Tag Archives: Kambalda

Minetek to deliver ventilation solution to Mincor’s Kambalda nickel ops

Minetek says it has been awarded a tender to supply the ventilation requirements for the Cassini, Otter Juan and Long declines at Mincor’s Kambalda nickel operation in Western Australia.

The award, which came through Mincor’s contracting partner, Pit N Portal, includes both the secondary and primary vents across all three declines and follows on from a close collaboration over the last six months between the three parties, Minetek says.

Steve Verstegeen, CEO for Pit N Portal, said: “We are always looking at new innovations and technologies that will benefit both us and our clients. Minetek has been able to display that with the use of their modern ventilation technology, where we can look to see production increases through faster re-entry times and reduced capital costs in the total life of the development, delivering value to both us and Mincor.”

Minetek General Manager – Ventilation, Jeremy Sutherland, said: “From the start of early discussions with Mincor and Pit N Portal, it was very evident that both parties wanted to deliver the maximum amount of value for their stakeholders/shareholders in all aspects of the developments. This really excited our team, as it gave us the opportunity, through the release of forecasted production information and mine plans from Mincor and Pit n Portal, to display that we could deliver this through energy savings, production increases and reduced capital expenditure throughout the lifecycle of the developments.”

The “Mincor Nickel Operations” DFS from earlier this year confirmed the potential to develop a five‐year operation forecast to produce 71,000 t of nickel and 5,000 t of copper on a life-of-mine basis at Kambalda, with peak annual nickel-in-concentrate production of more than 16,000 t/y at a forecast life of mine unit cost of $2.35/lb.

Pit N Portal receives Notice to Proceed at Mincor’s Kambalda Nickel Operations

With funding now materially advanced and board approval in place, Mincor says it has issued a “Notice to Proceed” to its underground mining contractor, Pit N Portal, to start work at the Kambalda Nickel Operations in Western Australia.

In line with the binding contract executed in May 2020, Pit N Portal has 60 days to plan and mobilise for commencement of the contract.

The announcement of a final investment decision for the planned re-commencement of nickel mining at Kambalda by Mincor is supported by a credit approved term sheet agreed with two Tier-1 international banks to provide a secured A$55 million ($40 million) project finance facility. The facility, together with the company’s existing cash reserves of more than A$100 million, will allow Mincor to efficiently execute the delivery of its nickel restart plan in line with the definitive feasibility study (DFS) announced in March 2020, it said.

The contract with Pit N Portal encompasses a five-year pact for the new Cassini nickel mine, where early surface works were recently completed, and a three-year contract (plus one two-year option) at the Northern Operations (the brownfields Durkin North and Long nickel mines – both of which are on care and maintenance having previously operated). These two assets (Cassini and Northern Operations) make up the planned nickel operation.

Mincor says there are already several Pit N Portal personnel on-site following the commencement of an early works program.

“With all required key environmental and State Government permitting in place to commence, Mincor anticipates that mobilisation will ramp-up quickly over the coming weeks, with commercial mine development and surface construction expected to be in full swing during the December 2020 quarter,” the company said.

Subject to unforeseen delays, Mincor is targeting commencement of ore production early in the December 2021 quarter. First ore delivery to the BHP Nickel West Kambalda nickel concentrator and first nickel concentrate production is expected in the March 2022 quarter.

The “Mincor Nickel Operations” DFS from earlier this year confirmed the potential to develop a five‐year operation forecast to produce 71,000 t of nickel and 5,000 t of copper on a life-of-mine basis, with peak annual nickel-in-concentrate production of more than 16,000 t/y at a forecast life of mine unit cost of $2.35/lb.

Pit N Portal to help revive Mincor’s Kambalda nickel operation

Mincor Resources has awarded underground mining services and equipment hire group Pit N Portal with the underground mining contract for its 100%-owned Kambalda nickel operations in Western Australia.

