After beating its production guidance for 2020 and reporting a record fourth quarter, Copper Mountain Mining is guiding a further 22% increase in production this year.
The B.C.-based miner’s 75%-owned Copper Mountain mine, 20 km south of Princeton, B.C., produced 77.6 million lb. of copper last year, compared with guidance of 70 to 75 million lb. copper. The mine also produced 29,227 oz. of gold and 392,494 oz. of silver.
In the final quarter of 2020, the open pit operation achieved record quarterly production, churning out 23.1 million lb. copper, 8,959 oz. of gold, and 144,934 oz. of silver.
“Our operating team executed on our operating plan, beating our production guidance for this year,” said Gil Clausen, Copper Mountain’s president and CEO, in a release. “We finished the year strong with record production in the fourth quarter as a result of higher grades, which we expect to continue in 2021.”
This year, with increased recoveries and higher grades, the company expects production to grow to 85 to 95 million lb. copper, 25,000 to 30,000 oz. of gold and 500,000 to 550,000 oz. silver. All-in sustaining costs are projected to remain steady, at US$1.80 to US$2 per lb.
Expanded mill capacity will help to drive the increase in production at the conventional crush, grind, flotation operation. Copper Mountain is expanding the mill to 45,000 t/d this year, up from 40,000 t/d, with the installation of a third ball mill. Installation is scheduled to begin early this year, with commissioning following in the third quarter.
About US$33 million is budgeted for expansionary spending in 2021, most of that focused on the mill expansion. Another US$3 to US$4 million will be spent on exploration, focused on reserve expansion.
Last November, the company released a study that looks at a potential further expansion to 65,000 t/d starting in 2024. Clausen noted that once the current expansion is complete, the company will be focusing on the next stage of expansion.
Mitsubishi Materials owns a 25% stake in the Copper Mountain mine.