Minmetals Resources reported in mid-December 2011 its board of directors approved spending A$157 million for the next stage of development at its Dugald River zinc project in northwest Queensland. At design capacity, the project is expected to produce 200,000 mt/y of zinc in concentrate from an underground mine with a life of more than 22 years. By-products will include 25,000 mt/y of lead and 900,000 oz/y of silver in concentrate. Total capital expenditure to develop the project is estimated at about A$800 million. The project is currently on track to begin production during 2014.

The Dugald River project is located 85 km northeast of Mount Isa, Queensland. Project scope includes a 2-million-mt/y underground mine with twin-decline access and conventional longhole and bench stoping, a conventional grinding and flotation circuit, and a combination of existing and proposed rail, storage and ship-loading facilities. With resources open at depth, the mine has the potential to continue operation beyond the currently planned 22 years.

The Dugald River project’s environmental impact statement has received Queensland government approval. The next stage of development will include detailed engineering, metallurgical testwork, procurement of long-lead-time major equipment, continuation of early site works, and underground decline development. Key local infrastructure development, including load-out, power and accommodation, will also be advanced during this period. The Minmetals board will consider final approval for project development and construction following completion of this stage of development.

Minmetals Resources also operates the Century zinc mine in northwest Queensland, which produces about 500,000 mt/y of zinc in concentrate. Mine life for the Century mine is projected to end in about 2015. Dugald River has the potential to replace nearly half this production.