THE $800M CAIRN HILL MEGA PRO­JECT

The Australian Mining Review - - FRONT PAGE - REUBEN ADAMS

AN $ 800 mil­lion ex­pan­sion of CU- River’s Cairn Hill mag­netite op­er­a­tions near Coober Pedy could cre­ate up to 1300 jobs, pro­vid­ing an­other shot in the arm for South Aus­tralia’s resur­gent min­ing sec­tor.

The pri­vately owned CU- River Min­ing Aus­tralia has reached a fund­ing agree­ment with its off­take part­ner, Chi­nese steel pro­ducer Ji­u­jiang, who will finance new in­fra­struc­ture to in­crease out­put; a 13,000m ex­ploratory drilling pro­gram; and de­vel­op­ment of the Snae­fell and Tom­a­hawk projects near Cairn Hill.

Part of the fund­ing would be used for as­so­ci­ated in­fra­struc­ture work, in­clud­ing road and rail up­grades and ex­ten­sions.

The pro­posed de­vel­op­ment time­line would see CU- River triple mag­netite pro­duc­tion to 3mtpa from two ad­di­tional pits at Cairn Hill, be­fore ramp­ing up to a 15mtpa pro­duc­tion tar­get across an es­ti­mated mine life of 30 years.

“In the past year or so we have pro­duced and ex­ported one mil­lion tonnes of feed­stock to Ji­u­jiang Aus­tralia’s par­ent com­pany in China,” CU- River managing director Yong Gang Shan said.

“Our im­me­di­ate tar­get start­ing late 2018 is 3mtpa, ris­ing to 15mtpa when projects that we al­ready have in the pipe­line go into pro­duc­tion.

“We have re­ceived ap­proval for the ex­pan­sion of Pits 3 and 4 at Cairn Hill, which are the keys for the im­me­di­ate in­crease in our pro­duc­tion, and a 13,000 me­tre ex­ploratory drilling pro­gram is cur­rently un­der­way to de­fine the resource in pits 1, 2, 3 and 4.”

CU River has com­mit­ted to us­ing South Australian sup­pli­ers wher­ever pos­si­ble on the pro­ject.

“We will be us­ing South Australian sup­pli­ers for goods and ser­vices wher­ever pos­si­ble, so there is a flow- in ef­fect in terms of sec­ondary job cre­ation and sta­bil­i­sa­tion,” Mr Yong Gang Shan said.

“The in­dus­try stan­dard is that as a gen­eral rule, ev­ery job in the min­ing sec­tor cre­ates three sup­port jobs else­where.

“We now have of­fices in Ade­laide and Coober Pedy and we are go­ing through a process of re­cruit­ment for key po­si­tions.

“It is com­pany pol­icy to em­ploy our own peo­ple for ex­plo­ration and min­ing work, rather than out­source to sub­con­trac­tors.”

The an­nounce­ment comes after ap­proval was granted for Iron Road’s $ 4.5 bil­lion Cen­tral Eyre Iron Pro­ject, which could cre­ate about 2000 jobs, and plans by the new own­ers of the Whyalla steel­works to in­crease pro­duc­tion of iron ore from the Mid­dle­back Ranges.

Min­is­ter for Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Ge­off Brock said this pro­posed in­vest­ment in re­gional South Aus­tralia was wel­come news for min­ing work­ers and busi­nesses.

“This long- life pro­ject shows that un­lock­ing the full po­ten­tial of our mag­netite as­sets can cre­ate hun­dreds of jobs for the Far North and new in­fra­struc­ture that can boost our ex­port po­ten­tial,” he said.

Pri­vately- owned CU River is one of two mag­netite pro­duc­ers in South Aus­tralia and has been op­er­at­ing Cairn Hill since 2016.

In June 2014, Cairn Hill was placed into ad­min­is­tra­tion by for­mer owner IMX Re­sources who was one of the first vic­tims of a free- fall­ing iron ore price.

CU River, which bought the failed mine in April 2015 from the liq­uida­tor of IMX, orig­i­nally in­tended to ex­tract cop­per and gold at the site but later switched its fo­cus to iron ore after se­cur­ing in­vest­ment from Ji­u­Jiang.

“Our im­me­di­ate tar­get start­ing late 2018 is 3mtpa, ris­ing to 15mtpa when projects that we al­ready have in the pipe­line go into pro­duc­tion.”

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