UEA Civil & Mining have commenced surface mining for Kimberly Metals Group at their Ridges Iron Ore Project based approximately 150km South West of Kununurra in Western Australia. It is expected that UEA will mine 10Mt over the four year contract period using a fleet of Vermeer T1255 Terrain Levellers on a 24/7 roster. UEA commenced operations in April with one surface mining machine with the second surface mining machine coming on line in July 2011.
The Ridges Project consists of two gently dipping zones of sandstone hosted hematite mineralisation called the Sam and Tony deposits. The ore body is a mesa formation with the Sam and Tony pits outcropping along the top of a high ridge line in the Kimberly Ranges some 650m above sea level, over-looking Lake Argyle. Continuous Surface Mining is ideally suited to this type of geology, and by using GPS mining technology UEA is able to accurately “mine to plan” and therefore selectively mine the ore. This level of accuracy is paramount to the success of this project as the mesa edge management has strict environmental constraints and conventional drill and blast will not only dilute the ore but create disturbance to that edge.
Following crushing, the material will be transported by road trains along the Great Northern Highway to the port of Wyndham. KMG operates its own barging facility in Wyndham to transfer the ore to ships anchored in the Cambridge Gulf only 1.2km from the jetty, before being shipped across to the sinter markets in China.