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News

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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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The Ville Resort-Casino in Townsville has unveiled plans for a $7 million redevelopment, with Prime acting as principal contractor.

Chief executive officer Michael Jones said the redevelopment would provide a big boost to the state’s economy with an all-Queensland project team.

“Brisbane-based design firm BSPN has been signed on to oversee the project because of their extensive experience in gaming hospitality projects like this one, including their work on Star Gold Coast,” he said.

“North Queensland company Prime was awarded the principal contract and have committed to using local tradies and contractors as a first preference for all aspects of the build.

“We estimate that this project will provide 100 jobs for local trades during the construction phase, plus an additional 20 jobs for gaming and food and beverage staff once the new wing is operational.”

Under the plan, the Grand Ballrooms and adjacent function rooms at The Ville will be transformed into an exclusive private gaming area for the casino’s high end members.

An upgraded ballroom space will allow for conferencing and entertainment featuring state-of-the-art staging and audiovisual equipment.

Mr Jones said the project was the logical next stage of the Morris Group’s initial $45 million redevelopment of The Ville, which concluded in 2018.

Demolition work is scheduled to begin in December 2020 with the aim for the project to be completed in June 2021.

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BHP has reported a four per cent increase in metallurgical coal production in the past quarter, with Blackwater back at full capacity towards the end of that period.

The company said guidance for the 2021 financial year remained unchanged at between 40 and 44 Mt in relation to its stake in the metallurgical coal mines (71- 77 Mt on a 100 per cent basis).

However it said it was monitoring for any potential impacts from restrictions on coal imports into China.

Strong underlying operational performance at its Queensland coal operations, including record truck and shovel stripping, was partially offset by planned major wash plant shutdowns at Blackwater, Goonyella, Saraji and Caval Ridge, the company reported.

The largest mine, Blackwater, mine, was back at full capacity by the end of September 2020, following recovery from significant wet weather impacts in the March 2020 quarter.

The company’s thermal coal production decreased by 17 per cent to 5 Mt, with guidance for the 2021 financial year under review due to an ongoing strike at Cerrejón.

BHP chief executive officer Mike Henry said that overall group production rose two per cent from a year ago driven by solid results in metallurgical coal and iron ore.

Major major growth projects made good progress, and the company secured more options in copper, nickel and oil, he said.

“While our copper operations in South America continue to be impacted by COVID-19 preventative measures, we achieved strong concentrator throughput at Escondida and expect first production from the Spence Growth Option before the end of March 2021,” Mr Henry said.

“In Australia, Olympic Dam delivered its best quarterly production in the past five years and we are on track for first production from South Flank in the middle of the 2021 calendar year.

“In petroleum, we have entered an agreement to increase our interest in the tier one Shenzi asset while delivering first production from Atlantis Phase 3 ahead of schedule and within budget.

“In copper, we secured an option agreement in the Northern Territory in Australia and saw further promising exploration results from Oak Dam. We
bolstered our nickel options with an exploration alliance in Canada and completion of the Honeymoon Well acquisition.

“With a period of uncertainty to navigate, our efforts to be safer, more reliable and lower cost are as important as ever. We are alive to the challenges ahead but we look forward with confidence in our people and our strategy.”

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