Capstone Copper has produced the first saleable copper concentrate at its Mantoverde Development Project (MVDP) in Chile.

This milestone marks significant progress as the mine advances commissioning and moves towards full production levels.

The company noted that the MVDP is on track to increase its copper output from around 35,000 tonnes (t) in 2022 to an estimated 120,000t in the second half of 2024.

A new concentrator plant at MVDP is designed to process sulphide ores, with an annual capacity of 12.3 million tonnes (mt) per year.

This development complements the existing SX-EW plant, which continues to treat oxide ores.

The mine utilises conventional open-pit operations with truck-and-shovel technology.

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The construction of the concentrator was completed in late 2023 under a lump-sum turnkey engineering, procurement and construction contract with Ausenco. The total capital costs for MVDP are estimated at $870m (C$1.19bn).

Capstone noted that the first ore to the primary crusher was completed in Q4 2023 and the first ore to the grinding circuit occurred in Q1 2024.

The company anticipates reaching nameplate operating rates during Q3 2024. The MVDP is expected to process 236mt of copper sulphide reserves over a 20-year mine life, in addition to the existing oxide reserves.

The addition of a sulphide concentrator, capable of processing 32,000 ore tonnes per day (tpd), and a tailings storage facility are significant enhancements to the facility.

Capstone has also identified that the desalination plant capacity and major components of the comminution and flotation circuits can sustain an average annual throughput of up to 45,000tpd without major capital equipment upgrades.

Capstone and Ausenco’s engineering team are developing the Optimised Mantoverde Development Project (MVDP Optimised).

Looking ahead, Mantoverde Phase II will explore the addition of a second processing line to utilise the additional 77% of resources not currently processed by the MVDP Optimised project.

Capstone CEO John MacKenzie said: “First saleable copper concentrate production at MVDP is a significant milestone for Capstone.

“This achievement is a testament to our dedicated and skilled teams, who continue to work towards a safe and efficient ramp-up to nameplate operating rates. MVDP remains on track and on budget with our guidance previously disclosed.

“In July, we plan to release an updated feasibility study for our Santo Domingo project, followed by a feasibility study for our Mantoverde Optimised project later in the quarter, which will define the next phases of our value-accretive production growth in the district.”