IN ITS PUSH TO DECARBONISE OPERATIONS BY 2030.
aving a plan when it comes to achieving global decarbonisation is essential if the needs of the changing world are to be met – especially while the resources needed to do it are still available. It’s clear that decarbonisation will not happen on its own and great effort is needed by the mining industry to ensure the critical minerals needed to transition into renewables are mined safety, sustainability, and quickly. And no one knows this quite like founder and executive chairman of Fortescue Andrew Forrest. Forrest is confident that his company has a solid plan to reach decarbonisation by 2030, and he intends to see it through. Presenting at the Boao Forum for Asia 2023 in Perth in August, Forrest spoke to his determination to see Fortescue become a leader in the renewables space. “One major company must go first,” he said. “We’re going to lead this, but we need every industrial company to follow. “There’s been changes, and there’s been a steely discipline about
our future … We stick to that future. Individual ambitions come second because what I’m talking about is the course of humanity.” Forrest underlined he is not content with net-zero as a target, denouncing carbon credit schemes and claiming Fortescue is striving for what he called “real zero”. “We’re creating the green energy to replace fossil fuels, designing green tech to enable real zero,” he said. Celebrating its 20th anniversary in August, Fortescue’s pivot from iron ore magnate to renewable powerhouse is certainly ambitious, especially given the recent shake-ups in the company’s executive leadership. Chief executive officer Fiona Hick announced her departure from the company the day after anniversary celebrations, six months after signing on with the mining giant. Just three days later, chief financial officer Christine Morris announced her exit after stepping into the role only two months ago, making her the 11th executive to leave the company in three years.
Non-executive director on the board of Fortescue company Fortescue Future Industries Guy Debelle also announced his resignation on the same day, having only been with the company for 143 days. Despite the changes, Forrest has remained optimistic about the company’s future plans. “All I can say is that people evolve (and) there is a difference between where they’re going and the whole mission of the company before anyone joined,” Forrest said at the Boao Forum in response to the resignations. But changes at the top seem to be hardly causing turmoil for Fortescue, with the company reporting an underlying net profit after tax of US$5.5 billion ($8.5 billion) in the 2022–23 financial year (FY23). As for the future of the company, Fortescue has outlined a clear plan for its shift towards renewables, with various projects underway in the research and development of green technologies. With this purpose in mind, Fortescue has established multiple research facilities as it’s 2030 decarbonisation goal approaches.
FORTESCUE IS INVESTING IN GREENER INFRASTRUCTURE LIKE WIND AND SOLAR FARMS. AUSTRALIANMINING 62 NOVEMBER 2023
Using solar, wind, geothermal and hydro energy, Fortescue plans to transition into hydrogen, ammonia and battery power, moving away from fossil fuels and divesting from brown energy. One of Fortescue’s aims is to take the first step towards decarbonising the company’s mobile fleet with the introduction of hydrogen powered coaches. The most abundant element on Earth, hydrogen can be stored in large quantities for long periods of time, able to be released without contributing to atmospheric or water pollution. Using renewable energy sources like solar and wind, Fortescue plans to harness hydrogen through electrolysis where it is turned into green hydrogen. This green hydrogen will then be used to power hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (EVs), which will replace its current fossil fuel dependant fleet. In collaboration with German-Swiss multinational equipment manufacturer Liebherr, Fortescue has already implemented the technology in
a hydrogen-powered haul truck, which will undergo on-site testing before the end of the year. Green hydrogen can also be made into green ammonia which can then be used in a multitude of ways, including as fuel for shipping and rail, or as a fertiliser for agriculture. Ammonia can by synthesised by combining hydrogen and nitrogen which, if sourced using renewable technology, makes green ammonia. Fortescue has been working hard to bring the power of green ammonia to fruition, setting its sights on a major overhaul of its current fuel sources, with a few key projects already underway. One such project is the retrofitting of a diesel ship engine to run on green ammonia. Fortescue’s marine projects team plans to carry out the first trials at sea later this year. With shipping alone contributing to three per cent of the world’s carbon emissions, rigs powered by renewables would go a long way to turning the tide towards net-zero. But Fortescue is looking beyond simply replacing fossil fuels with green alternatives, with a plan to revolutionise energy at the source with battery power. Recently integrating engineering services company Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) into the company, Fortescue has acquired its technology and knowledge in high-performance battery systems and electrification.
Combining WAE’s knowledge with the expertise of Fortescue Future Industries, Fortescue has taken steps towards embracing battery power and developing it for a variety of uses, the crown jewel of which is a battery electric haul truck prototype. Fortescue’s green fleet team have committed to testing both green hydrogen and battery power options, with the hopes of deploying the first operational green energy haul truck by 2026. Fortescue also plans to use WAE technology to develop its Infinity Train, an ambitious project coming with a whopping $US50 million ($77.6 million) price tag. A regenerating battery electric iron ore train, the Infinity Train will use gravitational energy generated on downhill loaded sections of Fortescue’s rail network to recharge its electric battery systems. Fortescue said the self-sustaining system, which will not require any additional charging for the return trip to reload, could be on the tracks in the next couple of years. Fortescue is also investigating and implementing green energy infrastructure projects that will ensure the continuation of technological developments. Since 2019, Fortescue has invested more than $US800 million ($1.2 billion) in significant green energy infrastructure projects.
FORTESCUE IS COMMITTED TO A ‘REAL ZERO’ TARGET TO ELIMINATE CARBON EMISSIONS FROM ITS OPERATIONS ENTIRELY.
