Barminco has won the mining contract for the Mount Colin underground copper operation near Cloncurry as owner Round Oak Minerals brings the new mine online.
Round Oak, formerly CopperChem, expects the mine to employ 70-80 people and have a lifespan of about four years.
Chief executive officer Rob Cooper said the mine portal would be developed into the wall of the Mount Colin open-cut, which was last mined about three and a half years ago.
“There is a about a kilometre of decline development to access the ore body at the first production level,” he said.
“While we’ll access development ore within the first six months, we expect it will be almost 12 months before first stope production and about two years to get the mine to steady state production at a rate of 400,000 tonnes per year.”
The underground project contains an ore reserve of 1.3Mt at an average grade of 2.9 per cent copper and 0.4g/t gold.
Mr Cooper said Round Oak had a toll treatment agreement with Glencore for the ore, which would go to the Ernest Henry operation for processing.
New Cloncurry gold development
The company is also kicking off a new gold development near Cloncurry, with clearing work starting at its Wallace South site.
Mr Cooper said activity there was expected to ramp up in July.
“We’re currently completing the grade control drilling at Wallace South,” he said
“Because they will be shallow pits, we are completing the grade control drilling for the whole area up front which will allow us to mine it unimpeded, and at the same time it will also allow us to modify the pit designs up front, if required.”
That operation is expected to create 30-35 jobs on the mining side, as well as about 25 positions at Round Oak’s newly constructed gold processing plant at Cloncurry.
The hydrometallurgical processing facilities and copper concentrator at that site were placed on care and maintenance in late 2015.
Late last year, Round Oak installed a CIP (carbon-in-pulp) facility at the complex to suit its gold processing plans.
“The gold plant has been wet commissioned and will have first ore feed in July/August, allowing final commissioning to be completed,” Mr Cooper said.
“We’ve refurbished the crusher and we’ll have a gravity circuit integrated into the plant as well. An elution circuit and gold room is being fabricated off site and is planned to be installed in September this year. Como Engineers, who constructed the CIP plant, have been commissioned to compete the design and construction of both the gravity and elution circuits.”
Round Oak ramps up recruitment
Mr Cooper said the company was ramping up its recruitment efforts, but with the improvements in commodity prices in the past 12 months and increased activity in the mining industry, experienced resource industry professionals were becoming harder to find.
The company advertises its role through SEEK as well as using recruitment agencies for specific technical and supervisory roles.
Mr Cooper said they were more than happy for potential employees to make direct contact with Round Oak’s HR team. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org)
In recent months the company has undergone a rebranding and restructure after acquiring the Jaguar zinc-copper mine in Western Australia from Independence Group, which previously sold Round Oak the Stockman copper-zinc project in Victoria.
Mr Cooper said it had changed its named from CopperChem to reflect the fact it was not purely focused on copper.
The new name has its origins in the company’s roots. Round Oak station, Cloncurry, is the site of the former Great Australia Mine, which as well as being the company’s first mining operation, is also where it has its current gold and copper processing facilities.