OceanaGold expects to produce its first copper-gold concentrate before the end of the year, after commencing milling operations at its $350 million Didipio copper-gold project in northern Luzon. The company will now bring the flotation circuit on line and start introducing ore to the plant.
The structural, mechanical, electrical wiring and piping work for the process plant is complete and the dry commissioning of the plant is imminent. A 30-member commissioning team is solely focused on ramping up the process plant.
The jaw crusher and conveying system to the emergency stockpile were commissioned in October and the remaining sections of the conveying system to the mills were commissioned in preparation for mill start up. Water systems have been commissioned as has the flotation system and thickeners after a full run of the crushing, grinding, flotation and tailing systems in closed circuit using rock. During this time, the mining contractor continued to take delivery of equipment and this had resulted in increased mined volumes.
OceanaGold’s managing director Mick Wilkes says, “Since the beginning of October the focus for mining was to build ore stockpiles for the processing plant. To date, more than 800,000 tonnes of ore have been mined and stockpiled, of which 230,000 tonnes went directly to the run-of-mine pad.”
The Didipio project has an estimated gold reserve of 1.68-million ounces and an estimated copper reserve of 229-million tonnes. The 2.5 million tonne/year processing plant is expected to ramp up to 3.5-million tonnes by the second year of operations.
OceanaGold has already secured an offtake agreement with Geneva-based commodity trader Trafigura for all the copper and gold concentrate output from Didipio for the next five years. The Didipio project is expected to produce 100,000 ounces of gold and 12,000 tonnes of copper a year, over an estimated 16-year life-of-mine.
Trafigura is a leading international commodity trader that specializes in the supply and transport of concentrates, and owns and operates concentrate storage facilities in China and worldwide that support the company’s trading activity. “The copper/gold concentrate produced from Didipio will be high quality and we are very pleased to have Trafigura as a partner for the Didipio operation and a successful long term relationship with them,” says Mick Wilkes.