Two of the biggest linchpins in its plan for green infrastructure has been the Pilbara Energy Connect (PEC) program and the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project, which will deliver 25 per cent of stationary power requirements from solar. The $US700 million ($1.08 billion) PEC program aims to bring together stationary energy facilities across the Pilbara into one secure network, capable of delivering renewable energy across Fortescue’s operations. PEC will eventually connect with the Chichester solar gas hybrid project, which reduced diesel usage by approximately 80 million litres in FY22. Though a hybrid solar and gas energy provider, PEC’s infrastructure supports the implementation of large-scale renewable energy in the future. The ultimate goal outside of the Fortescue’s 2030 real zero target is to establish global renewable energy supply chains by developing technology across industries. The company has focused on five key regions for the development of this network, including Australia, Norway, Kenya, the US and Brazil. Making long-awaited final major investment decisions on five green energy projects by December this year, Fortescue has teased four out of five projects will most likely begin with a focus on green ammonia. The projects include an ammonia export project at Gibson Island in Queensland slated to produce up to 400,000 tonnes a year, an ammonia plant in Norway to service the European market, a green ammonia project in Kenya powered by geothermal energy, a 12,000-tonne-per-year hydrogen hub in Phoenix, Arizona and an ammonia plant in Brazil aimed at exporting 300,000 tonnes a year. The company has also signed the Mining Convention for the Belinga iron ore project in Gabon in Central Africa with the aim of delivering its first shipment of ore by the end of the year.
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IMAGE CREDIT: T. SCHNEIDER / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Fortescue had pledged $US6.2 billion ($9.6 billion) in pursuit of its 2030 total decarbonisation goal. In a more controversial move, Forrest has said carbon offsets are off the table for good, with all funds previously allocated to carbon offsets to be used towards the company’s real zero goal, totalling several hundred million dollars over the next year. The 2030 goal includes eliminating Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions across its iron ore operations, doing away with directly created and bought emissions altogether. Fortescue also has a plan for netzero Scope 3 emissions by 2040, meaning emissions that fall within the company’s value chain but that are outside of its control, by reducing the emissions intensity of steelmaking and shipping by 25 and 50 per cent respectively. Speaking at the Northern Territory Resources Week in September, Fortescue Australia northern director Michael Gunner called for more support and more streamlined approvals processes from governments. “Fortescue’s commitment is real,” he said. “We are here – and we are green.” “And we want to make it easier for other companies to follow the same path so that we all move in the same direction. We want the entire resources industry moving as one towards real zero. “To get there, we need all handson deck. Not next week. Not next year. Now.” With only six years until the deadline for Fortescue’s 2030 real zero goal, the company has a long way to go. But Fortescue has made significant progress along its plan already, with clear targets in sight and serious investment in the pipeline. Though the iron ore giant has seen its fair share of challenges recently, its ambitious goals might be just what the industry needs to kickstart the race to full decarbonisation. AM
VAST STRETCHES OF THE SEA FLOOR ARE CARPETED WITH MINERAL-RICH DEPOSITS.
INTO THE BLUE AS NET-ZERO TARGETS LOOM, DEEP-SEA MINING MAY SOON HAVE ITS DAY IN THE SUN. BUT WHAT IS IT? AND HOW WILL IT CHANGE THE FUTURE OF MINING?
f global targets for emissions reduction are to be achieved, then the critical minerals necessary for the transition to clean energy need to be sourced – and quickly. While mining operations for battery metals are underway across the world, concern is rising over whether the resources contained in conventional surface and underground mines will be enough to meet the demands of the netzero shift. But the answer to the supply issue may lay deep below the surface of the ocean where critical resources are lying in wait. The deep sea holds a trove of critical minerals including copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, zinc, silver, gold and even rare earth elements. Critical minerals can be extracted from two types of seafloor deposits. The first of these is seafloor massive sulphides (SMS). SMS deposits form when cold seawater percolates down through the seafloor where it is heated and, as it rises, metals and sulphides are dissolved from the surrounding rocks.
As the rising hydrothermal fluid interacts with the cold sea water there is rapid precipitation of metal sulphides leading to chimney formations, with subsequent chimney collapse and coalescence forming sulphide mounds. SMS deposits can contain copper, zinc, silver and gold, but are usually only mined once the chimneys are no longer active due to hot gasses and marine life. Usually, the extinct SMS structures need to be cut before the ore is extracted from the sea floor. The ore is lifted or pumped in a slurry from the sea floor up to a ship so it can be delivered to onshore processing facilities to be refined. The second source of critical minerals in the ocean come from mineral-rich nodules that have formed on the sea floor by the billions. The deposits are called polymetallic nodules, formed by metals in the seawater precipitating around a small biological particle, often a fragment of fish bone laying on the seafloor. These nodules are mostly made up of metals like manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, copper and rare earth metals.
POLYMETALLIC NODULE EXPLORATION IS UNDERWAY IN THE COOK ISLANDS.
Last year Moana Minerals, a subsidiary of sea floor explorer Ocean Minerals (OM), was one of three companies granted a polymetallic nodules exploration licence in the Cook Islands exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Ocean Minerals aims to provide the world with the critical minerals needed for renewable energy through the responsible extraction of polymetallic nodules from the ocean. Chief executive officer Hans Smit told Australian Mining the company intends to use what is essentially a 16m-wide vacuum nozzle to suck the nodules from the sea floor. “We create a suction force by using water injected into the nozzle which causes a vacuum and then we use that vacuum to lift the nodules off the seafloor as a slurry,” he said.
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“Inside the seafloor machine the nodules are separated from the slurry with the bulk of sediment exiting out the back of the machine. The nodules are then transported vertically to the production vessel.” After separation from water and sediment on the production vessel, the nodules are collected for shipment to onshore processing plants. Once the mineral products are removed from the nodules there should be little waste left over, making the process an environmentally conscious practice. The average Cook Islands nodules are the size of golf balls with nodules in the 4.5-million-square-kilometre ClarionClipperton zone (CCZ) between Hawaii and Mexico being as large as a grapefruit.
