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December 2013


Wanted: 50 female minesite truck drivers

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• Tested: Atlas Copco’s T45 • Minesite Vehicle: Mazda BT-50 • PNG & Indonesia

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Cover Story


Contractor Downer Mining seeks permission to recruit 50 women truck drivers to work on minesites.




News & Features 14

Downer’s deal


Tried and tested


Australian Mining Towns


Green light for Tasmania


Minesite Vehicle

Contractor is chosen for Roy Hill iron ore contract.

Atlas Copco’s T45 is put through its paces on an Australian minesite.


Western Australia is the destination, as Ron Berryman explores our mining history.

Tasmania’s newest coal mine will generate close to $200M per year.

The Mazda BT-50 is Michael Cairnduff’s vehicle of choice.


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22 DECEMBER 2013

CONTENTS Technical Features





Fluid Handling


Mining & The Environment


Motors & Drives


PNG & Indonesia

Safety focus for marine pilots and Terex’s new dump truck is tested.

Global Pumps gives us a tour of their new slurry pump.


Purifying mining wastewater and establishing an effective mine rehab plan.

Rio Tinto hands SEW-EURODRIVE a major Pilbara contract.

Battle for Ok Tedi.


Regulars 06 From the Editor’s chair 12 Hardware 20 Michael Pascoe

22 Mining Software 32 Robin Bromby 72 Mining Recruitment

75 On The Move 80 What’s New 84 Dryblower

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From the Editor’s chair

Managing Editor: Michael Cairnduff Senior Editor – Mining: Thomas Smith Contributing Editor: Tim Treadgold Production Manager: Mata Henry Senior Layout Designer: Matt Leigh Layout Designer: Catherine Hogan Graphic Designer: Sun Moon Sub-Editors: Melanie Jenkins, Maxine Brown Journalists: Vetti Kakulas, Tess Ingram Contributors: Robin Bromby, Michael Pascoe, John McIlwraith, Stephen Bell National Sales Manager: Angela Smith Advertising Sales: Richa Fuller, Nigel D’Silva, Vanessa Monastra, Con Giannas Advertising Production: Isaac Burrows ( Subscriptions: Ph: (08) 6263 9100 Email: 12 issues per annum – Australia $A156.00 (GST included); Regional (PNG, NZ, SE Asia) $A252.00; International $A300.00

GOOD, BAD & UGLIER It’s been a mixed year for Australia’s mining industry.


here have been several stories in recent months that summed up 2013 for the mining industry in Australia. We celebrated companies such as Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto hitting new production targets. In this issue of Australia’s Mining Monthly, we learn of the latest phase of Hancock Prospecting’s Roy Hill project. Cuts: WesTrac’s Tomago facility.

Executive: Colm O’Brien – Chief Executive Officer Trish Seeney – General Manager John Detwiler – Chief Financial Officer Head Office: Australia’s Mining Monthly, 613-619 Wellington Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000; PO Box 78, Leederville WA 6902

Phone: (08) 6263 9100 Fax: (08) 6263 9148 Email: Website: Twitter: @AUMiningMonthly

COPYRIGHT WARNING All editorial copy and some advertisements in this publication are subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced in any form without the written authorisation of the managing editor. Offenders will be prosecuted.

Australia’s Mining Monthly average audited monthly circulation: 8,269

But our focus sharpens when we hear that Caterpillar dealer WesTrac is shedding jobs. Hundreds of jobs. If we can measure the health of the industry by the growth of the equipment manufacturers and suppliers, then we are ending the year the same way we saw 2012 come to a close, with an air of uncertainty as to the year ahead. Optimistic commentators have told us the worst of the latest cycle is over. Few of those losing their jobs at WesTrac will agree. Pessimists are, as you would expect, less than rosy in their short to medium-term predictions. We have a new government in Canberra and await proof of the impact it will have on the mining industry over the next term. For or against? Difficult to say at this stage, if you separate rumour from what little impact the government has had on the resources sector since the September election. One thing that most people agree on is that mining has moved to a different phase, focused no longer on construction and expansion, but on production. Indeed, just last month, FMG announced plans to wipe a large chunk of company debt, savings tens of millions in annual interest payments. After hitting the 155Mtpa target for their iron ore operations in the past few months, they couldn’t ask for a more stable start to 2014. Let’s hope we’re reporting more of the same in the coming months. Enjoy the December edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly. Thomas Smith | Editor

SUBSCRIBE TODAY! Visit phone +61 8 6263 9100 or email

EVERYONE at Australia’s Mining Monthly would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Once again, thank you to all our readers and contributors for your support throughout the year – see you in 2014.


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9/5/13 1:18 PM


Wanted: women

Historically, women on minesites were considered to bring bad luck to the workforce. But in 2013, times have changed. Downer Mining has taken a bold step to increase its ratio of females to males. Vetti Kakulas ďŹ nds out why.

Woman in mining: a Downer Mining employee stands under an excavator at Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek minesite in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

8 AMM December 2013


AT A GLANCE • 4745 women were in the top five mining industry occupations in 2011, compared to 70,290 men • 20.4% of women were truck drivers, followed by 9.2% building and engineering technicians • Women made up almost 12% of the Queensland mining workforce in 2012 • The number continues to rise – in 2006 it was just 6% • In the next 12 years an additional 86,000 miners will be required in Australia


omen truck drivers are safer, take fewer risks than men and cause less damage to a minesite truck fleet, in terms of repair and maintenance, than their male colleagues. That’s become a popular view across the mining industry, particularly at a time when companies are looking to trim costs and hike efficiency levels in all areas of operation. So it comes as no surprise that contractor Downer Mining wants to hire truck drivers. Women truck drivers. Men need not apply. The company was so serious about its recruitment drive that it took the careful step of having it checked by Australia’s law makers. Downer’s determination to redress the male-dominated culture that surrounds the Australian mining industry prompted it to examine the anti-discrimination laws that prevent bias on any level. The contractor applied for and was granted an exemption from the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal under the AntiDiscrimination Act, to allow it to recruit female entry-level operators. At present, the total female workforce at Downer Mining is 14%. Its target is to reach 25% by 2020, to be achieved by a 2% yearly increase of the female workforce. Part of that initiative is to recruit 10 female operators each year to join Downer Mining’s teams at five Queensland minesites. The tribunal agreed with Downer’s plan. It stated that increased female workforce participation promoted inclusiveness and diversity and reflected a strong corporate responsibility. “Men are found to be more susceptible to risk taking than women and it was anticipated that an increased female participation in positions at mining sites would provide an opportunity to improve a safety culture in the organisation,” the tribunal ruled. Prior to advertising for women-only roles, Downer Mining spokesperson Michael Sharp said his company wanted to ensure it was acting ethically – so it took the case to the Queensland tribunal.

December 2013 AMM 9


“We wanted to be sure that we were doing it the right way. Right across Downer, we want to increase women in our workforce, we think it’s good for our business,” he said. “We have 22,000 employees at Downer Group, more than 5000 in our mining division. Fifty women-only truck drivers is not a large number.” Naturally, the company’s move was welcomed by Women in Mining Western Australia founder Sabina Shugg. “Every environment is better if there’s a bit of diversity – diversity of thought, diversity of gender and diversity of culture,” she said. “So you’ll end up having a more productive, safer and efficient workforce. “David Overall, the chief executive officer at Downer Mining, is a great advocate for women in the resources sector and it’s good to see him leading such proactive initiatives.” In February this year Downer Mining approached QCAT requesting the exemption and received approval in October. The contractor told the tribunal that a skills shortage and desire for improved gender balance initiated its incentive to employ women only. QCAT senior member Clare Endicott said Downer Mining had made compelling reasons for a general exemption. “The relevant authorities require me to have regard to certain matters when exercising discretion about an exemption application,” she said.

Women in Mining Western Australia founder Sabina Shugg.

10 AMM December 2013

Safer if a woman is driving? A Caterpillar 793F haul truck.

“Men are found to be more susceptible to risk taking than women and it was anticipated that an increased female participation in positions at mining sites would provide an opportunity to improve a safety culture in the organisation.” – Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal “These matters include whether it would be appropriate and reasonable to grant an exemption, whether there are any non-discriminatory ways of achieving the purposes for which the exemption is sought and whether there is support for the exemption being granted. “The commissioner has no objection to the proposed exemption being granted in order to promote a more inclusive and diverse workforce at the applicant’s minesites.” Since the workforce at open cut minesites is predominantly male, Endicott said it was reasonable and appropriate to ensure the proportion of female workers was increased. In addition to its proposal to QCAT, Downer Mining will implement “nondiscriminatory ways” of achieving its goal of gender diversity. “We have had success in our mining division with women truck drivers, so this initiative is focused on advertising for more,” Sharp added. “I think, broadly, it has a positive influence on all drivers. It seems there is a positive impact on the safety culture when more women are around.” Shugg believes it’s a great incentive for women. “The more that companies talk about employing more women, the more people will become aware that the mining industry has opportunities for women,” she said. “It’s easier if there are more women around at minesites because it becomes the new norm and there’s not so much pressure on one person. There’s a lot more women in the mining industry but that’s because there’s more people. We need to keep pushing the number of women up.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, female participation in the mining workforce has risen from 11% to 18% since 1998. An increasingly popular viewpoint is that women are better truck drivers. They’re gentler on the trucks, less likely to take risks and are more cautious when driving mining vehicles. Women in Mining UK executive chairman Amanda van Dyke said that in mining countries such as Australia, the general shortage of available workforce prompted companies to hire women out of necessity. “Out of that was born a realisation that in some capacities, women were actually better than men,” she said. “One famous example concerns truck driving. Women have proven to be more efficient, using less fuel and causing less expensive wear and tear on the machinery. “That realisation has spread across the industry and, where available, women are being hired more and more to drive trucks.” Around the 1960s to ‘70s, trucks were far more difficult and laborious to drive, as there was no power steering. Truck operators required a large wheel to have enough leverage to force the wheels to turn. Nowadays, with advancements in truck technology, it’s easier for women truck drivers to control even the largest machines. Downer Mining has either pulled off a spectacular public relations success, or struck a blow to redress the male-female imbalance across Australian minesites. Good luck to them if the former is true – and congratulations if they succeed in achieving the latter.

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Siberia-proof Tested and proven in Siberia, equipment manufacturer Belarusian Autoworks has created the world’s largest mining truck. By Vetti Kakulas


ining companies will have to wait another two years until they can get their hands on the world’s largest mining truck – the BelAZ 75710. The 450-tonne truck has a 25% larger hauling capacity than the 360t BelAZ truck. While it’s larger than the previous model, it also lowers the hauling cost per tonne. It should provide an interesting option for Australian mining companies, as larger trucks present many benefits to projects looking at efficiency savings. BelAZ already has a significant presence in Australia. Australia’s Mining Monthly readers may remember we featured the arrival of BelAZ’s smaller mining trucks earlier this year. The BelAZ 240t and 360t trucks were the first to arrive at distributor Australasian Pacific Engineering Group’s Hunter Valley headquarters in New South Wales. To ensure it can efficiently withstand Australia’s tough mining conditions, the 450t truck is being field tested at the Bachatsky open pit coal mine in Siberia. BelAZ said the Bachatsky coal mine had some of the harshest mining conditions in the world. Along with other BelAZ models, the 450t truck can operate in temperatures ranging from minus 50 to 50 degrees Celsius and in

The truck has a 25% larger hauling capacity than the 360-tonne BelAZ truck.

12 AMM December 2013

altitudes 4.5km above sea level. Incorporating BelAZ’s latest technology, the 75710 has two 16-cylinder, four-cycle MTU diesel engines that run at a maximum speed of 64 kilometres per hour. When fully loaded on a 10% gradient, the truck can maintain a 40km/h speed, so loads can still be delivered quickly and costeffectively. BelAZ spokesman Quentin Peel says another special feature is that the 75710 is very fuel efficient, using 198 grams per kilowatt-hour for each engine. When carrying smaller loads, the truck operates on one engine, which significantly reduces fuel consumption. “Taking into account the need to minimise downtime and the costs associated with operator training, BelAZ has designed the 450 to function within the specifications of the Belaz 360 so no additional training is required,” Peel said. In the course of its 65-year history, BelAZ has produced more than 135,000 dump trucks. It supplies one-third of the world’s dump trucks. The 75710 can cope with some of the coldest conditions on the planet. The next test will be to see hw it handles the Aussie heat.

The world’s largest mining truck won’t arrive in Australia for another two years.

With eight wheels, the big BelAZ 450-tonne truck has a gross weight of 810,000kg.

AT A GLANCE • BelAZ’s largest mining truck uses an AC electric drive Siemens MMT500 electromechanical transmission. • The 450-tonne truck operates at 40km/h and is powered by a 1200 kilowatt electric motor. • It has eight wheels and a payload capacity of 450-tonnes. • Noise levels inside the cab are less than 80 decibels and the overall vibration level is less than 115 dB. • Miners capable of operating the BelAZ 360 are able to use the 450 without further training.

BelAZ 75710 does a trial run at its Belarusian manufacturing site.

December 2013 AMM 13


Downer’s deal Downer EDI has won a major Roy Hill iron ore project contract. By Justin Neissner,


owner EDI has been awarded a $500 million mining contract for the Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western

Australia. The 4.5-year contract, expected to be executed by the end of November, will provide for early operations at the $10 billion open pit, with infrastructure construction in early 2014 to be followed by full-scale mining in the second half of the year. Services will include drill and blast, prestrip, load and haul of overburden, as well as supplementary mining, while Roy Hill undertakes mining on a predominantly owner-operator basis. The project will involve a fleet of 18 haul trucks and two excavators, employing a staff of more than 220 people.

14 AMM December 2013

Downer said the capital needed for the project over the 2015 financial year was expected to be $110 million, including $40 million for new equipment and $70 million provided from existing equipment. Downer chief executive officer Grant Fenn said the company received the notice of award based on its strong capabilities, comprehensive services and its expanding presence in Western Australia. The award represents the latest in a string of contracts for the proposed mine, 70%-owned by Hancock Prospecting. Last month, Ranger Drilling took an $18 million grade control drilling contract for the project to run for three years with a two-year option. Roy Hill has defined mineralisation of more than 2.4 billion tonnes of iron ore grading

Roy Hill aerial view of the borrow pit for construction of the minesite airport.

more than 55% iron, enough to sustain the 55 million tonne per annum capacity project for more than 20 years. A quasi-strip mining approach to be undertaken at the site will employ methods similar to those used at coal mines and is expected to help minimise haulage distances for waste rock by dumping waste into previously mined voids. The project is planning to load its first ore shipment for export by 2015.


Bentley CEO Greg Bentley delivering his keynote speech at the Year In Infrastructure conference in London.

Mining: the Bentley way Bentley Systems’ approach to mining solutions can be summed up in just a few, choice words – data and information management. Thomas Smith travelled to London to learn the Bentley method of 21st century mining.


n terms of stature, Greg Bentley isn’t a big man. He’s quite the opposite, in fact. The CEO of US software firm Bentley Systems is so softly spoken that you have to listen intently to distinguish his American accent. Indeed, he’s far removed from some of his Bentley colleagues, many of whom look like they could play quarterback for their local American football team. But despite being slight in stature, Bentley is very much the boss and driving force behind a software firm that is rapidly expanding its reach to the four corners of the globe. For those of you unfamiliar with software and the companies that design and deliver their products, here’s how Bentley Systems describes itself: “Bentley is the global leader dedicated to providing architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, constructors and owneroperators with comprehensive software solutions for sustaining infrastructure. “Bentley Systems applies information mobility to improve asset performance by leveraging information modelling through integrated projects for intelligent infrastructure. “Its solutions encompass the MicroStation platform for infrastructure design and modelling, the ProjectWise platform for infrastructure project team collaboration and work sharing and the AssetWise platform for infrastructure asset operations – all supporting a broad portfolio of interoperable applications and complemented by worldwide professional services. “Founded in 1984, Bentley has more than 3000 colleagues in 50 countries, more than $500 million in annual revenues and since

16 AMM December 2013

2005 has invested more than $1 billion in research, development, and acquisitions.” That’s quite a CV. So what does it bring to mining? Quite a lot, is the answer to that question – particularly at the cutting-edge end of the software scale. I was invited to attend Bentley’s annual Year In Infrastructure conference in London recently. The conference discusses innovation across all sectors that Bentley software is active in. It also hands out awards for the best projects, sector by sector.

