Highland Copper Initiates Copperwood Site Activity and Provides Project Update

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Nov. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Highland Copper Company Inc. (TSXV: HI; OTCQB: HDRSF) (“Highland” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has initiated site activity at its Copperwood project in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. Particularly, it has completed wetland impacts and initiated the related environmental mitigation projects as required by its permit obligations and in line with Highland’s goal to operate in an environmentally friendly manner. This represents a key step towards project financing and development. Highland is also pleased to provide a project update on key areas of the project including community relations and technical optimization work.

Key Highlights

  • Completed key Copperwood site impacts and initiated related environmental mitigation projects.
  • Satisfied initial wetland permit obligations and maintained permits in good standing.
  • Site work performed on budget with no lost time or reportable environmental incidents.
  • Increased regional and State stakeholder engagement levels; considerable project support demonstrated.
  • Focus over the coming months shifting to key technical optimizations to improve economic strength of the Copperwood project.

Copperwood Site Update

The Copperwood project is Highland’s 100%-owned, fully-permitted copper project in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA. All permits for site construction and operation are issued by the State of Michigan. The Copperwood Feasibility Study issued in April 2023 demonstrated a robust project producing 64.6 million pounds of copper (approximately 30 thousand tonnes) annually over an initial 11-year mine life. Notably, the project has significant leverage to copper price changes and multiple opportunities to improve project economics.

Table 1 – Metal Price Sensitivities – After-Tax Results1

Metal Price Sensitivities - After-Tax Results

1Source: Technical report entitled “Feasibility Study Update Copperwood Project Michigan, USA” with an effective date of March 6, 2023 prepared for Highland by G Mining Services available at www.sedarplus.ca (the “Technical Report”).

As previously disclosed by Highland, certain early site works needed to be completed during 2023 to meet obligations under the Wetlands and Streams Permit. Highland is pleased to report that all work required to maintain that permit has been completed to the satisfaction of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (“EGLE”). As a result, Highland confirms that all key Michigan State permits remain in good standing. Moreover, it has allowed Highland to initiate pre-construction activities including site clearing and grubbing focused on wetland and stream areas, the development of stream relocation infrastructure, improvements to existing site roads, and the initiation of key environmental mitigation projects. Particularly, compensating wetland has been constructed to offset wetland impacts. The site work was performed safely and in line with the Company’s internal budget. Certain environmental mitigation activities will continue over the next one-to-two-year period. Please see the site photos at the end of the news release demonstrating the scale and scope of work performed.

“Initiating work at the Copperwood site is a significant step for Highland Copper for a number of reasons. Critically, we completed key activities required to meet our State permit obligations. Moreover, the work program allowed us to build out our local team in the Upper Peninsula and engage several key local contractors, beginning to drive economic benefits into the region. As well, we increased engagement with key local stakeholders and State authorities and have continued to build regional support for the development of Copperwood. We look forward progressing Copperwood along the development path,” stated Interim CEO Barry O’Shea.

Community Relations

While initiating on-the-ground activity, Highland has kept all key stakeholders appropriately informed. This includes periodic stakeholder meetings to deliver project updates. As a demonstration of support, a range of local authorities have provided resolutions of support for the Copperwood project. This includes resolutions from Gogebic County (where Copperwood is located), Ontonagon County, the City of Ironwood, the City of Bessemer, the townships of Ironwood, Bergland, Carp Lake and Erwin, as well as the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region Commission, just to name a few. Additionally, Highland has interfaced with key State authorities, particularly EGLE, to ensure the site work has been performed in accordance with Highland’s permit obligations and State standards.

“It is important to Highland that we are aligned to local communities and State authorities. Since joining Highland, I have had the opportunity to attend numerous meetings of local cities, townships and county boards. I have been pleased to see the level of engagement and support. We are also continuing to develop a healthy working relationship at the State level to ensure we operate to the standards expected by the State,” said Mike Foley, Copperwood Site Manager.

Copperwood Regional Economic Impact

The western Upper Peninsula has a rich mining history. Since mining left the region, its economic strength has diminished in the last several decades. Highland has commissioned a third party to prepare a report evaluating the potential regional economic contribution of developing and operating the Copperwood project. While Copperwood is expected to generate significant direct investment and employment, there is also expected to be a considerable indirect economic contribution. The report is expected to be completed in the near term and Highland will provide an update when the report is published.

