Nifty Copper Operation
The 100% owned Nifty Copper Operation (“Nifty”) is a historically operating underground mine currently on care & maintenance. Nifty is supported by a large and growing sulphide copper endowment, with existing tier-one infrastructure being maintained for a rapid production restart.
Metals X also controls ~3,000km2 of large and highly-prospective exploration ground in the Paterson province of Western Australia, which includes the Maroochydore project is a substantial oxide copper – cobalt development project hosting 43.2Mt @ 0.91% Cu and 391 ppm Co for 394,000t of copper and 17,000t of cobalt.
Since acquiring the Nifty in August 2016, Metals X has made a significant investment into modernising and extending the life of the operation including:
- Underground drilling programs to increase ore reserves and mine life to in excess of 5 years;
- Mine development activities to open up new areas of production away from the historic mining area;
- Upgrades to mining, processing and associated infrastructure;
- Refurbishment and acquisition of mobile equipment;
- Major overhaul of the gas power station;
- Ongoing upgrades to the accommodation camp including modernising of in-room facilities;
- Upgrades to the Nifty airport
- Engagement of Telstra to install state of the art communication systems throughout the operation.
- The Nifty Open Pit Scoping Study investigated the development of a major expansion to the historical oxide open pit.
Nifty is a large, long life underground copper sulphide mine with a 2.8 million tonne per annum copper concentrator (currently on care & maintenance). When in production, copper concentrate is trucked to a storage facility located at Port Hedland, approximately 350km from Nifty, before shipping for smelting and refining. Site infrastructure is extensive, including a powerhouse, 400 room mine village, office and workshop complexes, assay laboratory and sealed airstrip capable of handling jet aircraft.
- 1981: Oxide copper first discovered at Nifty by WMC Limited.
- 1983: Drilling of the oxide resource leads to the discovery of the deep sulphide resource.
- 1993: WMC commence an open pit, heap leach, SX-EW operation on the relatively high-grade part of the oxide mineralisation.
- 1998: Nifty is purchased by Straits Resources Limited with subsequent expansion of the heap leach operation.
- 2003: Nifty and the surrounding exploration tenure is purchased by Aditya Birla Minerals.
- 2004: Underground development commenced to exploit the sulphide resource via a decline from the open pit. Construction of the sulphide concentrator commenced in October 2004.
- 2006: First copper concentrate produced. Open pit mining operations ceased.
- 2009: Heap leach operations ceased.
- 2016: Metals X Limited acquires Nifty through takeover of Aditya Birla Minerals Limited.
Nifty is hosted within the ~850 to 824 Ma Yeneena Supergroup of the >24,000 km2 Neoproterozoic Yeneena Basin, which in turn comprises part of the Paterson Orogen. The Yeneena Supergroup is subdivided into the Throssell Range and succeeding Lamil Groups. The Throssell Range Group is composed of the Coolbro and overlying Broadhurst Formations with the latter hosting both the Nifty and Maroochydore deposits.
The deposit is hosted by the upper carbonaceous shale to pelitic schist unit of the Broadhurst Formation, which in the deposit area has been divided into four informal members: the Footwall Beds, the Nifty Carbonate Member, the Pyritic Marker and the Hangingwall Beds.
The deposit comprises supergene oxide, sulphide and transitional mineralisation above stratabound hypogene sulphide mineralisation hosted by carbonaceous and dolomitic shales, principally within the Nifty Carbonate Member. Hypogene mineralisation is localised in the northeastern limb and keel of the 15°SE plunging Nifty Syncline and extends for >1,300 m down plunge. Mineralisation is simple, with the only major sulphide minerals being chalcopyrite and pyrite, with minor sphalerite and galena.
Sulphide ore processing occurs through the 2.8Mtpa processing plant via conventional comminution, grinding and flotation to produce a clean copper concentrate.
Nifty is a fly in–fly out operation with access provided via a sealed airstrip on site, serviced regularly by flights from Perth. The mine is also accessed by bitumen road from Port Hedland to Woodie Woodie, with the final 45 km of road unsealed.
A 400 room accommodation village is located close to the operation and includes significant recreational facilities including gym, swimming pool and tennis courts etc.
The main power source is a 19.6MW GE dual fuel gas/diesel turbine, with back-up of 5MW solar centaur turbines, 4MW Caterpillar and 2MW Detroit diesel generators. A 46 km spur gas pipeline, owned and operated by Gas Transmissions of Australia Pty Ltd, links Nifty to the Port Hedland to Telfer pipeline.
Nifty uses groundwater sourced from mine dewatering as well as from a local borefield.
Open Pit Scoping Study
The Nifty Open Pit Scoping Study (the Study or the Project) investigated the development of a major expansion to the historical oxide open pit at the Nifty Copper Operation (Nifty) to access and extract the sulphide Mineral Resource.
The results of the Study were released to the ASX on 11 June 2020 and a copy of the report can be found here.
The Project benefits significantly from utilisation of the existing sulphide ore processing capacity and infrastructure on site, which currently is being maintained in a ready-to-start condition, and from a long history of mining and processing of the Nifty resource which provides confidence in the mining and metallurgical assumptions in the Study.
The Project will utilise the existing 2.8 million tonne per annum capacity copper concentrator, 25,000 tonne per annum capacity heap leach SX/EW facility, 21 MW power station, licensed and established waste dumps and tailings storage facility, accommodation village and all-weather jet capable airstrip. The Study has assumed infrastructure upgrades are required to the mine village, power station, and airstrip, and additional sustaining capital is required to maintain the infrastructure in a modern, fit-for-purpose condition.
The Study reported the following Production Target:
- 10-year mine life providing approximately 23 million tonnes of sulphide feed to the concentrator, at an average grade of circa 1.24% copper, with an overall waste-to-ore strip ratio of approximately 7.6:1.
- 250,000 – 270,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate at an average annual production rate of approximately 26,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate.
- Approximately 96% of concentrator feed identified in the Study has a Mineral Resource classification of Measured or Indicated.
- Copper recovery of approximately 91% overall with recovery of fresh and transitional feed between 91 – 93% and 81 – 84% respectively.
The Study has evaluated the option of recommissioning the existing heap leach SX/EW infrastructure. The Study assumed reprocessing of 13 – 14 million tonnes of existing heap leach pads with an estimated 2.6 million tonnes of oxide material at a grade of 0.9% Cu expected to be mined as part of the proposed open pit operation. Over eight years an additional estimated total 40,000 – 50,000 tonnes of copper cathode is expected to be produced, of which approximately 40% is oxide material from the open pit.
WATCH THE NIFTY MOVIES
Nifty Open Pit Study - June 2020
The Nifty Copper Operation - July 2017