Dewatering the Roy Hill Mine

The Roy Hill project is a 55 million tonne per annum iron ore mining, rail and port project being developed in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Dewatering for the project is a significant and complex operation which has required careful consideration.

Situated approximately 115km north of Newman, Roy Hill is a world-class, low phosphorus, Marra Mamba iron ore deposit located in the Pilbara – one of the world’s premier iron ore provinces – and the only independent iron ore project with West Australian majority ownership.

The project will consist of a:

  • Conventional open pit, bulk mining operation from multiple production benches
  • 55 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) wet processing plant
  • 344km single line, heavy haul railway
  • Purpose built, dedicated two berth iron ore port facility at Port Hedland, capable of receiving, stockpiling, screening and exporting 55Mtpa (wet) of direct shipped iron ore as lump and fines.

The Roy Hill project has a defined mineralisation of more than 2.3bt of +50 per cent Fe iron ore of which 1.2bt is +55 per cent Fe, enough to sustain a mine life of more than 20 years.

The Roy Hill Mine has an initial mine life of 17 years, with a likely extension beyond that of 12 years. Roy Hill is an owner operator, conventional open pit, drill and blast, truck and excavator bulk mining operation.

Over the 17 year life of the project, 4,909Mt of material will be moved. This equates to an average yearly mining rate of 272Mtpa (dry), to produce approximately 68Mtpa (wet) of run of mine (ROM) ore feed for the processing plant. This makes Roy Hill one of the largest mining operations in the Pilbara.

The Roy Hill Mine has an average strip ratio of just under four tonnes of waste and low grade mineralisation to each tonne of ore. A quasi strip mining approach is utilised where the bulk of the overburden and waste is dumped back into the previously mined out pit voids. This process helps minimise haulage distances for waste rock, as well as the footprint of mining activities.

Waste dumps are progressively rehabilitated over the life of the mine, to ensure that mined areas are rehabilitated to their natural state as quickly as possible.

Multiple pits are in production at any one time, with each pit being broad and relatively shallow in nature, with the deepest pit prescribed in the life of mine plan being less than 110 metres in height.

ROM pads and crusher stations are located in close proximity to each pit with the crushed ore then conveyed to the processing plant. Three crushing stations are in operation at any one time, which provides operational flexibility. Large ROM stockpiles ensure suitable material is available for the processing plant at all times.

Dewatering contract awarded

A detailed dewatering strategy and water management plan has been developed. This ensures dry mining can occur and the necessary water is available for the processing plant.

Roy Hill Iron Ore has recently undertaken a Drilling Services Agreement with Transfield Services subsidiary Easternwell.

The agreement is for the supply of dual rotary drilling services as part of the dewatering drilling programs, which includes the drilling and installation of production and monitoring bores at Roy Hill’s principal iron ore operations based in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The operation comprises a complex integrated system of seven inland mining operations.

Easternwell’s General Manager, Sheldon Burt, said “We are pleased to have a contract with Roy Hill Iron Ore which will provide us with the opportunity to build on the excellent work we have completed to date in the Pilbara, allow us to invest further in our equipment and to continue the development our people.”

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