Latest News and Updates
There has been some very interesting stories from within the mining sector this month so far. By far the most interesting is the hybrid airship it looks like something out of the hunger games. It is a unique solution to the mining industry and it is something i think might revolutionise the business.
Breakthrough aircraft to transform remote mining.
Lockheed lands $480m customer for aircraft combining power of helicopter, airplane and hovercraft dramatically altering mining and exploration economics.
On Wednesday, Lockheed Martin signed the first customer for the LMH-1, the giant defense contractor’s hybrid airship. The LMH-1 is a unique new aircraft which is part helium dirigible, part cargo helicopter, part passenger airliner and part hovercraft.
UK-based Straightline Aviation signed a letter of intent with Hybrid Enterprises, the exclusive reseller of the hybrid airship, to purchase up to 12 aircraft with a potential value of roughly $480 million.
When the new aircraft enters commercial service in around three years’ time it would not just be an upgrade to the traditional airship or advertising blimp, but would constitute a whole new class of aircraft says Bob Boyd, program manager for hybrid airships at Lockheed Martin: “It’s a new opportunity, we’re not competing with any other aircraft.”
“It’s a new opportunity, we’re not competing with any other aircraft”
Straightline Aviation is the world’s largest airship company and operates in 30 countries. Chief and co-founder, Michael Kendrick tells MINING.com that the company would own and operate the aircraft: “We see pent-up demand in the mining and oil and gas industries and expect our first customers from this sector.”
MINING.com recently toured Lockheed’s Skunk Works in Palmdale California where work on hybrid airship technology began more than two decades ago under a classified military program that never got off the ground (nothing except an early prototype to be more precise).
But Skunk Works never abandoned the project, spending around $100 million on research and development on a highly modified version of the original concept. The LMH-1 is now the first commercial venture to come out of the 3,000-staff facility responsible for such iconic flying machines as the SR-71 Blackbird (40 years later still the world’s fastest jet) and stealth attack jet the F-117 Nighthawk.
What makes the LMH-1 a hybrid and distinct from traditional airships is the tri-lobe hull that combines the direct lift of a helicopter and the aerodynamic lift of a fixed wing aircraft with the buoyant lift of an airship. The helium-filled envelope provides 80% of the lift because the LMH-1, unlike other blimps, is heaver than air (and therefore requires no mooring).
The landing gear acts as three giant suction cups making it possible to land on ice, snow, mud, sand and water
What sets the LMH-1 apart from competing designs is its hovering and landing capabilities or what Lockheed calls its Air Cushion Landing System or ACLS. By reversing the air-flow the landing gear acts as three giant suction cups and make it possible to land on and grip any unimproved field including ice, snow, mud, sand and water.
Boyd says because the aircraft is such a unique proposition Lockheed spent time talking to mining and exploration companies to understand their requirements and explain how the hybrid airship could fulfil those needs.
With rich easily-reachable deposits being depleted, mining and exploration is pushing further and further into frontier markets and remote locations. Says Boyd: “Not only will the LMH-1 lower construction costs by reducing the need to build transport infrastructure, the low environmental impact would also lower clean-up costs at remote sites.”
Mining is water intensive and many mines are located near bodies of water meaning many operations can utilize hybrid airships without creating any new infrastructure.
Grant Cool, chief operating officer Hybrid Enterprises, says when you slow down to say 25 knots the impact on fuel efficiency is enormous and you could conceivably stay in the air for days and travel around the world.
Cool says he almost expects that with the LMH-1 old nautical terms like tradewinds and the doldrums may start to make a comeback. Lockheed considers the helium a structural material and the envelope is made out of a material called Vectran which is not much thicker than canvass or sail.
Cool points out that contrary to popular perception puncturing the hull won’t cause deflation. In fact even if you shoot holes in it, you probably won’t notice anything for days and patching is a straightforward process.
