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Denarius Metals Announces Positive Pre-Feasibility Study Results Supporting a Restart of Mining Operations at the Aguablanca Project in Extremadura, Spain

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Denarius Metals Announces Positive Pre-Feasibility Study Results Supporting a Restart of Mining Operations at the Aguablanca Project in Extremadura, Spain

 

 

 

 

 

Denarius Metals Corp. (Cboe CA: DMET) (OTCQX: DNRSF) announced the results of a Pre-Feasibility Study that supports the restart of the Aguablanca Nickel-Copper Project located within the Monesterio municipality, Extremadura, Spain, approximately 88 km SW from the Company’s Lomero Project. The Company owns 50% of the Aguablanca Project through its wholly-owned Spanish subsidiary, Alto Minerals S.L.U. The PFS was prepared in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Mining Metallurgy and Petroleum Definition Standards incorporated by reference in National Instrument 43-101 with an effective date of March 24, 2024. All dollar amounts are quoted in U.S. dollars, unless otherwise noted.

 

Serafino Iacono, Executive Chairman and CEO of Denarius Metals, commented, “The PFS confirms our decision late last year to invest in the Aguablanca Project, one of the only deposits in Spain able to produce nickel and copper. We are already seeing tremendous interest from various offtakers and manufacturers with facilities in Europe to secure the resources needed for technologies such as renewable energy and battery power. By the end of this year, we will have restarted the processing plant, which has been maintained in good condition, and completed the preparation for underground contract mining to deliver the first production of nickel-copper concentrates in early 2025. Over its 6-year life in the PFS, a total of 4.8 million tonnes will be processed from the Aguablanca underground mine resulting in projected life-of-mine net revenue of $480.3 million and LOM after-tax Project cash flow of $105.7 million. The PFS delivers a robust NPV5 of $83.1 million with an after-tax IRR of 213% and a payback period of 1.2 years. We see this as the first phase of building a long-term mining operation, leveraging the 5,000 tpd processing plant to recover a variety of metals, and the exploration potential, not only from the Aguablanca Project but also our nearby Lomero Project in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. The Lomero Project will be the subject of a separate Preliminary Economic Assessment to be completed by mid-2024.”

 

Highlights of the Aguablanca Project PFS

  • Activities to be carried out at the Aguablanca Project in 2024 to restart the existing 5,000 tonnes per day processing plant and de-water the open pit mine and underground mine development will culminate in first production of nickel-copper concentrates in early 2025.
  • Only 50% of the processing plant’s capacity is deployed for the Aguablanca Project, preserving the opportunity to use the remaining capacity for the planned development of the Company’s nearby Lomero Project.
  • The PFS includes an updated Mineral Resource Estimate for the underground mine, with an effective date of March 24, 2024, comprising 5.3 million tonnes in the Measured & Indicated category grading 0.65% nickel and 0.58% copper containing a total of 76.8 million pounds of nickel and 68.0 million pounds of copper. The MRE also includes smaller quantities of gold, platinum, palladium and cobalt.
  • The Aguablanca Project PFS is based on Mineral Reserves representing approximately 89% of the tonnes in the Measured & Indicated resources category. Proven & Probable Mineral Reserves, also with an effective date of March 24, 2024, total 4.7 million tonnes grading 0.67% Ni and 0.59% Cu containing a total of 69.6 million pounds of nickel, 61.7 million pounds of copper and smaller quantities of gold, platinum, palladium and cobalt.
  • Over the projected 6-year LOM, production from the mining and processing of approximately 4.8 million tonnes of material is expected to recover 43.2 million pounds of payable nickel and 34.6 million pounds of payable copper through the sale of approximately 406,359 tonnes of nickel-copper concentrates.
  • LOM all-in sustaining costs are expected to average $4.04 per pound of payable nickel on a by-product credit basis.
  • The Project incorporates local contract mining and is expected to stimulate the local economy, benefitting Extremadura and surrounding communities through direct and indirect employment at the Project, local sourcing of services and supplies and community programs funded by the Company.
  • At long-term nickel and copper prices of $7.30 per pound and $3.50 per pound, respectively, total LOM undiscounted after-tax Project cash flow from mining operations amounts to $105.7 million. At a 5% discount rate, the net present value of the total LOM after-tax Project cash flow amounts to $83.1 million. The Project has an after-tax internal rate of return of 213% and payback by the end of 2025.

