Tag Archives: Northern Star Resources

MLG Oz bolsters NSR Jundee work, adds Norton Gold Fields and Mincor to contract mix

MLG Oz says it continues to experience historically high levels of tendering opportunities for its suite of mining services, with three new integrated site services and haulage contracts recently added to its remit across its Western Australia operations.

MLG, which listed on the ASX earlier this year, says it offers a range of value added services from bulk haulage, crushing and screening, aggregate and sand supplies through to export logistics.

At Northern Star’s Jundee gold operation in Western Australia, the company has been awarded preferred contractor status for an expansion of its services, providing integrated site support and haulage capacity at the mine. Subject to negotiation and execution, this new three-year contract is expected to commence around August and deliver some A$12 million/y ($9.2 million/y) in revenue.

The scope of works will consist of integrated site support to the company’s mill feed operations from both its Jundee central underground mines and its regional satellite operations, MLG said. It will see the ASX-listed contractor conduct all crusher feed, bulk haulage and site civil works for the operations under its integrated operating platform.

MLG has added two new clients to its roster, too – Norton Gold Fields and Mincor Resources.

Norton Gold Fields has chosen MLG as its successful tenderer to provide integrated site support services and haulage for its Paddington gold operation over a three-year period expected to commence in September. Revenue from this opportunity is estimated to be around A$14 million/y, with formal contract documentation anticipated to be finalised in the coming weeks.

And, in line with MLG’s desire to broaden its service offering across different commodities and, in particular, the battery metals space, it has executed a contract with Mincor Resources for the provision of the logistics services associated with its Kambalda nickel operation. The contract is expected to deliver approximately A$3 million/y in revenue over four years and is expected to commence in the March quarter of 2022.

Reviewing these contract awards, MLG Founder, Managing Director and majority shareholder, Murray Leahy, said: “We are very pleased to be given the opportunity to continue to support and grow with Northern Star which has been a long-standing customer of MLG.

“We are delighted that the Norton Gold Fields Board has selected MLG to support the Paddington processing facility. The mill is 35 km northwest of Kalgoorlie and aligns very strongly with our existing Kalgoorlie network.

“Our new contract at the Kambalda operations is an important first step for MLG in developing a longer-term relationship with Mincor in support of its goal of being a key supplier of nickel to the emerging battery metals market.”

In addition to announcing these contract awards, MLG also provided a market update on its crushing and screening activities.

It said: “MLG’s crushing and screening operations, which account for 20% of MLG’s forecast financial year 2021 revenue of A$241.6 million, have experienced a reduction in available material to process from several clients across the last quarter of financial year 2021, due to production constraints at various client operations. We anticipate this will negatively impact the crushing and screening revenue in the first half of financial year 2022. Despite this, and given the company’s current pipeline, including as evidenced above, the board expects the overall impact of this to be mitigated in the second half of financial year 2022.”

DRA under budget and ahead of schedule at NST’s Jundee expansion project

DRA Global says it has completed its engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract under budget and ahead of time for Northern Star Resources at the Jundee gold mine, near Wiluna, Western Australia.

The Jundee mining operation is situated in the Northern Yandal Greenstone Belt, with the mine yielding a record 300,000 oz for Northern Star in the year ending June 30, 2020.

Jundee’s processing circuit comprises a two-stage crushing circuit, SAG and ball mill, and conventional carbon-in-leach plant. The ball mill upgrade, undertaken by DRA, increased processing plant capacity to a nominal design throughput rate of 2.7 Mt/y, from 2.2 Mt/y.

DRA delivered the EPCM project scope under budget and ahead of time, with ore commissioning achieved some six weeks ahead of schedule in a total duration of 35 weeks, it said.

“DRA’s project team achieved this outcome by working in close collaboration with the Northern Star project and operations team, the equipment vendors and construction sub-contractors,” it said.

Delivery of the project required overcoming challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, including risk mitigation strategies being initiated to maintain the accelerated project schedule, according to the company.

Northern Star’s General Manager Processing, Simon Tyrrell, said DRA had consistently met and exceeded performance expectations through a collaborative approach to the Jundee ball mill project delivery.

