Komatsu unveil cabless autonomous trucks

Komatsu has unveiled its completely cables, next gen autonomous truck at MINExpo.
“Unlike 930E and 830E autonomous models, Komatsu has newly developed this vehicle exclusively as an unmanned vehicle designed to maximise the advantages of unmanned operation,” the company said.
Komatsu said the design of cabless vehicle, dubbed Komatsu’s Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle, allows for an equal distribution to the four wheels both loaded and unloaded, and by “adopting four-wheel drive, retarder and steering, Komatsu is aiming for high-performance shuttling of this vehicle in both forward and reverse travel directions, thereby totally eliminating the need for K-turns at loading and unloading sites”.
It reportedly has a turning radius of 15.9 metres.
The company went on to state the new vehicle will improve productivity at operations that feature challenging conditions, such as slippery ground or confined spaces for loading, although it did not elaborate on how the machine will overcome these issues.
The Innovative Autonomous Haulage Vehicle has a gross vehicle weight of 416 tonnes, and a payload of 230 tonnes.
It has a power output of 2014kW, a maximum speed of 64 kilometres per hour, and measures 15 metres in length and 8.5 metres in width.
It has not set an official launch date, only stating it plans a market introduction “in the near future”.

Road trains on the outer as EPA approves skyrail in Pilbara

Transporting iron ore across the Pilbara via skyrail has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The Bulk Ore Transportation System, or BOTS, will transport iron ore from the Iron Valley Project to Port Headland.
Designed to replace road trains, the skyrail will be mounted onto concrete beams, which in turn are spanned between precast concrete substructures. The carts/wagons will be powered by diesel and petrol.
All aspects of the project, including supporting infrastructure, will be monitored from a Perth-based control centre.
Four environmental factors were taken into consideration when the approval was given including flora and vegetation and terrestrial fauna. Also, there will be a decrease in the use of road trains, which is claimed to have a positive affect on the environment.

