Study results continue to show promise for New Century Resources’ plans to restart the Mt Lyell copper operation in Tasmania, which was put into care and maintenance in 2014.
Since entering the option agreement to buy the mine last November, the company has continued to verify the potential for restarting the substantial copper project with best-in-class environmental credentials.
The miner is buoyed by the substantial mineral resource base of 1.1 million tonnes of copper and 0.94 million ounces of gold, with multiple development routes possible, underpinned by a low-cost, carbon-free power supply and potential multi-decade production of high-quality, low-impurity copper concentrate, based on historical performance.
The promising results of the restart study include:
- Confirmed suitability of sub-level caving mining method for future underground operations, successfully utilised at Mt Lyell since 1995
- Existing underground workings allow direct access to ore
- Confirmation of existing flowsheets which historically delivered more than 90 per cent copper recovery with gold credits
New Century says the existing site infrastructure is being assessed for its condition and suitability to incorporate into the restart planning process, with the study team “pursuing execution pathways that accelerate time to first ore while maximising production from the expansive mineral resource base”.
This includes an options analysis of undertaking a partial new build processing plant, with several benefits identified. While historic recoveries were consistently high, modern equipment offered the opportunity to drive increased efficiency in power consumption, maintenance workload and process control.
Importantly, the work to date shows the required footprint for accommodating a new plant does not necessitate upfront complete demolition of the old one, leaving a footprint for future expansion.
The existing Mt Lyell processing facility consists of four stage crushing, followed by two-stage grinding to present material with a P80 of 110µm to the flotation circuit, with nameplate capacity of 2.4Mtpa.
A major advantage of the project location is access to low-cost, renewable hydroelectric power available directly from the Tasmanian grid.
With an established grid connection, Mt Lyell copper concentrate has potential to have one of the lowest carbon intensities available on the global market.
In addition, the existing infrastructure provides a strong logistics network from mine to port, utilising established rail transport and shipping facilities at Burnie Port.