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Aerial Drone of NSS @ Work

NSS recently partnered up with SkyDronics to bring you a series of aerial drone videos of just some of the services we offer at NSS.

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Australian company CommChain has used Central Queensland coal shipments in a ground-breaking Proof of Concept for a blockchain-based system for bulk commodities.

The fourth and final vessel in the July trial left Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal for Japan last week.

CommChain says the trial proved blockchain-enabled, end-to-end trade for bulk commodity logistics and trade settlement was a step closer to commercial reality.

Executive chairman Gary Zamel said the company’s vision was to create a “step-change” in the bulk commodity industry which, despite transporting $278 billion worth of exports, still used outdated systems.

Mr Zamel said the success of the Proof of Concept was timely given the release of a report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) that notes the inevitability of digital disruption in Australian society.

“This Proof of Concept has illustrated that blockchain-based processes are commercially viable and bringing enormous benefits to industry in the form of savings of both cost and time, security and provenance,” Mr Zamel said.

“Immutable data is a great warehouse for data that can be analysed by AI to identify enhanced value capture if other choices were made.

“Further, the CommChain platform offers a solution to the industry’s desire for greater visibility along the supply chain to support purchasing decisions and practices.

“We have received significant interest from stakeholders, which includes our suppliers, transport logistics, traders and buyers.”

The CommChain Proof of Concept was conducted through TransCoal in collaboration with several parties along the supply chain, including Jellinbah Resources and Stanmore Coal.

The four cargoes exported during the July Proof of Concept were valued at $US15.25 million and included departures from RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Faster payments, better asset utilisation

CommChain co-founder and director Faith Dempsey said the experiment would improve efficiency and liquidity for companies as the speed and accuracy of information would optimise asset utilisation on the supply chain and lead to faster payments.

“An immediate benefit to the coal industry is the elimination of the liquidity ‘air-gap’ for those sales agreements which rely on paper-based shipping documents being delivered to the buyer to commence the payment process,” she said.

“In addition, the risk of losing or delaying document delivery via couriers is eliminated. These efficiencies can also be applied to the buyer’s business with their end-users if blockchain technology is used.

“I’m excited about what a mature blockchain environment can deliver for our rail and port operators.   If we can deliver them the ‘big data’ that will allow them to maximise and more efficiently run their operations, then all parties should benefit with moving more coal through existing infrastructure and thereby delivering those most-needed cost reductions.

“Let the Australian resources industry be a leader in this field, not a follower.”

New global trading process trialed for bulk commodities
Mount Isa City Council will host procurement and purchasing workshops this month, reflecting its commitment to supporting local businesses and contractors.

The workshops will be held at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, August 27, 7.30am-8.30am, and on Wednesday, August 28, 6pm-7pm.

They will outline upcoming opportunities to work with council, how businesses can get involved, and how businesses can register their services on council’s supplier lists.

“These workshops will give local contractors and businesses an opportunity to chat face-to-face with council officers and managers, learn what infrastructure projects are in the pipeline for the year ahead, and gain a real and practical insight into Council processes and what they need to do to get involved,” Mayor Joyce McCulloch said.

“We are always striving to provide great service to all of our customers and local stakeholders – this new initiative is a great demonstration of our aim to better serve and engage our local business community.

“With $32 million in capital works and $56 million in operational schedules, Council’s 2019/20 Budget includes a range of significant and important projects.”

Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP by Friday, August 23 2019 by registering online at http://www.mountisa.qld.gov.au/local-procurement-and-purchasing-workshops, calling (07) 4747 3200, or by emailing events@mountisa.qld.gov.au (please provide your name, contact phone number, the name of your company and your email address).

Procurement workshops for Mount Isa businesses
BMA is backing the new Resources Centre of Excellence in Mackay, with an offer of $475,000 funds plus expertise.

Construction of the centre is due to begin next month and it is expected to be open for business in March next year.

BMA asset president James Palmer described it as a critical hub to bring together research, education and the resources industry in Mackay.

“We’re excited about the possibilities, which is why BMA is stepping up to support what will be the home for learning & innovation in our industry in Central Queensland,” he said.   

“BMA is committed to making the Resources Centre of Excellence successful, sustainable and of value to the region as the resources industry embarks on a significant period of change, driven by technology.”

“This is much more than a financial decision.  We are also bringing our expertise and know-how to realise the project, which will be a boon for this region.”

Mackay Regional Council is driving the project, providing $3.6 million for the development – matched by $3.6 million from the State Government.  

Phase 1 of the project will include an Underground Mining Simulated Training Facility (UMSTF) and a research lab.

There will be a focus on bringing together the various resources-related training, testing and research facilities and services currently available in the region.

