Jul 22, 2017

Bauxite Hills on the starting blocks

Bauxite Hills on the starting blocks

Metro Mining aims to begin employing its Bauxite Hills workforce within months, targeting jobseekers in Cairns, Weipa, Injunoo and Hope Vale.

Construction for the direct shipping ore operation, 95km north of Weipa, is expected to be completed in July-December this year.

Managing director Simon Finnis said it would then be placed into care and maintenance over the wet season before kicking off production in March/April 2018.

The company has been undertaking early works to prepare the site, including overhauling an old kaolin mine accommodation camp for use during mine construction.

Tenderers lined up, ready to go

“We’ve installed a catering company in there and ordered all the long-lead items – the piles, the structural steel,” Mr Finnis said.

“We’ve gone to tender and lined up preferred tenderers ready to go, ready to just push the button and start construction itself.

“The construction phase is expected to employ about 50 people and that grows to about 180 when we’re in full production.”

Metro is developing its $36 million Bauxite Hills project with the previously approved Skardon River bauxite project, acquired in a takeover of Gulf Alumina this year.

The company announced in June that it had secured the $40 million debt financing required to develop the mine as well as final environmental approvals.

Metro Mining managing director Simon Finnis.

“We will start employing the workforce later this year,” Mr Finnis said.

“Some of the construction team will obviously roll into operations and we have started recruiting some of the overseeing management team already for the site.”

Mr Finnis said his best advice to people interested in working at Bauxite Hills was to keep an eye out in the local media.

“We will make it clear when the start is occurring and will have open days, not at site itself because it is too remote, but in Cairns, Weipa, Injunoo – those sorts of places – where people can come and have a chat,” he said.

“We will be doing FIFO out of Cairns but also having flights from Weipa and Injunoo in the north, and we’re trying to connect in Hope Vale as well.”

There would be a strong focus on indigenous engagement, he said.

The construction phase will include establishing a barge loading facility, building or augmenting roads, and developing a new accommodation camp to house the operational workforce.

“The main infrastructure components are the barge loading facility and we’re putting a brand new camp in – those items make up over half the capital costs,” Mr Finnis said.

It will be a surface mining operation and the site already has an airstrip and load-out area.

Transhipment Australia has been awarded the transhipping contract for the operation in joint venture with an indigenous corporation, Dadaru.

Cater Care will provide camp management services in the construction and long-term accommodation camps.

Seventeen-year mine life

Based on the bankable feasibility study completed in March 2017, the planned production from Bauxite Hills mine is 2Mtpa increasing to 6Mtpa over the first four years, with a 17-year mine life.

“That’s based on a reserve of 92 million tonnes within a total resource of 145 million tonnes, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the mine life extends,” Mr Finnis said.

The site also held exploration potential, with more than 2500sq km of regional tenement holdings, he said.

Metro has an initial four-year, 7 million-tonne binding offtake agreement with Xinfa Group – one of the largest integrated aluminium companies in China.

The company has also secured an offtake letter-of-intent with Lubei Chemicals – China’s fifth largest bauxite importer.

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