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News

Privately-owned Australian company Austral Resources aims to kick off mining at its Anthill copper deposit north of Mount Isa in early 2021, after purchasing it from Chinese-owned CST Minerals last year.

The project is set to deliver a real boost to the local employment market and inject much-needed funds into the economy, the new owners say. 

Managing director Shane O’Connell said the company was on target to award the tender for the mining contract of Anthill by the end of next month. 

The road haulage and crushing contracts associated with the new project are also expected to go out to the market for tender bidding.

Anthill will sit alongside Austral’s current Lady Annie Operations and is approximately 40km from the existing heap leach and SX/EW processing facilities.

Mr O’Connell said a 70-strong workforce was already employed at Lady Annie and, with the new Anthill project just around the corner, the outlook for a serious uplift in the local labour market was a given.

 “Not only will there be employment opportunities directly through Austral but also indirectly through various contractors jumping onboard the project,” he said. 

Anthill is expected to come into production as the Austral Resources team wind down the remnant mining campaign which they have been conducting at the existing Lady Annie and Brenda pits since February 2020.

Austral’s current campaign has resulted in a production rate of about 300 tonnes of copper cathode per month, and Mr O’Connell expected it to escalate to about 525 tonnes a month around December this year.

The processing ramp-up will set the scene for the commencement of ore stacking from Anthill, with an expected lift in output to about 1000 tonnes of LME grade A copper cathode per month.

“The remnant mining campaign has generated cash flow while allowing us to get the workforce on the ground and iron out any bugs before we break dirt at Anthill,” Mr O’Connell said. 

Austral Resources acquired Lady Annie and its associated tenements from CST Minerals in July last year.



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Capricorn Enterprise has launched an online initiative to help match major projects and other opportunities with local skills, with a Shoalwater Bay jobs hub set to get the scheme off to a flying start.

The ‘Work in Central Queensland’ portal is designed to deliver smart matching of interested talent, strong communities, and localisation of jobs, skills, and capital.

Developed in partnership with Australian-based developer uWorkin, the online and mobile solution is expected to benefit jobseekers, employment-focused community groups, training organisations, councils, and employers of all sizes together with many other groups. 

“We are pleased to launch this new ‘Work in Central Queensland’ site within the CQ community and welcome Shoalwater Bay Jobs onboard,” Capricorn Enterprise chief executive officer Mary Carroll said.

“With $4.5 billion worth of major infrastructure developments planned and underway during this decade of development, we face shortage of up to 3000 workers, which conversely presents a greater opportunity to attract workers and their families from densely populated areas within the nation, to a regional lifestyle.”

The need for such an industry platform was identified by the Central Queensland Major Project Workforce Alliance (CQMPWA).

“The CQMPWA has been working towards a solution of worker shortage across the past 18 months that will cement CQ as a destination of choice for skills development, jobs, lifestyle choices, population growth and economic prosperity,” Ms Carroll said.

‘Work in Central Queensland will aim to connect workers with all employment opportunities with every contractor within the supply chain, ensuring smaller businesses equal playing ground.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the creation of the Work in Central Queensland site and the Shoalwater Bay Jobs hub was years in the making.

“In 2018, I invited Ben Hughes from Hughes et al to present to a group of CQ business owners to present his ideas for a solution to bring skilled workers and their families to the region,” she said.

“Ever since, he has worked collaboratively with Capricorn Enterprise and I’m happy to see their solution come to life.

“More and more opportunities for work on the expansion of the Shoalwater Bay Training Area are opening every day. The Federal Government is committed to to maximising opportunities for local businesses across the life of the ASMTI through its Local Industry Capability Plan.

“With the Shoalwater Bay Jobs hub, we will see more and more local businesses seize the ample employment opportunities around Shoalwater Bay Training Area Expansion.”

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The Townsville Ring Rd Stage 5 design and build contract has been awarded to the Georgiou AECOM consortium.

Construction on the $230 million project is expected to start by mid-2021 and be complete in early 2023.

