Ore production has commenced at Xstrata Copper’s A$300 million Mount Margaret Mining operation in north-west Queensland, following the official start of mining activities last month, with ore now being trucked to Ernest Henry Mining for processing.

Xstrata Copper purchased the Mount Margaret mining tenements last year for A$175 million and will invest a further A$124 million in the operation over the next five years.

The mine will add around 30,000 metric tons (mt) of annual copper production to Ernest Henry Mining over this period and strengthen the economics of Ernest Henry by taking immediate advantage of the available installed capacity of the concentrator and associated infrastructure.

Ernest Henry Mining General Manager Myles Johnston said Mount Margaret was progressing on target with personnel and machinery gradually ramping up in line with the ore production schedule. “Approximately 4 million mt of material has been mined since we started the pre-strip in July,” Johnston said.

“Ore is now being trucked to our Ernest Henry operation where it will be temporarily stockpiled prior to processing, which will commence in late September.

“Mount Margaret ore has a different composition to ore from Ernest Henry and will be treated separately through the concentrator using a different reagent scheme and settings to achieve maximum grades and recoveries.

“Our Mount Margaret workforce has now grown to 220 people and we expect to reach our full contingent of 300 employees in the first quarter of 2013."

“Our current open pit mining fleet includes two excavators and eight haul trucks, with another three excavators arriving in September and additional trucks and equipment coming online from 2013 in line with our production schedule.

“Next month, we also expect to complete construction of the administration building, amenities and maintenance workshop, with additional supporting infrastructure completed by the end of this year.”

The tenements, comprising E1 and Monakoff, are located 8 kilometres east and 21 km south respectively of Ernest Henry Mining near Cloncurry and are being developed through a series of small open pit mines.

In total, the Mount Margaret operation will add an additional 20 million mt of ore to Ernest Henry’s existing production profile throughout its five year life, producing around 140,000 mt of copper, 83,000 oz of gold and 560,000 mt of magnetite in concentrate over that time. Xstrata plans to continue exploration at Mount Margaret to identify any additional ore resources for future development.

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