Isoman copper mine (hypothetical case study)

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Question: should we build a copper mine in the South Pacific?

In the context of a hypothetical case study on a proposal to build a copper mine on an island in the South Pacfic, students are required to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of development from the point of view of various interested parties.

Isoman copper mine background information

Early in 1992 Copper Pacific Limited were granted a Special Prospecting License over the Isoman copper/gold prospect through its locally registered company.

Following the granting of the licence, a major drilling programme, using up to four drilling rigs, was completed. The programme was designed to assess the feasibility of a mining operation.

The drilling indicated resources of 930 million tonnes of 0.43% copper and 0.14 grams of gold/tonne. All of this resource could be recovered from two open pits.

Metallurgical testwork indicated the easy recovery of copper and gold into clean concentrate. Mine, mill and infrastructure design work has progressed in conjunction with a comprehensive environmental monitoring program. The company has commenced discussion with the Government on permit requirements and possible commercial arrangements for the project.

An economic evaluation utilising all the new data indicates the potential of processing up to 100,000 tonnes of ore per day.

All funding for the Isoman project would come from shareholders' funds that are sourced from operating mines in other countries.

See also: Compiled newspaper reports on the Isoman and Taranga mines which present the responses of stakeholders to the mine proposal.

Role play & solutions

Decission: Isoman copper mine should be built! But only under certain conditions...


This material is adapted from the UNESCO Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future programme.