Phu Bia, one of the largest miners operating in Laos, has expressed satisfaction over the discovery of copper and gold ore in Phonsavan district, Xieng Khuang province. PanAust, the parent company of Phu Bia, announced this week it had discovered about six to seven million tonnes of ore at its Phonsavan project, which will lead to a new mining project in the district. At present, the company operates two mines at Phu Kham and Ban Huayxai in its 2,636 square-kilometre contract area.
The Australian miner expects that with the discovery of the ore, the new mining project will be able to produce around 25,000 tonnes of copper a year and 20,000 ounces of gold a year in concentrate over a mine life of about 10 years. The company launched a prefeasibility study for the Phonsavan project in the northern part of the contract area in Phonsavan district in the June quarter of this year, with the study set for completion during the June quarter of next year. Once the company completes the feasibility study, it expects to spend
two years to build the copper and gold processing plant and begin commissioning. Production could start in late 2015.
The company said that based on its experience in developing operations in Laos, it is expected that the capital cost to develop the Phonsavan project will be very competitive compared to industry norms and within a range of US$200 million to US$300 million. The Phonsavan project benefits from access to existing infrastructure, including grid power and sealed roads. It also has a potential route for the export of concentrate by road to the coast in Vietnam, about 250 kilometres to the east. PanAust recently successfully trialled the export of concentrate from its Phu Kham Copper-Gold Operation via a port in Vietnam as an alternative export route for that operation.
The project is located near to the town of Phonsavan, which has a population of about 55,000 and is expected to be able to provide a workforce for the new mining project. phu Bia’s Phu Kham operation last year produced 59,897 tonnes of copper in concentrate, 53,590 ounces of gold, and 538,123 ounces of silver. The project expects to produce 65,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate, 60,000 ounces of gold, and 400,000 to 450,000 ounces of silver in 2012. Phu Bia kicked off the Ban Houayxai Gold-Silver Operation about 25 kilometres
west of the Phu Kham Copper-Gold Operation in May. The project has an annual production target of 100,000 ounces of gold and 700,000 ounces of silver during a nine year mine life
Source: Vientiane Times