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SolGold’s pre-feasibility study for Alpala delayed

Alpala, part of the Cascabel copper-gold project, 180 km north of Ecuador’s capital Quito. (Image courtesy of SolGold.)

Ecuador-focused miner SolGold (LON, TSX:SOLG) said on Wednesday it won’t be able to complete the pre-feasibility study (PFS) for its Alpala copper-gold project by the end of September due to covid-19 restrictions.

The Australian miner noted the pandemic had limited physical access to the Alpala site, the main target of its 85%-owned Cascabel concession, resulting in critical data not being available to complete the study by the expected deadline.

SolGold noted that most key items for the PFS are near completion. Those include Alpala’s hydrogeological model with the final layout of mine infrastructure, included ventilation design, production schedules and process plant design.

The miner noted that a third resource update for Alpala that forms the basis of the PFS study had already been completed in April, adding there have been no changes since.

The deposit’s resource stands at 2.66 billion tonnes at 0.53% copper-equivalent in the measured and indicated categories, and 544 million tonnes at 0.31% copper-equivalent in the inferred category.

Largest copper-gold potential 

SolGold considers Alpala to be among the world’s best undeveloped deposits, with an estimated mine life of 55 years. The project is located on the northern section of the Andean Copper Belt, known for producing nearly half of the world’s copper.

Ecuador has lately attracted a flurry of interest from big miners looking to increase their exposure to the red metal. The highly conductive material is in high demand for use in renewable energy and electric vehicles, but big, new deposits are rare.

Diversified majors particularly favour large-scale, long-life projects. BHP, for one, upped its stake in the company last year to 14.7% from 11.1%, becoming the Ecuador-focused miner’s top shareholder.