9 July 2019: Australian ingenuity is being put to the test at one the world’s largest deposits of zinc, lead and silver.

Minera San Cristobal - Sumitomo Corporation.jpgMinera San Cristobal, BolviaA successful full scale production trial of Australian-developed Grade Engineering techniques is paying dividends for a South American mine, and its local workers. Once fully implemented is expected to generate an additional $451 million in profit for the mine and reduce its energy consumption.

Located in south-western Bolivian province of Nor Lípez, and owned by Sumitomo, Minera San Cristóbal (MSC) is the country’s largest mine. Operating since 2007, the mine produces around 1,500 metric tons of zinc-silver and lead-silver concentrates each day. To achieve this result MSC needs to move a daily average of 150,000 tons of rock – a mixture of some valuable minerals and a lot of costly waste.

An operation of this size generates a large amount of local employment and MSC states that its principal asset is its human resources. With a team of 1,400 workers the mine is a large and very important employer supporting the livelihoods of many people over the long term.

 

Searching for innovation

While the mining operation is vast, it in turn is part of something even bigger. MSC is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, one of Japan’s largest business consortiums, employing over 70,000 people and operating for more than 400 years.

While proud of their many years of history behind them, MSC and its parent company are at the forefront of technological adoption for their operations. Part of MSC’s vision is to ‘develop a model mining operation through safe operations, at low cost, with innovative technology...’

With this vision in mind they began searching for innovation that could unlock additional value at the Bolivian operation. For this innovation, and to help ensure continued employment for its valued workforce, Sumitomo and MSC looked to Australia for assistance.

 

Cooperative approach

Through its wholly-owned subsidiary Summit Mining International, Sumitomo is a participant of the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE). Based in Brisbane, Australia, CRC ORE works to minimise the impact of declining grades and radically improve the productivity, energy and water signatures of mining operations.

CRC ORE is jointly funded by Essential Participants - which include mining companies such as Sumitomo; Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) companies; research organisations; and the Australian Government. The centre is a trusted, independent technology broker and facilitator, driving collaboration across all its activities.

One of CRC ORE’s key solutions developed for the mining industry is Grade Engineering. This solution deploys a range of waste rejection technologies that integrate with a suite of separation technologies relevant to ore specific characteristics. A deeper understanding of the orebody can be achieved, leading to the ability to exploit inherent ore deposit heterogeneity and variability.

For mining operations such as MSC, this is an innovative approach to the early separation of ore from waste material and minimises the impact of declining grades and productivity.

 

Successful trial

CRC ORE and MSC teams conducted site studies and analysis in 2017 to determine the level of opportunity available at the mine by deploying Grade Engineering, and a great deal of potential was evident.

Since late 2018 CRC ORE and Sumitomo have been working together on a full scale production trial of Grade Engineering using screening at MSC. A Metso Lokotrack ST2.8 mobile screening plant that can process up to 450 tons per hour was deployed on site to assist in providing a production scale testing capability.

CRC ORE Principal Mining Engineer David La Rosa on site at Minera San Cristobal
CRC ORE Principal Mining Engineer David La Rosa on site at Minera San Cristobal.

The trial focused on upgrading  mineralised waste from the pit to determine if Grade Engineering could efficiently produce a new economic stream of valuable material that could then be combined with Run of Mine feed through to the concentrator and produce a positive Net Smelter Return (NSR).

CRC ORE Chief Executive Officer Ben Adair said that that initial results of the trial are impressive and encouraging, with 66 percent of value now contained in just 25 percent of the Grade Engineered mass.

“So far, results show that by applying Grade Engineering to areas previously designated as ‘mineralised waste’, the value of Grade Engineered feed to the mill can be increased by over 2.5 times,” Dr Adair said.

“This has the potential to convert this waste material into high grade ore-feed with associated opportunity to increase metal production and reduce process power and water intensities.”

A 15-20 percent reduction in energy has been evident in the mine’s Semi-Autogenous Grinding (SAG) Mill when processing a combined Grade Engineered and direct Run-of-Mine (ROM) feed.

 

Long term benefits

David King of Sumitomo with CRC ORE's Ben Adair.jpgDave King of Sumitomo with CRC ORE's Ben Adair

The success of the Grade Engineering trial has led to consideration by Sumitomo to deploy Grade Engineering techniques to extend the life of the mine.

MSC Operations Director Dave King said the opportunity for MSC and the local community and principal asset of employees is huge.

“The big benefit of Grade Engineering is its potential ability to extend the life of the mine and add over $451 million in profit to its value,” Mr King said.

This means the mine can continue to generate work for its 1,400 employees.

CRC ORE participants and the wider mining industry are keenly watching how the MSC trial unfolds. To fulfil its goals of knowledge transfer and for its technology to directly benefit the local mining industry, CRC ORE has recently commenced similar production trials at Australian mining operations.

More information on CRC ORE can be found at crcore.org.au and learn about Grade Engineering at crcore.org.au/grade-engineering.

