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The team at MMG Dugald River has been seeing exciting results from infill drilling over the last 12-24 months, flagging good long-term potential at the site, says acting general manager Tim Akroyd.

Strong early results indicated significant widening of the ore body close to existing mining operations, he said.

“What we’ve discovered is the ore zone is widening in different parts of the ore body,” Mr Akroyd said.

“It is exciting for us. It shows there is a significant opportunity to extend the known resource and enhance the life of the mine.”

In releasing its quarterly report last month, the company pointed at the potential for mine life extension or the expansion of the operation, 65km north-west of Cloncurry.

However, Mr Akroyd said it would be premature to put a figure on the findings and what they meant for the life of the operation.

MMG Dugald River this month marked a major milestone – producing and exporting one million tonnes of zinc concentrate.

Mr Akroyd said the site was on track to mine more than 2 million tonnes of ore this year, ahead of the budgeted total of 1.93 million tonnes.

A strong focus on opening new mining areas and optimisation work in conjunction with Barminco, the primary site mining contractor, has supported this increase in mined ore.

The site has also trialled a Sandvik LH621 loader underground this year – a larger model than the current fleet.

While the 21-tonne machine was too large to work in all areas, its targeted use had help shift material faster and a second loader of that size had also been introduced at Dugald River, Mr Akroyd said.

Plans on site for the next 18 months include installation of a new refrigeration plant for cooling the underground workings as the team pushes deeper.

“The other key work is to continue to develop the underground panels,” Mr Akroyd said.

“As we develop the mine we need a lot more infrastructure – access drives, electrical cabling and ventilation, so we need to continue to build this ahead of our current mining front.”