KALGOORLIE (miningweekly.com) – Copper/gold miner Aeris Resources will spend A$50-million in 2022 to develop three new production sources at its Tritton mine, in New South Wales, to extend the mine life.
Since starting operations in 2005, the Tritton underground mine has been the mainstay source of ore feed for the processing plant. From 2016, the Murrawombie underground mine has been the supplemental ore source for the Tritton mill.
However, over the next few years production levels from both of these mines will reduce and new ore sources will be brought into production from its project pipeline, Aeris said on Tuesday.
The A$50-million expenditure in 2022 will be targeted on the Budgerygar deposit, the Avoca Tank underground and the Murrawumbie pit cut-back.
For 2022, Tritton is expected to produce between 21 000 t and 22 000 t of copper, increasing to between 22 500 t and 23 500 t of copper by 2023.
“We have always had confidence in the future of the Tritton copper operations. Apart from the Tritton and Murrawombie underground mines, we have an extensive pipeline of advanced projects, which we are now able to invest in to extend the mine life,” said Aeris executive chairperson Andrew Labuschagne.
“2022 will see us develop three new production sources and undertake in-fill resource drilling programmes on a further three projects, including the high grade Constellation and Kurrajong deposits.”
“We believe there’s more copper to be found on the Tritton tenement package. The recent discovery of the Constellation deposit has validated that view and having established infrastructure and processing capability reduces the time to production for new discoveries by years, and sometimes decades.”
“The fundamentals for copper into the coming years look very positive as the decarbonisation of the world accelerates. As an existing producer, we believe Aeris, through its Tritton copper operations, is well placed to leverage value from the looming copper supply deficit.”
Aeris will also spend A$15-million on exploration at Tritton in 2022, including on in-fill resource drilling at Constellation and Kurrajong and in-fill drilling at the Budgerygar deposit.
As the project pipeline is progressively converted into production sources, the operating model at Tritton will transition to hub-and-spoke, with multiple mines across the tenement package providing ore to the centralised Tritton mill. Oxide ore discovered could be processed through the Murrawombie heap leach pads, which are still operational.
Meanwhile, Aeris on Tuesday also reported that it would spend A$13-million on exploration at the Cracow gold mine, in Queensland, during 2022, including A$9-million on near-source resource definition drilling.
Aeris has also upgraded its production guidance for Cracow from between 57 000 oz and 62 000 oz for 2022, to between 67 000 oz and 71 000 oz. The miner also put out a production target of between 60 000 oz and 65 000 oz for 2023.
“Over the life of Cracow there is a strong history of ore reserve and mineral resource replenishment. With the recent announcement of the updated ore reserve and mineral resource estimates, we have more gold in both categories than when we acquired Cracow on July 2020,” said Labuschagne.
“The increases in ore reserves and mineral resources are the result of multiple life extension projects, including challenging operating paradigms to enable lower cut-off grades and success from the drill bit.”
“When we first acquired Cracow, we targeted spending A$13-million on exploration activities over the first two years of ownership. As a result of the extensive geological re-interpretation work undertaken in 2021, we remain convinced that the Cracow tenement package remains highly prospective for discovery of more gold. Therefore, we have decided to increase our 2022 exploration budget at Cracow to A$13-million, taking total projected exploration spend in the first two years to A$19-million.”