Tag Archives: copper

Byrnecut wins five-year contract extension at 29Metals’ Golden Grove mine

29Metals Limited says it has renewed the underground mining services agreement with Byrnecut Australia for the Golden Grove mine, in Western Australia, for a further five years, commencing from October 1, 2022.

The renewed contract extends the long-standing relationship with Byrnecut at Golden Grove, with the existing contract entered in 2017, providing continuity of operations.

The renewed contract is on substantially the same terms as the existing contract and covers development and production in the Gossan Hill and Scuddles mines at Golden Grove.

Under the renewed contract, 29Metals has formalised a commitment to identify and evaluate opportunities to collaborate on sustainability and ESG matters, reflecting 29Metals’ commitment to performance in these two areas, it said.

Golden Grove is a copper, zinc and precious metals mining operation, with the first mining discovery in the area dating back to 1971. Mining operations commenced in 1989 with the development of the Scuddles underground mine, followed by the commencement of mining at the Gossan Hill underground mine in 1996 and the Gossan Hill open-pit mine in 2012. In 2020, the mining rate at the operation was 1.44 Mt.

29Metals Managing Director & CEO, Peter Albert (pictured third from the left, shaking hands with Byrnecut Executive Chairman, Steve Coughlan), said: “After assessing a number of options, including owner mining, we are delighted to renew the agreement with Byrnecut and extend our relationship at Golden Grove. Byrnecut is a leading mining contractor in Australia and globally, and has been a key business partner at Golden Grove both before and since the 29Metals IPO.

“There is a strong alignment between our two companies from an operations, performance, and values perspective. With the new contract, we are extending that alignment to include a commitment to collaborate on sustainability and ESG matters where 29Metals will benefit from Byrnecut’s reach and experience globally.”

Rio Tinto funds initial underground development at Kennecott copper ops

Rio Tinto has approved a $55 million investment in development capital to start underground mining and expand production at its Kennecott copper operations in Utah, USA.

Underground mining will initially focus on an area known as the Lower Commercial Skarn (LCS), which will deliver a total of around 30,000 t of additional high-quality mined copper through the period to 2027 alongside open-pit operations, Rio says. The first ore is expected to be produced in early 2023, with full production in the second half of the year. It will be processed through the existing facilities at Kennecott, one of only two operating copper smelters in the US.

Kennecott holds the potential for significant and attractive underground development. The LCS is the first step towards this, with a mineral resource of 7.5 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.84 g/t Au, 11.26 g/t Ag and 0.015% Mo identified based on drilling and a probable reserve of 1.7 Mt at 1.9% Cu, 0.71 g/t Au, 10.07 g/t Ag and 0.044% Mo.

Underground battery-electric vehicles are currently being trialled at Kennecott to improve employee health and safety, increase productivity and reduce carbon emissions from future underground mining fleets. A battery-electric haul truck and loader supplied by Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions – a Sandvik LH518B 18 t battery-electric LHD and a Sandvik Z50 50 t battery-electric haul truck – are being used to evaluate performance and suitability as part of underground development work.

Rio Tinto Copper Chief Executive, Bold Baatar, said: “This investment will allow us to quickly bring additional volumes of high-quality copper to the market and build our knowledge and capabilities as we evaluate larger scale underground mining at Kennecott. We are progressing a range of options for a significant resource that is yet to be developed at Kennecott, which could extend our supply of copper and other critical materials needed for electric vehicles and renewable power technologies.

“Trialling underground battery-electric vehicles is an exciting step in our work to create a safer workplace for our employees, increase the productivity of the mine and reduce emissions from our operations. We look forward to seeing their potential for deployment.”

Existing undergound infrastructure is currently being extended to enable early access to the next underground resource and undertake characterisation studies. A feasibility study to inform decisions on the next phase of underground production is expected to be completed in 2023. This will be one of several potential stages currently being investigated.

Feasibility studies are also being progressed to extend open-pit mining at Kennecott beyond 2032.

Anglo American kicks off commercial ops at Quellaveco copper mine

Anglo American has announced the start of commercial copper operations at its Quellaveco project in Peru, following the successful testing of operations and final regulatory clearance.

