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News

Mount Carbine owner EQ Resources has moved to double its high-tech ore-sorting capacity at the tungsten operation with the acquisition of a second Tomra XRT sorter.

The additional investment is part of the early works program the company is advancing ahead of the release of the bankable feasibility study for a major expansion and rebirth of the historical Mount Carbine mine.

The planned expansion includes a ramp-up of operations to extract tungsten from the site’s 12M-tonne low-grade ore stockpile and the restart of open-pit mining at Mount Carbine.

New estimates show EQ Resources is sitting on a $3 billion tungsten resource at the site, with total metal contained estimated at about 6.7 million mtu (metric ton unit, equal 10 kg).

EQ Resources last month announced that it would be boosting its mining fleet with $1.7 million worth of machinery, and announced plans for power and plant upgrades by the end of the year to make the most of soaring tungsten prices.

The operation has recently achieved daily production levels of up to 2.5 tonnes of tungsten concentrate through Tomra XRT sorting ramp-ups and debottlenecking of the gravity plant.

Chief executive officer Kevin MacNeill said the sorter expansion was a key element for the overall production expansion from the low grade stockpile.

“Our good relationship with Tomra led to this opportunity to mobilise an additional unit for EQR, where Tomra will ensure that the machine is brought up to Tomra’s latest technology features,” he said.

The unit comes as part of a fully operational system including all electrical and utility supply units.

The ‘COM Tertiary XRT’ type machine has been operational at a site in Queensland and will be dismantled and transported to Mount Carbine within the coming six weeks.

Full commissioning of the unit, with a throughput capacity of up to 80 tonnes per hour, is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.

In the past year the company has completed a METS Ignited co-funded XRT pilot program, which achieved an up to 28-times upgrade of material from the site’s low-grade stockpile to produce a sorter concentrate fed to Mount Carbine’s gravity plant.

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Mercurius has finalised commissioning and is ready to start operations at a Mackay pilot plant that will use patented REACH technology to produce chemicals, diesel and jet fuel from sugarcane waste.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Mackay, in the heart of sugarcane country, was the perfect place for this biofuels trial to take place.

“This project signals the start of a new industry for the region which means local jobs and further strengthens Mackay’s credentials as a leading biorefinery location,” she said.

“The plant at the Queensland University of Technology’s Biocommodities Facility in Mackay will be fully operational over a three-month period.

“My government has helped get this project off the ground, providing support through the Jobs and Regional Growth fund.”

The technology converts a range of biomass feedstocks into:

  • renewable ‘drop-in’ fuels that can be tailored for use in jet and diesel engines (unlike biodiesel, the fuel requires no modification for retail sale)
  • renewable chemicals for bio-based industrial plastics such as bottles, textiles, food packaging, carpets, electronic materials and automotive applications.

The REACH process avoids the need for the use of pure sugars, high operating temperatures and high pressures, resulting in faster conversion rate and lower cost of production than current processes.

Representatives from QUT will work alongside Mercurius to examine the technology and valuable by-products to enhance commercialisation opportunities in Queensland.

Mercurius chief executive officer and technology development director Karl Seck has been in Mackay assisting in site preparations for the pilot equipment installation and commissioning.
“Queensland was the best location for us to run this pilot plant and we hope to see success so we can move forward with plans for a larger demonstration plant,” Mr Seck said.

“The potential broader economic and environmental benefits derived from our REACHtechnology is significant for both the region and the low-carbon intensity biofuel industry and we are excited to get started here in Queensland.”

Project leader from QUT’s Centre for Agriculture and Bioeconomy and Advance Queensland Research Fellow Dr Darryn Rackemann welcomed the progress on the project.

“This is transformative technology and to be part of the pilot process is fantastic”, Dr Rackemann said.

“QUT will be looking into the commercial opportunities from the REACH technology which could lead to producing renewable fuels and chemicals in Queensland creating new jobs and opportunities for regional communities.”

