Inmet Mining announced on July 25, 2011, its board of directors approved development of its Cobre Panama project in Panama as described in the final front-end engineering and design study of March 2010. That study considers an open-pit mining operation, concentrate pipeline and port to be developed at a total capital cost of $4.32 billion.
Production is forecast at 255,000 mt/y of copper, 90,000 oz/y of gold, 1.51 million oz/y of silver and 3.2 million lb/y of molybdenum in concentrate over a 30-year mine life. During years two to 16 of operation, production is estimated at 289,000 mt/y of copper, 108,000 oz/y of gold, 1.54 million oz/y of silver and 3,600 mt/y of molybdenum.
Inmet board approval of the project is conditional on the achievement of the following project milestones: approval of the project Environmental and Social Impact Assessment by Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, the Panamanian environmental regulator; securing of all material permits and approvals required to be issued by relevant Panamanian authorities for construction and development of the mine and process plant; completion of basic engineering and related updates of capital and operating project cost estimates; and board satisfaction regarding Inmet’s ability to finance development of the project.
Project planning for Cobre Panama is based on proven and probable reserves totaling 2.1 billion mt, grading 0.41% copper, 0.07 oz/mt gold, 1.43 oz/mt silver and 0.008% molybdenum. The mine plan in the March 2010 study assumes a mine life of 30 years and includes three open-pits. An estimated 3.4 billion mt of material is expected to be mined within the pit limits at a strip ratio of 0.61:1, waste to ore.
At peak production, a fleet of 36 360-mt payload trucks will be loaded by four 55-m3-capacity electric shovels. Seven blasthole drills and 10 large dozers will be available to support production.
The project will produce both copper and molybdenum concentrates. Metallurgical testing indicates the concentrates will be of good quality, with no deleterious constituents. Copper concentrate will be pumped as slurry through a pipeline to the port site for filtration, storage, and loading onto ocean-going vessels for shipment to market destinations. The molybdenum concentrate will be dewatered at the mine/plant site and bagged for delivery by truck to the port.
During the second half of 2011, Inmet will continue to work on the permitting process; improve site access and infrastructure; complete additional drilling for geotechnical and hydrological purposes and improve its understanding of mineralization not currently included in the project base case; complete basic engineering; work with SK Engineering and Con-
struction Co. on development of the 300-MW thermal power plant to supply power for the project; and develop a range of financing options, including a project-level limited recourse facility, capital market alternatives and potential new partners.
After basic engineering is completed and approvals are received, project construction is expected to take about 48 months.