The Cook Islands Government has actively encouraged environmentally responsible exploration and will use the data gathered to make an informed decision about potentially harvesting the nodules. “This exploration phase we are entering into is exciting and will open up a whole new world for us,” Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said of the issuing of the first licences to OM and two other companies. But leaders from the Melanesia Spearhead Group comprising of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and an alliance of pro-independence political parties from the French territory of New Caledonia, recently issued a moratorium on deep-sea mining in their jurisdictions until more is understood about the environmental impacts. This follows the shelving of PNG’s Solwara 1 project, which would have seen the undertaking of deepsea exploration and mining of SMS deposits of copper, gold, zinc and silver from the Bismarck Sea. PNG Prime Minister James Marape declared the Solwara 1 project would not go ahead without due diligence carried out regarding the potential environmental impacts. Ocean Minerals is no stranger to due diligence. The licencing process in the Cook Islands took well over a year to even be considered as a candidate, with extreme measures taken to ensure the sustainability of the project and the minimised risk to the environment.
“It took a lot of hard work, planning and risk assessments to ensure we would qualify,” Smit said. “Before we can even consider submitting for a mining licence, we need an environmental permit. All the work at the moment is focused on making sure we meet all those criteria.” With no environmental baseline to refer to for the largely unexplored area of sea floor, OM will spend the next two years and $US25 million ($38.9 million) establishing that baseline before an environmental impact statement can even begin. After that, rigorous stakeholder and public engagement and assessment will unfold before a decision to mine is reached. But Smit believes the Ocean Minerals exploration and extraction project could sway the neighbouring island nations to follow the Cook Islands’ lead in allowing the extraction of polymetallic nodules should it meet the terms of the nation’s expectations for environmental responsibility. Smit said the impact of deepsea mining on the environment is misunderstood, as polymetallic nodules carpet the sea floor in barren stretches largely devoid of life. Even SMS mining, which has been the centre of debate in the media for concerns of marine life dependant on the deposits, is largely misrepresented. SMS mining only targets dead deposits that no longer house life, as the hot gasses that marine life thrive on create a hostile environment inhibiting extraction.
Another concern is that sediment plumes created in SMS mining and polymetallic nodule extraction could affect marine life, but early evidence in the Cook Islands show these plumes dissipate quickly and are not the potential threat to life they were feared to be. Should deep-sea mining exploration go ahead amongst the island nations the potential contribution to the net-zero push could be huge, with findings from initial research on the Solwara 1 SMS project positioning PNG as a potential major player in the budding field. As for concerns over the removal of polymetallic nodules on marine ecosystems, Smit said the nodule free landscapes created by the removal of the nodules will transform into hubs of life, reflecting similar habitats adjacent to the nodule fields.
“We spend a lot of our time trying to inform people about the research we’re doing and the data we’re collecting,” he said. “Because a moratorium doesn’t mean ‘no’, a moratorium says ‘we need more data’. Let’s all work together to get that data.” Smit emphasised the reason that data is so important is that the polymetallic nodules are the only resource on the earth that can sufficiently provide the extra metals needed to achieve the transition to alternative energies. A renewable future is going to take millions of tonnes of minerals to realise, and all avenues of getting those minerals will need to be explored if the net-zero transition is possible. Whether that means sourcing critical minerals from land or from the ocean, the answers we need are lurking deep below the surface. AM
MOANA MINERALS IS ONE OF THREE COMPANIES CURRENTLY EXPLORING THE COOK ISLANDS.
POLYMETALLIC NODULES COULD PROVIDE THE CRITICAL MINERALS NEEDED TO REACH NET-ZERO.
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IMAGE CREDIT: AGENT WOLF / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
NEWMONT BECAME THE FIRST GOLD MINING COMPANY TO COMMISSION A FULLY AUTONOMOUS HAUL TRUCK FLEET AT ITS BODDINGTON MINE IN WA.
NEWMONT LOOKS AHEAD
NEWMONT CEO TOM PALMER DELVED INTO EMERGING GLOBAL MEGATRENDS AT THE RECENT MINERALS WEEK IN CANBERRA. S gold giant Newmont has made more than a few headlines down under in 2023, primarily as a result of its multi-billion-dollar purchase of Australian rival Newcrest earlier in the year. So when Newmont chief executive officer Tom Palmer addressed the audience during the 2023 Minerals Week, he took the opportunity to discuss the miner’s growing presence in Australia, as well as three emerging megatrends currently affecting the global mining industry. After first making a $24.45 billion offer for Newcrest in February, Newmont closed a $26.2 billion deal to acquire the Australian miner in May. “Almost 60 years ago, Newmont established an Australian subsidiary that operated until the early 1990s, when we merged our assets with BHP’s gold assets to create Newcrest Mining,” Palmer said. “Newmont then returned to Australia through our acquisition of Normandy in 2002, adding two assets that we have developed to become Tier 1 and core to our portfolio today – Boddington in Western Australia and Tanami in the Northern Territory.
“We are very excited to be on the cusp of further strengthening our position in Australia with the acquisition of Newcrest, creating a company that will set the clear standard for safe, profitable and responsible gold and copper production from a world-class portfolio of top-tier operations, three of which will be here in Australia.” The acquisition is on track for completion in the fourth quarter of 2023. “Upon closing, we will begin the important work of safely and responsibly integrating Newcrest’s people and assets into Newmont’s proven operating model, a way of working which has set us apart as the recognised, sustainability leader in the gold industry,” Palmer said. “The core of our transformed business will be an unmatched portfolio of ten Tier-1 operations… each with the scale, mine life, and cost profile to enable us to invest in our industry-leading sustainability strategy.” In addition to growing its already huge portfolio of gold assets, Newmont has its sights set on producing more copper, a critical mineral that will play a vital role in creating renewable sources of energy.
“According to S&P Global, copper demand is expected to nearly double from 25 million tonnes today to about 50 million tonnes by 2035 in order to deploy the technologies needed to achieve netzero targets by 2050,” Palmer said.
NEWMONT HAS A VESTED INTEREST IN COPPER – WHICH IS VITAL FOR THE GLOBAL ENERGY TRANSITION.
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“Based on current copper production trends, we will experience copper shortfalls of 10 million tonnes by 2035. In fact, by 2050, the world will only be producing 20 per cent of the copper needed to meet net-zero climate goals.
