Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2018

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Page 19 of 75

REGIONAL NEWS - AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA 18 E&MJ • SEPTEMBER 2018 Rio Tinto Begins Work on First 'Intelligent Mine' Rio Tinto has approved $146 million of funding for initial work at its Koodaideri iron ore project 110 miles west of New- man, Western Australia. The company ex- pects to make a final investment decision for the project by the end of the year. Subject to final investment and gov- ernment approvals, Koodaideri will be Rio Tinto's first "intelligent mine," incorporat- ing the latest in high-tech advances in the industry and utilizing an increased level of automation and robotics. More than 100 innovation opportunities have been identified in the project's feasibility study. The initial $146 million of funding will be invested in detailed engineering work on key elements of the project, develop- ment of a rail construction camp, and the first stage of the Koodaideri accommo- dation camp. The large-scale, low-cost, high-quality project will create a new Rio Tinto production hub in the Pilbara and will produce about 40 million mt/y to re- place declining production at other Rio Tinto mines elsewhere in the Pilbara. The company's Pilbara mines produced 206.76 million mt of iron ore in 2017. If approved, Koodaideri construction is scheduled to begin in 2019, with first production expected in 2021. Project de- velopment would create more than 2,000 jobs during construction and 600 perma- nent operational roles. Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury said, "This initial funding is an important step for our Koodaideri project, which will be a significant leap forward for the global mining industry and Rio Tinto. "We've been building mines in the Pilbara for over 50 years, and, subject to final approvals, Koodaideri will incorpo- rate all of that knowledge to enable us to build the smartest, safest, and most ef- ficient mine we've ever constructed. The deployment of leading-edge technology will deliver a step-change in both safety and productivity for our business." NiWest PFS Delivers Outstanding Results for GME A prefeasibility study (PFS) of GME Re- sources' NiWest laterite nickel-cobalt project in the northeastern Goldfields re- gion of Western Australia has confirmed the technical and financial robustness of a long-life operation producing high-pu- rity nickel and cobalt sulphate products. Life-of-mine production would total 456,000 metric tons (mt) of nickel in nickel sulphate and 31,400 mt of cobalt in cobalt sulphate. Average annual pro- duction over the first 15 years of oper- ation would be 19,200 mt of contained nickel and 1,400 mt of contained cobalt. Initial mine life is forecast at 27 years at plant throughput capacity of 2.4 million mt per year (mt/y). The project construction period is estimated at 24 months from a final investment decision. Commissioning and plant ramp-up are es- timated at approximately 20 months. Pre-production capital expenditures to develop NiWest are estimated at A$996 million, representing a pre-production capital intensity of less than US$20/lb of average annual nickel production. Aver- age life-of-mine cash unit operating costs, post royalties and cobalt credits, are esti- mated at US$3.24/lb of contained nickel. Operating costs during the first 15 years of operation are estimated at US$3.00/lb. The initial ore reserve estimate for NiWest stands at 64.9 million mt grad- ing 0.91% nickel and 0.06% cobalt, for 592,000 mt of contained nickel and 38,000 mt of contained cobalt. Opportu- nity exists to extend the high-grade profile through potential conversion of inferred re- sources and/or inclusion of other deposits. Mining would be by conventional open-pit methods at a low projected strip ratio of 2.0:1. Ore would be processed by heap leaching followed by direct solvent extraction to produce low-cost nickel and cobalt sulphate products. "GME will now utilize the PFS to un- dertake an intensive period of engagement with potential strategic partners and offtake parties for the NiWest project," GME Man- aging Director Jamie Sullivan said. The NiWest project is located in a semi- arid region of south-central Western Australia that is well serviced by exist- ing infrastructure, including rail, arterial bitumen roads, and nearby established mining towns. The NiWest project is located in south-central Western Australia that is well-serviced by existing infrastructure.

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