Another trifecta for Hancock Prospecting

Hancock Prospecting has continued to make an impression at the country’s most esteemed and prestigious awards program for the mining industry, the Australian Mining Prospect Awards.

The group won a trifecta of awards at last year’s event, and this year took home another trio of accolades.

Roy Hill won the prestigious Mine Project Success of the Year category – sponsored by Epiroc – for its use of cutting-edge technology and innovative thinking to create a more predictable and efficient mining operation that is safe and sustainable.

The pioneering of the Wet High Intensity Magnetic Separator (WHIMS) plant in December 2019 allowed capture of high-grade ultrafine iron ore units which would otherwise have ended up as waste.

Roy Hill major projects general manager Paolo De Carolis said when the original WHIMS first processed ore in December 2019, Roy Hill was the first Australian iron ore company to use magnetic separation in a hematite mine at that size and scale, reducing waste and increasing production by approximately 4 million tonnes per annum.

“Roy Hill has since expanded the plant to include two-stage treatment via magnetic separation and a spiral building to recover misplaced fines and high-grade ultrafines from the +125um size fraction via gravity separation. The WHIMS expansion plant (WHIMS 1.5) opened in April 2022 and is painted pink in support of breast cancer research,” he said.

“The WHIMS Expansion project has positively impacted Roy Hill’s environmental and economic position by adding flexibility and increasing capacity.”

Overall, the WHIMS Expansion project is forecast to produce up to 1.5mtpa of additional high-grade concentrate from material that would otherwise be lost to waste as tailings, increasing production capacity and extending its high-grade lifespan as well as reducing its environmental impact.

“The company is now looking at more ways to use the same innovative technology to extract material from other waste streams as well as the existing tailings storage facility, so that we can further improve operational performance and reduce our environmental footprint,” De Carolis said.

The WHIMS plant.

Hancock subsidiary Atlas Iron took off two other awards: the Indigenous and Community Engagement award, and the Project Lead of the Year.

Atlas Iron projects general manager Stacey Brown was honoured for leading an ambitious pipeline of new projects, including traditional hematite operations as well as leading two major magnetite studies.

She oversees all stages of project development from pre-feasibility to site construction, drawing on her extensive experience in strategic development, corporate leadership and communications to navigate all the challenges that come with successfully delivering a new project.

Prior to joining Atlas, Stacey worked as project manager on the $10 billion Roy Hill project in the Pilbara.

“This was a highlight of my career, and I take great satisfaction in being part of mining
operations that create investment, jobs and wealth for Australia,” she said.

Stacey Brown with the two Atlas Iron awards.

The Indigenous Award recognised Atlas’ innovative commercial agreements with Indigenous groups which build capacity in their communities.

Atlas Iron holds the distinction of awarding the first major mining contract to an Indigenous-owned company, East West Pilbara (EWP), on its traditional land. EWP has a vision to develop a sustainable business based in the Pilbara that will its core be able to be self-sustaining and provide opportunities in the Nyamal People.

The mining contract is unique as it is a major mining contract, rather than provision of a particular narrow service or activity, creating employment and sustainable economic outcomes for future generations of Indigenous people to develop and operate the drill, blast, load and haul operations for an iron ore mine.

Traditionally the mining industry has only awarded small and limited contracts to Indigenous groups. Despite the intent, complex regulatory and compliance requirements make the administration and paperwork appear impossible for all but the largest, international service providers.

Many mining companies have not ever directly worked with Indigenous owned businesses and normally prefer a larger company to sub-contract a small piece of work.

Mining companies usually state lack of capability of Indigenous companies as the reason for not awarding Tier 1contracts. Atlas was determined to drive leadership in this area and enable Indigenous groups to be able to tender for the major contracts.

This agreement has now provided a model for other mining companies and Indigenous groups to explore and build together opportunities that will help support the communities and provide jobs and opportunities in more capacities than ever before.

Editor of industrial titles and mastheads with Prime Creative Media. Publications include Rail Express and Australian Mining (web content).
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