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.
Kalbar has identified and investigated options for rail transport of products from the proposed Fingerboards Project and further developed its water management strategy for the project.
These key aspects of the project have been incorporated as formal variations to Kalbar’s project description. The Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy have recently accepted these as inclusions to the project description. Therefore, all impacts associated with these variations to the project description need to be included in the EES technical studies carried out by Kalbar as part of the development of the EES for the project.
Potential Rail Freight Options
The completion of the Avon River rail bridge upgrade will provide the opportunity for product transport to utilise a rail siding closer to the site.
The traffic and transport assessment identifies the local and arterial roads involved in a bridge upgrade scenario and specifically the options of utilising:
• the rail siding in Bairnsdale at the Fennings yard.
The transport route for containerised concentrates to the proposed new rail siding south of the project area is shown on the map. This route has relatively little interaction with public roads, which reduces potential traffic-related impacts.
The route to the existing Bairnsdale rail siding would be along Bairnsdale-Dargo Road, Lindenow-Glenaladale Road, Princes Highway and Racecourse Road, then to the rail siding via Racecourse Road, Forge Creek Road and Bosworth Road.
These options and the risk mitigations required to address road design, safety and environmental issues, are included in the Traffic and Transport Study and the EES. The options have been assessed for traffic volumes, safety, road design and condition.
The revised water management strategy includes:
• The construction of water storages, a borefield and pipelines for freshwater, process water, contingency water (groundwater), and surface water management.
• The controlled release of freshwater to offset surface water intercepted by the site and maintain downstream environmental flows.
• Capture of runoff that has been in contact with the mine and diversion of undisturbed runoff around active mining areas and controlled downstream release.
These measures seek to ensure that water supply options have been fully investigated and that surface water management on the site meets the requirements for retention and release of water.
Estimated area of active mining and disturbed areas
Mine planning and the refinement of surface water management now includes surface water dams and topsoil stockpiles in the disturbed area.
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).
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.