Tag Archives: Queensland

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.

MacKellar Group adds to Liebherr T 264 haul truck fleet at Anglo’s Dawson mine

MacKellar Mining has almost doubled the size of its Liebherr T 264 off-highway haul truck fleet at Anglo American’s majority-owned Dawson open-pit metallurgical coal mine in central Queensland, Australia.

The mining contractor has purchased another four Liebherr T 264 240 t trucks, adding to the fleet of five commissioned at Dawson in early 2020.

The four new T 264s, manufactured in Liebherr Newport News facility in Virginia, USA, will complete pre-assembly in Mackay before travelling inland to Dawson Mine for final commissioning, Liebherr said. The plan is for the trucks to join the working fleet in early 2021.

MacKellar Group said of the decision: “The T 264 provides efficient productivity for our clients by offering a true 240 metric tonne payload, and superior speed on grade. The many operator comforts also makes the trucks well accepted on site.”

The fleet of trucks at Dawson mine, owned 51% by Anglo American and 49% by Mitsui Holdings, are supported by Liebherr-Australia’s Mackay branch and on site Liebherr technicians, another area that assisted the purchase of the additional four units.

“Liebherr-Australia’s support has been excellent, starting from the beginning with the provision of professional operator training, through to support from their experienced technicians,” MacKellar Group concluded.

Centurion to help with logistics load at Century zinc operations

Centurion says it has been awarded a multi-year contract by Century Mining Ltd (CML) to provide logistics support, servicing the Century zinc mine and Karumba Port facilities in north Queensland, Australia.

The services to be provided will include customs clearance, wharf collections of import commodities, warehousing, road transport, air freight, and courier services.

Centurion will use a national road network to consolidate freight in north Queensland (including through Centurion’s Townsville branch), complemented by dedicated daily services to the Century Mine and Karumba Port, it said. A dedicated road train fleet will be engaged with a mix of trailing equipment to cater for the safe and efficient transportation of bulk reagents, general freight and grinding media, all of which is required for the daily operations of the mine and port facility.

CML, a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Century Resources, operates the Century Mine, extracting zinc concentrate, and Karumba Port facility to undertake export transfer of bulk concentrate to key customers globally.

Centurion CEO, Justin Cardaci, said: “We are excited to support CML on a national scale. Centurion’s end-to-end logistics solutions, proprietary tracking systems, and nationwide branch network enable us to tailor and adapt to CML’s specific requirements and provide visibility through out every step of the service.”

Centurion will commence operations around February 2021.

Wolff Mining breaks monthly drilling record at BMA Saraji Mine

Wolff Mining, part of the National Group, has been breaking records at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance’s (BMA) Saraji mine, having recently achieving a drilling milestone at the Queensland coal operation.

Wolff Mining is known for its heavy earthmoving capabilities, being a key supplier of heavy earthmoving equipment to the mining sector on a dry hire or wet hire basis, with drilling equipment and services also offered.

For the past 16 months, the company has been assisting BMA Saraji in a “sprint drilling capacity”, providing drilling equipment and full contract mining services.

It currently supplies BMA Saraji with a Cat MD6420B drill with GPS, and provides operational labour such as supervisors, drillers and fitters.

The MD6420B is one of Cat’s heavy-duty drills designed for open-pit mining, delivering reliable performance and operational safety. It is one of the favoured models by drillers around the world and encompasses leading features from the ultra-class to the mid-size rotary drill line, according to Wolff.

Some of the advanced features available include improved fuel efficiency, electro-hydraulic controls that provide increased operator safety and precision, computer-controlled drilling, enhanced diagnostics and autonomous ready functions, it said.

November drilling at BMA Saraji has been undertaken in 270 mm holes ranging in depth from 30-65+ m in tertiary material, according to Wolff.

The company recently achieved a milestone of 43,794 drilled metres (dm) for the month of November, beating the previous record of 41,500 dm at BMA Saraji.

“The performance of our Cat MD6420B drill has been exceptional,” notes Mark Ackroyd, National Group Managing Director. “It is very rare that a drilling company exceeds 40,000 dm a month, so breaking the site record of 41,500 dm at BMA Saraji, and setting a new record of 43,794 dm for the month of November, is a great achievement.”

He added: “To achieve a milestone such as this takes a highly skilled and motivated team and a high-quality piece of mining machinery such as the Cat MD6420B drill. I would like to congratulate the team here at Wolff Mining for their outstanding efforts and praise the performance of the Cat drill.”

Anglo American commits to Aquila coal development with >A$240 million of contracts

Anglo American has invested more than A$240 million ($175 million) with suppliers for its 70%-owned Aquila metallurgical coal project in Central Queensland, Australia, which, the company says, will be one the world’s most technologically advanced underground mines.

