Ox­i­ana’s Laos cop­per mine hits a record

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Resources -

OX­I­ANA achieved record cop­per pro­duc­tion at its Se­pon gold and cop­per mine in Laos for the De­cem­ber quar­ter and 2007 cal­en­dar year, the com­pany says. How­ever, zinc pro­duc­tion at its Golden Grove mine in West­ern Aus­tralia was marginally be­low tar­get.

At Se­pon, cost fore­casts were met and cop­per pro­duc­tion reached 16,304 tonnes for the quar­ter, with 62,541 tonnes pro­duced for the cal­en­dar year.

‘‘ Good through­put rates and higher milled grades and re­cov­ery rates were re­spon­si­ble for the strong pro­duc­tion de­spite an ex­tended main­te­nance shut­down in Oc­to­ber,’’ the com­pany said.

Board ap­proval was given for the Se­pon cop­per op­er­a­tion to be ex­panded to a name­plate ca­pac­ity of 80,000 tonnes a year.

The ex­pan­sion of the Se­pon cop­per plant should be com­pleted by 2010 and in­creased pro­duc­tion rates are ex­pected to fol­low.

The $204.17 mil­lion plant ex­pan­sion should re­duce cash costs by about 10 per cent, the com­pany said.

Cop­per pro­duc­tion at Se­pon in 2008 is ex­pected to be be­tween 60,000 and 65,000 tonnes. Gold pro­duc­tion ex­ceeded fore­casts, with 102,390 ounces pro­duced last year.

‘‘ Rates in­creased in the last quar­ter of 2007 due to higher equip­ment util­i­sa­tion,’’ the com­pany said. ‘‘ This in­creased min­ing rate will con­tinue in 2008 as the mined head grade de­clines. Pro­duc­tion in 2008 may de­cline marginally . . . but the tar­get re­mains 90,000 to 100,000 ounces.’’

Zinc pro­duc­tion was marginally be­low tar­get at Golden Grove, with 34,993 tonnes pro­duced dur­ing the De­cem­ber quar­ter.

‘‘ Golden Grove zinc pro­duc­tion was lower than ex­pected, due to un­planned changes to the min­ing sched­ule in the fourth quar­ter,’’ the com­pany said. ‘‘ Cop­per min­ing was as planned and pro­duc­tion of 15,404 tonnes was as fore­cast. Sil­ver pro­duc­tion of 3.2 mil­lion ounces was also as fore­cast.

‘‘ Mill through­put for the year reached record lev­els due to com­mence­ment of cer­tain mill im­prove­ment projects.’’

Pro­duc­tion at Golden Grove of metal in con­cen­trates for 2008 is fore­cast at 135,000 to 145,000 tonnes of zinc, com­pared with 131,954 tonnes in 2007.

Be­tween 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes of cop­per is fore­cast to be mined for 2008, com­pared with 15,404 tonnes last year.

Ex­pan­sion stud­ies are un­der way at Golden Grove into the ad­di­tion of open-pit min­ing and ex­ten­sion of the un­der­ground mine, to ex­tend the mine’s life be­yond 2020.

Ox­i­ana said its Prom­i­nent Hill de­vel­op­ment in South Aus­tralia re­mained on sched­ule but cap­i­tal costs were es­ti­mated to in­crease by about 30 per cent to $1.08 bil­lion.

First pro­duc­tion is ex­pected in the third quar­ter of 2008.

‘‘ Prom­i­nent Hill pro­duc­tion will ramp-up over the fi­nal months of 2008 with 25,000 tonnes of cop­per, 15,000 ounces of gold and 75,000 ounces of sil­ver ex­pected to be pro­duced,’’ the com­pany said.

De­vel­op­ment of the Martabe gold and sil­ver project in In­done­sia was also ap­proved dur­ing the quar­ter.

The com­pany said con­struc­tion of the project would com­mence on re­ceipt of fi­nal ap­provals from the In­done­sian Gov­ern­ment, which are ex­pected by April. Com­mis­sion­ing is sched­uled for De­cem­ber 2009.

The project has an ini­tial mine life of nine years with an­nual pro­duc­tion of 200,000 ounces gold and two mil­lion ounces of sil­ver. AAP

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