Industry NEWS

17 February 2020

Outokumpu selects Sandvik’s OptiMine system for underground operations

Stainless steel manufacturing firm Outokumpu has selected mining automation company Sandvik to deliver OptiMine digital platform to drive digitalisation.

The platform will be used as an underground operations management system to improve productivity at Outokumpu’s Kemi mine in Finland.

The site has been using several solutions for managing underground operations for more than a decade and is a leader in mine digitalisation.

It is located 20km from Outokumpu’s Tornio Works. All mining operations at Kemi take place underground.

Under the contract, Sandvik OptiMine will replace several existing systems and integrate them as a single solution at the Kemi mine, which is a source of chromite ore.

The agreement also comprises a Newtrax tag-based personnel and vehicle positioning solution.

Outokumpu Ferrochrome business area senior vice-president Martti Sassi said: “One of the key elements of digitalisation at Kemi mine is improving the situational picture. By visualising mine operations and conditions in real-time, we are enabling well-timed decision making and forecasting.

“Sandvik OptiMine and Newtrax positioning solutions will have a major role in Kemi Mine’s underground operations scheduling, task management and visualisation.”

Sandvik will support Outokumpu throughout the implementation of the OptiMine solution at the Kemi mine. It will also provide support and after commissioning.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Automation vice-president Riku Pulli said: “OptiMine is known for its exceptional performance in demanding mining conditions. The scalability and productivity increase capabilities of the OptiMine platform have made it the technology of choice for a multitude of mines.

“We are delighted to leverage our experience to deliver safe and reliable technologies in line with Kemi Mine’s production demands. Sandvik has the right global expertise and strong local support to help keep mines up and running safely and productively at all times.”

In November 2019, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology unveiled new 2711 class narrow size drills.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology is a business area within the Sandvik Group.

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14 February 2020

Teranga secures approvals to acquire stake in Massawa Gold Project

Teranga Gold has secured approvals from the Senegalese Government to proceed to conclude the previously announced acquisition of a 90% stake in the Massawa Gold Project in Senegal, Africa.

Following the approvals, the company will now acquire the stake for $430m from a wholly owned subsidiary of Barrick and its joint venture (JV) partner, Compagnie Sénégalaise de Transports Transatlantiques Afrique de l’Ouest.

The Government of Senegal will own the remaining 10% interest in the Massawa Gold Project.

Senegal gave formal consent to Teranga’s plans to integrate Massawa into its existing Sabodala Gold Mine.

The approvals received also include the government’s formal waiver of its equity participation right to elect, on its behalf or on behalf of the private sector, to acquire up to an additional 25% in the Massawa Gold Project at market value.

Teranga Gold noted that these approvals were key conditions precedent to the closing of the deal, which was signed in December last year.

The deal includes an upfront payment of $380m and a contingent payment of up to $50m based on the average gold price for the three-year period when it closes.

The remaining conditions to close the deal are expected to be satisfied by Barrick and Teranga in the coming weeks.

These conditions include government approvals for exploitation and residual exploration licences for the project.

The completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to occur within the first quarter of this year.

Massawa is a high-grade undeveloped open-pit gold reserves project located within trucking distance of Teranga’s flagship Sabodala gold mine and has mineral reserves of 2.6Moz from 20.9Mt at 3.94g/t.

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14 February 2020

Brexit investments paying off for UK mining companies

UK mining and quarrying industry earnings have increased by more than £2bn since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, according to analysis of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data by R&D tax relief specialist Catax.

Over the same period, the industry more than halved its overall investment positions in the EU British investment in EU companies fell from £34.4bn in 2015 to £16bn in 2018, a 53.5% decrease. However, earnings rose from negative £91m in 2015 to positive £2.1bn in 2018.

Catax CEO Mark Tighe said: “The mining industry has clearly made some hard decisions about the future, with investment positions being wound down on both sides of the Channel.

“But for UK firms these sensible decisions have clearly paid off, with mining and quarrying firms enjoying a boom in earnings, emerging this side of Brexit in stronger position.

