Trilogy Metals (TSX: TMQ; NYSE America: TMQ) says lower than expected drilling productivity due to adverse weather and staffing shortages at its Arctic copper project in remote northwestern Alaska will not detract from the project’s permitting and development timeline.
The project, part of the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) being managed by the Ambler Metals joint venture between the company and South32 (ASX: S32; LSE: S32; JSE: S32), opened the Arctic exploration camp in May in preparation for a start-up of drilling in June.
The drilling contractor deployed three diamond drill rigs in June to conduct 7,600 meters of drilling at Arctic. Most of the drilling targeted infill areas to improve the confidence of the mineral resources and geotechnical and metallurgical drill holes to further de-risk the project. An additional 7,000 meters of exploration drilling was planned at targets near the Arctic deposit and elsewhere in the Ambler Mining District.
As a result, Ambler Metals is unlikely to achieve the drill meters planned at Arctic for this field season. Notwithstanding the lower-than-expected drilling productivity, Ambler Metals has recovered sufficient mineralized material to complete the planned metallurgical program at Arctic, says Trilogy.
All the planned geotechnical drilling was completed, and the company does not expect the shortfall in the drilling program to influence the permitting and development timeline of the Arctic project,” it said in a media statement.
In consultation with joint-venture owners Trilogy and South32, Ambler Metals will keep the camp open longer than initially planned to complete as much of the regional drilling program as possible. The timing of camp closure this season will be weather-dependent.
In response to the slower drilling this season, Ambler Metals has also redeployed some of the geological staff at the site to focus on regional mapping and soil sampling around satellite deposits near the Arctic project and at the earlier-stage Bornite project. Information gathered during this season will assist with future exploration activities, including identifying drill targets for next year’s field season.
The summer field season for the Ambler Access project is underway with cultural heritage work along the proposed 340-kilometre, east-west-running controlled industrial access road that would provide industrial access to the Ambler Mining District in northwestern Alaska.
The partnership, formed in 2019, seeks to eventually develop the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects (UKMP) in Alaska’s Ambler mining district. Building an access road to the deposit is one of the first steps to achieving that goal.
The UKMP projects have a combined resource of 8 billion pounds of copper, 3 billion pounds of zinc and 1 million ounces of gold equivalent.
The proposed mine is expected to produce more than 159 million pounds of copper, 199 million pounds of zinc, 33 million pounds of lead, 30,600 ounces of gold and 3.3 million ounces of silver over a 12-year mine life.