Chieftain releases feasibility study

Toronto-based Chieftain Metals has released a long-awaited feasibility study that suggests a mine life of at least nine years and 2,000-tons per day from an underground operation.

The study was led by JDS Energy and Mining Inc., which estimates Chieftain can operate Tulsequah Chief at approximately $125 per ton of ore. The study estimates the mine could produce more than 400,000 ounces of gold and 1.2 million ounces of silver, and a combined 830 million pounds of zinc, lead and copper.

The mining company mostly abandoned the controversial idea of barging materials on the Taku River in and out of its Tulsequah Chief Mine in British Columbia.

It instead opted for a road from Atlin B.C., but that plan comes with opposition as well. The road passes through Taku River Tlingit First Nation land, and that group and the Children of the Taku now oppose the mine’s development.

The native organizations’ opposition is rooted in Chieftain’s until now unreleased feasibility study and the resumption of wastewater treatment at a plant at the Tulsequah Chief Mine.

The sudden shutdown took many on both sides of the Canadian border by surprise.

Chieftain finished construction on a $9 million treatment plant to treat historic acid mine drainage at the Tulsequah Chief Mine near the Taku River in British Columbia.

Chieftain inherited designs for the facility from former mine owner Redfern Resources Ltd.

Chieftain mothballed the plant in June, and said it did so to improve the facility’s efficiency while it rounds-up additional funding.

Chieftain partnered with a subsidiary of China-based CMAC Engineering. In a recent interview, Chieftain Metals CEO Victor Wyprysky said Chieftain would begin testing the treatment facility for eventual restart.

In Chieftain’s press release from Dec. 12, which announced the release of its study, Wyprysky said the mine “will bring significant benefits for the Taku River First Nation.”

The Tulsequah Chief Mine and Big Bull Mine are located approximately 40 miles north of Juneau.

The study focused on Tulsequah Chief. It predicts start-up costs of $439.5 million, and an additional $64 million to sustain capital over the life of the mine and $6.2 million in closure costs net of salvage value.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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