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Ambler Metals plans on 2020 exploration

COVID-19 restrictions, however, may delay or derail program North of 60 Mining News – April 10, 2020

Series: COVID-19 coverage | Story 24

Trilogy Metals Inc. April 8 said Ambler Metals LLC still plans to carry out the US$22.8 million program at the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects in Northwest Alaska, but COVID-19-related health concerns and restrictions could delay or even prevent the planned 2020 work.

This year's work program at UKMP was announced following the February formation of Ambler Metals, a 50-50 joint venture partnership between Trilogy Metals and South32 Ltd.

The largest part of this program will focus on advancing studies to prepare the Arctic mine project for permitting.

A 2018 prefeasibility study for Arctic detailed plans for an open-pit mine and 10,000-metric-ton-per-day mill that is expected to produce more than 159 million pounds of copper, 199 million lb of zinc, 33 million lb of lead, 30,600 ounces of gold and 3.3 million oz of silver annually over a 12-year mine-life.

The mine outlined in the PFS is based on 43.04 million metric tons of probable reserves averaging 2.32% copper, 3.24% zinc, 0.57% lead, 0.49 grams per metric ton gold and 36 g/t silver.

In addition to these reserves, Arctic hosts 36 million metric tons of indicated resource averaging 3.07% copper (2.44 billion lb), 4.28% (3.36 billion lb) zinc, 0.73% (581 million lb) lead, 0.63 g/t (730,000 oz) gold and 47.6 g/t (55 million oz) silver. This volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit also has about 3.5 million metric tons of inferred resource.

The 2020 program at UKMP is slated to include 10,000 meters of drilling at Arctic aimed at upgrading inferred and indicated resources to the measured category.

Other work at Arctic this year will include the next phase of metallurgical studies, including pilot plant testing, and geotechnical drilling for infrastructure placement.

In addition to drilling at Arctic, Ambler Metals hopes to carry out a 2,500-meter regional exploration drill program to follow up on the 2019 work performed along the 70-mile (100 kilometer) Ambler VMS belt.

This program is to be funded out of the US$145 million South32 spent to acquire its 50% interest in Ambler Metals. Trilogy's contribution to the JV is the 426,690 acres of property that makes up UKMP.

Trilogy said it recognizes that the novel coronavirus situation is extremely fluid and is monitoring the State of Alaska Health Department recommendations and restrictions on travel, which may significantly impact Ambler Metals' ability to conduct the planned work programs during the upcoming field season.

Ambler Metals is currently planning to carry out the 2020 program as originally planned. The company, however, will make the necessary adjustments needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees, contractors and community members. The company said this could result in extensions of the timeline or scope for the remainder of the programs, or even cancelling the planned exploration activities at the UKMP for this season, if it is determined to be prudent to do so.

Trilogy Metals had US$14.5 million in working capital and US$15.2 million in cash and cash-equivalents at the close of its fiscal first quarter 2020, which ended on Feb. 29.

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Shane Lasley, Publisher

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Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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