The Mt Carbine tungsten expansion project involves the redevelopment of the historic Mt Carbine tungsten mine located in North Queensland, Australia.
EQ Resources (formerly Speciality Metals International) is the developer of the project. It came to own the Mt Carbine mining leases and surrounding exploration tenements by acquiring Mt Carbine Quarries in June 2019.
A bankable feasibility study (BFS) of the Mt Carbine expansion was released in December 2021. The project is planned to be developed in three phases with 12 million tonnes (Mt) of low-grade stockpile (LGS) being processed in phase one. In phase two, mining will recommence at the existing Andy White open-pit targeting high-grade ore.
Once the open-pit resources are exhausted, underground mining options will be explored to continue mining at Mt Carbine.
EQ Resources formed a 50:50 joint venture with Cronimet, a metals trading group based in Germany, in 2019 to refurbish, commission and ramp up the existing processing plant to treat the LGS material of the old Mt Carbine mine. The processing plant along with a pilot X-ray transmission (XRT) ore sorting system commenced operations in the second half of 2020.
In March 2021, EQ Resources was granted approval under Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act to expand Mt Carbine quarry production from 100,000 tonnes (t) to one million tonnes (Mt) a year. It also obtained environmental approval to proceed with underground exploration and sampling at Mt Carbine in January 2021.
Location, geology and mineralisation
The Mt Carbine tungsten project is located at the northern end of the Atherton Tableland plateau in Far North Queensland, 120km north-west of Cairns, Australia.
It comprises two mining leases ML4867 and ML4919 covering 366.39ha, along with 115km2 of surrounding exploration tenements.
The Mt Carbine deposit was discovered in 1883, with mining commencing in 1895. It lies within the Siluro-Devonian Hodgkinson sedimentary province. Tungsten mineralisation at Mt Carbine is hosted within vertical to sub-vertical sheeted quartz veins in the form of wolframite and scheelite.
Tungsten reserves at Mt Carbine
The Mt Carbine tungsten project was estimated to hold 9.21Mt of in-situ hard-rock resources grading 0.63% tungsten trioxide (WO3) as of September 2021.
Historic low-grade stockpiles of the mine are estimated at 12Mt grading 0.075% WO3.
Mining and ore processing
The selective open-pit mining method will be employed to extract ore from the existing Andy White pit, whereas the historical LGS will be extracted using the bulk ore mining method. Conventional excavator and truck fleets will be deployed to extract ore from both the sources.
After crushing, screening and XRT sorting, the extracted ore will be treated at a dry processing plant prior to producing concentrate at a gravity processing plant.
The project will utilise the existing site access roads, power supply infrastructure, water supply pipelines workshops, office buildings and laboratory.
Contractors involved in the Mt Carbine mine expansion
JukesTodd (JT), a mining project management and consulting company based in Australia, was appointed to lead the BFS of the project in May 2021.
Measured Group was engaged to provide the mineral resource estimate for the project in December 2021.
Ausenco was engaged to review the existing processing plant and provide preliminary engineering and design of the gravity processing plant for the expansion project.
Mincore was contracted to provide the engineering design for the crushing, screening, ore sorting and tailings dewatering plants of the project.
DDH1 Drilling Contractors provided drill rigs for exploration drilling at the Mt Carbine mine in March 2021.