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Global Copper Snapshot: Firms exploring, developing the next generation of copper assets

While gold draws the lion’s share of attention amongst the world’s mineral explorers and developers, the steady rise in copper prices has helped the junior copper subsector blossom, ranging from grassroots explorers to intermediate miners. Below are examples of eight such companies.

ALTIUS MINERALS

Brian Dalton-led Altius Minerals (TSX: ALS; US-OTC: ATUSF) directly and indirectly holds diversified royalties and streams that generate revenue from 15 operating mines in Canada and Brazil that produce copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, iron ore, potash, and thermal and metallurgical coal.

The junior’s portfolio also includes many pre-development staged royalties covering a wide spectrum of mineral commodities and jurisdictions, plus exploration-stage projects.

Its biggest copper assets are a 4% net smelter return royalty on Hudbay Minerals’ 777 copper-zinc mine in Manitoba, a royalty on the Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper-cobalt mine in Labrador, as well as a 3.7% stream interest in Yamana’s Chapada gold-copper mine in Brazil.

Altius reported attributable royalty revenue of $46.7 million for the eight months ended Dec. 31, 2017, compared to $46 million for the 12-month period ended April 30, 2017. Revenue for the two-month period ended Dec. 31, 2017, was $14 million.

The abbreviated reporting periods are due to Altius changing its financial year-end to Dec. 31.

CARUBE COPPER

Toronto-based Carube Copper (TSXV: CUC) is focused on its Bellas Gate copper project in Jamaica, where it says it has found “widespread copper mineralization over a 6.5 by 4 km corridor indicating the presence of a very large system, with the potential to host multiple copper-gold porphyries.”

The company says its results have identified 17 target areas, including the Connors porphyry, where recent drill intercepts show “excellent copper and gold mineralization.”

In Jamaica, Carube holds a 100% interest in 11 licences totalling 535 sq. km. In Canada, it holds a 100% interest in three porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum properties totalling 492 sq. km within the Tertiary-aged Cascade magmatic arc in southwestern British Columbia.

In late March, Carube closed the third and final tranche of a $3-million financing, with the resulting proceeds directed towards exploration and general working capital purposes.

CENTENERA MINING

Vancouver-based, Keith Henderson-led Centenera Mining (TSXV: CT; US-OTC: CTMIF) is exploring for copper in Argentina, with a focus on its Esperanza copper-gold project in mining-friendly San Juan province.

Centenera describes Esperanza as having the infrastructure needed for a bulk-tonnage mine, especially year-round round access, within 35 km of a power line and at a 3,000-metre elevation.

Esperanza was discovered in 2007, and in 2017 Centenera acquired the project and an option to get full interest for cash payments of US$2.3 million over six years, and US$500,000 shares issued, subject to a 2% net smelter return royalty.One hole from 2007 cut 249 metres from 6 metres grading 0.26% copper and 0.17 gram gold per tonne.

Centenera is starting 2018 by drilling four holes totalling 2,000 metres on 100-metre step-outs, and will consider a six-hole, 3,500-metre follow-up program.

CORDOBA MINERALS

There’s more to Colombia’s mineral potential than pure gold. Exhibit A is Toronto-based Cordoba Minerals (TSXV: CDB; US-OTC: CDBMF), which is exploring the San Matias copper-gold project in the country’s Department of Cordoba, 200 km north of Medellin, where Cordoba has an office.

In July 2017, Cordoba acquired full interest in San Matias from High Power Exploration Inc. — a private mineral exploration company indirectly controlled by Robert Friedland’s Ivanhoe Industries —  such that HPX now owns a 67% economic interest in Cordoba Minerals.

In February, Cordoba updated the resource estimate for the Alacran deposit on the San Matias property, with conceptual pit-constrained resources of 36.1 million indicated tonnes grading 0.57% copper and 0.26 gram gold per tonne, and 31.8 million inferred tonnes at 0.52% copper and 0.24 gram gold at a 0.28% copper-equivalent cut-off.

This translates to a contained 819 million lb. copper and 550,000 oz. gold in all categories.

In April, veteran exploration geologist Eugene Schmidt joined Cordoba as vice-president of exploration.

FIRST QUANTUM MINERALS

Toronto-based intermediate copper producer First Quantum Minerals (TSX: FM; US-OTC: FQVLF) celebrated record copper production in 2017 of 573,963 tonnes copper, plus 200,000 oz. gold and 17,800 tonnes nickel.

First Quantum has seven mines around the world: the Kansanshi mine and smelter (80%) and Sentinel (100%) in Zambia; Guelb Moghrein (100%) in Mauritania; Las Cruces (100%) in Spain; Pyhasalmi (100%) in Finland; Ravensthorpe (100%) in Australia; and Cayeli (100%) in Turkey.

In Panama with Cobre Panama, the company has an equally large copper mine coming on stream, with ramp-up due in late 2018.

In March, the Zambia Revenue Authority accused First Quantum of underpaying its taxes by more than $10 billion over five years.

The tax authorities accused the miner of incorrectly declaring consumables and spare-part imports as mining machinery, which are not subject to customs duty, when they should have been paying duties of 15–25% on those items.

First Quantum said it “unequivocally refutes this assessment, which does not appear to have any discernible basis of calculation and will continue working with the ZRA … to resolve the issue.”

KUTCHO COPPER

Vince Sorace-led, Kutcho Copper (TSXV: KC; US-OTC: KCCFF) is developing the Kutcho high-grade copper-zinc-gold-silver project in northern British Columbia.

The Vancouver-based junior changed its name to Kutcho Copper from Desert Star Resources in December 2017, as part of a rebranding timed with a $117-million financing package and the closing of Kutcho Copper’s acquisition of full interest in its flagship Kutcho property, located 100 km east of Dease Lake, within the territory of the Tahltan and Kaska First Nations.

At a 1% copper cut-off grade, the Kutcho volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit hosts 16.9 million indicated tonnes grading 1.89% copper, 2.87% zinc, 0.36 gram gold per tonne and 32.8 grams silver per tonne. Another 5.8 million tonnes at slightly lower grades lie in the inferred category.

Over the coming year and into 2019, Kutcho Copper plans to explore and expand the resource, optimize the metallurgy, update the resource and reserve estimates, and complete a feasibility study.

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MARKET SUMMARY

INDICES

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TSX 16224.13 0.06%
TSX-V 719.95 0.00%

Resource Commodities

Name Last Change
Gold 1201.30 0.29%
Silver 14.29 0.28%
Copper 2.84 0.000
Platinum 832.00 0.94%
Oil 70.78 0.65%
Natural Gas 2.98
Uranium 27.38 0.48%
Zinc 1.11 0.00%

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