Hudbay Minerals, owner of Rosemont Mine, is planning to do exploration drilling on the western slope of the Santa Rita Mountains starting Oct. 1.
There are two main drilling locations; one is near the ridge line 11 miles east of Quail Creek. The other is about a half-mile north-northwest of that site. The area has seen significant mining activity since 1875, including the Santa Rita Quarry — the large white spot at the northern end of the Santa Ritas That mine announced last year it is expanding.
The Hudbay project will involve cleaning up existing roads for better access and cutting two new roads, one at each target.
A civil contractor will work 10-hour shifts during daylight at the sites and drillers will work around the clock. Hudbay said it doesn’t expect Green Valley and Sahuarita to hear noise from the work. Work areas will are 30 by 80 feet; no concrete will be poured.
Andre Lauzon, vice president of Hudbay Minerals’ Arizona Business Unit, answered questions via email.
What will be happening in the Santa Ritas starting Oct. 1?
Hudbay will be conducting an exploration drilling program in the Helvetia Mining District.
The exploration drilling program will be located on private land owned by Hudbay Minerals. The drilling results will provide critical data necessary to determine the economic and environmental viability of future projects at these locations.
How many locations and where? Do the areas have names?
Hudbay is planning to drill approximately 20 holes in various locations on our private land. Drilling will be in the Helvetia Mining District next to the historic King-Exile Mine, Mohawk Mine, Copper World Mine, Eclipse Mine, Leader Mine, Isle Royal Mine, Black Horse Mine and Narragansett-Daylight mines.
Are these sites visible from Green Valley and Sahuarita? If so, what exactly will we see?
Holes are planned on both sides of the Santa Rita Mountain Range. It will be difficult to see the drill rig with the naked eye from Sahuarita, but at a few locations, especially at higher elevations, it could possibly be visible, especially if using binoculars.
How long will that process last?
The first phase of exploratory drilling is expected to last about three to six months.
What’s the goal during the drilling process?
The goal is to test if there are economic copper deposits on our private lands, outside of the Rosemont deposit which has already been drilled extensively.
At present, based on the history of the area and what Hudbay may have learned when it bought the property, what do you expect to find?
Given the 30+ historic mines in the area, we hope to find copper mineralization.
You’re drilling there because you suspect a decent deposit, correct?
Sometimes we drill to find a copper deposit and sometimes we drill to make sure that there isn’t a deposit there. This is especially important with our power and water lines planned in the area.
How long will it take to make a determination on what you find? If you like what you see there, what’s the next step in the process?
The drill program is planned for three to six months, after that we will know much more and have a better understanding if there is justification to continue.
Hudbay plans power and water lines that will run roughly down Santa Rita Road and over the mountain for the Rosemont Mine project. Did the path of these lines play into the decision to explore these two new areas?
Yes, understanding if there is a mineral deposit beneath key infrastructure like power and water lines is useful information to avoid building on top of a potential mineral deposit, if possible.
Hudbay has the Mason Project in Nevada and Rosemont, which is tied up in the courts for at least another year. Why consider another project?
Hudbay explores, develops and operates mining projects across North and South America, we always try to maintain a full pipeline of projects in various stages of development.
Did the delay on Rosemont cause Hudbay to look at these two new locations?
Yes, the delay to the Rosemont Project gave us the opportunity to take a look at all of the properties Hudbay owns in the vicinity of the Rosemont deposit. Hudbay was aware of a number of locations, within our private property, with possible mineral deposits that could be part of future projects. The delay gave us the time necessary to further explore these areas.
Would these be a back up in case Rosemont doesn’t get approved or would you attempt to work all three locations at the same time?
Hudbay is fully committed to building and operating the Rosemont Project once the appeal process has been completed. Before we can make any announcements on future plans for operations we must determine if it is economically feasible to extract minerals from these exploration sites. First we need to understand what is on our property before we speculate on optimization scenarios.
Concerns will be raised in the community. How will Hudbay communicate what’s happening in the area if it decides to move forward with the project(s)?
After a 13-year permitting process (on Rosemont), we have a clear understanding of the concerns within the community and their expectations with respect to communication. Our intention is to keep our stakeholders informed, just as we are doing right now in advance of this exploration drill program.
Are there plans for any other exploration or anything else on any of the property owned by Hudbay in Arizona?
Yes, we intend to perform some geophysical surveys in the area to assist us in identifying new possible targets for exploration.