11 September 2019
New Century expects to increase production from Australian zinc mine
New Century Resources has improved metal production rates and decreased operating costs at the Century operation by incorporating a full cleaner circuit at its zinc processing facility in Australia.
Situated at Lawn Hill, 250km north-west of Mount Isa in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria, the Century mine started open-pit production in 1999.
The company initiated slurry commissioning and optimisation of cleaners 2B, 3B and 4B as part of the increase to 12 million tonnes per annum.
The cleaner circuit upgrade is delivering enhanced metallurgical performance, with zinc recovery increasing to a seven-day moving average of 52% and shift results up to 55% this month.
From May to August, the Century mine increased average daily zinc metal production by over 30% and reduced costs by 24%.
New Century said the upgraded cleaner circuit has also resulted in enhanced zinc concentrate product quality, with operations now regularly achieving average zinc grades of 49% to 50% zinc.T
The cleaner circuit optimisation is expected to continue for the next two months. The Century operational performance is estimated to continue to advance based on additional enhancements so far in this month.
New Century expects to achieve mid-range quarter production guidance of 23,000 tonnes to 29,000 tonnes of zinc metal at C1 costs of $0.95/lb to $1.07/lb.
The company anticipates December quarter guidance of 27,000t to 33,000t zinc metal at C1 costs of $0.87/lb to $0.98/lb, including treatment charges.
During its 16 years of operation, the Century mine produced and processed an average of 475,00tpa zinc concentrate and 50,000tpa lead concentrates at Lawn Hill.
The product was transferred in slurry form through a 304km underground pipeline to Century’s Port facility at Karumba for shipping to smelters in Australia, Europe and Asia.
New Century acquired the Century Mine when it stopped production in 2016. Following the rehabilitation, which was completed in August 2018, the mine successfully entered production.
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9 September 2019
Poseidon Nickel to restart Black Swan nickel operations
Poseidon Nickel plans to restart operations at its Black Swan project in Western Australia following a recent surge in nickel prices.
The Black Swan project is situated about 600km east of Perth and 50km northeast of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, and 300km south of Poseidon’s Windarra nickel project.
The company’s board approved an accelerated programme, which is estimated to cost $2.9m, ahead of a planned restart of the mine.
Works also include the rehabilitation of mine escape ladderways at the Silver Swan mine and the rehabilitation of all access ways and structures at the Black Swan facility, as well as dewatering the open pit.
Poseidon Nickel plans to complete the works in coming months for a quick restart.
The company said capital expenditure and rehabilitation work at the processing facility will run concurrently with metallurgical testing and optimal processing enhancements.
Poseidon Nickel Interim CEO David Riekie said: “We are now entering an important and critical time for Poseidon aided with tailwinds from improving, sustained increased nickel prices.
“Lower operating cost structure and ongoing cost savings together with optimisation processes have been our recent focus. These priorities have been designed to ensure that the largest portion of any benefit achieved with increasing nickel prices, translates to an improved overall stakeholder return.”
Poseidon purchased the Black Swan project from Norilsk Nickel Australia in late 2014. The project comprises the Silver Swan underground mine, the Black Swan open pit and the Black Swan 2.2Mtpa Concentrator with 191,400t of nickel metal in resource.
Poseidon Nickel owns three previously operating nickel sulphide mines, namely Windarra, Black Swan/Silver Swan and Lake Johnston. The 100% owned assets collectively had an operating capacity of 3.6mtpa.
The company has continued to explore at Lake Johnston, with recent diamond drilling at the Abi Rose prospect.
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5 September 2019
CATL to buy stake in Pilbara Minerals in Australia for A$55m
Chinese battery company Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) has announced that it will buy an 8.5% stake in Australian lithium mining company Pilbara Minerals for around $37.5m (A$55m).
CATL will pay A$0.30 each for over 183 million shares in the company, which the Financial Times notes was 14% less than Pilbara’s share price at the close of trading on 5 September. As part of the deal, CATL will also be able to nominate a non-executive board member to the Pilbara board.
The money raised from the deal will be used by Pilbara to expand the Pilgangoora Lithium-Tantalum Project, its key asset in Western Australia.
Pilgangoora is a major lithium mining project that has been developed by Pilbara in two stages, with stage one being commissioned in August 2018. Currently producing two million tonnes of lithium per annum (Mtpa), stage two will expand this to five million. With provable reserves of 108.2Mt of lithium, Pilgangoora was recently estimated to be the fourth largest lithium mine in the world.
The money will also be used for a processing facility to produce lithium hydroxide in South Korea.
The news comes at a time when lithium prices are in freefall, with the price of lithium carbonate dropping 17% so far in 2019.
Despite this, Pilbara managing director Ken Brinsden said: “While there has been commentary talking down the current state of lithium markets, it has belied the significant interest we have continued to see from the strategic players in the lithium-ion supply chain and their focus on lithium raw material supply.”
