OZ Minerals to build $700 mln copper mine in Australia

OZ Minerals Ltd said on Thursday it would begin construction of its Carrapateena copper mine in Australia, the country's largest undeveloped copper project, which it estimated would cost A$916 million ($724 million).

Copper is seen as one of the strongest growth commodities given its broad use in everything from plumbing and construction to appliances and electronics.

The world's biggest mining companies, led by BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, are actively looking to increase their exposure to copper.

OZ Minerals said Carrapateena, located about 160 kms (100 miles) from the Indian Ocean in South Australia state, would start producing in the fourth quarter of 2019, and yield an average of 65,000 tonnes of copper and 67,000 ounces of gold a year over 20 years.

"Carrapateena will be a robust, cash generating asset with expansion potential that sets OZ Minerals up for further growth," OZ Minerals Chairman Rebecca McGrath said in a statement.

"This decision is a significant enabling step in realising our strategy to become a low cost, multi-asset copper miner delivering value for all stakeholders," she said. ($1 = 1.2655 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Richard Pullin)