A far less glamorous species of ore has become the quarry of a few shrewd mining juniors – copper oxides.
Due to its wealth of prolific gold deposits, Nevada is fondly known as ‘elephant country’ to mining companies – big and small – that hope to hunt down their own epic discoveries. However, it’s a far less glamorous but nonetheless potentially very valuable species of ore that’s lately become the quarry of a few shrewd mining juniors – copper oxides. This strategy reflects the new reality in mining: Quality trumps quantity.
In other words, cash-strapped mining companies nowadays are quite happy to find modestly-sized, relatively high-grade deposits that can be commercialized at a fraction of the cost of huge ‘elephant-sized’ deposits. If these buried riches are near-surface – as is the case with some oxide deposits – the returns can be even more robust due to reduced pre-production expenditures.
Among Nevada’s new breed of ‘quality-oriented’ explorers is Discovery Harbour Resources (TSX.V: DHR). This mining junior recently drilled into what appears to be a near-surface copper oxide skarn deposit near the town of Lovelock in west central Nevada.
This is where an initial drill program has intersected as much as 74.2 feet (22.6 metres) averaging 1.2% copper at a fairly shallow depth at the 2BAR Project. Additionally, sweet spots as rich as 5.6 feet (1.7 metres) averaging 5.89% copper were also encountered within about 100 feet of the surface.
The presence of such shallow mineralization – if it occurs in sufficient size – means that it can be mined as an open pit (a quarry-like operation), leading to a favourably very low stripping ratio (the ratio of waste rock to ore). Furthermore, skarn oxide copper deposits are usually amenable to heap leach extraction (a relatively simple process that involves using a weak acid solution to separate valuable metals from its host rocks).
All of these compelling dynamics can translate into low operating costs. This explains why some of the world’s skarn deposits have proven to be profitable at average grades of less than one-third of what Discovery Harbour has encountered so far.
For the rest of this article, click here: http://www.mineweb.com/regions/usa/nevadas-new-mining-mantra-quality-trumps-quantity/