Quellaveco is expected to produce 300,000 t/y of copper-equivalent volume on average over its first ten years.

The milestone follows unloading of first ore to the primary crusher in June and the production of first copper in July.

Duncan Wanblad, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “Our delivery of Quellaveco, a major new world-class copper mine, is testament to the incredible efforts of our workforce and our commitment to our stakeholders in Peru over many years. Quellaveco, alone, is expected to lift our total global output by 10% in copper-equivalent terms and take our total copper production close to 1 Mt/y. At a highly competitive operating cost, Quellaveco exemplifies the asset and return profile that is central to our portfolio quality and our ability to provide customers with a reliable and sustainable supply of future-enabling metals.”

Ruben Fernandes, CEO of Anglo American’s Base Metals business, added: “We designed Quellaveco as one of Anglo American’s and South America’s most technologically advanced mines, incorporating autonomous drilling and haulage fleets – a first in Peru – a remote operations centre, as well as a number of Anglo American’s digital and advanced processing technologies. Drawing its electricity supply entirely from renewables, Quellaveco is setting an example of a low emission mine producing a critical metal for decarbonising the global economy – copper. In Quellaveco, we can see FutureSmart Mining™ in action.”

Anglo American expects that Quellaveco will ramp up fully over the next 9-12 months. Following a thorough commissioning and testing period, and receipt of final regulatory clearance, production guidance for Quellaveco in 2022 is revised to 80,000-100,000 t of copper (previously 100,000-150,000 t) at a C1 unit cost of $1.50/lb, previously $1.35/Ib. Production guidance for Quellaveco in 2023 and 2024 is unchanged at 320,000-370,000 t of copper.

OZ Minerals’ West Musgrave copper-nickel plan receives board approval

The OZ Minerals Board has greenlit the build of the West Musgrave copper-nickel project in Western Australia, paving the way for the development of a remote asset using dry grinding technology, autonomous haulage and a significant volume of renewable power.

West Musgrave is set to become OZ Minerals’ fourth operating asset when it starts producing concentrate in the second half of 2025, in the process becoming the company’s cleanest and greenest mine with plans to reach net zero Scope 1 emissions by 2038.

The feasibility study the board signed off on details a 13.5 Mt/y operation with average production of circa-28,000 t/y of nickel and circa-35,000 t/y of copper over a 24-year operating life. Coming with a A$1.7 billion ($1.1 billion) direct initial capital expenditure bill, West Musgrave could provide cash flow generation of circa-A$1.9 billion during the first five years of production based on OZ Minerals’ projections.

One of the interesting additions to the process flowsheet – which has been mentioned in previous economic studies – is the use of LOESCHE’s Vertical Roller Mill (VRM) technology.

Two VRMs will operate in parallel after the primary and secondary crushing circuit at West Musgrave, with OZ Minerals noting benefits in reducing power consumption by around 20%, supporting higher flotation recovery and the operational flexibility to be ramped up and down. The latter is particularly important given OZ Minerals plans to make West Musgrave one of the largest fully off-grid, hybrid renewable powered mines in the world with an initial circa-80% renewable penetration rate, powered off wind and solar energy with a battery energy storage system in tow.

Dr Thomas Loesche, Managing Shareholder and owner of LOESCHE, said: “As a mining engineer with a degree in mineral processing, it has always been a vision of mine to develop dry-comminution technologies that enable better sorting efficiencies, reduced power and consumables. We are very pleased to be involved in such an important project. OZ Minerals is breaking new ground and proving that sustainability does not stand in the way of project development, but rather makes such projects possible.”

The application of the VRM technology has been peer reviewed for the project by independent experts and has been de-risked through pilot test work campaigns, OZ Minerals added.

Further upstream of the VRMs, OZ Minerals has stated plans to operate the mining fleet remotely from day one at West Musgrave, with the acquisition of an autonomous haulage system-enabled fleet on a leasing basis in the feasibility study outline.

