Rio Tinto has disclosed the maiden Inferred Mineral Resource at the 100 per cent owned Winu copper-gold project and revealed the discovery of a new zone of gold dominant mineralisation approximately 2 km east of the Winu deposit in the Paterson Province of Western Australia.
The Inferred Mineral Resource, reported at a 0.2 per cent copper equivalent cutoff, is 503 Mt at 0.45 per cent copper equivalent (CuEq). This includes a higher-grade component of 188 Mt at 0.68 per cent CuEq at a cutoff grade of 0.45 per cent CuEq.
Study work to date suggests the copper mineralisation supports the development of a relatively shallow open-pit mine, combined with industry-standard processing technology that is used at other Rio Tinto sites. Drilling continues to refine the overall geometry of the system and controls. The deposit remains open at depth as well as to the north and southeast.
The Winu project team continues to work with local Nyangumarta and Martu Traditional Owners and regulators to progress the agreements and approvals required for any future development. The miner is targeting first production from Winu in 2023, subject to securing all necessary approvals.
The discovery of a new zone of gold dominant mineralisation approximately 2 km east of the Winu deposit, at a prospect called Ngapakarra, as well as a number of other encouraging drilling results in close proximity to the maiden Winu Resource, provides further encouragement about the potential for the development of multiple ore bodies within one system.
Rio Tinto’s group executive of growth & innovation and health, safety & environment (HSE) Stephen McIntosh said, “We’re taking a more agile and innovative approach at Winu, and are working on the studies for a small-scale, start-up operation focused on Winu’s higher-grade core as we take another step towards commercialising this deposit. We are also assessing options for future expansion in the Paterson region given the extent of mineralisation identified to date and our large land package.”
“The additional exploration results reported today support our view that there is potential to develop the Paterson region into a large-scale operation over time through both our 100% owned tenements and joint ventures. We’ve so far carried out exploration activity in just 2% of our tenements in the region and we’re building on this discovery at Winu with further encouraging results.”
Rio Tinto’s chief executive of copper & diamond's Arnaud Soirat said, “We are very pleased with the progress at Winu as it adds a further option to our strong copper portfolio in a country that is home to many of Rio Tinto’s world class operations.”