Newcrest, Imperial eye enhanced Red Chris target
Newcrest Mining Ltd. [NCM-TSX, ASX] and partner Imperial Metals Corp. (III-TSX) said the exploration target for the East Ridge zone at their Red Chris mine in British Columbia has been significantly expanded.
The exploration target defined for East Ridge has been enhanced to between approximately 400 million tonnes of 0.42 g/t gold and 0.49% copper (for 5.4 million ounces of gold and 1.9 million tonnes of copper) and 500 million tonnes of 0.39 g/t gold and 0.47% copper (for 6.1 million ounces gold and 2.3 million tonnes of copper).
This marks a significant increase from the June 30, 2022 estimate of between 170 million tonnes of 0.5 g/t gold and 0.5% copper (for 2.8 million ounces of gold and 900,000 million tonnes of copper) and 300 million tonnes of grade 0.4 g/t gold and 0.4% copper (for 4.3 million ounces of gold and 1.3 million tonnes of copper).
The East Ridge exploration target is exclusive of the current published mineral resource and relates to the portion of the deposit that has not yet been adequately drill tested. Therefore the companies said the potential quantity and grade of the exploration target is conceptual in nature.
Imperial Metals formed a joint venture with the Australian company at Red Chris in March 2019, after agreeing to sell a 70% stake in the mine to Newcrest, which is now the operator.
In a March, 2021, Newcrest said Red Chris contains a measured and indicated open pit and underground resource of 980 million tonnes of grade 0.41 g/t gold and 0.38% copper for 13 million ounces of contained gold and 3.7 million tonnes of copper.
The new conceptual estimate for East Ridge was announced after the close of trading on March 13, 2023, when Newcrest closed at $22.81. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $27.18 and $13.81.
Imperial Metals closed at $1.85 and the shares trade in a 52-week range of $4.12 and $1.60.
In 2022, Copper and gold production (100%) from Red Chris was 67.6 million pounds, and 63,700 ounces respectively, an increase of 3.3% and 5.8% respectively compared to 65.4 million pounds of copper and 60,200 ounces of gold in 2021.
Block Cave development continues at Red Chris with the exploration decline at 2,685 metres as of January 18, 2023, and the first ventilation raise bores on schedule for completion within the first quarter of 2023.
The feasibility study is now expected to be completed in the second half of 2023.
Meanwhile, the Brownfield exploration program is focused on the discovery of additional zones of higher-grade mineralization within the Red Chris property corridor, including targets outside of Newcrest’s mineral resource estimate.
At East Ridge, located adjacent to the East Zone, drilling is ongoing with 71 holes completed and five in progress. At least 10 additional diamond drill holes are planned to test and close out the exploration target and determine the geotechnical and metallurgical characteristics.
This drilling program is expected to be completed by the second quarter of calendar year 2023. Work will be undertaken to deliver an updated Red Chris resource estimate, including East Ridge in calendar year 2023.