The contract encompasses a five-year pact for the new Cassini nickel mine, where early surface works were recently completed, and a three-year contract (plus one two-year option) at the Northern Operations (the brownfields Durkin North and Long nickel mines – both of which are on care and maintenance having previously operated). These two assets (Cassini and Northern Operations) make up the planned nickel operation.

Pit N Portal was awarded the contract following the completion of a competitive tender process and a due diligence process led by Mincor’s Chief Operating Officer, Dean Will, examining safety, Kambalda underground experience and performance, capabilities, equipment availability and cost, the company said.

All key components of the contract are in line with the parameters set out in the Nickel Restart Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) completed in March 2020. This was based on an initial five-year operation from two production centres with all ore processed at BHP Nickel West’s Kambalda nickel concentrator and the resulting nickel concentrate sold to BHP. The DFS envisaged 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate output for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million at the time).

Mincor has executed a binding contract with Pit N Portal subject to a Notice to Proceed being issued by Mincor before March 31, 2021.

The development company says it is targeting the commencement of mining operations at Kambalda in the second half of 2020, subject to board approval and a final investment decision on its Nickel restart plan. It said previously first nickel-in-concentrate production could be achieved in the second half of 2021, subject to COVID-19-related restrictions.

Established in Kalgoorlie in 2002, Pit N Portal has expanded its capacity and capability to encompass total, whole-of-mine solutions across Australia, and has significant underground mining contracts in Western Australia and Queensland. It was acquired by Emeco Holdings earlier this year.

Mincor’s Managing Director, David Southam, said the award of the contract to a Kalgoorlie-based business was consistent with the company’s commitment to maximise local content, to support local businesses and communities, and to create opportunities for a residential workforce wherever possible.

“We selected Pit N Portal based on a wide range of criteria including safety, performance, contract cost, experience and capability, ability to meet our mobilisation timelines and the size and quality of their contract fleet.

“Their equipment fleet suits our proposed style of mining and, as one of Australia’s largest hard-rock underground mining equipment solutions providers, we will have access to a large range of equipment options and high-class maintenance and rebuild capacity – giving us significant operational and strategic flexibility, which is important when operating a number of underground mines.

“This includes having access to the Emeco operating system, which could add significant value to future operations, as well as having a contracting partner that is willing to embrace the very latest in mining technology and data management and usage, including the proposed use of underground electric vehicles, which we have already trialled.”

Mincor has also completed – on time and budget – all works associated with the Early Works Contract at Cassini project. This work, carried out by Hampton Mining and Civil Services, included clearing of the Cassini site area, excavation of the box-cut (pictured), construction of the site office pad, magazine and waste areas and construction of the surface settling dams and haul road.

Mincor to leverage new EV, teleremote and production drilling tech at Kambalda

Mincor says it plans to incorporate some of the most modern mining technology to enhance safety, boost operational efficiency and reduce costs at its integrated nickel re-start project in the Kambalda District of Western Australia.

Having released the definitive feasibility study on the project, the company is now awaiting a positive final investment decision from the Mincor Board. It hopes this will be made early in the September quarter. Should all go well, this could result in first nickel-in-concentrate production being achieved in the second half of 2021, it said.

The “Mincor Nickel Operations” DFS confirmed the potential to develop a five‐year operation producing 63,000 t of recovered nickel-in-concentrate for an estimated pre-production capital expenditure of A$68 million ($41 million). This could see the project, which is likely to feature a contract mining model, generate a post-tax internal rate of return of 88% based on the company’s estimates.

Mincor said: “Importantly, the DFS reflects a starting position only as potential extensions to the life of mine have been identified at Cassini, where recent diamond drilling returned a significant intersection of 17.6 m at 5% Ni, which is outside the current mineral resource boundary and has been excluded from the DFS.

“At the Northern Operations, underground drilling is planned once mine development commences targeting extensions and new discoveries in this well-endowed nickel mining area.”

