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REGIONAL NEWS - AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA 16 E&MJ • MARCH 2017 www.e-mj.com Blackham Looking to Expand Matilda/Wiluna Gold Production Blackham Resources has received a draft report from Orway Mineral Consultants that supports the addition of 1.5 million mt/y of throughput capacity at the Wilu- na processing hub on its Matilda/Wiluna gold operations in central Western Aus- tralia. Commissioning of the added ca- pacity alongside the recently refurbished 1.7-million-mt/y oxide circuit would see total throughput capacity increase to about 3.2 million mt/y across both the oxide and sulphide circuits. The expand- ed Wiluna plant would bring significant economies of scale to the combined pro- ject, with all the resources located within a 20-km radius of the processing plant. If the plant expansion is realized, Matilda/Wiluna gold production could in- crease to more than 200,000 oz/y from the current level of about 100,000 oz/y. Expansion of the Wiluna processing facility is supported by a recent 25% upward revision of estimated mineral re- sources across the several mineral depos- its that are feeding or will feed the plant. Combined Matilda/Wiluna measured, indi- cated, and inferred mineral resources have grown to 63 million mt grading 3.2 g/mt gold for a total of 6.4 million contained oz. Open-pit resources stand at 37 million mt grading 2.1 g/mt for a total of 2.4 million contained oz, while underground resourc- es stand at 26 million mt grading 4.8 g/mt for a total of 4.0 million contained oz. A 60,000-m drill program is in prog- ress around the Wiluna open pits as part of the plan to upgrade resources. Blackham also reported that it has raised A$35 million through a share place- ment, with the proceeds to be used to fast track growth at Matilda/Wiluna operations. Current work includes conversion of re- sources to reserves, acceleration of studies of expansion economics, and finalization of a feasibility study, to be followed by en- gineering and ordering of long-lead items. Altura Awards Mining Contract for Pilgangoora Altura Mining has awarded a five-year con- tract to NRW Holdings Ltd. for provision of mine development and mining services at Altura's open-pit Pilgangoora lithium pro- ject, located in Western Australia about 123 km road miles southeast of Port Hedland. Mine production is planned at a rate of 1.4 million mt/y of ore to produce 219,000 mt/y of spodumene concentrate, containing 6% Li 2 O, over a mine life of 14 years. The definitive feasibility study for the Pilgangoora project was based on 20.3 million mt of probable ore reserves grad - ing 1.06% Li 2 O. Capital cost to develop the project is estimated at A$139.7 mil- lion. The project payback period is esti- mated at 1.8 years. The design of the Pilgangoora pro- cessing plant is progressing well, and the project and procurement teams have ad- vanced a number of key tenders. Project commissioning is currently scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017. The scope of work for the NRW con- tract includes construction of mining in- frastructure, including the tailings storage facility and run-of-mine area; develop- ment of mine haul roads; drill-and-blast services; and load-and-haul mining of ore and overburden. NRW will utilize existing equipment that is becoming available fol- lowing completion of another project and that can be mobilized for a rapid start of work at Pilgangoora. Up to 60 NRW personnel will be em- ployed on site, and NRW will work with the local Njamal indigenous communi- ties to offer employment and subcon- tract participation. Concentrate will be exported by ship from Port Hedland to lithium concentrate processors, predominantly in China, for further processing into a wide range of lithium chemicals, including lithium car- bonate, lithium hydroxide, lithium metal, and lithium chloride. Fortescue Metals Triples Net Profit for Half-year Iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. released its half-year results ending December 31 that include a net profit af- ter tax of $1.2 billion, which is a 283% increase over $319 million that was re- ported for the half-year period ending De- cember 31, 2015. "Our team has continued their unwav- ering focus on delivery against safety, pro- ductivity and cost reduction targets," said Fortescue CEO Nev Power. "We achieved further improvement in our C1 costs to $13.06/wet metric ton (mt) and shipped 86.1 million mt for the half year, slightly ahead of our targets." Power said the company's successful operational performance along with pos- itive market conditions produced strong cash flows. Altura plans to export lithium concentrate by ship from Port Hedland to markets in China and elsewhere.