Thompson Creek Metals announced in early December 2009 that it is reactivating a previously planned expansion project at its 75%-owned Endako molybdenum mine in northern British Columbia. Sojitz Corp., a Japanese company, is Thompson Creek’s partner and 25% owner of the operation. Endako molybdenum production is expected to increase to between 15 million and 16 million lb/y as a result of the expansion. Production during 2009 was expected (as of early December 2009) to come in at between 9.5 million and 10.5 million lb.
The Endako expansion project was originally announced in March 2008, with capital costs estimated at C$373.6 million (including a contingency of C$45 million). The project was halted in December 2008 due to economic uncertainty, although the company proceeded with the purchase and storage of equipment when orders could not be cancelled without penalties.
The reactivated project has been revised to include construction of a new mill, which will replace the existing 45-year-old mill and raise ore-processing capacity from the current 31,000 mt/d to 55,000 mt/d. “While the new design has raised the total capital cost of the Endako modernization and expansion project to C$498 million (including a contingency of C$60 million), with Thompson Creek’s 75% share of the total at C$374 million, the project remains economically attractive and will, with a greater certainty, generate the expected significant reduction in per-pound cash processing costs,” said Kevin Loughrey, Chairman and CEO of Thompson Creek.
As announced in March 2008, the Endako expansion project includes the installation of a new grinding circuit consisting of semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) and ball mills and a modern flotation circuit. The result, according to the company, will be a more cost-efficient mill, with the ability to handle a variety of ore more easily and achieve greater recoveries than the existing mill.
Capital expenditures will also include the acquisition of more trucks and other equipment to supply the mill with a higher volume of ore. The current mining plan provides for a widening of the area being mined, as well as for the creation of a large single pit through the mining of ore contained in the walls separating the three existing pits.