Industry NEWS

23 October 2019

GMG unveils cybersecurity and electric mine working groups

The Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) has introduced two new working groups on cybersecurity and the electric mine in a bid to create safe and sustainable mines.

The Cybersecurity Working Group will help mining stakeholders who look to design safe, secure and resilient cybersecurity infrastructure that adheres to regulatory and industry’s best practices.

This group will guide the mining industry to access and implement existing solutions and be responsive to the industry’s priorities. It will also seek projects that will benefit from GMG’s collaborative principles and processes.

GMG Working Groups vice-chair and Symbiotic Innovations principal innovator Andrew Scott said: “As digitalisation increases in our industry, so does the risk of cybersecurity incidents. Industry-wide knowledge sharing and collaboration are important for mitigating these risks. The topic has come up in many existing GMG projects including those on autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and interoperability, and it is clear that cybersecurity is a high-priority concern among mining stakeholders.”

Working in partnership with Mining and Metals Information Sharing Analysis Centre (MM-ISAC), this group will identify existing mining projects and prevent duplication.

Meanwhile, the Electric Mine Working Group strives to enhance the advancement and adoption of underground electric mining technologies. According to GMG, this group will cover all-electric technologies that are replacing those that typically use diesel. The primary objectives of this group include developing guidelines and sharing information on how to use and test electric technologies, as well as designing electric mines.

GMG managing director Heather Ednie said: “The shift toward the electric mine in surface and underground contexts is indicative of our industry’s growing commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and providing safer working environments. Previous GMG work on battery electric vehicles in underground mining brought together a community of companies leading the way in developing and adopting electric mining technologies.

The group will also team-up with the International Commission on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and their Innovation for Cleaner Safer Vehicles (ICSV) initiative to ensure that the new initiatives support each other.

These two groups are set to form a committee to refine the scope and objectives, as well as identify early projects.

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23 October 2019

Rio Tinto considers Tiwai aluminium smelter closure in New Zealand

Rio Tinto is considering a possible closure of New Zealand’s Aluminum Smelter (NZAS) at Tiwai Point, citing weakness in the aluminium market.

Rio Tinto owns 79.36% of NZAS, while the remaining interest is held by Sumitomo Chemical Company.

The company has decided to carry out a strategic review of its stake in NZAS to determine the ongoing viability and competitive position of the smelter. According to Rio Tinto, under current market conditions and with high energy costs, the aluminium industry would continue to be unprofitable.

The company plans to explore opportunities and economically feasible solutions to bring back profits for the aluminium market by holding talks with the Government of New Zealand and energy providers.

Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios said: “The aluminium industry is currently facing significant headwinds with historically low prices due to an over-supplied market. This means that many aluminium providers are reviewing their positions. Rio Tinto will work with all stakeholders including the government, suppliers, communities and employees in order to find a solution that will ensure a profitable future for this plant.”

In a separate statement, New Zealand’s Meridian Energy, which supplies electricity to the site, noted that all options would be considered for the future of the smelter, including the curtailment and closure as part of the review.

Meridian Energy chief executive Neal Barclay said: “NZAS officials have advised us that the economics of the smelter have been challenged due to volatile international prices for aluminium, relatively high energy and transmission costs and an upcoming refurbishment bill to keep one of the potlines operational.”

“NZAS has advised Meridian that the changes we had offered to date on our contract fall short of the pricing for delivered energy that NZAS needs to re-establish its position as an internationally competitive aluminium smelter. We remain open to negotiating with NZAS and its shareholders on the long-term requirements for the smelter.”

The review is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

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22 October 2019

Vale temporarily halts operations at Itabiruçu dam

Brazilian iron ore miner Vale has temporarily suspended the disposal of tailings at the Itabiruçu dam, located at the Itabira Complex, while analysing the geotechnical characteristics of the dam.

According to the National Mining Agency (ANM), the dam will adopt the Level 1 emergency protocol, which does not require the evacuation of downstream population during shutdown.

The company said that the Itabiruçu dam had its Statement of Condition of Stability (DCE) issued last month, which remains valid. Vale said that the move to halt the dam’s activities is the company’s voluntary decision, in agreement with external inspection and regulatory bodies, to conduct complementary studies on the Itabira dam’s geotechnical characteristics.

