Arizona’s first copper mine in more than a decade one permit away

Image: Excelsior Mining Corp

Shares in Excelsior Mining Corp (TSX:MIN) showed little reaction on Thursday after the company announced that a state operating permit for its Gunnison copper project in Cochise County, Arizona, received final approval.

The Vancouver-based company’s shares trading in Toronto lost a penny in midday trading, affording Excelsior a market value of $203m. Year to date the counter is up 35%.

The company announced there was no appeal against Excelsior’s Aquifer Protection Permit after a mandated 30-day review period. It leaves the Excelsior one step away from the start of construction on the Arizona’s first new copper mine in more than a decade:

Excelsior continues to work with the federal Environmental Protection Agency towards the issuance of an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit, which is the last of the three key operating permits required. Excelsior expects a draft UIC Permit will be issued for public comment soon.

Excelsior wants to build Gunnison in three phases with initial capacity of 25m pounds a year (11,340tpa) which is expected to cost a relatively low $47m to build using an existing processing plant at the neighbouring Johnson Camp mine. Excelsior bought the plant for $8.4m in 2015. Gunnison could eventually reach 125m pounds a year.

The project utilizes in situ recovery (ISR) methods to leach copper from a copper oxide deposit and extract the copper by conventional solvent extraction-electrowinning (SX-EW) technology. Proven and probable reserves are pegged at 2.05m tonnes of contained copper.