DRA was engaged on the EPCM contract after having completed an engineering and cost study which included scope definition, design, planning, capital and operating cost estimation. The project follows several previous plant upgrades and studies successfully completed by DRA at the Jundee gold mine, which have contributed towards the continuous production growth seen at the mine over the last four-to-five years, DRA said.

The process plant shutdown and tie-in of the new ball mill was performed in conjunction with the Northern Star operations team and contractors without incident, and the process plant has since ramped up to run consistently above nameplate design capacity, the company added.

CSIRO senses a new way forward for mineral exploration

A project focused on the Capricorn region of Western Australia has indicated mining companies could more accurately pinpoint reserves of valuable minerals using a new water-tasting approach developed by the national science agency, CSIRO.

In research supported by the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia (MRIWA), broad “haloes” of altered water chemistry around known deposits of gold, uranium, and other minerals were discovered where interaction with the ore systems had left distinctive traces in the water.

CSIRO Researcher, Dr Nathan Reid, led a team of scientists analysing samples of groundwater from the Capricorn region, where layers of sediment and weathering are believed to hide potential ore deposits from view.

Dr Reid explained: “Groundwater penetrates through covering sediments and interacts directly with the bedrock, dissolving trace amounts of the minerals present into solution. By sampling those waters, our instruments can essentially ‘taste’ the geology they have come into contact with.”

Where the underlying rocks contain a valuable ore deposit, the chemical flavour of that mineralisation extends much further than the concentrated mineralisation itself, according to Dr Reid, comparing this with a teaspoon of salt making a whole glass of water taste salty.

These haloes of altered water chemistry could help geologists identify areas where other ore deposits might still lie hidden below the surface, helping to focus mineral exploration in the right areas, according to CSIRO.

Chemical anomalies identified in groundwater from sediment-covered areas of the study region have already stimulated further exploration investment from companies seeking to identify undiscovered mineral deposits, according to CSIRO. Industry sponsors of the project include Marindi Metals, Thundelarra Resources, Sandfire Resources, Northern Star Resources, MMG, Gascoyne Resources, Auris Metals, RNI, Erongo Energy and Independence Group.

MRIWA CEO, Nicole Roocke, said the innovative work in this project by scientists across CSIRO, the Centre for Exploration Targeting and Curtin University will play an important role in encouraging mining industry investment in under-explored areas of Western Australia.

“This work demonstrates the exciting mineral exploration potential remaining in the Capricorn, and we anticipate this innovative approach to mineral exploration will stimulate renewed interest in many similar areas of Western Australia where we know richly endowed geology lies buried below younger rocks,” she said.

“By supporting this fundamental research, the Western Australian Government is helping to provide the mineral exploration industry with the tools it needs to invest in identifying the next generation of ore deposits in this state.”

The technical report summarising the findings of this research can be found here.

Zenith Energy to power up Plutonic gold mine

Zenith Energy says it will add a further 6 MW of installed capacity at Billabong Gold’s Plutonic project power station.

The two companies’ agreement will see the remote power generation specialist build, own and operate (BOO) the power station expansion to increase its capacity to 12 MW, while the current power purchase agreement term between the two companies will be extended by 52 months.

Located in the Archaean Plutonic Marymia Greenstone Belt, 800 km northeast of Perth in Western Australia, the Plutonic mine has been powered by Zenith since 2014.

The increased generating capacity will be delivered by the installation of an additional 6 MW of power via Jenbacher 620 Spark Ignition gas generator technology.

Upon installation, which is set to be completed in the June quarter, Zenith’s total BOO capacity will increase from circa-226 MW to more than 232 MW, it said.

Since Superior Gold, the parent company of Billabong Gold, acquired the Plutonic gold mine from Northern Star Resources in September 2016, it has achieved cumulative production of more than 276,000 oz of gold, according to Superior. The mine produced 83,035 oz of gold in 2019.

Back in October, the company delivered a five-year underground mine plan at Plutonic that would see the operation produce at least 100,000 oz/y of gold over this time frame.

