Copper is a ductile, coloured metal that has very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Copper was the first metal to be used by man (probably as early as 7000 BC) and was used as a substitute for stone; its malleability enabled tools to be easily shaped by beating. In the modern era, increasing use of copper is linked to the increasing use of electricity. In addition to being an excellent electrical conductor, copper is ductile enough to be drawn into wire and beaten into sheets without fracturing. It is therefore used to produce electrical cables and electrical equipment. Copper and its alloys are also widely used in plumbing components, building construction as well as industrial machinery. An average car contains more than 20 kilograms (kg) of copper and suburban homes have around 200 kg of copper. Demand for copper is often viewed as a leading indicator of global economic health.
Australia is a major copper (Cu) producer with mining and smelting operations at Olympic Dam in South Australia (SA) and Mount Isa in Queensland (Qld). Other significant copper producing operations are at Prominent Hill (SA), Northparkes, Cadia-Ridgeway, Cobar and Tritton in New South Wales (NSW), Nifty, DeGrussa, Boddington, Telfer and Golden Grove in Western Australia (WA), Ernest Henry, Lady Annie and Mount Gordon (Qld), and Mount Lyell in Tasmania (Tas).
Most of the copper ore produced in Australia comes from underground mines. At a few Australian mines, copper is leached from a copper oxide ore to produce a copper-rich solution that is then treated by solvent extraction and electrowinning to recover the copper metal. At most Australian mines the traditional method used involves copper sulphide ore being ground finely before the copper-bearing sulphide minerals are concentrated by a flotation process that separates the grains of ore mineral from the waste material. Depending on the type of copper-bearing minerals in the ore and the treatment processes used, the concentrate contains copper from around 25% for chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) ores, increasing to over 50% for bornite (Cu5FeS4) and chalcocite (Cu2S) ores. The concentrate is then smelted to float off as slag the iron oxides and iron sulphides. Air then blown through the molten copper matte drives off the sulphur. The copper blister produced by smelting is around 98% purity. Subsequent refining in an anode furnace uses natural gas to drive off the oxygen and finally, electrolysis produces copper at around 99.99% purity.
Australia's total demonstrated resources of copper rose by 4 million tonnes (Mt) in 2012 to 137 Mt, with SA, NSW and Qld contributing most of the increase.
Similarly, Australia's Economic Demonstrated Resources (EDR) of copper rose by 4 Mt to 91.1 Mt, an increase of 5% on the EDR in 2011. South Australia has the largest EDR at 62.4 Mt, which is 68% of the national total. Almost all of the EDR in SA are associated with BHP Billiton Ltd's Olympic Dam deposit, where EDR of 55.9 Mt are slightly higher than in 2011. New South Wales has 13% of Australia's copper EDR, which is nearly all in the Lachlan Fold Belt and largely at Cadia. Queensland has 12%, predominantly in the Mount Isa region. The balance of Australia's copper EDR is principally in WA which has 5% of the national total.Inferred Resources were little changed at 43.9 Mt in 2012. South Australia holds 62% of Australia's Inferred Resources, most of which is at Olympic Dam, followed by Qld with 18%, NSW with 10% and WA with 8%.
All copper EDR is accessible.
Joint Ore Reserve Committee (JORC) Code reserves account for around 28% of Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources (AEDR). The remaining AEDR comprise those Measured and Indicated Resources reported by mining companies that Geoscience Australia considers will be economic over the long term. The copper resource life using national EDR divided by annual production is 100 years, but using the ore reserve and dividing by annual production gives a resource life of around 30 years.
Spending on exploration for copper rose by 4% in 2012 to $414 million. Expenditure in SA of $146 million was 35% of all copper exploration. Expenditure in Qld of $127 million represented a further 31%. The main areas of expenditure in Qld were the Mount Isa and Cloncurry districts. In SA, expenditure was in the search for further Olympic Dam style mineralisation in the Gawler Craton. Western Australia had 23% of spending on copper exploration across a range of projects, largely focused on seeking volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) ore deposits. New South Wales is estimated to be about 7%, the Northern Territory (NT) had 3% and both Victoria and Tas are estimated at 1% each. Expenditure on exploration for copper made up 11% of all of Australia's mineral exploration expenditure.
