McArthur River Mine Expansion

Xstrata lodged EIS for USD 270 million McArthur River Mine Expansion

02/01/2012 | Editor: Marcel Dröttboom

An aerial view of McArthur River Mining (2008); Xstrata Zinc has lodged the draft EIS with the Northern Territory Government for increasing capacity at the mine. (Picture: 2009 McArthur River Mining)
An aerial view of McArthur River Mining (2008); Xstrata Zinc has lodged the draft EIS with the Northern Territory Government for increasing capacity at the mine. (Picture: 2009 McArthur River Mining)

Xstrata Zinc has lodged a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with the Northern Territory Government, Australia, that proposes increasing capacity at the McArthur River Mine from 2.5 million tonnes of ore per annum to 5.5 million tonnes, producing approximately 800,000 dry tonnes per year of zinc-lead concentrate for export markets.

Xstrata Zinc has conducted studies into the third phase of development at McArthur River Mine (MRM) following its commencement as an underground mine in 1995 and later conversion to open pit mining in a project completed in 2009. The proposal involves increasing MRM mine production to approximately 5.5 million tonnes per year resulting in an increase in bulk zinc-lead concentrate volume to 800,000 tonnes per annum. Concentrate would continue to be trucked to the Bing Bong loading facility, with product loaded via the existing offshore barge facility.

The indicative cost of the project is approx. USD 270 million (AUD 270 million). Subject to the completion of studies and internal Xstrata and government approval, works on the project would commence in 2012. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was lodged with the NT Government on 31 January 2012 and can be found on www.nt.gov.au/environment and www.macarthurrivermine.com.au from 4 February 2012. The key features of the proposed development comprise:

  • extending the life of mine by nine years from 2027 to 2036
  • expanding the current pit within the existing bund from a footprint of 145 hectares to 210 hectares and the depth from 210 metres to 420 metres
  • increasing MRM’s operational workforce by 67 per cent at its peak from 440 currently to 735 by 2020 and sustaining a high level of Indigenous workforce participation
  • extending the life of the MRM Community Benefits Trust to 2036 representing an additional AUD 11.3 million to be invested in the community to total AUD 43.3 million since 2007
  • increasing the capacity of the existing Tailings Storage Facility with a lined water management dam
  • generating approximately 530 million tonnes of additional waste rock to be accommodated in three overburden emplacement facilities
  • expanding the power station at the mine to a capacity of 45 to 50 MW
  • building a temporary construction camp and expanding existing accommodation facilities.

The Project would not expand the open pit beyond the current boundary of the bund wall and there is no intention of further diversions to the McArthur River or Barney Creek channels. The proposed Phase 3 Development Project follows the conversion to open pit mining which has enabled MRM to meet all targeted objectives on production, employment, environmental management and socio-economic benefits for the region.

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