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Connecting the North West Minerals Province to the east coast electricity grid is forecast to generate an extra $132 billion in mining activity by 2050, new economic analysis has found.

That’s almost 30 times the forecast benefit for Queensland from the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ACIL Allen analysis was commissioned as part of the advanced planning for the CopperString 2.0 project, a 1000-km high-voltage transmission network.

Proponent CuString and regional partners are already engaging local businesses to support an estimated $1.8 billion construction contract, according to CuString managing director Joseph O’Brien.

He said CopperString 2.0 was a nation-building project that would ensure the North West Minerals Province and the entire region west of Townsville would no longer be isolated from the national transmission grid.  

Based on CopperString’s industry consultant’s production forecasts,  ACIL Allen found mining revenues would increase by $132 billion if the region was connected to the NEM compared to the business-as-usual approach of persisting with an isolated electricity supply system, he said.

“We are all looking forward to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and a record medal haul for Australia,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“The North West Minerals Province will deliver a record metal haul and economic windfall for Australia if we give those businesses access to the national grid.”

Mr O’Brien said the estimated value of known reserves of minerals, including copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, silver and gold, so essential for global efforts for decarbonisation was about $740 billion. 

“The Queensland and Australian Governments are both working closely with CuString on the project, and they are both committed to developing our critical mineral reserves for the global demand being driven by decarbonisation efforts and geopolitical supply chain risks,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the analysis also found the CopperString 2.0 connection between the North West Minerals Province and the NEM would generate 800 construction jobs and sustain 3561 jobs in the North West on average out to 2050.

It was also expected to reduce electricity costs in the NWMP on average by 40 per cent.

CopperString metal haul to outshine Olympic income
The Ravenswood Gold mine will host a custom-built Chrysos PhotonAssay facility after an agreement with mining technology company Chrysos Corporation.

Originally developed at CSIRO, Chrysos PhotonAssay delivers faster, safer and more accurate gold analysis, and is an environmentally-friendly replacement for fire assay on-site and in the laboratory.

“The team at Ravenswood is excited to be partnering with Chrysos on the establishment of this high technology facility right in the heart of the mine site,” Ravenswood Gold chief executive Brett Fletcher said.

“For us, the significant safety and sustainability benefits combined with low cost, high efficiency and lightning turnaround times delivers all the outcomes we are driving for.

“Being able to assay 500 to 1000 samples per day of our grade control drilling, metallurgical sampling and exploration drilling will support us in creating a mining and mineral processing hub we believe will be operating for decades.”

Hitting samples with high-energy X-rays, Chrysos PhotonAssay causes excitation of atomic nuclei allowing rapid and enhanced analysis of gold, silver, and complementary elements in as little as two minutes.

The non-destructive process allows large samples of up to 500g to be measured and provides a true bulk reading independent of the chemical or physical form of the sample.

The EMR/GEAR joint venture committed to a major expansion when they took over the Ravenswood gold operations from Resolute Mining last year.

The growth plan includes establishing large-scale open-cut mining operations in the former Buck Reef West and Sarsfield/Nolans open pits, increasing the size of the processing plant, and constructing a new tailings storage facility.

This ongoing development is expected to increase gold production to over 200,000 ounces per annum, extend the life of the mine by 14 years, and see the Ravenswood mine become the largest gold operation in Queensland by 2022.

Chrysos anticipates further global demand for PhotonAssay over the coming years in a worldwide market, with room for approximately 350 units.

The man killed at the Curragh coal mine near Blackwater at the weekend has been identified as experienced dragline operator Clark Peadon.

Mine owner Coronado Global Resources said Mr Peadon had worked at Curragh since 2006, stating “he was a highly respected member of our team”.

Operations at Curragh have been suspended as authorities work through investigations into the fatal accident.

“Our thoughts are with Clark’s family, friends and co-workers and with everyone impacted by this tragic loss,” the company said in a statement.

“A full investigation is being conducted into the accident and Coronado is working with the Queensland Police, the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and other authorities.”

It is the second workplace death within two years at Curragh, after Donald Rabbitt was killed during a tyre change activity in the workshop on January 12 last year.

Other recent tragedies include the death of Graham Dawson in a roof fall at the Crinum underground mine near Emerald in September and a serious accident at Peabody’s Coppabella mine last month.

In that case a contracted employee was pinned between a tyre and a ladder, causing multiple injuries to his upper body, while helping to clean a haul truck.

And in June Queensland’s Coal Mining Board of Inquiry handed down a report highlighting multiple failings in the lead-up to a blast that seriously injured five men at Anglo American’s Grosvenor mine in May last year.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said safety was a core priority of the industry.

He said the peak body was deeply saddened by news of the weekend death. “Our thoughts go out to the family and work colleagues involved,” he said.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said any death on a Queensland mine sites was unacceptable.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of a worker at Coronado Global Resources’ Curragh mine,” he said.

“I would like to express my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Any death on Queensland mine sites is unacceptable.”

The latest incident at Curragh happened prior to 12.40am on Sunday. Curragh is an open-cut coal mine using a mix of dragline and truck/shovel operations.


