Dugald River Mine, Queensland, Australia


The Dugald River zinc-lead-silver mine is situated 65km north-west of Cloncurry in Northern Queensland, Australia, and owned by MMG. It is one of the world's biggest zinc-lead-silver deposits and comprises of high-grade minerals.

The mine was initially planned to be developed as an underground operation, but the decision was deferred as the geology was found to be more complex than expected. The decision was made as the ground conditions were identified to be poor to achieve underground operation, calling for review of the planned mining method.

MMG plans to commence production from the Dugald River in mid-2018. The expected mine life of the property is more than 20 years.

China Development Bank and Bank of China provided 13-year debt facility of up to $1bn for the Dugald River mine development in June 2013. The project is expected to employ approximately 600 people during construction and 500 people during operations.

Dugald River mine geology and mineralisation

The Dugald River mine lies within a tabular lode representing the sediments of Corella Formation. The tabular lode at the area has a strike length of approximately 2,200m and is extended to a minimum depth of 1,000m.

"The mineralisation is mostly confined to the main lode and includes sphalerite, galena, pyrrhotite and pyrite."

The mineralisation is mostly confined to the main lode and includes sphalerite, galena, pyrrhotite and pyrite.

Dugald River mine reserves

The Dugald River mine is estimated to contain 39.6 million tonnes (Mt) of mineral reserves graded at 11.9% zinc, 1.9% lead and 41g/t of silver. The measured and indicated resources are estimated at 53Mt with average zinc grade of 12.5%.

Dugald River mine development details

The original development plan for Dugald River is an underground operation to be accessed through two declines developed north and south.

MMG also plans to incorporate the operations and maintenance of the Dugald River mine and the Century mine under a single Queensland operations structure, which will help in simultaneously managing the development activities and human resources at both mines.

Mining and processing at Dugald River

Diamond drilling at the Dugald River mine reached beyond 20,000m depth by the end of June 2013. The mining is planned to be carried out using conventional mobile equipment along with long-hole open stoping. The ore will be hauled to the surface and treated by an on-site concentrator.

"The produced concentrate will be trucked and transported to the storage shed and rail load-out facility at Cloncurry."

The produced concentrate will be trucked and transported to the storage shed and rail load-out facility at Cloncurry. It will then be transported by rail to the Townsville Port for export. The existing concentrate storage facilities will be extended by approximately 35k in order to accommodate the concentrates of the Dugald River.

The ore will be processed through crushing, fine grinding and flotation at the 2Mtpa processing plant. It is expected to annually produce 200,000t to 220,000t of zinc, 25,000t of lead, and 900,000t of silver.

Infrastructure facilities and construction of Dugald River mine

The development and construction of the Dugald River underground mine was approved in 2012.

The major construction activities planned were the main site access road, an accommodation village, and other infrastructure facilities. Workers would be accommodated in the permanent 500-member accommodation camp.

The mining fleet is planned to consist of one Tamrock Jumbo, one Caterpillar 2900 Bogger and Caterpillar AD55 trucks. Power supply for the mine will be provided by Mica Creek Power Station through a 62km transmission line.

Contractors involved with the Dugald River mine development

Barminco was awarded the underground development contract for the Dugald River mine. It developed two exploration declines for accessing and developing the orebody under the $100m contract.

Origin Energy was awarded a contract for supplying gas to the Dugald River and the Century mines for producing power.

The contract for designing and engineering the crushing and screening plant was awarded to Allmine Group.

Forge Group Minerals and Resources was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the processing plant, but the same was cancelled in September 2013 following the decision to defer the mining method.

RCR Tomlinson was awarded a $73m contract to construct the processing plant at the Dugald River project in May 2016, Work is anticipated to commence immediately and is scheduled to be completed in October 2017.

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