INV Metals Inc. (TSX:INV) is pleased to announce the positive results of the independent Feasibility Study prepared for its 100% owned Loma Larga gold-copper-silver project, located in Ecuador. Unless otherwise stated, all amounts are stated in U.S. dollars (“$”).
Ms. Candace MacGibbon, CEO stated, “With an after-tax 24.7% IRR and 2.6 year payback period, the Feasibility Study confirms the Project’s viability and demonstrates the strong profitability and economics of the Loma Larga gold-copper-silver project. During the projected 12 year mine life, 2.6 million gold equivalent ounces are forecasted to be mined, with an average of 227,000 gold equivalent ounces mined per year and an average of 294,000 gold equivalent ounces mined during the first four full years. Loma Larga will be a low-cost operation with expected life of mine (“LOM”) cash costs of $540/oz, all-in sustaining costs (“AISC”) of $609/oz, and all-in costs (“AIC”) of $768/oz. Initial pre-production capital expenditures are estimated at $279 million, with sustaining capital of $62 million and closure costs of $22 million. The Company has received indicative terms from various smelters that demonstrate strong interest for the purchase of both of the Loma Larga concentrates and reinforces their marketability.”
Ms. MacGibbon added, “Loma Larga is a relatively simple mining project that we are committed to executing in a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable manner. The underground mine and related processing infrastructure have been designed to have a very minimal footprint, with an estimated disturbance area of less than 80 hectares at the Project site. The process plant design, the use of paste backfill, and a filtered tailings disposal method will serve to minimize the use of surface water and reduce treated water discharge.”
She further added, “Loma Larga is one of five strategic mining projects identified by the Government of Ecuador and will be the next large-scale mining development project to be financed and permitted in the country, following upon the success of the Fruta del Norte gold project by Lundin Gold Corp. With the demonstrated strong support of the Ecuadorian government and our surrounding local communities of Chumblin, San Gerardo, and Victoria del Portete, INV Metals plans to aggressively move the Project forward aiming to break ground in early 2020, with the goal of achieving first gold concentrate production in late 2021. The positive social and economic impacts will be important both locally and nationally, and will provide exciting new employment, training, procurement and business opportunities throughout the region.”
The Company’s recent successful drilling programs and the significant optimization to the mine plan in the FS resulted in an increase of the estimated Mineral Reserves by 18.1% or 338,000 gold ounces from the 2016 Mineral Reserve estimates. The mine plan focuses on developing and mining high grade areas of the mine at a rate of 3,000 tonnes per day (“tpd”) in the early years, and reaching 3,400 tpd in year 5, resulting in higher average annual recovered production of 267,000 gold equivalent ounces over the first four full years and an annual average of 206,000 gold equivalent ounces recovered over the life of the mine.
The Company’s discovery of ore-grade mineralization up to 300 metres to the west of the current Mineral Resources, the findings of a detailed re-evaluation and study of the deposit, as well as the potential of the entire Loma Larga property, demonstrate that the deposit remains open in most directions with potential to increase Mineral Resources along strike and at depth, both of which remain largely untested, and to find additional deposits on the property.
Feasibility Study Highlights (5% discount rate, $1,250/oz gold, $18/oz silver, $3/lb copper)
13.9 million tonnes (4.91 g/t gold, 29.6 g/t silver, and 0.29% copper), containing
9.8 million tonnes (4.25 g/t gold, 27.8 g/t silver, and 0.25% copper), containing
4.7 million tonnes (2.2 g/t gold, 29.7 g/t silver, and 0.14% copper), containing
1 Annual LOM averages are calculated based on full production years from Year 2 to 11.
The FS was prepared by a consortium of independent consultants, led by DRA Americas Inc. an international engineering firm with extensive experience both in the construction and operation of mining projects. DRA led the mine planning, Mineral Reserve estimation, metallurgy, processing and economic estimation. The FS was supported by additional leading consultants with expertise in various fields, including: RPA Inc. for Mineral Resource estimation, Mine Design Engineering Inc. for geotechnical design, Itasca Denver, Inc. for hydrogeology and water quality, Environmental Resources Management for social and environmental, NewFields for tailings design, Paterson & Cooke Canada Inc. for paste backfill, and SGS Canada Inc. for metallurgical test work.
