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Dual-listed Copper Mountain Mining has revised its mine plan and project schedule for its Copper Mountain mine, in British Columbia, deferring a $22-million capital spend in response to current market conditions and near-term copper uncertainty as a result of the Coronavirus.

ASX- and TSX-listed Copper Mountain said that it would defer the installation of the third ball mill at its namesake project, saving $22-million in capital expenditure in 2020.The company would also look at reducing operating costs by resequencing short-term production to lower cost mine phases, while preserving high-grade ore in Pit 3, originally scheduled for mining in 2020, but now targeted for 2021, to benefit from higher metal prices in future and to match the deferral of the ball mill installation.

“We are committed to protecting our cash flow and minimising costs given the low and volatile copper price environment we are currently operating in as a result of the Coronavirus,” said Copper Mountain president and CEO Gil Clausen.“We have revised our mine plan to protect and grow cash margin so that we are able to comfortably meet all our obligations, including debt service, while continuing with key projects, including the installation of the direct flotation reactors.

“This project requires minimal capital and has a fast payback and high return. We have deferred the major discretionary capital for the installation of ball mill 3 until we see more certainty and stability in the copper price. These initiatives demonstrate our flexibility and ability to react quickly in response to changing market conditions and metal prices.”

The revised mine plan will see Copper Mountain cut its mining rate by about 25%, to between 120 000 t/d and 160 000 t/d for the remainder of 2020, from around 200 000 t/d.

Copper equivalent production for the full 2020 is now expected to reach between 86-million and 94-million pounds, down from the previous estimate of between 100-million and 113-million pounds.

All-in sustaining costs for the full year were now expected at between $2.20/lb and $2.35/lb, up from the previous estimate of between $1.95/lb and $2.20/lb.

“In periods of low metal prices like today, we will be disciplined and orderly in our development and take a prudent approach to cash management. We will not sacrifice the future of our mine by high-grading and deferring stripping that builds a liability in the future.

“Our operation is well positioned with mining phases that can be readily re-sequenced without negatively impacting the intermediate and long term. While the mine plan we have currently implemented is sustainable longer term at these low copper prices, we believe this market uncertainty is short term and fully anticipate the copper price to recover,” said Clausen.