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Tin was the best-performing London Metals Exchange metal in 2016, but prices performed in a choppy fashion in 2017. 

That’s not stopping investment by Consolidated Tin in far north Queensland.

NQ development kicks on after a bumpy 2017

Most metals rallied in the second half of the year, and although tin reached high levels it could not sustain the $20,000-per-tonne-mark for too long.

Gains were limited by warehouse stocks and China’s influence cannot be understated. Read more here.

Consolidated Tin Mines continues to ramp up its exploration and mining activities in the Mount Garnet and Einasleigh areas.

The company is advising that Stage 3 drilling at the Mt Garnet Deeps project is underway with two of the planned five drill holes completed to date.

The drilling program focuses on the upper area of the Mt Garnet Deeps mineralisation.

Stage 2 drilling was successful in defining a broad envelope of mineralisation which remains open at depth and to the south.

The Stage 2 drilling provided significant intercepts of economic grade and confirmed a contiguous curtain of mineralisation in what is described as the footwall position within the host skarn lithological envelope.

The Jasmac mineralisation currently spans a strike length of over 200m to a depth of approximately 200m.

The company restarted production at its Mount Garnet zinc mine mid-2017.
In almost 25 years in the mining industry, Pierre Malan admits getting the Dugald River mine ready for production has been among the most challenging, but also satisfying, tasks he has faced.

The 44-year-old South African-born mining engineer has been MMG’s general manager project delivery at the mine since 2015, overseeing up to 100 MMG employees and 450 contractors in a long journey which will see the first shipment of zinc concentrate leave the port of Townsville by the end of this year.

Tributes to Dugald River team

Splitting his time between MMG’s Melbourne headquarters and the mine, 65km north-west of Cloncurry, Mr Malan has had the sometimes daunting task of leading the project team from inception in establishing a fully fledged zinc operation.

“It has certainly been an interesting role,” said Mr Malan, who entered the mining industry after graduating with a degree in mining engineering from the University of Pretoria in 1994.

“Essentially, my role has been to oversee the construction team and operations team to build an operation that will eventually mine and process 1.7Mtpa zinc ore through underground mining and export about 450,000 tonnes of concentrate through Townsville.

“Among the key challenges have been aligning the operations and construction teams, reducing capital costs during the construction phase and improving the project’s value at a time when the zinc price was well below the long-term projected price.”

Mr Malan is particularly proud of the effort put in by everyone associated with the project to reduce costs during a period when the price of zinc gave little long-term cause for optimism.

“In January 2016 the price of zinc was around 66c per pound and we needed loan fi nance to get the project up and running,” he recalls.

““We worked extremely hard to reduce capital costs, to the extent that as of today we anticipate a total project cost of between $US550 and $US570 million (for development completed from August 2015), well down on a projected cost of about $US750 million in 2015.

“That was made possible only because we had very good people working very hard on the project.”

As for the future, the married father of two has much more to achieve at Dugald River and hopes to continue working for an organisation he believes will only get bigger.

“I’m always looking at ways we can improve the way we do things at Dugald River, so that’s a big focus,” Mr Malan said.

“As for the future, I’ve hopefully got another 20 years of work left and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with MMG.

“It’s a growing company with big ambition and what my role is in its growth remains to be seen.”
MMG has reported the first shipment of ore through Townsville port from Dugald River.

Another milestone for Dugald River

Around 10,500 wet metric tonnes of zinc concentrate produced as part of commissioning activities at the Dugald River Project departed the Port of Townsville for Huangpu, China this month.

“The first shipment of concentrate from the Port of Townsville is another significant milestone in the delivery of Dugald River, MMG’s first greenfield project,” said Pierre Malan, General Manager Dugald River Project Delivery,

“I would like to recognise the significant contribution of Dugald River employees and contract partners in achieving this key milestone," said Mr Malan.

"This first shipment is an achievement not only for MMG, but for all that championed the Dugald River project throughout its development,”

Located approximately 65km north-west of Cloncurry in Queensland, Australia, Dugald River will process an average 1.7 million tonnes per annum of ore to initially produce 170,000 tonnes of zinc in concentrate, plus by-products. When fully operational, the Dugald River mine will be a top-10 global zinc mine.
Townsville city council has gone out of its way to accommodate applications for a new hospital and a lifestyle precinct.

The Hive mixed use development plan on the Strand between King and Wickham Sts includes a hotel, residential apartments, commercial office space and an education centre.

Planning approval for multi-million projects in Townsville

Council also approved a Material Change of Use application to allow for the old West End State School to be redeveloped into a health care facility at an estimated cost of $54 million.