“Bridging this gap will require significantly more copper mines, copper recycling and enhanced copper leaching processes.” Through its acquisition of Newcrest, Newmont will increase its annual copper production by adding about 50 billion pounds of copper reserves and resources to its asset base.
Investors are increasingly matching broader societal expectations and demanding accountability, transparency and values-based decision-making from mining companies, and Palmer believes it’s important for Newmont to meet – and exceed – these demands to remain in business. For example, Newmont’s acquisition of Newcrest is dependent on external factors such as approvals from regulatory bodies and communities. “We are going to need to bank as much goodwill and trust as possible by demonstrating that we are responsible actors guided by strong values,” he said. “While the global mining industry generates nearly $US2 trillion ($3.1 trillion) annually in economic and social contributions – including $255 billion here (in Australia) – apart from some local recognition and acknowledgement in certain communities and countries like Australia, the world at large continues to view us with suspicion. “This is in part due to the darker legacy of mining from decades ago, but also the high-profile tailings dam disasters in our recent past.” To avoid past mistakes, Palmer said Newmont, along with the rest of the mining sector, will need to think more than just transactionally when interacting with key stakeholders.
NEWMONT’S ACQUISITION OF NEWCREST WILL COMBINE TWO OF THE WORLD’S LEADING GOLD PRODUCERS.
“This will require us to leverage the capability, creativity and goodwill of our workforces and community partners to anchor our decisions and actions in people-centric approaches,” he said. “It is about establishing and maintaining long-lasting relationships built on trust and respect; relationships that have at their foundation the creation of safe, healthy and equitable workplaces.”
Palmer said technology has helped make businesses safer, cleaner, more efficient and productive. He cited automation as an example.
NEWMONT’S OWNERSHIP OF AUSTRALIAN GOLD ASSETS IS SET TO EXCEED 50 PER CENT BY ACQUIRING NEWCREST.
“Automation is helping us mitigate safety risks, reduce emissions and improve efficiency,” Palmer said. “Specifically, autonomous vehicles, automated drilling, remote operations and asset monitoring are critical to how we mine today and even more so in the future.” In 2021, Newmont commissioned a fully autonomous haul truck fleet at its Boddington mine in WA. “Since we implemented this technology at Boddington two years ago, we have seen zero workplace injuries from haul fleet operations, 50 per cent reduction in vehicle damage, 90 per cent reduction in tyre damage,” Palmer said. “And prior to its implementation at Boddington, we typically recorded more than 3000 micro-sleeps by our operators each year. That number is now zero and a significant fatality risk has been eliminated.” In the same year, Newmont announced a $100 million agreement with Caterpillar to develop, build, test and deploy battery-electric trucks in operating mines. “We are working to implement energy efficiency improvements at our operating sites and working with our suppliers to reduce emissions in power generation and transportation,” Palmer said. “This includes advancing renewable power for both our Boddington and Tanami operations.” Palmer also touched on artificial intelligence (AI), which Newmont is using to monitor air, water quality and wildlife. “Like any technology, AI, including large language models like ChatGPT, are advancing and self-learning so rapidly that even their own creators are
AUSTRALIANMINING 67 NOVEMBER 2023
not sure how they are able to do what they do,” Palmer said. “We must prepare our businesses and our workforces to responsibly navigate these technological opportunities and threats by anchoring ourselves in our core values so that we can all make moral and people-centric decisions in fastmoving and complex situations either driven or exacerbated by technology.”
As a global marketplace, the mining industry is interconnected with the world’s political landscape. This opens the door for opportunity. “Our work as leaders in the resources sector extends well beyond the boundaries of our operations and into local communities, civil society organisations, legislatures, ministerial, and presidential offices,” Palmer said. “As leaders in the mining industry, if we are to navigate resource nationalism and turbulent geopolitical trends so we can satisfy society’s rapidly growing demand for the minerals we produce, then we are going to have to quickly adapt and invest the time, energy, resources and skills needed to focus on regular, quality engagement with governments and other stakeholders.” Palmer added that values-based governance, transparency and accountability are critical to all three of the emerging megatrends. “The responsible production of gold, copper and other minerals remains the only way we can generate sustainable value for our workforces, communities, host countries and shareholders while supplying the essential resources necessary for the new energy future,” Palmer said. AM
PAVING THE FUTURE TONNES OF WASTE CONCRETE AMASS ON MINE SITES EVERY YEAR, AND DISPOSAL COSTS OFTEN RUN INTO THE MILLIONS – UNTIL NOW.
s the Australian mining industry gears up for a net-zero push, major innovations in technology are needed to make the leap to a
greener future. Fortunately, many of those innovations are here. Decades of experience, not to mention being in the right place at the right time, was what led to Remote Area Concrete chief executive officer Roger Osborn’s innovation that could save the mining industry millions and keep countless tonnes of concrete out of landfill. Osborn’s idea was to produce relocatable concrete modules for, but not restricted to, short- or long-term workshops and wash-down pads for trucks, as well as a multitude of other infrastructure requirements. The concrete slabs traditionally used for workshops and washing are broken up and discarded when no longer needed at the site, but Osborn’s speciallydesigned modules have changed that approach. “After being out of the industry for a while, a previous client contacted me
regarding a wash-pad for a short-term project he was working on,” Osborn told Australian Mining. “At the time I was helping a mate who was short a truck driver for his sideloader which was carting sea containers from the wharves. “Realising the lifting capacity of the side loader and the ability to move modules of such a dimension as to be stable when positioned, I set about the designing process and had heavy-duty concrete modules engineered that would be suitable for multiple uses.” Across Australia, thousands of traditional concrete slabs are used every year with no potential for resale, and those slabs have to be installed. This requires imported manpower, and quite often limited site accommodation, along with demolition and disposal using rockbreakers and tippers. This can come with huge costs to mine operators when the project is completed or no longer viable. The result is wasted concrete clogging up the environment and hundreds of thousands of dollars forked out by mines to have another slab built nearby. But Remote Area Concrete’s relocatable concrete modules are
designed to lock in together to form one strong unit that easily detaches when the project has been completed, rather than needing rockbreakers and tippers, not to mention cutting of re-enforcement and dumping of precious resources into landfill. Once in landfill, these resources become useless. The Remote Area Concrete modules are able to be transferred quickly and economically to an alternative location, using easily available equipment and can be reconfigured to multiple designs. “The versatility of the modules makes them suitable for several industries,” Osborn said. “There is no requirement for provision on newly sourced materials. RAC standard layout requires 80m3 of concrete or approximately 140 tonnes of sand or aggregate and 36 tonnes of cement. “Relocating can happen in as quickly as a day. It converts workshops and previous heavy infrastructure from being a liability to a saleable asset.” With savings of up to $230,000 per workshop, Remote Area Concrete sees a big future in bringing versatility and sustainability to the mining industry and beyond.
