Rio Tinto’s hush-hush copper discovery in WA’s remote North Paterson region is to get its own airstrip.
And the most recent satellite fly-over shows there has been lots of activity at the discovery, 120km north-north-west of the nearest point of civilisation, Newcrest’s once-great Telfer gold-copper mine.
There are new drill lines extending south by about 400m from our previous flyover, the 40-man camp is in, and the drill core lay-down area is expanding. Rio has also bulldozed a new access track to the north-west.
Despite all the activity at the late-2017 discovery, Rio has yet to confirm it is a major find. Whatever Rio is on to, it has triggered one of biggest land grabs by a single company in recent memory.
Last year Rio held 1000sqkm of the North Paterson in its own name and 1335sqkm in joint ventures.
Now it’s got more than 11000sqkm in its own name (all the way to the coast at Eighty Mile beach between Port Hedland and Broome) and 1760sqkm in joint venture. Oh, Fortescue has coat-tailed it in and has 5300sqkm under its belt.
To refresh the memory, the discovery was reported here in April on the strength of satellite imagery and industry chatter that Rio’s drilling was returning 140m intersections of visible copper mineralisation from a depth of 40m.
More recent chatter is that it is Rio’s best discovery in 25 years, that it could be as big as Mt Isa and that Rio is so annoyed by the satellite spying that it is cleaning up the drill collars and raking the surrounding sand dunes golf-style to throw us all off the trail. Read more +