Tag Archives: Mount Isa

APA Group to deliver solar power to MMG’s Dugald River mine

Stage one of APA Group’s plan to build an 88 MW solar farm in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia, has got underway with a Final Investment Decision to construct 44 MW of capacity to serve MMG’s Dugald River zinc-lead mine in the state.

The investment of more than A$80 million ($60 million) will see APA Group provide solar power to the mine as part of a 15-year offtake agreement.

APA also entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex. The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational by the March quarter of 2023, while APA says it is in advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two, reaching 88 MW.

APA CEO and Managing Director, Rob Wheals, said the Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa.

MMG, meanwhile, said the solar agreement will supply Dugald River with renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint and provide immediate energy cost savings once operational in early 2023.

“The new agreement further supports MMG’s commitment to supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy with the company’s key products, copper and zinc, playing a critical role in the development of sustainable technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries,” it added.

Castillo Copper eyes recommencement of mining at Big One Deposit

Castillo Copper Ltd says it is looking to recommence mining at the Big One Deposit in Queensland, Australia, following positive assay results and highly favourable forward global demand for copper.

The company will start to prepare the groundwork for this milestone, it said, with the pending release of an inaugural JORC compliant resource for Big One one of the next major developments. Alongside this, the Castillo board is also firming up plans to apply for a mining lease.

Castillo’s strategic intent to recommence mining operations is supported, it says, by Big One Deposit’s key fundamental attributes:

  • A demonstrable high-grade shallow copper system that was previously mined in 1997 – producing 4,400 t of supergene ore, averaging 3.5% Cu – via several open pits;
  • Recent and historical drilling campaigns that have produced “exceptional” high-grade intercepts; and
  • Its location in the renowned Mount Isa copper belt, which has supportive mining infrastructure and third-party processors with excess milling capacity Castillo is now actively canvassing.

As part of its next steps, Castillo Copper now plans to carry out further work to extend known mineralisation and Big One Deposit’s potential scale, commencing with an induced polarisation survey to identify incremental test-drill targets.

Once ground conditions improve, post the wet-season, drilling will also resume at the Big One Deposit, then move to Arya prospect which has an interpreted 130 m thick potential massive sulphide anomaly (1,500 m by 450 m) that, the company says, is highly prospective for copper mineralisation.

Simon Paull, Managing Director of Castillo Copper, said: “The combination of excellent, high-grade assay results and buoyant global demand for copper means the board is prepared to step up its strategic intent for Big One Deposit.

“We are highly optimistic that the next phase of planned exploratory work has the potential to further extend known mineralisation and build out this high-grade shallow copper system. Consequently, the board believes it is prudent to start preparing the groundwork to potentially recommence mining operations.”

MinEx CRC goes under cover in Australia with National Drilling Initiative

MinEx CRC, reportedly the world’s largest mineral exploration collaboration, has successfully completed its first National Drilling Initiative (NDI) campaigns, including a 10-hole, 4,000 m drilling campaign in the East Tennant area of the Northern Territory of Australia, to assess the mineral potential of basement rocks in the region.

While gold has been mined from the Paleoproterozoic rocks around Tennant Creek since the early 1930s, there has been almost no mineral exploration in the covered rocks to the east of Tennant Creek in the 90 years since, according to MinEx CRC.

“The East Tennant drilling campaign was designed to test stratigraphic and structural interpretations and assess the mineral potential of basement rocks to the east of the Tennant Creek mineral field,” MinEx CRC CEO, Andrew Bailey, said. “These basement rocks are under-explored and concealed by hundreds of metres of younger sedimentary rocks.”

The drilling campaign is part of a world-first scientific drilling program, the NDI, designed to understand the evolution of the Australia continent, provide clues about where to search for new mineral deposits and bring forward the next generation of mineral exploration technology, MinEx CRC says.

Included within the NDI campaign was a 1,750m drill hole (known as NDI Carrara 1) at a location near the Northern Territory/Queensland border, around 250 km northwest of Mount Isa. This hole was designed to capture geological and stratigraphic information from a previously unknown sedimentary basin, and to assess the basin for potential to host energy and mineral resources.

In collaboration with Geoscience Australia and geological survey organisations in every state and territory, the NDI will manage and deliver a seven-year program with multiple drilling campaigns spread across Australia.

Results from the drilling program have uncovered a range of igneous and metasedimentary rocks, enabled a better understanding of the structure and stratigraphy of the area and helped to refine pre-drilling interpretations of the region’s prospectivity, according to the collaborative project.

Drilling has also provided pinning points to constrain cover thickness, with prospective basement typically concealed beneath less than 200 m of Georgina Basin sediments and less than 30 m of Cambrian basalt of the Kalkarindji Suite.

Geoscience Australia’s Chief of Minerals, Energy and Groundwater Division, Dr Andrew Heap, said: “We are proud to be a participant of the MinEx CRC through our Exploring for the Future program, which identified the region as a highly-prospective frontier. The drilling results are confirming this view and will support the continued development of the Barkly Region.

