Australian mining company New Century Resources has finished reconstruction of the processing plant and hiring of maintenance crew at the Century zinc mine in Queensland, with production expected to follow mine rehabilitation works in August of this year.

The mine has been inactive since the cessation of processing operations by then-owner MMG in early 2016, following the depletion of the mine’s ore reserves. New Century says this closure ‘presented an opportunity for a focused junior to monetise valuable remaining mineral assets’, including over two million tonnes of JORC-compliant (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) zinc metal equivalent, and over one million tonnes of JORC-compliant zinc and lead. The company purchased the mine in March 2017 and found buyers for its resources in February of this year.

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“New Century is very pleased with the strong demand shown by smelters and commodity traders in its tender process, which is a clear demonstration of the quality of New Century’s concentrate and the current strong fundamentals of the zinc market,” said New Century managing director Patrick Walta in response to finding companies willing to purchase zinc from the mine.

“The company looks forward to building a long-term successful relationship with its new partners at Mercuria and Transamine. We also look forward to finalising the development of other offtakes with shortlisted parties.”

The Century mine already has a developed infrastructure from its previous operations, including an accommodation camp for 700 workers, a 7Mtpa mineral processing plant and a 304km-long underground slurry pipeline connecting the mine to the Karumba port in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

New Century also plans to use the mine’s disused open pit to relocate mineral tailings; the pit was repurposed as the Century Tailings Deposit under MMG, and New Century will extend this process to reduce the mine’s environmental impact.

The mine, 250km north-west from the town of Mount Isa, originally began production in 1999 and was one of the largest zinc mines in the world during its lifespan, producing an average of 475,000tpa zinc concentrate.