Copper Mountain Mining hit by ransomware, second major attack on copper producer

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By Robin Bromby - 
Copper Mountain Mining ASX C6C ransomware cyber attack British Columbia Canada

Copper Mountain owns 75% of a mine in British Columbia, which produces 100Mlb of copper equivalent a year.


In a development that will send shockwaves through the mining industry, it seems that metal producers might be a new target for ransomware criminals.

Copper Mountain Mining (ASX: C6C) has put its Canadian treatment plant on “preventative” shutdown after being hit by a ransomware attack.

It has released no details of the cyber-attack on its systems, but reported that it quickly implemented its risk management protocols.

The company operates the 75%-owned Copper Mountain mine, 20km south of Princeton, British Columbia, and 300km from the port at Vancouver through which it ships its output.

The mine has a 45,000 tonnes per day plant that uses conventional crushing, grinding and floatation.

Ransomware attacks targeting metal products

Copper Mountain says it isolated all operations where possible and the mill was closed down while staff assessed the effects on its control systems.

The mine produces about 100 million pounds (45,000 tonnes) per annum of copper equivalent concentrate, which includes gold and silver.

“Copper Mountain is investigating the source of the attack and is in contact with the relevant authorities,” the company stated.

Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based cyber security company, reports that ransomware attacks in North America on manufacturing organisations, “especially related to metal products” were frequent in 2022.

Dragos, a cybersecurity company based in Houston (and with an office in Melbourne), is stated that one criminal operation, LockBit, goes after mining and water treatment plants.

Increasing cyber-attacks on miners

In October, a cyber gang also attacked a plant owned by Hamburg-based Aurubis, which recycles copper and produces about 1Mtpa of copper cathode.

At the time, the company said that its incident “was apparently part of a larger attack on the metals and mining industry”.

Two months earlier, an environmental hacking group released documents from mining companies operating in Guatemala and Colombia.

Meanwhile, Copper Mountain has bigger plans: it has a new life-of-mine to expand the mill to 65,000tpd from 2028.

Average annual output is expected to increase to 138Mlb a year of copper equivalent concentrate.

The company’s ground covers about 18,000 acres (7,284ha) and consists of 135 crown grants, 176 mining claims and 14 mining leases.