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OZ Minerals has received the go-ahead to construct a hoisting shaft at the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine in South Australia, adding four years to its mine life.

The $600 million Wira shaft will take the operation to 2036 at around six million tonnes of ore per annum.

OZ Minerals chief executive officer Andrew Cole said the expansion could allow the company to access new prospects beneath the current resource.

“We are thrilled to see a long and productive future for Prominent Hill with the Wira shaft mine expansion enabling access to areas previously thought uneconomic and opening up potential new prospects,” Cole said.

“Prominent Hill is a quality orebody and remains open at depth. The reliable performance of the operation and its consistent resource to reserve conversion rate were all influential in the decision.”

The expansion will see around 23 per cent more copper produced at a 20 per cent lower operating cost compared to the current trucking methods.

While operating costs will decrease by $14 to $20 per tonne of ore, the expansion will also lower emissions by 27 per cent, in line with OZ’s goal to see continual improvement in the industry.

“The shaft expansion creates an exciting new future for Prominent Hill with extended mine life and production rates enabling investment in lower emissions and other OZ Minerals environmental and workforce aspirations,” Cole said.

“For the first time we have used a carbon price in determining the project valuation, a practice we will adopt in other OZ Minerals projects going forward.”

OZ will maintain a steady state workforce of around 1200 people, while the expansion will provide opportunities to source more businesses and staff from the region.