 

Table 1: Key Economic Parameters of the PFS

 

Assumption / Results 100% Basis (*)
Total tonnes processed from underground mining over the LOM 4,807,000
Average LOM process rate 2,403 tpd
Projected mine life 6 years
Average Nickel Grade / Recovery 0.66% | 82.8%
Average Copper Grade / Recovery 0.58% | 93.6%
Average Gold Grade / Recovery 0.16g/t | 75.0%
Average Platinum Grade / Recovery 0.33g/t | 75.0%
Average Palladium Grade / Recovery 0.28g/t | 75.0%
Total Payable Production
     Nickel 43,204 Klbs | 19,597 t
     Copper 34,612 Klbs | 15,700 t
     Gold 7,205 ozs
     Platinum 15,092 ozs
     Palladium 13,144 ozs
Expected long-term nickel/ copper prices ($/lb) $7.30 | $3.50
Expected long-term gold/ platinum/ palladium prices ($/oz) $2,000 | $900 | $1,200
LOM net revenue, after refining and treatment charges ($ millions) $480.3
LOM capital costs, including contingency ($ millions) $36.2
LOM operating costs, including contingency ($ millions) (Table 2) $303.2
LOM cash cost per lb of nickel (Table 2) $3.20
LOM AISC per lb of nickel (Table 2) $4.04
After-tax undiscounted LOM Project Cash Flow ($ millions) $105.7
After-Tax NPV (5% discount) ($ millions) $83.1
After-Tax IRR 213%
Payback Period 1.2 Years

(*) The Company has a 50% equity interest in the Aguablanca Project.

 

Project Description

 

The Aguablanca Project is located in southwestern Spain, approximately a 45 minute drive north of Seville. Aguablanca is one of the only deposits in Spain able to produce nickel and copper. The mine operated for 11 years from 2005 through 2015, much of that time by Lundin Mining, milling over 14 million tonnes of ore. The mine and its associated 5,000 tpd processing plant have remained idle since 2015 but have been well maintained. Underground mining has been approved by the state mining authority and the Environmental Impact Study approved in 2017 is still in force.

 

Capital Costs

 

Capital costs over the LOM are projected to total $36.2 million, including a 10% contingency.

 

The Aguablanca Project is currently in a position to quickly restart mining and processing operations. The 5,000 tpd processing plant has been maintained in good condition over the years since it was last operated by Lundin Mining. Total capital expenditures in 2024 of $6.1 million include approximately $2.7 million to restart the processing plant, $1.3 million for surface mobile equipment and underground infrastructure and $1.6 million to dewater the existing open pit to gain access to the underground mine workings. Dewatering is expected to commence in the second quarter of 2024 following receipt of the permit for the Water Use Concession. Capital expenditures in 2024 also include approximately $0.5 million associated with the commencement of underground mine development.

 

From the start of production in 2025 through 2030, capital expenditures are projected to total $30.1 million, of which the majority represents an ongoing mine development program amounting to $22.5 million and an ongoing exploration and delineation drilling program totaling $4.2 million. The remaining $3.4 million of capital expenditures over this period include a cemented rock fill plant, tailing facility lift, surface mobile equipment and underground infrastructure.

 

Mining

 

Development and exploitation activities in the underground mine will be carried out by a local mine contractor, alleviating the need for a significant upfront investment in underground mining equipment. The approximately 2,403 tpd production profile is sourced from up-hole sublevel extraction and traditional long-hole open stoping employing cement rock fill. The top half of the mineralization is scheduled to be extracted on 25-meter lifts day-lighting to the bottom of the pit. When four horizons have been exhausted, surface backfill will be hauled from the existing waste dump to backfill the pit to the 181-meter elevation.

 

Processing

 

The processing plant will produce a nickel-copper concentrate from the material sourced from the Aguablanca underground mine and will operate four days per week at an average feed rate of 199 tph. This schedule will result in the processing of 877,200 tonnes per year, approximately 50% of the plant’s total capacity. The remaining plant capacity is expected to be used in the future for material to be sourced from the Company’s Lomero Project. The total process department workforce, including operations, maintenance and lab services, will include 63 employees. While operating with this schedule, annual electrical power consumption will be in the 39,650 MW-hours range.

 

Ore crushing will include primary and secondary stages in an open circuit (no screening). Ore will be ground in two stages. A SAG mill will be the primary grind stage with over size discharge product going to pebble crushers, then returning to the SAG mill. SAG mill undersize product reports to the cyclone bank. Cyclone underflow will flow to the second grind stage ball mill which will run in closed circuit with cyclones. Cyclone overflow product will be conditioned with reagents prior to copper flotation. Cleaned copper concentrate will report to the concentrate thickener. Copper flotation tailing will again be conditioned with reagents before reporting to the nickel flotation circuit. Cleaned nickel concentrate will report to the same concentrate thickener as the copper concentrate. Final nickel flotation tailing will be pumped to the tailing thickener with the underflow product being pumped to the tailing storage facility. Concentrate thickener underflow will be dewatered with filter presses. The dewatered concentrate will be stored in a concentrate shipping area prior to being shipped to the smelter.

