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Aerial Drone of NSS @ Work

NSS recently partnered up with SkyDronics to bring you a series of aerial drone videos of just some of the services we offer at NSS.

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News

Glencore Coal procurement presentation


The 2018 events calendar kicks off with a bang early next year.

Group Manager of procurement for Glencore Australia Coal Assets Darren Oliver, will present at the first Bowen Basin Mining Club Lunch on Thursday 8 February.

It’ll  be held at South’s leagues club in Mackay.

Click here to register.
Fringe energy developer online


The successful commissioning of the Normanton Solar Farm in the Gulf of Carpentaria has helped boost its reputation as a poster project for ‘fringe’ energy developments.

Normanton Solar Farm is unique in demonstrating the ability to connect to ‘fringe-of-grid’ locations in rural Australia, and provide real and measurable benefits to customers said developer, Scoulier Energy’s Doug Scoulier.

“The knowledge-sharing opportunities will further demonstrate the uniqueness of the project, Mr Scoulier said.

“Normanton Solar Farm will be used as a ‘test case’ of how renewable energy can benefit regional networks and the challenges in developing solar PV in remote, tropical regions of Australia,” he said.

“If proven to be technically and financially viable, these outcomes all represent a significant step forward in the commercial competitiveness of the uptake of integrated distributed renewable energy solutions in fringe-of-grid locations.”

The 5MW solar farm received $8.3 million grant funds from ARENA. Canadian Solar acted as EPC, with Scouller Energy as developer.

Canadian Solar’s General Manager Daniel Ruoss said the project would enable an assessment of the value of broader regulatory change to support future projects and the business case for using solar as an alternative to upgrading network infrastructure.

“This will drive the growth of renewable power generation across regional Australia, particularly in constrained, fringe of grid environments,” he said.

The Normanton Solar Farm used proven solar technology, including 16,000 x 310 Watt PV modules on fixed-tilt arrays, optimised for the Normanton latitude of 17 degrees.

Normanton typically receives a minimum of 6 hours of full sunshine each day, right through the year, allowing the solar farm to generate in excess of 9,000 MWh per year, expected to result in reduced CO2 emissions by 7,550 tonnes annually.
Glencore is reopening its Lady Loretta underground zinc mine north of Mount Isa. The company held its investor update overnight, with production guidance for 2018 that included a gradual restart of suspended zinc production in Australia, said Executive General Manger NQ Zinc Denis Hamel. “In October 2015, we made the decision to reduce global zinc production to preserve the value of this finite resource in a low commodity price environment,” Mr Hamel said. “Lady Loretta mine will restart operations in H1 2018, which will include a ramp up period. “The operating status of George Fisher Mine and McArthur River Mine in the Northern Territory has not changed and will be reviewed on a regular basis.” The announcement follows a number of high profile zinc operations starting production including MMG’s Dugald River mine north of Cloncurry and the Thalanga operation near Charters Towers owned by Red River Resources. Following a full operational review followed by a tender process, Brisbane based Redpath Australia had been awarded a site operation contract, Mr Hamel said. “We feel strongly about maximising local employment and benefits from our operations. We are currently actively recruiting for 65 vacant positions across Mount Isa zinc operations, with the recruitment process now commencing in parallel for Lady Loretta,” he said. “We thank you for your trust, patience and support over the past two years as we responded to these record challenging market conditions. Glencore to reopen Lady Loretta
The delivery of six haul truck trays this week through Port of Mackay has been hailed as an example of the benefits recent upgrades there are bringing for the manufacturing, mining and transport sectors.

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) had been actively pursuing growth by working with customers to maximise trade opportunities and upgrading facilities, acting general manager trade and operations Eddie Mallan said.

“NQBP worked with National Heavy Haulage for a number of months to facilitate this trade through the Port of Mackay to minimise transport costs for the project,” Mr Mallan said.

