Industry NEWS

12 July 2019

BHP set to be the next leading miner to exit from coal

Mining major BHP is reportedly planning to exit from coal with the divestment of its thermal coal business, which includes assets in Australia and Colombia.

As the first step of this move, the company left the World Coal Association (WCA) last year.

BHP cited differences on climate change as the primary reason for ending its membership in the WCA group.

The company has two thermal coal units, NSW Energy Coal in Australia and Cerrejón in Colombia. The company’s coal businesses generated only 4% of its earnings this year.

BHP chief financial officer Peter Beaven stated earlier this year that the company was eyeing at alternatives to remove fossil fuel from its project portfolio.

Beaven further added that the company’s focus would be on commodities that enable the electrification of transport, as well as the decarbonisation of stationary power such as copper and nickel.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News that Macquarie Group and JPMorgan Chase are seen as frontrunners to propose a sales process for the assets.

Recently, BHP’s main rivals Rio Tinto and Anglo American offloaded all or a portion of their coal assets in response to increasing pressure from institutional investors worried about global warming.

The WCA supports the ten principles of the UN Global Compact with respect to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.

This May, a British court found BHP ‘woefully negligent‘ over structural weaknesses of its Fundão dam in Brazil with the facility’s collapse in 2015, which released 55 million cubic metres of iron ore tailings into the local environment and killed 19 people.

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11 July 2019

Boss selects GR Engineering for Honeymoon uranium project DFS

Australia-based mineral exploration company Boss Resources has engaged GR Engineering Services (GRES) as the engineering and lead consultant to carry out a definitive feasibility study (DFS) of its Honeymoon uranium project.

GRES is expected to quickly ramp-up work programmes related to the DFS as Boss has already completed a significant package of advanced technical work since the acquisition of the Honeymoon project from Uranium One in December 2015.

Work already completed at the mine site includes a scoping study in 2016 undertaken for the re-commissioning and expansion of the project, and a PFS in 2017 to further refine the proposed strategy.

Additionally, a field leach trial (FLT) demonstrated the company’s improvement towards its leaching approach and validated its proposed ion exchange process.

Completed work also includes trade-off studies, and assessments of the project’s drying and packing facility, and of the work required to meet the operational requirements of Stage 1 production.

The DFS of the project is due for completion in November.

Boss Resources managing director Duncan Craib said: “We are delighted to work again with GRES and its professional engineers. GRES is a leading engineering and consultancy firm that has delivered multiple mining projects of significant size and scale, both domestically and overseas.”

The first stage of the DFS study includes the re-commissioning of the existing SX facility and infrastructure which includes rectification of problems identified during previous operations and preparation for the expansion of Stage 2.

The second stage includes supplementing the existing SX facility using a parallel IX process along with the expanded yellowcake drying and packaging capacity and modified raffinate/ground water treatment plant to produce 2Mlb/y of U3O8 equivalent.

Wellfield design is expected to be completed by the end of this month, with ion exchange and uranium precipitation piloting due to be finalised by the end of next month.

Stage 1 reporting is due to be completed by the end of September, followed by Stage 2 at the end of October.

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5 July 2019

Fortescue Metals starts construction on Eliwana mine project

Fortescue Metals Group has begun construction on the Eliwana iron ore mine and rail project, following a sod-turning ceremony in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Fortescue noted that the mine will allow the introduction of a 60% iron grade product in the second half of this year.

Last May, FMG was granted the go-ahead for the $1.275bn development of the Eliwana mine and rail project.

The planned project will include the construction of 143km of rail and a dry ore processing facility (OPF) capable of producing 30 million tonnes per annum, as well as developments to infrastructure.

Fortescue Metals Group founder and chairman Andrew Forrest said: “As always, we are committed to ensuring communities benefit from our growth and development and Eliwana continues our significant contribution to the great state of Western Australia.

“The project will generate up to 1,900 jobs during construction and 500 full-time site positions once operational.”

According to the company, the development is set to use the latest technology, autonomous trucks and design efficiency, further cementing Fortescue’s use of innovation across its mining operations.

The project, when combined with the Iron Bridge Magnetite development, will increase Fortescue’s average product grade, said FMG.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said: “With around 2,400 jobs created in construction and operations, Eliwana will create significant opportunities for Western Australian workers.

“The project will also deliver a significant boost to the State’s economy, and Fortescue’s investment is another sign that confidence is returning to Western Australia.”

In April, FMG and its joint venture partner Formosa Steel IB approved a $2.6bn development for the second stage of the Iron Bridge Magnetite Project.

The project is located 145km south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region.

