The ASIA Miner editor Yolanda Torrisi has attended Mining Philippines 2009 Conference and Exhibition held in Manila on September 15-17 and Excellence in Mining held in Sydney on September 21-23. We are pleased to provide you a pictorial spread of attendees at these two prestigious events.

    View Photo gallery here.LINK

  • KYRGYZ REPUBLIC – Deeper Savoyardy mineralization

    A diamond infill drilling program at Kentor Gold’s Savoyardy Project in the Kyrgyz Republic has confirmed gold mineralization below the current resource.
    The high grade intersections have the potential to strengthen the economics of planned mine development.
    One hole was drilled from underground on Section 2b to intersect the ore zones 40 metes below the level of the existing underground adit. Results include 1.9 metres @ 7.05 grams/tonne gold and 3.05 metres @ 6.3 grams/tonne.
    These intercepts are 20 metres below the lowest level included in the current resource estimate.
    Assay results are awaited from another hole designed to intersect the projected mineralized zones 60 metres below the lowest level included in the resource statement.
    Extensive underground access is available from previous exploration adits developed in the 1970s. Four holes of a planned 7-hole underground drilling program have been completed.
    Results are being analyzed and, Kentor’s managing director Simon Milroy says it appears at this stage that an extension of the drill program is warranted.
    “We are delighted to get such strong indications that the Savoyardy resource persists at depth. Any increase to the Savoyardy resource will strengthen the economics of the planned development.”
    Subject to a final decision later this year, Savoyardy is proposed to begin production in 2010 at an initial annual rate of 10,000 ounces of gold for a minimum of three years.
    It is one of two high grade, low cost gold mine developments being planned by Kentor in the Kyrgyz Republic with the other being Andash which is undergoing due diligence with a view to Kentor exercising a purchase option. Andash is a larger gold-copper project targeted for production in 2011 at an annual rate of 60,000 ounces of gold and 5000 tonnes of copper.

  • PHILIPPINES – El Paso drilling program

    A drilling program and helicopter-borne magnetic survey are under way at the Mindoro Resources-Gold Fields’ Batangas copper-gold joint ventures in the Philippines.
    This exploration is focused on the El Paso Project, which is one of three comprising the Batangas joint venture.
    This work follows detailed geological, ground magnetic and geochemical surveying over areas of copper-gold occurrences which are being evaluated for their porphyry copper-gold potential.
    The main groupings of copper-gold occurrences on the El Paso Project are referred to as the Calantas, Mulawin, El Paso and Bangin Creek prospects. Rock geochemical results have been reported for the El Paso Hill and Bangin Creek prospects.
    At the El Paso Hill prospect in an area of historical copper workings nine rock channel samples each of five metres length, were taken at the Tunnel 4 area and returned a range of 0.25 to 2.19% copper and 0.02 to 0.53 grams/tonne gold.
    Five rock channel samples, each over five metre sample lengths, taken from Tunnels 1 and 3 gave an average grade of 0.86% copper, 134 parts per million molybdenum, 5.1 grams/tonne silver and anomalous gold.
    A total of 12 rock chip and grab samples consisting of six outcrop chip samples, four stream float boulders and two channel samples were also collected elsewhere on the prospect. Values ranged from 0.58 ppm to 9.24% copper and from 0.02 to 1.67 grams/tonne gold.
    The Bangin Creek Prospect is a newly-defined circular topographic feature within which mineralized outcrops and boulders of medium-grained diorite were located.
    Three rock outcrop samples returned values from 0.53 to 0.90% copper and from 0.01 to 0.11 grams/tonne gold. Work is in progress to determine the extent of the mineralized diorite.
    Infill and extensional soil geochemical survey results have also been reported by Gold Fields. A very broad copper soil geochemical anomaly has been defined on the El Paso Project which extends over an area of 4km by 1.5km.
    The El Paso Project is 11km south-east of Freeport McMoRan's Taysan porphyry copper-gold deposit and 7km north-east of Mindoro's Pica porphyry copper-gold prospect.


  • PHILIPPINES – Sixth Canatuan shipment

    TVI Pacific has completed its sixth shipment of copper concentrates from the Canatuan Mine, bringing the total amount of concentrates shipped from the sulphide operation to 29,705 dry metric tonnes (dmt) with expected gross revenue of US$34.1 million.
    TVI’s Philippine operating affiliate, TVI Resource Development (Phils) (TVIRD) shipped the concentrates from its warehouse facility, at Santa Maria Port in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, in accordance with the offtake arrangement previously entered into between TVIRD and MRI Trading AG.
    TVIRD expects to receive US$5.4 million from MRI for about 5264 dmt of concentrates, representing around 90% of the estimated value of the total shipment. Final payment for the remaining sale price of the concentrates is due once final details relating to weight, assays and prices are determined.
    This shipment occurred four weeks after the previous shipment, reflecting increased operating throughput and concentrate production achieved by the mine. It is anticipated that future shipments of about 5000 dmt each will occur approximately every four weeks depending on specific shipping and marketing arrangements.
    The offtake agreement provides that MRI will purchase all of the copper concentrates produced at Canatuan over the anticipated life of the sulphide operation. To date, the Canatuan Mine has produced about 31,300 dmt of copper concentrate.
    Of that production, 29,705 dmt has been sold through the offtake agreement with MRI. Funds generated from the sale of the copper concentrates are expected to be allocated by TVIRD to working capital and debt service.


  • PHILIPPINES – Crew Gold sells assets

    Crew Gold Corporation has agreed to sell its interest in Apex Mining Company and all other related assets in the Philippines to a private company based in Malaysia.
    The agreement calls for total cash payments of $1 million upon signing of the agreement, $5 million upon completion and a final $1 million when Philippine regulatory approvals are obtained.
    The British company’s principal asset in the Philippines is the Maco Gold Mine in Compostela Valley, south-eastern Mindanao. Crew gained control of the Maco property through its acquisition of more than 72% of the shares in Apex.
    Crew’s interim CEO Bill LeClair says, “Combined with the previously announced sale of the Nalunaq Gold Mine in Greenland and the pending completion of the sale of the Nugget Pond processing facility in Canada, this allows Crew’s scaled down management team to concentrate all efforts on the LEFA Gold Project in Guinea which is expected to complete its ramp-up by the end of the fourth quarter.”

  • INDONESIA – Encouraging Miwah intersections

    An additional three diamond drill holes at East Asia Minerals’ Miwah Gold Project in Aceh Province have returned encouraging intersections at two different zones.
    The results are from the first two drill holes into the new high-grade South Miwah Bluff gold discovery and from one hole drilled towards the base of the shallow out-flowed, laterally extensive Main Miwah Gold Zone.
    At South Miwah Bluff one hole suffered poor core recovery, however the drilled diatreme breccia was completely mineralized along the western boundary and achieved 5.38 grams/tonne gold over 20.3 metres, including a 9-metre interval @ 9.25 grams/tonne and 2.7 metres @ 18.98 grams/tonne.
    The second hole also suffered poor core recovery with the drilled diatreme breccia being completely mineralized and achieving 3.36 grams/tonne gold over 21.4 metres, including  1-metre interval @ 9.13 grams/tonne at the western contact with porphyritic andesite.
    The very poor recoveries in both holes reflect the extremely vuggy nature of the mineralized zones, as evidenced in the nearby rock sawn channels which returned 83.59 grams/tonne gold over 24 metres and 20.14 grams/tonne over 12 metres.
    At the Main Miwah Gold Zone a drill hole encountered 1.37 grams/tonne gold over 64.4 metres, validating an historic hole.
    The short scout holes at the high-grade South Miwah Bluff zone were designed to test for continuity of mineralization at the western margin of this new discovery zone and to assist ongoing geological mapping of the broader diatreme, which remains open to the north, south and east.
    East Asia’s president and CEO Michal Hawkins says, “We believe we are potentially under-reporting gold from the high-grade margin of the South Miwah Bluff Gold Zone due to poor drill recovery.
    “Despite the poor recovery issue, however, the company's first two holes through the western margin of this newly discovered zone are strongly mineralized and support what we have seen with our surface mapping and rock sawn channel sampling.
    “We have recognized a 10 to 20 metre wide high-grade gold zone running along the
    western margin of a larger gold-bearing diatreme breccia feeder that makes up the South Miwah Bluff Gold Zone. This gold-bearing diatreme breccia, as exposed at surface, is about 650 metres long and up to 300 metres wide, and our sampling and drilling to date has shown that the diatreme is strongly gold mineralized throughout.
    “Hence we see the first two holes as being indicative of the huge potential of the South Miwah Bluff Gold Zone. These holes were a large step out from previous drilling, being more than 300 metres to the south of previously reported drilling in the Main Miwah Gold Zone."
    The company is addressing the weak drill core sample recovery and shall, as planned, resume drilling in the South Miwah Bluff Gold Zone after the initial phase one 13-hole drill program.

  • PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Marengo raises funds

    Marengo Mining has secured the backing of several leading North American global investment funds in its push to accelerate exploration and development of the Yandera Copper-Molybdenum-Gold Project in Madang Province.
    The investment funds, including Marengo’s largest shareholder The Sentient Group together with other existing institutional and retail investors, underpinned the capital raising which resulted in the company’s funds being boosted by Aus$16.3 million.
    The allotment of new shares has seen The Sentient Group increase its stake in Marengo to 26.7%.
    The Sentient Group, which has been a cornerstone investor in Marengo since 2006, manages more than US$1.3 billion in the development of quality metal, mineral and energy assets across the globe through its closed-end private equity Sentient Global Resources Funds.
    Marengo is also completing an Aus$5.4 million share placement in Australia to existing and new sophisticated investors.
    The funds will underpin the ongoing Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) on the proposed  development of the Yandera Project, as well as Marengo’s district exploration program which will, among other things, drill test the new Kombruku copper prospect less than 4km from the Yandera Central Porphyry.
    The Yandera DFS, which is scheduled for completion by December 2010, is based on indicated resources of 314 million tonnes grading 0.48% copper equivalent and inferred resources of 352 million tonnes grading 0.43% copper equivalent, as the foundation for an open pit mining operation initially processing 25 million tonnes with the potential to increase to a long-term annual rate of 50 million tonnes.
    A program of systematic soil sampling and ground geophysical surveys is well advanced at Kombruku. This has produced encouraging results and has assisted with the definition of drilling targets.

  • STRATEGIC Energy Resources (SER) is seeking an investor


    By John Miller,
    editor-in-chief, The ASIA Minerâ„¢

    STRATEGIC Energy Resources (SER) is seeking an investor to help bring a world-class, near-production ready graphite project in South Australia into operation.

    The Uley Graphite Project on the Eyre Peninsula, near the regional centre of Port Lincoln, operated in the early 1990s but was suspended in 1993 due to very low graphite prices and high freight costs.

    The processing plant has since been kept under care and maintenance, and the entire operation needs some capital investment to be in a position to profitably produce graphite owing to increased global demand and much higher prices.

    SER’s managing director Mark Muzzin told The ASIA Miner that the company is extremely confident in the future of Australia’s premier graphite deposit but is seeking an investor coupled with offtake agreements to move it forward.

    “SER doesn’t have the capital resources at this stage to start producing and you would not take on a project like this without having offtake agreements in place.

    “We are seeking a partner to help get the plant back up to spec and also hope they will have the market tied up with a customer for the product.

    “We believe the investment will be from an international group from Asia, Europe or the USA. When we took on the project in December 2008 we saw that the graphite price was well above the levels of the early 1990s. On paper it appeared that the project would be economically feasible.”

    Exploration in the 1980s by CRA estimated that the graphite tonnage is 387 million tonnes @ 7.4% graphite. Detailed exploration by the previous joint venture revealed an in-situ indicated geological resource adjacent to the plant site of 2.87 million tonnes @ 13.4% graphite. This is sufficient tonnage to annually provide up to 15,000 tonnes of product for more than 25 years.

    SER is having Coffey Mining complete a JORC compliant statement on Uley Main Road deposit. Coffey has also been engaged to run a pit optimization on Main Road as well as ranking the other known deposits for their potential.

    Mark Muzzin says, “The first stage is to get the Main Road anomaly into a JORC category. We have also appointed consultants to investigate processing to see what modern options are available and also costing, as we don’t know exactly how much money it will take to get the plant up to spec.”

    Regarding the use of graphite, he says most people think immediately of pencils but that is only an incredibly tiny part of the market. “Graphite is predominantly used in the metal processing industry and for refractory bricks. It is used in the car industry for brake linings while flexible graphite products are used for gaskets and the like. Graphite has many lining applications and is also used for batteries and heat sinks.

    “Ours is premium quality and a larger flake product, which is what most customers want. Large flakes have good thermal high temperature protection qualities as well as good electrical conductivity.”

