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The miner said in a statement that crushing operations had started, and crushed material was being stockpiled in preparation for the commissioning of the remainder of the project process plant.
The crushing circuit, which included the company’s 4,5-km overland conveyor, had crushed and transported over 150 000 t of material, exceeding the crushing design throughput rate of 3 309 t/h.
“We are very pleased with the initial performance of both the crushing and conveying circuit and the key mine electric production units. Both are designed to utilise low cost, clean electrical energy and position Lumwana as a robust, long term, low cost copper producer,” said Equinox president and CEO Craig Williams.
The miner had also put its first large-scale Hitachi EX5500-6 electric shovel into production, with all design productivity parameters being met or exceeded.
The electric shovel was designed to mine about 26-million tons a year of material at a mining rate of 4 000 t/h.
Three more electric shovels would be put into production over the next six weeks to work alongside three diesel excavators.
Combined, these units were expected to complete the final commissioning and ramp up of the mining operation for the project’s production phase.
The Lumwana mine is expected to produce an average of 169 000 t/y of copper metal contained in concentrates for the first six years of its 37-year life-of-mine.
Production was originally expected to begin in July this year, but commissioning was delayed after a fire damaged a 20-MVA transformer and an adjacent 11-kV substation at the process plant facility.