Austral Resources has performed its inaugural blast at the Anthill copper mine in central Queensland, setting Australia to gain another copper producer by April 2022.
The milestone came just three weeks after approval was received to commence mining at Anthill, 80 kilometres north-west of Mount Isa.
Austral chief executive officer Steve Tambanis said it was exciting to see so much hard work come to fruition in a short timeframe.
“We’re delighted to break ground within three weeks of obtaining approval to commence mine development,” Tambanis said.
“Employees and contractors have worked tirelessly to achieve this key development milestone – both safely and cost effectively.”
The blast was attended by a host of major players in Australia’s mining industry, all eager to be a part of Australia’s next major copper miner.
These included contractor Thiess Mining Services, blast management company Orica and drill specialists Roc-Drill.
The blast broke 110,000 cubic metres of iron stone in Anthill’s east pit, allowing bulk earthmoving to begin in January 2022.
First ore will be mined in March/April 2022, according to Austral, with 10,000 tonnes of copper cathode planned to be produced by mid-2022 at the Mount Kelly copper oxide heap leach and solvent extraction electrowinning (SXEW) plant.
At full production, Mount Kelly will reach 5000 tonnes per day, thanks to refurbishment duties currently underway which Tambanis said were in “full swing.”
Site facilities and haul roads remain under construction at Anthill, with all projects on track for first production next year.
Once everything is in place, Thiess will go to work on its three-year mining services contract signed in October.
Thiess chief executive officer and executive chairman Michael Wright said the company was well placed to be a part of the Anthill operation owing to its location.
“Thiess has a long history operating in the Mount Isa region dating back to the early 1960s, and we’re very pleased to be back,” Wright said in October.
“With our selection as preferred contractor, Austral Resources has recognised our team’s specialist mining capability and our flexible approach to meet the needs of their mine.”