PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Junior 29Metals on Wednesday told shareholders that mining operations at its Capricorn Copper operation in Queensland could be suspended for three to four months, following heavy rainfall in the region.
The company in early March halted production and all non-essential activity at the copper operation, as road access was lost and heavy rainfall resulted in a substantial increase in the volume of water held on site.
29Metals on Wednesday said that in total, 500 mm of rain fell at Capricorn Copper over a seven-day period, with more than 1 400 mm of cumulative rain falling since the start of November last year.
Following the extreme weather event, the Mount Isa Shire, which hosts the Capricorn Copper project, has been declared a natural disaster zone.
While site access has been restored and no uncontrolled release of water has occurred from site, there was evidence of significant water volumes entering the sub level cave. The 29Metals team is now undertaking inspection and recovery planning, however, the company said that the interruption to operations would be significantly longer than previously expected.
“The extreme weather event that has impacted Capricorn Copper, and much of Northwest Queensland, is of a staggering scale, with Capricorn Copper recording its highest-ever rainfall for a seven-day period, and highest annual rainfall (in less than five months since 1 November) since records began 130 years ago,” said MD and CEO Peter Albert.
“In the context of an event of this scale, the site team’s response has been exemplary. The health and safety of our team on site and ensuring no uncontrolled release of contaminated water or waste from on-site storage to the environment, are the highest priorities, and in this regard the performance of the site team has been first-rate. With the weather conditions improving, 29Metals’ management focus has promptly moved to recovery and a return to operating safely as soon as possible.
“There is a significant task ahead of us, including reducing water levels stored on site, inspecting site facilities to identify damage, dewatering Esperanza South sub-level cave and reinstating mining operations.
“29Metals has moved quickly to provide support to the site team with functional expertise from across the business. Already, the team is identifying not just the challenges to be overcome but the opportunities to recover in a stronger position. We will be working closely with our workforce and external stakeholders, including the local community, regulatory stakeholders and our contract partners. We will keep the market informed with material updates in the coming weeks as we finalise recovery plans,” said Albert.