The 2021 Australian Mining Prospect Awards were a chance to reward those who are excelling and going above and beyond, recognising and rewarding innovation throughout the industry.
Established in 2004, the annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards are distinguished as the most prestigious and acclaimed awards in the country’s mining and mineral processing industry.
We profile all the winners at the 2021 Australian Mining Prospect Awards. Here’s part two of the feature.
Read part one here.
Contract Miner of the Year: Mader Group
Mader Group has been supporting the mining industry since 2005 and has grown from a single-man band to a company that now has a presence in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas and is represented by 1600 employees.
The company prides itself on delivering its maintenance services quickly and efficiently, keeping its employees online and running strong. In a mining industry where maintaining uptime is crucial to profitability, this is a god-send.
Recognised with the Contract Miner of the Year Award, Mader said its accomplishments were testament to the company’s unrivalled service.
“Mader is not your typical mining contractor. We provide unique and flexible ‘tap on, tap off’ maintenance services that make a real difference to our customers’ everyday operations in helping them achieve plant availability and production targets,” the company said in a statement.
The “tap on, tap off” service means there are no minimum engagement periods or lock-in contracts for Mader clients, enabling them more freedom of choice.
“The flexible nature of our services enables customers to access specialised technicians during peak load periods, or for short or extended engagements to support their scheduled or unplanned equipment maintenance.
“Consistently striving to better support our customers and evolve with industry trends, 2021 saw our Australian operations introduce several new services, thus helping to enhance returns and improve operational efficiencies for customers.”
Mader can reactively mobilise small to large teams of tradespeople in quickly changing landscapes to meet customers’ demands. This proven business model has now been successfully rolled out more than 20 times across new service areas and regions since company inception.
With a blue-sky business model, Mader has cultivated an inclusive workplace culture built on principles of mateship and camaraderie. This is a big reason the company continues to be such as a strong performer in the mining equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.
“It is evident the investment by Mader in its people, culture and other business infrastructure is reflected in our ability to attract and retain high-quality tradespeople, who provide superior services for our customers.”
Innovative Mining Solution: Geographe Research
Geographe Research took home the Innovative Mining Solution Award for the Geographe Ball Stud Remover Tool (BSRT).
The Innovative Mining Solution Award recognises a mine, community or project that has developed a unique mining solution – and Geographe Research was a deserving winner.
Geographe’s BSRT is a safe and efficient hydraulic pressing system, able to release six ball studs from mining haul trucks in 20 minutes. Gone are the days of stuck ball studs – the BSRT improves safety and efficiency while reducing effort and downtime.
Geographe research development and innovation manager Sean Martin told Australian Mining the company understood fitters’ frustrations; the BSRT is designed to remove the pain that substandard tooling and time-consuming processes create, leaving a safe, simple and easy maintenance event.
An industry leader in the resource and industrial sectors, Geographe Research is a go-to supplier for quality parts for heavy machinery.
Recognising that delays caused by poor tools or service can cost millions, the company is committed to innovation and consistency.
The resolve to produce parts that provide high performance has kept Geographe Research at the forefront of the mining world for over half a century. This commitment has seen the company boom from its humble beginnings in 1968 into a diverse and dedicated business able to supply and distribute over 50,000 different products.
Martin said this determination had only been strengthened by the Prospects win, adding that it has “fundamentally reinforced our resolve to keep searching for better and safer ways of maintaining heavy earthmoving equipment”.
But winning awards isn’t the end goal for Geographe Research or the BSRT.
A trial phase is currently underway for a BSRT version supporting larger series trucks so even more customers can benefit from this award-winning tool.
“Our customers have told us that they are experiencing similar challenges removing ball studs on other CAT trucks within their fleets. From that feedback, we’re currently in the trial phase with a BSRT version to suit CAT 777 Haul Trucks,” Martin said.
Eventually, all popular CAT trucks in the 7 series range will have access to a BSRT tool to save maintenance time and provide a safer overall process, with trial phases set to begin later in the year.
