AIC Mines Ltd., which operates the Eloise copper-gold mine in Queensland, Australia, said it has board approval to start development of the Jericho copper mine via an underground link drive directly from the Eloise decline.

“The Eloise to Jericho link drive will have many long-term benefits – access will be considerably easier to maintain during the wet season and also allows rapid drilling and development of any new discoveries along the 3 km of prospective strike,” said AIC Mines’ Managing Director Aaron Colleran. “Importantly it can be commenced now with equipment and capacity that we already have at Eloise.”

The Jericho copper deposit is located 4 km south of the Eloise processing plant and has similar geology, mineralization, and metallurgy to Eloise. The company said development of the Jericho mine and expansion of the Eloise processing plant will lift production to more than 20,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) copper and 7,500 oz/y of gold. It will reduce operating costs through economies of scale and de-risk production by increasing the number of available ore sources.

The link drive will take off from the 1065 level on the Eloise decline (125 m below surface) and reach first development ore in June 2026 and then ramp-up to a full ore-production rate of approximately 600,000 mt/y subject to timely receipt of environmental approvals.

At about its halfway point, the link drive will pass within 400 m of the Swagman discovery allowing for resource definition drilling to be completed and possible early development of this lens.

Capital costs for Jericho mine development, subject to finalization of the underground development contract, are estimated at $35 million over 24 months for underground development and $15 million over 24 months for associated ventilation shafts and fans.

AIC Mines has recently completed a tender process for a combined Eloise and Jericho underground mine development work and has awarded preferred tender status to PYBAR Mining Services, the incumbent mine development contractor at Eloise. The contract is expected to be awarded in June 2024. Procurement of the requisite capital equipment has commenced, including new underground refuge chambers and secondary vent fans.

GR Engineering Services are currently on site at Eloise to plan the processing plant expansion including finalizing equipment locations, understand interface points between the new plant and existing plant and to assess the electrical upgrade work required for the new equipment. Subject to finalization of this work, capital costs for the Eloise processing plant expansion, including upgraded crushing circuit and power generation plant, are estimated at $60 million.

AIC Mines is progressing both equity and debt funding for the Jericho project (i.e. Jericho mine development and Eloise processing plant expansion). Cash on hand and Eloise operating cashflow provides for commencement of activities that are currently time-critical.