Nevada Copper’s board has approved the construction of the $197m Pumpkin Hollow underground copper project in Nevada, US.

Engaged in pre-construction activities since May, the company expects to achieve first concentrate production in the fourth quarter of next year.

The Pumpkin Hollow project involves the development and construction of a 5,000tpd underground mine.

Nevada Copper president and CEO Matt Gili said: “We are very excited to commence full-scale construction of the Pumpkin Hollow underground project, which will include the processing plant and completion of the underground mine.

“Delivery of the underground project is the first key step in our strategy of capital-efficient, phased growth from our base in Nevada.”

In a related development, the company has signed contracts with Cementation USA and CIMIC Group’s Sedgman USA.

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The scope of the contract awarded to Cementation involves shaft sinking and underground mine development work at Pumpkin Hollow.

“Delivery of the underground project is the first key step in our strategy of capital-efficient, phased growth from our base in Nevada.”

Cementation previously undertook pre-works programme to prepare the existing shaft and hoist infrastructure.

Under the $118m contract, Sedgman is required to provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for the surface plant and infrastructure at the Pumpkin Hollow project.

Sedgman will carry out design, civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and commissioning works.

Nevada Copper incorporated several project optimisations and operational de-risking measures in the plans after conducting a review of the pre-feasibility study (PFS), which was released last November.

Some of the project optimisations include a centralised mine design, which aims to provide greater operational efficiency for the underground mine, and the construction of a ventilation shaft through a blind sink.

The company is also reviewing other enhancements, including debottlenecking to enhance production throughput and the potential for decline access to the E2 ore body.

During the first five years, the project is expected to produce around 60Mlb of copper, as outlined in the PFS document.

Last December, Nevada Copper signed $378m worth of business recapitalisation and project financing deals for the Pumpkin Hollow project with Triple Flag Mining Finance Bermuda, Pala Investments, Red Kite Mine Finance, Concord Resources and other institutional equity investors.