Emed Mining (LON:EMED) , the mining exploration and development company with a portfolio of projects in Europe, announced today plans for drilling at its flagship Rio Tinto Copper Mine in 2011. EMED is still waiting for full regulatory approval to begin work at Rio Tinto but is nevertheless keen to restart production and carry out further exploration in order to extend the base-case 14-year life of the mine.

In its new plans, EMED will conduct grade control drilling within the planned open pit to improve grade distribution data and verify the location of historical underground mine workings for detailed mine planning in preparation for commencement of mining. EMED also wants to carry out drilling within and adjacent to the planned open pit that is targeted at increasing current mineral resources as well as delineating additional ore reserves. Finally, the company is planning initial scout drilling down-plunge of historical underground mine workings that is aimed at exploring untested underground potential. Drilling is planned to commence as soon as regulatory permits allow.

Harry Anagnostaras-Adams, the managing director of EMED, said: “The Rio Tinto Copper Mine has substantial ore reserves based on an assumed copper price of US$2.00/lb compared with current prices above US$4.00/lb. Our first priority is to restart production once all the regulatory clearances are received. Exploration work will be conducted in parallel with completion of permitting and the start-up of the mining operation. Many areas on the mine property have not been drilled near surface or at depth.”

He added: “Even though the Rio Tinto deposit has long been recognised as one of the world’s largest massive sulphide mineralisation systems, the known vertical extent of the orebody as defined by the drill-hole data is only about 250 metres below surface. EMED Mining has planned many improvements to the project and is also progressing work needed to expand production and extend the mine life. Exploration drilling is planned in due course to focus on the potential for the open pit to be expanded and at least one of the underground mines on the property to be reactivated. Exploration targets have been identified with the potential to expand the current 14-year base-case mine life and/or annual production.”

Yesterday, EMED reported that the Department of Culture and Heritage of the Junta de Andalucía had provided a favourable report regarding the company’s plans…

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