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The Civil Contractors Federation Queensland will host an information session on the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project in Townsville this month.

The free event aims to provide detailed information about the $777 million project to potentials contractors, suppliers and others interested in being involved.

Scheduled for November 17 at Mercure Townsville, it is being run in conjunction with the joint venture of McConnell Dowell Constructors and John Holland which has been appointed as EPC contractor for the delivery of the 250MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project.

The Genex Power project will convert a disused gold mine into a pumped storage hydroelectric power generation facility.

It will use the pits of the old mine, with water run from the upper to the lower pit through two turbines at times of peak power demand and pumped back during low demand to restart the cycle.

The construction involves significant underground infrastructure, including a large powerhouse cavern, and waterway shafts and tunnels to allow the transfer of water between the upper and lower reservoirs.

CCFQ Townsville briefing details:

DATE: Wednesday 17th November 2021
TIME: 9:30am – 11:00am
RSVP: Wednesday 10th November 2021
LOCATION: Mercure Townsville, 166-194 Woolcock Street Service Rd, Currajong QLD 4812
INCLUDES: Light refreshments
DRESS CODE: Business
To register for the event CLICK HERE

A list of awarded, open and upcoming work packages can be accessed on the project procurement portal HERE

Newly listed copper producer Austral Resources Australia is pushing ahead with its Anthill mine development, with first blasting scheduled mid-November.

The company is focused on ramping up production to see copper cathode coming out of its Mount Kelly plant at a rate of 10,000t per annum from mid-2022.

“It’s exciting to see that site works are proceeding as planned with bulk earthmoving to commence in January 2022 and first ore deliveries expected in April 2022,” chief executive officer Steve Tambanis said.

“Both Anthill mine development and Mount Kelly plant refurbishment are progressing to plan.

“The exploration team is being mobilised with a regional structural review and geophysical studies commencing in November 2021.”

Austral recently appointed Thiess as preferred mining services contractor for the Anthill copper project, about 80km north-west of Mount Isa.

Under the scope of work, Thiess will operate and maintain two mining fleets, undertaking mining services to support Austral’s copper production requirements.

Austral Resources operates a heap leach, solvent extraction and electrowinning (SXEW) processing facility at Mount Kelly, part of the Lady Annie operations it purchased from CST Minerals in 2019.

The company reports that site activities are building momentum across its operations, with an additional 23 personnel on site – bringing the total to 50 personnel to develop the Anthill mine and prepare key equipment at the processing plant.

Below: Clearing underway at the Anthill mine site, with a blasthole rig beginning the first shot pattern over the east pit.

Rising coal trade helped propel Australia’s resources and energy exports to about $95.9 billion last quarter, latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows.

“These latest quarterly figures show Australia’s resources are the gifts that keep on giving,” Resources Minister Keith Pitt said.

“Our resources exports continue to bring hundreds of billions of dollars into the country and keep thousands of Australians in high-value, hgh-skilled jobs – particulary in regional Australia.”

“Just as iron ore’s incredibly strong run cools, soaring demand for our coal and liquefied natural gas is fuelling a surge in export revenues.”

The value of Australia’s coal exports climbed to $16.3 billion in the 3 months to September 2021, up 80 per cent on the same period last year and 47 per cent higher than for the previous 3 months to June 2021.

Total iron ore exports were $44.4 billion in the 3 months to September 2021, which was up 48 per cent on the same period last year.

Liquefied natural gas exports were $13.9 billion for the quarter to September 2021, which was 130 per cent more than for the same period last year and 59 per cent higher than for the previous 3 months (to June 2021). 

“Total resources and energy exports were $95.9 billion for the 3 months to September 2021, which is 50 per cent higher than for the same period last year and 11 per cent higher than in the previous 3 months to June 2021,” Mr Pitt said.

“Resources exports were $332.6 billion in total for the year to September, an impressive 23 per cent higher than the previous 12 months.”

Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines is adding value by experimenting with the ball charge in the operation’s copper concentrator mills.

Mount Isa Mines metallurgy superintendent Lucian Cloete identified an opportunity to reduce overall ball consumption by 25-30 per cent by adjusting the ball load in the SAG mill and in the ball mills, with the additional benefit of reducing the power draw on the mills.

The adjustment involved a drop from 8 per cent to 6 per cent in the SAG mill and 40 per cent to 30-32 per cent in the ball mills.

“The trial was planned and implemented to maintain a constant output, while targeting an overall lower ball charge, an approach which ensures results can be measured accurately and without bias,” Mr Cloete said.

“So far, the trial has yielded promising results, with noted cost reductions and importantly no adverse impacts on production.”

