- McEwen’s new PEA presents a new strategy that converts from conventional milling to a heap leach process
- Three principal reasons for changing the implementation strategy include the company’s environmental footprint, reduced permitting risk, and the advantages associated with the production of fine copper cathodes
- The copper cathode process eliminates the dependency on third-party smelters, allowing for direct industrial use
McEwen Mining (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX), an asset-rich, diversified gold and silver producer in the Americas with large exposure to copper through its subsidiary, McEwen Copper, owner of the Los Azules copper deposit in Argentina, recently released the results of an updated Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) on a copper leaching phase of development at the Los Azules project. The 2023 PEA evaluates the economic potential of the project from the perspective of heap leaching with cathodes production. PEAs are completed before pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, which are important parts of the developmental process for mining projects (https://ibn.fm/FuvQR).
The 2023 PEA includes an updated independent mineral resource estimate, which increased to 10.9 billion pounds of copper (Cu) indicated at a grade of 0.40% and 26.7 billion pounds of copper inferred at a grade of 0.31%. McEwen Copper’s Los Azules project is 52% owned by McEwen Mining and is expected to be a game changer, turbocharging MUX by creating the world’s next copper unicorn.
Base case highlights of the 2023 PEA include:
- The average annual copper cathode, the amount of pure product in the electrolysis process, production of 401 million pounds during the first five years of operation and 322 million pounds over the 27-year life of the mine.
- After-tax net present value of $2.659 billion, with an internal rate of return of 21.2%, and a payback period of 3.2 years – at $3.75 per pound Cu
- Average C1 cash costs of $1.07 per pound Cu and all-in sustaining costs of $1.64 per pound Cu (AISC Margin of 56%).
- 1.182 billion tonnes of mineralized material placed on a heap leach pad with an in-situ total copper grade of 0.46% and in-situ soluble copper grade of 0.31%
The base case development strategy selected in the 2023 PEA for Los Azules was distinctly different from that presented in the previous PEA, completed in 2017, which was considering a conventional mill and flotation concentrator producing concentrate for export to international smelters. The new PEA proposes a heap leach project using solvent extraction-electrowinning, a two-stage process used to concentrate materials in an organic solution and recover them, to produce copper cathodes for sale in Argentina or international markets.
There are three principal reasons why the implementation strategy was changed to a leaching process in the 2023 PEA – environmental footprint, reduced permitting risk, and producing cathodes.
- Environmental Footprint – Fresh water consumption is reduced by approximately 75%, electricity consumption is reduced by approximately 75%, GHG emissions are reduced by approximately 57%, aligning with the company’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon by 2038 with some offsets. The Los Azules copper cathodes will thus be attractive to environmentally conscious end-users.
- Reduced Permitting Risks – The new project plan will utilize technologies already in use in San Juan today. The process eliminates tailings and tailings dams, conserves water, and reduces the complexity of the mine, all of which optimize the permitting process.
- Producing Cathodes – The leach process produces cathodes that can be directly used in industry, eliminating the need for third-party smelters. Cathodes also eliminate emissions associated with transportation and pollution associated with smelting, and pricing risks are reduced.
The full 2023 PEA report can be found at https://ibn.fm/cldYp.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.McEwenMining.com.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to MUX are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/MUX
MissionIR is primarily focused on strategic communications. We have executed countless communications programs to address the needs of companies ranging from start-ups to established industry leaders, gaining valuable experience and the expertise necessary to determine the most effective strategy for any given situation.
For more information, visit www.MissionIR.com