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About: When the mining industry looks back at May 2009 it won't bring many good memories as it was a time of concern in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) but there was one bright light shining 700 kilometres north west from Perth, among the mulga, in the semi arid environment of the Eastern Goldfields Region. On May 4 one of the worlds largest miners, BHP Billiton defied the doomsdayers and announced to the world that it was to fully acquire the Cliffs underground nickel mine.

Cliffs was a Natural 'Fit' for BHP Billiton to Acquire

Before this announcement not many people knew much about the Cliffs Nickel Mine. Many in the industry knew about BHP Billiton's nearby Mt Keith nickel operation but Cliffs had gone comparatively un-noticed despite it only being four kilometres away. The Cliffs underground mine was natural fit for BHP Billiton as Cliffs underground operation mined nickel and cobalt from a narrow nickel vein and trucked it to the mine surface where road trains took the ore to BHP Billitons Leinster processing plant.

BHP Billiton has had a presence in the area mining nickel since 2005 when it acquired Nickel West. A mining group belonging to WMC ( Western Mining Corporation Resources Ltd). Nickel West was made up of the Mt Keith and Leinster mining operations which was regarded as the worlds third largest nickel concentrate producer.

Mining in the Area Goes Back as far as 1897

Major mining operations have been taking place in the Mt Keith area as far back as 1897. At that time the EMU (East Murchison United Company) worked an alluvial gold operation there that is now known as the Emu Gold operations. WMC became involved when it acquired the Leinster Nickel Mine in 1988 from Western Selcast and Mt Isa Mines.

Nickel West Leinster Includes the Cliffs Underground Operation

Nickel West Leinster is the group that incorporates the Cliffs Nickel mine as part of its operation 375 kilometres north of the gold mining centre of Kalgoorlie. Besides the Cliffs underground mine the group also comprises the Perseverance and Leinster operations, as well as infrastructure that includes a dryer and a nickel concentrator. The group, that is able to produce three million tonnes of ore each year, employs almost 1,000 workers who regularly contribute up to 45 tonnes of nickel concentrate per annum. The concentrate is taken by rail to the smelter at Kalgoorlie.

Cliffs Mine Workers Well Looked After

Mine workers are flown in and out to work at the Cliffs Underground Nickel and Cobalt Mine and when at work they are housed in 'state of the art' accommodation at the BHP Billiton township at Mt Keith only four kilometre distant. The township and Leinster village give the mine workers a unique lifestyle while, 'on the job' as it houses over 1,400 people and boasts a race course, 18 hole golf course, health and fitness centre and an Olympic sized swimming pool. Two airline carriers, Skippers Aviation and Alliance Airlines, are chartered by the company to fly the workers from Perth to Leinster to complete their rosters and return again when the shift is finished.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton have been in the industry for over 150 years & are among the largest producers of major commodities such as aluminium, copper, coal, iron ore, silver & branching out into oil & gas.They have over 100 locations throughout the world & employ more than 100,000 employees & more


BHP Billiton
171 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000


Phone13 0055 4757
fax03 9609 3015

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