Positive PEA for Highland Copper's White Pine North

Quebec-based Highland Copper has published positive scoping results for the White Pine North copper project in the historical copper district of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as part of an ongoing strategic review process.

Staff Reporter
Highland Copper's Michigan projects

Highland Copper's Michigan projects

Based on geotechnical data last updated in 2015, the company reported White Pine North could be profitable as a standalone project, drawing on existing infrastructure to reduce the initial capital outlay, estimated at US$457 million.

The PEA calculated an after-tax net present value (8%) of $416 million, as well as an internal rate of return of 16.8%.

The initial economic assessment was based on a $3/lb copper price and $16/oz silver. It used an indicated resource of 133.4 million tonnes grading 1.07% copper and 14.9 grams per tonne silver, containing 3.2 billion pounds of copper and 63.8 million ounces of silver.

Annual payable copper and silver production could reach 89Mlb and 1.3Moz, respectively, over a 25-year mine life, the company said.

The PEA envisions the deposit will be mined using a conventional mechanised, drill and blast room-and-pillar method.

The White Pine North project is the extension of the historical White Pine mine that operated from 1953 to 1995.

Highland Copper recently again extended the closing of a transaction with Copper Range Company (CRC), a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, to acquire the former White Pine mine to January 31, 2020. The companies announced an interim closing of the White Pine acquisition in May 2014, but several conditions precedent remain outstanding, including releasing CRC from certain environmental obligations regarding the remediation and closure plan of the erstwhile White Pine mine and replacing the related environmental bond for about $1.7 million.

The company is in discussion with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to finalise the documentation required to transfer the environmental obligations and the form of financial assurance required.

The company's focus remains on the nearby Copperwood project, a fully permitted feasibility-stage asset ready for development, which it acquired in June 2014 from Orvana Minerals. A 2018 feasibility study attached to the project an after-tax NPV of $116.8 million and an IRR of 18%.

Highland Copper shares (TSXV: HI) have been on a downward trend in the year to date, losing 65% of their value to C3.5c, which capitalises the company at $16.55 million.


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