Austral regroups to accelerate copper haulage from Anthill
Special Report: While the December quarter proved challenging due to bushfires near its operations and severe weather in Queensland, Austral Resources has dusted itself off and is pressing ahead with its copper operations, aided by a new haulage contractor.
This is timely as copper sentiment is decidedly positive with Fitch Solutions recently forecasting the red metal will soar more than 75% over the next two years due to supply disruptions and higher demand, potentially pushing copper prices to US$15,000/t in 2025, significantly higher than the record peak of US$10,730/t in March 2023.
As a copper cathode producer, Austral Resources Australia (ASX:AR1) is perfectly positioned to capitalise on this expected uptick in copper.
During the December quarter, the Company mined 510,149t of ore from its Anthill operations and produced 2,083t of copper cathode.
It also achieved total revenue of $23.8m that generated net operating cash outflow of $2.9m.
This was despite the challenges experienced by its Mt Kelly processing facility from wild bushfires in October 2023.
The bushfires led to site personnel being evacuated due to the threat of bushfires and the Company’s emergency response plan activated with key management and trained staff remaining on-site to assist the surrounding community with the firefighting efforts.
Mining and hauling campaigns were suspended for a period during the three-week fire event to ensure all personnel could be safely evacuated and out of harm’s way.
The bushfires affected over 1.8 million acres surrounding and including AR1’s tenure, damaging drill core from 237 drill holes.
It also damaged 26km of water pipe infrastructure however the heap leach pads and SX/EW plant were minimally impacted and remain operational.
Insurance assessors are currently evaluating the overall extent of damage to the operations.
More recently, Cyclone Kirrily that tore through parts of Queensland resulted in the CCompany’s crushing circuit at Mt Clarke experiencing a one-week interruption to production due to exceedingly wet ore causing significant and continual blockages.
AR1 currently faces a shortfall of 487,000t in its road haulage activities for the Anthill project when measured against its budget targets.
To address this, the Company has executed a new haulage contract with REGROUP, which will provide five brand-new Kenworth C509 trucks, each equipped to tow new ultra quad trailers with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) weight of 240t.
This is aimed at ensuring more efficient and reliable haulage operations for the Anthill project moving forward.
With the addition of REGROUP’s trucks, AR1’s recovery plan will be to transport 250,000t of ore per month for the first three months, before returning to the budgeted 200,000 tonnes per month to address the shortfall.
“I am conscious that we are regularly informing the market about these unique one-off events that continue to impact our operations, however, the past 12 months has been a challenging period, dealing with issues that include fires and floods that have surpassed historical events,” AR1 Chief Operating Officer Shane O’Connell said.
“Throughout all of this, the safety of our employees and contractors has remained our highest priority.
“The addition of REGROUP to our operations will play a pivotal role in helping us restore and normalise production to meet our budgeted targets.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Austral Resources, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.