Industry NEWS

6 March 2019

Jacobs wins contract for Newcrest’s Cadia gold operation

Newcrest Mining has awarded a contract to the Jacobs Engineering Group to provide underground materials handling services as part of the expansion feasibility study at the Cadia gold mine in New South Wales, Australia.

Jacobs has been supporting Newcrest’s brownfield and greenfield projects across its mining sites for more than 20 years. This contract builds on the companies’ work at Newcrest’s operations in the Cadia Valley.

Jacobs mining, minerals and technology senior vice president Andrew Berryman said: “During the previous study phase, our mining and minerals experts helped identify a low capital intensity solution as part of an integrated team.

“By embracing an owner’s mindset and applying our experience in underground mining, materials handling and expansion projects, our integrated approach has the potential to deliver an impressive return on capital for Newcrest.”

In August last year, Newcrest said that an estimated total capital expenditure of $598m will be required for the expansion of Cadia gold operations, according to a pre-feasibility study.

The study evaluated various options for expansion from the mine’s current 30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) output, including a significant expansion to 40Mtpa, and a lower-cost expansion that would increase production to between 33Mtpa and 35Mtpa.

Furthermore, the study recommended the installation of a new secondary crushing circuit for the project’s Concentrator 1 milling circuit as part of the proposed expansion.

Newcrest owns and operates a portfolio of long-life mines and a pipeline of brownfield and greenfield exploration projects. The company also owns operating mines in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

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4 March 2019

Cadence Minerals to acquire three lithium assets in Australia

Cadence Minerals has signed agreements with Lithium Technologies and Lithium Supplies to acquire three assets in Australia.

The company will acquire the properties through binding investment agreements signed with Lithium Technologies and Lithium Supplies in December 2017 to acquire up to 100% of six hard rock lithium assets in Argentina.

As part of the agreement, Cadence will acquire the Picasso project in Western Australia, and the Litchfield and Alcoota projects in the Northern Territory.

The Picasso project is located near Alliance Mineral Assets’ Bald Hill Mine, which is producing a spodumene concentrate.

Located near Darwin, the Litchfield project is contiguous to Core Lithium’s ground, while the Alcoota project is located about 145km northeast of Alice Springs.

Cadence Minerals CEO Kiran Morzaria said: “The board is delighted with this variation agreement since it will enable the exploration team in Australia to commence work immediately on developing prime lithium assets, starting with the Picasso project in Western Australia.

“Alliance Mineral Assets’ recently raised A$40m to develop its lithium assets in the region, including its high-profile Bald Hill Mine, which located as it is nearby to Picasso, underlines the opportunity and potential upside for Cadence.”

Under a variation agreed with Lithium Technologies and Lithium Supplies in December, Cadence can acquire 100% of both the companies.

Morzaria added: “More importantly, this transaction is strategically beneficial as the Australian projects were acquired without any material variation to the monetary value of the acquisition agreed over the six Argentina assets.”

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28 February 2019

Hancock launches $591m offer to acquire remaining stake in Riversdale

The Hancock Corporation, Hancock Prospecting’s wholly‐owned subsidiary, has launched an all‐cash offer worth up to $591m to acquire the remaining shares in Australian coal explorer Riversdale Resources.

Hancock proposes to acquire the 80.2% stake in Riversdale, in which it currently owns 19.8% of issued shares, at a price of $2.20 per share.

If Hancock’s control over the company exceeds 50% on a diluted basis prior to the closing of the offer, the company will increase the offer price to $2.50 per share, as detailed in its bidder’s statement.

Hancock, which has more than $3bn in cash reserves, acquired the company in August last year for $68.9m.

Hancock Prospecting executive director Jay Newby said: “On behalf of Hancock Prospecting and Hancock Corporation, we are delighted to provide the shareholders of Riversdale with this all-cash offer.

“The directors of Hancock consider that its premium pricing and low conditionality make it a compelling opportunity for Riversdale shareholders. All shareholders are encouraged to accept the offer at their earliest opportunity.”

