Prominent Hill to be prominent fixture in SA

OXIANA is eyeing a 40-year life for its Prominent Hill copper and goldmine being developed in South Australia's far north.

OXIANA is eyeing a 40-year life for its Prominent Hill copper and goldmine being developed in South Australia’s far north.

The company is still evaluating potential acquisitions and looking beyond its present Australian-Asian sphere of operations, despite its imminent “mega-merger” with base-metals group Zinifex, managing director Owen Hegarty said.

“We’re always on the look-out for acquisition opportunities,” Hegarty told the South Australia Chamber of Mines and Energy and he said these could lie outside the present operations in Australia, Laos and Indonesia.

Despite some Oxiana shareholder having doubts about the merger, because of Oxiana’s copper-gold momentum, Hegarty said that Zinifex would bring a similar positive outlook, technical and professional expertise and the prospect of expansion at the Century mine in Queensland and its region, which remained a “fabulous area” for exploration.

Meanwhile, Oxiana was progressing well on the $1.08 billion development of the Prominent Hill mine, north of BHP Billiton’s giant Olympic Dam project at Roxby Downs.

It was on track for first production from the open pit in mid-November, with an annual production rate of 200,000 to 250,000 tonnes of copper-gold concentrate for shipment via Darwin for processing in Asia.

The operation was planned to go underground in 2011, which would lift ore volumes, and the present proven resource was sufficient for at least 10 years.

The present resource would support deep underground mining until 2020, but exploration indicated further material in the main ore body and drilling work was beginning to extend the ore body laterally to the east and west.

Early indications showed similar copper and gold grades, which could support mining to 2030 and beyond.

The additional ore might be exploited by an extension of the present mine plan or by stand-alone mining operations to supply the Prominent Hill processing plant.

In addition, Oxiana has identified 25 drilling targets in the region which, if exploration was successful, could take the operation into the 2040s.

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