NSR transforms Kalgoorlie drill & blast ops with Minnovare Production Optimser

A newly released case study from Minnovare and Northern Star Resources (NSR) has shown just how effective the Australia-based technology company’s Production Optimiser drilling solution has proven at the gold miner’s drill and blast operations.

The study, ‘Northern Star: 1-Year-On’, shows drill and blast productivity has increased significantly since implementing Production Optimiser in March 2018. At just one of NSR’s Kalgoorlie gold operations, the miner achieved 42,000 additional stoped tonnes, or around 8,300 oz/y of gold; increasing revenue by A$18 million ($12.2 million), according to the study.

In addition to this, the technology led to a cumulative 31% increase in drilling productivity, a 7% reduction in average stope cycle time and a 54% decrease in “bridged tonnes”.

Minnovare implemented the Production Optimiser system at one of NSR’s operations in March 2018 – running three long hole production rigs. This was followed by a second operation in August 2018, also running three long hole rigs, where NSR increased drilled meters by 33% – boosting average drill meters towards 10,000 m per rig, per month, it said.

Production Optimiser, which works independently of the rig’s on-board systems and can be retrofitted to any make or model of drill rig, uses Minnovare’s CORE software. This software digitises “drill plans and plods (Digi-Plan/Digi-Plod) for accurate drill-data capture and real-time transfer throughout the mine” to deliver greater speed, accuracy and reliability in rig setup – leading to greater drilling accuracy and optimum blasts, according to Minnovare.

Improved stope productivity and, ultimately, increased profitability follow, the company said.

Jeff Brown (pictured), Principal Innovation and Technology at NSR, said: “We’ve seen average drilled meters across our Kalgoorlie operations increase by up to 33%. That’s a significant impact, which has been underpinned by this technology.

“The follow-on from that increase is an equally significant impact to the productivity and, ultimately, profitability of our operations. It’s a prime example of a new technology can quickly add value to multiple areas – producing a better business outcome.”

Due to the success achieved from the Production Optimiser, NSR has entered into an official ‘Collaboration Agreement’ with Minnovare.

Brown said: “This [agreement] will help fast-track a number of new product developments currently in the pipeline, that we see as having the potential to make just as big an impact on our operations. That’s exciting and promising for us as we look to develop and expand on our assets.”

In addition to the work in Kalgoorlie, NSR has agreed to equip its fleet of long-hole drill rigs at the Pogo gold mine, in Alaska, USA, with the Production Optimiser technology.

RCT and Northern Star carry out ‘history-making’ trial in WA’s Goldfields region

RCT and Northern Star Resources have recently completed an autonomous technology trial in Western Australia’s Goldfields region that bodes well for the future of underground remote operations centres in the state.

In early October, RCT set up a ControlMaster® Automation Centre at the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) in Kalgoorlie with a network connection to an underground LHD equipped with ControlMaster Guidance Automation at the East Kunduna Joint Venture (EKJV) mine.

EKJV is a joint venture between Northern Star, Tribune Resources and Rand Mining, managed by Northern Star  and located around 40 km away from Kalgoorlie.

The mining method at the Kundana operations is from underground using up-hole longhole stoping with paste backfill.

The project to set up a Remote Operating Centre (ROC) was a combined effort by technical specialists from RCT and Northern Star Resources, RCT said.

Once operational, a Northern Star Resources equipment operator controlled the ControlMaster Guidance Loader from the WASM Kalgoorlie facility and resumed site required remote production rates.

Northern Star Resources currently uses ControlMaster Guidance Automation on its underground LHD fleet at the EKJV from an onsite Surface Control System.

RCT said: “The trial is a history-making event for the Goldfields region and represents an exciting opportunity for both Northern Star Resources and RCT and what can be achieved through the use of smart technology.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “This trial has helped both businesses to understand what future opportunities there are in autonomous technology, which is not only exciting for both business but the local Goldfields community as well.

“To conduct the trial from the WA School of Mines is also a story worth sharing with the wider mining and METS (mining equipment technology and services) community, to showcase the great innovation coming from the Western Australian Goldfields region.”

