OzMinerals has completed a scoping study into a potential $1.3 billion expansion of its Carrapateena copper mine, which is located approximately 470 kilometres north of Adelaide.
The Carrapateena copper mine is considered to be one of Australia’s largest undeveloped copper deposits and is second in size to South Australia’s largest copper mine, BHP’s Olympic Dam – the fourth-largest copper deposit in the world.
The project is currently a 4.25 Million tonne per annum underground operation and holds an estimated mine life of 20 years.
According to the scoping study, the Carrapateena Block Cave Expansion would more than double the throughput of the mine (which is currently under construction) and require pre-production capital of between $1 billion and $1.3 billion. The expansion would also increase copper production from the year 2026.
OzMinerals now plans to progress the project into the ‘pre-feasibility’ stage.
Block caving is a mining technique in which an ore body is undermined and allowed to progressively collapse under its own weight.
OzMinerals CEO Andrew Cole said a block cave expansion of the lower portion of the current Carrapateena Sub Level Cave has the potential to increase average life of mine copper production from 65,000 tonnes per annum to approximately 105,000 – 125,000 tonnes per annum from 2026.
“Transitioning from the sub-level cave to the block cave expansion will allow OzMinerals to focus on the higher-grade ore at the top of the body (sub-level cave) and the bottom of the body (block cave expansion), prioritising these over the lower-grade ore in the centre of the body,” he shared.
Mr Cole further commented that the construction of the sub-level cave remains on schedule, with first production due to begin in the final quarter of this year.
The block cave expansion pre-feasibility study is also due to be completed by the middle of next year.