Lockheed gave those of us on the tour a chance to climb inside the envelope of the P-791 (it’s now filled with air not helium obviously). Inside there are are bags that automatically inflate and deflate to compensate for the helium contracting and expanding at different altitudes
The LMH-1 will find its main application in hauling cargo and fuel to mining and oil and gas installations with little or no transport infrastructure. But with half of the world’s population with no direct access to paved road, Lockheed foresees a range of uses for the aircraft says Craig Johnston, business director for Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works.
That includes bringing humanitarian relief during natural disasters (including configuring the crafts as “flying hospitals”), search and rescue (including at sea) transport relays, monitoring and surveying equipment and pipeline inspections.
Passenger services and particularly tourist travel is well suited to the LMH-1 thanks to its ability to fly low, slow and, importantly, quietly. And of course there’s the tried and tested display advertising business too.
In the mining and exploration space the immediate competition for the LMH-1 are helicopters.The LMH-1 can carry up to 21 metric tonnes (more than twice maximum helicopter loads) or 47,000 pounds of payload and the roll-on roll-off cargo bay has been designed to have a similar configuration to a semi-truck at 10’x10’x60′.
What also counts in favour of the airship is the fact that it uses a fifth of the fuel of a helicopter (and a third of that of a jet aircraft) on a comparable basis and emits only 0.4kg per tonne mile CO2 compared to 1.2kg per tonne mile for jet aircraft. Keeping things simple was a main priority in the design process according to Boyd which keeps parts, maintenance and running costs low.
The LMH-1 can carry up to 19 passengers and as this picture of the full-scale model of the gondola shows, can do so in “business-class style.” Noise levels at take-off and landing are well below that of jet aircraft and helicopters and Hybrid Enterprises CEO Rob Binns tells MINING.com the airship’s low environmental impact, especially how quiet it is, will see it being used in urban areas with strict noise regulations. http://www.mining.com/breakthrough-aircraft-to-transform-mining-economics/
Standard for responsible mining released
Revised draft Standard released today, multi-sector effort to certify social and environmental performance at industrial-scale mine sites globally
Today, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) released the second and revised draft Standard for Responsible Mining for a sixty-day review and public comment period ahead of the first-ever global certification program for industrial-scale mine sites, planned to begin in late 2016.
This second draft of the Standard for Responsible Mining reflects the input from over 1400 points of comment contributed by more than 70 organizations and individuals worldwide, including industry and technical experts. Additionally, in October 2015 and March 2016, IRMA conducted two field tests of the Standard for Responsible Mining to ground-truth the draft Standard through simulated mine audits in the United States and in Zimbabwe. Auditors hired by IRMA reviewed company documentation, made first-hand observations at the mine site, and conducted interviews with company representatives and other stakeholders to verify the requirements in the Standard are clear, practicable, and measurable.
With growing awareness and demand for ecologically and socially-responsible products jewelers, electronics businesses and others have sought assurances that the minerals they purchase are mined responsibly. The Standard seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry and sustainable fisheries.
“Microsoft believes that fairly applied global mining standards such as outlined in the Standard for Responsible Mining are key to helping solve labor, human rights, and environmental issues at the far reaches of industry’s supply chains,” said Joan Krajewski, General Manager, Compliance and Safety, Microsoft. “Collaborative initiatives like these can help improve practices associated with mining of metal ores at their source, which is why we work closely with and support IRMA.”
The draft Standard for Responsible Mining is the result of ten years of collaboration between groups from the mining industry, organized labor, nongovernmental organizations, impacted communities, and businesses.
“We believe that using our brand to advocate for critical issues like responsible mining is one of the most important things we can do,” says Anisa Kamadoli Costa, Chief Sustainability Officer at Tiffany & Co. “Today, collaboration across sectors is necessary to drive systemic change. As a founding member of IRMA, working across sectors to strengthen mining standards, we are proud IRMA is close to launching its certification. We believe IRMA’s progress represents a significant step toward a global standard in responsible mining.”
