Springpole PFS expected in early 2021, says First Mining

Aerial view of the Springpole project camp in winter. Image courtesy of First Mining.

First Mining Gold has released an update on the progress of a prefeasibility study (PFS) and permitting at its 419-sq.-km Springpole gold project in northwestern Ontario.

The company now expects results of the PFS to be released early next year. The document was previously expected to be complete this year.

Earlier this month, the company demobilized contractors from Springpole and reduced its staffing at the site to care and maintenance levels due to the concerns surrounding covid-19

Earlier this month, the company demobilized contractors from Springpole and reduced its staffing at the site to care and maintenance levels due to the concerns surrounding covid-19.

Metallurgical testwork as well as tradeoff optimization studies are underway to refine inputs for the PFS.

In addition, geotechnical and hydrogeological drilling started in February to guide pit designs with further geotechnical drill holes and test pits planned to test areas underlying the proposed plant, tailings and waste storage areas.

“We are excited with the progress we are making in advancing the PFS work program at Springpole. We believe there are many areas for improvement on the existing 2019 PEA economics as we de-risk the project technically,” Ken Engquist, the company’s COO, said in a release.

“Springpole is a unique project given its size and scale, and an asset with a meaningful production profile once built. We are excited to unlock this potential by moving the project closer to a construction decision.”

On the permitting front, a revised draft terms of reference document (ToR), a work plan which outlines how the environmental assessment (EA) for the project will be prepared, has been submitted for review.

First Mining expects to file the final document in April. Based on the ToR, the company anticipates submitting an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the project next year.

Indicated resources at Springpole stand at 139.1 million tonnes grading 1.04 g/t gold for a total of 4.7 million oz. with additional inferred resources of 11.4 milion tonnes at 0.63 g/t gold totaling 230,000 oz.

A preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for the project, completed last year, outlined a 36,000 t/d open pit operation producing an average of 410,000 oz. of gold annually over a 12-year mine life. With all-in sustaining costs of $611 per oz. and an initial capital outlay of $809 million, the net present value estimate for the project, at a 5% discount rate, came in at $841 million.

In addition to Springpole, First Mining’s Ontario holdings include the Goldlund exploration project 60 km northeast of Dryden.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)

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