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News

About 500 people are at work on Anglo American’s Aquila project as it heads towards first longwall production of hard coking coal in early 2022.

Aquila will extend the life of the Capcoal underground operations near Middlemount by six years and continue to utilise infrastructure at the complex as the Grasstree mine approaches end of life.

Anglo American has awarded nearly $200 million in contracts to six longwall equipment suppliers to deliver a walk-on, walk-off system using two complete longwalls.

It is also investing $20 million for an overland conveyor system and more than $20 million in civil works.

In addition to the construction contacts, Anglo American awarded a $95 million mining development contract to Mackay-based Mastermyne in 2019.

The project includes a $5 million reverse osmosis water treatment system to increase the use of recycled water and reduce the reliance on fresh water at the mine.

“Aquila is progressing well, with support from its Queensland-based workforce and contracting partners,” Anglo American metallurgical coal business chief executive officer Tyler Mitchelson said.

“More than 90 per cent of our Aquila contracts have been awarded to Queensland-based suppliers, and we currently have around 500 people working on the project in engineering, surface construction and underground development.

“Aquila will be a breakthrough project, designed to set a new standard of safety and performance by leveraging technology and focusing on operational improvements.

“The mine will showcase our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining, with a remote operating centre on the surface of the mine, proximity detection systems underground to alert machine operators to pedestrians and the continued digitisation of our operations, using new technologies such as our Australian-first intrinsically safe underground electronic tablets.”

Last financial year, Anglo American invested $2.83 billion with Queensland suppliers, which was 77 per cent of the company’s total expenditure in Australia.

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Mackay’s Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal business will be listed on the stock exchange next month under Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure, with a market value of more than $1.2 billion.

The prospectus for the float was released yesterday, with start of trading on the ASX expected on December 8. It is expected to be be one of the largest infrastructure listings in 10 years.

The offer price will be $2.57 per stapled security, to raise a total of $656 million. Indicative market capitalisation is listed at $1.286 billion.

Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure owns 100 per cent of the long-term leasehold in Dalrymple Bay terminal, one of the world’s largest metallurgical coal export facilities

Brookfield Infrastructure Partners expects to retain up to 49 per cent of the company, while the Queensland Investment Corporation will invest $128 million and hold a 9.9 per cent stake.

The Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal is a regulated multi-user export terminal within Port of Hay Point, 38km south of Mackay, and has a nameplate capacity of 85Mtpa.

Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure’s independent chair – former Queensland Government minister David Hamill – described Dalrymple Bay terminal as a highly strategic asset given its critical role in the global steelmaking supply chain.

“As the key export gateway for some of the highest quality product available to the global steel industry, it is a significant contributor to the Queensland economy, the world’s largest export region for metallurgical coal, handling more than 30 per cent of the state’s coal exports,” he said.

“As the terminal begins to accommodate expected future growth from the Bowen Basin, so too will it support further regional investment and jobs, particularly around the broader Mackay region.”

Mr Hamill stated in the prospectus that the group had made substantial progress toward the next phase of expansion of the terminal.

More information on Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure HERE

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Field Mining Services Group is flying in the face of the coal downturn with plans for a new $5 million workshop in Paget, Mackay.

It is a case of the group outgrowing the capabilities of its current Paget premises, where the major mining maintenance contractor has undertaken workshop activity for the past 13 years.

Chief operating officer Jason Holt expected it would invest a further $500,000 on top of the building costs for workshop machinery such as equipment for laser cutting and for bending and pressing steel.

Construction is expected to kick off early next year and the new facilities are hoped to be in business by the third quarter of 2021.

“The new workshop will be a purpose-built facility with overhead cranage,” Mr Holt said. “The shed we are in is older and not well suited for what we do.”

He admits the current coal downturn is something that ‘keeps me up at night’ with such an investment planned.

“We’ve been talking about this for about four years and we finally committed to it about 18 months ago,” he said.

“Then COVID hit and we pulled the reins on it, but workflow has been steady and the three business partners including myself have decided to keep going.

“We’ve got workflow there and a bit of a pipeline ahead of us – enough to make that decision a positive one for us.”

While the majority of Field Mining Services’ work was site-based, Mr Holt said it required increasing workshop capabilities and space to support that, and there was opportunity to leverage that aspect to continue to grow the business.

“We can be an end-to-end provider. We can fabricate in-house and install on site. If there’s something in a shutdown that needs off-site repair, we can then transport it to our workshop.”

The Central Queensland business employs about 300 people, with just over 20 at the existing Mackay workshop. But Mr Holt said that would increase as the new workshop came online.

“Mining is an unknown, we know that, so it’s good to diversify with what we do,” Mr Holt said.

“Our focus is on mining. We have some Tier 1 clients and we have supported them and they have supported us through the last two downturns.

“We are going to try to lock ourselves into some long-term contracts and keep servicing the area locally.”

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Ravenswood Gold nurse Greg Clark has been named as a Local Hero Award winner for his dedication to the health and wellbeing of the Ravenswood community.