ROCs represent great job opportunities for members of the labour force who traditionally would not be able to work on a mine site due to various lifestyle or personal factors, he added.

Chief Executive Officer of Northern Star Resources, Stuart Tonkin, said: “ROCs are proven for surface operations, but this advancement for an underground application is a significant development led by RCT in the Kalgoorlie Goldfields.”

He added: “Northern Star Resources encourages continual improvement and innovation, and we are very pleased with RCT’s commitment to developing practical mining solutions.”

Northern Star’s Pogo gold mine signs up Minnovare Production Optimiser

Minnovare’s relationship with Australia-based Northern Star Resources has been further strengthened, with the miner recently implementing the Production Optimiser technology across its fleet of long-hole drill rigs at the Pogo gold mine in Alaska.

The implementation follows successful Production Optimiser installations at some of Northern Star’s Australia operations.

Northern Star acquired Pogo, the company’s first mine outside of Australia, from Sumitomo Metal Mining late last year for $260 million.

Ore is currently mined at rate of ~4,000 short tons per day, with three access portals in use to provide underground access to the various underground mining block areas. Mining methods at the Pogo mine vary due to great variability in vein thickness, dip, grade and continuity.

Minnovare’s 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 system can be retrofitted to any make or model of drill rig and works independently of the rig’s onboard systems.

A two-month trial of the Production Optimiser, starting in April 2018, at one of Northern Star Resources’ Kalgoorlie gold operations showed the Production Optimiser technology not only increased drilled metres by 17% at the operation, but also help deliver the highest average stope recovery in the life of the operation.

Swick Mining continues drilling wins at home and abroad

Swick Mining Services is celebrating a hat-trick of contract drilling wins with the Barrick Gold and Newmont Goldcorp-owned Nevada Gold Mines JV, Silver Lake Resources and Northern Star Resources.

The Australia-listed contractor has been awarded a three-year contract extension at the Nevada Gold Mines JV, with the company’s US division extending a relationship that started in 2013. The work with Silver Lake Resources involved being selected as the preferred tenderer, subject to contract execution, to provide underground diamond coring services at its Mount Monger operation, in Western Australia. And, lastly, Northern Star Resources has increased the scope of work for Swick at the Jundee gold mine, also in Western Australia, from nine to 14 full time underground diamond coring rigs.

The awards secure work for 18 rigs (eight existing and 10 additional rigs) and increases Swick’s contracted work in hand to A$353 million ($248 million), the company said.

Swick Managing Director, Kent Swick, said: “We are delighted to be deepening our relationships with existing clients and, in the case of the new work with Silver Lake, returning to a project where we have extensive experience.”

He added: “It is particularly pleasing that our international strategy is yielding significant results, with a third of our total deployed underground diamond drilling rigs now operating outside of Australia. By the end of September, we will have at least 22 rigs operating in our international operations including the USA, Portugal and Spain – all at major mines with Tier One clients.”

In Nevada with the Nevada Gold Mines JV, Swick currently operates eight rigs between the Turquoise Ridge and Cortez Hill gold mines as well as the Goldrush project, it said. As part of the contract extension, Swick will be deploying two additional rigs to these operations.

Swick undertakes underground diamond core drilling and underground RC drilling at the projects, with the contract extension securing work for 10 rigs at fixed pricing for two years, with a rise and fall applicable for the third year. In total, the Nevada Gold Mines JV produced in excess of 4 Moz of gold in 2018, more than double the next largest gold mining complex.

The contract extension, combined with the contract recently awarded to Swick at the Northern Star-owned Pogo gold mine in Alaska, will see Swick take a leading position in the US underground drilling market, it said, adding that the first four underground rigs at Pogo commenced drilling in June.

The Silver Lake Mount Monger contract is expected to be for a period of two years with a provision for a 12-month extension, Swick said. The contract will commence in August, with three rigs undertaking drilling across the Mount Monger site, namely the Daisy Milano, Cock-eyed Bob and Maxwell’s underground mines.

