Nevada Copper Corp. [NCU-TSX] on Thursday April 22 released a project update for the underground mine at its Pumpkin Hollow copper-gold operation in Nevada.
The announcement comes as the price of copper continues to trade close to a nine-year high of US$4.28/lb amid optimism that a global economic recovery will boost demand.
Pumpkin Hollow is a high-grade skarn/iron oxide copper gold (IOCG) deposit located within a porphyry copper district within the Walker Lane mineral belt of western Nevada.
The project hosts an underground mine as well as a permitted open pit development project 4 km west of the underground mine.
Production at Pumpkin Hollow’s processing plant began on December 16, 2019, utilizing development ore stockpiled during the underground mine construction.
On Thursday, the company said the first stope will be mined in the East South Alphabets Zone this week. The Alphabet Zone is expected to carry copper equivalent grade of approximately 2.5%. Lateral development in March (2021) increased 69% from February after the previously announced electrical upgrades were completed.
The company said lateral development early in the first quarter of 2021 was slower than anticipated due to cautious progress through the water-bearing dyke.
“While we are still batch processing ore through the mill, we achieved a weekly average of 4,700 tons per day and a maximum daily throughput of 5,000 tonnes per day during March,” the company said in a press release. The company is on track to reach steady-state production of approximately 5,000 tons per day in the third quarter of 2021.
“We are pleased with the progress achieved in the first quarter despite the challenges with lateral development and we look forward to the imminent blasting of our first high grade stopes,” said Nevada Copper CEO Mick Ciricillo. “As well as advancing our stope development, we look forward to further increases in underground development rates as we move closer to steady-state production in the third quarter this year,” he said.
Nevada Copper was expected to produce 13 million pounds of copper in the second half of 2020, ramping up to 50 million pounds in 2021 and 64 million pounds in 2022. That compares to an average of 50 million pounds over a projected 14-year mine-life. During the first five years of production, the all-in-sustaining cost is expected to be US$1.86 a pound. The life of mine all-in-sustaining cost is expected to be US$1.96 a pound.