    When the project was operating it was producing three different grades of graphite – plus 100-80 mesh and plus 80 mesh, which were 94-97% carbon, and there was also a coarser plus 50 mesh. The product was well accepted by customers, including BHP, RASA Corporation from Japan and Ashby Graphite from the US.

    Mark Muzzin says, “Extensive exploration work has been done at Uley and the plant was in production. We know there is world-class mineralization and it is now a matter of upgrading the plant to get the project back into production.

    “It has been under care and maintenance since 1993 and a couple who used to work in the mine has been living there. The first time I was there in January they actually started up the plant.

    “The front-end of the plant is a bit rusted because that’s where it is exposed and that’s where a sizeable proportion of the funds would go.
    “We really have to do a bit more work on the processing side to optimize the best result.”

    He says it’s not really a mining project in terms of extraction. The mineralization is very close to the surface. It is basically stripped with graders so it is a very simple process.

    “Whoever needs the product can have operations up and running in quite a short period. Everything is there, the plant is in pretty good shape, we’ve got the water, we’ve got power with a small substation, phone and data lines are there and we have all the sheds and the accommodation. It just needs a bit of a revamp on the processing side.

    “We are only 23km away from Port Lincoln with deepwater port facilities and we are well serviced by sealed roads and rail. Uley ticks all the boxes as far as infrastructure and location are concerned.

    “Fortunately in Australia we have stable governments and we have had a lot of support from the State Government, so this is a fantastic opportunity for the right people who need the product.”

    Contact: Mark Muzzin, Strategic Energy Resources managing director. Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or phone: +61 3 9629 2330.

  • CHINA – More nuclear plants

    China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has signed an agreement with Hengyang city in Hunan province to build a nuclear power plant.
    This area  is about 200km south of CNNC’s Taohuajiang project at Yiyang city in Hunan, and will apparently comprise four 1000 MWe CPR reactors.
    China Guodian Corporation, one of the country's largest power producers, is involved in the project. It operates 62 GWe of plant, though it has no nuclear involvement so far beyond a minor stake in the Shandong Haiyang project.
    However, the National Development and Reform Commission has announced that China Guodian will invest RMB 20 billion (US$2.9 billion) on power projects in Hunan province within three to five years, possibly including a stake in the Taohuajiang nuclear plant, which is due to start construction in 2011.
    Some 250km east, in Jiangxi province, CNNC has also signed a joint venture agreement with Jiangxi Ganneng and Jiangxi Ganyue Expressway to build the Wanan Yianjiashan nuclear power project at Ji'an.
    - Information courtesy of World Nuclear News


  • INDIA - Larox to establish subsidiary

    Larox Corporation will establish a subsidiary in India with the aim of increasing the  company's market share in the growing Indian market.
    The new subsidiary will be responsible for Larox's aftermarket services and filter sales development.
    Larox’s president and CEO Topi Karppanen says, “We have been active in India already for more than 20 years and have built a solid customer base with the help of our local representatives.
    “Establishing our own subsidiary will help us develop our aftermarket services and deepen our customer relationships. We will offer local service, in local language and currency.
    “Thanks to the local spare parts stock and permanent staff we will be able to service our customers better and faster, and we will be able to offer faster and better support also to our local representatives in new equipment sales.
    “For filter sales, we will continue to work in close cooperation with our local agents as they have the best, in-depth knowledge of the Indian market potential.
    “India is a very important market for Larox, and strengthening our presence there is part of our growth strategy. The country has huge population, fast economic growth and major reserves of natural resources such as iron ore, coal and zinc.
    “Many of our Indian customers are today among the global leaders in their business sector.
    “With the growth of the mining, metallurgy and chemical process industries, there is a constantly growing demand for filtration equipment and services. In addition, India faces major challenges in energy efficiency, and this drives demand for more efficient filtration technology that enables savings both in energy and water consumption.”
    Larox's Indian subsidiary will be in Bangalore and is expected to be fully operational during the second quarter of 2010 at the latest.



  • MONGOLIA - Uranium sector reconstructed

    Since the mid 1990s Mongolia's uranium industry has lapsed and uranium exploration by international companies has not been related to any clear national policy or close regulation.
    In the last few years the government has sought to exercise more control over the whole mining sector and earlier this year it set up MonAtom to undertake uranium exploration and mining on behalf of the state, as well as pursuing nuclear energy proposals. It will hold the state's equity in uranium and nuclear ventures, under the Mongolian Nuclear Energy Agency.
    In mid July, after consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, parliament passed a Nuclear Energy Law to regulate the exploration and mining of uranium and give the state a greater degree of ownership and control of those resources.
    Along with this the government created a joint venture company between MonAtom and Russia's ARMZ - Dornod Uran - to develop two uranium mines in Mongolia - Dornod and nearby Mardai. A Japanese partner, evidently Marubini, is also envisaged in this joint venture later.
    The development is of particular interest to Russia due to its proximity (350km direct) to the Priargunsky operations, allowing possible creation of a ‘single infrastructure’.
    At least until mid August, Canada-based Khan Resources owned a 69% share in the Dornod project, mostly through its 58% subsidiary Central Asian Uranium (CAUC). The balance of CAUC, which holds Mongolia’s only uranium mining licence, comprised MonAtom and ARMZ with 21% each.
    A definitive feasibility study released in March 2009 showed that the US$333 million project was sound, on the basis of 24,780 tonnes of indicated resources, including 20,340 tonnes of probable reserves. Annual production of 1150 tonnes over 15 years from 2012 was envisaged.
    However, the Nuclear Energy Agency has announced that the joint venture of MonAtom with ARMZ will develop the project to annually produce about 2000 tonnes. Khan is uncertain where it stands, having apparently been dispossessed as it sought to negotiate an investment agreement with the government.
    Gurvanbulag is another deposit, about 30km away, which has been held by the Canadian Western Prospector Group.  In March the company agreed to a US$25 million takeover by China's CNNC International, a 74% subsidiary of CNNC Overseas Uranium Holding and through it, of SinoU. MonAtom appears to be positive about this development.
    - News courtesy of World Nuclear News


  • M&A – Allied Gold bid for ASG

    Allied Gold will make an agreed off-market takeover offer for Australian Solomons Gold (ASG) which, if successful, will create a company with 2.2 million ounces of reserves and 6.7 million ounces of resources.
    The takeover offer values ASG at more than $56 million and represents a premium of 9% to the last closing price of ASG shares on September 15, 2009. It is 35% higher than ASG's volume weighted average price for the past month and is subject to Allied Gold receiving acceptances for 50.1% or more of the shares in ASG.
    Allied Gold's executive chairman Mark Caruso says: “A combination of these two organisations will provide a near-term annual production profile of more than 300,000 ounces by 2013 financial year, through Allied Gold's planned organic oxide and sulphide expansions and the Gold Ridge project development.”
    Allied intends to apply for a listing of its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has taken preliminary steps in connection with a listing application.
    Allied Gold is a public company incorporated in Australia and listed on Australian Stock Exchange and London's AIM, with 100% ownership of the operating Simberi Oxide Gold Project, situated on the northern most island of the Tabar Islands Group in the New Ireland Province of eastern Papua New Guinea.
    Other assets include an exploration licence on the nearby Tatau and Big Tabar islands, subject to a farm-out agreement with Barrick Gold Corporation, as well as gold and silver exploration interests in Mexico.
    Allied's strategy is to add to the gold inventory on Simberi Island by defining additional resources and conversion of these and known resources into reserves, as well as to expand annual gold production to greater than 200,000 ounces by the 2013 financial year. With recent and ongoing exploration success on Simberi Island, Allied is assessing the economics and timing of a potential oxide plant expansion from an annual 2.2 million tonnes to around 3.0 million tonnes.
    ASG is a public company, incorporated in Australia and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Its principal asset is the Gold Ridge development project, a former producing mine, on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The mine operated from August 1998 to June 2000 and produced about 210,000 ounces of gold in this period. ASG acquired the project in May 2005 and has completed a feasibility study to redevelop it. The study confirmed a total resource of 35.9 million tonnes @ 1.73 grams/tonne for 2 million contained ounces and total reserves of 19.6 million tonnes of gold @ 1.82 grams/tonne for 1.14 million ounces.



  • GOLD – Output heads north

    Australian gold production increased during the June quarter, according to Melbourne-based industry consultants Surbiton Associates.
    In its latest overview of the Australian gold sector, Surbiton said gold output rose by two tonnes or 4% to 57 tonnes or 1.8 million ounces, compared with the March quarter 2009 and also by 4% compared with the June quarter 2008.
    Surbiton director Sandra Close says, “We seem to be seeing the start of a recovery in Australian gold production. The ramp up of some new operations contributed to an increase in the amount of ore treated in the June quarter.”
    The overview points out that Australian and South African gold output is currently similar, making them the world’s equal third gold producing countries. The US produces a little more gold and ranks second, while China is the largest gold producing country.
    However, Sandra Close says it is likely that Australia might move up to become the second largest gold producing country in the coming year.
    “Despite the recent increase in quarterly output, Australian gold production for the full 2008/09 fell to 223 tonnes, a reduction of 4%, or 10 tonnes, compared with 2007/08. But the immediate outlook is brighter.”
    A further increase in Australian production should occur in the third quarter with the first contribution from Newmont’s redeveloped Boddington mine in Western Australia. The first ore was fed into the recently-completed new plant in early August. When the mine reaches full output in mid-2010 it should add 31 tonnes, or 1 million ounces, annually to Australia’s gold output.
    Sandra Close says several other new or redeveloped gold operations in Western Australia should join the list of producers in the current fiscal year, including A1 Minerals’ Brightstar project and Range River’s Mt Morgans project, which are both expected to begin production in December.
    Also, by the end of the year Focus Minerals’ Three Mile Hill treatment plant should be re-commissioned, which will remove a production bottleneck and result in greater output. Saracen Mineral Holdings’ Carosue Dam project should start up in March 2010, followed by Catalpa Resources’ Edna May operation and Integra Mining’s Randalls project, in mid-2010.
    “The modern Australian gold industry continues to make a substantial contribution to Australia’s exports, despite the market ups and downs. That has been the case for over 25 years now.”
    She says the gold rushes and gold boom of the 1850s are probably the best known in Australia and they had a major impact on the country, both in social and economic terms. There was a second gold boom in the late 1890s and early 1900s, based largely on the finds in the Kalgoorlie area in Western Australia. However, the modern gold boom, which began in the early 1980s, has been by far the largest in terms of output.
    “Almost half of the gold ever produced in Australia has been mined since 1982. That amounts to around 5800 tonnes, or 190 million ounces – it’s a major industry.”
    Sandra Close pointed to the significant contribution the gold sector has made to export earnings in the last few decades, especially with the higher gold prices over the past few years.
    “For over 25 years Australia has been riding on huge yellow haul trucks, not the sheep’s back. Just the 223 tonnes of gold alone produced in 2008/09 was worth more than Aus$8 billion.”
    However, while the gold industry is making the most of higher prices and extending the life of current mines and redeveloping old mines where possible, the continuing reduction in expenditure on exploration is of great concern over the longer term.
    “Throughout the 1980s and 1990s gold exploration accounted for over half of all mineral exploration expenditure but now it’s down to around 20%,” she says. “To ensure the long-term future of the gold sector it is vital to encourage and stimulate exploration.”
    The top five producing operations for the June quarter 2009 were the Super Pit joint venture of Newmont and Barrick Gold with 198,000 ounces, Newcrest’s Telfer with 164,871 ounces, Gold Fields’ Lefroy with 108,900 ounces, Newmont’s Jundee with 99,000 ounces and AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam with 94,137 ounces.


  • ANTIMONY – Wild Cattle Creek re-modelling

    Anchor Resources has started resource re-estimation and re-modelling studies following a successful resource expansion drilling program at the Wild Cattle Creek antimony deposit in north-east New South Wales.
    The company has carried out a 10-hole drilling campaign at the antimony-tungsten-gold deposit which is part of the Bielsdown Project.
    Best results from the program were 4.4 metres @ 3.19% antimony and 0.73 grams/tonne gold including a second zone comprising 0.3 metres @ 23.7% antimony and 0.58 grams/tonne gold, and 6.8 metres @ 2.57% antimony including a second zone comprising 5.1 metres @ 1.25% antimony and 0.18% tungsten.
    The results have extended mineralization down plunge and demonstrated excellent continuity of the Wild Cattle Creek deposit.
    All holes in the program intersected the targeted stibnite zone and the deposit remains open.
    The company has now started work on re-modelling the mineralization which will lead to a revised resource estimate.
    In addition to assessing extensions to the antimony mineralization, follow-up drilling will test the potential for economically significant gold and tungsten. These commodities were generally ignored in historical exploration campaigns and previous resource calculations but have produced significant intersections in the current program.
    Anchor’s managing director Trevor Woolfe says, “Three-dimensional modelling will aid planning for the next drilling campaign.”



