Officials said the PEA outlines the opportunity to develop the standalone surface mine at lower upfront capital costs than a previous study. It also examines a ‘fresh mining perspective' that utilises elements of the previous feasibility work paired with a focus on value and economic returns over scale.
Within the report, the initial cost estimate for the open-pit Pumpkin Hollow has been estimated at US$592 million. Mine design and plant processing is projected to be 37,000 US tons (33,600t) per day initially with a later phase to cost $447 million increasing that capacity to 70,000 US tons daily near its eighth year of life.
Production per year at a steady state has been estimated at 177 million pounds (80 million kilograms) of payable copper over a life-of-mine of 20 years. The company said it will look at the high-grade Northern Pit and use the South Pit as a supplementary feed.
Nevada Copper president and CEO Matt Gili said it is ‘highly encouraged' by the PEA findings by firms Golder and Sedgman.
"The report clearly illustrates the potential to put this large, open-pit project into production with lower capital costs and in a shorter period of time than originally envisaged," he said.
"The phased development approach also aligns with our strategy of pursuing optionality through low-capital intensity and staged production growth to generate shareholder returns. We have used this same margin-over-tonnes philosophy with the Pumpkin Hollow underground mine, which will be in production in 2019, and we are looking forward to the next steps in advancing the open pit project."
The underground element of Pumpkin Hollow is set to produce approximately 5,000 US tons per day, and over the first hald decade product 60 million pounds of copper, 173,000oz of silver and 9,000oz of gold.
It will produce about 50 million pounds of copper annually over its life-of-mine of about 13.5 years, along with 150,000oz of silver and 8,000oz of gold. Construction start was confirmed for the underground mine late last month.