Prospect Award finalists: Minerals Processing Plant of the Year

MINING DAILY profiles each of the finalists in the 12 categories of the 6th annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards.

MINING DAILY profiles each of the finalists in the 12 categories of the 6th annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards.

The 6th annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards aim to encourage, recognise and reward excellence in the Australian mining industry.

This year saw record amounts of entries in several categories, including Minerals Processing Plant of the Year, Innovative Mining Solutions and Excellence in Mine OH&S.

The winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony and dinner at Doltone House, Sydney on Wednesday 11 November 2009.

For tickets and further information please contact Heather Lawson on 02 9422 2791, or email

Apex Optimisation – Worsley Alumina

BHP Billiton Worsley Alumina Pty Ltd (WAPL) has been quick in the uptake of Advanced Process Control (APC) techniques, and specifically Multivariable Predictive Control (MPC) technology at the Collie refinery in Western Australia.

In July 2007 Apex Optimisation (Apex) was involved in a project to minimise the potential for overflow incidents at Worsley Alumina.

Preventing and controlling overflow incidents proved to be quite a challenge as the tanks prone to overflowing had no level measurements.

It was therefore near impossible to predict, from the control room, when a tank was overflowing (or close to overflowing).

The final outcome was a very successful project where all the goals and customer requirements were met.

The MPC application was implemented and commissioned within two weeks.

There have been no reports of tanks overflowing following the implementation of the MPC application, even though throughput has been pushed.

Focus Minerals – Three Mile Hill

Focus Minerals, based in the Eastern Goldfields of Western Australia, managed make the transition from junior explorer to producer in a no-fuss manner and a finalist in the 6th annual Australian Mining Prospect Awards.

Earlier this year, the miner raised $28 million of capital to fund their aggressive growth strategy, $25 million of which was done through the issue of 1250 million ordinary shares to sophisticated investors.

The company then raised a further $3 million by issuing another 150 million shares to existing shareholders.

About $18 million of the capital raised was allocated to the refurbishment and modernisation of the 1.2 Mtpa Three Mile Hill treatment facility.

The facility has significantly increased Focus Minerals’ overall milling capacity.

Originally built in the 1980’s, the plant had the potential to help the company achieve their goal of producing 100,000 ounces of gold a year.

Refurbishing the plant has substantially increased available throughput from 0.4 Mtpa to 1.2 Mtpa and assisted in lowering overall operating costs.

Hill End Gold – Hill End Gold Project

The Hill End Gold Project includes the three prolific goldfields of Hill End, Hargreaves and Windeyer in New South Wales.

At Hill End the project is mining the deeper extensions of the rich historical Hawkins Hill — Reward deposit where over 500,000 ounces of gold were produced at a grade of 10 ounces per tonne in the nineteenth century.

The gravity gold recovery plant for the development of the Hawkins Hill — Reward deposit was initially constructed in 2008 to process approximately 20 tonnes per day at a gold recovery of 80% to provide a gold grade for batches of mined material during the initial scoping phase.

Over the past year the plant has been upgraded to operate continuously at over 2,000 tonnes per month with a gold recovery of more than 95%.

The upgrading of the plant for continuous high production included the installation of a ball mill in closed circuit with a 1 mm DSM tailings screen, a slimes removal and handling system, and material handling modifications throughout the plant.

MIPAC — Mount Isa Zinc Concentrator

MIPAC was engaged by Xstrata Zinc to help improve operations in its Mount Isa Zinc Concentrator.

The company was chosen to help Xstrata Zinc automate and optimise key processes in their Zinc Concentrator. This was achieved by implementing advanced control solutions that integrated with existing systems and achieved significant increases in throughput and production of lead and zinc concentrates.

MIPAC worked on-site to gain a first-hand understanding of Xstrata Zinc’s operational requirements and ensure the control solutions provided specifically met the operating goals of the plant.

The end result was an advanced control strategy that automated key processes and optimised plant-operating strategies.

