Xstrata will commence a pre-feasibility study this month on the Mount Isa mines in Australia, in preparation for the development of a large multi-commodity open pit mine.

The firm has been given approval based on the concept study, which indicated the potential to mine and process at least 340Mt of zinc-lead ore and 130Mt of copper ore by large-scale open pit mining methods.

The study will be conducted to confirm a preferred approach for a staged development of the pit, including logistics and costs of relocating major infrastructure.

The pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed in early 2013.