Teck Resources has completed a feasibility study and filed an NI 43-101 technical report for the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 hypogene project in northern Chile. Teck owns a 76.5% interest in Quebrada Blanca. The other shareholders are a Chilean private company, which owns a 13.5% interest, and Empresa Nacional de Minera (ENAMI), a state-owned Chilean mining company, which has a 10% non-funding interest. The study estimates a capital cost for the development of the project of $5.6 billion (in January 2012 dollars, not including working capital or interest during construction), of which Teck’s funding share would be $4.8 billion. The study contemplates the construction of a 135,000-mt/d concentrator and related facilities connected to a new port facility by 165-km concentrate and desalinated water pipelines.
The Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 mine plan includes a mine life of 39 years within the designed pit, including mining of mineral reserves, inferred mineral resources, leach (supergene) resources, and associated low-grade material. Marginal material would be stockpiled in the early years of operation and fed to the mill in later years. Significant mineral resources outside the mine-plan pit provide potential for expansion in future years, and the mine facilities have been designed with this in mind.
Production of copper in concentrates based on this mine plan is estimated at 250,000 mt/y during years 1 to 5 and 200,000 mt/y life of mine. Production of molybdenum in concentrates is projected at 6,000 mt/y during years 1 to 5 and 5,000 mt/y life of mine. Cash costs for copper, including a byproduct credit, are estimated at $1.07/lb during years 1 to 5 and $1.35/lb life of mine.
Metallurgical test work has confirmed that marketable copper concentrates can be produced, with no anticipated deleterious penalty elements. Copper-molybdenum separation test work has established that saleable molybdenum concentrates can be produced at acceptable recoveries.
The Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 project includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. However, based on the nature of the mineralization, Teck believes the feasibility mine plan, which includes inferred mineral resources, represents the most likely initial development scenario for the Quebrada Blanca hypogene deposit.
Teck is in discussions with the other shareholders of Quebrada Blanca concerning financing options for the hypogene project, which may include limited recourse project financing and, possibly, bringing in a new funding partner. A decision to proceed with development will depend on the outcome of these discussions.