Tag Archives: Capstone Mining

Freeport-McMoRan and BHP Ventures jump aboard the Jetti Resources tech train

Jetti Resources’ plan to rapidly rollout its breakthrough copper extraction technology has been given a boost with the announcement of $50 million in funding from the likes of Mitsubishi Corp, Freeport-McMoRan, BHP Ventures, Orion Resource Partners, and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates Inc.

The Series C funding round was led by existing strategic investor, Mitsubishi Corporation, and included new investment from the other firms mentioned.

“Mitsubishi, an existing strategic shareholder of Jetti, has further deepened its involvement as an investor as part of a shared vision for transforming the copper industry,” Jetti said. “Mitsubishi’s extensive networks both upstream with copper mines and downstream with end users of copper are invaluable as Jetti enters the rapid growth phase of its development.”

Since the completion of its Series B capital raise in 2019, Jetti says it has commercially proven the effectiveness of its technology at Capstone Mining’s Pinto Valley Mine in Arizona. During the first year of Capstone’s partnership with Jetti, cathode production per area irrigated doubled, and discussions to expand this partnership are ongoing.

In addition, Jetti has significantly strengthened its Board and management team to support the next phase of its development, bringing on Chip Goodyear, the former CEO of BHP, and Trevor Reid, the former long-standing CFO of Xstrata PLC.

Jetti has a pipeline of 23 projects at various stages, including five active pilots and three opportunities transitioning to commercial status.

Following the close of its $50 million Series C financing, Jetti will have raised more than $100 million for the development and deployment of its technology.

Mike Outwin, CEO and Co-Founder of Jetti Resources, said: “Jetti’s financing round has been backed by two of the world’s largest copper mining companies, a leading global copper trader and mine owner, and a premier institutional investment fund and mining private equity group. These industry leaders recognise the potential for Jetti’s environmentally friendly technology to unlock vast untapped copper resources within their portfolios.”

Outwin said the funds raised will enable Jetti to further deploy its technology across large-scale copper mining operations.

“We look forward to working with all investors to accelerate the adoption of Jetti’s technology and deliver much needed ‘green copper’ to meet the world’s needs for a low-carbon electrified future,” he added.

Norikazu Tanaka, Group CEO, Mineral Resources Group, Mitsubishi Corporation, said: “Mitsubishi recognised the revolutionary nature of Jetti’s technology in 2019, and since then the team has not only proven its efficacy at scale but prudently identified a range of opportunities for its adoption at existing mines.

“They are naturally now expanding to create the critical mass required for the next stage of growth to meet the requirements of a low carbon global economy. We are thrilled to deepen our strategic partnership with Jetti through our increased investment and by leveraging Mitsubishi’s extensive networks both upstream with copper mines and downstream with end users of copper. We believe this partnership can make a significant contribution to more efficient development, conservation, and supply stability of the world’s limited copper resources.”

Josh Olmsted, Freeport-McMoRan’s President and Chief Operating Officer-Americas, said: “We are pleased to partner with Jetti, as we pursue technologies to improve copper production from leach stockpiles, reduce our carbon footprint, and supply responsibly produced copper to a global market with increasing demand. Freeport’s assets are well situated to test this technology, and we look forward to advancing opportunities to deploy the technology where appropriate at our operating locations.”

Laura Tyler, Chief Technical Officer, BHP said: “Jetti’s technology has the potential to unlock new copper production safely, productively and responsibly. To support renewable technologies and decarbonisation goals in limiting global warming to 1.5°C we expect global copper demand could double over the next 30 years, compared to the past 30 years.

Through our BHP Ventures team, we are delighted to invest in and partner with Jetti and help create opportunities for its innovative technology to progress a greener future.”

Jetti’s patented catalytic technology is designed to allow for the efficient and effective heap and stockpile leach extraction of copper. The company’s technology bolts onto existing solvent extraction/electrowinning leaching plants so it can be deployed rapidly with limited capital expenditure and, because it uses no heating or grinding, it has low operational costs. In addition, there are huge environmental benefits from using leaching over pyrometallurgy, according to Jetti.

Second Cat 994K wheel loader arrives at Capstone’s Pinto Valley in latest innovation push

Capstone Mining has brought a second Caterpillar 994K wheel loader to its Pinto Valley operation in Arizona, USA, as it looks to reduce its emissions and improve its operating cost base at the copper mine.

Last year, the mine added to its fleet a Cat 994K loader, which, the company says, burns circa-30 less gallons of fuel per hour (1.9 litres/min) than its current shovels. “This reduced our CO2 emissions and operational cost savings on approximately 116,000 gallons of fuel in 2020,” Capstone said.

