These are exciting times for Canadian miner Doré Copper Mining (TSXV: DCMC; US-OTC: DRCMF) as the company looks to restart the prolific Chibougamau mining camp in northern Quebec, roughly 500 km north of Montreal and 10 km by road from the town of Chibougamau.
Doré Copper has consolidated a large land package that includes 13 former producing mines, deposits, and resource target areas within a 60-km radius of the company’s Copper Rand mill, which closed in 2008. The Chibougamau and Joe Mann mining camps have previously produced 1.6 billion lb. of copper and 4.4 million oz. of gold.
In May, the Toronto-based junior released a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the restart of mining operations at Chibougamau. The PEA outlines a hub-and-spoke operation with its flagship high-grade Corner Bay copper-gold deposit as its main underground mine, with the Devlin copper deposit and the former Joe Mann gold mine also feeding its Copper Rand mill.
“Since acquiring Corner Bay in 2017, we’ve conducted a significant amount of exploration on the property and have increased the copper grade and tonnes for the deposit from 1.5 million to over 8 million, defining one of the highest grade copper deposits in North America,” says Ernest Mast, Doré Copper’s president and CEO.
He says that it is this exploration success at Corner Bay that is the basis for restarting mining operations at the Chibougamau camp. “We are currently undertaking a feasibility study for the project, which we expect to complete by the end of 2023.”
The PEA envisages an underground mining operation producing 492 million lb. of copper and 142,000 oz. of gold over a 10.5-year mine life. The operation would produce an average annual output of 53 million lb. of copper-equivalent in concentrate over the life of the mine at all-in sustaining costs (AISCs) of U$2.24 per lb. of copper-equivalent.
Based on US$3.75 per lb. of copper and US$1,820 per oz. of gold and using an 8% discount rate, the after-tax net present value is $193 million, with an internal rate of return of 22.1%.
Initial capital costs, which would be paid back in 5.5 years, are estimated at $180.6 million and includes $14.8 million for the Corner Bay mine and $7 million for Devlin, the company says. Sustaining costs are estimated at $402.4 million over the life of mine, with over half ($247.3 million) of this spent at the Corner Bay mine, and $52 million allocated to the development of Joe Mann (starting in the fourth year after Devlin is depleted). The company also plans to set aside $53.6 million for reclamation and closure costs.
Doré Copper says that the initial capital requirement also includes $54.2 million for refurbishing the Copper Rand mill and to add ore sorting and tailings filtration to the flowsheet. Engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) and indirect costs amount to $22.8 million, infrastructure to $34.5 million, and owner’s costs to $9.9 million, with a further $23.6 million in contingency costs, it says.
According to Mast, the positive PEA results stem from the existing surface and underground infrastructure that benefit the camp.
“We have excellent road access, which allows us to operate all year round. It is also powered with low-cost and environmentally friendly hydroelectricity from the Quebec grid, and our projects have already been mined or partially developed, with portals and underground workings in place and most importantly we have the only mill in the region.”
He adds that the company also sees considerable scope to further increase the mine life at Chibougamau by extending the Corner Bay and Joe Mann deposits to depth, It is also pursuing several other exploration projects in the camp, with the benefit that the Copper Rand mill will have surplus grinding capacity to handle increased ore throughput.
In July and August, Doré Copper released assay results from 27 holes of its 45,000-metre 2022 infill drill program at Corner Bay, with 37 holes (36,135 metres) completed to date.
Highlights from the drilling included hole CB-22-71, which intersected 6.7 metres grading 5.41% copper, 0.45 gram gold per tonne, 29.7 grams silver per tonne, and 209 parts per million (ppm) molybdenum; and hole CB-22-68, which returned 10.9 metres grading 4.24% copper, 0.62 gram gold, 15.2 grams silver, and 1,226 ppm molybdenum.
Released in May, an updated mineral resource for Corner Bay outlined indicated resources of 2.7 million tonnes grading 2.66% copper and 0.26 gram gold per tonne for 157 million lb. contained copper and 22,000 oz. of gold. Inferred resources total 5.9 million tonnes at 3.43% copper and 0.27 gram gold for 443 million lb. copper and 51,000 oz. gold.
“The current drilling at Corner Bay will look to upgrade inferred resources to the indicated category for the feasibility study,” says Mast. “We also plan to undertake approximately 2,000 metres of infill drilling at Devlin.”
In addition to the infill drilling campaigns, a representative bulk sample of quarter-core is being shipped to a supplier’s facility in the U.S. for additional ore sorting tests. This, he says, is to “verify the sorter performance reported in the PEA and to produce material for additional comminution, flotation, and geochemical test work.”
The preceding Joint-Venture Article is PROMOTED CONTENT sponsored by DORE COPPER MINING and produced in cooperation with The Northern Miner. Visit www.dorecopper.com for more information.