Aquila will extend the life of Anglo American’s existing Capcoal underground operations near Middlemount by six years and continue to use the associated infrastructure at the Capcoal complex as its nearby Grasstree Mine approaches end of life, Anglo says.

Anglo American has awarded nearly A$200 million to six longwall equipment suppliers to deliver a “walk-on, walk-off system” using two complete longwalls, a A$20 million overland conveyor system and more than A$20 million in civil works, it said.

The project, which is scheduled for first longwall production of premium quality hard coking coal in early 2022, includes a A$5 million reverse osmosis water treatment system to increase the use of recycled water and reduce the reliance on fresh water at the mine – a key target in Anglo American’s Sustainable Mining Plan.

Chief Executive Officer of Anglo American’s Metallurgical Coal business, Tyler Mitchelson, said: “Our Aquila project is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners. More than 90% of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers, and we currently have around 500 people working on the project in engineering, surface construction and underground development.

“Aquila will be a breakthrough project, designed to set a new standard of safety and performance by leveraging technology and focusing on operational improvements. The mine will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, with a remote operating centre on the surface of the mine, proximity detection systems underground to alert machine operators to pedestrians, and the continued digitisation of our operations, using new technologies such as our Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets.”

In addition to the aforementioned construction contacts, Anglo American awarded a A$95 million mining development contract to Mackay-based mining company, Mastermyne in 2019.

Komatsu to boost Australia East Coast supply chain with new Wacol distribution centre

A major new distribution centre that, Komatsu says, will significantly increase customer satisfaction by improving parts and components availability, further reduce order turnaround times and streamline ordering efficiency, will be opened by the OEM in the June quarter of 2021.

Komatsu’s new Wacol distribution centre – which will also include elements of its Brisbane parts and components Reman operation – will consolidate four existing distribution and storage centres into a single facility.

Construction of the new Wacol centre, which is currently underway, is scheduled to be completed by May 2021, in time for Komatsu’s global centenary celebrations.

According to Russell Hodson, Komatsu’s General Manager, Supply Chain, the key driver of the new facility is to improve customer satisfaction across its Queensland, New Zealand and New Caledonia operations.

“Customers in these regions – which includes large mining customers – are currently serviced from our various Brisbane facilities, and by consolidating them into a single operation, we anticipate a marked improvement in customer satisfaction,” he said.

“The new facility will also be much safer for Komatsu employees and service providers, making use of the latest warehousing technology and systems, including anti-collision systems and full worker/machine separation throughout.

“In addition, we’ll see improvements in quality by bringing storage of all parts and components under cover, while a one-part/one-location approach will eliminate the chances of binning and picking errors – further contributing to improved customer satisfaction.”

Komatsu will also see some significant efficiency and cost benefits through consolidation to a single facility, maximised space utilisation, and lower transport costs, it said.

“We’re also going to in-source our warehousing operations so all staff will be Komatsu employees, which will better enable us to continue our ongoing program of continuous improvement,” Hodson said.

“At this new facility, we’ll employing 50 new people into Komatsu; we see this as a great opportunity to build a fantastic team that can deliver extraordinary results for our customers in a new and exciting facility.”

The development of this new facility was part of Komatsu’s broader East Coast supply chain strategy, according to Hodson.

“This strategy aims to improve the flow of our goods and information to our customers,” he said. “And there’s much more to come as we strive to continuously improve our operations for the benefit of our customers.”

Being constructed on a 3.8 ha site adjacent to its existing Queensland head office, service, training and customer support facility, the new centre covers nearly 17,000 sq.m, with an order picking storage area of just under 14,500 sq.m, and an extra large parts/components storage area of over 2,000 sq.m, it said.

“When it opens, our new Wacol DC will also fully integrate our mining and construction operations for Queensland, NZ and New Caledonia,” Hodson said.

Sedgman wins three-year extensions at QCoal’s Sonoma, Byerwen mines

CIMIC Group’s minerals processing company, Sedgman, has been awarded two contract extensions by QCoal to continue to operate and maintain its Sonoma and Byerwen mines processing plants in Queensland, Australia.

The three-year extensions will generate revenue of A$166 million ($118 million) for Sedgman.

The agreements replace and extend Sedgman’s existing agreements at the mines, continuing CIMIC Group’s long-standing relationship with QCoal.

CIMIC Group Chief Executive Officer, Juan Santamaria, said: “We have a strong history of delivering consistent outcomes for QCoal, through our companies Sedgman and Thiess. Sedgman’s expertise in minerals processing and focus on maximum resource recovery will help drive even greater efficiencies at these mines.”

Sedgman Managing Director, Grant Fraser, said: “These contracts are testament to the partnership we have forged with QCoal over many years, and the integration of our engineering design, project delivery and operations teams.”

