The installation of duplicate screening infrastructure at the port was on time and the integration of new 7,000-tonne barges and triple-set trailers has resulted in a demonstrable increase in production levels.
Daily mining rates were initially hindered by the wet conditions and delays to the delivery of the new triple trailers.
Focus on mining from the BH1 deposit located 25 kilometres from the port also caused limitations to haulage operations.
However, with the commissioning of the new triple-trailer sets mining rates have increased significantly and have been consistently between 12,000 and 14,000 tonnes per day.
Further increases are anticipated as the June mining plan dictates that bauxite will also be mined from the BH6 deposit, located only 6 kilometres from the port.
Transhipment and shiploading activities
Transhipment and shiploading activities commenced on April 13. Bauxite Hills has a nominal 8/9-month operating season and to achieve guidance an average ship-loading rate of 13,500 tonnes per day is required.
This rate was being achieved in mid to late-May following commissioning of the new 7,000-tonne barges, and increased ore availability from increased mining and haulage rates.
However, towards the end of May, unexpected large and sustained swell conditions caused by an unusual south-easterly wind pattern resulted in disruption to ship loading.
Such long and sustained swell events are unusual during Metro’s operating season and has reduced daily loading rates during the affected period.
It should be noted that mining and haulage has been unaffected resulting in stockpiles in excess of 100,000 tonnes of bauxite either loaded onto barges or located at the port facility.
Given the transhipping rates being achieved in late May Metro anticipates that some (but not all) of the June quarter production shortfall can be recovered during the remainder of the 2019 operating season.
The expectation is that the previous June quarter production guidance will likely be missed by about 220,000-240,000 tonnes.
Therefore, Metro’s 2019 production guidance has been updated to 3.3 – 3.5 million tonnes which incorporates an allowance during the year for adverse swell conditions.
The company’s expectation is that swell conditions will revert back to what was experienced during 2018.
Metro managing director and chief executive officer Simon Finnis said: “Whilst these weather events are frustrating, I am really pleased to see how the operations are now performing following commissioning of all elements of the expansion and upgrade program.
“We remain committed to achieving our updated 2019 production guidance”.