“A range of detailed analyses are planned to comprehensively characterise the drill core, which will provide insights into the geological evolution and mineral systems potential of the region. These results will be released throughout 2021.”

Dr Heap added: “Projects like this reveal the geology underneath the vast sedimentary cover that extends across most of Australia and open up frontier regions for exploration and resource discovery. In the future, the new geological knowledge and methods that we’ve used here can be applied in other similar prospective geological terranes across the country.”

Ian Scrimgeour, Executive Director NT Geological Survey, said the East Tennant NDI drill core provides an exciting opportunity to understand the potential of the underexplored Barkly area.

“The range of ancillary datasets that have been acquired during the drilling campaign, coupled with the ongoing research activities on the drill core, will transform the understanding of minerals systems in the region,” he said.

“NTGS is delighted to provide value-add datasets with the acquisition of hyperspectral data and high-resolution imaging of the drill core through our HyLogger instrument.”

The MinEx Cooperative Research Centre was established to:

  • Develop more productive, safer and environmentally friendly drilling methods to discover and drill-out deposits, including coiled tubing drilling technology;
  • Develop new technologies for collecting data while drilling, bringing forward mine production; and
  • Implement an NDI – a world-first collaboration of geological surveys, researchers and industry that will undertake drilling in under-explored areas of potential mineral wealth in Australia.

JKMRC keeps tabs on Glencore Mount Isa test work via video streaming

Mineral processing experts from the Sustainable Minerals Institute’s (SMI) Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre (JKMRC) have overcome the hurdle of COVID-19-related travel restrictions to develop a remote survey coordination method which, they say, allows them to engage with site personnel and facilitate the same procedures they would have in person through the use of video streaming.

This approach enabled the team to connect and converse directly with both the copper processing team and metallurgical laboratory at Glencore’s Mount Isa mines.

JKMRC explained: “Surveying, diagnosing and identifying improvement opportunities for processing plants generally requires teams to travel to a mine site, often in remote locations, and undertake hands-on testing alongside mine personnel − a difficult feat considering ongoing travel and distancing restrictions.”

JKMRC Senior Research Fellow and Process Performance Specialist, Lizette Verster, said the new approach offered a flexible, robust and practical alternative to the conventional method.

“Usually when one conducts a survey like this, it would involve a team of researchers travelling to a site, staying there for a minimum of a week, and working closely with site personnel,” she said.

“In this case, rather than us having a representative attend the site who coordinates the work, Glencore nominated an on-site representative who took responsibility and worked with us to ensure they had the information required to perform the survey.”

The JKMRC team set up a video link between the copper processing team and metallurgical laboratory so they could observe and direct the test work as it was being performed.

“The most important aspect of this is establishing a safe mobile link that is in line with the site’s safety requirements,” Verster said. “All remote viewing equipment allowed for hands-free operation and was protected against dust and water exposure.

“We opted to mount a smartphone on a hard hat or, alternatively a chest harness, that allowed site personnel to freely move around the plant while continuously streaming audio-visual data, and allowing for two-way communication.”

Verster said the experience the JKMRC team had at Mount Isa bodes well for using the method in the future.

“We are definitely pursuing this method going forward as it allows for the effective remote coordination of site work,” she said. “It also provides greater flexibility of survey timing which means one can make better use of operational windows for successful survey execution that doesn’t have to be pre-determined weeks in advance.

“The key to success is communication and lots of upfront planning and we are fortunate to have a close relationship with Glencore and are working with them on a number of projects.”

Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines Senior Process Engineer, Roxanne O’Donnell, was impressed with the ease in using video streaming to enable the remote testing.

“This approach minimised the need for people to come onsite and proved very effective in streamlining the analysis of our mineral processing operations,” O’Donnell said.

“At Glencore, we recognise that collaboration is the key to unlocking innovations and improvement opportunities, and we were really pleased to work with the team at the Sustainable Minerals Institute’s Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre.”

Queensland Government pledges A$500 million to boost Mount Isa mineral freight

The Queensland Government has unveiled a A$500 million ($342 million) plan to boost mineral freight exports on the Mount Isa Line.

Freight charges will be discounted, and a new container terminal built at the Port of Townsville to support an already improved five-year line maintenance budget to support north Queensland’s resource industry, the government said.

Announcing the plan at the Port of Townsville this week, Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Jackie Trad, said the investment would promote mining and exploration in the state’s north west.

“Our state’s economy is stronger when we have a reliable supply of minerals for export,” Trad said. “This investment underlines our commitment to backing regional communities and regional jobs. We can improve reliability with better transport infrastructure and that’s what this plan will do.”

Queensland’s North West Mineral Province contains about 75% of the state’s base metal and minerals, including copper, lead, zinc, silver, gold and phosphate deposits, according to Trad, while the Port of Townsville is Australia’s largest exporter of zinc, copper, lead and fertiliser.