The Australian and Queensland governments today announced the contract to build that project and marked the start of early works by RoadTek on the $107.7 million Bruce Highway – Townsville Northern Access Intersections Upgrade.

More than 560 jobs would be up for grabs in Townsville as the two major regional road projects moved forward, they said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said major construction for both projects was on track to begin next year.

“The Townsville Northern Access Intersections Upgrade project will duplicate 5.2km of the Bruce Highway, including a new bridge over Black River, while the Stage 5 project will complete the four-laning of the 22km Townsville Ring Road,” Mr McCormack said.

“These projects are part of our $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline which will support our economy by creating jobs in North Queensland as we recover from COVID-19.”

Queensland Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said creating a multi-billion-dollar pipeline of road projects in Townsville would create jobs, drive safety and accommodate the region’s burgeoning freight and business community.

“We’re building the $514.3 million Bruce Highway upgrade through Haughton River, creating over 540 jobs, the biggest ever overhaul of Northern Australia’s largest port creating 125 jobs, and now we’re securing more jobs and improved safety with the next tranche of road upgrades in North Queensland,” Mr Bailey said.

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A geotechnical engineer from BMA’s Peak Downs mine in the Bowen Basin has won the Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award for 2020.

Kathryn Young was one of two Queensland winners when the prestigious Women in Resources National Awards were announced this week.

She took the Exceptional Young Woman honour for her impressive technical leadership, mentoring and strong advocacy on gender diversity.

Ms Young said geotechnical engineering had been a great balance of technical work, while also providing hands-on experience.

“I am so passionate about geotechnical engineering and thankful for the incredibly rewarding career I’ve been able to have so far.  It’s truly so nice to be recognised through these national awards,” she said.

“When I started my career, I never realised how many opportunities I could pursue in the industry, and I’m hopeful young women looking at my experience can see the career pathway I’ve been able to follow, and consider becoming part of the resource industry themselves.”

Peak Downs engineer shines at national awards
Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award winner Kathryn Young. 


Ms Young, who started her career at BHP in 2014 through the graduate program, actively promotes STEM careers, while mentoring and encouraging female students to pursue careers in the resources and engineering industry.  

Career highlights have included achieving Chartered Professional status in the area of Geotech with AusIMM, being registered as a Professional Engineer of Queensland, and being named Practitioner of the Year by the Bowen Hunter Open Cut Geotechnical Society for her contributions to the industry.

She has volunteered for the past five years as a general committee member with the Space Design Competitions Australia, travelled to India as a technical team mentor, and attended the Bowen Basin Geotech Society annual event to encourage students to pursue a career in the mining geotechnical field.

She has actively volunteered as a mentor for the University of Newcastle Science and Engineering Challenge for students in Brisbane and Moranbah. 

BMA Asset President James Palmer described My Young’s hard work, persistence and outstanding performance as hugely impressive.

“It’s critical that we have people like this in our business to drive change and help build our workforce for the future.”
A Bowen Basin worker who played a key role in the development of an electronic tablet for underground coal mining has won recognition at the BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards.

Larnie Mackay, Digital Transformation: Underground Project Lead for Anglo American in Moranbah, took the inaugural Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award.

Tablet breakthrough draws honour for project lead
Innovation award winner Larnie Mackay.
The judges selected Ms Mackay for her innovation and perseverance in leading the development of the first, and so far only, electronic tablet device certified for unrestricted use in underground coal mining in Australia.

“Our underground tablets have changed the way we work underground and opened the door for further improvements in digitisation and data analytics to help improve safety and productivity in our operations,” Ms Mackay said.

“It has been a culture and technology game changer at our underground mines, and the way it has been embraced by our teams – especially those underground – has been phenomenal.

“I’m proud to have been recognised for a project that has been a passion of mine for a long time, and that I know will have an impact on our industry into the future.”

She was one of two Queensland women to take top honours in the Women in Resources National Awards presented by the Minerals Council of Australia today.

