May’s top stories: China’s $16bn gold mining fund, Lonmin 3,500 job cuts

4 June 2015 (Last Updated June 4th, 2015 18:30)

China established a $16bn fund for gold mines to increase the country's trade influence of the metal, Lonmin planned 3,500 jobs cut across its South African mines, and Ericsson announced plans to begin a pilot project using 5G technology in Sweden to improve mine safety, Mining-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from May 2015.

May’s top stories: China’s $16bn gold mining fund, Lonmin 3,500 job cuts

Gold coins-t

Lonmin to cut 3,500 jobs in South Africa

Platinum mining firm Lonmin announced plans to cut 3,500 jobs across its South African mines in response to slump in platinum group metal prices (PMG).

The company is in negotiations with unions and employees over the redundancies.

Lonmin CEO Ben Magara said: "The mining industry is going through another challenging economic cycle and we need to make difficult decisions to maintain the resilience of our business and protect employment.

"Nobody wants this, but we all have to protect the future of the business for as many employees as possible."

China establishes $16bn gold mining fund

China

China established a new $16bn mining fund for investment in gold mines to increase the country's trade influence of the metal.

The fund will be run by a new company, and would be used to develop gold mining projects along the planned silk road infrastructure that is being developed by the country.

Shanghai Securities News reported that 60 countries are said to take part in the fund that is expected to raise the amount in three phases.

BHP Billiton shareholders agree to South32 demerger

BHP Billiton shareholders approved the spin-off of the company's minor assets into South32 by more than 98% of the votes cast in Australia and Britain.

BHP Billiton chairman Jac Nasser said: "The demerger of South32 simplifies BHP Billiton's portfolio while retaining the benefits of scale and diversification.

"We believe that the demerger will create two successful companies in BHP Billiton and South32."

The metals and mining company South32 will own a portfolio of mining assets, including alumina, aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel, silver, lead and zinc.

Rio Tinto finalises deal with Mongolia to proceed with $5.4bn Oyu Tolgoi mine expansion

Oyu Tolgoi

Rio Tinto reached a deal with the Mongolian Government for its $5.4bn expansion of the underground mine at Oyu Tolgoi, capping two years of negotiations.

The company has signed the mine development and financing plan alongside the government and its majority-owned subsidiary Turquoise Hill Resources, which owns most of the mine.

Following the agreement, the focus will now be on finalising project finance, a feasibility study, and obtaining all necessary permits for the mine development to go ahead.

Murray Energy to cut 1,800 jobs at US coal mines

US underground coal mining company Murray Energy announced plans to lay-off around 1,800 workers at various mines in West Virginia and Ohio.

Representing 21% of the company's workforce, the planned lay-offs are being done amid declining thermal coal prices, a source familiar with the matter told Wall Street Journal.

The latest decision follows various meetings held by the company's chief executive officer Robert Murray with operations managers.

Most of the job cuts will be in Murray Energy's Monongalia County Coal in West Virginia, which has been idled earlier this spring, leaving several mining workers jobless.

Neptec launches stockpile monitoring software for mine operators

Neptec

Neptec Technologies launched a stockpile monitoring software for the mining industry.

Called 3D Real-time intelligence (3DRi), the application monitors stockpile levels and reports volumes using OPAL laser scanners installed around a cluster of stockpiles at the mine.

Designed with the capability to operate in adverse and dusty environments, the OPAL scanners do not need any special, air-conditioned or heated enclosures, the company said.

3DRi performs 3D data processing at the point-of-collection to calculate stockpile volumes, thereby eliminating the manual acquisition, transmission and post-processing of 3D point cloud data sets.

China and India may partner for seabed mineral exploration in Indian Ocean

China offered to partner with India on seabed mining in the Indian Ocean, which is believed to host expensive minerals.

Proposed plans come after a Chinese deep-sea manned submersible vessel, Jiaolong, completed a 118-day voyage in the south-west of the ocean.

The vessel has discovered deep-sea fissures, among others, which could support future research into resources and environments of seafloor deposits, reported ChinaDaily.

New plant spotted in West Africa that identifies presence of diamonds

diamond

UK certified diamond specialist Marlows Diamonds claimed to have found a new thorny, palm-like plant in West Africa, which signals the presence of diamonds beneath it.

The Pandanus candelabrum plant has been identified as a method to identify columns of kimberlite pipes, which release eruptions that can raise faster bringing diamonds to the surface.

The Liberian plants are expected to make searching for diamond easier in areas that have suffered greatly from the Ebola epidemic.

Pandanus candelabrum is said to enjoy kimberlite-rich soil that thrives on magnesium, potassium and phosphorous and has been spotted at various kimberlite sites.

Finnish researchers develop profitability calculator for mining industry

Researchers at Finland's Lappeenranta University of Technology developed a new system for mine operators to calculate the profitability of mining operations.

Ericsson

The techno-economic system is said to facilitate mining investment decision-making, as well as help fine tune the production guidance.

LUT strategic financing professor Mikael Collan said: "The planning of international investments with the help of more detailed models can save tens of millions of euros over a mine's lifespan compared with traditional methods.

"The savings come from better optimisation of production and better planned investments.

"The benefits of the model are comparable with the benefits stemming from the optimisation of transport routes."

Ericsson to launch 5G pilot to improve productivity and safety at Swedish mines

Ericsson announced a new pilot project that will use 5G technology to improve productivity and safety in the Swedish mining industry.

The new 'Pilot for Industrial Mobile Communication in Mining' project is a joint cooperation between Ericsson, ABB, Boliden, SICS Swedish ICT and Volvo Construction Equipment and uses 5G technology for communication and remote control operations.

In the initial stages, a Volvo truck used to transport ore in a mine operated by Boliden will be remotely controlled using a 5G development system comprising new and existing technologies.

The pilot is aimed at finding solutions that can be applied in the mining industry to deal with the dangerous in its operational environment.