Artemis Gold (TSXV: ARTG) has released the feasibility study (FS) for its Blackwater gold project, 150 km southwest of Prince George, BC. The numbers give it a net present value with a 5% discount of C$2.15 billion ($1.7bn) after taxes, and an internal rate of return of 32% after taxes.
In the first five years of operation, Blackwater will produce 321,000 oz. of gold annually at an all-in sustaining cost of $576 per ounce. Over the 22-year life of the mine, production will average 351,000 oz. of gold with an AISC of $672 per ounce.
The project has an initial capital estimate of C$645 million ($508m), but it will pay for itself in the first 2.3 years of production.
Artemis produced a pre-feasibility study (PFS) last year based on a staged approach that reduced the initial cost and improved the economics compared with a previous feasibility by New Gold (TSX: NGD). The new study improves upon the earlier assumptions in several key ways. Blackwater will be developed in three phases. The first phase throughput has been increased 9% to 6 million t/y.
A commitment has also been made to replace diesel and propane-powered equipment during the first phase of development and reduce the carbon footprint of the project, the company said.
The second and third phases of expansion and will be streamlined and accelerated. Mineral processing plant capacity will be upped to 9 million t/y in year five (phase 2) and 15 million t/y in year 10 (phase 3). The ultimate throughput for the mill will be 20 million t/y with two processing trains, rather than three as suggested in the PFS.
The open pit plan has been optimized in the FS and the average grade increased to 1.632 g/t gold over the first five years of mining.
The feasibility resource estimate is virtually unchanged from the PFS. Last year using a cut-off of 0.2 g/t gold-equivalent, there were 18.9 million tonnes grading 0.61 g/t gold and 6.4 g/t silver, containing 11.7 million oz. of gold and 122.4 million oz. of silver. The inferred resource was 16.9 million tonnes at 0.45 g/t gold and 12.8 g/t silver, containing 246,000 oz. of gold and 6.9 million oz. of silver.
(This article first appeared in The Northern Miner)