Kathryn Young, Geotechnical Engineer at BHP’s Peak Downs Mine in Moranbah took the Newcrest Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award for her impressive technical leadership, mentoring and strong advocacy on gender diversity.

 “The winners of the prestigious BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards announced today highlight the diversity, calibre and skills of people working in Australia’s world-leading resources industry,” MCA chief executive officer Tania Constable said.

“These awards celebrate initiatives that create a more diverse, safer, fairer and stronger sector. And as ambassadors and role models, the award winners will inspire more women to enter the resources workforce.”

The winners of the BHP 2020 Women in Resources National Awards are:

Dyno Nobel Exceptional Woman in Australian Resources Award – Renata Roberts, chief corporate services Officer, The Bloomfield Group in Singleton New South Wales for the extensive examples of her leadership across a number of areas, her capability and agility throughout her career, and for her community outreach particularly through the HR Hub and Educators Forum initiative.

Newcrest Exceptional Young Woman in Australian Resources Award – Kathryn Young, geotechnical engineer at BMA’s Peak Downs mine in Moranbah Queensland for her impressive technical leadership, mentoring and strong advocacy on gender diversity.

Rio Tinto Gender Diversity Champion in Australian Resources Award – Brett Robins, crew leader, Bell Bay Aluminium in Tasmania for his strong personal commitment to diversity and for achieving a 50 per cent increase in female participation as well as sustainable cultural change in the workplace.

St Barbara Excellence in Company Programs and Performance Award – Vanessa Davies, national general manager, diversity, inclusion and Indigenous engagement at the Compass Group in Perth for the Launch into Work program which supports long-term unemployed women.

Maptek Women in Resources Technological Innovation Award – Larnie Mackay, Digital Transformation: Underground Project Lead, Anglo American in Moranbah Queensland for her innovation and perseverance in leading the development of the first and so far only electronic tablet device certified for unrestricted use in underground coal mining in Australia.

Thiess Outstanding Australian Tradeswoman, Operator or Technician Award – Jennifer Ward, open pit supervisor at Newmont’s Boddington gold mine in Western Australia for her strong leadership and influence on-site and in the community.
Townsville Energy Chemicals Hub proponents have entered a memorandum of understanding with James Cook University for work hoped to see the project become world’s first ‘zero waste’ nickel /cobalt production facility.

Pure Minerals subsidiary Queensland Pacific Metals said the initial focus of the research program would be the leach residue produced at the planned battery chemicals plant.

The processing option being used for the TECH project was more sustainable than the traditional high pressure acid leach (HPAL) as it resulted in a much lower amount of residue, it said.

Another advantage is that the benign residue can be dry stacked, eliminating the need for the risky and costly tailings dams required for HPAL plants.

The research with JCU will look at the characteristics of residue from the TECH plant and the potential to convert to into commercial applications such as engineered landfill, pavers and cement feed.

“If the TECH porject was able to redirect its small amount of inert residue to commercial application, it would deliver an additional revenue stream,” Pure Minerals said in a release to the ASX.

“More importantly the TECH project would effectively become the world’s first ‘zero waste’ nickel /cobalt production facility.

“This step change would be attractive to the end users of battery chemicals, international conglomerates who are focused on ensuring that their raw materials are responsibly sourced, both from an environmental and social perspective.”

The company also reported that its collaboration on directing TECH byproducts to a joint iron product with Sun Metals zinc refinery was delivering encouraging results.

QPM and Sun Metals have appointed Drytech International Holdings to carry out preliminary agglomeration trials on iron samples.

TECH looks to ‘zero waste’ outcome for NQ plant

Initial trials have demonstrated successful agglomeration of the iron fines into pellets, creating a saleable product as blast furnace feed for steel making.

Meanwhile Hatch has been appointed to the QPM owner’s team for pilot plant trials to be carried out at the ALS Global Hydrometallurgy Centre of Excellence in Perth.

QPM says the involvement of Hatch is a stepping stone to commencing a bankable feasibility study for the TECH project.