“Innovation can surface in many ways in this new era of intelligent mining, that is safer and more efficient.” – Bentley solutions executive John Sanins Two of the candidates for the innovations in mining and metals category featured Australian projects. Vista Gold and Proteus EPCM Engineers were nominated for the feasibility study for the Mt Todd gold project in the Northern Territory, using Bentley’s MicroStation and Navigator software. Adani Mining was listed among the nominees for the development of its Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, using Bentley ProjectWise. The award was won by Hatch Associates, for its work on a project in China. “Bentley is supporting a growing number of mining companies in Australia with sustainable solutions that support

information mobility for the complete lifecycle of mining assets,” a spokesman for Bentley said, describing the company’s presence in the Australian mining industry. “Leveraging Bentley software in innovative ways to effectively model and simulate assets, to support the process of design, build and ultimately to optimise the performance and reliability of assets during their operating life, Bentley users are leading the way. “This centralised information is a collaborative, shared environment where data is created, managed and shared across multiple disciplines. “Managing the enormous volume and diversity of information involved in the planning, design, analysis, management and operation of a mine, we integrate, interoperate and share data, provide mine-specific mobile tools with intuitive, yet powerful mobile technology, manage mining assets to maximise performance, reliability, availability and ensure regulatory compliance.” Bentley mining and metals solutions executive John Sanins said: “Innovation can surface in many ways in this new era of intelligent mining that is safer and more efficient. “The future vision is a data-centric solution and underlying information model capable of developing, managing and transitioning all mine related data through the entire asset lifecycle from discovery, establishment, production and finally rehabilitation.” Bentley is consulting on Hancock Prospecting’s Roy Hill project in Western Australia and 2014 promises to be a significant year for the company’s Australian operations, with the launch of a product aimed at underground mining.


Tried and tested Atlas Copco’s SmartROC T45 surface drill rig is being put through its paces at a WA gold mine. By Tess Ingram


he first Atlas Copco SmartROC T45 has been fired up in Australia and put to the test against some of the country’s hardest rocks. In the hands of contractor Watpac Civil & Mining at the Ramelius Resources-owned Mt Magnet gold mine in Western Australia’s Murchison, the SmartROC T45 has been shown no mercy. “We put the T45 up against the hardest rocks – basalts and dolerites, and bandediron formations – which are essentially the three types of drilling applications faced at Mt Magnet,” Watpac mining manager Brendan Vaughan said.

The SmartROC under trial at the Mt Magnet gold mine.

“The T45 is better than an F9C and the reason why comes back to a discussion not about fuel, but about engines.” – Watpac mining manager Brendan Vaughan “So it’s not the granite and gneisses they test these rigs on in Sweden, but basalts and dolerites, which aren’t for the faint of heart, and banded-iron formations tend to be dense and a little bit abrasive too. “It’s a good test application for the technology.” Atlas has promised a higher penetration rate for the T45, compared to its predecessor the F9C, but Vaughan said some initial hurdles had prevented this from being achieved. Vaughan said the drill had been recording the same sort of penetration rates as the F9C ,but that the higher rates promised due to an extra 5 kilowatts of rock drill power installed in the T45 – now 30kW – were expected to be realised once some early rod-changing challenges were overcome. “The reason is not the rock drill,” said Vaughan. “We are trying to sort out issues with rod changing and we’re pretty keen to see what the penetration rate benefits of sorting that out will be.” The SmartROC that Watpac is trialling is the first active rig in Australia and only the second one working anywhere in the world.

18 AMM December 2013

Atlas said the three months of data collected from the trial lent support to its claim that the T45 burned considerably less fuel than the F9C. But Vaughan said it was not the fuel savings that had impressed him the most to date. “The T45 is better than an F9C, and the reason why comes back to a discussion not about fuel, but about engines,” he said. “It’s about litres burnt through the engine. “That’s highly significant, because if savings of 30% on fuel burn are there – and we are

seeing better than this – it means that the engine is wearing out less quickly. “And that has tremendous impacts on your lifecycle maintenance strategy for running the drill. “The fuel saving is just the tip of the iceberg.” Asked when the T45 ‘trial’ would come to an end, Vaughan joked: “I don’t think they’re going to get their drill rig back – they’ll have to ask me very nicely!”

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12/09/13 2:08 PM

Michael Pascoe

Clive Palmer.

Professor Palmer Get ready to expect the unexpected, as Mr Clive Palmer reveals his finances to the public.


few days either side of this edition’s publication date, Clive Palmer MP is due to disclose his financial affairs. Good luck with that. Oh, the Member for Fairfax’s entry in the parliamentary register of pecuniary interests is bound to make for interesting reading. But if Clive runs true to form, it also won’t make a whole pile of sense. No-one’s been able to quite work out what’s what with the Palmer empire before and I suspect they’ll still be struggling after. As various interviewers around the country have been discovering, Clive Palmer is very difficult to interview rationally. He’s colourful and says all manner of outlandish things that can seem to make for good television, but anyone trying to actually nail down some facts is likely to find their hammer going nowhere as Palmer dives off on tangents and distractions. I beat the rush by discovering that a dozen years ago when Palmer was pushing the idea

20 AMM December 2013

of building a new steel works in Newcastle. The NSW government fell for the line and the then-Premier, Bob Carr, announced the project as fact. Clive was going to supply the magnetite, NSW was going to supply the land, Leighton was going to move the earth, one of the big names was to build the mill and so on. It was considerable news at the time, the general media lapping it up as unquestioned truth, but in the humble opinion of a couple of us working on the Business Sunday program, it didn’t add up. We couldn’t find anyone actually prepared to put serious money into the scheme – the kindest interpretation was that it was one big contra deal. And if you happen to be visiting Newcastle today, you’ll notice there’s no steel mill. We invited Clive – he was calling himself Professor Palmer in those days – in for an interview. Thankfully, it was pre-recorded as once it became obvious we weren’t buying the PR spin, Palmer made the chat unusable as a straight interview with the sort of bold

assertions and threats that everyone is now familiar with. The interview was as nonsensical as the project. We had to cut the interview up and run voice-over to try to explain that, well, we couldn’t really explain it other than to point to that missing ingredient of some real capital. Palmer subsequently blamed NSW government “delays” for the project failing and tried to sue the government for $521 million, as he does. The action was later dropped. If the government had had just a little more intelligence, the scheme would never have been announced but, as I mentioned, it was the NSW government. So my view of Palmer’s various exploits since then has always been coloured by the Newcastle experience. Consequently, noone was more surprised than me when work actually started on the Sino Iron project. That there seem to have been complications of one sort or another is no surprise at all. Ditto everything to do with Clive.


The CSG threat AS far as I know, Clive Palmer doesn’t have any coal seam gas interests. Not this week anyway. So there’s no way of knowing how Palmer United Party senators might vote if the federal government follows through on some of its confusing rhetoric over the CSG question. While one federal minister wants to clear the way for more CSG development in New South Wales, the Prime Minister is going a long way out of his way to nod with anti-CSG protesters. It’s a bit of a problem when Tony Abbott’s good mate and mentor, shock jock Alan Jones, is such a rabid anti-CSG campaigner. Jones expects his politicians to do what they are told, if they know what’s good for them. And so, fresh from fighting NSW bushfires, Abbott found himself sitting down on November 2 in Tara on the western Darling Downs with Debbie Orr to hear about her claims that the terrible CSG wells were making the local kiddies sick. Ms Orr had written to Alan Jones who had read her letters to the then-opposition leader when he was on the Jones radio show in December, so Abbott promised to visit her within six weeks of becoming PM. No-one’s going to begrudge him being out by a fortnight. The Queensland Health Department hasn’t been able to find anything out-of-the-usual with the Tara children, but Ms Orr reportedly showed the Prime Minister pictures of children with rashes and nosebleeds. Pictures can indeed say a thousand words. The Fairfax Media report of the PM’s Tara trip has a photograph of Ms Orr, mother of six, at home. Type “SMH Debbie Orr Abbott” into Google to see the image. Ms Orr’s version of her conversation with Mr Abbott included the Prime Minister saying that “nobody should be forced to have a gas well on their property”. We’ll no doubt find out in time whether he did say exactly that or meant it. It would be an interesting development though in Federal-State relations if Canberra somehow decided mineral rights didn’t belong to the state. I can’t help suspecting that the people who think they’ve been made sick by CSG wells tend to be like the people who think they’ve been made sick by electricity-generating windmills – they’re not the ones who’ve been paid quite handsomely by the power or gas companies for the use of their land.

Tapering wealth MEANWHILE, back at the big picture, the profitability of a large whack of the world’s mining industry is resting not on supply and demand, but when the US Federal Reserve Board will stop debasing the US currency by printing $US85 billion a month. Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens was particularly blunt in a speech last month about the outlook for the Australian dollar, warning forex players that the Aussie really is likely to fall substantially at some stage. Stevens is far too smart to put a specific time on such a prediction, but the RBA has made clear that the answer to our dollar’s strength is in American monetary policy, not Australian interest rates. So when the Fed eventually gets around to tapering his money printing (as it must at some stage), the greenback rises against everything and the Aussie falls. That’s nice for exporters. But it also tends to mean that the prices of key commodities adjust over time to the stronger greenback. You lose on the roundabout some of what you win on the swings.


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December 2013 AMM 21

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Australian expertise Western Australian software firm MICROMINE is sharing its products with mining students in the UK. By Vetti Kakulas MICROMINE has signed an academic agreement to help educate students in England. An agreement has been struck with the Camborne School of Mines – a division of the University of Exeter in Cornwall, England. Camborne course directors will integrate MICROMINE’s flagship mining and exploration software, Micromine, across its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Micromine is a software that allows capture, management and interpretation of critical mining and exploration data. The Perth-based company will work with Camborne staff to deploy its software, which can also be used as a tool in research projects. Camborne students will be exposed to real mining data, including mineral exploration, three-dimensional geological modelling, geostatistics, resource estimation, pit optimisation, mine design and scheduling.

MICROMINE said students would significantly enhance their career prospects by developing advanced technical skills that would be highly regarded by employers. Camborne program director Charlie Moon said his division was excited to start using Micromine. “We decided to adopt the package in response to student requests for training in an industry-standard package for plotting and interpreting exploration and mine data,” he said. “We know that such training is a key part of a graduate’s resume, particularly those entering the mining industry.” There is potential for the partnership to initiate research and development programs that will develop technologies for mining and exploration. MICROMINE has more than 12,000 clients in 90 countries worldwide.

SOFTWARE described as a first for open cut mine safety has been launched to the Australian mining industry. Italian technologies firm IDS Corporation’s FPM360 offers 360-degree visuals of mine slope monitoring in real time, in one consolidated software suite. As open cut mines become deeper and slopes steeper, the potential for slope failure increases. “With the new FPM360 system, IDS engineers have taken mine slope monitoring to the next level, improving upon the limitations of traditional slope monitoring technologies,” IDS Corporation mining business manager Paolo Farina said. “Expanding the frontiers and scope of coverage of open cut mine slopes in near real time was a natural but crucial step towards the enhancement of mine safety.” FPM360, which is an abbreviation for Full Pit Monitoring, integrates multiple IBIS radar systems. It can monitor and collect data from an entire pit wall scenario in less than three minutes. FPM360 for monitoring mine slopes in real-time.

Market Metrics PERTH-based online broking platform MinesOnline has created a new Market Metrics service to help with project purchases. The service will provide answers to the two most frequently asked questions when a buyer is searching to acquire a mining or exploration project. Those questions are ‘how much should I pay’ and ‘how is the share market likely to value the deal?’ Market Metrics includes a large portfolio

22 AMM December 2013

of Australian and international project sales including gold, copper, nickel sulphide and direct shipping iron ore from the past five years. MinesOnline managing director Liam Twigger said the service would help buyers and sellers of assets determine the market price and remove the ‘fog’ associated with trying to determine project values. “MinesOnline has completed more than $100 million in transactions since inception in

2010,” he said. “It provides a direct and discrete avenue to an alternative source of capital with distribution to more than 5000 companies and institutions from 100 countries worldwide.” Market Metrics can compare Australian Securities Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange reserve and resource trading multiples on a per ounce, pound or tonne basis for exploration, development and operational projects.


Evorelution launches v3.0 The new version of Evorelution scheduling software includes haulage optimisation solutions designed to reduce operating costs and increase the utilisation of resources. By Tess Ingram


vorelution v3.0 has been released to the market with a brand new addition – dynamic haulage optimisation. The Perth-based mine scheduling software company released the new version at an October launch, where managing director Steve Craig said the addition came after considerable consultation with clients. “Haulage optimisation translates into huge operational savings for our clients,” he said. According to Craig, this is the first time mine planners will have access to a program that can facilitate optimal fleet haulage routes and waste dump optimisation, including haul cycle times and productivities, in a single piece of software. The software shows exactly where each block is being mined and its intended destination, while considering optimal waste landform construction to keep haulage costs down. It shows how many trucks are required and, if necessary, can highlight that additional trucks aren’t needed, preventing unnecessary capital expenditure. Business development manager Mark Bright drew attention to the

Evorelution Strategy at the launch, describing a solution designed to optimise of cut-off grades. Bright said that Strategy was best used when looking at a new resource for the first time because it examined different mining and processing scenarios to help maximise the value of the resource. “In most cases, run times are completed in minutes, with the result being an optimised cashflow and cut-off grade policy being defined for that process,” Bright said. “Strategy is able to take into consideration everything from rehabilitation costs to metal price and cost escalation when coming up with a scheduling solution.” Like previous versions of Evorelution, v3.0 has the ability to utilise a single data-set to generate multiple schedules on a single simulation run.

Reconciliation focus Large quantities of disorganised mine data can prevent an operation from achieving its potential operating efficiency and meeting cost targets. Reconciling this wealth of information into a software program such as the InSite mine production management and reconciliation software from GEOVIA, helps mines gain greater confidence in their production data, resulting in better planning decisions. InSite delivers advanced reconciliation tools to analyse the variance between planned and actual production and its latest version release 4.4. It offers a number of enhancements to help users overcome the challenge of identifying variances. A new Inspect and Correct feature helps to uncover errors that may exist in operational data and changes to the Central Monitoring application provide a new dimension for reconciliation by comparing the progress of operational activities against plan to quickly identify changes through an interactive map of the operation. Vancouver-based GEOVIA, formerly known as Gemcom Software, is a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes.

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24 AMM December 2013

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Marine pilots get Smarts on A ‘smart’ baseball-style cap is helping guide mining ships through one of Australia’s most treasured ecosystems. By Vetti Kakulas


Hino truck operating on a minesite.

atigue among maritime pilots is a serious issue, posing a significant risk to safety and the marine environment. Pilots guide bulk carrier ships through some of Australia’s most protected environments. Maritime company Australian Reef Pilots (ARP) is trialling the SmartCap headwear system, a brainwave-sensing technology to enhance maritime safety. The SmartCap monitors brain activity through sensors in the cap’s lining. ARP has successfully used the system to support pilots guiding bulk carriers

through Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. Sensors in the cap monitor brainwave information to continually calculate drowsiness and fatigue levels. The SmartCap has previously been used in the mining and transport industries, but this is the first time it has been used at sea. There are numerous Queensland mining companies using the state’s east coast for transporting ore from ports, including Hay Point, Gladstone, Abbot Point and Weipa. According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral in the past 28 years.