OZ Minerals did not include details of the size of truck involved in the latest study, but the prefeasibility study originally released in 2020 highlighted the use of up to 25 220-t payload haul trucks.

There is also potential for these haul trucks to be electric in the future, with OZ Minerals saying its pathway is aligned with the potential transition to an electric haulage fleet at the first engine change out.

While OZ Minerals says it has the capacity to fully fund West Musgrave with a new A$1.2 billion syndicated facility supported by key relationship banks awaiting final binding agreements, it said potential strategic partnership in the project via a minority interest was being explored.

The next steps for the project involves award of contracts with major partners – it has already signed up GR Engineering to build the process plant; increasing the capacity of its camp to around 250 beds by early 2023; mobilisation of equipment to commence earthworks; finalise the power purchasing agreement and Living Hub – the latter of which has 350 permanent ensuite rooms; and increasing its owner team resources in line with the plan, including operational-readiness personnel.

Stantec to deliver $16 million feasibility study on Resolution Copper Mine

Stantec says it has been selected by Resolution Copper Mining LLC to deliver a $16 million feasibility study providing engineering and technical services for the Resolution Copper mine in Superior, Arizona.

The proposed underground mine, a joint venture between Rio Tinto (55%) and BHP (45%), has the potential to be one of the largest producers of copper in North America – supplying up to 25% of US copper demand each year.

Stantec has been a lead underground mining and infrastructure consultant on the Resolution project since early 2019. It will assist the company by providing engineering and execution planning services for the mine.

Mario Finis, Executive Vice President for Stantec’s Energy & Resources business, said: “Resolution Copper is mining a critical resource needed for the energy transition. We are proud to support our client in this important endeavour with a strong commitment to sustainable mining throughout the entire life cycle of the project.”

Stantec’s engineering services on this project include power distribution, material handling, shafts and hoisting systems, dewatering/pumping, communications and more. Additionally, Stantec is evaluating the use of battery-electric vehicles to help the mine meet its goal of zero carbon emissions.

To date, more than $2 billion has been spent to develop and permit the project, including reclamation of the historic Magma Copper Mine site, sinking a second shaft to mining depth, rehabilitating an existing shaft and deepening to mining depth, extensive drilling and orebody testing, and the federal approval and public engagement process.

Stantec says its Mining, Minerals, and Metals team is helping clients achieve net zero mining – through its holistic service offering, Sustainable Mining by Design™, which aids companies to meet their environmental, social and governance obligations by finding ways to reduce energy demand and use clean sources of energy.

KGHM’s natural-gas backed ventilation system starting up

KGHM is tapping natural gas to provide a ventilation and cooling/heating solution at its circa-1,300-m-deep GG-1 shaft in Poland.

The copper miner says technical acceptance of this surface air conditioning station is underway.

The investment is of key importance to the company, enabling personnel to work at a depth of around 1,300 m where the average primary temperature of the rock mass is approximately 50°C.

The system, being built by KGHM Group company Przedsiębiorstwo Budowy Kopalń PeBeKa S.A., allows the combined production of heat and electricity from natural gas. It also ensures the continuity and reliability of the cooled air supplied to the mine headings and allows elimination of the need to purchase electricity for the plant. This, in turn, helps improve the company’s energy efficiency.

The investment is environmentally friendly and is to bring savings thanks to the use of a tri-generation system: the electricity produced will power the air conditioning station equipment, the recovered heat energy will be used for cooling by absorption units and, in winter, to heat the air flowing into the shaft and the buildings at the GG-1 shaft yard.

The construction of the station began in 2019.

The project involves the implementation of three stages, allowing the production of cooling capacity of 22 MWt, 33 MWt and 40 MWt, respectively, KGHM said.

Schneider Electric joins the Copper Mark’s responsible production framework

The Copper Mark, an assurance framework set up to promote the responsible production of copper and demonstrate the copper industry’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of green resource transition, has been joined in this commitment by Schneider Electric, a leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation.

Schneider Electric is committed to sustainable and responsible material sourcing, with copper being a vital raw material in its supply chain. Schneider’s products and solutions help its customers be more sustainable, and the company says it is leading by example working to be more sustainable in its own operations.

