Atico Mining (TSXV: ATY; US-OTC: ATCMF) became a producing mining company when it acquired 90% of the El Roble mine — the only producing copper mine in Colombia.
Now it’s on a mission to improve efficiency and scale up production at the underground mining operation, which over the last two decades has processed 1.5 million tonnes of ore at an average head grade of 2.5% copper, and an estimated 2.5 grams gold per tonne.
Atico acquired the option to acquire El Roble in January 2011 and has been exploring the mine and surrounding claims ever since, completing 11,740 metres of drilling and a district-scale mapping program of the 67 sq. km property.
Its underground drill campaign uncovered more high-grade mineralization below the 2000 level — the lowest production level at the mine — and Atico completed its first resource estimate in June. Open at depth and strike, the deposit has an inferred resource of 1.6 million tonnes grading 4.45% copper and 3.17 grams gold per tonne, using a cut-off grade of 0.72% copper equivalent.
In a news release — along with announcing that it had closed a US$8-million senior secured debt-financing facility with Trafigura — the company outlined plans to operate El Roble at a 320-tonne-per-day throughput rate, while completing underground development to access the recently discovered resources.
The mill and processing facility would be upgraded — reaching a nominal daily capacity of 650 tonnes from 400 tonnes — before the company mines the newly defined resource.
Atico could finish the upgrade by next year’s third quarter, and ramp up production by next year’s fourth quarter.
Atico is building a fully permitted tailings dam, which it hopes to wrap up in 2014’s second quarter.
Mineralization at El Roble occurs as volcanogenic massive sulphide lenses.
At press time Atico shares were trading at 58¢, within a 52-week range of 44¢ to $1.13.