CANADIAN MINING PERSPECTIVE: Inmet raises $500 million for mine in Panama

Monday, April 05 2010 @ 01:11 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

By: Marilyn Scales (Canadian Mining Journal) Congratulations to Inmet Mining of Toronto. The company announced on March 31, 2010, that it is raising $500 million with which to proceed with the Cobre Panama (Petaquilla) development. The money will come from subscription receipts issued to Ellington Investment, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, a private company with offices in Singapore and other major cities. My mind boggles at the thought of raising half-a-billion dollars from a single investor. But the fact that Inmet can find that kind of funding speaks to the quality of the Cobre Panama project. Measured and indicated resources are 3.27 billion tonnes averaging 0.36% Cu, 0.007% Mo, 0.6 g/t Au and 1.30 g/t Ag, minable using open pit methods. And inferred resources almost as much at slightly lower grades. The deposit is located 120 km west of Panama City and only 20 km from tidewater. Inmet's dreams are big, too. The company is planning a 150,000 t/d operation with a pre-production capital cost of US$4.32 billion. (That amount also boggles my mind.)

Much remains to be done this year. Inmet plans to complete the front-end engineering and design (FEED) study, submit an updated 43-101 resource estimate, submit the environmental impact assessment to the Panamanian authorities, and more. The company says environmental approval and construction permitting is expected to take 12 months. Construction would take another 48 months. By my estimate, that puts initial production in 2015, unless there are unforeseen delays.

The new mine could provide the foundation for Inmet to grow for the next 30 years. The company produced approximately 125,000 tonnes of copper from five operating mines in 2009. Compare that to over 280,000 tonnes of copper in each of the first 16 years of operation, and the importance of Cobre Panama is clear. With a continued rising price of copper, Inmet looks to have a winner in the making.

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