ABOUT THE PROJECT
The Glenaladale deposit is one of the biggest mineral sands deposits in the world, with a JORC (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) resource of 2.7Bt of heavy mineral. It is located about 250km east of Melbourne.
The Fingerboards Mineral Sands Project focuses on a high-grade area of the Glenaladale ore body in the Eastern part of the deposit about 20km northwest of Bairnsdale.
Kalbar proposes to extract 170Mt of ore to produce around 8Mt of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) over 20 years.
Heavy mineral concentrate is the valuable heavy mineral that has been extracted from the ore but not yet been processed into final mineral products.
Subject to approvals, Kalbar proposes to begin construction of the project in 2020, with mining operations to commence approximately twelve months later.
The approvals process for the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Project includes an Environment Effects Statement (EES) under the Victorian Environment Effects Act 1978. Kalbar anticipates that decisions on the EES, mining work plan, mining licence and cultural heritage management plan will take place in early 2020.
Kalbar proposes to use open cut mining methods to extract the ore. The ore will be fed to a mining unit plant (MUP) for slurrying and pumping to the wet concentrator plant (WCP). There the slurried ore will undergo initial onsite processing to produce mineral concentrate to export for further processing into commercial products such as zircon and rutile. The heavy mineral is separated from the mining by-products (clay and quartz) using gravity separation equipment (screens, spirals, cyclones, and classifiers) that work much the same way as gold panning. Mining will be conducted 24 hours/day and 365 days/year.
Approximately 96% of the mined ore is returned to the void. Overburden and topsoil are returned and rehabilitation occurs on the reinstated land surface behind the advancing open cut.
REVISED PROJECT DESCRIPTION
Over the past six months, Kalbar has been working to refine technical aspects of the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Project.
Preparation of the Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) has involved more detailed evaluation of the Glenaladale Deposit and the economics, mineral separation process, mining infrastructure, tailings management, transport options and water requirements of the project.
We have recently refined the project description to reflect these investigations. These modifications have been provided to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the Commonwealth Government, so that they can be reflected in the assessment of the project under the EES.
These changes reflect planned improvements in the efficiency of mine operations and modifications that will address some of the important issues regarding, visual impact, noise and water use.
The changes include:
Revised estimates of the quantities of ore available and mineral content
The mineral resource estimate of the Fingerboards Mineral Sands Project contains 1.19Bt of ore at 0.5% zircon, 1% titanium minerals and 0.1% rare earths. Kalbar plans to produce over 8 Mt of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) from 170 Mt of ore within a 20-year period. This figure has been increased slightly from the original estimate of approximately 7.5Mt of heavy mineral concentrate from 280 Mt of ore.
Inclusion of an additional mining unit plant (MUP).
The ore will be fed into two mining unit plants (MUPs) for slurrying and pumping to the wet concentrator plant (WCP). The additional mining unit plant will increase the efficiency of heavy mineral concentrate separation.
Additional fine tailings storage facility to increase processing efficiency and reduce water usage
Co-disposal of fine and coarse sand tailings will no longer occur. Fine tailings and coarse sand tailings will now be deposited separately to increase water recovery for processing.
Fine sand tailings will be deposited in tailings facilities away from the erosion gullies. Sand tailings will be returned to the mine void. Ultimately, both the coarse sand tailings and fine tailings will be used in the backfilling and rehabilitation of the mine.
Management techniques, such as sub-surface drainage channels will be used to maximise the recovery of water from the tailings.
It is calculated that a maximum of six fine tailings cells (each approximately 10 ha) will be required to be to manage this process.
Separation of magnetic and non-magnetic mineral concentrate
Further separation of the heavy mineral concentrate is proposed, using wet magnetic processing to produce two streams of concentrate. This is to meet market demands in Asia.
Magnetic concentrate, consisting of mainly ilmenite and a non-magnetic concentrate, predominantly made up of zircon will be exported separately. This separation will occur within the wet concentrator plant at the mine site.
Change to project footprint
Originally, the processing plant including the wet concentrator plant was based on the mine path. This would have required a relocation of all the offices, wet concentrator plant, loading facility and tailings storage facility.
To avoid the requirement of relocation and reduce visual impact and noise, the processing plant will now be located off the mine path in a private plantation to the south of the original project area.
The project footprint has therefore been increased from approximately 1,400 hectares to approximately 1,675 hectares. The total mined area will remain roughly the same at 1,100 hectares.
Estimated area of active mining and disturbed areas
Mine planning and the introduction of the second mining unit plant has resulted in a refinement of the active mining area at any one time during operations (displayed as mining sub-total below).
Other disturbed areas under EES consideration for the life of the project are the fines tailings storage, topsoil stockpiles and infrastructure (which includes all project related infrastructure options).
Reduction in estimated water requirements
Due to the improved proposed tailings management, efficiencies have been created in water recovery and re-use. This is likely to reduce the annual water requirement for the mine to approximately 3GL (previously estimated as up to 4GL).
Further assessment of the transport of concentrate has identified the feasibility of using road and rail. There are three possible options for road transport from the site to the Princes Highway. Road transport is now estimated to require up to 40 truck movements per day, both to and from the project site. From the Princes Highway, trucks will travel either to the Barry Beach Marine Terminal or Port Anthony for bulk freight transport or to freight rail at Maryvale for transport to the Port of Melbourne.
These transport route options will be further evaluated as part of the studies for the EES and final preferred options will be identified based on considerations of road safety, local amenity and road and rail upgrade requirements. If rail from nearby the site emerges as a viable option, this should reduce the amount of truck movements required on local and regional roads.
Employment and Economic Benefits
Construction employment for the project will be up approximately 200 jobs.
During its 20-year operation, we estimate that the project will create up to 200 direct jobs on the mine site, injecting wages of $15-20 million into the economy each year and generating another $10 million annually in royalties and tax payments to the Victorian Government.
The capital investment required to establish the project is approximately $100 million. Flow-on employment due to increased demand for services is estimated by the company to amount to an additional 150-200 jobs in the local community.
Mine site layout
The proposed layout of the Fingerboards mine site is shown in the general arrangement layout plan below.