PanAust has revised its life-of-mine (LoM) plan for the Phu Kham Copper-Gold Project which will result in an annual production increase of about 30,000 tonnes of copper-in-concentrate. The comprehensive review follows revision of the 2013 and 2014 mine plan earlier this year carried out to prioritize mining on the interim west wall of the open-pit operation.
Annual copper-in-concentrate production is now forecast to increase year-on-year to about 90,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2018. Production guidance for 2013 remains unchanged at between 62,000 tonnes and 65,000 tonnes, ramping up to between 65,000 and 70,000 tonnes by 2015 as benefits from a full year of the increased recovery project kick in.
Between 2016 and 2019, increasing head grades are expected to cause annual production to rise to peak levels of around 90 000 tonnes.
Gold grades will be variable during this time, with the mine producing between 60,000 and 80,000 ounces in concentrate, through to the end of the decade.
“Benefits are being realized from the capital invested in the processing plant at Phu Kham over the past two years, with processing rates of more than 18-million tonnes a year - well above the design of 16-million tonnes a year - and metallurgical recoveries exceeding those predicted for each ore type that has been treated,” says PanAust’s managing director Gary Stafford.
From 2014, the average LoM strip ratio at Phu Kham will be around 1.2:1 and open pit material movements will increase between 2014 and 2016 by around 50 million tonnes a year as the LoM waste pre-stripping and stripping requirements peak, and some low-grade ore is stockpiled.
Further upside to production and the mine life at Phu Kham could also be realized by the resource development programs that are under way, says Gary Stafford.
In addition, a pre-feasibility study scheduled for completion in December, is also focusing on defining an ore reserve at the KTL deposit, which could truck ore to Phu Kham. The KTL study will assess the options of further increasing the copper and gold production at Phu Kham from 2017 for a four to seven year period, either through additional processing or displacement of lower-grade feed.