Revett Minerals, Inc. CEO John Shanahan says he is encouraged by the progress at Lincoln County’s Troy Mine and expects it to reopen next month. The copper and silver mine closed in December because of a series of underground rock falls.
“Things are looking positive,” Shanahan said in an interview. “We know what we need to do.”
This month, miners have been working on a development drift inside the mine to inspect areas in the Lower Quartzite ore body, which was cut off due to the slides. Shanahan said the mine will need to submit a revised plan to the Mine Safety and Health Administration to continue with the work underground.
If everything goes according to plan, Shanahan said production could start inside the Troy Mine in April.
“April is what we’re aiming for, but if it slips a few weeks, so be it,” he said. “Safety will always be our primary goal.”
Shanahan said once the mine is reopened and producing copper and silver ore, it will take a few months to return to full production. He likened it to returning to a summer cabin after being closed for the winter: “There will be some cobwebs,” he said.
The Troy Mine first opened in 1981 and operated until 1993, when it was closed. In 2005, Revett reopened the mine. Late last year, production was slowed when rain and freezing temperatures caused unstable ground conditions. On Dec. 1 all underground mining was ceased.
The slowdown late last year had a significant effect on Revett’s production. In 2012, the company brought in $18.7 million in net cash, down nearly $10 million from what it made in 2011. Silver production for 2012 was 1,112,089 ounces, compared to 1,291,010 ounces in 2011. And copper production was 7,555,215 pounds compared to 10,651,494 pounds the previous year.
Although there were concerns earlier in the year that the mine would have to layoff people, those furloughs have been avoided during the shutdown. While miners have waited to return underground, they worked on projects above ground and Shanahan joked earlier this year that the mine site has never looked better.
The same can’t be said for Revett’s stock value, however, which has seen significant drops in recent months. In November, just before the production slowdown, the stock was worth about $3.40. This week, it’s worth around $2.
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