 

News - Latest

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  • CRC ORE Student Projects: Vacation Program – 2019/20 APPLY NOW

    The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) has developed eight projects suitable for students from CRC ORE’s Research Partners, for Vacation Student programs and Austmine’s sponsored STEM initiative.

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  • 9 July 2019: Australian ingenuity is being put to the test at one the world’s largest deposits of zinc, lead and silver.

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  • 8 July 2019: Towards the end of 2018 Shruti Gaur was exploring potential career options. She was aware of the mining industry but not the diversity of career paths it offered.

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  • 4 July 2019: CRC ORE is offering a number of exciting opportunities to students in the Austmine STEM METS Career Pathway Program.

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  • 19 June 2019: The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) has officially welcomed world-leading industrial equipment and services provider Metso as its newest Participant.

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  • 18 June 2019: CRC ORE congratulates Sabina Shugg AM on her appointment as the Director of Curtin University’s Western Australian School of Mines in Kalgoorlie, succeeding Professor Sam Spearing.

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  • 10 June 2019: Our successful Grade Engineering production trial at Sumitomo’s Minera San Cristobel was featured in the KnowHow 2019 magazine and also in Science Meets Business.

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  • 3 June 2019: A renowned British expert in the modelling and simulation of minerals processing recently visited the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) to review one of its key initiatives.

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  • 27 May 2019: Growing up in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Edwin Koh always knew he wanted to be an engineer, but had no idea his journey would lead him to work in mining research in Brisbane, Australia.

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  • 14 February 2019: The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) has welcomed the release of the National Resources Statement.

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  • 06 February 2019: CRC ORE farewelled seven smart and highly motivated university undergraduates on Friday 1 February with a celebratory lunch at the end of a 10-week vacation employment program.

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  • Annual Assembly 2018 

    This year's Annual Assembly was held in Brisbane on 20 November 2018 at Brisbane City Hall. Essential Participants of CRC ORE also joined us for the member-only CRC ORE Implementation Council meeting the following day.

    •  Tuesday, 20 November 2018 CRC ORE Annual Assembly (8.30am-4:30pm, followed by canapes to 6.30pm)
    •  Wednesday, 21 November 2018 CRC ORE Implementation Council - CRC ORE Essential Participants only (8.30am-4:30pm)

     

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    CRC ORE Annual Assembly 2018
    20 November 2018
    Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane 

    It has been a significant year of activity and outcomes for CRC ORE as we approach the mid-way point of our funding term. This year’s Assembly featured leaders from across CRC ORE's Essential Participant group who took to the stage providing insights on industry issues and discussing their experiences on active CRC ORE projects and site implementation studies. This year's line up also featured several eminent mining and research industry guest speakers.


     

    PROGRAM

    REGISTRATION

    08:00 am

    Arrival tea, coffee and registration

     

    OPENING


    08:45 am

    Welcome address

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Jon

    Mr. Jon Loraine,
    Chairman,
    CRC ORE

     

    SESSION 1: ACCELERATING IMPACT    
    MODERATOR: DR. BEN ADAIR


    09:00 am

    Crossing the great divide –
    balancing imagination and application in research

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Robin

    Prof. Robin Batterham AO,
    Kernot Professor of
    Engineering,
    University of Melbourne


    09:20 am

    Industry perspective:
    BHP's open innovation program

    Spoke without a presentation deck

    Headshot round Cleve

    Mr. Cleve Lightfoot,
    Head of Innovation,
    BHP


    09:45 am

    The role of government in supporting
    reform & innovation in the resources industry

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Erica

    Ms. Erica Smyth
    AC FTSE FAICD,
    Non-Executive Director
    and Chairman

           

    10:15 am

    Morning tea & student poster session

     

     

     

    SESSION 2: IMPLEMENTING INNOVATION    
    MODERATOR: DR. LUKE KEENEY


    10:45 am

    Managing innovation for sustainable change

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Keith Mayhew

    Keith Mayhew,
    Manager, Technology and Innovation, Teck

     

    Supporting research collaboration - 
    connecting the dots between insight and adoption

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Vaghan New

    Vaughan Chamberlain,
    Senior Vice President:
    Strategic Technical Group,
    AngloGold Ashanti

     

    Collaboration works:
    Orica’s perspective

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Angus

    Angus Melbourne,
    Chief Commercial
    Officer, Orica


    12:00 pm

    From the desktop to the bench. 
    Early insights from the Grade Engineering production trial

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Luke

    Dr. Luke Keeney,
    General Manager –
    Implementation,
    CRC ORE

           

    12:30 pm

    Lunch & student poster session

     

     


    SESSION 3: THE NEW MINING RESEARCH CHALLENGES    
    MODERATOR: MS. CLYTIE DANGAR


    01:30 pm

    The journey to successful technology.
    Implementation in Mining – experience from BHP IROC

    Headshot round Michelle

    Ms. Michelle Elvy,
    Head of Integrated
    Operations, BHP,
    Minerals Australia


    01:55 pm

    How do successful research programs fit industry need?

