Imperial Metals notches B.C. production increase in 2022

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Imperial Metals Corp. (III-TSX) has released its 2022 production numbers as well as an exploration update on the Red Chris operation in British Columbia.

Imperial’s principal properties in B.C. include the wholly-owned Mount Polley and Huckleberry copper mines, plus the 30%-owned Red Chris copper-gold mine.

Imperial formed a joint venture with Australian partner Newcrest Mining Ltd. [NCM-TSX] at the Red Chris mine in March 2019, after agreeing to sell a 70% stake in the mine to Newcrest.

Imperial said metals production from all operations in 2022 totalled 26.49 million pounds and 31,176 ounces of gold. That was up from 19.63 million pounds of copper and 18,048 ounces of gold in 2021.

The company’s production numbers include output form Mount Polley (with the first production in late June, 2022, and Imperial’s 30% allocation from Red Chris.

In 2022 (on a 100% basis), Red Chris produced 67.6 million pounds of copper and 63,700 ounces of gold, an increase of 3.3% and 5.8% respectively from 2021. Imperial attributed the increase to higher copper and gold grades, and slightly higher tonnes milled, partially offset by lower recoveries. Gold head grades are expected to decrease through the first half of 2022.

Red Chris produced 13.1 million pounds of copper and 14,500 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared to 14.7 million pounds of copper and 13,600 ounces of gold in the equivalent 2021 quarter.

From July, 2022 to June 2023, Newcrest is forecasting that Red Chris will produce about 60 million pounds of copper and about 40,000 ounces of gold.

Meanwhile, Mount Polley produced 3.8 million pounds of copper and 6,996 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter of 2022. The company said operations in quarter were negatively impacted by a period of very cold weather in December.

From the restart of operations in late June to December 31, 2022, Mount Polley produce 6.2 million pounds of copper and 12,078 ounces of gold

The 2023 production target for Mount Polley is 30 to 33 million pounds of copper and 35,000 to 40,000 ounces of gold.

Production statistics for 2022 were released after the close of trading on January 24, 2023, when Imperial shares closed at $2.06. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $4.25 and $1.60.

In an update on exploration at Red Chris, the company said drilling continues to expand the zone, which is outside the current mineral resource estimate. To date, 71 holes have been completed and five are in progress.

The company said Block Cave development continues with the exploration decline at 2,685 metres as of January 18, 2023 and the first ventilation raise bore is on schedule for completion within the first quarter of 2023.

A feasibility study is now expected to be completed in the second half of 2023 to allow optimization opportunities to be evaluated and further defined.

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