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TruScan affirms CuMo ore sorting promise

Metal Tech News - June 19, 2024

Nearly all metals are found within 10% of rocks in Idaho copper deposit; XRF core scans proving to be ideal match for ore sorting analysis.

Preliminary results from Idaho Copper Corp.'s use of Veracio's TruScan are beginning to reveal how the use of this automated drill core analysis technology during exploration can maximize the effectiveness of ore sorting technology during operations.

By using specialized sensors to identify and reject unmineralized rocks prior to feeding the upgraded ore through the mill, ore sorting has emerged as a technology that can significantly lower the energy consumption, cost, and environmental footprint of certain mining operations.

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the most common analytical technique used to identify mineralized rock for ore sorting. So, it makes sense that XRF analysis of drill core would be an ideal method to understand exactly how effective ore sorting will be and to collect the data engineers will need to incorporate ore sorting into an optimized mine plan.

This is why Idaho Copper turned to Veracio's TruScan XRF drill core analysis technology to complete a high-resolution analysis of more than 60,000 feet (18,290 meters) of drill core in preparation for ore sorting studies at its CuMo copper-molybdenum-silver project in Idaho.

"The ultimate goal of this exercise is to reduce the overall mill size and significantly increase mill feed grades, which the company expects will translate into lower capital costs and higher profitability for the project," the company wrote.

Results from the first six holes logged with TruScan indicate that the grade of ore being fed through a future mill at CuMo could be four times higher with ore sorting than without.

Exploring CuMo ore sorting

Idaho Copper's CuMo project hosts 2.27 billion metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 0.08% (3.81 billion pounds) copper, 0.06% (1.55 billion lb) molybdenum, and 2.5 grams per metric ton (165.5 million ounces) silver.

A 2020 preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for this project about 12 miles north of Idaho City outlined plans for a mine at CuMo that would produce 84 million lb of copper, 43 million lb of molybdenum, and 3.57 million oz of silver annually for 28 years.

The PEA, however, also identified ore sorting as a means of significantly improving the economics of a future CuMo mine by reducing the mill size and increasing ore grades ahead of processing.

Idaho Copper Corp.

Minerals within deposits are often concentrated within veins, such as this high-grade veining cut during drilling at the CuMo deposit in Idaho.

Because the vast majority of metals within the CuMo deposit are contained within thin veins, the PEA determined that by scalping off the rocks that do not have these metal-rich veins running through them could remove 28% of the mined material before feeding the upgraded ore through the mill.

To further validate and define the potential ore sorting optimizations identified in the PEA, Idaho Copper decided to relog core used to delineate the CuMo deposit with TruScan.

Developed for Veracio, a technology company spun out of the highly regarded Boart Longyear Group, TruScan combines XRF scanning with high-resolution photography to provide comprehensive and consistent analysis of mineralization within an orebody.

The TruScan unit utilized at CuMo, which fits within a trailer about the size of a cargo van, uses XRF scanning equipment and sophisticated software to scan the drill core at 1.5-centimeter (0.6 inches) intervals to analyze the grades, composition, and distribution of copper and molybdenum contained in the deposit.

Extremely encouraging early results

Results from scanning core from the first six CuMo drill holes demonstrate the potential grade enhancements possible with the implementation of XRF-based ore sorting technology at the project.

The samples scanned represent potential mill feed averaging 0.08% copper and 0.04% molybdenum, or about 0.36% copper-equivalent, which is roughly the same as the grade of the overall CuMo deposit.

Results from the scanning indicate that an XRF-based scanner could remove up to 90% of the material as waste or low-grade stockpile. This means that only about 10% of the overall material with an average grade of 0.11% copper and 0.23% molybdenum, or about 1.46% copper-equivalent, would be fed through the mill.

Idaho Copper Corp.

The vast majority of metals at CuMo are within thin veins, such as those cutting across this drill core.

"The current results are extremely encouraging because they validate the possibility of separating the metal bearing veins from the host rock," the company penned in a statement. "This means a large portion of waste and lower grade material could be separated immediately after mining, and therefore the head grade fed to the mill could be substantially higher than the grade found in the in-situ resource."

As a result, the mine would need much less energy to crush smaller volumes of ore in order to extract the metals and only a fraction of the tailings needed to be stored. This, in turn, translates to less carbon emissions, lower capital and operating costs, and a smaller environmental footprint.

Once the TruScan analysis is complete, Idaho Copper will select bulk core samples for detailed metallurgical and ore sorting studies. The results from these studies will be incorporated into an updated PEA that is currently slated for completion around the end of the year.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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