“We believe that there are so many options for our modules,” Osborn said. “At the moment, our target is mining; however, civil projects will be targeted, as will potential hire opportunities.” Having successfully installed its first relocatable concrete module on a mine site, Remote Area Concrete was able to deliver a cost-effective solution to a longterm problem. “The client has already found that a change of circumstances has given them the opportunity of relocating their workshop and enabling them to prioritise their newest acquisition,” Osborn said. Happy customers, happy environment, happy industry. Remote Area Concrete is committed to supplying the future landscape of mining with a focus on cost effectiveness and sustainability. As the mining industry faces the challenge of net-zero targets and decarbonisation, it’s innovations like Remote Area Concrete’s – innovations that rethink the way it’s always been done – that will grow the industry, support the economy, and protect the environment. AM
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DRIVING RESPECT MAKING THE MINING INDUSTRY A SAFER AND MORE RESPECTFUL PLACE TO WORK IS A JOB FOR THE ENTIRE SECTOR.
he mining industry is constantly refining its processes and practices to make the sector a safer place to work. But creating a respectful industry cannot be done alone; it requires the efforts of everyone involved. In light of this important understanding, the mining industry came together in Perth at the Mining Industry Summit: Driving Respect in August. The summit aimed to educate, inspire and empower leaders to drive respect in the sector while taking meaningful action towards preventing and responding to workplace sexual harassment. The event formed part of the Western Australian Government’s response to the Enough is Enough report, which looked into sexual harassment of women in the fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mining industry. The report stemmed from revelations of harassment and assault occurring at remote mine sites and mining camps, and was the predecessor for the Respect at Work Act 2022. The most significant evolution in workplace law in recent years, the Act affects a number of different
pieces of legislation, creating strict obligations for employers when it comes to sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination. Under previous laws, employers could be held vicariously liable for sexual harassment and discrimination where they failed to make all reasonable steps to prevent the behaviour from occurring. This is still the case, however, the new Act represents the first time the law has enforced a positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps in eliminating sex-related discriminatory behaviours in the workplace. While attending the summit, Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King reinforced the Australian Government’s stance on sexual harassment. “Given the significant skills shortages we are seeing across the resources sector and the wider economy, we cannot have a mining and energy sector which inhibits women’s full participation,” King said in her speech. “We are working with industry to enforce compliance with the law to ensure we have safe and inclusive workplaces … that welcome, encourage, value and support women to have rewarding careers in resources.
THE DRIVING RESPECT SUMMIT FORMED PART OF THE WESTERN AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO THE ENOUGH IS ENOUGH REPORT.
“The law now places a duty on all employers to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault in workplaces, and that includes the resources sector. Employers must implement change now.” Also at the summit was Mineral Resources (MinRes) executive general manager, people, Andrea Chapman, who gave an enlightening talk on MinRes’
response to the Enough is Enough report. “What we have done to really demonstrate to our people that inclusivity is really important to us, and something that I am so proud of is the #IAmMinRes campaign,” Chapman said. “This is a campaign that absolutely pays respect to our people that work for us and recognises they are so
THE MINING INDUSTRY CAME TOGETHER FOR THE DRIVING RESPECT SUMMIT IN PERTH IN AUGUST.
AUSTRALIANMINING 70 NOVEMBER 2023
much more than the job title that they have at work, that all of us bring our own story.” #IAmMinRes is a collection of black-and-white portraits of employees displaying their unique superpowers, captured by photographer Russell James. The images include people showing off their basketball skills, sitting down to meditate, caring for their pets and plants and showing their culture through clothing and makeup.
WE ARE WORKING WITH INDUSTRY TO ENFORCE COMPLIANCE WITH THE LAW TO ENSURE WE HAVE SAFE AND INCLUSIVE WORKPLACES … THAT WELCOME, ENCOURAGE, VALUE AND SUPPORT WOMEN.” “Through this visual exploration, we reflect on our heritage and a few of the people that have made this possible,” MinRes said when announcing the campaign. Ivy Chen, MinRes’ orebody knowledge and operational support manager, was also at the summit, speaking on a panel that focused on inclusive and diverse workplaces EVENTS LIKE THE DRIVING RESPECT SUMMIT MEAN THE ISSUE IS BEING PUSHED FURTHER INTO THE LIGHT.
alongside WA Liberal Party leader Libby Mettam and WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne. Chen encouraged employers to “take a risk” and “pick someone who is slightly different, like my managers did over 30 years ago when they picked this young Asian geologist”. Alongside Chen’s panel, Curtin University’s Centre for Transformative Work Design professor Sharon Parker presented early data from the Mental Awareness, Respect and Safety (MARTS) program. The survey featured responses from more than 3000 WA mining workers and found that 36 per cent of women had experienced sexist hostility in the past year. This was compared to 9.1 per cent of men experiencing the same. “As we heard today, many stakeholders in the sector… are working really hard to improve the mining workers’ experiences,” Parker said. “But it is clear from our research … that more needs to be done.” While there is still more to be done to make the sector as safe and respectful as possible, events like the Mining Industry Summit: Driving Respect mean the issue is being pushed further into the light. “It’s been wonderful to see the action over the last five years to bring us to today, and particularly in WA,” Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said. “No, we’re not there yet, but at least we’re trying to make moves towards that change.” AM
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INSIDE COATES’ POWER AND HVAC INNOVATIONS COATES’ POWER AND HVAC MANAGER KURT EDWARDS REFLECTS ON THE COMPANY’S COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE AND FORWARD-THINKING.
