Tag Archives: South Australia

Magnetite Mines up for NextOre magnetic resonance ore sorting pilot at Razorback

Having shown potential in lab-based test work to increase head grades at the Razorback project, NextOre’s magnetic resonance (MR) ore sorting technology is to now get an outing in South Australia at the high-grade iron ore development.

Razorback owner, Magnetite Mines, says it has entered into an agreement with NextOre to supply a mobile bulk ore sorting plant using a magnetic resonance (MR) sensor for a trial of the technology at the project.

The company said: “This advances our exclusive partnership with NextOre and is an important step in our journey to unlocking the potential of the Razorback project. The company is excited by the potential of the NextOre technology to enhance processing of by ‘pre-concentrating’ run of mine ore feed to increase plant head grade.”

The NextOre agreement includes a non-refundable deposit of A$100,000 ($71,418) and contemplates further, staged payments of A$700,000, Magnetite Mines says. The scope covers supply of a full-scale mobile ore sorting plant to site at Razorback for sorting magnetite ore using MR technology during the trial period for the purpose of mine feasibility analysis. The agreement includes milestone dates, with the equipment despatch from the CSIRO Lucas Heights facility, in New South Wales, expected in 2021.

Formed in 2017 by CSIRO, Advisian Digital and RFC Ambrian, NextOre supplies MR ore sorting solutions to global mining companies that applies mineral sensing technology developed by the CSIRO.

Unlike traditional ore sorting technologies that are based on X-ray or infra-red transmission, NextOre’s on-belt MR analyser ore sorting solution allows for the grade of high throughput ore to be measured at industry-leading accuracies and speeds, NextOre says. Due to the high speed of the technology, the integrative system is able to perform the analysis, computation and physical diversion of waste ores down to one second intervals allowing for fast diversion or high-resolution sorting.

As previously reported, the company entered into an exclusivity agreement with NextOre granting Magnetite Mines exclusive use of its MR ore sorting technology for any magnetite processing applications Australia-wide and all iron ore applications in the Braemar (including New South Wales) for a period of four years.

Magnetite Mines Chairman, Peter Schubert, said: “NextOre’s magnetic resonance sorting technology, developed over many years in conjunction with the CSIRO, has a rapid response time allowing unprecedented selection accuracy and speed. The result is potential for a substantial increase in the head grade of plant feed, resulting in lower unit operating costs and a significant improvement in capital efficiency.

“This technology also offers potential environmental benefits, with enhanced water efficiency and reduced tailings volumes.”

He added: “We are particularly interested in the potential of the NextOre technology to increase the grade of ore fed to the concentrator. The bulk trial of this exciting technology will contribute to the study work now underway.”

Chris Beal, CEO of NextOre said: “We are enthusiastic supporters of Magnetite Mines’ vision of unlocking the vast resources in South Australia’s Braemar region. Their disciplined approach, which leverages emerging technologies with well-established mining methodologies, is a testament to the team’s knowledge and experience in the field.

“In our collaborative planning, the Magnetite Mines methodology of carefully integrating mine and mill activities speaks strongly to the ability to generate the maximum value from bulk ore sorting solution. I am thrilled that NextOre can contribute to this transformative project and I look forward to jointly developing Australia’s reputation as a global leader in green resource extraction.”

GBM, Round Oak celebrate first gold doré at White Dam

GBM Resources and Round Oak Minerals’ White Dam gold-copper heap leach asset in South Australia, has poured its first gold doré bar.

The achievement follows the completion of the sulphidisation-acidification-recycling-thickening (SART) plant build back in July, which earned GBM its 50% stake in the asset. GBM says the SART plant, and associated copper concentrate production, continues to ramp-up broadly in-line with expectations, while identified optimisation opportunities are expected to drive further expanded production and reduced costs.

White Dam, around 50 km southwest of Broken Hill, is a heap leach operation that, since 2010, has produced about 175,000 oz of gold from heap leaching of 7.5 Mt of ore at 0.94 g/t Au (which was mined from two open pits).

The JV owners say evaluation of the estimated remaining resources of 4.6 Mt grading 0.7 g/t Au for 101,900 oz of gold has commenced to determine the viability of the extraction and leaching of this material.

Peter Rohner, Managing Director and CEO, said: “I would like to thank the Round Oak site team for their ongoing efforts in optimising the SART plant operation. While recent rain has resulted in some minor delays, the additional water is set to drive increased heap leach irrigation and thus higher gold and copper production in the near term.

