Roy Hill CEO Barry Fitzgerald: Innovation is driving us
At Austmine 2015: Transforming Mining in Brisbane last week, Barry Fitzgerald, CEO of Roy Hill shared the latest insights from the exciting iron ore project in Western Australia. Roy Hill is the only Australian major independent iron ore project that is majority Australian owned, and has over 5000 people working on site currently, with over 6500 employed on site total.
• Related content: TOP 10: Mining Innovations to Look Forward To
Barry kicked off his presentation by confessing: “We’re a great pretender”. He went on to explain this, noting he would be talking about robotics throughout his presentation, but of course Roy Hill are not in serious production yet.
However, to get to the stage that Roy Hill are currently at in their project, they have had to go through over 4000 discrete approvals, 230 weeks submitting of approvals, and 282 weeks under consideration.
Barry noted: “We do need to recognize in times like this that our focus on productivity also needs to include the regulatory burden.”
Roy Hill is of course a greenfield operation. Barry pointed out this provides them with an excellent opportunity, as they can “build what we need now to easily incorporate innovation and technology later.” This will inherently give Roy Hill the ability to adapt to future conditions and provide flexibility in how they approach operations and processes.
Roy Hill prides itself on a thinking culture that is focused on productivity. They believe that innovative thinking drives business and productivity improvements and cost optimization. They have embraced technology as a core element to be able to deliver 55 Mtpa of iron ore to their customers, competitively. They have built a culture of innovation by encouraging and empowering people, combining cross industry thoughts and processes and encouraging genuine collaboration with suppliers.
This collaboration with suppliers feeds into Roy Hill’s integrated supply and demand approach. They want to maximize availability on the supply side, so keep their contractors and suppliers focused on that. This is partly done through an integrated optimization of systems, such as their maintenance interface point. Barry referred to this interface as the “genesis of looking backwards to our suppliers and contractors.”
Roy Hill is currently utilizing drones on a small scale on their project. Barry noted the current pilot of drones is a precursor to where Roy Hill sees itself going in relation to gathering data. Examples of their planned innovation in action included large octocopter drones to enable Lidar scanning, thermal scanning of plant bearings and live streaming of footage to their remote operations center. The use of drones can significantly drive down operational costs, in a variety of ways such as relocation of staff to the Remote Operations Centre, rather than on site.
• Related content: Interview with BHP Billiton: How the Mining Giant Employs Tech Innovations
Roy Hill’s IT platform is a commercial off the shelf product, which Barry noted reflects how much they trust their vendors, but it’s also had the important benefit of reducing their costs.
Being a new organization Roy Hill doesn’t have the silo issues faced by most other miners. Barry noted this has the flow through effect of not being encumbered by a proliferation of systems in their IT/OT space. It is one business, with one system with standardization to ensure data integrity and usability.
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.