PANAMA - It takes big money to develop big copper projects in Latin America. The Petaquilla copper project is no exception. Partners INMET MINING (48%) of Toronto, TECK COMINCO (operator and earning 26%) of Vancouver, and MINERA PETAQUILLA (to hold remaining 26%) have updated the feasibility study for the project, coming up with a construction and working capital cost of US$1.7 billion.
The Petaquilla property is located 120 km west of Panama City. AMEC AMERICAS based the update on resources of 986.0 million tonnes grading 0.5% Cu, 0.01% Mo and 0.09 g/t Au. That would support open pit mining and a 120,000-t/d concentrator for 23 years. Total costs to produce a pound of copper are estimated to be US$1.06. Metal production over the life of the project would be 4.45 million tonnes of copper, 59,500 tonnes of molybdenum and 1.63 million oz of gold.
The capital cost estimate includes: US$301 million to develop an open pit mine; US$349 million to build a mill; US$143 million to be spent on site and services; US$214 million for the port and power plant; US$227 million for general construction costs; US$92 million for the EPCM contract; and US$126 million for the owners' costs. In addition, US$140 million is planned for contingencies, US$47 million for escalation and US$69 million for working capital. Beyond the initial US$1.7 billion price tag, sustaining capital is estimated at US$437 million over the life of the mine.
Teck Cominco, Inmet and Petaquilla are in discussions with a view to formulating a strategy for the further advancement of the Petaquilla copper project. The full revision and update prepared by AMEC will be available at www.inmetmining.com and www.petaquilla.com.