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Image: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto has made a promising discovery two kilometres east of the Winu copper-gold deposit in Western Australia that enhances the project’s potential.

The mining giant is targeting first production from Winu for 2023, subject to necessary approvals.

There is further potential for even more discoveries within the Winu project as Rio Tinto has only explored 2 per cent of its tenements in the region so far.

“We’re taking a more agile and innovative approach at Winu,” Rio Tinto group executive of growth and innovation and health, safety and environment (HSE) Stephen McIntosh said.

“We are working on the studies for a small-scale start up operation focussed 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 new discovery is located within a prospect called Ngapakarra, which identified high-grade vein-hosted gold, with some of the best intercepts to date within Winu, such as 23 metres at 4.53 grams per tonne of gold from 120 metres including 0.74 metres at 97.1 grams per tonne of gold from 129 metres.

In addition to Ngapakarra, Rio Tinto has drilled three widely-spaced reverse circulation (RC) drilling immediately east of the Winu resource, which has also intersected “significant thicknesses” of vein and breccia hosted gold mineralisation.

Rio Tinto chief executive of copper and diamonds Arnaud Soirat said he was also pleased to further secure the company’s future copper operations in Australia.

“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,” Soirat said.