$90 million investment to study Northparkes' expansion
Northparkes has invested $90 million to conduct a pre-feasibility study into a possible expansion of the mine. If the expansion goes ahead, it would extend the life of the mine beyond 2024 through multiple underground block cave mines.
More than 100 people will be employed during the two-year study, which will include drilling to target identified copper and gold mineralisation within existing mining leases.
"This investment represents a significant opportunity for Northparkes as it allows us to evaluate the opportunity of expanding our business and extending the life of the mine beyond 2024," said Northparkes' managing director, Dr Craig Stegman.
The pre-feasibility study is the third of five steps taken before a mine is brought into production. It follows an order of magnitude study that was completed in May 2010.
The driving principle of the project is sustainable development.
"Central to the pre-feasibility study will be community consultation and the assessment of both existing and new technology that will deliver environmental outcomes including improving water, energy efficiency and biodiversity," Dr Stegman said. "It is important that Northparkes works with the community to achieve outcomes that are practical and sustainable."
When the study is complete, the joint venture partners, Rio Tinto and Sumitomo, will consider whether to proceed to the fourth step, a feasibility study.