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Firm pursues ‘excellent’ project

10th February 2023

By: Leah Shelene Asaram

Features Reporter

     

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Exploration and development company World Copper (WCU) announced on April 20, 2021, that it had reached an agreement with resource company Cardero Resource Corporation to acquire 100% of Cardero’s Zonia copper oxide project. The acquisition was completed in February last year.

Moreover, royalty company Electric Royalties (ELEC) pledged capital support to the Zonia project in September 2022, meaning WCU has received another external party’s “stamp of approval”, with ELEC describing the Zonia project as “unassailable”, says WCU CEO and president Nolan Peterson.

“The capital from ELEC helps WCU to execute the goals of the company, while the third-party confirmation helps to acquire further support in the market,” he says.

Peterson says the Zonia project, in central Arizona, in the US, has been held under private ownership for almost 100 years, and extensive historical exploration, metallurgical studies and mine development planning have been undertaken recently.

He cites the 2018 preliminary economic assessment on the copper oxide deposit concluding that the economics of the project are “excellent” and says this underpins WCU’s confidence in advancing the project to the feasibility stage.

WCU intends to develop and put the brownfield project into production within the next three to four years, and to have the project fully permitted and in operation by the end of 2026.

“Copper is a critical element that is now facing short supply; thus, WCU believes that the market conditions are robust enough to support the development of the project, ” Peterson adds.

The property has been drill-tested, with about 700 holes drilled, equating to 60 000 m, and the majority of the mineralised area prestripped during previous openpit mining operations in 1966, when 17-million tons were mined and seven-million tons stacked on heap leach pads. It produced cement copper until 1975.

WCU’s goal is to develop a copper mine capable of producing about £50-million worth of copper a year. Based on WCU’s third-party engineering reports and the amount of metal contained in the deposit, Peterson believes this goal is “very achievable”.

He adds that Zonia will likely employ a relatively simple openpit conventional mining method using haul trucks.

Once the material is mined, it will be crushed and placed onto leach pads, where solvent extraction and electrowinning (SE-EW) will be used to extract the copper from the ore.

The use of SE-EW to process copper, although well established, has become less common of late.

However, despite its waning popularity, he notes that the process provides significant advantages from a customer and an environmental perspective.

“SE allows for the purification, concentration and conversion of copper to a form that enables customers to produce their desired final metal products, while EW uses 85% less energy per kilogram of copper produced, if compared to primary production.”

Peterson

concludes that, amid current market drivers and energy trends, the copper market “is heating up” and investors should be aware of the extensive development in the space.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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