December 2013 AMM 27

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The air conditioners are West Australian designed and built to withstand extreme heat and vibration experienced in Australia’s remote areas. All vehicle framework is grit blasted and primed to protect against the effects of harsh operating conditions above or below ground. Able fabricated modules are designed for a larger, more robust modified chassis. This makes for a stronger, more reliable vehicle over its lifetime. Another key feature is the ability for passenger modules to be removed

from an older cab chassis and placed onto a new cab chassis, reducing the overall replacement costs. Able not only produce quality vehicles, but provide excellent parts backup with our own 400 square meter on-site parts and components store. Able Bus & Coach is Australian owned; we don’t import modules from overseas. Our modules and much of

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ARP chief pilot Roger Rusling wearing a SmartCap.

Although the loss was mainly due to storm damage (48%), it’s still vital to protect the reef. So it’s important that a mining company’s cargo is guided safely through the reef to prevent any damage.

The SmartCap has previously been used in the mining and transport industries, but this is the first time it has been used at sea. SmartCap developer Dan Bongers said the ‘mine-to-brine’ transition was a natural progression because fatigue was a significant threat in the maritime industry and the SmartCap was successfully used at mine sites. “The SmartCap is comfortable to wear and the sensors can read brainwave activity through hair, with no requirement for patches or scalp preparation,” he said. “It’s not as intrusive as camera or responsebased technologies can be.” ARP chief executive officer Simon Meyjes said the SmartCap was another tool in the company’s range of technological innovations to enhance ship, crew and environmental safety. “Our use of the SmartCap is a world-first

An Australian Reef Pilot boat guides a bulk carrier ship.

approach to address the issue of fatigue at sea,” Meyjes said. “It looks like a simple baseball cap, but it’s fitted with sophisticated sensors in the lining,” “These sensors monitor brainwave activity to accurately calculate the wearer’s level of drowsiness.” Subsequently, the data is transmitted in real time to a portable monitor or Bluetooth device, such as a mobile phone. The wearer’s alertness is assessed on a two to four scale, with an audible fatigue warning

activated if the level reaches three or higher. If the wearer is significantly drowsy, the system will notify them that a micro-sleep episode may occur. “This is a self-monitoring system enabling the SmartCap wearer to accurately determine how they’re coping on the job, signalling when it is time to take appropriate steps to manage fatigue,” Meyjes added. The SmartCap is manufactured by EdanSafe – a subsidiary of CRCMining.

December 2013 AMM 29


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he enormity of Australia’s mining sector can never be underestimated. Bringing billions of dollars to the nation’s economy and providing employment to more than 750,000 Australians, the task of keeping minesites operational is no easy task. Garwoods Civil & Maintenance has been providing its transport services at some of Australia’s biggest and busiest coal mines. Based in Queensland, Garwoods has a fleet of 13 Terex TA400 articulated dump trucks that are used for transporting rock, coal, material rejects and mud. Garwoods spokesman John Ashton said his company had the TA400 trucks for more than two years and they were used for almost everything. “We have the only earthmovers on most mine sites, so we look after all of the haulage as well as the maintenance and grading of the roads,” he said. The TA400 has a maximum payload of 38 tonnes, heaped capacity of 23.3 cubic metres and 331 kilowatts of engine power. But Ashton believes the TA400’s best feature is its tailgate seal. “We move a lot of sludge at open cut mines,” he said. “When it rains, the water accumulates and the big sumps fill with silt, which we then cart out. “We only ever use a Terex truck on mud because the tailgate seal is so good. We have four Terex TA400 trucks that run mud all the time and they hardly spill a drop.” Garwoods said acquiring the TA400 trucks was a great decision for its business. “The vehicles have all the facilities needed for the task and have proven their long-term reliability in one of the most demanding work sites imaginable,” Ashton said. Garwoods has 45 staff onsite at a time to ensure the minesite is kept safe, compliant and fully operational. The company has delivered onsite mine, civil and maintenance works since 1992.



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December 2013 AMM 31

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New career? Geologists could end up driving taxis.

Taxi, anyone? If analysts are correct, the current and next generation of geologists are more likely to find work in the taxi trade than they are in Australia’s mining industry.


ith Electrolux factories in Orange closing, the food industry losing jobs and manufacturers and the car sector on an economic slippery slope from which there will be no recovery, you would think the country’s leaders might be a tad more concerned about keeping healthy its more productive sectors. Of course, I am talking about one of those sectors – mining.

Yet this very sector is facing a frightening double-whammy: not enough jobs for the qualified work force and not enough qualified people coming through to replace those who retire or fall off the twig. If the coalition does follow through on its plan to make mining investment more taxeffective, that is going to help with the first problem, but not the second. Globally, exploration and mine development has limped along in 2013.

Canberra needs to understand that the metal prices boom of the past decade delivered a tremendous boost to Australia in spite of government indifference/antipathy (depending on which party was in power) to the industry. The 1990s, as we know, were a lost decade, and had more been done, then Australia would have been in even greater boom times when the markets turned upwards. Now, according to Peter Strachan at Perth’s StockAnalysis, we are looking at the lack of new metal supply three to five years out due to the present state of doldrums in the industry. “Currently the careers of many geologists are under threat,” he writes. “Expect to see more geologists driving taxis or working as builder’s labourers during 2014.” Unemployment in the mining industry is already growing, he adds. Then there was the recent Essington Lewis Memorial Lecture given by Ian Gould, formerly of Normandy Mining and Rio Tinto. He argued schools are not turning out people with the skills to manage resource discoveries and development. “What technical high schools, for example, did so well was to act as great champions and practitioners of STEM subjects – the science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects that are fundamental to ensuring we’re able to train and utilise the skilled, professional workforce that the mining and processing industries amongst others require,” he said. “It is a grave concern for our nation today that quality STEM education is languishing.” In 2002, according to his figures, Australia had 22% of first degree students graduating in STEM subjects compared to 64% in Japan and 52% in China. If you think that’s bad, then 2012 was worse: just 18% of Australian of Australian graduates were in that sector. This at a time when the fundamental challenge for the mining industry lies in the increasing difficulty in finding and utilising new resources, and in the declining quality and increasing depth of our mined deposits. So the taxi industry is clearly going to look more towards unemployed liberal arts graduates rather than geologists.


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MINING BRIEF WesTrac’s Tomago facility in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.

WesTrac cuts staff Caterpillar dealer WesTrac has cut 630 jobs across Australia. By Vetti Kakulas


even Group Holdings has issued a profit warning and announced a restructuring of its subsidiary WesTrac, with the loss of 630 jobs. The announcement comes after WesTrac cut 375 jobs earlier this year in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. WesTrac said the restructuring would cost about $13 million. The job cuts will be achieved through a combination of natural attrition, a reduction in contractors and redundancies.

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“WesTrac has implemented a series of efficiency and productivity initiatives over the past 12 months in an effort to streamline its cost base but these measures alone have not been sufficient in view of continuing, challenging market conditions,” Seven Group said. The company previously said it had seen the biggest slowdown in NSW coal, while Western Australian iron ore had picked up since a price slump last year. WesTrac said that after the restructuring it would have 3350 employees across WA, NSW and the ACT. Seven Group warned that full-year earnings before interest and tax would also be at the lower end of previous guidance of 30-40% below the 2013 financial year, with a more marked reduction in the first half given the record comparative period. Earnings before interest and tax for the 2013 financial year were $634.6 million, up 9% from the previous year.

“WesTrac has implemented a series of efficiency and productivity initiatives over the past 12 months in an effort to streamline its cost base but these measures alone have not been sufficient in view of continuing, challenging market conditions.” – Seven Group Seven Group previously said it expected its “exponential growth” to ease, with 2014 earnings to settle back at FY11 levels. WesTrac isn’t the only employer cutting jobs, with further cuts expected across the mining sector. Other Australian mining companies are reducing costs by implementing redundancies. Anglo American continues to reduce personnel, following news of 200 contractors and permanent staff cuts from its Dawson open cut coal mine in Queensland. Around 120 employees and contractors will be made redundant by Centennial Coal at its NSW mines, as depressed thermal coal prices and the high Australian dollar continue to bite into the company’s profitability.

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Ready for duty Global Pumps gives its SlurryPro pump a dose of tough love to better withstand tough minesite conditions. By Tess Ingram


lient feedback is a wonderful thing. Not only does it help manufacturers produce equipment that gets the job done, it also proves that clients care enough to engage in this process. In response to feedback from the mining industry, Global Pumps has ‘toughened up’ its original SlurryPro pump to produce a new series that can withstand even the most rough-and-tumble minesites. The SlurryPro was born in 2005 when, after years of selling pumps, the Adelaide-based supplier decided to enter the market with its own product. Global Pumps specialises in peristaltic hose pumps and said the technology was designed to deliver several advantages in slurry pumping procedures, including significant water and power savings. The new Diamond Series SlurryPro – or the ‘Super Duty’ model – is a step up from the company’s Silver Series SlurryPro. It has been designed with longevity in mind, with the end goal of producing a pump that will outlive its competitors. Global Pumps mining product manager Darren Seeley said the principle innovation of the Super Duty SlurryPro was a redesign of the bearings housing, which focuses on heat dissipation to extend the working life of the pump.

The Diamond Series SlurryPro.

“As pump manufacturers, if we can enhance the area around the bearings so they run cooler, then they are going to last longer,” Seeley said. Unlike other pumps, the Super Duty’s front and rear casings are not designed to be replaced and have also been “toughened up” to last, an addition that has made them 20% heavier than comparable models. “Casings have 20% additional material, and strengthening ribs for increased resilience and longer service life,” Seeley added. Larger bearings and bigger shaft assembly

to provide greater strength and heat displacement also allow larger motors to be used on existing pumps if the duty increases or the slurry consistency varies from the initial design. Especially designed for the mining industry, the Super Duty SlurryPro includes a maximum flow of 250 litres per second and a maximum 450 horsepower for a standard pump. The company began manufacturing its pumps at a new facility in Argentina in 2012 and said the move had allowed it to decrease its lead time by a third, to about four weeks. Global Pumps also marks all of its parts with a unique code so that from the foundry to pump assembly, to the end user, every part is traceable if an issue arises.

“As pump manufacturers, if we can enhance the area around the bearings so they run cooler, then they are going to last longer.” – Global Pumps mining product manager Darren Seeley

The Diamond Series SlurryPro on show at AIMEX.

36 AMM December 2013

Both series of the SlurryPro are suitable for use with abrasive slurry up to 30% concentration, targeted to fill a gap in the market for pumps that operate at high flow rates for lower concentrations.

Keeping it clean One of Shell’s top specialists sheds some light on the simple steps that can save you truckloads. By Tess Ingram

Shell Australia national technical manager Dave Curro.


roper fluid handling isn’t rocket science. That’s the view of Shell Australia national technical manager Dave Curro. He believes saving on maintenance costs is as simple as following a few standard housekeeping procedures. “Fluid management is becoming more relevant to the bottom line as it plays an increasingly critical role in reducing unplanned downtime,” Curro said. “The role of fuel and lubricants hasn’t really changed. They remain the lifeblood of mining operations. What has changed is the mining technology, plant and equipment these fluids support.” Curro said machinery was becoming increasingly complex as more sophisticated engineering was developed year on year.

“Finer tolerances are demanded as fuel and lubrication systems evolve,” he said. “The need for uncontaminated, clean fluid has never been greater.” Asked about the impact poor fluid management could have on the bottom line, Curro said some equipment manufacturers had reported improvements in maintenance costs of up to 30% through good fluid management practice. “Clearly, this margin varies from one mining operation to the next,” Curro said. “However, when fluid management best practices are followed, maintenance issues linked to contamination reduce significantly. “Put simply, keeping your lubricant clean will reduce wear and maintenance.” Concerning fuel, Curro said the three

best practice steps in managing fluid contamination were clean, protect and polish. “Like any supply chain, the aim is to remove weak links while strengthening every other link,” he said. “The fact is, links in this chain are often overlooked and can stay overlooked for ages. They are often the simplest of housekeeping procedures, like checking and maintaining filters and breathers, or appropriate storage and handling of fuels and lubricants.” Curro added that the best solution was to methodically review and monitor each step, ensuring best practice fluid management right along the chain. “This produces the best results, which is cleaner fluid with minimal contamination. It’s not rocket science, really,” he said.

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December 2013 AMM 37


Coping with pressure Dewatering lines play a crucial role in removing unwanted water from mines but managing their installation and constant reconfiguration isn’t always easy.


ore than 600 gigalitres of water are used every year by the Australian mining industry. It represents around 4% of the nation’s available water supply, according to the Australian Trade Commission, or Austrade – the Australian government’s trade, investment and education promotion agency. Extracting, inserting and managing this resource from the initial stages of exploration through to periods of expansion is a critical aspect of mining that must be appropriately addressed to prevent safety hazards and costly downtime. Dewatering lines are commonly used to extract water from both underground and surface mines. These systems are generally installed during the construction of the mine and are in use for its lifetime. The system itself is often in a constant state of flux, adjusting to continuous expansion as mining extends deeper or exploration branches out. Mechanical pipe joining manufacturer Victaulic says the best dewatering systems are the ones that can be installed and rerouted easily with limited pipe damage. Sections of dewatering pipes can be anywhere from 100m to 1km in length, with thousands of joints along their length. It is these joints that determine how easily the systems are installed and adjusted. Victaulic engineering, procurement, construction and management mining

manager Dave Greenwood said while flanged joints had traditionally been used for mechanical pipe joining, grooved, shouldered and plain-end joining methods had been preferred in Australia for the last 20-30 years as they are simpler, faster and more flexible. “Traditionally, couplings are comprised of a two-piece housing, gasket, bolts and nuts, which are taken apart before installation. The gasket is then lubricated, placed on the pipe ends and encased by the housing,” Greenwood said. “Under the conditions of a typical mine, cramped space, dirt, debris and dim lighting can vastly increase the risk of improper installation.” US-based Victaulic has developed two pipe joining systems it says streamline dewatering

Victaulic’s SC77 flexible coupling for shouldered steel pipes doesn’t need to be disassembled, eliminating loose parts and preventing human error. “By removing the need for disassembly, the gasket is not exposed to the dirty mine environment, decreasing the chance of joint failure and reducing the chance of incorrect fitting by installers,” Greenwood said. “The coupling installs up to five times faster than flanged joints and twice as fast as traditional coupling designs.” Installing dewatering lines in underground hard rock mines is a more challenging task, because the mines are generally a great deal deeper and the systems can be faced with as much as 20,000 kilopascals of head pressure.

“Under the conditions of a typical mine, cramped space, dirt, debris and dim lighting can vastly increase the risk of improper installation.” – Victaulic EPCM mining manager Dave Greenwood line installation and improve flexibility when rerouting. For underground coal mines, Victaulic has developed “installation-ready” couplings for shouldered dewatering systems. The average underground mine in Australia installs 5000-10,000 joints per year, according to Victaulic, so doing this quickly and safely can greatly increase uptime.

Aquamine in use in the Darlot gold mine in Western Australia after original installation.

38 AMM December 2013

Victaulic’s Aquamine system.

Victaulic’s Aquamine polyvinyl chloride joining system works at a much lower head pressure but has been developed to match alternative pipe materials, such as PVC, which are beginning to be employed in hard rock dewatering systems. The system only caters to pressures up to 2400kPa but can be safely and easily installed without the need for any hot works or power requirements underground. Gold Fields’ Darlot mine in Western Australia used the Aquamine system to extract water from below ground level and distribute to setting ponds. Victaulic said the technology allowed easy installation in a tight working environment and allowed a smooth transition from steel to PVC for the mine. Greenwood says the Aquamine reduces labour time by 79.3%, costs by 18.6% and it can be easily redeployed and reused. “This is often a necessary consideration – as a mine is explored and resources extracted, areas of the mine are closed down and new ones explored,” he added. “Dewatering lines become redundant but the materials needn’t.” Victaulic’s Australian headquarters are located in Melbourne.

The true savings of using peristaltic pumps for pumping slurries SAVE WATER






Traditional centrifugal slurry pumps lose efficiency when the specific gravity of the slurry reaches about 1.3 (30% solid content), placing a significant demand for process water on the pump. However, peristaltic hose pumps can process slurries with specific gravities of 1.6 –1.8 (80% solids), using much less water per ton of ore than centrifugal pumps.