In 2012, Australia's mine production of copper totalled 914 kilotonne (kt) of contained copper, 5% lower than in 2011 (961 kt). In 2012, SA surpassed Qld for a second year as the top copper producer with a total of 285 kt, which was 9% less than in 2012 and represented 31% of all Australian production. The Olympic Dam and Prominent Hill mines produced almost all of SA's output, contributing 18% and 11% respectively of national production. In 2012, Qld produced 247 kt (27%) of Australian copper, largely from Mount Isa and Ernest Henry and down 19% on 2011. For a fourth year, Qld production was significantly down on the historic average of around 400 kt per annum (ktpa) for the years 2000 to 2008. New South Wales produced 163 kt (18%) in 2012, down 8% on 2011, largely from Northparkes, CSA Cobar, Ridgeway, Tritton and Cadia Hill. Western Australia produced 191 kt (21%), up 36% on 2011, mainly from Nifty, the newly commissioned DeGrussa mine, Boddington, Telfer and Golden Grove. Tasmania produced 28 kt, up 3% on 2011, mostly from Mount Lyell, but with some from Rosebery.
The value of Australia's exports of copper concentrates and refined copper totalled $8.1 billion in 2012, down 6% on the $8.6 billion in 2011, but holding at 3% of the value of total merchandise exports. The Australian-dollar average copper price for 2012 fell 11% to $7672 a tonne compared to the average of $8584 a tonne in 2011. The average copper price in the December quarter of 2012 was $7611, 3% higher than in the corresponding quarter of 2011. Copper exports in 2012 increased 5% to 946 kt.
Based on United States Geological Survey (USGS) data for other countries, Australia has the world’s second largest economic resources of copper (13%) after Chile (28%) and ahead of Peru (11%), the USA (6%), Mexico (6%), and China, Russia, Indonesia and Poland with 4% each. As a producer, Australia ranks fifth in the world, with 5% of world copper production after Chile (32%), China (9%), Peru and the USA (both 7%).
Mount Isa and Ernest Henry (Qld): Copper-in-concentrate production in 2012 from Glencore Xstrata plc's Mount Isa and Ernest Henry operations totalled 177 kt, a reduction of 29% on 2011. This reduction stemmed mainly from Ernest Henry as the operation transitioned to underground mining, initially at a lower mining rate and at lower grades. At Mount Isa, production was 143 kt of copper in concentrate, a decrease of 4% on the previous year as a result of a 9% reduction in grades, offset by an 8% increase to the volumes of ore mined.
Ernest Henry copper-in-concentrate production decreased 66% to 34 kt for 2012. Ernest Henry open pit operations had closed by the end of 2011 as mining operations reached the final high-grade ore zone of the open pit. The new underground mine at Ernest Henry commenced production in December 2011. The $589 million transformation of the open pit mine to a long-term underground mine included the construction of a magnetite processing facility. The magnetite plant was commissioned in 2011 and sold a total of 296 kt of contained magnetite (Fe3O4) in 2012. For 2011, Xstrata reported cost savings of $49 million at Ernest Henry as a result of improved by-product credits from the 2011 production of 259 kt of magnetite. During 2012, Ernest Henry’s underground mine continued to ramp up to mining rates of 3 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) and the satellite Mount Margaret project commenced production in September 2012. Mount Margaret was acquired in June 2011 from Exco Resources for $175 million as two mining tenements with completed feasibility studies; E1 with 48.1 Mt of ore, located 8 kilometres (km) east of Ernest Henry, and Monakoff which is 21 km south. Xstrata then spent $124 million to develop the Mount Margaret mining operation, which comprises a series of small open pits with a combined resource of 52.1 Mt grading 0.77% Cu and 0.23 grams per tonne (g/t) gold (Au), representing 401 kt of contained copper and 384 000 ounces (oz) of gold. Over its five-year life, Mount Margaret will produce around 140 kt of copper, 83 000 oz of gold and 560 kt of magnetite in concentrate, at a rate of around 30 ktpa of copper. In total, Ernest Henry will produce an average of approximately 70 kt of copper in concentrate per annum from the combined Ernest Henry underground and Mount Margaret open pit operations.
