KALGOORLIE (miningweekly.com) – Mining major BHP is readying to take a final investment decision on the expansion at its Mt Keith concentrator, in Western Australia, at the end of the financial year.
BHP Nickel West asset president Eduard Haegel told delegates at the Diggers & Dealers conference, in Kalgoorlie, that the company would be adding a 16 MW semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill to the existing concentrator.
Along with the modernisation of the flotation circuit, the changes to the concentrator would increase the Mt Keith concentrator capacity from 10.5-million tonnes a year, to 12-million tonnes a year, and ultimately 15-million tonnes a year.
“This expansion of the Mt Keith concentrator is possible because the Yakabindie development is in full production, and we will in parallel, restart mining operations at the next stage of the Mt Keith pit. This will involve a 50% increase in mining activity this financial year,” Haegel said.
At the Leinster concentrator, upgrades have also resulted in record production rates, which have required an increase in mining activities, said Haegel.
He noted that several options are available to Nickel West to increase production rates, but he noted that one of the most attractive options was to complete exploration at the Cliffs underground mine and extend its mine life again.
“To support this ambition, the development of a new road way to connect the northern and southern mining areas at depth, will be completed this year. While this connection will improve ventilation and de-risk mining access, it also offers a substantial exploration platform to extend the mine at depth.”
BHP recently partnered with Goldfields TransAlta to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster operations, helping the miner to reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12% based on 2020 levels.
The Northern Goldfields solar project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation.