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Isaac Regional Council has today (13 Jun 19) approved the terms of an Infrastructure Access Agreement relating to the proposed Carmichael Mine and associated rail network.

It is one more approval proponent Adani can tick off as it awaits a State Government decision today on a groundwater management plan critical to allowing the start of construction at the Galilee Basin coal site. 

The Infrastructure Access Agreement between Adani, the Carmichael Rail Network and Isaac Regional Council was considered at a special meeting of council in Moranbah. 

Mayor Anne Baker said the proponents were required to establish an agreement with the council as a condition of the approval process set down by the Office of the Coordinator-General. 

“This is a requirement of all major projects and ensures the ratepayers of Isaac region are not directly or indirectly burdened by the cost of improving or maintaining infrastructure required to develop or operate a resources project,” Cr Baker said. 

“The Infrastructure Access Agreement formalises the obligations of the proponents to fund the upgrade to existing infrastructure to an agreed standard, provide required new infrastructure and to equitably fund the maintenance of existing roads impacted by activity created by the project during construction and operation. 

“For example, this agreement requires the proponent to carry out works in two stages to improve the Moray-Carmichael Road, which is the primary route to the mine site.

“The first stage will be undertaken immediately while the sealing of the road and the substantial upgrading of bridges will be undertaken in agreed timeframes over the next few years. If other roads are impacted by the mine and rail project over time, they too will be subject to improvements funded by the proponent.”

Green light from council for Carmichael infrastructure agreement

Cr Baker said the Carmichael mine and associated rail link were just two of several significant resources projects currently under development in the Isaac.

“Whilst there has been an unprecedented focus on this one development and one company, negotiation and formalisation of these agreements is business as usual for our organisation,” she said.

“We already have 26 active coal mines across the region, which collectively produce more than half of Queensland’s saleable coal.”

She said the local council was supportive of responsible development by the resources and mining sector within the region, but was also committed to making sure big companies fairly paid their way.
Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science has today approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) for the Carmichael coal project. 

It said Adani had submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the department’s feedback, yesterday.

The GDEMP was the final environmental management approval required for Adani to begin significant mining activities at its Carmichael mine site, 160km north-west of Clermont.

The decision – meeting a deadline set by the Co-ordinator General – came after project’s Black-Throated Finch Management Plan was approved on May 31. 

Adani wins approval for work at Carmichael coal project

In an official statement, the DES said the GDEMP’s assessment has been rigorous and based on the best available science.  

“DES and Adani have met regularly to ensure the plan is robust and provides the maximum environmental protection,” the DES said.

“In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia – the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year. 

“DES sought further clarification and advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, which it received on 7 June 2019. 

“Based on this advice, DES is satisfied that the GDEMP sufficiently establishes the main source aquifer of the springs as the Clematis Sandstone.

“CSIRO and Geoscience Australia also confirmed that some level of uncertainty in geological and groundwater conceptual models always exists.”

The DES said it had required additional commitments from Adani to undertake further scientific work over the next two years. 

This is required to identify any potential contribution from other aquifers and strengthen the GDEMP.

Additional commitments in the approved GDEMP include: 

  • Further work to improve the understanding of the source aquifers of springs in the locality, particularly the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, including:
  • Undertaking detailed hydrogeochemical analysis of groundwater and spring samples from different springs within each spring complex
  • Undertaking isotopic analysis (including noble, radioactive gases and strontium isotopes where isotopic analysis is not sufficient) 
  • Examining core samples from new bores to attain a better understanding of hydraulic properties and provide detailed geological mapping
  • Incorporating air-borne electro-magnetic modelling undertaken by Geoscience Australia to improve hydrogeological understanding of the area.
  • Using a bore in the Dunda Beds (also known as the Rewan Formation) as an early warning trigger for groundwater drawdown monitoring in the Carmichael River.
Additional measures in the GDEMP also address concerns raised last week by Flinders University scientists that the Permian aquifers should not be ruled out as a Doongmabulla Springs Complex source. 

These include installing a new bore below the Rewan Formation, in the vicinity of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, to assist in determining if the Permian aquifers (Colinlea) form a source for the springs. 

Adani is also required to review hydrological, hydrochemistry analyses and seismic information as part of its second geological and groundwater remodelling after box cut mining starts, and review seismic information pertaining underground mining impacts (which is scheduled to start in year 10 of the project). Further seismic studies may also need to be undertaken.

Underground mining will not commence until these actions are completed and only if predicted impacts are consistent with approved impacts.  Likewise, if the hydrogeological conceptualisation differs from that of the approved project, approval must be sought prior to relevant impact causing activities.
An updated outlook for the Sconi cobalt-nickel-scandium project in North Queensland is predicting a 30-years-plus mine life and revenue exceeding $13 billion.

Australian Mines announced an updated mine plan, ore reserve estimate and financials to the ASX today.

It came after the company announced yesterday that it would be undertaking, by way of a prospectus, a share purchase plan to raise at least $5 million to advance the Sconi project and for general working capital.

  • Expanded Mineral Resource at Sconi to support longer mine life of 30+ years 
  • 69 per cent increase in Total Ore Reserve to 57.30 million tonnes, 17 per cent increase in Proved Ore Reserve to 8.08 million tonnes, 82 per cent increase in Probable Ore Reserve to 49.22 million tonnes
  • Additional mine life increases total revenue by 44 per cent to $13.3 billion and total free cashflow increases 93 per cent to $5 billion
Following positive drill results announced earlier this year, the company has been working on refinements to the Sconi mine plan originally released as part of the project’s Bankable Feasibility Study in November 2018. 

