Australian resource company TNG plans to start construction on the Mount Peake vanadium-iron-titanium project located in the Arunta province of Northern Territory, Australia, in 2017 .
A prefeasibility study completed in July 2012 called for a 20-year mine life at an ore production rate of five million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). The definitive feasibility study (DFS) stage was concluded in July 2015. Commissioning of the mine is anticipated in 2018.
Mount Peake mine location, geology and reserves
The Mount Peake project is located approximately 235km north of Alice Springs in the Arunta province and approximately 60km west of the Stuart Highway.
The vanadium-iron-titanium deposit discovered by TNG in 2008 is located within the Neoproterozoic sediments of the Georgina Basin. The ore body is hosted by a differentiated basic sill with minor ultrabasic layers. The predominant rock type is olivine gabbro and the mineralised unit is defined by a high concentration of magnetite. Most of the vanadium and titanium at the mine are found in coarse magnetite grains.
As of March 2013, the Mount Peake mine was estimated to contain total JORC resources of 160 million tonnes (Mt) grading 0.28% vanadium pentoxide (V205), 5.31% titanium dioxide (TiO2), and 22.81% iron (Fe). Measured resources at the mine stood at 118Mt.
Mining and processing of ore at the Mount Peake Mine
The conventional drill and blast mining method, followed by truck and shovel operation, will be employed at the open pit mine. Extracted ore will be transported by haul trucks and stockpiled on-site at a run-of-mine (ROM) pad before processing. Mining is proposed to begin at a starter pit targeting ore of high-grade and low-strip ratio.
A 5Mtpa beneficiation plant and a 2.5Mtpa hydrometallurgical plant have been proposed to process the ore.
The ROM ore will be transported to the beneficiation plant where the ore will undergo two-stage crushing before passing through high-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR). The ground ore will then be screened and the undersized product will be conveyed to the ball mill for further processing. The screened ore will pass through the rougher magnetic separators (RMS) and the resultant concentrate will be conveyed to the leaching circuit for hydrometallurgical processing.
At the hydrometallurgical processing unit, vanadium pentoxide, haematite and titanium dioxide will be extracted from the magnetite concentrate using TNG’s trademarked acid leach process called TIVAN®, which was developed in association with Perth-based Mineral Engineering Technical Services (METS).
The hydrometallurgical processing plant is estimated to produce 15,000t of vanadium pentoxide, 1.11Mt of haematite and 375,000t of titanium dioxide a year.
Utility and transport infrastructure
Power supply for the mine will be provided by an onsite gas-fired power generation facility for which gas is proposed to be sourced from the Amadeus Basin through the Darwin Natural Gas Pipeline.
Magnetite extracted from the mine will be transported by rail to the Darwin port, for which TNG has entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with freight rail service provider Genesee & Wyoming Australia.
Potential off-takers for Mount Peake’s products
Tn June 2014, TNG entered a MoU with Gunvor Group for the off-take and distribution of iron products manufactured at Mount Peake. In the same month, it signed a MoU with Global Pacific Partners for the off-take of titanium products from the mine.
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TNG also signed MoUs with two Korean companies WOOJIN and Hyundai Steel in June and July 2014 respectively, which provides significant investment for the project, along with long-term iron and vanadium off-take agreements.
Contractors involved with the Mount Peake Mine development
A non-binding MoU was signed as a three-way agreement between POSCO Engineering & Construction (E&C), TNG and METS in May 2014, for the completion of DFS of the project, potential project finance assistance by POSCO E&C through the Korean Export Credit Agency or any other agreed source. The agreement includes potential engineering and development contracts to POSCO E&C.
Perth-based engineering firm Arccon Mining Services was engaged in 2013 to prepare the DFS for the project, while consulting firm GHD prepared the environmental impact study (EIS).
METS is the metallurgical consultant for TNG for the Mount Peake project. An agreement was signed with Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in January 2013 to conduct metallurgical test work, including a definitive pilot plant trial for the vanadium-iron-titanium project.
Snowden Mining Industry Consultants was engaged to prepare the scoping study for the project in 2011.