“IRMA’s value lies in the commitment by leaders from five different sectors to establish meaningful, verifiable environmental and human rights standards for mining,” said Jennifer Krill, executive director at Earthworks, an international mining reform group.
“ArcelorMittal believes that, although challenging and rigorous, the Standard for Responsible Miningis possible to implement over time. It serves as a credible multi-stakeholder tool to allow participating mines to differentiate themselves as leaders in environmental and social responsibility,” said Alan Knight, General Manager, Head of Corporate Responsibility at ArcelorMittal. “We commend the addition of a scoring tool that allows mines at all levels to demonstrate continuing improvement in the areas of environmental and social responsibility.”
The Standard for Responsible Mining’s best practice requirements for mining include elements such as health and safety for workers, human rights, community engagement, pollution control, mining in conflict-affected areas, rights of indigenous peoples, transparency in revenue payments from companies to governments, and land reclamation once mining is done.
“IndustriALL Global Union represents over 50 million workers in mining and manufacturing in 140 countries. We have worked hard to ensure that the interests of working miners and communities are fully represented in the development of this multi-stakeholder certification and assurance reporting system for the mining industry,” said Glen Mpufane, Mining Director at IndustriALLand a former underground miner and member of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa.
Stakeholders and the general public are invited to participate in this next round of feedback and input. After the 5 June comment deadline, the Steering Committee will make another set of revisions to the draft Standard for Responsible Mining and release the final Standard in late 2016.
Each of the quotes above is from a member of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance Steering Committee. Additional Steering Committee members include Joe Drexler of United Steelworkers, Larson Bill from the Western Shoshone Defense Project, Alan Young of theInternational Boreal Conservation Campaign, and Jon Samuel of Anglo American.
The Standard for Responsible Mining will cover mine sites, not mining companies, and will not certify extraction of energy fuels (e.g. uranium, coal, oil or gas). In addition to the certification process for mines that meet the Standard, IRMA will offer a secondary “candidate” status for mine sites that meet a core set of threshold requirements, and a also scoring tool to measure continuing improvement for mines at all levels. The certification program will be based on independent third-party verification and seeks to achieve compliance with ISEAL Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for standard-setting. IRMA is planning a “pilot phase” for the first certifications in 2017, to encourage rapid learning and system improvements. http://www.mining.com/web/standard-for-responsible-mining-released/
Randgold replenishes resources in record production year
London, ̶ Randgold Resources’ annual resource and reserve declaration, published today as part of its annual report for 2015, shows attributable measured and indicated resources steady at 21.1 million ounces while inferred resources are marginally up to 6.7 million ounces. Total attributable reserves of 14.6 million ounces reflect a 3.5% reduction after mining depletion, with no change in the grade, in a year that delivered record production of 1.2 million ounces.
Loulo’s total mineral resources increased by 5%, net of depletion. This was driven by a significant increase of plus 600 000 ounces in the Gara underground inferred resources from the positive results of the Gara South drilling. Further drilling and design work are expected to convert a large portion of these resources to reserves in 2016. A drilling programme to define high grade resources is underway at Yalea as well. Total ore reserves after depletion decreased by 4% to 4.7 million ounces at 4.6g/t. At neighbouring Gounkoto, total ore reserves remained above 3 million ounces with an 8% increase in grade on the back of an updated underground feasibility study which increased the underground reserve to 1.1 million ounces at 7.2g/t. A lower cost profile and higher grade resource model have highlighted the potential for a superpit mining option, which together with an underground mine is now the subject of a trade-off study planned for completion in 2016.
At Kibali in the Democratic Republic of Congo, total reserves decreased to 10.6 million ounces at 4.1g/t from 11.0 million ounces at 4.1g/t, with mining depletion being partly offset by gains from underground and the Pakaka and Gorumbwa satellite deposit. Resources were down after depletion by 5% as a result of mining and the ongoing assessment of the substantial resource base acquired from Moto.