As a result of the deal, Pilbara’s share price fell by over 7% to A$0.32 a share, giving the company a current market capitalisation value of A$601.9m. This has marked a difficult year share wise for the company, as its price stood at A$0.73 at the start of 2019 and had peaked at A$0.84 on 22 May.
Meanwhile CATL’s share price climbed slightly on the Shenzen stock exchange to ¥71.30 from ¥71.18. CATL’s shares also peaked earlier this year, reaching ¥92.60 on 5 March.
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3 September 2019
BHP partners with Dyno Nobel to improve productivity
BHP has signed an agreement with Incitec Pivot’s business unit Dyno Nobel to invest in a blast technology research programme, which is aimed at improving safety and productivity across its operations in Australia.
The technology improvements are expected to directly benefit mining operations.
BHP will provide input to Dyno Nobel’s research and development under the collaborative research programme, with focus in areas with the greatest potential impact.
Additionally, Dyno Nobel will develop semi-autonomous mobile processing units (MPU) by the end of this year, followed by the development of fully-autonomous MPUs.
Incitec Pivot managing director and CEO Jeanne Johns said: “Our industry leading technology is on the ground today, and this joint value sharing Technology Alliance Agreement is an example of our customer focused approach to building strong collaborative partnerships.
“Our leading explosives technology is clever in design, adds immediate value to BHP’s operation through productivity, safety and environmental benefits, and demonstrates the potential of technology to transform the Australian resources industry.”
Dyno Nobel’s Differential Energy technology acted as a crucial aspect to the alliance.
The technology, which has already recorded success in US markets, is now being launched in mine sites across Australia.
The latest agreement also forms an integral part of a set of contract renewals for the supply of explosives products and services to BHP’s open-cut operations at BMA, Nickel West and BHP Iron Ore.
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2 Septmeber 2019
Australian Government provides AUD3.7m for mining research centre
The Australian Government announced on 27 August that it will provide AUD 3.7m in funding for the development of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Integrated Operations for Complex Resources.
The training centre previously received AUD2m in funding and AUD6.8m in in-kind support from industry and research organisations for a total of AUD12.5m.
The centre will be housed in the University of Adelaide’s Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources. Other participants in the centre include Curtin University, University of South Australia and 22 government and industry organisations.
University of Adelaide professor of mining engineering Peter Dowd said: “This funding award recognises the world-leading concentration of mining research in South Australia, placing us at the forefront of developments that will transform the mining and processing of complex resources.
“Australia has a unique opportunity to become a world leader in integrated mining, and a hub for mining equipment, technology and services.”
The centre is designed to train engineers and scientists in technology such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and advanced sensors to increase value in mining operations with a focus on “clever applications that will improve productivity of the Australian mining industry”.
University of Adelaide deputy vice-chancellor Mike Brooks said: “Underpinned by world-leading research, our new, high-tech training centre will help to shape the very future of mining operations in Australia.
“Combining our expertise in advanced sensors, data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the new centre will deliver vital tools, training and workforce needs to help ensure Australia and key industry players lead the world.
“The new centre’s work directly aligns with the University of Adelaide’s industry engagement priorities in energy, mining, and resources, which are critical to the economic and technological success of South Australia and the nation.”
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2 September 2019
Tasman and Fortescue get JV agreement approval for exploration licence
Tasman Resources and Fortescue Metals subsidiary FMG Resources have received South Australian ministerial approval for the farm-in and joint venture (JV) agreement over exploration licence 5499.
Exploration licence 5499, owned by Tasman, contains the Vulcan iron oxide-copper-gold-uranium (IOCGU) prospect.
It adjoins the tenement containing BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam deposit and contains the two demonstrated IOCGU systems Vulcan and Titan, in addition to other prospects.
Tasman executed a conditional farm-in and JV agreement over the exploration licence with FMG in June.
Under the agreement, Fortescue can earn a 51% beneficial interest by sole funding A$4m ($2.7m) within three years.
Fortescue can only withdraw after a minimum expenditure of A$1m ($0.67m). If the company withdraws before an expenditure of A$4m ($2.7m), it will not receive the interest.
After the claim of its interest, Fortescue can increase it to 80% with a sole expenditure of A$7m ($4.71m) for another five years. Should it withdraw before an expenditure of A$7m, the interest rate will remain at 51%.
Fortescue will act as the manager during the JV period while earning interest.
At present, Tasman holds three exploration licences in the Olympic Province, Stuart Shelf in South Australia. The Olympic Province has a high probability of IOCGU discoveries as it contains the Prominent Hill, Olympic Dam and Carapateena IOCGU deposits.
The first drill hole in the Vulcan was drilled by Tasman in 2009 to a depth of 870m. The company drilled seven additional holes between 2009 and 2011.
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