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Mine Site Visits in South Africa

On November 18-24 2023 a delegation of ERG mining engineers from Kazakhstan visited two underground highly automated mines in South Africa – South Deep mine operated by Gold Fields and Cullinan mine operated by Petra Diamonds formerly owned by De Beers.

The South Deep mine is one of the world’s largest gold mines and the seventh deepest. The Kazakh delegation descended to the working level at 2995 m. to see the ore mining production. The mine management briefed the visitors on the ongoing restructuring program aimed at reducing the unit cost of production by introducing new technologies and automation. The use of waste chamber backfill technology and a complete re-engineering of the ventilation system implemented at the mine was also discussed. Dr Kym L Morton PhD (Imperial) MBA (Imperial) C Geol FGS FSAIMM Pr Sci Nat DIC, Water Strategist and Consulting Mining Hydrologist, KLM Consulting Services Pty Ltd accompanied the delegation to South Deep mine.

As part of the visit to South Africa the delegation also visited JAE and Epiroc, manufacturers of mining equipment, the innovative company AVA Solutions and MSP Testing Facility in Vereeniging.

Photo: ERG delegation at the 2995 m production level at South Deep mine.

Site Visits to Mines in Brasil

For the first time in its history, Transeuropean Centre Limited, in collaboration with its partners, organized a programme of mine site visits to Brazil, the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, in December 2023.
As part of the site visits, a group of geotechnical and mine engineers visited advanced geotechnical monitoring centers at mining sites operated by Samarco Mineração S.A. and Vale. The delegation learned about the practices of integrated management of the condition of tailings dams and quarry slopes, as well as the latest methods for analysing geotechnical data.
It is planned to repeat this programme of visits in April 2024 to incorporate meetings within the framework of the Slope Stability 2024 international event to be held being held in Nova Lima.

The photo shows the delegation during their visit to the Geotechnical monitoring centre at Samarco Mineração S.A. company in Belo Horizonte, Brasil.

Eurasian Miners Visit Four Mines In Chile. 13-18 November 2022

13-18 November 2022. A group of senior managers and mining engineers from leading Eurasian mining companies attended a program of site visits in Chile focused on operation of automated and robotics machinery and equipment in Chilean mines. The group visited Tres Valles underground and open-pit mines, El Teniente, the largest underground copper mine of CODELCO, Cerro Negro Norte iron ore open-pit production and BHP Escondida mine remote operations control centre.

On the Photo: CerroNegroNorte Open-Pit Mine

The program of the visit was supported by leading Chilean technology and consulting company REDCO, specialists in digital mine planning, geomechanical modelling, audit of geotechnical structures and mine design.

The group visited Cerro Negro Norte mine located in Chile’s northern Atacama region, 32 km north of Copiapó. This is one of the most innovative and environmentally friendly mining complexes in the country with a focus on sustainable development. The mine is owned and operated by Pacific Mining Company, part of the CAP group. Current production is 4 million tons of pellet feed (iron concentrate) per year, which is transported in the form of pulp via an 82-kilometer-long concentrate pipeline to the Puerto Punta Totoralillo facilities. From there the cargo is shipped to its final destination.

On the photo: A visit to Cerro Negro Norte mine.

The highlight of the programme was a site visit to the world’s largest underground copper mine, El Teniente, the largest operation by CODELCO. According to experts El Teniente is one of the most advanced automated underground mines in the world.

On the photo: Vitit to UG El Teniente mine

Since 2011 a $3.4 billion new production level has been developed and operated to extend the life of the mine by another 50 years. The main objective of the project is to switch to an underground operation of exclusively remotely controlled robotics equipment.

On the photo: Visit to an underground remote control operations centre.

The group visited Minera Tres Valles copper mining complex – Don Gabriel open pit and Papomono underground mines.

Minera Tres Valles is a medium-sized copper mine owned by the Canadian company Three Valle Cooper. The mine produces high-quality class A copper cathodes, which was achieved by processing ore from our Tres Valles mines, as well as ore purchased from local small miners. The mining operations of the company are located in the valleys of Chalinga, Carcamo and Chuchini, near the cities of Salamanca and Ilhapel in the southern part of the Coquimbo region. Minera Tres Valles is a private copper producer with 100% ownership of the Minera Tres Valles operating copper complex.

The complex has significant infrastructure, including a processing plant with a capacity of 5,400 tons of ore per day. The plant has a copper leach line that includes a four-stage crusher, sinter plant, heap leach pads and ponds, and an SX-EW electrolysis plant with an annual capacity of 18,500 tons of copper cathodes.

