Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Vale Indonesia: Challenges & Opportunities - Febriany Eddy, Director & CFO, Vale

Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Vale Indonesia: Challenges & Opportunities - Febriany Eddy, Director & CFO, Vale

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Austmine’s Mining Innovation Roadshow in Newcastle featured expert speakers from both home and abroad, and we were honoured to welcome Febriany Eddy, Director & CFO at Vale to the event, coming all the way from Indonesia. Febriany is a pioneer for women in leadership and in mining, she was recently recognised for by being named in the Top 25 most influential Women in Treasury in Asia Pacific.

Febriany’s presentation centred around Vale’s Indonesian operations in Sulawesi, one of the largest open cut nickel operations in the world, with mining dating back to 1970.

Febriany began by taking a look at the Indonesian mineral sector, pointing towards frequent changes in legislation as the cause of significant instability and volatility for mining. The environment to invest in current and new projects remains difficult, with factors such as permitting, legal uncertainty, unlawful projects and land acquisition proving to be roadblocks for progressing the mining sector.

Recent years have been a challenge for Vale in Indonesia, particularly in relation to the costs of operating. Throughout 2017 nickel prices remained low but the price of energy resources such as coal and fuel were high, placing pressure on cost competitiveness. Though Vale currently have dams from which they have been able to generate cheap hydro energy, they are unable to build more of these and are now looking towards utilising more coal to power their project. Current infrastructure that is in place is for fuel reserves, so this will require a re-design of their power plants. This is an area where Febriany and Vale have an eye for innovation and are looking for suppliers to come forward with unique solutions to this major challenge.

Coupled with this, the geology of the project has increased complexity, with declining ore grades making it difficult to predict the chemistry. This issue, along with many others, are being targeted by Vale’s current campaign to optimise through incremental improvement under their major de-bottlenecking process, which contains 90 different programs to boost efficiency in various operational areas. Such focuses include optimising processing to increase production, increasing the daily rate of mining, reducing variability and improving several systems.

A project Febriany pointed to as a major success was the implementation of a waterless system to screen ore. The ore at Vale’s Indonesian site becomes very sticky when wet and previous processing methods had increased the variability of ore and led to delays in procedures. Through their installation of a mobile waterless system, Vale have stabilised the ore flow into their processing facility and have been able to place the sorting of ore close to the pit, improving operational efficiency.

Vale have also utilised the CoreDataQ system for tracking and managing their mobile mining equipment. This has allowed them to log the behaviour of truck drivers and to utilise this to reduce incidents at the site or use it as evidence in the case of an accident. This innovation is one of the major reasons that their safety track record has improved considerably in recent years.

Vale’s Indonesian operations not only comprise of mine and processing facilities, but also a port, warehouses, an airport, land cargo hold, a hospital and a school. This has been difficult to manage and Vale are now looking to outsource some of their associated infrastructure to focus on their mining operations and upcoming initiatives such as progressing the development of a new processing facility and evaluating options for a nickel-iron processing plant. One area where Vale is seeking to engage with outside contractors is labour. Costs are high and continually increasing without any rise in labour productivity, and the subdued nickel prices make this situation unsustainable. Vale will be seeking out experienced partners to work with here.

Febriany closed her presentation by providing a call for Australian METS to look at the Indonesian market and the Vale Sulawesi project, as the region is in need of the innovative solutions that our sector is renowned for. Key areas that Vale are looking for solutions include:

  • Energy storage and waste management
  • Technological advancement and automation
  • Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance tools  
  • Integrated planning and reporting tools
  • Cost effective solutions for logistics management
  • Systems to drive information from their data

It was a pleasure to hear from Febriany and to welcome her to Australia for Austmine’s Mining Innovation Roadshow. Indonesia remains a key market for Australian METS due to the abundance of minerals, range of projects and geographical proximity to Australia. Austmine will be taking our Mining Innovation Roadshow global in December 2018 to Singapore, which will be an opportunity for our members to showcase their unique solutions to the Asian market, including Indonesia. Keep an eye on our website or contact helen.warner@austmine.com.au for more details.

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