The project has been funded through the Jobs and Regional Growth fund and aligns with the State Government’s Biofutures industry development roadmap and action plan to support and inspire Queensland businesses secure their share of the global bioproducts and services market.


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Plans to build a 105km underground pipeline from the Burdekin River to Bowen have been boosted with $5 million in federal funding for a detailed business case.

Bowen Pipeline Company is behind the $160 million proposal, which could bring up to 100 gigalitres to agricultural and primary industry customers in the region every year.

“This is a concept that has been discussed since construction of the Burdekin Falls Dam 40 years ago and, given the enormous opportunity open to horticulture, agriculture and aquaculture, and the need for a reliable and secure source of water, now is the time to make it happen for the communities of the Bowen region,” Bowen Pipeline Company director Sean Brown said.

Majority owned by local growers, the group aims to break ground for the Bowen Pipeline Project in 2023.

The Bowen Pipeline Project funding was part of a $6.9 million pledge towards bringing more water supply and security in northern Queensland through the National Water Grid Fund.

Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen said the remaining $1.9 million would deliver the detailed business case required for the Burdekin Haughton Water Supply Scheme Modernisation project.

“This business case will consider the viability of new or upgraded infrastructure in the scheme, which will have the potential to recover 15 to 20 gigalitres of additional water that can be allocated to local growers and farmers who can put it to great use,” Mr Christensen said.

“It could also reduce the inflows to the groundwater table by up to 3,000 megalitres a year, better protecting the quality of that precious natural resource.

“The Burdekin Haughton scheme already supplies water for irrigation customers in the lower Burdekin region, backing local businesses and farmers including those producing our famous mangoes and sugar cane.

“Abundant, reliable water makes our region tick, which is why we’re work to put in place the water infrastructure that will allow our farmers and businesses to grow into the future.”

The Australian Government’s $3.5 billion National Water Grid Fund is investing in 70 construction projects and more than 60 business cases nationwide.


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The Morris Group has officially started construction on a $80 million luxury hotel project on vacant land adjacent to The Ville Resort—Casino in Townsville.

Pilings are to be installed over the next eight weeks for the yet-to-be-named hotel development.

Owner Chris Morris said the project had been in the pipeline for several years with a lot of time invested in ensuring the final concept and design was just right.

“This location is truly something special – the views are some of the best you’ll see anywhere in the world

– so we wanted to make sure that what we built here was going to be worthy of its surrounds,” he said.

“I’m pretty confident that what we’ve come up with is going to put Townsville and the broader North Queensland region firmly on the radar for leisure travellers from all over Australia and abroad.”

Prime will act as principal contractor for the project, with construction due to be completed in mid 2023.

The Ville chief executive officer Michael Jones said it was exciting for The Ville and the Townsville community to see ground broken on a project that was set to help stimulate the local economy and put North Queensland on the map as a luxury travel destination.”

“The hotel is going to be something truly special that Townsville hasn’t seen before,” he said.

The hotel will feature 132 hotel rooms, each with their own private balconies taking advantage of views over the Coral Sea to Magnetic Island and Townsville’s iconic beachfront and Castle Hill.

There will also be a rooftop tapas bar and infinity pool, a fine dining restaurant, day spa, seaside boardwalks and ground floor Japanese inspired restaurant and bar.

Future plans for the precinct also include a superyacht marina.

Morris Group hopes to take advantage of an influx of superyachts in the North Queensland region which currently bypass Townsville because there’s nowhere for them to dock.

Image: Site work has started for a new hotel development at Townsville. Photo courtesy Mendi Group.

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Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Future Industries plans to build the world’s largest electrolyser, renewable industry and equipment factory at Gladstone.

FFI expects to invest “up to or in excess of $1 billion” in the project as orders firm for electrolysers and other green industry equipment.

The first stage of the development, announced by FFI and the Queensland Government on Sunday, is expected to cost up to $114 million to bring online, with the first electrolysers scheduled for production in early 2023.

