|By Marketwired .||
|April 30, 2014 03:10 PM EDT||
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwired) -- 04/30/14 -- Amara Mining plc (AIM: AMA), the AIM-listed West African focused gold mining company, is pleased to announce the results of alternative throughput scenarios for its 6.3 million ounce Yaoure Gold Project ("Yaoure") in Côte d'Ivoire, as part of the Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA"). This follows the news release regarding the results of the PEA for Yaoure, which was based upon an 8 million tonne per annum ("Mtpa") headline scenario with a US$950 per ounce open pit design, dated 12 March 2014.
This latest work highlights that the 6.5Mtpa scenario generates strong economic returns alongside the 8Mtpa scenario, underlining the flexibility of the project.
Highlights of 6.5Mtpa Scenario
- Post-tax IRR of 33% at a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce
- Post-tax Net Present Value ("NPV") of US$613 million at a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce and a discount rate of 8%
- Strong returns at lower gold prices with post-tax IRR of 25% and NPV of US$388 million at US$1,100 per ounce
- Average annual production remains strong at 279,000 ounces over a 10 year initial life of mine ("LOM")
- 6.5Mtpa scenario is based on an US$800 per ounce pit design with an average head grade of 1.53g/t, a 10% increase on the 8Mtpa scenario
- LOM average total cash costs (including royalties and refining) of US$594 per ounce, a 9% decrease on the 8Mtpa scenario
- All-in sustaining cash costs of US$624 per ounce, a 10% decrease on the 8Mtpa scenario
- Plant and infrastructure capital cost of US$244 million, with a contingency of US$37 million and an additional US$75 million for an owner-operated mining fleet -- a 13% decrease on the total pre-production capital cost of the 8Mtpa scenario
- Rapid total payback period of 2.6 years
- Amara is fully funded to deliver a Pre-Feasibility Study ("PFS") for Yaoure in Q1 2015, following the successful placing and open offer in March 2014, which raised US$30.5 million, with in-fill drilling now underway
John McGloin, Executive Chairman of Amara, commented:
"The headline results of the PEA exceeded our expectations and the results of the 6.5Mtpa scenario demonstrate the project's flexibility to a number of development options and give an indication of the potential to mine selectively higher grades at lower gold prices. Yaoure is one of the strongest growth projects in West Africa and with an IRR of 25% at a gold price of US$1,100 per ounce, it is one of the few that remains robust in a lower gold price environment. Although the 6.5Mtpa scenario delivers a reduced production profile, this scenario would still see Yaoure developed as one of the largest gold mines in Africa, ranking 12th based on the current production of its peers(1). We will continue the optimisation work to ensure that the project is developed to deliver the best returns possible for all stakeholders.
"Following the successful capital raising, Yaoure is fully-funded through to the delivery of a PFS. The in-fill drilling campaign at Yaoure commenced in early April 2014 and I look forward to delivering exploration results in Q2 and Q3 2014, culminating in the completion of two Mineral Resource updates in H2 2014. These are expected to expand the current 6.3 million ounce resource base at Yaoure and upgrade the majority of the Inferred resources to the Indicated category, adding further confidence to the deposit."
Filing of NI 43-101 Technical Report
Amara is also pleased to announce that a National Instrument 43-101 compliant technical report entitled 'Technical Report and Preliminary Economic Assessment of the Yaoure Gold Project, Côte d'Ivoire, Amara Mining plc', dated 25 April 2014, has been submitted for publication on SEDAR. This follows the news release regarding the results of the PEA for Yaoure dated 12 March 2014. A copy of the technical report may be obtained on Amara's website at http://www.amaramining.com/Investor-Relations/NI43-101-Reports and will be available at www.sedar.com shortly. A copy of the news release may also be obtained via SEDAR and on Amara's website.
Overview of PEA and Latest Work
Amara conducted a number of different bulk tonnage scenarios for Yaoure as part of the PEA to test the project's viability, assuming variable mining rates, pit designs, plant sizes and processing methods. The previously announced results of the 8Mtpa plant tank leach process demonstrated compelling economic returns. Further optimisation work on the pit design demonstrated that a smaller pit, constrained at an US$800 per ounce gold price, results in an effective gold grade cut-off of 0.59g/t, which drives a 23% shorter mine life and 10% higher average grade. Combined with a 6.5Mtpa plant, this pit design delivers a stronger post-tax IRR of 33%, using a gold price of US$1,250 per ounce and a robust NPV of US$613 million using a discount rate of 8%. In addition, the smaller scenario is more resilient at lower gold prices with a post-tax IRR of 25% at a US$1,100 per ounce gold price, a 9% increase on the 8Mtpa scenario.
Production remains robust at 279,000 ounces over an initial 10 year LOM. Operating and capital costs are reduced as a result of the smaller plant and open pit, with a 9% decrease in LOM average total cash costs to US$594 per ounce and an 11% decrease in the Plant and Infrastructure Capital Cost to US$244 million. The Total Pre-Production Capital Cost decreased by 13%, which includes an additional US$75 million for an owner-operated mining fleet, which has the potential to be deferred through leasing or excluded if contractor mining is utilised, and US$37 million contingency. The 6.5Mtpa scenario has a rapid payback period of 2.6 years. This stronger performance is driven by the higher grade and lower strip ratio of the smaller pit, which brings forward net cash flows and significantly reduces the replacement capital requirements that occur in the larger plant scenarios.
