Advancing employee engagement in mining — report

Employee engagement and soft skills have never been more important for the mining industry, the Global Mining Guidelines Group (GMG) outlines in a recent report focused on advancing employee engagement in mining.

GMG authored the paper to share industry insights with the global community, such as the Workforce of the Future Working Group, launching soon.

A number of converging factors are changing the industry such as advanced digital technologies, emerging generations with different priorities around work, and increased social and environmental awareness, GMG asserts.  

All of these changes affect the workforce, sometimes introducing new challenges, while also offering new opportunities around employee engagement.

Advancing Employee Engagement in Mining describes employee engagement and disengagement from the perspective of the individual, organization and community and offers ideas for how to foster engagement and address disengagement.

Source: Global Mining Guidelines Group

“The public, regulators and governments are becoming increasingly aware of social and environmental issues. It is more important than ever to have trust between society and industry, industry and community, and employees and employers, GMG says.

“Making sure mines are safe and healthy places to work, making sure workplaces are diverse and inclusive, and developing strong relationships with local communities are becoming key factors in maintaining the social license to operate. Employee engagement is a key factor in all of this.”

Read the full report here.

Torsus Praetorian wins Red Dot Award

The world’s first heavy duty 4×4 off road bus, the Torsus Praetorian has been awarded the Red Dot Award in the Product Design 2020 category.

Designed to transport personnel and equipment safely across rough ground and in tough conditions, the bus is based on an upgraded heavy-duty MAN chassis and is powered by MAN engines and drivetrain.

Torsus Praetorian at the Hillhead Mining and Construction Expo in Buxton, UK. (Credit: Torsus)
Torsus Praetorian at the Hillhead Mining and Construction Expo in Buxton, UK. (Credit: Torsus)

From the Michelin off-road tyres, to the Line-X™ military grade coating on body parts, Praetorian is engineered to take on any terrain, in any conditions, anywhere in the world.

For over 60 years, the Red Dot Award has provided a platform for designers and companies to assess good design. Each of the 6500 products entered into the competition, from 60 countries worldwide, were tested and judged by an expert jury in search of the very best in design and innovation.

Lasting several days, the jurors test all the entries in order to assess the aesthetic, the materials selected, the level of craftsmanship, the surface structure, ergonomics and functionality.

Torsus Praetorian (Credit: Torsus)

“We are very proud to accept this award and it is testament to the skilled work of the Torsus team and our design partners at Werkemotion who, together, helped produce the world’s toughest and most capable off-road bus.” Vakhtang Dzhukashvili, founder and CEO of Torsus said.

In addition to the award, on 22 June 2020, the Praetorian will be added to the exhibition “Design on Stage” in the Red Dot Design Museum Essen in Germany, where all of the award-winning products will be on show.

InoBat acquires massive factory to make client-customised EV batteries

At a time when Europe is working towards challenging China’s dominance of the global battery market, Slovak company InoBat Auto announced the acquisition of a 290,000-square-foot industrial space near the capital Bratislava where it is planning to build an innovative production facility.

In a press release, InoBat deemed the project “the world’s first 100MWh facility,” which will combine the company’s proprietary High Throughput Process R&D with prototype battery cell-manufacturing capabilities.

The factory is strategically located in close proximity to nine major original equipment manufacturers, including Peugeot, KIA and Jaguar Land Rover

The project is backed by IPM Group and Wildcat Discovery Technologies, and InoBat is planning to use Wildcat’s proprietary R&D to continuously develop customer-specific battery cells through HTP and artificial intelligence. 

“The facility is expected to be the first in the world to produce batteries to specifications of the vehicle manufacturer, rather than selling from a catalogue, and will enable European electric vehicle manufacturers to reduce dependence on imports from Asia,” the media brief states. “InoBat Auto’s production will contribute to a strong European energy production and storage infrastructure now recognised as vital for growth and EU technological independence, particularly after the supply chain disruption demonstrated by recent restrictions following the outbreak of covid-19.”

