Copper is a key commodity used to power the world’s clean energy future and Copper Fox Metals Inc (TSX-V: CUU, OTCQX: CPFXF) is well positioned to reward its shareholders with stakes in two promising projects in the advanced phase and three in the exploration phase. copper projects in North American Tier 1 mining jurisdictions.
Copper Fox President and CEO Elmer Stewart has over 44 years of national and international experience in mining and exploration for gold, uranium, base metals and copper. During his career, he has participated in the financing, acquisition and exploration of base metal and gold projects as well as the development and construction of two underground mines and the construction and operation of three open pit gold mines.
Stewart was instrumental in diversifying the company’s project portfolio across North America, led the 2013 feasibility study on the Schaft Creek project, and was directly involved in negotiating the Schaft Creek joint venture agreement with Teck Resources Limited. Stewart negotiated the acquisition of the Van Dyke and Sombrero Butte projects and oversaw work to bring the Van Dyke project from exploration to an advanced stage project.
More recently, Stewart recognized the mineral potential of the area comprising the Mineral Mountain project and recently negotiated the acquisition of the Eaglehead porphyry copper project. In 2020 and 2021, Stewart led the preliminary economic assessments (PEAs) of the Van Dyke and Schaft Creek projects which resulted in a substantial increase in project assessments.
With approximately 35 years of experience at the senior management level of various companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the TSX Venture Exchange, he is currently Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of Copper Fox, Director of Liard Copper Mines Ltd and represents Copper Fox on the Schaft Creek Joint Venture Management Committee.
In an interview, Stewart told Proactive why he thinks the company could be on the verge of discovering a significant porphyry copper resource on some of its projects and outlined plans to advance other projects along the pipeline. value chain.
Proactive: Of your two late-stage projects, Schaft Creek and Van Dyke, which one will your company focus the majority of its efforts on?
Elmer Stewart: The Schaft Creek project is a joint venture 75% controlled and operated by Teck Resources Limited, with Copper Fox owning 25%. Teck, as operator, is responsible for planning and executing annual programs and is also required to fund these programs. The joint venture has budgeted C$6.6 million for the 2022 program, three times more than its planned spending for 2021.
Van Dyke is Copper Fox’s other advanced project. This project is 100% owned and operated by Copper Fox. Currently, we are awaiting recommendations from Ausenco Engineering, our hydrogeology consultants, for their recommended 2022 program. I want our resource consultants to review proposed hydrogeological hole locations to determine if these locations could be used to expand the project’s resource base. Previous studies have shown that the resource envelope is open to the southwest. Copper Fox brings together all disciplines to prepare a versatile program that achieves hydrogeological objectives while collecting data that could be used to expand the resource base, provide samples for metallurgical testing and geotechnical information as we move the project forward. .
This approach is more capital efficient and provides much more information from a single borehole. With the Schaft Creek project operated by Teck, Copper Fox would focus most of its efforts on Van Dyke when handling our late-stage projects.
What is it about these projects and their geology that makes you think they can eventually be put into production?
Above all, the results of the PEA 2021 on the two projects. The improvements identified in both studies suggest that more value could be added based on the positive results of detailed improvement surveys. If you look at Schaft Creek, for example, the PEA only used 60% of the established resource base in the first 21 years of mine life. The remaining resources exposed in the pit walls offer the potential to either increase throughput north to 133,000 tonnes per day or increase mine life.
Additionally, the 2021 drilling at Schaft Creek intersected several near-surface zones of higher-grade copper-gold mineralization, which is encouraging.
At Van Dyke, the 2014 and 2020 resource estimates indicate that the resource envelope is open to expansion to the southwest, which, if achieved by further drilling, has implications for the potential increase in annual production or increase in mine life.
Both projects have indications that their resource base could be expanded through further drilling. Additionally, capital intensity, all-in sustaining costs and existing infrastructure are also favorable indicators.
What remains to be done to move these projects forward to production and what is the timeline?
The PEAs for both projects have recommended advancing these projects to the Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) stage. This exercise would not only increase the certainty of the project, but could also increase the evaluation of the project. As these projects progress, Teck, as operator of the Schaft Creek joint venture, and Copper Fox, as operator of the Van Dyke project, must ensure that the quantity and quality of data acquired, as and as these projects progress, are sufficient to meet the requirements of an FSP.
The Schaft Creek and Van Dyke projects contemplate different production procedures and facilities. Van Dyke is classified as an In Situ Copper Recovery (ISCR) project and as such the work required to advance the project to the PFS stage is different from that required at Schaft Creek. To advance an ISCR to production, a UIC Class III permit is required, which includes the development of a hydrogeological model for the project, hence our intention to prepare a multi-purpose program for the Van Dyke project.
In terms of construction timelines, the PEA for the Schaft Creek project used five years, which, when you think about it, is a reasonable timeline given the scale of the project. The Van Dyke PEA used a three-year construction period, after obtaining a Class III permit. My preference would be to advance projects to the PFS stage, which at Van Dyke would include collecting hydrogeological data to develop the hydrogeological model needed to enter the permitting process.
Among your projects in the exploration phase, which do you think is the most promising and why?
To be honest, I love them all. Our approach is to acquire projects likely to host significant copper deposits. Copper Fox owns 100% of Sombrero Butte, Mineral Mountain and Eaglehead – all of which have very large porphyry footprints, rocks of the correct age, exhibit the chargeability signatures, mineralization and weathering patterns you would expect to see in a porphyry copper system.
Eaglehead would be the most advanced of the three exploration projects. Historical exploration activities show 120 out of 126 mineralized drill holes, four open zones of porphyry style mineralization and very positive metal recoveries based on preliminary metallurgical testing.
The Sombrero Butte and Mineral Mountain projects recently completed airborne geophysical surveys, which should be beneficial in optimizing future drill hole locations. For example, at Mineral Mountain, the porphyry footprint is 4,500 meters long by 2,000 meters wide, and within it is an open chargeability anomaly 2,900 meters long by 1,300 meters wide. The question from an exploration perspective is where in that footprint size do you place your first drill hole? These projects have the characteristics of large porphyry systems, suggesting the potential to make, if lucky, a new porphyry discovery.
Finally, what should your shareholders expect in the next 12 to 24 months?
Copper Fox expects to have an exciting 12-24 months ahead of us as we move forward with all of our projects. Clearly, positive drill results at Schaft Creek would be beneficial as the joint venture focuses on the first five-year pit described in Schaft Creek’s 2021 PEA. Additionally, positive drill results from the Eaglehead project could advance the project towards a resource estimate. The proposed program for Van Dyke is not yet ready, as we are still awaiting feedback from some of the contractors on the project.
Exploration results from Sombrero Butte and Mineral Mountain may inform drill target selection as we move these projects forward to the drilling stage. So overall, for the next 12 to 24 months, we’re expecting a major news stream.
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