Tag Archives: Western Australia

Wiluna Mining lays renewable energy groundwork with Contract Power extension

Wiluna Mining Corp has signed a 10-year contract extension with Contract Power Group that will see the power provider charge up the Wiluna Mining Operation in Western Australia until at least 2031.

The contract is geared towards meeting the forward needs of the Stage 1 development project at Wiluna, to provide a total rated power output of the power station of 14.1 MW. It will also re-configure the power station to increase gas generation and add a 2 MW battery energy storage unit to significantly reduce the need for back-up diesel generation, with four diesel generators being removed.

The new pact will also allow amortisation of costs over a longer period, therefore reducing Wiluna’s overall operating power charges; the company said.

And, when it comes to the Stage 2 development expansion project in 2023 at Wiluna, the contract will provide a solid base for a future mixed renewables power station, the company said.

Back in October, Wiluna Mining’s board gave the thumbs up to the Stage 1 development, which will see the company transition from its current production profile of producing 62,000 oz/y from mining free milling ore through the current 2.1 Mt/y carbon-in-leach processing facility, to initially producing 100,000-120,000 oz/y of gold and gold in concentrate. This will be implemented using the current, recently refurbished crushing circuit, the previously expanded mill circuit and a new 750,000 t/y concentrator by October 2021, the company said.

Wiluna then intends to increase production of gold and gold in concentrate by, at a minimum, doubling the mining rate and the concentrator to produce circa-250,000 oz/y by the end of 2023/early 2024 as part of Stage 2.

Contract Power, a subsidiary of Pacific Energy, has provided Wiluna’s power – a mix of natural gas and diesel power backup – since June 2016.

“Contract Power Group are experts in efficient generation of electrical power and in decarbonisation by harnessing off-grid wind or solar power,” Wiluna said. “Wiluna are refining its plans with Contract Power Group to include decarbonisation within our methods of power generation at site. This may also moderate our exposure to future volatility in the cost of hydrocarbon fuels.”

Wiluna will now focus on renewable power studies and options during 2021 and 2022 to:

  • Assess the right mix of renewables including solar, wind or pumped storage options;
  • Determine how best to integrate renewables into the total power delivery for an expanded operation; and
  • Optimise the decarbonisation of power generation with reliability and cost effectiveness.

Milan Jerkovic, Wiluna Mining’s Executive Chair, said: “We look forward to working with Contract Power to not only transitioning the Wiluna Mine once again into one of Australia’s biggest and most profitable gold mines, but to helping it become one of Australia’s cleanest mines.”

BCI Minerals signs up WHBO Infrastructure, Engenium for Mardie work

BCI Minerals Limited has confirmed around A$90 million ($68 million) of contract awards for its Mardie Salt & Potash project, in Western Australia, ahead of a final investment decision (FID).

The initial earthworks contract has been awarded to WBHO Infrastructure, a contractor with a long history of project delivery excellence in large civil construction projects and a strong presence in Western Australia.

The contract includes initial construction of the large-scale trial pond scheduled to commence in April, as well as construction of evaporation ponds 1 and 2, on terms aligned with definitive feasibility study (DFS) budget assumptions once the FID is achieved and required tenure and approvals are in place. The total earthworks volume in this scope is approximately 800,000 cu.m over an area of 24 sq.km.

Engenium, the successful tenderer for the Project Management Contractor role, is a Western Australian company with offices in Perth and Karratha. Engenium, which recently signed a letter of intent that could see it acquired by Stantec, was selected for its local and experienced team, proven track record in project delivery and construction management, excellent health and safety record and pricing within the DFS budget, BCI said.

“The PMC is an important contract in the overall execution of the Mardie project which will see Engenium manage the construction program through the provision of people and systems as an extension of the BCI owners’ team,” it said. “Engagement of Engenium on a staged basis will also support BCI to achieve construction-ready status ahead of main construction commencing in the second half of 2021.”

Various smaller contracts covering accommodation village expansion, minor earthworks, site surveys, communications, water supply, fuel storage and supply as well as the Karratha office fit-out have also been awarded this year. These works are all underway with Pilbara-based contractors expanding Mardie village and fitting-out the Karratha office and local indigenous companies carrying out aboriginal heritage surveys and minor earthworks.

