Australian exploration and mining company Metro Mining Ltd has confirmed the first ship for the 2020 operational year, Vialli, has arrived at the Port of Skardon River and loading commenced on 14 April.  

The bauxite shipment is to foundation customer Xinfa, a major Chinese aluminum producer, who will purchase approximately 2.0 million dry metric tonnes (DMT) under existing offtake arrangements in 2020.

Land-based activities started on 2 April on day shift only, moving to the regular 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis on 8 April. Favourable weather conditions have allowed mining to get off to an excellent start with 142,000 wet metric tonnes (WMT) of bauxite mined, and of that, 106,000 WMT have been screened to date. As of the 14th, all barges were fully loaded with 28,000 WMT of bauxite ahead of the arrival of the Vialli.

With the commissioning of the three new triple trailer sets, there are six sets available and the benefit of the enlarged fleet is already evident with daily records for haulage being achieved. The return of the majority of Metro’s experienced team members has also aided in the efficient restart. Strong screening throughput rates are also being achieved, despite the inherent moisture in the bauxite post wet season. In the past few days, the Metro team has achieved screening rates of 850 tph which is a significant increase on the average of 550 tph achieved last year.

The land-based operational teams have now been joined by the transhipping crews on site and the Bauxite Hills Mine is at full strength and running efficiently.

The procedures that have been put in place for COVID-19 have been embraced by all on site and, to date, have been successful with no impact on operations from the virus.

Metro Mining Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Simon Finnis said: “This has been an excellent start to the year in trying times amidst all the operational changes we have had to implement to deal with the risk of COVID-19.

“To put the results into context, last year we only had 47,000 WMT mined and hauled prior to the commencement of shiploading activities. Our workforce has had to make adjustments to their working lives, including some who have relocated to Cairns; I applaud and thank everyone for their efforts.”