Cannington’s bright future

Posted August 24, 2015



Extension plans for Cannington mine are on the boil as the north-west Queensland operation officially begins its life as part of the new South32 resources company.

Cannington asset president Peter Sharpe hopes to put a case before the South32 board within 12 months for work to take the underground operation beyond its current mine life of a further eight years.

“One of our goals over the next six to 12 months is to finalise and define the options to extend the life of the operation,” Mr Sharpe said.

“That will be done either through open-cut options or other ways of using the current resources and infrastructure here.”

Mr Sharpe said Cannington’s move to South32 as part of the demerger of mining giant BHP Billiton had definitely put this extension analysis on the fast track.

“The new business model has provided a different lens to look through - to say how you would extend the mine life rather than having to meet an internal hurdle of the size of the asset, the size of the operation, the length of years it would need to be proven up for,” he said.

“Certainly South32 can look at it from a different perspective and say a smaller extension is acceptable as long as it adds value and doesn’t destroy future optionality.”

Mr Sharpe said while there was also potential for growth at Cannington, the priority was giving employees – and the local community - confidence in a longer life span at the silver-lead-zinc mine around current production levels.

“We are able some time in the future to look at expansion,” he said.

“But for me coming into this role and looking at the opportunities that are on the table, it’s the mine life extension that is just something we’ve got to nail as soon as possible and give people certainty greater than the eight years that is currently on the table.”

Mr Sharpe, who started work at Cannington in February, said he’d been extremely impressed with the team and the culture at the site.

“And this is a real credit to my predecessors I think – with Laura Tyler and Vince De Carolis - this team is just in a wonderful frame of mind to accept a new challenge,” he said.

What is South32?

• An independent metals and mining company founded in May 2015 after shareholders voted in favour of a BHP Billiton demerger

• With a head office in Perth, it is Australia’s third biggest mining company after BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto

• The company name stems from the 32nd parallel - the line of latitude that links Australia and South Africa

• Australian assets include Cannington (Qld), Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (NSW), Australia Manganese (GEMCO and TEMCO, NT and Tasmania), and Worsley Alumina (WA)

• Overseas assets include Cerro Matoso (Colombia), Hotazel Manganese Mines (South Africa), Hillside Aluminium (South Africa), Mozal aluminium smelter (Mozambique) and Energy Coal South Africa

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