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Mining is expected to begin in January at the Meteor Downs South coal operation, 45km southeast of Springsure in central Queensland, with first exports by the end of March.
U&D Mining is developing the thermal coal mine, through subsidiary Endocoal, in a joint venture with Minerva coal mine operator Sojitz Coal Mining.
Sojitz has set up an office in Springsure to engage the local community as it recruits for the new mine.

JV to bring CQ mine online

Sojitz Coal Mining managing director and chief executive officer Cameron Voriass said the workforce for the truck and shovel operation was likely to sit around 20-35 in the first two years and ramp up to 60 or 70 employees.
In addition to positions at the mine, Mr Vorias said road haulage contractor Kalari HSE would also be looking to employ from the local area.
Mr Vorias said many of the supply relationships from Minerva would carry over to Meteor Downs South, however Sojitz would endeavour to offer some new opportunities for local businesses.
“There are still a number things on the supply side that we will be looking for,” he said.
“We do have Facebook presence and a website – that would be the best way to understand the project’s progress.”
U&D Mining chief financial officer Peter Edwards said the new mine would be brought online for less than $30 million.
The joint venture partners had met requirements with landowner Glencore, clearing the way for work on the box cut in early 2018, he said.
They will limit production to about 500,000 tonnes per annum for the first two years, when Meteor Downs South will rely on road haulage to get its coal to the Minerva rail load-out facility for transport to Gladstone port.
“We haven’t got a rail load-out facility and there are constraints on the current Bauhinia line, so initial tonnage will go by road and we’re looking at doing about 500,000 tonnes per annum,” Mr Edwards said.
“We have to go around the town of Springsure – so we want to minimise the impact that we have on the Springsure community.
“Nameplate capacity of 1.5Mtpa can be achieved when we have a rail load-out facility.”
The coal is likely to be blended with other coal product at the coal terminal to provide a different product to Glencore’s Rolleston coal mine product, which comes from the same seam.
For U&D, cash flow from Meteor Downs South will boost the kitty for further exploration at its Broughton and Rockwood projects.
“We would also look at other opportunities around in the marketplace to enhance our current production rate, because those projects are quite a long way off in terms of production so it would be quite good to be producing 2Mtpa rather than 500,000,” Mr Edwards said.
“We would look at any potential opportunity that doesn’t cost too much to get into and gives us the opportunity to become a bigger producer.”
Sojitz Coal Mining is also on the prowl for further mining opportunities in the Emerald region, where Minerva employs about 250 people.
“Minerva is going through its mature cycle at the moment,” Mr Vorias said.
“Its resource is quite limited now and really we’re looking at other opportunities around the Emerald area to ensure that we have future opportunities for what is probably one of the best mining workforces in Australia.

“That’s our primary focus at the moment. We have Meteor Downs starting up and then we’re looking at development of other opportunities around the Emerald region.”
Mr Vorias said the Minerva operation had a mine life of at least five more years and Sojitz Coal Mining was exploring various options to extend that out to 10 or 15 additional years.
A North Queensland rural town once known for nickel mining has begun exporting high quality marble to Italy from the Port of Townsville.

Located 55 kilometres from Greenvale and 300 kilometres north-west of Townsville, the 200 million cubic metre deposit is one of the largest in the world and owned by Australian family business, Queensland Granite and Marble Pty Ltd.

Situated on a grazing property, it’s one of only three marble quarries in Queensland, and one of a few in Australia.
Queensland Granite and Marble director (sales) Larry Roccisano said eight different colours of marble had been discovered at the site, including white marble.

“White marble is the most popular marble in the world, and the deposits we’ve found here are second to none in Australia and up there with the best of Italy,” said Mr Roccisano
“An independent Italian marble laboratory in Verona has tested and analysed our samples and given our product the highest rating possible in terms of hardness and strength.”
“We currently employ 12 people from Greenvale, Townsville and Charters Towers to do this work, and we expect to increase this to approximately 40 people by the end of next year,” he said.

“All our employees have benefited from training by Italian marble masters who visited the site to share their skills over a period of months.”

Port of Townsville Acting Chief Executive Officer Claudia Brumme-Smith visited the marble site during November to view the operation first hand. 
“It’s fantastic to see an exciting new venture created in our region, knowing this stunning natural material will feature in homes and buildings on the other side of the world,” said Ms Brumme-Smith.
“Using Swire Shipping, ANL and Northern Stevedoring Services, the company has so far made a number of shipments of raw marble blocks each weighing 20 tonnes out of the Port of Townsville to Italy, China and Indonesia,” she said.

Greenvale marble sold to Italy

Queensland-based junior miner Cannindah Resources has gone into small-scale production at its Piccadilly gold project, with the first consignment of ore processed at Minjar Gold’s Pajingo operation in October.

The ore is being sourced from an area of high-grade quartz veins on the Piccadilly mining lease, 60km north of Charters Towers.

But Cannindah has its eye on a greater prize – a ‘significant’ intrusive system believed to be a feeder for that area of mineralisation.

“The bigger fish for us is the intrusiverelated gold system that’s about 1.5km to the south, which our consulting geologists and external consultants have compared to other larger projects out there like Mt Wright, Mt Leyshon and Kidston,” executive chairman Tom Pickett said.

The company became involved with the project in March after entering an agreement with Piccadilly Gold Mine Holdings which gives it the right to explore and mine ML1442.

It subsequently secured an earn-in agreement to access surrounding ground under exploration permits.

Mr Pickett said the move came after Cannindah Resources had identified gold as a focus, both for continued exploration on its flagship Mt Cannindah project, 100km south of Gladstone, and more generally.

