VANCOUVER, BC--(Marketwired - January 17, 2017) - Imperial Metals Corporation (the "Company") (TSX: III) reports its 2016 base and precious metals production from all operations totaled 119.17 million pounds copper, 94.93 thousand ounces gold and 330.96 thousand ounces silver, up from the 88.13 million pounds copper, 44.71 thousand ounces gold and 224.53 thousand ounces silver produced in 2015. Production in 2016 includes the first full year of Red Chris operations, production at Mount Polley (six months were modified mill operations), and Imperial's 50% allocation from eight months production at Huckleberry.
Red Chris Mine
In the 2016 fourth quarter Red Chris copper production was 14.66 million pounds copper and 4.66 thousand ounces gold, compared to 20.38 million pounds copper and 10.03 thousand ounces gold in the 2015 fourth quarter. All ore was mined from the Main zone pit, with average grades of 0.382% copper and 0.193 g/t gold compared to 2015 fourth quarter average grades of 0.502% copper and 0.298 g/t gold when approximately 25% of the mill feed came from the higher grade East zone pit. During the 2016 fourth quarter, milling rates were hampered due to a reclaim barge relocation in October which resulted in approximately 72 hours downtime, and the failure of a SAG mill pinion in December which resulted in approximately 120 hours downtime. In the 2016 fourth quarter the mill achieved an average throughput of 24,904 tonnes per day compared to 27,174 tonnes per day in the 2015 fourth quarter. The resulting annual copper production of 83.61 million pounds was 1.6% less than the low end of the 2016 guidance (3Q2016 update), while gold production of 47.09 thousand ounces was about the midpoint of the targeted 45-50 thousand ounces.
Metallurgical performance in the plant is improving with the implementation of a new reagent and reagent addition scheme. Recovery has averaged over 81% for the first ten days of January 2017. Work on installation of another rougher flotation cell is underway, and is now targeted for completion by the end of the first quarter in 2017. Also, in order to further increase mill operating time, a bypass conveyor is being installed to allow the plant to continue operating when the high angle conveyor that recirculates pebbles to the SAG mill is down.
|Red Chris Mine Production||3 Months Ended December 31||Year Ended December 31|
|Ore milled - tonnes||2,291,150||2,500,016||9,651,738||8,171,879|
|Ore milled per calendar day - tonnes||24,904||27,174||26,371||25,698|
|Grade % - copper||0.382||0.502||0.507||0.477|
|Grade g/t - gold||0.193||0.298||0.309||0.261|
|Recovery % - copper||75.96||73.70||77.52||68.09|
|Recovery % - gold||32.83||41.78||49.04||37.91|
|Copper - 000's pounds||14,659||20,385||83,614||58,486|
|Gold - ounces||4,661||10,025||47,088||25,949|
|Silver - ounces||25,918||33,986||190,624||95,232|
|(1) production stated from February 17 to December 31, 2015|
Red Chris 2017 production target is 85-92 million pounds copper and 40-45 thousand ounces gold. Production will be weighted to the second half of the year as grades are expected to be slightly under 0.4% copper for the first six months compared to slightly over 0.5% copper for the second half of 2017.
Mount Polley Mine
During the 2016 fourth quarter 1,632,355 tonnes ore were treated, producing 4.98 million pounds copper and 11.29 thousand ounces gold compared to 1,185,419 tonnes ore treated, producing 5.10 million pounds copper and 10.43 thousand ounces gold in the 2015 fourth quarter. Operations in the 2016 fourth quarter were impacted by a period of very cold weather which reduced water supply, and the failure of a ball mill motor which reduced the tonnage treated. As a result, annual copper production was 25.34 million pounds and annual gold production was 46.44 thousand ounces, respectively 93.8% and 96.9% of the low end of the 2016 guidance target.
The Boundary zone underground production for the 2016 fourth quarter totaled about 40,000 tonnes grading 1.24% copper and 0.72 g/t gold. A total of about 500,000 tonnes grading 1.22% copper and 0.78 g/t gold has been mined from this zone.
A 5,000 metre underground drilling program is currently underway targeting the Martel zone, located underneath the Wight pit, from the drill drift located about 100 metres to the west of the zone. The goal of the program is to confirm a higher grade mineable block within the previously defined resource of 6.26 million tonnes grading 1.17% copper and 0.40 g/t gold.
|Mount Polley Mine Production||3 Months Ended December 31||Year Ended December 31|
|Ore milled - tonnes||1,632,355||1,185,419||6,684,824||1,781,799|
|Ore milled per calendar day - tonnes||17,743||12,885||18,265||11,958|
|Grade % - copper||0.208||0.286||0.247||0.293|
|Grade g/t - gold||0.326||0.382||0.310||0.368|
|Recovery % - copper||66.60||68.24||69.66||69.64|
|Recovery % - gold||66.00||71.60||69.78||72.11|
|Copper - 000's pounds||4,977||5,098||25,339||8,007|
|Gold - ounces||11,291||10,430||46,444||15,190|
|Silver - ounces||11,237||14,054||90,125||25,911|
|(1) production stated from August 5 to December 31, 2015|
The 2017 production target for Mount Polley is 26-29 million pounds copper and 55-60 thousand ounces gold. All 2017 production is expected to come from open pit operations.
Imperial is a Vancouver based exploration, mine development and operating company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, owns the Red Chris and Mount Polley copper/gold mines in British Columbia, and the Sterling gold mine in Nevada. Imperial also holds a 50% interest in Huckleberry Mines Ltd. and in the Ruddock Creek lead/zinc property, both in British Columbia.