He was among nine 2020 Local Hero winners announced by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section), recognising Queenslanders who have donated time and energy to keep the Flying Doctor in the air, or assisted in an emergency.

The RFDS said Mr Clark and fellow Ravenswood Gold nurse Vanessa De Landelles were regularly called upon to go above their call of duty as the mine’s dedicated nurses to deliver healthcare to the people of Ravenswood.

RFDS doctor Yvonne Doveren said having the nurses at Ravenswood was a great support to the medical staff flying in to care for the community.

 “As we only hold one clinic a month in Ravenswood it is a great relief to our doctors that there are qualified nurses who are happy to follow up with patients and keep us up to date with any concerns while we are not here,” she said.

“The Ravenswood community is so fortunate to have the Ravenswood Gold nurses – they really do go above and beyond both to treat community members and to assist RFDS in holding clinics in town.”

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Genex Power expects to reach financial close on its Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project by the end of 2020 after a series of setbacks.

The company missed its September 2020 target date for delivering financial close on the project, which is expecetd to deliver 500 jobs in construction.

But chairman Ralph Craven, speaking at the company AGM, said Genex was now in the final stages of negotiations with an investor to take up a 50 per cent interest in the project.

“Genex made significant progress on advancing the flagship 250MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project (K2-Hydro) and, while the process for financial close has been both exhausting and challenging, we are still aiming to reach financial close on the project this calendar year and are continuing our extensive engagement with all project stakeholders,” Dr Craven said.

The project, being built at the old Kidston gold mine site, has a total construction pricing of about $600 million. This excludes transmission costs, financing costs and Genex’s development costs to date.

It will use two former mining pits (Wises and Eldridge) as the upper and lower reservoirs for the project to minimise construction time and cost. 

During peak power demand periods water will be released from the upper to the lower reservoir, passing through  reversible pump/generators acting in generation mode. During off peak periods, water will be pumped back to the upper reservoir. 

The project achieved a breakthrough in March when Genex secured a long-term energy offtake agreement with EnergyAustralia, allowing it to move forward.

At that point the company expected to begin construction in the second half of this year.

In August, Genex signed a new $25 million Share Subscription Agreement
with Japanese public utility company J-Power, and the Queensland Government recently reaffirmed its commitment of $132 million towards transmission infrastructure.

The company has been able to secure extensions on key agreements to fit the new timeline, including the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) offer of up to $610 million.

“The validity of Powerlink’s offer to connect, which includes the construction of the transmission line, has also been extended and we also recently concluded an early works agreement with Powerlink which will secure the timeline for the construction program,” Dr Craven said.

“The scope of early works includes the establishment of the project management processes, contractor engagement and the start of transmission line design.”

Dr Craven also provided an update on the company’s Bouldercombe Battery Project near Rockhampton.

“Genex has already secured an Investigation Licence and Tenure Arrangements Agreement with Powerlink Queensland to access land adjacent to Powerlink’s Bouldercombe substation,” he said.

“We have also selected our preferred battery system supplier and integrator for the project and have submitted an application for connection to the NEM.

“With several workstreams well advanced, we are looking to fast-track the development and aim for the project to be operational in the first half of calendar year 2022.”

Genex expects to seal hydro project deal within weeks
The Northern Territory Government has approved McArthur River mine’s amended Mining Management Plan 2020, clearing the way for continued operations and ongoing employment of about 1000 people.

It says the Glencore-owned mine, which has been operating since 1995, is one of the world’s largest zinc resources and will play a key role in supporting Territory jobs for decades to come. 

“The Territory Labor Government is supporting jobs and protecting the environment through strict regulation for the McArthur River Mine and its future operations,” Mining and Industry Minister Nicole Manison said. 

“Our resources industry is one of the biggest contributors to the NT economy, and our strong future in mining will play a huge role in making the Territory the comeback capital of Australia. 

“The approval of the amended Mining Management Plan 2020 ensures McArthur River mine can continue to operate in an environmentally safe and responsible manner – while continuing to support thousands of Territory jobs.”

The government says the plan outlines the mine’s sustainable ongoing resource development in a way which minimises environmental impacts and ensures long-term beneficial land uses after closure.

McArthur River Mining is now authorised to begin activities detailed in the Overburden Management Project (OMP), which includes 30 recommendations developed by the NT Environment Protection Authority. 

The company must also comply with all relevant legislative requirements and conditions of authorisation, including those relating to the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989.

McArthur River Mining general manager Steven Rooney said the approval was great news for the site’s 1100 workers as well as business partners and suppliers.

“It provides certainty for our employees and stakeholders, and reflects our ongoing commitment to managing a safe and responsible mining operation,” he said. 

MRM is one of the largest employers in the Territory and last year contributed more than $550 million to the economy.

This included investment in community initiatives and the purchase of goods and services from 980 businesses, including many located in Darwin and the Gulf Region. 

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