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Sudbury developer to test mine former INCO property

Magna Mining moves into advanced exploration at Crean Hill Project
Magna Mining's Crean Hill Project outside Sudbury

Magna Mining, a home-grown Sudbury mine developer, is putting the paperwork in place to test mine a former INCO mine.

The company said it filed an amended closure plan for its Crean Hill Project with the provincial mines ministry in late February.

This opens the door for Magna to begin an advanced exploration program that will shape the project’s economics and life of mine.

Crean Hill is located in the southwest corner of the Sudbury basin. Under the Inco flag, it ran from 1900 to 2002. Magna acquired the asset from Vale in November 2022 and put 19,000 metres of drilling into the property last year. 

Magna sees both underground and open-pit mining opportunities.

The company intends to take a large tonnage bulk sample from the surface at a spot on the property called the 101 Footwall Zone. It contains high-grade palladium group metals, along with nickel and copper.

Magna wants to pull 400,000 tonnes of ore from near surface and deeper down, crush it, then ship it off to a mill processor, the identity of which will be announced in a few weeks.

This should deliver some upfront revenue to Magna and bolster their plans to drive a ramp from surface to underground to do more exploration and test mining at depth.

A closure plan is one of two key permit approvals that a mining company needs to move a project from the exploration stage toward production.

The other key approval Magna is waiting on is the Permit to Take Water that will allow them to de-water the old underground mine workings. The company expects to pocket that permit from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks by the second quarter.

In a statement, Jason Jessup, CEO of Magna Mining, called filing the closure plan “quite an accomplishment” for his team.

“Magna now has all the approvals to conduct a surface bulk sample on the 109 Footwall zone, which we plan to complete in the first half of this year.”

The Sudbury basin is familiar ground for Jessup and other members of the Magna team. Many of his staff worked for the former FNX Mining, an upstart mining company which had great success in the 2000s in putting other INCO properties into production.

How far and how fast Magna moves forward this year depends on the cost of capital, the company said in a March 4 news release. It’s been tough sledding to finance mine developments through the mainstream equity markets.

Taking that into account, Magna management wants to tap into government critical minerals-related grants and is considering selling a streaming deal of one of its metal by-products.

The cost to put Crean Hill back into production hasn’t been finalized, but a preliminary economic assessment published last year put the initial price tag at $48 million. The estimated mine life ranges between 15 and 19 years.

So far, the project contains 500 million pounds of nickel, 450 million pounds of copper and 1.7 million ounces of platinum, palladium and gold. New numbers from a revised mineral estimate will be posted by the end of June.

Magna said it’s fully cashed up to run an exploration drilling program this year with two rigs working at Crean Hill and a third on its Shakespeare nickel, copper and PGM property west of Sudbury, near the village of McKerrow.