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Atalaya studies expansion at Spain copper mine

A study is under way to determine the feasibility of significantly expanding the mining and processing capacity at the Proyecto Riotinto mine, in Spain.

Aim- and TSX-listed Atalaya Mining is considering expanding the mine’s capacity from 9.5-million tonnes to 15-million tonnes a year, which will raise copper output to between 50 000 t/y and 55 000 t/y.

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The mine, which achieved its 9.5-million-tonne-a-year nameplate capacity in December, is currently expected to produce between 34 000 t and 40 000 t this year.

Atalaya, which announced the expansion study on Friday, said the plan was to revisit the geological modelling and resource and reserve estimates, with the aim of maintaining the operation’s mine life in the 12- to 14-year range.

The study would reassess mine planning and the existing mining fleet. It would also asses the potential for maximising processing capacity, including complementing it with additional crushing and milling equipment. Flotation and concentrate handling modifications would be evaluated, but were not expected to be significant. Tailings storage facilities and auxiliary infrastructure would also be re-evaluated.

In anticipation of a positive outcome of the study, Atalaya said it was evaluating different sources of financing. The project is expected to have a “competitive capital intensity, similar to the original five-million-tonne-a-year refurbishment programme and the 9.5-million-tonne-a-year expansion”.

The assessment will be carried out over the next three months, and should Atalaya decide to proceed with the expansion, the construction period is estimated to be 18 months.

Source: miningweekly

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