“We are now working to finalise shipping of the first copper concentrates once the concentrate drying process is completed. The SART plant is meeting its design objectives of removing copper and increasing the recovery of the cyanide solution back into the circuit to increase gold recoveries, which together enhance the overall economics of the White Dam operation.”

Data science competition unearths potential of South Australia’s Gawler region

Unearthed Solutions says scores of multi-billion-dollar mining projects could be ignited following the results of an international challenge to unlock the potential of South Australia’s resource-rich Gawler region.

ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge, run by the South Australian Government and innovation specialists Unearthed Solutions, had a total prize pool of A$250,000 ($183,249) and attracted broad domestic and international interest.

Using the Geological Survey of South Australia’s (GSSA) historical records, primary data and research, the competition combines geological expertise with new mathematical, machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase the number of potential drill targets across central South Australia, Unearthed says.

Buoyed by its success, the South Australia Government has allocated an additional A$5 million from the Economic and Business Growth Fund to the GSSA to flesh out the winning concepts into prospects for exploration companies to make the next big discovery, Unearthed said.

Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said he was pleased to congratulate the first prize winner, Per-OZ, for its innovative entry which brings together traditional geology, machine learning, advancing modelling, and precision drilling.

“Team Per-OZ, short for Peru/Australia, is a collaborative effort by Dr Paul Pearson from Latin Global and Dr John McLellan from GMEX who both specialise in structural geology, prospectivity analysis, data science, machine learning and modelling,” van Holst Pellekaan said.

“The judging panel chose the solution presented by Per-OZ as the best overall submission due to their unique methodology which could help geologists in the field find that needle in the haystack. Their unique approach may put us one step closer to uncovering new economic mineral deposits in one of the most significant iron oxide copper-gold regions in the world.”

He added: “By looking at traditional geology with techniques from other disciplines, we can peer into the depths of the earth in a new way, and might just uncover the next Olympic Dam or Carrapateena.”

The Minister for Energy and Mining added that the competition drew around 2,200 data specialists from more than 100 countries to interrogate massive holdings of new and historical data held by the GSSA across the Gawler Craton.

“Globally, it’s becoming harder to find new mineral deposits, and the next generation of discoveries will need to go beyond traditional geology,” he said.

“The analysis of this information treasure trove by data and geoscientists in just five months is an amazing leap forward in the use of artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and alternative mathematical data analysis for the mining sector.

“The GSSA will use this new funding to develop, validate, and deliver publicly available Next Generation Mineral Systems maps for explorers.”

Unearthed Solutions Director, Justin Strharsky (pictured), said “ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge is a clear demonstration of the South Australian industry’s commitment to harnessing the power of data.

“The world is more interconnected than ever, and the Gawler Challenge has shown that the future will be shaped by those who embrace innovation and collaboration. South Australia is set to reap huge economic benefits and is sending a positive, forward-thinking message to students and international investors that this is where the future lays.

“All mineral targets, models and data will be made publicly available to encourage companies to explore for new deposits in the Gawler region, reinforcing South Australia’s reputation as the centre of mining excellence and innovation in Australia,” he said.

The category winners for ExploreSA: The Gawler Challenge are:
• Overall Winning Submission Per-OZ (A$100,000 prize);
• Runner Up Caldera Analytics (A$50,000 prize);
• Undercover Award DeMIST (A$15,000 prize);
• Rock Licker Award Jack Maughan (A$15,000 prize);
• Future Data Award Sam Bost (A$15,000 prize);
• Breaking New Ground Award Avant Data Solutions (A$15,000 prize); and
• Student Prize Sparveon (A$20,000 prize)

Unearthed Solutions has compiled all targets generated by the challenge into an interactive map, which can be found on the Unearthed website from 16 September 2020.

Monadelphous expands BHP relationship with iron ore, coal, Olympic Dam work

A month after securing several major contracts with BHP, Monadelphous Group has announced another series of works packages with the major miner that come with a combined value of around A$120 million ($87 million).

Two of the construction and maintenance contracts were awarded under its WAIO Asset Panel Framework Agreement with BHP.

This includes a contract to provide structural, mechanical and electrical upgrades at the Newman Hub site in the Pilbara of Western Australia, where work will commence immediately and is expected to be completed before the end of 2021.

The second agreement is at BHP’s Jimblebar iron ore mine site, in Newman, where the company will be dewatering surplus water from the operation.

In addition, Monadelphous has entered into the Olympic Dam Asset Projects Framework Agreement with BHP to provide multi-disciplinary construction services at the Olympic Dam copper mine, in South Australia (pictured). The first contract secured under this agreement is for the supply and construction of acid storage tanks and connection to the existing operating acid plant.

