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The CSIRO claims it can cut costs for copper miners by virtue of a new ore sorting analyser it’s developed.

Taking advantage of magnetic resonance technology, the analyser rapidly identifies ore grade so that large volumes of waste rock (gangue) can be rejected before it enters the plant, significantly reducing the amount of energy and water needed for processing, CSIRO said in a statement.

The analyser is available to the international copper market through NextOre, a new company created by RFC Ambrian, Advisian Digital and CSIRO.

“Bringing the analyser to market through NextOre opens up the opportunity to transform the global copper industry and reduce its environmental footprint,” CSIRO research director Nick Cutmore said.

“NextOre has identified 59 mature copper mine sites where the analyser could be applied to extend their life, capturing 35 per cent of global copper production.

“The solution could also enable undeveloped, low grade mines to be brought into production, so the economic benefits are huge.”

By illuminating batches of ore with short pulses of radio waves, magnetic resonance penetrates through copper ores – much like medical MRI ‘sees into’ human bodies – to rapidly and accurately detect ore grade.

It has an advantage over other ore sorting analysers that can often only go “skin deep” to detect mineral particles on the surface of ore, producing less reliable results.

While the productivity benefits vary depending on the characteristics of the orebody, the analyser has the potential to more than double average ore grades once sorted.

It could represent as much as a 20 per cent reduction in processing costs in some copper mines.

In its first year, NextOre will focus its efforts on engaging the South American and Canadian market.

“Contracts have been secured to provide magnetic resonance analysers to three companies, including two top-tier producers, in the coming financial year,” NextOre CEO Chris Beal said.

“We are providing full ore sorting solutions, including technical and engineering advice, to move from concept to site trials and final implementation.”

In addition to copper, the magnetic resonance analyser can be applied to gold and iron-bearing ores.

NextOre is another recent commercialisation success story for CSIRO and RFC Ambrian, who together established Chrysos Corporation in late-2016 to market an x-ray-based gold analysis solution.

MRI for mining to sort our copper waste
Gladstone Ports Corporation’s (GPC) trade performance remained strong during 2017/18, despite challenging conditions.

Together, the Corporation’s three port precincts handled more than 120.2 million tonne (Mt) of product, nearly 1Mt shy of last year’s figures.

GPC Chairman Leo Zussino said the Port of Gladstone recorded a throughput of 119.3Mt, led by coal, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and alumina-related exports.

“67.1Mt of coal exports were facilitated by the Port of Gladstone, with rail disruptions impacting supply to the port earlier this year,” Mr Zussino said.

“Curtis Island exports also continued to grow, with 20.3Mt of LNG transported to Asia.”

565,637 tonnes of product was handled at the Port of Bundaberg during 2017/18.

“Increased silica sand and wood pellet exports have set the foundation for future growth at the port,” Mr Zussino said.

“Curtis Island exports also continued to grow, with 20.3Mt of LNG transported to Asia.”

565,637 tonnes of product was handled at the Port of Bundaberg during 2017/18.

“Increased silica sand and wood pellet exports have set the foundation for future growth at the port,” Mr Zussino said.

“The Knauf plasterboard manufacturing facility has also contributed to significant import growth in gypsum.”

Ammonium nitrate was the major driver of trade at the Port of Rockhampton.

The port recorded 255,254 tonnes of product during 2017/18; its largest throughput since 2014.

Gladstone Port turns in another good year
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) has completed its initial response to the discovery of PFAS at the Port of Mackay with the latest water quality test results showing the risk posed by PFAS at the port remains low.

PFAS, or Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances are manufactured chemicals used in products that resist heat, oil, stains and water.

Once the low-level concentrations of PFAS (which represented a low risk to human health) were detected in late 2017, NQBP immediately started working with Queensland government departments and independent experts on the next steps to address this matter.

Surface water readings from areas surrounding the port, such as the Marina and Vines Creek, continue to meet the Commonwealth Department of Health’s drinking and recreational guidelines.

NQBP Acting CEO Brendan Webb said these latest water test results continue to be encouraging.

“Water quality samples taken in and around the port show PFAS concentrations are decreasing as groundwater moves away from the port,” Mr Webb said.

“The latest round of groundwater tests at the port show only one exceedance of guideline values. However, this is considered to be low risk as no groundwater at the port is used for human consumption or recreational purposes,” he said.

Mr Webb said there were no current requirements for changes to public activities such as swimming, boating or fishing, based on the latest results.