Coal giant gets behind new Resources Centre of Excellence
Agripower Australia’s new $52 million fertiliser plant at Charters Towers is up and running as orders roll in from domestic and international customers.

Agripower director Peter Prentice said the company was seeing a strong growth in interest in the company’s product, which is based on amorphous silica mined at Greenvale.

Two shipments of 300 and 200 tonnes are due to leave Townsville for Indonesia within the next week, while two further shipments of about 2000 tonnes each are due to leave for India in late August/early September.

“In the middle of all that we also have about 1000 tonnes going to Turkey, in addition to local deliveries (Queensland and New South Wales),” Mr Prentice said.

The Charters Towers plant has the capacity to produce 240,000 tonnes of amorphous silica granules per annum.

One example of the surge in interest comes from Turkey, a major horticultural player, where Agripower supplied about 500 tonnes of its product to a distributor for field trials with potato and tomato growers.

“They have just harvested in the past few weeks and the yield and quality is amazing, so they have just hit us yesterday with a 2000-tonne order for the potatoes. More of their growers are asking for it and now other distributors have found out about it as well,” Mr Prentice said.

“Where I was projecting in the next few months demand in Turkey of a couple of thousand tonnes, I think we are now looking at nearly 10,000.”

The company anticipated fertiliser orders being well below plant capacity in its first six months of operation, then picking up in the first half of 2020, Mr Prentice said.

Agripower has plans in train for a $663 million Fertiliser Expansion Project, which would involve building a processing facility near Yabulu and opening the rail line from Greenvale.

But it also has the option in the interim of expanding its Charters Towers plant, which has a modular design which would allow the company to double output by replicating the existing circuit.

“My gut feeling is that by the time we get into October/November next year we’ll be thinking about expansion again,” Mr Prentice said.

The question would be whether to expand the Charters Towers plant or wait until the new plant at Yabulu could be brought online, he said.

Charters Towers fertiliser plant starts exporting
BHP plans to install hundreds of sensors in coal handling preparation plants across its operations as part of its technological transformation.

Vice-president of technology, global transformation Rag Udd revealed the plans at Greater Whitsunday Alliance’s (GW3) Future Workforces Summit this month, when he spoke of the enormous potential for Mackay region to be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.

Among elements of BHP’s ‘technology and transformation agenda’, Mr Udd said the company saw great potential to rapidly enhance the CHPP productivity.

“If you were to build a new prep plant similar to the size at Blackwater, it would set you back around $750 million,” he said.

“And while their value to the production of coal is immense, the way they are operated has remained largely unchanged since they were first introduced.

“They are reliant on judgement and information arrived at in batches of time – like a shift report.

“Fast forward to today, and through the advent of decision analytics, we see great potential to very rapidly enhance the productivity of our prep plants and achieve a whole new level of through-put.”

Sensors would provide real-time information such as chemical properties, yield, temperatures, speed and rotation of motors, water flows and more.

“Once fully implemented, we will be able to optimise what we do – as we do it in real time,” Mr Udd said.

“And we expect a greater return on our coal because we have the ability to optimise instantaneously. This will still involve people – they’ll just work in a different way.

“Elsewhere at our sites, we have been impressed by the safety and productivity gains delivered through the latest geospatial technology.

“Drones are allowing us to gather more information about our sites than ever before.”

He also covered the companies plans to roll out autonomous haulage across its open-cut operations, as announced by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance Asset President James Palmer last month.

New technology to step-up BHP’s prep plant throughput
Komatsu Townsville branch manager Stafford Jones is on a trip to deliver much-needed technology for children in Papua New Guinea.

Mr Jones has contributed his Komatsu-backed $10,000 Live Your Dream funding to LiteHaus, a not-for-profit organisation founded by fellow Hermit Park Tigers player Jack Growden.

“We’re going to install 12 laptops, a projector and projector screen in three primary schools,” Mr Jones said.

“We’ll set that up for them and provide a basic skills guide on how to use the computers.”

The mission to the Western Highlands this month follows a similar LiteHaus contribution to four further schools in the region.

Mr Jones said he had known Mr Growden and his family for a long time through local footy. His work through LiteHaus was inspiring, he said.

“He is a young guy who, when he gets an idea in his head, he just wants to make it happen. So being able to support that is a pretty good thing.”

Mr Growden’s project to bring professionally refurbished laptops to school children in the Western Highlands grew out of a visit he made to the region to write a thesis for his Honours degree.

“At Komatsu we started out by rustling up some USB sticks – 350 of them – so that each of the students LiteHaus International assisted at the Kuta Primary School could have one,” Mr Jones said.

“Then, the Live Your Dream program came along and I had no hesitation in recommending LiteHaus as my personal community goal.”

Machinery manager delivers technology to PNG schools