Why Hanjin's ships are stranded around the globe

The collapse of South Korean company Hanjin Shipping has left ships, cargo and crews stranded around the globe. It highlights the complex consequences of a shipping company going bankrupt, with Hanjin’s creditors and customers waiting to see whether the business can be saved.
Hanjin Shipping Co is one of the world’s top ten container carriers, operating some 70 liner and tramper services, transporting more than 100 million tons of cargo annually. Its fleet consists of some 150 container ships and bulk carriers.
Increased competition and Hanjin’s own high debt levels have led to its demise, as it struggled to adapt to changes in the market. Demand for shipping has fallen since the global financial crisis, at the same time as technology has started to produce larger mega-ships. Over capacity is one major problem.
Container operators are also increasingly constrained by competition laws in the US, the EU, Japan and more recently, China. It is a scenario playing out among other shipping companies in what appears to be a major readjustment of the size and operations of the world’s shipping fleet.
The company’s financial woes have caused it to seek protection from its creditors through Korea’s corporate “rehabilitation” laws. This is similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. This is where the insolvent debtor restructures the debts it owes to creditors, according to a rehabilitation plan, while the company continues its operations.
Under South Korean law, the plan must be approved by the creditors and the court and it is then implemented by a nominated receiver. The receiver is now in charge of Hanjin’s operations, and its ships, worldwide.
In the meantime the chairman of Hanjin Group has transferred 40 billion South Korean won to the company to help unload cargo stranded on the its vessels, but regulators have warned securing further funds could take “considerable time.”
Ideally, the plan will give Hanjin sufficient breathing space while the receiver restructures its business into perhaps a leaner operation, or one in which others, including creditors, may take a financial interest.
Ships are unusual assets for a receiver or liquidator to deal with. A shipping enterprise can be extensive geographically – with ships at all points of the world, and difficult logistically – with those ships at various stages of cargo handling. A range of other players – the owners of vessels chartered to Hanjin, and bunker (fuel) suppliers and port agents in many different countries – all add to the complexity.
Typically, a liquidator takes possession of the fixed assets of a failed business – land, plant and machinery – assets that stay put and can be located and secured. While some of those assets may be overseas, shipping collapses invariably involve the application of cross-border insolvency laws.
Ships travel from place to place and can be hard to find and secure. Maritime law is unique for that reason; for example, the ship’s crew have a direct claim on the ship itself for their unpaid wages – a maritime “lien”. They can have a court marshal board the ship, to arrest and secure it under a court order.
Arrest involves the marshal attaching an arrest warrant to the ship’s cabin or mast, and taking steps to prevent the ship leaving its mooring. This right of a crew dates back to the days when unwanted and unpaid sailors might find that while on shore leave at a distant port, their employer, the ship owner, sails off.
Others also have rights to arrest a ship at various ports around the world, this is happening right now with Hanjin. The South Korean receiver will be resisting these arrests of Hanjin’s ships.
However one of the fundamentals of bankruptcy is that ordinary unsecured creditors owed money have to wait in line for the receiver to decide how best to deal with the insolvent business. This includes realising assets to pay and what can be paid in way of dividends to those creditors – in many cases only 10 cents in the dollar, if they are lucky. Some maritime liens and other claims give the relevant creditor a “secured” claim, one that is paid out first before the ordinary creditors.
It appears that the South Korean receiver Mr Tae-Su Seok is applying to various courts around the world for orders to challenge what may be secured claims. Well developed international cross-border insolvency laws will help him access to foreign courts to obtain orders protecting the ships in that jurisdiction. At the same time, he will be looking for funds to try to keep any profitable parts of the business going.
The shipping world is waiting to see how and whether the Hanjin rehabilitation succeeds. Other major collapses, for example in Korea with Pan Ocean and Korea Line Corporation, have resulted in creditors’ claims being considerably compromised. In these cases only a certain percentage of debts were repaid and over a period of time, or creditors took equity in the shipping company.
Given the state of world shipping, that outcome may occur here. The shipping industry suffers from an inherent inflexibility in responding to changing economic conditions. There may be a decline in demand for certain goods, leading to a drop in shipping rates.
A shipper taking delivery of a new vessel some long time after it was first commissioned may be left high and dry in finding that there is a much reduced demand for its services. On the other hand, a shipping company’s leaner world fleet may find that it does not have sufficient capacity when trade conditions quickly change.
While ships will always be needed, shipping is finding increased competition from air freight services, transporting many goods – food for one, and technology consumables – unsuitable for longer shipping delivery times. Demand for the latest iPhone 7s, or fresh fruit, would call for overnight air freight, rather than weeks. Pirate incursions are another current risk.
Still, the huge capacity of ships will never be offered by flight and this remains a major advantage. Ship design and technology is also improving – computer guided “crewless” ships are on the horizon. But shipping remains a business subject to the vagaries of international trade and economic conditions.

Mr Ryan Eagle, Partner, Ferrier Hodgson, Sydney, provided assistance in writing this article.
The Conversation
Michael Murray, Fellow, Queensland University of Technology
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

60m road train launched in Perth

WA-owned heavy road transport equipment manufacturer Bruce Rock Engineering (BRE) unveiled its latest 60m road train during the opening of its new workshop in Perth.
The BRE Super Quad road train is expected to provide cost effectiveness to the mining sector, helping reduce heavy vehicle road traffic and the impact on roads in the state.
The new facility, located in Forrestfield, is one hectare in size, with a 2700 square metre workshop, and 350 square metres of administration offices. All design, manufacture, and construction will be conducted in-house.
Secretary to the WA minister for Agriculture, Food, and Transport, Jim Chown, applauded the company’s ability to grow nationally while continuing to retain its manufacturing capabilities in this state.
“This new Forrestfield facility is strategically located right in the heart of a transport and logistics hub and on the road train route to the north of this state and to the east coast, further strengthening our state’s capability to deliver cost and time efficiently,” he said.
During the opening, BRE managing director Damion Verhoogt also announced the company’s merger with fabrication company Transbeam Industries, saying it will increase their manufacturing capacity to nearly 50 per cent.

Atlas Iron worried about Utah Point privatisation

Plans to sell the Utah Point shipping terminal at Port Hedland could result in higher fees and put smaller operators at risk, according to Atlas Iron managing director David Flanagan.

Speaking with the West Australian at the Atlas Iron annual meeting yesterday, Flanagan said privatisation of the Utah Point facility would not raise enough cash to assist with debt reduction and make the sale worthwhile.

“I think it’s actually worth much more to the Government if the juniors are filling it with ore and it’s been run cost-effectively and we’re all paying that dividend to the State Government,” he said.

