Kutcho Project

Project Overview

The Kutcho property is located approximately 100 km east of Dease Lake in the Liard mining division of northern British Columbia, and consists of one mining lease and 46 mineral exploration claims covering an area of approximately 17,060 hectares. The site is accessible via a 900 m long gravel airstrip located 10 km from the deposit and a 100 km long seasonal road from Dease Lake suitable for tracked and low-impact vehicles.

Project Highlights

  • Development project located in British Columbia, a top tier mining jurisdiction with major mines and active projects including Brucejack (Pretium), Red Chris (Imperial Metals) and Galore Creek (Teck/NovaGold)
  • High grade copper-zinc-gold-silver volcanic massive sulphide (“VMS”) system with a Probable Mineral Reserve(1) (2017 estimate) of 10.4 Mt @ 2.01% Cu, 3.19% Zn, 34.61 g/t Ag and 0.37 g/t Au
  • 2017 updated Prefeasibility Study (“PFS”) demonstrates robust economics: after-tax NPV (8% discount rate) and IRR of C$265 million and 27.6% respectively with a manageable initial capex (incl. 15% contingency) of C$220.7 million
  • Significant potential for improvement through expansion of reserve/resources and a focused permitting effort

2017 PFS Highlights

  • Pre-tax NPV (8% discount rate) of C$423 million and IRR of 34.6%
  • After-tax NPV (8% discount rate) of C$265 million and IRR of 27.6%
  • 12 year mine life with 2,500 tonne per day production rate for a total life-of-mine payable production of 378 million pounds of copper and 473 million pounds of zinc
  • Average annual production of 33 million pounds of copper and 46 million pounds of zinc
  • Initial capital costs, including 15% contingency, for a 100% owner-operated mine are estimated at C$220.7 million
  • Operating costs of C$73.72/tonne of material milled
  • Unit operating costs of US$1.60/lb copper excluding by-products, and US$0.59/lb copper net of by-products
  • Pre-tax payback of 3.3 years and post-tax payback of 3.5 years

Geological Setting

The Kutcho property lies within the King Salmon Allochthon, a narrow belt of Permo-triassic island arc volcanic rocks and Jurassic sediments, situated between two northerly-dipping thrust faults: the Nahlin fault to the north, and the King Salmon fault to the south. The belt of volcanic rocks is thickest in the area where it hosts the VMS deposits, partly due to primary deposition, but also to stratigraphic repetition by folding and possibly thrusting.

Mineralization & Alteration

Mineralization at Kutcho comprises three known “Kuroko-type” VMS deposits aligned in a westerly plunging linear trend. The largest, the Main deposit, comes to surface to the eastern end, followed by Sumac down plunge, and Esso to the western end which occurs at depths of about 400 m below surface.

“Kuroko-type” VMS deposits are typically related to felsic volcanism in island arc or back-arc tectonic settings. Features of the Kutcho deposits suggest that they formed at or near the water-seafloor interface in a structurally controlled depression, such as a half-graben type structure. The chemical composition of the alteration around the Kutcho deposits is well zoned about the hydrothermal vent areas. Mineralization consists of a pyritic footwall with zoned copper and zinc towards a sharp hanging wall contact.

2017 Mineral Reserve & Mineral Resources(1)


Cut-off Grade (% Cu)

Tonnage (‘000)
GradeContained Metal
Cu (%)Zn (%)Au (g/t)Ag (g/t)CuEq(2) (%)Cu (Mlbs)Zn (Mlbs)Au (Moz)Ag (Moz)
Main Probable Reserve(3)1.58,1061.922.510.3128.02.593444490.087.3
Esso Probable Reserve(3)1.02,3352.325.530.5957.54.051192850.044.3
Total Probable Reserve(3)


Measured (M)1.07,6951.892.610.3128.72.603214430.087.1
Indicated (I)1.09,1581.893.090.3936.32.803826240.1210.7
M&I Resource1.016,8531.892.870.3632.82.7170110680.2017.8
Inferred Resource(4)1.05,7981.331.640.2423.21.791702090.044.3

(1)Preliminary feasibility study dated July 2017, prepared by JDS Mining Inc. for Desert Star Resources titled “Kutcho Copper Project Prefeasibility Study British Columbia.”
(2) Copper equivalent grade (CuEq%) calculated as copper equivalent recovered and based on commodity prices of $2.75/lb Cu, $1.10/lb Zn, $17.00/oz Ag and $1,250/oz Au and recoveries of 84.7% Cu, 75.7% Zn, 48.0% Ag, 41.2% Au. Actual economic parameters, including recoveries, are subject to change as additional test work and studies are completed.
(3) A Probable Mineral Reserve is the economically mineable part of an Indicated Mineral Resource, and in some circumstances a Measured Mineral Resource, demonstrated by at least a Preliminary Feasibility Study. This study must include adequate information on mining, processing, metallurgical, economic and other relevant factors that demonstrate, at the time of reporting, that economic extraction can be justified.
(4) The economic analysis contained in the 2017 PFS does not include inferred resources.

