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15 April, 2022

Jobs boom as mine expands

A MT Carbine tungsten mining operation is set to triple its workforce as it expands operations and the use of new technologies aimed at making the enterprise a model mine for the future.

By Robyn Holmes

EQ Resources Ltd’s Mt Carbine tungsten mine, near Mt Molloy, gives little indication of the value of metal lying on the surface or deep underground and the opportunity this presents for jobs and new business in the region. 

The company is Australia’s only operating primary tungsten producer. 

As expansion plans play out at the Mt Carbine mine, the company will seek to expand its workforce from the current 50 workers to 150. 

Company chief executive officer Kevin Mac- Neill said the mine, where the operation straddles the Mulligan Highway, began more than a century ago. 

“Technological advances in recent years have created the opportunity to drive down processing costs at the same time as the global price of tungsten has been on the rise,” he said. 

“The confluence of these important factors is allowing EQ Resources to move forward in breathing new life into Mt Carbine and turn it into a modern mining operation which efficiently uses natural resources such as energy and water.” 

Mr MacNeill said the efficient use of natural resources was the biggest challenge facing extractive industries these days. 

“The other big challenge is maximising the use of everything that we dig from the ground,” he said. 

“A century of mining left its mark at Mt Carbine – EQ Resources is seeking to treat unsightly waste rock dumps to extract the last remnants of tungsten while turning the remainder into green aggregates for road making and construction projects. 

“Anyone visiting Newell Beach can see our inert waste rock being put to good use in construction and repairs.” 

Mr MacNeill expects many of the mine’s new workforce will be female. 

“The female share of the current workforce is more than 30 per cent today and growing,” he said. 

“Our demand for staff will only grow as the mine expands from treating waste rock to restarting mining fresh ore, subject to relevant local and state approvals.” 

Federal Government support had also helped finance the use of remarkable new technologies, such as hyperspectral imaging sensors in sorting ore from waste. 

“Working with local partners like the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, METS Ignited, Plotlogic and the University of Queensland is helping us shape Mt Carbine into a model mine for the future,” Mc MacNeill said. 

“It is partnerships such as these and our close links with international partners Cronimet and Tomra which will drive the development of jobs and opportunity in our region.” 

EQ Resources successfully secured $600,000 in co-investment from the Federal Government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) via the $30 million Commercialisation Fund. 

Combined investment from EQ Resources, its partners and AMGC, totalling $1.97 million, will assist in commercialising industrial-scale operations for advanced minerals processing developed for the Mt Carbine Expansion Project. 

“EQ Resources' project brings together industry and research leaders to commercialise a worldleading technology which will convert what was once a mining waste product into new revenue streams,” AMGC’s managing director Dr Jens Goennemann said. 

“The project proves that Australia’s manufacturing industry is stepping forward to develop globally relevant solutions which will improve operations and add value in the process.” 

Mr MacNeill said the company as delighted to have the support of AMGC in the blending of advanced technologies to drive the sustainable future for Mt Carbine. 

“EQ Resources is committed to seeking leading edge solutions to enhance smart processing and reduce energy and water use in our mine of the future,” he said. 

“The journey does not end here as we will continue to seek technology solutions to enhance our sustainable mining and treatment practices to ensure Mt Carbine optimises its pathway towards building a circular mining venture.” 

WHAT IS TUNGSTEN? 

Otherwise known as Wolfram, tungsten is one of the toughest things found in nature. It is the second hardest mineral on the planet, very heavy, and a highly heat-resistant metal.

Its current uses are as electrodes, heating elements and field emitters, and as filaments in light bulbs and cathode ray tubes. Tungsten is commonly used in heavy metal alloys such as high speed steel, from which cutting tools are manufactured.

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