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Privately-owned Australian company Austral Resources aims to kick off mining at its Anthill copper deposit north of Mount Isa in early 2021, after purchasing it from Chinese-owned CST Minerals last year.

The project is set to deliver a real boost to the local employment market and inject much-needed funds into the economy, the new owners say. 

Managing director Shane O’Connell said the company was on target to award the tender for the mining contract of Anthill by the end of next month. 

The road haulage and crushing contracts associated with the new project are also expected to go out to the market for tender bidding.

Anthill will sit alongside Austral’s current Lady Annie Operations and is approximately 40km from the existing heap leach and SX/EW processing facilities.

Mr O’Connell said a 70-strong workforce was already employed at Lady Annie and, with the new Anthill project just around the corner, the outlook for a serious uplift in the local labour market was a given.

 “Not only will there be employment opportunities directly through Austral but also indirectly through various contractors jumping onboard the project,” he said. 

Anthill is expected to come into production as the Austral Resources team wind down the remnant mining campaign which they have been conducting at the existing Lady Annie and Brenda pits since February 2020.

Austral’s current campaign has resulted in a production rate of about 300 tonnes of copper cathode per month, and Mr O’Connell expected it to escalate to about 525 tonnes a month around December this year.

The processing ramp-up will set the scene for the commencement of ore stacking from Anthill, with an expected lift in output to about 1000 tonnes of LME grade A copper cathode per month.

“The remnant mining campaign has generated cash flow while allowing us to get the workforce on the ground and iron out any bugs before we break dirt at Anthill,” Mr O’Connell said. 

Austral Resources acquired Lady Annie and its associated tenements from CST Minerals in July last year.