Adventus Mining Corporation and Salazar Resources Limited have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the award of a mining and construction contract to a joint venture between STRACON S.A., an established Peruvian mining contractor with operations throughout Latin America, and RIPCONCIV, a large and respected Ecuadorian infrastructure construction contractor, related to development of the Curipamba-El Domo copper-gold project in central Ecuador.
The LOI allows the parties to immediately commence activities relating to local community-targeted training and employment, constructability reviews, logistics studies and execution planning – all of which are value-add activities directly supporting Adventus and Salazar’s plan to formally commence construction of the project in the June quarter of 2023.
A definitive agreement is expected to be executed in the December quarter of 2022, which will be structured in an alliance-partnership model to ensure focus on the best solutions for the project while ensuring that risks are allocated to the parties best equipped to manage and mitigate. The STRACON-RIPCONCIV JV will be responsible for the successful construction of the open pit, tailings facilities, and associated mine infrastructure as well as the first two years of mine operation.
In 2021, Adventus and Salazar released an open-pit mine feasibility study and updated preliminary economic assessment on a separate underground mine option for the project. This outlined a 10-year open-pit operation producing, on average, 21,390 t/y of copper-equivalent over the 10-year life-of-mine, alongside 20,000 t/y of copper-equivalent payable output from years 11-14 from the underground.
On site, focus has been on drilling to support the detailed engineering program and the implementation of health, safety, security and environmental management plans in anticipation of formal construction commencement in the June quarter of 2023.
Work continues to advance on site with an ongoing pre-construction program involving activities such as geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling, camp installation, IT, infrastructure, logistics planning, community hiring, public and private security provisions, water management and electrical power systems.
A contract for the detailed engineering and design of the tailings storage facility (TSF), waste rock facilities (WRF) and associated infrastructure was recently awarded to engineering firm Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB). Design work has commenced and is expected to be completed in the March quarter of 2023, prior to the start of construction.
In June 2022, KCB completed a study to optimise the use of waste rock during the pre-strip period for use as construction material. This work resulted in an anticipated overall reduction of pre-strip volume of approximately 3 Mt of waste, which is expected to reduce construction costs and provide more schedule flexibility during the pre-production period of project development. An updated mine plan based on the reduced pre-strip quantities is expected to be completedthis month, which will then be used by the STRACON-RIPCONCIV JV to finalise fleet selection and manpower planning.
Engineering for the project process plant and surface infrastructure is now well underway by engineering firm DRA Global, the lead detailed engineering consultant for the project. Work is on schedule and currently focused on the negotiation and award of long lead equipment packages from mining equipment vendors, with a 30% progress milestone review planned for late September 2022.
Following the successful receipt of ESIA technical approval from the Government of Ecuador in May 2022, Adventus and Salazar are continuing to plan for the public consultation process. The Government of Ecuador is in the process of redefining the requirements for this consultation process and the President of Ecuador is expected to enact a corresponding decree in 2022.
The final control capital budget for the project is expected to be announced in the June quarter of 2023. To date, the companies have seen some reductions in projected capital costs such as from improvements in the TSF design, which are tending to offset cost pressures associated with inflation and global geopolitical instability.
At a project level, the Curipamba-El Domo copper-gold asset is owned 75% by Adventus and 25% by Salazar.