2017 PFS Summary

An excess of C$50 million of historical project expenditures provide the basis for the 2017 updated PFS. Updates to the study include parameter changes consistent with current market conditions, such as capital expenditures, operating costs, metal prices and foreign exchange rate.

Project Design

The Kutcho project is envisioned to be an underground mining operation, supplemented by a starter pit on the Main deposit during the construction phase, to extract ore from the Main and Esso deposits. Two underground mining methods are proposed: sublevel longhole stoping for areas where the dip is greater than 50°, and mechanized cut and fill with paste backfill in shallow dipping areas of less than 50°.

A 2,500 tpd process plant is assumed to operate 365 days per year at 92% availability, with mill feed to be crushed, ground and subsequently subjected to copper and zinc flotation. The tailings will be sent to a paste backfill plant to produce a cemented paste, half of which will be used for backfill while the other half will be sent to the surface tailings disposal. Copper and zinc concentrates will be thickened and dewatered before load-out, with precious metals reporting to the copper concentrate.

Production Statistics
Mine Life12 years
Production Rate2,500 tpd
Cu Recovery84.7%
Zn Recovery75.7%
LOM Cu Production378 Mlbs
LOM Zn Production473 Mlbs
Av. Annual Cu Production33 Mlbs
Av. Annual Zn Production46 Mlbs

Project Economics

The base case scenario below uses metal prices of US$2.75/lb copper, US$1.10/lb zinc, US$17.00/oz silver and US$1250/oz gold, and a forex rate of 0.75 US$:C$.

Net Operating IncomeC$M1,088
Net Pre-tax Cash FlowC$M801
Average Annual Pre-tax Cash FlowC$M86
LOM Income TaxesC$M267
LOM Free Cash Flow (after-tax)C$M534
Average Annual Free Cash FlowC$M63
Pre-tax NPV (8% discount rate)C$M424
Pre-tax IRR%34.6
Pre-tax PaybackYears3.3
After-tax NPV (8% discount rate)C$M265
After-tax IRR%27.6
After-tax PaybackYears3.5


The Prefeasibility Study was conducted under the overall supervision of Gord Doerksen, P.Eng. of JDS Energy & Mining Inc. Mr. Doerksen is the VP Engineering at JDS and an independent qualified person under National Instrument 32-101 who has verified and approved the technical and scientific information related to the 2017 Prefeasibility Study, and prepared the economic analysis included on this website.

Exploration Upside Potential

Over 25 exploration targets have been identified across the property and have been split into both near mine drill ready targets and greenfields opportunities. Of these, nine priority targets have been selected for field follow-up and are described below.

Near Mine Targets

  • Target 1 – the Corefarm Creek target represents a geophysical anomaly extending 1500 m westward from the Esso Zone. Approximately 150 m of this anomaly has been drill tested, returning several mineralized intercepts including 7.2 m of 2.0% Cu, 5.2% Zn and ~17 g/t Ag in hole E094B3. There remains 300 m of untested Kutcho horizon between hole E094B3 and Esso, along with an additional 1000 m of untested horizon to the west of hole E094B3.
  • Target 2 – the Main-Sumac Gap identifies a 400 m gap between the Main and Sumac lenses that is untested by drilling. A conductive geophysical anomaly coincides with the area and is 360 m long. K003, the most eastern hole to intersect the Sumac lens and located on the western margin of the gap returned 5.12 m of 1.29% Cu, 0.49% Zn and 7 g/t Ag.
  • Target 3 – the FWZ lies beneath the Main zone. A historical estimate(5) conducted in 1979 returned 0.23 million tonnes grading 1.47% Cu, 5.5% Zn, 43.7 g/t Ag and 0.4 g/t Au. The FWZ is open to the east, where it currently ends on a 1.5 m intercept of 3.54% Cu, 6.94% Zn, 316.9 g/t Ag and 1.47 g/t Au in hole E057 and is also open at depth.