 

Concentrate production over the LOM at the Aguablanca Project is estimated to total 406,359 tonnes with average grades of 6.4% nickel, 6.4% copper, 1.42 g/t gold, 2.89 g/t platinum and 2.52 g/t palladium. The Company is currently carrying out an international tender process to identify a long-term offtake arrangement suitable for the sale of these concentrates. The PFS assumes that the concentrates will be delivered FOB to the port of Huelva in Southern Spain. The payable quantities of nickel (75%), copper (60%), gold (40%), platinum (40%) and palladium (40%) included in the PFS are based on early indicative terms received through this process. Actual terms may vary when the long-term offtake arrangement is finalized.

 

Table 2: Operating Costs, Cash Costs and AISC

 

Operating Costs LOM
($M)
Per Lb Nickel
($)
Mining 167.9 3.89
Processing 104.2 2.41
Site administration and social programs 30.8 0.71
Transport 0.3 0.01
     Total operating costs 303.2 7.02
Less: by-product credits for copper, gold, platinum, palladium (164.9) (3.82)
     Total cash costs (**) 138.2 3.20
Capital and exploration 36.2 0.84
     All-in sustaining costs (**) 174.3 4.04

 

(**) Cash costs and all-in sustaining costs per lb of nickel are non-IFRS measures and are computed on a by-product credit basis whereby the net revenue from the sale of copper, gold, platinum and palladium are deducted from operating costs to derive the cash costs. AISC represents the sum of cash costs and capital and exploration costs. Cash costs and AISC are divided by the payable nickel produced to derive the per unit measures.

 

A summary of the key operating and financial metrics over the approximately 6-year mine life of the Aguablanca Project according to the PFS is set out in Table 3 below.

 

Table 3: LOM Operating and Financial Data (1)

 

Year Production (3) Net Revenue(4) Operating Costs(5) EBITDA (6) Capex & Exploration Income Taxes Project Cash Flow AISC (7)
Nickel Copper
Klbs $ Millions $/lb Ni
2024 (2) 6.1 (6.1)
2025 5,857 4,256 61.8 36.5 25.3 9.1 5.8 10.4 4.54
2026 7,932 6,035 86.6 55.0 31.6 6.5 6.9 18.2 4.14
2027 7,931 5,924 86.5 56.2 30.3 5.4 6.1 18.8 4.15
2028 7,842 6,724 89.7 56.1 33.6 5.0 6.6 22.0 3.64
2029 7,858 6,913 90.5 55.5 35.0 3.1 6.4 25.5 3.24
2030 5,784 4,760 65.2 43.9 21.3 1.0 3.4 16.9 3.79
Total 43,204 34,612 480.3 303.2 177.1 36.2 35.2 105.7 4.04

 

Notes:

  1. All figures are rounded to reflect the relative accuracy of the estimate.
  2. Activities and spending in 2024 focus on the restart of the processing plant and de-watering of the open pit to gain access to the underground mine workings. Development commences in the underground mine in late 2024.
  3. Production represents payable quantities of nickel and copper from the sale of concentrates. Production (not shown in Table 3) will also include payable quantities of gold, platinum and palladium.
  4. Net revenue is based on expected long-term prices of $7.30/lb for Ni, $3.50/lb for Cu, $2,000/oz for Au, $900/oz for platinum and $1,200/oz for palladium, and is shown net of refining and treatment charges.
  5. Refer to Table 2.
  6. EBITDA is a non-IFRS measure and is calculated as net revenue minus operating costs.
  7. Refer to Table 2.
  8. AISC is a non-IFRS measure and is calculated on a by-product credit basis by deducting revenue from copper, gold, platinum and palladium from the sum of operating costs and capex and exploration, divided by the number of nickel pounds produced. Refer also to Table 2.

 

Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves

 

In conjunction with the PFS, the Company announced a MRE for the Aguablanca underground mine with an effective date of March 24, 2024. Mineral resources in this news release were estimated in accordance with the CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Reserves, prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions and adopted by the CIM Council on May 14, 2014.

 

The MRE is based on 496 diamond drillholes containing 25,025 assay intervals. Drilling includes two exploration holes which were recently drilled in 2023. Outlier grades were capped prior to compositing to 24,250 two-meter intervals. Nickel, copper and cobalt mineralization was estimated using ordinary kriging techniques based on detailed variography analysis of the mineral deposit. Gold, platinum and palladium mineralization was interpolated using inverse distance estimation techniques. Three-dimensional geology models were constructed to identify the mineralized domains of the mineral deposit. Mineralization is constrained geologically to the mineralized domains to accurately reflect the is situ mineralization. The mineral resource estimate was completed using Vulcan scientific software in a 3D block model, with blocks ranging from 4x4x4 meters down to 2x2x2 meters which is a size reflective of the selective mining unit envisioned for underground mining of the deposit.

