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The Central Eyre Iron Project – developing a new iron ore mine in a challenging climate

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Author K L McPhee, A G Hunt and L J Ingle
ID P201703084

Description

Iron Road Limited (IRD) is currently developing the Central Eyre Iron Project (CEIP) at Warramboo on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The project consists of a 30 year open pit mine, magnetite processing facilities, standard-gauge railway and deep water, Cape class capable port. Major South Australian government approvals have been received and funding arrangements confirmed.

The 4.5 Bt Mineral Resource (3.7 Bt Ore Reserve), the largest in Australia and among the largest globally, is to be mined to produce 24 Mt/a high-grade, 67 per cent Fe, magnetite concentrate. This in-demand, premium product has a P80 of ~100 µm, suitable for both direct sinter feed and an additive in pelletising.

The extensively drilled, homogeneous orebody is unique in both geology and mineralogy; only averaging 15 per cent Fe yet coarse-grained with almost negligible phosphorus and sulfur content. This has allowed significant opportunities to tailor the mining method to the orebody, utilising both optimised blasting as first stage comminution, as well as in-pit crushing and conveying (IPCC) to reduce the heavy haulage diesel fleet and optimise the pit shell.

Approximately 1 Mt/d of total material, ore and waste, is required to be moved from the pit daily, introducing materials handling challenges, overcome by a flexible IPCC set-up, multiple overland conveyors and an exacting mine plan. Non-conventional waste and tailings storage is utilised to allow for significant water savings, progressive rehabilitation and minimisation of land impact.

The processing facilities utilise both the magnetic and density properties of the magnetite to beneficiate the ore. The coarse-grained nature of the ore is exploited to minimise comminution yet still liberate a high quality product. Utilisation of modular construction methods allows risk reduction during construction and reduced pumping requirements during operation.

This paper highlights the uniqueness of the CEIP, with focus on the mineralisation of the orebody, and the beneficial impacts this has on both the proposed mining method and processing. Magnetite mining is not new and IRD has used the learnings of others, and input from various vendors and industry experts, utilising knowledge and expertise to engineer an innovative, yet supported, project design.

CITATION:

McPhee, K L, Hunt, A G and Ingle, L J, 2017. The Central Eyre Iron Project – developing a new iron ore mine in a challenging climate, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 613–620 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).