Northparkes copper-gold mine set for new block cave

China Molybdenum Company (CMOC) and Sumitomo have announced the final approval of a new block cave mine at the Northparkes operation in New South Wales, Australia.

The investment in E26 Lift 1 North (E26L1N) will be more than A$200 million ($143 million) over a three-and-a-half-year period with construction scheduled to commence this month and full production expected in mid-2022. The project aims to produce approximately 40 Mt of copper-gold ore over a 10-year period.

Executive Chairman and CEO, CMOC Group, Steele Li said: “Northparkes plays a pivotal role in our strong and long-term presence in Australia as an internationally renowned mining company.”

The project will deliver 11 km of underground development, an underground primary crusher, conveying systems and associated infrastructure. At the peak of construction, it will employ up to 180 people.

An upgrade to the ventilation system is currently being developed, which will provide the new E26L1N mine with sufficient air flow to support development and production activities.

The new block cave will be designed to use an increased level of automation and digitisation, helping to deliver a safer and more productive mine. The mine, in 2015, became a leader in autonomy when it switched 100% of its loading operations over to automated LHDs.

Northparkes is owned 80% by CMOC and 20% by subsidiaries of Sumitomo. It has approved development consent to mine until 2032 and, as of December 31, 2017, had reserves and resources of 125 Mt and 471 Mt, respectively.