Wolfram expands tungsten mining operations
THE first tungsten mine to resume operations in Australia, Wolfram Camp Mining near Dimbulah, is accelerating its exploration program.
Wolfram Camp chief executive officer Gus Phillips said the new exploration phase was scheduled to start next month.
He said the aim was to increase resources near the current Wolfram Camp pit 17km northwest of Dimbulah and to expand the current known resources of Bamford Hill, a nearby historical tungsten production area.
Mr Phillips said within the zone an exploration target of 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes had been set in open pit and/or underground mining.
"Planned exploration programs at Bamford Hill will target extensions to the known mineralisation, both at depth and along strike, and be incorporated in revised geological and resource modelling," he said.
"Future optimisation of selective open pit and/or underground mining at Bamford Hill is anticipated to supplement ore supply and significantly extend the life of the Wolfram Camp project."
The accelerated program follows the official opening of the Wolfram Camp last week.
The division of Deutsche Rohstoff AG of Germany started project development in July last year.
After commissioning of the process facility, the first container of tungsten concentrate was shipped from Australia in February.
It is the first first operating Australian tungsten mine for more than 20 years.
Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Rosa Lee Long, Brisbane-based Honorary German Consul Detlef Sulzer and
about 40 guests who travelled from as far afield as Germany and the US took part in the opening.
Deutsche Rohstoff AG managing director Dr Titus Gebel said it was a "major milestone" for the company and the region.
"We are proud that we have played a role in putting Australian tungsten back on the world stage, which is a testament to the management and employees at Wolfram Camp," he said.
"Mining first commenced at Wolfram in 1890, which shows the camp is a truly remarkable resource."
Dr Gebel said the camp had a target to produce 2 per cent of the world’s tungsten concentrate demand in the next four years.
The concentrate will be worth about $40 million a year.
"Ongoing optimisation of the process facility has had a marked improvement on the recovery of metal and has established ongoing production, which means the company is now well placed for many years of profitable mining operations," he said.
All tungsten concentrate from Wolfram Camp is shipped to one of the world’s leading tungsten manufacturers, Global Tungsten and Powders in Pennsylvania. Molybdenum comes as a by-product.
Wolfram presently employs 50 people, of whom most are residents of nearby communities.
Mr Phillips said the company's key priority was to employ local people and suppliers in order to provide a positive boost to the community where the mine operated.
Tungsten is classified by the EU Commission as a strategically important metal.
About 80 per cent of global production of 61,000 tonnes (2010, pure tungsten) is from China.
China has regulated tungsten exports by quotas and at times banned the exploration and production by foreign companies in recent years.
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Valuable: Tungsten mining at Wolfram Camp is expected to rise when the new exploration phase starts next month.