International Enexco’s V.IEC Contact Copper Project was already projected to be a nice little earner even before its revised resource estimate. Now it looks to be nicer still. “We increased our measured and indicated resources by almost half,” COO Bill Willoughby tells Resources Wire. “Over the last five years, every time we had a drilling program, we made significant gains in our resource base.”
This increased resource follows a doubling of its property in Elko Country, Nevada, just south of Idaho and just west of Utah. The company bought 8,400 adjoining acres from Allied Nevada Gold T.ANV for 3.2 million shares in September 2011. Allied Nevada now owns just under 10% of the company.
According to the October 10 43-101 estimate, Contact Copper contains (at a 0.1% copper cutoff) 215.7 million tons grading 0.25% for 1.06 billion pounds copper M&I, up 49% from June 2010, and 70.9 million tons grading 0.24% for 340.4 million pounds copper inferred, up 17%.
According to a June 2010 prefeasibility study, Contact had a modest initial CAPEX of $88 million (including a 20% contingency). The PFS forecast production of 241 million pounds copper over nine years, with a throughput of 5.6 million tons annually, a 2.9:1 strip ratio and copper recovery of 76%. Annual cathode copper production was forecast to be 25 million pounds at $0.93 per pound. Based on a copper price of $2.25 per pound, the project had an aftertax net present value (NPV) of $44.5 million (at a 10% discount rate), with an internal rate of return (IRR) of 20.2%.
Infrastructure costs are low, Willoughby says, because the project is in Nevada and, “We’re right off a highway and close to mining centres, power and water.”
Just as important to the project’s thriftiness is its employment of SX/EW: copper recovery via solvent-extraction electrowinning, which is a “green” technology, both efficient and environmentally friendly. Willoughby explains, “It’s a hydrometallurgical process. Basically, it’s heap leaching but with sulfuric acid. You put on a solution of sulfuric acid onto the ore, and a pregnant leach solution gets collected in a pond and transferred to a solvent extraction plant. The solvent extraction plant is essentially an organic solution which extracts the copper from the PLS into the organic. Then you strip the copper from the organic and send it to an electrowinning facility which plates the copper out. So we make cathode copper onsite.”