“If someone pays $1 billion for it and they want to make a 5 per cent rate of return, they’ve got to double the charges to the juniors.”

“That will drive us out of business. We would close tomorrow.

“So if you can only pay $150 million for it to then make a rate of return, it’s not worth selling, the Government should keep it.”

In parliament of Thursday acting treasurer John Day said due diligence on the sale had assured government of a successful sales outcome, one which would be “in the public interest”.

Flanagan informed shareholders that Atlas had undergone cost-cutting measures over the past year, which included renegotiation of service contracts with contractors McAleese, Maca and Qube Logistics.

The director said Atlas would continue to generate profits with benchmark iron ore prices above $US47 per tonne.

Iron ore is currently selling around $US49.50, leaving margins slim for the WA junior, especially in light of projections of further descent to the $US40 mark.

West Pilbara infrastructure project delayed

Aurizon Holdings has pushed back deadlines for the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project after talks with joint venture partners.

Decisions on whether to proceed with the key transport infrastructure development will not be due until 30 April 2016, after which Aurizon’s period of exclusivity will expire.

If it goes ahead the West Pilbara Iron ore Project will see construction of 400km of rail line and the Anketell port near Cape Lambert, enabling transport of 400 million tonnes of ore per year.

SMH reported Aurizon’s largest shareholder Perpetual has called for the major rail provider to shelve the $6 billion project, as it does not see the project as a feasible investment.

"Aurizon's strong balance sheet gives the company flexibility to pursue genuine growth opportunities when they arise [but] the West Pilbara Iron Ore Project is not one of them,” Perpetual head of Australian equities Paul Skamvougeras said.

Project partners Baosteel Resources, Aquila Resources, POSCO and AMCI will meet with Aurizon by 31 December this year to review initial feasibility studies for mine and infrastructure and determine whether to go ahead with the Definitive Feasibility Study.

Aurizon said in an announcement to the ASX it was committed to the technical and commercial feasibility study stages for the project, albeit on the basis of a significant reduction in the 2012 cost estimates.

“Aurizon and the mine participants are mindful of the volatility in the iron ore market price since the completion of the takeover of Aquila Resources in 2014,” the company said.

McAleese warns of hefty earnings dive

Transport contractor McAleese has
warned of a massive earnings drop due to the impact of its altered contract
with Atlas Iron.

The company, which hauls ore
from Atlas’ mines to port, announced underlying
full-year earnings were expected to fall to about $70 million from $85.3m in

This is $20 million lower
than the group’s February forecast of $85m
and $90m in underlying earnings this financial year.

The company suffered a 49.4
per cent drop in the price of its shares yesterday on the back of the news and closed at 8.1c.

The trouble started
for McAleese when Atlas decided to close its Pilbara mines in April in light of the falling iron ore price.

three days later, McAleese called a trading halt amid reports the company
expected the contract with Atlas to make up around 40 per cent of its 2015

Since then McAleese has
struck a deal with Atlas which will see it continue to haul ore from the Abydos and Wodgina mines during May.

This will allow Atlas to keep
mining, but will mean a lower base haulage rate for McAleese with profit share
dependant on the price of iron ore.

McAleese said discussions around
the potential recommencement of mining at the Mt Webber mine were ongoing.

The company also announced a
review of its heavy haulage and lifting division was ongoing, with a non-cash
impairment likely.

“The expected non-cash
impairment reflects low activity levels and a reduced pipeline of capital
projects in the resources and infrastructure sectors across Australia,”
McAleese said.

McAleese has
appointed financial advisers 333 Group to
provide an independent review of its financial performance.

“This review has commenced and will assist with developing
robust and sustainable plans beyond the immediate initiatives,” the company

Vale keeps quiet about new megacarriers

Brazilian iron ore major Vale has shown no signs of slowing their iron ore output, with new reports that the miner is in talks with Chinese shipbuilders to arrange construction of 50 new Valemax carriers.

Wall Street Journal reported the claims were denied by a Vale spokeswoman, however sources involved in the deals said Chinese shipping company China Cosco Holdings would possibly build 20 ships, while China Merchants Shipping Co. could build 10.

Sources said the ships would be on 20 year leases, and that it was a good time for Vale to buy due to lower construction prices.