Some facts of Minera Tres Valles:
• Vale has invested over US$240 million into the site
• Crushing capacity up to 7000 t/day
• Chloride (salt) leaching infrastructure added in 2020.
• Strong local community support and partnerships with small local miners.

Volume and methods of extraction. The Don Gabriel open pit plan 852,000 t/y of ore, which equates to 2,400 t/d for 365 days a year. The Papomono Masivo underground facility uses a combination of front-end caving and block caving methods

On the photo: A visit to Papomono underground mine.

During the site visit to Tres Valles mine visitors discussed mine planning, design and transition from open pit operation to underground mining.

On the photo: A meeting with management team of Tres Valles mine.

Mining companies from Kazakhstan also visited BHP’s Minera Escondida remote control centre in Santiago de Chile. While touring the centre and getting to know the management of the mine, there was a lively discussion between the visitors and BHP engineers on automation and remote control of equipment operating at one of the largest open pit copper production.

Minera Escondida is a mining company that owns two open-pit copper mines in the Atacama Desert, 170 kilometers southeast of Antofagasta in northern Chile, at an altitude of 3,050 meters above sea level. It is currently the most productive copper mine in the world. In 2020 the mine produced 1,185 Mt of metal, primarily copper concentrate, and a small proportion of copper cathode. This is obtained as a result of leaching of both oxide and low-grade sulfide ores. The mine also produces gold and silver. According to the available data, this represented 9.5% of world production and 26% of Chile’s production.

Copper concentrate from Escondida mine is transported as a slurry via pipeline to the port of Coloso where it is dehydrated before being exported.

The mine started operation in late 1990s and has since increased throughput through phased expansions over the years. The third line for the production of copper concentrate with a capacity of 152,000 tons per day was commissioned in 2016. The plant increased its total copper processing capacity to more than 422,000 tons per day. The mine currently features three concentrators and two leach units (oxide and sulfide).

The ore is transported to two semi-mobile in-pit crushers for primary crushing prior to transport to the coarse ore stockpile. The stripping ratio is estimated to average around 1.7:1 over the life of the project. Mining trucks are dispatched and monitored by Wenco International Mining Systems and costs are managed by Mincom Mine Information Management System.

The Transeuropean Centre would like to expresses special gratitude to Olesya Dashavskaya and Enrique Rubio of REDCO, as well as all personnel and management of BHP, Minera Tres Valles and CODELCO for organizing and facilitating this interesting visit to Chile.

Underground Mining in Long Life Mines in South Africa. Review of Best Practices and Implementation of Mine Automation Projects

We are pleased to report that mine site visits are back. On June 13-19 2022 a delegation of miners, engineers and managers of Kumtor Gold, ERG, Kazchrom, Kazakhmys and other companies visited mines and South African companies in Johannesburg, Cullinam and Cape Town. It was the first business visit organized after a two-year pause due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

More than 30 representatives of mining companies from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan visited South Africa to study projects in mine automation, use of advanced mining methods, including block caving, implementation of anti-collision systems, optimization of drilling and blasting, remote control of equipment and many other topical issues.

The group held meetings with representatives of South African innovative companies such as Mining Excellence, AVA Solutions, A&R Engineering, Sight-Power inc., Ramjack Technology Solutions and AECI Mining Explosives. The visit programme featured a discussion of the modernization of the Finch and Cullinam mines, Petra Diamonds, visited the workshops and technology centers of Epiroc, MasterDrilling near Johannesburg and Reutech in Cape Town.

Of particular interest was a visit to Ramjack Technology Solutions remote control centre with its real-time monitoring systems for several mines in South Africa and Ghana. In the centre the company analyzes trends and optimizes the use of equipment or other production indicators, which has resulted in real cost and time savings.

In addition to the reports of specialists, viewing samples of drilling equipment and studying the automation of drilling rigs, loaders and dump trucks, the delegation was able to visit the main attractions of South Africa: a safari, Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain. According to the participating engineers, such trips enable to study international best practices and to establish useful business contacts and discuss informally the problems of modern mining production and ways to solve them.

