The British Columbia government has announced that as part of its jobs plan, it wants to have eight new mines in production by the end of 2015. Erik Tornquist, Pacific Booker Minerals (PBM) Inc.’s executive vice president and COO, states, “PBM is pleased to be one of them, with production expected in 2015.”
PBM is a Canadian natural resource exploration company – listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (Trading Symbol: BKM) and the New York Stock Exchange (Trading Symbol: PBM) – that is in an advanced stage of developing the Morrison deposit, a porphyry copper/gold/molybdenum ore body, located in central British Columbia. PBM is proposing an open-pit mining and milling operation for the production of copper/gold concentrate and molybdenum concentrate. It is within 30 kilometers of two former copper/gold/silver producing mines, the Bell and the Granisle.
The Morrison deposit was discovered by Noranda Exploration in 1962. Noranda drilled 95 holes totalling 13,893 meters from 1963 to 1973 and published two resource estimates, the first in 1976 and the second in 1992.
In 1997, PBM entered into an agreement with Noranda Inc. to obtain a 50 percent interest in the Morrison property. PBM subsequently purchased the Morrison property from Falconbridge Ltd. (formerly Noranda Inc. and now Xstrata) in 2004, with no net smelter return or concentrate commitments to Falconbridge Ltd. “Noranda Inc. left the province in the 1990s as a result of politics, and PBM became the beneficiary of the Morrison,” Tornquist states.
In March 2009, PBM completed a feasibility study and 43-101 Compliant Technical Report for the Morrison project, which will be an open pit mining operation with an ore production rate of 30,000 tons per day or 10.9 million tons (Mt) per year with a mine life of 21 years. The proven and probable mineable reserve is estimated to be 224.25 Mt with an average grade of 0.33 percent copper, 0.163 grams per ton (g/t) gold and 0.004 percent molybdenum. The capital cost is estimated to be CDN $516.68 million and operating cost of CDN $8.15 per ton milled over the life of the mine.
The Morrison project is classified as a major project in British Columbia and is subject to review under the Environmental Assessment Act. In September 2009, PBM announced the completion of an environmental assessment on the Morrison project – a major milestone towards commercial production – and submitted an application for an environmental assessment certificate (EAC) to the British Columbia environmental assessment office.
The EAC is required to apply for the various licences and permits required for the construction, operation, decommissioning and reclamation of the proposed open-pit mine. Subject to receiving the EAC, which is expected mid-2012, PBM will commence with detailed engineering and the preparation of applications for permits and other authorizations and licenses.
The Morrison Project has the advantage of existing regional infrastructure to service the region, including a deep-sea shipping terminal at the port of Stewart, B.C., a road network, nearby power (25 kilometers from the project site) and a full-service town (village of Granisle) within daily commuting distance from the project site.
High-pressure grinding rolls (HPGR) will be used as a replacement for the conventional semi-autogenous grinding milling process, resulting in a significant cost savings in power and consumables. The estimated savings from using HPGR is approximately four megawatts in power and $0.65 per ton in consumables.
“PBM is pleased to have had a longstanding, good relationship with the local First Nations,” Tornquist says. “PBM is fortunate to have only 14.65 million shares fully diluted, which is a considerable advantage when it comes to financing the project.”