Thompson Creek Metals (TSX: TCM; NYSE: TC) is in the final stages of ramping up its Mt. Milligan mine in northern B.C., and it’s on track to reach commercial production in the first quarter of 2014.
The company’s newest mine began producing gold–copper concentrate in September, and by year-end 2013 had churned out 10.9 million lb. copper, 21,100 oz. gold and 41,800 oz. silver.
The company shipped its first concentrate on Nov. 21, 2013, and expects the second shipment before February. Mt. Milligan is forecast to produce 81 million lb. copper and 195,000 oz. gold a year for 22 years.
In a Jan. 13 update, Thompson Creek Metals said the ramp-up is progressing, with mine pit grades as expected, metal recoveries in the mill above expectations and mill throughput slightly below expectations. To deal with the latter, it has reassigned several managers from its molybdenum operations to Mt. Milligan so that it can focus on the ramp-up and issues with the mill’s grinding and flotation circuits.
Mt. Milligan, 155 km northwest of Prince George, is B.C.’s first greenfield mine in 15 years, and the company’s first major foray outside of moly, which it produces at its 100%-owned Thompson Creek mine in Idaho and its 75%-owned Endako mine in B.C. Last year the company produced 30 million lb. moly, up 34% from 2012.
The Thompson Creek open-pit mine and mill produce moly sulphide concentrate, which is roasted at the company’s Langeloth metallurgical facility 40 km west of Pittsburgh, Pa. The mine has operated since 1983.
The company’s open-pit Endako mine, 302 km west of Prince George, is a joint venture with Japan’s Sojitz Corp. In September 2012, the joint-venture replaced the 45-year-old mill at the mine with one that can proces up to 55,000 tons (50,000 tonnes) per day.
In early January, Thompson Creek’s unionized employees approved a labour agreement at Endako that provides “modest salary and wage increases that management does not believe will have a significant impact on the operation.”
Endako has operated since 1965, and the Thompson Creek mine since 1983.
At press time Thompson Creek was trading at $2.82 per share, within a 52-week range of $1.84 to $4.49.
CIBC analyst Tom Meyer has a 12- to 18-month price target of $3.50 per share.
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