Production of the first bespoke battery cells is expected in 2021. Following this first phase, fundraising for a second phase will take place with the goal of expanding to a €1 billion InoBat Auto Gigafactory, which should provide an estimated 240,000 EVs with cutting edge batteries by 2024.

Veolia launches Sirion Pro reverse osmosis system

Veolia Water Technologies, through its Solys business unit, has launched the Sirion Pro range, which is a simplified version of the Sirion RO (reverse osmosis) range.

The newest launch is a compact, plug-and-play system, which integrates Aquavista digital services, dedicated to high-quality industrial process water production.

In January, Solys started to expand its Sirion RO product line by introducing Sirion Advanced

In January, Solys started to expand its Sirion RO product line by introducing Sirion Advanced.

This model is a plug-and-play product, and, according to the company, represents the most user-friendly standard small RO skid available on the market, developed to be easily used by maintenance technicians and end-users.

Now, Veolia is responding to customer demand for both high-end and entry-level products with the Sirion Pro. It offers more basic features with a choice of four different options, at a lower cost.

Both Sirion Advanced and Sirion Pro are capable of removing up to 98% of dissolved inorganics and over 99% of large dissolved organics, colloids and particles.

Applicable to most industrial sectors and reuse applications projects, they include 11 models covering flow rates from 100 l/h to 5,000 l/h.

This most recent Veolia design is easily integrated into standardized treatment lines and its membrane pressure vessel length has been reduced to 1 metre for simpler transport.

The unit does not need to be dismantled and reassembled on-site, for a start-up within two hours of arrival. Instrumentation and valves are at the front of the unit for ease of maintenance and operation.

The Sirion Pro features a new controller, the Veolia RO40, which allows local or remote (through the Aquavista digital services) monitoring.

The units are packaged with a service contract through Veolia worldwide service network.

Veolia Water Technologies provides a complete range of services required to design, deliver, maintain and upgrade water and wastewater treatment facilities and systems for industrial clients and public authorities.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Sandvik testing Stage V-compliant underground trucks in Ireland

As part of its long-term commitment to sustainability, Sandvik continues with its program to develop Stage V-compliant underground loaders and trucks for the mining industry.

The company is now testing the first truck with this new engine technology at the Tara mine in Ireland. This follows the launch of its first Stage V loaders in December of 2019.

Sandvik’s flagship truck – the TH663i – is now equipped with brand new Stage V engine technology and is undergoing an extensive field trial period at Boliden’s Tara mine in Ireland.

Trials of the unit, coupled with first-hand customer feedback on technical and operational performance, are an integral part of Sandvik’s customer-focused mindset.

The Stage V engine in the 63-tonne truck is expected to generate lower emissions, for reduced mine ventilation requirements

The Stage V engine in the 63-tonne truck is expected to generate lower emissions, for reduced mine ventilation requirements.

The engine system is designed specifically for underground use and includes built-in fire prevention solutions, increased wiring protection with a shrink mesh wiring harness and electric hardware designed for demanding conditions, with corrosion, heat and water resistance.

Based on the studies conducted, the optional sintered metal DPF reduces particle mass by approximately 99%

The new Stage V engine, which requires ultra-low sulphur fuel and low-ash engine oil to operate, will be an optional feature for the TH663i.

To reduce particle emissions in the lower stages, standard engines on both in TH663i and TH551i trucks can be equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Based on the studies conducted, the optional sintered metal DPF reduces particle mass by approximately 99%.

From a reliability and maintenance viewpoint, the DPF is well protected but designed for easy cleaning to reduce downtime and operating costs and is also available as a retrofit kit.

Pia Sundberg, product line manager for trucks at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, explained that thorough field tests are of the utmost value for both the original equipment manufacturer and customer.

“We want to allow enough time for sufficient testing of new technology, since it is of benefit to both sides,” Sundberg said.

