First ‘saleable copper-gold concentrate’ has been produced into the pre-filter press feed tank at Carrapateena – OZ Minerals’ new underground copper mine in South Australia which is located approximately 160 kilometres north of Port Augusta.
OZ Minerals said the achievement of the concentrate production milestone (which was announced on 20 December 2019) met the schedule mapped out on Board approval of the project in August 2017.
The pre-production capital cost at first saleable concentrate is approximately $970 million with 2019 growth capital spend on track for guidance of $540 million to $570 million.
Sufficient saleable concentrate was expected to be produced to the filter feed tank over the days following the announcement so that the first concentrate press could be completed.
OZ Minerals advised that over 280,000 tonnes of development ore is stockpiled on the surface as the mine now enters a faster circa 12-month ramp-up towards reaching a 4.25 Mtpa throughput rate by the end of 2020 (dependent upon the cave performing as expected).
OZ Minerals Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Cole, commended the efforts of all involved in developing Carrapateena.
“[This] milestone represents the collaboration, support and hard work of a great many people including our operations and construction teams and the large number of contractors involved. We have been privileged to have the support and direct contribution from the traditional owners, the Kokatha people, and our pastoralist neighbours, as well as from a great many individuals and businesses in the Upper Spencer Gulf and elsewhere in South Australia.”
“The South Australian Government has supported the project throughout whilst ensuring we meet or exceed their rigorous environmental and other permitting requirements.”
Mr Cole said the project has generated over 1,000 direct jobs from construction through to production as well as many thousands of indirect benefits to South Australia.
Production for 2020, as the ramp-up progresses, is anticipated to be in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of copper and 35,000 to 40,000 ounces of gold at an expected full-year C1 cost of US $1.80 to $2.00 per pound.
Due to the fixed cost nature of the mine, unit costs are projected to be higher in the first half and move lower in the latter half, in line with mine production ramp-up.
Mr Cole said OZ Minerals’ key operational focus remains on underground development as they ramp-up the mine.
“The streamlined mine design with an expanded footprint will improve cave establishment, reduce risk during the ramp-up phase and may enable future annual throughput expansion opportunities as we continue to assess options to expand capacity above 4.25Mt annually,” he said.
Aside from the announcement of first saleable concentrate, Mr Cole said the company has already commenced a block cave expansion scoping study looking at increasing both the life and production capacity of Carrapateena from 2025.
“Exploration also continues around Carrapateena to improve our understanding of the broader province potential,” he stated.
Longer-term and more detailed guidance is expected to be released by OZ Minerals in its Q4 2019 report at the end of January 2020.