The rapid construction of ASX-listed Strandline Resources’ Coburn mineral sands project in Western Australia has facilitated the start of openpit mine development two months ahead of schedule, the company said on Wednesday.
After the successful early mobilisation of the mining contractor in April, Strandline said that the construction of the temporary tailings storage facility was almost finished, and that prestrip mining would start in the first week of July.
Mine development will run concurrently with finalising the construction of the processing and supporting infrastructure, which remains on-budget and on track for first production of heavy minerals concentrate later this year.
Detailed mine planning optimisation by consulting engineering firm AMC Consultants, using the latest infill drilling data, has resulted in an enhanced pit design for the first two years of the mine plan, which contains less overburden and a lower strip ratio, as well as potentially reduced mining costs compared to assumptions contained within the Coburn definitive feasibility study.
The strip ratio has reduced from an average of 0.7 to 0.5 over the first two years of the mine plan, owing primarily to optimising and scheduling more ore closer to surface on the eastern side of the deposit.
Moreover, the three dozer mining units have been delivered and assembled on site, ready to be moved into position for mining first ore later this year.
Strandline said that the commissioning of the sub-systems associated with the wet concentration plant (WCP) and hybrid power station were expected to start in July as construction verification works ramp up.
Strandline MD Luke Graham said that the start of prestrip mining represented an important milestone for the project, ensuring that the company remained on track for first production of heavy mineral concentrate in the December quarter this year.
“Construction continues to advance strongly with commissioning of the WCP and hybrid power station set to commence next month,” he said.
With Coburn construction reaching peak activity and personnel numbers on site, Graham said Strandline continued to focus on managing the various risk factors associated with development of the project.
These risks included health, safety and environment risks, potential impacts of Covid-19, inclement weather, contractor performance and contractual claims.
The capital expenditure (capex) forecast to complete the project, including an assessment of contractual claims received to date, was being regularly evaluated by the company’s technical, financial and legal experts. The project forecast remained in line with the overall capex budget.