Excelsior Mining Corp (TSE:MIN) updated on pre-production progress at its exciting Gunnison Copper project in southeast Arizona, where the company is poised to be a major long-term employer for the next 25 years.
Last month, Excelsior revealed a huge boost to the project, a US$75 million project financing package that sent shares surging.
Initial production from the US's next new copper producer is scheduled for 2019.
Both basic and detailed engineering are complete, said Excelsior on Tuesday.
In addition, the project execution plan and construction plans are also complete.
A general contractor has been selected and all other major contracts have now been concluded. Key corporate systems, such as safety and environmental, are now in place and implemented. All other corporate systems, such as the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are nearing the completion of the implementation process.
Ramp-up activities at what's called the Johnson Camp Mine (JCM) have been running in parallel with the permitting process.
The number of employees now totals 31 at JCM, as Excelsior fills essential production related positions.
"The JCM offices have been fully refurbished in anticipation of start-up. In addition, the drilling contract for the well field is in place and the contractor is awaiting instructions to mobilize the drilling rigs," said the company. "Long lead items have been ordered and drill casing is currently on site and awaiting the arrival of the first drill rig. Additionally, early equipment and vehicles have been purchased."
Boussard tapped to run project
The resource group also said that Cregg Bossard has been brought aboard as senior project manager responsible for mine construction.
Bossard has more than 42 years' experience in the mining, environmental remediation, and construction industries.
He has worked in operations, research and development, technical sales, engineering, and construction.
"We want to assure all stakeholders that we will be ready to move into production next year as per our schedule," said Excelsior's chief operating officer Roland Goodgame. "During the permitting process, we have been ramping up activity at JCM so that we will be in a position to move seamlessly into the construction and production phases."
At the time the financing was announced, Stephen Twyerould, the president and chief executive of Excelsior, had said the firm's "pathway to achieving producer status" was now clear, and "we look forward to bringing the USA's next new strategic metal producer online in 2019".
The financing will be provided by Triple Flag Mining Finance Bermuda Ltd (Triple Flag) and consists of a US$65 million copper metal stream and concurrent US$10 million private placing of Excelsior shares.
Excelsior says the funding solution will cover all expenditures and working capital related to the start-up of the mine and is not subject to interest payments, meaning future project debt financing could expand the project production capacity up to the targeted 125 million pounds per year.
Shares eased 1% to $0.99.
Reporting by Giles Gwinnett