Sedgman undertook the engineering design, construction and commissioning of the coal handling and preparation plant at Sonoma in 2007, and has continued to optimise and expand the facility, operating it since 2007.

Sedgman delivered engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning services for a 4,500 t/h train loadout facility and processing plant at Byerwen in 2017, and the engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning of a duplication of the 550 t/h coal handling and processing plant in 2018, operating it since then.

Heritage eyes up Mount Morgan riches, rehabilitation

A partnership between GreenGold Engineering and Heritage Minerals Pty Ltd has plans to return the Mount Morgan gold mine in Queensland, Australia, to some of its former glory by creating a mean and green way to extract gold from its ample tailings deposits.

The cooperation allows Heritage Minerals to develop the project in a proactive program to maximise the best chance of project success, the company says. Heritage admits it has a big task on its hands, facing doubters that have witnessed a string of false starts at Mount Morgan.

The story behind Mount Morgan dates to 1882 when a syndicate was created to open a gold mine at Ironstone Mountain, 39 km south of Rockhampton.

Ironstone Mountain, later renamed Mount Morgan, was originally operated as an open-pit gold mine at the top of the mountain, before being converted to an underground copper and gold mine.

In 1935, it transitioned back to an open-pit operation and continued until the mine closed in 1980. After this, Peko Wallsend Ltd ran a tailings treatment operation from 1982 until 1991, recovering gold from 27 Mt of tailings.

Mount Morgan pioneered many metallurgical processes to cope with the unique properties of the ore over this time. From chlorine leaching in the early days to various flotation and smelting furnace techniques for the copper/gold ore, the Mount Morgan tailings stockpiles have a rich and varied history.

At different stages over the life of the mine, copper was either a bonus or a nuisance. When copper grades were high, copper was a financial benefit; when the copper grade was low, the metal increased the operating cost associated with gold recovery.

This more than century of mining and processing came with consequences.

The pyrite remaining in the mine and tailings dumps is acid-forming and has generated a significant environmental legacy which remains today. This legacy has become the responsibility of the State of Queensland (1993) and is managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Mining’s (DNRM) Abandoned Mines Division.

Despite these environmental liabilities, five companies have come back to Mount Morgan since Peko Wallsend stopped operations in the early-1990s, encouraged by higher yellow metal prices and improved processing options for the refractory ore.

“We’re the sixth company to have a shot at reprocessing the tailings, with none of the companies before us getting past the feasibility study stage into financing,” Peter Mellor, Corporate Secretary at Heritage Minerals, told IM.

All of them were unsuccessful primarily because of the presence of nuisance copper and the high cyanide consumption that comes with removing this, according to Mellor.

The most recent company to try its luck at Mount Morgan is a case in point.

ASX-listed Carbine Resources developed a process flowsheet to remove part of the troublesome copper by acid leaching the tailings and producing copper sulphate. Additional revenue from the production of pyrite concentrate supplemented gold sales.

It was the production of premium quality (50% sulphur) unroasted iron pyrite concentrate that enabled the commencement of the reduction of acid-forming material at Mount Morgan, Carbine said.

Despite coming up with a 1.1 Mt/y blueprint that, in the expanded case, could operate for 20 years and produce 23,000 oz/y of gold, 2,700 t/y of copper sulphate and 200,000 t/y of pyrite concentrate, the plan ultimately fell down on the projected economic returns, negatively impacted by excessive royalty liabilities.

A February 2018 update came with a revised operating model at Mount Morgan showing all-in sustaining costs (AISC) of A$862/oz ($621/oz), A$313/oz higher than the company’s December 2016 feasibility study.

“The increase is due primarily to higher cyanide consumption and lower by-products credits due to a lower pyrite price and the loss of copper sulphate premium associated with a change in the copper products produced,” Carbine explained.

Fresh approach

To be fair to Mellor and the Heritage team, they are not looking to repackage the same project blueprint in a markedly better gold price environment as other companies have been known to attempt. Instead, they are setting up the project and the town of Mount Morgan for a brighter and sustainable future.

After gaining rights to the project from Norton Gold Fields following Carbine’s exit, one of the first things Heritage did was appoint GreenGold to carry out the definitive feasibility study.

Equipped with its ReCYN resin-based technology that has been shown on other projects to reduce cyanide consumption by up to 50% through capturing free cyanide from plant tailings and recycling it back into the leach circuit, the selection was an obvious choice.

The company could potentially detoxify the tailings stream and clean up the water discharge at Mount Morgan. This would be a boon for the DNRM, which currently treats the water from the open pit and tailings deposits before being released into the local creek due to the low pH levels caused by the acid-forming pyrite.

“Our process plant will use this water, treat it and send it out as clean water down the creek,” Mellor explained.

This is one of several changes the company is implementing to make the project viable.