The second 994K, added last week, will, in partnership with the first wheel loader, displace around 10,000 shovel hours a year and save approximately 410,000 gallons of fuel and millions in maintenance costs, the company claimed.

Capstone concluded: “Pinto Valley is innovating and optimising for exciting times ahead.”

This is not the only area of innovation the company is currently pursuing at Pinto Valley, an operation it acquired from BHP back in in October 2013.

In its 2020 results, released last month, Capstone said the implementation of phase one of its PV3 Optimization project at Pinto Valley had delivered a 10% sustainable throughput improvement compared with 2019.

The PV3 Optimization project has been designed to achieve safer, more reliable and higher capacity operations without major investments in new comminution equipment. It is doing this by leveraging new inexpensive technologies.

Phase one work, which included improved blast fragmentation processes, installation of a new secondary crusher and screen decks as well as a new mill shell, was completed last year. This saw the mine achieve throughput of 57,168 t/d in the December quarter, 10% higher than the annual 2019 average of 51,137 t/d. December 2020 mill throughput achieved 60,717 t/d, which represents a new monthly record in the mine’s operating history.

Phase two of the PV3 Optimization project is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021, upon completion of upgrades to a conveyor, mill auto controls, cyclone packs and retrofits to the thickeners, it said.

During the month of December, the company conducted a pilot plant test of Eriez HydroFloat coarse particle technology at Pinto Valley, with Capstone saying the results had surpassed expectations of a 6% improvement target to overall copper recovery. In fact, the tests showed a 6-8% increase in overall copper recovery was achievable, which, when combined with expected higher throughput rates, could result in an additional 9-12 MIb/y (4,082-5,443 t/y) of copper production at the operation, it said.

“Additional benefits to the technology include allowing the operation increased throughput by operating at a coarser grind size, which is expected to lower power costs, improve water consumption and lead to improved stability in the tailings storage facility,” Capstone said in its 2020 results. “The estimated $70 million expansionary capital, which includes the installation of Eriez HydroFloat and related equipment, if approved by the board of directors, is expected to be spread over half two 2021 and early 2022, with start-up expected in Q2 (June quarter) 2022.”

Capstone said it expects to release an updated NI 43-101 technical report that encompasses the PV3 Optimization Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects and improvements in the second half of 2021.

At the same time, it is also looking into a PV4 study at Pinto Valley.

Capstone explained: “Feasibility work on scenarios to take advantage of approximately one billion tonnes of mineral resource not currently in the mineral reserve mine plan, which is at similar grade to the current mineral reserves, will be conducted for Pinto Valley.”

The PV4 study is expected to be released in late 2022 and will contemplate using existing mill infrastructure rather than building new facilities, with higher mining rates, higher cutoff grades to the mill and increased tonnage available for leaching.

Extensive column leach test work in collaboration with Jetti Resources LLC will take place over 2021. Jetti’s patented catalytic technology, designed to allow for the efficient and effective heap and stockpile leach extraction of copper, has been a success at Pinto Valley’s leaching operation, where it expects to recover up to 350 million pounds of cathode copper over the next two decades from historic and new mineralised waste piles.

“Capstone is a pioneer in the application of this leach technology and we intend to use it to enhance the economics of a future expansion at Pinto Valley,” it said.

Capstone prepares Cozamin for introduction of paste backfill, dry-stack tailings

An updated Technical Report on Capstone Mining’s Cozamin copper-silver mine in Zacatecas, Mexico, has shown the potential for a mine life extension to 2031, and a plan for dry-stack tailings and underground paste backfill. At the same time, the company says it is studying the use of “innovative mining techniques and enhanced pillar recovery” to make the most of existing reserves and resources.

The updated life of mine plan released outlined average annual copper production of 51.2 MIb (23,224 t) of copper and 1.6 Moz of silver production over 10 years at average C1 costs, including the 50% silver stream, of $1.02/Ib of payable copper. From 2021 to 2027, average annual production is slated to be 58.8 MIb of copper and 1.7 Moz of silver.

The company said a planned ramp-up to 3,780 t/d, or 1.38 Mt/y, by the end of March quarter is on track, with a new section of ramp to open the one-way traffic circuit to debottleneck the mine (pictured) completed in early December 2020, ahead of schedule.

Reserves increased by 39% and now stand at 14.1 Mt, relative to April 30, 2020. Contained copper and silver increased by 37% and 49%, respectively, with around half of this increase due to recovery of high-grade pillars using paste backfill, Capstone said.

The miner said “tailings management transformation” activities were progressing on schedule at site, including feasibility-level design and studies in support of permitting a filtered (dry stack) tailings storage facility.

