The Queensland Government has granted a mining lease which marks a major step in the approvals process for a new Northwest Queensland copper mine. 

The approval of the mining lease also paves the way for AIC Mines (AIC) to expand operations at the nearby Eloise Copper mine near Cloncurry, while extending the mine’s life for another ten years.

The development of the Jericho mine and expansion of the Eloise processing plant is expected to increase the production rate to more than 20,000t of copper and 10,000oz of gold each year.

As the world’s most cost-effective conductive material, copper is essential to the world’s energy revolution and in helping Queensland reach its net zero emissions target.

The mine will be a boost for the region, stimulating the local economy through procurement activities and additional trade with local suppliers.

Queensland Minister for Resources and Critical Minerals, Scott Stewart, said that the North West Minerals Province continues to deliver more good jobs for Queenslanders and the critical minerals to power the state’s renewable energy transformation. 

“The ripple effects of this new project will resonate far beyond the mine, boosting local and international copper supply for solar, wind and battery energy manufacturing, including Mt Isa’s copper smelter,” Mr Stewart said. 

“It also means flow-on effects to places like Townsville which is part of the critical minerals supply chain.

“Prioritising and fast-tracking mineral extraction is a key action identified under the Queensland Critical Minerals Strategy and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Mr Stewart said that with the pipeline of critical minerals projects growing, Queensland is prepared to become a mining, processing and manufacturing powerhouse for renewable energy.

“Critical minerals like copper are key to delivering our renewable energy future.” 

AIC Mines Managing Director, Aaron Colleran, said that AIC acquired the Jericho copper deposit in January 2023 and that to have the mining lease granted after only 15 months of ownership is testament to the quality of the project, the work ethic of the AIC team and, importantly, the consistent and well-understood Queensland mining approvals process.

“Granting of the Jericho Mining Lease is an important milestone on the Jericho development journey,” Mr Colleran said. 

“It provides a pathway to expanding annual production at Eloise to over 20,000t of copper and 10,000oz of gold in concentrate.

“The project will employ 150 people over a 24 month construction period and then 100 new permanent employees when in production. 

“The world needs more copper as we transition away from fossil fuels and AIC is focused on delivering on that demand.

“Queensland is a great place to be operating – it has the copper, the mining infrastructure and the skilled labour force to help fill what is expected to be an insatiable global appetite for copper.”

Image: Wirestock Creators/shutterstock.com

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