Xstrata Copper completed construction of the magnetite base plant at its Ernest Henry mine in Queensland in early February 2011. The plant is a key component of an A$589-million project to transform Ernest Henry into a major underground copper-gold operation. The plant will produce magnetite concentrate as an important byproduct of the copper-gold concentrating process. At full capacity, production will total about 1.2 million mt/y of magnetite concentrate. Exports of the concentrate from Townsville, Queensland, to Asian customers are expected to begin during the first half of 2011. (See related article on p. 50).
Magnetite processing is an important part of the ongoing Ernest Henry extension project, which will extend the life of the Ernest Henry operation to at least 2024. The transformation of open-pit mining operations to a major shaft underground mine is on schedule for commissioning during the first quarter of 2013.