Unless Hancock extends or withdraws the offer in accordance with the Corporations Act, it will be open for acceptance by Riversdale shareholders for one month.

Hancock Prospecting, in a joint venture with Rio Tinto, holds a 50% interest in the 46Mtpa Hope Downs Project. The company also holds a 70% interest in the Roy Hill iron ore project.

Last year, the company acquired Atlas Iron, and also has various iron ore exploration projects in the Pilbara, including the Mulga Downs project.

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27 February 2019

ICMM to create international standards for mine tailings facilities

The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has announced a plan to create an international standard for tailings facilities used to store mine waste, in the wake of the collapse of a Vale-owned dam in Brazil, which claimed the lives of 169 people.

The ICMM governing council, which consists of the CEOs of its 27 member companies, including international miners Anglo American, BHP and Vale, will create what it calls an ‘independent panel of experts’ to set new standards for tailings facilities. The member companies will then have to ensure their tailings facilities comply with these standards.

“ICMM CEOs have committed to creating a step change for the industry in the safety of tailings facilities by developing a recognised international standard for member companies,” said ICMM CEO Tom Butler.

“The standard will be based on best practices to ensure that tailings facility risks are managed appropriately, consistently, and transparently.”

While the council has not revealed all the details of the standard, it did announce that it would involve a “global and transparent” classification system based on the potential consequences of a dam’s function. The standard will also require companies to consider and plan for emergency situations while the facilities are being constructed, and create a system of independent reviews of tailings facilities.

The ICMM will also work with representatives from industry, investors and communities to carry out the reviews, and ensure the process takes into account as wide a range of opinions as possible. Adherence to the new standard will also become a requirement for ICMM membership, although the council hopes this will encourage non-member companies to improve their tailings facilities ahead of applying for membership, rather than dissuading them from joining the ICMM.

The announcement follows the ICMM’s comments in response to the Vale disaster, when Butler promised that the council will work to prevent similar tragedies from taking place again.

“We must improve in order to regain public confidence in the way we manage these facilities,” he said.

The new standard is a stronger response to a disaster than in 2015, when the ICMM commissioned a report into the Samarco disaster, which killed 19 people, but did not incorporate the findings into its governance structure of membership criteria, as it has done this time.

The Samarco dam was joint-owned by BHP and Vale; while Vale was not an ICMM member at the time, the council will be concerned that two of its current members were involved in two significant environmental disasters in Brazil in the last four years.

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27 February 2019

Rio Tinto makes copper-gold discovery at Winu project

Rio Tinto Exploration (RTX) has made a copper-gold mineralisation discovery at the Winu project in the Yeneena Basin of the Paterson Province, Western Australia.

The discovery at the Winu project, which is located around 130km north of the Telfer mine and 350km southeast of Port Hedland, was made when RTX was conducting a programme to find copper mineralisation in the Paterson Province.

Eight reverse circulation (RC) and 20 diamond holes drilled on exploration licence E45/4833 between December 2017 and the end of last year, totalling 13,286m, were part of the exploration programme.

RTX received and validated assays for all RC holes and 14 diamond holes, and assays are pending for the remaining six diamond holes.

Data from the assay results revealed relatively wide intersections of copper mineralisation associated with gold and silver.

Rio Tinto said in a statement: “While results are encouraging, the exploration project is still at an early stage and drilling to date does not allow sufficient understanding of the mineralised body to assess the potential size or quality of the mineralisation nor to enable estimation of a Mineral Resource.

“The assessment and interpretation of existing data is ongoing and will be used to help guide the drilling in 2019.”

The Winu exploration camp is located approximately 200km by gravel and sand track from the Great Northern Highway. RTX plans to upgrade the sand section of the track for logistics supply purposes.

Furthermore, the company will continue to explore its adjacent wholly-owned licences and joint venture licences within the Paterson Province.

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22 February 2019

Curtin University calls for new rules to protect mine site animals

Curtin University in Western Australia has called for the implementation of new mining rules for the protection of animals in site restoration projects.

