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News

The Thalanga operation outside Charters Towers is a study in tapping the best of the old and the new.
General manager of operations Karl Spaleck said a number of people working on the Thalanga project for Red River Resources had been employed there under the previous owner Kagara, or even earlier in the operation’s history.
“We have people here who have been working for about four different companies, just the same mine,” he said.
“When we arrived, we met a worker named Mona Polinelli who had been employed by the first site owners Pancontinental Mining.
“When Pancontinental Mining was acquired by Sterlite Industries she worked for them, and when Kagara came along she worked for them.
“Mona was part of our care and maintenance team and is part of our workforce as well. In total, she must have been here for nearly 30 years.”
Mr Spaleck said that Ms Polinelli had proved a wealth of knowledge on subjects as varied as the people who had worked at the operation previously or where water pumps were located across the tenements.
“We would use a GPS to go somewhere, but you could just ask Mona and she would tell you ‘just over that hill there and on your left-hand side’,” he said.
The majority of Red River’s Thalanga workforce was recruited from Charters Towers or have moved there for the job.
About half of the team involved in restarting Thalanga were very experienced people who had clocked up ‘a fair few years’ in the industry, Mr Spaleck said.
But about a quarter were brand new to the mining workforce.
“Our focus on them has really helped a lot – making sure the onboarding process is good and getting our safety values across to them as well,” Mr Spaleck said.
“You don’t want them to learn bad habits, you want to make sure everything is perfect and we just drum safety into them every day.
“We basically tell people that no job is so important that it can’t be done safely.”
The operation had been brought online without major incidents or injuries, he said, and the site had clocked up more than 1000 days lost-time-injury free.
Mr Spaleck said he was very proud of what had been achieved in bringing the Thalanga processing plant back online after being mothballed in 2012.
“I think it’s a testament to everyone who was on the project – a lot of people,” he said.
“For me, what I like is to actually see it running. Three years ago, when we acquired, it had been just sitting here still for four years. To put some life back into the plant is good to see.”
Red River employs a workforce of 65 for the Thalanga operation, in addition to 57 people employed by mining contractor Pybar.
Mr Spaleck said the operation had a focus on local suppliers as well as local employees, but maintained a lean approach to business.
“We won’t just pick you because you are local – it’s all about the quality and the service and the price,” he said.
“We go out to tender for everything, get three quotes.
“I think the advantage that the Charters Towers and Townsville businesses have is they don’t have to fly people from interstate and all over the place and bring equipment up. Transportation costs can be huge, so that gives local guys the advantage.
“People realise that this is not a Rio Tinto or a BHP.
“We keep things as lean as possible. We know exactly where we spend our money and make sure we get the best value for money.”

Blast from the past as site restarts
Dugald River is one of the largest known zinc-lead-silver deposits on the planet, but the complexities of this show-stopper of an ore body could have proved a hurdle to development.
MMG had completed financing arrangements for Dugald River’s development back in 2013, in addition to completing more than 14,000m of underground mine development, building a 100-person camp on site, access roads and placing orders for long lead time equipment.
But the project was placed on hold after further analyses and test work revealed more challenging conditions than previously appreciated.
“The ore body wasn’t a single plane – it had been moved about by a number of intersecting faults and obviously more delineation drilling had to be undertaken to try to define it,” Dugald River mining manager Neal Valk said.
“That showed that it was very complex and they couldn’t really work out how it fitted together structurally.
“It also has a series of fl at-dipping 20-degree faults that run across the ore body to the west and they have moved it around as well and made it pinch.
“Also the ore body at some depth, where it was thought to be wider, was actually folding.
“All of those complications sparked the decision in 2014 to carry out trial stoping at the top of the mine.”
The work was undertaken between March 2014 and March 2015, when about 460,000 tonnes of ore was mined out of 19 stopes.
Mr Valk said the trial stoping was focused on gaining an understanding of hanging wall and footwall behaviour, the complexity of the faulting, levels of stope ore recovery and mining methods.
“Different stope sizes were set up on five levels – generally a short strike length, and backfilled with cemented rock fill (CRF).
Measurements were taken on ore recovery, fragmentation, dilution and hanging wall movement,” he said.
“Then longer strike lengths were mined to see what effect that had, and even double–lift stopes were extracted to see how the hanging wall behaved.”
The ore produced was crushed and trucked to Century Mine, where it went through the zinc concentrator – adding to MMG’s knowledge of what sort of recovery rates and reagent usage could be expected when treating the Dugald River material.

