History – 1960 to 2005
From US Steel to Nevada Copper
US Steel locates mining claims on the property in the 1960’s. Over 550,000 feet of drilling by US Steel, Anaconda, and other mining companies is conducted from the 1960’s and identifies a large copper and iron magnetite resource. Expenditures on the property exceed USD$50 million.
In 2005, Nevada Copper acquires the property, with copper prices at $1.40/lb. Exploration and planning of the Pumpkin Hollow Project begins.
Nevada Copper Exploration – 2006 to 2010
Exploration and Surface Drilling
Nevada Copper has drilled over 400,000 feet of exploration holes since 2006.
From 2006-2010, Nevada Copper completes 160,000 feet of surface drilling, which expands the existing mineralization. Critical information is also obtained on the following:
- Hydrogeological characteristics of groundwater
- Water supply
- Groundwater protection
- Geotechnical/physical properties of rock
These findings are needed to move forward with planning of the Pumpkin Hollow project.
Feasibility Studies – 2010 to 2015
Feasibility Studies Performed
Numerous environmental studies are underway to design and operate the mine the “Right Way”. Here, extensive laboratory tests are being performed on materials that will be mined.
In 2010, Nevada Copper initiates feasibility studies. Through 2015 several feasibility studies have been completed looking at several alternative project configurations: stand-alone underground mine, stand-alone open pit mine and and integrated underground/open pit project. These form a foundation for determining which mine development alternative is most advantageous under different conditions, including market conditions, land ownership, mining and process methods and production rates. They look at the proposed mine to identify and answer who, what, where, when, how and why of a potential mine. The key question to be answered is: Can the Pumpkin Hollow mineral resource be developed into a mine? Further, the studies identify potential opportunities and challenges, and identifies actions to address challenges in the most cost efficient manner.
Exploration Continues 2012 to 2015
Exploration Drilling Expands Project Plans
Drilling is a perpetual motion operation. While these drillers are working on one hole, the dozer is constructing the next drill site. The dozer will move to the completed drill site once it is done to reclaim it.
Drilling identifies additional mineralization in the open pit deposits and in the east underground deposit. Some of theintial results are used in the most recent feasibility studies and later results will help further evaluate the mineral resource estimates.
Groundbreaking – February 18, 2012
Ground Breaking Ceremony
On February 18, 2012, Nevada Copper hosts a high profile ceremony to celebrate the groundbreaking event of the Pumpkin Hollow Project. Joe Dini, former Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly, serves as an Honorary Chairman for the event. Finally, after nearly 50 years of exploration and evaluation, the Pumpkin Hollow project is happening. For many, both in Mason Valley and Yerington, this signifies a major milestone for the project.
Shaft Sinking – 2012 to 2015
Shaft Sinking Marks the Beginning of Construction
Part of shaft sinking is the construction of a headframe pictured above.
Shaft Sinking – a first step in construction of the underground mine – involves excavation of the 2,100 feet deep, 24-foot in diameter shaft into the ground.
From 2012-2015, shaft related construction activities included: shaft foundation (“sub-collar”); “pre-sink” to 99 feet; installation of a production-sized hoist and control room; erection of a permanent head-frame; plus related surface facilities; sinking 1,900 feet of shaft to the main haulage level.
Stage 1 Underground Mine Permits – 2013
State Permits for Underground Mine Received
Nevada Copper receives state development permits for underground mine and begins preparing permit applications for open pit operating permits.
Nevada Copper secured a $200 million senior secured loan facility and copper concentrate off-take agreement with RK Mine Finance and US$24 million equipment finance facility with Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation for the Stage 1 underground development. Engineering and procurement for the underground operations began and Pumpkin Hollow adds 40-50 workers to the mine site.
Current Status 2015
The 24-foot diameter concrete-lined production sized shaft reaches the 1,900 foot main haulage level. Nevada Copper has moved forward with lateral development, or a horizontal “tunnel”, on the 1,900 foot main haulage level and conducted drilling from stations to identify and expand high grade mineralization. The lateral development also established key work areas underground for future development, and provide for future access to the East ore zones.
An exploration drilling program is conducted from May through December 2015 and consisted of 10 drill holes (9,728 feet) in the east underground deposit and 21 drill holes (34,600 feet) in the open pit deposits .
Nevada Copper successfully collaborated with the City of Yerington to complete the land transfer. In August 2015 the BLM issued a patent for 10,040 acres of federal land to City of Yerington. In October 2015 the City transferred by deed 9,045 acres for mine development to Nevada Copper. Entire project is now on private land. At the same time, the City approves a Master Plan amendment and zones the lands industrial that allows mining.
the Integrated Feasibility Study for an the 70,000 ton per day integrated open pit/underground project is published in June 2015.
All necessary state permits to develop the integrated underground/open pit mine and process facility are under the jurisdiction of the State of Nevada and are obtained in August 2015.
Proposed Mine Operations
Proposed Mine Operation
Subject to receipt of financing, Nevada Copper seeks to be in production by 2018-19. Based on the current feasibility study estimates, the underground mine could produce 6,500 tons of ore each day – enough to cover a basketball court 15 feet deep. One year of estimated production would produce nearly 2.7 million tons of ore from underground, enough to cover a football field 57 feet deep with ore. The feasibility study estimates that the open pit mine could produce about 63,500 tons of ore each day, enough to cover a football field 12 feet deep with ore. This is nearly 22 million tons of ore per year, enough to cover 10 football fields 445 feet deep with ore. Based on the study, crushed ore would taken to the process plant, where it would be further ground in a mill and then a flotation process where the mineral containing copper, gold and silver, mostly chalcopyrite (a compound containing copper, iron, sulfur with gold and silver), sticks to the bubbles and floats to the top. The resulting concentrate is in a finely ground powder containing approximately 25-28% copper, which would be shipped to a smelter, a large furnace that heats the concentrate to a molten form to break down the chalcopyrite and separate the copper, gold and silver from raw mineral.
Into the Future – 2040 +
How much will be produced?
The 2015 Integrated Feasibility Study estimates that Pumpkin Hollow would be able to produce 198 to 274 million pounds of copper per year, including an average annual copper production of 275 million pounds in years 1 to 5. The study indicated that over the 23 year life of the mine, 4.5 billion pounds (2.05 million tonnes) of copper, 512,000 ounces of gold and 15.6 million ounces of silver in a quality copper concentrate could be produced.
Concurrent Reclamation – 2015 to 2040 +
Concurrent Reclamation and Stabilization
Nevada Copper plans to the reclaim and stabilize disturbed land as it goes. It has already reclaimed most of the drill sites. This ‘do-it-as-you-go’ strategy offers rehabilitation of disturbed lands and stabilization of mine components well before mining is finished. Nevada’s mining regulations require that the mine be designed to eliminate pollution, reduce impacts to lands and reclaim and stabilize lands associated with mining. A financial assurance or reclamation bond must be posted prior to construction of facilities and maintained through the life of the mine and until all facilities are reclaimed, stabilized or converted to some other post-mining land use. Residents need not worry about a deserted mine in 40 years, nor worry about chemicals or acids polluting the lands in and around Pumpkin Hollow.
After Mining – 2040+
Conversion, Final Reclamation and Stabilization (Post Mining)
Who knows? This mine could continue well beyond its current planned life. However, the mine will be complete sometime after all of the copper is mined. Therefore, Nevada Copper has already identified opportunities to turn the once mined area into other economic uses. Land acquired in the land transfer has been retained by the City which envisions a recreation events center in the nearby hills. Buildings and electrical water and sewer infrastructure can be converted to other sues in the future. The potential to develop solar generating facilites both during and after mining are being investigated.