South Star releases PFS for Santa Cruz

Pre-feasibility study results released for South Star Mining’s wholly-owned 130-sq.-km Santa Cruz project suggests a two-phase approach for development of the graphite asset in southern Bahia. The associated project net present value estimate, at a 5% discount rate, stands at $81.2 million with a projected 35% internal rate of return.

“We have now submitted all the required permitting and licensing documents for the Phase 1 production facilities,” Richard Pearce, the company’s president and CEO said in a release. “We have a PFS highlighting a project with robust economics, low capital intensity, and low OPEX designed around a simple, proven flowsheet in one of the most prolific, high-quality graphite producing regions in the world.”

The first phase would consist of an open pit mine and pilot plant producing 5,000 t/year of concentrate which would be used to optimize a flowsheet, generate samples and establish offtake agreements. The detailed engineering for the pilot plant was included in the PFS.

The second stage would entail a plant with a similar process layout but capable of producing 25,000 t/year of concentrate. Both phases would entail a filtered tailings technology whereby the tails are co-disposed with waste rock, eliminating the need for a tailings storage facility and allowing a smaller environmental footprint with simpler permitting.

The study estimated a capital outlay of $7.3 million for the first phase and $27.2 million for the second; the combined open-pit mine would have a 12-year life.

The company has completed a 30-tonne pilot plant test program of the friable mineralization which produced quality concentrates with marketable flake sizes.

South Star plans to secure financing for construction and start-up of the pilot plant in the first half of the year. With an eight to ten-month construction period, production from the first phase is currently expected by the end of the year.

Maiden reserve release

Alongside the PFS, South Star also released a maiden reserve estimate for Santa Cruz which totals 12.3 million tonnes at 2.4% carbon graphite for a total of 295,400 tonnes of graphite. The company has identified additional drill-ready targets at the property.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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