 

Table 4: Aguablanca Project Mineral Resource Estimate Effective Date March 24, 2024

 

 Notes:

  1. Scott Wilson, CPG, President of RDA is responsible for this mineral resource estimate and is an “independent qualified Person as such term is defined by NI 43-101
  2. Reasonable prospects of eventual economic extraction were assessed by enclosing the mineralized material in the block model estimate in a 3D wireframe shape that was constructed based upon geological interpretations as well as adherence to a minimum mining unit with geometry appropriate for underground mining.
  3. The cutoff grade of 0.35% Ni considered mining costs of:
    1. Metal selling prices Ni at $7.30/lb and Cu selling prices of $3.50/lb,
    2. Recoveries of Ni 82.8% and Cu 93.6%, and
    3. Costs including mining, processing, general and administrative (G&A), and off-site realization (TCRC).
  4. Nickel Equivalent is estimated as ((3.50/7.30) * Cu grade) + Ni Grade.
  5. Mineral resources are not mineral reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability.
  6. Mineral resources are inclusive of mineral reserves.
  7. Figures may not add up due to rounding.

 

The mine plan in the PFS is based on Mineral Reserves, as summarized in Table 5, which have been estimated for a combination of sub-level extraction and long-hole open stoping underground mining methods. The MRE reflected in Table 4 above is inclusive of the Mineral Reserves estimate, which represents approximately 89% of the tonnes in the Measured and Indicated category of the MRE.

 

Table 5: Aguablanca Project Mineral Reserve Estimate Effective Date March 24, 2024

 

 Notes:

  1. CIM Definition Standards were followed for Mineral Reserves
  2. Mineral reserves are not additive to mineral resources
  3. Mineral reserves are based on the March 24, 2024 mineral resource estimate
  4. Totals may not add up due to rounding
  5. Mineral reserves are reported using $7.30/lb Ni, $3.50/lb Cu, $12/lb Co, $2,000/oz Au, $900/oz Pt and $1,200/oz Pd
  6. The cutoff grade of 0.35% Ni considered mining costs of:
    1. Metal selling prices Ni at $7.30/lb and Cu selling prices of $3.50/lb,
    2. Recoveries of Ni 82.8% and Cu 93.6%, and
    3. Costs including mining, processing, general and administrative (G&A), and off-site realization (TCRC).
  7. Mineral reserves are constrained within a mine design.
  8. Units are metric tonnes, metric grams, troy ounces and imperial pounds. Contained metal are estimates of in situ material and do not account for dilution of processing losses.

 

Qualified Person

 

Mr. Scott E. Wilson, CPG, President of Resource Development Associates Inc., is an independent consulting geologist specializing in Mineral Reserve and Resource calculation reporting, mining project analysis and due diligence evaluations. Mr. Wilson has over 34 years of experience in the mining industry and is a Registered Member (#4025107RM) of Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc. Mr. Wilson and Resource Development Associates Inc. are independent of the Company under NI 43-101.

 

Mr. Wilson, who is acting as the Company’s qualified person, as defined in NI 43-101, prepared the PFS and has reviewed and approved the scientific and technical information disclosed in this press release.

 

The PFS will be supported by a NI 43-101 independent report which will be published and filed on SEDAR+ at www.sedarplus.ca and Denarius Metal’s website at www.denariusmetals.com within 45 days of the issuance of this news release. The Technical Report will include detailed information on the key assumptions, parameters and methods used to estimate the MRE and the Mineral Reserves.

 

About Denarius Metals

 

Denarius Metals is a Canadian junior company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and eventual operation of polymetallic mining projects in high-grade districts.

 

In Spain, the Company owns a 100% interest in the Lomero Project, a polymetallic deposit located on the Spanish side of the prolific copper rich Iberian Pyrite Belt, and a 50% interest in Rio Narcea Recursos, S.L., which has the rights to exploit the historic producing Aguablanca nickel-copper mine, including a 5,000 tpd processing plant, located in Monesterio, Extremadura, Spain, approximately 88 km from the Lomero Project. The Company is also carrying out an exploration campaign on the Toral Zn-Pb-Ag Project located in the Leon Province, Northern Spain pursuant to an option and joint-venture arrangement with Europa Metals Ltd. pursuant to which it can acquire up to an 80% ownership interest in Europa Metals Iberia S.L., a wholly-owned Spanish subsidiary of Europa which holds the Toral Project.

 

In Colombia, Denarius Metals is carrying out construction activities at its 100%-owned Zancudo Project, which includes the historic producing Independencia mine, to develop production and cash flow commencing in 2024 through local contract mining and commencing a drilling program on the Zancudo deposit which remains open in all directions.

 

 

Posted May 14, 2024

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