BCI’s Managing Director, Alwyn Vorster, said: “The award of the initial earthworks contract, in particular, represents a key milestone in BCI’s progress toward main construction and demonstrates board confidence in Mardie’s development pathway. These contracts will be initially funded from BCI’s healthy cash balance and strong Iron Valley royalty income.”

The Mardie DFS outcomes indicated that the production of 4.4 Mt/y of high purity salt and 120,000 t/y of premium sulphate of potash (SOP) fertiliser was technically and financially viable. The total capital cost came in at A$779 million and the pre-tax net present value (7% discount) was A$1.197 billion.

A FID by the BCI Board is targeted in the June quarter, which will be followed by completion of the funding task. Construction could commence in mid-2021, which will allow for first salt sales in 2024 and first SOP sales in 2025, the company says.

Alliance Aviation wins two-year contract extension from BHP

Alliance Aviation Services has announced an extension of the air charter services agreement with BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division for a further two years.

This extension, Alliance says, is further evidence of Alliance’s reputation of outstanding customer retention with the extension solidifying the relationship that started with the first flight for BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore division in 2009.

BHP WAIO is an integrated system of four processing hubs and five mines connected by more than 1,000 km of rail infrastructure and port facilities in the Pilbara region of northern Western Australia.

Lee Schofield, Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Alliance is delighted to be continuing the provision of these charter services into the Pilbara. Our commitment to safety and providing our clients with industry leading on time performance has played a significant role in being awarded this extension. We look forward to continuing our exceptional safety and operational record for BHP.”

Austmine to offer ‘complete’ industry access to conference and exhibition

Austmine is ensuring all participants from the Australian and international resources sector can gain access to the upcoming Austmine Conference and Exhibition in Perth, Western Australia, irrespective of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The mining equipment, technology and services industry organisation is hosting its conference and exhibition from May 25-27, with expectations it will be one of the largest gatherings of the industry since COVID-19 emerged.

Austmine CEO, Christine Gibbs Stewart, said Austmine knows how important this event is to the industry and wants to ensure everyone is able to get complete access, even in these uncertain times.

“To make sure no one misses out, if borders close in your state during the conference, we will be providing an alternate conference experience virtually that will give you access to view and engage with the conference from your home or office,” Gibbs Stewart said.

“We understand virtual attendance is not quite the same as getting to experience the in-room atmosphere and opportunity for conversation and collaboration, which is why we are giving 25% refunds to all who are pushed to join virtually due to border restrictions.

“We are, however, encouraging everyone to purchase full-access tickets to Austmine 2021 to embrace the full experience as we hear from industry experts and explore the importance of optimising our technology, processes and collaboration across the industry.

“We are really conscious of the unprecedented times we face, and although travel is opening up and restrictions are easing, we are wanting to implement a solution ahead of time should any further restrictions arise.”

More than 80 exhibiting companies will attend the 2021 conference, along with a line-up of world-class speakers, interactive workshops, educational and networking opportunities, live demonstrations, the collaborative Ideas Exchange, Meet the Miners and the Austmine Industry Leaders’ Dinner and Awards, Austmine says.

International Mining is a media sponsor of Austmine 2021

Panoramic, Primero and Barminco get to work on restarting Savannah nickel operation

Panoramic Resources Ltd, after a 12-month review process, has approved the restart of the Savannah Nickel Operation, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The decision hinges on a 12-year mine life with an average annual production target of 9,072 t of nickel, 4,683 t of copper and 676 t cobalt in concentrate; as well as an offtake agreement with Trafigura that will also see the trading company provide a loan facility of up to A$45 million to cover the A$41 million of upfront capital cost required to restart the mine.

Savannah is set to operate at average site all-in costs of A$6.36/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits and royalty payments. This equates to roughly $4.86/Ib or $10,714/t.

Savannah, with more than A$100 million already invested, has been maintained since the suspension of operations in April 2020 with a view towards operational readiness and project optimisation. This includes the recent completion of the FAR#3 ventilation raise, underground capital development on four mining levels at Savannah North and ancillary capital works on surface and underground infrastructure, which are currently being completed, Panoramic said.

The restart decision has led to divisions of Perenti and NRW Holdings being awarded significant contracts related to the resumption of mining activities.

Barminco, a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, has been awarded a four-year underground mining contract under a binding letter of intent and is scheduled to mobilise to site in July 2021. The contract will be serviced by new underground mining equipment including the use of tele-remote mining equipment, expected to deliver both safety and productivity benefits, Panoramic said.

