PEEK BE­HIND THE SCENES AT MINE

Goondicum plans to take a con­ser­va­tive ap­proach

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE - Macken­zie Co­la­han Macken­zie.Co­la­han@cnbtimes.com.au

THE Goondicum mine is on track to be up and run­ning by Novem­ber, so the Cen­tral & North Bur­nett Times toured the site to find out what’s dif­fer­ent this time around.

The mine at Yar­rol, 45 min­utes north-east of Monto, is in the midst of a pre-com­mis­sion­ing phase that in­cludes 13 con­struc­tion projects to en­sure the op­er­a­tion runs smoothly.

Be­tween 27 to 30 full-time staff are on-site daily, half of whom are from the area.

Pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the Goondicum il­menite mine were dogged by what in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als call “avail­abil­ity” is­sues.

In lay­man’s terms, me­chan­i­cal and tech­ni­cal in­ef­fi­cien­cies, which caused labour-in­ten­sive pro­duc­tion and dif­fi­cul­ties sep­a­rat­ing as­set min­er­als from the thick clay soil.

Min­ing projects are prone to un­pre­dictabil­ity, but the im­proved Goondicum is learn­ing from its mis­takes.

Project man­ager Alas­tair Bauer said it was tak­ing a more con­ser­va­tive ap­proach by low­er­ing tar­get avail­abil­ity.

“We wanted to de-risk our op­er­a­tion and learn from pre­vi­ous per­for­mance,” Mr Bauer said.

“We will be build­ing on the avail­abil­ity rat­ing we were achiev­ing in the past.

“With the im­prove­ments, we wanted to set our­selves a re­al­is­tic and at­trac­tive goal.

“The new tar­get is quite con­ser­va­tive and we be­lieve it can be ex­ceeded.”

The mine will op­er­ate 24/7, aim­ing to process 375 dry tonnes an hour, achiev­ing a yield of 6 to 6.5 per cent il­menite.

Goondicum has promised in­vestors the stream­lined plant will more ef­fi­ciently re­move im­pu­ri­ties, re­duc­ing the phos­phate con­tent of the il­mente to al­most zero, re­sult­ing in a higher grade prod­uct.

The pre­mium il­menite has un­locked new mar­kets, lead­ing to a ma­jor off-take deal with Hainan Wen­sheng High-Tech Ma­te­ri­als Co, the largest min­eral sands pro­ces­sor in China.

Mine owner Me­lior Re­sources is con­fi­dent of re­pay­ing its US$12.34 mil­lion (AU$16.78 mil­lion) debt within three years of restart­ing op­er­a­tions.

“There is 85 mil­lion tonnes of ore below us,” Mr Bauer said.

“We could have started a lot ear­lier but have pur­posely de­layed pro­duc­tion by sev­eral months to en­sure all our ducks are in a row.

“The cur­rent mine life is nine years but it’s likely it will be ex­tended to be­tween 15 and 20 years.” An eastern ac­cess road has been pro­posed, con­nect­ing to the Bruce High­way and cut­ting the cur­rent 280-kilo­me­tre route to the Glad­stone port via Biloela by 100 kilo­me­tres.

A fi­nal de­ci­sion on the road is ex­pected to be made within 12 months of pro­duc­tion re­sum­ing.

Goondicum is hir­ing 15 long-term op­er­a­tors. Those in­ter­ested can visit the Monto of­fice on Fara­day St.

PHO­TOS: MACKEN­ZIE CO­LA­HAN

SLOW AND STEADY: Goondicum mine man­ager Alas­tair Bauer said the mine was tak­ing a mea­sured ap­proach.

The fin­ished prod­uct: il­menite.

The new run-of-mine feeder unit was trans­ported from West­ern Aus­tralia.

In­side the Goondicum mine con­trol room.

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