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Carrapateena on the rise

South Australia’s newest mine supplying copper and gold to the world.

With expansion plans of more than $1 billion on the table before it was even commissioned, OZ Minerals looks set to continue producing from the Carrapateena mine well into the future.

Carrapateena joins Prominent Hill and BHP’s Olympic Dam as the state’s third operating multi-commodity iron oxide – copper–gold (IOCG) mine. Situated in the highly prospective Gawler Craton province renowned for its IOCG deposits, this new mine is located in the far north of the state, 160 km north of Port Augusta on Pernatty Station and the traditional lands of the Kokatha people.

Carrapateena Mine infographic

First copper concentrate (also containing gold and silver) was produced from Carrapateena in December 2019 after a $970 million dollar development. The mill achieved nameplate throughput rates in early March 2020 following completion of final commissioning tasks.

Fifteen years after the discovery drillhole, it is now a sublevel caving operation, ramping up to a 4.25 million tonne per annum (Mtpa) run rate by the end of 2020, with annual throughput rates to target 4.7–5.0 Mtpa from 2023, from an ore reserve of 91 Mt at 1.6% copper and 0.67 grams per tonne gold.

In 2019 an OZ Minerals scoping study determined that replacing the lower half of the sub-level cave with a block cave and expanding the annual throughput rate from 4.25 Mtpa to 10–12 Mtpa from 2026, has the potential to create significantly more value than the sub-level cave alone. The prefeasibility study for the block cave expansion is expected to be completed by mid-2020.

OZ Minerals also has a trial 250 kW hybrid energy solution facility underway to develop renewable energy solutions and demand management opportunities. This is part of the Energy and Mining Collaboration, an initiative by OZ Minerals in collaboration with the University of Adelaide, CSIRO, the Department for Energy and Mining, the Rocky Mountain Institute, SunSHIFT and the Tonsley Innovation Precinct.

The mine’s commissioning marked the culmination of the commitment and support over 25 years by previous explorers, entrepreneurs, OZ Minerals staff, contractors, pastoralist neighbours, regional businesses and traditional owners – the Kokatha people. There has also been a significant commitment from the Government of South Australia which has worked to ensure that OZ Minerals meets or exceeds the environmental and other permitting requirements.

As well as obvious benefits to shareholders from concentrate sales, the operation has created around 1,000 jobs from construction, through to production. The region continues to develop as a result of the $362 million spent by OZ Minerals in 2019 on regional and local suppliers and over 80% of OZ Minerals employees at Carrapateena live in South Australia.

It was the state government’s co-funded discovery drilling program together with regional aeromagnetic and gravity data that accelerated the discovery of Carrapateena in 2005 by RMG Services. This laid the groundwork for attracting global major Teck Resources who acquired the project in the same year and took Carrapateena from an exciting discovery to a potential mine. In 2011, OZ Minerals bought the project and have seen the project through to development.

The Gawler Craton offers more to explore and future discoveries are imminent. Other IOCG deposits are actively being explored – eg the Fremantle Doctor deposit located just 2.7 km to the northeast of Carrapateena, Khamsin and BHP’s Oak Dam West – all delivering significant results.

Join the hunt for metals of the future

– Peta Abbot, April 2020

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