Australian Mines said input had been provided by global engineering and construction firm Ausenco, specialist mine planning consultants Orelogy, and Simulus Laboratories.

As a result of this work, the planned life of mine for the project has increased from 18 years to at least 30 years.

The project is now estimated to produce 1,405,000 tonnes of nickel sulphate (up 46 per cent), 209,000 tonnes of cobalt sulphate (up 37 per cent) and 1,441 tonnes of scandium over the project life.

The State Government has declared the $1.4 billion Sconi project, near Greenvale, a prescribed project, helping to streamline approvals and fast-track the development.

Sconi mine life tipped to run beyond 30 years
News of the final environmental approval being signed off for construction of the Carmichael mine marks an historic day for Queensland, says federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan. 

“It has been more than 50 years since a new coal basin has opened in Queensland. so this development is of huge importance to the economic future of Queensland,” Senator Canavan said.

“When the Bowen Basin opened in the 1960s, it transformed Central Queensland. Opening up a new basin in Galilee promises similar development and opportunity. 

“Now we need to work together at all levels of government to deliver this opportunity to all workers, small businesses, indigenous Australians and local communities.”

Galilee Basin growth spurt to rise on 'historic' decision

Senator Canavan called on the Queensland Government to help facilitate the other mines in the Galilee to get more jobs going.

Australian Resources and Energy Group AMMA also voiced confidence that  
today’s final approval would open up ‘the enormous development potential of the resources-rich Galilee Basin’.

Chief executive Steve Knott said AMMA would like to congratulate Adani on its patience and persistence, and for successfully complying with some of the most stringent environmental conditions for any project anywhere in the world. 

“We have seen in the recent Queensland Government the huge importance of resources royalties to fund the state’s schools, hospitals, roads and other community infrastructure,” he said.

“The enormous contribution of the resources sector to our national prosperity was further demonstrated in the 2019 Federal Budget. 

“The Adani project will inject billions of dollars into the Queensland economy, provide thousands of jobs and countless opportunities for small and medium businesses along the supply chain.” 

The Queensland Resources Council said finalisation of the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan for Carmichael coal mine meant the project could now get underway and start delivering returns to Queensland. 

“The Adani Carmichael mine is one of six in the Galilee Basin that could create tens of thousands of jobs in construction and operation and deliver billions of dollars in royalties over their working life span,”  
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said.

“Mining jobs are typically highly skilled, high-tech and high-paying, and they support local communities across Queensland. The mining sector also provides economic returns and career opportunities for Indigenous Australians.”

He called on the Queensland Parliament to act swiftly to reject the Greens’ ‘job-destroying’ Mineral Resources (Galilee Basin) Amendment Bill 2018 which aims to ban all mining in the Galilee.

“The Adani project has undergone eight years of planning and assessment at both the State and Commonwealth level,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Everyone should accept this ruling and let the project proceed. Queenslanders have sent a very clear message that the stalling tactics of activists must stop.  

“Central Queenslanders and North Queenslanders are ready to get on with these jobs and deliver for our entire state.”
Construction activity will ramp up steadily in coming weeks at the Carmichael coal site, Adani Mining says.

Chief executive officer Lucas Dow said preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions would continue in coming days.

“These preparatory actions will enable us to then start construction activities including fencing, bridge and road upgrades, water management and civil earthworks on the mine site,” he said.

Carmichael construction cranks up after approval

Mr Dow was commenting after Adani Mining received advice today from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science that the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan (GDEMP) for the thermal coal project had been finalised and approved.

“This is confirmation the plan complies with all regulatory conditions set by the Australian and State Governments, bringing to a close a two-year process of rigorous scientific inquiry, review and approvals,” he said.

Finalisation of the GDEMP and Black-throated Finch Management Plan (approved May 31) paves the way for construction to commence.

“The project will deliver 1500 direct and 6750 indirect jobs during ramp up and construction, with Rockhampton and Townsville the primary hubs for employment,” Mr Dow said.

“The Whitsunday, Isaac, Central Highlands, Mackay, Charters Towers and Gladstone regions will also benefit from work packages and employment opportunities.

“Throughout the past eight years regional Queenslanders have been beside us every step of the way and we thank them for their ongoing support. We’re ready to start work on the Carmichael Project and deliver the jobs these regions so badly need.”
The Queensland Government has granted a further three mining leases to allow Resolute Mining to advance its Ravenswood Expansion Project (REP).

It comes as Resolute works towards completion of a strategic review of the project, with a Final Investment Decision on the REP expected during the second half of 2019.

Resolute managing director and chief executive officer John Welborn said he was excited about the potential for an expanded REP to add value to Resolute.

“The grant of these licences supports the ongoing investigation of the potential for a larger scale Ravenswood Expansion Project,” he said.

“The Mt Wright underground mine will close in 2019 and we are increasingly confident we can significantly increase the proposed production profile and reduce Life of Mine costs of our Ravenswood open pit mining operations.

“Our strategic review is consistent with our commitment to identify and adopt industry leading technology solutions to enhance our operations, successfully execute development plans, and deliver exceptional returns for shareholders.”

That review is exploring technical enhancements to expand production beyond that envisioned in the previously published REP study.

The three new approvals at Ravenswood come on top of nine new leases granted in May 2019.

They extend the surface area of Resolute’s existing tenure and include areas within the operational footprint of the proposed Buck Reef West open pit, noise bunding zone, and nearby land required for infrastructure including roads and water management.

Mr Welborn said the Ravenswood gold mine would deliver low-cost production for at least the next 14 years.

Extra leases granted as Resolute looks to step up Ravenswood expansion