Oxiana’s Laos copper mine hits a record
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