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New Century Resources has started producing zinc rougher concentrate at the Century zinc mine in Queensland’s lower Gulf region, where it is mining and retreating mineralised tailings.

Hydraulic mining at the former MMG site kicked off last week and New Century said the start of tailings slurry flotation represented an important milestone in the restart – demonstrating the initial proof-of-concept for the large-scale treatment of tailings through the existing processing facilities.

The company said ramp-up activities at Century were now focused on progressively optimising concentrate product
quality through the zinc cleaner circuit, followed by zinc and silver recoveries and plant throughput.

Century has an estimated production capacity, based on current ore reserves within the tailings, of 264,000tpa zinc and 3Moz pa silver over an initial mine life of 6.3 years. Further mineral deposits offer potential mine life extension.

Concentrate flowing from Century restart
New Century Resources has started hydraulic mining operations at the Century zinc site in the lower Gulf region.

“It is a fantastic achievement by the New Century team and our business partners to deliver the restart of operations at Century both on time and budget," New Century managing director Patrick Walta said.

"We are now focused on the next phase of Century development, ramping up operations to become one of the world’s top zinc producers.”

Century has an estimated production capacity of 264,000tpa zinc and 3Moz pa silver over an initial ore reserve mine life of 6.3 years, based on a tailings retreatment operation.

In-situ mineral resources also provide potential for mine life extension and the company has active exploration programs across its 1800sq km tenement package.

Mining underway at Century zinc project
North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) has become the first port authority in Australia to implement a digital pilot passage plan using the Intelledox Infiniti platform.

Passage plans, required for each ship that arrives and departs port, contain information such as the ship dimensions, arrival times, license number, berth allocation tidal information and real-time weather.

The digitised version utilises an online form that makes it easier for pilots to capture and analyse data, and delivers several operational efficiencies.

“At NQBP, we oversee mooring operations for around eight to 12 ships each day – and we need to complete a unique passage plan for each one. We take this passage plan on board each ship to go through procedures in detail with the captain,” marine pilot Luca Orlandi (pictured below) said.

“Previously, we had to log in to the Maritime Safety Queensland database to look up the information we needed, and then manually enter data on paper forms to take aboard the ship, before transferring the data to an Excel spreadsheet when we returned to port.  An 80 per cent time saving and real-time data ingestion helps pilots focus on other important issues when entering and exiting ports.”

The mobile-friendly digital solution allows pilots to access and modify data in real-time, whenever they need to – including on board the ships.

“Plans can change very quickly when ships are due to arrive at port," Mr Orlandi said. "If a ship is delayed, which often happens, then we need to update the records accordingly. When the process was paper-based we had to start afresh and fill out new forms. Now the passage plan is easy to update digitally.” 

Digital revolution for passage plans
A company targeting gold in Queensland's Torres Strait region has announced an upgraded resource estimate after recent drilling.

Alice Queen has updated the mineral resource estimate for its flagship Horn Island gold project to 7.96 million tonnes at 1.9 g/t gold for 492,000 ounces of gold using a 0.5 g/t gold cut-off grade

This represents a 29 per cent increase in total gold ounces and 30 per cent increase in tonnes.

It follows news in April and May of significant old intercepts at the Southern Silicified Ridge (SSR) prospect at its flagship Horn Island gold project at Horn Island.

The company said drilling completed to date confirmed the gold system remained open, while independent structural studies suggested significant potential extension to this gold system towards the south-west and north-west.

Alice Queen managing Director Andrew Buxton said recently completed detailed geochemistry and metal zonation work indicated they had not yet discovered the main source of the Horn Island gold system.

"Our focus for the next phase of exploration, which is about to commence, will be identifying and testing targets for the source of the Horn Island gold system, whilst continuing to expand our resource at the Horn Island pit," he said.

"Discovering the source of the gold system at Horn Island would elevate the project to the ranks of other multimillion ounce North Queensland IRGS deposits such as Mount Leyshon, Kidston, Mungana and Ravenswood."

Horn Island hosts a known mineral field and abandoned gold mine that was only previously explored to shallow depth.

Island treasure in the Torres Strait
Speciality Metals says it is in advanced offtake negotiations and working to close financing arrangements to advance the Mt Carbine tungsten project in far north Queensland.

The company recently reached an agreement to acquire the Mt Carbine quarry as an ongoing concern, which it said would offer an invaluable revenue stream.

Speciality Metals, formerly Carbine Tungsten Limited, aims to kick-start tungsten production from Mt Carbine by using of ore-sorting technology to high-grade ore stockpiled on site.

It plans to recommission a tailings retreatment plant at Mt Carbine.

Speciality Metals executive chairman Russell Krause said the board was working to ensure the Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Mt Carbine Quarries was completed within the stipulated timeframes and that the company was in a position to reawaken its world class Mt Carbine tungsten project, taking full advantage of the synergies between the quarry and mining activities.

Push to reawaken ‘world class’ tungsten project
New Century Resources says the restart of operations at the Century zinc mine in Queensland’s lower Gulf region is now imminent, with strong progress in the final refurbishment and commissioning process during July.

In an announcement to the ASX today, the company said mining, processing and port operations teams were in place, with site activities now moved from day shift only to a 24/7 schedule.

Key developments during July:
o Mining: Mechanical installation complete, dry commissioning nearing completion
o Processing Plant: Full plant sequence testing on water continuing
o Pipeline: Fully commissioned for operations
o Port/Ship: Dredging complete, MV Wunma run up of major systems completed
o Marketing: 2018 zinc concentrate shipping schedule established with offtakers
o Cultural Heritage: Removal of legacy cyclone mooring buoy

The company said the Century restart remained on track for first production in August 2018.

New Century Resources has upgraded infrastructure including a large-scale multi-train flotation plant, 700-person camp, private airport, mining fleet, grid power connection, 304km slurry pipeline and port facility to bring the zinc operation into production.

The company is initially looking to reprocess tailings as it restarts operations at the former MMG zinc mine, with an expected start-up cost  of $62.5 million. Once in production, the company plans to invest a further $63 million over a 15-month period to ramp up to 15Mtpa.

New Century zinc production ‘imminent’