Douglas mine disposal to continue
Mining company Iluka Resources will continue to dispose of mining by-products at its former Douglas mine despite announcing plans to suspend operations at its Hamilton separation plant.
Company officials stressed the Hamilton suspension, from October this year, was temporary and would be in place until mining concentrate from a Murray Basin project at Balranald became available from 2019.
In January this year the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal approved the continuation of Iluka’s disposal of mineral sands by-products from the Hamilton plant to the former Douglas mine site.
The company, which had been disposing of the by-products at Douglas since 2006, took the issue to VCAT in response to Horsham Rural City Council rejecting a planning application to continue the activity.
The decision to suspend operations at the Hamilton plant means the disposal activity at Douglas will cease from October, but potentially start again after 2019.
Iluka Resources corporate affairs senior advisor Luke Woodgate said the issues of by-product disposal and closure of the Hamilton plant were not related. “Two decisions have been made for two completely different reasons,” he said.
“The key messages are that this decision will have no impact on rehabilitation activities at Douglas, the move is temporary and not a closure, with Iluka doing everything in its power to help affected employees, and Iluka will maintain long-standing ties with communities and provide updated information.”
Iluka ended mining operations in Victoria in March 2015 and the Hamilton plant has since processed concentrate predominantly from Victorian stockpiles, supplemented with material from the company’s Jacinthambrosia mine in South Australia. A decision to process the Victorian stockpile at Hamilton only, instead of the company’s other plant at Narngulu in Western Australia, without supplementing it with concentrate imported from Jacinth-ambrosia, means Victorian stockpiles will now be exhausted by October.
Ikula chief operating officer Steve Wickham said the decision, which will result in up to 60 job losses at the Hamilton plant, reflected the pending exhaustion of the company’s Murray Basin mining operation stockpiles.
“Iluka’s intention is to recommence processing operations at Hamilton in line with concentrate becoming available from the Balranald development,” he said.
“In light of the timing for that development, the decision to suspend operations at Hamilton once the Victorian stockpile has been exhausted is the most cost-efficient configuration of the company’s assets.
“This is a commercial decision by Iluka and not the result of any policy settings or perceived prevailing economic conditions in Victoria.
“The company regularly evaluates its operational settings to ensure sustainable financial outcomes.”