Xstrata Copper’s Executive Committee has approved the start of a prefeasibility study to evaluate the development of the copper sulphide deposit located below the current pit of the Lomas Bayas operation in northern Chile’s Antofagasta Region. The approval follows the Committee’s review of the recommendations of the concept study carried out over the last two years.

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The new study will assess a possible investment of US$1.6 billion to expand annual production to 140,000 tonnes of copper in the form of concentrates and cathodes and to extend the life of the Lomas Bayas operation to 2039. It is expected that the prefeasibility study, which will comprise new drilling, metallurgical tests and geomechanical studies, will be completed at the end of 2012.

Subject to positive feasibility studies and government and company approvals, it is estimated that the Lomas Bayas sulphide project could start production in 2017. The project considers a concentrator plant with a processing capacity of 70,000 tonnes per day and the use of seawater for its operation.

Lomas Bayas General Manager Luis Rosales said: “The approval to advance to the next stage in studies of the Lomas Bayas sulphide project is a further example of Xstrata Copper’s strategy to increase the value of our operations through extensions to mine lives and brownfield expansions. The project forms an important part of the growth plans that Xstrata Copper has in Chile”.

“The Lomas Bayas sulphide project will allow us to sustain the operation over the long-term and thereby continue to contribute to the development of the region and of the country, benefitting both the company and our employees, communities and suppliers,” added Rosales.

The prefeasibility study will allow Lomas Bayas to optimise mine and production plans, estimate costs more precisely and advance towards the feasibility stage. In addition, the study will assess synergies and scale economies with the Lomas Bayas II project which is currently under construction and will extend the operation’s useful life by more than ten years to 2023 at the current production rate of 75,000 tonnes per annum.

In December 2010, Xstrata Copper announced an upgraded mineral resource estimate for the Lomas Bayas sulphide project, based on 121 drill holes (50,410 metres). The improved estimate totals 435 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.39% copper, using a 0.2% copper cut-off grade, and includes molybdenum, gold and silver credits.

Associated with the potential sulphide pit, there are also 408 million tonnes of leachable oxide and mixed mineral resources with an average grade of 0.26% copper.


Xstrata Copper contacts

Viviana Alarcón
Telephone: +562 478 2235
Mobile: + 569 9552 4557
Email: valarcon@xstratacopper.com

Emily Russell
Telephone: +562 478 2204
Mobile: + 569 9443 3571
Email: erussell@xstratacopper.com
Xstrata Copper is the fourth largest global copper producer with attributable mined production in 2010 of 913,500 tonnes of copper in cathodes and concentrates. The company is also one of the world’s largest producers of smelter and refined copper, including from third party materials.

Headquartered in Brisbane, Xstrata Copper is one of the commodity business units within the major global diversified mining group Xstrata plc. Its mining and metallurgical operations and development projects span eight countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Peru, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the USA. Its operations and projects are administered through a regional divisional management structure, which ensures that critical decisions are taken close to the related businesses. It also has a recycling business (Xstrata Recycling) with plants in the United States and offices in Canada and Asia.

In Chile, Xstrata Copper holds a 44% stake in Compañía Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi in the Tarapacá Region and owns the Lomas Bayas mine and the Altonorte metallurgical complex, both in the Antofagasta Region. Its Energía Austral subsidiary is developing a hydroelectric project in the Aysén Region. In addition, Xstrata Copper owns the bi-national El Pachón project, located in Argentina at 5 kilometres from the border with Chile.

Lomas Bayas is an open pit mine that produces 75,000 tonnes per annum of copper cathodes. It began operations in 1998 and is located in Sierra Gorda, 110 km northeast of the city of Antofagasta, in northern Chile’s Antofagasta Region.The Lomas Bayas II project, which is currently under construction, will extend the useful life of Lomas Bayas through to 2023, maintaining its annual production level of 75,000 tonnes of copper cathodes. Lomas Bayas III, a new copper sulphides project located beneath the existing Lomas Bayas pit, is currently under evaluation. Lomas Bayas is part of the South American Operations Division of Xstrata Copper.

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