BASE METALS

Minto Metals copper production soars while Capstone allows payment reprieve

LSE-listed Pembridge Resources subsidiary Minto Metals, which operates the copper-gold Minto mine in Alaska, is seeing production soar at the same time as former owner Capstone has agreed to allow the company a deferral on remaining payments.

Nathan Richardson
Pembridge's Minto mine in Alaska

Pembridge's Minto mine in Alaska

The mine - which supplies Sumitomo Corporation in Japan - produced 26 million pounds of payable copper in 2021, a rise of up 46% year-on-year. For 2022, Minto Metals expects production will climb to 28Mlb-31Mlb.

Gold production for 2021 increased by 54% to 11,783oz, and silver rose by 101% to 135,354oz, the company said.

"The Minto operation is now on a sound path to continued increase of ore processing volumes, as well as delivering on [the] life-of-mine extension once exploration is completed and results delivered," Pembridge CEO Gati Al-Jebouri said.

President and CEO of Minto Chris Stewart said: "Our goal is to carry the momentum from 2021 into 2022. All indicators are giving us reasons to be encouraged about the bright future ahead."

The plan for 2022 is to run the mill at an average throughput of 3,000 tonnes/day for the first half of the year and then lift that to 3,250t/d for the second half "as the ore production continues to ramp up towards our mill's ultimate permitted capacity of 4,2000t/d", Minto said.

Previously, Minto had been targeting 4,000t/d in 2022, but had to delay that as the miner awaits permits for the expansion.

"Executing our ‘fil the mill' strategy is now expected to occur in 2023," Minto said.

C1 cash costs for 2022 are expected to be US$2.70-$2.90/lb, the miner said.

Meanwhile, the TSX-listed Minto has reached an agreement with Capstone Mining to defer part of the purchase price obligation.

"With the copper price having been above $3.50/lb for more than two consecutive quarters since the acquisition of Minto by Pembridge, the contingent consideration for the Minto mine has now become due," Al-Jebouri said.

"We are pleased that Minto has paid $15 million of the total purchase price to Capstone in 2021 and we appreciated Capstone's flexibility in agreeing to this partial deferment for the remaining $5 million," he said.

The remaining $5 million is now payable on January 15, 2023. Pembridge acquired the Minto mine from Capstone in June 2019 and restarted operations in October 2019.

The mine was in continuous production from 2007 to 2018 before being placed onto care and maintenance.

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