New block cave mine at Northparkes

Underground Technical team members in the Northparkes E26 underground sub-level-cave mine. Photo supplied.
Underground Technical team members in the Northparkes E26 underground sub-level-cave mine. Photo supplied.

A $200 million new block cave project at Northparkes Mines has been given final approval.

China Molybdenum Company (CMOC) and Sumitomo announced the approval, called E26 Lift 1 North (E26L1N).

Construction of the $200 million project will start this month and take about three-and-a-half years.

It’s expected to reach full production expected in mid-2022, and produce approximately 40Mega tonnes of ore over a 10-year period, a media release issued by the company says.

“We are really excited to see this project come to fruition and to watch Northparkes continue to develop and grow,” Executive Chairman and CEO, CMOC Group, Steele Li said.

The project will deliver 11km of underground development, an underground primary crusher, conveying systems and associated infrastructure. At the peak of construction, the project will employ up to 180 employees and contractors.

This project is covered by the current project approvals, licences and permits. An upgrade to the ventilation system is currently being developed to provide the new mine with sufficient air flow to support development and production activities. The E26L1N operation will be designed to utilise an increased level of automation and digitisation, helping to deliver a safer and more productive mine.

“This is a major investment in the future of our business and a very exciting time for Northparkes,” Northparkes Acting Managing Director Hubert Lehman said.

“We look forward to continuing to contribute to the local community in which we live and work for years to come.”

Northparkes was the first mine in Australia to use the block cave mining method, becoming a more widely used mining method throughout the world.

In 2015, Northparkes became the world’s most automated underground mine with 100% of production from automated loaders. 

Northparkes has approved development consent to mine until 2032. As of 31st Dec 2017, Northparkes has reserves of 125 million tonnes of ore and in addition resources of 471 million tonnes.

“We know the exploration potential of Northparkes and we believe we will discover more copper and gold deposits to take us even further into the future,” Mr Lehmann said.

“Northparkes is the world’s most automated underground block-cave mine and we are proud of our history and achievements.

“The mine has been operating for 24 years and we have a vision of a century of mining together, here in NSW’s Central West.”

Northparkes is a gold and copper mine located 27km northwest of Parkes.