Valemax ships are the largest bulk haulage iron ore carriers designed, weighing in at 400,000 deadweight tonnes.

The plans have been regarded as an aggressive move in the global iron ore price slump.

Another source told Wall Street Journal that Vale would look to fix freight rates at US$13 per tonne, compared to current rates of US$10 per tonne.

China banned ships of more than 250,000 deadweight tonnes from entering their ports between January 2012 and September 2014, then relaxed rules to allow the Valemax class in February this year.

​China lifts ban on Valemax carriers

In another blow for Australian iron ore, China has lifted
its ban on Valemax iron ore bulk carriers.

Valemax are very large or carriers (VLOC) owned by Brazilian
mining giant Vale, and are designed to carry iron ore from Brazil to around the

They have capacities ranging from 380 000 to 400 000 short
tons deadweight, and are the largest bulk carriers ever built, with draughts of
between 22 and 32 metres, due to Brazil’s need to freight more in a single
journey due to its distance from many of the main iron ore customers.

China initially banned the carriers over concerns regarding
the impact on supply and prices the large cargoes could have, using the ships
own deep draught and size as impetus to revoke vessels of this size from docking
at mainland Chinese ports in 2012.

Ship owners previously lobbied against Vale’s vessels,
fearing they would give the company a monopoly over the iron ore and shipping

According to The Financial Review a first Vale
ship, carrying 410,000 tonnes, was refused entry to Chinese ports in December 2011 after it breached the 380,000 tonne restriction.

Because of this ongoing ban Vale had used transit centres in Africa and the Philippines to bring ore to China, and is
also building a facility in Malaysia to service the region.

However increasing Chinese
demand for Brazilian iron ore may be behind the lifting of the ban.

China Cosco has signed a 25
year deal with Vale that involves 14 of the massive Valemax ships, according to the South China Morning Post.

“The current regulation
actually already legitimises these vessels to berth at Chinese ports. If you
look at how the ban was initiated in the first place, it will be unlikely for
the government to make an official announcement with much fanfare that says the
ban is loosened,” an unnamed executive from state-owned port company told
the SCMP.

“Eventually, the ban
will be lifted in a quiet manner. You may see a Valemax ship granted approval
by a local maritime authority to dock, and that will be it. Officials realised
the ban has hurt China’s economic interests, pushing up the costs for iron ore
imports,” the executive said.

The news comes as Australia’s government predicts more pain ahead for the nation’s iron ore sector.

In its September quarter report, The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) said global commodity supply had grown significantly over recent years, placing pressure on prices in the medium term.

It said producers will need to continue to focus on managing costs and improving their competitiveness in order to survive downturn in the price cycle.

“A rapid increase in iron ore supply combined with moderating growth in China’s steel production have pushed iron ore prices lower in 2014. Prices have fallen nearly 40 per cent down from around US$130 a tonne (CFR China) in January to US$82 a tonne in September,” BREE said.

While the group said iron ore price volatility is not uncommon, oversupply is now flooding the market.

In Australia alone over 200 million tonnes of new ore has begun export at the same time as China stopped stockingpiling the commodity

ABB wins massive truckless mine automation contract

ABB has won a contract to make the world’s largest iron truckless.

The $103 million contract will see it install electrical and automation systems at Vale’s S11D iron ore mine in Brazil.

This latest contract follows on from an earlier $140 million contract to complete the first phase of the mine’s automation project which saw it begin to install shiftable conveyor belts instead of off-highway dump trucks to move the ore from the mine to the processing plant.

“This is the first time a ‘truckless’ solution will be used on a large scale at an iron ore mine,” according to the company.

It stated that using “a truckless system significantly reduces operating costs and produces lower carbon emissions.

“If the S11D mine were to be operated using trucks it would need around 100 trucks and consume 77% more diesel per year.”

This new contract will see ABB supply a 230 kilovolt in-feed substation to connect the mine to the grid, as well as 42 secondary substations.

These secondary substations will be self-contained in ABB’s e-houses, prefabricated, walk-in, modular, outdoor enclosures.

ABB will also supply the motors driving the mine’s conveyor belts.

According to ABB’s head of process automation division, Velo-Matti Reinikkala “this project will also allow Vale to increase production by approximately 90 million tonnes, while reducing emissions and improving operational efficiency and process safety”.

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