BRITISH COLUMBIA – NovaGold Resources of Vancouver has released the pre-feasibility study for the Galore Creek copper-gold project 150 km northeast of Stewart. Putting the project fully into production could carry a price tag of $5.2 billion. Galore Creek is a 50:50 joint venture between NovaGold and Teck Resources.
The high cost of developing the project but the brakes on it five years ago. The price is still high, but a redesign and a significant increase in scale confirm that the project is technically and economically viable. The PFS outlines a 95,000-t/d operation based on proven and probable reserves of 528 million tonnes grading 0.06% Cu, 0.32 g/t Au and 6.02 g/t Ag. Over an 18-year life, Galore Creek will produce 6.2 billion lb of copper, 4.0 million oz of gold and 65.8 million oz of silver.
If developed as suggested in the PFS, Galore Creek would become one of the largest and lowest-cost copper producers in North America based on industry reports. The base case puts cash costs net of byproduct credits at US$0.80 per lb of copper. At current metal prices, cash costs would be lower, only US$0.42 per lb.
A brief description of Galore Creek as spelled out in the PFS follows:
Mining is planned as a conventional truck-and-shovel open pit with a nominal 95,000 t/d throughput. Throughput Using a conventional grinding and flotation circuit, the mine would produce a high-quality copper concentrate with significant gold and silver credits.
Mining and waste rock facilities would be located in the Galore Valley with plant and tailings facilities being located in the adjacent West More Valley. A 13.6-km tunnel would be used for conveying ore and equipment movement between the two facilities. Run-of-mine ore would be fed into a single gyratory crusher in the Galore Valley. Crushed ore would then be transported via conveyor from Galore Valley through the access tunnel and via a road to a single coarse ore stockpile near the proposed mill site in the West More Valley.
The proposed process plant would be a conventional single-line flotation concentrator. A pipeline would transfer concentrate to a remote filter plant and concentrate truck loading facility located near Highway 37. Thickened concentrate would be pumped approximately 71 km to the filter plant located near the junction of the mine access road and Highway 37. From the filter plant, the concentrate would be transported by truck to a port facility in the town of Stewart for shipment to various international destinations.
The closest provincial road to the mine site is Highway 37, from which an 87-km mine access road would be constructed. The first 40 km has already been constructed, but the entire road would require upgrading to meet final design criteria. The first 8 km would be upgraded to a two-lane route to access the filter plant at Kilometer 8 and fuel off-loading facility. The balance of the access road would be single-lane, with occasional pull-outs.
Power for the project would be provided from the Northwest Transmission Line ( currently being constructed by BC Hydro. A 69-km long, 287-kV power line would run to the plant site adjacent to the access road with a further 27-km line providing power to the mining operations.
Galore Creek is anticipated to be constructed over an approximately four-year time period from initial start of tunnel boring until commencement of pre-operational commission activities.
The entire PFS will be posted soon at www.NovaGold.com and at www.SEDAR.com.