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.
ATR now has DA approval to construct a 150 tonne per hour plant on site to operate 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
However before moving to production, ATR will firstly carry out small scale pilot plant processing operations on site for 3-6 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 plans to upsize the processing plant to ~60 tonnes per hour capacity and commence 24/7 production in about late 2019 or early 2020.
The plant can be progressively upsized to it’s approved 150 tonnes per hour capacity over time.
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 –4 December 2019
ATR is actively progressing its planned Rehabilitation and Tailings Reprocessing Project on the Ardlethan Tin Mine site.
The DA for a processing plant of up to 150 tonnes per hour capacity was approved by Council in mid August 2018.
Before commencing production, ATR is firstly carrying out small scale pilot plant processing operations on site 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 move to full scale production.
A contract for provision of the pilot plant was awarded to Mineral Technologies Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Downer EDI Ltd) in October 2018. Pilot plant modules were delivered to site in late May 2019 & commissioning of the pilot plant commenced in June 2019.
ATR processed about 600 tonnes of tailings in the plant in July, and while the results were promising, the testing highlighted a number of issues that needed fixing
It wasn’t until we got the results back from lab testing that we were able to identify what needed to be done and how. It all took longer than we expected. The necessary parts have now been ordered, but the delivery lead times mean that it will take until end December 2019 before the necessary changes are completed. We plan to restart the plant in mid January 2020 after the Christmas break.
During the initial testing we found it very difficult and expensive to dose the water in Mill Reclaim dam to achieve an acceptable pH water for processing, so we are now going to source the process water from the main pit using a submersible pump. This has required re-routing the process water pipeline.
When we restart the processing plant we will need to progressively test our concentrate samples to ensure that the plant is working optimally. This will likely involve some stopping and starting while we wait for the lab results.
Additionally we need to get representative samples of our concentrate to send to the smelters, who are the potential buyers of our product.