With this addition, the Copper Mark has reached 19 industry partners.

Michèle Brülhart, Executive Director, The Copper Mark, said: “We are delighted to welcome Schneider Electric as our newest partner. This partnership will help the Copper Mark to promote and raise awareness around responsible business practices within the digital sector, working with their leaders and suppliers to improve understanding around ESG standards more effectively.”

Daniel W Bartel, Chief Procurement Officer, Global Supply Chain, Schneider Electric, said: “The Copper Mark and Schneider Electric share the same goal to accelerate responsible material sourcing for metals. In particular, Schneider Electric has committed to increase ‘Green Materials’ in products to 50% by 2025. We look forward to engaging further with the Copper Mark to encourage our suppliers to participate in the Copper Mark Assurance Process and aim collectively at responsible copper production.”

Ivanhoe and Gécamines break ground on Kipushi processing plant

Ivanhoe Mines President, Marna Cloete, has announced that Kipushi Corporation SA (KICO), a joint venture between Ivanhoe and DRC state-owned mining company Gécamines, have broken ground on construction of the processing plant at the historic Kipushi zinc-copper-germanium-silver mine in the country.

In addition, Ivanhoe has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the provincial government of Haut-Katanga to study options for upgrading the DRC-Zambia border crossing in the town of Kipushi for commercial imports and exports.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by His Excellency Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Her Excellency Adèle Kayinda Mahina, Minister of State and Minister of Portfolio, Her Excellency Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi, Minister of Mines, members of the provincial government of the Haut-Katanga Province and other national, provincial and local dignitaries, in addition to representatives from Ivanhoe, Gécamines and the town of Kipushi.

The delegation was presented with the development plan for returning the Kipushi mine to production by late 2024 – one hundred years since it was first opened and 30 years since it was placed on care and maintenance.

The ceremony follows the release of results of the Kipushi 2022 Feasibility Study, announced in February 2022, as well as the agreement signed between Ivanhoe Mines and Gécamines to bring the Kipushi mine back into production.

The study evaluates the development of an 800,000 t/y concentrator and underground mine, producing on average of 240,000 t/y of zinc contained in concentrate over a 14-year life of mine. The successful commencement of commercial production would establish Kipushi as the world’s highest-grade major zinc mine, with an average head grade of 36.4% Zn over the first five years of production, according to Ivanhoe.

Existing, rehabilitated surface and underground infrastructure allow for significantly lower capital costs than comparable development projects, Ivanhoe said. The estimated pre-production capital cost, including contingency, is $382 million. This infrastructure also allows for a relatively short construction timeline of two years, with the principal development activities being the construction of a conventional concentrator facility and supporting infrastructure, together with the restart of mining activities underground.

Ordering of long-lead equipment is underway and early construction activities have commenced. Financing and offtake discussions, including a pre-payment facility of $250 million, are well advanced with several interested parties, the company added.

Ivanhoe’s Cloete said: “Kipushi is exceptional, not only because of the renowned Big Zinc deposit, which is one of the world’s richest orebodies, but more importantly because of the people of Kipushi and the unique partnerships that make today’s ceremony possible.

“We now have our sights clearly set on the re-start of production in 2024. The re-birth of the historic Kipushi Mine will be a great achievement for Ivanhoe Mines, our partners and shareholders, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”

The Kipushi Mine is strategically located less than 1 km from the DRC-Zambia border, which will be the gateway for Kipushi’s products to global export markets.

On August 24, 2022, Ivanhoe Mines and the Province of Haut-Katanga signed a MOU concerning the construction of a dedicated, commercial border post for the Kipushi Mine, together with the upgrading of the existing border post in the town of Kipushi, which currently only serves local traffic between DRC and Zambia.

This new commercial border crossing will provide a significant advantage to the Kipushi Mine as a direct means of importing materials and consumables, as well as clearing customs and exporting products from the mine, and will provide socio-economic benefits to the town and Province of Haut-Katanga, Ivanhoe said.

