Terramin Australia’s Angas mine in South Australia has begun exporting 5000 tonnes of zinc concentrate to the Port Pirie smelter.
The shipment, worth $3 million, was originally scheduled for October.
The announcement comes as a surprise to mining enthusiasts who have watched zinc prices fall from $US3000 a tonne to $US1740 in one year.
“Mining plants often take months to achieve targeted recovery of the valuable metals in the ore,” Terramin executive chair Kevin Moriarty said.
“Our metallurgists have not only achieved this, but are also producing higher concentrate grades than forecast.”
Intec on Monday closed its Hellyer mine in Tasmania, citing record low returns exacerbated by the strength of the Australian dollar.
In July, Xstrata and Teck Cominco closed their Lennard Shelf site in WA, while Broken Hill stalwarts CBH Resources and Perilya have radically curtailed production.
Moriarty said Terramin has the advantage of being a greenfields site close to infrastructure and a workforce.
“Most of the ones closing are older mines, when costs are traditionally higher,” he said.