CU River purchased the Cairn Hill mine in South Australia, previously operated by IMX Resources, then Termite Resources ML, in 2014. Cairn Hill (ML6303) is located approximately 850km north-west of Adelaide and approximately 50km southeast of Coober Pedy.

In addition to this operating mine, the company holds four exploration licences totalling about 3,000 km2 in broadly the same vicinity as Cairn Hill.

Cairn Hill Magnetite Project

The project is easily accessed from the south via the Stuart Highway, then via a 14km long and 15m wide unsealed double lane road. Ore is hauled approximately 60km from the mine site to the Rankin Dam Rail Siding via a single lane underpass under the Stuart Highway, constructed to ensure the ore is transported safely and efficiently. The rail siding is approximately 1,500m long and was selected to minimise environmental impact to the area by using existing transport infrastructure. Product is transported by rail along the Darwin-Adelaide rail line to Port Adelaide for export.

The Cairn Hill Project is one of only two iron ore producers in South Australia. It produced and exported one million tonnes of iron ore in a little over its first year of operation.

Production was paused late in 2017 to allow for approvals to be granted and construction work to be undertaken on upgraded infrastructure at the site, which will include a Wet Processing Plant, worker accommodation village and power station.

When mine production resumes, the plan is to produce 3 million tonnes of ore annually (3Mtpa) from Cairn Hill, with a long term goal of producing 15Mtpa (subject to approvals) when additional nearby resources are brought into production.

Cairn Hill Workforce

The Cairn Hill Project created more than 60 direct jobs and contributed around $10 million to the South Australian economy in 2015-2016. CU River also received a regional development grant from the South Australian government in 2016 which was used for infrastructure development. Employment numbers have been reduced while the mine is in production pause but will increase again when infrastructure construction begins (subject to government approvals) and when the mine re-opens.

Cairn Hill Development 2017-18

CU River lodged the Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation (PEPR) application for Cairn Hill pits 3 and 4 in August 2017 and this has been approved by the SA Government.

The detailed study and design on the Cairn Hill Wet Processing Plant has been completed, based on an estimated annual production of up to 3 million tonnes of iron ore concentrate. This work forms part of a separate PEPR which will be lodged with the SA Government, potentially in March 2018.

Infrastructure construction work will commence as soon as approvals are in place and active mining will follow.

Other projects

Snaefell and Tomahawk Magnetite Targets

Snaefell is approximately 46.5km in a straight line from the Adelaide to Darwin rail line used by CU River as the primary export route for Cairn Hill production. Access to the rail line will require crossing the Stuart Highway.

The Snaefell project is focused on greenfield developments for the mine, processing plant, associated infrastructure and a rail spur line to connect with the Darwin to Adelaide rail line. Snaefell is at a considerable advantage to other projects in that rail and port facilities are largely existing and are available to multiple users.

The project base case production rate has been established as 5 million tonnes (MT) per annum concentrate with an option at 9.4 MT per annum. The concentrate will have a target grade of ≥66%Fe.

The currently defined resource of 569Mt at Snaefell provides approximately 24 years’ operation at the nominal concentrate production level of 5 MT per annum, excluding ramp up and closure

Tomahawk lies 25km southeast of the Cairn Hill mine. Time-wise, current planning is that Tomahawk would be developed after Snaefell. Further exploratory drilling will be undertaken at the site in the meantime.


Future exploration

There is a lot of potential still to be uncovered and the potential for IOCG opportunities similar to Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill and Carrapateena.
Multiple drill programmes in the area have been carried out historically by previous owners/operators, leaving a great legacy of data to examine.
Many areas and anomalies remain untested and there is the potential to expand the resource.