“This is more good news for British industry as the country starts to set its own course on the journey to become a new outward-looking nation outside the EU.”

The EU referendum caused years of fluctuations in the value of the pound due to uncertainty over Britain’s future relationship with its largest trade partner.

Since the referendum, EU investment in the UK mining sector decreased by a third from £52.5bn in 2015 to £35.2bn in 2017.

The UK mining sector has fared considerably better than other sectors including utilities, which has increased its investments in the EU by 400% but seen earnings increase by just 23%.

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14 February 2020

Tunnel collapses at Mozambique ruby mine kill 11 illegal miners

At least 11 illegal miners in northern Mozambique’s Montepuez ruby mine have died following a series of tunnel collapses over three days.

The mine is 75% owned by the UK-based natural resources firm Gemfields.

According to Gemfields, approximately 800 artisanal miners entered Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM)’s Maninge Nice 3 mining pit.

Despite repeated warnings from MRM staff, these illegal miners were seeking ruby-bearing gems and began undercutting the outer edge of the mining pit. This led to several ground collapse incidents, killing 11 artisanal miners over three days.

MRM personnel provided humanitarian aid where required, stated Gemfields.

BBC cited Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy general inspector Obete Matine as saying that the walls of one tunnel had first collapsed at the Montepuez site, killing one man.

The other miners continued digging despite the tunnel collapse, resulting in the death of two more miners following a second collapse.

There were eight additional deaths as illegal mining operations were not suspended.

Matine added that most of the victims were young people appointed by smugglers to extract precious stones from the mineral-rich region.

Gemfields’ involvement in the 2009-discovered Montepuez deposits started in June 2011, as part of a deal between Gemfields and original titleholder Mwiriti, under which Gemfields acquired 75% of the mine.

In June 2019, an accident at a copper and cobalt mine owned by British-Swiss mining firm Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) killed 43 illegal miners.

In March 2018, Mustang Resources secured a mining concession for the Montepuez ruby project.

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13 February 2020

ICMM updates membership requirements for mining companies

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has today launched its enhanced membership requirements, which have been expanded to include requirements for site-level validation and transparent disclosure. ICMM’s Mining Principles – the requirements for membership – “seek to maximise the industry’s benefits to host communities and minimise negative impacts to effectively manage issues of concern to society” according to a statement from ICMM.

The new principles build on ICMM’s initial 10 principles for sustainable development launched in 2003. The enhanced Mining Principles strengthen social and environmental requirements on issues including labour rights, resettlement and access to grievance mechanisms, and sustainability issues arising from pollution and waste.

The principles define environmental, social and governance good practice requirements for the mining metals industry through a comprehensive set of performance expectations. ICMM’s Mining Principles are in place to support progress towards the global targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change.

ICMM brings together 27 mining and metals companies including AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick and Rio Tinto, as well as 36 regional and commodity associations. As a condition of membership, ICMM’s Mining Principles will apply to roughly 650 assets across more than 50 countries.

ICMM chief operating officer Aidan Davy said: “Mining and metals are critically important to society – as a catalyst for sustainable social and economic progress and as essential materials for the technologies needed to address climate change – but they must be produced responsibly.

“Societal expectations of the mining industry encompass a broad range of environmental, social and governance challenges. Our aim has been to develop a holistic set of requirements that establish a benchmark for responsible mining practices.

“ICMM’s Mining Principles will support our members to supply the increasing demand for metals and minerals while giving confidence to customers and other stakeholders that they have been produced responsibly. We encourage all mining companies to embrace good practice environmental, social and governance requirements.”

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13 February 2020

CREDS-funded study to investigate ways to decarbonise steel industry

Scientists from the universities of Leeds and Sheffield have secured £1.26m ($1.63m) in financing from the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) to study ways to decarbonise the UK steel industry over the next 30 years.

CREDS said that steel manufacturing involves a high carbon process, in turn releasing carbon dioxide, which is the gas linked to climate change.

According to the World Steel Association data, every tonne of the steel manufacturing process creates 1.8t of carbon dioxide.

