New mine developments
Moly extraction from copper concentrate
CHILE – Vancouver-based Amerigo Resources Ltd. expects construction of its molybdenum concentrate plant to be complete in February, three months ahead of schedule. Amerigo’s subsidiary Minera Valle Central (MVC) has a long-term contract to produce copper by reprocessing tailings from Codelco’s El Teniente copper mine. The new plant near Santiago will treat MVC’s copper concentrate to extract molybdenum. Acceleration of the project has increased the cost of the plant to over US$2.5 million.
The plant will be commissioned in March 2005 followed by optimization. MVC estimates production of more than 500,000 lb of molybdenum in concentrates in 2005, and expects to increase molybdenum production to approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 lb in 2006. It expects 18,000 tonnes of copper production in 2005 from the plant.
A sales agreement has been reached with Molybdenos y Metales S.A. (Molymet), the world’s largest molybdenum producer with a conversion facility only 75 km from the MVC plant. Recent prices for molybdenum oxide have exceeded US$34/lb, as compared with an average price for 2004 of about US$15/lb and a five-year average of about US$4.20/lb.
Copper Rand up and running
Campbell Resources has put the Copper Rand mine near Chibougamau, Que., back into commercial production. The copper-gold mine first opened in 1959. Ownership passed from Bolivia’s Patio family to Canada’s Northgate Explorations in 1981, to Australia’s Western Mining in 1988. Western’s subsidiary Westminer Canada closed the mine in November 1992 and put the property up for sale. The following year MSV Resources, which merged with Campbell in 2001, bought the Copper Rand property and nearby former Portage mine.
MSV reopened the Copper Rand mine in 1993 and operated it until October 1997. During the period, MSV explored at depth between levels 4000 and 5000. Resources were identified to allow the completion of a feasibility study, but financing of the project proved difficult. Finally, early in 2000, the Quebec government (through James Bay Development and SOQUEM) and the Quebec Federation of Labour (through its Solidarity Fund) took equity positions in a new company, Copper Rand Corp., which would bring the deep ore zones into production. As preproduction activities got underway in November 2004, Campbell bought out its partners and now is sole-owner of the mine.
Campbell has spent about $62.2 million to reopen Copper Rand. Work has included deepening the No.4 shaft to the 4,326-ft level and driving a ramp down to the mineralized zone at the 4,730-ft level. A 4,000-ft conveyor has been installed in the ramp, and the mill has been rehabilitated to treat 45,000 tons/month. Concentrate is to be shipped to Noranda Inc.’s Horne smelter for treatment. Measured resources are 61,300 tons at 0.135 oz/ton Au and 1.15% Cu; another 1.84 million tons at 0.096 oz/ton Au and 1.56% Cu are noted in the indicated category. The project is expected to produce 15 million lb of copper and 35,000 oz of gold annually during the next five years. The Copper Rand reopening has created 160 jobs at the mine.
“We feel great,” says Campbell’s president and CEO Andr Fortier. “Copper Rand is the conclusion of a seven-year quest. When we suspended operations in 1997, we were confident that the Copper Rand project would be operational late in 2000 or the beginning of 2001. It took that long to obtain the initial financing. Additional requirements led to a suspension of construction in June 2003. Now, with initial exploration results exceeding our earlier results, we are confident of operating Copper Rand for two to three years longer than originally anticipated. Copper Rand will also allow the operation of the adjacent Cedar Bay and Corner Bay projects.”