The FS is currently being summarised into a Technical Report (the “Loma Larga Technical Report”) to be filed on SEDAR in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects.
Table 1 – NPV and IRR
|Net Present Value @ 5% discount rate (“NPV”)||$621 M||$356 M|
|Internal Rate of Return (IRR)||35.1%||24.7%|
Table 2 – Key Financial Metrics2
|Average Annual (M$)||LOM (M$)|
|Net Sales Revenue||$188||$2,157|
|Operating Cash Flow||125||1,414|
|Taxes and Royalties||43||464|
|After-tax Cash Flow||79||577|
Table 3 – Gold Price Sensitivity3
|$1,150/oz||Base Case $1,250/oz||$1,350/oz|
|NPV||$513 M||$621 M||$729 M|
|NPV||$291 M||$356 M||$422 M|
2 Annual LOM averages are calculated based on full production years from Year 2 to 11.
3 Gold price sensitivity analysis calculated using a long-term silver price of $18.00 per ounce and copper price of $3.00 per pound, as well as a discount rate of 5%.
Economic Benefits to Ecuador
The FS demonstrates that the development of Loma Larga will provide substantial economic benefits to the future employees of INV Metals, our communities, and the local, provincial and federal governments of Ecuador. The development and operation of the Loma Larga mine will also provide numerous employment and business opportunities for the local communities and within the region. Various benefits will include:
FEASIBILITY STUDY DETAILS
The Loma Larga gold-silver-copper deposit is classified as a high sulphidation epithermal system and alteration is characterized by multiphase injections of hydrothermal fluids strongly controlled by both structure and stratigraphy. The deposit is a flat lying to gently western dipping (less than ten degrees), north-south striking, cigar shaped body, which has a strike length of approximately 1,600 metres north-south by 120 metres to 400 metres east-west and up to 60 metres thick, beginning approximately 120 metres below surface.
RPA estimated Mineral Resources for Loma Larga using all drill hole data available as of September 1, 2018. The current Mineral Resource estimate is based on an underground mining scenario and is reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves. Using a US$60/t Net Smelter Return (NSR) cut-off value, Mineral Resources effective as of October 31, 2018 are summarized in the following table.
Table 4 – Loma Larga Mineral Resource Estimate, Effective as of October 31, 2018
|Measured & Indicated||19.8||4.25||2.71||27.8||17.7||0.25||109.5||5.01||3.20|
Mineral Reserves and Mine Plan
The estimated Mineral Reserves are shown in the following table.
Table 5 – Loma Larga Proven and Probable Mineral Reserve Estimate, Effective as of October 31, 2018
|Proven and Probable||13.9||4.91||2.20||29.6||13.27||0.29||88.0||5.81||2.60|
The underground mine will be accessed by a 1.2 kilometres long (5 metres high by 5 metres wide) ramp into the deposit. The ramp will serve as the access to the mine for personnel and materials, the haulage of waste and ore, and for ventilation. Due to the high-grade nature of the ore body and the positive geotechnical conditions, the deposit will primarily be mined by the long-hole stoping method, with 20 metres wide, 25 metres high and 20 metres long stope sizes. Certain zones will utilize the drift and fill method where appropriate.
Initial daily ore production of 3,000 tonnes per day (“tpd”) is planned from primary and secondary stopes for the first four years, generating approximately 1,095,000 tonnes of ore annually. From year 5, daily average ore production of 3,400 tpd is planned to be achieved through plant optimization, generating 1,241,000 tonnes of ore annually. Ore will be trucked approximately 3.5 kilometres from the portal to the process facilities. The production averages in the tables below do not include partial production years.
