Canvas Category OEM : Mining
Aluminium for lightweight cars. Copper to help things work more efficiently – from renewables to the power in your home. Iron ore for the steel in our electricity infrastructure. Lithium for electric vehicles and battery storage. And many of the materials we produce are essential for the things in everyday life too: Borates that help crops grow, titanium for paint – and diamonds that celebrate the best things in life. We work in 35 countries – in mines, smelters and refineries, as well as in sales offices, data centres, research and development labs and with artificial intelligence. Our geologists explore the Earth’s wildest terrain. Our wildlife specialists work to protect and conserve grizzly bears in Canada and migratory shorebirds in Western Australia. Our marketing teams make sure our essential materials meet the specific needs of customers around the world. And we are home to one of the world’s largest robots and maybe one of the smallest – we call him Mark.
How Rio has made the world’s biggest iron ore business into a machine
Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine is one of three new wave DSO mines in operation across WA’s Pilbara alongside BHP’s South Flank and Fortescue’s Eliwana, while FMG also recently opened its Iron Bridge magnetite mine. At 43Mtpa, Gudai-Darri is among the most advanced in the world. Its diggers and loaders are manned, but its Caterpillar trucks are fully automated, run out of an operations centre in Perth with code to direct their passage across the 5km by 3km Kara pit. Of its 430 haul trucks across 17 mines, 361 are automated. For the first time, Caterpillar has also delivered autonomous water carts. The company says the unmanned vehicles deliver productivity and safety benefits. It is looking to enhance automation and bring a tech focus into other areas of the site.
This robot (or row-bit if you’re Futurama’s Dr Zoidberg) is being trained to use a thermal sensor to test idlers along the 5-7km of conveyor belt taking iron ore from Gudai-Darri’s crusher to its stockpiles. There are around 3000 idlers (spinning bits of metal that propel the conveyor along) for every km of belt. From early next year Rio’s engineers hope to have the robot automated, perpetually running a process manual assessors only complete in full every 12 weeks. By catching symptoms of failing idlers early, the company hopes to reduce the 60 hours of downtime each eight months from unplanned maintenance shutdowns at the fixed plant attributed to idler failure.
Notorious DLE: The lithium extraction technologies gunning for the crown
Instead of concentrating lithium by evaporating brine in large pools, DLE technologies aim to extract about 90% or more lithium through different methods, the most common of these being sorption (also known as adsorption), ion exchange, and solvent extraction. But investors still have a lot to learn when it comes to DLE, with the term commonly used to capture technologies that are still in the R&D phase.
“The lithium market is still really small, we’re up to 1 million tonnes of global lithium production, and it takes longer to build these projects than it does a hard rock mine. But a lot more are being built so there will be an exponential rise in the production from these projects in years to come.”
Rondo Energy Secures $60 Million from Global Giants and Leading Climate Investors to Speed Industrial Decarbonization
Rondo Energy, a leading provider of zero-carbon industrial heat and power, has raised $60 million in a new financing planned to speed the rollout of Rondo Heat Batteries (RHBs) worldwide and to transform the global energy storage market. Rio Tinto, Aramco Ventures, SABIC, SCG, TITAN, and SEEIT have joined Rondo’s Strategic Investor Advisory Board (SIAB).
H2 Green Steel signs agreements with Rio Tinto for direct reduction iron ore pellets and hot briquetted iron
H2 Green Steel is partnering with Rio Tinto, a leading global metals and mining company, for the supply of direct reduction iron ore pellet for its green steel production in Sweden. The two companies have signed a multi-year supply agreement for direct reduction iron ore pellets (DR Pellets) from Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) which will account for a significant part of the iron ore supply to H2 Green Steel’s flagship plant in Boden, Sweden. Additionally, the companies have signed an agreement whereby Rio Tinto will purchase and on-sell a part of the surplus low-carbon hot briquetted iron (HBI) produced by H2 Green Steel during the ramp-up of its steelmaking capacity.
Miners Are Relying More on Robots. Now They Need Workers to Operate Them.
In this remote corner of western Australia, surrounded by clusters of low-lying scrub and red rocky outcrop, the world’s second-biggest mining company has built its most technologically advanced mine. For Rio Tinto, PLC finding the workers to run the new high-tech operation is a challenge.
Automation helped miners to become more efficient and avoid disruptions triggered by the pandemic, when sudden border closures marooned workers who used to jet in from afar for their shifts. But the companies’ investments are doing little to solve a broader labor crisis affecting an industry that still needs a large staff to keep their operations running smoothly.
How did one of the world's largest robots end up here?
The autonomous train, consisting of three locomotives and carrying around 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled over 280 kilometres from our mining operations in Tom Price to the port of Cape Lambert. It was monitored remotely by operators from our Operations Centre in Perth more than 1,500 kilometres away. Our AutoHaul™ team at the Operations Centre in Perth continued to hone the technology, running thousands of hours of tests. The AutoHaul™ project was made fully operational in June 2019, making it the world’s first fully autonomous, long distance, heavy-haul rail network.
“The time-saving benefit is enormous because the train network is a core part of the mining operation. If we can prevent those stoppages, we can keep the network ticking over, allowing more ore to be transported to the ports and shipped off more efficiently,” says Lido. “The other major benefit is safety,” he continues. “We are removing the need to transport drivers 1.5 million kilometres each year to and from trains as they change their shift. This high-risk activity is something that driverless trains will largely reduce.”