he term “Be our best” isn’t just a guiding principle at Coates. It embodies the core of the company’s Power and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) division, driving every strategy and initiative. Kurt Edwards is at the centre of this ongoing effort. Beginning his career as an apprentice refrigeration mechanic in the late ’90s, Edwards’ role has evolved into a key one for the industry, one that showcases Coates’ dedication to progressive approaches and customer satisfaction. Now in his second year at Coates, Edwards has played a crucial role in helping the company carve a unique niche, helping it focus on delivering turnkey solutions that address power, compressed air, and climate control needs, ensuring seamless operations across various sectors. When asked about his daily responsibilities, Edwards spoke candidly about the unpredictable nature of his workdays. “We try to build as much routine as we can, but duty and customers call, and days can often take unexpected turns,” he said. Despite the fluctuating economic landscape, Edwards and his team remain focused on advancing temperature control equipment, a project that promises to bring significant benefits to the sector. “Dedication to quality and customer satisfaction guides the team in
developing solutions that are reliable, scalable and responsive,” he said. “We look to integrate with site activities and work with the customer to reach great outcomes in, what are often, very dynamic environments.” Reflecting on his leadership style, Edwards said he tries to lead by example. “I won’t ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t or haven’t done myself,” he said.
DEDICATION TO QUALITY AND CUSTOMER SATISFACTION GUIDES THE TEAM IN DEVELOPING SOLUTIONS THAT ARE RELIABLE, SCALABLE AND RESPONSIVE. WE LOOK TO INTEGRATE WITH SITE ACTIVITIES AND WORK WITH THE CUSTOMER.” This philosophy has fostered a team that embodies a mix of expertise and dedication, moving Coates to a notable position in the industry. The Power and HVAC team at Coates, selected by Edwards, reflects the company’s commitment to excellence and forward-thinking.
COATES’ POWER AND HVAC MANAGER KURT EDWARDS.
“We’ve built a team around complementary skills,” Edwards said, emphasising the strategic approach to assembling a group that enhances one another’s strengths.
COATES POWER AND HVAC PROVIDES TURNKEY SOLUTIONS FOR POWER, COMPRESSED AIR, CLIMATE CONTROL AND PROCESS COOLING.
AUSTRALIANMINING 72 NOVEMBER 2023
This collaboration is evident in the strong working relationships within the team, showcasing the ‘one team’ spirit. Setting Coates Power and HVAC apart from its competitors is the scale and footprint of the broader business. “It is genuinely set up for success,” Edwards said. He also notes notes that Coates encourages personal development and fosters a culture where progression is a reality, as seen in the career trajectories of many senior staff at the company. In an industry known for continuous advancements, Edwards leads the Coates Power and HVAC division with a defined vision. The focus is on promoting teamwork, fostering personal and professional growth, and delivering excellent customer solutions. Power and HVAC complements Coates’ end-to-end solutions offering, which includes industrial solutions, engineering solutions, and training. AM
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A GOLDEN NORTH CAREER OPPORTUNITIES ABOUND AT NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES – AND THE GOLD INDUSTRY GROUP CAN HELP PEOPLE FIND THEM.
ince its inception, the Gold Industry Group has led long-term initiatives that grow understanding of the sector’s value to the Australian economy and broader community. The not-for-profit association’s latest initiative is its Gold Jobs platform, an online hub providing information on career pathways and opportunities in the Australian gold mining industry. The online hub makes it easier for job-seekers, employees, students and teachers to stay alert on employment and career pathway opportunities in the gold sector. So far this year, 60,000 users have explored the website and more than 600 job opportunities have been posted to the platform from some of Australia’s largest gold mining operations and organisations. One of these companies is Northern Star Resources, which has posted more than 100 opportunities on the platform since July. Northern Star Resources’ executive manager of people and culture Marianne Dravnieks told Australian Mining that the major miner had been a member of the Gold Industry Group since its inception in 2015. “We are represented on the Gold Industry Group’s governing board by one of our executives,” she said.
“The Gold Industry Group’s vision to connect Australians to the gold industry – by working together to strengthen the industry, promote its value, support its people and grow the sector’s communities – resonates strongly with Northern Star and aligns with our approach to work with all stakeholders.” As a global-scale gold producer, Northern Star is creating many new roles for experienced and enthusiastic mine workers across its three production centres: Yandal and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, and Pogo in Alaska. “Roles that need to be filled cover the full range of gold mining jobs, with a particular focus on production roles at the moment,” Dravnieks said. “For example, we are actively recruiting for open-pit operators, process technicians, mechanical fitters and mining engineers.” Northern Star is ideally looking for candidates with operations experience and successful past employment in the gold sector, but it is also providing entrylevel opportunities. This includes fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) and residential opportunities. “The scale of our operations in WA, for example, means our people can enjoy a great career within the one company,” Dravnieks said. “They can seek opportunities in open-pit and
NORTHERN STAR PRIORITISES ITS WORKERS’ HEALTH AND WELLBEING WHILE DRIVING RESPECTFUL BEHAVIOURS.
NORTHERN STAR IS COMMITTED TO ACHIEVING ITS GROWTH AMBITIONS SAFELY.
underground mines and in residential as well as FIFO roles. “In addition, there is the opportunity to work for our in-house mining services business, which operates across many of our sites.” Northern Star believes that every role is important for its success. “Like many of our gold peers, we have a significant growth program in front of us as we drive our purpose to generate superior returns for stakeholders,” Dravnieks said. “To make sure we successfully and safely achieve our growth ambitions, we need to recruit more people who want to join the Northern Star family. “At Northern Star, we are proud of our roots in WA’s gold sector and NORTHERN STAR’S WA OPERATIONS ARE FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES.
