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Rasp set to ramp up

Sunday, 13th February, 2011

The mining company was this month given the go-ahead by the State Government for a major expansion at Rasp, which has remained dormant for over two years following a global collapse in metal prices.

CBH has said it expects to directly employ about 160 people once the mine is in operation, with around twice that number also expected to gain employment elsewhere from the flow-on effects.

The news was followed by Perilya's announcement on Friday that it would re-start development at its Potosi mine and nearby Silver Peak project on the northern outskirts of the city.

Perilya expects to employ about 100 people for that operation.

The two companies were once in talks to merge their Broken Hill operations before Perilya broke off negotiations, prompting CBH to make a failed takeover bid for the larger company.

Either deal would almost certainly have involved material from Rasp being treated at Perilya's processing plant, eliminating the need for CBH to build its own plant.

Western Australia-based GR Engineering Services has won the tender to design and construct the plant for CBH which will be located at the north-eastern end of the lease.

CBH, which was taken over by Japanese company Toho Zinc last year, decided to move the plant from its original location at the southwest end of Consolidated Mining Lease 7 (CML7) to reduce the plant's impact to residents.

GRES project manager Geoff Tanner said last week that construction of the plant would begin in March and take about 12 months.

He said 30 to 40 people would be employed throughout the entire construction phase of the project which would have a peak workforce of between 70 and 80.

The company wants to source 50 per cent of its workers from Broken Hill.

"That's our plan," said Mr Tanner, who added the company would be after tradespeople, particularly in the metal and electrical trades.

The company has already started the process of finding local accommodation for the people it will bring to the city.

Work at the site will initially be limited to earth, ground and road works, according to Mr Tanner, followed by civil and concrete works.

Towards the end of the year, the focus will switch to steel and mechanical erection, with the plant's commissioning to start in February next year.

CBH has said it expects production to commence in the middle of next year.

Construction of the plant will not pose any new challenges to the company, according to Mr Tanner, who said GRES had done quite a few similar plants in WA.

"The process route is well known and well established for a number of years."

But he said the fact the mine was in the middle of a city, and not a remote mining site, did present some challenges.

"It certainly does," Mr Tanner said.

He said that at a remote mine site, the construction team would typically work from 6am to 6pm six days a week.

However, the work day for GRES at Rasp has been restricted to 7am to 7pm, though Mr Tanner said workers would likely finish at 5-5.30pm each day.

"We just have to be mindful of the dust and (noise). They're the two main issues."

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