  • CONFERENCES – Philippines mining mission

    Austrade invites Australian mining companies to participate in a mining mission to the Philippines in November.
    ExplORE Philippines Mining Mission will be held from November 9-14 in Baguio and coincides with the annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference also in Baguio.
    The conference is attended by more than 500 mining industry players, including resident managers, mill managers, operations managers, purchasing managers, contractors, local agents and government mining officials.
    The mission, therefore, represents a great opportunity for mining companies from Australia to showcase their operations.
    The mission is particularly relevant for mining equipment, technology and service providers; suppliers of mining consumables; and providers of maintenance equipment for mill operations.
    Austrade Manila has organized ExplORE annually since 2006 and has generated business worth around Aus$10 million for Australian mining companies.
    This year’s mission will include a mine site visit, mining symposium, two-day exhibition, networking functions and other events to build strong contacts with key mining executives.
    Baguio is a 5 hour drive north on Manila and is the birthplace of some of the country’s most important mining companies, including Baguio Gold, Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Mining, Itogon-Suyoc and Antomok.
    The mission will enable participants to gain valuable first-hand information and opportunities in the Philippine mining sector; discover opportunities when visiting a major mine site and offer services, supplies and maintenance equipment; learn mine safety methods implemented at mines; develop relationships with key customers and contacts; receive on-the-ground assistance and guidance from Austrade; and  promotion of business at the Australia mining technology and services booth at the exhibition.
    Applications must be made before October 9.



  • MINING AWARDS – Legends and winners

    The Australian mining industry recognized two long-standing members of the sector during the 2009 Excellence in Mining and Exploration conference in Sydney on September 21 and 22.
    The Resourceful Events Legends in Mining Awards recognize the work of individuals who have made a pioneering contribution to the industry.
    This year’s recipients are Ross Fardon, executive director of Sigma Resources and chairman of Cloncurry Metals, and Vince Gauci, director of Newcrest Mining and Liontown Resources and chairman of Runge Ltd.
    The award recognizes Ross Fardon’s illustrious career in the industry, having been appointed to the boards of several Australian mining companies and consulted internationally to industry and government throughout Australia, the US, Fiji and Mexico.
    Vince Gauci was commended for his dedication and excellence in the management of several Australian mining companies including CRA, MIM, Denehurst and Pancontinental.
    Excellence in Mining and Exploration concluded with the National Mining Awards Gala Dinner when the Australian mining industry was able to reflect on and recognize the past year’s achievements.
    The categories and winners are:
    Excellence in Frontier Exploration, sponsored by Austock Group - Perseus Mining for identifying significant deposits in Ghana, and Ivory Coast and demonstrating a credible track record of resource growth.
    Excellence in New Technology, sponsored by Golder Associates - Rio Tinto for its remote mining technology. Located in Pilbara, it incorporates a suite of new technologies all operating in a real mining environment.
    Excellence in Discovery, sponsored by Kingsgate Consolidated - Ivanhoe Australia for its Merlin Project in north-west Queensland which has been identified as the world’s highest-grade, with a combined deposit of molybdenum and rhenium.
    Excellence in Corporate Transacting, sponsored by BGF Equities - Origin Energy for a gain of $6.7 billion resulting from the scale of a 50% interest in Australia Pacific LNG Project, to Conoco Phillips.
    Excellence in Production, sponsored by Apollo Global - Dominion Mining for discovering a total of 560,283 ounces of gold from the start of production by June 30, 2009 at an average operating cost of $357 per ounce.
    Excellence in Growth, sponsored by the Sydney Mining Club - Extract Resources for a market capitalization growth of $188 million in October 2008 to an incredible $1.8 billion in July 2009.
    Excellence in Operations and Mine Management, sponsored by Outotec - Cadia Valley Operations, the largest gold and copper producer in New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest gold producers. Operations comprise the large, low grade Cadia Hill open pit mine and the higher grade Ridgeway underground mine.


  • MOVERS & SHAKERS – New manager in Cambodia

    Southern Gold has appointed former Tianshan Goldfields managing director Grant Thomas as its new general manager in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
    The appointment reflects the transition of Southern Gold’s gold and base metal exploration projects in Cambodia from exploration success toward development and feasibility.
    In his former Tianshan role, Grant Thomas was responsible for managing and delivering the pre-feasibility study on the Xinjiang Gold Mountain gold deposit in western China. He successfully led the gold project’s development through a number of exploration discoveries to build the 2.4 million ounce resource and then delivered a successful pre-feasibility mining study.
    He also managed teams of Australian and local geologists and support staff exploring for gold in northern Xinjiang province China, where exploration included 85,000 metres of diamond core drilling. He was also accountable for the technical, commercial, environmental, safety and government and community relations of Tianshan’s exploration projects.
    Prior to this, Grant Thomas worked for a number of years in China for Rio Tinto’s Mining and Exploration Group where he successfully negotiated establishment of the group‘s first exploration projects. He was Rio Tinto‘s principal geologist in Brazil for a period after a range of exploration management roles in CRA and Hammersley Iron in Australia.
    Southern Gold is sole funding exploration on four tenements in Cambodia, including the Anchor Prospect on Snoul Project and also the Srae Pok Project.
    Exploration on the remaining three of Southern Gold’s seven tenements in Cambodia, is being fully funded by the Japanese Government-backed JOGMEC pursuant to a Joint Venture agreement.

  • INDONESIA – East Kutai resource upgrade

    Ongoing independent analysis of data from Churchill Mining’s East Kutai Coal Project in Kalimantan has resulted in a substantial pre-mining reserve upgrade of the JORC resource categories.
    Total measured and indicated resources are now 1.333 billion tonnes and current inferred resources are 1.148 billion tonnes.
    Analysis by independent advisors SMG Consultants has been undertaken on 46,000 metres of drilling and a variety of other geological and physical data, including topographical surface survey, outcrop and drill hole collar surveys, outcrop and drill hole lithology, drill hole geophysical logs and coal quality data on 134 open holes and 233 cored holes.
    Churchill is confident that the majority of the inferred resources can be upgraded to indicated status with continued exploration.
    SMG has also determined that additional work is required to bring a further 618 million tonnes of coal into full JORC inferred category status, which would bring the total resource to 3.18 billion tonnes. However, given the extremely large measured and indicated resource, the company may consider leaving further exploration work on the Inferred tonnes for a later stage.
    Churchill Mining’s CEO Paul Mazak says, “We are extremely pleased that SMG’s ongoing work has continued to demonstrate the exceptional nature of the asset that Churchill has in East Kutai. These types of results confirm our confidence that Churchill will develop into a substantial coal producer.”
    The upgrade to JORC categories paves the way for an initial reserve statement, which is anticipated to be announced within about six weeks. Pit design and mine planning will form an integral part of the mining reserve work and are ongoing.
    The project feasibility work is on schedule with 80% of the engineering completed while completion of the feasibility study is still expected by the end of 2009.

  • INDONESIA – High-grade Miwah intercepts

    East Asia Minerals continues to encounter significant gold intercepts from rock sawn channel sampling at its Miwah Gold Project in Aceh Province, North Sumatra.
    The latest sampling has encountered high-grade gold from the eastern part of the
    shallow, laterally extensive Main Miwah Gold Zone, including 106.46 grams/tonne
    gold over 4.60 metres, 3.10 grams/tonne over 5.60 metres, 1.0 grams/tonne over 12 metres and 1.02 grams/tonne over 4.5 metres.
    The results are from the eastern part of the 1200 metre strike length at the Main
    Miwah Gold Zone.
    In an area 265 metres to the west-southwest, where a drill hole is well advanced, previously reported samples averaged 4.11 grams/tonne gold across a 200 metre long, semi-continuous channel. Selected un-cut composite trench intervals here included 14.0 grams/tonne gold over 20.0 metres, 6.19 grams/tonne over 6.0 metres, 3.70 grams/tonne over 10.0 metres, 2.41 grams/tonne over 32.0 metres , 1.61 grams/tonne over 5.0 metres and 1.45 grams/tonne over 20.0 metres.
    East Asia’s president and CEO Michael Hawkins says, “We continue to be very encouraged by the tenor of our widely distributed rock sawn channel sampling of this well exposed high sulphidation epithermal gold system.
    “The ongoing detailed mapping and extensive surface sampling is improving our geologic modelling of the Miwah Gold system and supports the interpretation that the upper part of the Main Miwah Gold Zone is higher grade than the lower parts of the system.
    “Also encouraging is that recent drill results from the western area of the Main Miwah Gold Zone returned higher grades in the upper part of the system than the adjacent surface samples.”

  • INDONESIA – Sumatra to list on ASX

    Sumatra Copper & Gold, an exploration company focused on developing gold/silver projects on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, is listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).
    Sumatra plans to raise Aus$12 million for drilling, exploration and operating/financing   costs via the listing. Trading on the ASX is expected to begin in late September.
    The company has a 92.5% economic interest in about 6000sqkm of tenements in central Sumatra, incorporating the sites of three former epithermal gold-silver mines which, prior to mining, hosted more than a million ounces of gold each.
    Since the company was formed in 2006, a global mineral resource inventory totalling about 2.0 million ounces of gold and 22.3 million ounces of silver has been defined in the project areas.
    Sumatra’s managing director Jocelyn Waller says, “We are extremely pleased with the high level of interest already expressed by prospective institutional and retail investors in this offer of shares in Sumatra Copper & Gold.
    “It is clear that an ASX listing makes good sense, given our company’s focus on the geologically exciting island of Sumatra, in Indonesia.
    “Also, particularly given the known location of former higher grade deposits, we are of the view there is good scope for the company to enhance shareholder value quickly and effectively.”




  • MONGOLIA – Erdene on fast track

    The approval by the Mongolian Parliament of amendments to four mining laws in the country has prompted Erdene Resource Development to announce that it will accelerate its efforts on all fronts in Mongolia.
    The amendments include a provision to cancel the 68% windfall profits tax and changes to other laws aimed to benefit the country's mining industry.
    Erdene’s president and CEO Peter Akerley says, "Erdene made a long term commitment to Mongolia because of its combination of world class deposits, high prospectivity for mineral discovery and strategic location relative to China.
    "The amendments have reinforced our belief that the country provides one of the most attractive locations globally for investment in the mineral exploration sector. Our company will now be accelerating our efforts on all fronts in Mongolia."
    Erdene has the Zuun Mod Molybdenum Project, the Erdenet Copper Project, an alliance with Xstrata Coal Canada to explore for coal deposits and a number of copper-gold-molybdenum targets.
    Located in south-west Mongolia, the Zuun Mod project is a porphyry molybdenum, with copper and rhenium, deposit and consists of a single licence totaling 49,538 hectares. The project is within 180km of China's border and 215km from the railhead transporting metallurgical and thermal coal into China from the Ovoot Tolgoi and Nariin Sukhait coal mines.
    Erdene has recently reported an NI 43-101 measured and indicated resource of 134 million pounds @ 0.062% molybdenum and an inferred resource of 97 million pounds @ 0.060% molybdenum.
    The company is now advancing the project toward a mining licence application and pre-feasibility.
    The Erdenet Copper Project is in north-central Mongolia adjacent to Erdenet Mining Corporation’s copper/molybdenum mine, which is the second largest porphyry copper deposit in Central Asia.
    In the fourth quarter of 2009, Erdene is planning a drilling program on the Tsagaan Chuluut target 4km north-west of the EMC open pit.
    Erdene has been carrying out a regional porphyry exploration program for the past 12 months in an effort to identify targets for acquisition and exploration. The exploration efforts have been successful and will now be accelerated to the acquisition stage.


