Australian Strategic Materials, through its partner Ziron Technology Corporation (Ziron Tech), has successfully produced high purity dysprosium (Dy) metal in its laboratory at the Ziron Tech facility. This work using the ASM metallisation process has confirmed ASM’s ability to produce the key permanent magnet metals (dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium) and alloys that will be sourced from its Dubbo Project in central west NSW. ASM Managing Director, David Woodall said: “This is a significant result given the temperatures required for the production of dysprosium metal. Our team has now successfully produced the key permanent magnet rare earth products (dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium metals and alloys) which will be supplied from our Dubbo Project.” “Now that the protocol for the production of dysprosium metal has been completed, our team led by Professor Lee, will focus on the production the ferro-dysprosium alloy, which is key in the production of high-temperature NdFeB magnets. Our focus now is to produce zirconium metal by the end of September, Mr Woodall said. The ASM metallisation process uses significantly less energy and has less impact on the environment than existing industry-standard metallisation processes. This innovative process has been used to produce metals of the planned products from ASM’s Dubbo Project including zirconium, hafnium, and rare earths for permanent magnet alloys in the laboratory. Titanium and the key rare earth permanent magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium have been produced in the commercial pilot plant with dysprosium and zirconium scheduled for later this month. ASM and Ziron Tech continue to finalise the detailed documentation in relation to the acquisition of Ziron Tech with the transaction expected to be completed by the end of October 2020.
As climate change worsens, the future of fossil fuel jobs and infrastructure is uncertain. But a new energy storage technology invented in Australia could enable coal-fired power stations to run entirely emissions-free. The novel material, called miscibility gap alloy (MGA), stores energy in the form of heat. MGA is housed in small blocks of blended metals, which receive energy generated by renewables such as solar and wind. The energy can then be used as an alternative to coal to run steam turbines at coal-fired power stations, without producing emissions. Stackable like Lego, MGA blocks can be added or removed, scaling electricity generation up or down to meet demand. MGA blocks are a fraction of the cost of a rival energy storage technology, lithium-ion batteries. Our invention has been proven in the lab – now we are moving to the next phase of proving it in the real world. Why energy storage is important Major renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power are “intermittent”. In other words, they only produce energy when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. Sometimes they produce more energy than is needed, and other times, less. So moving to 100% renewable electricity requires the energy to be “dispatchable” – stored and delivered on demand. Some forms of storage, such as lithium-ion batteries, are relatively expensive and can only store energy for short periods. Others, such as hydro-electric power, can store energy for longer periods, but are site-dependent and can’t just be built anywhere. If our electricity grid is to become emissions-free, we need an energy storage option that’s both affordable and versatile enough to be rolled out at massive scale – providing six to eight hours of dispatchable power every night. MGAs store energy for a day to a week. This fills a “middle” time frame between […]
Strong gold prices matched by higher volumes has helped Adelaide-based miner Oz Minerals record a net profit after tax of $80 million for the six months to June 30. The profit was up 82 per cent on the same period last year. The company, which operates the Prominent Hill and Carrapateena copper and gold mines in South Australia, increased its net revenue by $156.5 million to $575.7 million, as a result of higher gold volumes and price. Gold sales increased by 53,800 ounces and the net A$ gold price was 36 per cent higher. The Carrapateena mine is expected to reach full production of 4.25Mtpa by the end of the year, further strengthening cash flows. The company also announced a fully franked interim dividend of 8 cents per share to the ASX this morning. OZ Minerals Chief Executive Andrew Cole said the strong first-half performance enabled it to last year increase its copper and gold guidance for 2020. “All our sites and has benefited from higher gold production and favourable gold pricing through the period,” he said. “The ramp-up at Carrapateena during the half year has exceeded expectations with a strong performance from the underground materials handling system, production system and plant allowing an increase to production guidance. “The Prominent Hill underground is performing well, and we have seen annualised ore mining rates of ~4.5Mtpa achieved through July.” Oz Minerals shares increased more than 2 per cent in early trade this morning to $14.42 following the announcement. The positive result was no surprise, following five months of strong growth for Oz Minerals. The company’s share price started the year at $10.55 but slumped due to weak copper prices and coronavirus uncertainty, bottoming out at $5.99 on March 23. Since then, Oz Minerals share price has more than doubled as its […]
