Pembridge restarts Minto copper shipments

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Pembridge Resources Plc. [PERE-LON] has resumed hauling copper concentrate from the Minto Mine, almost seven months after it agreed to acquire a 100% interest in the Yukon operation from Capstone Mining Corp. [CS-TSX].

Minto is the second producing hard rock mine in the Yukon next to Victoria Gold Corp.’s [VIT-TSXV] Eagle Gold Mine north of Mayo, which poured its first gold bar in September, 2019.

Pembridge said it has started hauling copper concentrate from Minto to an ore storage terminal facility at the port of Skagway, Alaska. The storage facility is located about 450 km by road from the mine site.

The first shipment of concentrate from Skagway to Japan is expected to occur in March, 2020. The first 55,000 wet tonnes of copper concentrate produced following the restart of operations is covered under an off-take agreement with Sumitomo Canada Ltd. a unit of Sumitomo Corp. of Japan.

Pembridge is a company that was set up to acquire assets that are considered no-core and that are either in production or about to reach that stage. Pembridge agreed to buy the Minto Mine in February, 2018 in the hope that it can extend the mine life of the operation by three to four years.

At the time of the initial sale agreement in February, 2018, Capstone had a mine plan that supported operations to 2021 with a total resource base of 23 million tonnes at 1.42% copper, containing 708 million pounds. Expected annual production is currently 33 million pounds of copper.

However, in November, 2018, Capstone said was terminating the initial agreement because Pembridge was unsuccessful in completing the financing required to complete the Minto purchase. To preserve Minto’s value, Capstone put Minto on temporary care and maintenance, while it continued to explore value maximizing alternatives, including discussions with Pembridge and other potentially interested parties.

A revised agreement was announced in June, 2019, news that impacted approximately 200 employees and contractors. Under the new agreement, Capstone said it will receive US$20 million cash in staged payments.

Access to the Minto Mine requires crossing the Yukon River to Minto Landing, located between Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. The river is crossed by barge in the summer, when there is sufficient depth of water and over a temporary Ice Bridge in winter when the river is frozen.

The ore storage facility has been used to store concentrate since operations commenced at the Minto Mine in 2007. The mine has a storage capacity of 14,000 wet tonnes and the ore storage facility can store up to 34,000 wet tonnes of concentrate. Shipment sizes range from 7,000 to 14,000 tonnes.

Concentrates produced by Minto contain 35-40% copper concentrate with gold and silver by-products.

“We have commenced the haulage of Concentrate on time as planned,” said Pembridge Chairman and CEO Gati Al-Jebouri.  “The haul contractors, Lynden Transport, will be working day and night now until the Ice Bridge breaks up, to get as much of the concentrate stored at the Minto mine, down to the ore storage facility on the dock at Skagway, ready for shipping,” he said. “We look forward to making the first shipment of concentrate to Japan at the end of March.”

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