Copper producer Nevada Copper is the owner of the Pumpkin Hollow copper project

A ripe, robust pumpkin is a prime symbol of bountiful harvests – the squash is roasted, mashed and made into pies, soups and sauces, its leaves and flowers are eaten in side dishes, and its seeds are roasted for garnishes and snacks. Although the bounty from the Pumpkin Hollow property is not fit for consumption, Nevada Copper Corp. is confident that it will be extremely productive and yield strong results for its shareholders, as well as build up the local community.

Based in Vancouver, Nevada Copper owns 100 percent of the advanced-stage Pumpkin Hollow Copper Development Property, which is located in the Walker Lane mineralized belt of Western Nevada. Nevada Copper acquired the property in 2005, after a private Houston company, RGGS Land & Minerals Ltd. was disposing of some of its assets. Pumpkin Hollow was well known and an extensively drilled discovery in the 1960s, according to Executive Vice President Robert McKnight, but at that time, it was valuable for its magnetite – its copper deposits were ignored.

“We are focusing on copper at this property, as well as its precious metal credits,” McKnight explains. “We will be producing and stockpiling the magnetite and iron that we mine, but there are no plans to sell it yet. We might do that after we complete more feasibility work later this year.”

As of March, Nevada Copper had determined Pumpkin Hollow contains:

  • Measured and indicated resources totaling 5.9 billion pounds of copper, as well as additional inferred resources of 3.7 billion pounds of copper
  • 1.6 million ounces of gold in measured and indicated resources, as well as 716,000 ounces in inferred resources
  • 42 million ounces of silver in measured and indicated resources, as well as 21.8 million ounces of inferred resources; and
  • 111 million tons of contained iron in 341 million tons at an average grade of 33 percent iron at a 20 percent iron cutoff in the measured and indicated category

At this time, Nevada Copper is most focused on completing Pumpkin Hollow’s feasibility study in the third quarter of this year, McKnight notes.

“We are at the site doing step out drilling, and the deposit is open for expansion,” he says. “We will initiate permitting for phase 1 soon. We have permits for the underground development, but we can’t process significant quantities of ore without the additional processing permits from the state. Phase two will start early next year, and that will involve the environmental impact study, federal permitting and land use permits.”

Strong support

Nevada Copper says that one of Pumpkin Hollow’s best attributes is its “pro-mining location with excellent local infrastructure.” McKnight explains the development is a “robust project,” bolstered by a safe political environment, and “a good permitting regime” has been established thanks to healthy cooperation from the county government.

“The project is in a benign area, so we are not making any huge impacts to the land and there are no major issues associated with the development,” he says. “The area is really supportive of the development, which will allow us to take advantage of the good copper prices right now.”

Because so much activity was happening in the Yerington area in the 1960s, the area surrounding Pumpkin Hollow is knowledgeable of the mining industry and supportive of Nevada Copper’s plans. As a historic mining area, the population’s skill levels also are high, McKnight notes.

“The property is only one-and-a-half hours to Reno, so it will be easy to attract people back to this area to work,” he says. “There are a lot of local skills available now, and combined with the workers who come back, that is a good sign that we will have the skills we need when we’re ready for production. Plus, we are close to Reno and near the Sierras, and those are attractive areas to live.”

Primary focus

Nevada Copper has completed more than 275,000 meters of drilling in 611 holes on the Pumpkin Hollow property, and activity is progressing at a good pace, according to McKnight. In late July, the city of Yerington, Nev., amended an existing agreement with Nevada Copper to provide additional water for the Pumpkin Hollow project. The city agreed to provide water to Nevada Copper in 2009, and the amended agreement brings the total water volumes available from the city and other sources to approximately 4,300 acre-feet, which exceeds the expected net water requirements of the first two phases of the project.

“This agreement assures that Nevada Copper will have enough water to fully develop the Pumpkin Hollow project,” Vice President and Senior Project Manager Greg French said in a statement. “This includes the current planned Phase 1 underground mine and associated 7,500 tons per day processing facility; and the Phase 1 & 2 combined underground mine and an adjacent open pit mine with a second 60,000 tons per day processing facility.”

Under the project mine plan, Nevada Copper will dry stack its tailings, which allows for recycling of up to 85 percent of the water for re-use in processing. In the conventional slurried tailings pond disposal method, only 30 to 50 percent of the water would be recycled, the company notes.

“Pumpkin Hollow is a critical project for the economy of Yerington and Mason Valley,” Mayor George Dini said in a statement. “The structure of this amendment allows the city of Yerington to assist Nevada Copper in meeting their project needs, yet still provides that the city has sufficient water rights to meet other future needs.”

At this time, Pumpkin Hollow is the only property Nevada Copper is developing, but the company will look elsewhere if the right opportunities come along, McKnight explains. Nevada Copper is focused on developing the property in a responsible manner and helping to build the local economy with this project.

“Our primary focus is Pumpkin Hollow, and it will remain so for the near future,” McKnight says. “We will look at other projects if something comes along, but we’re not actively going after anything else right now. It has to be right for our business.”

[Details correct at time of writing]