The Kipushi Mine has a long and storied history as a major producer of copper and zinc. Built and then operated by Union Minière for 42 years, Kipushi began mining a reported 18% copper deposit from a surface open pit in 1924. It was the world’s richest copper mine at the time, according to Ivanhoe. The Kipushi Mine then transitioned to become Africa’s richest underground copper, zinc and germanium mine. State-owned Gécamines gained control of Kipushi in 1967 and operated the mine until 1993, when it was placed on care and maintenance due to a combination of economic and political factors.

Over a span of 69 years, Kipushi produced a total of 6.6 Mt of zinc and 4 Mt of copper from 60 Mt of ore grading 11% Zn and approximately 7% Cu. It also produced 278 t of germanium and 12,673 t of lead between 1956 and 1978.

Most of Kipushi’s historical production was from the Fault Zone, a steeply-dipping orebody rich in copper and zinc that was initially mined as an open pit. The Fault Zone extends to a depth of at least 1,800 m below surface, along the intersection of a fault in carbonaceous dolomites.

Before Kipushi was idled in 1993, Gécamines discovered the Big Zinc deposit at a depth of approximately 1,250 m below surface and adjacent to the producing Fault Zone. The Big Zinc Deposit has not been mined and is the initial target for production as outlined in the 2022 feasibility study.

Since acquiring its interest in the Kipushi Mine in 2011, Ivanhoe’s drilling campaigns have upgraded and expanded the mine’s zinc-rich measured and indicated mineral resources by more than double to an estimated 11.78 Mt grading 35.34% Zn, 0.80% Cu, 23 g/t Ag and 64 g/t Ge, at a 7% zinc cutoff.

In addition, Ivanhoe’s drilling expanded Kipushi’s copper-rich measured and indicated resources to an additional 2.29 Mt at grades of 4.03% Cu, 2.85% Zn, 21 g/t Ag and 19 g/t Ge at a 1.5% copper cutoff.

Once in operation, the Kipushi Mine is expected to be powered by clean, renewable hydro-generated electricity and is set to be among one of the world’s lowest Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emitters per tonne of zinc metal produced, according to Ivanhoe.

STRACON and RIPCONCIV look to collaborate on Curipamba-El Domo copper-gold mine build

Adventus Mining Corporation and Salazar Resources Limited have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the award of a mining and construction contract to a joint venture between STRACON S.A., an established Peruvian mining contractor with operations throughout Latin America, and RIPCONCIV, a large and respected Ecuadorian infrastructure construction contractor, related to development of the Curipamba-El Domo copper-gold project in central Ecuador.

The LOI allows the parties to immediately commence activities relating to local community-targeted training and employment, constructability reviews, logistics studies and execution planning – all of which are value-add activities directly supporting Adventus and Salazar’s plan to formally commence construction of the project in the June quarter of 2023.

A definitive agreement is expected to be executed in the December quarter of 2022, which will be structured in an alliance-partnership model to ensure focus on the best solutions for the project while ensuring that risks are allocated to the parties best equipped to manage and mitigate. The STRACON-RIPCONCIV JV will be responsible for the successful construction of the open pit, tailings facilities, and associated mine infrastructure as well as the first two years of mine operation.

In 2021, Adventus and Salazar released an open-pit mine feasibility study and updated preliminary economic assessment on a separate underground mine option for the project. This outlined a 10-year open-pit operation producing, on average, 21,390 t/y of copper-equivalent over the 10-year life-of-mine, alongside 20,000 t/y of copper-equivalent payable output from years 11-14 from the underground.

On site, focus has been on drilling to support the detailed engineering program and the implementation of health, safety, security and environmental management plans in anticipation of formal construction commencement in the June quarter of 2023.

Work continues to advance on site with an ongoing pre-construction program involving activities such as geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling, camp installation, IT, infrastructure, logistics planning, community hiring, public and private security provisions, water management and electrical power systems.

A contract for the detailed engineering and design of the tailings storage facility (TSF), waste rock facilities (WRF) and associated infrastructure was recently awarded to engineering firm Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB). Design work has commenced and is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023, prior to the start of construction.

