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VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Mar 7, 2016) - Chesapeake Gold Corp. ("Chesapeake" or "Company") (TSX VENTURE:CKG) is pleased to report the positive results from the completion of the Updated Pre-Feasibility Study ("Updated PFS") on its 100% owned Metates project located in Durango State, Mexico. The Updated PFS evaluated a lower ore throughput development scenario compared to the original PFS titled "Metates Gold-Silver Project NI 43-101 Technical Report Preliminary Feasibility Study" dated March 18, 2013 ("2013 PFS"). The Metates project hosts one of the largest undeveloped gold, silver and zinc reserves in the world.
The Updated PFS is based on an initial ore throughput rate of 30,000 tpd ("Phase 1") with a staged expansion up to 90,000 tpd ("Phase 2") funded primarily from internally generated cash flow. Phase 1 will operate for the first four years of the mine life with Phase 2 production starting in year five. Active pit mining is planned for 27 years followed by 10 years of processing stockpiled low grade ore. The Company believes this scalable approach provides a viable alternative option to build Metates at a lower initial capital cost while maintaining key operating efficiencies and economies of scale. All costs are shown in US dollars.
"Few world-class gold projects have scalable mine options. The Updated PFS demonstrates that an initial smaller mine with staged development at Metates can deliver attractive operating metrics with strong economics at current metal prices. Metates scalable approach is achievable due to the deposit's highest grades being realized early in the mine life, a very low strip ratio, low energy costs and proximity to key existing infrastructure. For our stakeholders, the Updated PFS also meets the industry's highest and best standards with respect to water stewardship and tailings management," stated P. Randy Reifel, President of Chesapeake.
Highlights of the Updated PFS include:
The 2013 PFS and the Updated PFS were prepared by several industry consultants with the majority of the work performed by M3 Engineering & Technology Corp., a leading global provider of engineering, design and construction services to the mining industry.
Mineral Reserves and Mining Schedule
The Updated PFS uses a revised mineral resource estimate from the 2013 PFS and is based on resources extracted from an open pit using assumed metal prices of $1,200/oz gold and $19.20/oz silver, with no zinc credits. The open pit mineral reserves were estimated within a detailed engineered pit design using the measured and indicated resources only. Measured and indicated mineral resources in the production schedule are converted to proven and probable mineral reserves, respectively. The pit design has overall slope angles from 37 to 46 degrees and life of mine ("LOM") strip ratio of 1.1:1.
The mining schedule employs an elevated cut-off strategy to supply higher grade ore for processing during the early years with lower grade ore stockpiled for treatment later in the mine life. The above cut-off but lower than mill feed grade ore that is stockpiled is processed during the last ten years of operations (years 28-37).
The table below presents the mineral reserves for the Metates project based on the mine and plant production schedules.
|Metates Mineral Reserve|
|Total Mill Ore||799,626||0.850||0.599||15,406||14.8||381,327||0.156||2,742|
*Gold equivalent grade (AuEq) is defined as Au g/t + (Ag g/t x Ag rec./Au rec x Ag price)+(Zn %/2204.6 lbs/tonne x 1000 x Zn rec./Au rec. x Zn price). Overall metal recoveries are 90% Au, 66% Ag and 81% Zn. Assumed metal prices are $1250/oz. Au, $20/oz. Ag and $1.00/lb. Zn. Contained resources may not add due to rounding.
The Updated PFS envisions a conventional truck and shovel open pit mining operation starting with a nominal 30,000 tpd ore throughput in Phase 1 expanding in year 5 to 90,000 tpd throughput for Phase 2. Crushed ore will be fed to a conventional SAG and ball mill circuit followed by a single stage flotation plant to produce a bulk sulphide concentrate. Tailings from the flotation concentration plant are dry filtered to remove water and then co-disposed with waste rock in a dedicated storage facility. The sulphide concentrate is transported downhill via a 103 kilometer long slurry pipeline to the El Paso site southwest of Metates. The pipeline will follow an all-weather access road that will be constructed between Metates and El Paso.
The El Paso site is situated beside a large high-grade limestone resource and close to key infrastructure including power, water, transportation and labour. At El Paso, the sulphide concentrate is treated in a pressure oxidation (POX/autoclave) plant with subsequent cyanidation and Merrill-Crowe recovery of gold and silver doré. Acidic solutions from the pressure oxidation process will be neutralized with ground limestone and lime produced from an on-site quarry and related processing facilities. The neutralization product will be dry filtered as will cyanide leach tailings prior to mixing for co-disposal in an adjacent storage facility. Zinc will be recovered from the pressure oxidation solutions via solvent extraction/electrowinning (SX/EW) methods to produce SHG grade (+99.9% purity) zinc ingots.
