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xstrata news: ehm open pit ends in 2010

  1. 101 Posts.
    Found an interesting news release on the Xstrata website (www.xstrata.com): Ernest Henry Mining commences "First Cut" of AUD26 million stage 1 decline(20 February 2008).

    Interesting from Exco's perspective in that Xstrata acknowledge the current planned closure date for EHM based on the open pit is late 2010!

    They also acknowledge that there is a gap between the end of treating material from the open pit and the commencement of underground production, which they are seeking to 'minimise'. The underground is clearly critical to extending the mine's life but is seemingly far from a done deal just yet.

    They must be considering all of their options, including ore supply arrangements with the likes of EXS.

    Full text of release below (KEY POINTS IN CAPITALS):

    Today the Deputy Premier of Queensland, Hon Paul Lucas, MP, the Minister for Mines and Energy, Hon Geoff Wilson, MP, and Member for Mount Isa, Betty Kiernan, witnessed the ’first cut’ of a 3.2 kilometre underground decline at Xstrata Copper’s Ernest Henry Mine open pit operation near Cloncurry in north west Queensland.

    Chief Operating Officer Xstrata Copper North Queensland, Steve de Kruijff, said Xstrata Copper was dedicated to maximising value from its existing assets and strengthening the Cloncurry economy.

    “Today’s successful first cut marks the starting point of the decline by cutting a ‘portal’ approximately half way down the western pit wall. It is a milestone for our mining operations and more importantly was carried out without any interruption to our daily production at our open pit mine operations.

    “The first cut of the Stage 1 AUD26 million underground decline is the outcome of a five year concept and pre-feasibility study. The AUD15 million pre-feasibility study resulted in over 40,000 metres of drilling and core samples that were used to increase our confidence in the orebody beneath the open pit mine and to consider a variety of underground mining options,” he said.

    “We expect the construction of the decline to be completed in early 2009.


    “A further feasibility study to evaluate the viability of full scale underground mining operations at Ernest Henry Mine commenced in February and will run in parallel with the development of the Stage 1 decline.

    “We will know by mid 2009 whether Stage 2 of the project, the full scale underground development, will be realised.

    ”By pursuing the feasibility of an underground operation at Ernest Henry Mining, we are potentially extending the life of the mine well BEYOND OUR CURRENT PLANNED CLOSURE DATE IN LATE 2010. This will in turn extend the economic contribution of our operations to the Cloncurry township,” he added.

    Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, Hon Paul Lucas, MP said the project was another example of the great work being done in the North West.

    "This trip follows on from a commitment we gave at the Community Cabinet meeting here last year.

    "We're committed to getting on the ground and meeting with companies like Xstrata, local government members and other community representatives," he said.

    Minister for Mines and Energy, The Hon Geoff Wilson, MP, congratulated Xstrata Copper on today’s milestone

    “Xstrata Copper’s investment in this new stage of this mine shows a level of confidence in the region and its further potential. I commend the company’s commitment to the North West and look forward to hearing of further progress on this substantial project.”

    The Hon Betty Kiernan who fired the blast enabling the underground to commence from the first cut echoed the economic sentiments of the Ministers.

    “The regional economy in the district is already buoyant and will be further reassured by this exciting and potential long-term development,” said Betty Kiernan, Member for Mount Isa.

    “It is great to see Xstrata Copper‘s commitment to the Cloncurry community and their continued investment in looking at ways to extend the operating life of Ernest Henry Mining,” she said.

    Ernest Henry Mining is located 38 kilometres north-east of Cloncurry in the minerals rich district surrounding Mount Isa and commenced the processing of ore in 1997. It is the third largest copper mine in Australia and produces approximately 100,000 tonnes of copper and 120,000 ounces of gold in the form of concentrate. This concentrate is transported to Xstrata Mount Isa Mines’ copper smelter for smelting.

    The Ernest Henry deposit is known to extend more than 400 metres below the final Stage 7 open pit. The EHM decline will entail approximately 3.2 kilometres of development and ventilation connections. It is anticipated that around 35 people will be working full-time on the project for its duration.

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