The contractor was formally awarded the A$200 million contract back in February.

“Based on Barminco’s previous working knowledge at Savannah, opportunities to increase ore production and reduce dilution have also been identified,” the company added, explaining that underground mining is planned to commence in August, with ore to initially be sourced from both the Savannah and the Savannah North deposits.

Following an evaluation of an owner-operator model for the processing plant and a competitive contract tender process, Panoramic has also signed a non-binding letter of intent worth A$35 million with Primero (owned by NRW Holdings), which envisages a three-year agreement. The agreement relates to all processing and maintenance work at the Savannah processing plant, which has been maintained in “excellent condition” during the suspension, Panoramic said.

“A number of opportunities for improved recoveries through enhanced operating practices and minor capital projects have been identified,” the company added. As a result, the non-binding letter of intent with Primero has been structured to incentivise achieving higher than budget recoveries.

Panoramic is working with Primero to complete a binding contract in the coming months, but ore processing is set to restart in November 2021, allowing ore stockpiles to build for around three months (100,000 t) to de-risk ore supply issues.

The process plant at Savannah was commissioned in August 2004 and comprises a single stage crusher, SAG mill, flotation, thickening and filtering stages to produce a bulk nickel, copper, cobalt concentrate. Over the 2004 to 2016 initial operating period, metallurgical recoveries averaged 86-89% for nickel, 94-97% for copper and 89-92% for cobalt. The plant was originally designed for a throughput of 750,000 t/y, but consistently outperformed the design specifications with rates exceeding 1 Mt on an annualised basis, Panoramic said.

First concentrate shipment from the Wyndham Port is targeted for December 2021.

Red 5 taps Zenith Energy for hybrid power options at King of the Hills gold project

Red 5 Ltd has entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with a subsidiary of Zenith Energy Ltd that will see the growing Australia-based power producer build, own and operate approximately 30 MW of hybrid power generation capacity to service the needs of the King of the Hills (KOTH) project in Western Australia.

The power inputs as part of the BOO agreement comprise high efficiency reciprocating gas fuel power generation together with a 2 MW photovoltaic solar farm (an example from Zenith’s other work shown above) and a battery energy storage system.

Power supply to the site is planned to commence in the March quarter of 2022 with an initial term of 10 years. The contract includes provision for a potential future upgrade to the power station to support increased plant throughput beyond the initial planned 4 Mt/y run rate, Red 5 says.

Gas will be supplied from the Goldfields Gas Pipeline, 12 km west of the mine, under separate contracts, the company clarified.

Red 5 Managing Director, Mark Williams, said the award of the agreement marked another important construction milestone for the King of the Hills project while, at the same time, helping to achieve one of the company’s environmental, social and governance commitments to reduce the carbon footprint of the project.

“We are pleased to have signed the Power Purchase Agreement with Zenith, an experienced power producer which provided us with a compelling hybrid thermal and sustainable power solution that includes renewable energy,” he said. “Zenith’s combination of a gas and solar power station, supported by a battery energy storage system, provides the efficiency and stability required for the processing plant and infrastructure to enable King of the Hills to be a long-life, low-cost gold producer.”

The KOTH project is an open pit and underground gold deposit with a projected mine life of over 16 years. This could see the company produce 176,000 oz/y of gold over the first six years, according to a recent feasibility study.

MACA signs three-year extension with CITIC Pacific at Cape Preston

MACA Ltd says it has finalised the hire and maintenance contract for CITIC Pacific Mining Management at the Cape Preston Sino Iron magnetite project, 100 km southwest of Karratha in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The contract is expected to generate A$200 million ($152 million) in revenue for MACA over a 36-month term commencing in April. MACA’s work-in-hand position as of February 2021 is A$3.4 billion, the company said.

MACA CEO, Mike Sutton, said: “MACA is very pleased to continue working with CITIC Pacific Mining at the Sino Iron magnetite project, and we value the long-standing relationships we have with our clients at this pioneering mega project.

The current CPM contract was novated from Downer to MACA, following the acquisition of the Mining West business, and it’s pleasing to have now secured this three-year extension.”

In February, MACA completed the acquisition of Downer’s Mining West business, bringing with it four contracts at long-life mining assets in Western Australia, including the Cape Preston agreement.