The Mount Isa smelter produced 173 kt of copper anode, a 27% decrease on 2011, mainly due to lower concentrate production at Ernest Henry. The Townsville refinery produced 267 kt of copper cathode, a decrease of 4% on 2011, as reduced north Queensland mined production was largely offset by the processing of Altonorte anode from Xstrata's Altonorte smelter in Chile.
The merger of Xstrata plc and Glencore International plc was completed May 2013. By mid-2013 plans for the Mount Isa Open Pit (MIOP) were placed on hold by Glencore Xstrata. Investigations had been progressing into the viability of a large, multi-commodity open pit mine at Mt Isa. If proven viable, the MIOP would extend operations by 20-30 years beyond the current life of mine of 2032. Without the MIOP, copper mining operations cease in 2021. The work followed a review of a $3 million, eight-month concept study, from which Xstrata Mount Isa Mines had announced in May 2011 that it would expand existing mines, potentially develop new mines, but phase out its Mount Isa copper smelting and Townsville refining operations by 2016 and export concentrates. This would require increased rail and port capacity. Findings from the study indicated the potential to mine and process at least 340 Mt of zinc-lead ore and 130 Mt of copper ore by large-scale open-pit mining at Mount Isa. In August 2011, Xstrata had commenced a $47 million pre-feasibility study (PFS) into the development of the large open-pit zinc-lead-copper mine, potentially extending the life of the combined operations to beyond 2060. The PFS was due for completion early 2013. Subject to the PFS being approved, Xstrata planned to progress to a feasibility stage in 2013. However, by mid-2013 plans for the MIOP were suspended.
Olympic Dam (SA): BHP Billiton reported that 168 kt of copper cathode was produced from its Olympic Dam mine during 2012. This was below the installed capacity of 200 ktpa and 15% less than in 2011 due to mining a lower tonnage and grade of ore and decreased smelter availability. Olympic Dam has a ratio of Ore Reserves to production of 56 years.
In August 2012, BHP Billiton announced it will not proceed, in the interim, with the $A28 billion open-pit expansion of Olympic Dam and will investigate a less capital-intensive design involving new technologies to substantially improve the economics of the project. The South Australian and Federal Governments had approved, in 2011, the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal which would create one of the world's largest mines. BHP has until 2016 to decide whether or not to proceed with the expansion under a four-year extension of the indenture agreement granted by the South Australian government. The expansion would be a progressive development, requiring construction activity over 11 years, generating up to 6000 new jobs during the construction phase, as well as a further 4000 full-time positions and an estimated 15 000 new indirect jobs. It would lift ore production six-fold to produce 0.75 Mtpa of refined copper from a total resource of almost 80 Mt of contained copper. Measured Resources at the mine at June 2013 were estimated at 1470 Mt grading 1.02% Cu, 0.30 kilograms per tonne (kg/t) U3O8, 0.35 g/t Au and 2 g/t silver (Ag) for the sulphide ore. The sulphide Indicated Resources stood at 4840 Mt grading 0.84% Cu, 0.27 kg/t U3O8, 0.34 g/t Au and 1 g/t Ag.
