MMG's Las Bambas mine boosts H1 copper reserves

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

China Minmetals' US$8.3bn Las Bambas copper mine in Peru helped increase the company's copper, silver and molybdenum reserves through the first half of 2016.

The company's copper ore reserves rose 6%, while silver reserves were up 2% and molybdenum up 7% through June 30, China Minmetals unit MMG said. Zinc and lead reserves fell 10% and 11%, respectively, while gold slid 5% due to depleting operations at its Century, Golden Grove and Rosebery mines, it said.

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Drilling at the Las Bambas mine, which started operating at the beginning of the year, increased mineral resources by 117Mt and ore reserves by 7Mt, MMG said. Resources now total 2.12Bt, while reserves total 1.09Bt.

"We now have an active exploration program in place at Las Bambas where only an estimated 10% of the mining lease has been explored to date," MMG CEO Andrew Michelmore said in a statement. "With over 20 years mine life and over 2Bt in copper resources, this presents significant upside potential."

Las Bambas, based in Apurímac region and Peru's biggest mining investment project, produced 187,401t copper through August, according to the energy and mines ministry (MEM).

The 140,000t/d capacity mine, which was operating at recovery rates of 82% copper, 64% silver, 60% gold and 55% molybdenum through H1, is designed to produce 450,000t/y copper, 5,000t/y molybdenum, 90,000oz/y gold and 450,000oz/y silver.

Authorities in Peru launched a probe this month after a police officer killed a villager during a protest against Las Bambas.

Peru is counting on mines and expansions completed by China Minmetals, Freeport-McMoRan, Chinalco and Hudbay Minerals to boost copper production to 2.8Mt/y by next year from 1.7Mt last year.