    (5)A Qualified Person has not completed sufficient work to classify the historical estimate tabulated above as current mineral resources and the issuer is not treating the above mineral estimates as current mineral resources. The historical estimate is uncategorized and does not use the categories ("inferred", "indicated" or "measured" mineral resource, or "probable" or "proven" mineral reserve) set out in Sections 1.2 and 1.3 of NI 43-101 as defined by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum, are not compliant with the NI 43-101. The historical estimate is relevant to obtain a reference to mineral potential present on the property. The Company has not undertaken any verification of the historical data upon which the historical estimates are based on.
  • Target 4 – the MCF lies at the east end of the Main Deposit and is coincident with a conductive VTEM geophysical anomaly and a Cu-Zn soil anomaly. Three historical holes (KC11215, 90K28 and E013) returned ~35 m of semi-massive sulphide while KC11215 intercepted long intervals of strongly altered lapilli tuff with 2-8% pyrite, trace chalcopyrite and sphalerite.

Greenfields Targets

  • Target 5 – the IRJ Northwest was first identified as a conductor in a 1990 ground-based survey and was tested with two drill holes. The holes intersected intensely altered and weakly copper-mineralized intervals, as well as a thick sequence of altered lapilli and ash. The size and strength of the alteration in both holes suggests a prospective target down dip from prior drilling efforts.
  • Target 6 – B-C East is a 3.5 km long conductor inferred to be overlain by 30 m of silica exhalite. Host rocks comprise a narrow band of sericite schist with narrow lenses of massive pyrite and silica exhalite hosted in mafic rocks. Gravity surveys produced a broad and shallow response that suggests a diffuse zone of increased density that could indicate disseminated or stringer-style sulphide mineralization.
  • Target 7 – IRJ Northeast. Three holes drilled in 1990 returned massive to semi-massive sulphide layers up to 1 m in width and associated with argillaceous material. Hole E017 returned ~3 m of a stringer zone with an average of 20% pyrite that includes some massive bands, and which assayed 7.3 m of 0.27% Cu with a high sample of 0.45% Cu. The geochemical trends suggest that the hydrothermal vent area is further east and targeting should focus on this vector.
  • Target 8 is described as a significant VMS-type showing located on the flank of a felsic dome. A prospect pit was excavated and reached “mineralized bedrock” at a depth of 1.6 m, assaying 0.3% Cu, 0.1% Pb, 0.1% Zn and 7 g/t Ag. Soil sampling has defined a 400 x 500 m cluster of strong Cu-Zn anomalies that are coincident with a strong, linear, chargeability anomaly. A Cu-Zn soil anomaly containing up to 0.15% Zn and 0.03% Cu occurs on the southwestern flank of the same rhyolite flow/dome complex that has not been drill tested.
  • Target 9 – the I-PC is associated with cherts hosted in crystal lithic tuffs and is interpreted as a hydrothermal exhalative horizon. E024 and 90K16 are proximal drill holes which show alteration in lithic tuffs and the presence of massive to laminated pyrite with minor disseminated sphalerite and chalcopyrite, indicating proximity to a productive VMS environment. This tuff unit has an apparent thickness of 70 m and occurs upstream from numerous rounded boulders of finely banded, sphalerite- and galena-bearing chert and exhalite.

Kutcho Copper will evaluate these nine target areas for testing in 2018, and in conjunction with these efforts the Company will also conduct an airborne geophysical VTEM survey over portions of the property that have not been covered by geophysical surveys in the past. A VTEM survey carried out in 2011 was highly effective at confirming known mineralization and identifying new anomalies for follow-up.

Project Strategy & Execution

Kutcho’s experience management and technical team plans to advance the Kutcho project to a completed feasibility study and permitted for construction within 2.5 years.

Highlights include:

  • Focused permitting strategy with dedicated team in place, including Allison Rippin-Armstrong and Rory Kutluoglu to progress community and government relations
  • Extensive drilling program to collect additional metallurgical samples and upgrade a portion of the inferred mineral resources to the measured and/or indicated categories so they could potentially be included in a Feasibility study.
  • Feasibility study incorporating expanded project size to be completed within 18 months
  • Construction decision estimated within 30 months

Qualified Person

Rory Kutluoglu, B.Sc. P.Geo., a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, has read and approved all technical and scientific information contained in this Website. Mr. Kutluoglu is the Company’s Vice President Exploration.

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