Boliden has launched a pilot study for a new expansion at its Aitik open-pit copper mine in Sweden’s far north and is also investigating a new copper discovery, Laver, in Norrbotten, Sweden. Preliminary estimates have classified the Laver deposit as an exploration result and not yet as a mineral resource.

Mine-site exploration, coupled with a healthy trend in metal prices, has generated an increase in Boliden’s mineral resources in recent years, not least at Aitik. “Aitik is currently producing at an annual rate of 33 million mt of ore and is hence nearing the current expansion’s goal of 36 million mt/y by 2014. The geological potential is substantial, our facility is very competitive, and we are therefore initiating a study to evaluate how we can take this further, initially to 45 million mt/y,” Boliden CEO Lennart Evrell said. The potential for a later expansion to 65 million mt/y will also be evaluated.

In 2011, Aitik mined 31.5 million mt of ore and produced 267,500 mt of concentrate, with metal contents of 67,000 mt copper, 45 mt silver and 2.4 mt gold. Aitik’s present mineral reserve is 710 million mt at average copper grades of 0.25% and gold grades of 0.14 g/mt. Mineral resources stand at 1.67 million mt, measured and indicated.

The exploration results at Laver to date indicate mineralization of approximately 500 million to 700 million mt at a copper grade of between 0.15% and 0.25% and a gold grade of between 0.10 g/mt and 0.15 g/mt. The mineralization also contains silver and molybdenum. The Laver deposit is located approximately 100 km north of the town of Boliden.