COPPER-GOLD MINING: Minto mine to expand with underground operation

YUKON - Vancouver-based Capstone Mining has completed the Phase V scoping study in connection with the propose...






YUKON - Vancouver-based Capstone Mining has completed the Phase V scoping study in connection with the proposed expansion of the Minto copper-gold mine into underground operations 240 km northwest of Whitehorse. The company was careful to note that the study does not comply with 43-101 requirements.

Development will be split into two phases. First, an open pit and underground development of the Area 2 and Area 118 deposits, as well as underground exploration in the Minto East and Copper Keel areas. Second, Phase V will entail the subsequent permitting for the open pit mining of the Minto North and Ridgetop deposits. If sufficient mineral resources are defined, an underground mine will be developed at the Minto East and Copper Keel areas.

As a result of the decision to develop underground mineral resources previously beyond the limits of the proposed Area 2 open pit as detailed in the Phase IV pre-feasibility, the third push back at Area 2 is now eliminated and this material is proposed to be extracted by underground methods;

There will be a staged increase in mill throughput to 4,000 t/d, resulting in a sustained 1.46 million tonnes of ore per year;

Mining will continue through 2015, while processing will continue into early 2018, with an average of 54 million pounds of copper produced in concentrates for the first six years, followed by 2.1 years of processing of low grade stockpiles producing an average of 27 million pounds of copper in concentrates over that period;

Life-of-mine capital cost will be C$75.7 million including C$33.7 million for open pit equipment in 2011 as the operation converts to self-mining, C$21.5 million for underground development and equipment, C$9.1 million for plant expansion, plus sustaining capital and a 15% contingency;

Open pit mining costs are estimated to average C$2.41/t mined, underground mining is assumed to be by room and pillar methods, with access provided by a decline, with operating costs of C$26.88/t mined. Milling costs are estimated at C$13.98/t, with camp, power, technical and administration costs forecast to average C$13.83/t milled.

In order to implement the plan outlined in the Phase V scoping study, Capstone will apply for amendments to the current operating permits and licences at the Minto mine for production in 2011 and beyond. The application will trigger environmental and socio-economic reviews as well as discussions with regulators and other stakeholders.

Please visit for updates on the expansion.

Meanwhile, the fire season has started early in the Yukon. On May 30 a wildfire broke out apparently caused when high winds toppled a dead tree into the electrical line supplying the Minto mine. Operations were temporarily suspended last week to allow firefighters to conduct a back burn.


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