OZ Minerals’ copper and gold production rates for its Prominent Hill operation in 2009 have exceeded earlier estimates, spurred by higher milling rates, increased plant utilisation and good recoveries.

In 2009 copper production at the mine was measured at 96,310t, 6,000t more compared to the full-year guidance of 85,000t to 90,000t.

The amount of gold produced for the year was 75,535oz, 5,500oz more compared to 2009 guidance of 60,000oz to 70,000oz of gold.

Copper and gold production for the final quarter stood at 36,497t and 30,526oz respectively, which surpassed expectations.

The mine also produced 700,177oz of silver in 2009.

The Prominent Hill unit operated above the annualised eight million tonnes per annum capacity for the quarter.

Mined ore volumes from the plant stood at 9.12 million tonnes for the whole of 2009 and 2.92 million tonnes for the December quarter.

From 2010 to 2012, the plant is expected to produce 100,000t to 110,000t of copper and 80,000oz to 90,000oz of gold per annum.