Sandfire Resources has completed the first shipment of Direct Shipping Ore (DSO) from its flagship DeGrussa copper-gold project, located 900 km north of Perth, Western Australia. The 6,600 dry metric tons (mt) of DSO, grading approximately 30% copper, departed from Geraldton on the Flinterland for China. The shipment has an estimated value at the current spot copper price of approximately A$13 million. The high-grade DSO mined from the open-pit will be sold under two sales contracts: MRI Trading AG and Yunnan Copper Corp. Ltd.

This shipment marks Sandfire’s transition to producer status with regular DSO shipments expected over the remainder of 2012 as the open-pit mine progresses through chalcocite, oxide and sulphide material. The mine commenced in May 2011 and is on schedule, with more than 7.7 million bank cubic meters of material mined to date.

Sandfire’s Managing Director Karl Simich said the first shipment of DeGrussa copper ore three years after the discovery of DeGrussa marked another outstanding achievement by the company, elevating it to the ranks of Australian mining companies. “The sale of this remarkably high-grade ore over the coming months will, at current spot prices, generate significant value for the company and its shareholders over a nine-month period,” Simich said. “The overall project is now more than 80% complete and we remain on schedule and on budget, with the overall objective of delivering first underground ore to the SAG mill during Q3 CY2012. That will put us on track to ramp up production to an annualized level of 77,000 mt/y of copper and 36,000 oz/y of gold by early CY 2013.”

Underground mine development is also progressing on schedule with the Evans Decline currently advanced 1,300 m from the portal and other development in sulphide ore. Construction of the 1.5 million mt/y flotation plant is also on schedule and budget, with all major equipment on site.

Simich said the next key milestone for the company is the completion of sales agreements for the high-quality copper sulphide concentrate. “Discussions for concentrate sale agreements are well advanced with strong interest shown both by existing and new customers and attractive offers received to secure long-term off-take arrangements for our high-grade, clean concentrate,” Simich said.