  • INVESTMENT – Aquila-Baosteel partnership

    Aquila Resources and Baosteel Group have forged a strategic arrangement to fast-track development of Aquila’s key steel raw materials projects, including iron ore, coal and manganese.
    The companies have executed two landmark agreements - a Memorandum of Strategic Cooperation and a share subscription agreement.
    Baosteel is China’s largest steel manufacturer and one of the most important companies in the global steel industry. It is also active in resource development, technology services, finance and production services.
    The strategic co-operation is expected to deliver significant long-term benefits for both Aquila and Baosteel, and significant benefits to both Australia and China.
    For Aquila the $285.6 million expected from the share placement will enable it to advance some of the important projects in its portfolio. This is an important step in executing Aquila’s vision to become one of Australia’s leading globally diversified steel raw materials producers.
    For Baosteel, the arrangement represents its first major international strategic investment in a public company and is an important transaction in its strategy to secure long-term supply of critical steel raw materials for its steel making business.
    The placement, when completed, will result in Baosteel owning up to 15% of the expanded issued share capital of Aquila.
    The Memorandum of Strategic Co-operation provides a foundation for long-term strategic co-operation between the two companies in relation to the key projects. It includes Baosteel’s potential direct investment into a number of Aquila’s projects and support in sourcing finance for those projects.
    Baosteel will work with Aquila to assist in sourcing low-cost financing from Chinese institutions for a
    number of projects, including the strategic West Pilbara Iron Ore Project. Other Aquila projects likely to benefit from the arrangement include the Thabazimbi iron ore project in South Africa; the Isaac Plains, Eagle Downs and Washpool coal projects in Queensland; and the Avontuur manganese project in South Africa.
    Aquila and Baosteel will also work towards establishing a joint sales arrangement to assist in distribution of production, from these projects throughout the People’s Republic of China.
    They have also agreed to work towards establishment of long-term raw material off-take arrangements from these projects, once they are developed and in production.


  • INVESTMENT – Wilgerup offtake agreement

    China’s Baotou Iron and Steel (Group) has signed an offtake agreement with Centrex Metals for 3 million tonnes of iron ore from a mine on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
    The five-year sales agreement involves production from Wilgerup hematite mine, which is due to be commissioned next year. The mine is 30km south-east of the town of Lock on central Eyre Peninsula.
    In addition to the offtake agreement, Baotou has formally committed a further Aus$40 million in staged payments towards the joint development with Centrex of magnetite iron ore deposits at the Bungalow project, east of Wilgerup around the coastal town of Cowell.
    Baotou Iron & Steel is a state-owned enterprise in China, producing more than 8 million tonnes of steel products per year. The company is part of the Baogang Group based in Inner Mongolia.
    The offtake and joint venture contracts occur a month after Centrex signed contracts with China’s third largest steel group, Wuhan Iron & Steel (Group) Co (WISCO), in which WISCO has committed to invest up to Aus$186 million in a 60:40 joint venture to develop two, 5 million tonnes/year magnetite iron ore projects in an area around Port Lincoln, Tumby Bay and Port Neill, at the foot of Eyre Peninsula.
    Centrex and WISCO will also form a 50:50 joint venture to develop a deep water minerals and general export port at Sheep Hill, north of Port Lincoln.
    Centrex’z chairman David Lindh says, “The formal contracts will reinvigorate Eyre Peninsula as a major iron ore province and precipitate significant minerals project advancement in the region in the near-term,
    “Centrex now has three major, well funded, close proximity iron ore plays at near commissioning, development, exploration and appraisal stages.
    “The environment in which the range of complex and substantial documentation has been negotiated and concluded over the past two years has been highly transparent and productive.
    “This co-operative, mutually beneficial approach will prove a major contributor to bringing in a new era of iron ore mining in South Australia to service long-term Chinese demand.”
    Up to 30 geophysical targets have been interpreted within the Wilgerup acreage, of which only five have been drill tested. Centrex believes further drilling of the remaining geophysical targets is likely to add to the resource inventory.
    Centrex says the Bungalow deposit has the potential to support a long-life 3-5 million tonnes/year magnetite concentrate operation.

  • IRON ORE – Iron Valley resource increase

    An aggressive drilling campaign has enabled Iron Ore Holdings to almost double the mineral resource at its Iron Valley Project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
    The resource has increased from 88 million tonnes in March 2009 to 160 million tonnes @ 59.1% iron. This includes a high-grade DSO component of 107 million tonnes at 60.7% iron.
    The resource has been calculated from exploration work conducted on a 2.7km portion of the project.
    Further drilling is now under way at Iron Valley and significant additional potential tonnage is anticipated while an exploration campaign is also under way on targeted projects.
    Iron Ore Holdings’ managing director Matt Rimes says, “Iron Valley is perhaps one of the best DSO iron ore discoveries in the Pilbara in recent times.
    “The focus for the project will now be consideration of development options for bringing the ore to market. A scoping study is well advanced to estimate capital and operating costs for Iron Valley.”
    “This resource estimate provides a significant increase in both the grade and the total tonnes. The resource remains open at depth and to the south and north.”
    The ground to the north is owned by Fortescue Metals Group.

  • GRAPHITE – Markets expanding

    Advances in processing technology during the past decade have expanded the markets for natural graphite.
    A new report from Roskill, The Economics of Natural Graphite, which analyses worldwide natural graphite supply and demand, says that the development of thermal and chemical processes to produce high-purity natural graphite has enabled a more effective use of natural graphite resources.
    This technology means that lower grade ores and fines can be transformed into grades suitable for use in demanding applications such as batteries. This means that markets previously lost to synthetic graphite, such as batteries and carbon parts, now offer opportunities for growth.
    The seventh edition of The Economics of Natural Graphite says that high-grade graphite can be further processed by means of intercalation and thermal shock to produce expanded graphite.  Materials such as graphite foil, based on expanded graphite, now form the fastest growing end-use sector for graphite.  It is characterized by low-volume, high-value applications including gaskets and seals, heat sinks and bipolar plates for fuel cells and flow batteries.
    The report says that refractories remain the most important end use in terms of volume, accounting for around 33% of total global demand for natural graphite. The main driver for growth in demand for graphite-containing refractories has been increasing steel production in Asia, particularly China. Future growth in this sector is unlikely to track recovering steel output as unit consumption of refractory material per tonne of steel is falling in both China and the CIS as new steel mills are installed.
    It says the use of natural graphite in batteries has increased, partly as a result of increased availability of high-purity, high-carbon grades, and partly because of increased output of lithium-ion batteries, which use graphite in the anode. Graphite is used in a number of fuel cells under development; the greatest potential for a significant increase in consumption lies with the Proton Exchange Membrane cell for use in automotive and stationary power sources.
    The Economics of Natural Graphite says China is by far the largest producer and consumer of natural graphite. “In 2008, it accounted for around 80% of supply, although the annual rate at which mine production has grown has slowed to 1.6% since 2001. In contrast, annual output in Brazil, Sri Lanka and North Korea has increased at higher rates ranging from 3.5% to more than 6%. Increasing demand for flake graphite has led to a number of potential developments outside China that could add a total of 70,000 tonnes to annual global supply.
    “Chinese production is still characterized by a large number of small companies but larger producers are emerging in both Heilongjiang and Hunan. There are now seven Chinese companies capable of annually producing more than 30,000 tonnes of natural graphite. “Increasing regulation of mine safety and plant emissions, together with the imposition of export taxes and permits is likely to lead to further consolidation.  Existing and anticipated restrictions in the availability of Chinese graphite in the world market have encouraged foreign producers and processors to invest in production bases in the country.
    The report says that Asia accounts for more than 70% of demand. “This region is set to increase in importance for natural graphite as Chinese consumption is forecast to annually increase by 8% from 2010. Much of this will be linked to a recovery in steel output, but increasing availability of high-purity grades will feed into China’s fast growing battery industry. Consumption of graphite in reactor components and nuclear control rods will increase as new reactors are brought online.”
    It says after a decade in which the average value of exports of Chinese natural graphite showed a slow but steady decline, prices increased in 2007, following the introduction of an export tax and rising energy and transport costs. “This upward trend continued in 2008 and while prices fell back slightly in response to recessionary conditions in 2009, they are expected to recover to an average of US$840/tonne by 2010. In the medium term, rising production costs, including the cost of complying with environmental controls, will exert an upward pressure on prices.”




  • CONFERENCES – Mutual development theme

    ‘Take the opportunity for mutual development’ is the key theme for China Mining 2009 to be held in Tianjin, China, from October 20-22.
    Almost 4000 delegates from around the world have registered to attend the 11th China Mining conference at Tianjin Binhai International Conference and Exhibition Centre.
    Mining ministers from eight countries will be in attendance along with many ambassadors and mining company executives. China’s Vice Premier has been invited to give the opening address.
    Hosted by the Ministry of Land & Resources, China, and co-hosted by Tianjin Municipal Government, China Mining is one of the largest mineral exploration and mining trading platforms worldwide, and covers the whole value chain from geological survey and exploration to development, mining rights trading, mining investment and financing, smelting and processing, technique and equipment, mining services, etc.
    There are 24 sessions in total, including 4 plenary sessions and 20 stream sessions. There will be a mining ministers’ forum and a mining development forum.
    Investment and financing topics include mining and the capital markets; countries and regions forum (including Asia, Canada, Australia, Africa and Tianjin Binhai); outbound investment forum; and company presentation session.
    Technical and equipment topics will cover geological survey as well as mining technology and equipment while exploration topics include global mining exploration analysis, geo-data utilization and innovations in financing of mineral resources exploration.
    Sustainability topics will cover mine safety and environment protection as well as corporate social responsibility.
    There are more than 400 booths booked with more than 300 in the exhibition area, covering trade show, equipment, country pavilions and China provincial land & resources area. These will provide delegates with the opportunity to network on a face-to-face basis on-site.

  • CONFERENCES – Philippines mining mission

    Austrade has invited Australian companies involved in the mining industry to participate in the 2009 ExplORE Philippines Mining Mission during November.
    The mission from November 9-14 coincides with the annual Mine Safety and Environment Conference which will be held in Baguio.
    This conference is attended by more than 500 mining industry players including resident managers, mill managers, operations managers, purchasing managers, contractors, local agents and government mining officials.
    Since 2006, Austrade Manila has annually organized ExplORE Philippines Mining Mission, generating business worth around Aus$10 million over three years for Australian mining companies.
    This mission will include a mine site visit, mining symposium, a two day exhibition, networking functions and other events to build strong contacts with key mining executives.
    Austrade says participation in the mission will enable Australian companies to take advantage of a comprehensive package of activities to build strong contacts with top level mining executives.
    It will assist companies gain valuable first hand information about the Philippine mining sector, gain a deeper understanding of opportunities through visiting a major mine site and learn about mine safety methods implemented at the mines from local experts.
    Austrade says the mission will be applicable to all Australian mining companies and particularly mining equipment, technology and service providers; suppliers of mining consumables; and providers of maintenance equipment for mill operations.
    Located 5 hours drive north of Manila, Baguio is the birthplace of some of Philippines most important mining companies, such as Baguio Gold, Benguet Corporation, Lepanto Mining, Itogon-Suyoc and Antomok.

  • COMPANY & PRODUCT – Bulk handling solutions

    In these days of tight capital budgets, cost effectiveness of equipment and system flexibility come to the fore and the Stormajor mobile loader from UK company B&W Mechanical Handling fits the bill.
    Being a unique concept in bulk materials handling, the Stormajor combines the benefits of B&W’s Samson feeder design with a radial and luffing outloading boom conveyor into a single mobile machine able to receive material both from tipping trucks, loading shovels and grab cranes.
    B&W is fully integrated into the substantial International Aumund Group with strategically placed offices in more than 10 countries and representatives in more than 40.
    Stormajor offers high capacity stockpiling, rail-car and ship loading from a single integrated machine, available with a range of specialized features tailored for each application.
    A universal bulk loader, the Stormajor offers very high handling rates within a compact integrated design. The machine has capacities ranging from 300 to 1250 cubic metres/hour depending on the outloading boom belt, currently available in 800mm, 1000mm and 1200mm widths as standard.
    In certain circumstances a single machine can be configured to fulfil all rail-car loading, ship loading and stockpile forming requirements for a particular site.
    The reception section of the Stormajor is the Samson Apron Belt feeder unit. The configuration of Samson is chosen specifically for each application, ranging from the lighter duty 380 series for grains and lower capacities to the very heavy duty 1600 series typically for mineral ores and high capacities. The geometry of the Samson feeder section is determined by the material characteristics such as flow angles, lump size and angle of repose. The inherent storage capacity of the intake hopper allows a fast turnaround time for trucks leading to faster unloading.
    A comprehensive range of outload¬ing boom systems is available to meet every situation. Slewing options are available ranging from a standard plus or minus 30 degrees from the boom centreline up to a full plus or minus 90 degrees for special applications.
    Two basic boom designs are pro¬duced based on a parallel structure for machines up to 24 metres in length and belt widths up to 1000mm. For larger units and belt widths of up to 1200mm a tapered boom structure is provided allowing higher loadings and extended cantilever boom lengths up to 30 metres. The combination of ‘high lift ‘ and ‘high reach’ make Stormajor the ideal choice for barge and smaller vessel loading.
    Stormajor can also provide a flexible solution for rail-car loading. Incorporating an on-board weighing system, the product loaded into each rail-car can be controlled to an accuracy of plus or minus 0.5%.