Peristaltic hose pumps also use less energy, as much as a 50% energy saving for an average 75 ore tonnes per hour plant. Not only does this directly reduce costs but it also reduces or eliminates concerns over power rationing, slashes development costs for importing power and minimises any potential environmental impact.

The ability of peristaltic hose pumps to pump fluids with a higher solid content allows the number of post thickening filter stages to be reduced, leading to a smaller plant footprint and lower initial capital investment.

Traditional slurry pumps require constant impeller maintenance and replacement due to damage caused from acidic or abrasive slurries. In peristaltic hose pumps only the hose, which can be easily replaced in situ, is in contact with the process fluid. This dramatically reduces maintenance expenses and costly downtime.

Cyanide is a key chemical for mineral leaching but if improperly handled, it can result in many adverse environmental consequences. Progressive cavity pumps that are typically used for dosing of cyanide have seals, which expose them to leakages. Peristaltic hose pumps are seal-less and therefore have a lower risk of contamination.

The gentle pumping action of a peristaltic hose pump decreases damage to fragile cell cultures during precious metal recovery processes, reducing the need for additives and chemicals.

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Portable filtration power Offline filtration systems can help to take the blood, sweat and tears out of maintenance work.


roduction downtime and scheduled outages are few and far between in the mining industry, making it difficult to perform upgrade, redesign or maintenance work. Portable offline filtration systems work much like an offline dialysis unit on a patient with kidney failure, providing a simple solution until a permanent fix can be found. Hydac Australia development manager for mining and filtration Mark Le Roux said one of the key considerations when investing in a portable offline filter system, as obvious as it may sound, is ensuring it remains easily portable. “These portable trolleys have to be small enough to cope with limited walkways and also light enough to be handled by one person,” Le Roux said. “All too often, they also have to be able to ‘climb stairs’ as well.” Melbourne-based Hydac launched its new offline portable filtration system at AIMEX this year, and believes the product addresses previous transportability problems as well as a number of other concerns flagged by the market. The hydraulic equipment manufacturer’s Offline Filtration Trolley OFT3 is mounted

with a tilt-axle arrangement that requires less than half the effort to tilt back and move around compared with conventional filter trolleys, meaning it can be handled by one person. According to Le Roux, the unit is small enough to fit through most walkways and large pneumatic tyres make the unit suitable for stairs. “Another consideration is the type of oils to be filtered, since in most plants, there will be a few makes and types of oils that need filtering,” Le Roux said. “Cross-contamination of different types of oil is a major concern when using offline filter systems and often companies use a few filter systems to filter the different types of oils.” Le Roux said that the viscosity of the oil playseda major role in determining filter size, with thicker oil requiring a larger element. He added: “Hydac Flexmicron elements give versatility in the selection of element micron sizes, from one micron to 90 micron, across a wide range of applications. “The unit is fitted with a variable-speed drive, which allows various flow rates to be set for the pump. “This feature allows different viscosities to

Hydac’s Offline Filtration Trolley OFT3.

be filtered and provides the versatility of using the unit on various grades of oils at different temperatures.” The trolley is also fitted with a dualfunction hand-control valve that allows the user to either transfer the oil while bypassing the filter assembly, or switch to continuous offline filtration. This eliminates the need to use drain lugs when changing oil.

Safely reliable With safe work practices now firmly on the radar for Australian mining companies, reel specialist ReCoila has been working to provide hose management systems that keep workers safe while maintaining productivity. “Day-in, day-out, we see industrial businesses using hoses for all types of fluid handling, while making the most common mistake – keeping these hoses in a cumbersome pile waiting for action,” ReCoila A large ReCoila reel being loaded for delivery.

40 AMM December 2013

managing director Michael Pawson said. “The problem with hose operation without any reel is, first of all, that the pile itself is a trip hazard. Then when it is needed for use it could be annoyingly tangled and when finally in use, it again remains a maximised trip hazard because it is still on the ground. “When taking into consideration that fluid -handling at a mine site could at times be part of an emergency situation, the workplace safety issues compound even further.” Pawson said using a reel removed the risk element by ensuring that hoses remained tangle free, whether they were being fed out, retracted, or even sitting idle. “An added benefit is that by keeping hoses off the ground, particularly when handling fluids in potentially corrosive environments, expensive hoses are preserved, which keeps operating costs down and ensures they work at an optimum without damage,” he said. Pawson said the use of hose reels could also reduce the threat of expensive air and

water leakage, and greatly minimise damage to cables. “Because so many Australian businesses are focused on cycle times, managers keenly spend sizeable budgets on workplace safety and systems that will reduce time and be a cost-productive exercise,” Pawson added. The Sydney-based manufacturer has been working to increase business in the mining sector and has developed a series of hose reels designed with heavy-duty applications in mind. ReCoila’s heavy-duty C Series general purpose hose reel is available in hand-crank and motor drive options. It is constructed from carbon steel and stainless-steel with galvanized and powdercoat finishes. The reel has been simply designed so that it can handle a multitude of hose sizes, lengths and pressures. A unique modular design allows the user to add or change drive systems in the field.

Australian Mining Towns Western Australia Relic: Old steam engines from Wyndham Port.



Three-month gold rush Lasting just a matter of weeks, Western Australia’s first gold rush was over before it began. Ron Berryman discovers how mining has returned to a region that had been fading from Australia’s mining history.

Very little remains of the original town of Halls Creek, now referred to as Old Halls Creek.

1868: Western Australia’s last shipment of convicts arrives in the state.

42 AMM December 2013


estern Australia’s first gold rush occurred in 1886 in an unlikely remote area of the East Kimberley, almost 3000km from state capital Perth, at a place now known as Halls Creek. It was a rush in every sense of the word – it only lasted about three months. The name Halls Creek was given to the narrow watercourse that flowed via the Elvire and Panton rivers into the Ord River after a prospector, Charles Hall. However, Hall and his compatriots were not in the East Kimberley by chance. They were following up reports by geologist Edward Townley Hardman, who conducted an expedition into the northwest region on behalf of the WA government. Hardman’s foray into the Kimberley was not some random exercise, he was in fact following up an even earlier report by the explorer Alexander Forrest who was in the area in 1879 and commented that there were similarities between the rocks at Pine Creek in the Northern Territory and those seen by his party in the Kimberley. According to geologist and historian Dr Phillip Playford, Forrest’s manager Adam Johns followed up with his own expedition in 1882 and found traces of gold in the headwaters of the Ord River. His report to the WA Colonial Secretary prompted the appointment of Hardman, who actually conducted two exploratory ventures into the region. It was during the second expedition in 1884 that he reported good deposits of alluvial gold in the East Kimberley and returned with notes and geographical maps of the area. Acting on this information, Charles Hall and Jack Slattery set sail in a skiff from Roebourne to Derby in early 1885, travelling along the Fitzroy River until they found the tracks of the Forrest party and then followed the Elvire River. They found the first gold in 1885 in Halls Creek – a 28-ounce nugget. Gold was also found at Dead Finish Creek to the north. Hall’s party struck payable gold almost immediately but it wasn’t the same story for the many thousands who trekked hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of kilometres across parched, barren countryside. Many died on the way and many arrived in such a sorry state that they either turned back or succumbed to whatever ailment they had. Crocodiles, dysentry, scurvy, sunstroke and thirst were just a few of the hazards they faced. Like so many other Australian colonies, the WA government believed the discovery of gold could stem the flow of people from the state to the east, following the discoveries

in New South Wales and Victoria, as well as solve the colony’s serious economic problems. The going was extremely tough for the Swan River colony in the 19th century, especially after the last shipment of convicts disembarked in WA in 1868. At the time, the national attitude was that the 162,000 men and women who had been sent out to Australia to serve sentences for whatever breaches of the law they had committed in the UK had served their purpose. It was time to move on and the population was big enough to take on the tasks necessary to grow the colonies. Not so in WA. Taming the land to grow food was proving more of a problem than it was first imagined and the government turned to the one commodity that had proved the saviour of the NSW and Victorian economies – gold.

A notice in the Government Gazette on July 15, 1886, by Colonial Secretary Fred P Barlee stated that: “Whereas gold in small quantities has been found in various parts of Western Australia, it is hereby notified for general information, that the local government of Western Australia offer as a reward for the discovery of a workable goldfield within a radius of three hundred miles from any declared port in the colony, the sum of £5000.” However, there were other conditions. The most important was that the reward would only be paid when: “Ten thousand ounces of gold, either alluvial or crushed from quartz, and obtained from the goldfield, be entered and cleared at a customs house at some port in Western Australia, and actually shipped to Great Britain within a period of two years.”

Mining in Western Australia today: The Argyle diamond mine.

1886: WA’s first gold rush begins – lasting just three months.

December 2013 AMM 43


Remains of the old Halls Creek post office.

To further demonstrate the importance the government placed on the search, they seconded the services of Hardman from the Geological Survey of Ireland to carry out investigation in the north of the state. His report influenced the organisation of a number of prospecting parties to the Halls Creek area the following year. On July 14, 1885, a group of prospectors headed by Hall found 8oz of gold. Needless to say, their secret couldn’t be contained for very long and soon prospectors were streaming into the area from the NT and coming in by boat to Derby and a new port that was being established at the Cambridge Gulf, later to be named Wyndham. Neither route offered prospective miners an easy passage to the goldfields. Derby was a 550km trek through arid terrain along the Fitzroy River and the Cambridge Gulf track was almost 400km through swampland and rocky bushland along rough tracks left by those who had carved a route before them. By late 1886, it was estimated that there were 3000 prospectors working under terrible conditions on the Halls Creek goldfield. But it was all over in less than three months and never reached the 10,000oz required for the government’s £5000 reward. In an unusual turn of events, mining has returned to the region and several of the original areas mined, for very little return, have become projects for major mining companies. When the gold ran out for the pioneers at the end of 1886, a number applied for the £5000 reward, among them the surveyor

Hardman, Phil Saunders who had been with the Adams party, H F Johnston who had been with Hardman’s party and Charles Hall and his party. However, the state government decided that because the condition of 10,000oz to be produced had not been met the reward would not be paid, although they did give £500 to Hardman’s estate and £500 to Hall and his party. If Hall and his group had the technology and equipment available today he would almost certainly have achieved the government’s target of 10,000oz and then some.

Many died on the way and many arrived in such a sorry state that they either turned back or succumbed to whatever ailment they had. Northern Star Resources has reported that exploration at the Golden Crown historic site, about 20km east of Halls Creek, has a JORCcompliant inferred resource of 33,600oz of gold. Other projects active in the region include the Nicholson’s Find gold project, the Argyle diamond mine, Cazaly Resources’ Mount Angelo copper project and the Savannah, Copernicus and Kimberley nickel mines.

Increasing numbers of people from Halls Creek are employed in these mines, learning trades and other skills and the town is now home to about 1300 people and, strangely enough, has only existed at its present site for about 50-60 years. The original mining town, now known as Old Halls Creek, is located some 20km east of the current township. The decision to relocate to the new site was made for a number of commercial reasons but mainly to take advantage of the region’s main thoroughfare, the Great Northern Highway. My visit to Halls Creek certainly changed preconceived perceptions of the town. It was not the dusty, disorderly remnants of a mining town that had been planted in my mind from reports in the media. It was quite orderly, well laid out, bustling and visitor friendly. Halls Creek is a busy service town for surrounding pastoralists, Aboriginal communities and travellers exploring northern WA. Halls Creek is also the fourth fastest growing shire within the state. Located on the edges of the Great Sandy Desert and Tanami Desert, the town is also close to a range of natural attractions, including the World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungle ranges at Purnululu National Park. The remains of Old Halls Creek provide a glimpse of what was once a bustling mining settlement comprising two hotels, a police station, post office, four stores and two butchers. Further east on Brockman Creek where a second reef had been discovered, there were two hotels, two stores and a butcher, while one hotel was located adjacent to the Elvire River despite the fact there had been no gold found there. The township is a short drive from Halls Creek down a good, unsealed road that crosses the Elvire River and runs alongside the creek bed to the ruins of the post office. Constructed from a mud mixture of termite’s nest and spinifex, the crumbling walls are now protected by a specially constructed shed with protective mesh fence around the outside. The marker pegs for the various town allotments and some street signs still exist from the survey of the townsite, while a small dam on the Elvire River is still in good condition and a small pond of water in the creek bed behind some rocks offered the local birdlife some much-needed refreshments. The demise of the old town was imminent when the new airfield was built near the site of the “new town” in 1948 and with few inhabitants and a serious lack of water, it was finally abandoned in the mid-1950s.

1950s: The original town of Halls Creek is abandoned.

44 AMM December 2013

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Zebras and diamonds Ron Berryman explores a town that was a late developer on Australia’s mining map.


he town of Kununurra in Western Australia’s East Kimberley region is certainly historic, although a relative newcomer in the mining stakes. It has earned its position in WA history through the construction of the Ord River diversion dam to create Australia’s biggest artificial lake through a rich agricultural area of approximately 12,500 hectares. Only 40km from the Northern Territory border, Kununurra is the biggest town in WA north of Broome. Established in 1960, it is relatively young by most standards, as are two of its most notable mines, which are as fundamentally different as you can get from a mining perspective. One is huge by international standards and the other miniscule. But each has an individuality that is unique.

The Argyle diamond story began in the late 19th century but it wasn’t until 1979 that a more professional search, initiated by Tanganyika Holdings, discovered diamond samples in the flood plains surrounding Smoke Creek, a small stream in the East Kimberley that flowed into Lake Argyle. A joint venture was then formed and in 1983 alluvial mining operations commenced, with open pit mining commissioned in 1985. The mine is located approximately 110km south of Kununurra and is the only known significant source of pink diamonds, producing more than 90% of the world’s supply. Owned by the Rio Tinto group, the company is preparing to move from an open pit operation to an underground block cave mine. The other well-known mine near Kununurra is at the other end of the scale.

Zebra rock samples.

It produces Zebra Rock, named due to the stratified clay stone that features fine rhythmic patterns of brown bands or spots. There are currently three open pit zebra rock mining operations in the area.

1960: The town of Kununnurra is established in Western Australia.


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M: 0412 738 865 E: W: December 2013 AMM 47


Panoramic’s Savannah mine, near Wyndham.

Port of plenty Western Australia’s most northerly port has a foot in the state’s mining past and present. Ron Berryman discovers a trail of gold prospectors, meat processing and Japanese bombers.


yndham has a strong attachment to mining. And the settlement on the Cambridge Gulf is hopeful that mining will lead to a resurgence in its importance and economy. Western Australia’s most northerly port, the settlement was established and proclaimed in 1886 to service the sudden influx of prospectors bound for the Halls Creek goldfield. Steamers and schooners from the east coast of Australia and New Zealand brought a rush of passengers to try their luck on the new goldfield. By 1886, the town had six hotels and a booming trade with the goldfield at Halls Creek attracting miners and merchants to the area, as an estimated 5000 people passed through the town in a relatively short period of time. And short it was. By 1888, the gold fever was over and Wyndham became a minor service centre for an emerging pastoral industry. In 1901 it had a population of about 60 people. However, it surged once again with the growth of the cattle industry and the

establishment of a government abattoir and meat exporting business in 1919. The Second World War did no favours for the port, bringing some unexpected and unwelcome attention from marauding Japanese bombers, although the small Cambridge Gulf community fared far better than Broome and Darwin. One particular incident again brought the small town to the attention of the rest of Australia. The motor vessel Koolama, a 4000-tonne combined passenger/freighter, left Derby on February 19, 1942, bound for Wyndham with 90 crew and 100 passengers, including 14 army personnel on board. Just before noon the following day, while rounding Cape Londonderry just past Kalumburu, the ship came under attack from Japanese bombers and was seriously damaged, with several crew members wounded. The badly damaged ship anchored in a large bay west of Cape Rulhieres where passengers and some crew were transferred to shore. A conflict between one group and a number of crew members loyal to the captain simmered and one group on land set off for the Drysdale River Mission while the crew members

remaining on board worked to repair the vessel sufficiently to get to Wyndham. Despite the danger of crocodiles, crew members worked in the water to effect makeshift repairs to the vessel’s damaged hull and on March 1 the crew put to sea for Wyndham. Some 24 hours later, the Koolama limped into port and tied up at Wyndham wharf where pumps were immediately brought into action. But there was to be no rest for the Koolama as Japanese bombers again attacked the ship and the pumping efforts were forgotten as everyone sought refuge from the attack. This time the attackers succeeded despite the fact that their bombs once again missed the wounded Koolama. Without the pumps working, the Koolama took on water and capsized into the soft Wyndham Port mud – and despite salvage attempts, that is where she remains today. Wyndham today is actually two towns – Wyndham East or Three Mile and Wyndham Port, just 5km away – with a total population of about 900. The port is working but certainly not a hive of industry. Apart from a café or two and a

1886: Western Australia’s most northerly port, Wyndham, is established.

