Anglo American explores 3D Printing with CSIR and Ivaldi
Anglo American has partnered with the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and US-based technology company, Ivaldi Group, to explore opportunities to digitally distribute spare parts for mining and processing equipment to be manufactured locally using 3D printing.
The project includes an analysis of Anglo American’s inventory of spare parts, such as impellers for pumps, shaft sleeves, gasket bonnet valves, and mining rock drill bits, exploring the impact of adopting a digitally distributed supply chain, and then digitising, locally producing and testing these parts at Anglo American’s operations in South Africa.
This partnership is the latest manifestation of Anglo American’s Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) approach to helping create thriving communities, as part of the company’s Sustainable Mining Plan commitments. Through strategic partnerships, CRD aims to create long-term economic prosperity within Anglo American’s host communities and regions beyond the expected life of a mine. To that end, Anglo American launched the Impact Catalyst in 2019 together with its partners the CSIR, Exxaro, Zutari, World Vision SA and the provincial government of Limpopo.
Matthew Chadwick, Head of Socio-Economic Development and Partnerships at Anglo American, commented: "Our FutureSmart Mining™ approach to sustainable mining is presenting us with new and innovative opportunities to build thriving and resilient communities, now and into the future. Through partnerships like this one with CSIR and Ivaldi, we are re-imagining long-established norms to help deliver enduring value to society.
“The ability to send files – not physical spare parts – will reduce our carbon footprint, delivery lead times and logistics costs. Importantly, this has the clear potential to create industrial and service jobs for host communities and surrounding regions through on-demand manufacturing systems to produce spare parts locally.”
Espen Sivertsen, the CEO of Ivaldi, said: “We believe that digital distribution of physical goods is a natural next step for the global spare parts supply chain. It’s part of the fourth industrial revolution. Working with world-leading organisations like Anglo American and the CSIR, we are now practically demonstrating that there are significant savings for businesses and a net positive impact for the environment and associated communities.”
Charl Harding, the CSIR’s Business Development Manager, added: “When we first explored this opportunity to develop sustainable local on-demand manufacturing solutions we saw an immediate fit with our additive manufacturing and materials expertise. The 3D printing of parts along with the application of additive manufacturing technologies to refurbish worn parts offers the potential to create local jobs, promote innovation for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry and society whilst responding critical issue of climate change.”
Collaborative Regional Development
Through Collaborative Regional Development, Anglo American and its partners aim to be a catalyst for thriving communities that can benefit in new ways directly from mining, while new economic activities such as 3D printing, agribusiness opportunities, biofuels, game ranching and tourism begin to develop – building on mining’s contribution to sustainable communities.
Rio Tinto partners with ARENA for green hydrogen research
Rio Tinto has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to study whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in alumina refineries to reduce emissions.
Rio Tinto and ARENA partnering for green energy push
Rio Tinto will conduct a $1.2mn feasibility study, equally funded with ARENA through a $580,000 grant, into using clean hydrogen to replace natural gas in the calcination process of refining at the Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.
The study program includes work to be done at Rio Tinto’s Bundoora Technical Development Centre in Melbourne, where Rio Tinto’s in-house development capability has now been extended to hydrogen.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller commented: “If we can replace fossil fuels with clean hydrogen in the refining process for alumina, this will reduce emissions in the energy and emissions intensive refining stage of the aluminium supply chain. Exploring these new clean energy technologies and methods is a crucial step towards producing green aluminium.
“This study will investigate a potential technology that can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Australian alumina industry. If successful, the technical and commercial lessons from Rio Tinto’s study could lead to the implementation of hydrogen calcination technology, not only in Australia, but also internationally.”
Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations acting managing director Daniel van der Westhuizen added: “We see the ARENA and Rio Tinto-funded study as a step towards reducing refinery emissions and one that has the potential to play an important part in Rio Tinto’s commitment to decarbonisation.
“We’re investing in work that needs to be done, not only to decarbonise one of our sites, but also to help provide a lower-emissions pathway for Rio Tinto and the global aluminium industry.
“We recognise we are on a long road towards reducing emissions across our operations and there is clearly more work to be done. But projects such as this are an important part of helping us get there.”
Can hydrogen replace natural gas in alumina refineries?
The study comprises two distinct work packages:
- Preliminary engineering and design study conducted to understand the construction and operational requirements of a potential demonstration project at the Yarwun alumina refinery.
- Simulating the calcination process using a lab scale reactor at the Bundoora Technical Development Centre.
Once complete, the study will inform the viability of a potential demonstration project. Rio Tinto has lodged patents for the hydrogen calcination process.
Rio Tinto aiming for net zero by 2050
Rio Tinto is aiming to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Across the company, it is targeting a 15% reduction in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.
Aluminium is found in everything from cars to phones. But one of the challenges of producing this essential material responsibly is finding ways to decarbonise the process.
Part of the reason is creating alumina – the main ingredient in aluminium – takes a lot of energy, which in turn creates greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will be essential to helping reduce emissions, but many haven’t been proven. And some not yet even discovered. Rio Tinto's transformation is being driven by innovation and its partnership with ARENA is a positive step towards these goals.