Despite this remaining potential, Mincor has already kicked off an early works program at the operation, which has seen Hampton Mining and Civil Services begin a “discrete two-month program” focused on site clearance activities for infrastructure and services, plus the excavation of the box-cut at the high-grade Cassini orebody, Mincor said.

The mine plan at the project involves scheduling production from three distinct mining operations, Cassini, Miitel and the Northern Operations (Durkin North and the Long mines). The mine design physicals and associated costs for the three all feed into individual mine models, with the outputs from each model forming part of an integrated mining and processing plan to optimise mining and processing schedules. This is all geared around delivering annual average throughput of 500,000-600,000 t of ore to the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator, in line with a toll treatment pact Mincor has in place with BHP Nickel West.

With the start-up of Cassini and the re-start of the mines previously under care and maintenance, Mincor said it plans to incorporate some of the most modern technology at the operation.

An important aspect of the DFS, which the company has previously talked about, is the use of electric light vehicles underground.

Mincor said: “The use of these vehicles has been considered to improve air quality and reduce primary ventilation power costs within each of the mines.”

The company has tested this out recently with a trial of Safescape’s battery-electric Bortana EV at its Long mine.

In addition to this, underground Wi-Fi is set to be used in development and production areas for control of equipment and real-time monitoring of ventilation, pumping and fleet activity. Related to this, teleremote control and laser guided technology on loaders is likely to be employed.

And, lastly, production drills will be fitted with Minnovare’s Production Optimiser to ensure longhole drilling conforms to design, thereby minimising dilution, Mincor said.

The Production Optimiser system combines advanced hardware and software that enhances the speed, accuracy and reliability of long-hole production drilling. This leads to improved stope productivity and, ultimately, increased profitability, Minnovare says.

The technology has previously been employed with favourable results at Northern Star Resources’ Kalgoorlie gold operations.

Safescape’s battery-electric Bortana EV makes a splash in WA nickel country

Following a four-month test at Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine, in Victoria, Australia, last year, Safescape’s Bortana EV is starting to woo miners in Western Australia’s renowned Kambalda nickel district.

The Australia-based METS company, which manufactures and supplies safety products to the mining industry globally, took its battery-electric vehicle on a tour of Kambalda at the end of February and Safescape has already started receiving positive feedback.

A battery-electric vehicle designed to handle the aggressive operating environment of underground mines, the Bortana EV uses the chassis of a diesel-powered Agrale Marruá, electric technology from 3ME and Safescape’s design and engineering expertise.

The first stop on the tour was Mincor’s Long nickel mine. Mincor has a long history of nickel production in the prolific nickel belt and, with a lack of new nickel sulphide projects and prices projected by many to climb – in part due to the rise of lithium-ion batteries using nickel sulphate – the company is preparing to reinvigorate its Kambalda mines. These assets include the first greenfields discovery in the region for over 20 years – the high-grade Cassini project.

There are strong arguments for battery-electric equipment in underground mines that include improved health and safety outcomes (especially with no diesel emissions), efficiency gains and reduced maintenance and operating costs. While the deployment of this technology in mining is in its early stages, Mincor is not prepared to wait in the wings. Mincor’s Managing Director, David Southam, said as recently as October 2019, that the restart of its nickel mines in Western Australia would act as a “global showcase” for all-electric underground light vehicles when the mines reopen in the next few years, and Mincor, last month, became the first miner in Western Australia to host the Bortana EV.

Mincor COO, Dean Will, said: “Long is a large mine that is currently on care and maintenance, but with plans to be back in production as part of Mincor’s restart of nickel mining.

“We were able to define a course through the [mine] workings taking the vehicle from surface to 1,100 m underground via a range of road conditions including an area we were able to moisten down to create extremely slippery conditions that would challenge any four-wheel-drive vehicle.”

He added: “The performance of the vehicle generally, and in particular through the worse road conditions, far exceeded our expectations.

