Australia’s leading commodity exports – iron ore, coal and gold – continue to provide the next phase of development.

However, battery minerals, such as lithium, have started to show their value in the future of the industry.

Western Australia leads the way with the most projects at the committed and feasibility stage. Queensland is also set for expansion with upcoming developments in a diverse range of commodities, including coal, gold and copper.

Western Australia (WA)

Gold Road Resources / Gold Fields, Gruyere, Western Australia, gold

The Gruyere joint venture is set to pour first gold at the Gruyere project in Western Australia during this [June 2019] quarter. The project is set to have a 12 year mine life showing great stability. The updated mine plan has lifted the average production by December 2019.

Fortescue Metals Group, Eliwana, Western Australia, iron ore

Fortescue approved the development of the Eliwana mine and rail project in the Pilbara during May 2018. The $1.7 billion project involves 143 kilometres of rail, a new 30 million tonnes per annum dry ore processing facility, and infrastructure. Fortescue expects production to begin at Eliwana in December 2020.

Mount Gibson Iron, Koolan Island restart, Western Australia, iron ore

Mount Gibson Iron was on track to complete the Koolan Island restart project off the Kimberley coast in the April 2019 quarter. The anticipated workforce during construction was around 80, rising to over 300 employees and contractors during production.

Rio Tinto, Robe Valley / West Angeles expansion, Western Australia, iron ore

Rio Tinto and its joint venture partners approved a $2 billion investment to sustain production capacity at two projects that form part of Robe River in October 2018. First ore is expected in 2021. Construction of both projects is expected to start next year and create 1200 jobs, with first ore due in 2021.

BHP, South Flank, Western Australia, iron ore

BHP approved the $US3.4 billion investment in the South Flank project in the Pilbara in June 2018. The project is being developed to replace production from the 80 million tonnes a year Yandi mine as it heads towards the end of its economic life. The project received board approval in June 2018, with construction works starting back in 2018. First ore is expected in 2021.

Image Resources, Boonanarring, Western Australia, mineral sands

The company, which started construction on the $235 million project in March 2018, reported the first bulk shipment of concentrate from the Bunbury Port in January [2019]. Image will ramp up production to a steady state of around 500 tonnes per hour at the site over the first half of 2019. Production is set to continue for 10 years. Piacentini was awarded the mining contract for the project.

Talison Lithium, Greenbushes expansion, Western Australia, lithium

Greenbushes is already the world’s largest lithium mine. The latest expansion, announced in the first half of 2018, will double the production capacity at Greenbushes to 2.3 million tonnes of lithium concentrate a year from 2021.

Tianqi Lithium Australia, Kwinana lithium plant, Western Australia, lithium

Tianqi Lithium’s landmark first-stage $400 million plant at Kwinana is all-but finished with the plant beginning a commissioning process just before Christmas that could take up to six months. At full production of 48,000 tonnes a year, the plant will be the world’s biggest producer of battery-grade lithium hydroxide. Tianqi has hired 70 of the 170 staff who will operate the plant, many of them from the local area.

Kidman Resources, Mount Holland mine, Western Australia, lithium and gold

In a pre-feasibility study released December 2018, Kidman forecast Mt Holland to be a long-life, low-cost operation with projected annual production of 45,254 tonnes of LiOH and a 47-year mine life. Kidman also has plans to develop a refinery at Kwinana near Perth to produce battery-grade refined lithium. A further 10 open pit gold mines and one underground gold mine exist within the package.

Queensland (QLD)

QCoal Group, Byerwen, Queensland, coal

QCoal is developing the Byerwen open cut project in the Bowen Basin to eventually produce 10 million tonnes of metallurgical coal a year. Mining leases were granted back in May 2017, early work commenced in 2018 to conclude in early 2020.

Copper Mountain Mining, Cloncurry, Queensland, copper

CMMC released a feasibility study for the Cloncurry project in October 2018 that estimated a $350 million capital cost to develop the site. The site production is to be around 73,000 tonnes by 2020 with the expected mine life is estimated at 12 years. It has not, however, decided to start construction yet.

Evolution Mining, Mt Carlton, Queensland, gold

Evolution Mining approved a $60 million investment for three projects at the Mt Carlton mine in October 2018. The projects include an underground development, a stage four pit cut back and plant modifications. Evolution will bring forward production from Mt Carlton’s high-grade zone with the projects. It expects to deliver first ore from the underground operation during the 2021 financial year.

South Australia (SA)

OZ Minerals, Carrapateena, South Australia, copper-gold

OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena project is currently in phase 2: above ground construction, processing plant, storage facility, and infrastructure. The Adelaide-based company approved development of the $916 million project in August 2017 and has created over 1000 jobs at the site. It expects the operation to annually produce 65,000 tonnes of copper and 67,000 ounces of gold over a 20-year mine life once it is developed.

New South Wales (NSW)

Diversified Minerals, Dargues Reef (Majors Creek), New South Wales, gold

Diversified Minerals expected to start construction of the Dargues gold project during February 2019. The company was set to reach this milestone after awarding the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for Dargues to DRA Global. Dargues has been designed to produce an average of 50,000 ounces of gold a year in the first six years of production. DRA is developing a 355,000 tonne per annum gold processing facility and backfill plant. First ore is expected in early 2020.