Sandvik Mining and Construction has been awarded a contract for the supply of 14 LH517 LHDs (load-haul-dumps) for the initial production phase of Newcrest Mining’s Cadia East mine near Orange in the NSW Central West. The Cadia East project involves the development of the massive Cadia East deposit—one of the world’s largest gold deposits—into Australia’s first panel cave. The mine will be the deepest panel cave in the world and Australia’s largest underground mine.

The Sandvik LH517s will be deployed in Cadia East’s initial production phase (Lift 1), and are being delivered between now and October 2012. They will be equipped for fully autonomous operation in conjunction with Sandvik’s underground mining AutoMine system, which is currently used at Newcrest’s Ridgeway Deeps Project (also near Orange in the NSW Central West). According to Tim Redmond, Sandvik Mining and Construction’s underground mining sales manager, Sandvik has a strong relationship with Newcrest, and is a long-standing LHD supplier. “Newcrest’s huge Cadia Valley Operation is now among the largest users of Sandvik LHDs globally,” he said. Service and support for the new loaders is being carried out both by Sandvik’s Orange service center, plus an onsite product support team in the Cadia Valley.

The Cadia East orebody is one of the world’s largest gold deposits, comprising a mineral resource of 2,347 million metric tons (mt) containing 33.2 million oz of gold and 6.59 million mt of copper, along with a current ore reserve of 18.7 million oz of gold and 3.16 million mt of copper. It will underpin production from the Cadia Valley for at least the next 30 years. The project is based on the construction of an underground mine adjacent to the Cadia Hill open-pit mine, and an expansion of the existing Cadia Valley processing plant capacity from 24 million mt/y to 26 million mt/y. The estimated capital cost of the project is A$1.91 billion. The project will enable production from Newcrest’s Cadia Valley Operations to increase to a range of 700,000-800,000 oz of gold and 75,000 mt to in excess of 100 kt of copper per year over the first 10 years.

Construction has commenced, with first production expected in the second half of 2012. Commissioning and appreciable production levels will be occurring during the 2013 calendar year. The massive underground resource is suited to the low cost, bulk underground mining method of panel caving.