Japanese earthquake and tsunami delay ore shipments

While they’re anticipating some delays in shipping their ore, Huckleberry Mines Ltd. is expecting all shipments to Japan that were planned for this year to eventually be made.

  • Apr. 20, 2011 3:00 p.m.

While they’re anticipating some delays in shipping their ore, Huckleberry Mines Ltd. is expecting all shipments to Japan that were planned for this year to eventually be made.

The announcement followed the 8.9 magnitude earthquake on the coast of Japan that was closely followed by a tsunami, killing thousands, leaving many more homeless, crippling their nuclear power plant and also damaging port facilities at the Onahama smelter.

Property of Mitsubishi, Furukawa and Dowa, that smelter is one that has a life of mine contract with Huckleberry Mines Ltd. for ore extracted at their location 123 kilometres southwest of Houston.

According to the Imperial Metals website (Imperial owns Huckleberry Mine, with a 50 per cent interest), Force Majeure has been declared by Mitsubishi, Furukawa and Dowa for all concentrate shipments to their Japanese smelters.

Force Majeure is a clause in a contract that frees both parties from liability in the case of an “extraordinary event.” An act of god such as the one experienced by Japan qualifies.

“This declaration has no immediate impact, and acceptance of a shipment at sea and the next shipment scheduled for month end have been confirmed for Naoshima smelter,” their news release states. “While it is not clear how disruptive this event of Force Majeure will be, best estimates are that some shipments may be delayed.”

Imperial Metals, which also owns Mount Polley, is expecting to produce 51,500,000 pounds of copper, 45,400 ounces of gold, and 149,000 ounces of silver for 2011.

Currently two mine plans are being studied to extend the life of Huckleberry, which is slated to close mid-2012. The first is a small extension, called the Stirrup Expansion, which would add about one year to the mine life. The other will be examining the feasibility of removing the tailings and waste from the main zone and mining beneath it.

Representatives from both Huckleberry Mines and Imperial Metals were unavailable for comment by press time.