Global hydraulic tool and lifting leader Enerpac is introducing to Australia, New Zealand and PNG a new compact, portable and powerful air-powered torque wrench pump for high productivity in hard-to-access locations. Weighing in at approx. 18kg (40lb) with oil, the Enerpac LAT Air Hydraulic Torque Wrench Pump is easy to lift, transport and manoeuvre. The pump comes with an integrated carry handle and can be carried by a single operator up stairs when a crane, hoist or elevator is not available. It is easy to manoeuvre in narrow and constrained spaces such as scaffolding, catwalks, pipe racks and lifts. The LAT pumps are ideal for high repetition torque wrench applications that need air power, such as oil and gas, petrochemical, power generation and mining, but have limited access, so a larger pump would not be practical or efficient. The pump features a proven Enerpac piston design, reinforced Filter Regulator Lubricator (FRL) support and air supply connection, designed to provide years of reliable service with fastening and break out speeds to keep jobs on schedule and on budget. High productivity, reduced equipment downtime “The LAT pump has best-in-class, flow-to-weight performance. Its industry-proven air motor and three-piston design enable operators to complete their hydraulic torque wrench applications faster, while always ensuring top levels of safety. The durable, reliable new pumps are designed and tested for use in tough environments. The roll cage protects key components and provides increased support and protection of the FRL from vibration. The heavy-duty air supply connection and proven piston design enables long life. Key components are easy to access for service and a skid rail accessory prevents reservoir wear from rough surfaces. Applications include: Oil and Gas -Upstream, Midstream, Downstream; Petrochemical -Well heads, pipelines, pumping systems, heat exchangers; Power Generation -Gas Turbine Maintenance; Mining – Conveyor system […]
A lemon myrtle farm in Far North Queensland has retooled its entire operation to meet the growing demand for hand sanitiser and cleaning products in the wake of coronavirus. Lemon myrtle has natural antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. To keep up with a spike in customer enquiries, Australia’s largest producer, Australian Native Products, has shifted its entire Mareeba production from turning 95% of its harvested lemon myrtle into dried leaves to distilling 100% of the crop into lemon myrtle essential oil. Lemon myrtle essential oil can then be used as a natural antibacterial in hand sanitiser and cleaning products. The farm expects to produce more than 300kg of lemon myrtle oil between now and June. CEO James Gosper can discuss the installation of the new still and how the farm has reworked its entire crop away from drying to distilling. As a whole, the company is working to make use of the bi-products of lemon myrtle. They have developed manufacturing processes to extract hydrosol from the plant which can be used in fragrances, as well as microfibre which they hope to market into body scrubs and cosmetics.
Rio Tinto has approved a $749 million (A$1 billion) investment in its existing Greater Tom Price operations (100% owned) to help sustain the production capacity of its world-class iron ore business in the Pilbara of Western Australia. The investment in the Western Turner Syncline Phase 2 (WTS2) mine will facilitate mining of existing and new deposits and includes construction of a new crusher as well as a 13-kilometre conveyor. The new conveyor system will help lower greenhouse gas emissions from the mine by 3.5 per cent compared to road haulage and the business is continuing to assess additional options to reduce emissions including renewable energy solutions. Pending final government approvals, construction will start in the first quarter of 2020 with first ore from the crusher expected in 2021. Production of high-quality Brockman ore will support the company’s flagship Pilbara Blend, which continues to be the preferred baseload product for China’s steel mills. The project is expected to deliver an attractive internal rate of return with a capital intensity of about $25 per tonne of production capacity. The investment is included in Rio Tinto’s existing guidance for Pilbara replacement capital for 2020 to 2022. As part of the investment, the haul truck fleet at the mine will be fitted with Autonomous Haulage System (AHS) technology to enable autonomous haulage at WTS2 from 2021. The ongoing deployment of autonomous haulage at the company’s Pilbara operations is delivering significant safety benefits as well as enhancing productivity and reducing costs. Approximately 50% of the company’s haul truck fleet will be capable of operating autonomously by the end of the year with plans being assessed to expand this in the years ahead. Consistent with its proven track record, the company is continuing to reskill, redeploy and retrain as automation technology is implemented. Rio Tinto Iron […]
Scott HamiltonStrategic Advisory Panel Member, Australian-German Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne Changlong WangResearcher, The Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne Falko UeckerdtPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Roger DargavilleSenior lecturer, Monash University The possibilities presented by hydrogen are the subject of excited discussion across the world – and across Australia’s political divide, notoriously at war over energy policy. On Friday Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel will present a national strategy on hydrogen to state, territory and federal energy ministers. Finkel is expected to outline a plan that prioritises hydrogen exports as a profitable way to reduce emissions. It is to be hoped the strategy is aggressive, rather than timid. Ambition is key in lowering the cost of energy. Australia would do better aiming for 200% renewable energy or more. It’s likely the national strategy will feature demonstration projects to test the feasibility of new technology, reduce costs, and find ways to share the risk of infrastructure investment between government and industry. There are still a number of barriers. Existing gas pipelines could be used to transport hydrogen to end-users but current laws are prohibitive, mechanisms like “certificates of origin” are required, and there are still key technology issues, particularly the cost of electrolysis. These issues raise questions of what a major hydrogen economy really looks like. It may prompt suspicions this is just the a latest energy pipe dream. But our research at the Australian-German Energy Transition Hub argues that an ambitious approach is better than a cautious one. Aggressively pursing hydrogen exports will reduce costs of domestic energy supply and provide a basis for new export industries, such as greens steel, in a carbon-constrained world. Optimal systems cost less We used optimisation modelling to examine how a major hydrogen industry might roll out in Australia. We wanted to identify where major plants […]
