BRITISH COLUMBIA There were employees and more than 30 guests on hand to officially inaugurate the Afton copper/gold exploration project near Kamloops last week. The ceremonial ribbon was cut by guest of honour Dr. Sheila Wynn who is the Deputy Minister of Mines & Energy for British Columbia, assisted by Kamloops area MLA Kevin Kruger.
The Afton project is owned and operated by DRC RESOURCES CORP., the Vancouver-based junior that restaked the property in 1999 after former owner, TECK CORP., let the claims lapse. DRC’s work at Afton is described in the February 2005 issue of CMJ ("DRC Resources taking another good look at Afton").
Teck had mined the Afton deposit by open pit. DRC founder and now chairman, John Kruzick, was aware that Teck had come up with a few good diamond drill results from beside and below the pit, which is about 215 m from surface to bottom. The $5 million that DRC spent on exploration, services and a scoping study in 2003, updated in 2004, resulted in a new discovery with an in-situ value of more than $3 billion at current metal prices. Surface drilling has outlined a measured and indicated resource of 68.7 million tonnes grading 1.08% Cu, 0.85 g/t Au, 2.62 g/t Ag and 0.12 g/t Pd. Of the total value, 65% comes from the copper and 35% from the gold.
An underground decline from the pit bottom that was begun in November 2004 is more than half completed to its ultimate length of 1,200 m. This work is part of a $14.5-million, 18-month bankable feasibility study to be completed by mid-2006. The ground conditions encountered so far have been very good, better than expected, requiring only 180-cm-long rebar and wire mesh for ground support, plus shotcrete in the area of a fault system. The decline is remaining fairly dry as well.
The decline (which curves above the ore) and a 550-m-long crosscut into the main ore zone are allowing the access needed to complete underground diamond drilling at 80-m spacings. One drill is already operating and another was to start up probably the end of last week. A third diamond drill will explore from surface, to ensure than no ore zone is left undiscovered. There are currently about 30 DRC employees and contractors on site, including 16 miners with PROCON MINING SERVICES.
The project is blessed with an excellent location, right on the TransCanada Highway, just a few kilometres from Kamloops, a picturesque city of 80,000 in the Okanagan Valley, which has Canada’s only warm desert climate. If the mine does go into production, it will probably require a production shaft as well as a new concentrator.
In her speech at the ceremony, Wynn said, "DRC has brought Afton from a concept to a major project. This may lead to the opening of the first underground mine in some time. It is significant that it is on a brownfield site. It shows that we have to leave our options open." Wynn pointed out that mineral exploration is booming in the province, with $130 million of expenditures in 2004; there are 20 advanced exploration projects right now in British Columbia compared with one, three years ago.
Chris Bradbrook was brought into the company as president and CEO in October 2004. In a presentation to the employees, investors and guests after the ribbon-cutting, he said that the company name dates back 20 years and has nothing to do with a republic in central Africa. ("DRC" stands for "Dynamic Resources Corp.", a subsidiary). However, Bradbrook says the name has become something of a liability to a company whose only projects are in southern British Columbia, so a change is in order. Shareholders will have a say in the matter at the annual meeting May 4, but the current favourite is "New Gold Inc." (as in "Copper is the new gold, Baby").
Watch for assays from the diamond drilling to start coming from the company in the near future, with feasibility study results later on. You can keep up to date with the Afton project by checking www.DRCResources.com," until the corporate name changes.