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OZ Minerals completed construction of the Carrapateena mine in early 2020.

OZ Minerals is bringing its growth projects at the Carrapateena copper-gold mine in South Australia forward as the mine continues to perform beyond expectations.

The company board has approved a $23 million investment for the construction of the Carrapateena Western Access road this year after previously scheduling it for 2022.

OZ Minerals chief executive Andrew Cole said the acceleration would help improve site access and concentrate logistics management.

The construction will occur as OZ Minerals begins early works for a block cave expansion decline at Carrapateena later this year.

OZ Minerals produced nearly 9800 tonnes of copper and 19,000 ounces of gold at Carrapateena during the quarter, both representing a 1000 tonnes or ounces’ reduction from the previous quarter’s figures.

The company remains confident it will meet its group production guidance for the 2021 financial year.

“Higher copper production is expected in subsequent quarters as grade at Carrapateena increases in line with its mine plan,” Cole said.

OZ Minerals returned a 92 per cent coper and 82 per cent gold recovery at Carrapateena for the March quarter, exceeding feasibility study assumptions.

However, the company increased its all-in sustaining costs guidance for the 2021 fiscal year from $US1.10-$US1.25 ($1.4-$1.6) to $US1.30-$US1.45 per pound.

“While cost performance during the quarter has been well controlled, the strengthening of the Australian dollar and weaker gold price is expected to negatively impact comparative unit costs over the course of the year and as such we have modified 2021 cost guidance,” Cole explained.

“Counter to this, the strong copper price environment continues to support robust operating cashflows.”

Meanwhile at the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia, OZ Minerals has continued to sustain annualised rates above four million tonnes a year.

The accelerated decline development has also reached the bottom of the current life-of-mine level ahead of schedule, according to Cole.

“Lateral development is now under way to establish level infrastructure for the commencement of the bottom-up mining sequence,” Cole said.

“The bottom up and top down mining will enable an increasing mining rates from 2022, to between (four million tonnes a year) and (five million tonnes a year).”

OZ Minerals delivered 15,165 tonnes of copper and 34,809 ounces of gold at Prominent Hill during the March quarter, a decline from the 15,839 tonnes and 45,183 ounces produced in the previous quarter, respectively.