PERTH (miningweekly.com) − The copper division of diversified miner Xstrata has announced an increase in the mineral resource at its Las Bambas and Corroccohuayco projects, in southern Peru and at El Pachón in Argentina.
“Our significant and expanding mineral resource base in South America has laid the foundations for our approved organic growth programme that will increase copper production by more than 50% to 1.5-million tons a year by the end of 2014, and offers great potential for further substantial copper production growth in the region,” said Xstrata Copper CEO Charlie Sartain.
“El Pachón holds the potential to initially produce over 400 000 t/y of copper from 2016. Updated feasibility studies for this major greenfield project are scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2012, after which we will be in a position to take a decision regarding its development.”
Sartain noted that the continued exploration of Xstrata’s Las Bambas greenfield project in southern Peru, which was now under development, also confirmed the large-scale, long-life and low-cost characteristics of this asset, which was on schedule to start producing an average of 400 000 t/y of copper from the second half of 2014.
“At Coroccohuayco, ongoing exploration has identified additional mineral resources close to the surface, indicating that this high-grade deposit can be mined through openpit rather than underground mining methods, enhancing its potential to further expand our nearby Tintaya-Antapaccay operation in southern Peru,” Sartain said.
El Pachón’s mineral resource estimate has increased by 53% to a total of 2.74-billion tons at a grade of 0.48% copper using a cut-off grade of 0.2% copper.
This represented 13.1-millon tons of contained copper metal, a 44% increase compared with the previous mineral resource issued in October of last year. The new estimate was the result of the largest 2010/11 summer-season drilling programme in the project’s history, in which 56 000 m of infill and step-out drilling were completed as part of the project’s final feasibility study.
The Las Bambas project mineral resource estimate has increased to 1.71-billion tons at a grade of 0.60% copper, using a 0.2% copper cut-off grade, an increase of 10% compared with the previous mineral resource.
Contained copper metal in resource has risen by 9% to 10.3-million tons, Xstrata said. Measured and indicated resources now represent 71% of the total resource.
In 2011, Xstrata Copper’s total contained copper in total mineral resources grew by 10%, the equivalent of nine-million tons, to 97-million tons, including operations in north Queensland, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Canada and major development projects in Peru, Chile, Argentina, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
Meanwhile, Xstrata Copper reported that the Antapaccay expansion to the Tintaya operation, comprising an openpit mine and a new, large-scale copper concentrator, was on track for commissioning in the second half of 2012 with initial production of 160 000 t/y of copper.
The Corroccohuayco deposit, which is some 9 km from the Tintaya-Antapaccay operation, was being evaluated as a potential openpit satellite mine to expand production further at Tintaya-Antapaccay.
As a result of further drilling identifying resources closer to the surface, the new Corroccohuayco project mineral resource has risen by 250% to 324-million tons at a grade of 0.93% copper, using a 0.3% cut-off, and includes significant gold, silver and molybdenum by-product credits.
This represents a 6% increase to three-million tons of contained copper in resource.
During 2012, Xstrata Copper plans to conduct a further 40 000 m of drilling and start prefeasibility studies into Corroccohuayco’s development. This would be undertaken in parallel with a resource expansion programme at Antapaccay to significantly expand Antapaccay’s existing mineral resource base of 817-million tons at a copper grade of 0.50%.