Dugald River has reached record production levels according to MMG's third quarter report leading to the possibility of an extended mine life or possible expanded operation.
MMG said the zinc mine, 70km north of Cloncurry, produced 46,081 tonnes of zinc in zinc concentrate during the period which represents a 6% increase on the June 2020 quarter.
MMG said the operation achieved record mining volumes during July and August and has demonstrated sustained improvements in recovery which offset the impact of lower ore grades.
The result means MMG maintains its existing full year production guidance for Dugald River mine with production of between 170,000 and 180,000 tonnes of zinc in zinc concentrate.
The third quarter report said new mining equipment and ongoing benefits of work over the first half of the year to open up new operating areas, has seen continued success in the ramp-up of the mine.
"Monthly records for ore mined were set in July and August, with a quarterly record set for the period overall," MMG said in its report.
"Milling volumes were approximately 5% below those achieved in the second quarter of 2020 and 11% below the prior-year comparative period".
MMG said this resulted from an extended maintenance outage, as the site shifts its maintenance strategy to include fewer but more extensive periodic shutdowns.
"The impact of this on the quarterly production volume was partially mitigated by a 9% improvement in zinc ore grades, compared to the prior period," the company said.
"Further offsetting the impact of lower throughput was sustained improvement in recovery levels, which have continued since enhancements to the grinding process were implemented in the first quarter of the year."
MMG said higher recoveries will continue to assist in offsetting the impact of lower than originally anticipated zinc ore grades, which are expected to continue over coming periods.
"Higher lead production over the third quarter was also a result of improved grades," they said.
Dugald River is anticipating the sustained delivery of annual mine capacity of two million tonnes and targets zinc production approaching 200kt a year by 2022.
MMG said supported by positive early results from near mine drilling program that suggests a wider zinc ore body than originally expected, at relatively shallow depth.
"Further detail on this work will be provided as results come to hand, with the potential for it to support mine life extension and/or the expansion of the operation," they said.
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