Carrapateena airstrip. All images: OZ Minerals

 

BY JESSICA CUMMINS

 

ON the back of a productive year, OZ Minerals remains focussed on developing one of Australia’s largest copper gold resources, Carrapateena, with first concentrate scheduled in 2019.

 

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As the Adelaide-based miner moves its Carrapateena project towards production, a number of key activities remain on the table.

After injecting $85 million into the project during the September quarter, the miner saw the completion of its first ventilation raisebore and commenced development on the crusher level.

OZ Minerals chief executive Andrew Cole said flights to the site had begun and construction of all 556 rooms at the Tjungu accommodation village were also completed.

“The mineral processing plant and non-processing infrastructure construction is continuing as per schedule, with first concrete poured in late August,” Mr Cole said.

“Bulk earthworks and concrete works in the processing area are nearing completion and engineering is largely complete with major equipment deliveries set to ramp up during Q4.”

For the remainder of the calendar year, works at the site would be focussed on ongoing decline development, additional ventilation raisebores from surface, process plant construction and borrow pit works.

Mr Cole said construction would commence at the tailings storage facility, northern wellfield bore fit out,  as well as improvements to the Southern Access road.

 Mr Cole said Carrapateena expansion studies were also continuing with an expected maiden resource estimate for the Fremantle Doctor prospect due in Q4 of calendar year.

“Diamond drilling has also commenced on the Punt Hill project, approximately 50km south of Carrapateena and an update on the expansion desktop studies will be provided in Q1 2019,” he said.

The installation of its main communications network and high voltage powerline began during the second quarter of 2018, with completion scheduled for Q4 of calendar year

“Installation of the main communications fibre optic cable network and high voltage powerline is progressing well, with over 100 kilometres of cable installed from the Woomera Telstra Exchange to site,” Mr Cole said.

“The associated Mount Gunston ElectraNet Sub Station is nearing completion while earthworks and concrete infrastructure for the ElectraNet Pernatty South substation is well-advanced.”

 

Exploration

 

In October OZ Minerals met its $22 million spending commitment to acquire a 51 per cent stake in Cassini Resources’ West Musgrave project in WA.

A Pre Feasibility Study was currently underway for the project, which was scheduled to be complete in the second quarter of 2019.

OZ Minerals still has the option to increase its stake further and earn up to 70 per cent by investing an additional $14 million towards Nebo-Babel studies and regional exploration.

“The pace with which OZ Minerals have met the earn-in hurdle is significant as it shows the partners desire to progress rapidly through the study stage and the potential of the project,” Cassini Resources managing director Richard Bevan said at the time.

Mr Cole said the company’s confidence in the West Musgrave project continued to grow.

“Positive progress has been made across resource geology and recent metallurgical test work has produced encouraging early results with improved recoveries for both copper and nickel,” Mr Cole said.

 

“Early metallurgical test work on master composites, which represent different time periods of the current mine plan, has shown a material improvement in copper and nickel recoveries and an increase in copper concentrate grade, while nickel recovery remains in line with the further scoping study.

 

“We will know more once results from the test work are provided following the completion of metallurgical test work on variability samples from different geological domains in Q1 2019.”

Mr Cole said the 2018 resource drill program for West Musgrave was nearing completion, and because the company had been encouraged by the results decided to push the 2019 drill work forward.

Mr Cole said the company took a “province approach” to its operating mines, construction sites, and exploration projects.

“What this means is,  rather than simply seeking to develop a single new mine, or single new opportunity, we look for copper rich provinces where initial or existing investments can serve as a launching platform or hub for other opportunities,” he said.

“In the Musgrave province, we have the West Musgrave and East Musgrave projects.”

The East Musgrave prospect is about 500km east of the West Musgrave project.

“In addition to the work in West Musgrave, we also have an earn-in agreement with Woomera Exploration Limited to explore for magmatic nickel and copper sulphides in the Eastern Musgrave province,” he said.

“We are currently looking at innovative application of the Vector Residual Magnetic Intensity (VRMI) technique, traditionally used in iron ore and gold exploration, to resolve prospective anomalies at East Musgrave.

“This exploration joint venture targets magmatic nickel-copper sulphide systems like those of the Nebo Babel deposits in West Musgrave.”

 

Acquisition

 

Oz Minerals has also been active in the M&A space gaining 100 per cent of Avanco Resources in a $418 million acquisition in August.

Mr Cole said the acquisition was consistent with the company’s strategy to become a multi-asset, copper core modern mining company.

“It also gave us the second largest land position in the highly prospective, world-class Carajas copper province – and the largest land position in the Gurupi greenstone gold belt in Brazil,” he said.

The package included one operating asset, two well progressed development projects and numerous high priority brownfield and regional exploration targets.

“The acquisition allowed us to immediately contribute copper tonnes to our production profile and offered significant additional new growth options as well as a meaningful footprint in the highly prospective Carajás province,” he said.

“The acquisition provides us with the potential of seeing seven mines up and operating within the next six years.”

 

Outlook

 

Mr Cole said the company had made significant progress on its growth strategy in 2018, and 2019 would follow in the same path.

With multiple projects fast tracking through the build and study phases, Mr Cole said OZ Minerals’ portfolio was what a healthy mining company should look like.

“We have put a few enablers in place to allow us to work towards our vision of becoming a global copper-core modern mining company by 2023,” he said.

“One of these enablers is our devolved model – which is more important than ever now that we have operations in Brazil, as it will empower our business to make decisions to achieve outcomes that they are accountable for delivering.”

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