John Holland on track at Fortescue’s Eliwana iron ore project

Infrastructure and rail company, John Holland, says it has achieved a major milestone at the Eliwana Mine and Rail project by successfully laying the final piece of 143 km of heavy haul rail track in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The track works are part of a A$130 million ($90 million) contract with Fortescue Metals Group, which will also see an extension to the existing signalling and train control systems and a traffic capacity upgrade to communication infrastructure.

When completed, the greenfield project will connect the new Eliwana iron ore mine to the existing Fortescue Hammersley Line.

The John Holland team will now focus on final destressing works for 130 km of the track, siding extension works, final grinding and correction. Final ballasting and tamping work for about 60 km of the track is on schedule. All remaining track works are to be completed by June 2021, the company said. The signalling and communication works are well ahead of schedule to be delivered by the end of 2021, it added.

John Holland Rail Delivery Manager, John Ma, said the team had worked hard to ensure the project progressed despite weather and access challenges throughout the course of construction.

“The safe unloading of the last long weld rail off the final rail train on the Eliwana project was a significant moment for us,” he said. “It’s a huge undertaking – more than 240,000 sleepers were laid as well as 400,000 t of ballast dropped with more than 12,000 welds joining the tracks together.

“Working in a remote and often volatile environment has its challenges, but I am proud that the team were able to demonstrate our capability to manage complex logistics and high-production welding facilities while enabling efficient project delivery.”

Remaining track work is scheduled to be completed by late June, while signalling construction will be complete by the end of August. Testing and integration of the track will be finalised in December.

Around 90 km west of Tom Price, the Eliwana mine celebrated the production of its first ore in December 2020. At full capacity, the mine will produce 30 Mt/y.

MinRes delivers first ore at Wonmunna iron ore project

Less than five months after breaking ground at the Wonmunna iron ore project in Western Australia, Mineral Resources Ltd has delivered first ore.

The Wonmunna operation, 80 km northwest of Newman and 360 km south of Port Hedland, was purchased from the Australian Aboriginal Mining Corporation (AAMC) in September 2020. In line with the undisclosed terms of the transaction, AAMC shareholders will receive a royalty in respect of the first 40 Mt extracted and removed from the area.

The project is set to ramp-up to its nameplate capacity of 5 Mt/y in the June quarter of 2021, but MinRes says there is potential to expand Wonmunna’s output to the designed capacity of 10 Mt/y upon the successful grant of additional approvals, at little extra capital costs.

Ore from the project will be used to underpin MinRes’ Utah Point Hub iron ore blend, which includes tonnes from its Iron Valley site. The addition of Wonmunna will help boost output from the Utah point export facility towards 14 Mt/y by the end of the December 2021 quarter, it says.

“Wonmunna’s rapid and safe development is testimony to the MRL team’s ability to deliver what others thought impossible,” the company said. “This is a great outcome not just for MRL but also for AAMC’s shareholders, who will shortly receive their first royalty cheque from Wonmunna, and the people of Western Australia as the project has created 500 jobs across the mine site and transport network.”

Salt Lake Potash nears SOP production milestone at Lake Way

Salt Lake Potash Limited remains on track for first production and sale of sulphate of potash (SOP) in the June quarter after declaring the commencement of process plant commissioning at its Lake Way project in Western Australia.

In a project update, the company said first time potassium-rich harvest salts, precipitated from lake aquifer brine, have been fed into an SOP plant in Australia.

These harvest sales were successfully fed into the feed hopper, conveyed to the surge bin, run through the lump breaker, and then into the attritioning feed tank at the front end of the process plant. This front-end plant commissioning was powered by 2 MW diesel generators, which will continue to be used to progress the process in the near term.

Over the coming weeks the utilities, conversion circuit, flotation circuits, crystallisers and dryer will all be commissioned ahead of full load commissioning and SOP production in the June quarter, it said.

Consultants from the plant designer, Wood Group, as well as vendors Veolia and Broadbent (among others) will be assisting in the commissioning process.

In the meantime, gas supply lines and the delivery station for the 10 MW power station have been fully commissioned, with “power on” scheduled for late April to support final commissioning activities and production commencement.

Lake Way is a 245,000 t/y SOP development with an expected mine life of over 20 years. Located in the Goldfields region of Western Australia, it is expected to produce a high-quality SOP fertiliser with the help of Veolia Water Technologies’ HPD® crystallisation systems, among other processes.