The Bacchus Marsh Brown Coal Project is located approximately 50km west of Melbourne and a similar distance to the north of the port of Geelong.
The project area lies within Exploration Licence EL 5294 and contains a large, historically mined deposit of brown coal. Small scale mining operations occur within the project area at the Maddingley Mine under a separate mining licence owned and operated by a third party.
An Inferred Coal Resource3 of 1.6 billion tonnes, reported in accordance with the JORC Code, has been estimated within the Bacchus Marsh Coal Project. A total of 72 drill holes were used to estimate the Inferred Coal Resource, including 15 cored drill holes completed by Mantle and 57 historical drill holes.
Table 1: Inferred Coal Resource below 30% Ash (dry basis – db).
Mantle executed a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) and a Technology Licence Deed (TLD) with clean coal technology group Exergen Pty Ltd. The JVA and TLD provide a framework for the potential future development of the deposit. Under the terms of the agreements Exergen assumes project management responsibility.
Exergen is responsible for the development of a $50 million demonstration project intended to confirm success of their patented Continuous Hydro-Thermal Dewatering (CHTD) technology at commercial scale. CHTD technology was entirely developed in Australia and transforms low grade, high moisture coals into a cleaner burning product with lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Exergen’s major cornerstone investors include TATA Power, India’s largest private power utility, Leighton subsidiary Thiess, the world’s largest supplier of outsourced mining services, Itochu, Japan’s third largest trading house with extensive coal trading experience, and Sedgman, a global specialist provider of mineral engineering solutions.
CHTD is a highly efficient and low emission technology because water is physically separated from the coal in the liquid state, rather than being removed through the highly energy-intensive process of evaporation.
Exergen expects that its CHTD coal would be used in state of the art power stations being constructed in India. This type of new power station emits between 30 and 40% less carbon dioxide than Victoria’s existing coal-fired power stations in the Latrobe Valley.
CHTD has been proven at Exergen’s pilot plant on Victorian and Indonesian coals with moisture contents ranging between 35% and 65%. Depending on requirements of overseas markets; Exergen expects to deliver final products with moisture contents between 10% and 25%.
A bulk sample of Bacchus Marsh coal was processed at the CHTD pilot plant. Laboratory analysis confirmed that transformation of the Bacchus Marsh coal had successfully occurred on a continuous basis. Subsequent secondary dewatering and pressing of a representative sample of low moisture briquettes was also achieved at the pilot plant facility.
|Figure 5: CHTD Pilot Plant processing run of mine coal and resulting briquettes.|
A scoping study completed by the Bacchus Marsh coal joint-venture found that the project is economically viable and would generate substantial local employment. The scope of work for the scoping study was for a Full Scale Plant (FSP) capable of producing up to 20 mtpa of CHTD processed product capable of being shipped to India.
The study, by Sedgman and Thiess, found the project would require an initial capital investment of $2 billion, delivering a Net Present Value of $1.4 billion and a mine life of more than 25 years.
It found that the project would generate an average of 900 direct construction jobs, peaking at 1300 in the Bacchus Marsh and Geelong areas, including 400 permanent jobs at the mine and 90 at an associated CHTD plant. The project would also create 3600 indirect manufacturing jobs around Australia for supply of goods and services.
Exergen’s focus now will be to prove its CHTD technology at scale by developing the $50 million pre-commercial demonstration facility, to be located in the Latrobe Valley.
The company plans to complete a bankable feasibility study on the project by the end of 2015. If that study is positive and subject to success at the Latrobe Valley pre-commercial demonstration facility, production could potentially start at Bacchus Marsh in 2018.
Any future development will be subject to a stringent approvals process, including strict environmental compliance obligations and comprehensive community engagement.
3 Throughout the website, superscripts denote project specific JORC Compliant Exploration Targets, Exploration Results, Mineral Resources, Ore Reserves and Competent Persons Statements. These can be found on the Disclaimer and JORC page of the website.