The solution was implemented using CSense expert system technology.

MIPAC is a CSense solution partner.

The project optimised process control over a wide range of plant unit operations, including Rod Mills, IsaMIll Fine Grind and SAG milling.

The Project was implemented in four phases and was completed at the end of 2008.

OM Ltd – Bootu Creek Manganese Mine

OM (Manganese) Ltd (OMM) is a 100% fully owned subsidiary of OM Holdings Ltd, which was listed on the ASX in March 1998.

OMM controls the Bootu Creek Manganese Mine located 110 km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

Exploration and development of the Bootu Creek Manganese Project commenced in September 2001.

Mining operations commenced in November 2005 and the first batch of manganese ore was processed in April 2006.

Mining at the Bootu Creek project is carried out using a conventional open cut method of mining, blasting and excavation using hydraulic excavators and dump trucks.

OMM set its target production level at 700,000 tonnes for 2008 and successfully achieved an actual annual production of 672,000 tonnes. This was especially significant since the worldwide market downturn in late 2008.

The 1st Quarter of 2009 was also labelled a success because the mine site produced 94,492 tonnes of manganese ore, being 94% of budgeted production even though this was the Northern Territory wet season, which experiences exceptionally high rainfall.

Proto Resources — Clean Technology Test Program

Proto Resources’ flagship project is the Barnes Hill nickel and iron ore project in northern Tasmania, 10 km from the Bell Bay deep water port.

Over the past 16 months, Proto and its associates have been working on new technologies for the treatment of the PLS (Pregnant Liquor Solution) left over once the nickel and cobalt have been removed as the principal value product from nickel laterite processing.

Proto believes that the water and acid recoveries will significantly enhance the economics of nickel laterite projects and may even lead to further production of new saleable products from the ore.

The nickel laterite processing technology which Proto and its associates are working on is based on a low capex atmospheric leach as distinct from a high cost high pressure autoclave technology currently used for quick leaching and suppression of iron dissolution and adverse consumption of acid.

Proto is currently finalising arrangements for the next stage of investment in the new technology.

Rio Tinto – Tom Price

Rio Tinto has developed a system at Tom Price Mine that uses real time static dust monitoring data to inform iron ore process plant workers when dust levels become elevated to initiate remedial dust control.

Osiris static dust monitors have been positioned throughout the process plant in locations selected as representative of the general work areas; where exposure to dust is likely and where workers spend the majority of their time.

The dust data collected is linked to the process plant controller’s operating screen via a PLC (Process Logic Control) system.

Warning and alarm levels have been established to allow the process plant controller to inform workers in the area when inhalable or respirable dust in areas of the plant has reached nuisance or potentially harmful levels.

The system has provided the process plant controllers with a tool to inform plant workers and initiate immediate intervention against dusty conditions based on real time data rather than relying on the controller’s perception of the risk or communication from the plant operators in the field.

Xstrata Copper – Ernest Henry Concentrator

The Ernest Henry Mining (EHM) Concentrator plays a major role in Xstrata Copper’s North Queensland Division and in recent times it has made a number of outstanding contributions to the business across a range of areas.

In 2008 the Concentrator achieved a number of production records, increasing copper and gold outputs from the mine and for the division overall.

The Concentrator team also worked to improve its environmental performance through the implementation of a range of new initiatives that drastically reduced water usage in the plant.

Most importantly, safety remained the highest priority while all these milestones were being accomplished.

The Concentrator also set a new record of 448 Total Recordable Injury (TRI) free days in July this year and a group of Concentrator employees were recognised at the 2008 Queensland Mining Industry Health and Safety Conference for their GET Removal Tool Safety Innovation.

EHM’s Concentrator achieved record throughput in 2008, milling 11,428,848 tonnes of material off a 1.07% copper head grade.

The previous best result was delivered in 2005 when 11,425,286 tonnes of material was milled off a higher head grade of 1.21%.

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