Weather forces 29Metals to suspend Capricorn operations

Shares in 29Metals (ASX:29M) have taken a tumble today, after the base and precious metals miner said it had suspended operations at its wholly owned underground Capricorn Copper Mine in Queensland, citing “extreme weather.”

29Metals says the decision comes after an extended period of rainfall between late-January and mid-March this year. 

Due to the weather, as well as consecutive tropical cyclones, a steady accumulation of water in structures on site has reached levels now similar to those following a similar extreme weather event in March 2023, as reported by Mining.com.au.

With water at these levels, the dewatering of the Esperanza South underground mine cannot continue which, in turn, delays the restart of mining as part of the Capricorn Copper Recovery Plan. 

The company says there will be a ‘significant’ reduction in headcount and activity at site as it ramps down mining and milling activity over the next 6 weeks. During the suspension, the company intends to progress growth potential at the project, including targeted exploration activity, and evaluation of the potential to produce a cobalt product. 

“The decision to suspend operations has not been taken lightly, particularly because of the impact it will have on our team at Capricorn Copper who have worked tirelessly following the extreme weather event in March 2023, as well as the local community, our contractors, and the businesses across the region and the state of Queensland that support the site,” Managing Director and CEO Peter Albert says.

“The duration of the suspension will be dependent on a number of factors, including reducing the water levels held on site and securing the regulatory approvals required to set Capricorn Copper on a sustainable footing. 

“29Metals’ objective will be to ensure the period of suspension is as short as possible. Planning for the restart will start almost immediately and we will use this pause in operations to build back stronger and set Capricorn Copper up for the future.”

To achieve a sustainable restart the company will continue to reduce water inventory held on site, establish long term tailings storage capacity, complete the planning, procurement and installation of a new water treatment plant, and implement opportunities to enhance productivity. 

According to 29Metals, the continuing support of the Queensland government will also be ‘critically important’, building upon the Prescribed Project and Critical Infrastructure Project status conferred in late 2023.  

As of 1:36pm AEDT, shares in 29Metals had fallen 25% to $0.40.

Write to Adam Drought at Mining.com.au

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Written By Adam Drought
Born and raised in the UK, Adam is a sports fanatic with an interest in Rugby League and UFC/MMA. When not training in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Adam attends Griffith University where he is completing his final year of a Communication & Journalism degree.