Teck launches Zinc Satellite Initiative
Mining Explorers 2022 - January 19, 2023
Last updated 1/18/2023 at 8:54am
The global transition to renewable energy is demanding enormous quantities of copper and zinc, two metals that are a specialty of Teck Resources Ltd.
To help leverage its global portfolio to help fill the growing demand for copper, Teck launched Project Satellite in 2017. This initiative focused primarily on five copper assets in the Americas, including the Galore Creek and Schaft Creek projects in Northern British Columbia.
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 Corp., a joint venture owned equally by Teck and Newmont Corp., is currently completing a prefeasibility as it advances the world-class porphyry copper project toward permitting and development.
Teck's Project Satellite team is also leveraging the value of Schaft Creek, a porphyry copper-gold deposit about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of Galore Creek.
Being advanced under a JV between Teck (75%) and Copper Fox Metals Inc. (25%), Schaft Creek hosts 1.35 billion metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.26% (7.76 billion pounds) copper, 0.17 grams per metric ton (7 million ounces) gold, 1.25 g/t (54.3 million oz) silver, and 0.017% (510.6 million lb) molybdenum.
A preliminary economic assessment completed in 2021 outlines plans for a 133,000-metric-ton-per-day mill and open pit mine at Schaft Creek that would produce roughly 5 billion lb of copper, 3.7 million oz of gold, 226 million lb of molybdenum, and 16.4 million oz of silver over 21 years of mining.
Based on the PEA results, the Schaft Creek JV completed a 4,688-meter drill program in 2022 focused on collecting metallurgical samples across areas of the deposit that are part of the initial five-year mine plan.
"These activities are focused on further defining and confirming value-add opportunities to inform a decision on initiation of a potential future prefeasibility study," said Copper Fox Metals President and CEO Elmer Stewart.
Red Dog zinc satellites
With global zinc demand outpacing supply and the transition to renewable energy creating even more need for the galvanizing metal, Teck has expanded its Project Satellite initiative to realize value from its portfolio of world-class zinc development assets – most of which are in Alaska and Northern British Columbia.
The Zinc Satellite initiative, launched in early 2022, will build on the technical and commercial expertise of Teck's Project Satellite team.
"Zinc Satellite will leverage our successful Project Satellite approach of making prudent investments to advance each asset by identifying pragmatic development options and paths to value. Value could ultimately be realized through a standalone investment, a partnership, or other transaction," former Teck Resources CEO Don Lindsay said before his retirement.
This initiative will focus on leveraging the value of five world-class zinc development assets in Alaska, Northern BC, and Australia's Northern Territory.
Three of Teck's five Zinc Satellite assets are deposits near the company's Red Dog Mine in Northwest Alaska.
A world-class asset that produces more than 1.1 billion lb of zinc per year, Red Dog singlehandedly accounts for roughly 4% of the zinc mined on Earth.
Going into 2021, Red Dog had roughly 46 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 12.9% (10.8 billion lb) zinc and 3.6% (1.8 billion lb) lead. This is enough ore to keep the world-class zinc mine in operation until 2031.
Aktigiruq and Anarraaq, satellite deposits on state land held by Teck, could provide ore for the Red Dog mill deep into the 21st century.
"Looking to the future, Red Dog remains a premium zinc district with high-quality mine life extension potential at Aktigiruq and Anarraaq deposits," said Teck Resources Senior Vice President of Exploration Alex Christopher.
Aktigiruq, which lies about nine miles north-northwest of the current Red Dog operation, is one of the largest undeveloped zinc deposits on Earth.
While an industry-compliant resource has yet to be published, Teck has previously reported that Aktigiruq hosts 80 to 150 metric tons of material averaging 16 to 18% combined zinc and lead.
This would be enough ore to feed the Red Dog mill for 25 to 50 years at current production rates.
Teck says a scoping study will provide a first look at the economic and engineering parameters of a mine at Aktigiruq.
Anarraaq, which lies about seven miles north-northwest of Red Dog and just south of Aktigiruq, hosts 19.4 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 14.4% zinc and 4.2% lead, according to the most recent calculation published by Teck.
In addition to Anarraaq and Aktigiruq, Teck is exploring the Lik zinc project about 11 miles northwest of Red Dog under a 50-50 partnership with Solitario Zinc Corp.
Lik hosts 17.6 million metric tons of potentially open pit mineable indicated resource averaging 8.1% zinc, 2.7% lead, and 50.1 g/t silver; plus 2.8 million metric tons of inferred resource at 8.6% zinc, 2.7% lead, and 38.9 g/t silver.
Teck was the operator of a jointly funded 2022 program at Lik that included geophysics and drilling focused primarily on resource expansion targets at the north end of the deposit.
Northern BC zinc
Cirque, a Northern BC zinc project Teck is advancing under a 50-50 partnership with Korea Zinc, is another world-class asset under the Zinc Satellite initiative.
While Teck has not published a modern resource estimate, according to a 1990s calculation, the Cirque Main deposit hosts 24.7 million metric tons of historical reserves averaging 8.5% zinc, 2.3% lead, and 50.8 g/t silver.
Located close to existing infrastructure, Teck says concentrates from Cirque could easily be delivered to Trail, a Southern BC smelting and refining facility owned by the company that processes concentrates from the Red Dog Mine.
The Teck-Korea Zinc JV also owns a 51% interest in three properties adjacent to Cirque – Pie, Cirque East, and Yuen.
ZincX Resources Corp., which holds the other 49% interest in these projects, has a total of 11 properties that cover a 140-kilometer- (87 miles) long stretch of the Kechika Trough.
Teck's Zinc Satellite initiative also includes Teena, a project in Australia's Northern Territory that hosts 58 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 11.1% (6.5 million metric tons) zinc, according to a calculation completed prior to Teck's 2016 acquisition of Teena.