“This conversion from a slurry tailings impoundment aligns with industry leading socio-environmental best practice for tailings management,” the company said.

Meanwhile, a prefeasibility study (PFS) for an underground paste backfill system was completed in December.

The study indicates a paste backfill system will allow ore extraction containing over 100 MIb of copper and 3.1 Moz of silver between 2023 and 2031, which would have otherwise been left as unmined pillars. The PFS design has a capital cost estimate ranging from $41-$45 million and an increase in operating costs of around $7.50/t of ore mined. Capstone says its management has approved the paste backfill project and work has commenced on procurement of long lead items.

The proposed paste backfill system includes a tailings filter plant, a paste mixing plant, twin boreholes to deliver paste underground and an underground distribution system. The system is expected to be commissioned starting in the December quarter of 2022, with ramp-up completed in the March quarter of 2023.

PFS design of these facilities was completed by Paterson & Cooke in December 2020 and a feasibility study is underway with completion expected in April 2021. Mine planning was completed by Cozamin, with design support provided by a geotechnical consultant, and paste backfill operational guidance provided by AMC Consultants.

Within the latest release, Capstone also flagged the initiation of its “Impact23 Growth” project, which has identified areas of exploration excellence, innovative mining techniques and enhanced pillar recovery at Cozamin.

“By 2023, the goal is to further extend mine life, increase environmental and safety standards, and improve operational efficiencies at Cozamin, utilising mineral resources already discovered in addition to testing new targets,” the company explained.

Included among the options are the innovative mining techniques for resource to reserve conversion flagged at the start of this story.

Capstone says a study will be initiated this year to assess alternative mining techniques with the objective of lowering costs and dilution to convert resources to reserves from the indicated resource base. The current mining methods are longitudinal longhole open stoping and AVOCA, with possible alternatives to be studied including cut-and-fill, drift-and-fill and longhole open stoping with ore sorting technology.

Brad Mercer, Capstone’s SVP and Chief Operating Officer, said: “The life of mine plan announced today maximises extraction of the orebody’s high-grade core by deferring stoping in this area until the paste backfill plant is in operation in 2023. Projected production averages nearly 60 MIb of copper per year for seven years at first quartile costs.

“The Impact23 Growth project that we are kickstarting today is aiming to demonstrate in a 2023 technical report how Cozamin can sustain these levels of performance well into the 2030s.”

Darren Pylot, Capstone’s President and CEO, added: “After 14 years in operation, the best years of Cozamin are ahead. The mine is world class with sustainable low costs and leading safety and environmental performance entrenched throughout the organisation. The growth initiatives are supported by an entrepreneurial fabric at Capstone, as we embrace innovation and technology to create high impact value for our shareholders.”

Capstone considering Eriez HydroFloat tech to boost Pinto Valley performance

Capstone Mining is continuing to leverage innovative, low-cost technology at its Pinto Valley mine in an attempt to further utilise its existing solvent-extraction and electowinning (SX-EW) plant at the Arizona, USA, operation.

In the December quarter of 2019, Pinto Valley commenced a PV3 Optimization project designed to achieve safer, more reliable and higher capacity operations without major investments in new comminution equipment. A goal was set to achieve increased reliability, and higher throughput at maximised copper recovery with lower costs by leveraging new inexpensive technologies.

In its September quarter results, the company provided an update on this project, saying, to October 27, it had spent $17 million as part of its Phase 1 developments. This included crushing and mill equipment replacements, which are 60% complete with full completion expected by July 2021.

As part of its Phase 2 developments, Capstone spent $10 million in conveyor, mill auto controls, cyclone packs and tailings thickener upgrades. These upgrades are planned to be completed by the end of the September quarter of 2021.

On top of this, the miner completed a blast fragmentation optimisation project to target 30% fines (minus-0.5 in) in run of mine feed in the June quarter. In the same quarter, it completed a $300,000 tele-remote Cat D10 Dozer project to increase worker safety for high-risk applications. Another $6 million was spent on new mine equipment to increase efficiency while lowering diesel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and other operating costs by $800,000/y. This project was completed in the September quarter.

In terms of its metallurgical innovation, the company continued to use novel catalytic technology developed by Jetti Resources at Pinto Valley, expected to deliver 300-350 MIb of copper cathode over the next 20 years from high-grade mine waste and historic stockpiles at all-in costs under $2/Ib. This technology uses a catalyst on primary sulphide minerals to disrupt the sulphur metal bond of the mineral and allow for a leaching solution to contact the copper. This enables the extraction of the metal to take place unimpeded.

Capstone also made plans to use new reagents to improve worker safety and improve overall metallurgical performance at its molybdenum plant re-start project. This would involve “minimal capital” and completion was targeted by the March quarter of 2021, it said.

