An independent mineral resource estimate of the Pebble porphyry gold-copper-molybdenum deposit north of Lake Iliamna indicates even higher amounts of gold, copper and molybdenum than earlier predicted, according to a press release Friday issued by the future mine's owner, Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.
Roscoe Postle Associates Inc., a geological and mining consulting firm, has estimated a "measured and indicated" resource of 3 billion tons at the Pebble deposit containing some 31.3 million ounces of gold, 18.8 billion pounds of copper and 993 million pounds of molybdenum.
According to the press release, the new estimate was based on drill core assay results from NDI drilling in 2003 and 2004, and test holes completed by Teck Cominco American Inc. through 1997. (NDI has since acquired nearly all of Teck Cominco's interest in the mine).
Bruce Jenkins, chief operating officer for NDI, said Friday that the new numbers amount to confirmation and good news.
"The bottom line is that we were right, there is a mine here," he said.
The measured and indicated values confirm significant mineralization continuity, he said, giving NDI the necessary numbers to justify doing a full feasibility study and financial modeling.
When the measured and indicated totals are added to new "inferred" estimates (1.1 billion tons containing 10.8 million ounces of gold, 5.8 billion pounds of copper and 361 million pounds of molybdenum), the totals get even larger and the prospects even brighter, Jenkins said.
For instance, the total measured, indicated and inferred tonnage is 4.156 billion tons.
Total gold could be as much as 42.1 million ounces, which compares to a 2004 estimate of 26.5 million ounces.
With another 5.9 billion inferred pounds of copper added to the new 18.8 billion pounds measured and indicated, total for copper is estimated at 24.7 billion pounds, which compares to just 16.5 billion estimated last year.
Total molybdenum is not set at 1.35 billion pounds, compared to the earlier estimate of 923 million pounds.
According to the press release, inferred resources are defined as "that part of a mineral resource for which quantity and grade can be estimated on the basis of geological evidence and limited sampling and reasonably assumed, but not verified, geological and grade continuity."
Further geologic testing is scheduled this year at a cost of $36 million (U.S.).
Jenkins said the process of moving forward with the preliminary steps that would lead to the beginning of construction in 2007 is proceeding smoothly. He also said NDI was getting "excellent cooperation" from state officials regarding studies of a road and port project.
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