Heron Resources has launched underground mining at the Woodlawn zinc-copper project in New South Wales with development now almost three quarters complete.
The company has kept construction on track for commissioning to start by the end of the year.
Heron expects a rapid expansion of its on-site workforce in the next few months as recruitment continues and operational roles are filled. The company is seeking to recruit operating staff from the local community.
In addition to contractor Pybar starting underground mining, Heron reported that engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) was 73 per cent complete at the end of August.
Heron managing director Wayne Taylor said the underground access would enable the company to deliver underground ore in the processing plant in 2019.
“Once underground, our geological team will focus on further expanding the known mineralised positions to build upon the excellent and cost-effective work they have undertaken to date,” Taylor said.
“Elsewhere on site, I am pleased to report that good progress continues to be made with all aspects of the build, and that works remain on schedule for the commencement of commissioning by the end of the year.”
EPC contractor Sedgman has continued to advance works at the main process and paste plant sites on schedule with the project timeline.
The current activities at Woodlawn are focused on equipment installation, piping and electrical wiring.
Heron remains confident in the strength of the commodity market despite base metals prices experiencing an increased level of volatility and price falls due to the perceived risks associated with the United States-China trade war.
Zinc increased to 11-year highs at almost $US3600/tonne in the first quarter of this year only to drop to a two-year low in August after shedding around a third of its value.
The company’s view is that the pricing pull-back in zinc is not supported by the market supply demand fundamentals, with global zinc stocks continuing to be drawn down to low levels and mine production in the first half of 2018 at below 2017 levels.
“The pull-back in pricing is, however, likely to reduce the probability of new zinc projects (especially those at the higher end of the cost curve) being financed in what was already a challenging market,” the company added.