Glencore’s Mopani Copper to temporarily resume operations
Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), the Zambian subsidiary of Glencore, will be resuming mining operations for 90 days, and will be placed on care and maintenance once the 90-day period is up.
The company will remain in discussions with the Zambian government throughout this period as it looks for potential solutions to its current challenges. The company’s statement, released on Sunday, came following constructive talks with Zambian officials.
Initial plans to place Mopani Copper under care and maintenance measures were met with backlash from the government, threatening the company with revoked mining licenses due to a failure to provide a reasonable notice period. The company also allegedly broke labour laws in the country by making workers opt for forced leave whilst ending contracts of mining supplies and services.
Mopani was forecast to produce between 50,000 and 70,000 tons of copper this year, but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and decline in the price of copper led to Glencore’s decision to disrupt production. International mobility, transportation and supply chain disruptions have all contributed to Mopani’s situation.
MCM has placed the health and safety of its staff and the surrounding communities as its top priority in its decision making. The company will remain in contact and engage regularly with its employees and relevant contractors, whilst also staying in touch with the local communities. Operations will not restart without the correct consultations taking place between all of these groups.
The closure would potentially affect approximately 11,000 workers, however, these employees would all continue to be paid and receive staff benefits, according to Glencore. The talks between Mopani and the Zambian government will be used to discuss how officials can work with companies to improve the mining sector. Import duties have already been introduced on certain goods that negatively impact copper producers in the country.
Operations originally shut down for Mopani on April 8th, although it continued to process materials it had on-site at its smelter and refinery. A number of projects have been placed on indefinite hold, with key personnel unable to travel and complete commissioning.
Glencore will be cutting capital expenditure by between $1bn and $1.5bn, in a bid to lessen the impact of COVID-19 across its assets. A number of Glencore assets around the world have also seen production curtailed, with the disruption being felt around the world.
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BHP, Rio Tinto & Vale launch Charge On Innovation Challenge
Mining giants BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the 'Charge On' Innovation Challenge to solve one of the biggest challenges the industry faces today - decarbonising mining operations.
'Charge On' Innovation Challenge
In partnership with Austmine, Australia's leading mining equipment, technology and services industry association, founding patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the competition to encourage technology innovators to develop new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems. The main goal is cutting emissions from surface mining operations.
“The mining industry needs to be at the forefront of tackling the climate challenge. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry and mobile equipment manufacturers to decarbonise mining fleets,” the trio said in a media statement.
“In addition to providing a zero-carbon energy source, the conversion of mobile mining equipment to battery-electric can potentially unlock value, as electric motors have fewer moving parts when compared to standard equipment.”
A number of non-traditional mining sector vendors are actively developing technologies that can assist in mine electrification. By submitting a Challenge to the market, the Patrons of Charge On expect to:
- Demonstrate there is an emerging market for charging solutions in mining
- Accelerate commercialization of solutions
- Indicate to suppliers, the mining industry seeks interoperable solutions
- Maintain multiple actors and competition in the supply chain
- Integrate innovations from other sectors into the mining sector
"We expect some solutions identified in the Challenge could provide propulsion to existing diesel-electric trucks. This may present a pathway to early implementation for dynamic charging solutions," the trio said.
Found patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto are pledging their commitment to fighting climate change:
"The mining industry has an important role to reduce emissions and do our part to achieve the Paris Agreement goals to limit the impacts of climate change."
The Charge On Innovation Challenge asks vendors to present interoperable solutions that can safely deliver electricity to large battery-electric off-road haul trucks in a way that maintains or improves current productivity levels. Specifically, mechanisms capable of delivering in the order of 400kWh of electricity to each truck within a haul cycle (ie load, travel, dump, return, queue). The delivered electricity is to charge a battery, and if applicable directly propel the truck.
Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart commented: “We expect the Challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defence to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks."
More information about the challenge will be released on May 18.
The competition echoes growing efforts being made across the industry to tackle emmissions and promote electrification. In march this year, the Electric Mine Consortium was launched. It's founding members include Gold Fields, Dassualt Systemes and Sandvik who pledged their commitment to decarbonising mining operations.