Prominent Hill (SA): Located 130 km southeast of Coober Pedy in the Gawler Craton, Oz Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine produced 102 kt of copper and 140 746 ounces (oz) of gold in 2012, the fifth year of operations. This was around 6% less copper than in 2011. Construction of a $148 million underground mine to access the Ankata deposit was completed in 2012. Located 800 m from the Malu open pit, Ankata reached full production rates by the end of 2012 and is expected to annually contribute 25 kt copper for a current mine life to around 2019. Oz Minerals is currently developing the $201 million Malu underground mine with the objective of reaching first ore from stoping in 2014. Malu underground is expected to contribute up to 20 ktpa of copper to production until at least 2024. In 2012 and 2013 significant volumes of waste were moved from the Malu open pit to give access in 2014 onwards to ore in the later stages of the pit. Copper production from the existing operations, Malu Open Pit and Ankata Underground, for 2015 to 2018 is expected to be at least 95 ktpa. At June 2013, Prominent Hill mineral resources were 186 Mt grading 1.1% Cu, 0.7 g/t Au for 2 Mt of contained copper and 3.9 Moz of contained gold. The Kalaya mineralisation, located between the Malu and Ankata deposits, is yet to be developed.
Cadia-Ridgeway (NSW): Newcrest Mining Ltd's Cadia Valley operations are located 250 km west of Sydney and consist of three gold-copper mines, Cadia Hill, Ridgeway and Cadia East. Cadia Hill, discovered by Newcrest in 1992 had copper-in-concentrate production for 2012 of 13 kt, a reduction of 7 kt on 2011, as the mining of the Cadia Hill open pit concluded in June 2012. Three km northwest of the Cadia Hill open pit and beginning 500 m below the surface is the Ridgeway underground gold-copper mine, discovered in 1996. Ridgeway copper production for 2012 was 32 kt, an increase of 6 kt on 2011 reflecting post-commissioning production at Ridgeway Deeps block cave beneath the original sub-level cave.
Adjacent to the eastern edge of the Cadia Hill orebody is the Cadia East deposit which is a porphyry zone of gold-copper mineralisation, extending up to 2.5 km east and around 1.9 km below the surface. The $2 billion Cadia East project commenced in April 2010. Cadia East is one of the world's largest gold deposits, comprising a mineral resource of 2800 Mt grading 0.41 g/t Au and 0.26% Cu containing 37.6 Moz of gold and 7.5 Mt of copper. Cadia East underground mine produced 2 kt of copper in concentrate in 2012 in conjunction with development. Commercial production at Cadia East commenced in January 2013 following the completion of the undercut and extraction levels for the initial panel cave and completion of the plant expansion to 26 Mtpa with new materials handling systems. Annual production from Cadia Valley operations is expected to increase to around 90 kt of copper and 0.8 Moz of gold in coming years. A second panel cave is to follow in 2014. The Cadia East panel cave mine will be Australia's largest underground mine and will underpin production from Cadia Valley for at least the next 30 years.
Northparkes (NSW):Located 27 km north of Parkes, Northparkes mine produced 54 kt of copper and 72 200 oz of gold in 2012, up 7% on 2011, in line with a recovery in ore grades. Rio Tinto reported resources for 2012 of 288 Mt with 0.57% Cu and 0.26 g/t Au, with additional reserves of 74.2 Mt with 0.76% Cu and 0.28 g/t Au. A pre-feasibility study, named the Step Change Project, was underway in 2011 and 2012. It sought to evaluate the potential for further underground mining and processing operations based on a series of large-tonnage, low-grade areas of mineralisation within the existing mine leases. The $115 million study considered a five-fold increase in production and a mine life until 2041. However, early in 2013 Rio announced a change in direction, advising that thousands of modelled scenarios found that the best way was to focus on mine life extensions that do not depend on large additional water use or a construction camp as needed by a significant expansion of the mining operations. Exploration work carried out by Northparkes as part of the study will be 'banked' for further investigation if lower ore grades become economic. In August 2012 the Rio Tinto Block Cave Knowledge Centre officially opened at the Northparkes mine, providing employees from across the Group with technical and safety training for underground block caving operations. In October 2012 Northparkes began commissioning a new tunnel-boring technology. This technology will reduce up-front capital costs and decrease construction time for underground operations. Initial tests have demonstrated a 40% increase in the speed at which tunnelling occurs. In July 2013 Rio sold its 80% stake in Northparkes to China Molybdenum Co for $US820 million advising that although Northparkes was a successful business, it was not of sufficient size to be a good fit with the Rio strategy. Japanese based Sumitomo Metal Mining holds the remaining 20% interest.
