IN A classic tale of turning trash into treasure, Carbine Resources have taken the old gold mine pit in Mount Morgan and are transforming it into a profitable, and innovative, business.
Not only are they pulling gold from the tailings of the old mine, they have also struck a deal to sell the copper to Brisbane-based Swancorp, which specialises in delivering nutrient-rich fertiliser products to the agricultural, horticulture, stock feed and turf industries.
Carbine Resources' executive director Patrick Walta said the $8million-a-year deal was part of the redevelopment of the Mount Morgan gold and copper project.
"The project is essentially focused on rehabilitating the historical mine site," Mr Walta said.
"In that rehabilitation we pick up the tailing and take out the nasty contaminants and the gold - that pays for the work to be done.
"Rehabilitation is achieved by recovery of gold and also removal of contaminants such as copper and sulphur. These contaminants are concentrated and sold as valuable by-products to the overall gold recovery operation. "As part of that process we have been looking to effectively establish offtake contracts for the by-products we will be producing."
Mr Walta said after 18 months of groundwork with Swancorp, they had established a binding copper sulphate offtake contract.
He said turning the mine pit, which has a history of issues associated with it, into a positive for the local and wider communities was a definite positive.
"It is great; we are really taking a lot of the problems associated with the site and turning them into part of the solution," he said.
"Copper in the tailings is leaching into ground water, causing a lot of issues in the Dee River and beyond to the Great Barrier Reef, but we are turning it into a product... used to value-add in Queensland."
Swancorp general manager Lawrence Parrott said the company would be utilising the local market instead of previous international agreements.
"Swancorp has historically imported its copper sulphate requirements from Asia," Mr Parrott said.
"Swancorp is very pleased to have the offtake agreement in place as it now gives them access to a very high quality, Australian-made copper sulphate."
Carbine Resources will supply the copper to Swancorp as a finished product, which the company will then use in products for the Australian market.
"This local copper sulphate will be taken to the Australian agriculture, horticulture, turf, stock feed, mining and chemical industries," Mr Parrott said.