The world’s most recent greenfield copper mine

Carrapateena Copper Gold Mine
South Australia
OZ Minerals Ltd.
Industry Sector
Minerals & Metals
Copper; Gold; Precious Metals
Service Area
Process Plants; Project Delivery
Copper & Mineral Processing Plants; Materials Handling; Power Generation & Supply; Tailings Management & Metal Recovery; Water Supply; Commissioning; EPC/EPCM Contracting; Construction Management

Carrapateena is a copper-gold deposit located in South Australia’s remote, arid Gawler Craton, approximately 160 km north of Port Augusta.

Ausenco presented OZ Minerals with a 4 Mt/y process plant design that was cheaper, smarter and safer than the pre-feasibility study (PFS) design. We took a Best-solution-for-project approach and worked openly and collaboratively with OZ Minerals at Early Contractor Involvement stage to provide a cost effective, fit for purpose solution that incorporated their design and equipment preferences, and provided certainty of a guaranteed outcome. 

Engineering commenced in December 2017, with construction of the mineral processing plant, non-process infrastructure, and site-wide services commencing in Q2, 2018. The 20-month construction period was wrapped-up in Q1, 2020 and then ramped-up to nameplate capacity in under one month after commissioning completion.  It continues to achieve excellent recoveries for OZ Minerals.

“It is a credit to all concerned to see the mill reach nameplate throughput so soon after handover and concentrate being accumulated.”

Andrew Cole - OZ Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO
Oz Minerals’ ASX Release dated 4 March 2020


Project solutions and approach 

Our compact plant not only lowered capital cost and drove efficient project delivery, it continues to drive improved operability and sustainability without compromising performance. The plant requires fewer operators, needs less energy to operate, reduces environmental impact and improves safety due to reduced operational interaction. Ausenco found better ways to deliver the Carrapateena Project, including utilisation of local and internationally sourced bulk commodities; use of preassembled structures, bolted tanks and prefabricated fully equipped modular switch rooms to minimise site labour; and implementation of Advanced Process Control (APC) to optimise overall plant performance and minimise operator intervention.


Project scope

  • ​The 4.0 Mt/y Minerals Processing Plant (MPP) is designed to produce copper concentrate, processing ore delivered from the underground mine.  At a high level, the plant consists of the following major design sections:
    • Coarse Ore Stockpile and Reclaim
      • Coarse ore stockpile with a live capacity of 12,000t, allowing for 24 hours of mill feed capacity with 60,000t of storage.  
      • Coarse ore reclaim via two apron feeders and onto the SAG mill feed conveyor with 1.2 wide metre belt, running 175 metres with 12 metres of lift.
    • A closed Semi-Autogenous & Ball Mill (SABC) grinding circuit with ore feed video characterisation and mill discharge particle size analysis.
    • Pebble Crushing system including a 220 kW cone crusher
    • Copper Flotation circuit of rougher, cleaner and scavenger tank cells
    • Regrinding system including regrind cyclones and a 1,600kW High Intensity Grinding (HIG) Mill
    • On-stream analysis with froth monitoring cameras providing data input into the multivariable control system for flotation.
    • Concentrate Handling, Storage and Load-Out
      • Concentrate handling area including a Ø15m bolted tank thickener, a 1000m3 filter feed tank, plate and frame filtration plant, concentrate storage shed and weighbridge to facilitate load out of a triple road train.
    • Tailings Handling
      • Ø25m tails thickener, six-stage centrifugal pumping system, 11km tailings pipeline with leak detection system
    • Water system including an 8,500m3 pond to store process water for the plant and a reverse osmosis plant
    • Electrical and Instrumentation Systems
    • Site Power Distribution (SPD)
  • Non-process buildings included administration, mine office, site operations centre, change-house, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage system, fixed and mobile plant maintenance workshops, warehouse and reagents store.
  • Site-wide services included electrical services, communications and data, potable water, sewage, fire systems, roads and drainage.

"Having produced first concentrate the overall project value continues to align with the Feasibility Study Update of 2017.”

Andrew Cole - OZ Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO
Oz Minerals’ ASX Release dated 20 December 2019

Outcomes and achievements                                                                

  • 20-month construction period, commencing Q2/2018.
  • First concentrate in December 2019.
  • Achieved capacity throughput within a 4-week ramp-up period after commissioning
  • 30% less power usage over the life of the plant (compared to the feasibility study).
  • 50% footprint reduction (compared to the feasibility study).
  • Improved operability and maintainability.
  • Reduced environmental impact.
  • Successfully executed challenging freight and logistics tasks to remote site.

                    Working with the local community:

  • We prioritised South Australian goods and services.
  • 30% of our workforce comprised local South Australians. 
  • We worked with the Kokatha People to deliver employment programs that resulted in 11% of the construction labour force being sourced from the local Port Augusta community. 

“Today’s milestone represents the collaboration, support and hard work of a great many people including our operations and construction teams and the large number of contractors involved. We have been privileged to have the support and direct contribution from the Traditional Owners, the Kokatha People, and our pastoralist neighbours, as well as from a great many individuals and businesses in the Upper Spencer Gulf and elsewhere in South Australia.”

Andrew Cole - OZ Minerals’ Managing Director and CEO 
Oz Minerals’ ASX Release dated 20 December 2019