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Although approvals to reopen the Browns copper mine in the Northern Territory have been granted, the future prospect of the mine remain in doubt, after it appears the Chinese owners HNC Resources may have walked away from the project.

Browns Mine Currently on Permanent Care and Maintenance

It was recently reported that 12 workers lost their jobs at the mine when it was put on permanent care and maintenance. Doubt has also been expressed regarding the nearby Area 55 mine going ahead as it was planned to be an ongoing source of ore once the Browns deposit was expected to be exhausted in about five years time.

A Mine With a Chequered History

The Browns Mine has had a chequered past after being developed in 2007. It had a short period of production during 2008 but was closed early in 2009. Hopes were high regarding the mine having a new life when Chinese mining company HNC Resources applied to mine Area 55 only eight kilometres from Browns Mine. Area 55 is only a small deposit but it was enough to extend the Brown Mines processing plant life by a further four years giving it a total life of nine years. The mining area would have covered 173 hectares. It had been previously stated that if Browns Mine was fully exploited it could have a life of mine for a period of 30 years. Former Owner, Compass Resources NL, Accepts Voluntary Administration Former owner of Browns Mine, Compass Resources NL, went into voluntary administration soon after the first shipment of 69 tonnes was exported out of Darwin in 2008. The mine at that time was predicted to produce 10,000 tonnes of copper annually with a workforce of 100 personnel.

Browns Mine Ore Body Contains Uranium

The Browns Mine is sitting on a substantial polymetallic ore body at Mount Fitch near Batchelor, 85 kilometres south of Darwin. The cobalt, copper and nickel deposit at Browns Mine also contains areas of uranium, a factor that has made mining a sensitive environmental issue. Substantial zinc and lead mineralisation has also been discovered in the area. It has never been clear what HNC Resources plan to do with their investment at Browns Mine but the processing plant is still requiring the finishing of an upgrade that would allow it to become more efficient by including solvent extraction and electrowinning processing equipment. Sulphide resources lie beneath the oxide and supergene zone ores and to date it is believed the current processing plant is not able to treat these pristine sulphide ores.

HNC Taken Over by China Minmetals

HNC resources is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corporation (HNC). HNC is a large corporation administered by the Hunan Province in China. Its main focus is on the production and marketing of nonferrous metals. HNC is majority state owned but had 48 percent of its shares listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. HNC was recently taken over by China Minmetals HK (Holdings) Limited. China Minmetals is also a large state owned organisation that trades worldwide in metals and minerals. It is currently the leading company in the ferrous and non-ferrous metal industry in China.

China Minmetals

China Minmetals Corporation (CMC) was founded in 1950 and is a major international company, involved in development, production, trading and integration services of metals and minerals. CMC also has other divisions that focus on finance, real estate and logistics. Major resources and minerals that...........read more


China Minmetals
8/564 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne, VIC 3004



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