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Copper strategy aims to triple production

Mining & Resources

TRIPLING its copper exports over the next two decades is the cornerstone of an Australian state’s plan to bolster its mining industry.

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The South Australian Government has launched its long-term Copper Strategy to produce and export more than $8 billion of copper a year and entrench the state as one of the world’s major suppliers of the metal. 

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the strategy set out clear pathways to help the industry triple its copper production to 1 million tonnes a year within the next two decades. 

 “Currently South Australia hosts 68 per cent of Australia’s copper resources within the Copper Belt – home to Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill, Kanmantoo and the world-class copper discovery at Carrapateena,” he said.

In 2014, Australia produced about 970,000 tonnes of copper, making it the world’s sixth biggest producer behind Chile (5.75 million tonnes), China (1.76m tonnes), Peru (1.38m t), United States (1.36m t) and Congo (1.03m t).

A little over a quarter of the copper mined in Australia in 2014 was sourced from South Australia, helping it reach $1.9 billion in exports of the metal in 2014-15.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the Government had already taken several early steps to implement the strategy including providing $20 million for PACE Copper and $10 million towards a partnership with OZ Minerals to support innovative research into a process to improve copper-in-concentrate.

“The $20 million PACE Copper initiative includes the world’s largest high-resolution airborne survey to unlock the underground riches in South Australia’s Copper Belt,” he said.

Further Copper Strategy initiatives aim to:

Establish South Australia as an International Copper Technology and Research Hub, through leveraging existing copper research initiatives and programs. Identify infrastructure needs and develop innovative approaches including finding suitable water supplies and transport opportunities for current and future mines. Run Copper Strategy Success Seminars with mining industry, researchers and services companies to share innovations, ideas, build skills and learn from experts in the field. Develop regional approaches to changes in the copper mining industry to support transfer of skills and jobs and support new ventures in regional communities. Attract major international resource and service companies with deep mining expertise and technology.

As part of the consultation process, three action themes were identified which aim to bring forward exploration and discovery of new copper reserves, improve productivity and efficiencies of local copper producers and improve the industry’s capacity to engage with the South Australian community.

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