COVID-19 forces Ambler exploration delay
NANA, Ambler Metals looking at later start, smaller program North of 60 Mining News – May 1, 2020
Last updated 9/26/2020 at 2:18pm
NANA Corp. and Ambler Metals LLC April 29 said they are working together to determine how a summer field season at the Upper Kobuk Mineral Projects in Northwest Alaska can progress while protecting communities and balancing job opportunities for residents of the region.
Earlier this year, Ambler Metals, a joint venture operating company equally owned by Trilogy Metals Inc. and South32 Ltd., approved a US$22.8 million budget for the 2020 program at UKMP, which is a large land package that includes NANA-owned and public lands held has mining claims.
The largest part of the 2020 program was expected to 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 a 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.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Ambler Metals and NANA are evaluating several options, including a July or August start to the season rather than the standard start in May.
Given the far-reaching economic effects of COVID-19 and the measures required to prioritize health and safety, the partners are expecting a reduced scope to the 2020 program and fewer jobs than originally planned.
"The 2020 summer field season will be different than we expected," said Darryl Steane, interim president of Ambler Metals. "However, we remain committed to our partnership at the UKMP."
On April 22, the Northwest Arctic Borough extended the hunker down order for the region through May 19, and village travel mandates and restrictions are still in place. NANA and Ambler Metals will continue to track and evaluate these mandates, as well as other federal, state and local orders.
The UKMP partners said they will be working with NANA region communities in the coming weeks to determine the best and safest path forward.