Teck Says Pit Wall Problem Will Reduce Copper Output

Teck Resources announced in June that, based on preliminary assessments, measures required to address recently identified geotechnical issues are expected to reduce Highland Valley Copper production by approximately 35 million lb in the second half of 2009, and by approximately 115 million lb in 2010. Teck has engaged third party geotechnical consultants to further assess the extent of the issues. That work is expected to be completed by the end of the fourth quarter of 2009.

Greg Waller, company spokesperson, said a crack was discovered running up the east wall of the Valley pit, one of three pits at the Highland Valley operation.

Teck’s total copper production from all mine sources was expected to be around 725 million lb in 2009, rising to 870 million lb in 2010 with the commissioning of the Carmen de Andacollo concentrator in Chile. With the adjustments described above, 2010 production is still expected to increase, but by a lesser amount, to around 755 million lb. Thereafter, based on Teck’s preliminary assessment, growth in copper production should return to previously advised levels.

The company said the recent geotechnical issues are distinct from the two geotechnical events experienced in the latter part of 2008 which were substantially remediated in the first quarter of 2009. Mining in the immediate area has been suspended. Access to some of the ore in the Valley pit is expected to be restricted for at least the next 18 months. The shortfall is expected to be partially made up from lower grade ore from the Lornex and Highmont pits.

Teck’s revised 2009 production forecast for Highland Valley Copper is 258 million lb of copper. Preliminary 2010 production is currently forecast to be 187 million lb of copper. Remedial actions are expected to include at least 40 million mt of additional stripping and placement of an additional buttress. Based on preliminary estimates, Highland Valley’s life-of-mine ore reserves are expected to be reduced by approximately 2%, although the amount of the reduction will depend on the final design of the remedial actions.

As featured in Womp 2009 Vol 06 - www.womp-int.com