The Itabiruçu dam receives tailings from the Conceição mine. The impact of the closure will be limited to 1.2 million tonnes this year. As a result, the company also lowered its full-year iron ore and pellet sales guidance.

Vale said a wider plan to eventually restart production of its 50Mt production capacity would still go ahead as planned, as presented in the company’s third-quarter Production and Sales report.

The company reaffirmed its revised iron ore and pellet sales guidance of 307Mt-332Mt for this year, but due to the Itabiruçu temporary halt and revision of its sales plan, it expects sales to be at the midpoint of the range.

Last month, Vale halted operations at its iron ore mine in Brucutu, which is located in the municipality of São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo in the Minas Gerais province of Brazil.

In July, the company secured permission from Brazil’s National Mining Agency (ANM) to partially resume dry processing operations at the Vargem Grande Complex in Rio de Janeiro.

from Brazil’s National Mining Agency (ANMto partially resume dry processing operations at the Vargem Grande Complex in Rio de Janeiro.

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22 October 2019

Panther Metals secures exploration licence for Marrakai gold project

UK-based exploration and development company Panther Metals has secured its first exploration licence in the Northern Territory, Australia.

The licence has been granted to the Marrakai gold project, which is located in the highly prospective Pine Creek Orogen and is in close proximity to a major NW-trending magnetic along the Noonamah-Corroboree Trend.

Covering an area of 10.1km², the Marrakai Project Exploration Licence Application (ELA) contains a set of gold prospects, as well as geochemical anomalies.

Panther noted that the area has been the source of more than 500oz of gold nuggets, the largest of which was 30oz. Previous drilling performed in the area provided drill intercepts grading 2m at 9.32g/t Au and 2m at 5.74g/t Au.

Panther Metals CEO Darren Hazelwood said: “The granting of the Marrakai licence cements Panther’s entry into the Australian exploration space. Our stated aim was to target the commodity-rich jurisdictions of Australia and North America. I’m delighted to confirm to the market Panther Metals has, once again, achieved its goals.”

The Marrakai project features a single licence application (EL32121), located 70km to the south-east of Darwin, Northern Territory. It is 15km away from Toms Gully and 18km from Rustlers Roost deposits, owned by China Hanking Holdings. Toms Gully is a high-grade underground mine, while Rustlers Roost is one of the largest gold projects in the Northern Territory region.

Last month, Panther Metals acquired additional claims surrounding the company’s Big Bear Project in Ontario, Canada.

The company is engaged in the development and exploration of gold and volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) properties in Canada.

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21 October 2019

Dam collapse at Siberian gold mine claims 15 lives

The collapse of a dam at a gold mine in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, has claimed the lives of at least 15 miners.

The dam located on the Seiba river burst after heavy rain, flooding cabins where the artisanal miners lived.

The BBC reported that the mine is remotely located about 160km south of the city of Krasnoyarsk, which is 4,000km east of Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered officials to undertake all necessary measures to help those affected and to investigate the reasons behind the incident.

The Russian investigative committee has undertaken a criminal investigation over the allegations that the dam violated safety regulations.

Reuters cited local authorities as saying that the collapsed dam was not registered by official bodies.

Krasnoyarsk officials said that water released by the dam partially flooded two dormitories of the rotational camp where 74 people lived.

Russian news agency Interfax reported that several small cabins were swept away by the floodwaters.

Krasnoyarsk regional government head Yuri Lapshin said: “The hydro-technical facility was self-constructed and, I believe, all rules I can and cannot think of were violated.”

Artisanal gold mining in Russia, which is usually small-scale, is still conducted by registered companies, which are supposed to follow the country’s health and safety standards.

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18 October 2019

Vimson Group and New Lab collaborate to explore mining possibilities

Indian mining conglomerate Vimson Group and innovation hub New Lab have partnered to establish a venture studio programme, Prospect Mining Studio, for exploring new possibilities in the sector.

The partners are inviting global start-up firms to apply and join the venture studio for the development of transformative products that will have a positive impact on the mining industry.

Prospect Mining Studio brings entrepreneurs and industry experts together to address the challenges in the mineral and natural resource mining sector. The venture studio programme creates growth within the mining industry, sustainably by harnessing frontier technologies such as synthetic biology, computer vision, advanced sensor technology, machine learning (MI) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Start-ups across the world can join Prospect Mining Studio by submitting applications through, to develop products that transform the mining industry.

