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Whitehaven Coal is moving to the feasibility phase for its proposed Winchester South open-cut metallurgical coal mine, 30km south-east of Moranbah.

The company said the project was continuing to progress through the Queensland Government’s Coordinated Project approval process, with the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) having been submitted to Queensland’s Office of Coordinator General in December.

Public notification was expected to commence in this quarter, it said.

Whitehaven Coal in late 2020 upgraded the resource for its Winchester South project to more than one billion tonnes, with the planned mine now expected to have a throughput of up to 15Mtpa over more than 20 years.

Whitehaven Coal took control of the former Rio Tinto project in 2018 and has since drilled more than 200 holes specifically targeting additional metallurgical coal definition.

It is expected to cost about $980 million to bring online and deliver 500 jobs during construction and about 500 operational jobs.

In a quarterly report this week, Whitehaven Coal said it had completed the pre-feasibility report and the project would now move into the feasibility phase.

Stanmore Coal plans to restart mining at the Millennium and Mavis Downs mine complex within months after reaching a deal to buy the site from Peabody Energy Australia.

Stanmore, in joint venture with M Resources, has executed agreements to acquire the assets for an upfront payment of $1.25 million plus royalties.

It said the restart was expected to create 150 – 200 jobs, through the investment in underground expansions and completion of rehabilitation obligations.

Mining is planned to recommence from July 2021, with planned production ramping up to 1Mtpa, subject to rail and port capacity being available.

Stanmore – which already operates the Isaac Plains coal complex near Moranbah – said the Millennium and Mavis Downs mine represented a low-capital and quick-to-market investment opportunity in a high-quality coking coal asset, supported by access to existing critical infrastructure.

Coal washing would be undertaken at the Red Mountain Infrastructure coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) via a fully executed toll washing and train loading agreement, Stanmore said.

The Millennium coal mine is located adjacent to Stanmore’s Isaac Downs project and is currently in care and maintenance.

Stanmore said the acquisition provided synergies between its existing assets and the Millennium assets.

The project has JORC Resources of 37 million tonnes, with 13Mt Measured, 17Mt Indicated and 7Mt Inferred.

A coal reserve for the open-cut and auger operation planned has been estimated at 2 million tonnes. Coal reserves for the underground operations are estimated to be 5.43 million tonnes ROM (4.56 million tonnes marketable).

The joint venture will assume rehabilitation obligations estimated at $25.7 million, with Peabody reimbursing $12.5 million of incurred rehabilitation costs over a two-year period.

Completion of the acquisition is subject to satisfaction of conditions precedent.

Stanmore in plans to restart mothballed Peabody mine
The first stage of Townsville development project The Hive will become the new home for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority head office in a deal announced this week.

Federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said the agreement was the key to unlocking the $250 million development, which could eventually include education, tourism facilities and apartments – reinvigorating the area where Flinders St meets The Strand.

“I can’t wait to see this ‘dead end’ of Townsville really come alive in the next couple of years,” he said.

GBRMPA chief operating officer Natalie Conner said the authority was hoping to move into its new office in 2023.

“We’re delighted to be the flagship tenant in a purpose-built facility that is contemporary, close to our national education centre Reef HQ, and will meet high environmental standards,” she said.

“The location was chosen after we worked through a very thorough government-mandated process and independent panel that assesses value for money.”

Hive development proponent Gleeson Group’s managing director, Therese Smith, said this commitment would have a significant impact for the region.

“From the very beginning our approach was to focus on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority as our primary client,” Ms Smith said.

“This announcement means we can work together with the authority to create a unique, purpose-built home for them.”

Ms Smith said future stages may include a concert hall and convention centre, tertiary education, marine and tropical science research, tourism facilities, residential apartments, medical and allied health facilities, commercial office space (10,000sq m already approved), an indigenous art gallery, performance space, open spaces, and provide a link from the Strand to the CBD.

Townsville City Council granted preliminary approval in December 2017 to establish The Hive, a mixed-use centre development that will be staged to ensure it achieves the best use of the iconic site.

GBRMPA offices moved to a temporary location in the Northtown complex in Flinders Street when its former location next to Reef HQ fell into disrepair. The aquarium is currently closed as repairs and renovations worth nearly $40 million are completed.

Ports North has acquired 2.8ha of land in Portsmith to support the planned expansion of the Cairns Marine Precinct, including two new wharves.

The project is expected to create 150 jobs in the construction phase.

