The Minto copper-gold mine is like the Terminator.
All that metal makes it impossible to kill.
New 2007 estimates of mineral deposits at the site increased copper resources by nearly 450 million pounds, gold by 240,000 ounces and silver by 2.5 million ounces.
That’s a 50 per cent increase in copper resources, a dramatic increase for one year’s worth of drilling, said Sherwood Copper president and CEO Stephen Quin.
The new numbers suggest the mine will be around for longer than anticipated or the mine could expand.
“There’s a bright future for the life of the mine,” said Quin.
The estimates are just that — the company still has to define actual reserves before new plans are made.
Once the company knows what can be economically mined, a life extension or increased production is possible.
“You could do either/or,” said Quin.
It would have surprising not to have found more resources at the site, said Mike Burke, head of minerals services at the Yukon Geological Survey.
There was always great potential for more exploration, Sherwood Copper just needed to define the resources, he added.
“They knew there were historical drill holes from 1970s so they had a good idea there was something to follow up on,” said Burke.
The mine went into production last year, the first hard-rock mine to open in the Yukon in 10 years.
The property went through a number of owners and mergers before Sherwood Copper developed the site.
But it might not be only the company in the area.
Since Minto mine opened, interest from companies like BC Gold and Carmacks Copper has increased.
The 2007 results at Minto could encourage others to take another look at the area, said Quin.
“It might set off more exploration,” he said.
The geological survey has already seen more interest.
“There’re other prospectors and companies sniffing around,” said Burke.
It’s not surprising, he added.
Low copper prices had for years kept mining it in the Minto area from being viable.
Rising commodity prices make it more economical.
“It’s allowed more copper exploration,” said Burke.
Drilling at the Minto mine revealed unknown “stacks” of deposits.
Instead of one sheet of resource going across, there’s depth as well, said Quinn.
It’s like a stack of pancakes made of copper deposits.
“What we did in 2007 was show more of the picture of things linking up,” said Quin.
“It’s not a complete picture and could be several more years of work.
The 2007 numbers don’t include drilling completed this year.
But 16 of the 52 drills in a previously untouched area yielded encouraging results, said Quin.
“It opens up new territory where we have didn’t have any idea of the available copper resources,” he said.