First Quantum Minerals’ majority-owned Cobre Las Cruces mine looks to have pushed out production for at least another year after devising a way to reprocess tailings at the copper operation in Spain.
A method was developed to reprocess tailings from already mined material, which is expected to yield around 22,000 t of copper over the next two years, First Quantum reported.
“Significant changes will be required to ensure the mine can adapt to the new processes required, but we have no doubt everyone at Las Cruces is up to the job,” it said.
In First Quantum’s most recent September quarter results, the company said 2020 was expected to be the final full year of production for the open pit at Cobre Las Cruces.
“Following the completion of open-pit mining, copper production will continue until early 2021 with the processing of stockpiled ore,” it said in the report, noting copper production guidance for 2020 of 55,000 t.
It added that extension of the current mine life through the re-processing of high-grade tailings was being assessed.
Alongside this tailings reprocessing strategy, Cobre Las Cruces is continuing its technical and study work on the polymetallic refinery project at Cobre Las Cruces.
Environmental permits for this project – which involves switching to a polymetallurgical processing route and developing an underground mine – are expected to be received before the end of the year, with water permits due in 2021, FQM said.