“Possible hiccups that can often occur when developing something new are identified prior to the product being fully commercialized, which enables us to serve our customers better in the long run. Based on the feedback that we receive, we are still able to do some modifications if necessary and thereby make sure that the TH663i meets expectations when it is released to the market with the latest engine technology at a later stage. Of course, there is also some additional new technology on the test truck that we are testing at the same time.”

The TH663i also benefits from recent improvements to Sandvik’s AutoMine offering, with AutoMine for Trucks now allowing autonomous truck haulage underground as well as on surface, which is often part of an underground truck’s normal duty cycle.

In addition, Sandvik’s Artisan Z50 battery truck did an extensive tour earlier this year in Australia and gathered customer feedback for the upcoming new generation of battery-powered vehicles.

Sandvik is a high-tech, global engineering group offering products and services that enhance customer productivity, profitability and safety.

Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology is a business area within the Sandvik Group and a global leading supplier of equipment and tools, service and technical solutions for the mining and construction industries.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Big, real-time data can help better manage tailings dams – SRK

SRK Consulting issued a brief in which the firm states that, following recent tailings dam failures such as the one at Brumadinho, companies are looking at ways to incorporate automated sensors to generate big, real-time data to better monitor and manage these facilities.

“The need for knowing more about tailings dam conditions – and in real-time – has become a major focus within the mining sector, demanding a step-change in the way we collect, process and interpret data,” said Lyzandra Boshoff, principal engineering geologist at SRK, in the document. “As part of these efforts, SRK has been rolling out initiatives using automated vibrating wire piezometers (VWPs) on tailings facilities.”

By applying VWP networks, SRK has been able to review the impact of construction and other site activities and incidents on pore pressure responses, and analyse the impact of depositional patterns on the seepage flow regime within a tailings dam

In Boshoff’s view, VWP networks, which use logging systems that can send data wirelessly to cloud-based databases and then visualised and analysed in real-time, provide improved monitoring of the associated pore pressure regime within a tailings facility. These are vital aspects of the integrity and stability of the structure.

In general and prior to the existence of cloud-based technology, seepage and pore pressure were tracked by manual standpipe piezometers whose performance, while accurate, depends on the quality of installation and aftercare – and manual data collection is subject to human error.

“This means spending considerable effort for relatively little data, which may often not exactly reflect the current situation by the time the information reaches the engineer for analysis,” the geologist said. “Even the automated sensors using vibrating wire technology tended to rely on manual data collection from the logging devices connected to the sensors.”

According to Boshoff, the datasets generated by VWP networks can be significantly large, depending on the frequency at which data is collected, yet, the visualization tools available, make the data easier to process. 

“For the first time, we can see and correlate in real-time what we have always predicted using models and assumptions,” she said. “Harnessing the power of big data, we can now test our assumptions and substantially raise the confidence of our observations. With the exponential growth in the application of technology in this field, more data is being generated and is available to be harnessed and interpreted.”

Superior expands modular plant offerings

Superior Industries, a manufacturer and global supplier of bulk material processing and handling systems, is offering a new series of modular plants for aggregate crushing, sorting, sizing and washing applications.

Known as Fusion Modular Platforms, these pre-engineered, ready-to-build systems still allow customization to achieve best performance at each jobsite.

“Our plant designs are scalable and easily expand with a developing customer site,” says Mark Crooks, product manager at Superior Industries.

“Producers can quickly expand capabilities as finances allow, application needs change and as their market develops.”

Today, Superior has pre-engineered a series of plant packages and is working to design more for its catalog.

Some examples include jaw, cone and impact crushing platforms, horizontal screening platforms with two, three and four deck models, plus a group of traditional washing and modern low water washing platforms.

“Overwhelmingly, our customers said they want scalability and flexibility in these modular offerings,” says Crooks.

“Therefore, as we developed our strategy, we ensured flexibility from top to bottom, convenient installation or dismantling and seamless integration with superior crushing, screening, washing and conveying machinery.”

