May 17, 2020

Rio Tinto receives green light from EPA for West Angelas expansion at Pilbara

Rio Tinto
Pilbara
Iron ore
West Angelas
Daniel Brightmore
2 min
Environmental Protection Agency recommends Rio Tinto mine for expansion at Pilbara, WA
Rio Tinto has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for its plans to expand operations at its West Angelas iron ore mine in Pilbara...

Rio Tinto has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency for its plans to expand operations at its West Angelas iron ore mine in Pilbara, Western Australia.

The EPA has recommended the mine for environmental approval subject to conditions including the protection of national park water resources and threatened ghost bats.

Rio Tinto propose to to expand open-cut mining at the West Angelas mine site, 130km north-west of Newman, by 4,100 hectares (ha) to 26,700 ha.

The West Angelas expansion is part of Rio Tinto’s Robe River joint venture with Mitsui and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal to produce the premium Pilbara Blend iron ore and Robe Valley lump and fines in the coming years. Rio Tinto plans to begin construction this year ahead of a forecasted production start in 2021.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury commented: “The additional Robe Valley deposits will enable us to continue to provide a highly valued product to our long-term customers across Asia.”

SEE ALSO:

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Rio Tinto and China Baowu negotiating extension of Pilbara iron ore JV

Read the latest issue of Mining Global here

As a result of roundtable discussions with proponent Robe River Mining Co Pty Ltd and the EPA – regarding the impact to Karijini National Park of pumping up to 14 gigalitres annually (GL/a) of groundwater for the proposal – the EPA has recommended a condition for Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) to maintain groundwater levels.

To further protect the national park from up to 12 GL/a of proposed surplus water discharge into Turee Creek East, and minimise the impact on riparian vegetation, the EPA recommended conditions including rigorous monitoring under an environmental management plan (EMP).

Further conditions in the EMP, and for rehabilitation under an updated mine closure plan, are recommended to minimise impacts of clearing native vegetation and other disturbances to habitat for conservation-significant fauna.

To offset the significant residual impact of additional clearing – including to the West Angelas Cracking Clay Priority Ecological Community, riparian vegetation, and disturbance to threatened species including the ghost bat – the EPA recommended contributions to the Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund.

EPA Deputy Chair Robert Harvey acknowledged “the scientific rigour of the environmental assessment work and conditions to ensure there is no groundwater drawdown impacts on Karijini National Park, and to limit impacts to surface water flow and quality”.

“This assessment work and recommended conditions constitute a comprehensive approach to management of environmental impacts, following a proactive approach by the proponent and extensive consultation with the EPA,” he said.

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May 18, 2021

Anglo American: FutureSmart Mining

Anglo American
Sustainability
Digitalisation
FutureSmart Mining
3 min
Anglo American is reimaging mining to improve people’s lives by leveraging technology, digitalisation and sustainability for FutureSmart Mining

Anglo American’s approach to technology, digitalisation and sustainability is changing the nature of the way the company mines. These are the step-change innovations that will transform the nature of mining – how the company sources, mines, processes, moves and markets its products – and how its stakeholders experience that business. Anglo American is transforming its physical and societal footprint with FutureSmart Mining.

FutureSmart Mining

“FutureSmart Mining is our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining,” Anglo American’s Tom McCulley told Mining Gllobal. In his role as CEO for Anglo American Peru & Group Head of Projects he has overseen investment of more than $5bn at the company’s Quellaveco copper project in Peru.

“These are the step-change innovations that will transform the nature of mining – how we source, mine, process, move and market our products – and how our stakeholders experience our business. It’s about transforming our physical and societal footprint.”

Technology

Anglo is undertaking a feasibility study to assess the possibility of rolling out one of its FutureSmart technologies, Coarse Particle Recovery (CPR), at Quellaveco. “CPR crushes particles to 2.5 times larger than normal, reducing energy consumption and mill time, leading to a 20% increase in throughput and 85% water recovery - a key issue in Peru given the concerns around water scarcity,” says McCulley.

“By allowing water to release from the much coarser particles, CPR will reduce the risks associated with wet tailings and ultimately help eliminate them altogether. When combined with low cost additives, it is possible to dewater residual waste and produce dry stackable tailings. This technology remains a focus area for us as water sent to tailings facilities often represents the largest water loss at a mine.”

Digitalisation

Quellaveco is going to be the first mine to run the FutureSmart operating model from day one. Anglo’s idea is to build a stable base on which it can layer new technologies, CPR being one of them. 

“We will also be a fully digital mine, which brings us future benefits in terms of understanding and applying changes in real time,” adds McCulley. “Our trucks and our drills will be automation-ready. We have taken the approach that, when we decide to move into an autonomous operation, no jobs will be lost, but the nature of some people’s jobs will have to change.”

Sustainability

FutureSmart is a blend of technology and sustainability,” said McCulley in an interview with Global Business Reports. “If you go back to the vision and design of Quellaveco, it has really been focused on the long-term sustainability of the mine through effective use of things like water, energy and the environment. Quellaveco has been focused on technology such as automation, with digital and analytical tools all coming together. We will be looking at future technologies to bolt on as we go to ensure that we are optimizing the sustainable use of resources and remaining cost-effective.”

Quellaveco

Anglo American’s Quellaveco copper project in Peru has created 15,000 jobs during construction and approximately 2,500 jobs are planned for operations, increasing Peru’s copper production by a forecast 300,000 tonnes per year. The mine’s first copper production is expected in 2022. To learn more about Anglo American's Quellaveco copper project read our feature here.

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