Overall average LOM gold and silver recoveries from ore through doré production are estimated at 90% and 66%, respectively. Zinc recovery to ingots is estimated at 81%. Metal recoveries to the sulphide concentrate are indexed to the processed ore grades. The table below presents a summary of the operating metrics of processed grades, tonnes mined and metal production over the mine life.
|Phase 1||Phase 2|
|Operating Period||Years 1-4||Years 5-27||Years 28-37||Years 1-37|
|Total Ore Mined From Pit (K tonnes)||112,625||989,704||0||1,102,329|
|Ore To Process (K tonnes)||46,947||755,549||299,833||1,102,329|
|Low Grade Ore To Stockpile (K tonnes)||65,678||237,025||0||302,703|
|Waste Rock (K tonnes)||105,282||1,102,276||0||1,207,558|
|Average Milling Rate (K tonnes/yr)||11,737||32,850||29,983||29,793|
|Average Milled Grades|
|Average Annual Production|
|Gold (K oz.)||146||579||254||445|
|Silver (K oz.)||16,157||8,183||7,482||8,856|
|Zinc (K lbs.)||48,715||89,070||102,182||88,251|
|By-product Cash Cost ($/Au Oz)||-338.97||666.14||650.81||628.07|
(1) Strip Ratio based on total waste tonnes mined to ore tonnes mined. Overall metal recoveries are 90% gold, 66% silver and 81% zinc.
Phase 1 initial capital cost is estimated at $1.91 billion including a $244 million contingency. The capital investment reflects outsourcing the power plant, desalination plant, oxygen plant and the limestone/lime operation. The mining fleet at the Metates site will be leased instead of purchased as in the 2013 PFS. The outsourcing and leasing costs are reflected in the operating costs.
Phase 1 production will commence at 30,000 tpd ore with internally generated cash flow funding the capital for the Phase 2 expansion to 90,000 tpd in year 5. Phase 2 capital is estimated at $1.59 billion (including $253 million in contingency) and will be spent over 4 years (years 2-5). All capital spent after year 5 is deemed to be sustaining capital and is estimated at $174 million, including reclamation and closure costs. The table below presents a summary of the capital costs. Capital costs are based on Q3/Q4 2015 pricing.
|Summary of Capital Costs|
|Phase 1||Phase 2||Total|
|Mining Equipment & Mine Development||$||44,401||$||0||$||44,401|
|Crushing, Grinding, Flotation & Pipeline||$||277,787||$||155,066||$||432,853|
|Tailings Dewatering & Stacking||$||51,069||$||40,031||$||91,100|
|El Paso Site|
|Pressure Oxidation & Oxygen Supply||$||278,976||$||484,392||$||763,368|
|Limestone Crushing & Lime Production||$||63,017||$||14,332||$||77,349|
|Precious Metals Recovery||$||66,115||$||48,993||$||115,107|
|Tailings & Residue Disposal||$||13,761||$||0||$||13,761|
|Access Roads & Civil Works||$||107,567||$||2,356||$||109,922|
|Total Direct Field Cost||$||1,173,249||$||1,035,280||$||2,208,529|
|Indirects-EPCM, Commissioning & Spares||$||300,282||$||298,433||$||598,715|
|Total On Site Constructed Cost||$||1,473,532||$||1,333,713||$||2,807,244|
|Total Capital Cost||$||1,909,644||$||1,586,771||$||3,496,415|
Mining costs were prepared on a year-by-year basis and the LOM mining costs per tonne moved (including stockpile) are $1.37 per tonne at the Metates site, not including $0.26 per tonne in lease payments. LOM mining costs per tonne of ore mined are $3.83. Process costs are estimated to be $7.65 per ore tonne for the Metates and $8.29 per ore tonne for the El Paso operations. Overall G&A and support costs including water supply, are estimated at $1.18 per tonne. Average LOM by-product cash costs are estimated at $9.37 per tonne ore or $628 per ounce. The AISC per ounce of gold is estimated at $662. The LOM operating revenue is approximately 68% gold, 22% silver and 10% zinc. The table below summarizes the operating costs.
