Arizona is a Tier 1 mining jurisdiction, as the USA's top copper-producing state and accounting for 71% of domestic output of copper in 2021 (source). It is also an established and attractive mining jurisdiction, ranking No. 5 in 2021’s Investment Attractiveness Index by the Fraser Institute.
Arizona Sonoran owns 100% of the 4,846 acres of land just north of the W Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and 4 miles west of the city of Casa Grande. The privately-owned land is host to a porphyry copper belt, extending 4 km, from Parks/Salyer in the SW and the Cactus Northeast Extension to the NE and with the Cactus deposit at the centre. The Project is located 40 miles (64 km) southeast of the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, off interstate highway 10, on private land in Pinal County. Pinal County is in the heart of Arizona’s copper mining district and at the intersection of Arizona's three major copper porphyry belts.
The Cactus deposit is a portion of a large porphyry copper system that has been dismembered and displaced by tertiary extensional faulting. Major host rocks at Cactus are precambrian oracle granite and laramide monzonite porphyry and quartz monzonite porphyry. The porphyries intruded the older rocks to form mixed breccias; monolithic breccias and occur as large masses, poorly defined dike-like masses; and thin well-defined but discontinuous dikes. The deposit is structurally complex with intense fracturing, faulting, and both pre-mineral and post-mineral brecciation. It is bounded on the east and west sides by normal faults.
Current Mine Plan
Currently, the Cactus Mine PEA envisages an 18-year mine life producing LME grade A copper cathodes from a simple heap-leach and SXEW flowsheet. Deliveries to the ore pads will come from three sources; the Stockpile, Cactus East UG and Cactus West Open Pit, and targeting only the oxide and enriched material. Extensive metallurgical testing indicates 92% recoveries for the oxides and 73% for the enriched material. In 2022, an exclusivity agreement was triggered with Rio Tinto’s NutonTM technology to test the leachability of the primary sulphides which may create a future opportunity to process sulphide ores.
Opportunities for Growth
The Parks/Salyer Project is situated 2 km southwest along the mine trend from the Cactus Project. Initial drilling at P/S has indicated the potential for a significant deposit, which could benefit the economics of scale at Cactus by utilizing the same future infrastructure. A drilling program in 2022 was planned to expand the known drilling and on February 10, 2022, an exploration target was outlined as comprising:
• 40-90 M tons of potential leachable material @ 1.05%- 1.3% TSol for potential of 1.0-2.35 B lbs of contained copper
• 8-35 M tons of potential primary material @ 0.85-1.05% TCu for 0.15-0.75 B lbs of contained copper
Please see PR dated February 10, 2022 for cautionary language.
As a result, an 80,000 ft (24,400 m) drilling program was announced in June 2022, to expand on and infill the initial target set out by a 12-hole drilling program. Further expansion opportunities may exist in respect of processing of primary sulphides should there be positive economic results from testwork in respect of Rio Tinto’s NutonTM technology.
Infrastructure and Permitting
As a brownfields project, the property benefits from significant ready infrastructure, including electric power available through a transmission line connected to an existing substation at the mine site, water access to industrial-use only water and proximity to a rail line for future concentrate transport, if required. Arizona Sonoran acquired the following completion of a $20 million reclamation program funded by the ASARCO Environmental Multi-State Trust, which acts as a base line study with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. The Company’s goal is to leave the project better than we found it, after the operations are complete.
Being situated on private land streamlines the permitting process by reporting only to the State and County levels. ASCU has successfully obtained several permits required for the Cactus redevelopment. A positive JDS determination was obtained in 2022, stating there are no Waters of the United States flowing through the property, resulting in a confirmation of an entirely State and Local led permitting process.
The Company, including its executives, employees and contractors, ensure each decision is made based on Our Core Values and Good Governance practices in support of the project, the community and the environment.