CREDS director Nick Eyre said: “Decarbonising the UK energy system is a major national challenge for the coming decades, nowhere more so than in major industrial processes.

“I am therefore delighted that colleagues from Leeds and Sheffield are joining CREDS to research steel industry decarbonisation.”

Recently, the UK has legally committed to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions to net-zero by 2050.

The universities of Leeds and Sheffield noted that its interdisciplinary team will work on developing new approaches combined with technology to eliminate the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Leeds energy expert and professor William Gale said: “The reality is the steel industry in the UK has to decarbonise, but this has to be done sensitively otherwise there is a risk the industry will relocate to where the rules on carbon are more lax.

“Our challenge is to bring about real change without eroding the wafer-thin margins on which the industry operates.”

According to the European Steel Association (EUROFER), around 50% of the steel produced in Europe is obtained from scrap metal. As scrap is melted in electric arc furnaces, recycled steel is considered ‘clean’ only if it is recovered in furnaces that use green electricity.

The research at Leeds University will also help the government in achieving its Clean Growth Strategy, which is committed in 2017 to develop the UK economy and reduce GHG emissions.

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13 February 2020

Rio Tinto says coronavirus Covid-19 affects Mongolian copper exports

Australian miner Rio Tinto is reportedly facing a slowdown in copper concentrate shipments from its Mongolian mine as efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the company’s product flows to China.

Rio Tinto ships copper to China from its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.

Reuters reported that the Australian miner is experiencing issues with the copper ore deliveries with the transport restrictions imposed by China to stop the spread of 2019-nCoV (now Covid-19) outbreak.

The virus has killed 1,369 people and the number of reported infections worldwide has increased to 60,300 as of the end of 12 February, representing an increase of 254 deaths from the day before.

The news agency reported Mongolia would stop deliveries of coal across its border into China until 2 March.

China’s Yunnan Copper receives almost 10,000t a month of copper concentrate for its Chifeng smelter from Oyu Tolgoi.

Reuters cited an unnamed source as saying that the Chinese firm has reduced copper output at the 400,000tpa Chifeng plant by around 30%.

Rio Tinto spokesman was quoted as saying: “Rio Tinto confirms there has been a slowdown in copper concentrate imports crossing the Mongolia-China border related to coronavirus containment efforts by local authorities.”

In November 2019, Rio Tinto completed development of Shaft 2 at the Oyu Tolgoi mine.

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13 February 2020

Oz Minerals aim to use 80% renewables to power major mine project

Australian mining company Oz Minerals has announced plans to power its proposed West Musgrave copper nickel mine using up to 80% renewable energy. If the plans are implemented, Oz Minerals says the mine would become one of the largest fully off-grid renewable-powered mines in the world.

The project is a joint venture between Oz Minerals (70%) and Cassini Resources (30%).

Oz Minerals is also aiming to reduce the mine’s carbon footprint by having fewer people on-site and a smaller accommodation village, made possible through the use of a remote operations centre.

The company released a pre-feasibility study today showing the Nebo-Babel deposit has the potential to produce 28,000 tonnes of copper and 22,000 tonnes of nickel per year for 26 years. Oz Minerals CEO Andrew Cole said the study confirmed the project could be a low carbon, low cost and long life mine.

“We are pleased the study has identified a means for us to reduce the project’s carbon footprint significantly and overcome the historical challenge of affordable power for West Musgrave,” Cole said.

“We believe, supported by the views of potential renewable energy suppliers, that 70-80 per cent of the power needs for West Musgrave can be supplied by renewable sources, supplemented by battery storage and diesel or trucked gas-fired generation.”

Oz Minerals already has major copper gold mines operating in South Australia. If the proposed mine goes ahead, it would become the first in the West Musgrave province of Western Australia.

Current plans for the site propose using an optimised mix of wind, solar and diesel supported by a battery installation. Oz Minerals estimates this would result in the avoidance of over 220,000tpa of carbon dioxide emissions compared with a fully diesel-powered operation.

The company reported a net present value of AUD800m and internal rate of return (IRR) of around 20% after tax for the project.

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