A final chapter closed at what was Australia’s largest open-cut zinc mine, with the last shipment of MMG Century zinc concentrates departing the Gulf of Carpentaria in Queensland. The final parcel of zinc concentrate was loaded onto an awaiting ship by Century’s transfer vessel, the MV Wunma, on December 7 bound for customers in Asia.

This milestone follows the completion of mining from the Century open-pit in August and processing of approximately 700,000 metric tons (mt) of Century ore stockpiled during the final months of mining. Reflecting on this milestone, MMG COO Marcelo Bastos said there had been more than 600 shipments of Century concentrates since production began in 1999.

“More than 13 million mt of zinc concentrate has been transported through the port, which averages about one full export ship per week departing Gulf waters for smelters in Australia, Asia and Europe,” Bastos said. “Century zinc concentrates have been highly valued by smelters due to their low iron content, which minimized costs associated with re-treatment and disposal of iron-containing by-products.”

While Century zinc concentrate stockpiles had been depleted, Bastos explained, shipments from MMG’s Port facility at Karumba in northwest Queensland were continuing.

MMG will continue with shipments of Century lead concentrates, and concentrates produced from processing a batch of ore from the trial stoping program at the company’s Dugald River project near Cloncurry in the Century circuit into the first quarter of 2016.

Century’s infrastructure will be kept on care and maintenance while MMG undertakes rehabilitation and closure activities on site.

MMG will begin seeking expressions of interest from third parties seeking to utilize Century’s world-class infrastructure to unlock further minerals potential in the region. MMG acquired Century in 2009 and it was one of the largest zinc mines in the world for much of its operating life. This included the MV Wunma, which was specially built to navigate the shallow waters of the Norman River channel.

MMG announced an updated development plan for the Dugald River project in July. Pre-production mine development remains the focus at the site, with construction of remaining infrastructure to commence during 2016.