48 AMM December 2013


hotel, most of the action is confined to the main township, which is neat, tidy and quite respectable. Apparently it has improved with time, although some visitors possibly have high expectations and possibly a lack of affinity with the outback. Author George Michell Farwell, who travelled extensively throughout outback Australia, was not overly impressed with Wyndham and described it in his book The Outside Track (1951): “A lonely pinpoint of settlement upon a vast and empty landscape of tidal estuaries, mangroves, unpeopled valley floors and barren, treeless ranges.” Explorer Phillip Parker King surveyed and named the area Cambridge Gulf in 1818. However, King’s pessimistic description of the area kept any hope of settlement on the back burner for the next 60 years. The settlement jetty was known as Anton’s Landing until John Forrest renamed it after Lady Broome’s son, Major Walter George Wyndham. Perth-born author George Leslie Clarence Rees, although best known for children’s books, travelled throughout WA’s North West and made a note of the town, describing it thus: “A foreground of empty 44-gallon drums, beer bottles, old tins, bits of sheet iron, termite-eaten wood. A background of salt marshes and harsh, desolate hills under the torrid sun.” The tiny settlement had received a boost when the government meatworks opened in 1919 but the meatworks closed in 1985. This was another major setback but Wyndham has progressed from a town initially servicing mining – then heavily reliant on the meat trade – and is moving back to its roots, despite the current resources lull, as an export facility for East Kimberley mining operations. Mining has become an important cog in the East Kimberley economy wheel, with a variety of minerals either being mined or subject to exploration programs including projects for gold, copper, lead, zinc, silver, nickel, uranium, coal, tin and mineral sands. Legends of lost mines are not new in the region and invariably have a similar storyline: prospector or explorer found dead with either gold, silver or diamonds on them along with notes or even a rough map suggesting where the hidden mine might be. Harold Lasseter’s gold reef in Central Australia is another Australian example – but don’t let me dissuade anyone from looking for long-lost silver or gold reefs. There have, in fact, been some minor silver strikes in the East Kimberley. Some 40 years ago, there were reported

Wyndham has progressed from a town initially servicing mining – then heavily reliant on the meat trade – and is moving back to its roots, despite the current resources lull, as an export facility for East Kimberley mining operations. copper, silver, lead, zinc discoveries in the Durack Ranges and Durack Mines, which was delisted 1972, had some low grade strikes at Martin’s Prospect in the Speewah Valley. In November 2010, Pegasus Metals announced interest in the East Kimberley with reported silver values generally lying between one and three grams to the tonne and occasionally as high as 8 grams per tonne. However, silver is not necessarily the target in the East Kimberley these days. Wyndham is the key port for a number of mines operating in the area and ore road trains are continually plying their loads along the Great Northern Highway. Panoramic Resources has a strong presence in the region through its Savannah nickel project about 240km south of Wyndham, comprising a nickel sulphide orebody, an underground mine, a processing plant and associated infrastructure. The majority of the ore is mined via longhole open stoping and infrastructure includes a single stage crusher, semi-autogenous grinding mill, flotation, thickening and filtering stages to produce a bulk nickel, copper, cobalt concentrate. To date, the mill has a nominal capacity of 1 million tonnes per annum.

Savannah concentrate averages between 7% and 8% nickel, 3% and 4% copper, and 0.4% and 0.8% cobalt. The mine is situated adjacent to the Great Northern Highway and concentrate is trucked to Wyndham, before bulk shipments are made to the Jinchuan Group of China each month from a purpose-built storage facility in Wyndham. Panoramic has a contract to provide 100% of the Savannah concentrate to Jinchuan until 2020. Another mine using Wyndham for export is the Kimberley Metals Group’s Ridges iron ore project, about 165km south of Wyndham. KMG commenced shipping iron ore in July 2011 through its own private export facility at Port Wyndham and is exporting in excess of 150,000 tonnes per month of iron ore fines to China. The project has a confirmed mine life of four years based on a production rate of 1.5Mtpa. • In the January edition of Australia’s Mining Monthly: Australian Mining Towns – Victoria

Mining town today: Wyndham Port.

1919: Government meat works open in Wyndham, eventually closing in 1985.

December 2013 AMM 49


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Green light for Tasmania Tasmania’s newest coal mine will generate $180 million a year. By Vetti Kakulas


he Tasmanian government has approved HardRock Coal Mining’s project in the state’s northeast. Based in Melbourne, HardRock’s coal mine will create more than 100 jobs and produce more than one million tonnes of coal a year, worth $100 million. Tasmanian Minister for Energy and Resources Bryan Green said the project would have enormous flow on benefits for Tasmania’s economy. “When fully operational, the new mine will provide economic benefits worth almost $180 million a year to the Tasmanian economy,” he said.

“This will translate into a significant number of further new jobs in services, transport and maintenance.” Located in the historic coal mining province of Fingal Valley, the mine will sit alongside Cornwall Coal’s operations. Established in 1886, Cornwall Coal is Tasmania’s only supplier today. It has open and underground sites and employs 70 people. Once HardRock starts mining, the project will increase rail traffic by 40% and exports through the Bell Bay port will grow by almost 30%. Additionally, the project is expected to

Position of the new coal mine in Fingal, Tasmania.

generate mining royalties of $6 million a year. The $50 million development will create 80 construction jobs by the end of this year and is expected to be operating within three years. Local Mayor Sarah Schmerl said the mine would greatly benefit the town and region. “The impacts to local businesses and property values are certainly positive,” she said. “I hope the investment will signal the start of a new era for the town. “I think there will definitely be other investors sitting back and waiting to see how this goes and then perhaps look at investing in the area.”

Some of the Fingal Valley’s first miners. Image provided by St Patricks Head and Esk Valley Historical Society Incorporated.

December 2013 AMM 51

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27/05/13 3:16 PM


Mazda ute is best in class Mazda can do no wrong with the BT-50 ute. Michael Cairnduff explains why.


he latest four-wheel-drive utes have come a long way from their predecessors in areas such as safety, passenger comfort, performance and efficiency. And the Mazda BT-50 is definitely one of the best. Mazda handed Australia’s Mining Monthly the keys to the 4x4 Freestyle Cab XTR, equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission, which is a new edition to the product range. The XTR was initially released

Mazda BT-50 comes with some serious offroad cred straight out of the factory.

December 2013 AMM 53


MORE THAN JUST A YELLOW MACHINE Specialists in their field, our maintenance staff ensure you get the most out of our heavy earthmoving rental equipment The interior of the BT-50 is a class leader in many aspects of its design and function. The Freestyle Cab has two removable “dickie seats” with lap-sash seatbelts and ample storage, including in compartments under the seats.

54 AMM December 2013


exclusively as a manual, but as demand for automatic utilities continued to grow, Mazda responded accordingly. Year-to-date, according to the manufacturer, 65% of BT-50 buyers had chosen 4x4 models, with 43% of these preferring automatic. The automatic does little to dull the performance of the now-familiar 3.2 litre, five-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine, producing 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque. This is an exceptional power plant, but it does take some getting used to the quite aggressive on and off-boost response. However, the six-speed auto does help smooth the delivery with its quick response and more than ample number of cogs. The XTR driven was the only non-cab chassis version of the Freestyle Cab available, but there was little complaint in that regard because the upmarket interior of the XTR offered some of the highest specification and comfort levels of any vehicle we have tested in this class. It comes equipped with Bluetooth, satellite navigation, USB, dual-control climate control and power mirrors. One of the features common to the range is an ultra-convenient, full numerical keypad on the driver’s side of the centre stack. When a phone is connected via Bluetooth, this allows for old-fashioned dialling of phone numbers – which would prove a more-thanhandy novelty for those using their vehicle as an office on wheels. On the style front, for those that care, this is a good looking ute, with the proportions of the Freestyle Cab blending nicely with

This is an exceptional power plant, but it does take some getting used to the quite aggressive on and offboost response. However, the six-speed auto does help smooth the delivery with its quick response and more than ample number of cogs. the extended tray and overall design keys common across the BT-50 range. Safety is also at the forefront with this ute, fitted with front, side and curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, locking rear differential, hill-descent control and hill launch assist. These features, combined with good ground clearance and a 2H, 4H and 2L transfer case, also mean this vehicle has some serious offroad credentials straight off the factory floor. Australia’s Mining Monthly put it to the test on some tracks around Yanchep, Western Australia, on a Sunday morning photo shoot. The only downside to its ability is an ultrafirm suspension set-up – courtesy of its rigid (live) rear axle with leaf springs, which is easy to forgive once you are off the bitumen or feel the need to test its better-than one tonne payload rating or its 3500kg towing capacity. The only other detractor of this highly flexible workhorse is that it is not a realistic four-seater for blokes of my dimensions. But there is enough space in the rear for average-sized adults on short trips, and the kids enjoyed the novelty of the seating arrangements (and operating the rearwardopening half doors).

The Freestyle Cab achieves this versatility, courtesy of its clever, pillarless rear door arrangements, which puts the available rear cabin space to optimal use. Under the removable rear seats you will find two lidded storage containers. One is home to the jack and tyre iron, the other is a good spot to hide away the camera or other valuables. The popularity of this vehicle, in my opinion, is well earned and the sales figures back that up – with Mazda shifting almost 1200 per month in 2013 and on-track to break last year’s sales record of 11,848 units. Mazda Australia’s national marketing director Alastair Doak said in the BT-50, Mazda had a tough, powerful utility vehicle with the sophistication and comfort of an SUV. “We have responded to increased customer demand for automatic transmissions by adding the BT-50 Freestyle Cab Utility XTR 4x4 with a six-speed automatic transmission to our award-winning utility line-up,” he said. The model tested is now available at Mazda dealers nationally with a manufacturer’s list price of $48,890. The BT-50 Freestyle Cab blends the flexibility of occasionally taking an extra passenger or two, with significantly more space in the tray.


• 3.2-litre, five-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine • 147kW of power - 470 Nm of torque • 1200 BT-50s sold per month in 2013 • 2012: 11,848 BT-50s sold • 4x4 Freestyle Cab XTR from $48,890

December 2013 AMM 55

MINING BRIEF The Mining 2013 convention.

Investment call

As investment becomes increasingly difficult to secure for junior resources companies, the Mining 2013 resources conference in Brisbane provided an ideal forum to help lift enthusiasm for the sector. From Tess Ingram in Queensland.


ough times for the junior resources sector and a lack of funding was top of the agenda at the Mining 2013 conference in Brisbane. Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk emphasised that the Australian mining industry’s “super cycle” was heavily misunderstood. Explaining three defined phases of the boom to the investor-heavy conference, Smirk told conference delegates he was adamant that while the cycle wasn’t over, the mining industry could expect a bumpy ride.

“The misunderstood super cycle does not mean an endless rise in commodity prices,” Smirk said. “We have seen two phases come through and bring big changes and it is changing rapidly again. “Now we are focusing on the long term. Return to productivity, cost control – all the fundamentals of being a good miner. “It’s going to be different, it’s going to be tougher but it’s still here. The mining super cycle is still going to be shaping our economy.”

The winners of the Queensland explorer and miner of the year awards were presented at the convention by state Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps. Before he presented the awards, Cripps reaffirmed the Queensland government’s vision for the mining sector. “The Newman government is determined to make Queensland the most attractive jurisdiction in Australia for the resources sector and amongst the most highly competitive in the world,” Cripps said. “We are committed to making the business of mining in Queensland simpler, so that Queenslanders and communities benefit from the jobs that mining activity creates.” Evolution Mining was named Queensland’s miner of the year for its efforts at its new Mt Carlton mine, while Red Metal took home the explorer accolades. The other two nominees in the miner category were Arrow Energy and Copper Assets Australia Glencore, with Red Metal beating Cudeco and DGR Global to take the explorer title. Companies were nominated based on their considerable achievements within the Queensland resources community in the two categories.

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56 AMM December 2013



Wealth from waste

Purifying mining wastewater is a difficult task. But a new treatment can provide 80-90% less sludge than others. By Vetti Kakulas

I Minesites such as BHP Billiton’s Mt Whaleback iron ore mine in the Pilbara face an ongoing challenge in processing wastewater.

t is common for mining processes to generate wastewater that contains a variety of metals and metalloids. These contaminants must be removed to ensure the wastewater is suitable for reuse or to be discharged into the surrounding environment. The CSIRO has developed an innovative treatment to manage water more effectively and sustainably. It is common today for mining companies

to purify their wastewater by adding lime, though CSIRO’s new treatment uses hydrotalcites. While lime-based methods are effective, the key issue is the volume of sludge that forms and the problems that come with it. Initial results using the hydrotalcite treatment revealed it produced 80-90% less sludge than other lime-based treatments. Hydrotalcites consist of aluminium and magnesium-rich layers, which

December 2013 AMM 57


simultaneously, remove a variety of contaminants in wastewater in one step. Subsequently, handling and final disposal problems of waste are reduced. CSIRO senior principal research scientist Grant Douglas said there was potential to use the treatment to reprocess and recover valuable commodities, while producing ore-grade material from the contaminants. “This is a very real example of extracting ‘wealth from waste’, opening up the possibility of partially offsetting wastewater treatment costs for the mining industry,” he said. Douglas’ team recognised hydrotalcites beginning to form when aluminium and magnesium were present at an ‘ideal’ ratio and during neutralisation of acidic waters. “As hydrotalcites form, the contaminants become trapped and are easily removed from the wastewater as a solid,” he said. “Mining wastewater often contains substantial magnesium and aluminium concentrations. “This means we can create hydrotalcites utilising common contaminants that are already present in the wastewater, by simply adjusting their concentrations and adding

58 AMM December 2013

(Left) CSIRO has developed a treatment to manage mine water more effectively. (Below) The hydrotalcite treatment clearly reduces more than 80% sludge, compared to the lime-based treatment.

alkaline compounds to rapidly increase the pH level.” Initial applications of the treatments have focused on wastewater generated from mining and extracting uranium – with promising results. A range of contaminants including uranium, rare earth elements, transition

The hydrotalcite-treated water can be recycled back into the plant to lower the total cost of water used in mining operations, ultimately reducing water consumption from the environment. Douglas said this was particularly valuable for mining operations in dry regions with limited water supplies, such as Australia.

There is potential to use the hydrotalcite treatment to reprocess and recover valuable commodities and produce ore-grade material from the contaminants. metals, metalloids and negatively charged molecules have been effectively removed from the wastewater. Douglas said: “This process purifies the wastewater from mines in a faster, more effective way that does not require large amounts of infrastructure or difficult chemistry to achieve it.” Other advantages include the fact that hydrotalcites are easily removed using centrifugation, which leaves behind a cleaner and reduced amount of sludge.

“Around the world, the minerals industry is keen to find more efficient ways to treat their wastewaters and reduce their environmental footprint,” he said. “With the inherent technical advantages and added benefits of using hydrotalcites, there’s a high likelihood of the mining industry adopting this technology globally.” Commercialisation of the hydrotalcite technology has begun with Australian company Virtual Curtain.


A tailings dam can be used for unwanted mine water.

