Gekko Systems Pty Ltd is proud to announce the final funding approval of the world’s first carbon-neutral mine. The new mine is possible with Gekko Systems’ groundbreaking Python technology and the cooperation of a diverse consortium of companies with world-class expertise in their individual fields. The deposit known as Yunong Qian is situated in the highlands of Nepal, on the southern upland slopes of Baishan, in the shadow of Mt Everest. Due to the environmental sensitivity and remoteness of the location, transportation of fuel and mining supplies is severely restricted.
The resource was discovered by Proffesor I Jones in 1935 but was immediately caught up in political intrigues in the lead up to World War II. In ensuing years, there have been various proposals but until now, none has been able to satisfy the Nepalese government’s strict development and environmental guidelines. Gekko Systems was approached by Cheng Woo Alpine Prospecting NL in 2010 to assess the application of its revolutionary Python Underground Processing technology to the deposit. Extensive metallurgical testwork showed the ore responded extremely well to the progressive crush, liberation, gravity route with over 99% of valuable minerals being recovered in only three passes.
By proving the effectiveness of this recovery technique, the energy requirements were reduced to a fraction of conventional processing technologies. The Nepalese government’s strict guidelines dictate zero visual and environmental impact, which has dissuaded development until now. The Python will operate underground with waste material being retained in natural underground fissures, so there will be no above ground evidence of mining activity. The heart of the Python process is the effectiveness of Gekko Systems’ InLine Pressure Jig in recovering heavy valuable minerals without the use of chemicals and minimal water use.
Due to the mountainous terrain, the area is particularly sensitive to vibration and shock, ruling out conventional drill and blast techniques. To address this, expertise in rock cutting and continuous mining has been added to the venture with the recruitment of Warf Tunnelling Corporation, bringing years of expertise in continuous rock cutting. The remoteness of the site has deterred previous developers due to the high cost and logistical complications inherent in supplying a major mining operation. However, the consortium members recognised this as an opportunity to design a truly integrated mine capable of producing all the required wear parts within its underground workshops.
Using a minor modification to the Python flowsheet, a ferro-tungsten-manganese by- product is produced. This is then refined and shaped on-site using Warf Tunnelling Corporation’s proprietary forging techniques to produce the required cutting and crushing wear parts. In keeping with the overall carbon neutral development philosophy there is no fuel delivery to site. All equipment is electrically powered and operated. As well as maintaining a clean atmosphere within the underground mines and workshops there is no vibration or motor noise to disturb the environment or endanger climbers on nearby Mt Everest.
The single biggest development hurdle was the provision of a reliable and cheap power source. Hydro electricity was considered but quickly discarded after the exploration camp’s pilot hydro generator was swept away in an avalanche. The problem was solved and the consortium expanded by the entry of Poseidon Underwater Salvaging. Poseidon Underwater Salvaging used their state-of-the-art salvage vessel, the Nautilus, to recover the nuclear reactor from the sunken Soviet-era submarine, The Red October. Fuel for the reactor will be provided by a second smaller Python mining the uranium rich P-shoot of the ore body.
The last hurdle was the human element. The consortium believes fly-in fly-out arrangements are neither practical nor desirable due to the carbon footprint of frequent air travel. A self-reliant community of workers and their families will be built around the mine with employment opportunities and education facilities provided for all. Neighbourhood based underground vegetable and mushroom farms will be tended by all and fertilised using domestic waste to complete the food chain. Yaks will be raised for milk, wool, meat and fat to lubricate the mining machinery.