The Schaft Creek project is managed through the Schaft Creek Joint Venture (‘SCJV’) between Teck Resources Limited (‘Teck’) (75%) and Copper Fox (25%) with Teck as Operator. The SCJV was formed in 2013 to manage the exploration and development of the Schaft Creek project which hosts the Schaft Creek polymetallic copper deposit, one of the largest undeveloped porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum-silver deposits in North America. The Schaft Creek project covers 56,180 hectares of mineral concessions located in Tahltan Territory in northwestern British Columbia, approximately 60 kilometers (‘km’) south of Telegraph Creek, near existing seaport, transportation and clean hydroelectric energy infrastructure.
In November 2021, Copper Fox filed an independent Preliminary Economic Assessment (‘PEA’) prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 (‘NI 43-101’) on Schaft Creek (click for report). The PEA was prepared under the direction of Tetra Tech Canada Inc. with an effective date of September 10, 2021. The effective date of the mineral resource used in the PEA is January 15, 2021. Metal Price Assumptions: US$3.25/lb Cu, US$1,500/oz Au, US$10/lb Mo, and US$20/oz Au. The results of the PEA are presented on a 100% project basis and in US$ unless stated otherwise.
- Pre-tax Net Present Value (‘NPV’) 8% of US$1.4 billion (B) Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 15.2% and payback period of 4.4 years
- After-tax NPV 8% of US$842.1 million (M) and IRR of 12.9% and payback period of 4.8 years
- EBITDA of US$10.8 B Life of Mine (LOM)
- Free Cash Flow of US$9.96 B LOM
- Net Smelter Return (‘NSR’) of US$20.63 per tonne (‘t’)
- 21-year mine life producing approximately 5.0 B pounds (‘lbs’) or 2.3 Mt copper, 3.7 M ounces (oz) gold, 226.0 Mlbs molybdenum and 16.4 Moz silver in concentrate
- 133,000 tonne per day LOM nominal milling rate at 92% capacity processing 1.03 Bt of mill feed, representing approximately 60% of identified mineral resources
- Initial Capital Cost of US$2.65 B, not including Sustaining Capital Costs of US$848.7 M which is inclusive of US$154.0 M Closure Costs
- Operating Costs are US$8.66/t processed
- C1 Cash Costs (net of by-product credits) are US$1.00/lb payable copper
- All in Sustaining Costs are US$1.18/lb payable copper
The results of the PEA are preliminary in nature. The PEA includes a combination of indicated and inferred mineral resources which are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves. There is no certainty that the PEA forecasts will be realized or that any of the resources will ever be upgraded to reserves. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
The PEA recommended the Schaft Creek Project proceed with a Preliminary Feasibility Study (‘PFS’) and contemplates a budget of C$23.2 M. Activities include geological and geotechnical drilling, metallurgical testwork and additional environmental and infrastructure studies to complete the PFS. The budget includes contingencies, preparation of the PFS and direct costs related to completion of the recommended program.
2021 Mineral Resource Estimate
In May 2021, Copper Fox filed an NI 43-101 Technical Report which included the results of an updated mineral resource for the Schaft Creek copper-molybdenum-gold silver porphyry project (click for report). To date the limits of the Schaft Creek deposit have not been defined and the area surrounding the deposit is considered to have excellent potential to contain porphyry style copper mineralization (i.e., the Discovery zone, DDH 2012CF427 returned 0.24% copper, 0.14 g/t gold and 0.006% molybdenum over a core interval of 336.7 metres (‘m’)). The Discovery zone is located approximately 2 km to the north of the Schaft Creek deposit and several other exploration targets in the vicinity have not been drill tested.
Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
The 2023 program contemplates a C$17.2 M budget focussed on geotechnical drilling, metallurgical testwork, wildlife, fish and acquatic studies, environmental sampling, permitting and commity relations. Key aspects of the program are:
- 9,000 m geotechnical drill program
- External review of construction timeline and offsite infrastructure costs to reduce initial development costs and payback period, to improve overall investment case
- Collection of geotechnical data in key areas including the proposed pit highwall, which aim to improve the pit design and life of mine strip ratio, reducing operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions
- Environmental baseline data collection program that is in accordance with regulatory requirements, 2-years of monthly sampling field campaign
- Archaeology Impact Assessment study within the area around the Schaft Creek project in cosultation with the Tahltan Nation
- Communications and Engagement Agreement while seeking further collaboration with the Tahltan Nation on cultural and social traditions initiatives
- Significant upgrades to the kitchen, bunkhouses, fixed-wing runway and other site infrastructure to accommodate a larger work force and ensure safety and efficiency at camp
Schaft Creek Joint Venture
In July 2013, Copper Fox and Teck created the SCJV to further explore and develop the Schaft Creek project. The SCJV holds two main assets: i) the Schaft Creek copper-molybdenum-gold-silver project and ii) an 85.41% equity interest in Liard Copper Mines (‘Liard’). Liard holds a 30% Net Proceeds Interest in the Schaft Creek project subject to certain terms and conditions.
Under the SCJV agreement, Teck is required to make three cash milestone payments to Copper Fox: i) $20 M upon entering into the agreement (received), ii) $20 M upon a production decision approving mine construction, and iii) $20 M upon completion of construction of mine facilities.
The SCJV agreement provides that Teck and Copper Fox are each responsible for their pro-rata share of project costs except that Teck is solely responsible for the first $60 M in pre-production costs. If pre-production costs exceed $60 M, Copper Fox’s pro rata share of such costs will be set off against the two remaining cash milestone payments. If pre-production costs exhaust the two cash milestone payments, Teck will further assist Copper Fox by providing loans, as necessary, without dilution to Copper Fox’s 25% joint venture interest.
By way of example, pre-production expenditures on the Schaft Creek project would have to exceed a cumulative total of $220 M in order to exhaust the two cash milestone payments after which Teck would be obligated to fund Copper Fox’s pro-rata share of pre-productions costs by way of a loan to Copper Fox (at Prime plus 2%).
The definitive Joint Venture Agreement between Copper Fox and Teck dated July 15, 2013, is available under Copper Fox’s profile on SEDAR+ at www.sedarplus.ca.