Table 6 – Life of Mine Production Statistics
|Life of Mine Production||Mined||Recovered||Payable|
|Silver as Gold Equivalent (oz)||191,093||181,538||127,767|
|Copper as Gold Equivalent (oz)||211,293||202,842||141,217|
|Total Gold Equivalent (oz)||2,602,385||2,364,378||1,879,069|
Table 7 – Peak Production Statistics
|Peak Production in Year 3||Mined||Recovered||Payable|
|Silver as Gold Equivalent (oz)||22,836||21,694||15,300|
|Copper as Gold Equivalent (oz)||34,135||32,770||24,467|
|Total Gold Equivalent (oz)||338,305||307,664||245,704|
Table 8 – Average Annual First Four Full Years Production Statistics
|Average First Four Full Years Production||Mined||Recovered||Payable|
|Silver as Gold Equivalent (oz)||20,099||19,094||13,466|
|Copper as Gold Equivalent (oz)||26,342||25,288||18,331|
|Gold Equivalent (oz)||294,296||267,452||213,227|
Table 9 – Average Annual Life of Mine Production Statistics4
|Silver as Gold Equivalent (oz)||17,117||16,261||11,442|
|Copper as Gold Equivalent (oz)||18,525||17,784||12,392|
|Gold Equivalent (oz)||226,884||206,163||163,792|
Ore will be processed using primary and secondary crushing, a ball mill, and a two stage sequential flotation circuit to recover gold, silver and copper into two separate saleable concentrates which will be trucked to the port for export. No cyanide will be used in the extraction process and it is anticipated that acid will not need to be trucked to site.
Extensive metallurgical test work has demonstrated estimated overall gold, silver and copper recoveries into concentrate of 90%, 95%, and 96%, respectively. The average grades of the concentrates are shown in the table below and will differ from the averages depending on the mined head grade. The estimated mass pull is 14%, with an estimated 13.3% reporting to the gold pyrite concentrate and 0.8% reporting to the gold/copper concentrate. The concentrate is expected to have a moisture content of 8-10%.
Table 10 – Concentrate Production
|Gold Pyrite Concentrate||Gold/Copper Concentrate5||Recovery|
|Total Tonnes Concentrate Produced||1,845,778||109,497||–|
|Average LOM Concentrate Produced4||161,276||9,585||–|
|Gold Grade g/t||27.9||92.6||90%|
|Silver Grade g/t||102.2||1,858.6||95%|
|Copper Grade %||0.31||29.7||96%|
|Arsenic Grade %||0.08||8.5||–|
Concentrate samples and assays were sent to a number of smelters for analysis in order to receive current purchase price indications based on the potential grades and quantities estimated during the FS. INV Metals has incorporated the revenue indications into the economic estimates of the FS and is confident the concentrates are marketable. The payabilities used for the concentrates within the financial model were 80% gold and 60% silver for the gold pyrite concentrate and 88% gold, 82% copper and 80% silver for the gold/copper concentrate. These payabilities are inclusive of treatment and refining charges and any relevant penalties and result in non-comparable gross revenue to previous studies. Gross revenue under this structure is lower than the gross revenue associated with a structure where treatment charges, refining charges and penalties are expressed separately.
4 Annual LOM averages are calculated based on full production years from Year 2 to 11.
5 It is estimated that 82% of the copper and 15% of the gold is recovered to the gold/copper concentrate.
Tailings Storage Facility
The tailings storage facility will store filtered tailings within a lined and contained area to minimize the amount of impounded water, allow for the diversion of surface water, and the collection of contact water for treatment. Approximately 6.5 million tonnes of plant tailings are expected to be placed underground as paste backfill, with 5.5 million tonnes remaining on surface in the tailings storage facility which will be covered at closure with liners and rehabilitated with indigenous plants and grasses. The Company has a nursery on site which hosts, amongst other things, over 50,000 indigenous trees and shrubs for planting during rehabilitation.
Natural runoff will be diverted around the mine infrastructure to the extent possible. Contact water including water that must be withdrawn from the underground mine to maintain a safe working environment, will be collected and used for mineral processing. Excess contact water, not used in mineral processing, will be treated and discharged to meet drinking water standards in the immediate receiving environment. The point of discharge from the treatment plant has been sited outside of the watershed that supplies the City of Cuenca, which will ensure there are no impacts to water quality upstream of the city. Water management, including water treatment, will continue during the closure phase until discharge from the site meets established discharge criteria without treatment.
The initial capital expenditures are estimated at $279.1 million. Sustaining and closure costs are estimated at $84.3 million. Pre-production capital expenditure per gold equivalent ounces mined is $107.26, while sustaining capital per gold equivalent ounces mined is $23.95.
Table 11 – Capital Expenditure Summary
|Mining Surface Infrastructure||10.1|
|Process Plant Infrastructure||19.8|
|Total Direct Costs||170.5|
|Total Pre-Production Capital||279.1|
|Taxes and Duties (including VAT)||30.4|
|Total Capital incl. Taxes and Duties||309.5|
Table 12 – Sustaining Capital and Closure Costs
The Loma Larga mine will be a low-cost operation with estimated adjusted operating costs of $69.41/tonne of mined mineralized material. The table below highlights estimated LOM operating and capital costs.
