Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2013

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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REGIONAL NEWS - AUSTRALIA/OCEANIA Rio Tinto Opens Argyle Underground Mine The recent opening of Rio Tinto's Argyle underground diamond mine is expected to extend the life of the Argyle operation until 2020 or beyond. Rio Tinto officially opened its new blockcave Argyle underground diamond mine in the east Kimberley region of Western Australia in late April. The move from openpit to underground mining will extend the life of Argyle until at least 2020. The $2.2-billion underground development uses the latest in block caving technology and is the first of its kind in Western Australia. The mine will generate around 9 million mt/y of ore and, on average, approximately 20 million carats/y of diamonds over the life of the block cave. The Argyle underground extraction level is 500 m long by 240 m wide (1,640 x 787 ft). Around 40 (24 miles) km of tunnels are being built to access the orebody. The main thoroughfares are four tunnels: two for vehicles, one for ventilation and one for conveying ore. Driverless 14-mt loaders operated from surface will access the ore via 16 production tunnels, drawing ore from 273 drawpoints and transporting it to two large underground crushers. A 2.2-km (1.4-mile) underground conveyor belt connects with a 1.2-km conveyor belt above ground to transport the crushed ore to the processing plant. Western Australia's Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Marmion attended the Argyle underground commissioning ceremony and was joined by traditional owners, 28 E&MJ • JUNE 2013 government representatives, Rio Tinto executives and employees. Rio Tinto Diamonds and Minerals Chief Executive Alan Davies made note of the fact that the Argyle mine has produced some of the world's most spectacular diamonds and has delivered many benefits to the local region. "The new Argyle underground mine has allowed us to extend the life of this iconic asset for Rio Tinto and Western Australia. I am proud that we can continue our contribution to local employment and the economic development of the East Kimberley region, as we have over the past quarter of a century." The Argyle mine has produced about 800 million carats of rough diamonds over its 25 years of operation, including a small but consistent supply of the world's rarest pink diamonds. The mine's production is characterized by smaller, affordable diamonds ideally suited to creating affordable, daily-wear diamond jewelry. Queensland Shortlists Five Groups for Aurukun Bauxite Development The government of Queensland announced on April 23 a short list of five groups approved to submit detailed mine development proposals for the Aurukun bauxite deposits on the western Cape York Peninsula in north Queensland. The groups are Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco), Glencore International, Rio Tinto Aluminum, Australian Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd. (AIR) and Cape Alumina Consortium. Chalco, Glencore and Rio Tinto are wellknown international mining companies; AIR is a special-purpose vehicle formed to submit a proposal for the Aurukun project. Participating shareholders are APAC Resources Ltd. and Aust-Pac Capital Pty Ltd. APAC is a natural resources investment and commodities company listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Aust-Pac Capital is a private investment company that has provided seed capital and advice for many developments in Cape York, ranging from indigenous housing and education initiatives to a proposed underground coking coal mine at Kalpower. The Cape Alumina Consortium includes Cape Alumina Ltd., the Noble Group and Qube Bulk Pty Ltd. Cape Alumina is a Queensland-based company that controls approximately 1,900 km2 of exploration tenements in western Cape York. Noble Group is a diversified natural resources supply chain manager of agricultural and energy products, metals, minerals and ores. Qube is Australia's largest dedicated bulk and general stevedoring operation, operating in 28 ports around Australia, and has been involved in building greenfield bulk ports. The five groups have until midSeptember 2013 to submit detailed mining proposals for government evaluation. The government has a goal of finalizing a development plan by year-end. Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said the government could explore the option for both a large and small-scale development that may be able to coexist given the size of the Aurukun resource. "Our key objectives are to maximize the benefits and returns from the mine to the native titleholders and the Aurukun community and to maximize the financial returns to Queensland." (Continued on p. 49) www.e-mj.com

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