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Metal producer could run out of water in New Year

Aeris Resources
Aeris Resources

A metal exploration company predicts it only has about three months of water supply left before it may have to shut down operations due to the continuing drought in New South Wales’ Orana region.

Aeris Resources has confirmed it only has enough water to last until February 2020 and may need to suspend work at its Tritton Copper Underground Mine in Girilambone, 232km northwest of Dubbo. The lack of fresh water has forced the company to buy 600 megalitres (ML) of high security licences on-market and to use water stored in old mine workings.

“When water flow below Gunningbar Weir ceases, Tritton will commence utilising the water stored in its old mine workings,” the proponent said in a statement to the stock market. “Tritton estimates that this will provide water for operational activities through to sometime in February 2020.”

The announcement came after the Federal Government introduced stricter level four water restrictions starting from November and reduced security water licences to just a 70 per cent allocation. WaterNSW is implementing drought management measures to extend dam supplies for town water through ceasing dam releases past Gunningbar Weir by the end of November.

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Pipeline brings hope

The miner now hopes to secure a new water supply from a pipeline connected to the nearby Nyngan to Cobar Pumping System. This could counter WaterNSW’s drought management efforts that would leave the mine without the 705 ML of water it needs each year to operate its 1.8 million tonne a year mill.

News Limited estimates the water restrictions will reduce supply to just 3.7 per cent of the original capacity at the mine, which employs 340 people.

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