OZ Minerals Limited owns 100% of the Prominent Hill operation located in South Australia. Prominent Hill produces one of the highest grade copper concentrates traded on the open market.
||Located 650 kilometres north west of Adelaide, 130 kilometres north west of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam and 130 kilometres south east of the town of Coober Pedy in the Gawler Craton of South Australia.
||Approximately 1,500 (including contractors)
||Open pit and underground
||Conventional crushing, grinding and flotation
Prominent Hill is located 650km north-west of Adelaide and 130km south-east of the town of Coober Pedy in South Australia. The Prominent Hill copper-gold deposit was discovered in 2001 by Adelaide based Minotaur Exploration Limited and was a stand-out greenfield discovery in Australia.
OZ Minerals moved to 100% ownership of Prominent Hill in early 2005 and began mining at Prominent Hill in 2006. First production of copper concentrate was in February 2009.
Situated in one of the world’s most mining-friendly locations in South Australia, Prominent Hill displays highly competitive fundamentals. It is a large copper-gold resource, it is high grade, the ore is processed using conventional methods and there is significant exploration potential.
Prominent Hill operation summary
The Prominent Hill operation is comprised of an open pit mine, a newly developed underground mine, a grinding and flotation processing plant with an 8mtpa capacity, a permanent village and a haulage road, power line and bore field. Prominent Hill is a fly-in, fly-out operation employing approximately 1,200 employees and contractors.
Prominent Hill produces some of the world's highest grade copper concentrates. These concentrates travel directly to customers including smelters in Asia and Europe via the Adelaide to Darwin railway (which passes within 116km of the Prominent Hill mine) to the Port of Adelaide and then via ship to the waiting smelters.
First production of Prominent Hill copper concentrates occurred in February 2009. (See announcement: First production from Prominent Hill copper-gold operation).
In its first full year of production in 2010 Prominent Hill exceeded expectations producing 112,171 tonnes of contained copper and 196,400 ounces of gold.
Continued consistent performance from the Prominent Hill operation during 2012 delivered full year copper and gold production in line with annual guidance of 101,737 tonnes of copper and 140,746 ounces of gold produced for the year.
In 2013, production guidance for the year has been revised to between 70,000 tonnes to 75,000 tonnes of copper and between 120,000 ounces and 130,000 ounces of gold contained in concentrates. As a consequence of the geometry of the Resource in relation to the waste to be removed, both copper ore mined and its grade are expected to be somewhat lower in 2013, leading to the lower production guidance compared to previous years. This is consistent with the long term mine plan.
Ankata underground mine
In 2010 the Board approved construction of the Prominent Hill Ankata underground project. Development of the project commenced in November 2010 and first ore from stoping was produced in the first quarter of 2012. The underground operation successfully ramped up during the third quarter 2012 to reach its full 1.2 million tonnes per annum mining rate.
Ankata is a high-grade Resource located 800 metres away from the Malu open pit. The higher grade ore from the underground mine is expected to contribute an average of 25,000 tonnes of copper and 12,000 ounces of gold production annually. The underground phase will enable OZ Minerals to continue to maximise the value extracted from Prominent Hill.
Mining of the underground is via a techique called sub-level open stoping. The ore has similar metallurgical characteristics to that in the open pit and the material is blended with the open pit feed for processing.
In January 2013 OZ Minerals released an updated Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve statement for Prominent Hill which provided a 25% increase in Resources at the Ankata underground mine - this effectively increases the life of the Ankata underground mine by approximately two years to around 2019.
Ankata underground mine video
View the video below on the Ankata underground mine.
OZ Minerals is looking to extract further value from Prominent Hill with the future development of the Malu underground. Depending on the outcome of resource definition drilling and economic analysis production from this area could commence in late 2014.