Copperwood Optimizations

While the economic returns of Copperwood are robust, Highland is evaluating key opportunities identified in the Feasibility Study with a goal of demonstrating potentially improved economic returns. These opportunities include:

  • Potential Life of Mine Extensions: The Copperwood Measured and Indicated Resource, on which the initial 11-year mine life is based, is 54 million ore tonnes at a copper grade of 1.51%. There is a further 79 million ore tonnes of Inferred resource at a copper grade of 1.09%. Highland is evaluating the cost and economic impact of converting Inferred tonnage to Measured and Indicated.
  • Application of Bulk Ore Sorting: Initial test work, based on a limited ore sample, demonstrated that Copperwood ore may be amenable to bulk ore sorting technology. Bulk ore sorting can have the impact of lowering mill throughput and increasing copper grade. Highland is currently evaluating potential methods for extracting a sufficient bulk ore sample to test ore sorting at a feasibility study level.
  • Metallurgical Recoveries and Reagent Usage: If access is available to a bulk ore sample, Highland will also assess metallurgical test work to evaluate the recoveries and reagent usage presented in the Copperwood Feasibility Study for potential optimizations.
  • Government Funding Opportunities: In addition to technical optimizations, Highland is continuing to pursue sources of State and federal funding to assist with the development of Copperwood. In August 2023, the US Department of Energy added copper to the Critical Metals List. Highland is assessing its eligibility for tax credits, in addition to federal funding.

Highland looks forward to updating the market on these initiatives in the coming months.

White Pine North Update

Following the joint venture transaction with Kinterra in July this year, Highland has been very pleased to see Kinterra’s level of engagement while transitioning control. Kinterra has allocated considerable resources to understanding all technical aspects of the project and developing plans for environmental baselining, technical studies and preparation for a potential winter drilling campaign. Kinterra have also hired a Project Director, Chad Wolahan. Chad brings with him a 15-year track record of project management expertise in the mining industry. In his previous roles, Wolahan demonstrated a unique ability to improve mine design for improved project value. The Kinterra team have also initiated key stakeholder meetings and are increasingly present in the region. Highland feels White Pine North is being progressed well under Kinterra’s control.

Copperwood Site Photos

The following photos demonstrate the scale and scope of work performed:

East stream diversion to divert water around future site infrastructure. Note the wetland mitigation construction within the stream diversion / mitigation area and the hydroseeded former wetland in the background.

Stream diversion and mitigation: East stream diversion to divert water around future site infrastructure. Note the wetland mitigation construction within the stream diversion / mitigation area and the hydroseeded former wetland in the background.

Site preparation work for the construction of 18.3 acres on-site mitigation wetlands. An additional off-site 717-acre wetland preservation area is part of wetland mitigation obligations.

Wetland Creation: Site preparation work for the construction of 18.3 acres on-site mitigation wetlands. An additional off-site 717-acre wetland preservation area is part of wetland mitigation obligations.

Impacted wetland areas are hydroseeded to maintain soil erosion capabilities.

Reseeded Wetland: Impacted wetland areas are hydroseeded to maintain soil erosion capabilities.

About Highland Copper Company

Highland Copper Company Inc. is a Canadian company focused on exploring and developing copper projects in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, U.S.A. The Company owns the Copperwood deposit through long-term mineral leases and 34% of the White Pine North project. The Company also owns surface rights securing access to the deposit and providing space for infrastructure as required. The Company has 736,363,619 common shares issued and outstanding. Its common shares are listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol “HI” and trade on the OTCQB Venture Market under symbol “HDRSF”.

More information about the Company is available on the Company’s website at www.highlandcopper.com and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Information

This news release contains “forward-looking statements” and “forward-looking information” (collectively “forward-looking statements”) within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. These statements include, without limitation, statements with respect to: (a) the Company’s expectations and beliefs for the development of its mineral projects, including the timing and ultimate economic results thereof; (b) the anticipated time-frame for continuation of mitigation works (c) the Company’s plans for Copperwood optimization, included converting inferred mineral resources to measured or indicated mineral resources, potential for bulks sorting of ore and potential economic benefits to the Copperwood project as a result, and potential to secure additional government funding activities; (d) the existing resources identified on the Company’s mineral projects; and (e) the sensitivity of the Copperwood project to copper price fluctuations . Such forward looking statements are based on a number of assumptions, which may prove to be incorrect. Important assumptions with respect to Copperwood project are contained in the Technical Report. Important factors that could materially impact the Company’s expectations include: uncertainties involving the availability of financing in the debt and capital markets; uncertainties involved in the estimation of reserves and resources, including uncertainties in the interpretation of drilling results and other geological and geotechnical data, actual exploration results, interpretation of metallurgical characteristics of the mineralization, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; availability of skilled labour; effects of regulation by governmental agencies; unanticipated variation in geological structures, metal grades or recovery rates; unexpected cost increases, which could include significant increases in estimated capital and operating costs and the effects of inflation; fluctuations in metal prices and currency exchange rates; and general market and industry conditions. All forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information available to the Company as of the date hereof, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements except as required by law.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

For further information, please contact:

Barry O’Shea, Interim CEO

Email: [email protected]  

Website: www.highlandcopper.com

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/1a4fd379-0987-4fc8-95a0-769870e510e6

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/caf7be61-4ded-461a-8a49-0b17bcbe0a30

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e99d5926-ed50-49e1-a4e3-1c6c0d234341

https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/aa83b0e8-451f-47eb-bb9a-ce424317c41e


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