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28 www. bus- ex. com February 10 Exploring Lundin Mining's copper mining company Somincor has discovered massive reserves of zinc in its Neves- Corvo mine, situated in the Alentejo, Portugal. Managing director John Andreatidis talks to Gay Sutton about ambitious plans to develop the reserves and quadruple the mine's production capacity over the next three years options allthe

Somincor of exploration leases. However, to extend the life of the Neves- Corvo mine, the company initiated a programme of surface drilling in 2005 and began searching for further deposits of copper. It found them; but it also discovered a huge deposit of zinc. Between 2006 and 2009, the exploration was ramped up dramatically. Approximately 30,000 metres of surface drilling was undertaken each year to explore the extent and depth of the deposits; and about 17,000 metres of underground drilling was carried out each year to convert resources into reserves. " The total measured and indicated copper resource at the moment is 24 million tons at four per cent," says managing director John Andreatidis, " which is very rich. Meanwhile, our total measured and indicated resource for zinc is 73 million tons at 6.5 per cent. In addition, we have 23 million tons of zinc ore inferred which will likely translate into resources, so we really have zinc coming out of our ears." Updated resource estimates based on recent drilling are expected in the coming months. In parallel with exploration of the zinc and copper deposits, the company began to prepare the mine to process these new reserves. Around ? 6.3 million was invested in converting an old tin plant on the site into an efficient and February 10 www. bus- ex. com 29 Exploring reserves director reserves PHOTO CREDIT: A. Cunha options T he arid rolling hills and plains of the Portuguese Alentejo region are famous for their wines, castles, Roman ruins and cork oaks. And yet nestled into this sparsely populated agricultural landscape is one of Portugal's most important exporters, a significant contributor to its economy and a major local employer, providing jobs for around 1,500 people. Located at Neves- Corvo, just 15 kilometres from Castro Verde, Somincor is a major producer of copper; but recent discoveries look set to make it a world class producer of zinc. The company was launched in 1980, commencing production in 1988, and during the first five years of mining, Neves- Corvo produced around 160,000 tons a year of copper metal contained in concentrates, from ore grades of over 10 per cent copper, making it the richest copper mine in the world. Today it is still considered to be a very rich copper mine. One hundred per cent owned by Swedish mining company Lundin Mining AB, it produces around 90,000 tons a year of copper metal in concentrates from copper ore grades of about four per cent and 25,000 tons a year of zinc in concentrates from zinc ores. The company has always invested significantly in exploration, not only at the Neves- Corvo mine but across the Iberian Peninsula where it holds a number