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3 July 2019

Stanmore Coal to acquire CAT 6060 excavator for Isaac Plains East mine

Stanmore Coal has signed binding agreements to acquire a 600t Caterpillar 6060 (CAT 6060) excavator for the Isaac Plains East mine in Queensland, Australia from Hasting Deering.

NRW Holdings’ fully-owned subsidiary Golding Contractors will supply the trucking fleet required to support the excavator.

Joining the operations at the mine, the equipment will either move prime overburden in front of the dragline or overburden in dedicated excavator and truck pits uncovering coal, according to Stanmore Coal.

The company noted that once the environmental approvals are granted for the Isaac Downs project, it is planned that the excavator will transfer to Isaac Downs to commence the box-cut operation to establish the mine.

Operations at Isaac Plains East coal mine will continue simultaneously with the development of the project.

NRW CEO and managing director Jules Pemberton said: “This amendment is built on the back of a productive relationship and a positive transition for both Stanmore and Golding to the Isaac Plains East operations.

“We expect our capital commitment to be very low at around A$10m as we are able to utilise fleet secured through an agreed early release from the Middlemount Coal contract.”

Stanmore plans to finance the excavator through an equipment five-year loan facility set up with Caterpillar Financial Australia.

In April this year, Golding received a letter of direction from Coronado Curragh to increase the capacity of the Curragh Main Mine in Australia by introducing a fourth fleet to its existing mining operations.

Golding will supply all major equipment that will be used for the expanded mining operations at the Curragh Main Mine.

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28 June 2019

Greatland Gold commences field activities at Panorama project

Exploration and development company Greatland Gold has commenced new field activities at its fully owned Panorama project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The Panorama project comprises three adjoining exploration licences which are spread over 155km² and contain an area prospective for base metal and gold mineralisation.

Among the activities undertaken include field reconnaissance and surface geochemical work, which will further probe the presence of outcropping gold mineralisation over several kilometres of strike in the northern part of the Panorama campaign.

The field reconnaissance and surface geochemical work identified two clusters of gold anomalism in the central parts of the project.

A detailed, low-level aeromagnetic survey covering the entire project area is scheduled to commence in July this year.

According to the company, the campaign will initially focus on Archean lode style gold mineralisation in the area where earlier broad-spaced rock chip sampling has returned results including 66.0g/t gold and 18.45g/t gold.

The exploration work, which also includes systematic grid based soil sampling and rock chip sampling along the mineralised zone, is expected to be completed within four weeks.

The company has commissioned a detailed airborne magnetic survey, consisting of around 8,000km at a line spacing of 50m, to cover the entire Panorama project area.

Results from the campaign and survey will be used to refine core targets for further exploration activities.

Greatland Gold chief executive officer Gervaise Heddle said: “We are very pleased to be moving forward with an exciting new exploration campaign at Panorama.

“Results from our first field programme established the presence of gold mineralisation across several kilometres of strike and confirmed our belief in the significant potential of the project.

“The new campaign, commencing today, represents a step up in the scale of exploration previously conducted at Panorama. This dual programme of geochemical and geophysical work will generate a comprehensive dataset to refine key targets for initial drill testing.”

Geology of the area is dominated with greenstone and granite of the Archean Pilbara Craton in northern Western Australia, and younger overlying sedimentary and volcanic sequences.

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27 June 2019

Austrak wins contract for Rio Tinto Koodaideri mining project

Vossloh Tie Technologies’s Australian subsidiary Austrak has secured an order for the delivery of 280,000 concrete ties for Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri mining project in the Pilbara region of Australia.

The concrete ties are expected to be delivered in 2020.

Koodaideri, which is located approximately 35km north-west of Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine site, will serve as a production hub for the company and feature a processing plant and infrastructure that includes a 166km rail line.

First production from the mine is expected in late 2021. Upon completion, the mine is set to have a production capacity of 43 million tonnes per annum.

Austrak expects to perform the deliveries from a factory in Western Australia, which will also serve as a production site for future mining projects in the Pilbara region. This facility provides potential for Vossloh to tap further opportunities in Australia.

Vossloh chief executive officer Andreas Busemann said: “We are excited to see that our recent acquisition Austrak succeeded in this tender, contributing substantial value to Vossloh shortly after acquisition.

“This perfectly underlines the company’s strong position in Australia’s concrete tie market and once again confirms Vossloh’s outlook for the 2020 fiscal year, seeing an increase in sales and profitability.”

In November 2018, Rio Tinto approved a $2.6bn investment in the Koodaideri mine. The project is being developed in multiple phases.

Phase I of the operation is expected to help sustain Rio Tinto’s existing production capacity by replacing depletion elsewhere in the system.

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