REGION I, Chile The Quebrada Blanca copper mine in northern Chile will be able to keep producing some 80,000 tonnes of metal per year until at least 2015, two more years than previously forecast thanks to new reserves, owner AUR RESOURCES reported.
Based on drilling carried out to the end of 2002, Aur upped the mine's proven and probable reserves by 62 million tonnes to 206 million tonnes at a grade of 0.77% Cu. The measured and indicated resources, including the reserves, rose by 67 million tonnes to 242 million tonnes at 0.74%. The increase is principally a result of upgrading inferred resources, company CEO Jim Gill told analysts on Oct. 31. He said nearly all the new reserves came from in-pit drilling. The updated figures include 13.2 million tonnes of ore expected to be mined in 2003. Drilling at Quebrada Blanca is ongoing and a new reserve and resource calculation is expected to be completed in the second half of 2004.
The mine produced 20,140 tonnes of copper cathodes using heap and dump leaching methods in the third quarter of 2003, about 1,000 tonnes more than budgeted and up from 16,965 tonnes in the same quarter last year. Quebrada Blanca revenues came in at US$36.3 million in the third quarter and cash operating costs were US$0.49/lb. For this year, Quebrada Blanca is expected to produce 78,900 tonnes of copper, about 1,800 tonnes more than budgeted, at a cash cost of US$0.48/lb of copper sold.
The open-pit mine is owned 76.5% by Aur, while Chile's MINERA PUDAHUEL has 13.5% and state minerals company ENAMI the other 10%. Aur acquired its share in the mine three years ago from fellow Canadian Teck Cominco.
Aur's Andacollo mine in Chile's north-central Region IV produced 4,355 tonnes of cathodes during the third quarter of 2003, about 770 tonnes less than budgeted due to lower recovery rates related to double lift leaching, a procedure that was discontinued in September. The mine produced 5,126 tonnes of cathode copper during the third quarter a year earlier. Andacollo is 70% owned by Aur and 30% by Chilean iron and steel group CAP, while Enami has a 10% profits interest in the mine. Revenues totaled US$7.9 million in the third quarter, and cash operating costs came in at US$0.50/lb. Andacollo is budgeted to produce 20,870 tonnes of copper this year.
Aur Resources also runs the Louvicourt base metal mine and the advanced Duck Pond gold project in Canada. Its website can be viewed at www.aurresources.com.