  • MONGOLIA – Ivanhoe welcomes decision

    Ivanhoe Mines has welcomed the Mongolian Parliament’s approval of amendments to four laws which pave the way for finalization of an agreement with the government for construction and operation of the giant Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project.
    The amendments also include the insertion of a sunset provision to cancel the three-year-old, 68% windfall profits tax on copper and gold effective January 1, 2011.
    Ivanhoe’s president John Macken says, “The votes by overwhelming majorities of the members present for the special session of the Great Khural represent a significant step in Mongolia’s commitment to attract foreign investment in the development of the country’s mineral resources.
    “This expression of confidence in Mongolia’s future clears the way for finalization of an agreement with the Government for progression of Ivanhoe’s Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold complex in the South Gobi Region.
    “Now we are in a position to make arrangements with the government to sign the Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement in the near future.”
    The Mongolian Parliament voted on July 16 to authorize the government to conclude a long-term, definitive Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement with Ivanhoe Mines and its strategic partner, Rio Tinto.
    Negotiators for the companies and the government then settled on terms of a revised agreement that was endorsed by the Cabinet and the National Security Council. The government then requested a special session of Parliament to consider changes proposed by the government to four laws to support and facilitate the finalization of the draft Oyu Tolgoi Investment Agreement.
    Cabinet members have said that the broadly based legislative amendments are intended to benefit the entire mining industry in Mongolia.


  • PHILIPPINES – T’Boli equipment purchased

    Cadan Resources has bought new jaw and cone crushers, ball mill, gravity circuit, spares and ancillary equipment for test production at its T’Boli gold-silver mine in the Philippines.
    The first phase test production involves daily processing of between 50 and 150 tonnes
    T’Boli has a NI 43-101 inferred mineral resource of 2.4 million tonnes @ 5.5 grams/tonne gold and 21 grams/tonne silver for 420,000 contained ounces of gold and 1.6 million ounces of silver.
    The equipment has been purchased from Zhengzhou Zhongding Heavy Duty Machine Manufacturing Co based in Zhengzhou, China, which has international customers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
    The combined equipment, as recommended by metallurgical consultants, will achieve a fine grind and optimum recovery of gold and silver.
    The jaw crusher is rated up to 22 tonnes/hour, cone crusher to 23 tonnes/hour and the ball mill is rated up to 8.2 tonnes/hour which is sufficient for first phase production. Further design changes may increase capacity.
    Based on current development costs, the company estimates a production cost range cost between US$250-350 per ounce of gold.
    The company hopes to begin testing mineralized ore from the known systems during the fourth quarter of 2009. This timeline enables the lateral development of the decline, which is on a mineralized zone highlighted by some 40 metres @ 23 grams/tonne gold (uncut), to be advanced sufficiently to ensure continuous mineralized material and to test actual widths and gold-silver grades in the mineralized system.
    Also the ventilation and alternative egress shaft is being advanced 100 metres ahead of the decline face. This shaft, being sunk on a gold lode, has four working faces developed and up to two more planned to provide early trial production when the advancing decline is connected.

  • PAPUA NEW GUINEA – New seafloor exploration

    Nautilus Minerals has started a new seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) exploration program in the Bismarck Sea in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea.
    The new program is being undertaken by contractor Fugro utilizing the vessel MV Fugro Solstice and is aimed at expanding Nautilus' SMS prospect inventory.
    After completing a program in the Bismarck Sea the vessel will move to the Solomons Sea in the southern region of PNG and then to potential seafloor prospects in the Solomon Islands
    First results from the new program are expected in the fourth quarter of 2009.
    Meanwhile Nautilus continues to work with relevant PNG Government bodies on granting of a mining lease and environmental permit for mining. An independent consultant has recently completed its review of the Environmental Impact Statement and Nautilus expects to conclude negotiations and receive its permit and lease by the end of 2009.
    Engineering work is continuing under contract on the riser and lifting system (RALS) and seafloor mining tools (SMTs).
    Optimization work on the RALS design is expected to be completed this quarter with a view to finalizing steel sizing and associated cost reductions. Wear testing has been postponed until the next quarter when optimization work will have been completed and associated slurry velocities confirmed.
    The company’s offshore development team has been evaluating the market for a production support vessel. The market for vessels has changed dramatically in the last 12 months with a surplus of available tonnage and a corresponding decrease in vessel rates and procurement costs. Nautilus has screened a number of different vessel types including bulk carriers, heavy lift transportation vessels, construction vessels, barges, semi-subs and pontoons.
    The list of options has been reduced through a techno-economic screening process to five candidates and commercial discussions are under way.
    Nautilus continues to move forward in discussions with the PNG Ports Authority for use of the Rabaul Port. The company plans to stockpile and ship ore from Rabaul during Phase 1 of the Solwara 1 development.

  • CHINA – Option on gold project

    Sino Gold has entered into an option agreement to acquire the Caijiagou Gold Project in Liaoning Province, north-east China.
    The Caijiagou project comprises a small open-pit mine and a new processing plant as well as a 17.5sqkm exploration licence.
    The vendor and new joint-venture partner is a private company named Beipiao Huifeng Enterprises Group.
    Following an initial payment of US$300,000 to the vendor, the agreement provides Sino Gold with an option to:
    • Carry out further due diligence including a drilling program.
    • Acquire 70% of Caijiagou for US$7.9 million within 12 months.
    • Acquire a further 25% of Caijiagou for US$4.4 million within 24 months.
    Sino Gold’s CEO Jake Klein says, “Caijiagou is exactly the type of opportunity in China that Sino Gold has been pursuing as it has the potential to quickly create tremendous value.
    “We have negotiated a low-cost option over a small gold mining operation with strong gold mineralization and numerous indications that a larger mineralized system is likely to be present.
    “Amazingly, this gold deposit has been mined since 2008 but appears not to have been tested by drilling either down dip or along strike.
    “We will shortly begin an exploration and drilling program aimed at exercising our option to acquire Caijiagou as soon as possible.”

  • CHINA – Tianshan sells assets

    Australian-based gold company Tianshan Goldfields is selling its entire portfolio of Chinese assets to Hong Kong registered company China Power Sino Renewable Resources (Sino Power) for US$22.5 million.
    Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding Sino Power has paid a deposit of US$1 million to Tianshan and started further due diligence on the assets, a process that will be completed within 6o days.
    Tianshan has been focused on development of its main Chinese asset, the 90%-owned Gold Mountain Project, in north-west China. The project comprises 11 exploration licences in the Tulasi Basin covering a combined total area of 576sqkm.
    The company has been targeting the completion of a full feasibility study this year and annual production from 2010 of about 65,000 ounces, subject to receipt of relevant approvals from Chinese government authorities.
    Tianshan has made the decision to sell its Chinese portfolio based on a review of its assets and future strategy in recent months. This review determined the company could, on balance, maximize returns if it was able to execute a full (or partial) sale of its Chinese assets and use the funds to acquire interests in other companies or projects, some of which have been identified by the company.
    Tianshan Goldfields’ managing director Jason Bontempo says, “The global credit crisis has generated a range of opportunities for companies that have a strong technical team and a considerable cash backing.
    “Following the detailed review of the company and its assets the board determined that if we were able to sell some or all of our Chinese portfolio for a suitable amount Tianshan would be able to acquire companies or assets that in our view are significantly undervalued.
    “Tianshan has identified a range of opportunities at both the project and company level that it believes can return significant value to the company and its shareholders in a more suitable time-frame. Once the transaction with Sino Power is completed these negotiations will be pursued. 
    “We believe the price we have achieved for our Chinese portfolio is significantly higher than the enterprise value by the equity market and are confident that the sale proceeds will be applied to an acquisition or acquisitions that will add significant value to the company and its shareholders.”


  • CHINA – Gold Mountain report approved

    The Geology and Mineral Resource Report (GMRR) for Tianshan Goldfields’ Gold Mountain Gold Project in north-west China has been evaluated and registered by the Chinese Ministry of Lands and Resources (MOLAR).
    The GMRR approval and resource registration for the project in Xinjiang Province is the first of four significant processes in obtaining a mining permit, preceding and being a prerequisite for the Mine Area Scope (MAS), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the project approval.
    The GMRR has reported a MOLAR compliant resource estimate, created by Micromine, of 52.7 million tonnes @ 0.95 grams/tonne gold for 1.62 million ounces. The previously completed JORC-compliant resource estimate, also undertaken by Micromine, resulted in a total measured, indicated and inferred resource of 94.7 million tonnes @ 0.87 grams/tonne for 2.64 million ounces. 
    The significant differences between the two resource estimates are that most of the JORC inferred resources are not included under the Chinese classification system, and the statistical methods to determine top grade cut-off under the JORC classification system have allowed higher grades to be included into the estimate.
    The approval and registration of the Gold Mountain Project’s GMRR is the first significant approval received from MOLAR by the joint venture company, Xinjiang Gold Mountain Mining, and is a prerequisite for a number of other mandatory permits.
    The company can now apply for approval of the Mine Area Scope (MAS), the Mineral Resource and Development Plan (MRDUP), the Pre-Safety Approval (PSA) and Environmental Impact Assessments.
    Project approval and the Mining Permit Application Report (MPAR) are scheduled for completion in November 2009.  All prerequisite studies and approvals are proceeding on schedule and below estimated costs.

  • CHINA - Guangxi gold assets for sale

    Golden Tiger Mining is selling its interest in the Guangxi gold joint venture while its Chinese exploration activities remain on care and maintenance.
    The Australian-based company has been forced to take these actions owing to the impact of the global economic crisis. The company has been unable to raise sufficient funds to continue to finance a meaningful future exploration program for its tenements, which are still at a relatively early stage.
    Earlier this year Golden Tiger and its Chinese joint venture partner, Guangxi Golden Tiger Mining, agreed to close down the exploration operations.
    It has since sold the Weilong prospect in Guangxi for about Aus$290,000 and is in advanced talks with a Chinese company to sell its interest in the entire Guangxi joint venture, which includes 16 other exploration tenements. The sale process has been awaiting independent assessment and government approval.
    Golden Tiger executive director Peter Curry says significant effort has been put into locating a potential new project, including examining sites overseas and within Australia.
    Golden Tiger was established in early 2004 to acquire gold exploration licences in China. In April 2004, the company signed an agreement with the Guangxi Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources to form a joint venture to manage and explore gold exploration tenements in Guangxi.
    Since then the joint venture has undertaken reconnaissance work, mapping, sampling and some drilling on a number of prospects, including Baishishan on the Liaodong tenement, Teningding on the Changtian tenement and Shuilong on the Tonghe tenement.
    Assay results from initial drilling at Baishishan indicate broad, low-grade gold mineralization over an extensive area while soil sampling and rock chip samples have also defined an anomalous gold occurrence at the Yinxing prospect.
    At Teningding, which has been mined historically, rock samples returned medium to high grade gold values up to 17.1 grams/tonne.
    Shuilong has also been mined in the past and, while rock samples returned high grade gold values, a four-hole diamond drilling program failed to intersect the main zone of mineralization.

  • CHINA - Huogeqi agreement terminated

    A planned agreement between Pacific Ore and Bayannoer Western Copper, a subsidiary of Western Mining, to develop the Huogeqi Copper Project in Inner Mongolia has been terminated.
    The companies entered into negotiations for a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this year. This was initially subject to a 21-day due diligence but this was later extended until June 30.
    During the Australian-based company’s discussions following this period with representatives of Qinghai-based Western Mining, the Chinese company advised that they were not in a position to proceed with the MOU, which was subsequently terminated.
    Pacific Ore, through its subsidiary BioHeap International, established a joint venture with Western Mining to pilot BioHeap leaching at Huogeqi on a large scale.
    A 4500 tonne pilot plant was commissioned in June 2007 and operated throughout 2008 in accordance with a schedule developed by the joint venture. The severe sub-zero temperatures, typical of inner-Mongolian winters, had only a minimal impact on operations.
    Following completion of the heap leach trial in mid-2009 the plant was decommissioned.
    A Chinese feasibility study into the project was due to be completed by the end of September but Western Mining has advised Pacific Ore that regardless of the outcome, the planned BioHeap leach operations are unlikely to proceed in the short to medium term due to uncertainty regarding the availability of suitable ore from the Huogeqi mine.
    The Chinese study has this year investigated several iron remediation processes integral to the process. Preliminary results of this work indicated that most of the iron was successfully removed from the solutions provided from testing, while recycling acid for the leach process.
    Meanwhile, Western Mining Group and Tianjin Nonferrous Metals Group recently began construction work on a 200,000-tonne secondary copper production facility in Tianjin municipality.

