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Austral Resources expects to start mining at its Anthill copper project in the last quarter of 2021 and to process first ore early 2022 after clearing the final regulatory hurdle.

The State Government has approved the amendment to Austral’s Environmental Authority for the operation, expected to run for at least four years and see the company employ more than 100 people.

Chief operating officer Shane O’Connell plans to award the mining and haulage contracts for the open-pit operation early next week.

Mr O’Connell said it was a proud moment for the company, which purchased North-West Queensland’s Lady Annie operation and its associated tenements, including Anthill, from CST Minerals in July 2019.

“We’ve been working tirelessly with the Department of Environment and Science, and the Department of Resources over the past two years to get Anthill to production stage,” he said.
“I thinks its appropriate to mention that we have had a tremendous amount of assistance from SGM Environmental.  

“It’s an extremely proud achievement for the Austral Resources team to get this Environmental Authority amendment across the line and, with that, we are now shovel-ready for Anthill.

“Anthill will provide near-term production and boost our existing production of copper cathode and, with copper prices being at an all-time high, the revenue from Anthill will allow Austral to facilitate the board’s mandate to explore and discover both oxide and sulphide targets across its 1340 sq/km of tenure.”

The company, which is working towards an ASX listing, has recently signed a $30 million debt facility to bring the Anthill project into production.

Anthill is located 45km from the already constructed and producing heap leach and SX/EW processing facilities at Austral’s Lady Annie operations, north of Mount Isa.

Austral Resources is currently producing about 250 tonnes a month of LME grade A cathode copper from the Lady Annie operations, with about 30 employees and contractors working at the site.

A remnant mining campaign was completed in January 2021 and the site is still processing that ore from the heap leach pads to produce copper cathode.

The number of people employed at the Austral mining and processing operations is expected to lift to well over 100 when Anthill comes online. Mr O’Connel said the employees and contractors would be housed at the site’s established, well-appointed camp.

The Anthill deposit will be mined in four stages across two pits, with exploration work underway to extend the pits and life of mine.

Austral expects to mine and process more than five million tonnes of Anthill ore to produce more than 40,000 tonnes of copper, with production ramping up to approximately 1000 tonnes of copper per month.