AUSTRALIANMINING 75 NOVEMBER 2023
the fact that we operate in Tier-1 jurisdictions in WA and Alaska. We live in the communities in which our stakeholders live.” Northern Star workers operate under a high standard that prioritises health and wellbeing while driving respectful behaviours. “Our leadership knowledge base is strong and our processes are robust,” Dravnieks said. “Our people experience a stable and effective organisation that they can grow in and evolve with as they develop their careers in the gold sector. “Gold holds a special place in many people’s hearts – and that extends to opportunities to work in the gold sector.” AM IMAGE CREDIT: NST
IMAGE CREDIT: NST
E T S E N N T S E N N T S E N N T
BOA CLAMPS FOR LAYFLAT PIPELINE COUPLINGS The Boa Clamp from Crusader Hose is a secure fitting method that has been designed to firmly fit a coupling to a layflat hose pipeline. This non-corrosive aluminium clamp is made up of three segments that bolt together. It has been engineered to accommodate layflat hose at every stage of its life. The unique mating sections at the segment joins prevent potential leaking after a refit. When clamped over a Boa coupling tail designed with advanced manufacturing technology, fitting the Boa Clamp is foolproof. A location rib ensures the clamp’s correct positioning, making fitting layflat hose pipelines on-site easy and reliable. The clamp bolts are first tightened with an impact drill. Then the tension is refined with a torque wrench to ensure a secure and leak-free connection. The clamps have been tested to 3500 kilopascal and are suitable for pumping up high pit walls.
HIPO RUBBER DIAPHRAGMS FOR GHT 2000
Thejo Engineering Limited, a leading engineering solutions provider, has introduced its MULTITRAK range of conveyor belt tracking systems with an unconventional approach to the training of conveyor belts. MULTITRAK features a multi-plane pivot mechanism that combines vertical as well as horizontal movement to quickly correct even the slightest belt mistracking. The vertical tilt action resists the mis-tracking of belt and provides a banking which reduces the effort required to track the belt back. The horizontal pivot action steers the belt back to its true line. The tracking rollers are rubberised and have a tapered profile. The tapering effect of the carrying idler reduces the wandering tendency by providing a more stable and controlled path whereas the rubberised surface provides superior traction force to train the belt effectively. Tapered ends of the return idler help to negate belt cupping and ensures even surface contact with the belt. Heavy duty bearings are incorporated in the pivot mechanism to ensure long service life. The frames and arms are adjustable to adapt to the site conditions without any modification. MULTITRAK belt trackers are available for carrying belt, flat return, and V-return belts. Available in standard sizes from 650mm to 2400mm belt width, MULTITRAK is available in custom sizes also on demand.
LAYHER’S TWIXBEAM EXPANDS ITS CONSTRUCTION PORTFOLIO
A RANGE OF PROTECTIVE CAPS
Construction sites often involve jobs where beam solutions are required. Depending on the application, matching supplementary components are available in the Layher construction kit – structurally and dimensionally integrated. The new TwixBeam has now expanded the portfolio with a high-strength and versatile solution. The supplementary component consists of two 200mm-high perforated aluminium U-sections bolted to one another. It features lightweight components made of aluminium, plus the option of dismantling them to speed up assembly and make them easier to use in cramped conditions. It even makes passing material through narrow manholes possible. There are also many matching expansion parts available – for example a beam connector, an insertion beam, a spindle strut for stiffening and bracing, plus a swivelling spindle for every required angle. Both standard and suspended structures can be built, with all round standards passed through, with the standard connection or with the swivelling spindle. Combination with the aluminium FlexBeam is also possible.
When an Industry 4.0-ready device is installed on a mine site, they need to be able to handle the extreme industry environment. If dust or water make their way into a splitter box, module or field master, it can damage the vital electronics within. That’s why ifm has designed a range of protective caps for use in wet and dusty areas. Their robust, high-quality stainless-steel design protects what is important. Other dust caps may be removed or can be knocked off, revealing the sockets and pins to the elements. The E12542 protective caps screw onto the sockets and form a complete seal, while the E12598 caps protect plugs on sensors and IO-link masters. The caps can operate in ambient temperatures between -25 to 100°C and ensure the protection rating, even if sockets are not used. They come in a bag of four and are available online.
• layher.com/en AUSTRALIANMINING 76 NOVEMBER 2023
THE NEW WISDOM PERSONAL SAFETY STROBE LIGHT
SANDVIK ADDS TORO LH208L TO ITS RANGE
The Wisdom Pharos 7 personal safety strobe light is the latest in visibility safety from Perfect Image. Built specifically for the mining industry, the strobe lights shine in a range of colours including red, blue, green, amber and white, and are visible up to 400m. This makes the position of workers obvious in a mining operation, keeping them safe while heavy machinery and vehicles operate around them. On constant mode the lights have a runtime of around nine hours, while on flashing mode they can run for up to 50 hours. Pharos 7 lights are USB rechargeable with a charging time of two hours. The lights can be purchased with an adapter USB cable for individual use, or with a charging rack to charge multiple at a time for commercial use.
• https://pii.net.au Sandvik has added another low-profile loader to the Toro family, with the Toro LH208L loader designed to operate efficiently in conditions where working height is extremely limited. The Toro LH208L loader is a strong and reliable workhorse for low-profile hard rock mining, specifically designed for the toughest and narrowest of conditions, with an equipment height of only 1.6 metres and a payload capacity of 7.7 tonnes. With its robust reinforced structure, compact size, high payload capacity and components that are designed to perform in the mine environment, the loader is tailored to meet the productivity targets in applications where space is limited. Toro LH208L loader frames are reinforced to resist ground and roof impacts, and the welded steel box structures used in the frame and boom provide strong resistance to shock loads.
