PEEK BEHIND THE SCENES AT MINE
Goondicum plans to take a conservative approach
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.
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.