Sandfire Resources America has reported a positive feasibility study for Black Butte copper project, in Montana, US.

The feasibility study has been undertaken for the mineral reserves located on the Johnny Lee copper deposit, the cornerstone deposit at the Black Butte copper project.

As per the feasibility study, the Johnny Lee deposit would underpin eight years of mine life, at a production rate of 1.2 million tonnes of ore a year. It is estimated to cost $274.7m for construction.

Additionally, the study highlights maiden mineral reserve of 8.8 million tonnes at 2.6% copper for 226,100 tonnes of contained copper for the Johnny Lee Upper and Lower Copper Zones.

Sandfire America CEO and project director Rob Scargill said: “The positive outcomes of the Feasibility Study show that we can deliver a robust underground mining project at Black Butte that meets the world’s highest environmental standards while at the same time creating jobs, opportunities and significant direct and indirect benefits for the State of Montana.

“This is one of the highest-grade copper deposits in the world and one of the very few fully-permitted and development-ready copper assets globally.”

Pre-construction earthworks commenced on the site

Sandfire America has already started pre-construction earthworks on the site. The project is expected to create 240 full-time jobs along with 20-30 full-time contractors.

Scargill added: “Meanwhile, the updated Mineral Resource for the Lowry Deposit demonstrates the significant exploration potential at the Black Butte Copper Project.

“The deposit is located just 1.8km from the underground access portal for the Johnny Lee Deposit and is a high priority for our next round of exploration.”

In March 2020, Sandfire Resources America secured two key permits for Black Butte copper project located in south-central Montana in Meagher County, 27km north of White Sulphur Springs.