FFI will build the plant at Aldoga within the Gladstone State Development Area with an initial capacity to manufacture up to two gigawatts (GW) of electrolysers annually.

It is initially expected to create 120 construction jobs and 53 operational jobs, with jobs numbers to exceed 300 over the life of the project.

Construction will begin in February 2022, pending final approvals.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the partnership between FFI and the State Government would see Gladstone become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers – vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.

“This project will put Gladstone on the map as a world leader in the renewable-hydrogen supply chain,” she said

FFI said the Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre (GEM) would be the first step in a series of projects that would continue to transform regional Australia through green industry manufacturing and energy production centres.

GEM will be delivered in specialist production lines according to the requirements of FFI and its customers, including the manufacture of wind turbines, long-range electric cabling, solar photovoltaic cells, electrolysers and associated infrastructure.

Stage one of the six-stage project will establish Australia’s first multi-gigawatt-scale electrolyser factory, with an initial capacity of 2 gigawatts (GW) per annum – more than doubling current global production.

Fortescue also plans to establish its first Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) in Queensland at GEM, in addition to Trade Up and Leadership and Excellence programs.

FFI chairman and founder, Dr Andrew Forrest said, “As GEM develops according to FFI’s own requirements and other customer needs, manufacturing will come roaring back to regional Australia, creating many thousands of jobs.

“Fortescue is again ahead of the curve and we are immensely proud to be pioneering a Global Green Energy Manufacturing Centre in Gladstone.

“This initiative is a critical step in Fortescue’s transition from a highly successful pure play iron ore producer, to an even more successful green renewables and resources powerhouse.”

Queensland’s other recent hydrogen industry initiatives include the formation of a consortium, which includes generator Stanwell and Japan’s largest hydrogen supplier Iwatani, proposing to export $4.2 billion in renewable hydrogen from Gladstone.

Sumitomo Corporation has also formalised its partnership with Gladstone Ports Corporation, Gladstone Regional Council, CQUniversity Australia and Australian Gas Infrastructure Group to develop Australia’s first hydrogen ecosystem in Central Queensland.

In Townsville, the Queensland Government is working with Sun Metals on their immediate plans to use hydrogen in their refinery operations and trucking fleet and their ambitions to move zinc refinery operations to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2040.

Hydrogen export facilities are also being investigated at a large number of Queensland’s ports including the Port of Gladstone, Port of Townsville and Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay.

Image: FFI chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in Gladstone.


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Copper Resources Australia is on track to kick off mining at the Rocklands copper operation in North-West Queensland this month.

The company said it had already produced the first copper concentrate from stockpiled material at the previously mothballed mine after work throughout this year to redesign and commission the site’s crushing and flotation plants.

General manager for people and business support Sarah Barter said it was building up to a workforce of 175 by the end of the year.

The bulk of the 100-plus recruits to date were drawn from the Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Townsville and Cairns regions, she said.

Copper Resources Australia took over the troubled site in December 2020, more than two years after operations were suspended under former owner CuDeco, which went into liquidation in May 2020.

The company comes under the Mount Cuthbert Group, which also runs the Mount Cuthbert mine (previously known as the Leichhardt project).

It expects to invest $52 million into the Rocklands operation, 17km west of Cloncurry, in 2021 and $95 million in 2022.

Chief executive officer Stewart Robinson said the significant investment in the site had ensured substantial economic benefits to Cloncurry and North-West Queensland.

This included local employment, local business development either through direct supply or indirectly, civil and infrastructure improvements.

“The objective for the Rocklands site is to change and improve on the previous CuDeco operations and management strategies, through low debt, efficiencies, reducing operational and management costs,” Mr Robinson said.

“CRA is fully aware of the challenges that are before us so that we can deliver the very best in outcomes for the shareholders, investors and at the same time enhancing the liveability and economic viability of the Cloncurry shire and North-West Queensland.”

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