Table 13 – LOM Operating and Capital Costs
|Operating and Capital Costs1||($/tonne)||Total (M$)||$/Payable3
|Treatment, Refining and Transportation2||34.60||482||269|
|Adjusted Operating Costs||69.41||967||540|
|All-in Sustaining Costs||78.19||1,089||609|
|Pre-Production Capital Expenditures||20.46||285||159|
The Loma Larga deposit will be accessed predominately by existing public road infrastructure, which will be upgraded and widened as required. Bypass roads will be constructed where widening of the current road is not feasible. New roads will be constructed to the portal access site and within the process plant and tailings facilities.
Power to the Project will be supplied through construction of a power line, which will connect into the local electricity grid.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The Company is committed to maintain and build upon its strong Corporate Social Responsibility programs and to engage in meaningful consultation with our stakeholders within our areas of influence. We are pleased to have added Ms. Robin Weisman to our Board of Directors in 2017, who in her previous employment with the International Finance Corporation as a Principal Mining Investment Officer, has significant experience with the IFC’s Performance Standards and the Equator Principles, as well as advising companies on mitigating project risk through their investments in programs providing economic opportunities, shared infrastructure and capacity building to communities and local municipalities.
The following opportunities were identified during the course of the FS as potential optimizations to be considered:
The Company will proceed with the following near-term activities:
Loma Larga Exploration
The Company continues to believe that the Loma Larga property holds considerable exploration potential. The deposit remains open in many areas with good potential to expand the deposit to the west, east, and south. Twelve of the fourteen holes that were drilled to the west of the orebody in 2017 encountered potentially economic intercepts and the area to the west represents upside potential for the deposit. High grade areas along 225 metres on the eastern edge of the orebody were not completely closed off and good potential exists to extend these further to the east. Both gold and high grade silver values continue to the south of the deposit with potential to expand the deposit to the south. The southern end of the deposit is rich in silver and high grade silver intercepts (11.6 metres @ 978 ppm Ag in hole IQD-265) exist at least 300 metres to the south of the edge of the High Grade Main Zone of the Mineral Resource. An expansion drill program has been designed to test these areas.
INV Metals engaged Western Mining Services LLC to complete a thorough targeting exercise in mid-2018 that identified nine ranked prospective targets within the Loma Larga concessions. The number one ranked area encloses the northern two thirds of the Loma Larga deposit and will be addressed by the expansion drill program. The second ranked area is immediately to the west of the orebody where the 2017 drilling encountered potentially economic mineralization over an area of 300 x 400 metres. Silicification, which is the dominant alteration within Loma Larga, was encountered in all of these holes and up to 600 metres to the west of the orebody. Lithology, alteration, structure, geochemistry, and geophysics are being analyzed within this large area to identify drill targets. There is good potential to encounter additional mineralized feeder zones and Loma Larga style mineralization within the area to the west of the orebody.
There is also clear potential for a mineralized porphyry at depth. A large diatreme breccia to the northwest of the deposit contains mineralized porphyry clasts. Several drill holes to the north and northwest of the deposit contain evidence of a nearby porphyry system. Hole IQD-109, around 30 metres to the north of the orebody, contains quartz veinlets with centerlines and margins of chalcocite. Hole LLD-384 was a deep hole drilled in 2017 to test for the presence of a porphyry at depth and is located approximately 60 metres to the north of the orebody. This hole encountered anomalous gold mineralized diorite and quartz diorite intrusions hosting quartz, pyrite, magnetite, and chalcopyrite veinlets plus disseminated pyrite and magnetite within intense intermediate argillic alteration (illite-kaolinite-muscovite-pyrite). Hole LLD-364, located around 100 metres to the northwest of the orebody, contains chalcopyrite and chalcocite. Further work is required to define the porphyry target.