DeGrussa (WA): Located 900 km north of Perth and 150 km northeast of Meekatharra, DeGrussa has progressed from discovery in 2009 to production in 2012 - a relatively short period of time. Early-stage, open-pit mining began in February 2012 from a high-grade chalcocite part of the resource that begins 55 m below surface and totalled 143 kt of direct shipping ore (DSO) grading 25.6% Cu and 2.5 g/t Au, containing 37 kt of copper. The ship loading and sale of the first DSO from the open pit mine, containing roughly 30% copper, occurred in May 2012. By late 2012 Sandfire Resources was commissioning the concentrator and was finalising mining from the Stage 1 pit with 40 kt of contained copper produced. The bulk of the ore now comes from underground using long-hole open stoping with haulage by 50-60 t trucks. Sandfire expects to mine 10.2 Mt of ore grading 6.55% copper over the initial seven-year mine life. Construction at the mine has included a $65 million, 1.5 Mtpa processing plant, a 1920 m on-site airstrip and a permanent 400-person camp. To process the oxide resource of 1.04 Mt at 2.3% Cu, Sandfire is working on designs and approvals for a $15-17 million oxide plant. A $20 million exploration program is underway with an at-depth on-site focus and by mid-2013 this had delivered an extension to the mine life to late 2020. In March 2013 Sandfire Resources NL reported a total Mineral Resource for DeGrussa of 13.4 Mt at 4.7% Cu and 1.9% g/t Au, containing 634 kt copper and 795 000 oz gold. With the ramp-up of production at DeGrussa largely complete by late 2013, Sandfire were targeting 65-75 000 t of copper and 35-45 000 oz of gold for 2013-14.
Mount Gordon (Qld): Production for 2012 was 20 kt of copper in concentrate up from 8 kt in 2011 as the Mt Gordon mine returned to full production. The Mount Gordon operation currently has the capacity to mine 1.2 Mtpa of ore with a production rate of approximately 20 ktpa of copper. Aditya Birla Minerals Ltd had resumed production at Mount Gordon in 2011 after two years on care and maintenance since 2009 because of low copper prices. Mt Gordon again returned to care and maintenance in April 2013 because of economic factors. The Mineral Resource as at October 2013 had almost doubled to 185 Mt at 1.26% Cu, compared to last year. Based on this new resource, a scoping study in 2013 estimated the potential for the mine to produce at a rate of 4 Mtpa from six deposits (Mammoth Surrounds, Mammoth Deeps, Mammoth North, Esperanza-Pluto, Esperanza South and Greenstone) using sub-level caving for a 17 year mine life, with a capital expenditure of $340 million.
Nifty (WA): Production at Nifty for 2012 was 50 kt of copper in concentrate from processing 2.3 Mt of sulphide ore grading 2.4% Cu. Aditya Birla Minerals' Nifty mine has a processing capacity of 2.3 Mtpa and the concentrator plant has a capacity of 2.5 Mtpa. Concentrate produced is trucked to Port Hedland for shipping to parent Hindalco Copper's Dahej smelting and refining facility in India. Underground drilling identified new ore to replace production and the Nifty resource was reported in March 2013 as 30.6 Mt at 2.5% Cu using a 1.2% Cu cut-off .
