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Wednesday, June 19 2019 @ 04:00 AM UTC

Petaquilla working on new mine plan for Panama project

Gold & MiningBy Liezel Hill for Miningweekly.co.za - Vancouver-based Petaquilla Copper (PTC) is developing a new mine plan for its jointly-owned Petaquilla copper project, in Panama, after initial results from a front-end engineering and design (Feed) study into the project cast doubt on whether construction would begin by the January 1, 2009, deadline agreed to with the country's government. PTC holds 52% of Minera Petaquilla SA, which owns the project, and fellow Canadian Inmet Mining owns the balance. A third Canada-based miner, Teck Cominco, has the right to buy half of PTC's interest by committing, before March 31, to participate in work plans and budgets leading to commercial production, and by committing to fund 52% of the development costs for the project. (more)

Initial results from the Feed study indicated last week that the Petaquilla project, touted as one of the biggest undeveloped copper deposits in the world, could cost about $3,5-billion to build, compared with a previous estimate of $1,7-billion.

Teck Cominco is preparing the Feed study.

However, PTC is working on a new mine plan that takes into account the results of about 75 000 m of diamond drilling that was not included in the Feed study, the company said on Thursday.

“Teck Cominco has indicated that they need more time to study the cost of the project and we don't want to wait for them,” PTC corporate communications manager Tom Byrne said in an interview.

Teck Cominco investor relations VP Greg Waller was not immediately available to comment.

The company said earlier in the week, though, that there could be "no assurance" that it would participate in the project.

PTC said on Thursday that it has conducted "extensive" drilling and metallurgical testing of the copper minerals in the weathered zone, which overlies the primary sulphide project.

The company expects to complete a report on the mineralisation in this zone by the end of February, and, if copper extraction is seen to be commercially viable, construction of a solvent extraction/electrowinning plant could begin by the end of the year.

PTC reiterated that it was committed to the "timely development of the Petaquilla copper project as per Minera Petaquilla SA's agreement with the Republic of Panama".

FUNDING

PTC also said that it had signed confidentiality agreements with five major integrated mining companies, from China, Japan, Korea and Europe.

"The due diligence process has been completed by four of the five companies, with the fifth being scheduled to be completed by the end of February 2008."

PTC and these companies are looking at financing strategies, including equity, debt and offtake agreements, to finance either 26% or 52% of the Petaquilla copper project, the company said.

Edited by: Liezel Hill

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