“It demonstrates the Port of Mackay as a primary link to the rest of the world as a break bulk port. With the improvements in the mining sector, NQBP is expecting to see more of this type of cargo arriving through the Port of Mackay.”

Mr Mallan said the construction and commissioning of the quarantine wash facility at Mackay de-risked the delivery into the country as a first port of call.

“The quarantine wash facility coupled with the shorter haul distance and available laydown space for project cargo makes the Port of Mackay a more attractive option for proponents,” Mr Mallan said.

“NQBP is investing in improving the capabilities of the port to support these types of trade, including a new roll-on roll-off facility.”

National Heavy Haulage general manager Ian Scott said upgraded facilities at the Port of Mackay had been good for increased business.

“We look forward to future shipments and continued increase in break bulk through the port and out to the mining community,” he said.

The six haul truck trays delivered this week were bound for BMA’s Saraji mine in the Bowen Basin.

Austin Engineering had the BMA contract to deliver eight truck trays but only had the capacity to
build two in its Mackay workshop within the eight-week time schedule.

Sales and support manager Scott Harding said for the first time in 20 years of manufacturing and designing dump truck bodies in Mackay they had to ship some in to meet demand.

“Business has definitely picked up and they needed them quickly,” he said.

“These bodies will be going on to some 793C trucks at site and these particular bodies will give them far greater capacity to move coal.”

Heavy traffic at Port of Mackay
The Thalanga operation outside Charters Towers is a study in tapping the best of the old and the new.
General manager of operations Karl Spaleck said a number of people working on the Thalanga project for Red River Resources had been employed there under the previous owner Kagara, or even earlier in the operation’s history.
“We have people here who have been working for about four different companies, just the same mine,” he said.
“When we arrived, we met a worker named Mona Polinelli who had been employed by the first site owners Pancontinental Mining.
“When Pancontinental Mining was acquired by Sterlite Industries she worked for them, and when Kagara came along she worked for them.
“Mona was part of our care and maintenance team and is part of our workforce as well. In total, she must have been here for nearly 30 years.”
Mr Spaleck said that Ms Polinelli had proved a wealth of knowledge on subjects as varied as the people who had worked at the operation previously or where water pumps were located across the tenements.
“We would use a GPS to go somewhere, but you could just ask Mona and she would tell you ‘just over that hill there and on your left-hand side’,” he said.
The majority of Red River’s Thalanga workforce was recruited from Charters Towers or have moved there for the job.
About half of the team involved in restarting Thalanga were very experienced people who had clocked up ‘a fair few years’ in the industry, Mr Spaleck said.
But about a quarter were brand new to the mining workforce.
“Our focus on them has really helped a lot – making sure the onboarding process is good and getting our safety values across to them as well,” Mr Spaleck said.
“You don’t want them to learn bad habits, you want to make sure everything is perfect and we just drum safety into them every day.
“We basically tell people that no job is so important that it can’t be done safely.”
The operation had been brought online without major incidents or injuries, he said, and the site had clocked up more than 1000 days lost-time-injury free.
Mr Spaleck said he was very proud of what had been achieved in bringing the Thalanga processing plant back online after being mothballed in 2012.
“I think it’s a testament to everyone who was on the project – a lot of people,” he said.
“For me, what I like is to actually see it running. Three years ago, when we acquired, it had been just sitting here still for four years. To put some life back into the plant is good to see.”
Red River employs a workforce of 65 for the Thalanga operation, in addition to 57 people employed by mining contractor Pybar.
Mr Spaleck said the operation had a focus on local suppliers as well as local employees, but maintained a lean approach to business.
“We won’t just pick you because you are local – it’s all about the quality and the service and the price,” he said.
“We go out to tender for everything, get three quotes.
“I think the advantage that the Charters Towers and Townsville businesses have is they don’t have to fly people from interstate and all over the place and bring equipment up. Transportation costs can be huge, so that gives local guys the advantage.
“People realise that this is not a Rio Tinto or a BHP.
“We keep things as lean as possible. We know exactly where we spend our money and make sure we get the best value for money.”