Ports North Chairman Russell Beer said engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon had started work on the CMP’s early works and construction tender documents.

“This is an important project for our vital marine precinct which will build on the new wider and deeper shipping channel which was successfully completed last year,” Mr Beer said

“Aurecon demonstrated a strong understanding of the project requirements, having previously undertaken similar projects in the maritime sector.”

Mr Beer said a separate master planning process for the Port of Cairns, which is intended to facilitate forward planning out to 2050, is due to be completed within six months.

The land acquisition is a key step in the Palaszczuk Government’s election commitment to build two new wharves, which are to be located in Smith’s Creek and at Commercial Fisherman’s Base No. 2.

The State is investing:

  • $28 million to increase common user wharfage, develop land and undertake service upgrades to support increased in-water sustainment of naval and other vessels; and
  • $2 million to complete the CMP Business Case for the broader development of the precinct including consideration of specialist infrastructure accessible by all shipyards with sufficient detail to provide clarity on costings.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the new wharves would expand the capacity to carry out in-water maintenance on vessels used by the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.

“Building these wharves will create 150 construction jobs in the short-term, but the longer-term employment opportunities that come with expanding the Cairns Marine Precinct are really exciting,” Mr Healy said.

“We’re funding a business case to develop this precinct as a key centre for maintaining and repairing large defence vessels.

“That business case will investigate the manufacture of commercial vessels required for servicing the region that would bring more jobs to the city.

“There is an existing skilled work force, contractor base and infrastructure within the Cairns Marine Precinct to not only expand opportunities for more vessel maintenance, but to also to explore the possibility of building vessels here one day too.”

The initiative also aligns with the Palaszczuk Government’s Defence Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan which focuses on growing employment capability in the state and supporting Queensland defence firms to access new opportunities and create new jobs.

New Century Resources has announced ‘stunning’ high-grade assays from the first seven holes of a 30-hole drilling program at the Silver King deposit within its Century mining lease.

They include an intersection of 9.5m grading at 45.5 per cent lead, 4.1 per cent zinc and 425g/t silver from 174.4m.

New Century sees Silver King shaping up as a new mining operation for the site in the near future, along with the East Fault Block which also lies on the Century mining lease in North-West Queensland.

It is targeting a final investment decision for the development of Silver King and East Fault Block in the third quarter of 2021.

Silver King has an established inferred resource of 2.7 million tonnes at 16.9 per cent lead equivalent (12 per cent lead, 6.9 per cent zinc and 120g/t silver).

Assays for the remaining 23 holes of the 30-hole diamond drill program (5468m drill metres) at Silver King are expected to be released over the next six to eight weeks.

New Century said three additional large diameter PQ holes had been completed to provide samples for metallurgical recovery test-work and ore sorting feasibility work programs. Three geotechnical holes at key infrastructure locations have also been completed.

The Silver King deposit was discovered in 1887, with mining commencing soon after, and small-scale, intermittent production occurring through to 1980.

The maximum depth of the known excavations is about 60m from the current surface and it is estimated no more than 50,000 tonnes of ore was extracted in total.

The historical mine lies about 1km south of the southernmost extent of the Century open pit.

New Century Resources said the drill rig was now moving to the Millennium target north of the existing open pit, targeting dislocated blocks of the original Century orebody.

Multicom Resources’ Saint Elmo vanadium project, east of Julia Creek, has received Federal environmental approval.

The project is expected to directly employ about 200 people during the construction phase and more than 150 people in initial operations, with more positions to come as it scales up.

Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said he welcomed the decision by the Federal Government concerning Saint Elmo.

“Vanadium will be a workhorse mineral of the battery storage and renewable energy sector,” he said.

“There has been significant interest in vanadium and other new-age minerals in North Queensland.

“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government is backing the North West Minerals Province as it will create jobs as we deliver Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

Multicom proposes construction and operation of an open-cut mine extracting up to 20,000 tonnes per annum of vanadium.

It will involve shallow (20m-40m) open-cut strip mining with sequential mining, backfilling and rehabilitation of disturbed areas.

Multicom has not commented on the Federal approval, but its most recent public update indicated the company was working towards construction starting in late 2021.

The State Government last year declared Saint Elmo as a prescribed project, shortly after the Federal Government granted major project status to the mine, helping fast-track its development in line with its goal of positioning Australia as a key global player in critical minerals.

The project’s approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act includes conditions to minimise the impacts of the mine on Julia Creek dunnarts.