Mining Plus is “technical people servicing the mining industry.” They hail from Australia, but now are involved in re-starting an iron ore mine in Missouri. How they came to grow from Perth to Missouri is a story worth telling.

Ben Auld and Peter Lock run the company. On their website they are described as “two dynamic senior mine engineers with exceptional skill and knowledge of mining engineering.”

Ben got a degree in mining engineering in 1999 from the Curtin-Western Australia School of Mines. For three years until 2002, he was with Byrnecut mining as a miner, foreman, shiftboss, and project manager on mines involving flatback stoping and sub-level caving. Then for two years he worked for Kanowna Belle Gold Mine as a ventilation engineer, schedule engineer, and drill and blast engineer. By 2004, Ben was deputy manager of the Greenbushes mine, where he was involved in reopening and running the underground mine. By 2006 he was running Mining Plus, and on the basis of his Greenbushes experience, was “project managing the mining component of a prefeasibility study to the recommencement of an underground iron ore mine in the US.”

Peter Lock is a 2000 Curtin graduate. At the Kanowna Belle Gold mine he was mine planning engineer. At Greenbushes he was underground mining engineer and from 2004 to 2006 mining superintendent and underground manager. By 2006 he too was with Mining Plus with this objective “to optimize all mine planning technical aspects to impact favorably on the clients [sic] mining and safety performance, and maximize the company’s profitabillty.” I cannot work out from this convoluted and poorly written objective statement whose technical, safety, and profitability he is suppose to “optimize,” that of Mining Plus or of any number of listed clients? You choose.

Mining Plus lists a lot of Australian mine projects. But for our purposes the most intriguing are these two listed for the United States: Wings Iron and the Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine. I am not sure that these are two separate mines. I say this because of this quote from the Wings Iron Ore Mining Company site:

Upland Wings, Inc., purchased the Pea Ridge Iron Ore Mine property and all related mineral rights in 2001. In 2005 Upland Wings formed Wings Enterprises and Wings Iron Ore Mining Company (IOMC) for the development of these resources. Wings IOMC began reclaiming iron ore in October of 2006. Wings’ first reclaim production facility produces 30 tons per hour of 70% Fe (95% magnetic) iron ore from a 300,000 ton surface reserve. Wings IOMC will initiate construction of a larger reclaim production facility in early 2007. This production facility will produce over 100 tons per hour of 68% Fe iron ore from a 20 million ton tailings lake with an estimated 4 million tons of recoverable iron.

Obviously the Pea Ridge Mine went bankrupt in 2000 or thereabouts. Pincock Allen and Holt on their site say: “PAH performed an appraisal of the mine equipment, mining-related machinery, and spare parts inventory at the Pea Ridge Iron Ore Company near Sullivan, Missouri. The objective was to derive an orderly liquidation value for the equipment and associated parts.”

It is difficult to find more. At a site Concerned Citizens for Crystal City, we read from September 2007: “I went out to see where Wings Enterprises is located. It's at 1185 Ross Avenue. There is a residential house there. There are no signs or buildings. I also went out to the Pea Ridge Mine. There is nothing there. I entered a gated section where there was a hand-painted sign saying "Iron Ore" with an arrow pointing to the mine. There was noise in the valley where the mine is located. But my digital camera was out of batteries so I decided not to go any further.”

Maybe it has happened and things would be different if you went back today. On the webpage of Wings Iron Ore Mining Company we read: “Wings Enterprises and Minmetals USA, working with Thyssen Mining, CA and Byrnecut Mining, AU will begin redevelopment work of the Pea Ridge mine beginning in 2008.” (Minmetals, incidentally, is a Chinese mining company.) And :

“Wings will initiate construction of a larger reclaim production facility in early 2008. This production facility will produce over 100 tons per hour of 68% Fe iron ore from a 20 million ton tailings lake with an estimated 4 million tons of recoverable iron.”

I am intrigued about reworking 20 million ton of tailings. Take a look on Google Earth at the mine address, 10685 Wings Lake Drive, Sullivan, MO. There is a big tailings pond there OK. Obviously that concerned citizen from Crystal City is not technically savvy. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources website, there is a permit in place to manage and “ultimately reclaim” the metallic mineral waste. Phone James Kennedy at 314-494-1638 for more information.

I worked hard on the Weldon Spring site just up the road from these folk. So I am interested and will watch their successes as they advance.