“The Bortana includes onboard 1,000 V charging capability, which was tested multiple times throughout the trial period. We also love the angle that the Bortana EV battery contains a high content of nickel and we are planning on utilising these vehicles underground to mine our high-grade nickel which is ultimately destined for the EV market.”

Martin Kime, COO of 3ME Technology, which supplies the batteries and electric drive train for the Bortana EV, was in attendance during the Long trials.

He said: “The opportunity to present the vehicle to several groups from leading mining and contracting companies over a short period in Kambalda was incredible. Because this technology is so new it is difficult to explain it without some physical reference point. Companies were able to experience the Bortana vehicle in realistic terrain and then ask questions about how we are able to deliver such smooth and efficient operation.

“3ME typically works directly with our OEM customers to create electric vehicles but it’s important that our team understand the application and, as such, we’ve all attended various underground and open-pit mine sites supporting Safescape. We find all of these mines want the same thing: safer, healthier mine environments with improved costs but without adding new risks or hazards to their operation.”

Safescape’s Managing Director, Steve Durkin, was also in attendance, saying one of the best parts of his job was visiting mine sites and seeing “experienced professional miners exposed to a piece of new technology that they want to understand but have reservations about”.

He explained: “The process of transformation over one or two hours driving in and snooping around the Bortana is awesome to watch. The entire team at Safescape get a kick out of this and we’re really looking forward to continuing the journey to familiarise more miners with EV technology.”

Safescape plans to begin production of the 5.7 t GVM Bortana EV in the September quarter of 2020 and grow with customer demand.

“Whether it is the Bortana, Tembo, Voltra or Kovatera, battery-electric light vehicles for mining is inevitable,” Durkin said. “The benefits are just too large. We will look to do our part and continue to wish our coopetitors around the world the best of luck. This is a big job and together we’ll put a dent in the DPM issue underground.”

Hamptons moves from gold to nickel for Mincor Resources

Mincor Resources has awarded Hampton Mining and Civil Services with an early works contract to kick off the pre-development stage of a new nickel sulphide mine at its Cassini project in Kambalda, Western Australia.

The award of the contract follows board approval for the early works program and is consistent with one of the key uses of funds outlined in the company’s recent A$35.6 million ($23.8 million) capital raising.

The scope of works involves a “discrete two-month program” focused on site clearance activities for infrastructure and services, plus the excavation of the box-cut at Cassini, Mincor said.

Hamptons had a previous successful association with Mincor undertaking open-pit mining at its Widgiemooltha gold operations, and has therefore been able to mobilise promptly to complete work on this contract, according to the ASX-listed miner.

Following the completion of the updated Cassini mineral resource in November, the total nickel resources across Mincor’s Kambalda tenements now stands at 4.9 Mt at 3.8% Ni for 187,900 t of nickel.

Mincor’s Managing Director, David Southam, said the award of this early works contract, prior to completion of the definitive feasibility study scheduled for later this quarter, represents a strong vote of confidence by the board in the long-term future of Cassini – a key pillar in the company’s integrated nickel restart strategy.

“Given that Cassini is our flagship deposit, and with the project recently receiving all necessary key State Government approvals, it was a logical decision to commence pre-mining works as soon as possible,” he said. “We are currently assessing the mining contract tenders for both the Northern and Southern Operations, and these contractors are, importantly, separate from Hamptons for this discrete program.”

He added: “With Hamptons commencing work immediately, we expect this initial program of site works to be largely completed by the end of the current quarter. This will ultimately save the company time by having this preparatory work finished early, particularly as decline development to access the new underground mine at Cassini is one of the longer lead items in our overall development timeline.”

Mincor’s Kambalda nickel restart plans ramp up

Mincor Resources says the definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the integrated nickel restart plan at its Kambalda assets in Western Australia progressed well during the December quarter, with mining contractor awards expected to occur soon.

The restart will operate in two distinct areas: the Northern Operations (Long and Durkin mines) and the Southern Operations (Cassini and Miitel mines).

