The Queensland Government’s Department of Resources has granted AIC Mines a ten-year mining lease for the Jericho Copper Mine.

This pivotal development allows for the commencement of surface works and mine development activities.

Located 4km south of the Eloise processing plant, the Jericho copper deposit shares similar geological, mineralogical and metallurgical characteristics with Eloise.

The development of the Jericho mine, coupled with the expansion of the Eloise processing plant, is set to increase annual production to more than 20,000 tonnes of copper and 10,000oz of gold in concentrate.

This expansion is expected to bring down operating costs by leveraging economies of scale and will diversify production risks by adding another ore source.         

The mining lease, which commences on 1 June 2024, encompasses an area of 881.7ha, covering both the Jericho Mineral Resource and potential extensions, as well as the down-dip extension of the Eloise Deeps mineralisation.

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AIC Mines managing director Aaron Colleran said: “Mining at Jericho will be lower cost than Eloise as it is much shallower, commencing below only 50m of cover.”

This project will support 150 jobs over its 24-month construction phase and 100 permanent jobs when operational.

Prior to the start of development or mining operations, AIC Mines must provide a Financial Provision Surety of A$159,619 ($106,489) in accordance with the project’s Standard Environmental Authority.

The company recently concluded a tender process for the underground development work at both Eloise and Jericho, awarding PYBAR Mining Services the status of preferred tenderer.

Ongoing optimisation studies for the Jericho mine aim to mitigate initial scheduling risks and longer-term operational challenges.

A significant aspect of this work involves exploring the possibility of creating a direct underground link from the Eloise portal to Jericho, spanning around 3.6km.

AIC Mines is currently engaging with the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment, Science and Innovation to clarify the requirements for obtaining the Jericho Site Specific Environmental Authority (SSEA).

It is also working with the authorities towards an amendment to the Eloise Environmental Authority, which is the next critical approval needed for the mine’s development.

Queensland Minister for Resources and Critical Minerals Scott Stewart said: “The ripple effects of this new project will resonate far beyond the mine, boosting local and international copper supply for solar, wind and battery energy manufacturing, including Mt Isa’s copper smelter.”