The Company holds four exploration properties within Ecuador. The Company’s exploration efforts in 2018 have primarily been concentrated on the Tierras Coloradas property, located in southern Ecuador. The discovery of a low sulphidation system with high grade gold mineralization within quartz veins at Tierras Coloradas was announced in September 2017 and mapping and sampling of the veins has been progressing well. Over 4 kilometres of strike length of veins has been mapped in detail on the Quemada, Aparecida, and San Vicente veins. Numerous other veins have also been identified. The Aparecida and Quemada veins contain the highest grade values, with rock chip values up to 240.5 g/t Au and 226 ppm Ag in the Aparecida vein and 61.9 g/t Au and 2,479 ppm Ag in the Quemada vein. Gold values range from <0.005 to 240.5 g/t and silver values range from <0.2 to 226 ppm in the Aparecida vein. Gold values range from <0.005 to 61.9 g/t and silver values range from <0.2 to 2,479 ppm in the Quemada vein. Both of these veins have excellent horizontal and vertical continuity of high grade samples with the Aparecida vein containing values of >2 g/t Au for more than 1.3 kilometres strike length and over a vertical distance of 370 metres. A drill program is being prepared to test these veins and drilling will proceed as soon as the required permits are received.
The Las Peñas property, located approximately 30 km to the NW of Loma Larga, consists of nine concessions that cover a total of 30,278 hectares. Initial mapping and sampling have been completed in the area with some follow-up mapping and sampling on the high priority targets. A prospective porphyry target and numerous low sulphidation vein systems have been identified to date. The Playas Encantadas porphyry target contains a diorite intrusion with potassic alteration that outcrops over an area of 2.1 x 1 kilometres. Potassic alteration occurs over an area of 1,200 x 600 metres. Rock chip sampling over an area of 320 x 140 metres within the southern portion of the intrusion returned 97 samples that average 603 ppm Cu and 22 ppm Mo. The range of values were between < 2 to 2,280 ppm Cu and < 2 to 120 ppm Mo. Quartz stockwork veining has been identified with quartz veinlets with pyrite sutures, magnetite veinlets, and traces of chalcopyrite and covellite.
Initial geological prospection and sampling at the La Rebuscada property, located in northern Ecuador, has identified an area of 1.5 x 2 kilometres with gold in silicified structures. Rock chip sampling over an area of 1.2 x 1.9 kilometres has returned 12 of 43 samples of > 1 g/t Au. Gold values range from < 0.005 to 2.5 g/t.
Carolina, located just one kilometre to the southeast of SolGold Plc’s (“SolGold”) Cascabel property, is on trend with NW-trending mineralized corridors that SolGold has recognized on their property. First pass rock chip sampling has identified copper between 5 to 863 ppm, molybdenum between <2 to 596 ppm, and gold between <0.10 and 4.27 g/t. Multiple phases of intrusives have been recognized with microdiorites intruding the older diorite/tonalite intrusives.
The FS was led by DRA and was prepared in accordance with the guidelines for NI 43-101. The Loma Larga Technical Report summarizing the results of the FS is being prepared in accordance with NI 43-101 and will be filed under the Company’s profile on SEDAR within 45 days of this press release.
The Qualified Persons have reviewed and verified that the technical information in respect of the FS contained in this press release is accurate and approve the written disclosure of such information. For readers to fully understand the information in this press release, they should read the Loma Larga Technical Report in its entirety when it is available on SEDAR, including all qualifications, assumptions and exclusions that relate to the information to be set out in the Loma Larga Technical Report which qualifies the technical information contained in the Loma Larga Technical Report. The Loma Larga Technical Report is intended to be read as a whole, and sections should not be read or relied upon out of context.
The QPs who will prepare the Technical Report are:
By virtue of education and relevant experience, the aforementioned are independent “Qualified Persons” for the purpose of NI 43- 101.
Other than as set forth above, all scientific and technical information contained in this press release has been reviewed, verified and approved by Bill Shaver, P. Eng, a mining engineer and the Company’s COO, or Darren King, Geologist, Registered Member of the SME and the Company’s Vice President Exploration, both QPs under NI 43-101.
About INVTM Metals Inc.
INVTM Metals is an international mineral resource company focused on the acquisition, exploration and development of precious and base metal projects in Ecuador. Currently, INVTM Metals’ primary assets are: (1) its 100% interest in the Loma Larga gold exploration and development property in Ecuador, and (2) its 100% interests in exploration concessions in Ecuador, including the Las Peñas, Tierras Coloradas, La Rebuscada and Carolina exploration projects.
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