Mining contract tender pricing updates for the Southern Operations were received in late December and are currently under review, while, for the Northern Operations, updated mining inventory, mine design, mine schedules and contractor pricing are expected this month for assessment, Mincor said. A tender for surface haulage was sent to contractors for pricing, with submissions also expected this month.

During the quarter, Mincor progressed the pricing for an early capital works program at Cassini, which includes minimal site clearance and a box-cut. A decision on the award of this contract is expected shortly, it said.

The DFS, meanwhile, is still expected to be delivered this quarter.

Following the completion of the updated Cassini mineral resource in November, the total nickel resources across Mincor’s Kambalda tenements now stands at 4.9 Mt at 3.8% Ni for 187,900 t of nickel.

In October at the Paydirt 2019 Australian Nickel Conference in Perth, Western Australia, Mincor Resources’ David Southam said the restart of the Kambalda nickel mine would act as a “global showcase” for all-electric underground light vehicles.

Electric underground light vehicles coming to Kambalda, Mincor’s Southam says

Mincor Resources’ David Southam said the restart of the company’s Kambalda nickel mine in Western Australia will act as a “global showcase” for all-electric underground light vehicles when it opens in the next few years.

Southam, the company’s Managing Director, made such a statement at the Paydirt 2019 Australian Nickel Conference in Perth, Western Australia, this week.

The company is currently running a definitive feasibility study (DFS) at the project, at the same time as completing drilling to add resources to the property. First site works could occur in the March quarter, according to Southam.

So far, Mincor has built up a 4.7 Mt resource base grading 3.7% Ni for 175,300 t of contained nickel. The company hopes to deliver initial throughput of between 400,000-600,000 t/y of ore over an initial four-to-five-year period, which it will sell to BHP’s nearby Kambalda operations as part of an offtake agreement with the major miner.

Southam said the company’s decision to restart underground nickel mining operations using new light electric vehicles such as Safescape’s Bortana EV (with system integration from 3ME Technology and Agrale) would reduce ventilation costs and diesel particulate counts.

The Bortana EV, specifically, has had a prototype undergo local mine site testing in Newcastle, New South Wales, before an extended trial with Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria.

Southam also said the company had a longer-term aim to transition larger mining vehicles to electric once infrastructure was established.

“This mine restart will be a global showcase for this new and more environmentally-friendly mining technology,” he said.

Panoramic’s Savannah nickel-copper-cobalt project rises again

The first shipment of bulk nickel-copper-cobalt concentrate from Panoramic Resources’ recently recommissioned Savannah project, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, has departed Wyndham bound for Lianyungang, China, the company says.

The MV Heemskerkgracht (pictured) departed with 7,735 t (wet) of concentrate on-board, with a preliminary invoice value of approximately A$ 8.6 million ($6.1 million), Panoramic reported.

Panoramic’s Managing Director, Peter Harold, said: “It is wonderful to see Savannah concentrate being shipped again from Wyndham. This is a significant milestone in the recommissioning of the mine and processing plant at Savannah and I would like to thank the team at Savannah for their efforts to get the project going again.”

Panoramic successfully commissioned the $65 million Savannah project in late 2004 and then, in 2005, purchased and restarted the Lanfranchi nickel project, near Kambalda. In its 2014 financial year, the company produced a record 22,256 t of contained nickel and produced 19,301 t contained nickel in the year after.

The Lanfranchi and Savannah projects were placed on care and maintenance in November 2015 and May 2016, respectively, pending a sustained recovery in the nickel price.

After delivering an updated feasibility study on Savannah in October 2017, securing an offtake customer and putting in place project financing in July 2018, the company made the decision to restart operations at Savannah. The Lanfranchi project was sold, in December 2018, for a total cash consideration of A$15.1 million, providing additional financial support for the reopening of the Savannah project.

Savannah is expected to ramp up to full production over 15 months to a forecast life of mine average annual production rate of 10,800 t of nickel, 6,100 t of copper and 800 t of cobalt metal contained in concentrate.