Benchmark Metals (TSXV: BNCH) has completed a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) on its flagship Lawyers gold-silver project located within the Golden Horseshoe area of north-central British Columbia. The PEA presents a robust open pit mining operation with attractive economics at base case gold and silver prices.
The project’s after-tax net present value (at 5% discount) is estimated at C$577 million, with an internal rate of return of 23.5% and 2.7-year payback period. Initial capital cost is projected at C$493 million (including C$72.8 million in contingency). Life of mine capital totals C$632 million.
Over its 12-year mine life, the Lawyers mine is expected to produce 141,000 oz. of gold and 2.2 million oz. of silver annually, from processing 46.3 million tonnes of ore at diluted grades of 1.23 g/t gold and 23.73 g/t silver.
“The PEA clearly demonstrates the low cost and robust return of the Lawyer’s gold-silver project even when stress tested with considerable contingency in the base case. We continue on a straightforward pathway to advancement,” Benchmark CEO John Williamson said in a news release.
“We continue to test new targets on the large prospective land package to add value to a project that is simple, low risk with a high-grade, near-surface, open pit resource, combined with proximity to existing infrastructure, making it one of the best candidates to become British Colombia’s next precious metal mine,” Williamson said.
The PEA considers a conventional truck and shovel open pit mining operation covering the Cliff Creek, Dukes Ridge and AGB pits, feeding a 10,600 t/d conventional processing plant. Operations would begin at the AGB deposit and transition in year two over to the Cliff’s Creek and Duke’s Ridge deposits for the remainder of the mine life.
“The PEA confirmed the current project development timelines, with industry standard open pit mining methods, processing flowsheet, design criteria, and compact footprint. Multiple target high-grade resource areas have been identified near but outside the pit limits,” Ian Harris, Benchmark’s VP engineering, added.
“There is a significant opportunity to upgrade the already robust project through adding underground mining to production scheduling. These evaluations that represent a considerable upside opportunity will be incorporated into detailed mine planning of the feasibility study.”
Environmental baseline studies to support its environmental assessment application are well underway. The two-year aquatics and terrestrial baseline programs, as well as the geochemical and hydrogeological studies, have all commenced. The company expects completion of all environmental baseline studies by the third quarter of 2023.