Fusion Modular Platform systems are pre-engineered for earlier commissioning, more cost-effective than design-build plants, incorporate well into existing plants and utilize creative packaging to limit the number of flatbeds or shipping containers needed for transportation.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Canadian Mining Eye index drops 29% in Q1 — report

Wordwide, mining companies are facing disruptions in supply chain, parts and consumables as a result of near-global government directives to contain the covid-19 pandemic. 

Suspension or reduction of mining activity is expected to lead to lower guidance from companies, according to EY’s Q1 mining performance and future outlook, but the scale of the impact remains unclear as the pandemic continues.

EY’s Canadian Mining Eye index declined by 29% in Q1 2020, as compared to an 11% gain in the prior quarter.

Source: EY

“The mining and metals sector continues to grapple with the impact of government covid-19 mandates on supply chains, parts and consumables,” said Jay Patel, EY Canada Mining & Metals Transactions Leader.

“Companies are implementing their own measures to protect their employees and ensure business continuity by placing mines into care and maintenance, reducing operations or shutting down altogether, which is having a major impact on supply,” Patel added.

Canadian mining companies have taken a number of measures to both protect their employees and to ensure business continuity.

“The mining and metals sector continues to grapple with the impact of government covid-19 mandates on supply chains, parts and consumables”

Jay Patel, Canada Mining & Metals Transactions Leader, EY

Agnico Eagle and Yamana Gold’s Canadian Malartic mine, the country’s largest gold mine, has been temporarily shut down to reduce the spread of the virus. 

Newmont and IAMGOLD have put their Musselwhite, Cerro Negro and Westwood Gold mines into care and maintenance, and First Quantum Minerals and Teck Resources have been operating with reduced workforces.

Despite Canadian Mining Eye index declines, gold prices continued upward with a 6% increase following a 3% gain in Q4 2019 — following a common pattern seen when currency declines in a crisis, EY reported.

“Though prices have been volatile, gold reached a seven-year high in Q1 2020 and is expected to maintain growth momentum, supported by the slowdown in global markets and declining interest rates.”

Base metals, on the other hand, haven’t fared as well in the current landscape. Nickel prices decreased a further 18% after a 19% decline in the previous quarter. While copper and zinc prices witnessed respective declines of 20% and 17%.  

“The suspension or reduction of global business activity in automotive and construction sectors is lowering demand and pegging uncertainty on the outlook for copper, nickel and zinc,” said Jeff Swinoga, EY Canada Mining & Metals Co-Leader.

“Base metals, for the most part, are expected to remain under pressure in short-term, but the full scale of the impact remains unclear as the pandemic continues.”

Read the full report here.

Arianne Phosphate uses RPMGlobal’s HAULSIM at Lac à Paul

Arianne Phosphate is using RPMGlobal’s leading mining simulation product, HAULSIM, to optimize key haulage routes for the development of its Lac à Paul phosphate project in Quebec.

Using HAULSIM during the critical engineering study phase allows the company to evaluate several haulage scenarios and effectively link the Lac à Paul project in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region to port facilities 240 km away.

HAULSIM is a 4-D Discrete Event Simulation (DES) tool which enables the user to build a digital twin of any mining operation to evaluate different scenarios, fleet options, haulage routes, stockpile and dump placement.

The solution delivers an accurate representation of haulage operations within a mine site and provides capability to quantify the impact of changes.

The model reflects the complex and dynamic nature of a mine site in its entirety, including the variability, interactions and dependencies that occur in these systems.

Using HAULSIM, Arianne was able to gather critical insights on the optimal operating conditions for the haulage routes within the Lac à Paul project.

By modelling, analyzing and enhancing different ‘what if’ scenarios for the ideal haulage network, the company now has confidence in its recommendation to invest capital in its mine to port haulage route with a clear view of predicted outcomes.

Arianne Phosphate was able to take out the guesswork and rely on calculated insights to assist in understanding the optimal haul routes.