Finally, the company’s Maintenance and Industrial Services division has been awarded a contract to undertake a major dragline shutdown for BHP Mitsubishi Alliance at its Saraji coal mine, located near Dysart, Queensland. The work will be completed by the end of December 2020.

Last month, Monadelphous’ latest construction and maintenance contract awards from BHP included a contract for the supply and installation of the Jimblebar Transfer Station project, and a contract for the refurbishment of Car Dumper 3 at Nelson Point, Port Hedland.

Adbri wins cement, lime contract extension from BHP for Olympic Dam

Adelaide-based Adbri says it has won a four-year contract extension from BHP to keep supplying cement and lime to its Olympic Dam polymetallic operation in South Australia.

The aggregate value of the contract represents approximately A$160 million ($117 million) in revenue for the group over the full six-year term, it said.

Adbri, which has 160 plants and facilities across Australia, says the extension is in line with the existing contract terms and runs through to mid-2026, marking a 20-year supply relationship with BHP.

Adbri CEO, Nick Miller, said: “We are pleased to extend our long-term relationship with BHP at its Olympic Dam project, which demonstrates the strength of our integrated cement and lime position as well as our high quality and cost competitive product offering.

“We thank BHP for supporting a home-grown manufacturer over an imported product which protects local jobs and benefits the broader South Australian economy.”

SIMEC’s Whyalla Port doubles handling capacity as it prepares for miner influx

SIMEC and port operator Qube have, SIMEC says, demonstrated their long-term commitment to the Whyalla Port operations in South Australia with the installation of a second Mobile Harbour Crane (MHC), doubling the port’s handling capacity.

The state-of-the-art port handling equipment complements Qube’s existing crane, which was delivered in 2019. It can handle the import/export of a variety of commodities, mining consumables and project-based equipment, according to SIMEC.

The doubling of handling capacity will make Whyalla Port one of the most competitive ports in the region, according to SIMEC, further enhancing its appeal to “third parties seeking a capable and competitive operation through which to transport their materials”, it said.

The second MHC is expected to be operational within the next three months, with a reach of 54 m and capacity up to 144 t, making it capable of handling bulk, containerised and project cargo shipments.

SIMEC Mining Executive Managing Director, Matt Reed, said the new crane was testament to Whyalla as a strong industrial gateway for South Australia.

“Since opening the port to third-party operators, we have seen it become an integral part of supply chains across South Australia,” he said. “With the additional investment from Qube, we expect activity at the port to continue to grow even further.

“Qube have been a fantastic partner in the port, supporting our existing steel and port operations while helping us realise the potential of this state-significant asset. Their team have been extremely professional, delivering high levels of safety and environmental performance.”

According to Qube Bulk Director, Todd Emmert, Qube sees Whyalla as the most logical port to service South Australia’s mining industry.

“With two mobile harbour cranes, this port rivals the service levels that that are currently available in Adelaide,” Emmert said. “Economic port operations, combined with the very significant cost savings that can be achieved by reducing the distance required to rail or haul products, makes Whyalla a local choice for miners who want to build and deliver robust and economic supply chains.”

Back in June, OZ Minerals became the first company to sign a long-term port services contract with SIMEC Mining’s Whyalla Port, with the miner looking to use the facility to ship copper concentrate from its Carrapateena mine.

GR Engineering comes up with cost savings at Boss’ Honeymoon uranium project

GR Engineering Services has reviewed the latest technical optimisation studies related to the restart of the Honeymoon uranium mine, in South Australia, and come up with capital expenditure savings of $6.3 million for owner Boss Resources.

Following the release of the feasibility study in January 2020, Boss embarked on technical optimisation studies which included completion of an identified ion exchange (IX) process detail design and testing, undertaken with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

The January feasibility study highlighted a capital expenditure of $63.2 million (excluding offsite power provider upgrades) to build the two-stage mine. Stage 1 consisted of refurbishing the existing solvent extraction plant with process improvement to a capacity of 880,000 Ib/y of U308 equivalent, while Stage 2 involved adding an IX circuit to achieve annual production of 2 Mlb/y. This also estimated an average all-in cost of $32.3/lb U308 over the life of mine.

The IX process optimisation program with ANSTO aimed to remove the requirement for solution heating in the elution of uranium from the IX resin. Power input to the elution process necessitated upgrades to the transmission line to service Honeymoon with grid power from Broken Hill, 80 km southeast of the mine.

Boss devised a series of tests in consultation with ANSTO to study the effect of ambient temperature on both the conversion and elution performance, with the conversion work indicating an ambient temperature process could achieve the required conversion performance within the timeframe in the process design.