The Weststate Private Hospital project includes constructing a five-storey, 22-bed hospital adjacent to the school building. 

Townsville City Council Chief Executive Officer Adele Young has provided preliminary approval to vary the Town Plan for The Hive.

It includes 45 less car parking spaces than the required 895 and two mixed use towers one 16 stories and another 14 stories high.

The Hive would require further development approvals before the project could commence, said Townsville City Council CEO Adele Young.

The preliminary approval struck an appropriate balance between encouraging major developments and ensuring the development was consistent with the Townsville 2020 masterplan, Ms Young said.

“This preliminary approval ensures the Hive will be a sustainable development and revitalise that area of the city and The Strand,” she said.

“This shows how important it is to take into account the broader surroundings of any development and why Council has launched its Townsville 2020 masterplan to ensure projects are consistent with the vision for our city.”

The Hive proposal also includes the refurbishment of the heritage-listed Queens Hotel.

The proponent estimates the project would create 1,800 jobs during construction over a 10-year period, and after completion 690 full time positions would be created along with some 800 casual positions
Rio Tinto is expanding its remote controlled truck fleet in the Pilbara by retro-fitting older vehicles.

Rio is planning to have 50 percent more haul trucks, or another 29 Komatsu and 19 Caterpillar vehicles, on line on separate operations by the end of 2019.

Remote controlled profit

The project at the Brockman 4 operation is scheduled for completion by mid-2019, allowing the mine to run entirely in AHS mode once fully deployed. That operation runs Komatsu.

The company runs Caterpillar haul trucks at the Marandoo mine. The retrofit is the first time AHS technology has been deployed by the company on Caterpillar haul trucks.

The project was expected to make a significant contribution toward Rio Tinto’s $5 billion productivity program said Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury.

Rapid advances in technology was continuing to revolutionise the way large-scale mining is undertaken across the globe, Mr Salisbury said.

“The expansion of our autonomous fleet via retro-fitting helps to improve safety, unlocks significant productivity gains, and continues to cement Rio Tinto as an industry leader in automation and innovation,” he said.

“We are studying future additions to our autonomous fleet in the Pilbara, based on value, to help deliver our share of $5 billion of additional free cash flow for the company by 2021.

“Rio Tinto is committed to working closely with our workforce as we transition to AHS including providing opportunities for new roles, redeployment, retraining and upskilling.”

Automation was helping to improve productivity and efficiencies across Rio Tinto’s operations in the Pilbara, Mr Salisbury said.

“The retrofit programme will assist Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in delivering an additional $500 million of free cash flow annually from 2021,” he said.

Last year, on average, each of Rio Tinto’s autonomous haul trucks operated an additional 1000 hours and at 15 per cent lower load and haul unit cost than conventional haul trucks.

“About 20 per cent of the existing fleet of almost 400 haul trucks in the Pilbara is AHS-enabled,” he said.

“Following the completion of the projects with Komatsu and Caterpillar, Rio Tinto will have more than 130 autonomous trucks, representing about 30 per cent of the fleet.”
Townsville company Thomas Steel Fabrication has been awarded the first structural steel package in the building of the North Queensland Stadium.

Winning the western stand contract meant continuity of work for his company that will have 45 to 50 workshop and site-based employees dedicated to the project over the next 9 to 10 months said managing director John Lane.

The stadium is the first under the Federal Government's City Deal program and is being delivered by managing contractor Watpac.

The Department of State Development and Watpac were working closely with local industry to achieve a target where at least 80 per cent of the value of the project was spent on local sub-contractors and suppliers said Minister for State Development Cameron Dick.

They held similar ambitions for local employment Mr Dick said.

“Since early site works started in July 2017, 230 people have been inducted, of which 99 per cent have been North Queensland locals,” he said.

It is estimated more than 158 North Queensland businesses have now been engaged directly and as part of the extended supply chain for the North Queensland Stadium project.

Other large projects by Thomas Steel Fabricators include:

  • LAND 121 – Stage 2 Unit Sustainment Facilities, Lavarack Barracks Townsville
  • Replacement Chinook Facility – RAAF Base Townsville
  • Townsville Hospital Redevelopment
  • Lavarack Barracks Stage 4 Redevelopment.
It is anticipated further structural steel packages will be awarded from early 2018.

The North Queensland Stadium is a joint project of the Queensland Government, the Australian Government and the Townsville City Council and is supported by both the National Rugby League (NRL) and the North Queensland Cowboys.

The stadium forms part of the Townsville City Deal signed in December 2016.Stadium stand contract goes to local Townsville company