Monday, 1 October 2012

Curis Resources snags operating permit for Florence copper project in Arizona


Curis Resources (TSE:CUV) says it has secured an operating permit for the state of Arizona for its Florence copper project, calling it a "key milestone" in the construction and development of the site. 
The company said late Friday it received the Aquifer Protection Permit from the State of Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), which applies to the design, operation and closure of its phase 1 operations at the site. 
"The receipt this week of our Phase 1 operating permit from the Arizona  Department of Environmental Quality is a key milestone for the company  as we look forward to the start of construction and development of the  Florence Copper project," said Curis' president and CEO, Michael McPhie.  
"With our financing in place, detailed engineering complete and long lead  time equipment ordered, this positive decision by ADEQ brings us one  step closer to the start of construction and copper production at  Florence Copper." 
The permit received Friday authorizes the construction, operation and closure of a 24-well in-situ copper recovery operation - phase 1 - at the company's project in Florence, Arizona.
The recovery operation will be accompanied by an art solvent extraction/electrowinning facility that is designed to produce 99.999% pure copper cathode sheets, Curis said. 
The in-situ recovery process requires no movement of rock or overburden, and there is therefore a substantially smaller footprint, with much less of an environmental impact on the surrounding area than with more traditional open pit mining operations. 
The technique also requires substantially less mechanical energy in the form of trucks and explosives, and therefore generates significantly lower operating and capital costs.
Though several million pounds of copper is expected over the life of the phase 1 program, McPhie told Proactive Investors over the summer that the 24 wells are relatively small in context of a full commercial operation, and the primary focus of the first phase is the "optimization and refinement of the development plan."
"Our aim is to further prove up all the engineering and environmental safeguards through the phase 1 program, with the intent to begin development of the commercial plant facility and well field, referred to as phase 2, by the end of 2013."
According to the latest timeline, the company could begin full commercial production by early 2015, after which it expects to produce between 55 and 84 million pounds of copper per year.
Curis anticipates having phase 2 commercial scale operating permit approvals well before it is ready to begin construction in late 2013, as the phase 2 permits will just be an extension of permits already in place.
The feasibility study for the property is targeted for the first quarter of 2013.
Rather than focusing on expanding the size of the resource, which is already quite large, Curis is taking the approach of focusing on metallurgy and getting more copper from what is already there.
Indeed, for every percentage increase of copper recovery, higher revenues will be generated from the project, which has an estimated after-tax net present value of $360 million at a 7.5 per cent discount rate and a $2.50 per pound copper price.
Earlier this month, Curis said it hired engineer Bruce Marsh and mineral processing expert Greg Philips as it seeks to develop its operations in Arizona. Marsh joined Curis as senior vice president of strategic affairs and corporate development, while Phillips will be responsible for the planning, implementation and supervision of plant process and reclamation at Florence. 

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