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Australian Mining Prospect Awards Finalist: Hard Rock Mine of the Year

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The shortlist for the 10th Annual Prospect Awards Hard Rock Mine of the Year.

Ridgeway Deeps 

For being the most productive and lowest cost hard rock mine in Australia Newcrest's Ridgeway Deeps has been nominated as a finalist for the Hard Rock mine of the Year award. 
Newcrest's Ridgeway Deeps gold mine reached a production rate of six Mtpa in the June Quarter 2011 and maintained this in steady state until November 2011.  
Capable of more, Newcrest pursued further improvements at the mine.  
By engaging the latest technology in fleet tracking, focusing on "back to basics" with regard to waste elimination and streamlining processes, Ridgeway aimed to achieve high standards in Australian mining for safety, productivity and cost of production.  
In less than 18 months Ridgeway achieved a 60 per cent increase in production, a 91 per cent increase in productivity per person, a halving of production costs and a safety profile that saw total recordable injuries fall by more than 40 per cent.

Hopes Down 4

The Hope Downs 4 iron ore greenfields mine site has been nominated for Hard Rock Mine of the Year. 

The Rio Tinto site is a conventional shovel/truck mining operation that plans on producing 15 million tonnes per annum of wet iron ore. It will use a conventional dry crushing and screening plant that is configured to maximise throughput for wet ore 
The mine's approach towards operational readiness was unique as it used the operational personnel that are managing the mine at the moment during the initial part of the operational readiness phase of the project.  
The safety performance of the team has been exceptional considering the facilities and scope of work performed in the early stages of the project by the operational team. 
Rio Tinto's engagement with the local traditional owners is also done a high level and has driven the recruitment of females and indigenous employees within the wider company, with women making up one in five workers. 
The next phase of the project will see the implementation of autonomous haul trucks, and its development as part of Rio Tinto's wider Mine of the Future program.

Mt Todd 

Vista Gold has been nominated for the Hard Rock Mine of the Year award for its innovative approach to dealing with a mine's legacy issues. 
It operates the Mt Todd gold mine, and developed a unique way to treat contaminated water. Previous operators of the Mt Todd site had developed the upper levels of the deposit which contained iron sulfide and other sulfide materials.  
Inadequate closure and rehabilitation of the project by former owners left a mine that had significant quantities of contaminated water, mostly known as acid rock drainage or acid metalliferous drainage, on site. 
Since Vista Gold have come on board it has developed a method to treat the water, creating a viable alternative to the more traditional, expensive processes, and setting a new benchmark both in Australian and internationally. 
Proven and probable reserves were estimated to be 4.1 million ounces of gold comprised of 149.9 million tonnes with an average grade of 0.85 g/t.  


The continued success of Energy Resources of Australia's Ranger uranium mine has seen it nominated for the Hard Rock Mine of the Year award. 
The project is currently transitioning from an open cut mine to an underground operation, and has already begun with the construction of the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline. After decades of open cut mining, the operating Ranger Pit 3 was deep and steep, with the remaining high grade ore located at the bottom, where the orebody plunged deeper into the earth.  
This deeper orebody forms part of the Ranger 3 Deeps mineralised zone, which is estimated to contain an estimated 34,000 tonnes of uranium oxide, and represents one of the most significant recent uranium discoveries world-wide.  
While ERA developed plans for an underground exploration decline, the task for mining operations was to safely access and recover remaining high grade ore in Pit 3, in line with the schedule for closure of open cut mining at the end of 2013.  


Australia's newest copper mine, and one of the most prospective in some time, has been nominated for the Hard Rock Mine of the Year award. Sandfire Resources' DeGrussa Copper Mine was officially opened by WA Premier Colin Barnett on 4 August 2013, heralding its arrival as one of the standout high grade, low-cost new copper mines in the Asia-Pacific region.  
The $400 million project, now WA's biggest copper mine, produced 64 017 tonnes of copper and 42 679 ounces of gold in the 2013 financial year, including a highly profitable open pit direct shipping ore operation which was completed earlier this year. This underpinned an impressive maiden net profit after income tax of $88 million for the year on sales revenue of $507.3 million. The DeGrussa operation generated strong operating cash flow of $250.2 million - highlighting the remarkable cash generating power of this extremely efficient, low-cost mine. Production for the 2014 financial year is forecast at 65-75 000 tonnes of copper and 35-45 000oz of gold.

(Mt Todd Image: Brad Fleet)

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