How do you extend the life of a mine by 12 years? And no, this is not the lead-in to a joke. It is, however, the question one particular company asked themselves and eventually answered. Xstrata has solved the problem by digging deeper and converting an open pit mine into an underground operation.
The company is currently investing $589 million to extend the life of its Ernest Henry operation in Queensland, which will now see production continue into at least 2024. The project creates 330 jobs during the construction phase and an additional 400 full-time jobs once completed. Full scale underground operations will begin early 2013 when the underground shaft has been commissioned.
Increase in dump truck jobs
Once at capacity in 2013, the operation will see 6 million tons of ore per year moved by truck, which translates to 220 tons of ore being transported every 20 minutes via dump trucks around the clock.
The resulting effort will see levels averaging 50,000 tonnes of copper and 70,000 ounces of gold in concentrates. All that might seem a lot of figures to digest, but however you cut the pie, there`s lots of it and enough to go round for a while.
Nonetheless, at the beginning the project did experience some stalls. As a result of the Federal Government`s proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) the project and activities were suspended on 3 June 2010. One month later activities resumed when the Government decided to replace the RSPT with a Mineral Resource Rent Tax.
Underground Mining Jobs Opportunity
Pete Evans, Managing Director, iMINCO says the Ernest Henry conversion project offers great opportunities for job seekers who choose to work underground. He added, “. . . fewer people are prepared to work below the surface, which opens the gap a little; whereas, others simply don`t realise what opportunities are available to them, making the opportunity gap even wider.”Ě
The Ernest Henry copper-gold mine is located 38 kilometres north-east of Cloncurry in north-west Queensland and was officially opened in October 1997. Commercial production went underway in May 1998. The mine is named after the explorer and founder of Cloncurry, Ernest Henry, who was born in England in 1837.
Currently, approximately ĺ of the mine`s full time workforce are fly-in/fly-out, either from Brisbane, Townsville or Cairns.
Underground mining job opportunities