Capstone says it is targeting to reach 60,000-63,000 t average daily throughput at Pinto Valley at an 85-90% recovery by 2022-2023. This is 17-30% higher than 2019 performance and is subject to further test work and studies to be completed in the first half of 2021, including tailings management, the company explained.

Added to this, following positive laboratory results on Pinto Valley flotation circuit samples, Capstone and Eriez are planning to commence pilot plant testing of the HydroFloat technology.

The HydroFloat fluidised bed assisted flotation cell has previously proven effective at floating coarse ore particles, up to two to three times the size limit of conventional flotation cells in commercial applications such as at Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley operation in Australia. Newcrest has recently decided to expand the use of this technology at the operation.

Capstone says the lab results at Pinto Valley had led Eriez to report an opportunity to reduce copper losses by up to 50%, thereby boosting overall recovery by up to 6% at Pinto Valley.

“Furthermore, the ability to recover coarse particles could allow for higher mill throughput while achieving high copper recovery,” Capstone said.

Other benefits could be lower grinding costs, lower water and energy consumption and increased tailings stability via coarser tailings.

Pilot testing is due to commence in November with results expected back in the March quarter of 2021.

Lastly, work on PV4 expansion scenarios to take advantage of around one billion tonnes of measured and indicated resources at 0.30% Cu continued during the September quarter.

“Given management’s confidence in PV3 Optimization progress to date, including the successful implementation of the novel catalytic technology from Jetti Resources to enhance leaching performance, Capstone has decided to evaluate expansion scenarios using existing assets rather than building new mill infrastructure,” the company said.

The study is assessing higher mining rates, higher cutoff grades to the mill, and an increased tonnage available for leaching.

While a significant mill expansion is not currently being contemplated, an expansion of Pinto Valley’s SX-EW capacity of 25 MIb/y may be necessary, it said. Extensive column leach test work will be conducted over 2021, with the overall PV4 expansion study expected to be released in 2022, Capstone added.

Capstone Mining eyes Santo Domingo IOCG project capex cuts with PASA MoU

Capstone Mining’s 70%-owned subsidiary Minera Santo Domingo (MSD) has entered into an agreement that could see it slash some $400 million off the capital cost for building its Santo Domingo copper-iron-gold project, in Chile’s Region III, by offloading the port and concentrate transport infrastructure development to another company.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Puerto Abierto SA (PASA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Puerto Ventanas SA (also a subsidiary of Sigdo Koppers SA) will see both MSD and PASA, over a 90-day period, explore mutual synergies and regional benefits for the proposed port component of the Santo Domingo project, Puerto Santo Domingo.

The port, which is fully permitted and located 100 km from the Santo Domingo project site, will be one of only two capesize vessel ports in the region, making it an attractive site for bulk shipments and a key asset allowing for broad resource development in Region III, Capstone says.

Santo Domingo is owned 70% by Capstone and 30% by Korea Resources Corp. A February 2020 technical report outlined an 18-year operation with a life of mine average throughput of 60,500 t/d for annual output of 137 Mlb (62,142 t) of copper, 4.2 Mt of iron ore and 17,000 oz of gold at the project. Development capital for this study came in at $1.51 billion (excluding cobalt processing).

As part of the MoU, MSD will allow PASA to study, at its own cost, the project engineering and conduct a market study over the 90-day period.

PASA is looking to potentially acquire, construct, operate and maintain the deep-water port, including financing its development, Capstone said. Once in operation, Santo Domingo will receive preferred service as its volumes will represent  a baseload of business for the port.

The MOU also gives PASA 90 days to evaluate the replacement of the 110 km magnetite concentrate pipeline with a railway as part of its rail business, Ferrocarril del Pacifico SA.

The project infrastructure under consideration in this MoU represents some $400 million of the capital expenditure identified in the most recent technical report, Capstone says, and includes:

  • Marine works including pier;
  • Iron concentrate pipeline from Santo Domingo mine to port;
  • Magnetite filter plant and stockpile building;
  • Copper storage building; and
  • Ship loading and support facilities.

“Over the past three months we have seen a surge in interest in our fully permitted Santo Domingo project,” Darren Pylot, President and CEO of Capstone, said. “I believe this relationship with Puerto Ventanas will serve as a major catalyst for our Santo Domingo project. Our path forward includes successful culmination of the strategic sales process, executing a gold stream agreement and arranging project debt financing.”

Dr Albert Garcia, VP, Projects at Capstone, said the partnership with PASA, coupled with the fixed cost, turnkey proposal from POSCO E&C, significantly “de-risks” the overall project.