The delegation visit to MasterDrilling Group Ltd
Meeting with colleagues from AVA Solutions
The delegation on a visit to Kusasalethu Mine
During the visit to a Mining technology centre in Johannesburg
Visit to Epiroc
Meeting with colleagues from MineExcellence
Excursion to Cape of Good Hope
Excursion to Cape of Good Hope

Best Practice in Hydrology & De-Watering Methods in Open Pits and Underground Mines. June 14 2022

A technical workshop on Best Practice in Hydrology & De-Watering Methods in Open Pits and Underground Mines was held on 14 June 2022 in English by The Transeuropean Centre Ltd. It was attended by hydrology engineers from Mexico, Chile, Peru, Brasil, USA, Canada, Greece, South Africa and Kazakhstan. They represented Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, BHP and BHP Chile, Newmont, Torex Gold Resources, CONSOL Energy, AuroraGeo, Kazminerals and other companies.

The workshop started with a presentation by Dr Kym Morton, Water Strategist and Consulting Mining Hydrologist, KLM Consulting Services Pty Ltd. She discussed methods of de-watering mines and hydrology of mining groundwater with case studies from around the world on design of de-watering systems for open pit and underground mines. Among the speakers were Justyna Blocka, Hydrogeologist, Itasca Consultants GmbH, Germany and Houmao Liu PhD, Hydrogeologist, Itasca Denver, General Manager who spoke on groundwater modelling software, simulation of open pit and zone of relaxation (zor), pore pressure for slope stability analysis. 

Last but not least was Michael Verreault, ing., M.Sc.A., Hydrogeologist – President, Hydro-Ressources Inc. Michael discussed mine dewatering using groundwater tracers.

In their feedback the attendees found the presentations thought provoking and highly relevant to their work. The presentation by Dr Kym L Morton was highly rated for its detailed case studies and their practical value.

Webinar on: Digital Factory. “Mine – to Mill” Optimization. Hydrometallurgy. Held December 8, 2021.

“Perfect organization of the webinar” – this was the assessment given to the event by I. Prokofiev, Associate Professor of the Department of Mining, North-Eastern Federal University. The event featured a detailed discussion of new technologies for increasing the recovery factor for gold, copper, cobalt and other metals, in particular bioleaching. The speaker was David Lunt, process engineer and project manager for a number of benefication projects, in particular the BIOX complex at the Sansu mine, Ghana, and Kasese mine, Uganda. Seminar participants learned about technologies and solutions by Maelgwyn Mineral Services (Wales) for improved reactor flotation and accelerated cyanide neutralization.

The vice-president of the company Zhanara Amanzholova, vice-president, Altynalmas, and her colleagues spoke in detail about the implemented project of digitalization at the gold recovery plant of the Dolinnoye, Altynalmas using IoT, big data analysis and predictive analytics to optimize the operation of the milling equipment.

Andrew Bamber, Director of Bara Consulting, gave a detailed and systematic overview of the strategy for the formation of an ore stockpiles, ore sorting and blending – a very important and often overlooked component of the beneficiation process optimization. Grade analyzers at the excavator bucket and conveyor belts, which are now widely used at mining and processing enterprises in Australia, South America and Finland, were presented by I. Auranen, Director of the Finnish company IMA Engineering. Other innovations covered at the event include Concorde Cell technology by Metso Qutotec for the extraction of fine and ultrafine particles for the beneficiation of the complex and previously discarded to waste, ores and products by the Swedish company XORE for analyzing metal contents in liquid waste products at processing plants.

Overall assessment of the webinar – attendees were satisfied by 92 percent Mr Vladimir Shulgin, head of the grinding and flotation, KazZinc, when evaluating the webinar, suggested: “It is necessary to include more information of a commercial nature, economic indicators, payback periods, interviews of the workers who operate and provide maintenance newly implemented solutions”.

Mine Geology and Reconciliation. Geoinformation technologies. September – October 2021

Mining practitioners from Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia and the Russian Federation discussed the methods and practices of exploration, the problems of reconciliation and the use of geology information systems at the webinar attended by a large group of geologists from Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Ukrainian mining companies

Richard Burger of Mining Plus Australia shared his experience in analyzing the causes of unplanned dilution caused by the design process (mining or large block), incorrect assignment of bulk density or moisture, blasting methods (too large or small destruction or shear / swelling) or soil collapse.

Lyubov Egorova, Head of Geological Department, SRK Consulting (Russia) Ltd, used case studies to highlight the issue of comparing planned and actual indicators, which is relevant for many mining companies, and revealed in detail the methodology for constructing an operational model. Of particular interest to the webinar participants were the following sections of her report: general benchmarking of mining operations (ore reserves, volumes of declared ore reserves), comparison of indicators by tonnes, grade and metal from the forecast based on ore reserves, and actual development of balance ore reserves, as well as local comparative analysis (working areas: blocks, benches, mining areas, geological domains).

