Vancouver-based mineral explorer Curis Resources (TSE:CUV) reported Wednesday that it is advancing its flagship Florence Copper project in Central Arizona, with feasibility study targeted for the fourth quarter.
"We are pleased with our progress in advancing the Florence Copper project with the goal of completing the feasibility study and necessary amendments to permits to enable near term production," said Curis chief executive, Michael McPhie.
The company said in a statement that a number of major milestones have been achieved in the last several months.
A number of feasibility studies for the Florence Copper project, being led by M3 Engineering of Tucson, are in advanced stages of engineering review and will be compiled into a full report scheduled for the fourth quarter.
The focus of the work will be to provide 15% plus capital and operating cost estimates based on new trade-off studies and updated project plans. The studies build on previous pre-feasibility studies completed by Magma Copper Company in 1994, and BHP Copper in 1997 and updated by SRK Consulting on Sept. 30, 2010.
A geological drilling and testing program is also underway at the site, said the company, and will provide information for a revised life-of-project copper extraction plan.
Additionally, phase one construction of the project is planned to start in the first quarter of next year, after it receives amended commercial operating permits currently being reviewed by state and federal agencies.
The start-up phase will consist of a 24-well copper extraction field, constructed to simulate full scale operations, for inputs into final plant design and development.
Currently, an engineering procurement and construction management bid package for phase one is being prepared, Curis said, with several Arizona firms to be included on the bidders list.
Presently, a drilling program is underway at the property, having initiated a six-hole 8,000 foot core drilling program back in April. The program comprises of three holes in the phase one development area, of which two holes are on Arizona State land, with one in the area of the former BHP copper in-situ recovery well operated in 1997.
Curis expects the program to be done by early August. Meanwhile, amended and updated aquifer protection and underground permits are required for in-situ recovery operation at the project, allowing the company to proceed with phase one development.
The company has been in discussions with key state and federal agencies relating to these permits since April of last year, and as a result, is on track to have them reissued by late 2011 or early next year.