Faraday Copper Corp says it can unlock significant value from a long-life underground copper mine at Copper Creek in Arizona, USA, by using initial surface mining and heap leaching to pay back the circa-US$800 million capital cost of a project outlined this week in a preliminary economic assessment.
The PEA has Faraday producing 3.2 billion pounds of copper, 45.1 million pounds of molybdenum, and 9.7 million ounces of silver from about 345 million tonnes of openpit and underground mill feed over an expected 32-year operation life.
Faraday says about 20Mt of oxide material from pre-strip mining and processed via a heap leach facility can also support “rapid payback on initial capital”.
“Payback of initial capital is expected to occur in year four, with the post-tax cash flows funding the expansionary capital, which includes the addition of a molybdenum circuit and development of the underground footprint, both of which commence in year three,” the company says.
It describes Copper Creek as a 3km-long porphyry copper deposit in the middle of Arizona’s prolific Miami-Globe and Ray mining districts, some two hours north-east of Tucson.
The area is infrastructure-rich and has active copper smelters.
Faraday’s PEA has the project producing an average 51,100 tonnes per annum copper-equivalent with AISC of US$1.85/lb copper. Peak production of 82,100t copper-equivalent is slated for year two.
“In the 20 months since restarting technical activities at Copper Creek, we have delivered an MRE [mineral resource estimate] with 4.2 billion pounds of copper in the measured and indicated category, an economically robust PEA and a pipeline of exploration targets,” Faraday CEO Paul Harbidge said.
“The PEA provides an excellent basis for the future development of Copper Creek and is the beginning of the Faraday story.
“The projected low initial capital and upfront openpit mine unlocks a large underground operation, for a combined mine life of more than 30 years.
“The project is expected to grow over time as the property is endowed with numerous untested exploration targets.
“Importantly, the results from our ongoing 10,000m drill program, which are not incorporated in the current studies, are anticipated to contribute to this growth in the future. We are planning a further 20,000-metre drill program to commence in the fourth quarter of this year as we continue to advance the project and unlock value for our stakeholders.”
Faraday raised C$40 million at 80c in February this year.
Its share price fell this week by more than 12% to 90c, capitalising the company at C$158 million. The shares have climbed nearly 70% higher since the start of 2023.