TSX-listed Capstone Mining produced 155.2-million pounds of copper in 2018, in line with expectations, and has set its 2019 output guidance at between 145-million and 160-million pounds of copper at a C1 cash cost of between $1.80/lb and $2/lb.
During this year, the Canadian base metals miner expects to complete a scoping level study at its Pinto Valley openpit copper operation, in the US, to examine the potential economics of the overall reserve and resource base.
As at December 31, 2017, Pinto Valley had a measured and indicated resource estimate of more than 1.35-billion tonnes, grading 0.31% copper, and a total reserve estimate of 430-million tonnes, grading 0.3% copper.
However, the miner expects quarterly production will fluctuate throughout the year, given the anticipated grade variability.
The average copper grade in 2019 is expected to be about 0.32%, with grades at 0.28% during the second quarter.
Further, Capstone anticipates publishing an updated technical report for its Cozamin copper/silver/lead operation, in Mexico, with mine plan and cost estimates to reflect the increased reserves announced in December.
Capstone also intends to start developing the underground haulage network from a two-way single ramp to a one-way ramp, to eliminate the production bottleneck and fill the mill to nameplate capacity.
This, the miner said in a statement on Thursday, is expected to result in about a 30% increase in expected throughput, to 3 780 t/d by the end of 2020.
Yearly production at the mine is intended to increase to between 40-million and 45-million pounds of copper.
Further, the strategic process, announced in the fourth quarter of 2018, to evaluate alternatives relating to the ownership of Capstone’s Santo Domingo copper/iron project, in Chile, will be completed in the first quarter of this year.
Alternatives under review include selling a portion of the project, as well as the potential for streaming opportunities given the gold reserve and cobalt resource, to help finance the project.
A technical and financial feasibility will be developed in the hopes of producing cobalt as a by-product by conducting a preliminary economic assessment for the cobalt opportunity.
In this regard, the miner said that it would continue to advance the project to be construction-ready by early 2020.