The Cyclone Zircon Project is estimated to produce approximately 65,000tpa of zircon. Image courtesy of Rob Lavinsky.
The required water will be sourced from an aquifer located below the deposits at the project site. Image courtesy of Diatreme Resources.
The concentrates from the project will be trucked to the Trans Australian Rail Line in Forest, for further shipment to a seaport by rail. Image courtesy of Bleakcomb.

The Cyclone Zircon Project, hosting the Mining Lease M69/141 and Retention Licence R69/1, is located within the Eucla Basin, approximately 25km west of the South Australian border, and 230km north of the Trans Australian Rail Line.

The project is owned and operated by Diatreme Resources, through its subsidiary Perpetual Mining Holding Limited (PMHL), while Lost Sands has a 6% equity interest in the project.

The prefeasibility study (PFS) for the project was completed in March 2012, whereas the definitive feasibility study (DFS) is currently in progress. The final environmental approval is expected to be granted by the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in June 2016.

The overall investment to bring the mine into production is estimated to be $146m, which was reduced from the earlier estimation of $223m made in the PFS, following a cost saving study conducted in 2014.

The mine is estimated to have a production life of ten years, according to the PFS.

Cyclone zircon project geology and mineralisation

The deposits at the project site are classified as a tertiary beach strandline heavy minerals system, with a thin Quaternary cover sequence of aeolian sands and loamy soils overlying the tertiary sands.

Mineralisation is hosted within bimodal near-shore fine sands, higher grade beach strandlines, homogenous beach sands, and overlying aeolian dune sands. These mineralised sands are freeflowing with a lower quantity of rock and slime.

Reserves at Diatreme Resources’ flagship project

As of December 2015, the project was estimated to hold probable reserve of 140Mt grading 2.5% HM and containing 3.5Mt of HM.

As of April 2015, the project was estimated to hold combined measured an indicated resources of 211Mt grading 2.3% HM and containing 4.8Mt of HM.

The project targets an ore mining rate of 10Mt a year, to produce approximately 147,000t a year of heavy mineral concentrate, which would further produce an average 65,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of zircon, 46,000tpa of HiTi67 (67.3% TiO2) and 10,000tpa of HiTi87 (86.6% TiO2).

Mining and processing at the Western Australian zircon mine

The mining method envisaged for the project is the open-cut mining method integrating dozer, excavator and truck operations.

“The final environmental approval is expected to be granted by the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in June 2016.”

The project will involve the construction of a wet separation plant (WCP) incorporating a wet slurry process. The plant will be equipped with a screening circuit and will go through several gravity separation stages including spirals, classifier and shaking tables. The WCP will further integrate a thickener for water conservation and tailings control.

The concentrates from the WCP will be sold directly to customers, contrary to the earlier proposal in the DFS to include a mineral separation plant (MSP) at the site.

Infrastructure for the heavy minerals mining project

Bore wells will be dug at the project site to source water from an aquifer located below the deposits.

Major project infrastructure at the site will include an airstrip, an accommodation camp, tailings storage facilities located north and south of the WCP, and a haul road from the mine site to the Transcontinental rail line in Forest.

Key players involved

The design for the project’s WCP was performed by CPG – Mineral Technologies (CPG). Sedgman has been contracted to perform a project enhancement and update study for the project, to further target cost savings.

The field surveys for terrestrial fauna and vegetation in the project area were conducted by Outback Ecology, a subsidiary of MWH Australia.