A new independent technical report from AMEC confirms the vast tonnages and economic grades in the Duluth Metals/Antofagasta Twin Metals base and precious metals project in Minnesota.
LONDON (MINEWEB) – We have always been very aware of the enormous potential of the ground held by Duluth Metals in eastern Minnesota on the edge of the old iron range which contains literally many billions of tons of complex ore grade material with significant copper, nickel, platinum group metals and gold content.
It has to be one of the world’s great mineral deposits – the major problems are permitting and finding the funding to mine it – neither necessarily an easy task nowadays, although one suspects the funding may be the easier of the two given that Duluth has brought in a base metals mining major, Antofagasta, to help it develop and mine a significant part of the resource under the Twin Metals jv (60% Duluth and 40% Antofagasta) banner.
On the permitting front there is bound to be considerable opposition to mine development there from environmentalists given it borders on the Boundary Waters recreational area. However Twin Metals reckons it can meet the environmentalists’ concerns using modern mining standards, mining the deposit underground to reduce the surface impact and use brownfield sites from old iron range operations to locate some of the key surface facilities. And it has the bipartisan support of the Minnesota legislature behind it, a supportive Minnesota Mines department and local support for providing jobs in an area which is not only a traditional mining one, but also one where there is currently high unemployment.
But getting back to the resource itself – we have said here before that it is probably not a case of ‘if’ it will be mined, but ‘when’. The world in general, and the U.S. in particular, needs the metals contained in the Duluth Complex, but probably, from the environmentalists point of view the permitting of one mine in the area will undoubtedly lead to others – the thin end of the wedge.
Duluth has announced its latest figures on the size and grades as noted in a draft NI 43-101 compliant technical assessment by independent engineering company, AMEC. From this report the economic case for developing a major mine on the area which comes under the Twin Metals jv alone would likely be compelling given the tonnages and grades confirmed. Consider the following factors put out by Duluth Metals in its latest press release regarding the AMEC study:
·Amongst the world’s largest Cu-Ni-PGM polymetallic sulphide deposits with contained metals (using a 0.3% Cu cut-off) of Indicated 8.0 Billion lbs copper, 2.5 Billion lbs nickel, and 12.1 Million ozs palladium+platinum+gold total precious metals (TPM) and Inferred 13.5 Billion lbs copper, 4.6 Billion lbs nickel, and 15.8 Million ozs TPM.
·Using a base case 0.3% Cu cut-off, AMEC estimated Indicated Resource of 726 million tons and Inferred Resource of 1.37 billion tons on the three deposits (Birch Lake, Maturi and Spruce Road) which are approximately 11% of the Twin Metals property block.
·In addition to the stated Indicated and Inferred mineral resource tons, AMEC highlights additional Exploration Target areas surrounding Maturi estimating an additional potential of between 1.4 and 2.4 billion tons. These Exploration Target areas represent approximately 12% of the Twin Metals property block.
·Within the three zones for which resources are estimated, there exists significant continuous mineralization at higher grades than the global resource.
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