New owner AIC Mines says it is confident of adding significant value at the Eloise copper mine as it releases drill results for the Eloise Deeps deposit.

The company said the definition drilling had returned excellent results and supported near-term production forecasts for the North-West Queensland site.

They included 12.2m grading 5.9 per cent copper and 1.9g/t gold and 7.8m grading 6.8 per cent copper and 0.9g/t gold.

“This early confirmation of the tenor of the Deeps mineralisation supports our commitment to accelerate exploration at Eloise,” AIC managing director Aaron Colleran said.

“AIC’s exploration strategy at Eloise has two objectives – to delineate extensions to the known resource areas and to discover satellite deposits within the Eloise mining tenements.

“During our due diligence review we recognised a clear opportunity to extend the mine life well beyond five years. We are confident that we can add significant value at Eloise as we ramp-up exploration.”

AIC Mines took ownership of the Eloise copper mine, 60km south-east of Cloncurry, this month after completing a $27 million acquisition deal with FMR Investments.

AIC plans to mobilise a second underground diamond drilling rig to site early in the new year.

Encouraging signs at Eloise copper mine

An Atherton Tablelands civil construction business and a Chinchilla trainee have taken honours at the 2021 Australian Training Awards. 

Robinson Civil Group (RCG) took home the Medium Employer of the Year Award for going above and beyond supporting staff in their ongoing professional development.

Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said the business had set the bar high.

“Over the past two years, RCG has grown its training budget to provide staff with tailored training and development plans that suit their individual qualifications, experiences and career aspirations,” she said.

Ms Farmer also congratulated individual award winner, Kasey Hardy, who was named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year. 

“Kasey’s interest in the natural gas extraction process and its impact on the environment led her to the inaugural Western Downs Indigenous Traineeship program offered by Harness Energy Services and Shell QGC,” she said.

“After successfully completing her traineeship, Kasey has gone on to study a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety with Shell QGC and is now a mentor for new Indigenous trainees.

“She has not only impressed her employer and colleagues with her hard work and commitment, but she is also setting an example for other trainees and is on her way to a wonderful career in an industry she is passionate about.”

The Australian Training Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements in the vocational education and training sector.

For the second consecutive year, the awards’ ceremony was a virtual event with Queensland finalists gathering in Brisbane to hear the announcements.  

  • To view the entire list of national award winners and Queensland finalists click HERE
“All our 11 national finalists have done Queensland proud, and they too, should be very proud of their achievements,” Ms Farmer said.

Below: Monika Loeschenbran and Caytlyn Mead from Robinson Civil Group celebrate their win.

The State Government has announced plans to build a common-user vanadium processing facility in Townsville, as the North West Minerals Province advances as a significant global source for the new economy mineral.

Treasurer Cameron Dick said Australia had the third largest deposits of vanadium resources, but did not produce a single kilogram of processed vanadium.

“The mining companies looking to process vanadium at an industrial scale don’t have the capital necessary to make that jump. That’s where our government can step in,” he said.

“Through our $520 million Invested in Queensland program, we will put at least $10 million towards this common-user facility, with the final amount depending on the outcome of the construction tender.

“A common-user facility can be used by multiple, smaller mining companies that do not have the available capital to set up their own processing facilities.

“This is an important step in attracting further investor interest and future off-take agreements.

“Once producers can see for themselves how processing occurs, they will have the confidence to invest in more manufacturing infrastructure and more jobs.” 

Mr Dick said the government was in the final stages of site selection for a demonstration facility in Townsville.

Construction is expected to start in 2022, with the plant scheduled to begin operating in 2023.

“Mining companies will be able to transport ore from their mine site to Townsville, enabling them to begin producing mineral samples at scale.”

Vanadium is used in high-strength steel and also in redox flow batteries that can be recharged thousands of times.

A range of local vanadium players this year formed the Queensland Vanadium Consortium and have been working together to lobby for the sort of support announced today.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) also has been pushing for government support for such common-user processing hubs in Queensland.

The group’s submission to parties in the lead-up to last year’s State election included a strong focus on mineral processing and the resources sector value chain.

Multicom Resources chief executive officer Shaun McCarthy told iQ at the time that State backing for shared demonstration facilities would overcome a significant hurdle for junior mining companies trying to bring critical minerals projects online.

Multicom Resources plans to start construction of its $250 million Saint Elmo vanadium operation next year. It is the first mine approved in a potential vanadium hub in the North West Minerals Province, with other companies progressing significant projects.

Vecco Group holds the Debella vanadium and HPA (high purity alumina) project north of Julia Creek in North-West Queensland, and QEM is advancing its Julia Creek vanadium-oil project.

Horizon Minerals and joint venture partner Richmond Vanadium Technology propose a shallow open pit mining operation producing 101.5Mt of oxide ore in the Richmond-Julia Creek vanadium project, centred on the Lilyvale deposit.

Queensland Resources Minister and Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the processing plant project was a key milestone in delivering on the work of the North West Minerals Province Taskforce.

“Saint Elmo is just the beginning, with other companies progressing other potential vanadium mines in what could become a world-class vanadium hub in the North West, so having this processing facility in Townsville will ensure locals reap the benefits,” he said.