NEOUSYS UNLEASHES NEW GENERATION OF EDGE AI INFERENCE COMPUTER Neousys Technology has announced its latest edge artificial intelligence (AI) inference computer, the Nuvo-9166GC. By supporting Intel 13th/12th-Gen processor and an NVIDIA L4, the platform delivers excellent central processing unit (CPU) computation prowess and AI inference capabilities. Thanks to its flexible camera connectivity, the platform is ideal for multi-camera applications requiring real-time responses, such as industrial AI inspection, robotic guidance, and advanced autonomous machines. The system supports NVIDIA L4, a data centre grade graphics processing unit (GPU) powered by NVIDIA Ada Lovelace architecture for energy-efficient AI acceleration applications. It offers up to 30.3 TFLOPS in FP32 or 485 TOPS in INT8 to set new benchmarks for industrial edge AI computing. As thermal management is vital with any edge systems, Nuvo-9166GC has a proven design to guarantee reliable operation from -25°C to 60°C. The system features a passive-cooling design for the CPU and DDR5 memory module. It also has a segregated and patented cassette module with an air tunnel to continuously guide cool airflow through the passive heat sink of NVIDIA L4, guaranteeing optimum performance.
WORKWEAR THAT GETS THE JOB DONE Blackwoods understands that some jobs require workwear that is built tougher, and more durable than lightweight or traditional workwear. Jobs that require hard work need workwear that is both up to the job in keeping workers safe and designed to last. Heavy industrial workwear has the added condition of being able to withstand industrial laundering. Blackwoods has access to one of the largest ranges of heavyweight workwear options to keep workers safe on those tougher jobs. Along with the foundations that 145 years of experience delivers, Blackwoods has a team of technical specialists and dedicated account managers who can conduct onsite visits to deliver in-depth fit-for-purpose product assessments, in-field technical support, product profile reviews and recommended stock profiles that are aligned directly to the needs of your business.
AUSTRALIANMINING 77 NOVEMBER 2023
CONFERENCES, SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS EVENT SUBMISSIONS CAN BE EMAILED TO EDITOR@AUSTRALIANMINING.COM.AU
Australian Mining Prospect Awards Brisbane | November 9 Taking place in Brisbane in 2023, the Australian Mining Prospect Awards are a great opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the people and companies in the mining sector for their outstanding work. Nominations are open for the 2023 event, with awards honouring categories such as Indigenous and Community Engagement, Mine Project Success of the Year, Outstanding Mine Performance, Sustainability Project of the Year, Discovery of the Year and more. Some of the 2022 award winners included Kestrel Coal for Australian Mine of the Year, Roy Hill for Mine Project Success of the Year, and Flexco Australia for Excellence in IIOT Application. This year, the awards will return to Brisbane in appreciation of the vibrancy and importance of the state’s thriving mining industry. • prospectawards.com.au Critical Minerals Conference 2023 Perth | November 21–23 Critical minerals are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean-energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles. The increasing appetite and rapid pace of the transition to cleaner energy sources
continues to drive the growth in demand for these minerals, and in response the supporting industries are also growing at unprecedented rates. To address this rapid growth, AusIMM will launch its inaugural Critical Minerals Conference in 2023. The event will include a multi-stream format and seek to engage with a larger audience from multiple disciplines as well as a wide range of industry. • ausimm.com/conferences-and-events/ critical-minerals Future of Mining Australia Sydney | March 18–19 Future of Mining Australia will be held at the Sydney Masonic Centre on March 18–19, 2024. The event connects c-suite, heads and managers of mine operations and mining equipment, technology and services (METS) providers from top enterprises around the globe. Future of Mining addresses the key strategic and operational questions that matter from project/operations level management through to the boardroom. Participants will debate and define the future mining landscape across Australia. The event is designed to step away from the traditional transactional conference model to provide a transformational experience. • future-of-mining.com/sydney/en/page/ home
Women in Industry Awards 2024 Sydney | June 20 The Women in Industry awards are an opportunity to celebrate the success of women who work in the mining industry. The awards night, to be held in Sydney on June 20, features multiple categories that showcase exceptional examples of industry advocacy, mentorship and broad sector excellence. The Women in Industry Awards recognise outstanding women from across a range of industrials sectors; for example, those who work in mining, transport, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, bulk handling, waste management, rail and construction and infrastructure – all sectors that are traditionally maledominated. This is an opportunity to recognise the women who are driving change in industry and – in doing so – breaking down barriers and creating new possibilities for the next generation. • womeninindustry.com.au QME 2024 Mackay | July 23–25 The Queensland Mining & Engineering Exhibition (QME) connects leading suppliers and technical experts with those seeking better efficiency, better productivity and increased optimisation for their business and site. QME will feature over 250 suppliers and will host a free-to-attend seminar
AUSTRALIANMINING 78 NOVEMBER 2023
series giving opportunities to hear from industry professionals who will address the current needs of the industry. With live demonstrations and topical presentations, QME will be the ultimate destination for the Queensland mining industry. The event is a key place for the industry to come together to be inspired, innovate and connect over three days. • queenslandminingexpo.com.au PNG Industrial & Mining Resources Exhibition and Conference Port Moresby, PNG | July 24–25 The 2024 PNG Industrial & Mining Resources Exhibition will showcase over 100 local, national and international manufacturers and suppliers with the latest innovations in the supply of services and equipment for the industrial, mining, and oil and gas sectors. The two-day exhibition is the premier meeting place to connect and network with thousands of industry decision makers across a broad industry reach, including senior management, procurement, government personnel, engineers, contractors and trade technicians. With extensive support from key stakeholders in government, associations and industry, PNG2024 is a premier meeting place for industry trade and a forum for establishing high-quality customer contacts and conducting business. • https://pngexpo.com
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YOUR WATER CHALLENGES
IN GLOBAL WATER
TECHNOLOGY We are a global team unified in a common purpose: creating advanced technology solutions to the world’s water challenges. Developing new technologies that will improve the way water is used, conserved, and re-used in the future is central to our work. Our products and services move, treat, analyse, monitor, and return water to the environment, in mining, quarry, public utility, industrial, residential, and commercial building services settings. We also provide a leading portfolio of smart metering, network technologies, and advanced analytics solutions.
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