No stone left unturned developing Dugald River

Among the challenges at Dugald River is the issue of levels of carbon mined with the sulphide ore.
“So not only are we getting waste rock in our ore, the waste rock is carbon or graphite which the plant needs to clean out of the process prior to treating all the sulphides, so there’s a carbon cleaning circuit there,” Mr Valk said.
“It’s nothing dramatically unusual, just another challenge that we have as part of this ore body – the dilutant for us is carbon.”
On the up side, there are no groundwater problems at Dugald River and the ground is not particularly hard or abrasive.
“In early 2015 when the trial stoping was completed and the results were collated and analysed, it was deemed that development would continue in the mine and that efficient stoping would be achievable,” Mr Valk said.
“The results were not so unmanageable that we would not be able to continue with it.
So even though we have the faulting and the graphite, it could be managed sufficiently to mine continuously.”
In July 2015 MMG announced approval of the updated development plan for the Dugald River zinc project and in June 2016 came news of a financing deal to allow it to proceed.
Dugald River boasts a measured resource of 8.9 million tonnes at 13.3 per cent zinc and 2.3 per cent lead, an indicated resource of 26.7 million tonnes (12.5 per cent zinc/2.1 per cent lead) and an inferred resource of 25.8 million tonnes (11.8 per cent zinc/1.7 per cent lead). There is an expected life of mine of more than 25 years.
The portals for the underground mine were established in February 2012 and the north and south declines both reach 500m below surface.
Mr Valk said the team at Dugald River had been ramping up underground development from April this year to a rate of about 880m a month and stoping began in June.
“We have mined a number of stopes to commence our stoping fronts and that means we can mine from four different areas to get to a rate of around 70,000-90,000 tonnes a month of stope ore in early 2018,” Mr Valk said.
The mine is expected to reach a production rate of 1.5 million tonnes per annum during 2018 and continue to ramp-up to 1.7Mtpa from 2020.





Mining is expected to begin in January at the Meteor Downs South coal operation, 45km southeast of Springsure in central Queensland, with first exports by the end of March.
U&D Mining is developing the thermal coal mine, through subsidiary Endocoal, in a joint venture with Minerva coal mine operator Sojitz Coal Mining.
Sojitz has set up an office in Springsure to engage the local community as it recruits for the new mine.

JV to bring CQ mine online

Sojitz Coal Mining managing director and chief executive officer Cameron Voriass said the workforce for the truck and shovel operation was likely to sit around 20-35 in the first two years and ramp up to 60 or 70 employees.
In addition to positions at the mine, Mr Vorias said road haulage contractor Kalari HSE would also be looking to employ from the local area.
Mr Vorias said many of the supply relationships from Minerva would carry over to Meteor Downs South, however Sojitz would endeavour to offer some new opportunities for local businesses.
“There are still a number things on the supply side that we will be looking for,” he said.
“We do have Facebook presence and a website – that would be the best way to understand the project’s progress.”
U&D Mining chief financial officer Peter Edwards said the new mine would be brought online for less than $30 million.
The joint venture partners had met requirements with landowner Glencore, clearing the way for work on the box cut in early 2018, he said.
They will limit production to about 500,000 tonnes per annum for the first two years, when Meteor Downs South will rely on road haulage to get its coal to the Minerva rail load-out facility for transport to Gladstone port.
“We haven’t got a rail load-out facility and there are constraints on the current Bauhinia line, so initial tonnage will go by road and we’re looking at doing about 500,000 tonnes per annum,” Mr Edwards said.
“We have to go around the town of Springsure – so we want to minimise the impact that we have on the Springsure community.
“Nameplate capacity of 1.5Mtpa can be achieved when we have a rail load-out facility.”
The coal is likely to be blended with other coal product at the coal terminal to provide a different product to Glencore’s Rolleston coal mine product, which comes from the same seam.
For U&D, cash flow from Meteor Downs South will boost the kitty for further exploration at its Broughton and Rockwood projects.
“We would also look at other opportunities around in the marketplace to enhance our current production rate, because those projects are quite a long way off in terms of production so it would be quite good to be producing 2Mtpa rather than 500,000,” Mr Edwards said.
“We would look at any potential opportunity that doesn’t cost too much to get into and gives us the opportunity to become a bigger producer.”
Sojitz Coal Mining is also on the prowl for further mining opportunities in the Emerald region, where Minerva employs about 250 people.
“Minerva is going through its mature cycle at the moment,” Mr Vorias said.
“Its resource is quite limited now and really we’re looking at other opportunities around the Emerald area to ensure that we have future opportunities for what is probably one of the best mining workforces in Australia.

“That’s our primary focus at the moment. We have Meteor Downs starting up and then we’re looking at development of other opportunities around the Emerald region.”
Mr Vorias said the Minerva operation had a mine life of at least five more years and Sojitz Coal Mining was exploring various options to extend that out to 10 or 15 additional years.
A North Queensland rural town once known for nickel mining has begun exporting high quality marble to Italy from the Port of Townsville.