|Summary of Operating Costs|
|LOM Average||LOM $/Au Oz.|
|Mining (including rehandle and equipment lease costs)||$||3.83||$||256.98|
|Crushing, Grinding, Flotation||$||2.74||$||183.83|
|Concentrate Thickening & Transportation (including outsource)||$||0.18||$||12.29|
|Tailings Dewatering, Stacking & Other||$||0.89||$||59.43|
|El Paso Site|
|Pressure Oxidation, Acid Neutralization & Oxygen Supply||$||4.67||$||312.84|
|Limestone Mining, Crushing & Lime Production (outsource)||$||1.63||$||109.22|
|Precious Metal Recovery||$||0.78||$||52.17|
|Tailings & Residue Disposal||$||0.61||$||40.90|
|General, Administrative & Other||$||0.52||$||34.76|
|Water Supply (including outsource desalination plant)||$||0.66||$||44.28|
|Total Operating Cost||$||17.12||$||1,147.33|
|Refining & Transportation||$||0.14||$||9.13|
|Total Cash Cost||$||18.28||$||1,224.97|
|Net Silver and Zinc By-product Credit||$||8.91||$||596.90|
|By-product Cash Cost Per Ounce Gold||$||9.37||$||628.07|
|Sustaining Capital, Reclamation & Closure||$||0.16||$||10.61|
|AISC(1) Per Ounce Gold||$||9.88||$||661.91|
(1) All-in sustaining costs are presented as defined by the World Gold Council and include cash costs plus exploration and sustaining capital costs, reclamation and closure costs, and corporate overhead.
The Updated PFS demonstrates strong project economics and high leverage to metal prices. Financial results have been developed for three metal price assumptions with $1,250 per ounce gold, $20 per ounce silver and $1.00 per pound zinc as the base case.
At the base case, the Updated PFS demonstrates that Metates will generate a pre-tax NPV of $1.78 billion at a 5% discount rate with an IRR of 10.9%. The LOM cash operating cost is $628 per ounce with an AISC cost of $662 per ounce. The project is expected to generate $11.15 billion in pre-tax cumulative net operating income at base case metal prices. The sensitivity to different metal price assumptions is presented below.
|Financial Results Summary|
|Metal Price Assumptions||Low Case||Base Case||High Case|
|Pre-Tax Economic Indicators|
|NPV @ 5% ($000)||$||375,463||$||1,779,313||$||3,183,162|
|After-Tax Economic Indicators|
|NPV @ 5% ($000)||$||(395,012)||$||737,416||$||1,842,627|
Updated PFS compared to 2013 PFS
The 2013 PFS fast tracked the mine development with Phase 1 processing 60,000 tpd and Phase 2 ore throughput increasing to 120,000 tpd in year 2. The LOM metal production for the 2013 PFS is essentially the same for the Updated PFS, but with active mining completed in year 19 and all metal production completed over 25 years. The mining, processing and metal recovery operations are similar for both studies.
Besides the relative scale of mining operations, significant changes and improvements in the Updated PFS have further de-risked the project in respect to site and infrastructure development, water management, power supply, reclamation and stakeholder interests. The principal changes since the 2013 PFS are as follows.
El Paso Site
The former Ranchito processing site (2013 PFS) has been relocated 8 kilometers east to the El Paso site close to the town of Cosala. Cosala has a population of about 10,000 people providing an excellent labour pool and support services. The El Paso site has more favourable topography for the process facilities and tailings storage and is adjacent to a large high-grade limestone resource. In addition, the El Paso site will eliminate 69 kilometers of access road improvements and reduce the length of the concentrate pipeline from 126 to 103 kilometers.
Water Supply and Management
The Mexican government increased the cost of surface water use by nearly 100% in 2015. Metates projected mine life is over 30 years and the future cost and water source is an uncertain risk. Strategically, the project's close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and low cost power allows for desalinated seawater to be a cost effective alternative with lower supply risk. The desalination plant will supply 20 million cubic meters of water per year and be located within the same hydrologic basin and irrigation district as existing water users and stakeholders. Chesapeake plans to outsource the construction and operation of the desalination plant to a third party. At current energy prices, the desalinated water production cost is estimated at $0.90 per cubic meter. The current Mexican tariff for surface water is $0.91 per cubic meter.
Changes incorporated into the Updated PFS will enable both the Metates and El Paso sites to be self-sufficient in water by using natural sourced run-off. Desalination has reduced the size for the water reservoirs which have now been located closer to larger drainage areas. These changes along with other water conservation measures have eliminated 137 kilometers of water supply and distribution pipelines provided in the 2013 PFS.
Power for the project will be sourced from a dedicated natural gas-fired power plant located northwest of the El Paso site and adjacent to a new pipeline constructed by the Mexican government. The power plant will be owned and operated by an independent power provider with any excess power not required by the Metates project sold into the national power grid. Power will be delivered from the power plant to the project sites by owner-constructed dedicated power transmission lines. A more direct routing of these lines has reduced their length by 44 kilometers. Based on the Q4 2015 Henry Hub natural gas price of $2.12/MMBtu the delivered cost of electric power to the project is estimated at $0.0495 per kilowatt hour, down from $0.0612 in the 2013 PFS.
