Australian Tin Resources Pty Ltd
Ardlethan Tin Mine
The Ardlethan Tin Mine is located approximately 500 km southwest of Sydney, NSW 5 km NW of Ardlethan township. It covers about 400 hectares on land wholly owned by EOE (No 75) Pty Ltd (EOE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Australian Tin Resources Pty Ltd (ATR).
Excellent road and rail access is available within close proximity to the site.
ATR acquired EOE in July 2007 with the intention of re-opening the mine site to process approximately 7.0 million tonnes of tin tailings that remained after the previous mining activities.
Mining at Ardlethan commenced in 1912. At first it was on a small scale, but between 1965 and 1986 Aberfoyle Resources NL mined around 30 million tonnes of granite, initially from open cut operations and later from underground workings.
Of the approx 30 million tonnes mined, Aberfoyle processed about 9.0m tonnes of ore assaying 0.46% tin. The remaining 21 million tonnes (approx) had a tin content below Aberfoyle’s cut-off grade of 0.20% tin and were stockpiled in overburden waste dumps which surround the open cuts.
Mining operations ceased in 1986 due to the collapse of tin prices.
Advances in processing methods and increased current tin prices, created the catalyst for ATR to consider recommencing mining operations on site, initially by reprocessing the tailings and possibly also waste material stockpiled at the mine site to produce tin concentrate.
Additionally, the underground hard rock resource offers an attractive future opportunity in the longer term.
* Source: Reynard Australia Pty Ltd Report, October 2011
** Source: Ardlethan Information Brochure, Molina & Doran, May 1989
Retreatment of the tailings from previous mining operations was the main driver for Australian Tin Resources deciding to acquire the Ardlethan tin mine.
In late 2016 Australian Tin Resources Pty Ltd (ATR) engaged Mineral Technologies, a subsidiary of Downer EDI to carry out bulk testing of tailings stockpiled on site to assess if it might be technically and economically viable for the tailings to be re-processed. The results of the bulk testing were encouraging and ATR subsequently commissioned Mineral Technologies to carry out an Early Works scoping study relating to the proposed design, supply and construction of a 15-30tph modular pilot plant on site. This study has now been completed and ATR is presently negotiating a commercial contract with Mineral Technologies for provision of a 15tph pilot plant.
It will take about six months for the pilot plant to be designed, constructed and assembled on site after all regulatory approvals have been received. However before commencing the pilot plant test program, ATR needed to lodge a Development Application (DA) with Council to allow us to continue tailings re-processing beyond the 20,000 pilot plant testing program, subject to the pilot plant testing demonstrating that it is economically viable to do so.
The DA application is for a plant commencing with 15tph capacity with provision for it to be scaled up to around 120-150 tonnes per hour capacity. This will provide around 10-15 years mining activity and more than 20 jobs when the tailings reprocessing operation is at full capacity.
Assuming all necessary approvals can be obtained it is likely that pilot plant operations will commence in about February 2019, and if the pilot plant trials are successful, full scale tin mining operations will commence in about August 2019.
Source: Reynard Australia Pty Ltd Report, October 2011
The Ardlethan mine contains approximately 21.3 million tonnes of granite previously mined by Aberfoyle and now stored in waste dumps circling the open cuts. Processing the stockpiled waste material represents a potential option and is a comparatively low capital and operating costs option. Waste material boulders typically range in size from approx 30cm to 100cms in diameter and the waste dumps are readily accessible from existing mine haul roads.
ATR has obtained JORC certification of the waste material resources stockpiled at the mine site as summarized in the table below.
Source: Reynard Australia Pty Ltd Report, October 2011
Hard Rock Mining of Underground Resource
The table below summarises the hard rock mineral resources at the time of mine closure in August 1986. These resources consist of broken ore in stopes, remnants, pillars and resources inferred from drilling. Access would be via a decline just north of the main Ardwest / Wild Cherry Open Cut.
There is further potential deeper underground on the mine site and in surrounding environs. There are also some small deposits of known high grade ore at or near the surface.
Source - Ardlethan Information Brochure, Molina & Doran, May 1989.
Update -11 October 2018
ATR is actively progressing its planned Rehabilitation and Tailings Reprocessing Project on the Ardlethan Tin Mine site.
A Development Application (DA), and accompanying Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were lodged with Coolamon Shire Council by EOE (No 75) Pty Ltd (ATR’s wholly owned subsidiary) in late December 2016 and placed on public exhibition by Council. Following written submissions from community & government agencies, ATR lodged its formal Response to Submissions with Council in September 2017. Further questions were received from government agencies which ATR responded to in a further Response to Submissions in June 2018. The DA was subsequently approved by council in mid August 2018.
ATR will firstly carry out small scale pilot plant processing operations on site for about 2-3 months to prove up the processing technology. Then if the pilot plant results are successful, and following completion and approval of all DA consent conditions, ATR will upsize the processing plant and commence full scale production in about the second half of 2019.
A contract for design, supply, erection & commissioning of the pilot plant has now been awarded to Mineral Technologies Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Downer EDI Ltd). It is expected the pilot plant will be delivered to site, erected and commissioned in about March 2019.