Rio Tinto reveals the discovery of a new zone of gold-dominant mineralization approximately 2 kilometers (km) east of the Winu deposit in the Paterson province of Western Australia. (Photo: Rio Tinto)

Rio Tinto has disclosed the maiden inferred mineral resource at the 100% owned Winu copper-gold project and revealed the discovery of a new zone of gold-dominant mineralization approximately 2 kilometers (km) east of the Winu deposit in the Paterson province of Western Australia. The inferred mineral resource, reported at a 0.2% copper equivalent cutoff, is 503 million tons at 0.45% copper equivalent (CuEq). This includes a higher-grade component of 188 million tons at 0.68% CuEq at a cutoff grade of 0.45% CuEq.

To date, study work suggests the copper mineralization supports the development of a relatively shallow open-pit mine, combined with industry-standard processing technology that is used at other Rio Tinto sites. Drilling continues to refine the overall geometry of the system and controls. The deposit remains open at depth as well as to the north and southeast. The Winu project team continues to work with local Nyangumarta and Martu traditional owners and regulators to progress the agreements and approvals required for any future development.

First production from Winu is targeted for 2023, subject to securing all necessary approvals.

The discovery of a new zone of gold-dominant mineralization approximately 2 km east of the Winu deposit, at a prospect called Ngapakarra, as well as a number of other encouraging drilling results in close proximity to the maiden Winu Resource, provides further encouragement about the potential for the development of multiple ore bodies within one system.

“We’re taking a more agile and innovative approach at Winu, and are working on the studies for a small-scale, startup operation focused on Winu’s higher-grade core as we take another step toward commercializing this deposit,” Rio Tinto Group Executive of Growth and Innovation and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Stephen McIntosh said. “We are also assessing options for future expansion in the Paterson region given the extent of mineralization identified to date and our large land package.”

McIntosh said the exploration results support the company’s position that the Paterson region has the potential to be developed into a large-scale operation over time. “We’ve so far carried out exploration activity in just 2% of our tenements in the region and we’re building on this discovery at Winu with further encouraging results,” he added.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive of Copper and Diamonds Arnaud Soirat said, “We are very pleased with the progress at Winu as it adds a further option to our strong copper portfolio in a country that is home to many of Rio Tinto’s world-class operations.”