Operations began at the Tutunup South mineral sands project in June 2011, one month ahead of schedule. Initial site works had been started in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Tutunup South mine is adjacent to Ludlow-Hithergreen Road, about 15 kilometres south-east of Busselton, and 195kms south of Perth, in WA.
Initially Tutunup South has been supplementing Iluka’s ilmenite feed sources for its synthetic rutile kilns. Production ramp up at Tutunup South was expected to progress following the first month of operation.
The average heavy mineral grade of product mined at the site was expected to be 10 per cent.
Tutunup South was expected to produce 0.11 million tonnes of ilmenite in 2011 and 0.17Mt in 2012. The mine also has an associated zircon production stream; initial zircon from Tutunup South was processed during the June quarter.
Iluka expected that Tutunup South would produce about 1.2Mt of heavy mineral concentrate during the life of the mine. The heavy mineral concentrate would be processed at Iluka’s North Capel site, where it will provide ilmenite feedstock for the company’s synthetic rutile kiln two. At an expected mining rate of up to 200t of ore per hour, the project was expected to secure feed for the kiln for a mine life of between four and five years.
Mining at Tutunup South is by conventional dry mining methods and wet concentration. Heavy mineral concentrate is trucked to the Capel processing plant for final processing before being exported from the Port of Bunbury on the WA coast.
Operating. It its September 2011 quarterly report Iluka stated that the Tutunup South mine had ramped up to near full production levels, and had continued to perform to the company’s expectations.