The Goondicum ilmenite mine is a brownfield project being developed in the Central Queensland region of Australia. Melior Resources purchased the project in 2014 from Belridge Enterprises and will own and operate it through its fully-owned subsidiary Goondicum Resources (GR).
The decision to restart the project was made in August 2014 and the mineral commissioning started on 7 April 2015. Ilmenite production from the mine is expected to be restarted in the second half of 2015.
The ilmenite project comprises near-surface, ilmenite-rich oxidised gabbros and will produce apatite as a by-product along with titanomagnetite and feldspar by-products. It is estimated to produce an average of 200,000tpa of ilmenite over a mine life of 12 years.
The main focus of the project is to increase the processing plant’s throughput capacity to approximately 2.8 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) and install additional equipment to enhance product quality, plant recovery and availability.
Goondicum ilmenite mine location, geology, and reserves
The Goondicum mine is an integral part of the Goondicum Industrial Minerals project, which is part of Mining Lease Application MLA 80141 and Mining Lease ML 80044.
Ilmenite is a black metallic iron titanate element that consists of TiO₂ content that varies from 45% to the stoichiometric value of 52.6%. The ilmenite at Goondicum deposit has a TiO₂ content of 49-50%, making it suitable for the sulphate process for the production of titanium dioxide pigment.
The deposit is a flat-lying residual oxide deposit of a weathered gabbro intrusion and consists of a blend of weathered material and alluvium as the host rock.
The ilmenite mineralisation takes the form of liberated fine grains, mostly concentrated by surface water into more slimes-rich material. The concentration may also be related to an underlying primary concentration in the gabbro.
As of 11 March 2015, the project is estimated to contain indicated mineral resources of 2.69 million tonnes (Mt) of ilmenite, whereas the inferred ilmenite resources stand at 2.57Mt. H&S Consultants prepared the resource estimate report.
Mining and processing
The Goondicum ilmenite mine will apply a dry open pit method using a combination of scrapers and an excavator and truck model. Ore from the mine will be transported to the ore stockpile at the feed preparation plant (FPP) using four 40t 6WD trucks. Scrapers will also be used on short-haul to deliver the ore to the FPP.
The major mining fleet and equipment will consist of a Komatsu PC1250 digger, four CAT740 articulated dump trucks, a CAT D10 dozer, three CAT639 scrapers, and a CAT980 front-end loader. The equipment will be supplied by the mining contractor on a dry-hire basis.
The processing plant will be expanded from the current throughput capacity of 250tph to 375tph, and further to 485tph. Ore will undergo a two-stage process comprising a feed preparation plant (FPP) and a wet concentration plant for mineral recovery.
The FPP plant will use a combination of slurring, scrubbing/attritioning, screening and cyclone de-sliming methods to extract sand fraction from the barren clay fraction.
The clay matrix will be broken down in an autogenous rotating scrubber using water and rocks. The material will undergo scrubbing and the resulting product will be extracted through a wet screen and de-slimed through a cluster of cyclones. The remaining feed material will be stored in a Constant Density tank as feed for the wet concentration plant (WCP).
In the WCP, the feed will be processed through wet grinding, gravity and magnetic separation to recover ilmenite as a final concentrate. The final product will be trucked 260km to Gladstone port facility and shipped to customers.
Off-take of ilmenite from Goondicum mine
Melior Resources holds an exclusive marketing agreement with Sojitz Corporation, a Japanese trading company, for the off-take of all the ilmenite produced.
Construction and infrastructure facilities
Major work at the mine includes the construction of a new 19km mine access road, which is estimated to minimise the haulage distance from the mine site to Gladstone port by approximately 100km.
Power supply for the mine will be provided through a 26km grid-connected power line. Goondicum Resources signed an agreement with the Gladstone Port Authority for providing a port storage facility to hold approximately 35,000t of ilmenite produced at Goondicum.
Water required for the project will be sourced from Mulgildie bore field through a 35km-long pipeline having a design capacity of 2,000ML per annum.