Western Copper launches feasibility study at $3.25 B Yukon mine

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Western Copper & Gold Corp.’s [WRN-TSX, NYSE American] said Wednesday it is launching a feasibility study at its 100%-owned Casino copper-gold-molybdenum deposit in the Canadian Yukon.

The feasibility study will be based on the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) which was announced in June, 2021. It will include a large open pit operation, a concentrator to recover copper, gold, silver and molybdenum, and a solid waste facility to store mine waste rock and mill tailings.

The project will also feature a heap leach facility to recover gold, silver, and copper from oxide ore as well as 130 kilometres of access road and an on-site power generation facility.

The principal objective of the feasibility study will be to demonstrate positive economic indicators for the Casino Project at a feasibility study level. The study will also form the basis of the environmental and socio-economic statement, the submission of which is the next step in the environmental process under the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act.

Western Copper President and CEO Paul West-Sells said the company is excited to be launching the feasibility study. “This will build on the PEA released earlier this year and provide a foundation for permitting and other activities as we move the Casino Project forward,” he said.

The potential for new mining developments in the Yukon was underlined recently by news that Rio Tinto Plc [RIO-NYSE] had pledged to take a $35.6 million strategic investment in Western Copper & Gold.

The move was seen as an opportunity for Rio Tinto to gain a better understanding of Casino project, which ranks as one of the largest copper-gold projects in Canada. It is estimated to host measured and indicated resources 14.5 million ounces of gold and 7.6 billion pounds of copper. On top of that is an inferred resource of 6.6 million ounces of gold and 3.3 billion pounds of copper.

The PEA envisages an initial capital investment of $3.25 billion as well as life of mine pre-tax cash flow of $13 billion ($9.1 billion) after tax.

It considers the project being constructed as an open pit mine, with a concentrator processing 120,000 tonnes per day and a gold heap leach facility nominally processing 25,000 tonnes per day.

The mill is expected to be in operation for 25 years, two years more than the heap leach facility.

Casino is located in an area that also hosts Triumph Gold Corp.’s [TIG-TSXV, TIGCF-OTC, 8N61-FRA] Freegold Mountain project, well as Newmont Corp.’s [NGT-TSX, NEM-NYSE] Coffee deposit, and Rockhaven Resources Ltd.’s [RK-TSXV] Klaza gold project.

Rio Tinto agreed to take an 8.0% stake in Western Copper by acquiring 11.8 million shares in the junior for $2.17 a share.

On October 5, 2021, Western Copper shares closed at $1.85 and currently trade in a 52-week range of $3.35 and $1.24.

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