North West copper mine to ramp up production as demand grows

Published Tuesday, 13 December, 2022 at 03:24 PM

Minister for Resources
The Honourable Scott Stewart

Resources Minister Scott Stewart with Austral Resources' Chief Operating Officer Shane O’Connell (left) and Non-Executive Director Jeff Innes (right).

Resources Minister Scott Stewart with Austral Resources' Chief Operating Officer Shane O’Connell (left) and Non-Executive Director Jeff Innes (right).

Production is ramping up at a North West Queensland copper mine as global demand for critical minerals grows.

Speaking at Austral Resources’ Anthill mine near Mount Isa, Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the recently opened mine aimed to produce more than 10,000 tonnes of copper cathode each year while supporting more than 140 good regional jobs.

“Mount Isa is the beating heart of the North West Minerals Province and copper has been king here ever since it was first discovered nearly 100 years ago,” Mr Stewart said.

“It is important to see continued investment in copper mining and exploration as this is one of the critical minerals needed for advanced and renewable technologies the world needs to decarbonise.

“By volume, Queensland accounts for about a quarter of all mined copper in Australia and we are only one of two states capable of processing copper concentrate thanks to the Mount Isa smelter.”

Mining at Anthill, located about 80km north-west of Mount Isa, started in January this year with the first Anthill copper cathode being produced in June 2022.

Austral Resources Chief Operating Officer Shane O’Connell said he was looking forward to future growth for the Anthill mine and other mines in the region.

“We have a strong pipeline of projects, and we want to continue to grow our portfolio of copper assets in the north west,” Mr O’Connell said.

“This includes a targeted exploration program across our tenure, which will help create more jobs, opportunities, and economic benefits for our existing partnerships and the local region as a whole as well as extend Austral’s life of the mine.”

Investment in the hunt for critical minerals like copper continues to surge in Queensland.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics quarterly exploration expenditure data show mineral exploration expenditure totalled $364 million in the year to September 2022 – up 44 per cent year on year.

The big performer was copper, with exploration expenditure up 65.6 per cent to $165 million over the year.

Minister Stewart said the statistics showed investors and explorers backed Queensland’s critical minerals sector with the state also recording the highest mineral exploration expenditure growth in Australia.

“The statistics back up what we’re hearing from the industry: confidence is high, demand continues for Queensland’s energy and mineral resources,” he said.

“Queensland has the world-class endowments of critical minerals like copper, and our 30-year plan for the resources industry contains a suite of measures to find, mine, process and manufacture these minerals.

“Together, the Palaszczuk Government’s Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan and the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan will help create good jobs in regional communities.”


Media contact:

Ruby Wallace 0415 476 743