Sandfire Resources has successfully mined the first stoping ore from its DeGrussa copper-gold project in Western Australia, ahead of schedule. The first stope to be mined includes more than 130,000 metric tons (mt) of sulphide material with an estimated average grade of 5.1% copper. The firing of the first stoping ore represents a key milestone for the company’s underground mining operations.

Underground mine development is progressing on schedule with a total of 7,200 m of development completed to date. A total of 83,000 mt of massive sulphide ore at a grade of 4.5% Cu has been mined to date during development activities from underground and open-pit. Roughly 15,000 mt has been fed to the plant to date. Underground mining will now progressively ramp up, with full production rates expected to be achieved in the first half of 2013.

Sandfire Managing Director Karl Simich said he was very pleased with the progress of mine development and commissioning activities, with the DeGrussa project well on track to ramp up copper production to its targeted annualized rate of 77,000 mt/y.