The waste rock and dewatered tailings storage design at the Metates site allows for concurrent LOM reclamation and reduces water demand by over 60% compared to conventional tailings facilities. At completion of mining, the tailings from the processed ore stockpile will be backfilled into the pit and contribute to a sustainable, long-term pit lake. At the El Paso site, the Updated PFS incorporates dry stack storage of combined neutralization products and cyanide leach tails rather than a conventional wet storage facility. The integrated dry stack disposal facility will substantially reduce water consumption and the environmental footprint.
For comparison with the Updated PFS, the 2013 PFS has been adjusted to the Updated PFS base case metal prices, changes in the 2014 Mexican tax regime, revised metal recoveries and elimination of the cash reserve. The initial Phase 1 capital cost for the 2013 PFS is $2.94 billion (60,000 tpd rate) increasing to $4.22 billion to achieve full nameplate capacity (120,000 tpd rate) in Phase 2. The initial Phase 1 throughput (30,000 tpd rate) in the Updated PFS has a capital cost of $1.91 billion with $1.59 billion in capital to complete Phase 2 to the 90,000 tpd rate.
Operating costs on a per tonne of ore basis have increased in the Updated PFS as compared to the 2013 PFS largely due to the lower throughput rates, mine fleet leasing costs and outsourcing the limestone/lime plant. For the 2013 PFS, the adjusted LOM by-product cash cost is $417 per ounce. The Updated PFS by-product cash cost is $628 per ounce LOM. The AISC is $662 per ounce, ranking in the lowest industry quartile of 2015 gold production. The AISC reflects low sustaining capital from leasing versus capitalizing the mine fleet, relatively low LOM exploration costs and concurrent reclamation being accounted as an operating cost.
Operating cash costs per ounce also increased in the Updated PFS as a result of additional metallurgical testwork that increased the overall gold recovery from 89% to 90% but decreased the silver recovery from 76% to 66% and zinc recovery from 85% to 81%. Silver recoveries average 75% in the first 5 years of production when mined silver grades are higher. Partially offsetting the impact of the increased operating cost is a 20% reduction in the cost of electric power due to lower prevailing natural gas prices. The attractive LOM cash costs for both the 2013 PFS and Updated PFS reflect the significant silver and zinc by-product credits along with the low stripping ratio, low power and neutralization costs.
|Comparison of Adjusted 2013 PFS and Updated PFS|
|2013 PFS||Updated PFS|
|Contained Metal Reserves|
|Gold (thousand oz.)||18,452||18,279|
|Silver (thousand oz.)||526,111||501,556|
|Zinc (million lbs.)||4,185||3,997|
|Total Mine Life (years)||19||27|
|Total Plant Operating Life (years)||25||37|
|Phase 1 (years)||1||4|
|Phase 1 Production Rate (tonnes/day)||60,000||30,000|
|Phase 2 Production Rate (tonnes/day)||120,000||90,000|
|Average Annual Gold Production (thousand oz)||664||445|
|Average Annual Silver Production (thousand oz)||13,708||8,856|
|Average Annual Zinc Production (million lbs.)||128.0||88.3|
|Capex and Opex|
|Initial Phase 1 Capital ($000)||$||2,939,670||$||1,909,644|
|Initial Phase 1 & 2 Capital ($000)||$||4,218,244||$||3,496,415|
|Total Operating Cost ($ per tonne milled)||$||13.59||$||17.12|
|LOM Cash Cost (gold only by-product basis)||$||417||$||628|
|Pre-tax NPV (5%) ($000)||$||3,471,455||$||1,779,313|
|Pre-tax IRR (%)||14.4||10.9|
|Pre-tax Payback (years)||5.5||8.7|
|After-tax NPV (5%) ($000)||$||1,948,365||$||737,416|
|After-tax IRR (%)||10.7||7.7|
|After-tax Payback (years)||6.7||10.1|
Note: 2013 PFS adjusted with Updated PFS metal price assumptions, Mexican taxes, metal recoveries, 0.5% royalty and no cash reserve.
The Updated PFS has incorporated several design, scope and engineering changes that have lowered the capital costs and further de-risked the project. When applied to the adjusted 2013 PFS, these changes could lower the total capital cost in the range of $400-$500 million dollars. In reference to the table below, these cost savings could increase the 2013 PFS NPV from $3.47 to about $3.82 billion, and the IRR from 14.4% to about 16.4% using the base case metal prices.
