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MMG’s Dugald River mine will be first cab off the rank to draw power from a new 88MW solar farm that APA Group is building at Mica Creek, Mount Isa.

APA has reached Final Investment Decision (FID) to build the 44MW first stage of the Mica Creek Solar Farm with an investment of more than $80 million.

This is underpinned by a 15-year solar offtake agreement with existing APA customer and leading zinc miner MMG Dugald River.

MMG said the solar agreement would supply the North West Queensland operation with renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint and provide cost savings once operational in early 2023.

Dugald River mine general manager Tim Akroyd said adding solar power to the mix would reduce energy related to emissions by approximately 33 percent, and allow the business to investigate options for future growth and asset planning.

“We run a 24/7 operation in a remote location under extreme weather conditions. Having multiple power sources safeguards our business so we can run without risk of interruption,” he said.

“Moving towards a low-carbon economy and reducing cost also supports our ore body extension initiatives and potential future growth options.”

The company says further emission reductions, cost savings and growth initiatives will be enabled by the $1.7 billion  CopperString2.0 transmission project to link the region to the national grid.

“We look forward to continuing our support for CopperString2.0 as a baseload energy alternative and believe the addition of renewable energy now will also be complimentary to grid connection through CopperString2.0,”Mr Akroyd said.

APA Group has entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex.

The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2023, while APA is in advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two.

APA chief executive officer and managing director Rob Wheals said the FID and solar offtake agreement with MMG reflected APA’s commitment to providing affordable, reliable and low emissions power to this minerals rich region of Queensland.

“The Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa,” Mr Wheals said.


The ground has been broken on the $300 million-plus Palms Collection development at Kewarra Beach, Cairns.

The project will create 200 jobs during construction and 300 ongoing jobs once completed, according to proponents PPNQ Developments.

FGF Developments has been contracted for the project civil works and Trinity Engineering Consultants for civil engineering.

“To finally have FGF Developments on site to get this regionally significant development underway is fantastic,” PPNQ Developments managing director Darren Halpin said.

Mr Halpin said Stage 1 of Enclave One at The Palms Collection was almost sold out and the developers were working to get Stage 2 ready for sale to meet the demand.

The Palms is set to include its own private primary school, 30ha of open space including walking and cycling trails as well as a Central Park and Amphitheatre and the Waterpark and Tourist Park with restaurants, bars, shops and clubhouse facilities.

It is being constructed on the site of the former Paradise Palms golf course.

PPNQ Developments says $34 million will be injected into the local economy each year once all stages of The Palms are complete.

“It’s the injection into the economy that the region needs right now,” Mr Halpin said. 

“It’s not just a residential estate, it will be the first new large-scale tourism product to be built in the region in many many years, attracting 95,000-plus new visitors to the region each year to capture the drive tourism and domestic travelling market primarily. 

“This is a development that will have something for everyone, young and old, locals and visitors.”

Earthworks start for $300m development
Final numbers are expected to be announced by the end of the year as Copper Mountain Mining steams closer to making a construction decision for the Eva copper mine.

The Canadian copper producer owns a 244,300 ha prospective land package in North-West Queensland, including the advanced Eva project, 95km north-east of Mount Isa.

In a company update released overnight, Copper Mountain Mining said it had continued to advance basic engineering and Eva project financing during the quarter.

A final capital cost, operating cost and update on project economics is expected to be complete and announced in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Copper Mountain Mining last year filed an updated feasibility study on the Eva project, which estimated average annual production of 100 million pounds of copper over a 15-year mine life.

Total initial development capital for the Eva copper project was estimated to be about $587.5 million at that stage.

There are seven pits that make up the Eva project’s mine plan. Little Eva is the primary pit and would be supplemented by progressively mining six satellite pit areas at Blackard, Scanlan, Turkey Creek, Bedford, Lady Clayre, and Ivy Ann.

Encouraging results from regional copper exploration

Copper Mountain Mining has also been carrying out exploration to discover additional copper, copper-gold or gold deposits at its Cameron project, situated 40km south of Eva.

It has reported encouraging results, with three mineralised zones identified.

The recent drill program encountered intercepts of high-grade mineralisation, within long, low-grade mineralised envelopes, with lateral continuity between intercepts of up to 1km.

“As a result of the success to date, a second round of drill testing has begun,” the company’s quarterly report states. 

“The company plans to carry out further drilling that will also include new undrilled targets with significant copper-gold anomalies in surface soil and rock samples.”

Back in Canada, the company is commissioning a third ball mill at the Copper Mountain mine and clocked up a gross profit of $C66.6 million ($71.6 million in Australian dollars) in the September quarter.

Eva promises ‘next tier of growth’

Copper Mountain president and chief executive officer Gil Clausen highlighted a healthy and increasing cash position for the company.

He said it was on track to advancing its organic growth objective of tripling 2020 production within the next five years, while maintaining a solid balance sheet. 

“In the third quarter, we completed the first step in our multi-tier growth plan with the successful installation of Ball Mill 3 at the Copper Mountain Mine,” Mr Clausen said.

“The next tier of growth is the Eva copper project, where project financing and basic engineering is progressing well.

“We also announced impressive drill results from our exploration program in the quarter at New Ingerbelle (British Columbia, Canada), where we doubled the vertical extent of mineralisation, and at Cameron copper, where we identified three large mineralised zones.

“We see exceptional exploration upside both in B.C. and in Australia and plan to continue to drill into 2022.”