Research from the university revealed that mine operators are failing to consider the impact of mining on animals in most site restoration assessments.

As part of the study, a global review of literature relating to mine site restoration was carried out revealing that that fauna was under-recognised in assessments of restoration success.

Curtin University School of Molecular and Life Sciences ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration (CMSR) lead author Sophie Cross said that the research highlighted a need for an increased focus on fauna monitoring and behavioural studies to have a better understanding of the long-term success of mine site restoration.

Cross said: “Although mining activity creates a relatively small footprint on the land, 75% of active mine sites are situated on land considered to be of high conservation value.

“Animals are often assumed to return to the area of a mine site following its closure and the return of vegetation; however, in practice restoring animal communities and biodiversity can be exceptionally challenging.”

Curtin University research found that there is an urgent need for detailed consideration of animal communities in mine site restoration.

The university researchers said that the success of restoration measures cannot be determined just by the common method of vegetation surveys.

School of Molecular and Life Sciences research supervisor Bill Bateman said: “Our study has highlighted the importance of comprehensively and representatively restoring faunal communities after mining.”

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21 February 2019

Anglo American suspends Moranbah North operations following accident

Anglo American has suspended operations at its Moranbah North coking coal mine in Australia following a collision that occurred between a personnel carrier and a grader, which killed one worker and injured several others.

Following the incident, the company notified the relevant authorities and is currently carrying out an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

The grader driver died after the vehicle collided with another vehicle that was carrying ten workers at the Moranbah North mine. The accident took place in the access drift close to the surface of the mine.

Reuters quoted Anglo American underground operations executive head Glen Britton as saying: “We are devastated by the tragic loss of one of our employees in the incident that occurred yesterday at Moranbah North.”

After the accident, the grader driver was taken to a hospital where he later died, while four other employees were sent to hospitals in the towns of Mackay and Rockhampton for further treatment.

According to Mysteel consultancy analysts, the accident is expected to result in the loss of 1.2 million tonnes of coking coal output.

The underground longwall mine Moranbah North started operations in 1998 and is 88% owned by Anglo American, with the remaining 12% owned by joint venture partners.

Hard coking coal at Moranbah North is mined from the Goonyella Middle Seam primarily for export to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India, Brazil and Europe. The mine, which employs more than 600 people, is estimated to have a life of 15 years.

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20 February 2019

Aus Tin Mining commences operations at Granville East Mine

Aus Tin Mining has started tin mining at its Granville East Mine located in Tasmania, with the initial mining block estimated to hold 430 tonnes.

The company plans to transport the run‐of‐mine material from the first mining block to the processing plant, thereby enabling plant feed to be converted to high‐grade mine material from low‐grade stockpiles.

Aus Tin Mining CEO Peter Williams said: “We are delighted to have achieved this major milestone as we transition to Level 2 operations and will now move to processing this material. We are particularly delighted with the grade of the first block, which across eight holes averaged 2.1%Sn and is more typical of underground mines.”

Located at the southern end of the open cut pit and extracted from the hanging wall shale, the first mining block is based on eight sub‐blocks each measuring 3x1.5x4m and a relative density for mineralised material of 3t/m³.

Assay results from eight blast hole samples that are gathered for grade control purpose confirm the high‐grade mineralisation at the Granville East Mine. Aus Tin Mining noted that the arithmetic average tin grade for the blast holes contained within the first mining block was 2.1% tin.

The company earlier reported that it plans to procure certain services contracted to the civil and mining contractor directly. Additional components of the contract, including blasting services and fuel supply, are now assumed by Aus Tin Mining to cut delays in operations further.

Furthermore, after removing the crushing component of the contract, Aus Tin Mining is currently holding talks with alternative parties to use surplus equipment at the processing plant.

Located around 20km north of the mining town Zeehan on the west coast of Tasmania, the Granville Tin project lies within the Heemskirk tin field.

Two mining leases for the project, granted in 2003 and 2006 respectively, are currently approved for Level 1 operations, an open cut pit and a processing plant.

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