Back to News

Lessons learned will guide PYBAR Mining as it digs in to mine Black Rock Cave

Media release
24 June 2021


Specialist underground mining contractor PYBAR Mining Services has been awarded the production contract to mine the Black Rock Cave at Mount Isa Mines.

Following the successful completion of the two-year project starting in 2018 to develop the underground decline and establish the mining levels including primary development, drive stripping and shotcreting for the Black Rock Cave, PYBAR Mining Services will now carry on with production of the orebody.

Glencore’s Queensland Metals General Manager − Isa Mining Simon Pope says PYBAR Mining was well placed to mine the Black Rock Cave given it had developed intrinsic knowledge and experience working with the orebody.

“We have a strong partnership with PYBAR Mining and are pleased to see them continue on to mine Black Rock Cave,” says Simon.

“Through building the development levels and mine infrastructure, I’m sure they’ve learned many important lessons firsthand about the how the ground is responding to mining which will help guide them moving forward.”

“Black Rock is using sub-level caving methods to extract ore which helps us to understand how we can use this mining method in other orebodies with similar ground conditions” Simon says.

The unique characteristics of the ore body allows for innovative drill and blast solutions to be used and work is progressing well.

“Since first production in mid-2020, two sub-levels are in full production with the third started in May 2021,” says Simon.

PYBAR Mining Services Project Manager Bill Walls says the company has had a long association with Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines and they’re looking forward to continuing production in the Black Rock orebody.

“The company will employ up to 60 personnel onsite at peak production and use one jumbo, a production drill, two loaders and two trucks to mine the area,” says Bill.

The commencement of production at Black Rock Cave has also required some changes to the surface footprint of the site explains Simon Pope.

“We’ve needed to clear some surface areas around the old Black Rock Open Cut pit to allow a subsidence zone for the sub-level caving method being used,” Simon says.

“A multi-disciplined team has been working on the demolition of some redundant structures and several Mount Isa Mines work groups have been relocated to other parts of the lease.”

“It has been a great team effort and I thank everyone for their cooperation and assistance while these major changes were undertaken.”

The Black Rock Cave first production ore came online in September 2020, and will provide additional ore into the Mount Isa Copper Operations profile in parallel with existing mining activities to 2023.


For further information, please contact:

Nadine Roberts
m: +61 436 341 650
e: Nadine Roberts

A jumbo at work building the underground infrastructure at Black Rock Cave.
The completed Black Rock Cave mine portal.
An aerial view looking at the Black Rock open cut operations in the 1960s. The Black Rock Cave orebody is located underneath the open cut pit.

Notes for editors

About Glencore

Glencore is one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies and a major producer and marketer of more than 60 commodities. The Group's operations comprise over 150 mining and metallurgical sites and oil production assets.

With a strong footprint in both established and emerging regions for natural resources, Glencore's industrial and marketing activities are supported by a global network of offices located in over 35 countries.

Glencore's customers are industrial consumers, such as those in the automotive, steel, power generation, battery manufacturing and oil sectors. We also provide financing, logistics and other services to producers and consumers of commodities. Glencore’s companies employ around 158,000 people, including contractors.

Glencore is proud to be a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and the International Council on Mining and Metals. We are an active participant in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

About Mount Isa Mines

Mount Isa Mines operates two separate mining and processing streams, copper and zinc-lead-silver, to deliver natural resources that have enduring roles in our society. The site hosts the world’s largest zinc resource base, as well as the biggest network of underground mine development in the world.

The site includes two copper underground mines, one zinc underground mine, the copper concentrator and smelter, as well as the zinc-lead concentrator, lead smelter and zinc filter plant. Together, these represent one of Australia’s largest industrial complexes.

As well as the Australian market, our products are exported to countries throughout Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, contributing billions of dollars to the Australian economy every year. We provide work for close to 3,500 employees and contractors and are dedicated to supporting local people, local businesses, and creating strong links between our operations and the city of Mount Isa.