Red Dome Stage III Cutback - A Case Study in Brinkmanship

Paine G G,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
The Red Dome Gold/Copper Mine is located approximately 15 km west of the township of Chillagoe which itself is approximately 220 km by road west of Cairns, Far North Queensland. The deposit, with other mines in the Mungana region, was worked from about 1901 to 1927. Exploration by Amoco Minerals Australia in the 1970s and early 1980s outlined a geological resource of 15 million tonnes. A mining reserve of 9.3 million tonnes was identified and originally developed by Elders Resources Limited. The mine commenced operations in March 1986 and was the first large-scale gold project in Australia to be developed solely on the heap leach process. The mine operated successfully as a gold heap leach operation until 1989 when new grinding, flotation and carbon-in-leach plant facilities were installed to process the non heap-leachable component of the orebody including the copper rich -ore. In March 1991, Red Dome Pty Ltd became a wholly owned subsidiary of Niugini Mining Limited. After six years of successful operation and having excavated a 200 in deep pit, it became evident in 1992 that unless more open cut reserves could be identified the operation was limited to six to nine months of high grade ore and a further 15 months of low grade stockpile material. A preliminary feasibility study was carried out to assess the viability of deepening the open cut. This indicated that from a technical and financial point of view it was possible to expand and deepen the open cut. This presented the daunting challenge of developing a 300 in deep, single access, open cut between a high chert ridge, a government railway line and a National Park. The meeting of this challenge is the subject of this paper.
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