The following table presents the NPV and IRR sensitivity to the metal price assumptions and capital costs (Phases 1 and 2) for the Updated PFS and the adjusted 2013 PFS development options.
|Sensitivity of Pre-Tax NPV(5%) to Metal Prices and Capex|
|Metal||% Change||Low Case||Base Case||High Case|
|Sensitivity of Pre-Tax IRR to Metal Prices and Capex|
|Metal||% Change||Low Case||Base Case||High Case|
Note: 2013 refers to adjusted 2013 PFS. 2016 refers to Updated PFS; NPV (5%) in billions; Capex includes Phases 1 & 2.
The 2013 PFS and Updated PFS provide viable alternative development options for Metates. The 2013 PFS features a rapid production ramp up with higher initial capital and superior project economics. The Updated PFS has lower initial capital, lower project execution risk with expansion funded by cash flow. The scalable mine plans and multiple metal streams provide optionality and financing flexibility in Metates future development.
Opportunities and Next Steps
Additional opportunities have been identified that could further reduce the risk profile and advance the Metates project to the permitting stage:
Going forward, Chesapeake does not plan to undertake further detailed engineering and development work at Metates. In the current market environment, management believes the Updated PFS has significantly advanced and de-risked Metates. For a world-class size deposit, Metates is unique in that building either a large or smaller initial mine, the project is economically viable at current metal prices.
Chesapeake is actively evaluating corporate opportunities that would add value to shareholders. Regional exploration is developing an exciting organic pipeline in northwestern Mexico. Several precious metal prospects with district scale potential have been identified in Durango and Sinaloa states. Near Metates, three projects are being systematically advanced to the drill stage.
The Company remains committed to prudently managing its capital while seeking to maximize shareholder value. Currently, Chesapeake has C$24 million in cash and marketable securities with no debt.
A NI43-101 Technical Report will be prepared by M3 and filed on SEDAR within 45 days following the date of this release. The Report will consist of a summary of the Updated PFS. Dr. Art Ibrado, P.E. Project Manager with M3 is the qualified person responsible for the scientific and technical information in this news release in accordance with NI43-101. Mr. Michael Hester, FAusIMM, Vice President of IMC, is the qualified person responsible for the reserve estimate and mine planning in this news release in accordance with NI43-101. Mr. Gary Parkison, CPG, Vice President Development of Chesapeake, is the qualified person who supervised the preparation of the technical information in this release. All of the above qualified persons have reviewed and approved the data contained in this release.
The NI43-101 Report will include contributions from several recognized independent industry consultants including the following:
|M3 Engineering & Technology Corporation||Infrastructure, process and plant design; engineering, capital and operating costs; financial modeling; overall report preparation|
|Independent Mining Consultants, Inc.||Mineral resource, reserve estimation, mine plan; schedule and costing|
|Ausenco (Vector Engineering Inc.)||Geotechnical site investigations; design of waste management and tailing storage facilities|
|Interralogic, Inc. (Hatch Associates Consultants, Inc.) Paterson & Cooke||Waste storage, hydrogeology; pit lake and mine closure planning Concentrate and water pipelines; tailings filtration|
|Schlumberger Water Services USA, Inc.||Surface and groundwater investigations; water balance|
|Call & Nicholas, Inc.||Pit slope stability investigations and design|
|Siemens Industry, Inc. (Pace Global)||Electrical power supply analysis and costing|
|Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.||Oxygen plant support and costing|
|Resource Development, Inc., Hazen Research, Inc., Hydromet Pty Ltd., Sherritt Technologies, ALS Metallurgy Pty Ltd.||Metallurgical testwork and interpretation; processing and engineering design; costing for gold, silver and zinc recovery|
CHESAPEAKE GOLD CORP
P. Randy Reifel, President
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Such forward-looking statements concern the Company's anticipated results and developments in the Company's operations in future periods, planned exploration and development of the Metates Project and other projects and related matters that may occur in the future. These statements relate to analyses and other information contained in the Updated PFS that are based on expectations of future performance, including silver, gold and zinc production and the economic viability of the Metates Project.
Statements concerning reserves and resource estimates may also constitute forward-looking statements to the extent that they involve estimates of the mineralization that will be encountered if the property is developed and, in the case of mineral reserves, such statements reflect the conclusion based on certain assumptions that the mineral deposit can be economically exploited.
Forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause actual events or results to differ from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, the following with respect to the results of the Metates Project Updated PFS:
This list is not exhaustive of the factors that may affect our forward-looking statements. Should one or more of these risks and uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in the forward-looking statements. The Company's forward-looking statements are based on beliefs, expectations and opinions of management on the date the statements are made. For the reasons set forth above, investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.
Chesapeake Gold Corp.