Century mine was Australia’s largest open-cut zinc mine and 2015 saw its final year of production. The last ore to be processed at Century was 450,000 tonnes that had been mined as part of Dugald River’s stoping trial, and then trucked to Lawn Hill. The processing of this ore was completed in January 2016.
Located at Lawn Hill, 250km north-west of Mount Isa in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria, the mine began open-pit production in 1999.
During its 16 years of operation, Century produced and processed zinc and lead concentrates at Lawn Hill. The product has been transferred in slurry form via a 304km underground pipeline to Century’s Port facility at Karumba for shipping to smelters in Australia, Europe and Asia.
The final ore was extracted from the Century open pit on 6th September 2015, even though mining officially ended the month before.
The Century Pit during operations, facing west.
Century's transfer vessel, the MV Wunma (left), transfers product to a larger vessel approximately 40km from the Port of Karumba.
Dugald River to Lawn Hill trucking program
Between May and December 2015, MMG trucked approximately 450,000 tonnes of ore from its Dugald River Project Development near Cloncurry to its processing operation at Century Mine (Lawn Hill). This ore had been mined during Dugald River’s stoping trial in 2014.
Trucking the ore to Century meant it could be processed using the Lawn Hill processing plant and then sent to market.
Contract partner Wagner was engaged for the Dugald River to Lawn Hill trucking program in 2015.
Future options for Century
MMG continues to study the viability of possible growth options that could have the potential to utilise Century’s extensive infrastructure at Lawn Hill and Karumba. These studies include investigations into alternative feed sources for the Century processing plant and further near-mine exploration as well as the potential retreatment of material from the tailings dam.
Century’s infrastructure at Lawn Hill and Karumba, including the pipeline, will be maintained in a state of operational readiness for a number of years to allow MMG to initiate these growth options should they become feasible.
A series of workforce transitions which started in August 2014 has seen the workforce reduce in line with operational needs. At the height of operations, approximately 1,200 people were employed at Century, with about half of those people being onsite at any one time.
Indigenous people with links to the Gulf of Carpentaria comprised up to 24 percent of Century’s workforce; a best practice result for indigenous employment in Australian mining.
Century will have a small workforce into the future, focusing on rehabilitation, caring for country and support services.
Along with other community benefits, Century invested in a training program that, from 2013 onwards, saw all trainees and apprentices paid by MMG Century but working with host employers.
The trainees and apprentices worked in a wide variety of non-mining jobs in their home communities or in locations where they were happy to work. Century’s ground-breaking training program was, as far as we can ascertain, unique in Australian mining. The main benefits of Century’s host-employer program for trainees and apprentices were:
- It gave them broader career choices outside mining roles
- It kept talent in local communities; and
- Reduced dependence on the mine as a source of jobs.
Mobile Mine Maintenance (MMW) crews pictured in 2015, before many of them left Century.
Even though Century ended all production and shipping by January 2016, there is still activity at our Lawn Hill and Karumba sites.
The Lawn Hill lease covers 23,000ha. Of this area, approximately 11% has been disturbed by mining activities. The remaining 89% of the lease has been undisturbed by mining.An important part of mine closure is rehabilitation planning and implementation. MMG is investing in rehabilitation that will see both the Lawn Hill and Karumba sites return to their pre-mining states. In the case of the Lawn Hill lease, this means the lease will be suitable for light cattle grazing.
After an initial three-year period of ‘active closure’ where the focus is on bulk earthworks, the Lawn Hill site enters a ‘passive closure’ phase lasting for approximately 30 years. During this period, Caring for Country activities will become the focus. Where possible, these activities will be carried out using the skills of local Indigenous people.
||Base metals discovered in Lawn Hill area
||Silver King deposit discovered
||Exploration rights granted to CRA (now Rio Tinto)
||Century deposit discovered
||Pasminco buys Century lease from CRA
||Gulf Communities Agreement (GCA) signed between Century Mine, the Queensland Government and the Waayni, Kukatj, Mingginda and Gkuthaarn Native Title Groups
||First shipment of zinc concentrates
||Zinifex listed and buys Century from Pasminco
||RE Joint Venture ends
||Zinifex & Oxiana merge to form OZ Minerals as owner-operator
||MMG buys Century from Oz Minerals
||End of open pit production
Century mine (Lawn Hill)
Karumba QLD 4891
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Century mine (Lawn Hill)
PO Box 8016
Garbutt Business Centre
Garbutt QLD 4814
T +61 7 4769 5031
F +61 7 4769 5631
Community & Stakeholder Partnerships
Freecall 1800 098 721
T +61 7 4769 5432
PO Box 230
Karumba QLD 4891
T +61 7 4747 6300
F +61 7 4747 6307
MMG Port Administration
T +61 7 4747 6300
||Two sites in the remote lower Gulf region of Queensland, Australia: the mine at Lawn Hill and associated dewatering and shiploading facilities at the Karumba Port.
||Zinc concentrate and lead concentrate.
|Current mine life
full-time equivalent as at April 2015
|750 employees and contractors.
||Open pit mining.
||Conventional grinding and flotation.
|Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves
||Download the 2014 MROR Statement
||Approximately one shipload per week leaves the Gulf of Carpentaria waters destined for customers in Europe, Australia, China and Asia.