Ernest Henry Mining Ltd.
Queensland, Australia

Ernest Henry Copper-Gold Mine and Processing Plant

The first truckload of copper concentrate rolled out of the Ernest Henry Copper Mine, 38 kilometers northeast of Cloncurry in central Queensland three months ahead of schedule.

Ernest Henry Mining's development team and Fluor brought the project to production in 21 months, yielding better production rates than the design had anticipated, making it Australia's third most productive copper mine at the time.

Client's Challenge

Sited in flat-as-a-billiard table country, one of the Ernest Henry Mine's major design considerations was flood prevention for the plant, located near the banks of the Cloncurry River. Heavy rain midway through construction tested the large drainage channels from the raised plant area. The river rose overnight to lap at the buildings of a 50-person construction camp halfway along the water pipeline.

Personnel were evacuated by helicopter and work was suspended on the pipeline for two weeks until access was restored. Despite severe storm damage from the one-in-100-year flood, the pipeline was completed ahead of schedule to fit with plant commissioning.


Fluor's Solution

Fluor prepared the feasibility study and built the greenfield gold/copper mine and its infrastructure, including a 115-kilometer water supply pipeline and an all-weather road between Cloncurry and the mine.

The mine was designed to extract nine million tons of ore per annum from its open-pit operation. From this, 350,000 tons of concentrate would be produced and trucked to Mount Isa for smelting where it would yield 95,000 tons of copper and 120,000 ounces of gold.

The first major challenge was to achieve a reliable and efficient plant design for the optimum economic outlay. The second was to execute an aggressive design and construction schedule, while maintaining high standards in quality and safety.


Fluor was praised by Ernest Henry Mining for its excellent start-up performance and its outstanding safety record. The project was completed three months ahead of schedule.