A staged production approach at Excelsior Mining’s (TSXV: MIN) Gunnison project in southeastern Arizona would slash upfront capital costs and lower financing risk, while delivering a post-tax internal rate of return of more than 26%, even at today’s low copper prices of US$2.00 per lb.
Under the revised mine plan envisioned in a new prefeasibility study, released this week, the copper in situ recovery project would start at an initial production rate of 25 million lb of copper cathode a year, using an existing solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) plant that Excelsior purchased for US$8.4 million in December 2015.
Excelsior was able to pick up the plant at a bargain from a previous company that had been in receivership since 2014, and now plans to pipe copper solution to the facility, 1.6 km north of Gunnison’s North Star deposit, for processing into copper cathode.
The new operating profile speeds the timeline to first production and also allows the company to fund future expansions out of cash flow.
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