Carrapateena (SA):Located 130 km north of Port Augusta and approximately 75 km from the Stuart Highway, the top of the Carrapateena deposit is 470 m below the surface and mineralisation extends down a further 1000 m vertically. A Pre-Feasibility Study is currently underway and a decision to mine is expected by 2015. In early 2014, OZ Minerals will be taking delivery of a tunnel-boring machine to develop a 6.5 km $110 million exploration decline to the resource. The decline will include geotechnical and exploration access to areas at 625 m and 1000 m below the surface. In May 2013 OZ reported it would not award any contract for the decline until the Pre-Feasibility Study and further metallurgical testing were complete so as to reduce risk and expense. In November 2013, OZ Minerals announced an increase in resources to 800 Mt grading 0.8% Cu, 0.3 g/t Au for 6.3 Mt contained copper and 8.4 Moz of contained gold. OZ Minerals has estimated total operating costs, inclusive of mining, processing and other site expenses of A$23 per tonne, assuming the deposit fractures suitably for block caving – a lower cost mining method that uses gravity to feed ore through underground draw points. In October 2013, OZ reported that regional exploration at the Khamsin prospect, located 10 km northwest of the Carrapateena deposit, intersected 414 m at 1.06% Cu and 0.29 g/t Au from 894 m, including 126 m at 1.95% Cu and 0.65g/t Au.
Lady Annie (Qld): Hong Kong listed CST Mining Group Ltd reported production of 22 kt of copper for 2012 from the Lady Annie project, located approximately 120 km northwest of Mount Isa. This was up 24% on 2011 with CST completing, in July 2012, the final ramp-up at the solvent-extraction and electrowinning cathode production plant, and in August 2012, a conveyor belt that extends across the entire leach pad area. Drilling in 2012 of 28 000 m at Anthill and 16 000 m at Lady Brenda increased total project resources by around 7 Mt over the July 2012 total Lady Annie project figure of 71.9 Mt at 0.67% Cu.
Kanmantoo (SA):The deposit was discovered in 1967 and mined previously from 1970 until 1976. In 2012 Hillgrove Resources completed its first full year of production at Kanmantoo copper mine located 55 km east of Adelaide. 12 kt of copper in concentrate were produced in 2012. A new crusher circuit lifted processing capacity of the mill to 2.8 Mtpa. Kanmantoo is forecast to reach annual production by 2014 of 20 kt of copper, 10 000 oz of gold and 180 000 oz of silver for a ten-year mine life from reserves grading 0.7% Cu and 0.18 g/t Au.
Mineral Hill (NSW): Previously mined by Triako Resources from 1987 to 2005, the 2011 restart of the Mineral Hill operation in central western NSW by KBL Mining Ltd (then Kimberley Metals) is based on an initial 10-year mine life plan. Following completion of the $8 million refurbishment of the copper-gold processing plant and a $4 million modernisation of the underground infrastructure at Mineral Hill, KBL produced an initial 700 t of copper in 2011 and 4032 t in 2012, KBL's first full year of production. By November 2013 resources were increased slightly to 5.7 Mt containing 66 kt of copper, 82 kt of lead, 45 kt of zinc, 5.8 Moz of silver and 246 531 oz of gold. Having completed the Parkers Hill copper lodes, KBL began mining the newly discovered high grade Red Terror copper-gold lodes which greatly improved metal recoveries to over 90% and alleviated elevated lead and talc processing issues experienced during September to November 2012.
Hillside (SA):An updated mine plan was released for Hillside in July 2013, ten months on from the prefeasibility study. The improved plan is for an annual production of 75 kt of copper and 60 000 oz of gold for the first 12 years from 180 Mt of reserves at 0.52% Cu and 0.13g/t Au. The June 2013 Hillside resource was 337 Mt at 0.6% Cu, 0.14 g/t Au and 15.7% Fe. Preproduction capital costs are estimated at $900 million. Rex expects a bankable feasibility study to be completed by early 2014 and to have Hillside financed by mid-2014, with construction to commence shortly after, leading to commissioning in late 2015 and first production in 2016.
