Goondicum mine officially back in business
AFTER more than three years out of action the Goondicum ilmenite mine outside Monto is officially back in business.
Mine owner Melior Resources last week announced that construction at the site had been completed on schedule and on budget.
Production resumed for first time since July 2015. The mine is now in its commissioning phase and will slowly build toward full-scale production over the next six months.
Goondicum is now focused on weeding out technical deficiencies and getting its new staff up to speed.
Having returned from a two-day conference in Singapore with the mine's Chinese investors, Melior chief executive Mark McCauley said he hoped the business would continue to under promise and over deliver.
"We'll start shipping next quarter and (Chinese buyers) are very excited about receiving our product early in the new year,” Mr McCauley said.
"The team on site, led by Alastair Bauer, did an excellent job of planning, preparing, and executing.
"We still have to go through and iron out the minor engineering issues and train all our employees before we get the plant up to its full production capacity.
"All those things take time and it's not unusual for a plant of this size.
"We think we'll do it slightly quicker than others because we've done it before but it will take us at least six months to get up to full production.
"It's a complicated process. There's a lot that goes in to it but I think we have the makings of an excellent team.”
The first production of ilmenite and apatite was successfully completed last week. The project will operate on day shift for the next month before making the transition to a 24/7 roster and continuous operation.
The newly-installed equipment performed as anticipated and the focus has now shifted to recruitment and training as production ramps up.
Ilmenite haulage to the port is planned to begin in January, while the first ilmenite shipment remains scheduled for the first quarter of 2019.
It is understood the resumption will strengthen Canadian-owned Melior Resources's push to finalise a merger with Queensland bauxitre developer Metallica Minerals.
A deal was made in September, but is awaiting approval of the various Australian and Canadian regulatory bodies and the companies' shareholders.
Mr McCauley said negotiations had been progressing independently of the productive work taking place on-site at Goondicum.
"That will be a really nice step forward in the evolution of Melior,” he said.
"If it happens, great. If it doesn't happen it's not the end of the world for us.”