Let me break it in two and perhaps it will "take".
I have been waiting for a material event to post this information and with the recent hire of Dr. El-Alfy of Tosca by Aurcana this qualifies for me as material.
Per the NR of 9/12/2012:
**The review resulted in a decision to work toward a production scenario that requires less capital by designing a smaller scale operation**, while at the same time, planning to mine higher grade material, found within the copper blanket to enhance the economics.
**"This two pronged approach, planning to mine the higher grade material, and designing a smaller plant, should enhance the economics of the Red Hills Project. Future expansion can occur as market conditions improve", states Dr. Sadek E. El-Alfy CEO.**
Per ???: This is where my memory fails me. There was a Tosca document with 3 mine plant type recommendations. I cannot find it. Two of them were SX-EW type.
"The application of Solvent Extraction/Electro Winning (SX/EW) technology to copper processing improved the quality of the product, made the processing more cost effective and efficient. The leach process is similar to that for gold, except that low cost sulphuric acid is used to leach the copper. Recovery involves concentrating the copper sulphate solution and removing impurities through the SX process, followed by precipitating the copper on the cathode in the electro winning (EW) process. The copper cathode is better than 99% pure and may be sold on commodity exchanges, as is. It commands a higher price per pound of copper than concentrates, requires handling and offers the option of receiving a guaranteed price through the futures markets. Small Scale Copper Leach/SX/EW Operations. **Typically, a Small Scale oxide copper deposit will contain a minimum of 100 million pounds of copper. This will be mined at a rate of about 30 million pounds per year and a production cost of less than $USD 0.50 per pound. Using contract mining to reduce capital costs, the total start up capital cost of such a project is around $15-20 million. With Copper prices fluctuating between $3.00 to $3.80/pound (2012) it is feasible and profitable at current copper prices.** (My asterisks)
In the last 5 years or so, it has become more common for some small scale copper producers to explore and mine small but good grade copper reserves in South America. These mines are profitable at over $2.50/pound copper prices, but will have trouble breaking even at lower prices, typically
I believe Tosca currently has 77M lbs Cu indicated under their current 43-101. Copper price around $3.70 today.
Southern Puru Copper Co. has a plant of this type in Toquepala, Tacna Peru. They mine Copper, moly, silver, and Rhenium.
The Rosemont copper mine in Arizona is another example.
Perhaps the post was too long. Yahoo MB has been destroyed since their "improvement".
A side note is the Rhenium by-product consideration. Per the NR 9/29/2011 there were high concentrations in TMC- 07, 15, 16. Three samples were above 1,000 ppb cutoff. It is not uncommon nor cost prohibitive to use "roast" the molybdenum to get the Rhenium.
Freeport has a mine in Arizona:
Freeport McMoRan’s Sierrita mine south of Tucson is the only U.S. source of Rhenium, a metal used in high-temperature super-alloy turbine blades for jet aircraft and other land-based turbines. About 6% rhenium in the jet turbine blades allow the engines to develop much more thrust. Rhenium is also used, with platinum, as a catalyst to make high-octane hydrocarbons which are used in lead-free gasoline. Other uses, mainly as alloys with tungsten or molybdenum, include electrical contact points, flashbulbs, heating elements, metallic coatings, thermocouples, and x-ray tubes.
Rhenium occurs in the mineral molybdenite (molybdenum sulfide), a by-product of some porphyry copper mines. When the molybdenite concentrate is roasted, rhenium is recovered from the stack gases. Currently, the Sierrita plant is the only one in the U.S. equipped to recover rhenium.
Simply, the start-up cost while prohibitive to Tosca alone, might not be so imposing if a JV were to take place with a certain soon to be senior silver producer in Shafter. OR a simple absorption of Tosca with current mgmt assuming payoff positions in Aurcana or stock.
As a side note, Freeport Mcmoran bought out Phelps Dodge a few years ago. Phelps did a good bit of drilling at Red Hills.
I would guess that the Tosca acquisition will be announced in January 2013.
That will solidify the first mover status for Aurcana.
Lenic is going to have a very well funded exploration budget for La Negra and Shafter these next few years. He will need control of wider areas around both operating mines to make best use of exploration assets and expanding mill capacity and addition of base metal circuits to add cash flow. ( ie. La Negra already doubles up its silver production with base metals )
Remember from various threads we have identified wide spread mineralization in this whole trend area. Just needs to be explored and develop viable supemental feeds for mills. Already minable Copper/Moly at Tosca. Plus many targets that need further exploration once we control the properties.
What gives value to miners is... resources,efficient mine operations and growth prospects.
With Dr. El-Alfy of Tosca being hired It appears that our thoughts on Lenic's path for expansion at Shafter is playing out. Will be the first of numerous properties.
It appears that since Aurcana did not announce commercial production at the beginning of December... we will not see commercial production declared untill the first of jan 2013. As I previously posted... we would not really have any significant sales of silver from Shafter until after the year end ( WIP mostly, just not sold yet)). We would however have all of the operating costs. [ Will make for very strong first qrt results in May]