New Lab CEO Shaun Stewart said: “Everyday tasks from driving, communicating to eating rely on mining industry resources, which provide the foundation of modern life. Prospect Mining delivers a platform for advancing mineral and natural resource extraction by convening diverse, bright minds from academia, the mining industry and frontier technologies to solve significant challenges today.”

With the expertise of New Lab and Vimson, Prospect Mining Studio will focus on enhancing sustainability, environmental sensing, worker performance and safety, and mineral extraction. It will also work towards the enhancement of closed-loop production, energy efficiency, and data optimisation.

Vimson Group director Vivek Salgaocar said: “With New Lab, we have found the perfect partner to bring new ideas and opportunities to one of the world’s oldest and most crucial industries. Prospect Mining will build a network of partners who can leverage their shared expertise to develop new insights into the field of mining, and allow entrepreneurs the ability to define challenges, prototype rapidly where needed and implement pilots at mining sites.”

Prospect Mining Studio is looking for applicants using technologies such as synthetic biology, AI, robotics and automation, energy harvesting, data science and computer vision.

The applied participants will build proofs-of-concept (PoC), and pilot solutions at Vimson and other partner mining sites.

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17 October 2019

Siemens’ technology to power Thyssenkrupp conveyor in Quellaveco mine

Germany-based Thyssenkrupp has employed Siemens’ new gearless drive technology for its 4,700m-long and 1,830mm-wide overland conveyor, which will access the Quellaveco mine in Peru.

The Quellaveco mine contains approximately 7.5mt of copper in ore reserves.

Siemens’ technology will enable Thyssenkrupp’s new conveyor system to transport 127,500t of primary crushed ore per day from the pit to the stockpile adjacent to the copper concentrator.

Compared to high-speed a motor and gearboxes combination, the gearless technology offers various benefits. With the gearless technology, the required belt driving power can be provided with one drive per drive pulley, which means that the number of switchgear enclosure could also be scaled down, thereby saving space.

Thyssenkrupp Mining Technologies CEO Torsten Gerlach said: “This order again shows how gearless conveyor systems meet today’s demand for ever more efficient mining solutions and increased safety requirements.

“It is the seventh overland conveyor project of this magnitude utilising gearless drives that have been awarded to us since 2010. Together with our partner Siemens, we have managed to become one of the world leaders in bringing this technology to the market.”

Thyssenkrupp’s overland conveyor features Siemens’ dual 5.5MW gearless drives. It operates at a design tonnage of nearly 11,000t per hour.

Siemens noted that the automation of the conveyor system and for the complete mine will be realised with the process control system Simatic PCS-7.

In February 2016, Thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions and Siemens agreed to extend their collaboration in the mining sector for another five years.

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17 October 2019

BHP sets final investment decision on Jansen potash project for 2021

Anglo-Australian mining multinational BHP has announced that it will make a final investment decision (FID) on the Jansen potash project in Canada in 2021.

The Jansen project is a proposed underground potash development project located in Saskatchewan, within the Prairie Evaporite formation at depths of 900m-1,000m.

It is expected to be one of the world’s largest potash mines once completed, and will produce around eight million tons of marketable potash annually at full capacity, with an estimated mine life of 70 years.

In BHP’s operational review for the third quarter (Q3) of 2019, the company stated that the project would be presented to the board of directors on February 2021 for the FID.

According to BHP, the board has approved $144m for engineering work to support the project planning and port solution finalising required to make the FID. An additional $201m was also approved to further de-risk the project, focusing on the mine’s scope of work, advancing other procurement and engineering activities, and preparation works for underground infrastructure.

BHP has already invested $2.7bn on the Jansen project, and announced in May 2019 that it would have to invest a further $5.3bn-$5.7bn to finish phase one construction on the project. The company was granted environmental impact statement approval for the Jansen mine in February 2011 and was scheduled to begin first production by 2015.

Speaking at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Metals, Mining and Steel Conference in May 2019, BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said: “We continue to study Jansen Stage one and finish the shafts to optimise returns and de-risk this multi-generational potash project – work that continues to go well.

“As our thinking around the project’s initial scope has evolved, I acknowledge we over-invested to date. However, Jansen remains an attractive option for BHP given its strategic fit, risk-return metrics and the longer-term optionality the initial investment would create.”

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