The company undertook a PEA study to assess a possible future expansion of the Canadian project to the copper rich Iron Cap and Kerr deposits

mining-equipment-1-1628532 (8)

Seabridge Gold has released results of a PEA study for the expansion of the KSM mine. (Credit: swm/Freeimages)

Seabridge Gold expects an initial capital cost of $1.5bn to develop a copper-rich underground mine at its fully-owned Kerr Sulphurets Mitchell (KSM) project in Canada.

As per the findings of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) study, a sustaining capital of $12.8bn is needed over the 39-year mine life of the underground operations.

The Canadian firm said that the PEA was carried out to assess a possible future expansion of the KSM mine to the copper rich Iron Cap and Kerr deposits. The mine is located in northern British Columbia.

As per the study, Seabridge Gold will mainly focus on developing the Iron Cap block cave mine, which is complemented by a small open pit at Kerr.

Seabridge Gold said that development of a Kerr block cave mine will start upon the tapering of the Iron Cap development.

Seabridge Gold chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk said: “In our updated PFS we focused on the gold-rich deposits because of their faster payback and the relative simplicity of an open-pit only operation. However, we are very mindful that a deep deficit in mined copper is projected to be on the horizon as the world electrifies and moves towards a net zero carbon future.

“We therefore wanted to highlight KSM’s potential to contribute to addressing this need more fully than the mine plan contained in our updated Preliminary Feasibility Study. We think this opportunity will be attractive to a prospective partner.”

The Iron Cap block cave mine is expected to see four years of development, followed by a six-year production ramp-up, and steady state production at 32.9 million tonnes per year through 17 years.

It will then witness a production ramp-down period of six years.

The Kerr block cave could see five years of development, a five-year production ramp-up period, and steady state production for 20 total years at 29.2 million tonnes per year. This will be followed by a dip in production for seven years to as low as 15 million tonnes during the shift from the first to second lift.

The peak mill feed production of the project is expected to be 170,000 tonnes/day (t/d), said the miner.

The miner stated that the Kerr block cave mill feed will begin six years following the start of Iron Cap mill feed.

Earlier this year, Seabridge Gold said that it is raising $225m from Sprott Resource Streaming and Royalty and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for advancing the KSM project towards construction.