“For example, Carbine were previously looking to float off the nuisance copper at the start, which came with the associated capital costs of building a flotation plant,” Mellor said. “Yet, the copper really represented a low amount of revenue (2,700 t of copper sulphate in the studies) overall.”

The ReCYN resin plant can deal with the higher cyanide consumption needed to treat the copper at the back end of the flowsheet. This will allow the company to focus on the gold – which represents 90% of revenue – that can be processed by a technically-simple carbon in leach plant.

Malcolm Patterson, MD of Heritage Minerals, and Peter Papa, Technical Director of Heritage Minerals, observe the task ahead at Mount Morgan

The open pit is partially filled with previously processed tailings, with Mellor saying the reprocessing of 10 Mt of tailings (averaging 1.1 g/ Au) can help complete the rehabilitation process.

“We have come up with a really neat environmental rehabilitation scenario where we fill the existing open pit up, and cap it all off nicely so the surface water cannot penetrate,” he said.

Set to build a 2 Mt/y plant to re-process this material, Heritage is only looking five years out from first production, although there is potential for this processing quantity to be doubled.

Even with this near-term gaze, the definitive feasibility study (DFS) anticipates a one-year payback and an upfront capital expenditure bill of A$74 million (compared with Carbine’s last A$96 million estimate).

“There is more potential than this,” Mellor says of the feasibility study, highlighting several areas of interest within proximity of the existing open pit. “Yet, we wanted to get the economic, environmental and social aspects ticked off first before laying out any longer-term plans.”

The company has been very thorough in coming up with this five-year plan.

Already blessed with an extensive JORC resource database from previous Mount Morgan tailings reprocessing protagonists, the company continued to drill for tonnage and bulk density definition of the tailings resource; the latter with a Dando percussion drill rig capable of punching 1 m cores down to 30 m depth.

With a board decision on the DFS expected before the end of the year, Heritage could soon enter the financing stage, followed (hopefully) by construction.

If all goes to plan, operations – a simplified earthmoving and processing method – could begin in 2022.

“Mount Morgan is definitely not the easiest site, but it is the most prestigious in terms of history and challenges,” Mellor says.

Heritage and GreenGold will soon be judged by the financing community on whether they are up to such a challenge.

Macmahon banks coal mining work with Foxleigh joint venture

Macmahon Holdings confirms it has been selected as the preferred tenderer to provide equipment hire and maintenance services at the Foxleigh joint venture operation in Queensland, Australia, from March 1, 2021.

The Foxleigh mine is an open pit, truck and excavator operation in the Bowen Basin, which produces low volatile PCI coal for Asia steel mill customers.

The proposed scope of work for Macmahon involves the hire and maintenance of 21 large capacity dump trucks and other ancillary equipment over a five-year term, together with the maintenance of client-owned equipment.

Macmahon estimates this work will generate around A$250 million ($177 million) in revenue and require capital expenditure of circa-A$50 million. Most of this capital expenditure will be to acquire 220 t dump trucks, which are expected to have a useful life of 10 years, Macmahon says.

Michael Finnegan, CEO and Managing Director of Macmahon, said: “We are very pleased to be selected as the preferred equipment and maintenance provider for the Foxleigh project, and we are looking forward to delivering for a new client in Queensland. This selection highlights our expertise in sourcing and maintaining large scale mining equipment and our ability to offer a range of service models to our clients.”

Foxleigh is jointly owned by QMetco, POSCO Australia and Nippon Steel Australia.

Thiess to continue operations at BMA Caval Ridge coal mine

CIMIC Group’s global mining services provider, Thiess, has been awarded a contract extension by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) to provide mining services at the Caval Ridge coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

The 12-month contract extension will generate revenue of A$110 million ($79 million) to Thiess, CIMIC said.

Under the contract variation, Thiess will continue to operate and maintain three 600 t excavator fleets to move additional overburden for the Caval Ridge operation, an open-pit coal mine with a 10 Mt/y throughput capacity.

Back in 2018, Thiess and BMA signed a contract variation that saw the contract miner move additional overburden through 2020 as per the terms of the contract.

CIMIC Group Chief Executive Officer, Juan Santamaria, said: “This contract extension builds on our relationship with BMA and reinforces our commitment to work with our clients to safely position their operations for optimal efficiency, productivity and cost performance.”

CIMIC Group Executive Mining and Mineral Processing and Thiess Managing Director, Douglas Thompson, said: “We’re proud to continue our work at Caval Ridge where we have a proven track record of delivering innovative and low-cost mining solutions. It is a testament to the team’s continued focus on delivering a safe and productive operation for our client.”

The contract extension will commence in December 2020.

Last week, CIMIC confirmed that it was close to bringing in a new equity investor for its Thiess contract mining business.