Furthermore, a 45% reduction in reagent concentration in the conversion process had a negligible effect on conversion performance and offered significant reagent savings, Boss noted.

Test work on the elution process was also successful, the company said. “While there is a small difference in the eluant requirement to achieve complete elution of the resin, there is sufficient capacity in the elution circuit as designed to achieve this without impacting the downstream processes, while facilitating significant energy savings,” it explained.

The remainder of the program aimed to provide additional information to allow detailed equipment design for IX adsorption and elution processes. As a result of this work, Boss made additional changes to the resin sulphation and regeneration processes, which could represent additional cost savings.

Boss commissioned GR Engineering to evaluate the cost implications of the above work on the feasibility study results, initially on a +/- 25% basis, with initial results confirming a capital expenditure reduction of $6.3 million owing to the reduction in heating and insulation requirements for the elution circuit and reagent make up systems, and the reduced transmission line upgrade costs.

Additionally, the engineering company identified the reduction in electricity costs alone represented an operating cost saving of $2.4 million/y, equating to $1.22/lb U308 equivalent.

GR Engineering is now undertaking an evaluation of the operating cost implications of these changes in Stage 2 operations over the life of the overall operation considered in the feasibility study.

“Boss designed the feasibility study to fast-track production from Honeymoon’s existing solvent extraction plant within a 12-month period, following a decision to mine, to capitalise on any improved market fundamentals,” the company said.

It plans to increase production to 2 Mlb/y U308 equivalent through the addition of the IX plant, which will take around 20 months to design, construct and commission.

Boss Resources Managing Director and CEO, Duncan Craib, said: “Boss continues to work on opportunities to optimise Honeymoon as a first-mover uranium restart operation – this outstanding IX test work result is one example.

“We will continue working towards net present value accretive technical advancements and revising estimates contained within the January 2020 feasibility study, strengthening Honeymoon’s potential to be one of the lowest cost uranium producers globally.”

Following these initial results, Boss plans to incorporate these optimisations into a revised feasibility study level estimate for the Honeymoon restart which will also incorporate other initiatives including the conversion of the current solvent extraction infrastructure to a NIMCIX IX system, Boss said.

In parallel, Boss’s exploration team is completing a comprehensive desktop review of the extensive historical exploration database information to define new uranium exploration targets.

“With financial support from the South Australian government to utilise innovative uranium geophysical exploration techniques, exploration is focusing on expansions to known uranium discoveries to increase Honeymoon’s production profile distal to existing JORC mineral resources (total 71.6 Mlb U308),” the company said.

It is envisaged that these new mineralised target areas will form the basis of a study to assess and define Stage 3 production ramp up to produce more than 3 Mlb/y U308 equivalent, Boss said.

BHP Olympic Dam looks for value in SciDev wastewater treatment solution

SciDev has received a trial purchase order for its MaxiFlox chemistry from BHP’s Olympic Dam polymetallic mine, in South Australia, which will see the company transfer its waste processing expertise to the production side, Lewis Utting says.

Australia’s largest copper operation, Olympic Dam operates a fully integrated processing facility from ore to metal.

The SciDev trial, which includes an initial A$1 million ($717,526) purchase order for the MaxiFlox chemistry, reflecting about three months of consumption, is expected to start by the end of the year and last around six months. It will focus on the use of SciDev’s chemistries in the hydromet and concentrator sections of the processing plant, SciDev said.

SciDev’s South Australia-based staff will be on site to deliver the associated professional services.

SciDev Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Lewis Utting, said the order represented a significant opportunity for SciDev.

“The opportunity to transfer our chemistry and knowhow from the waste processing side directly to the production side of a mining operation reflects the potential for the company’s bespoke chemistries,” he said.

The Olympic Dam mine produced 171,600 t of copper cathode in the year to June 30, 2020, 7% higher than the same period a year earlier, alongside 145,972 oz of refined gold, 984,000 oz of silver and 3,678 t of uranium (all of which was from a concentrate).

MaxiFlox, meanwhile, is specifically designed for the treatment of wastewater across several industries, SciDev says. Products in the MaxiFlox range are supplied in both liquid and powder form across an extensive range of molecular weights and charge densities to solve industrial challenges.

The MaxiFlox chemistries are also being used in the tailings thickener at the Las Bambas copper mine, in Peru, following a trial purchase order from mine owner MMG.

OZ Minerals eyes up block cave opportunities at Carrapateena underground mine

A prefeasibility study on an expansion of OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena copper-gold underground mine, in South Australia, has indicated a block cave conversion in the lower portion of the Carrapateena resource has the potential to almost double average production from 2026.

