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News

South32 says it remains on track to make a final investment decision on the Eagle Downs metallurgical coal project by the end of 2020.

In its quarterly report, the company reported that it had completed coal quality drilling at Eagle Downs, 25km south-east of Moranbah.

Those results will be used to support the ongoing feasibility study.

Subject to the outcome of the feasibility study, South32 plans to construct an underground longwall mine, coal handling and preparation plant (CHPP) and associated infrastructure.

Potential subcontractors and suppliers are encouraged to register their interest via the ICN Gateway website in order to be considered. 

A general EOI is open, with the project expected to detail work package-specific EOIs after the final investment decision. 

South32 acquired a 50 per cent stake in the project in 2018 and assumed operatorship.

The other 50 per cent is held by Aquila Resources, a subsidiary of China’s largest steel producer, BaoWu.

Aquila had started construction of the Eagle Downs mine before it was placed under care and maintenance in late 2015.

South32 noted when it bought into the project that it had benefitted from initial investment that delivered site infrastructure including water supply and high voltage systems, office buildings and water and
sediment dams.

Dual 2km drifts were also approximately 40 per cent complete.

Prior work undertaken by Aquila indicated that Eagle Downs has the potential to export 4.5Mtpa of coal (on average) from one longwall over the first 10 years of full production.




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Rockfire Resources is kicking off a new drilling campaign at its Plateau gold prospect, spurred on by similarities to the 1.5Moz-plus Mount Wright gold deposit.

The company recently raised the equivalent of more than $1.8 million through a share placement to fund work at Plateau, which is within its Lighthouse tenement area about 50km south-east of Charters Towers.

The plan is to complete deeper drill testing of Plateau to about 500m below surface, and chief executive officer David Price said work commenced this week. 

Previous drilling to depths of 230m has resulted in the identification of long, continuous intervals of low-grade gold, including 177m at 0.5 g/t gold.

“The host rock, long intervals of low-grade gold mineralisation and the geophysical and geochemical characteristics of Plateau may lead to the discovery of a gold deposit similar to Mount Wright,” Mr Price said.

“Plateau is being modeled on the Mount Wright similarities and, so far, the model has proven correct.

“Of course, geological and mineralisation models do change with increased knowledge of the deposit but, so far, the similarities continue to encourage our progress at Plateau.”

At Mount Wright, the main zone of economic gold mineralisation was encountered at depths beyond 300m from surface and extended to 1200m depth.

Mr Price described Lighthouse as being in a prime location for discovery, amongst large producing mines.

The tenement straddles two of the most productive structural corridors on the east coast of Australia, hosting Pajingo (2.4Moz gold), Mt Leyshon (4Moz gold, 2.3Moz silver), Ravenswood (4Moz-plus gold) and Charters Towers (7Moz-plus gold).

Mr Price said the Lighthouse tenement area had been explored in the past by major companies including BHP (to 1980), Esso (to 1986), Battle Mountain (to 1988), Rio Tinto (to 1990), Aberfoyle (to 1997) and Newcrest Mining (to 2007).

“The work completed by these explorers intersected good gold grades close to surface but it is assumed that these large companies had a minimum resource threshold which was not immediately obvious,” Mr Price said.

Mr Price said Rockfire always tried to employ local contractors as much as possible before searching outside the local area.

“Our pre-collars were drilled by Eagle Drilling out of Charters Towers and our diamond drilling contractor is Lloyd Weller Drilling, also out of Charters Towers,” Mr Price said.

Should the drilling campaign prove successful, then Rockfire intends to test down to about 750m depth.

The recent funds raised will also go towards geophysical surveys at the Lighthouse tenement, including a magnetometer survey and an Induced Polarisation survey.

Rockfire also plans to complete magnetometer surveys at its Copperhead and Copper Dome projects in Central Queensland. 





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QEM has announced successful results from independent test work aimed at increasing oil yields from its Julia Creek vanadium and oil shale project.

It says the work shows substantially higher oil yields are possible at Julia Creek through the addition of a solvent during extraction processing, compared to options such as direct retorting.

QEM managing director Gavin Loyden said he was delighted with the oil results, which marked a key milestone towards commercialisation of the Julia Creek project.

“The tests produced oil yields substantially higher than our previous oil extraction test work, laying the groundwork for a significant improvement to the processing and extraction methods for the oil shale and vanadium ore body,” Mr Loyden said.

“We will now build on this strong momentum by conducting further optimisation tests and engineering design.

“Our task now is to determine the optimum processing and extraction method, which balances and maximises the returns we can make from both vanadium and the hydrocarbons available at Julia Creek.”

The oil extraction test results from the Julia Creek resource confirmed oil yields up to 181 kg per tonne, which is 218 per cent up on those reported under Modified Fischer Assay (MFA).

HRL Technology in Melbourne carried out the work using a hydrocarbon solvent that QEM said could be derived directly from the oil stream produced at Julia Creek.

The QEM vanadium/oil shale project covers 249.6sq km in the Julia Creek area of North West Queensland.

It hosts a JORC resource of 2760Mt with an average vanadium pentoxide content of 0.30 per cent and a 3C Contingent Oil Resource of 783 MMbbls.

The company is awaiting final results for extraction efficiencies for vanadium achieved from acid leach tests of shale ash feeds produced under different conditions.




