PERU – Toronto-based junior CHARIOT RESOURCES is working to start production in 2009 at its Marcona copper project in Peru, said company executive VP Alex Black.
“We have a clear path to production in 2009, when experts tells us the copper market will see a significant supply deficit,” said Black, commenting on an upgraded and expanded resource at Marcona.
The latest resource figures for Mina Justa put measured and indicated resources at 132.4 million tonnes grading 0.74% Cu Eq. Another 279.7 million tonnes at 0.57 Cu Eq have been placed in the inferred resources category. Chariot made its estimate based on more than 70,000 metres of drilling done in the past six months and nearly 31,000 metres previously completed by Rio Tinto. The deposit may contain as much as 5.7 billion lb of copper, 50.5 million oz of silver and 428,000 oz of gold.
Chariot is looking at a starter project that could produce 100,000 tonnes/year of copper in cathodes and concentrate from open pit and underground operations, said Black.
The company has outlined initial capital costs of US$340 million to bring Marcona’s Mina Justa deposit into production, company CEO Ulli Rath told analysts. “That’s the capital for the leaching operation and a portion of the potential underground operation not funded from the cash flow of the early startup of leaching,” he said. This is based on a 40,000 tonnes/day crushing rate.
Chariot estimates all-in cash costs of leaching could be less than US$0.45/lb and concentrates US$0.60/lb, according to Rath.
The timing to start concentrate production from underground mining would be key and could start in year two but more likely in year three or four, said Rath. The company estimates the open pit leaching operation could produce 150 million lb/year and the underground concentrator operation 100 million lb/year, he continued. The company wants to incorporate underground mine methods soon to quickly reach the higher-grade sulphide ores that would otherwise be hit in year seven of the open pit.
Chariot (www.ChariotResources.com) holds 70% of Marcona and its South-Asian joint venture partners KOREA RESOURCES and LS-NIKKO COPPER the remaining 30%.