  • COAL – Eagle Downs’ potential confirmed

    A feasibility study for Aquila Resources’ Eagle Downs Hard Coking Coal Project has confirmed the technical and financial viability of the project.
    Eagle Downs, which is 50% owned by Aquila and 50% by Vale, is in the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, adjacent to and immediately down dip from BHP Billiton’s and Mitsubishi’s operating Peak Downs Coal Mine.
    The study proposes an underground multi-seam longwall mine, annually producing up to 4 million tonnes of hard coking coal from one longwall, and up to 8 million tonnes when the second longwall is installed.
    The study has prioritized a new target seam, Harrow Creek Upper, resulting in higher productivity from a conventional longwall unit than envisaged in the pre-feasibility study, with an upgraded annual production forecast for the mine of 4.0 million tonnes of product coal and annual peaks of up to 4.6 million tonnes. The mine will subsequently utilize top coal caving to maximize recovery from the deeper and thicker Harrow Creek Lower seam.
    The hard coking coal product, which will be similar to that of the Peak Downs Mine, has created a lot of interest amongst potential end users.
    Subject to owner and statutory approvals, construction of the mine could begin in 2011 with first coal mined in 2012. Installation of the first longwall is expected in 2014 followed by the second longwall in 2020. The study has used a base case of the single longwall operation for the project cost estimates.
    It indicates the project can be developed for a capital cost of $977 million, which includes a contingency of $155 million, and estimates that the mine can produce hard coking coal for about $73 (FOB) with a mine life of more than 40 years.
    Aquila has also announced a maiden reserve of 159 million tonnes, which consists of 99 million tonnes of proven reserves and 60 million tonnes of probable reserves. There has been a 30% increase in the measured and indicated resources identified to 450 million tonnes.
    The overall resource statement of 883 million tonnes has increased slightly, however the JORC classification has significantly improved. The categorization of reserves and resources is expected to improve significantly as quality testing on completed boreholes is undertakenr. There is significant potential for a further substantial increase in the resource tonnage from drilling to be undertaken in the southern part of the tenement.


  • IRON ORE – Key environmental approval

    Brockman Resources has received a key environmental approval for its Marillana Iron Ore Project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
    The Environmental Scoping Document (ESD) for the 17 million tonnes/year hematite project has been approved by the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
    The ESD specifies the scope and content of the Public Environmental Review (PER) for the proposed project, and clears the way for start of the PER process.
    All key documents and studies required as part of the PER and drafting of the PER document itself is well advanced and expected to be lodged in the fourth quarter of 2009 with the EPA to begin the requisite review process prior to the four week public release period, scheduled for March 2010. 
    Brockman aims to secure final environmental approval for development of Marillana in the second half of 2010, clearing the way for construction to begin in the first half of 2011.
    EPA approval follows release of the pre-feasibility study (PFS), which confirmed the technical and financial robustness of Marillana as the company’s first planned iron ore production hub in the Pilbara.
    The PFS base case comprises a proposed Aus$997 million development encompassing two front-end beneficiation plants located on site, rail haulage via the nearby BHP Billiton line which runs through the Marillana tenement and export via the new North West Iron Ore Alliance berths in Port Hedland due for completion in early 2013.
    Marillana will be capable of annually producing 17 to 20 million tonnes of final product grading 58-62% iron over an initial mine life of 20 years, potentially positioning Brockman as Australia’s fourth largest iron ore producer.

  • MINING AWARDS – Excellence award nominees

    The National Excellence in Mining Awards will be presented in Sydney on September 22.
    The award dinner will be held at the Sheraton on the Park at the conclusion of the Excellence in Mining and Exploration conference.
    There are seven categories with mining companies and mining suppliers from around Australia nominated.
    In the Excellence in Frontier Exploration category for companies who have successfully gone above and beyond the norm by undertaking exploration in new political areas or geographic frontiers, the nominees are Gryphon Minerals, Perseus Mining and Sundance Resources.
    The Excellence in New Technology category is sponsored by Golder Associates and the nominees are Newcrest – Cadia Valley Operations, Arnaud Data Management and Rio Tinto – Remote Mining.
    Kingsgate Consolidated has sponsored the Excellence in Discovery category and the nominees ar Ivanhoe Australia, Sandfire Resources and Extract Resource.
    The Excellence in Corporate Transacting category, sponsored by BGF Equities, is awarded to either corporate or individual who has made an impact to the industry through transacting, matching and re-matching of assets, companies an capital. The nominees are Emmerson Resources, Origin Energy and PanAust.
    Companies which have entered into or maintained production efforts throughout the year are eligible for the Excellence in Production category, which is sponsored by Apollo Global, and nominees are Dominion Mining, Atlas Iron, Norseman Gold and Newcrest.
    The Excellence in Growth category is for companies which have experienced significant growth over the year and is sponsored by The Sydney Mining Club. Nominees are PanAust, Sino Mining and Extract Resources.
    Outotec has sponsored the Excellence in Operation and Mine Management category and the nominees are Newcrest – Cadia Valley Operations, OceanaGold – Macraes, and Rio Tinto.

  • MOVERS & SHAKERS – Techenomics appointments

    Techenomics International has appointed Mark Howell as its operations manager for Indonesia.
    Mark brings vast working experience of mobile and fixed equipment to the group, having worked extensively in the gold, iron ore and coal mining industries on three continents.
    He joins the company at a time of great opportunity and expansion in the mining industry in Indonesia.
    Born in Wales, Mark moved with his parents to New Zealand in 1963 and in 1968 the family moved to Western Australia. His father, a heavy duty mechanic, took opportunities where they arose which saw the family moving to various mining towns throughout the Pilbara and Hamersley regions, including Cockatoo Island, Goldsworthy, Pannawonica, Port Hedland, Shay Gap and Tom Price.
    From 1978 to 1981 Mark completed an apprenticeship with Mount Newman Mining and continued to work as a fitter/turner first class machinist on fixed plant until 1982. Moving to Perth, he worked with a heavy equipment OEM dealership to broaden his experience.
    Mark has had vast experience on mobile and fixed plant equipment in senior leadership and training roles in Australia and overseas countries such as Papua New Guinea, Ghana and Indonesia. He has worked for global companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto but has also worked for small private companies, assisting them to develop and become more successful.
    Techenomics has also appointed Glenn Brown as business development manager based in Singleton in New South Wales.
    Glenn brings with him a wealth of experience in lubrication related matters gained from practical site involvement on a number of major mining sites in Australia and Indonesia.
    His working career has been committed to the improvement and further development of hydrocarbon management, contamination control and reliability improvements through lubrication practices and maintenance.
    Glenn was a FLAC (Fuel, Lubricant, Air and Coolant) champion with BHP Billiton and holds accreditation with other international organizations.
    Through using in-depth auditing systems of lubrication storage and dispensing facilities, Glenn has made significant cost reductions and increases in plant availability to some of the largest organizations in the world including The Shell Company of Australia, Mobil Oil Australia, ExxonMobil, Caltex Oil Indonesia, BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Worsley Alumina, Ravensthorpe Nickel, Australian Paper Manufacturers, Newcrest Mining, Newmont and Pall Corporation.
    The company has also appointed Jason Davis to the role of operations manager at Singleton in addition to his responsibilities relating to IT and new products. In this new expanded role Jason takes on significant responsibility for building the Australian business in conjunction with Glenn.

  • Opal Horizon

    Opal Horizon Limited    


    Company Profile

    Opal Horizon Limited ("OHZ") is a an unlisted Australian public company with over 110 shareholders which has been in operation since February 2001.  It is a vertically integrated company involved in all aspects of the opal industry from exploration through to mining, purchasing, processing, and international wholesaling.  Ultimately the Company intends to brand market its product.

    Apart from opal which is sold to shareholders in Australia, all of the company's product is sold internationally.

    The company currently has one opal mine in operation in southwestern Queensland.  This mine, called Raindance, produces high-quality pipe and boulder opal.  Another deposit close by, called The Big Girl, is expected to begin mining operations in 2009.

    OHZ is a world leader in opal exploration and has numerous discoveries to its credit, including the Raindance and The Big Girl deposits.  It is the company's intention to have at least 4 opal mines in operation at any one time to assure continuity of supply.

    Almost all opal sold in Australia is destined for the tourist market.  Despite the fact that opal is a rare and valuable gemstone, this market has created a distinctive souvenir-style of opal jewellery within Australia.  Declining tourism numbers in recent years have severely affected sales but ironically have given the company a unique opportunity to consolidate the industry through purchasing opal from individual miners and selling it overseas. The paucity of large wholesalers of precious opal means that most opal sold internationally goes to relatively small niche markets.

    By being able to provide a large and constant supply of material for the international market, it is OHZ's intention to create and promote a luxury market for opal jewellery, commensurate with the stone rarity and value.  The Company has commissioned the construction of several pieces of luxury jewellery by top Australian designers to demonstrate the gemstone's suitability for this type of jewellery. 


    Anthony John Fawdon - Chairman

    David John Horton - Managing Director

    Lawrence James Litzow
    David Hugh Hall
    Lawrence James Litzow


    Opal Horizon Limited Board of Directors. From left to right:
    David Hall, Tony Fawdon (Chairman); David Horton (Managing Director); Lawrie Litzow (Company Secretary)

    View the presentation given by David Horton, Managing Director of Opal Horizon Limited

    Link here

  • PHILIPPINES – Maiden Bananghilig resource

    A maiden resource of 650,000 ounces of gold has been announced for Medusa Mining’s Bananghilig Gold Deposit, which is part of the Tambis Project.
    Medusa’s Philippines operating company Philsaga Mining Corporation says the inferred resource is contained in 15 million tonnes at a grade of 1.3 grams/tonne gold.
    Drill hole intersections in the deposit include 205.90 metres @ 2.42 grams/tonne gold, 182.00 metres at 2.13 grams/tonne, 116.50 metres at 3.96 grams/tonne, 64.00 metres at 8.40 grams/tonne and 569.90 metres at 0.64 grams/tonne.
    The main zone of mineralization, which is open in all directions, is defined over 850 metres by 550 metres and to variable depths of 100 to 150 metres.
    The company will now focus on expanding this resource and establishing other disseminated gold deposits along the Barobo Fault Corridor for 18km to the south-east where mineralization is associated with favourable calcareous host rocks from which scout drill hole results include 7.30 metres @ 2.72 grams/tonne gold, 8.15 metres @ 1.30 grams/tonne and 6.70 metres @ 2.08 grams/tonne.
    Medusa’s managing director Geoff Davis says, “This maiden 650,000 ounce resource at Bananghilig has the potential to grow and propel the company to upper mid-tier gold producer status through the development of a second mine. It also further strengthens the company’s belief in the enormous prospectivity of its substantial tenement package.
    “Management believes that Bananghilig is the first of a number of potential disseminated deposits that may be found either in the northern section of the company’s tenements and/or to the south of Bananghilig in the favourable 18km-long corridor of carbonate-rich host rocks along the Barobo Fault.
    “Together with the highly profitable Co-O Mine, with its expanding resource base of 1.38 million ounces and the exciting copper potential of Lingig, the company is very well positioned for future growth.”

  • STORY OF THE MONTH – Opal company seeks markets to broaden horizon

    Australian-based company Opal Horizon Limited aims to corporatize Australia’s opal industry and introduce the rare, multi-coloured precious stone to the world’s luxury jewellery market.

    It wants to transform the opal industry in a similar way that De Beers did with diamonds and requires investment of around Aus$10 million to achieve that goal.

    The funds will provide working capital to expand Australian operations and develop overseas markets. As such around $6 million will be used to purchase opals from existing miners around Australia to supplement production from its own mines.

    Opal is a precious gemstone worth up to Aus$30,000 per carat at retail prices and Australia produces about 95% of the world’s precious opal.

    It has been produced from a number of opal mining centres in remote areas of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia by small-scale syndicates, families or individuals. Almost all opal sold in Australia is purchased by tourists.

    Opal Horizon’s managing director David Horton says the industry must re-brand itself to survive and thrive. “The industry must be consolidated and must reach much wider markets.

    “We need to re-brand opals and you just can’t do that slowly, it’s got to happen now. We need to establish a partnership with an overseas jewellery manufacturing group to make it happen.”

    He explains that up until now Opal Horizon has had steady growth in Australia over some years but it has reached a point where it has to go overseas to achieve its aims, which must happen sooner rather than later.

    “We produce opals from two mines in western Queensland but had we decided to take the steady route, it could be another 5 or 6 years before we develop enough mines to supply the world with enough opal at the level we want.

    “Tourist numbers have been down and Australian opal miners have had difficulty selling their stone. This is the ideal time to consolidate the industry.

    “We see ourselves as the De Beers of the opal industry where in the short term we purchase most stone from other miners. This gives us time to build up our mining properties so that in 5-7 years, we’ll be less dependent on other miners although we will probably always continue doing that.”