Swick says it worked at the Daisy Milano project for a decade from 2007 before it was awarded to another contractor in 2016. The Mount Monger operations produced 35,172 oz of gold in the March quarter.

At Jundee, meanwhile, Swick says it will steadily increase its fleet and manning from July to October to meet the increased scope. Northern Star is Swick’s largest client – with the Jundee contract Swick’s largest ever project – and will operate this expanded service under the current contract agreement.

Kent Swick said: “Once we reach 14 full time rigs at Jundee, it will represent a record number of rigs that Swick has had at any one mine, and the largest Australian underground diamond drilling program I am aware of since we have been in the underground contracting business for over 20 years.”

Zenith Energy completes Jundee power station expansion for Northern Star

Independent power producer, Zenith Energy has completed and commissioned its 6 MW build own and operate (BOO) power station expansion at Northern Star Resources’ Jundee gold mine, in the northern Goldfields region of Western Australia.

The 6 MW of expansion capacity at Jundee adds to the existing 19.2 MW, increasing Zenith’s BOO capacity to 25.2 MW, Zenith said. The power station comprises an upgrade to the existing facility with the installation of an added 6 MW of Jenbacher 620 Spark Ignittion gas generator technology.

The station incorporates natural gas fuelled generators, which will provide the Jundee mine with highly efficient, cost effective and clean gas fuelled power generation into the future, according to Zenith.

The Jundee processing circuit is a conventional CIL plant with a hard-rock processing capacity of approximately 1.8 Mt/y. The process consists of a single toggle overhead eccentric swing jaw crusher followed by a SAG and ball milling circuit incorporating gravity recovery and CIP process, achieving 92% recoveries. Northern Star produced 285,000 oz of gold at Jundee in its 2018 financial year.

Zenith said: “This project demonstrates the company’s ability to design, construct, install and commission expansion projects to meet our existing customers’ changing power supply requirements.”

The full commissioning of the Jundee expansion delivers a 6 MW uplift in installed BOO MW capacity in the company’s portfolio, and a corresponding uplift in revenue from the September quarter and going forward, Zenith said.

With the completion of the Jundee expansion, Zenith has established a strong track record for project delivery, with its portfolio of 219 MW of contracted BOO capacity and a total of 438 MW of total power generation capacity under control, it said.

Zenith Managing Director, Hamish Moffat, said: “We are proud to continue our partnership with Northern Star Resources at Jundee through the delivery of the Jundee Expansion Project, and now look forward to delivering additional reliable, cost effective power to support the Jundee gold mine.”

RCT helps train up Northern Star and Gold Fields apprentices

RCT says it is working with Gold Fields and Northern Star Resources to provide hands-on training opportunities to apprentices in Western Australia’s Goldfields.

This month, RCT’s Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, branch hosted Gold Fields apprentice Auto Electrician, Michael Schoeppner (pictured on the right), who carried out repair and maintenance work on remotely-operated mining equipment under the guidance of RCT’s experienced workshop staff.

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said: “Gold Fields is committed to team development, and we are delighted our apprentices have the opportunity to work with our business partners to receive valuable training, mentoring and experience.”

Following his training experience, Schoeppner will be able to apply his new skills to benefit Gold Fields’ projects in the region, where there is a continued emphasis on the use of remote technologies to improve safety and productivity in its mines, RCT said.

RCT also has a similar arrangement with Northern Star Resources, which saw apprentice Ben Ashby mentored by the company’s bench repair technicians at the Kalgoorlie branch earlier this month.

Ashby’s experience centred on unit repairs and diagnosis with particular focus on repairing remote interfaces and elements of RCT’s ControlMaster® Teleremote and Guidance products.

Northern Star Resources Maintenance Manager, Aaron Armstrong, said: “RCT has a wealth of in-house skills related to mobile plant equipment and electrical systems in the mining sector and we are happy they will share their knowledge with our tradespeople.”

RCT Kalgoorlie Branch Manager, Rick Radcliffe, said: “These training opportunities enable staff from both companies to familiarise themselves with each other’s procedures and technical knowledge providing a strong base for future working relationships.”