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Coronado’s Curragh mine near Blackwater delivered record sales volumes for the September quarter of 3.6 million tonnes.

The result was a 20.6 per cent lift on the previous quarter in terms of sales volumes and a 24.5 per cent lift in saleable production, the company said.

“This excellent result stemmed from an improvement in mining contract performance as well as the mobilisation of additional fleets to recover lost production and overburden from the first half of the year,” chief executive officer Gerry Spindler said.

“In addition, CHPP performance improved due to better reliability, higher
throughput rates and the implementation of measures to improve yield.”

The realised metallurgical coal price for product from Curragh was $86.9 per tonne (FOB) for the September quarter, a decrease of 5.4 per cent compared to the previous quarter.

In addition to its Curragh mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin, Coronado owns three mining complexes in the Central Appalachian region of the United States. 

Total saleable production for the September quarter across the group was 4.6 million tonnes (3.6Mt from Curragh), up 31.2 per cent on the
June quarter.

Price outlook positive as furnaces fire up again

Mr Spindler said that by the end of September, metallurgical coal index
pricing had climbed about 30 per cent off its August lows as numerous blast furnaces restarted in response to increasing demand from the automotive and construction sectors.

“The trend of blast furnaces restarts is evident in seaborne metallurgical coal-reliant markets such as India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Europe,” he said.

“China continued to produce steel at elevated levels, supplementing domestic met coal production with spot buying.

“In October reports emerged that Chinese state-owned enterprises have been unofficially directed to suspend imports of Australian coal. The nature and duration of the suspension is not clear at this stage.”

Mr Spindler said the impact on Coronado from a volume perspective was likely to be minimal.

“Our Australian Operations (Curragh) do not have term volume contracts with Chinese counterparts and only sell into this market sporadically,” he said.

“There are no indications that these restrictions apply to our US operations and Buchanan continued to ship cargoes to China during the quarter.”


New Century Resources has emerged from the September quarter with zinc recovery on the up after mechanical issues in the ball mill circuit at its North West Queensland site.

At the same time managing director Patrick Walta said macro-economic conditions for the industry were improving, providing strong tailwinds for the venture.

Zinc metal production at Century was flat at 33,633 tonnes for the September quarter.

The company said production growth was tempered by mechanical issues in the ball mill circuit (which were now rectified) and a planned maintenance shutdown over four days.

Rectification of ball mill circuit performance had seen zinc recovery rates increasing over the month of September to 48 – 50 per cent (continuing in December quarter).

Further improvements were underway, with an independently verified flowsheet optimisation program outlining a low-cost pathway to achieve consistent performance of up to 12Mtpa at 50-54 per cent recovery, the company said.

Net sales receipts increased 38 per cent to $74 million, with an adjusted EBITDA of $13.2 milllion for the September quarter.

“New Century has achieved solid operational cashflow and zinc metal production for the September quarter,” managing director Patrick Walta said.

“It is particularly pleasing to see the strong quarterly exit rate, with
recoveries and production rising due to resolved mechanical issues within the ball mill circuit.

“The company continues to focus on increasing metal production and lowering unit costs, which will drive further growth in EBITDA and cashflow in the December quarter and beyond.

“Macro-economic conditions for the industry continue to improve, providing strong tailwinds for New Century, with the zinc price rising above US$1.13/lb for the first time since the onset of COVID-19.

“In addition, spot treatment charges have plummeted to US$110/t, their lowest level since Century operations restarted.”

These improving conditions were underpinned on the demand side by strong post COVID-19 zinc consumption in China, he said.

Meanwhile challenges remained on the concentrate supply side, with mine production around the world reduced due to restrictions on human movement.

“The company sees opportunity for further improvement in the zinc price, with demand/consumption set to return in countries other than China as a result of infrastructure-focused stimulus packages in response to the COVID-19 economic downturn,” Mr Walta said.

Adani Mining’s second Liebherr R 996B excavator has been assembled on site at the Carmichael coal project and is in commissioning.

The excavator weighs about 660 tonnes and has a bucket volume of 37.5 cubic metres.

The next excavator due to join the Carmichael fleet will be the larger Liebherr R 9800 – a model weighing in at 800 tonnes and with a bucket size of 49 cubic metres.

Adani Mining says it will need a fleet of 11 excavators and 65 CAT 796 dump trucks in the next 10 years, as well as graders, dozers, water trucks and other support vehicles.

The company started work on the box cut in July to pave the way for open-cut mining to begin and expects to shift about 18 million cubic metres of earth to reach the coal seam.

This week it reached the milestone of 2 million cubic meters of waste stripped from the boxcut pit.

The Carmichael coal mine is expected to produce 10 million tonnes of high-quality thermal coal per annum.

Ravenswood Gold has taken delivery of a new Hitachi EX3600 excavator as it ramps up preparations for the return to large-scale open-pit mining at Ravenswood.