“A number of mines are trucking minerals from the north west to the port, and the trains that are carrying minerals in shipping containers have to be unloaded at Stuart and then trucked 12 km to the port,” Trad said.

“Building a new common user rail freight terminal at the port will make the Mount Isa Line more attractive for exporters and take trucks off the Flinders Highway and Townsville’s roads.”

Sarah Dixon, General Manager of Aurizon’s Bulk East business, which trains transport minerals, industrial products and livestock for customers on the Townsville to Mount Isa rail corridor, welcomed the investment in the rail line.

“Aurizon welcomes these initiatives to improve the cost and performance of rail infrastructure which is critical to the economic success of the north west minerals province,” she said.

The Palaszczuk Government, led by Annastacia Palaszczuk, will contribute A$30 million towards the freight terminal’s construction, with the Port of Townsville providing the remaining A$18 million.

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister, Mark Bailey, said the Palaszczuk Government would also provide A$80 million over four years to reduce rail access charges on the Mount Isa Line, to drive the shift from road to rail.

“The Mount Isa Line is critical for North Queensland’s economy, and making it more efficient and cost competitive is vital to support and grow resources exports in the region,” Bailey said, adding that close to 75% of the freight on the Mount Isa Line was made up of wagons carrying minerals, fertiliser and acid.

“Commercial operators pay access charges to Queensland Rail to use the Mount Isa line and industry has called on the Palaszczuk Government to make rail freight more competitive. We’ve listened and will provide Queensland Rail with A$20 million each year starting, from 1 July this year, to reduce rail access charges and will work with industry on implementation arrangements,” he said.

He added: “The major repairs Queensland Rail carried out on more than 200 sites across 300-km of track following the monsoonal weather event earlier this year have resulted in cutting almost an hour off the travel time between Mount Isa and Townsville, significantly improving efficiency and increasing capacity.

“The Palaszczuk Government is investing A$380 million over five years to maintain and improve the line, making the freight journey faster and more reliable.”

 

Gas to soon start flowing for Mount Isa miners as NGP opens up

Energy company Jemena has completed the 622 km Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP), opening up the supply of gas from the Northern Territory fields to Mount Isa in northwest Queensland, Australia.

The gas is to be used as a crucial feedstock by local businesses – including Incitec Pivot’s Phosphate Hill and Gibson Island facilities, as well as mining and other commercial operations throughout Queensland’s northwest, Jemena said.

Jemena’s Managing Director, Frank Tudor, said around 80% of the NGP’s capacity has been contracted; testament to the real need for additional gas across Australia’s east coast.

“Today we have taken a significant step towards ensuring Australian homes and businesses have the gas they need, when they need it,” Tudor said.

“I commend the Northern Territory Government for commissioning the NGP project in 2015 and am proud that the territory is now well-placed to become the home of Australia’s gas industry alongside Queensland.

“We know that the Northern Territory has enough gas to meet Australia’s future supply needs for the next 200 years or more, and our pipeline is the crucial, missing, link that will connect this gas with Australian homes and businesses.”

Tudor said Jemena was well-advanced in planning the expansion and extension of the Northern Gas Pipeline so that it further integrates with the east coast gas market.

“Provided gas is proven as commercially viable in the Northern Territory, Jemena will be able to increase the NGP’s capacity from around 90 TJ/d up to 700 TJ/d. To put this in context, this is enough gas to meet the average daily gas needs of Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide combined.”

The NGP’s commercial operations are targeted to commence between December 29 and January 10, Jemena said.

Mount Isa miners to benefit from NGP gas following Jemena/Santos deal

Miners in the Mount Isa region of Queensland, Australia, look set to benefit from a new supply of power, after energy infrastructure company, Jemena, signed a transportation contract with Australia power producer, Santos, to ship gas across the new Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP).

The contract, which means around 80% of the NGP’s total available capacity in year one is spoken for, will see Jemena ship around 8 TJ/d of gas across the 622 km pipeline.

The A$800 million ($580 million) NGP, which will connect Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory with Mount Isa in Queensland, is still in construction. First gas from the 92 TJ/d facility is scheduled to flow in late 2018.

The agreement with Santos comes after Jemena announced it had signed a contract with Incitec Pivot Limited (IPL) to deliver 32 TJ/d of gas to IPL’s Gibson Island facility in Queensland. This facility makes up one half of IPL’s Brisbane operations (the other being its Pinkenba site), which produce ammonia, urea, CO2 as well as granulated fertiliser products.

Jemena’s Executive General Manager of Corporate Development, Antoon Boey, said the new agreement will see Jemena transport gas for three years from the first day of commercial pipeline operations for Santos.

“This agreement provides more much-needed gas to the mining and processing sector in the Mount Isa area, and is a positive for the local community, who will benefit not only from jobs which rely on gas as a direct feedstock, but from the flow-on effects of having a vibrant local economy and industry,” he said.