“We’re all very keen to unearth the next maintenance game-changer,” Martin said. “We believe our next tooling project to be released late this year, a Steering Taper Repair and Inspection Kit (STRIK), may do just that.”
The Innovative Mining Solution Award is proudly sponsored by Austmine.
Minerals Processing of the Year: Metso Outotec
When Metso Outotec was awarded the Minerals Processing of the Year gong at the 2021 Prospect Awards for its HIGmill increasing gold recovery at the Sunrise Dam mine in WA, it was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.
“It is great recognition for the teams at Sunrise Dam and Metso Outotec who worked together on this project and were determined to turn challenges into this great success,” Kai Rönnberg, Metso Outotec vice president of minerals sales, told Australian Mining.
“We were excited to become a finalist in this category and ecstatic to be selected as a winner amongst such high-quality entries.”
The Minerals Processing of the Year Award is designed to recognise a mine, company or project that has developed or carried out an innovative or unique minerals processing program that increased efficiency, productivity or safety.
The HIGmill at the Sunrise Dam mine certainly fits the bill.
As of June 2021, the HIGmill is the world’s largest stirred mill supplied into a pyrite concentrate regrind duty. It grinds pyrite/arsenopyrite flotation concentrate to 10μm in order to expose refractory gold for leaching.
Following a successful collaboration with AngloGold Ashanti, the recovery enhancement project at Sunrise Dam was delivered very quickly – installation time for the complete upgrade project was approximately six months while, prior to these works, the HIGmill delivery time was 30 weeks.
“The HIGmill, along with Vertmill and stirred media detritor make up Metso Outotec’s unmatched portfolio of stirred mills,” Bjorn Nielsen, Metso Outotec’s vice president of stirred mills and HGPR, told Australian Mining.
“Stirred milling technology has been widely embraced, as it has a number of process, environmental and economic advantages over conventional ball mills. The HIGmill, for example, offers strong internal classification, excellent energy efficiency and high machine availability.
“This translates to a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions and lower cost of ownership for end users. It also enables improved flow sheets that require fine and ultrafine grinding.”
Nielsen, like Rönnberg, was keen to acknowledge the award was the result of a huge team effort.
“We are very grateful to be involved with AngloGold and the team at Sunrise Dam on this project,” he said.
“Their engagement and dedication, as well as the hard work put in by the whole team from Metso Outotec, contributed to achieving an estimated average increase in gold recovery of six per cent.
“The mill is achieving the design product size and continues to provide consistent and steady operation, with minimal operator input. Since the life of key wear components has been extended, the mill does not need to be stopped for regular wear inspections, resulting in higher mill availability for the site.”
Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S: Yancoal
Yancoal Australia’s Yarrabee Coal Mine took home the Mine Safety, OH&S Award, at the 2021 Prospect Awards.
The Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S Award recognises a mine, company or project that has developed or carried out a program that increased safety, removed risk, or cut worker issues on a project or mine.
Having been operational since the 1980s as a small-scale PCI coal producer, the mine has transformed and grown substantially since its acquisition by Yancoal in 2009.
In recent years, Yarrabee has undergone a period of transformation which has yielded excellent results across all aspects of the business, but with growth and transformation comes increased emphasis on mine safety. Yancoal currently supports around 4400 full-time employees, sourcing the majority of its staff members from the local communities in which it operates.
“Yancoal is committed to safe work practices,” chair Baocai Zhang said in a statement on the company website.
“There is active and consistent engagement with all employees, empowering them to identify and address foreseeable safety risks and injuries and we actively supported industry-wide initiatives”.
Yancoal’s long-term strategy includes focusing on implementing operational efficiencies across all mines, maintaining a commitment to reduce costs and to support future growth opportunities and capital improvement.
Likewise, it aims to operate site and corporate functions to the highest standards of corporate governance, reporting via transparent, compliant and efficient processes.