Blast from the past as site restarts
Dugald River is one of the largest known zinc-lead-silver deposits on the planet, but the complexities of this show-stopper of an ore body could have proved a hurdle to development.
MMG had completed financing arrangements for Dugald River’s development back in 2013, in addition to completing more than 14,000m of underground mine development, building a 100-person camp on site, access roads and placing orders for long lead time equipment.
But the project was placed on hold after further analyses and test work revealed more challenging conditions than previously appreciated.
“The ore body wasn’t a single plane – it had been moved about by a number of intersecting faults and obviously more delineation drilling had to be undertaken to try to define it,” Dugald River mining manager Neal Valk said.
“That showed that it was very complex and they couldn’t really work out how it fitted together structurally.
“It also has a series of fl at-dipping 20-degree faults that run across the ore body to the west and they have moved it around as well and made it pinch.
“Also the ore body at some depth, where it was thought to be wider, was actually folding.
“All of those complications sparked the decision in 2014 to carry out trial stoping at the top of the mine.”
The work was undertaken between March 2014 and March 2015, when about 460,000 tonnes of ore was mined out of 19 stopes.
Mr Valk said the trial stoping was focused on gaining an understanding of hanging wall and footwall behaviour, the complexity of the faulting, levels of stope ore recovery and mining methods.
“Different stope sizes were set up on five levels – generally a short strike length, and backfilled with cemented rock fill (CRF).
Measurements were taken on ore recovery, fragmentation, dilution and hanging wall movement,” he said.
“Then longer strike lengths were mined to see what effect that had, and even double–lift stopes were extracted to see how the hanging wall behaved.”
The ore produced was crushed and trucked to Century Mine, where it went through the zinc concentrator – adding to MMG’s knowledge of what sort of recovery rates and reagent usage could be expected when treating the Dugald River material.

No stone left unturned developing Dugald River

Among the challenges at Dugald River is the issue of levels of carbon mined with the sulphide ore.
“So not only are we getting waste rock in our ore, the waste rock is carbon or graphite which the plant needs to clean out of the process prior to treating all the sulphides, so there’s a carbon cleaning circuit there,” Mr Valk said.
“It’s nothing dramatically unusual, just another challenge that we have as part of this ore body – the dilutant for us is carbon.”
On the up side, there are no groundwater problems at Dugald River and the ground is not particularly hard or abrasive.
“In early 2015 when the trial stoping was completed and the results were collated and analysed, it was deemed that development would continue in the mine and that efficient stoping would be achievable,” Mr Valk said.
“The results were not so unmanageable that we would not be able to continue with it.
So even though we have the faulting and the graphite, it could be managed sufficiently to mine continuously.”
In July 2015 MMG announced approval of the updated development plan for the Dugald River zinc project and in June 2016 came news of a financing deal to allow it to proceed.
Dugald River boasts a measured resource of 8.9 million tonnes at 13.3 per cent zinc and 2.3 per cent lead, an indicated resource of 26.7 million tonnes (12.5 per cent zinc/2.1 per cent lead) and an inferred resource of 25.8 million tonnes (11.8 per cent zinc/1.7 per cent lead). There is an expected life of mine of more than 25 years.
The portals for the underground mine were established in February 2012 and the north and south declines both reach 500m below surface.
Mr Valk said the team at Dugald River had been ramping up underground development from April this year to a rate of about 880m a month and stoping began in June.
“We have mined a number of stopes to commence our stoping fronts and that means we can mine from four different areas to get to a rate of around 70,000-90,000 tonnes a month of stope ore in early 2018,” Mr Valk said.
The mine is expected to reach a production rate of 1.5 million tonnes per annum during 2018 and continue to ramp-up to 1.7Mtpa from 2020.