Round Oak Minerals has reached a milestone in its Barbara copper operation, with the first 50,000-tonne batch of ore being processed in Mount Isa this week.
Its Mount Colin underground operation is also in full swing as workers begin to move into a newly commissioned on-site accommodation camp.
Round Oak Minerals chief executive officer Rob Cooper said mining was going well at Barbara, about 60km north-east of Mount Isa.
Glencore has been hauling Barbara ore to its operations in Mount Isa since October for toll treatment to produce copper concentrate.
“The first batch is going through as we speak,” Mr Cooper said.
The company hopes to see about 50,000-60,000 tonnes a month processed from now on.
The Barbara open-cut operation has a relatively short forecast mine life of about 22 months and much of the 50-60 strong workforce is from SES Labour Hire.
“One thing we may look at some time in the next year is the potential for a small underground mine extending from the pit when completed,” Mr Cooper said.
The major development at Mount Colin, located between Mount Isa and Cloncurry, has been completion of a 60-bed accommodation camp at a cost of $3.3 million.
On-site camp overcomes travel risk
“That has been a big impact for us from a health and safety perspective, because one of our identified risks is travel to and from Mount Isa on the Barkly Highway,” Mr Cooper said.
“There’s a lot of heavy vehicle traffic and it is about an hour’s drive, so it was not something we wanted to continue doing.”
Workers began moving into the new quarters this month in a staged process.
Ore from Mount Colin is being processed at Glencore’s Ernest Henry operation, and Round Oak expects to have achieved 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes of copper concentrate from this source by the end of 2019.
Mount Colin is expected to produce 350,000 to 400,000 tonnes of ore per year at a grade of about 2.5 per cent copper, from 2020.
While the site has a forecast mine life of four years, Mr Cooper said the company believed there was reasonable scope to extend that.
Recent exploration has gone well and Round Oak expects to upgrade the resource estimate over the next six months.