In June 2022, KCB completed a study to optimise the use of waste rock during the pre-strip period for use as construction material. This work resulted in an anticipated overall reduction of pre-strip volume of approximately 3 Mt of waste, which is expected to reduce construction costs and provide more schedule flexibility during the pre-production period of project development. An updated mine plan based on the reduced pre-strip quantities is expected to be completedthis month, which will then be used by the STRACON-RIPCONCIV JV to finalise fleet selection and manpower planning.

Engineering for the project process plant and surface infrastructure is now well underway by engineering firm DRA Global, the lead detailed engineering consultant for the project. Work is on schedule and currently focused on the negotiation and award of long lead equipment packages from mining equipment vendors, with a 30% progress milestone review planned for late September 2022.

Following the successful receipt of ESIA technical approval from the Government of Ecuador in May 2022, Adventus and Salazar are continuing to plan for the public consultation process. The Government of Ecuador is in the process of redefining the requirements for this consultation process and the President of Ecuador is expected to enact a corresponding decree in 2022.

The final control capital budget for the project is expected to be announced in the June quarter of 2023. To date, the companies have seen some reductions in projected capital costs such as from improvements in the TSF design, which are tending to offset cost pressures associated with inflation and global geopolitical instability.

At a project level, the Curipamba-El Domo copper-gold asset is owned 75% by Adventus and 25% by Salazar.

Rio Tinto’s Nuton to test leaching tech at McEwen Copper’s Los Azules project

McEwen Copper’s Los Azules project in Argentina looks like becoming the latest potential leaching asset put under the Nuton® Technologies microscope after the signing of a collaboration agreement between McEwen Copper and Nuton.

The agreement, tied to an oversubscribed $81.85 million offering of McEwen Copper shares, will see Nuton, a Rio Tinto Venture, test its technology for compatibility with Los Azules copper mineralisation.

Nuton, for its part, also contributed $25 million into the funds raised by McEwen Copper.

Rio Tinto’s copper leaching technology venture has been in the headlines of late, signing deals with, among other companies, Arizona Sonoran Copper Company Inc and Lion Copper and Gold, to test out its solutions.

Nuton is aimed at growing Rio Tinto’s copper business. At its core is a portfolio of proprietary copper leach related technologies and capability – a product of almost 30 years of research and development.

Rio says the Nuton technologies offer the potential to economically unlock known low-grade copper sulphide resources, copper bearing waste and tailings, and achieve higher copper recoveries on oxide and transitional material, allowing for a significantly increased copper production outcome, according to Rio. One of the key differentiators of Nuton is the potential to deliver leading environmental performance, including more efficient water usage, lower carbon emissions, and the ability to reclaim mine sites by reprocessing mine waste, Rio claims.

McEwen Copper and Nuton will jointly undertake copper leach testing using Nuton Technologies with samples from Los Azules. McEwen Copper has agreed to grant exclusivity to Nuton for one year in the area of novel, patented or trade secret leaching technology, while it will continue its independent test work and studies using conventional leach technologies.

McEwen Copper Chief Executive, Rob McEwen, said: “We recognise the potential opportunity of using Nuton Technologies to produce copper in greater amounts, more rapidly, and with less impact on the environment and water resources. I trust that our relationship with Nuton and Rio Tinto will accelerate the process of realising the enormous potential of Los Azules.”

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Copper, Bold Baatar said: “This agreement will allow us to evaluate the potential to commercially deploy Rio Tinto’s innovative Nuton Technologies for copper leaching in McEwen Copper’s planned development of Los Azules. Our Nuton Technologies have the capacity to unlock increased copper production for Rio Tinto and our partners, with a low carbon footprint and leading environmental performance.”

The next milestones at Los Azules are the upcoming drilling season from October 2022 to June 2023, the completion of an updated preliminary economic assessment early in the March quarter, and the planned initial public offering of McEwen Copper in the first half of 2023.

Los Azules’ current copper resources are estimated at 10.2 billion pounds (4.6 Mt) at a grade of 0.48% Cu (indicated category) and an additional 19.3 billion pounds (8.8 Mt) at a grade of 0.33% Cu (inferred category).