Nevada Copper (TSX: NCU) announced Tuesday it has resumed processing operations at its Pumpkin Hollow underground mine, which was suspended last July while it was still in the ramp-up stage.
The processing operations began at an initial feed rate to the mills of 3,000 tonnes per day (tpd) to allow for the process team to optimize reagent addition and establish and reinforce operating procedures and ensure consistent operations, the company said.
Nevada Copper noted that the mill is being recommissioned on lower-grade ore stockpiles first and will transition to a combination of mined stope ore and stockpiled ore.
By mid-October, the throughput is planned to be increased steadily towards a goal of achieving steady state operations of 4,500-5,000 tpd by the end of 2023. Once steady-state operations are achieved, the company said it may consider relatively simple optimization opportunities in 2024 to increase the mill throughput beyond 5,000 tpd.
In September, Nevada Copper completed the third dike crossing, clearing the way for planned 2024 stope development. Continued development beyond the dike is to ultimately provide a full ventilation circuit for the Lower East North stoping areas, but it also provides additional headings for the development contractor to open targeted 2024 stopes, the miner said.
The initial stope in the 2023 mining sequence was mined in July and August with 9,000 tonnes of ore extracted in the Sugarcube area of the East South (ES) zone. Stope back filling activities began in September and a full stope was backfilled, completing successful testing of both the surface paste plant and the underground paste delivery system.
This Sugarcube stope is part of the ES zone planned stopes and ground conditions encountered during mining were conducive to a successful paste back fill. Drilling and blasting on the next planned stope in the Alphabet area of the ES zone is in progress and is expected to yield 20,000 tonnes of ore by the end of October, Nevada Copper said.
Work on the underground crusher and ore handling system is also progressing, the company said. The Geho dewatering system is mechanically complete with electrical and piping installation in process and is expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of the month.
On the exploration front, a reverse circulation drill is also planned to be on the project site this week. The primary goal of this 5,000-foot program is to follow up on the recent results and historic sampling.
According to the company, the Copper Ridge and Dimples target areas are outside of the current mineral resources and have the potential to establish additional mineral resources within the Pumpkin Hollow property.
Shares of Nevada Copper jumped 9.4% by 12:35 p.m. EDT on the news of the Pumpkin Hollow ore processing restart. The company has a market capitalization of C$237.4 million ($173.1m).