The wear profile is being monitored periodically to ensure the actual media set points align with the online measurements.

Grinding in the concentrator is carried out in two stages and the first stage, Semi-Autogenous (SAG) milling, reduces the rocks from 150 millimetres to 1.5 millimetres.

The SAG mills are loaded with 105mm forged steel balls, known as media, to facilitate the grinding, with the addition of media programmed on a wear rate profile.

Ball milling further breaks the rocks down to about 0.15mm. Those mills are loaded with smaller 80mm chrome steel balls.

The site’s metallurgy team is also in the process of conducting a trial to quantify the wear profile on 105mm forged steel media when treating slag – a by-product from the copper smelter.

Glencore Queensland Metals general manager Isa processing Richard Harvey commended the initiative of the metallurgy team and encouraged others to share their continuous improvement ideas.

“I am really pleased to see the metallurgy team are seeing positive results from their trials, and look forward to seeing the long-term impact,” he said.

“Looking for opportunities to reduce operational costs, improve efficiency and simplify workflows all contribute to the sustainability of our assets.”

An innovative solution at Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) in North West Queensland has made the process of sampling more efficient as underground production drilling takes place.

The Glencore site’s sludge sampling funnel project was nominated as one of five finalists in the Innovations Awards at the Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference 2021, deferred until 2022 due to COVID-19.

It came after EHM mining engineer David Carden saw an opportunity for improvement in the underground drilling sampling process and began wondering if an appropriate engineering solution could be found.

Mine geologists often take the opportunity to carry out sampling and collect fines from the boring process as drillholes are placed for the blasts used to break up ore.

“To geologists this is affectionately known as ‘sludge drilling’ and the fines, or sludge, was manually captured via water runoff into a wheelbarrow strategically placed below the drilling carousel and under the approximate location of the water egressing from the drill hole,” Mr Carden said.

He said this process was cumbersome due to slow sampling intervals needing a high level of labour and manual handling involved between drill runs.

“That’s when the idea for the sludge funnel innovation came about – instead of run-off indiscriminately splashing across the drill site, the inverted-pyramid shaped funnel captures the water and fines at the drill hole,” he said.

“It then channels the drill fines and water via a port and connected piping to a nearby container for collection.”

“The funnel is quite simple and easily installs to the drill rig stinger using a single U-bolt and it has a cam lock so it can be connected, dismantled and transported.”

“This increases the integrity of the sample and reduces the time required to capture enough fines to undertake testing.”

EHM senior geologist Chloe Hawtin said the innovation reduced the risk of personnel being exposed to rotating equipment and hazards associated with stored energy and mobile equipment. It also curbed exposure to mine water and drilling fluids.

“It removes our people from the line of fire when collecting samples by allowing them to move further away from the drill and decreases the amount of water falling on the ground which, in turn, reduces the risk of trips, slips, and falls,” she said

“The sludge box has also allowed the guys to reduce the amount of manual handling when they are collecting samples.

“Innovations like these are testament to the ongoing drive for improvement across Glencore’s mining operations – with no doubt that many more are still to come.”

Resources Minister Scott Stewart is hailing the recommissioning of Rocklands mine by Copper Resources Australia as an economic boost for the entire North West.

Mining is starting this month, with the revived Cloncurry copper operation supporting 150 jobs.

“Bringing the Rocklands mine back online is great news not only for the jobs it creates but also for the flow-on effects it will bring for businesses in Cloncurry and around the North West,” Mr Stewart said.

“The Palaszczuk Government has shown it is serious about the North West Minerals Province by backing investment and infrastructure for the region and this latest investment by Copper Resources Australia is further proof that investors are recognising the potential too.”

Located 20km west of Cloncurry, the Rocklands mine was put into receivership in 2019 after the collapse of its owner CuDeco Limited.

Copper Resources Australia took over the mine in June and has worked quickly to get the project back into production.

Chief executive officer Stewart Robinson said that, despite the challenges of recommissioning a plant during a global pandemic, the team had achieved numerous milestones in the last six months.

“There have been more than 85 permanent appointments made and up to 30 contractors per day who are assisting with specialised re-commissioning tasks, with employment set to peak at about 150 in coming months,” he said.

“The quality of staff available in Queensland, despite the COVID-19 crisis has been world class and the team have focused on reorganising and streamlining the process plant resulting in copper production that is considerably more cost effective.”

Meanwhile a three-way agreement has been signed between the Palaszczuk Government, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and the University of Queensland to examine whether cobalt can be retrieved from tailings dams, with Rocklands the site for the trial.

The collaborative study will see samples from the tailings of Copper Resources Australia’s Rocklands copper mine studied at the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute and at JOGMEC’s laboratories in Japan.