Established Australian copper producer and explorer, Aeris Resources (ASX: AIS) has provided its half-yearly report for the period ending 31 December 2019.
The Tritton Copper Operations (Tritton) produced 12,286 tonnes of copper during the period, a decrease of 982 tonnes compared to the previous corresponding period (pcp). Copper production was impacted by reduced processing rates in December due to water quality issues and lower copper ore grades.
The Tritton sources its water for mining and ore processing activities from Burrendong Dam via the Macquarie River system. Rainfall deficiencies since 2017 have adversely affected the water levels in Burrendong Dam, resulting in Level 4 water restrictions being imposed in November 2019.
These water restrictions impact holders of high security water licenses, including Tritton, reducing the volumes of water available in financial year June 2020 under their water allocations. To offset these reduced allocations, Tritton has purchased additional high security water licences on-market. The offtake point for Tritton to access its water allocation has been Gunningbar Creek.
In November 2019 WaterNSW advised that deliveries of water to this point would cease. After discussions with WaterNSW and other Government agencies it was agreed that a spur water pipeline would be constructed from Tritton and connect into the Nyngan – Cobar water pipeline.
Whilst the new pipeline was being constructed water stored on site in old mine workings would be utilised. Construction of the pipeline commenced in December 2019 and was completed in mid-January 2020, with the first water delivered to Tritton later that month. The pipeline ensures that the remaining water allocation for the year ending 30 June 2020 can now be delivered. In addition to securing the method of delivery of Tritton’s water allocation, the pipeline will also significantly reduce water losses compared to deliveries to Gunningbar Creek.
There has been no further communication from WaterNSW with respect to deliveries against water allocations for financial year ending 30 June 2021.
Ore production from the Tritton and Murrawombie underground mines was in line with plan for the period ended 31 December 2019, however copper grades were lower due to stope mining sequencing.