Current and future workers in the resources industry will be able to gain formal qualifications in remote operations for the first time following a partnership between Rio Tinto, the Western Australian Government and South Metropolitan TAFE. A Certificate IV in Autonomous Control and Remote Operations has now been approved by the Training Accreditation Council (WA), providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to work at facilities such as Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre in Perth. The course is the highest-level accreditation approved to date in a partnership struck between Rio Tinto, the Western Australia Government and South Metropolitan TAFE in 2017. It follows accreditation earlier this year of a Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations and a micro-credential course for trade-qualified, apprentices and technicians. About 30 Rio Tinto employees will take part in the initial pilot of the Certificate IV course which will be delivered by South Metropolitan TAFE in 2020. The course work combines work integrated learning giving our participants the opportunity to apply the new learning and knowledge to work related scenarios in the Control Centre. Pending successful completion of the pilot, the first Certificate IV course may start in 2021. Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said “The key to any technology is our people and that’s why training and development is so important. These qualifications will provide employees, both current and future, with the skills and training needed to thrive in our evolving industry. “These courses give Western Australian workers the opportunity to gain modern, portable qualifications, with skills that can be used right across the resources industry. “Rio Tinto has committed A$2 million to the development of these qualifications which come at a critical time for the industry as we look to ensure vocational education and training programmes keep pace with the […]
The April shelving of a major solar thermal plant has done little to slow the pace of renewable energy projects being proposed in South Australia. Andrew Spence In the past three months, applications for almost 1.7 gigawatts of renewable energy generation across six projects have been assessed by the South Australian Government’s State Planning Commission. Of these, the 280MW Cultana Solar Farm – the first large scale project in billionaire industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s plan to generate one gigawatt of dispatchable renewable energy in South Australia – was approved by State Planning Minister Stephan Knoll last month. The other five projects still awaiting ministerial consent include: RES Australia 176MW solar farm and 66MW battery storage facility near Murray Bridge; Neoen Australia(Crystal Brook Energy Park) 125MW windfarm, 150MW Solar Farm and 130MW lithium-ion battery near Crystal Brook; Energy Projects Solar (Bungama Solar) 280 MW solar PV and 140MW battery storage plant to integrate into the National Electricity Market through a 275 kV connection to ElectraNet’s Bungama Substation near Port Pirie; Energy Projects Solar staged development of a 500MW solar farm with 250MW storage near Robertstown, and; RES Australia (Twin Creek Wind Farm Project) 183MW wind and 50MW battery storage near Kapunda. Two other South Australian projects – the 95MW Tailem Bend Solar Project and stage one of the 220MW Bungala Solar Farm near Port Augusta started exporting power to the national grid earlier this year. There are also dozens of micro solar farms up to 5MW being constructed across the state. South Australia is home to Tesla’s 100MW/129MWh battery, which became the “world’s largest lithium-ion battery” when it was installed at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in December 2017. South Australia already leads the nation in the uptake of wind energy and roof-top solar with renewable sources accounting for more than 50 per cent of the electricity generated in the state. However, […]
The budget points to weaker times ahead unless wages and spending pick up. A weaker domestic economy has cost the budget A$15 billion over the next four years, but booming international commodity markets are more than offsetting this. The net result is a budget that will remain comfortably in surplus for the next four years, assuming the economic situation improves rather than disappoints. Much lower payments on a range of different programs have also given the government some extra money to play with. Lower spending on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a big drop in debt servicing costs and lower pension income support payments are just a few of the expenditure surprises that paint a very healthy picture of federal government finances right now. But weaker domestic economic numbers have come at a considerable cost to the budget in an ominous warning about how vulnerable the government’s finances would be to a domestic economic recession. Since the release of the mid-year economic outlook last December, economic data have generally disappointed expectations, culminating in a much-weaker-than-expected GDP report for the December quarter of 2018. This has forced the Treasury to reset the government’s baseline for the economy and its revenues. This has been quite small in the scheme of things, with economic variables such as consumption, GDP and wages down by about 0.25% to 0.5% for this year and next. But these otherwise small changes to the economic baseline have had a big impact on government finances. Revisions to the outlook for wages have cost the budget $800 million in 2019-20 and a total of $8.1 billion over the four years to 2022-23. Weaker-than-forecast consumption has knocked $1.7 billion out of GST receipts for 2019-20. It’s not a problem for the feds, but another sign that state government budgets are about […]