    · The sensor story - what we have learnt so far

    · Understanding heterogeneity

    · Connecting our programs to new areas of interest

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Paul

    Mr. Paul Revell,
    General Manager –
    Research & Innovation,
    CRC ORE

           

    02:30 pm

    Afternoon tea & student poster session

     

     

     

    SESSION 4: TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER & COMMERCIALISATION     
    MODERATOR: MR. NICK BEATON


    03:00 pm

    Industry insights:
    Making technology pay – Hatch perspectives

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Jan supplied

    Mr. Jan Kwak,
    Managing Director,
    Hatch Australia-Asia


    03:25 pm

    Panel discussion:
    Inspiration to commercialisation:
    Maximising impact for industry

    Panel spoke without a presentation deck

    PANEL

    Miner: Mike Hourn,Glencore
    Startup METS: Christian Larsen, Glass Terra
    Established METS: Michelle Carey, IMDEX
    Researcher: Prof. Robin Batterham AO, Kernot Professor of
    Engineering, University of Melbourne


    04:10 pm

    Our path to delivering impact:
    Review of CRC ORE 2017/18
    and focus for next 12 months

    pdf icon small Download presentation

    Headshot round Ben

    Dr. Ben Adair,
    CEO,
    CRC ORE


    04:30 pm

    Student poster award presentation

    pdf icon small Download presentation

     Headshot round Sue

    Dr. Sue Keay,
    Director,
    CRC ORE


    04:40 pm

    Closing

    Headshot round Jon

    Mr. Jon Loraine,
    Chairman,
    CRC ORE

           

    04:45 pm

    Canapes & networking until 6.30 pm

       


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  • 20 September 2018: A new site project (P5-044) is on track to deliver better options for grade control and accurate metal reconciliation.

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  • 15 September 2018: CRC ORE recently published nine new project snapshots.

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  • 1 September 2018: This month we meet University of Newcastle PdD student, Callan Lowes. Callan is completing important research for CRC ORE’s Program 3: Extract (P3-005) being run through Curtin University. This research is being undertaken as part of the AMIRA P420F Gold project.

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  • 12 June 2018: A new online tool, GE.View, is giving the Western Australian minerals industry the power to assess and rank opportunities for increased productivity via application of Grade Engineering® on a deposit-by-deposit basis from their own or public domain data.

    The development of the innovative tool was led by the Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE). It was developed with support from the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia.

    The tool is being made freely available to the industry by CRC ORE as part of its commitment to delivering significant economic opportunities for the Australian minerals industry.

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  • Line-up of key events coming up in 2019 

    There are a host of mining and innovation events coming up. Following is a list of key events that CRC ORE will be keenly involved with, either in a presenting capacity or supporting as a sponsor. Wherever possible, CRC ORE supports a collaborative approach to events as we have found stronger engagement when collaborating with our Participants.

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News - Publications

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News - Grade Engineering

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News - IES

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News - Collaboration

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News - CRC ORE updates

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  • 24 January 2018: CRC ORE has been involved in a number of high profile events in recent months. Read more about CRC ORE’s Annual Assembly line up and a successful site-based innovation leadership talk with Sumitomo at IMARC2017. CRC ORE also cooperated with METS Ignited to organise an initial consultation session for the consideration of a new CRC for the mining industry at IMARC. A couple of short courses were held – one on Geometallurgy in Tasmania and the respected Gold Plant Operators Course which was run in Kalgoorlie late last year.

    We are in the process of putting together the schedule for the coming year. Stay tuned for a listing of upcoming events in the next edition.

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  • 5 April 2018: CRC ORE's Grade Engineering modelling programs have been strengthened over the summer thanks to the work of four motivated students who joined CRC ORE for our inaugural vacation intern program. Alex Perera, James Bamford, and Jacob Rogers joined us from The University of Queensland (UQ). Samantha Maslin joined us from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with the support of Austmine via its women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) initiative. Hear more about their work by clicking on the video below.

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  • 21 November 2017: The photos and presentations from this year's CRC ORE Annual Assembly have been added to our website.

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  • 30 June 2017: Two of CRC ORE’s Board Members have been recognised for excellence in their chosen fields in recent months. Dr Sue Keay has just been named one of Australia’s first Superstars of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This follows news that Joe Pease has been recognised in two prestigious mining industry awards. Also in recent months, CRC ORE was awarded a high commendation for an “exceptional paper demonstrating excellence” in the CEEC Medal 2017 round.

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  • 30 November 2016: For presentations, photos and the wrap up of the 2016 Assembly, read on.

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  • 15 February 2016: Forward thinkers of the mining industry came together at the start of the year to celebrate the official launch of a second phase for the highly successful CRC ORE.

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  • 2 November 2015: The Directors of CRC ORE are very pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Ben Adair as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Australian mining innovation hub, CRC ORE Limited.

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  • 6 October 2015: The CRC ORE team has moved to CSIRO's Queensland Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT) in Pullenvale, Brisbane.

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  • 26 May 2015:  CRC ORE is set to be funded for a second six year term with the Australian Government flagging $34.45 million to support vital ongoing work in improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the minerals extraction industry.

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