IAMGOLD Corporation (TSX: IMG) announced positive results from a Feasibility Study for the Carbon-in-Leach and Heap Leach Project at its Essakane operation in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The results support an increase in current hard rock carbon-in-leach plant capacity and outlines an economically viable Heap Leach facility at the end of CIL operations.
FEASIBILITY HIGHLIGHTS (100% basis)
The FS concluded that increasing CIL plant capacity and postponing the HL operation to the end of LOM defers capital and provides an extension to the life of mine. Optimization work focused on increasing CIL throughput to 11.7 Mtpa (at 100% hard rock equivalent capacity) compared to the current design at 10.8 Mtpa (at 100% hard rock equivalent capacity) with minimal capital of $9 million. The optimization of the CIL plant would indirectly result in a reduction of the anticipated HL annual throughput from 10.0 Mtpa to 8.5 Mtpa. The production profile of the HL operation remains relatively unchanged as reduced throughput is offset by an improved recovery of gold in HL from 55.0% to 67.0%. The capital cost of the HL facility was reduced by $40M, for the new scenario, by re-using existing CIL plant equipment (primary & secondary crushing circuits) at the end of CIL life and by optimizing the Heap Leach Pad footprint. The optimization of the Heap Leach Pad footprint allows for the HL infrastructure to remain within the current industrial complex of the mine, versus the PFS scenario which would have required additional land outside of the current complex, thus avoiding impact to communities and farmland.
Steve Letwin, President and CEO of IAMGOLD, commented, “With our self-funding lens in place, the IAMGOLD team reviewed the CIL/HL feasibility study and produced a robust, low cost plan with optionality in the future. I would like to thank our COO Gord Stothart, his project team and our consultants for their excellent work in defining the future plan for Essakane.”
The FS was completed by IAMGOLD, with inputs from technical studies completed by other consultants, and has an effective date of November 6, 2019. The FS represents a comprehensive study of the technical and economic viability of a mineral project that has advanced to a stage where a preferred mining method has been established and an effective method of mineral processing has been determined. IAMGOLD is using the FS to support a $9.0 million investment in the current plant to improve its capacity to 11.7 Mtpa (at 100% hard rock equivalent capacity) and plan for a Heap Leach facility to be deployed in 2027. This study supports the updated Mineral Reserve disclosure.
|Project Economics and Key Parameters|
|Peak Mining Capacity||70.0 Mtpa||57.0 Mtpa|
|CIL Design Milling Capacity (100% Hard Rock Equivalent)||10.8 Mtpa||11.7 Mtpa|
|HL Processing Capacity||10.0 Mtpa||8.5 Mtpa|
|LOM Average Annual Gold Production (CIL years / oz)||8.5 / 416,000||7 / 433,000|
|LOM Average Annual Gold Production (HL years / oz)||6.5 / 72,000||5 / 73,649|
|LOM Average Annual Gold Production (years / oz)||8.5 / 476,000||12 / 283 441|
|LOM Average Recovery Rate (CIL)||92.1%||92.1%|
|LOM Average Recovery Rate (HL)||55.0%||67.0%|
|Mine Life||8.5 years||12 years|
|LOM Average Direct Cash Costs||$707/oz||$778/oz|
|LOM Average AISC||$946/oz||$949/oz|
|After-tax NPV (6%)||$874 M|
|Average diluted Grade CIL||1.17 g/t Au||1.24 g/t Au|
|Average diluted Grade HL||0.43 g/t Au||0.40 g/t Au|
|Average LOM Strip Ratio (remaining pit)||2.34:1||2.42:1|
|Initial Capital Expenditure* (millions),+20%/-15%||$155||$115|
|Gold Price Assumption used in financial analysis||$1,275/oz||$1,350/oz|
US$/CA$ exchange rate 1.25, US$/€ exchange rate of: 1.20.