In Côte d’Ivoire, Tongon’s resources and reserves decreased marginally with partial replacement from ongoing advanced grade control drilling within the pit. Drilling continues to highlight the potential for further gains within and immediately below the current Southern Zone pit design and nearby satellite deposits which will be further tested in 2016.
Group general manager evaluation Rod Quick said Randgold’s reserve and resource management was based on the calculation of its Life of Mine reserves at a gold price of $1 000/oz, coupled with a strong emphasis on the optimal exploitation of the various orebodies by each of the operations.
Chief executive Mark Bristow said the fact that the group’s reserve grade remained intact demonstrated that Randgold had not been forced into high-grading by the challenging market conditions.
“We’ve been able to steer a steady course through some choppy waters because our long term strategy takes the cyclical nature of the gold mining industry fully into account. By ensuring that our operations are focused on real returns and breakeven cash flows, we have secured a profitable consolidated business plan for at least 10 years at an annual production in excess of one million ounces, based on our existing reserves. In the meantime, our exploration teams are hard at work replenishing those reserves as well as hunting for our next big discovery,” he said. http://www.mining.com/web/randgold-replenishes-resources-in-record-production-year/
Oil and Gas News!
We have all felt the effects of the oil prices going down and the industry going into a slower period. However, we are all used to the ups and downs in recruitment and always are ready for the uprising of the industry. Here are this months latest news updates.
Shell Backs Out of Norway’s Arctic Licensing Round
Oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has reportedly decided to withdraw from Norway’s Arctic-focused licensing round.
When it comes to reasons behind this decision, Reuters quoted the company’s statement as saying, “The decision is part of an optimization of Shell’s global portfolio following the acquisition of BG and a persistently low oil price. Norway remains one of our core areas.”
Back in December 2015, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), a government agency whose task is to manage the oil and gas resources on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, revealed a list of companies that applied for acreage offshore Norway, as part of the 23rd licensing round in the country. Twenty-six companies applied for acreage situated mostly in the Barents Sea including Shell, BP, Centrica, Det norske, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Lundin, OMV, Statoil, and Wintershall.
At the time, Norway’s Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said it planned to award new licences in the 23rd licensing round sometime before summer 2016, with first drilling operations in new acreage to start in 2017.
Tord Lien, the Norwegian oil and energy minister, told Reuters that Shell’s decision had no implication for the conduct of the licensing round, and that the awards would still be announced before July.
“We have many other competent companies that are competing hard for our promising, new exploration areas,” Tord Lien told Reuters.
Offshore Energy Today reached out to Shell seeking confirmation of these reports and further details on the matter.
Shell confirmed it decided not to pursue an application in Norway’s 23rd license round.
Andy Brown, Upstream Director of Royal Dutch Shell, said: “We have earlier communicated reductions in our global frontier exploration activities in the foreseeable future, to achieve synergies in the combined portfolio. In addition, the market situation is very challenging. In this light, we have chosen not to pursue further the opportunities in the 23rd licensing round.
“Norway is still a heartland for Shell, and in a long term perspective, we regard the oil and gas potential in the northern areas as important. We will continue to pursue opportunities for growth in Norway, including the Barents Sea, if the right opportunities arise.”
Tor Arnesen, Managing Director of A/S Norske Shell, said: “The decision was taken after a global assessment, and reflects a challenging market situation, which requires difficult portfolio choices. Despite knowing we could have explored safely, both environmentally and technically, the current conditions are such that we globally have to prioritise activities with a shorter return on investment compared to a potential Barents Sea discovery. This is of course tough for our employees, who have matured the application in an exceptional way.”
European Commission invests €7.5m into marine sector
The European Commission has invested over €7.5 million into the marine sector in a bid to boost innovation and create more jobs.
