CopperBank Resources Corp. sees the need for copper rising sharply as the world shifts to renewable energy sources and believes its Pyramid porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum project on the Alaska Peninsula ideally suited to help fill that demand.
CopperBank was founded by self-proclaimed “realistic environmentalist” Gianni Kovacevic, who drove a Tesla Model S sedan across North America last year to raise awareness about the symbiotic relationship between the mining and green energy sectors.
Kovacevic considers copper an energy metal, given its importance to electric vehicles, renewable energy sources and electricity transmission.
“The greener and cleaner we create and utilize energy, the more that is demanded of electricity … and, of course, copper plays a very important role in that relationship,” the CopperBank chairman and CEO said before setting off on his 2016 Tesla Tour.
CopperBank’s Pyramid property hosts roughly 1.1 billion pounds of copper in 122.5 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 0.41 percent copper, 0.1 grams per metric ton gold and 0.021 percent molybdenum, according to resource calculated in 2013.
CopperBank is now looking to upgrade and grow this resource with a drilling currently underway, the first program carried out since it acquired Pyramid from Full Metal Minerals in 2014.
"This long anticipated drilling program will give our technical team the direction for next steps in the development of the project, and specifically a better view of the higher grade sections of the deposit,” said CopperBank Executive Chairman and CEO Gianni Kovacevic.
Upgrading PyramidThe 2017 drill program is primarily targeting two zones – Main and North – that demonstrate the potential to increase the grade and size of the Pyramid deposit.
To expedite its 2017 program, CopperBank added a second drill in July.
“Having two drill rigs on site will enable our team to have a dedicated machine to each of the Main and North zones, said Kovacevic. “Our plan is to finance enough drilling to ensure the important holes in each zone are completed, then our team can assess results to determine where future meters should be focused.”
One of the most intriguing areas being targeted is around 11PY016, a hole drilled by Full Metal Minerals in 2011.
This hole cut 155 meters of 0.71 percent copper, 0.18 g/t gold and 0.018 percent molybdenum, which is significantly higher than the average resource grade. It is an intercept at the bottom of this hole, however, that is most intriguing.
The final 34 meters of hole 16, which was drilled to a depth of 249 meters, averaged 0.844 percent copper and was still cutting mineralization, indicating that this higher grade copper continues.
CopperBank is drilling at least three holes near hole 16. Two holes already completed west of hole 12 were drilled to 386 and 400 meters. Another hole is being drilled to the east.
With the bottom 34 meters of hole 16 not included in the resource, the 2017 infill holes being drilled in this area have the potential to both confirm the resource in this area and add pound of copper to it be extending it to depth.
Drilling at the North zone is looking to add breadth to higher grade portions of Pyramid by testing extensions of known mineralization.
One hole drilled at North zone in 2011 cut 104 meters averaging 0.56 percent copper and 0.13 g/t gold from a depth of six meters. 10PY005, drilled at North zone in 2010, cut 194.8 meters averaging 0.63 percent copper, 0.14 g/t gold and 0.17 percent molybdenum from a depth of 6.4 meters. Like hole 16, this hole bottomed out in mineralization.
CopperBank is drilling this area more extensively with deeper holes drilled at roughly 100-meter step-outs from hole 5 with the goal of adding tons and increasing the grade of mineralization at North zone. Drilling is also being considered east of West zone. Success in this area could link West to the other two zones and increase the overall footprint of continuous copper mineralization at Pyramid.
“We want to see if that trend that exists at the North zone extends to the West zone,” said Kovacevic. Results from the 2017 program are expected this fall and, if successful, will inform an updated mineral resource estimate for Pyramid.
San Diego BayWhile drills are seeking to expand and upgrade Pyramid, geological crews are taking a closer look at San Diego Bay, a prospect about 4.5 miles to the east.
A 15-square-mile red-stained anomaly from the pervasive alteration there indicates the potential of another large porphyry system near or even connecting to Pyramid.
“The vast color anomaly over the area is impressive and has never been tested at depth,” said Kovacevic.
Limited exploration completed in the past has turned up some interesting results, including rock samples with grades as high as 4.3 and 16 percent copper and more than 1 g/t gold.
This year, CopperBank plans to carry out a reconnaissance program at San Diego Bay that will further investigate the areas of promising copper and gold values with prospecting and soil sampling.
“The proposed program will help orient future exploration work,” said Kovacevic. “Subject to results, we aim to have a more robust program at San Diego Bay for the 2018 season.”
CopperBank is beginning to treat San Diego Bay as a unique project that makes up roughly 40 percent of the overall land package that blankets roughly 46 miles of Aleut Native Corporation land on the Alaska Peninsula, and has indicated that it would consider bringing on a partner to further investigate this budding prospect.
“Only two weeks of work has ever happened here, so we feel that … this makes for a very interesting and geologically prospective joint venture work program,” said Kovacevic.
Understanding infrastructureBoth Pyramid and San Diego Bay enjoy the advantage of lying next to ice-free, deep tidewater on the Pacific Rim, a great location for shipping copper to Asia or the Americas.
This should contribute to lessened costs of both development and shipping copper concentrates produced from any future mine there, compared to mine projects further inland.
“I would suggest to you that this is one of the best situated copper porphyries in the world because of its proximity to deep tidewater,” said Kovacevic.
To get a better idea of the advantages of this locale, CopperBank hired DOWL, an Alaska-based engineering firm, to provide initial infrastructure planning for Pyramid.
This early stage planning will assist in developing initial concepts for key infrastructure components such as potential port locations, on-site power generating options, and a supporting road network.
“It is never too early in the life of a project to begin to understand how critical components – namely power and port facilities – would look like and potentially be situated,” the CopperBank CEO said.
With this preliminary understanding of infrastructure, along with expanding and upgrading Pyramid, CopperBank is taking strides towards helping to supply the growing demand for copper that Kovacevic foresees being needed to generate and deliver a greener source of energy to power the growing array of modern products powered by electricity.