    David Horton says there have been a number of attempts by the industry over many years to consolidate or act as a unified body but with so many diversified groups involved it has been impossible to achieve. “It appears the only way forward is for someone like us to come long and say ‘OK we can be the central clearing house for most of Australia’s opal going overseas’.

    “We are currently talking with overseas jewellery manufacturing groups for our markets although we see that new investors are likely to be people or groups who are based overseas but with strong connections to Australia where they have investments or do business. In addition they are likely to be associated in some way to the jewellery industry.

    “One of the avenues we are investigating is the fashion industry. There are a number of Australian players who love opals and love promoting opals. I hope to meet with them to see what we can do.”

    He says that Australians generally do not appreciate the value of home-grown products. “If there had been competition in other parts of the world rather than opals being largely restricted to one continent, I’m sure the industry would have taken off.”

    David Horton says there is a perception overseas that opal is a tourist stone. “You come to Australia and you buy an opal to take home. We need to get away from that image.

    “I took some high quality opals to the Middle East last year and jewellers were stunned. A few had never seen stones like that and agreed there is a market but primarily at the top end.

    “Some Australian jewellers have used our top quality opal to prepare some luxury jewellery for us and you only have to show these pieces to the right audience and the message about opal and its possibilities is obvious.”

    He says there is a perception in parts of Asia that opal is a semi-precious stone when, in fact, it’s rarer than diamonds. “The reason is that Australian miners have sent low quality material to these places to be cut with the result that the markets consider opal to be of low quality because they don’t see the high-end product.

    “I’m hoping we can do a deal with a major jewellery manufacturer in South East Asia that regularly attends international trade shows where our material can be sold to jewellers around the world. We are also undertaking preliminary work on a major international brand marketing campaign which will be similar, in some respects, to what Paspaley did with pearls.

    “Opal tends to create its own demand and whenever there is oversupply, the price goes up but when there is a deficiency, it goes down. Once jewellers start getting the material they want more and the material creates its own demand. With opals being rare, prices should be much higher than they are but because of the false perception of low quality, prices are lower than they should be.

    David Horton says there is also a perception that opals are unstable.

    “Opals contain about 6% water and they do require a little care. The worse thing you can do is put them in a sealed bank vault because over time they may dry out and crack. They are stable for incredibly long periods of time if left exposed to the atmosphere but if you mistreat them, like any other gemstone, they will get damaged.”

    Opal Horizon wound back operations at the end of 2008 owing to the global financial situation and the need to preserve cash but has recently started mining on a small scale and is ready to ramp-up operations.

    “Once we are full cashed up we expect to be run off our feet. We have people in place to buy opals, we have geologists ready to go out exploring again and with our own drill rig, and we have two mines to get up to full production so everything is waiting for this to happen.”

    For further information contact Opal Horizon Ltd managing director David Horton, phone +61 7 3839 5088, mobile +61 428 991 950 or email [email protected]


    澳大利亚Opal Horizon有限公司致力于对澳大利亚的澳宝石行业进行整合,将澳宝石这种稀有的、色彩丰富的珍稀宝石推向世界奢侈珠宝市场。





    Opal Horizon有限公司董事总经理David Horton 说,必须经过重新树立品牌,澳宝石产业才能生存和繁荣。“必须进行行业整合,开拓更广泛的市场。”


    他还介绍说到目前为止,Opal Horizon公司已在澳大利亚本土历经了数年 的稳定发展,目前到了必须要通过进军海外市场来实现自身发展目标的时候,,而且事不宜迟。




    David Horton 以前澳宝石行业也尝试过数次行业整合或以一个联合体进行行动,但由于涉及的层面众多,最终都没有办法完成。“现在看来唯一可行的途径就是像我们这样的一家公司站出来说‘好吧,我们愿意成为全澳大利亚大多数出口澳宝石的中转站’”。




    David Horton说海外消费者对澳宝石有一种误解,认为它只是旅游商品。“许多人认为澳宝石只是来澳大利亚必买纪念品之一。我们需要改变澳宝的这一形象。”






    David Horton 说还有一种普遍的偏见是认为澳宝石成分不稳定。“澳宝石含水6%,确实需要一定的呵护。最糟糕的情形是你把它放在密封的银行保险柜中,随着时间的延长它会变干甚至开裂。澳宝石暴露在正常大气环境中是十分稳定的,保质期很长。但如果用错误的方式储存,和其他宝石一样它会受损。”

    受全球金融危机的影响以及尽量保存公司现金流的需要,Opal Horizon公司于2008年年底开始缩减经营。但该公司近期已开始小范围开始矿山开采并准备进一步增加生产。


    欲了解详情,请联系董事总经理David Horton, 电话 +61 7 3839 5088, 手机 +61 428 991 950 或电邮 [email protected]


  • INDIA – Coal mine agreement

    India Resources has signed an agreement with Bankura DRI Mining Manufacturers Company which will see it develop a coal mine in Raniganj Coalfield, West Bengal.
    Bankura is a special purpose vehicle set up by six sponge iron manufacturers to mine coal from the Anandapur Sector, Biharinath Block in the Raniganj Coalfield.
    Under a binding Heads of Agreement, Bankura has granted to India Resources’ subsidiary, IRL Coal India, the sole and exclusive right for a period of 4 months in order to finalize the technical and commercial terms.
    Once the terms have been agreed, the parties will sign a long term agreement in which IRL Coal will be appointed sole and exclusive contractor to develop two declines of 2km each, sink two shafts of 170 and 490 metres in depth and undertake underground coal mining operations
    IRL will be required to deliver coal to the pit head as per the approved mine plan, which envisages first delivery of coal (30,000 tonnes) in the third year of operation and ramping up to reach a target annual production of 480,000 tonnes in the seventh year of operation.
    India Resources has also signed a joint venture agreement over its Indian diamond projects with a private Indian diamond company, Vajra Diamond Mining. This company is managed by Charles Devenish who has been a leading figure in the Indian resources industry for many years and is also chairman of Deccan Gold Mines.
    At the Bhandara Project in Orissa State, IRL has generated two new strong anomalies in regional stream sediment sampling, recovering kimberlitic chromites and picro-ilmenites in several locations. The strongest anomaly is only 10km north of the recently discovered Nuapada diamondiferous kimberlite and is likely to be part of the same field.
    At the Dharwar Project in Andhra Pradesh State, IRL holds five prospecting licenses with two known diamondiferous kimberlites, which are part of the Chigicherla Kimberlite field.
    The Bundelkhand Project in Madhya Pradesh State is at the reconnaissance stage. The area is immediately adjacent to India’s only recently producing diamond mine at Panna and Rio Tinto’s massive Bunder Diamond Project.
    The company has also signed a joint venture agreement over the Aravalli lead zinc project with RBG Minerals Industries, a majority-owned subsidiary of Binani Zinc.
    Binani operates a zinc refinery in Kerala and also a diverse range of businesses including a copper mine, glass fibre plant, lignite project and cement plants.
    India Resources has also completed a share purchase plan which has raised more then $400,000 in working capital.

  • KYRGYZ REPUBLIC – Kentor buys Andash

    A decision by Kentor Gold to purchase an 80% stake in the Andash Gold-Copper Project in the Kyrgyz Republic provides it with the opportunity to become a significant gold producer within two years.
    The stake has been purchased from the former operator Aurum Mining and gives Kentor a JORC resource estimate of 680,000 ounces of gold and 77,000 tonnes of copper.
    Andash is development-ready and a low-cost open pit operation is planned with an estimated average life of mine production of about 60,000 ounces of gold and 5000 tonnes of copper.
    A feasibility study has been completed by Aurum as well as an environmental and social impact assessment while a mining licence has been issued, and mining and construction fleets purchased.
    Kentor’s managing director Simon Milroy says, “Kentor will be able to take advantage of its well established, local on-the-ground presence in the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as its mine development and operational expertise, to push forward at Andash and also at Savoyardy, where we are targeting first gold production in 2010.
    “The exploration licence contains numerous other areas of known mineralization in close proximity to the planned pit. These will be actively explored to increase the resource base for the project.”
    Andash is within the Tien Shan Gold Belt, one of the world’s largest gold provinces that stretches through Central Asia and into north-west China. It is in the Talas Valley, close to the north-western border with Kazakhstan and about 300km from the capital city of Bishkek.
    The regional centre of Talas is 45km from the site. Water is available at the site and a major power line passes within 15km of the licence area.
    A bankable feasibility study in 2007 confirmed a measured and indicated resource base of 19.2 million tonnes @ 1.1 grams/tonne gold and 0.4% copper. It recommends that ore treatment will be flotation to produce a single copper-gold concentrate with a surface thickened tailings storage facility. The economic model was based on excavation of 16 million tonnes of ore over an 8 year mine life, with ore treatment for 9 years.
    Andash also includes zones 2 and 3 along with the Tokhtonysay and Nakhodka prospects nearby and three other additional exploration areas. Aurum has concentrated their drilling in the zone 1 area.
    Kentor is conducting technical, financial and legal due diligence on the project. This work includes a full review of capital and operating costs to incorporate the changes that have taken place since the feasibility study was completed.

  • KYRGYZ REPUBLIC – Wide Saraysay gold zone

    Trench samples at Nimrodel Resources’ Saraysay gold prospects in western Kyrgyz Republic have intersected a wide zone of high grade gold.
    The results from trench 10 include 13 metres @ 6.3 grams/tonne gold, 2.8 grams/tonne silver and 0.2% copper, including 1 metre @ 51.5 grams/tonne gold.
    These are the highest grade surface gold discovered so far at Saraysay and show the high grade zone previously discovered on the western limb of the Saraysay Anticline is relatively consistent over nearly 1km of strike length.
    Trench 10 is the most southern that has been sampled to date and clearly shows the high grade zone remains open along strike to the south.
    Geological mapping of the trench has shown the mineralization is only weakly weathered and that there are visible sulphide minerals at surface. This indicates there is unlikely to be any significant surface or supergene enrichment and the results are potentially representative of down dip gold grades and widths which could be expected from future drilling.
    To date there has been no historical drilling of the Saraysay Prospect.
    In addition to the results in Trench 10, results were also received for Trench 11 which intersected a broad zone of anomalous gold grading 0.1 to 1.0 grams/tonne, including 1 metre @ 1.3 grams/tonne gold.
    Nimrodel’s managing director John Hebenton says, “The results of the trench sampling have clearly confirmed the potential of the Saraysay Prospect to host a significant gold resource and the company is now gearing up to commence its maiden drilling program on the prospect.”

  • CHINA - Smelter resumes operations

    East Delta Resources has resumed operations at its nickel and copper smelter in China’s Qinghai Province following a reorganization of the site management structure and an upgrade of the facility.
    The smelter, which is owned by East Delta’s subsidiary Sino-Canadian Metals, was forced to close in August 2008 owing to the Olympic Games curfew and was then affected by the worldwide collapse in commodity prices with the result that it didn’t reopen after the Games.
    The company then decided to undertake equipment modifications and improvements.
    The most significant area for upgrades was the furnace where energy consumption and efficiency have been major cost concerns. Operating costs have been further reduced by the installation of a new monitoring system and refurbishing of the brick lining.
    The company spent more than $400,000 to build the facility and hire and train operations personnel. The plant began operating in late June 2008, underwent preliminarily start-up operations and initial production before the curfew was imposed.
    It is scheduled to operate 24 hours a day using three shifts with a total capacity of 50 tonnes per day.
    The process mixes nickel-copper ore with several other raw materials, including coal, sulphur, iron and limestone into its furnace and upon heating generates the primary product, an intermediate form of nickel-copper, that is called nickel-copper aggregate or iced nickel-copper.
    Under the new management plan, the company's joint venture partner Professor Liu Jiang has been re-located to be on site and is assisting with plant operations. He is accompanied by his own technical and management team.

