HudBay Minerals announced on October 8, 2009, that it will fast-track construction of an C$85-million ramp to provide initial access to the multiple zones of mineralization at its proposed underground Lalor mine near Snow Lake, Manitoba.
The ramp represents the first phase of what HudBay anticipates will be a C$485-million, three-phase process to develop North America’s next big, underground, hardrock mine. Conceptual plans for phases 2 and 3 include site preparation, sinking of a production shaft, refurbishing the 3,500-mt/d base metals concentrator at Snow Lake, and construction of a gold ore concentrator with a minimum capacity to process 1,200 mt/d.
HudBay has defined a zinc-rich base metals zone at Lalor sufficient to support planning for a 3,500 mt/d mine. The new ramp will have this zone as its initial objective. The ramp will then be extended to provide underground drill access to five gold zones that have the conceptual potential to host 3 million oz of gold and to support a mining rate of 1,200 mt/d.
The Lalor deposits also continue to provide exceptional exploration potential, both through extension of the gold zones and through future drilling of a recently discovered, distinct, and “extraordinary” copper-gold zone located below the gold zones. One recent drill intercept in this new copper-gold zone assayed 5.33% copper, 13.35 g/mt gold, 27.98 g/mt silver and 0.35% zinc across 34.54 m from 1,253.08 m to 1,287.62 m down hole.
Currently, five drills are turning at Lalor. Three are focused on the copper-gold zone and extensions of the gold zones, one is collecting samples for metallurgical testing, and one is definition drilling for gold zones continuity. Drilling on the zinc-rich base metals zone is essentially complete, and HudBay does not expect to provide further resource updates for this zone. The company is drill testing nine targets in the copper-gold zone and expects to provide further updates on the copper-gold zone and the gold zones before the end of 2009.
Development of the ramp to Lalor’s zinc-rich base metals zone is expected to take about 30 months and to provide for initial production of 1,200 mt/d once completed. HudBay will also consider restarting operations at its Chisel North mine during this period to provide a continuous supply of zinc ore to the Snow Lake concentrator and zinc concentrate to its Flin Flon, Manitoba, zinc plant until Lalor reaches production.
In announcing HudBay’s plans for Lalor, HudBay CEO Peter R. Jones underscored the fact that, “Lalor is in a jurisdiction we know well, which offers a very positive, low-risk profile. It is located in our Snow Lake mining camp in close proximity to existing road and power infrastructure and our base metals concentrator. These factors combine to make it an extremely attractive development project, and it is clearly our top priority at HudBay.”