OZ Minerals has approved a $600 million investment in the Wira shaft mine expansion at the Prominent Hill copper-gold operation in South Australia.
The Wira shaft project will extend Prominent Hill’s mine life to 2036 at six million tonnes per year.
It will result in an estimated 23 per cent annual increase to copper production at a 20 per cent lower operating cost.
The investment will also increase Prominent Hill’s mineral resource by around 45 per cent to 67 million tonnes with the total mineral resource clocking in at 150 million tonnes at 0.9 per cent copper and 0.8 per cent gold.
“We are thrilled to see a long and productive future for Prominent Hill with the Wira shaft mine expansion enabling access to areas previously thought uneconomic and opening up potential new prospects,” OZ Minerals chief executive officer Andrew Cole said.
“Prominent Hill is a quality orebody and remains open at depth. The reliable performance of the operation and its consistent resource to reserve conversion rate were all influential in the decision.
“The shaft expansion creates an exciting new future for Prominent Hill with extended mine life and production rates enabling investment in lower emissions and other OZ Minerals environmental and workforce aspirations.”
Prominent Hill started operations in 2009 as an open pit and has transitioned to an underground mine producing 4.5 million tonnes per year.
The Wira shaft investment will boost the production rate to 6 million tonnes per year by 2025 which is around the same time stockpiled ore from the open pit is fully depleted.
OZ Minerals are also anticipating a reduction in operational risk and emissions intensity by 27 per cent through the investment. Site operating costs will also be lowered by $14 to $20 per tonne.
“Today is another important milestone for OZ Minerals as we cement Prominent Hill’s role as a long-life, low- cost asset in the OZ Minerals portfolio making a valuable contribution to our purpose, going beyond what’s possible to make lives better,” Cole concluded.