Eagle Mountain’s move to start Oracle Ridge scoping study lifted by bullish copper
Special Report: With copper sentiment being notably bullish, the timing couldn’t be better for Eagle Mountain Mining to proceed with a scoping study to define the economic and technical pathway to production for its Oracle Ridge project.
Oracle Ridge is a historical underground mine less than two hours’ drive from Tucson, Arizona, and just half an hour from the mining town of San Manuel, placing it a fantastic position to supply the red metal to the US.
This is especially true given that the US has plans to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035, a goal that will require large quantities of copper – certainly enough to challenge existing supplies given the distinct lack of new, major copper mines.
Stockhead’s very own Guy Le Page has also flagged that the medium-term outlook for copper remains bullish with Fitch Solutions forecasting in January 2024 that copper will soar more than 75% over the next two years, driven by supply disruptions and higher demand for the metal.
This could push copper prices to US$15,000/t in 2025, significantly higher than the record peak of US$10,730/t scaled in March 2023.
All this is music to the ears of Eagle Mountain Mining (ASX:EM2), which already has a global resource of 28.2Mt @ 1.35% copper, 11.06g/t silver and 0.16g/t gold, or contained resources of 380,000t copper, 10Moz silver and 142,000oz gold, at Oracle Ridge.
More than half of this resource sits within the higher confidence measured and indicated categories, which are predominantly located in areas expected to support mine production in the first five years of mine life.
This high degree of confidence at Oracle Ridge also de-risks its potential restart.
EM2’s decision to start a scoping study on Oracle Ridge follows the receipt of positive metallurgical and mining studies, which included the identification of a simplified process flowsheet that could lower both capital and operating costs.
The scoping study will include this simplified flowsheet, along with concentrate leaching and SX/EW to outline a project capable of producing LME grade copper to support US domestic decarbonisation goals.
Additionally, it will focus on minimising the environmental footprint by incorporating low energy and emissions processes while also minimising surface disturbance.
“Our team has identified a simplified ore processing method for Oracle Ridge providing significant cost and environmental benefits. Following on from this, the board has approved a formal scoping study on the technical and economic development of Oracle Ridge copper project,” EM2 chief executive officer Tim Mason said.
“While the project was previously operated in the 1990’s, the increase of the Mineral Resource to nearly 30Mt means that we can now consider materially higher production rates and longer mine life.
“It is a fantastic time to be developing a copper project, with global decarbonisation targets driving strong demand forecast, especially for the second half of this decade. Importantly, the recent inclusion of copper on the US critical materials list means that production of LME grade copper onsite at Oracle Ridge supports supply of copper for domestic use.
“I am very excited by these latest developments which support our goal to become a mid-tier copper producer in the USA.“
The study, which is being carried out by teams in Perth and Tucson with more than 100 years of combined experience in operations, design, studies and optimisation, is expected to be completed in Q3 2024, with its outcomes to serve as the basis for a preliminary feasibility study.
EM2 also notes there are substantial exploration targets within and around the mine area which could provide opportunities to increase mine life well beyond what the scoping study is being based upon.
To help fund the scoping study and other upcoming activity, EM2 has unveiled a partially underwritten entitlement offer to existing shareholders of one new share priced at 6c for every four shares held to raise up to $4.574m.
This is partially underwritten by Shadow Mountain Mining – an entity associated with EM2 founder and managing director Charles Bass – to the tune of $1.25m, while Mason and directors Rick Crabb and Roger Port have all committed to taking up their full entitlements.
Beside funding the scoping study, proceeds from the entitlement offer will also be used to undertake exploration activities at both the Oracle Ridge and Silver Mountain projects to assist mapping of key structural features, identification of alteration zones and outcropping mineralisation which may assist future geophysical or drill targeting.
EM2 is also investigating the use of ambient noise tomography survey at Oracle Ridge to image unidentified porphyries at depth, deep faults acting as important feeder systems, as well as main lithological contacts between the Leatherwood intrusive and prospective sediments/older formations.
This will assist in the targeting of future drilling programs with the aim to build and upgrade existing resources, along with the discovery of new mineralisation.
This article was developed in collaboration with Eagle Mountain Mining, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.