Osborne, Kulthor, Starra Line etc (Qld): Underground mine development work recommenced in March 2011 at Osborne and Kulthor following purchase by Ivanhoe Resources from Barrick Gold for $17.4 million in 2010. Copper production from the Osborne processing complex began in February 2012 and by end 2012 reached 12 kt of copper contained in copper-gold concentrate. The Osborne complex is doubling 2012 processing to around 1.5 Mtpa through 2013 to 2014 from ore grading 1.3% to 1.5% Cu and 0.8 to 1 g/t Au. Closed since 2003, development recommenced at the Starra 276 deposit in early 2012 and mine ramp up was complete by mid-2013 with ore being processed through the Osborne processing complex. Ivanhoe released a feasibility study for Merlin, the world's highest grade molybdenum (Mo) and rhenium (Re) vein deposit in April 2012. The study projected 15 year life, a throughput rate of 0.5 Mtpa, average annual production of 5100 t Mo and 7.3 t Re for first seven years, and initial capital expenditure to first production of $345 million. Merlin has Measured and Indicated Resources totalling 6.7 Mt at 1.4% Mo and 23 g/t Re. In early 2012, Ivanhoe completed a scoping study on the Mount Elliott project, a 570 Mt, low grade copper-gold deposit. The study found that the original Mount Elliott underground mine could potentially be mined via an open pit and processed at the Osborne complex and the SWAN higher-grade area of the deposit could potentially be progressed to a large-scale 12 Mtpa underground block cave mine. Ivanhoe Australia reported, for December 2012, total Measured and Indicated Resources for the Osborne, Kulthor, Mount Elliott, Starra 276, Starra 222 and Mount Dore deposits of 300 Mt at 0.58% Cu and 0.31 g/t Au as well as Inferred Resources of 410 Mt at 0.43% Cu and 0.24 g/t Au. In May 2013 Ivanhoe was renamed to Inova Resources. In September 2013 China's Shanxi Donghui Coal Coking & Chemicals Group Co made an off-market takeover offer for Inova. By mid-November, Shangxi had accumulated over 95% of Inova and was able to proceed to compulsory acquisition.
Rocklands (Qld): Located 15 km west of Cloncurry, the deposit was discovered in 2006 with initial drill intersections of 67 m at 1.08% Cu and 71 m at 2.38% Cu. In April 2012, environmental approval was given to build a 3 Mtpa processing plant to produce 480 ktpa of copper-gold-cobalt concentrate. In October 2013, CuDeco entered into a $100 million agreement with Minsheng Banking Corporation that will fund completion of mine development through to commencement of production at Rocklands. Commissioning is due mid-2014. CuDeco has signed contracts with Sinosteel (one of China’s largest State-owned corporations) to supply the $300 million processing plant and procure and hand over a 28 megawatt power station to be constructed by Cummins Australia. In November 2013, CuDeco Ltd reported a Measured, Indicated and Inferred Resource totalling 272 Mt at 0.19% Cu, 0.08 g/t Au and 214 ppm Co.
Thaduna/Green Dragon (WA): Ventnor Resources has completed over 50 000 m of drilling since April 2011 to underpin an Indicated and Inferred Resource of 7.9 Mt grading 1.8% Cu and 3.7g/t Ag for 142 kt of contained copper and 945 000 oz of contained silver. The resource comprises oxide, secondary sulphide and deeper sulphide mineralisation. The project was mined historically until 1971. A Scoping Study completed by Ventnor in February 2013 outlined a potential production profile of 15 ktpa of copper over an anticipated mine life of 10 years with an estimated $70 million capital cost for a stand alone operation. In October 2013 Sandfire Resources announced a farm-in and joint venture with Ventnor, with an up-front payment of $3 million for an immediate 35% interest and the option to increase to 80% by sole funding a further $6 million on exploration and studies. The sulphide material is potentially amenable for processing through the existing DeGrussa concentrator 40 km west and the oxide material will be considered for processing as part of the DeGrussa oxide copper project feasibility study. Ventnor's drilling has returned sulphide intersections at depth, indicating the potential to extend the sulphide component.