Mount Isa City Council was invited along to detonate the first cut at the decline at the Black Rock orebody.
Black Rock further develops the existing copper resource at Mount Isa Mines, using sub-level caving to improve the economic viability of extracting ore from the existing orebody.
To be effective, sub-level caving requires an orebody with specific size, shape and fragmentation characteristics.
Ore is extracted from a series of sub levels downward through the ore body in a highly efficient pattern, using loaders and vertical ore passes to transfer ore to haulage levels at the bottom of the mine.
Glencore’s Ernest Henry Mining, located 120 kilometres east of Mount Isa near Cloncurry, successfully converted from open-pit operations to sub-level cave mining in 2011.
The Black Rock orebody will achieve its first production ore in 2020, and provide additional ore into the Mount Isa Copper Operations profile in parallel to existing mining activities out to 2023.
NQ Copper COO Matt O’Neill said developing the sub-level cave complements the recent $30 million investment in re-bricking the copper smelter at Mount Isa Mines.
“Our recent investments in the smelter re-bricking and the development of the Black Rock orebody highlight Glencore’s confidence in the operation here in Mount Isa,” Mr O’Neill said.
“The addition of Black Rock ore to our processing stream ensures we will be well placed when it comes time to make decisions about our future operations.”
PYBAR Mining Services have been awarded the development contract, and will employ up to 43 people onsite during the project to prepare the underground decline and develop mining levels prior to ore production beginning in 2020.
PYBAR CEO Brendan Rouse said this contract added to its long history at Mount Isa Mines.
“The award of Black Rock will expand our existing presence and enhance our ongoing partnership with Glencore and the local community,” Mr Rouse said.