Ravenswood Gold chief executive officer Brett Fletcher said the machine was part of an initial $100 million mining fleet to be purchased for the Ravenswood Expansion Plan (REP).

The excavator, the biggest machine ever to be used at the North Queensland mine, will begin working on low-grade stockpiles before relocating to the Buck Reef West pit, where mining is expected to commence by the end of the year.

The fleet will also include several smaller excavators; an EX2600 and a EX1200. The initial haulage fleet will consist of eight Hitachi EH3500 180-tonne mining dump trucks.

“The majority of the fleet will come from Hitachi and the handover of the EX3600 marks the beginning of a long-term working relationship between the mine and Hitachi,” Mr Fletcher said. “Hitachi is supported out of Townsville and Mackay and the parts and servicing of the equipment will be a significant benefit to local business.”

Hiring for the REP commenced in August, with 40 people taking up permanent positions within the mining department and more in supporting roles including exploration, training and safety, and environment.

Mr Fletcher said about 230 people were now employed at Ravenswood Gold and the long-term permanent workforce would increase to 410 positions as mining progressed.

“All of our new employees are from the local area – including Ravenswood, Charters Towers, Townsville and the Burdekin area. We are serious about ensuring local employment for the region and using local suppliers and local businesses whenever possible,” he said.

“The REP will see 250 new permanent positions, the retention of 160 existing positions and a further 150 positions during the construction phase and mining operations continue until 2034.”

The Ravenswood gold mine changed hands early this year, with new owners EMR Capital and Golden Energy and Resources completing a $300 million purchase deal with Resolute Mining.

From the outset, the EMR GEAR Consortium showed a keen interest in ramping up operations and extending the life of the business through the REP, which will see the reopening of both the Buck Reef West and Sarsfield open pits at Ravenswood.

Macmahon Holdings has been selected as the preferred tenderer to provide equipment hire and maintenance services at the Foxleigh mine near Middlemount from March next year.

Macmahon expects the work to generate about $250 million in revenue.

The proposed scope of work involves the hire and maintenance of 21 large
capacity dump trucks and other ancillary equipment over a five-year term, together with the maintenance of client owned equipment.

Macmahon expects to outlay about $50 million to deliver the service, the majority going to acquire 220-tonne dump trucks for the site.

The Foxleigh mine is an open-cut, truck and excavator operation in the Bowen Basin which produces low volatile PCI coal for Asian steel mill customers.

It is owned by QMetco (70 per cent), Posco Australia, and Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Australia.

Macmahon chief executive officer and managing director Michael Finnegan said the company was very pleased to be selected as the preferred equipment and maintenance provider for the Foxleigh project, and looking forward to delivering for a new client in Queensland.

“This selection highlights our expertise in sourcing and maintaining large scale mining equipment and our ability to offer a range of service models to our clients,” he said.

The clock is ticking for potential Sconi offtake partners to secure battery materials ahead of a forecast ‘pinch point’ for nickel supplies in 2023, says Australian Mines.

In a quarterly update the company said its priority was advancing discussions with potential offtake partners for the North Queensland cobalt-nickel-scandium project.

The market dynamics of the electric vehicle (EV) and clean energy storage industries underpinned Australian Mines’ confidence it would secure an offtake agreement for Sconi, it said.

“Potential offtake partners understand they will need to execute an offtake agreement no later than calendar 2021 to mitigate their nickel supply risk, expected to emerge in 2023, due to Sconi’s two-year project development timeline,” the company said.

“However, we expect the forecast increase in demand for battery materials will incentivise potential offtake partners to enter into supply agreements earlier, with the objective of securing more favourable terms”

The company has been building Sconi’s stengths, with new trial production runs of advanced battery materials.

Australian Mines managing director Benjamin Bell said recent successful production runs further demonstrated the company’s ability to consistently deliver battery-grade precursor chemicals of cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate that could be applied directly into the manufacturing process of electric vehicle batteries.

The company also recently announced it had entered into an agreement with Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials to support a project to develop new aluminium alloys using high purity scandium oxide sourced from the Sconi project.

The project, which commenced on October 12, proposes to employ machine learning algorithms and Deakin expertise to create next generation aluminium alloys to improve the performance of industrial processes within the energy industry.

“Our new partnership with Deakin University to explore the industrial applications of premium grade scandium oxide, in terms of new aluminium alloy research, highlights the potential additional value-add which exists within our flagship Sconi roject beyond the EV and battery markets,” Mr Bell said.

“It also recognises the expanding new uses for scandium, which is now recognised as a critical commodity.”

The company said also an independent study of drilling and geological datasets had identified 14 significant additional nickel, cobalt and scandium mineralisation targets for follow up in the Sconi region.

Australian Mines said the new targets would be the subject of an exploration and testing program over the coming year, the results of which may drive an upward revision of the Sconi mineral resource and the project life span.

Sconi is expected to produce 1,405,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate and 209,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate over the project’s initial 30-year mine life.