THE NEXT CHAPTER
After achieving record breaking results at its mine and ore processing plant last year, Northparkes copper-gold mine expects to see similar results this year as it continues to work towards a “century of mining together”.
OPERATING for more than two decades, and with mine life now extended through to 2032, the Northparkes operation is well positioned to reach new heights in coming years.
Previously owned by Rio Tinto, the project sits on 6000 hectares with a 1630ha mining lease.
The joint venture between China Molybdenum and Sumitomo Group broke two production records in the underground mine (producing 6.46 million tonnes of ore) and the ore processing plant (processing 6.51 million tonnes of ore during 2017); a feat Northparkes managing director Jim Fowler said the company was proud of.
“We [also] gained government approval for the single flotation project and advanced our understanding of the expansion project and E26L1N, both of which are important to our future,” Mr Fowler said.
“These projects will assist with the longevity of Northparkes, while we work towards our vision of a ‘century of mining’ together.”
Mr Fowler said new technology employed had also increased the mines viability.
“Our driver-less loaders, controlled from the surface, load ore from the draw point and transport it to the underground primary crusher where it is crushed, conveyed and hoisted to the surface,” he said.
“This achievement has been five years in the making and takes people out from underground allowing them to control the loaders from an air-conditioned room on the surface.
“We’re also now seeing production records from our underground mine as one operator can control three loaders at the same time.”
Mr Fowler said the company remained focused on working towards achieving zero harm operations by implementing improvements and new technologies.
Last year, Northparkes transported 134,114 tonnes of copper concentrate by rail and sea to customers overseas in Japan and China, which exceeded planned shipment volumes by 3 per cent.
Mr Fowler said the company also plans to construct a small open pit mine – E31N – near Rosedale.
“The benefit is the gold grade is quite high where were are building E31N. This will be executed in late 2018 or early 2019,” he said.
“Northparkes is having another great year from a production perspective and I remain optimistic that we will have another record breaking year in both the mine and the mill.”
Mr Fowler said E26L1N will also enable Northparkes to develop an additional underground mine area within the established E26 ore body while also providing for an appropriate operational flexibility as part of ongoing operations.
“The E26L1N Feasibility Study is nearing completion and we are working toward a final investment decision targeted for early 2019,” he said.
“Various upgrades and modifications have been proposed for Northparkes ore processing infrastructure, including the construction of an additional ball mill, relocation of supporting site infrastructure (power supply) and construction of a new secondary crushing building.
AUSTRALIAN engineering company Forefront Services has expanded operations, with newly established facilities in Parkes.
With workshops already in Sydney and Orange, Forefront recently committed further to regional development, opening the 3500sqm Parkes facility as demand for mining services continued to increase.
“The Forefront Services workshop facilities are fully equipped with an extensive range of equipment suited to a wide range of engineering services,” Forefront Services general manager Anthony Redfern said.
“The Parkes facility employs 20 local skilled professionals with plans to increase.”
The facility is also estimated to secure more than $4 million in mining and construction income in its first year.
Forefront has established a strong relationship with Northparkes Mines, completing large-scale steel fabrication and installation, concrete and civil construction, and labour services.
“We’ve invested strongly in our people and, as a result, there is exceptional ability across the entire team,” Mr Redfern said.
“Forefront is well situated to provide innovative engineering solutions and personalised service to clients across Australia and overseas.”
Specialising in mining services such as secondary-break operations, shutdown works, labour hire, underground and surface civil works and air-legging ground support, Forefront also provides services in steel and poly fabrication and installation, civil project management and construction.
Northparkes achieved two production records in both the underground mine and ore processing plant last year.
Forefront Services general manager Anthony Redfern and director Michael Clout.