Furthermore, no restrictions have been placed on the consumption of seafood caught in or near the Port. Anyone catching and eating seafood should follow Queensland Health’s general advice to limit their consumption of seafood to two or three serves per week and source seafood from multiple locations.

In addition to water quality testing, NQBP has also conducted a survey of nearby residents to determine if they had any water bores on their properties and to ascertain if there was a need for any testing. In total, 63 properties were visited.

“While the risk posed by PFAS at the Port remains low, our ongoing work and monitoring will ensure PFAS remains well managed and risks continue to be minimised,” Mr Webb said.

“As part of our ongoing response, and in accordance with well-established practice, we now have a plan in place for further monitoring, which has been endorsed by the Queensland Government PFAS Technical Working Group.

“This plan involves collecting additional samples from surface water, groundwater and sediment and preparing a Detailed Site Investigation and Groundwater Monitoring Program.

“This next step will also determine whether further work is required and is expected to be finalised towards the end of 2018.”

Mr Webb said none of NQBP’s firefighting foams contained PFAS, as these had been replaced with fluorine-free foams.

“We will continue to liaise with the community and all our stakeholders to advise of any changes to the current situation,” Mr Webb said.

“The ongoing health and wellbeing of our people, the community, and the environment remains our priority.

“We are working with Queensland Health, the Department of Environment and Science, and other experts, to ensure our response plan is best practice.”



NQ Bulk Ports' initial response to groundwater testing
Underground contractor Pybar Mining Services is heading up Red River Resources’ (RRR) expansion near Charters Towers.

The activity is focused on the Far West deposit and covers a period of seven years.

Pybar Mining Services (Pybar) is an Australian-based and owned underground mining contractor.

Development has started with the completion of the first Far West decline and the first ore for production is expected early next year.

The Thalanga Operation in north Queensland is RRR’s key asset.

RRR commenced copper, lead and zinc concentrate production at the Thalanga Operation in September 2017.

RVR was focused on maximising returns from the operation by increasing plant throughput and extending mine life through increasing mineral resources and ore reserves at deposits currently in the mine plan and by continuing to aggressively explore a growing pipeline of high quality targets within the surrounding area, said Managing Director Mel Palachian.

Pybar mines second Thalanga deposit
In a move hailed as a major step forward for the development of Cairns, dredging contractors have been invited to provide expressions of interest for the removal and placement of dredge material for the Cairns Shipping Development Project.

Subject to finalising all project approvals, Ports North plan to start work in 2019 and have the first larger cruise ship entering the upgraded channel in late 2019.

Dredging will occur over a 12-week period.

The upgrade to the Port of Cairns was vital for economic and tourism growth in Far North Queensland region said Member for Cairns, Michael Healy.

“The widening and deepening of the existing navigation channel to allow larger cruise ships to berth at the Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal would unlock other benefits,” Mr Healy said.

“The project will also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Navy base; improve access and efficiency for bulk cargo and larger visiting Navy vessels and increased resilience for the Port of Cairns against extreme weather events.”

The EOI is the first part of a two-stage process to procure a dredging contractor.

It would allow potential contractors to provide detailed capability information on typical work methods, equipment availability, company resources, management systems and local industry opportunities, said Ports North Chairman Russell Beer,

“We can then assess their capability to meet project timeframes, design parameters, strict and comprehensive environmental requirements and other project objectives,” Mr Beer said.

“The Queensland Coordinator-General granted environmental approval for this project in February,” said Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey.

EOI sought for Cairns shipping development project
Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham has put out the call for applications for $2.4 million worth of grants under the joint government-industry Collaborative Exploration Initiative.

“This initiative has generated 48 new mineralisation discoveries over the past 10 years,” he said.

“This includes Red Metal Limited’s deep drill hole, leading to the discovery of the highest lead and silver grades identified on the project to date and previously unknown copper mineralisation.

“I am confident that these grants will lead to more exciting new discoveries.”

Collaborative Exploration Initiative grants are a joint initiative between government and industry encourages explorers to look for innovative ways to make new discoveries.

Dr Lynham said the program had been changed in response to industry feedback so that  successful applicants could choose the calendar year in which their work could be delivered.

“This means Queensland’s wet season can be avoided and on-ground time maximised,” he said.

Dr Lynham said information gained as part of the initiative strengthened Queensland’s overarching geological knowledge.

“With the challenges of discovering new deposits, and at greater depths, the initiative has been expanded to support a broader range of exploration techniques, giving industry a greater range of tools to use.”

Applications will be decided and awarded before the end of this year.

Resources grants to drive new exploration