Speaking at the awards, former Yarrabee mine manager Cris Shadbolt – who was also named Mine Manager of the Year – said the company never loses sight of what is most important when it comes to a mine site.
“The people are first,” he said. “Without them the operation means nothing, so let’s put them first.”
The Excellence in Mine Safety, OH&S Award is proudly sponsored by Vocus
Excellence in IIoT Application: Coolon
Coolon’s Brilliant Connected Lights took out the Excellence in IIoT Application Award, which recognises an outstanding implementation of IIoT that enhances mining and minerals processing operations.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to a network of connected physical sensors that communicate with each other and provide feedback to specific industrial applications. This enables data collection and exchange in real-time to improve operations and facilitate improved productivity and efficiency within operations.
Coolon understands that mine sites invest in digital transformation in pursuit of cost reductions, productivity gains and safety improvement. It believes the main aim of site digitisation is to link every piece of equipment, plant infrastructure and personnel together to achieve full transparency. This will lead to the ability to assess and predict operational disruptions in real-time, keeping people safe and a plant operating at the top of its productive output.
Coolon has been developing and manufacturing robust light fittings specifically for the harsh conditions of Australian mining sites for 19 years. With a track record of providing sophisticated electronics and highly resilient fittings that can maintain flawless uninterrupted operation for over 10 years, Coolon fittings provide the perfect host for innovative IIoT nodes.
From fixed plant lighting right through to tunnel lighting, Coolon’s industrial product range can be customised to suit individual requirements.
Coolon industrial mining senior account manager Ben Cooper was honoured by the award.
“This is the recognition of a lot of hard work in a space that we are not usually renowned for,” he told Australian Mining.
“We have manufactured a lot of heavy industrial lighting that’s manufactured in Australia to the highest quality, but we are now pivoting into smart technologies that will leverage us as a light supplier into something that can support our customers infinitely more.”
Excellence in Environmental Management: Gold Fields and EDL
Gold Fields Australia and EDL’s Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project was honoured with the Excellence in Environmental Management Award, which recognises a mine, company, or project that has developed or carried out an innovative, environmentally focused program.
EDL is a global producer of sustainable, distributed energy helping the world transition from traditional energy sources to decarbonised solutions. Gold Fields is a globally diversified gold producer with nine operating mines in Australia, Peru, South Africa and West Africa (including the Asanko JV).
Under a 10-year agreement, Gold Fields and EDL embarked on the Agnew Hybrid Renewable Project to deliver Australia’s largest hybrid renewable energy microgrid. This is the first time wind generation has been utilised at such a large scale at a mine site in Australia.
Located in Leinster, Western Australia, the microgrid delivers an average of 50–60 per cent clean energy with 99.99 per cent reliability. The project has set a new global benchmark for renewable energy and is set to have far-reaching impacts on hybrid renewable energy systems for off-grid industrial operations across Australia and the globe.
The microgrid uses hybrid technology, combining wind turbines, solar and battery power. Expertly configured additional hardware and an advanced control system ensure the reliability of supply and power quality are maintained, and the innovative inclusion of wind generation acts as the major source of generation in the hybrid energy mix.
The use of wind generation as the major renewable energy component created additional challenges, requiring innovative approaches in controls engineering to integrate wind technology in the generation mix while maintaining power quality and reliability.
“The sight of the five wind turbines, nicely positioned adjacent to the Leinster–Sandstone Road, is a showpiece of what can be achieved by taking courageous decisions and demonstrating true leadership in how we can sustainably energise our mines in remote environments,” Gold Fields executive vice president Australia Stuart Matthews told Australian Mining.
“Gold Fields is very proud of having delivered on our commitment to building a modern, sustainable hybrid renewable energy solution at the Agnew gold mine.
“As a company, we believe in the impacts of climate change and have a strong commitment to making a positive contribution to CO2 emissions reduction in our business.
“The project has also delivered great motivation for our workforce, who want to work for a company that delivers tangible outcomes in relation to its ESG priorities and sustainability vision.”
This feature appeared in the May issue of Australian Mining.