November’s top stories: New Caledonia’s £7bn nickel mine, Koodaideri mine approval

30 November 2014 (Last Updated November 30th, 2014 18:30)

Operations started at the $7bn Koniambo Nickel project (Koniambo) in New Caledonia, Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended conditional approval to Rio Tinto's $3.5bn open cut iron ore mine, while Vale opened a $1.37bn iron ore distribution centre in Malaysia. Mining-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from November 2014.

November’s top stories: New Caledonia’s £7bn nickel mine, Koodaideri mine approval

Underground mine

Koniambo Nickel mine in New Caledonia officially opened by French President

Koniambo Nickel Mine, caledonia

Operations started at the $7bn Koniambo Nickel project (Koniambo) in New Caledonia, which is jointly owned by Glencore and Société Minière du Sud Pacifique (SMSP).

Koniambo mine is located in the North province of New Caledonia, a French territory 1,210km east of Australia in the south-west Pacific Ocean.

Construction started in 2007 and the project includes a mine, an ore preparation plant, a metallurgical plant, coal and gas plants, water purification and treatment plants, a power station and a port.

US court grants preliminary injunction against EPA over Bristol Bay mine project

The US Federal District Court for Alaska granted Northern Dynasty Minerals' Pebble Limited Partnership's (PLP) request for a preliminary injunction in its litigation against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA says that the company's proposed Bristol Bay copper-gold mine project in Alaska would violate the US Clean Water Act.

The agency stated that the mine would endanger sockeye salmon by releasing dredged or fill material into waters.

Pebble has countered saying that the mine would generate 15,000 jobs and contribute $64bn to the US economy.

EPA conditionally approves Rio Tinto's $3.5bn Koodaideri iron ore mine

Koodaideri Iron

The Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended for approval Rio Tinto's $3.5bn open cut iron ore mine in the Pilbara region.

Rio Tinto subsidiary Mount Bruce Mining is planning to develop the proposed Koodaideri iron ore mine, which sits approximately 110km west-north-west of Newman in Pilbara.

The mine has a mine life of 30 years and is expected to produce up to 70 million tonnes of iron ore a year.

Koodaideri's development includes mine pits, ore processing areas, waste dumps and a storage facility, as well as railway and infrastructure corridors.

Vale inaugurates new iron ore distribution centre in Malaysia

Iron ore distribution centre, Vale

Brazilian mining giant Vale opened a new $1.37bn iron ore distribution centre in the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia.

Known as Teluk Rubiah Maritime Terminal, the distribution centre can handle 30 million tonnes of iron ore a year and features a deep water wharf and five stockyards where different types of iron ore can be blended and customised to the needs of regional steelmakers.

The facility is equipped with an import system that can unload vessels of up to 400,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt) and an export system with the capacity of loading vessels up to Capesize.

AngloGold Ashanti to lose 900 jobs in South Africa

South Africa mining firm AngloGold Ashanti may cut around 900 jobs in order to reduce costs.

Lower gold prices, rising costs and increased taxes have been cited by the company as the reason for reducing its workforce.

According to a source from the worker union, the downsize could affect 1,200 jobs out of the 32,000 employees in the country, Reuters reported.

AngloGold is considering reassigning 300 of its staffs to other positions; however, the remaining 900 are facing redundancy.

Uralkali to commence repair works at damaged Solikamsk-2 mine

Russian potash producer Uralkali announced plans to carry out repair work at the damaged Solikamsk-2 mine, after flooding halted production last week.

Due to water inflow at the mine, a 30m by 40m sinkhole is said to have formed at an abandoned mine about two miles to the east.

According to the company, the inflow of water in 2006 formed a sinkhole that forced another Uralkali operation to be permanently shutdown.

The Governor of the Perm region where Solikamsk-2 mine is located said the inflow has 'practically stopped' and there is no danger to local residents of any expansion of the sinkhole.

Curtin University researchers develop economical mining drilling technique

Economical drilling tech

Researchers at Curtin University have developed a new coiled tube drilling rig to help carry out mineral exploration at a fraction of the cost.

The project is said to be a partnership with CSIRO, The University of Adelaide and various mining and service companies through the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre (DETCRC).

In addition to increasing the drilling speed for mineral exploration from 50rev/min to 7,000rev/min, the project also aims to reduce costs and improve health and safety.

Caterpillar introduces advanced longwall plow systems for coal mining

US equipment manufacturer Caterpillar launched the Cat GH800B longwall plow system to enable mining very low coal seams at high-rates.

The latest product is based on the firm's GH1600 plow system model.

Caterpillar's longwall team in Lünen, Germany, co-ordinated with German Ibbenbüren mine to develop the new plow, which can help to mine anthracite seams with thickness of around 0.85m (33.5in).

Flinders University introduces new device to tackle mine worker dehydration

Flinders University's Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) is to introduce a new concept to tackle the dehydration issue faced by the mining industry, developed by occupational hygienist Ryan Wynch.

The university will provide its input for the new Hydralert, which will help mine managers implement their health and safety policies.

The compact device will be placed in urinals to analyse the hydration level of a mining worker in real-time and provide immediate feedback.

Mineler launches social media platform for global mining industry

Perth-based start-up company Mineler launched a social media platform for workers in the mining industry.

The application has been designed to connect people in mining-related industries and facilitate job searches for projects, as well as keeping users informed about other business or contract opportunities. Mineler marketplace will allow companies to find flexible, crowd-sourced workforces and international supplier bases.

Using the platform, mining operators can also post work tenders, both manual tasks and full supply contracts, that members can bid for.

The application was launched with more than 60,000 pre-registered members from countries including Colombia, Peru and Canada, reports StartupSmart; however, individual members must pay a fee to access the service.