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There’s another mighty base metals find-to-be in northwest Queensland and Minotaur Exploration’s Andrew Woskett reckons he’s just the man to find it.

Not that he’d say it like that. Mr Woskett is humble before the science.

But what he reads in the core samples and what’s being revealed by new geophysical exploration techniques brings a prospector’s glint to the eye of this otherwise fastidious junior miner.

Minotaur bullish in pursuit of metal region's 'next big thing'

Minotaur’s Queensland acquisitions have been deliberate, located in already proven fields in the internationally acclaimed Carpentaria Mount Isa Minerals Province.

The company is currently ploughing its energies into the Eloise lease, located about 65km south-east of Cloncurry, not to be confused with, but complemented by, the strategically located Eloise mine 3km north of its recent Jericho discovery.

Eloise mine was discovered by BHP in the late ‘80s and is now owned privately by FMR Investments.

Various owners including Barminco have mined more than 11 million tonnes at 2.2 per cent copper over that period.

“It’s been a profitable mine all the way through and is continuing to operate,” Mr Woskett said.

“We do use the Eloise orebody as a template and what is gratifying and very encouraging is the fact that when you lay out the core from the Eloise mine itself and put it side-by-side with core trays from Jericho you cannot tell the difference.

“So that’s very helpful because it tells us that we’re in the right rocks; we’re in the same rocks that host the Eloise mine.

“We’re getting the same rock alteration, the same sulphides, the same mineral assemblages and, you know, eventually we’ll get the same grade.”

Minotaur management is aggressive in their pursuit and will complete more than 10,000m of diamond drilling this calendar year before the wet season starts, with the backing of joint venture partner OZ Minerals.

The project needed more validation, said Mr Woskett, in light of the potential contained within the 3.3km long anomaly.

“You could squeeze, in between many of our drill holes, an Eloise-sized ore body,” he said.

“We’ve always had a view there should be another Eloise ore body close by and we’re getting lots and lots and lots of indications that is the case, but we have not yet hit the sweet spot.”

Minotaur is backing its confidence in the region with further investment and recently bought a 750sq km lease 50km east of Mount Isa, just north of the Camooweal Highway.

While they need to employ all the investigative power that geophysics can bring to the game in the south, the new holding – previously owned by Syndicated Metals as its Mount Remarkable project – has outcrop yielding 2.2 per cent copper, meaning rock exposures make it easier to locate drill targets.

Minotaur also owns another lease south of Cannington that shows promise.

“We’re in fact looking right now for another Cannington, just to its south,” Mr Woskett said.

“Just last week (August) we completed a 30-odd line kilometre ground EM survey … looking for conductors that might be suggestive of a Cannington-style event.

“I mean Cannington was a great story. The very first drill hole into this big magnetic anomaly (and) bang, hit the ore body.

“That’s what we’d like to do. Something like that would be fine, thank you.”
The Isaac Plains complex is delivering dividends for Stanmore Coal shareholders, crowning a triumphant turnaround tale for an asset previously mothballed.

In the space of about two years Stanmore has built the Moranbah coal project’s mine life from about two years to at least 15 years and it turned a net profit of almost $6 million for 2017/18.

Stanmore stretches it Bowen Basin Base

It is another example of recent success in a buoyant coal market, which has fuelled investment in Bowen Basin operations and seen a spike in jobs growth.

But Stanmore Coal managing director Dan Clifford also points to the role of tactics and discipline in reaching this point, saying the company has been able to contain or drive production costs down in an environment where others in the Bowen Basin faced cost increases.

He also stresses the importance to mining communities of having a sustainable, nonvolatile local industry where there is some consistency and success.

“Boom and bust is damaging and I think we are showing in the way we invest and the way we are running our company that we won’t be a part of those booms and busts – we will be looking for a path straight through it,” Mr Clifford said.

Isaac Plains was in care and maintenance when Stanmore Coal bought the coking coal asset from Vale and Sumitomo Corporation in 2015.

As well as bringing Isaac Plains back online, the new owners began producing coal in August from the satellite Isaac Plains East pit.

That resource has taken the operation’s expected mine life to eight years and the nearby Wotonga South tenement purchased from Peabody Australia in June stretches it beyond 15 years.

But there is further potential for growth on the horizon.

A bankable feasibility study is due for completion in September on the proposed Isaac Plains Underground operation and Mr Clifford said Stanmore would make an investment decision this fi nancial year.

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” he said. “It’s one of the means for us to maximise throughput through our installed infrastructure onsite.

“The study is revolving around about 1.5Mtpa – so about 1 million tonnes of product. That production, should we choose to go ahead with it, on top of our current surface operations will fully feed our coal handling and prep plant.”

It would also add a further 8 to 10 years to the life of Isaac Plains, he said.

“We have also announced an exploration program on a tenement called Isaac South that has the capacity to add further life beyond that,” Mr Clifford said.

Existing operations employ 130-160 people, with Golding as mining contractor.

Mr Clifford acknowledged the industry had changed since Stanmore bought Isaac Plains at the bottom of the market.

But he believed Stanmore’s strategy of targeting strip ratio and cost structure had been the key to success.

The company was keen to grow the business through smart investment to become ‘a very relevant mid-tier producer’, Mr Clifford said.

