ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The company that has led exploration in the Ambler mining district has shifted to develop its primary prospect after many years of work.

Trilogy Metals on Feb. 20 released a pre-feasibility study for its project at the Arctic prospect in Northwest Alaska, the Alaska Journal of Commerce reported .

The study detailed a higher initial capital estimates cost but a lower overall cost. Trilogy leaders project the high-grade Arctic deposit to be the first of several mines in the area.

The Arctic prospect holds an estimated 2.4 billion pounds of indicated copper resources at a 3.07 percent grade; 3.3 billion pounds of indicated zinc at 4.23 percent; and precious metal resources estimated at 55 million ounces of indicated silver and 730,000 ounces of gold, according to the Feb. 20 report.

Estimated costs to develop Arctic have grown 9 percent since a 2013 preliminary economic assessment and are now pegged at $780 million. However, a 60 percent drop in expected annual operating and 20 percent decrease in closure and reclamation costs — to about $65 million each — cut the all-in cost for the mine by 5.5 percent from $964 million in 2013 to $911 million today.

Trilogy executives said during a call with investors that the drastic drop in operating costs is due to changes in the plan for waste rock and tailings management, fuel and federal tax reform.

Developing the Arctic mine — or any project in the Ambler district — is predicated on the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority being successful with its effort to permit, finance and construct a 220-mile (354-kilometer) road west from the Dalton Highway to access the region. The federal Bureau of Land Management is currently drafting the first version of the environmental impact statement for the $300 million road.

Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce,

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.