The Race for Copper: Why Recycling and New Discoveries Are Crucial for Future Tech

USA News Group – If the world intends to shift towards green energy and other major technological advancements, the future depends on copper. However, the current copper market is projecting a very serious shortage that could hinder advancement. Cable manufacturers are ramping up their copper recycling efforts to meet clean energy demand, while researchers are warning a shortage could imperil the future of electric vehicles (EVs). Couple in an ongoing artificial intelligence (AI) revolution that’s also going to need an astronomical amount of copper, the pieces are moving into place for what economists call a commodities supercycle. As the world claws away at the copper that’s available, calls are mounting supporting development secure supplies for tomorrow, giving rising incentive to copper miners to make new discoveries and development happen, including from Yukon Metals Corp. (CSE: YMC), Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (TSX: IVN) (OTCQX: IVPAF), First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX: FM) (OTCPK: FQVLF), Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A. (NYSE: BVN), and McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX).

As the IEA forecasts a 20X increase in global copper demand by 2040, the significance of current development projects is undeniable. Enter Yukon Metals Corp. (CSE: YMC), which has swiftly joined the copper race with a new name and symbol. The company's impressive premium-quality portfolio acquisition stems from over 30 years of prospecting by the Berdahl family, the same team responsible for Snowline Gold's primary gold assets, in the Yukon which ranks 10th most prospective for mineral potential across global jurisdictions according to the Fraser Institute and is host to a highly experienced and conscientious local workforce.

Hitting the ground running, Yukon Metals wasted no time in announcing it has already doubled its land position from an initial 18k hectares to 36k hectares after considerable staking at the priority AZ property, surrounding its Talbot property, as well as additional new claims near the Alaska Highway, named “Fairway”.

“During these past months, prior to Closing of the acquisition, the Company has been busy staking ground around two key properties, AZ and Talbot, as well as staking new claims at Fairway,” said Rory Quinn, President and CEO of Yukon Metals. “AZ is a high-priority potential copper-gold porphyry asset, while Talbot hosts a substantial gold and silver anomaly. Both AZ and Fairway are within 20km of the Alaska Highway. I look forward to sharing ongoing details of what is going to be a busy exploration season.”

In the early 1990s, Ron Berdahl explored the AZ and Fairway claim area while working for Noranda. Copper mineralization was found on the AZ property. In 1993, tests on rock samples showed an average of 10% copper, 126 grams per tonne of silver, and 7.08 grams per tonne of gold. A report referred to in a previous YMC press release on June 3, 2024 mentioned that these results suggest the mineralized rocks likely came from a local source on the property. Back in the 1930s, there were also small gold mining operations on Sanpete, Pan, and Gold Creeks in this region.

On behalf of Yukon Metals, Ron Berdahl staked an additional 7,625 hectares north of the southern AZ claims, adding 372 new claims. This area includes significant mineral findings, such as gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. Although initial samples showed promising results, no follow-up work has been done in this area since 1989.

“Completing the acquisition of these high-quality exploration assets in the Yukon marks an exciting beginning for Yukon Metals,” said Rory Quinn, President and CEO of Yukon Metals. “We have tremendously exciting properties that we’ll work to responsibly and systematically advance, from copper-gold and silver-lead-zinc, to precious metals focused assets. With a healthy treasury after raising in excess of C$15 million, a comprehensive exploration database

and key permits already in place, we are ready to hit the ground running!”

After completing construction on its Kamoa-Kakula mine’s Phase 3 concentrator ahead of schedule, Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (TSX: IVN) (OTCQX: IVPAF) has now reported first concentrate production at the facility several months ahead of schedule, while its Phase 1 and 2 concentrators achieved a near-record 35,474 tonnes of copper in May.

"The Kamoa-Kakula operations team continues its industry-leading execution with the early and on-budget delivery of the Phase 3 concentrator and underground mining operations ... a rare feat in an industry plagued by cost overruns and delays when it comes to complex, world-scale projects,” said Robert Friedland, Founder and Executive Co-Chairman of Ivanhoe Mines. “Given the outperformance of Kamoa-Kakula's operations to date, including higher than expected throughput and recoveries at the Phase 1 and Phase 2 concentrators, we are now studying options to boost copper production towards our next goal of 800,000 tonnes per annum ... a production rate that would propel the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Complex towards being one of the two largest copper producers on our planet.”

Late in April, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX: FM) (OTCPK: FQVLF) updated the market with its Q1 2024 financial results that included operational highlights on its Cobre Panamá property, which has been in a phase of preservation and safe management (P&SM) since November 2023. Approximately 121,000 dry metric tonnes of copper concentrate remains onsite. With the P&SM status still in place, First Quantum has reported that total copper production for Q1 2024 was 100,605 tonnes, a 37% decrease from Q4 2023. Excluding Cobre Panamá, copper production for First Quantum was 3,021 tonnes higher quarter-over-quarter resulting from improved mining conditions at Sentinel.

“Clearly, throughout this period of change, the environmental stability and asset integrity of Cobre Panamá remains a priority for the Company,” said Tristan Pascall, CEO of First Quantum. “First Quantum will continue to work with the current administration to implement the Cobre Panamá Preservation and Safe Management plan."

While First Quantum’s Cobre Panamá facility is currently in P&SM, ore treatment recently resumed at the El Brocal plant in Peru, owned by Compañía de Minas Buenaventura S.A.A. (Buenaventura) (NYSE: BVN). As Peru’s largest publicly-traded precious metals mining company, Buenaventura was pleased to resume operations at El Brocal, which has accumulated approximately 220,000 tonnes of copper ore to date. As per the resumption, Buenaventura anticipates processing will gradually ramp to a rate of 15,000 tons per day.

Buenaventura had initially stopped ore treatment operations at El Brocal on May 22, after unauthorized entry by Huaraucaca community members living near the facility. The El Brocal facilities treat ore from the company’s Marcapunta underground and Tajo Norte open pit mines in the Colquijirca district, Pasco province, with a total capacity of 20,000 tonnes per day. In 2024, Buenaventura’s El Brocal is expected to produce 17,000-20,000 ounces of gold, 1.4-1.7 million ounces of silver, 13,000-15,000 tonnes of lead, 3,100-3,500 tonnes of zinc, and 55,000-60,000 tonnes of zinc.

After seeking $100 million for a copper project in Argentina earlier this year, Canadian mining magnate Rob McEwen and his closely-held firm, McEwen Copper Inc.—which is 47.7% owned by McEwen Mining Inc. (NYSE: MUX) (TSX: MUX)—have announced completion of its feasibility drilling program on its Los Azules project. The primary objectives of the drilling campaign were to confirm the size and grade of the deposit as compared to the previous 2023 PEA estimate and upgrade the resource categories ahead of the upcoming feasibility study. As well, the drilling also tested for extensions of mineralizations beyond the current pit shell, and to explore the large property package for other mineralized areas.

“I’d like to put a jewel on the side of the mountain and to shock people into seeing how mining really is today,” said McEwen at the Energy Transition Metals Summit in late April.

Now Argentina’s top power supplier Central Puerto SA is in talks to also invest in the Los Azules copper project, according to a report from Bloomberg. After signing a deal for a stake in the Diablillos silver-gold project in Salta province, a stake in Los Azules would be Central Puerto’s second mining venture, if a deal could be reached.

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