With a prefeasibility study expected for the Red Chris mine in B.C. by the end of September, Australia-based operator Newcrest (ASX, TSX: NCM) has released an updated resource for the project. Newcrest is looking at the possibility of developing an underground block cave operation under the existing pit at its 70%-held joint venture property with 30% partner Imperial Metals (TSX: III).
The measured and indicated resource of 980 million tonnes at 0.41 g/t gold and 0.38% copper includes an open-pit subset of 310 million tonnes grading 0.28 g/t gold and 0.34% copper and an underground contribution of 670 million tonnes at 0.46 g/t gold and 0.4% copper.
Inferred resources add 190 million tonnes grading 0.31 g/t gold and 0.3% copper, with 11 million open-pittable tonnes at 0.23 g/t gold and 0.27% copper and 180 million underground tonnes grading 0.32 g/t gold and 0.3% copper.
Measured and indicated resources contain a total of 13 million gold oz. and 3.7 million tonnes of copper, while inferred resources host 1.9 million oz. of gold and 570,000 tonnes of copper.
The press release notes that the inferred resource in particular reflects Newcrest’s focus on operating a “higher-value, smaller open pit and developing a larger underground mine.” Additional expansion drilling to define inferred resources for underground mining is ongoing.
The miner has also started building a box cut (portal) for an exploration decline at the site in northwest part of the province, 80 km south of Dease Lake.
Newcrest has focused its definition drilling on the East zone at Red Chris. Brownfields work is targeting new, higher-grade zones at three areas within the Red Chris porphyry corridor. Newcrest has drilled 109,177 metres in 92 drillholes since acquiring its interest in the JV in August 2019.
Last year, the Red Chris open pit generated 88.3 million lb. of copper and 73,787 gold oz.
Newcrest paid US$807 million for the 70% stake in the Red Chris mine and surrounding 230 sq. km of land holdings.