‘Critical milestone’ reached for Lue Silver Mine

Bowdens Silver director Tony McClure (right) and community liaison officer Blake Hjorth at one of the drilling sites.
Bowdens Silver director Tony McClure (right) and community liaison officer Blake Hjorth at one of the drilling sites.

The Feasibility Study for the Bowdens Silver project at Lue has been completed, announcing a two-million tonne per annum operation for 16 years and a workforce of around 180.

It estimates production of 52.9 million ounces of silver plus 108 kilotonnes of zinc and 79.26 kilotonnes lead.

The company will now complete the remaining elements of the Environmental Impact Statement, in preparation of their Development Application to the NSW Government.

The Feasibility Study has construction assumed to commence in January 2020 and completed in June 2021, with first ore being fed to the plant by July 2021.

Director Tony McClure said this marked “a critical milestone”.

“It’s two years work from us, there was a lot of work done by the previous owners as well, but to date there’s been roughly $70 million spent on the project,” he said.

“We’ve completed the Feasibility Study for the development of the silver mine. Over the life of the mine, which is 16 years, we’ll produce in excess of 50 million ounces of silver. And we have a by-product of zinc and lead, that is processed on site, then the concentrates (the product from the processing plant) gets shipped off to smelters.

“It’s likely our main product will go to South Australia for processing, railed out of Bathurst, and our other product will likely be shipped out of Newcastle or Botany.

“Our process now is to complete the Environmental Impact Statement, which is well advanced and will be complete later in the year. That will also result in our development application to the NSW Government.”

Mr McClure said that in terms of jobs, close to 200 people will be directly employed and expects more to benefit from servicing the project.

“Jobs are important for us, during construction we’ll have in excess of 180 people then on development we’ll have around 160 people. Plus another 20 or so in exploration and farm management,” he said.

“With these sort of operations for every one job created another two are created in local services, which is obviously very positive.”

During the construction phase it’s anticipated that the workforce won’t be resident in the area, with accommodation provided by Bowdens Silver using existing facilities in the region. 

The initial mine life of 16 years – a single open-cut pit and conventional processing operation – has scope for expansion.

“I think it’s got a much longer life than what’s presented in the Feasibility Study, but that will come out with further work that we need to do,” Mr McClure said. “Our exploration work is showing that the area has potential for other commodities - so gold, copper, and zinc.”