Getting mine rehab right Developing a suitable mine rehabilitation program is crucial for a mining company’s reputation. Downer Mining Group’s new subsidiary can help with this environmental process.


chieving production targets and lowering costs are top of most mining company agendas. But the aftermath of mining, the rehabilitation process, is another important factor to be considered. Mine rehabilitation aims to repair the impacts of mining on the surrounding environment. Some long-term objectives of rehabilitation can include converting areas to a safe condition or restoring the landscape back to its pre-mining days. Its goal is to support the sustainability of the minesite and establish sustainable ecosystems. A poorly rehabilitated mine can eventuate in difficult legacy issues for local governments, communities and it may negatively affect the mining company’s reputation. With these important factors in mind, Downer Mining Services group has launched a new division, ReGen, offering mine reclamation and land rehabilitation services to the Australian mining industry. Based in Brisbane, ReGen general manager Ross Browning said the potential market for his division covered more than 200 open cut mines in Australia that required rehabilitation after mine closure. “With increasing regulatory and community expectations for mine rehabilitation and post-mining land uses, ReGen is looking to tap into this growing $1 billion per year market,” he said. “Our aim is to become Australia’s premier

“With increasing regulatory and community expectations for mine rehabilitation and post-mining land uses, ReGen is looking to tap into this growing $1 billion per year market.” – ReGen general manager Ross Browning provider of mine reclamation and land rehabilitation services. We will be establishing a presence in Australia’s main mining hubs – Queensland’s Bowen Basin, New South Wales’ Hunter Valley region and Western Australia’s Pilbara.” Downer Mining is currently operating at more than a quarter of Australia’s open cut mines, so ReGen will be able to build on these relationships and influence its mine contractor capabilities. “As no other Tier 1 mining contractors offer this expertise, ReGen is a perfect addition to Downer Mining’s diverse service offerings,” Browning said. “Although there are a number of companies offering services for certain aspects of rehabilitation, there are none with Downer Mining’s capacity and expertise to offer the complete suite. This includes design, bulk earthworks, civil capacity, revegetation, and monitoring and maintenance.” Browning said Downer Mining had a strong track record in the field, including 300 hectares of successfully rehabilitated land at Bale Bone mine in NSW and the Blackwater Creek diversion at Curragh mine, Queensland.

“We’re also currently demonstrating this expertise at our existing mining projects, including the Commodore mine, where our rehabilitation program continues to deliver remarkable results,” Browning said. Downer Mining is reducing its ecological footprint at InterGen Australia’s Commodore mine in Queensland by switching to B20 biodiesel fuels for its mining fleets. Downer Mining is among the largest consumers of B20 in the Australian mining sector. The company’s blasting division, Downer Blasting Services, has been awarded $230 million worth of contract extensions. Downer Blasting was awarded a threeyear contract with Yancoal Australia, Sojitz Corporation and Saracen Minerals Holdings – providing its down-the-hole services. It’s the third renewal for some of Downer Blasting’s Yancoal and Sojitz contracts and the second renewal for its Saracen contract. Downer Group chief executive officer Grant Fenn said it was a positive reflection on the strength of his company’s relationships with customers and the quality of its service delivery.

December 2013 AMM 59


Positive predictions Economist Stephen Koukoulas believes the Australian economy will improve in 2014 despite a decline in mining investment. By Tess Ingram and Vetti Kakulas


ining capital expenditure is tipped to fall, bulk commodity exports will remain strong and Australia’s economy continues to rely heavily on Chinese exports. That was the message from Stephen Koukoulas as he addressed recruitment company Randstad’s “shaping the world of work” information session in Perth. Australia’s economy grew by 2.6% to 2013’s June quarter – only 0.5% below its 3% longterm trend. Koukoulas was previously senior economic advisor to former prime minister Julia Gillard and chief economist at financial services firm Citibank. He said he was optimistic for the outlook of Australia’s economy. “Mining will still be a good part of the economy but it is just production and export,

not investment for the moment, unless prices lift,” he told delegates. “There is wealth coming from the stock market and from house prices. Since the middle of last year, the stock market has gone up by about 35%, that’s a huge boost to wealth, [while] $800 billion has been added to the stock market and to the value of housing in Australia, adding financial optimism.” Following the federal election, Australia’s dollar has lifted and GDP is set to rise 2.75% by the end of 2013. Koukoulas predicts it will lift to 3.75% into 2014. He also predicts a sharp fall in mining investment in the next few years but is unsure when it will happen. Iron ore exports have shot up, with more capacity to come on board in the next few years as projects ramp up.

“While the investment side will probably have a minus sign in front of it, the export side will have a plus sign,” Koukoulas said. “What this means is that the extra impetus to growth that we have seen over the last few years that has been driven by mining investment is no longer there.” He said iron ore prices were looking good but coal prices were weak and expected to remain that way due to oversupply and environmental pressures. “We have had 22 years without a recession in Australia and that is something no advanced economy has ever done and it is something Australia has never done before now,” Koukoulas added. Additionally, he believes India has potential to be a key export hub.

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60 AMM December 2013


Deal with Rio Rio Tinto has awarded SEW-EURODRIVE a major contract at its Pilbara operation in Western Australia. By Vetti Kakulas


Resources delivered: A Sandvik conveyor system carrying coal.

rive solutions specialist SEWEURODRIVE has been awarded a major contract at Rio Tinto’s Nammuldi iron ore mine to supply six conveyor-belt drives. SEW-EURODRIVE’s conveyor drives will help the mine to increase production to 23 million tonnes a year. The contract will include two 710 kilowatt drive assemblies for Rio Tinto’s stockyard stacking conveyors and four 1250kW drive assemblies for its overland reclaim conveyor. Four of the conveyor drives weigh 26 tonnes each and will be delivered to Nammuldi in March. SEW-EURODRIVE national products manager for industrial gears, Ian Tribe,

said the products would be assembled and serviced at his company’s Heavy Industrial Solutions division, in Melbourne. “All of our industrial gear range is assembled here in Australia,” he said. “The combination of our modular design of the units and our extensive local stock holdings means our clients can receive their order quicker and have greater access to spare parts for servicing purposes.” Rio Tinto’s Nammuldi iron ore mine is 60km northwest of Tom Price. SEW-EURODRIVE is a German company with Australian headquarters in Melbourne and support offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Adelaide and Perth.

December 2013 AMM 61


The Bonfiglioli HDO 180 heavyduty drive.

Italian job Motors and drive specialist Bonfiglioli’s latest product range offers advanced technology, reduced noise and low vibration.


ower transmission specialist Bonfiglioli Transmission Australia has launched its largest HDO helical bevel drive for mining conveyors and feeders. The compact, heavy-duty HDO 180 has torque outputs of 194,000 newton metres. Bonfiglioli managing director Malcolm Lewis said the HDO 180 could be used for major installations requiring high performance and flexible mounting options. It can be foot, flange or shaft-mounted and complements Bonfiglioli’s HDO and

HDP parallel-shaft drive range – in sizes HDO 100-160. “The HDO and HDP drives offer outstanding torque per dollar, high casing strength, long-life bearing technology and quieter, trouble-free operation,” Lewis said. “The heavy-duty series is a totally new modular design from the ground up, which produces outstanding reliability and torque densities to record values.” HDO 180s have an extensive range of input options including solid shaft, lantern housing and coupling input shaft or pony drive.

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62 AMM December 2013

Outputs can be solid, with or without keyway, keyed hollow or shrink disc. The durable, HDO 180 features a fan cooling coil, independent cooling systems and optional non-contacting seals, temperature and oil level sensors, and drywell for vertical shaft installations. “They feature excellent torque distribution across their entire ratio range, with gear ratios laid out in close progression and the rugged drives’ capacity to cope with shock and impact of intermittent loads,” Lewis added. Designed with spheroidal graphite cast iron, the HDO 180 chassis has higher tensile strength than grey cast iron and provides enhanced rigidity. HDO drive gears are said to ensure quiet and vibration-free operation in harsh mining MOB: 0 418 920 893 conditions. FA X: 0 8 with 9453 34 4 4 The HDO 180 can be combined Bonfiglioli’s 300 Trasmital planetary series U2/20 Bedford Cres and be used for slow moving mining equipment where a high outputForrestfield of torque isWA 6058 required. Bonfiglioli’s Trasmital 300 series is 1039 PO Box available in 20 sizes, with nominal output Kalamunda 6926 torque ranging from 1250-1,300,000Nm. Larger sizes can be custom-engineered for Australian mining requirements. Bonfiglioli’s products are tailored to customer requirements and assembled at its service facilities in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. Based in Italy, the Bonfiglioli Group manufactures gear motors, drive systems and planetary gearboxes for industrial processes such as conveying, as well as automation, mobile and renewable energy industries.


Happy 20th Brevini Australia has celebrated 20 years of supplying power to the mining industry.


ower transmission expert Brevini Australia believes it is unique. Since it was established in Australia in 1993, Brevini has provided ‘innovative’ mechanical power transmission solutions to the mining industry. To commemorate the company’s 20th year, the Brevini Group held the inaugural Heavy Duty Mining and Global Customer Conference in Sydney. Brevini president Renato Brevini and CEO Nazzaro Paroli were on hand to celebrate this milestone. They were joined by sales teams from the US, Canada, China, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Southeast Asia and New Zealand. Brevini Australia managing director Greg Bunn said that because product use could be similar in different countries, the team was able to share its experiences and ideas with one another. The company, which founded in Italy, introduced electromechanical drives for apron feeders in Australia in 1995. Those drives were based on variable-speed drive technology Direct Torque Control (DTC), which was developed by power and automation technology specialist ABB. DTC allowed Brevini to integrate compact planetary gearing with suitable electric motors to challenge the domain of hydraulic drives in demanding working conditions. ABB developed software for Brevini subsidiary Brevini Integrated Drives, which would comply with the conveying requirements for wide speed ranges and high

A Brevini conveyor counter lifting winch, used at an Australian coal mine.

starting torques. “This concept has been so successful that today the majority of apron feeders built in Australia for both domestic and overseas use are based on Brevini Integrated Drives’,” Bunn said. “The Brevini strategy applied planetary gears to low-speed, high-torque equipment, with both AC electric and hydraulic drives. “Planetary gears have the advantage of ruggedness, compactness and strength compared to more conventional solutions.” Brevini Australia has a head office and plant in western Sydney. Other branch offices and warehouses are located in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. In 2002, Brevini purchased German helical gearbox manufacturer PIV. Brevini Power Transmission is an Italian company based in Reggio Emilia, a city in northern Italy. Brevini brothers Renato, Luciano and Corrado founded the company in 1960.

Birthday product Coinciding with Brevini’s anniversary celebration, the manufacturer has released its new Posired Advanced range of threestage helical gearboxes. The Posired range can be used for bulk material-handling equipment such as conveyor belts, and provides output torques up to 940,000 newton-metres. Developed with improved mechanical performance and increased thermal capacity, the conveyor drive range has been designed for rigorous requirements found in bulk material-handling and mining industries. Brevini Australia managing director Greg Bunn said the Posired allows users to opt for a smaller-sized gearbox. “What sets the new series apart is the modular thermal system, which helps the gearboxes provide increased thermal performance and higher mechanical efficiency,” Bunn said. “Features of the new units include an axial cooling fan, with higher flow rate for better cooling of the gearbox and an advanced lubrication system. “Also, the integrated mechanical oil pump improves bearing life and increases thermal capacity.” Oil change periods for the new range have been increased to 7500 hours and up to 15,000 hours for synthetic oils. The cover plates on the Posired’s chassis have active cooling fins on both sides and on the top for improved ventilation. Its finned covers provide an expanded surface area and include integrated oil pipes for bearing lubrication. Posired gear units are available in sizes 31 to 85 and ratios 18 to 112 – lower ratios are available on request. Other options include back stops, external cooling systems and double extended shafts.

December 2013 AMM 63

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3/07/13 3:11 PM


Ok Tedi mine, Papua New Guinea.

Battle for Ok Tedi

Battle lines have been drawn over Ok Tedi, one of Papua New Guinea’s oldest, largest and most controversial mines. But has the ongoing saga damaged foreign perception of this resource-rich land? By Tess Ingram


cloud has descended over Papua New Guinea’s resources sector as the controversial Ok Tedi coppergold mine once again dominates the headlines. The fight over ownership of the mine, on the Fly River in Western Province, was sparked in September when the PNG government seized majority ownership from the PNG Sustainable Development Program. A 63.4% shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining Limited had been held by PNGSDP, the trust that was established when BHP Billiton agreed its exit from the mine in 2001. The company made the move in return for immunity after it was blamed for dumping its mine tailings into the local Fly River systems, causing substantial environmental damage.

December 2013 AMM 65

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill inspecting a guard of honour at the Palace Merdeka (Freedom Palace) in Jakarta during a welcome ceremony in 2013. Image courtesy of the PNG PM’s media unit.

The government’s move to take 100% ownership of the mine has resulted in a war of words and an ensuing legal battle between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and former prime minister Mekere Morauta, who is chairman of PNGSDP. Following an unsuccessful court application in PNG to prevent the state from touching PNGSDP’s assets, legal action against the PNG government has been launched in Singapore’s Supreme Court, where the trust is an incorporated company. As the battle continues in an international arena, questions over the sovereign risk associated with operating in PNG have inevitably arisen. Indochine Mining is nearing production at its Mt Kare gold mine in PNG and its chief executive officer Stephen Promnitz said he had found PNG to be a

“relatively straightforward” place in which to work. “I see Ok Tedi as an unresolved issue from the past, somewhat like Bougainville, that should not be viewed the same as any other project currently under development in PNG,” Promnitz said. “I would say that this is a key part of the awakening in PNG and coming to terms with the full cost of the development of natural resources.” However, Promnitz believes the way Ok Tedi is viewed within PNG is very different to how it is viewed outside the country. “BHP did the right thing, they set up a fund to look after the future remediation of the area,” he said. “However, from PNG’s viewpoint it seems that few of PNGSDP’s efforts have actually been able to provide a solution for the damage and

the complete social dislocation that happened in the Ok Tedi area, nor down the Fly River.” Copper exploration company Coppermoly managing director Maurice Gannon also believes Ok Tedi is an isolated incident that highlights the importance of working with local communities. “I think it is quite a unique scenario,” he said. “I don’t know what’s been done right or wrong but clearly a primary outcome must be that benefits must flow to local communities and PNG generally. “I’m sure all stakeholders have always agreed on this point but managing progress on that mandate, especially for groups of different constituents in a wonderfully passionate environment where the stakes are high is, of course, tremendously challenging.” Gannon said changing perceptions of the country back home in Australia wasn’t an easy task. “People have heard all these stories about PNG being violent and dangerous and in my experience that is fundamentally not true,” he added. “The only way you can reassure some investors is to take them there and once they have done that, most people fall in love with the place.” 66 AMM December 2013


The Ok Tedi mine.

“I see Ok Tedi as an unresolved issue from the past, somewhat like Bougainville, that should not be viewed the same as any other project currently under development in PNG,” – Indochine Mining CEO Stephen Promnitz

Drilling at Indochine Mining’s Mt Kare project in PNG.

December 2013 AMM 67


Bespoke drilling British drill manufacturer Dando Drilling has developed a strong foothold in the Indonesian sector.


ome to large deposits of coal, iron ore, tin and rare-earth metals, the Asia-Pacific region is quickly becoming a leader in the global mining and exploration industry. Since the early 1980s, British manufacturer Dando Drilling International has supplied bespoke mineral drill rigs to Indonesian mining businesses, state-owned companies and military departments to help meet the country’s unique requirements. Dando said two of its units, the Mintec 12.8 and the Multitec 9000, had evolved over time to adapt to the complex Indonesian topography. The Dando Mintec 12.8, boasting a 12,800kg pullback capacity, is popular for coal exploration in Indonesia, with 18 of these machines supplied to the area to date.

