Xstrata Zinc has announced the development of the underground Lady Loretta high-grade lead zinc deposit in Queensland.
Work will begin immediately on the decline and underground services and surface infrastructure for the $246 million project.
The mine is located 140kms north of Xstrata’s existing Mt Isa operations, with plans to be in production by the end of 2013.
Xstrata Zinc Australia COO Brian Hearne said Lady Loretta was a strategic asset within the miner’s zinc portfolio.
“Lady Loretta’s higher grade zinc improves the overall quality of our Mount Isa resource base, increases annual average zinc production from this region by around 20% to 100 000 tonnes and supports further cost efficiencies from the Mount Isa operations,” Hearne said.
The project contains a total estimated resource of 13.7 million tonnes, with 17% zinc and 6% lead grades.
It will produce one million tonnes per annum of zinc-lead-silver ore and an annual average of 126 000 tonnes of zinc concentrate, and 40 000 tonnes of lead concentrate of a ten year mine life.
The development of Lady Loretta brings Xstrata Zinc’s total expenditure in the region to $800 million.
Xstrata Zinc chief Santiago Zaldumbide stated that “current market conditions and the positive medium term outlook for zinc support our growth strategy to exploit the extensive resources available from our Mount Isa operations”.
The underground Lady Loretta mine will use a decline for access and materials handling, using haul trucks to take ore and waste rock to the surface.
When fully developed, the mine will have a total depth of 510 metres and create jobs for 230 contractors during construction and a similar number of permanent places during operations.