Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Pembridge Resources is here for the long haul as the new owner of the Minto Mine, and it’s already on the move, says company president Peter Bojtos.
Bojtos told the Star Thursday in Whitehorse that part of the crew was underground yesterday putting batteries back into the heavy equipment so it can be moved to the surface for evaluation and maintenance.
They’ll be bringing in underground drillers and blasters to continue on where Capstone Mining left off when they put the mine into care and maintenance last October, he said.
The company president said they likely won’t recommence blasting and bringing ore to the surface until well into August. There are no plans to restart the mill until the fourth quarter of this year.
“The mill will start up, but it’s not expected to be running at its full capacity all day, every day until well into 2020,” he said.
Once they hit the mill’s maximum capacity of process 4,000 tonnes per day, Bojtos said, they plan to stay there.
“We believe our plan for the mine can sustain this, with continuing operations for a very long period of time,” he said.
“What I’m trying to say here is we see a future here; we see a strong future.”
Capstone and Pembridge closed the purchase Monday for $20 million.
Pembridge is a publicly traded company on the London Stock Exchange.
It entered into a purchase agreement in early 2018 for $37.5 million, but could not raise the financing to close the deal. It cited tough market conditions, though it continued to pursue the purchase.
The new arrangement provides for three cash payments which are tied to success in production.
The first payment of $5 million, for instance, is not due until 60 days after commercial production begins again.
In its announcement Tuesday, Pembridge committed to having the Minto Mine back in commercial production by the fourth quarter of this year.
The company president didn’t offer any specific numbers in terms of how many jobs will be created, but did suggest it would be right around the 150 Capstone employed at the end of its operations.
The Minto Mine, he emphasized, will be an underground mine, with no plans for any open pit mining that was the bread and butter of the operation ever since the mine went into production in 2007.
Bojtos said Pembridge is confident the underground potential is bountiful.
Lead geologist Nikolett Kovacs – a local woman – is very knowledgeable about the copper belt that runs through the area, and she did work with Capstone at Minto for a time, he pointed out.
In a few weeks, Bojtos said, they’ll be setting up an office in Whitehorse for their administration and human resources staff.
“So if people are looking for a job, they will know where to go.”
Pembridge wants to move to the point where the company is not relying on contract workers, but rather has its own staff for all phases of the operation, he said.
Bojtos said the company wants to establish its own workforce right from the underground miners through to representatives who are on the phone selling their product to smelters overseas.
And the concentrate they’ll be producing will be of high quality, some of the highest quality in the world because of its purity, he explained.
“We have a very clear vision of where we want to go,” Bojtos said.
“We believe in the potential for a long life, and we have the skills to do it.”
He said he’s looking forward to continuing and building upon the relationship the Minto Mine has had with the Selkirk First Nation, on whose settlement land the mine sits.
The relationship with the First Nation and its development corporation is very important, he insisted.
Bojtos said Pembridge will be trucking its concentrate to the Port of Skagway in the same way Capstone did: using a barge in the ice-free months to move it across the Yukon River at Minto Landing and an ice bridge in the winter.
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