Latest geology information systems were discussed by Nornickel technical services, ESRI, Proxima, Sovzond and others.

Webinars on Mine Survey and Reconciliation and Exploration Geology for geologists will be held in the first quarter of 2022

Tailings Dams: New Technologies, Solutions and Projects

14 mining experts and consultants from 10 countries discussed innovative solutions in the field of hydraulic engineering, hydrogeology at the webinar on Tailings Facilities Operation, Sludge transportation and Waste Management. This virtual seminar, hosted by the Transeuropean Centre Ltd on 21-22 December 2020 gave an opportunity to hydrogeologists, hydrotehnical engineers and processing plant managers from the leading mining companies in the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, listen to presentations on the pros and cons of the implemented technologies for wastewater treatment, their de-watering, sludge pumping, dry waste deposition using geo bags, etc.

Dr Kym Morton, speakers from MetsoOutotec, Coffey, TetraTech, Golder Associates, Bentley Systems, SRK Mining Canada, WEIR and Royal IHC answered numerous questions from the audience. Particular emphasis was placed on projects for the construction and operation of tailings dams in the harsh Arctic climate, implemented in Northern Canada and the United States. Water stewardship solutions at Neves Corvo mine, Portugal and Agas Tenidas mine, MATSA, Spain were also discussed in detail.

Automation and Digitalization of Mining Operations in Kazakhstan, Scandinavian Countries and Chile

The online conference on automation of underground mining, IT solutions implementation and digitalization of mining operations in Kazakhstan, Scandinavian countries and Chile was held via Zoom on 9th and 10th December. More than a hundred technical directors, heads of automation, chief engineers and directors of production at leading mining companies from Russia and Kazakhstan attended this webinar. Among them were ALROSA, Apatit, Norilsk Nickel, Polyus, Eurochem, Baikal Mining Company, Altynalmas, Evrazruda, ERG and many others.

Below are some testimonials by the companies attending this online meeting:

“The topics of the webinar were fully covered and well presented. It was very interesting to listen to the presenters. We took away some interesting ideas on automation and received additional knowledge in this field.” «Eurasian Group» ERG

“Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to attend such an interesting and useful event for the mining industry!” «Coal production company Colmar»

Online meetings and virtual tours of mines and processing facilities are essential in the current conditions of travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Webinar attendees find these events very effective for exchanging technical knowledge, information and learning the best practices as implemented by the advanced mining companies. Russian and Kazakhstan mining engineers have received a lot of useful information about mining operations automation, the use of robots, autonomous equipment and trucks, the digitalisation of production and planning at mines in Kazakhstan, Chile and the Nordic countries.

All online sessions and presentations were based on case studies and success stories. There were a few virtual underground mine tours to see real-life operations.

A number of cases discussed triggered many questions including: digitalisation and automated planning at Beskempir and Akbakai mines operated by Altynalmas in Kazakhstan (discussed in a presentation by Altynalmas and Sight Power Inc); ventilation on demand at Kiruna mine by LKAB (presentation by EOL Vent and LKAB); autonomous trucks operation at Gabriella Mistral mine by Codelco (presentation by SRK Chile and Komatsu). These Q&A sessions are extremely valuable. They give the Russian and Kazakhstan miners based in the remote areas of Magadan, Siberia, Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk, Karaganda and other regions a unique opportunity to ask questions directly to their colleagues from SRK, Epiroc, Codelco, LKAB, Sandvik, Redco, BHP and other companies located all over the world.

The organisers would like to thank all participants and presenters for supporting the event and wish them be healthy and safe during these difficult times.

Webinar on Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement

The virtual seminar on sustainability held in November this year was attended by the senior executives and sustainability officers at some of the leading mining and metallurgical companies in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. With great interest, competence and engagement the webinar participants had an overview of the International Council on Climate Disclosure Standards, worked together with Ms Tatiana Ridley (Instinctif Partners), Ms Yulia Cherepanova,

Robin Dean and Christine Blackmore (Wardell Armstrong) on ​​the study of sustainability reports of the world’s leading companies. They also had presentations on audit methodology under the Cyanide Code, on Industrial Safety and Environment. Talks on international standards for geochemistry and corporate water stewardship (SRK Consulting UK), the concept of a “green mine” and the possibility of generating energy from biooxidation (Сoffey, a Tetra Tech company) also featured at the webinar.