The team carried out work to determine what was feeding the high-grade quartz veins on the Piccadilly mining lease and became very interested in a system within Piccadilly’s EPM ground.

“There were areas peripheral to some parallel high-grade veins that were originally not thought to be carrying any mineralisation and actually turned out to be carrying mineralisation,” Mr Pickett said.

“That tended to provide a little more confidence to pursue what might be feeding the system within the mining lease, so we have started to concentrate our efforts on the possibility of a much larger system that is just to the south.”

He described Piccadilly as exploration rather than a mining project at the moment, but there are obvious advantages to having immediate access to ore on the mining lease that is of sufficient grade and quantity to process.

Minjar Gold reached an ore purchase agreement with Cannindah Resources in September and the first haulage of Piccadilly ore to its Pajingo plant occurred in October.

Mr Pickett said the team was investigating 135m of strike on the mining lease at the moment, of a potential 1.2km anomaly.

“That is just within the mining lease. That does not include what we are looking at in the exploration ground, which is in and of itself a potentially 1.5km to 2km anomaly,” he said.

The company was weighing its options on whether to prioritise ore production or exploration of the intrusive system with a larger drilling program, or to do both concurrently, he said.

“Any time that you have a mining lease that is producing signifi cant grade with the potential to provide you with significantly more tonnes and which is helping you to show evidence of a much larger intrusiverelated gold system that could provide a significant bulk tonnage or company making proposition, you ought to be excited,” he said

 .Cannindah eyes a Mount Leyshon-sized gold prize
ASX listed company Senex has received environmental approval from the Queensland Government to develop as many as 425 wells complete with gas and water gathering networks, compression facilities, and water management infrastructure.

Senex expects to receive all remaining state and commonwealth regulatory approvals for the development of the project by the end of the financial year FY18, including a petroleum lease.

Senex Managing Director and CEO Ian Davies said they were making great progress on the Western Surat Gas Project, systematically achieving the milestones to move into the development phase.

“2018 is set to be an exciting time, with the production of material gas from the Phase 2 wells and all the pieces in place for us to make the next material investment decision on the project,” Mr Davies said.Environmental OK given to develop more Surat Basin gas
Capricorn Copper and Chinova areamong nine exploration companies prospecting in the north west minerals province for deposits of base and precious metals with the help of the latest round of exploration grants, worth $1.13.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said that while the North West Minerals Province provided a golden opportunity for explorers, the positive flow-on effects for local business and the communities added to the impact.

“Funding through the Collaborative Exploration Initiative allows companies to kick-start projects that may have never have got off the ground due to the costs and risks involved in exploring in remote regions of Queensland,” Dr Lynham said.

“We have to get innovative if we are going to get these projects moving, and the Collaborative Exploration Initiative is an excellent example of how a small investment reaps big rewards for Queensland.

“Queensland explorers are using the complete array of techniques to make discoveries and so the funding initiative has been updated the reflect this,” Dr Lynham said.

The program has generated 48 new mineralisation discoveries over the past 10 years, including a contribution towards Australia’s largest copper-cobalt resource by Aeon Metals, and the Maronan deposit worth up to $9 billion.

Since it started, 58 companies – most junior explorers – have shared in funding to commence exploration. The companies have invested about another $21 million invested in Queensland by the companies themselves – a leverage of 3:1.

New metals exploration push
MMG celebrated a major milestone in its $1.57 billion Dugald River project recently as the first load of zinc concentrate left site.

The achievement was celebrated in an official opening ceremony attended by MMG chairman Guo Wenqing, chief executive officer Jerry Jiao and other dignitaries.

But there is no lull in activity heading into 2018 as the operation brings its lead concentrate circuit online and ramps up towards its 1.7Mtpa zinc concentrate production target.

“There’s still a lot of activity and it’s still exciting,” MMG Dugald River operations manager Sam Rodda said.

“We’ve had our first trucking of concentrate to Cloncurry, our first train from Cloncurry to Townsville - that happened on November 15, and we’re working towards our first shipment around mid-December.

“We still have lots ahead of us in the short term.

“People are still energised and, while it’s good to stop and reflect and pat people on the back, it’s the start of even more excitement.”

Mr Rodda said 2018 would see the site continue to build toward its nameplate capacity of 1.7Mtpa through the processing plant, with a target of 170,000 tonnes of zinc metal in concentrate.

“We haven’t commissioned our lead concentrate circuit, so we still have some learnings and some upside around producing lead concentrate in early 2018,” he said.

“We will also get better at understanding our life cycle costs and we have good opportunity to expand our workforce on a few fronts, including through our trainee and apprenticeship program as part of our agreement with the Kalkadoon  Native Title owners.”

The Dugald River mine - 65km north-west of Cloncurry - will be a top-10 global zinc producer when fully operational

At the official opening Mr Jiao voiced his pride that MMG had finally brought this challenging project into production and congratulated all involved.

“By taking the time to understand the characteristics of this complex deposit, we have delivered the right plan and invested at the right time,” he said.

“We remain positive about the long-term fundamentals for zinc and Dugald River has come into production at a time of tightening global supply and rising prices."

Mr Rodda said Dugald River’s success on the road to production came down to correct planning from the outset and an integrated project team with a ‘single team working together’ attitude in line with MMG values.

“Having people aligned with common values and common goals and common KPIs has been the major success,” he said.

Mr Rodda said the team involved in bringing Dugald River online had worked towards making it “a site and a company that you are proud to have on your resume.”

MMG Dugald River would continue to build on strong relationships with regional stakeholders to promote local employment and local expenditure as it moved out of construction and into operations, he said.

Dugald River accelerates into 2018