The rig has been specifically developed for very fast open-hole air-flush drilling with PCD bits and coring, wireline and conventional, Indonesian-type coal measures. “With this method, our clients are typically completing 300-400m boreholes in a 20hour shift,” Dando managing director Martin Fitch-Roy said. The modern coal exploration machine is mounted on caterpillar tracks with a 900 cubic foot per minute (350 pound per square inch) air compressor and a 540 horsepower Caterpillar engine. Single-bar grousers help the tracks clear easily and ensure the rig never struggles for traction. In Sangatta, a customer is achieving 300350m per day (double shifts) open-hole drilling and coring, with air and then mud

The Dando Multitec 9000 operating in Indonesia.

flush using the Mintec 12.8. Dando’s other drill frequently deployed in Indonesia is the Multitec 9000. With a lifting capacity of 9000kg-force, the multipurpose Multitec 9000 has been designed for use in mineral exploration, water well, geotechnical investigation and geothermal drilling projects. It is capable of performing various drilling techniques including reverse circulation, rotary air blast, conventional mud, auger, diamond wireline coring and standard penetration tests. The rig is just 1.5m wide when tracking, allowing for easy operation in limited access or forested areas where environmental preservation is important. It aims to deliver new drilling products to Indonesian markets

The complete holiday adventure.

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Accommodation under constrcution at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. Photo courtesy of The Department of Immigration.

Decmil busy on Manus As Australian contractor Decmil nears completion of one construction project on Manus Island, a second, larger project may be its next target.


ecmil Australia is ramping up construction work on a $A137 million village for asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, as it approaches an expected January 2014 completion date. The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship commissioned Decmil to build a 600-bed transit accommodation facility for women, children and other ‘vulnerable groups’ at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre (MIRPC) in Lombrum. The project is the first commonwealth contract awarded to Decmil Australia, which focuses its core business on building and civil construction services at remote mining, oil and gas projects. In addition to the 600-bed facility, the MIRPC will include a 200-room accommodation facility for staff. There will also be health, welfare, recreational and operational facilities, with associated engineering facilities and services. Work started onsite in July and Decmil is working towards a completion date of January 31.

Decmil CEO Scott Criddle confirmed work was underway on the project. “It is no secret that market conditions within the resources sector have been challenging over recent months,” Criddle said. “We are therefore delighted that we have secured this contract, as it broadens the scope of work that Decmil is involved with on a number of fronts. “It is a significant contract award and our first project for the Commonwealth of Australia.” And it may not be the last. Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told media at a recent Operation Sovereign Borders briefing that site clearing and access road work was already underway at an East Lorengau site. While very little has been revealed about the Australian government’s plans for the project, it is expected to include permanent post-processing accommodation for a few thousand asylum seekers. Former immigration minister Tony Burke said in August that the vacant site had been nominated by the PNG government and, if

needed, could eventually hold up to 10,000 people. PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has also confirmed considerable expansion is underway on Manus Island, while the Australian High Commission in PNG has released an information sheet stating Decmil as the managing contractor for the project. The High Commission revealed the new centre would be constructed on the eastern side of the province’s capital Lorengau as soon as the PNG government finalised the transfer of land. The fact sheet reported that Decmil had called for expressions of interest from subcontractors and suppliers across a variety of areas, with subcontracting work valued at $A97 million. To date, the East Lorengau contract had yet to be confirmed by Decmil or the government, despite numerous requests. The Australian government is reportedly spending $600 million over four years as part of the expansion of Manus Island, including $194 million in construction costs this year alone.

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December 2013 AMM 69

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Surge forecast A surge in Australian mining production is expected to offset declining investment in the sector, according to BIS Shrapnel. By Tess Ingram


n its annual Mining in Australia report, economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel said it expects Australian mining production to grow 41% over the next five years. The report predicts mining activity as a share of gross domestic product to rise from 18.7% to 19.8%. “With respect to the mining boom, it’s probably fair to say that this is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning,” BIS Shrapnel’s infrastructure and mining senior manager, Adrian Hart, said. “Over the next five years, the strong boost from mining production, led by LNG and iron ore, will more than offset the economic negatives from falling mining investment, which will flow through to construction and manufacturing.”

The report said mining production rose 8.8% in 2012-13 and the outlook for growth remains strong with annual average growth of 7.1% forecast to 2017-18. However, the forecast predicts that mining investment will fall 20%, creating a divisive future for a number of mining sectors, with suppliers and contractors most affected. “While this is not expected to be a permanent shift, contractors need to navigate region by region, and sector by sector, to identify opportunities opening up in operations, maintenance and facilities management to offset an aggregate decline in construction and development work,” he added. The current growth in mining employment is not expected to keep pace with the

State of the Market: Latin America Annual report on the mining industry in Latin America Earnings from copper and iron ore dominated Latin American mining revenue last year. The region's total mined revenue was over US$150 billion in 2012, with two-thirds coming from copper and iron ore. Gold and silver contributed 20%.

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BIS Shrapnel head of mining Adrian Hart.

expansion in production as miners put a considerable focus on cost reduction, with overall employment expected to fall 12% over the next five years. “Miners will continue to be squeezed by lower commodity prices and a high Australian dollar over the next few years,” Hart added. “As such, they are going to extraordinary lengths to cut back on the high-cost and low -productivity culture that characterised the construction phase of the boom. “We expect that mining operations employment will rise only 11% over the next five years, mainly in oil and gas and iron ore. Whereas mining construction employment will slump 40%.”

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Cautious but positive Deloitte Access Economics is forecasting a positive but delicate future for Western Australia. By Tess Ingram


hile Western Australia remains in a good position to hold its title as the fastest-growing economy in Australia over the next decade, Deloitte Access Economics warns that an imminent period of transition will require the state to act cautiously. As the resources boom moves on from its construction phase, the state’s private and public sector leaders will need to carefully respond to this period of transition, according to Deloitte. Deloitte partner Matt Judkins said the winding down of the construction phase that was now taking place had big implications for Western Australia.

Deloitte predicts WA to remain the country’s fastest-growing economy.




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72 AMM December 2013

“Project cost blowouts, and relatively slower growth in China and other emerging markets mean Australia’s share of the global project pipeline is shrinking fast, and the key to extending gains in the resources sector lies in addressing cost challenges.

“There is absolutely no doubt that the mining and gas sectors will remain incredibly important for Western Australia in coming decades.” – Deloitte partner Matt Judkins “The state government’s four-year fiscal action plan represents an important move in the right direction in terms of its package of reforms, but it will need to follow the private sector’s lead.

“More will need to be done to ensure recurrent expenditure is sustainable if the state’s increasing debt burden is to be managed. Judkins said while there would be lower rates of economic growth in the state in the short term, Deloitte’s analysis indicated the medium-term outlook was broadly positive. “Within a few years, we expect to see growth rates of as much as 4% and the local job market is forecast to remain stronger than nationally,” Judkins said. “While the medium-term outlook remains solid, it is crucial for Western Australia to look to the potential opportunities that will allow the golden run of the last two decades to continue. “There is absolutely no doubt that the mining and gas sectors will remain incredibly important for Western Australia in coming decades, but this will require a focus on improving productivity and the cost competitiveness of the state’s resource sector.”

Welcome back uranium QUEENSLAND has announced an action plan to reintroduce uranium mining in the state. With an estimated $10 billion of resources in the ground, uranium will play a major part in supporting economic growth and creating more jobs for Queenslanders. Queensland Resources Council chief executive officer Michael Roche said the release of the uranium mining implementation strategy was an important step toward creating a new uranium industry. “This is a best practice framework, benefitting from the experience of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia,” he said. “It’s also very impressive the government will have it all in place by mid-July 2014, and they are to be congratulated. Queensland’s uranium industry has an estimated resource of $10 billion.

“There’s already evidence that the policy change is seeing new players coming into Queensland.” Among the new players is French company and QRC member Areva Resources, which has briefed Roche on its $5 million exploration program in Queensland’s Gulf region. Queensland Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said commercial demand for the heavy metal would determine when uranium mining would restart. “There are a number of factors that will influence the timing of uranium mining operations and it is ultimately a commercial decision for industry proponents,” he added. “These factors include the world market price for uranium, supply and demand in that market and mining costs.”

Hays senior regional director Simon Winfield.

The hidden jobs market It’s called the job hunt for a reason – sometimes you need to look that little bit harder to find the perfect position. Recruitment firm Hays Resources & Mining recommends that when looking for a new position, job seekers need to tap into the “hidden jobs market”. Hays senior regional director Simon Winfield said the hidden jobs market was very big in Australia. “Many positions vacant are never advertised and are filled through informal or formal networks. “The statistics vary, but the consensus seems to be that at least 50 per cent of jobs are not advertised,” Winfield said. According to Winfield, there are several ways you can open the door to this hidden jobs market. “Networking will help you access the hidden jobs market, but effective networking covers more than simply adding new LinkedIn connections, it means staying in touch,” he said. Winfield said it was also a good idea to join an industry association or professional group and attend functions or seminars. “You should also partner with a recruiting expert,” Winfield added. “A recruiter invests many hours in calling local employers to find the best job opportunities. They can tell you which organisations are hiring and where the jobs are.” The director’s final piece of advice is to stay in touch. He adds: “You should also make your connections aware when you are job hunting and ask if they know anyone you could talk to about a job.”

December 2013 AMM 73


No more training While mining companies tighten the purse strings, Queensland is driving a growing reliance on specialist labour suppliers. By Vetti Kakulas


arket pressures are prompting changes in recruitment models across the Australian mining industry. Fewer companies see the value in onsite training, with employers recording an increasing labour pool and a strong focus on cost reductions across the board. That’s the view of Wisely Group managing director Bob Wisely, whose company specialises in recruiting staff for companies in Queensland’s coal-rich Bowen Basin. “As the downturn continues and costcontrol measures build up, we are seeing mining houses across the state losing the amount of vendors they have onsite to supply labour services,” he said. “They have even less resources to spend on the recruiting, training and management of their employees while at the same time, they’re looking to increase their workforce’s efficiency while reducing costs.” Wisely believes the days of employers

supplying training and accreditation are over. “For job seekers, this means that more than ever it’s important for them to consider signing with a specialised labour supply firm if they are seeking to find employment in the resource industry,” he added. “Increasingly, these employers are looking to employ through their preferred labour partners rather than recruit themselves.” Wisely said it could help job seekers prepare for the continually evolving and changing resources industry. He said: “We have all heard about voluntary and forced redundancies in the industry, raging arguments about local versus FIFO employee models, and the calls by many employers for increasingly intricate employment submissions. “For job seekers, it’s vital they understand the changes in the market as well as the changes in employment requirements if they are to become successful at securing a mine site position.”

Wisely Group managing director Bob Wisely.

Established in 1994, the Wisely Group is based in Central Queensland and provides support to Australia’s mining, construction, engineering and industrial sectors.

Skills expansion WA SKILLS Training has spent $5 million expanding its brand, buying a 5500 square metre site near Perth Airport. Located in the industrial suburb of Welshpool, the Bunbury-based training company is confident in its brand. WA Skills Training’s new premises in Welshpool, Perth.

74 AMM December 2013

WA Skills Training managing director Bob Butson said the proximity of the new premises to the airport allowed fly-in, fly-out clients to easily access training courses. “The Welshpool site will accommodate larger specialised, designated training areas

for courses and licenses such as Working At Heights, Confined Space, Dogging, Rigging, Scaffolding and Cranes,” he said. “It will allow permanent setup of the specialised equipment required. This will allow WA Skills Training to run courses more closely aligned to onsite work practices and ensure safety always comes first.” The premises will include 14 state-of-theart classrooms catering to different training needs. WA Skills Training has its own shuttle bus for clients, offering to pick up and deliver students from Perth Airport or their hotel. Courses at its Bunbury headquarters will continue to run, as well as at its clients’ sites. Butson established WA Skills Training in 1996. It was one of the first training centres in Western Australia. Since then, WA Skills has delivered training in the Philippines, Thailand, US, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong and Macau, Timor, New Zealand, New Guinea and Africa. Butson’s company has plans to create a facility in Thailand, providing training for Chevron’s LNG Wheatstone project in WA’s Pilbara region.

on the move

INDUSTRY veteran Colin (Cobb) Johnstone has joined the board of Evolution Mining as a non-executive director following the resignation of Peter Smith. Johnstone’s career Colin Johnstone in the mining industry has spanned more than 30 years, including time spent as general manager at some of Australia’s largest mines, including the Kalgoorlie Super Pit in Western Australia, the Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia and the Northparkes Mine in New South Wales. Evolution executive chairman Jake Klein welcomed Johnstone and said he hoped to reestablish the working relationship they had together at Sino Gold. Klein also wished Smith all the best to pursue his other business interests following his departure.

GOLD producer Newcrest Mining has announced the retirement of chairman Don Mercer while appointing a successor to chief executive Greg Robinson, who is expected to leave the company in the second half of next year. Chemical engineer and former Pacific Aluminium CEO Sandeep Biswas is the company’s new chief operating officer and executive director, starting January 1. Biswas is expected to succeed Robinson in the second half of 2014. Robinson said he was “delighted” to appoint Biswas as his nominated successor. “After eight years with Newcrest as CEO and previously chief financial officer, it is time to ensure there is an organised succession for the CEO role, with a successor who is committed to delivering the company’s longterm strategic objectives,” Robinson said. Meanwhile, 72-year-old Mercer will step down as chairman in December, with relatively new board appointee Peter Hay his replacement. Mercer said he had indicated to the board earlier this year that he would retire,

FMG for Shuttleworth Fortescue Metals Group has managed to lure former Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Julie Shuttleworth to the role of general manager at its Cloud Break mine. Shuttleworth has spent the past 13 years with Barrick Gold and has held the role of general manager at its Granny Smith operation since 2010. Shuttleworth told Australia’s Mining Monthly that the move was a Julie Shuttleworth great opportunity to stay in Western Australia and remain involved with a large site while taking on a different challenge. Her move came shortly after Barrick announced the sale of its Granny Smith, Darlot and Lawlers mines to South Africa’s Gold Fields for $US300 million. Shuttleworth has won many industry accolades, including the 2012 Telstra WA Businesswoman of the Year and 2013 Women in Resources Champion. prompting the appointment of new directors Hay and Philip Aiken. AFTER a decade with Downer EDI Mining, Daniel Archer has joined underground hardrock mining contractor Barminco Limited as its new executive general manager for business development. Daniel Archer Archer has been Downer’s general manager for business development for the past six years and has also held senior positions at Newmont, Roche Mining and Argyle Diamonds. Barminco said its new manager was well -known in the industry, having served on various Chamber of Minerals and Energy and Minerals Council of Australia committees since 2000. INDUSTRIAL chemicals manufacturer Orica has hired Nick Bowen as its new executive global head of mining services. The appointment follows a global search to fill the role after Craig Elkington was promoted from the position to chief financial officer. Orica landed the Australian with more than three decades of mining experience after he resigned from his position as managing

director of MacMahon Holdings last year after 13 years in the role. Orica CEO Ian Smith said: “The appointment of Nick Bowen adds significant strength to the executive management team and his experience in the mining services sector will be invaluable in enhancing Orica’s ability to meet the needs of its customers.” AS A prefeasibility study kicked off at its Kalgoorlie North gold project, Excelsior Gold appointed Daniel Doherty to the position of operations manager for the mine. The mining engineer Daniel Doherty has 22 years worth of experience in operational and mine management roles in the Kalgoorlie region. Most recently, he was the operations manager at the Wattle Dam Gold Mine for Ramelius Resources. Managing director David Hamlyn said the appointment of someone of Doherty’s calibre and experience was a significant step in advancing the development of the project. “Danny brings to Excelsior a proven history of effective mine development and management experience,” Hamlyn said.

EXPERIENCE COUNTS PaRTNER wITh ThE mININg RECRUITINg EXPERTS Contact hays Resources & mining at or 08 9254 4546.