Located 55 kilometres from Greenvale and 300 kilometres north-west of Townsville, the 200 million cubic metre deposit is one of the largest in the world and owned by Australian family business, Queensland Granite and Marble Pty Ltd.

Situated on a grazing property, it’s one of only three marble quarries in Queensland, and one of a few in Australia.
 
Queensland Granite and Marble director (sales) Larry Roccisano said eight different colours of marble had been discovered at the site, including white marble.

“White marble is the most popular marble in the world, and the deposits we’ve found here are second to none in Australia and up there with the best of Italy,” said Mr Roccisano
 
“An independent Italian marble laboratory in Verona has tested and analysed our samples and given our product the highest rating possible in terms of hardness and strength.”
 
“We currently employ 12 people from Greenvale, Townsville and Charters Towers to do this work, and we expect to increase this to approximately 40 people by the end of next year,” he said.

“All our employees have benefited from training by Italian marble masters who visited the site to share their skills over a period of months.”

Port of Townsville Acting Chief Executive Officer Claudia Brumme-Smith visited the marble site during November to view the operation first hand. 
 
“It’s fantastic to see an exciting new venture created in our region, knowing this stunning natural material will feature in homes and buildings on the other side of the world,” said Ms Brumme-Smith.
 
“Using Swire Shipping, ANL and Northern Stevedoring Services, the company has so far made a number of shipments of raw marble blocks each weighing 20 tonnes out of the Port of Townsville to Italy, China and Indonesia,” she said.

Greenvale marble sold to Italy

Queensland-based junior miner Cannindah Resources has gone into small-scale production at its Piccadilly gold project, with the first consignment of ore processed at Minjar Gold’s Pajingo operation in October.

The ore is being sourced from an area of high-grade quartz veins on the Piccadilly mining lease, 60km north of Charters Towers.

But Cannindah has its eye on a greater prize – a ‘significant’ intrusive system believed to be a feeder for that area of mineralisation.

“The bigger fish for us is the intrusiverelated gold system that’s about 1.5km to the south, which our consulting geologists and external consultants have compared to other larger projects out there like Mt Wright, Mt Leyshon and Kidston,” executive chairman Tom Pickett said.

The company became involved with the project in March after entering an agreement with Piccadilly Gold Mine Holdings which gives it the right to explore and mine ML1442.

It subsequently secured an earn-in agreement to access surrounding ground under exploration permits.

Mr Pickett said the move came after Cannindah Resources had identified gold as a focus, both for continued exploration on its flagship Mt Cannindah project, 100km south of Gladstone, and more generally.

The team carried out work to determine what was feeding the high-grade quartz veins on the Piccadilly mining lease and became very interested in a system within Piccadilly’s EPM ground.

“There were areas peripheral to some parallel high-grade veins that were originally not thought to be carrying any mineralisation and actually turned out to be carrying mineralisation,” Mr Pickett said.

“That tended to provide a little more confidence to pursue what might be feeding the system within the mining lease, so we have started to concentrate our efforts on the possibility of a much larger system that is just to the south.”

He described Piccadilly as exploration rather than a mining project at the moment, but there are obvious advantages to having immediate access to ore on the mining lease that is of sufficient grade and quantity to process.

Minjar Gold reached an ore purchase agreement with Cannindah Resources in September and the first haulage of Piccadilly ore to its Pajingo plant occurred in October.

Mr Pickett said the team was investigating 135m of strike on the mining lease at the moment, of a potential 1.2km anomaly.

“That is just within the mining lease. That does not include what we are looking at in the exploration ground, which is in and of itself a potentially 1.5km to 2km anomaly,” he said.

The company was weighing its options on whether to prioritise ore production or exploration of the intrusive system with a larger drilling program, or to do both concurrently, he said.

“Any time that you have a mining lease that is producing signifi cant grade with the potential to provide you with significantly more tonnes and which is helping you to show evidence of a much larger intrusiverelated gold system that could provide a significant bulk tonnage or company making proposition, you ought to be excited,” he said


 .Cannindah eyes a Mount Leyshon-sized gold prize
ASX listed company Senex has received environmental approval from the Queensland Government to develop as many as 425 wells complete with gas and water gathering networks, compression facilities, and water management infrastructure.

Senex expects to receive all remaining state and commonwealth regulatory approvals for the development of the project by the end of the financial year FY18, including a petroleum lease.

Senex Managing Director and CEO Ian Davies said they were making great progress on the Western Surat Gas Project, systematically achieving the milestones to move into the development phase.

“2018 is set to be an exciting time, with the production of material gas from the Phase 2 wells and all the pieces in place for us to make the next material investment decision on the project,” Mr Davies said.Environmental OK given to develop more Surat Basin gas