Total Mineral Resources at WMC Resources Ltd's Olympic Dam mine in South Australia have increased by 29.2% as a result of recent drilling and an improved long-term uranium price outlook. Total Mineral Resources at Olympic Dam are now estimated to be 3.8 billion tonnes at a copper-equivalent grade of 2.2%.
In an Olympic Dam resource upgrade statement issued today, total copper contained in the resource has increased by seven million tonnes to an estimated 42.7 million tonnes. Uranium contained in the resource has increased by 230,000 tonnes to an estimated 1.4 million tonnes. Total contained ounces of gold has also increased by about 24% to an estimated 55.1 million ounces.
'Based on these new estimates, Olympic Dam now contains the world's fourth largest remaining copper and gold resources, up from seventh previously,' WMC CEO, Andrew Michelmore, said today.
'Already the largest known uranium resource, Olympic Dam now contains 38% of the total global economic uranium resource base, up from 33%.'
Today's JORC compliant mineral resource upgrade statement follows the completion of the first phase of WMC's Olympic Dam Development Study drilling program (results released on 11 November 2004) and additional underground exploration drilling. These drill results account for approximately 80% of the increased resource tonnage.
The mineral resource upgrade also reflects an increased long-term uranium price assumption of A$30/lb, up from A$23.33/lb in WMC's December 2003 resource statement.
'The first phase results from the Development Study drilling program not only increase the total size of the resource base, but also show improving economics for our development plans,' Mr Michelmore said.
'The mineral resource increase is largely in the southern part of the orebody and is closer to the surface than areas currently being mined. This, coupled with an improved long- term uranium price outlook, expands the options available to grow Olympic Dam.'
The Olympic Dam Mineral Resource Statement includes drilling results up to the end of September 2004. More than 70 surface drill holes and 55 kms of surface drilling were completed up to that date as part of the current work program.
A decision on the preferred mining option is expected early in 2005, with WMC due to deliver the Development Study findings in early 2006.
Based on the success of the drilling to date, the ongoing drilling program has been significantly expanded with the objectives of understanding the full potential of the Olympic Dam orebody and then defining Probable Ore Reserves for the preferred long-term mining option.
There are currently nine drill rigs working on the program with up to six more rigs due to be operating by year-end.
For more information on copper, click here.