Xstrata approves $360m McArthur River expansion
Xstrata has approved a $360m brownfield expansion to McArthur River zinc mine. The cash injection is set to increase production, reserves, mine life and profits.
McArthur River Mine’s (MRM) reserves will increase by around 70mt to 115mt, making it the largest zinc resource in the world.
MRM plans to increase output from 2.5mtpa to 5.5mtpa by 2014. Zinc production will rise to 380,000tpa and lead to 93,000tpa.
Xstrata says advanced processing technology will enable MRM to produce a separate zinc concentrate acceptable to all smelters from its bulk zinc-lead concentrate.
MRM’s expected mine life will extend until 2038 and the project will reduce average unit costs by over 20%.
Xstrata Zinc Australia chief operating officer, Brian Hearne, said the company is waiting for “the relevant approvals from the Minister for Resources prior to starting construction on the project this year and commencing mining at the increased rate in January 2014.”
To accommodate the expansion, increases will be needed in MRM’s tailings storage facility. The existing Cell 3 and proposed Cell 4 will be lined with a high density polyethylene barrier to prevent seepage.