Rail upgrades speed nickel freight for EV transition

Upgrades on the Leonora freight line have taken another step as demand for nickel transported on the network continues to grow.  Arc Infrastructure recently completed the $5 million seventh stage of an eight-step $56 million upgrade to the 260km Leonora Branch Line (LBL)between the northern Goldfields outpost and Kalgoorlie-Boulder, which is due to be completed next year.

The LBL is seen as a critical part of the freight network in part because of its use to transport nickel, which is in demand as the world shifts towards electric vehicles, which use nickel batteries.  Arc said the upgrades of the LBL builds on the company’s recent investment in the Goldfields region, which earlier this year saw the opening of the Hampton Intermodal Terminal to support the BHP Nickel west transport task.

The completion of the stage seven works – which saw 17.4km of track upgraded between Myamin and Menzies, as well as Doney and Goongarrie – will bring train journey times on this part of the network down by 10 minutes, according to the company.  The LBL is a standard gauge link to the Eastern Goldfields Railway and Esperance Branch Line.


CREDIT – Tom Robinson (Kalgoorlie Miner)

St Barbara’s golden shake-up by Jason Mennell (Kalgoorlie Miner)

St Barbara is piling on the gold ounces at Leonora as it forges ahead with a radical shake-up of its ageing operations in the northern Goldfields.  The goldminer revealed it had added about 1.4 million ounces to its northern Goldfields portfolio as part of its Leonora province plan.  That represents a 28 per cent uplift in resources at Leonora to 6.4Moz, with 800,000oz coming from the Gwalia open pit and 600,000oz coming from its nearby Harbour Lights deposit to the north.  That came after St Barbara in December outlined a plan that put the historic Gwalia goldmine front and centre of a plan to boost group output by 40 per cent to as much as 570,000oz by 2025.

A two-stage bid to lift annual output at the 2km deep mine from 171,000ozto as much as 240,000oz in the next five years and cut costs from $1435-$1560/oz to$1100-$1200/oz. is being considered   “A combined pre-feasibility study for Tower Hill and Harbour Lights is scheduled to commence at the start of the September quarter.

“Given the expanded size of mineral resources that have already been defined, the PFS will include mill expansion options.”  St Barbara recently completed a scoping study indicating the existing Leonora plant could be upgraded to 1.7Mt/pa. A new plant that could process up to 4Mt/pa will also be considered.