CMOC-Northparkes says new Lift 1 North copper block cave project in production five months ahead of schedule

CMOC-Northparkes Mines, located 30 km northwest of Parkes in New South Wales, has successfully taken its Lift 1 North (E26L1N) project into production. The Lift 1 North Project has taken 37 months from the approval on January 1, 2019 to the commencement of production on March 1 2022 which was an impressive five months ahead of the feasibility plan. The company says it has “challenged the impossible” and delivered an outstanding result.

The project has established a significant ore source – over 40 Mt of copper-gold ore – ready to supply the ore processing plant for the next decade. E26L1N is a block cave extension, mining the porphyries to the north of the E26L1 and E26L2 caves. Northparkes is known as an innovative operation – it was the first in Australia to use underground block caving, starting in October 1993 with the construction of the E26 underground block cave mine. In 2015, Northparkes also became one of the world’s most automated underground mines achieving 100% of production from automated loaders, using six Sandvik LH514 units operated from surface.

Northparkes is a joint venture between China Molybdenum Co Ltd (CMOC, 80%) and the Sumitomo Group (20%). The Lift 1 North Project has been delivered at a cost of A$249 million. When compared to the A$350 million it cost to construct the E48 block cave 12 years ago, which was of a similar size and design with 10 extraction drives, crusher and conveyors. Pictured are the mine’s Managing Director Jianjun Tian and Mine Manager – Rob Cunningham at the ribbon cutting ceremony recognising project completion.

The project involved 11 km of underground development , an underground ~1,000 t/h direct tip jaw gyratory primary crusher, two new conveying systems and associated infrastructure. At the peak of construction, the project employed up to 180 people, which included a mixture of employees and contractors. It also included an upgrade to the ventilation system which has provided the new E26L1N mine with sufficient air flow to support development and production activities.

The E26L1N operation has also been designed to utilise an increased level of automation and digitisation, helping to deliver a safer and more productive mine including

thyssenkrupp worked with Northparkes on a new double mouth jaw-gyratory crusher for the Lift 1 North mine

The new crusher is noteworthy as the world’s first “double-mouth” jaw-gyratory crusher, developed by thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions in consultation with Northparkes to meet its specific operating objectives. It is based on the proven BK 63-75 design but has a new, patented, spider to give the opportunity to feed the crusher from both sides – the double mouth jaw configuration – thus removing the need for a primary crusher feed (buffer) hopper and primary apron feeder. This dramatically reduces excavation requirements in an underground operation like Northparkes leading to a sizeable reduction in installation cost. The ability of this crusher to handle a very large feed size and a high reduction ratio has also negated the need for the use of a pre-screening grizzly.