Engineering & Mining Journal

AUG 2018

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NEWS-LEADING DEVELOPMENTS 4 E&MJ • AUGUST 2018 Rio Tinto Achieves First Delivery of Iron Ore With World's Largest Robot Rio Tinto has achieved a significant mile- stone with the first delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train in the Pilbara, West- ern Australia. The autonomous train, con- sisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000 metric tons (mt) of iron ore, traveled more than 280 kilometers (km) from Rio Tinto's mining operations in Tom Price to the port of Cape Lambert on July 10. It was monitored remotely by op- erators from Rio Tinto's Operations Centre in Perth more than 1,500 km away. The inaugural journey is a significant milestone for Rio Tinto's AutoHaul pro- gram and follows regulatory approval in May. AutoHaul is on schedule to be com- pleted by the end of 2018. "The safe first delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train is a key milestone for AutoHaul," Rio Tinto Iron Ore manag- ing director Rail, Port and Core Services, Ivan Vella, said. "The program will de- liver the world's first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network, operating the world's largest and longest robots." "We will continue to ensure our au- tonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of conditions we experience in the Pilbara, where we record more than 8 million km of train travel each year," he added. "We are working closely with drivers during this transition period as we prepare our employees for new ways of working as a result of automation." The $940 million AutoHaul program is focused on automating trains transport- ing iron ore to Rio Tinto's port facilities in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Rio Tinto operates about 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 km of track in the Pilbara, transporting ore from 16 mines to four port terminals. Locomotives car- rying AutoHaul software are fitted with on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the operations center. Paraburdoo Getting New Stackers: In other news from Rio Tinto Iron Ore, the company has initiated a $39 million sustaining capital project to replace the stackers that distribute ore to stockpiles at its Paraburdoo mine. Tenova TAKRAF is leading the design and implementation phases of the stacker replacement. Design of the new stackers is under way, and fabrication is expected to begin later this year. Installation and commis- sioning are scheduled for completion by 2020. Fabrication, including preassem- bly, will take place in a Perth workshop. So far, the project has awarded a mul- timillion-dollar sub-contract to Western Australian company Paradigm Engineers to provide electrical-engineering design and control-system programing services, as well as to supply the electrical equipment. The old stackers were part of the mine's original infrastructure, stacking the very first load of iron ore from Paraburdoo in 1972. In 46 years of operation, they have stacked a little more than 800 million mt of iron ore, requiring only minimal struc- tural changes throughout that time. The stacker-replacement project forms part of Rio Tinto's broader sustaining cap- ital program estimated at $1 billion a year over the next three years. Inalum Buys Rio Tinto's Interest in Grasberg Rio Tinto, PT Indonesia Asahan Alumin- ium (Inalum) and Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) have signed a non-binding agree- ment relating to the future ownership of the Grasberg mine in Indonesia. Under the terms of the agreement, Inalum will acquire all of Rio Tinto's interests associ- ated with its joint venture with PT Free- port Indonesia (PT-FI) and 100% of FCX's interests in PT Indocopper Investama (PT- II), which owns 9.36% of PT-FI, for $3.85 billion. At closing, Rio Tinto will receive $3.5 billion, and FCX will receive $350 million, in cash proceeds from Inalum. All parties have committed to work to- ward agreeing and signing binding agree- ments before the end of the second half of 2018. Following completion of the transac- tion, Inalum will own 51% of PT-FI, and FCX will own 49%. "This agreement marks a significant milestone toward establishing a new long-term partnership with the Republic of Indonesia to provide long-term stability for PT Freeport Indonesia's operations," Richard C. Adkerson, vice chairman of the board, president and CEO, FCX, said. "Through this transaction, the govern- ment will achieve its ownership objectives in a manner that preserves the long-term value for FCX shareholders and the peo- ple of Indonesia through 2041." The transaction is subject to the ne- gotiation and documentation of definitive agreements, including purchase and sale agreements, the extension and stability of PT-FI's long-term mining rights through Automated trains transport iron ore from Rio Tinto's mines in the Pilbara to its port facilities.

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