April’s top news stories

9 May 2018 (Last Updated June 3rd, 2020 11:35)

Weir Group, a supplier of pumps and valves for the mining and energy industries, signed an agreement to acquire US mining equipment parts manufacturer Esco for $1.05bn, a consortium of raw material suppliers for the battery industry joined a cooperation network to secure investments for the development of a battery cluster in Finland. Mining-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from April 2018.

Weir Group acquires mining parts manufacturer Esco for $1.05bn

UK-based engineering firm Weir Group, a supplier of pumps and valves for the mining and energy industries, signed an agreement to acquire US mining equipment parts manufacturer Esco for an equity value of $1.05bn.

Esco is a provider of ground engaging tools (GET) for surface mining and construction applications.

The company possesses ten manufacturing facilities and six foundries, as well as 22 service and supply centres in 19 countries.


Material suppliers join Finnish battery cluster cooperation project

A consortium of raw material suppliers for the battery industry joined a cooperation network to secure investments for the development of a battery cluster in Finland.

The network was established last year by the Finnish city of Vaasa and has been allocated a large area for the construction of battery factories.

In addition to the cities of Vaasa and Kokkola, the cooperation network comprises cobalt refinery and battery chemicals producer Freeport Cobalt, nickel metals and nickel chemicals producer Nornickel, and a producer of nickel, zinc, cobalt and copper known as the Terrafame Group.


De Beers to launch app to support artisanal and small-scale mining

De Beers Group is set to launch an app to enable artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) to certify that the diamonds being mined at their projects are legal.

The programme is known as GemFair and will be piloted in Sierra Leone to create a secure and transparent route to market for diamonds legally sourced by ASM.

The initiative is intended to facilitate the formalisation of the ASM sector and will include criteria such as ensuring that rough diamonds are purchased from approved locations, as well as improving the working conditions and livelihoods of workers.


Rio Tinto to terminate contracts with Rusal due to US sanctions

Australian-British mining firm Rio Tinto is set to suspend a number of contracts with aluminium producer Rusal as a result of recent US Government sanctions imposed on various Russian individuals and companies.

The development follows the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) designation of Russian business tycoon Oleg Deripaska and firms directly or indirectly owned or controlled by him as Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) on 6 April, which included Rusal.

Rio Tinto subsequently reviewed its various arrangements with Rusal following the US Government’s announcement, including Rusal’s 20% interest in Queensland Alumina in Australia.


Lava in lab study suggests potential for new iron-ore deposits

A new lab-based study conducted on iron-ore deposits by researchers from various institutions determined that some magmas split into two separate liquids, including one that is rich in iron.

It is claimed that the discovery could pave the way for the identification of new iron-ore deposits.

The institutions that participated in the project include KU Leuven, Leibniz University Hannover and University of Liège (ULiège).


Volvo launches new rigid haulers for mining applications

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) launched its new range of rigid haulers in order to address the changing requirements of the company’s mining and quarrying customers.

The new line of Volvo-branded haulers was unveiled at the company’s Motherwell facility in Scotland and includes the 45t R45D, 60t R60D, 72t R70D and the flagship 95t R100E variants.

The R100E unit has been developed by combining market and customer feedback with proven components, new technologies and an updated design concept.


Fortescue begins expansion of autonomous haul fleet at Chichester Hub

Fortescue Metals Group introduced the first trucks from its autonomous haul fleet fitted with autonomous haulage technology (AHS) into operation at Christmas Creek in Australia’s Pilbara region.

The expansion of the company’s autonomous haul fleet is slated to involve the conversion of around 100 haul trucks at the Chichester Hub.

The company aims to become the first iron ore operation in the world to possess a fully autonomous fleet via the initiative.


OZ Minerals’ A$916m Carrapateena project receives final approvals

Mining company OZ Minerals obtained final approval from the state and federal governments for its A$916m Carrapateena copper gold project, located nearly 160km north of Port Augusta in South Australia.

The approval helped pave the way for phase two construction on the copper gold project, which subsequently began in mid-April.

The Mining Lease and Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) approvals represent the completion of the primary requirements necessary for the development, and follow the signing of a Native Title Mining Agreement between OZ Minerals and Kokatha Aboriginal in September 2017.


Randgold expects automation to drive production at Kibali mine in DRC

Randgold Resources announced that the company expects to achieve this year’s production guidance with able support from an automated materials handling system at Kibali gold mine’s underground operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The company said that Kibali mine remains on course to achieve its planned ramp-up in production to a total of 730,000 ounces (oz), which represents a 22% increase over the previous year’s output.

Randgold Resources chief executive Mark Bristow said: “Aside from the continuing optimisation of the underground system and the construction of the mine’s third hydropower station, scheduled for commissioning towards the middle of this year, the giant Kibali project is now complete.”


Cleveland-Cliffs to build new $700m HBI plant in Ohio, US

US-based iron ore mining company Cleveland-Cliffs is set to build a new plant, valued at $700m, for the production of hot-briquetted iron (HBI) in Toledo, Ohio.

Cleveland-Cliffs intends to make the facility modern and efficient, with the capacity to manufacture 1.6 million metric tonnes (mt) of customised-quality HBI per year.

The company expects to be the only customised feedstock producer for domestic electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmakers in the Great Lakes region following the plant’s completion.