Copper Fox Metals (OTCPK:CPFXF) recently announced preliminary in-situ leach test results from its Van Dyke project. I had not previously discussed this project as it is secondary to its Schaft Creek project, which is the key component of Copper Fox's value. However, it appears that Copper Fox may attempt to advance the Van Dyke project as it waits for a decision from Teck. The copper extraction averaged 63% recovery, which appears reasonable. As a comparison, Taseko's Florence mine project averaged 69% recovery. Copper Fox is now waiting for the resource estimate for Van Dyke to be completed. Initially this resource estimate was expected in mid-December, but that date was not mentioned in the more recent test result release.
There is the potential for Van Dyke to generate some good additional value for Copper Fox in the long run, depending on how the resource estimate and other work turns out. However, to add value to Van Dyke would require additional expenditures, and there is a significant danger in the temptation for Copper Fox to keep advancing the Van Dyke project while waiting for Teck's decision on Schaft Creek. The ideal situation would be to soon line up a partner that is willing to fund further exploration at Van Dyke. However, if Copper Fox tries to advance the project on its own for a while, the cost may impair its ability to wait for Teck. The last thing a junior mining company needs in the current climate is to run short on funds and need to do an offering with shares at a low level or otherwise sell properties and agree to deal terms in a weak market. If it gets its tax refund soon, Copper Fox would have enough funds to hunker down and wait out for a better climate for several years if it kept spending under tight control. However, spending on Van Dyke and its other exploration properties could easily make its runway quite short.
One thing to keep an eye on is how the permitting process for Taseko's Florence copper mine goes. This mine is located around 50 miles from the Van Dyke project in Arizona and also uses in-situ leaching to extract the copper. The Florence mine faces a level of active opposition that the Van Dyke project likely wouldn't. However, the success or difficulty of getting the remaining permits for the Florence mine will likely be a reasonable general indicator of whether there will be any permitting challenges with the Van Dyke mine.
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