New equipment additions and mining progress at key MinRes operations

Mineral Resources Ltd has been making progress on a number of fronts across its operations and projects. At its Ken’s Bore surface iron ore minesite, part of its Onslow Iron project, MinRes has welcomed a new Komatsu hybrid electric wheel loader to its growing fleet – the first delivered in Western Australia. It says this electric loader comes with host of benefits – including substantially less carbon emissions compared to mechanical drives – and features a fully regenerative SR hybrid drive system.

It has also commenced preliminary development works to support underground future mining at the Mt Marion lithium operation, it says signalling an exciting new chapter for the world-class mine. Mt Marion is located approximately 40 km southwest of Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

The operation is jointly owned by MinRes (50%) and one of the world’s largest lithium hydroxide producers, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd (50%). During Q2 FY24, a diamond drilling program significantly increased confidence in the underground resource in the mine’s upper North Pit. Drilling confirmed the North Pit underground ore body is vertically dipping with a strike length of 500 m and a thickness of 30 to 60 m. Pegmatites were intercepted around 1.2 km below surface.

MinRes also recently announced the underground Mineral Resource at Mt Marion had doubled to 19.3 Mt, with a full underground study targeted for completion by mid-2024. A development contract has already been awarded to locally based specialist underground development contractor, Develop Global, for the establishment of an exploration decline at Mt Marion.

Works include establishment of surface facilities supporting underground mining activity, installation of underground mine infrastructure, excavating underground capital development and exploration drill platforms, and obtaining geological and operational data to support future mining activities.

A key project milestone was recently achieved through the successful first blast fired for the decline box-cut, with significant earthworks now under way to support a target depth of 350 m within the next 18 months. During this time, MinRes aims to complete an additional 80,000 m of reverse circulation and diamond drilling targeting the underground resource below the mine’s Central and C2 pits to further map and define the underground potential.

Chief Executive Lithium Joshua Thurlow said the start of preliminary underground works marked an exciting new phase for one of the world’s few operating hard rock lithium mines. “MinRes has been managing all open pit mining operations at Mt Marion since 2016 and this site is a key asset in our growing world-class lithium portfolio,” Thurlow said. “Recent underground exploration success has confirmed that we’ve barely scratched the surface of this mine’s potential. Having now doubled the underground Mineral Resource, we’re pushing ahead with building the necessary infrastructure and technical expertise to transition Mt Marion into an open pit and underground mining operation.”

MinRes also owns and operates the Bald Hill mine in the Goldfields and operates the Wodgina lithium operation in the Pilbara region under a 50/50 joint venture with Albemarle Corporation.