“Partnering with a global leader in the development of leading mining and haulage systems enabled us to demonstrate the attractive returns that the Lac à Paul project is set to generate,” said Jean-Sébastien David, chief operating officer of Arianne Phosphate.

Sandeep Sandhu, RPMGlobal Americas general manager, added that “the positive outcomes HAULSIM generated for Arianne Phosphate were very satisfying.”

In operation, the Lac à Paul project will produce 3 million tonnes of phosphate concentrate per year, making it one of the world’s largest phosphate rock projects.

Once development is complete, the project is set to consist of an open pit mine, a concentration plant and deep-water port facilities.

Arianne completed a feasibility study on the project and filed an environmental impact assessment in 2013; it received approval to develop it from the Quebec government in late 2015.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

Inmarsat offers new tool for miners to assess IoT

Inmarsat, a leader in global, mobile satellite communications, has released a new research study that confirms the global mining industry is going through an IoT revolution, with significant increases in adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.

Entitled The Rise of IoT in Mining, the report is the third IoT-focused research project undertaken by Inmarsat and focuses on the use of, attitude towards and predictions for IoT across the global mining sector.

As part of the initiative, Inmarsat is also offering mining companies the opportunity to measure their IoT readiness versus its survey respondents, using its free online IoT maturity tool.

Specialist market research company Vanson Bourne was employed by Inmarsat to interview 200 respondents with either decision-making or influencing responsibilities for IoT-related initiatives at organizations with over 500 personnel.

Most organizations (65%) have fully deployed at least one IoT project, while 33% are testing or have testing a project, with only 2% of respondents not having begun an IoT project

Mining organizations reported successes in implementing projects to safeguard workers via remote tracking, monitor drilling, and observe acid mine drainage remotely. However, despite this progress, a range of challenges are hindering the sector’s ability to reap the rewards that IoT has to offer.

According to the research, most organizations (65%) have fully deployed at least one IoT project, while 33% are testing or have testing a project, with only 2% of respondents not having begun an IoT project.

These findings echo the predictions reported in Inmarsat’s 2018 mining research, where only 2% had fully deployed an IoT solution, 29% were testing one and 69% were planning on beginning IoT projects within the next two years.

Noticeably, there is a considerable geographical variance in IoT adoption and maturity across different regions, with 98% of North American respondents having successfully deployed IoT-enabled projects, compared with only 50% in Africa and 38% in South America.

While this increase in full deployments represents progress, the use cases and data management are on the simple side and there are many challenges to overcome if the mining industry is to fully realize the potential of IoT, particularly in regard to using it as driver for organizational change.

A lack of skills, investment and cultural challenges, as well as unreliable connectivity, patchy cybersecurity processes and underdeveloped data management processes were also highlighted in the report and will all need to be remedied in the coming years.

“Two years on from our last research, Inmarsat wanted to get a measure of what had changed in the mining industry,” said Joe Carr, Global Mining Director at Inmarsat.

“IoT has begun to take a foothold in the sector with increased rates of adoption across the board. What we discovered was an industry that, historically slow to adopt radical ideas, is now beginning to embrace the use of IoT, but still working out how to make the most of it.”

The mining industry faces significant challenges around skills, security, connectivity, investment and data management and these will need to be addressed for the industry to progress past a point of using IoT in a simple, siloed capacity.

Despite the challenges being faced, mining organizations are looking to increase their investment in IoT and are overwhelmingly positive about the value that IoT can bring to their operations and the benefits it is either already delivering or will deliver in the future.

Inmarsat’s IoT maturity tool is intended to help miners “plot a route to IoT success,” Carr noted in the release.

“The tool allows miners to understand their progress in IoT adoption across a number of areas and to compare this with the 200 respondents who contributed to our research,” he said.

“Using these findings, miners can start to develop a roadmap for improvement and provide a tangible proof point for influencing internal conversations.”

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)