December 2013 AMM 75






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Langton’s top spot The Indigenous Construction Resource Group has acquired the expertise of leading Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton. By Tess Ingram


rominent Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton has been appointed the inaugural chair of the ICRG’s GUMA joint venture. ICRG is an indigenous civil maintenance and construction contractor that provides support to resource companies across Western Australia and Queensland. The company helps Aboriginal people in resource-rich areas gain employment in the mining sector and develop their own businesses. GUMA by definition means “coming together”. Langton said the joint venture between ICRG and Nyiyaparli, traditional owners in the eastern Pilbara, was not only about the Nyiyaparli people coming together with ICRG, but also with the mining industry. “I think there is a fair bit of nervousness

in the industry,” she said. “They are coming through a bad patch and there is still a bit of nervousness about tendering to very small companies, indigenous or otherwise.” Langton said that on top of this, common perceptions had created “an extra smidgeon” of nervousness about indigenous companies. “That’s why it’s important to let people know that our clients are happy with our work and as a joint venture with an array of expertise and experience, people are building up confidence in us,” she said. The GUMA ICRG JV has already earned $40 million in contracts and the forecast turnover for this year is about $14 million, Langton said. The group initially secured a $3.2 million Action Drill and Blast contract at FMG’s

Marcia Langton has joined forces with ICRG.

Cloudbreak mine. Following this, three other contracts at Cloudbreak were secured, the largest raking in $30 million. Langton said she was “more than thrilled” to be the chair of the JV because of its sincere commitment to indigenous employment and it’s focus on helping people develop their own businesses. The Nyiyaparli traditional owners are 50% shareholders in the JV, which has already signed on around 50 employees, with almost 100% of these employees indigenous. “This is the highest employment rate in the private sector in the country,” Langton added. Langton, who is based in Melbourne, is a leading Aboriginal scholar and was awarded an Order of Australia in 1993.

December 2013 AMM 77



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Ready, set, cool Summit Matsu Chillers has found an innovative, cost-efficient way to distribute its industrial refrigeration units to the Australian mining industry. By Tess Ingram


n early decision to use pre-fabricated demountable refrigeration units dramatically reduces costs and produces a better-quality product, according to fridge and plant manufacturer SMC. The plant’s most complex structures are manufactured offsite and then shipped to the client in a modular, clip-together format. SMC general manager Daniel Rollston said this process allowed for more rigorous quality control, lower labour costs and cheaper component parts. “Fabrication is faster using the production line approach,” Rollston said. “Parallel construction at multiple sites reduces the build schedule and quality is higher because of consistency and repetition in a controlled environment. “Labour costs are lower because work involving overlapping trades can be better managed and scheduled to avoid idle time.” The use of pre-fabricated plants can also dramatically reduce the risk of overrunning project time by testing the key components of the structures before they leave the factory, Rollston said. “Testing can be completed for structural integrity, electrical and water before site infrastructure such as power, water, and footings are even finished. “Earlier testing means any faulty parts can be managed and re-upplied in-factory, reducing risk.” SMC recently developed a made-to-





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The-20 foot sea container chiller Summit Matsu produced for Dyno Nobel.

order refrigeration plant for explosives manufacturer Dyno Nobel. Rollston said the decision to go prefabricated saved the Port Hedland project thousands of dollars. “We presented a unique cooling concept that was designed for high ambient conditions and allowed free cooling overnight and during most of winter to save on power,” he added. “The pre-fabricated design allowed for fast and simple connection at site – saving


Dyno Nobel considerable expense on the overall project.” The chiller delivered 250 kilowatts of refrigeration capacity at 45 degrees Celsius ambient air temperature and was fabricated into a 20-foot shipping container together with a 5000-litre insulated thermal buffer storage tank. Summit Matsu operates out of its Alexandria headquarters just outside of Sydney.

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Strong technology DESIGNED for style more than durability, modern hands-free technology is not built for tough minesite conditions. So computer accessories manufacturer Kensington has launched a range of protective cases and accessories for iPads used in harsh environments. “Tablets can be an incredible business tool but they were never engineered to withstand the rigours of some workplaces,” said Kensington Australia business development manager Sam Goldstein. The new BlackBelt 3rd Degree Rugged

Case has been designed to protect tablets from damage caused by accidental drops – including cracked screens, scratches and dust. The case has extra protection for the vulnerable corners of the iPad and raised edges next to the display to prevent scratches. Kensington has also released a rotating hand strap that adjusts to fit any hand and allows 360 degree rotation to enable iPad use in any orientation while still preventing damaging drops. Kensington is a division of ACCO Australia, which has its headquarters in Sydney.

The BlackBelt case and accessory collection.

The BlackBelt case and accessories in use.

The Vision X Light Cannon 25W LED.

Long-range illumination A COLLABORATION between leading light-emitting diode and industrial light manufacturers has resulted in the development of a durable light that can shine over 1000 feet of usable light from a single 25 watt LED. Vision X Lighting has formed an exclusive alliance with LED manufacturer Luminus to develop its first-ever 4.5” Light Cannon LED light. The company said the combination of Luminus’ 25 watt LED with its own thermal management and reflector technology has resulted in the development of a light that can “produce amazing light distance and reliability, with a smooth light pattern”. A lightweight, high-strength housing provides the light with a durable weather and temperature resistant shell to endure even the most rough and tumble minesite applications. Up to 13 different cover filters are available to protect the light as well as improve vision in dust, fog or snow or even change the beam pattern. US-based Vision X products are distributed in Australia by Perthheadquartered APS Lighting and Safety.

New edge in safety HAZARDS can come out of nowhere, especially when they seem like part of the furniture. Safepad Edges have been designed to cover protruding or hazardous edges that can pose a safety threat to employees, such as flanges, airconditioning units, braces, stairways and beams. The 50cm foam lengths are hazard-striped in black and yellow. They are supplied in three different profiles, all with a 40mm radius, including a semi-circle, a three-quarter circle and a slotted full circle. The semi-circle and three-quarter circle are supplied with pre-attached adhesive strips, allowing easy application to most surface types. The slotted full circle is designed to fit neatly over a narrow edge. Perth-based Safepad said the products had been designed to meet Australian health, safety and environmental requirements.

Safepad Edges.

December 2013 AMM 81

WHAT’S NEW Terex Minerals Processing Systems’ MC1300 cone module.

The latest Terex Terex has clearly been listening to customer feedback after delivering a new and improved cone crusher. By Vetti Kakulas


ood companies listen to customer feedback. If they don’t, there’s plenty of competitors offering alternatives. That’s judging by the improvements on the latest MC1300 cone module from Terex Minerals Processing Systems. Compared to the previous TC1300 model, the MC1300 increases production capabilities and includes several pre-designed static and semi-static crushing and screening modules. Terex modular product line manager Mark Crooks said the cone module’s set-up time

Hazardous gas MONITORING systems and sensor specialist Trolex has launched the Sentro D carbon-monoxide detector. The detector provides precise carbonmonoxide readings in the presence of diesel nitrogen oxide. Sentro D can be used to measure diesel fumes in underground mining and tunnelling environments. It features Trolex gas discriminator technology, which can filter out background mono nitrogen-oxide gases and prevent inaccurate readings.

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and ease of operation was accentuated by its simple design. “Each module bolts together onsite and requires minimal onsite wiring,” he said. “The MC1300 cone module can be matched with other units in the modular product line to create a system capable of processing up to 270 million tonnes per hour.” Corresponding to its name, the MC1300 has a 1300mm head diameter and is powered by a 225 kilowatt electric motor. Crooks said its unrestricted feed opening and full range of configurations, for short

and long throw, enhanced the cone module’s versatility, while its all-roller bearing design improved crushing efficiency. Other features include an extra heavyduty I-beam frame and a galvanised steel structure consisting of walkways, steps and guard rails. The module structure and all its components are CE compliant, which conforms to European product standards. Terex Minerals Processing Systems is a subsidiary of equipment manufacturer Terex, which is based in Connecticut, US.

The Sentro D carbonmonoxide detector.

Inaccurate readings may lead to false alarms and consequently disrupt minesite productivity. Trolex said the Sentro D offered the most accurate carbon monoxide readings in environments rich in diesel fumes. The compact unit uses an eModule feature to detect carbon monoxide levels ranging from 0-50 parts per million. Servicing the Sentro D is simple. The operator can change the eModule in seconds, while the power is still applied.

Super clean EXPERIENCED plant operators understand that a clean machine is a well-maintained machine. Australian Pump Industries says it has designed the best steam cleaner on the market for heavy equipment. The Aussie Super Indy range includes single and three-phase steamers with pressure ratings of 3000 pounds per square inch and a maximum temperature of 120 degrees Celsius. “We have developed an innovative blaster with plant operators in mind,” Aussie Pumps spokesman Dean Fountain said. “It’s obvious that if you can’t see the leak

Hella power LED specialist HELLA and mobile lighting provider AllightSykes have collaborated to create the second-generation HypaLUME – a 240-watt mobile lighting tower. Eight lamps are mounted on the Allight MS-9 tower to produce 176,424 lumens, which provides more than enough visibility for workers on mining projects at night. The latest generation produces 50% more light per lamp and introduces a Perkins twocylinder engine of 500 cubic centimetres. For fuel-conscious mining companies, the lamps need refuelling just once every three weeks, providing an 18-tonne annual carbon footprint reduction over standard metal halide lamps. AllightSykes offers an extended 500-hour service interval for the HypaLUME and is confident in its product following “exhaustive” testing in tough mining environments.

HELLA and AllightSykes’ second-generation HypaLUME.

Aussie Pumps’ Super Indy steam cleaner for heavy equipment.

for the dirt, it isn’t going to get fixed quick enough. Prompt, preventive maintenance reduces downtime, increases efficiency and leads to a better bottom line.” The Super Indy range has a heavy-duty, impact-resistant stainless-steel cover that is mounted on a robust, steel chassis with an integrated front-mounted bumper. One new feature includes the Total Stop, designed to shut the machine off after the operator releases the trigger of the gun – reducing wear on the machine and saving power. Aussie Pumps has distributors throughout Australia.

Companies & organisations in this issue ABB 63 Adani Mining 16 Anglo American 34 Areva Resources 73 Arrow Energy 56 18 Atlas Copco Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship 69 Australian High Commission in PNG 69 83 Australian Pump Industries Australian Reef Pilots 27, 29 Australian Trade Commission 38 Barminco Limited 75 Barrick Gold 75 71 BIS Shrapnel Belarusian Autoworks 12, 13 Bentley Systems 16 65, 84 BHP Billiton Bonfiglioli Transmission Australia 62 63 Brevini Group 44 Cazaly Resources Centennial Coal 34 74 Chevron Citibank 60 Citicorp 84 Copper Assets Australia Glencore 56 Coppermoly 66 Cornwall Coal 51 CSIRO 57, 58 Cudeco 56 Dando Drilling 68 Decmil 69 Deloitte Access Economics 72 DGR Global 56 8, 9, 10, 14, 59, 75 Downer Durack Mines 49 Dyno Nobel 80 EdanSafe 29 Electrolux 32 Evolution Mining 56, 75 Evorelution 24 Excelsior Gold 75 Fairfax Media 21 Fortescue Metals Group 75 Garwoods Civil & Maintenance 30 GEOVIA 24 Global Pumps 36 Gold Fields 38 Hancock Prospecting 14, 16 HardRock Coal Mining 51 Hatch Associates 16 Hays Resources & Mining 73 HELLA 83 Hydac Australia 40 IDS Corporation 22 Indigenous Construction Resource Group 77

Indochine Mining InterGen Australia Jinchuan Group Kensington Kimberley Metals Group Mazda MICROMINE MinesOnline Newcrest Mining Normandy Mining Northern Star Resources Ok Tedi Mining Orica Palmer United Party Panoramic Resources Pegasus Metals PNG Sustainable Development Program Proteus EPCM Engineers Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Queensland Health Department Queensland Resources Council Ramelius Resources Randstad Ranger Drilling Red Metal ReCoila Reserve Bank of Australia Rio Tinto Roy Hill Holdings Safepad Saracen Minerals Holdings Seven Group Holdings SEW-EURODRIVE Shell Australia Sojitz Corporation StockAnalysis Summit Matsu Chillers Tanganyika Holdings Terex Toll Trolex University of Exeter US Federal Reserve Board Victaulic Virtual Curtain Vision X Lighting Vista Gold WA Skills Training Watpac Civil & Mining Westpac WesTrac Wisely group Women in Mining Western Australia Women in Mining UK Yancoal Australia

66, 67 59 49 81 49 53, 55 22 22 75 32 44 65, 66, 67 75 21 49 49 65, 66 16 9, 10 21 73 18 60 14 56 40 21 32, 47, 61 14 81 59 34 60 37 59 32 80 47 30, 82 31 82 22 21 38 58 81 16 74 18 56 34 74 10 10 59

December 2013 AMM 83



Diamond in the rough Dryblower investigates why Australia’s diamond industry has been forgotten.


t would be going too far for Dryblower to claim that he has seen the next mining boom. But, it is possible for the old codger to say he’s seen where and how the seed will be planted. Appropriately, the evidence of future recovery can be called a “diamond in the rough”

That’s thanks to the work of those inflexible laws of rising demand eventually overpowering declining supply – with the inevitable outcome being higher prices which ignite the wick of exploration. Another way of describing the process underway in the diamond industry, and eventually in other facets of the mining world is “night follows day”.

Today, there is little grass roots exploration for diamonds in Australia thanks to past failures and the historic evidence of commercial diamond deposits being as scarce as hen’s teeth. because (a) the indications are pretty rough, and (b) it involves the diamond industry, a sector largely forgotten by Australian explorers. Once home to the world’s most extensive and ambitious diamond hunt, Australia yielded just one world-class discovery, a couple of small pits, and a handful of hot hints that tantalised for a while before being abandoned. Today, there is little grass roots exploration for diamonds in Australia thanks to past failures and the historic evidence of commercial diamond deposits being as scarce as hen’s teeth. But, it is in the scarcity that the first clue lies in why diamonds can be seen as a pointer to what will happen across all sectors of the mining industry.

To understand what’s happening with diamonds, and to then apply the procedure to gold, uranium, zinc, copper, or the mineral of your choice, look first at the supply side of the equation because with diamonds it has surged, plateaued, and is now in serious decline. From a total worldwide output of around 80 million carats a year in 1980, when Australia’s Argyle discovery burst onto the scene, production soared to a peak of 160 million carats by 2006 thanks to major discoveries such as the Venetia mine in South Africa and the two big Canadian strikes, Ekati and Diavik. From that peak year, diamond production has been in decline, sliding to less than 130 million carats and on track to dip below 120 million carats annually.

Copious cash CASH is one of those items we all love to have, but it’s also something which can easily be described as having “a terrible beauty”. At BHP Billiton, and most of the other big mining companies, there is an abundance of cash being generated thanks to mineral prices not being too hard (not good, but not bad) and costs being driven through the floor. The net result is that shareholders are being showered in the stuff via increased dividends and share buy-backs.

In time, perhaps as early as next year, some of those same shareholders are going to start asking management to stop returning so much cash and start investing it in exploration and mine-expansion opportunities. For management, having just been bashed around the ears over budget blowouts and completion delays on most major projects, the switch will be frustrating in the extreme but, it will also illustrate how difficult it is to please all of the people all of the time.

Diamond production is declining and on track to dip below 120 million carats annually.

The problem, which is especially acute with diamonds, is that they are damned hard to find in commercial quantities. According to research by US investment bank Citicorp, around 6800 kimberlites (the core of old volcanoes) have been sampled over the past 140 years with 1000 found to be “diamondiferous” (contain some diamonds), 60 have been classed as economic, and seven (yes, just seven) classed as Tier One or world class. Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, men continue to give diamond rings as an engagement present, or as a means of appeasing their partner after misbehaving in some way. The latest branch of species to develop diamond-buying habits, are young men in China who have doubled their rate of investing in an engagement ring from 30 per cent to 60% over the past 20 years. It doesn’t require great brain-power to see the setting of the scene. Demand has never really faded. Supply has. Over time that will drive the price, which Citigroup reckons will deliver a 30% increase in diamond prices over the next few years which will, in turn, kick-start the diamond exploration sector. Night, as they say, follows day and from Dryblower’s perspective what’s happening in diamonds will happen soon enough in other minerals, with zinc most probably next cab off the rank titled “demand exceeding supply”.

“A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.” – Sir Barnett Cocks 84 AMM December 2013

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Australias Mining Monthly - December 2013  
Australias Mining Monthly - December 2013  

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