Copper Mountain Mine releases fourth quarter report

Copper Mountain Mine generated around $80 million in gross revenue in 2011, but had problems with production goals.

Copper Mountain Mine generated $80 million last year.

Copper Mountain Mine generated $80 million last year.

Copper Mountain Mine shipped 17.4 million pounds of copper and precious metals in 2011, bringing in around $80 million in gross revenue.

In total, the mine produced 22 million pounds of copper, 7,800 ounces of gold and 161,800 ounces of silver during the four months of operation in 2011, the company announced in its 2011 fourth quarter report.

The mine has continued to make one shipment of concentrate per month to the smelters in Japan since start up of production in September 2011.

Not meeting ore-production goal

Copper Mountain Mine has not been consistently producing its goal of 35,000 tonnes per day of ore due to start-up electrical and mechanical interruptions that have affected operating time.

Mill throughput was initially limited to around 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes per day because grate openings in the SAG mill were too small.

“Operational challenges have continued in the mill, but the company is optimistic that a 35,000 tonne-per-day capacity is achievable on a consistent basis,” Copper Mountain Mine said in a news release.

New thicker grates with increased strength and larger openings were ordered and installed in mid-December. These new grates provide an increase in throughput to the designed level, the company said.

Copper Mountain Mine now believes the limiting factor is resolved.

The mill has shown it’s capable of producing its goal of producing 35,500 tonnes of ore per day. On Dec. 31, 2011, the mill treated 35,500 tonnes of ore and achieved in excess of design capacity of 35,000 tonnes per day.

Pre-production problems

Pre-production mining activities started later than planned in 2010 due to delays in equipment delivery. Because of this, the mine is behind in waste removal by around 10 million tonnes.

The higher grade material originally scheduled to be mined in 2012 will now be mined at the end of 2012 and into 2013.

“The net result of the delay in getting to the higher grade material is a reduction in the average ore grade for the calendar year 2012,” Copper Mountain Mine said.

Under the current mine plan, the company has deferred the mining of ore from the higher grade Oriole pit pending receipt of a mining permit for this deposit which is expected shortly.

The future

Copper Mountain Mine predicts 2012 production to be 85 to 90 million pounds of copper, around 30,000 ounces of gold and around 600,000 ounces of silver.

“Mining efficiencies have improved throughout 2011 and management believes further improvements are achievable in 2012,” the mine said.

With the addition of the recently acquired equipment, the company is now reviewing its current mine plan in order to further optimize operational activities and maximize copper production.

The mine is located 20 kilometres south of Princeton and employes 272 workers.