* Results bolster case for underground Red Chris expansion
* Final approval for mine tied up in courts
* Shares up C$2.30 at C$8.38
By Cameron French
TORONTO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Shares of Imperial Metals Corp (III.TO) leapt 38 percent on Tuesday after the Canadian miner revealed high-grade deep-level drill results from its Red Chris copper and gold project in northwestern British Columbia.
Data released late on Monday showed one drill hole grading 4.12 percent copper and 8.83 grams per tonne of gold over a 152.5-metre length at a depth below 540 metres.
"Obviously, some spectacular drill results," said Chris Thompson, an analyst at Haywood Securities.
The results are part of a program testing deep-level mineralization at Red Chris in the hope of eventually adding an underground mine to the current open-pit plan, which contains minable reserves 276 tonnes of ore grading 0.349 percent copper and 0.266 grams per tonne of gold.
"The high-grade results returned below 540 metres add to the evolving model of a larger and higher grade deposit at depth," the company said in a statement.
At mid-afternoon, the company's shares were up C$2.30 at C$8.38 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
"With these sort of grades over those sorts of widths... they can make that into an economic underground operation," Thompson said.
"A lot more work needs to be done to really prove up the potential for the underground operations. But it's a great start."
Imperial has been embroiled in a legal battle over environmental approval of the project, and went before the Supreme Court of Canada last month.
Federal authorities concluded in 2006 that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environment effects, making the ruling on the basis of a comprehensive provincial study.
Environmental groups have challenged the government's decision, saying it should have conducted its own review, rather than rely on the provincial study.
The Supreme Court's decision is expected early next year.
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Peter Galloway