Trevali Mining has enlisted the help of Redpath Mining to restart its Caribou zinc-lead mine near Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada.
The mine has been on a care and maintenance program since March 2020 following a deterioration of the global zinc market and the continued challenges presented by COVID-19.
Armed with the implementation of several operational and commercial enhancements, as well as improved zinc market conditions, the company now expects to return to mining in early February, with first payable zinc production expected by the end of March.
Following ramp-up in 2021, the all-in sustaining cost (AISC) for Caribou is forecast to be between $0.84-$0.90/Ib of zinc in 2022. The AISC for 2021 is expected to be $0.91-$0.97/Ib.
This cost performance will be supported by a partnership with Redpath Mining as underground mining contractor at Caribou. Trevali says Redpath’s operational experience will help it safely and efficiently mine Caribou’s narrow mineralisation, with the company able to mobilise people and equipment quickly.
Also supporting the restart plan is the signing of a 21-month fixed pricing arrangement for a significant portion of the forecasted zinc production from the mine. Pursuant to existing offtake agreements, an affiliate of Glencore has agreed to purchase 115 Mib of payable zinc, which represents some 80% of the forecasted zinc production from Caribou, at an average price of $1.25/Ib.
These agreements are for the period from March 2021 to December 2022 and are in addition to Trevali’s existing hedging program, which covers the period from October 2020 to December 2021.
Trevali said it was also looking to enter into fixed-pricing arrangements for both lead and silver at meaningful levels of forecasted production from Caribou.
Production guidance for 2021 is estimated at between 60-65 Mib of payable zinc, 21-23 MIb of payable lead and 585,000-650,000 oz of payable silver. Zinc payable production is expected to increase to 72-77 MIb of payable zinc in 2022 as the mine receives the benefit of a full year of production.
During the initial 21-month operating period, Trevali says it will also continue to study metallurgical and operational opportunities to extend the current two-year mine plan, as well as other longer-term value enhancing initiatives in the Bathurst mining camp.
Ricus Grimbeek, Trevali’s President and CEO, said: “Our team has worked diligently to reduce the overall cost structure of the Caribou mine, and I am pleased that we are in a position to restart mine operations in a manner that we expect will generate positive cash flow.
“Our initial two-year plan includes several enhancements which are designed to improve the mine’s economics, including the involvement of a contracted mining operator and the entry into fixed-pricing arrangements for a significant portion of the mine’s forecasted production. We have benefited from the engagement of the provincial government, and with the recall of employees and the restart of production we look forward to being a more significant part of the New Brunswick economy.”