Operational Strategy

Capricorn Copper Mine (CCM) will be operated using contract mining for all underground production activities. All surface activity will be managed and operated by the owners’ team. The workforce will be employed on a drive in drive out basis using coordinated transport out of Mount Isa. CCM will commence recruitment of the owners’ team in the early part of 2017 and will initially target local and then regional recruitment for its workforce.

CCM is targeting production of approximately 30ktpa of copper in copper concentrate. The grade of the copper concentrate is expected to be approximately 30% and will be transported to the Port of Townsville in sealed half height containers for international sale. To achieve this, CCM has developed strong geological and resource models that have supported the development of production plans with increased confidence and capacity to mine and process copper ore compared to previous operational periods at the mine.

CCM has seven primary ore bodies contained within a 1.5km radius, with mining to occur from multiple ore bodies through two declines. The mining methods and extraction sequencing have been selected based on a detailed trade off study including economic analysis of individual ore bodies considering the suitability of the mining method, access of equipment and geological and geotechnical settings. From this study, Longitudinal Sub Level Caving (LSLC) was selected as the most appropriate method for Esperanza South (ESS). All other orebodies will be mined using Long Hole Open Stoping (LHOS) with paste fill.

The existing MAM portal provides access to Mammoth Deeps, Greenstone, Mammoth North, East and Pluto deposits. The Esperanza South underground mine is located to the southwest of the existing Mammoth workings. The orebodies are separated by approximately 1km (with the portals approximately 1.9km apart). The Esperanza South orebody has its own independent decline and supporting mine infrastructure.

Isometric View of Ore Bodies (Looking north)

 The existing processing infrastructure at Capricorn Copper Mine is a collection of historical upgrades and modifications to the original process flow design, and reflects the different technologies employed to recover copper over decades of operation. The current process flow design is a conventional copper sulphide flotation concentrator and current works include a combination of refurbishment of existing equipment and some minor modifications to improve reliability and performance of the plant. These include the addition of a regrind mill, which will allow the plant to process up to 1.7Mtpa of ore from multiple ore sources. The metallurgical programs developed as part of the Restart Execution Studies (RES) have also identified improved operating strategies for the plant that, together with the refurbishment and upgrade programs, will allow the blending of ore from multiple sources with improved metallurgical performance to produce a high quality clean copper concentrate.

The concentrator flow sheet consists of:

  • single toggle jaw crusher, feeding a Coarse Ore Stockpile (COS)
  • comminution circuit comprised of a closed SAG and Ball Mill paired with a hydrocyclone cluster
  • rougher flotation circuit generating three separate rougher concentrates (high, middle, low grade)
  • three cleaner flotation stages configured to produce a final concentrate
  • conventional thickeners for final concentrate and the flotation tailings dewatering
  • tailings disposal in the Esperanza Tailings Storage Facility (this facility is now full and no longer suitable for tailings storage) Esperanza Pit water treatment circuit.

Capricorn Copper Mine’s location 125kms north of the established mining centre of Mount Isa, provides ready access to existing regional power, water and transport infrastructure as well as highly skilled employees, specialised suppliers and an established mining support base. This regional support base provides Capricorn Copper with a strategic advantage and ensures the critical supplies and services required to recommence operations are readily available.