Excelsior Mining Corp.
Altius owns an underlying 1.625% gross sales royalty covering the project.
The Gunnison project was expected to enter first commercial production in Q1/2020, however due to the unfolding global COVID-19 pandemic the Company suspended operations to ensure employee health and safety until the global crisis abated. Subsequent to the stoppage for COVID, the Company has reported on continuing issues that were identified during the ramp-up phase of initial production. While some issues have been resolved, total copper sold in the first half of 2022 was 586,503 pounds cathode compared to the initial design rate of 25 million pounds cathode. In general, Excelsior is seeking to address questions around minimizing the impact of carbon dioxide on fluid flows, with no guidance yet communicated on initial production expectations or timeline.
The Gunnison copper mine is located 105 km southeast of Tucson within the Arizona copper belt. Excelsior is currently focusing efforts on the North Star deposit, which is interpreted as an oxidized skarn-type deposit. The project utilizes in-situ methods to leach copper from the buried copper oxide deposit and extract the copper by conventional Solvent Extraction-Electrowinning (SX-EW) technology. Based on the 2016 Feasibility Study, the project was expected to initially produce 25 million pounds of copper per annum for three years ramping up to 75 million lbs and finally expanding to 125 million pounds of copper per annum in year 7. Over a 24-year mine life, the AISC was estimated at US$1.23/lb.
The 1% of the Gunnison project royalty was originally acquired by Callinan Royalties Corp. in 2013 as part of a royalty and equity financing of the Company and was later increased to 1.625% by Altius with the exercise of the Calinan Royalties Corp. agreement to acquire an additional 0.625% royalty for CAD$5 million.
Anticipated royalty revenues from the Gunnison copper mine will represent the first production royalty to result from Altius PG business organic royalty growth platform. Despite the production ramp up delays and ongoing problem solving, after accounting for realized and unrealized gains related to the original equity investment in Excelsior, this royalty was created at an effective negative cost. Details of the project economics and the ramp up progress are available here.