It is these results, plus the potential Block Cave 1 and Block Cave 2 expansion net present value of circa-A$770 million ($534 million) at final investment decision in 2023, that has seen the company confirm it will progress the plan to feasibility study stage, with the Carrapateena Block Cave Expansion Feasibility Study Stage 1 report expected before the end of 2021.

The PFS plan includes the potential to transition to dry-stacked tailings to reduce reliance on groundwater resources and a trial of electric light vehicles and establishment of a renewable energy hub – both of which are aligned with OZ Minerals’ strategy and aspirations, OZ Minerals Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Cole, said.

Carrapateena produced first concentrate in December 2019 following a three-year construction period and is targeting a 12-month ramp-up period to achieve a production rate of 4.25 Mt/y by the end of this year.

Currently an underground sub-level cave operation with an estimated mine life of 20 years, the latest study, which comes with a A$1.2-1.3 billion capital expenditure bill shows the potential for a future expansion of the bottom half of the operation into a series of block caves.

Cole said: “The prefeasibility study analysed the whole Carrapateena Province and determined that replacing the lower half of the current sub-level cave with a block cave and expanding the expected annual throughput rate from 4.7-5 Mt/y (currently planned from 2023) to 12 Mt/y, has the potential to create significantly more value than the sub-level cave alone.”

He said the block cave would leverage existing underground infrastructure, supported by expanded surface processing capability.

OZ Minerals added: “The proposed block cave is different from previous Carrapateena block cave studies as it targets a smaller, higher-grade footprint in BC1 (block cave one) with 600 m height of draw, followed by a lower-grade BC2 (block cave 2) with 400 m height of draw. The Carrapateena block cave builds on modern block caving experience, and aims to deliver an automated, electrified, data-driven mine with technology embedded in the design.”

The conversion to block cave operations enables a series of future add-on block caves, all of which were considered in the Life of Province scoping study, Cole added.

The plan could see annual production double to around 110,000–120,000 t of copper and 110,000–120,000 oz of gold from 2026, with life of mine all-in sustaining costs of some $0.75-0.85 c/lb ($1,654-1,874/t), he said.

Key upgrades to underground infrastructure include faster conveying systems with improved utilisation and a larger crusher station three for the block cave with increased capacity over that required for the sub-level cave.

An additional primary ventilation fan and circuit will be required for the transition period from sub-level cave to block cave before a reduction in the mine’s ventilation requirements for the life of mine, the company added.

The prefeasibility study currently recommends the process plant upgrade to 12 Mt/y via a parallel processing circuit to minimise brownfield interfaces and introduce energy load scheduling via the vertical roller mill as the primary surface crushing option, OZ Minerals said.

“The parallel process plant approach also allows both plants to be run independently, and for mine production to continue during plant shutdown periods,” the company said.

However, pivoting back to a traditional SAG/ball grinding circuit in the parallel process plant or tertiary crushing, to increase sub-level cave process plant throughput, will remain as options until final detailed design, OZ Minerals explained. This will not have a material impact on project value and allow time for optimisation of the current sub-level cave process plant before a final decision, it added.

BHP to bolster Australia workforce with new short-term hires

BHP says it is to hire 1,500 additional people to support its workforce operating across Australia.

The 1,500 jobs will be offered as six-month contracts and cover a range of skills needed by BHP operations in the short term, it said. These jobs will support and bolster its existing workforce during a difficult time when the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.

Yesterday, the company said it was accelerating payment of outstanding invoices and the reduction of payment terms for its small business partners and regional communities in Australia in response to the outbreak.

The roles will include machinery and production operators, truck and ancillary equipment drivers, excavator operators, diesel mechanics boilermakers, trades assistants, electricians, cleaners and warehousing roles across BHP’s coal, iron ore and copper operations in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The jobs will be offered through existing labour hire partners and BHP contracts in each state, it said.

Following the initial six-month contract, BHP will look to offer permanent roles for some of these jobs. BHP will continue to assess this program and may increase the number of jobs available, it added.

BHP Acting Minerals Australia President, Edgar Basto, said supporting the company’s employees, communities and partners, safely, is the highest priority.

“As part of BHP’s social distancing measures we are introducing more small teams with critical skills to work dynamically across different shifts,” he said.

“The government has said that resources industry is vital in Australia’s response to the global pandemic. We are stepping up and providing jobs and contracts. Our suppliers, large and small, play a critical role in supporting our operations. It is a tough time for our communities and the economy. We must look out for each other as we manage through this together.”