“With these calls for proposals, the European Commission is taking another step to create the conditions for blue growth in Europe,” said Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella. “We are developing skills. We are rewarding creativity. We are boosting technology. Armed with these assets, I am convinced that the European maritime industry can become a global pioneer of blue growth.”
The Commission expects to have the biggest impact on enhancing technology within the ocean energy field.
Tullow Oil to Complete Study into Decommissioning North Sea Assets
Tullow Oil has awarded a contract to Jee Ltd, a subsea engineering and training firm, to investigate the most appropriate options for decommissioning their Thames area assets.
The contract relates to the decommissioning of the Horne, Wren, Wissey, Orwell and Thurne fields in the Southern North Sea. In order to decommission these assets, Tullow has submitted decommissioning programmes to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) which have been approved, along with a joint environmental impact assessment with Perenco (co-operators of the Thames field).
Tullow has asked Jee to review the approach specified in their decommissioning programmes for these assets, and re-define the most appropriate decommissioning options for the subsea sections. The study, due to be completed over the next two months, will assess what infrastructure can be left in situ. In instances where removal is deemed necessary, Jee will look for process efficiency to reduce associated costs. Jee’s assessment will include decommissioning options for the associated components such as mattresses and grout bags.
Jee has significant expertise in offshore decommissioning and in-depth knowledge of the subsea infrastructure in the North Sea from their long-term work with major operators in the region. With experience in assisting operators in providing fully considered studies to determine their decommissioning approach, Jee has also been involved in preparing and submitting derogation cases to DECC for consideration.
Graham Wilson, Head of Late Life at Jee, commented “Leaving subsea infrastructure in situ, also referred to as derogation, can be the best option from a safety, environmental and economical perspective provided no increased risk to other users of the sea.”
Jim Buston, Business Development Manager at Jee, commented “We are delighted to be working with Tullow Oil on a project which has the potential to save them, and indeed the taxpayer, millions of pounds in unnecessary removal of materials. At a time when budgets and spending are being cut across the board, pragmatic approaches to the challenges of decommissioning are of paramount importance. Derogation is just one way which we are working with our clients to look for economically and ecologically more sensible solutions”.
AUSTRALIA TO SUPPLY UKRAINE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
Australia and Ukraine will sign a cooperation agreement in nuclear energy, which will see Canberra supply uranium for Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Kiev will increase the share of nuclear in the country’s energy sector.
“Just a year ago, nuclear power accounted for 48 percent and was steadily falling. In less than a year we have increased it to 56 percent,” said Poroshenko.
The contract will be signed before the Nuclear Security Summit that will be held from March 30 to April 2 in Washington DC, said Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
“Ahead of the Summit I will sign a cooperation agreement to supply uranium to Ukraine for use in power generation. This complements similar agreements Australia has with countries including Canada, China, France, India, Japan, ROK, Russia, the UK and the USA,” said Bishop in a statement. http://www.power-technology.com/news/
CHINA ON TRACK TO BECOMING NUMBER ONE IN NUCLEAR ENERGY
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, China has 31 operational nuclear power plants and another 24 which are under construction.
China’s National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) now wants to build an additional 30 nuclear power stations – not only in China, but also in bordering states. CNNC has already exported six nuclear reactors overseas, although this number is expected to rise within the next 5 years.
At present, Eastern Asia leads the world in nuclear reactor construction, which is more than double than other regions such as Eastern and Central Europe. http://www.power-technology.com/news/
INDIA SET TO INVEST $440M IN NUCLEAR ENERGY
India is eager to increase its investment in nuclear energy and plans to allocate $440 million annually to the sector.
On Monday, the country’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley revealed a budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The government’s investment plan for nuclear energy will be executed in the next 15 to 20 years, said the minister.
Last year, India reached an agreement with Moscow where 12 nuclear power plants would be built in India over the next 20 years. http://www.sopower.co.uk/industrynews/india-set-to-invest-440m-in-nuclear-energy-6611901475