AIC Mines has officially taken ownership of the Eloise copper mine in North-West Queensland, completing a $27 million acquisition deal with FMR Investments.

Announcing the completion, AIC heralded ‘a new and exciting stage for the company’, which also has two major exploration projects in Western Australia.

And it is promising to pump new life into the Eloise operation with a focus on exploration efforts to build the resource.

“Considerable effort has gone into completing the Eloise transaction and I am very thankful for the herculean efforts of both the AIC and FMR employees who have assisted with the completion process and ownership transition,” AIC managing director Aaron Colleran said.

“The opportunity ahead of us is very exciting. We can now turn our attention to capturing the potential which we believe exists at Eloise.

“AIC’s exploration strategy for Eloise will focus on both extensions to the known resource areas and the discovery of new satellite lodes within the Eloise tenements.

“There is clear potential to extend the mine life well beyond five years.”

Eloise, 60km south-east of Cloncurry, commenced production in 1996 and has since produced about 339,000 tonnes
of copper and 167,000oz of gold.

Current annual production is about 40,000dmt of high quality copper concentrate containing approximately 11,000t of copper and 6,000oz of gold.

It is an underground mine accessed via decline, with ore in the upper levels of the mine extracted by longhole open stoping and the lower levels extracted by sublevel caving.

The acquisition deal involved a payment of $5 million in cash and $20 million in AIC shares as well as a contingent payment of $2 million in cash (payable six months after completion if certain production milestones are achieved).

Former owner FMR retains an interest in the operation through a 30 per cent stake in the issued capital of AIC as a result of the transaction.

R3D Resources has appointed a plant manager to guide the refurbishment and restart of the copper sulphate plant at its Tartana site near Chillagoe in North Queensland.

The company believes it has identified existing copper mineralisation on the Tartana mining leases and at the nearby Cardross copper/gold project that have the potential to provide future feed to the copper sulphate plant.

It expects initial cost estimates and schedule for the refurbishment to be completed in two to three weeks after announcing the appointment of Mathew Hancock as the plant manager.

The Tartana mining leases produced high-quality copper sulphate for about a decade under previous owners from the mining of shallow copper oxide ore.

The ore was stacked on heap leach pads and the copper dissolved using sulphuric acid before recovery using a solvent extraction process and crystallising the copper in the form of copper sulphate pentahydrate.

The copper sulphate was bagged and sold as a premium product into the stock feed industry and as an activator in base metal or gold mining operations.

The project was placed on care and maintenance in 2014.

R3D described Mr Hancock as mineral processing professional with experience at Newmont Tanami Operations from 2014 to 2018, with the latter years as processing co-ordinator before moving to Dover Castle Minerals to become assets and operations manager.

Prior to working with Newmont, he held roles with JKO Mining in Georgetown and the Birla Mt Gordon copper mine.

The role within R3D Resources is to primarily manage the refurbishment of the heap leach-solvent extraction-crystallisation plant at the Tartana mine site.

This will progress to managing the restart of copper sulphate production to provide a key cash flow business for the company.

Mr Hancock’s role will include liaise with marketing groups to assess offtake opportunities and identifying and recruiting a competent workforce to implement the restart of operations.

News of his appointment comes days after R3D announced positive results from drilling on the Tartana mining leases that was designed to test major targets outside the copper mineralised zone occurring in the pit area.

“Mat has a demonstratable ability to move the project forward given a high level of initiative and self-motivation,” R3D managing director Steve Bartrop said.

“While the copper sulphate project is separate to the recent drilling results indicating significant sulphide intersections at depth (announced 21 October 2021), the copper sulphate project nevertheless is an important for the company offering potential future cash flow.”

Origin Energy is selling a 10 per cent stake in Australia Pacific LNG for $2.12 billion to global energy investor EIG.

APLNG is the largest LNG project by liquefaction capacity on Australia’s eastern seaboard and a major supplier of LNG to Asia and gas to Australia’s domestic market.

The LNG plant in Gladstone has a nameplate capacity of 9.0 Mtpa and the project holds a gas acreage position spanning the Surat and Bowen basins.

Following completion of the sale, the Australia Pacific LNG joint venture shareholders will comprise ConocoPhillips (37.5 per cent), Origin (27.5 per cent), Sinopec (25 per cent) and EIG (10 per cent).

Over the last 15 years, EIG has invested in nine separate LNG projects located in six countries and it says the APLNG acquisition represents a continuation of its strategy to gain exposure to high-quality LNG assets.

“This is a groundbreaking transaction that reflects our strong confidence in the asset, our partners, and the importance of LNG as a critical enabler of the energy transition,” EIG chairman and chief executive officer R. Blair Thomas said.

“The transaction leverages EIG’s extensive experience in global LNG to deliver an attractive, steady stream of cash flows for our investors.”
EIG pays $2b for stake in Australia Pacific LNG
Origin chief executive officer Frank Calabria.

Origin chief executive officer Frank Calabria said divesting a 10 per cent interest allowed Origin to crystalise some of the significant value it had created in Australia Pacific LNG, while retaining a continuing substantial shareholding.

“Origin will continue our important role as upstream operator of the world class Australia Pacific LNG asset,” he said.

“A diverse asset portfolio, combined with strategic investments over the past 18 months, have put Origin in a strong position to lead the energy transition.

“The material cash injection from this divestment provides further flexibility to deliver returns to shareholders and pay
down debt, while allowing Origin to accelerate investment in growth opportunities.

“We are very proud of what we have helped build alongside our partners, and the performance of Australia Pacific LNG continues to go from strength to strength.”