Teck scales back exploration due to COVID
Mining Explorers 2020 - Published January 19, 2021
Last updated 1/17/2021 at 2:07pm
Investing capital and resources into keeping its mines operational in the midst of a global pandemic, Teck Resources Ltd. has scaled back on exploration during 2020.
"These continue to be challenging times, as the world works its way through the COVID-19 pandemic," said Teck Resources President and CEO Don Lindsay. "Teck will remain focused on protecting our people and communities while continuing to operate responsibly and safely, to support the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic."
In Alaska, Teck operates the world-class Red Dog zinc mine on lands owned by NANA Corp., the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) regional corporation in Northwest Alaska.
Red Dog, which produces more than 1 billion pounds of zinc and roughly 225 million lb of lead annually, has enough ore in reserves to continue providing the world with roughly 5% of its zinc demands until 2031.
Going into 2020, Red Dog had roughly 50.9 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 12.9% (11.8 billion lb of recoverable) zinc and 3.6% (2 billion lb of recoverable) lead.
Seeking to extend this world-class zinc mine deeper into the 21st century, Teck is exploring other deposits in the larger Red Dog District.
Aktigiruq and Anarraaq, deposits on adjacent state land about five miles (eight kilometers) northwest of the Red Dog mill, will likely be the source of future ore.
Among the largest undeveloped zinc deposits on Earth, Aktigiruq has the potential to deliver ore to the Red Dog mill for 25 to 50 years beyond 2031, at current production rates.
While an industry-compliant resource has yet to be published for this deposit, Teck estimates Aktigiruq hosts 80 to 150 metric tons of material averaging 16 to 18% combined zinc and lead.
Highlights from 2017 drilling at Aktigiruq include 25.4 meters of 21.4% zinc and 4.1% lead in hole DDH 1730; and 54.6 meters of 16.8% zinc and 3.6% lead in DDH 1737.
While Anarraaq is smaller than Aktigiruq, it is more advanced. According to the most recent calculation, Anarraaq hosts 19.4 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 14.4% zinc and 4.2% lead.
Although Teck drilled Anarraaq and Aktigiruq during 2019, the diversified miner suspended field activities in January 2020 as it awaited permits for a road that would provide access from the camp.
While awaiting these permits, Teck analyzed data from the 2019 Anarraaq-Aktigiruq drill program, planned for future scoping studies, advanced permitting, and engaged with Northwest Alaska stakeholders about its plans in the Red Dog District.
In northwestern British Columbia, Teck is advancing Galore Creek and other similar large-scale porphyry copper-gold projects.
According to a 2018 calculation, Galore Creek hosts 1.1 billion metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.47% (11.3 billion lb) copper, 0.26 grams per metric ton (9.3 million ounces) gold and 4.2 g/t (150 million oz) silver.
Galore Creek Mining Company, a joint venture owned equally by Teck and Newmont Corp. is carrying out a roughly 18,000-meter drill program and other studies needed to get started on a prefeasibility study for developing a mine at this world-class deposit.
While the PFS was slated to get underway in 2020, the Galore Creek JV deferred this work due to global economic uncertainties posed by COVID-19. As a result, the field program was reduced to care and maintenance with a reduced crew managing critical safety, environmental, social and regulatory obligations. Environmental baseline sampling and study work continued at a diminished scale.
Teck also holds a 75% stake in Schaft Creek, a porphyry copper-gold deposit about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of Galore Creek.
A 2013 feasibility study outlined a 130,000-metric-ton-per-day operation at Schaft Creek that is expected to produce an average of 105,000 metric tons of copper, 201,000 oz gold, 1.2 million oz silver and 10.2 million lb of molybdenum annually, over a 21-year mine life.
This is based on the open-pit mining of 940.8 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 0.27% (5.6 billion lb) copper, 0.19 g/t (5.8 million oz) gold, 1.72 g/t (51.7 million oz) silver and 0.018% (10.2 million lb) molybdenum.