Hudbay Minerals (TSX: HBM; HYSE: HBM) released its first 43-101 technical report for the Copper Mountain copper mine 21 km south of Princeton, B.C. The company has plans to ramp up copper production levels 90% and cut cash costs by 50%, compared to 2022 figures.
Following its acquisition of Copper Mountain Mining in June 2023, Hudbay now owns 75% of the operation. The remaining 25% belongs to Mitsubishi Materials of Japan.
“We have applied our proven reserve and resource estimation methodology to develop a prudent and reliable mine plan and are now positioned to implement several operating enhancements to transform Copper Mountain into a stable cash flow generator for our business,” said Hudbay president and CEO Peter Kukielski.
Average annual copper production should be 46,500 tonnes for the next five years at a cash cost of US$1.89 per pound. Looking ahead a decade, Hudbay plans 45,000 t/y copper with cash costs of US$1.72 per pound. Copper Mountain will also add about 49,500 oz. of gold annually for 10 years to the company’s balance sheet. A 21-year mine life is anticipated.
The new mine plan reflects the company’s strategy to stabilize the operation by remobilizing idle haul trucks, opening additional mining faces in the pits, and accelerating stripping over the next three years to provide access to higher grade ore. Minimal capital investment ($31.2 million in 2025-26) is anticipated to boost the mill throughput to the nameplate 50,000 t/d capacity.
“With the addition of Copper Mountain, we expect to maintain annual consolidated copper production above 150,000 tonnes through to the end of the decade and are better positioned to achieve our deleveraging objectives and deliver on future copper growth,” said Kukielski. “This increased scale, and diversification enhances the company’s ability to prudently advance our organic growth pipeline of brownfield expansion and greenfield development opportunities in tier-one mining jurisdictions.”
Copper Mountain has proven and probable reserves of 367.0 million tonnes grading 0.25% copper, 0.12 g/t gold, and 0.69 g/t silver (0.33% copper equivalent. Reserves are exclusive of resources. The measured and indicated resources are 137.8 million tonnes grading 0.21% copper, 0.19 g/t gold, and 0.69 g/t silver (0.28% copper equivalent). There is also an inferred resource of 371.3 million tonnes grading 0.25% copper, 0.13 g/t gold, and 0.61 g/t silver (0.34% copper equivalent).
Hudbay is optimistic about the future of Copper Mountain. The company believes it can convert high-grade mineralization in the inferred resource to reserves. Stripping costs could be lowered with the use of double benching and reduced waste stripping. The potential of both trolley-assist trucks and the use of conveyors for haulage will be examined. The use of renewable diesel fuel is also contemplated. In addition to the net-zero initiatives already underway at the mine, the company will consider installing wind turbines for renewable energy generation.
Learn more about plans for Copper Mountain at www.HudbayMinerals.com.