Cheap power could spark new mines to life
A big copper and gold project providing 300 jobs north of Mount Isa could be one of the first new mines to be developed on the back of lower energy costs from the proposed CopperString transmission line, industry sources say.
The proponents of the Eva Copper Project, Canada's Copper Mountain Mining Corporation, announced the "high-quality nature" of the resources this month but added it would only move forward in the "right copper price environment".
While the coronavirus pandemic has hit demand, the outlook for prices is good.
The State Government this week announced it was fast-tracking support for the CopperString 2.0 high-voltage transmission line to provide cheaper power and turbocharge investment across the world-class North West Minerals Province.
By extending the national electricity grid from Townsville to Mount Isa, CopperString is expected to underpin thousands of mining and manufacturing jobs and stimulate large-scale renewable energy investment.
The Government is providing $14.8 million as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan to enable CopperString to continue development activities for construction in 2021.
The CEO of development body MITEZ, Glen Graham, said the Eva Copper Project could be one of the first new mines to benefit from the lower energy costs the transmission line project would deliver.
"Lower energy costs is probably going to be the game changer that will enable a reasonable number of new mines to open up in the region, which can only add to the production of concentrates, particularly to feed the Mount Isa copper smelter in years to come, which is going to be very important," Mr Graham said.
Copper Mountain released an updated feasibility study for the Eva Copper Project this month, showing significantly improved economics and operating metrics.
The study quoted electricity prices around half the cost under a CopperString term sheet of just under 10c/kWh compared with existing prices at Mount Isa.
The Eva Copper Project, about 200km north of Mount Isa, has a total capital cost of $382 million and is expected to produce 100 million pounds (45,000 tonnes) of copper and 13,650 ounces of gold annually for 15 years.
Originally published as Cheap power could spark new mines to life