  • INDONESIA – Strong Miwah results

    Assays for an additional diamond drill hole at East Asia Minerals’ Miwah Gold Project in Aceh Province, Northern Sumatra, continue to support the interpretation of shallow out-flowed, laterally extensive gold mineralization controlled by higher-grade feeder structures that cut through the 1.2km long Miwah Gold Zone.
    The drill hole encountered 2.25 grams/tonne gold over 142.9 metres, including 4.31 grams/tonne gold over 51.0 metres.
    The hole was drilled about 200 metres east of the mapped western end of the Main Miwah Gold Zone. Gold mineralization was encountered from 9.1 to 152.0 metres downhole depth
    The mineralization is open and interpreted to be contiguous to surface where rock sawn samples including 4.25 grams/tonne gold over 27 metres were encountered. It is open to depth based on historic drill results from holes collared to the south and 60 metres lower in elevation.
    To the south another hole encountered 1.71 grams/tonne gold over 158.0 metres, including 3.29 grams/tonne over 66.0 metres, and to the southeast a hole encountered 1.97 grams/tonne over 57.1 metres, including 2.78 grams/tonne over 38.3 metres.
    Following the current scout drilling campaign the drill rig will be returned to the main east-west laterally extensive Miwah Gold Zone where drilling will be continued.
    East Asia’s president and CEO Michael Hawkins says, “We continue to be greatly encouraged by the Miwah gold system.
    “Mineralization in the third hole of our program provides northerly strike extension to similar gold drilled in our first two holes.
    “Our interpretation of high-grade structural feeder controls on the Main Miwah Gold Zone is now well supported as is the confidence that higher overall grades than the 1.2 grams/tonne gold average from surface channel sampling will be achieved.
    “In addition, the recently discovered South Miwah Bluff Gold Zone continues to grow, and appears to represent exposure of the underlying higher-grade gold-bearing structures. Here results for more than 200 metres of rock sawn channel samples average 14 grams/tonne gold.
    “South Miwah Bluff displays the upside potential for continued exploration of the highly prospective Miwah land tenement.”

  • MONGOLIA – Oyu Tolgoi agreement cleared

    The Mongolian Parliament’s approval of amendments to four laws clears the way for finalization of the Investment Agreement for the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold complex in Mongolia’s South Gobi region.
    Development partners for the massive project, Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe Mines, have welcomed the approval and are expected to formally sign the agreement with the Government of Mongolia in the near future.
    Production is expected to start as early as 2013 with an estimated five-year ramp-up to full production. Annual average production capacity of the mine over its lifetime is expected to be 450,000 tonnes of copper and 330,000 ounces of gold.
    Rio Tinto’s chief executive Tom Albanese says, “This is an incredibly important milestone in bringing on-stream one of the finest undeveloped copper-gold projects in the world. The Investment Agreement is also a landmark for the future development of Mongolia’s resources industry.
    “We pledge to develop the mine in accordance with our strict sustainable development criteria. It will bring significant socio-economic benefits for the people of Mongolia, including thousands of jobs at the mine, in the local community and in related industries. We look forward to working with our partner Ivanhoe to making this promise a reality.”
    Under the terms of the Investment Agreement, the Government of Mongolia will hold a shareholding of 34% in Ivanhoe Mines Mongolia.
    Key terms include a stable and operational tax environment in relation to the development and operation of the Oyu Tolgoi Project and certainty as to the term of the investment.
    Rio Tinto initially made a US$303 million investment in a 9.95% shareholding in Ivanhoe Mines in October 2006 under the terms of a Placement Agreement, and at that time agreed to invest US$388 million for a further 9.95% holding at the conclusion of a long term investment agreement with the Mongolian government. Payment of this second tranche is automatically triggered once conditions precedent to the signed Investment Agreement have been satisfied.
    In September 2007, Rio Tinto agreed to provide Ivanhoe with a convertible credit facility of US$350 million for interim financing for the project. This agreement raised both Rio Tinto’s fixed price conversion and warrants from 33.35% to 42.2% and restrictions on total Ivanhoe share acquisitions from a maximum of 40% under the Placement Agreement to 46.65%.

  • MONGOLIA – Uranium sovereign risk

    The two Canadian-based uranium companies at the forefront of uranium developments in Mongolia, Western Prospector and Khan Resources, have been told that their uranium exploration licences have been ‘suspended for three months due to purported (but unspecified) violations of various laws’.
    Compounding the puzzle, Khan Resources says it believes a Nuclear Energy Law has been passed by parliament, "in a surprise move on Friday, July 17 … without any warning or opportunity to review, comment on or make constructive submissions".
    Apparently some clauses grant the government rights to take greater ownership and control of uranium mines and assets.
    In March, Western Prospector agreed to a US$25 million takeover by China's CNNC International, a 74% subsidiary of CNNC Overseas Uranium Holding Ltd and through it, of SinoU.  In June 2009 69% of the shares had been taken over by CNNC.
    - News courtesy of World Nuclear News

  • MONGOLIA - Uranium industry emerging

    By Marino G Pieterse,
    Editor of Goldletter International and Uraniumletter International

    On March 17, 2009, Mongolia signed a cooperation agreement with Russia, designed to ramp-up development of nuclear energy in both countries.
    The agreement opens the door to potential smaller nuclear plants in Mongolia as well as joint venture exploration and development of uranium projects in Mongolia, Russia or other states.
    It is estimated that Mongolia holds more than 220 million pounds of U3O8 in reserves.
    Major foreign junior companies active in uranium exploration and development in Mongolia are Khan Resources and Western Prospector, both based in Canada. Peabody Energy, the world’s largest coal company and Polo Resources, a mining and investment company particularly focused on coal and uranium, have entered into a 50/50 joint venture agreement on all of Polo’s coal and uranium assets in Mongolia.
    Khan’s current activities are focused on the Dornod area in north-eastern Mongolia, the site of a former Russian open-pit uranium mine. The company holds interests in the Main Dornod Property, licensed for mining, and in the Additional Dornod Property, licensed for exploration.
    Khan has a 55% interest in the No 2 Deposit and two-thirds of the No 7 Deposit, plus a 100% interest in the remaining one-third of the No 7 Deposit. This ownership gives Khan an overall interest of 69% of the uranium contained in both deposits.
    The 2008 Probable Mineral reserve, prepared by P & E Mining Consultants, for the No 2 open pit and No 7 underground deposits is 18 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.133% U3O8 for 52 million pounds of U3O8 out of the 64.4 million pounds of indicated mineral resources.
    On March 11, 2009, Khan announced the results of its Definitive Feasibility Study for its Dornod Uranium Project. The study, jointly completed by engineering consultants Aker Metals and resource consultants Scott Wilson Roscoe Postle Associates, was based on the NI 43-101 compliant indicated mineral resource reported for the project, prepared by Scott Wilson RPA, of 25.3 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.116% U3O8 for 64.3 million pounds of U3O8 and an inferred mineral resource of 2.2 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.050% U3O8 for 2.4 million pounds of U3O8.
    The study assumes a long-term uranium price of US$65 per pound U3O8 (currently US$70), and a throughput of 3500 tonnes per day over a 15-year mine life, which will generate an average annual production rate of 3 million pounds U3O8 at a cost of US$23.22 per pound U3O8 or US$58.26 per tonne of ore.
    The initial capital cost of the project is projected to about US$333 million. The above parameters yield a project internal rate of return (IRR) after tax of 29.1% and a net present value (NPV) at a 10% discount rate of US$276 million.

  • COPPER/GOLD – Plant bought for Kanmantoo

    Hillgrove Resources is acquiring the process plant and associated equipment and buildings from Lennard Shelf’s Pillara Mine for us at the Kanmantoo Copper/Gold Project in South Australia.
    Hillgrove’s subsidiary Hillgrove Copper has entered into a purchase agreement with Lennard Shelf for the plant.
    The purchase comprises all of the plant and equipment at the Pillara site in Western Australia, including the float plant which includes a ball mill and SAG mill, office buildings, crusher, plant spares and consumables, workshops, warehouse building, sample preparation facility, laboratory, fuel farm and product storage buildings.
    Hillgrove’s managing director David Archer says, “The purchase of the integrated processing plant will provide the Kanmantoo Project with a great head start and affords the project a number of significant advantages.”
    These include:
    • A reduction in the project’s capital expenditure by an estimated $20 million after cost of dismantling and modification.
    • Plant configurations using Hillgrove’s existing Outotec SAG mill or the Pillara SAG mill can process the planned Kanmantoo run-of-mine annual throughput of 2.0 million tonnes with significant upside capacity to more than 2.5 million tonnes.
    • Reduced lead times for new equipment items will ensure the project will be completed within a 12 month construction period.
    • Potential to sell the existing Kanmantoo SAG mill and mill spares (cost $7.8 million) and surplus Pillara equipment to net off the cost of the purchase of the Pillara plant.
    • Operating and capital spares being acquired with the Pillara Plant have a replacement value of $5.4 million and provide a direct and significant saving on start-up costs for Kanmantoo.
    The Pillara Mine, 375km east of Broome, was established by Western Metals in 1998 as a lead/zinc mine. The mine operated until 2003 and then by the Lennard Shelf joint venture from 2006 until it was shut down in September 2008. Annual design throughput for the mine and plant was 2.7 million tonnes. The plant is in excellent condition and can be dismantled, relocated, reassembled and commissioned without need for refurbishment.
    The Kanmantoo project hosts a mineral resource of 32.2 million tonnes grading 0.9% copper and 0.20 grams/tonne gold, containing 292,200 tonnes of copper, 191,100 ounces of gold and 3,313,600 ounces of silver.
    With production targeted for the first quarter of 2011, Kanmantoo will be an open-cut mine annually producing about 17,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate and 8000 ounces of gold.



  • IRON ORE – Warramboo mineral resource

    A maiden mineral resource estimate of 110 million inferred tonnes has been announced for Iron Road’s Warramboo Iron Project in South Australia.
    The JORC compliant resource has been calculated from work conducted on a 1.7km portion of the project’s total strike length of more than 50km. The remainder, whilst still to be fully tested and drilled, is considered by the company to be similar in scale and quality and is likely to host several substantial deposits.
    The Warramboo mineralization drilled to date shows a consistent nature and test work confined to the portion under investigation, known as Boo-Loo, resulted in an indicative average concentrate grade of 69.9% iron with a mass recovery of 21.8% for the fresh material.
    This compares favourably to the results of the Stage I drilling program that resulted in an indicative average of 70.3% iron across the upper portion of the Warramboo deposit. Significantly, an excellent link has been demonstrated between target exploration methodology and resulting defined resources.
    Iron Road’s managing director Andrew Stocks says, “To achieve this result in such a short time frame since listing in mid 2008 is a testament to our commitment to the exploration and development of Warramboo, particularly during a difficult time for emerging resources companies.
    “Our resource consultants are now working on a global exploration target with the aim of quantifying the full potential of the project.
    “We believe the Warramboo project is set to emerge as one of Australia’s most significant magnetite iron ore projects and we look to the completion of the global exploration target to confirm this.”
    The essential elements for the development of Warramboo are coming together – high-quality resource, potential concentrate specifications, numerous export options and supportive communities.
    Iron Road is following a clear development roadmap with a view to establishing a long-life magnetite concentrate export operation annually producing +5 million tonnes.
    Warramboo is centrally located on the Eyre Peninsula and is close to a number of possible export routes on the east and west of the Eyre Peninsula, all within 80 to 185km of the project. This gives Iron Road a substantial advantage in developing Warramboo over other less centrally located iron ore projects.

  • INVESTMENT – Next joint venture step

    The royalty holder of Western Plains Resources’ Hawks Nest Magnetite Project in South Australia (SA) has agreed to the company’s joint venture transaction with Wugang Australian Resources Investment (WISCO).
    Subject to the completion of documentation, this will satisfy a further condition precedent to the establishment of the joint venture over Hawks Nest.
    It follows Western Plains’ announcement on June 12 that it had signed the final transaction documents with WISCO.
    The joint venture enables WISCO to earn a 50% interest in the project by sole funding the first $45 million of expenditure on feasibility and other studies.
    The Hawks Nest iron ore deposits subject to the WISCO transaction lie within the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), which is managed by the RAAF for the Commonwealth’s Department of Defence. The WPA was established in 1947.
    The Hawks Nest deposits within the WPA were discovered in the early 1990s as part of the South Australian Exploration Initiative that was largely funded by the SA government.
    The South Australian Steel and Energy (SASE) joint venture was then formed and the SA government made a grant of $1 million to SASE in the late 1990s to further explore the iron ore deposits.
    The government withdrew as a participant to the joint venture when SASE was incorporated as a proprietary company in 1999. SASE was left with two Australian companies and one foreign state-owned steel company as its shareholders.
    The SA government agreed in 1999 to introduce legislation to give effect to the SASE project, and the Commonwealth granted SASE major national project facilitation status. A key part of the SASE project concept was the development of an iron ore mine at Hawks Nest within the WPA.
    Western Plains’ subsidiary Southern Iron acquired the Hawks Nest tenement from SASE in 2006 and has carried out a number of exploration programs since then with the Commonwealth Department of Defence’s knowledge and approval.
    The Commonwealth is reviewing the transaction documents that set up the joint venture. Western Plains understands that WISCO’s application to the Commonwealth’s Foreign Investment Review Board to enter into the transaction has been drafted and will be lodged when the Commonwealth’s Department of Defence approves the joint venture’s structure and the proposed feasibility and other studies at Hawks Nest.