* Initial capital expenditures exclude fleet
The Mineral Resource estimate used as the basis for the study is summarized below.
|Mineral Resources (100% Basis) – August 31, 2019
Essakane Mining Concession
|Contained Ounces (000)|
The tonnes, grades, and classification of the Mineral Reserves captured within the FS mine plan are summarized below.
|Mineral Reserve (100% Basis) – August 31, 2019|
|Total Heap Leach||43,107||0.40||549|
|Waste within Designed Pit||261,434|
|Ore within Designed Pit||107,748|
|Total Tonnage within Designed Pit||369,172|
MINING AND PROCESSING
Remaining open pit mining includes approximately 261 Mt of waste and 107 Mt of ore over a 7-year-period of production mining. HL ore that is mined during this period is stockpiled until the CIL ore is exhausted and the HL facility is constructed. The volume of waste will decrease if in-pit inferred resources can be upgraded to indicated resources for either CIL or HL extraction through infill drilling. The mining rate was reduced from 70 to 57 Mtpa in the FS mainly due to the postponement of the HL operation and a redesign of the phase 6 mining push back. The average mined grade is 1.05 g/t Au and the LOM stripping ratio is 2.42:1.
The FS has confirmed the positive benefit of two extra mining phases to the existing Essakane main zone (EMZ) open pit mining operation with the addition of a heap leaching operation and a modest increase of CIL plant throughput to 11.7 Mtpa.
The heap leaching operation would be executed following the end of the existing CIL process plant operations. Use of the existing primary (gyratory) and secondary (cone) crushing circuit at the end of CIL plant reduce capital intensity of HL scenario with an optimized annual production rate of 8.5 Mtpa. The HL development scenario envisages the installation of tertiary crushing using an HPGR unit, material handling conveyors, and a carbon in column (CIC) adsorption plant. Loaded carbon would be transported to the existing plant facilities for stripping and refining where no infrastructure upgrade would be required.
Additional major infrastructure included in the FS are the leach pads, solution distribution and collection systems, and solution ponds. The existing camp capacity and power generation exceed the capacity required during HL operations and thus a reduction in manpower and general and administration costs will be realized during HL operations versus current CIL operations. Mining operations from the pit will cease at end of CIL life leading to a reduction in mine equipment and staff to support the subsequent HL operations.
The average processed grade is 1.24 g/t for CIL and 0.40 g/t for HL.
The FS recommends to initiate the detailed engineering for the mill upgrade to 11.7 Mtpa. The project schedule is estimated to 12 months and is expected to be commissioned in Q3 2020. For the HL, study assumptions will be validated on a yearly basis during the LOM process. Some additional test work will also be initiated to evaluate low grade transition material within the CIL reserve that may be amenable to HL with the addition of agglomeration.
As construction of the HL facility is not required until 2025, the business retains the option of re-evaluating the economics of that construction project at that point in time. Given that the CIL process generates higher recovery and doesn’t require additional capital investment, it is recognized that there may be a case where the existing stockpiled ore planned for the HL process generate superior economics by processing through the existing CIL circuit, especially in scenarios with higher gold prices than have been used for the current study.
The 2019 Essakane Heap leach FS was prepared by IAMGOLD and incorporates the work of Kappes, Cassiday & associates and SRK Consulting (QPs) (as defined under National Instrument 43-101). KCA’s and SRK Qualified Persons are independent of IAMGOLD and have reviewed and approved this news release. IAMGOLD Qualified Persons are not independent of IAMGOLD and have reviewed and approved this news release. The affiliation and areas of responsibility for each Qualified Person involved in preparing the 2019 Essakane Heap leach FS, upon which the technical report will be based, are:
IAMGOLD is a mid-tier mining company with four operating gold mines on three continents. A solid base of strategic assets in North and South America and West Africa is complemented by development and exploration projects and continued assessment of accretive acquisition opportunities. IAMGOLD is in a strong financial position with extensive management and operational expertise.
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