Newcrest Mining Ltd. has completed a joint venture transaction with Imperial Metals Corp. to acquire a 70% interest in the Red Chris mine and its surrounding leases in British Columbia. Newcrest will operate the open-pit mine, which accesses a copper-gold porphyry deposit with mineral resources of 20 million ounces (oz) of gold and 13 billion lb of copper. The transaction was originally announced in March.
“We are delighted to have closed the Red Chris transaction and to add this operating mine to our existing low cost, long-life portfolio,” Newcrest Managing Director and CEO Sandeep Biswas said. “We are pleased with the highly constructive and collaborative relationship we are developing with the Tahltan Nation and the government of British Columbia and look forward to working together as we execute our forward work plan to unlock the significant potential from Red Chris.”
Following the announcement in March, Newcrest initiated two streams of work looking to optimize the open pit and the process plant. The work streams are focused on delivering rapid improvement, particularly on optimizing existing infrastructure. The company said it would transfer technology currently being developed at other Newcrest sites. A concept study has commenced to determine the feasibility of applying block cave techniques to the Red Chris orebody. Newcrest operates some of the most profitable block cave mines in the world.
Newcrest is also considering coarse ore flotation and other forms of low energy beneficiation. The studies, in combination with the optimization work streams, will focus on determining the appropriate size of the open pit, and optimal timing of the transition to block cave mining underground. The company said it believes the first block cave will target the high-grade portion of the orebody located beneath the current main pit. As a result, the current open pit plan will likely have a smaller final pit design.