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Cairns Regional Council has released two new 3D flythroughs to provide a glimpse of what the upgraded Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct will look like.

Construction is about to start on the $28 million project, which was fast-tracked in May during the COVID-19 slump to limit the disruption to traders and maximise the city’s appeal once tourists return.

In order to facilitate an accelerated program, council has adopted a three-staged delivery, which includes construction of the footpath as the first stage.

The second stage will be the construction of the road and landscaping in September and the outdoor dining area in October. The last stage will be completed in February 2021.

“We need to make the most of this stunning location and redevelopment of the Esplanade Dining Precinct will certainly enhance the experience for those visiting our city,” Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said.

“No one likes the disruption these works will cause, but by undertaking these works now, we will be ready for the return of strong visitor numbers.”

Council today also endorsed the establishment of the Esplanade Dining Precinct Advisory Committee, which includes the Mayor, Deputy Mayor Terry James, Division 5 Councillor Amy Eden and CEO John Andrejic, to assist the project meeting the new timeframes.

The council says the new flythroughs, along with refined concept designs, highlight the Esplanade Dining Precinct’s engaging layout.

It features contemporary awnings for weather protection, an extended dining area, modified and gently curving road alignment, extra footpaths, vertical gardens and grassed mounds.

The retention of one-way traffic along Esplanade allows for safer pedestrian movements and will also reduce unwanted noise.

Check out a flythrough HERE 




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A prime development site has hit the market near the new $300 million Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville’s CBD.

Local development company the Honeycombes Property Group is selling the former South Yards railway workshop site, a 17.2ha parcel zoned for mixed use.

Colliers International Queensland director for investment services Sam Biggins said they were already fielding calls about the property

“The underlying land is zoned mixed use, so ultimately it’s a redevelopment site,” Mr Biggins said.

“Typically with urban renewal projects a developer will see the idea and wait 15 years for the relevant State authorities to build some sort of infrastructure to help it grow.

“In this instance we have been very fortunate in that the government has delivered that stadium. It’s there. So the catalysts for change and regeneration of that precinct are now active.”

A key point of difference for this land was that it had a significant holding income of just under $900,000 per year, he said.

Local engineering and fabrication business Wulguru Steel were current tennants on part of the site, with operations including servicing rail cars, Mr Biggins said.

“There are a number of large development sites for sale in most markets at the moment, but very few of them have a stable income stream attached to them of this scale and are located on the boundary of the CBD, plus have a new $300 million piece of public infrastructure adjacent to their boundary,” he said.

Honeycombes Property Group secured the land in a deal with Aurizon in 2017. In an announcement at the time Honeycombes managing director Peter Honeycombe said the group’s vision for South Yards included ‘a diverse mix of residential, retail, commercial and entertainment’.

Mr Biggins said the size of the parcel meant there were many different development outcomes to explore. He believed Townsville City Council would want to see a masterplanned development rather than fragmented development on the key site.

He would expect the land to sell for in the order of $17 million.



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The Queensland Government is providing a financial leg-up for the  $1.4 billion Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in North Queensland.

The amount involved remains confidential and it comes with a range of conditions, including that Sconi developer Australian Mines completes construction by July 2023.

The State financial support package comes after the Queensland Government last year granted Sconi ‘prescribed project’ status to streamline the approvals process.

Australian Mines has successfully completed production runs of battery-grade cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate with ore from Sconi, near Greenvale.

The project will feature a 2Mtpa ore processing plant producing an estimated 7000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate and 46,800 tonnes of nickel sulphate per year over the mine’s initial 30-year life.

“Having the opportunity to access state funding for Sconi sends a strong message about the quality of the project and Australian Mines’ ability to progress its development, despite the broader economic uncertainty being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” managing director Benjamin Bell said.

He said the terms and timeframes set out as conditions of the government funding aligned with Australian Mines’ expectations.

They include that it secure an offtake agreement by September this year for 100 per cent of the cobalt sulphate and nickel sulphate to be produced and that it reach final investment decision in December.

It must also employ at least 191 people in Queensland in full-time ongoing roles by June 30, 2024.

“We are making good progress in seeking to secure the offtake and financing agreements needed to access this funding,” Mr Bell said.

“The development of Sconi would provide significant economic, employment and infrastructure benefits to Greenvale and Northern Queensland for, at least, the next three decades.”

The government funding will come through the $175 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund managed by the Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation.

Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the wider North Queensland region would benefit from the project, which is expected to support an estimated 500 jobs over a two-year construction period and create 289 long-term positions once fully operational.

“Not only do you have the jobs at the mine site, you have all the supply chain opportunities,” Mr Stewart said.

“The Greenvale community and its local economy and further down the pipeline to Townsville will see an estimated increase in Gross Regional Product by $2.2 billion over the life of the mine.

“That’s important for local manufacturers and local manufacturing jobs.”

Another critical minerals project received a government boost today, with a Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan approved to develop one of the world’s largest minerals sands project in Western Australia.

A NAIF loan of up to $150 million has been approved for the Strandline Resources, Coburn heavy mineral sands project, north of Geraldton.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the project was expected to benefit the local region to the tune of $922 million over 25 years and could create up to 315 jobs during the construction phase and up to 190 jobs during the operations phase.

As global demand for critical minerals that underpin the world’s advanced technologies continues to grow, Mr Pitt said the government was committed to supporting projects across the sector’s supply chain.



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