Copperwood mine construction planned for second half of 2018

LONGUEUIL, Quebec – Highland Copper Company Inc. said Tuesday a feasibility study expected to be released in the second quarter of 2018 will consider a mining and processing capacity of 6,000 metric tons per day at the Copperwood site in Wakefield Township.

The management team estimates Copperwood’s operation near Lake Superior to last 12 to 15 years.

In a report this week, the company said its primary objective is to complete the necessary permitting and financing for development of the Copperwood project in the first half of 2018, with construction possible in the second half of 2018.

In May 2017, Highland Copper engaged G Mining Services Inc. as lead consultant for the preparation of an update to the feasibility study.

G Mining will use the results of a 2017 drilling program to update the current resource estimate reported in a technical report generated in 2015. The new resource estimate is expected to be available in October, the company said.

G Mining will also be responsible for the development of the mining plan using “a room-and-pillar mining method.” Alternative mining scenarios will also be evaluated.

Mine design will be carried out by G Mining with geotechnical support from Golder Associates, using results from additional geotechnical holes drilled on all mineralized zones earlier this year.

Design of the mining processing facility is being completed by Lycopodium Minerals Canada, of Toronto. Design of the tailings dam and water management systems is being done by Golder Associates, involved in previous studies at Copperwood.

A metallurgical test program at SGS Lakefield in Ontario includes extensive testing on samples from all mineralized zones at Copperwood, including the one at the eastern edge of the deposit.

The company plans to submit a grant application for funding the upgrade of County Road 519.

Various power alternatives are also being studied. A trade-off analysis is being carried out to compare bringing a power line to site versus on-site natural gas generation, as a gas line is available in Wakefield. Raw water is available from nearby municipalities, and the company is also considering a water wells alternative.

The permitting coordination is by Foth Infrastructure and Environment, a Wisconsin-based engineering firm.

Sylvain Collard has been hired to coordinate the work to ensure a successful completion of the Copperwood update. Collard holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal. He was recently employed by IAMGOLD Corporation, and was responsible for daily operations of the mine, mill and power plant at the Essakane gold mine in West Africa’s Burkina Faso.

In 2017, the company carried out a drilling program that provided 527 samples for copper and silver assaying and 607 kilograms for metallurgical testing. The company said a remaining 12 in-fill resource drill holes at the eastern edge of the deposit were not completed because of an early spring thaw. They will likely be finished this winter once the ground is frozen and there is sufficient snow cover.

All of the drilling at Copperwood’s western section of the deposit has been completed. Samples for the available drill holes were sent for assay to Activation Laboratories, Thunder Bay, for analysis.

White Pine North

Highland also announced it has reached an agreement with Copper Range Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals Ltd., to extend the period to complete the acquisition of the White Pine North Project to Dec. 15, 2017.

The company said final closing of the deal is subject to releasing CRC from certain environmental obligations associated with the remediation and closure plan of the historical White Pine mine site “in a manner that is acceptable to all parties involved, including applicable governmental authorities, and replacing the related environmental bond posted by CRC.”

A recent rally in copper prices could leading to further increases in 2018, according to the company.

Based on a historical resource estimate already identified at the White Pine North deposit, the White Pine project represents a significant medium-term copper production growth opportunity for the company, Highland officials said.

Highland said it aims to finalize acquisition of the White Pine North Project “as soon as is practicable,” again mentioning the Dec. 15 closing date.

Carlos Bertoni is executive vice president of project development of Highland.

The company cautions its plans are subject to results of various studies, the price of copper, the availability of required financing and receipt of permits.

-Ralph Ansami