“With the position we are in now, where we have developed a long-life resource base at the cost structures we’re talking about, to be debt free and have positive cash fl ow, we will be very opportunistic (in development, merger and acquisition activity),” he said.
Researchers from the University of Queensland School of Civil Engineering have made an engineering breakthrough that can reduce major urban bridgeworks projects from months or even years to just three days. The system has applications to mining.
 Queensland first - pre-fabricated bridges
An innovative hybrid fiberglass-concrete-steel bridge can reduce major urban bridgeworks projects from months or even years to just three days. (Courtesy of Future Timber Hub, School of Civil Engineering, University of Queensland)

It has the potential to be revolutionary not only in design but also in costs and time.

Its applications are widespread as explained here by Antony Funnell from the ABC’s Future Tense program.

It starts at the 21:50 mark of the 30 minute program.
Australian Future Energy's proposed $1 billion Gladstone Energy and Ammonia Project has gained a boost with the Queensland Co-ordinator General declaring it as a co-ordinated project.

The GEAP would see an above-ground coal-gasification located in the State Development Area in Gladstone.

Brisbane-based AFE proposes to convert 1.5 million tonnes per annum of coal to produce up to 330,000 tonnes of ammonia per annum, six to eight petajoules of synthetic natural gas per annum, and up to 96 megawatts of electrical power generated from waste gas and heat.

Construction for the project is expected to start in mid-2020 with the first ammonia production to follow in mid-2022.

Gladstone Regional Council welcomed the news that the GEAP had attracted coordinated project status, saying it could deliver up to 1000 jobs for the region.

“This project would strengthen the Gladstone region’s standing as an engine room for the nation, complementing existing and proposed projects that will generate energy via various means for many years to come,” Mayor Matt Burnett said.

“It will also create up to 1000 jobs, 800 during two years of construction and up to 200 full-time equivalent jobs for the 30-year operational period, which will represent a significant stimulus for the region’s economy.”

The Coordinator-General will now prepare the draft terms of reference for the project and invite community comment on the matters that need to be addressed by the EIS.

Boost for $1 billion Gladstone energy proposal
Mount Isa mayor Joyce McCulloch has called for strong government and private sector support to ensure northern Australia can reach its full potential.

Cr McCulloch said no growth was possible in the vast region without fundamental improvements in the “infrastructure trifecta” of energy, transport and water supply.

She said the costs and handling of the three main infrastructure essentials were the main issues constricting much-needed investment in the region.

“Government and private sector support to improve these three factors is crucial to ensuring the future viability of industry across Australia’s north, particularly for its globally renowned but maturing mining sector and its more prospective and emerging gas, agricultural and tourism upside,” Cr McCulloch said.

Her comments come ahead of a keynote address she will deliver next month at a major forum on the resource-driven development of northern and regional Australia.

The forum is part of a ‘Big Issues’ summit day at the inaugural four-day convention of the Australia Geoscience Council, being held in Adelaide from October 15 during Earth Science Week 2018.

Her comments also follow a statement this week from Queensland KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter saying that the North West Minerals Province (NWMP) must connect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) to kick off the next wave of major mining investment and jobs in the region.

Prices for large industrial customers in the NWMP ranged from $140 to $180 per megawatt hour, while those connected to the NEM paid $60 to $90 per megawatt hour, he said.

“It’s estimated that access to electricity prices at $85 to $100 per megawatt hour will make hundreds of millions of tonnes of minerals in the NWMP economically viable to mine,” Mr Katter said.

Mr Katter said major mining investment in the North West was being hampered by excessive electricity prices, and that government inaction on the issue was putting the region’s future at risk.

Cr McCulloch pointed to the just-released North West Minerals Province report, which addresses the future requirements of the copper, gold, lead and zinc regions around the city.

“That report is symptomatic of the level of focus needed to concentrate political and business wills to ensure a planned and well-orchestrated pathway to growth emerges, so that the region prospers, not wilts,” she said.

“With global commodity prices improving, there is an opportunity for renewal in northern Australia’s mining industries, but this renewal needs more efficient use of available infrastructure, improved exploration and mining approvals processes, encouraging the processing of waste material and attracting fresh resources-based capital.”

Time to tackle 'infrastructure trifecta'
Adani Mining is not seeking any taxpayer funding to kick off construction of the Carmichael project, says chief executive officer Lucas Dow.

Mr Dow was commenting as Adani announced it had submitted a conceptual operating plan to Aurizon to initiate the connection of its planned narrow gauge rail line to the existing rail network.

He said this was an important step towards starting construction of the project.

“Importantly we are not seeking any State or Federal money to kick off construction of the Carmichael project,” Mr Dow said.

“There has been a lot of misinformation and speculation that we need taxpayer money to be able to build the mine and rail. This is absolutely not the case; this project will stand on its own two feet.”

He said strong ongoing demand for coal in the Asia-Pacific region combined with the commercial competitiveness of the Carmichael mine meant the project’s economics were strong.

“Countries in Asia are developing rapidly and need energy to improve the lives of their people and provide infrastructure and services that people in the developed world take for granted,” he said. “India and other countries in South-East Asia are the target market for our coal.”

Adani Mining last wee announced it was pursuing a new rail option to reduce capital costs and move more quickly to production at its Carmichael coal project.

It plans a 200km narrow gauge line to connect the coal mine to port via the existing Aurizon network, superseding plans for a 388km standard gauge railway between the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point.

The narrow gauge rail will have an initial design capacity of 40 million tonnes per annum and Adani has flagged an initial production rate of 27.5Mtpa at Carmichael mine.

Adani’s hopes of gaining Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) backing for the 388km railway project were dashed when Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk late last year said the State Government would veto its $1 billion concessional loan application.

Carmichael project needs no propping up - Adani