Can you provide an overview of Ausenco’s areas of expertise in Arizona?

Since we began operating in Tucson in 2019 with Hudbay’s Rosemont project, our local team has grown significantly, from one to 30 employees. We have been busy undertaking various projects, from studies to execution, including detailed engineering.

What are some examples of the work Ausenco has taken on in Arizona?

One of the most exciting projects that we are currently involved in is Faraday Copper’s Copper Creek project, which will bring a historic mining district back into production. We are one of the consultants providing the mine-to-mill assessment, and we are also the technical lead for the optimization of the processing plan, impoundment facilities, and associated infrastructure design. This includes economic modelling and the metallurgical review. In addition, we are assisting Hudbay with the PFS for their Copper World project. We always find it very rewarding to be involved early in a project as this is where we can add the most value by applying our principles of fit-for-purpose design during the preliminary studies and then taking the project to execution. We did this successfully at the Las Chispas project in Mexico, where we took it from a feasibility study to an EPC contract with price, schedule, and performance certainty. The project was commissioned ahead of schedule in May 2022.

How does Ausenco incorporate new technologies within the copper industry?

At Ausenco, we have a team that focuses solely on emerging technologies, particularly those that can maximize the return on investment and minimize energy usage when dealing with declining ore grades. We are also looking at alternative technologies to refine copper concentrates. Historically, these concentrates have been smelted, but smelter capacity is limited in the southwest. Therefore, there is a drive to explore alternative technologies such as concentrate leaching. Some of our clients are already exploring this technology to produce finished copper without ever transporting their concentrate to a smelter, which is critical from an environmental standpoint.

What is your outlook on copper fundamentals, and how do you see Arizona’s role in future copper production?

We are moving towards electrification and green energy, but not everyone has considered where the metals necessary for this transition, such as copper, will come from. Our infrastructure must grow exponentially to support what is needed in electric cars. The demand for copper will continue to be strong, and Arizona will play a key role in meeting this demand. Other metals that support the green conversion, including lithium, cobalt, and nickel, will likely require more funding and permitting reform at the federal level for these projects to advance.

Can you elaborate on the challenges and opportunities for copper mining in Arizona?

In addition to challenges such as water shortages and lengthy federal permitting processes, the mining future in Arizona is bright. The copper market is in a strong position as the demand for copper is high, and there will likely be a copper deficit at some point in the future. Arizona is ideally placed as the largest copper producer in the US, with Resolution Copper on its own capable of producing up to 25% of the demand for copper in the US. Furthermore, there are some additional properties that are yet to come out of the PFS or feasibility stages and go into execution, which further reinforces Arizona’s position as a key player in future copper production.

How does Ausenco leverage new technologies within the copper space?

We have a dedicated team at Ausenco that focuses on emerging technologies, with a particular emphasis on maximizing returns on investment and minimizing energy consumption, especially when dealing with declining ore grades. Additionally, we are exploring alternative technologies to refine copper concentrates, such as concentrate leaching, which could be more sustainable than traditional smelting methods. Our clients are exploring this technology to produce finished copper without having to transport their concentrates to a smelter, which is a critical environmental concern.

What is your outlook on copper fundamentals and the role Arizona can play in future copper production?

As the world moves towards electrification and green energy, copper and other metals that support this transition, such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel, will become increasingly important. Arizona is ideally situated to play a significant role in the copper market, as it is the largest copper producer in the US. Additionally, with the potential of the Resolution Copper mine, which could produce up to 25% of the US’s copper demand, Arizona’s future in copper production is very promising.

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