June’s top stories: Harmony Gold 3,000 job cuts, PotashCorp bid for K+S

5 July 2015 (Last Updated June 23rd, 2020 13:54)

Harmony Gold revealed plans to cut more than 3,000 jobs at its Doornkop mine over falling prices and increasing costs, Glencore sells Australia's Cosmos nickel mine to Western Areas, and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan has made a bid to acquire K+S Aktiengesellschaft for around $8bn. Mining-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from June 2015.

June’s top stories: Harmony Gold 3,000 job cuts, PotashCorp bid for K+S

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Harmony Gold considers more than 3,000 job cuts at Doornkop mine

Harmony Gold considered laying off more than 3,000 staff at its Doornkop mine due to a combination of falling prices and increasing costs.

According to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the South African company is holding discussions with unions regarding possible job cuts.

Harmony's latest decision also comes ahead of ongoing talks regarding tough wage talks in the country's gold sector.

In early May, the company said that it plans to undertake restructuring at the Doornkop mine, which has not been generating profits for the past couple of years, the news agency said.

US scientists find bacteria that cleans polluted groundwater at uranium ore sites

UraniumMill

Scientists at Rutgers University in the US discovered bacteria that can help to clean polluted groundwater at uranium ore processing sites where nuclear weapons are made.

A team of scientists and collaborators discovered the bacteria in soil at an old uranium ore mill in Rifle, Colorado located almost 200 miles west of Denver, and used during the peak of nuclear weapons production.

Scientists are carrying out a research to see if microorganisms can lock-up uranium that had been released into the soil many years ago, and currently makes well water in the area unsafe to drink.

Scientists have found a bacterium from a common class known as betaproteobacteria that breathes uranium.

PotashCorp offers bid to buy K+S

Diesel loader

Canadian mining company Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp) confirmed its bid to acquire K+S Aktiengesellschaft in a deal worth an estimated $8bn.

PotashCorp said in a statement: "There is no certainty that any offer will ultimately be made or as to the terms on which such an offer might be made.

"PotashCorp does not intend to make any additional comments on this matter at this time unless and until it is appropriate to do so, or a formal agreement has been reached."

K+S said PotashCorp informed its board that the company may decide, depending on certain conditions, including a due diligence exercise to acquire it.

India's EasyM2M introduces underground Wi-Fi facility for Eastern Coalfields mines

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India-based EasyM2M Technologies introduced underground Wi-Fi facility for Eastern Coalfields (ECL) mines in a bid to help workers communicate with their officials in the control rooms.

As part of its service, EasyM2M will also introduce wrist phones for ECL workers to enable real-time tracking, ET reported.

EasyM2M Technologies founder Priya Ranjan Kumar told media sources: "One miner dies every third day. A lot of time is lost in miners trying to communicate to the surface during an accident, emergency, or even for quick advice on how to fix a machine."

According to Kumar, Indian miners working in underground and open-cast mines are usually provided with a phone or an intercom device so that they can interact with the monitoring and control rooms, which are not reliable and rarely work.

Alkane gets approval to develop $770m Dubbo Zirconia project in Australia

DZP

Alkane Resources' wholly owned subsidiary Australian Zirconia (AZL) secured approval from the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) for the development of its A$1bn ($770m) Dubbo Zirconia Project (DZP) in Australia.

Following the approval, AZL will proceed with applications for the environmental protection licence (EPL), mining lease and to secure project financing to advance the rare earths and exotic metals project into a development phase.

Alkane Resources managing director Ian Chalmers said: "We recognise there are a number of important steps before construction begins but we are delighted to achieve development consent for the Dubbo Zirconia Project, and are looking forward to taking the next steps towards establishing this globally significant operation.

"This project will not only mean a transformation for Alkane, but it will have a significant impact on the region, creating some 300 jobs and strategically important resources exports for Australia."

Indonesia to assess future of coal mining sector

Indonesia announced plans to consolidate its coal mining sector after reviewing local mines, which are not certified as clean and clear.

Said to be applicable only to the IUPs, the review excludes larger and older-generation firms with so-called contracts of work, Reuters reported.

At the 21st Coaltrans Asia conference in Bali, Indonesia, Mining and Energy Minister Sudirman said the country plans to withdraw licenses of more than 4,000 that have not met certain standards.

Sudirman told Platts: "There are more than 10,000 mines, which are IUPs or Izin Usaha Pertambangan [producers who are not directly under the government], and nearly 40% of them do not have clean and clear certification."

Indonesia exports an estimated $2bn of coal monthly and intends to gain more revenue from the mining sector.

Australian researchers discover new technique to extract uranium from brannerite

Brannerite

Researchers at Murdoch University in Australia discovered a new technique that can be used to extract uranium from waste product brannerite.

The latest technology is expected to boost extraction by up to 15%, which could contribute $108m per annum in added value to the industry.

According to researchers, the technique can produce results for mining companies within two to three years.

PhD candidate Rorie Gilligan said: "In recent decades, the assumption has been that brannerite can't be processed, so, when I told other metallurgists I was out to test that belief, the typical response was 'good luck with that'."

"I dug into the archives and ended up finding a number of basically forgotten papers from the 1950s and 60s exploring brannerite extraction, which gave us a starting point for testing our own ideas in the lab."

Energy Resources of Australia board members resign over Ranger Uranium Mine uncertainty

Ranger_Mine

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) announced that half of its board members have resigned following the halting of its final feasibility study for Kakadu's Ranger Uranium Mine development.

ERA said the company's chairman Peter McMahon and independent non-executive directors, Dr Helen Garnett and Dr David Smith, stepped down citing uncertainty over the mine's future.

The outgoing directors said that ERA's announcement on 11 June to scrap plans to proceed with the final feasibility study for its Ranger 3 Deeps project prompted them to take the decision.

The directors said: "Given the differing views on the future of the Ranger 3 Deeps project, it is difficult for ERA to pursue its stated approach without the support of its major shareholder, Rio Tinto."

Glencore to sell Australia's Cosmos nickel mine to Western Areas

Glencore announced the sale of its A$3.1bn ($2.4bn) Cosmos Nickel Complex (CNC) in Western Australia to nickel producer Western Areas for A$24.5m ($19m).

In 2007, Xstrata acquired the Australian mine from Jubilee Mines.

Two years ago, Glencore acquired the business when it took over Xstrata then and in December announced its sale.

Western Australia said that the acquisition will provide the company with substantial additional exploration upside, as well as a potential second mining operation.

Immersive Technologies and RCT launch new underground loader simulator for mines

RCT-Remote

Underground simulators supplier Immersive Technologies (IMMT) and mine vehicle guidance systems company RCT joined forces to launch an advanced underground loader simulator.

Mine vehicle control and guidance systems supplier RCT provided its Controlmaster CM2000D line-of-sight remote control system to the simulator.

A zinc miner in Kazakhstan will use the simulator to train miners in the safe operation of loaders in manual, as well as remote-control modes.

In addition to conducting remote and tele-remote mining, the mining company performs manual loading across many sites to help increase production.