PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Copper/gold miner Oz Minerals is expecting to take a final investment decision on its West Musgrave copper/nickel project, in Western Australia, by the second half of next year, pending progress on value uplift options.
The ASX-listed company is considering further uplift opportunities to leverage the global focus on the acceleration towards a low-carbon economy, with CEO Andrew Cole saying the project could contribute to sustainable mining as a low-emissions opencut mine, producing minerals essential to a low-carbon economy.
Further value opportunities being considered include increasing production above the current 12-million-tonne-a-year capacity, while contemplating a third vertical roller mill that could enable further energy management and emission reductions, and accelerating towards aspirations of a zero emissions mine and mining fleet.
Oz Minerals is also weighing renewable energy power plant construction and operation ownership options, examining the construction of a downstream nickel processing plant on site, and seeking interest from third parties in its potential development.
“We are pleased with the progress made on the final study phase with many aspects of the project well advanced and technically de-risked. Overall, we continue to gain confidence in the project.
“Steady progress has been made on the government approvals with all key environmental approval documents for the Part IV approval submitted to the Western Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA visited the site for several days in early September meeting with Traditional Owners and Oz Minerals people to increase shared understanding of aspirations, requirements and expectations,” said Cole.
“Covid-related travel restrictions and precautions have delayed progress on development of the land access agreement with the Traditional Owners. The Traditional Owners have expressed support for the project and our priority is to ensure they are fully informed, remain safe, and have a clear understanding of the impacts and opportunities the proposed mine will create; a process that we will not rush.
“Engineering design of the mineral processing plant, hybrid renewable power plant, village, aerodrome, and non-processing infrastructure continue to de-risk the project from a technical perspective. A site-wide geotechnical programme is concluding with lab testing underway.”
Cole said that an additional 47.5 km of infill drilling had been completed, primarily targeting the payback period, and that results had been in line with expectations, increasing the company’s confidence in the Nebo Babel orebody knowledge.
“As we progress the final study phase, impacts on materials and labour availability in Western Australia have the potential to put pressure on capital costs. We will take these impacts into consideration as we develop the project schedule and budget next year in preparation for a potential final investment decision in the second half of 2022.”