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Iluka’s Murray Basin operations involved mining, concentrating, mineral separation and transportation of mineral sands ​between 2006 - 2017.
These operations formed a significant component of the company's rutile and zircon production. The next planned mine development in the Murray Basin is the Balranald deposit in New South Wales.

Operational Overview


Mining

Iluka commenced mining the Douglas deposits, located near Horsham, Victoria, in 2006. Mining and processing concluded at Douglas in 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, ore was also transported from the Echo satellite mine to Douglas for concentration into heavy mineral concentrate.

A second mining stage (Murray Basin Stage 2) has developed a series of deposits in Victoria’s North West near the town of Ouyen. This has included the Kulwin deposit which was mined between late 2009 and early 2012.

Following the cessation of mining at Kulwin, equipment (mining plant, pre-concentrator and concentrator units) was relocated to the Woornack, Rownack and Pirro (WRP) deposits where mining started in May 2012. Mining at WRP was completed in the first half of 2015.

The evaluation of Balranald deposit is currently being undertaken. Further information on Balranald can be found here.

Transport

Heavy mineral concentrate produced at the WRP mine was transported by truck to a purpose-built rail loading facility at Hopetoun and then sent by rail to the Hamilton mineral separation plant. From Hamilton, finished product is transported by road to the Port of Portland for export, or in containers to Melbourne. Facilities at the Port of Portland include purpose-built mineral sands storage and ship loading facilities.

Processing

Commissioned in 2007, the Hamilton mineral separation plant ​was the processing hub of Iluka’s Murray Basin operations, with material from the Murray Basin and Eucla Basin (Iluka’s Jacinth-Ambrosia mine in South Australia) being transported to site for processing. Water, magnets, screening equipment and electrostatic tools were used to separate the heavy mineral concentrate to recover the saleable minerals of zircon, rutile and ilmenite. These final products ​were transported to Portland and shipped to customers worldwide.

The mineral separation process leaves sands, clay and gypsum, and it is these by-products that are disposed of at the former Douglas site, in a manner approved and regulated by various Victorian Government agencies. Further information on by-product management at Douglas can be found here

In 2017 Iluka announced it was consolidating its Australian processing operations to the Narngulu mineral separation plant in WA; and idled the Hamilton plant. 

Environmental Management and Rehabilitation 

All mining, processing, rehabilitation and transportation activities undertaken in the Murray Basin are in accordance with strict environmental management requirements. Detailed environmental management plans are developed and approved by regulatory authorities, often in conjunction with other stakeholders. 

​Details on Iluka’s environmental management framework can be found below.

Iluka’s rehabilitation activities in the Murray Basin have resulted in more than 700 hectares of land restored to pasture and native vegetation. The local workforce has support from Iluka’s extended network of environmental and rehabilitation professionals and builds on the company’s experience in mine rehabilitation activities in Australia and the United States. Iluka’s capabilities are supplemented by associations with research and academic institutions, including the University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, (Virginia, USA).

At two former Murray Basin mine sites, Iluka has met and exceeded its regulatory requirements by seeking approval to improve upon the approved rehabilitation plan.

  • Echo: Iluka had approval after completion of mining to leave a void with steep batters (slopes).  The company sought and received supplementary approval to modify its rehabilitation design to create gentler slopes that could be topsoiled and revegetated. This enabled agricultural machinery to traverse the land. 
  • Kulwin: the initial rehabilitation plan at Kulwin was to leave a modified landform where clay and silt by-products would be rehabilitated within an elevated tailings storage facility or dam. Iluka gained supplementary approval to return the by-products to the mined pit, facilitating a closer restoration to the pre-mining landform.

Refer below to view Iluka's Virtual Mine Site Tour which provides an overview of the mineral sands mining process, with examples under rehabilitation relating to company practices in the Murray Basin, Victoria and Eucla Basin, South Australia.  

Further Information

​If you have any queries, please contact the Murray Basin community feedback line on 1800 201 113