Huckleberry ore reserves at December 31, 2012 were 49,907,500 tonnes grading 0.334% copper and 0.009% molybdenum. The strip ratio is approximately 0.9 to 1.0 including the backfilled waste and tailings that must be removed from the Main zone pit.
Construction of a new tailings storage facility (TMF3) began in early 2012. The new starter dam was completed to the 924 metre level by the end of the construction season. The main diversion ditch and seepage collection systems related to this new facility were also completed in 2012. Approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of earthworks will be required to complete the TMF3 starter dam to the 945 metre level. This work is expected to begin in April 2013 and to be completed by July 2013. The TMF3 will then be used for storage of tailings and potentially acid generating (PAG) waste, generated by the operation.
Exploration, development and capital expenditures at Huckleberry were $44.2 million in 2012 compared to $6.8 million in 2011.
Imperial holds a 50% interest in Huckleberry Mines Ltd. The remaining 50% interest is held by a consortium consisting of Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Dowa Mining Co. Ltd. and Furukawa Co.
Notes 20 and 23 to the audited Consolidated Financial Statements of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2012 discloses information on the impact of Huckleberry operations on the financial position and results of operations of Imperial.
RED CHRIS PROJECT
Red Chris mine development is proceeding with approximately 81% of the engineering complete as of February 28, 2013. The development of the Red Chris mine is proceeding, with start of commissioning scheduled for May 2014. Key to meeting this schedule will be the completion of the 287kV Northwest Transmission Line (NTL) from Skeena substation to Bob Quinn, and a 93 kilometre extension from Bob Quinn to Tatogga (NTL Extension). Further to an agreement recently signed by the Company and BC Hydro, the NTL Extension will be constructed by a subsidiary of Imperial. Upon completion, the NTL Extension will be acquired by BC Hydro. That portion of the costs which exceeds $52.0 million will be borne by Imperial as its contribution to the NTL Extension in order to make the 287kV service connection to the Red Chris mine. The expected in service date for both the NTL Extension and the NTL is May 31, 2014. Construction of the NTL Extension will commence upon receipt of required permits.
On-site work began in May 2012. The process plant site was excavated to grade and 4,912 m3 of concrete had been poured by November 2012 when the concrete placement was suspended for winter. The status of site work as of January 2013 is:
-- main access road along new alignment completed and opened-- concrete aggregate washed and stockpiled-- phase 1 tailings impoundment area, 220 hectares of 240 hectares cleared-- tailings and reclaim water pipeline right of ways are 85% cleared-- mass excavation of primary crusher and conveyor alignment begun-- stripping of top soils from till borrow area commenced-- installation of additional camp modules to reach a 480 room camp facility, with occupation available in March 2013-- installation of a 65' x 120' maintenance shop complex to be completed in March 2013
During 2012 Red Chris capital expenditures, including capitalized interest of $1.4 million, were $111.4 compared to $32.6 million 2011. Commitments have been made for a further $124.1 million in expenditures.