Amara also evaluated a 5Mtpa plant using a US$800 per ounce pit design and a 6.5Mpta plant using a US$950 per ounce pit design. Both these scenarios generated robust returns, although the economics for these alternatives were not as compelling as for the previously reported 8Mtpa scenario and the 6.5Mtpa scenario outlined above. The results of all four scenarios are summarised in the table below:
SIZE OF PROCESSING PLANT AND OPEN PIT ----------------------------------------------------- Comparison of Change Alternative Scenarios (%) for Yaoure Gold between Project(1) 5Mtpa 6.5Mtpa 6.5Mtpa 8Mtpa 8Mtpa and US$800/oz US$800/oz US$950/oz US$950/oz 6.5Mtpa Pit Design Pit Design Pit Design Pit Design (US$800) ---------- ---------- ---------- ---------- --------- Mining Annual Production Mt 5.0 6.5 6.5 8.0 (19%) Mine Life Years 13 10 15 12 (17%) Ore Mined Mt 63.9 63.9 94.6 94.6 (32%) Average Head Grade g/t 1.53 1.53 1.39 1.39 10% Waste Mined Mt 314 314 492 492 (36%) Total Material Mt 378 378 587 587 (36%) Strip Ratio w:o 4.9 4.9 5.2 5.2 (6%) Processing Contained gold Moz 3.1 3.1 4.2 4.2 (26%) Recovery rate % 95 95 95 95 0% Gold Produced Moz 3.0 3.0 4.0 4.0 (25%) Annual Average Output Koz 216 279 265 325 (14%) Pre-Production Capital Plant & Infrastructure Cost US$m 265 282 282 317 (11%) Total Pre- Production Capital Cost US$m 331 357 362 408 (13%) Results at US$1,250/oz NPV at 8% discount US$m 464 613 554 688 (11%) IRR % 25 33 26 32 3% Capital Ratio efficiency (2) 1.40:1 1.72:1 1.53 1.69:1 2% Payback Years 3.4 2.6 3.2 2.4 8%
1. See Appendix A for assumptions used for PEA (US$1,250 gold price used in each scenario outlined above)
2. NPV:Total Pre-Production Capital Cost
The strong returns from the 5Mtpa scenario highlight the potential for a staged development strategy. As the continuity of the higher grade mineralisation is further defined through the on-going 2014 in-fill drilling programme, Amara expects to be able to utilise a selective mining approach, rather than the current bulk mining approach, to further enhance smaller-scale initial development options as well as the returns from the large-scale development options identified to date.
A small scale, heap leach scenario was also investigated for processing Yaoure's oxide resources, utilising the 1.6Mtpa Kalsaka/Sega processing plant. This option highlights the potential to commence production on a reduced scale, pending the availability of capital, but while the potential returns on capital are high, the project generates a significantly lower NPV, is less robust at lower gold prices and does not deliver full value from Yaoure for either the Government of Côte d'Ivoire or Amara's shareholders. The PFS, which is expected to be completed in Q1 2015, will focus on the large scale development opportunities rather than short term heap leach.
Mine Plan and Processing
Amara plans to develop and mine Yaoure as a single open pit, comprising the CMA and Yaoure Central deposits. As a result of the smaller open pit design utilised for the 6.5Mtpa scenario, the average head grade mined increases by 10% to 1.53g/t and the resulting strip ratio decreases by 6% to 4.9:1, which is relatively low due to the shallow dipping nature of the mineralised zones. It is expected to be further improved through the on-going in-fill drilling programme targeting 'information gaps' within the resource area.
Whole ore processing via tank leach followed by carbon-in-pulp was selected as the basis for the PEA as being the most cost effective processing method, with an estimated design recovery rate of 95%, based on the gold recovery achieved in the test work of 96.2%.
The 6.5Mtpa scenario delivers an 11% decrease in the Plant and Infrastructure Capital Cost to US$244 million and a 13% decrease in the Total Pre-Production Capital Cost to US$357 million compared to the 8Mtpa scenario. The Total Pre-Production Capital Cost includes US$75 million for the mining fleet, which could be deferred by contracting or leasing, and US$37 million contingency. The 6.5Mtpa scenario has a total payback period of 2.6 years and a strong capital efficiency ratio (NPV: Total Pre-Production Capital Cost) of 1.72:1 (1.69:1 for the 8Mtpa scenario).
AMEC plc, which is an independent consultant responsible for the mineral processing and recovery methods upon which the PEA is based, assesses its capital estimate for the plant and infrastructure to be accurate to +/- 35%. A breakdown is set out in the table below:
Change 6.5Mtpa 8Mtpa between US$800/oz US$950/oz 8Mtpa and Capital Costs (US$m) Pit Design Pit Design 6.5Mtpa (%) ------------ ------------ ------------ Process plant 124.0 142.8 (13%) Plant infrastructure including Tailings Management Facility ("TMF") 32.5 35.3 (8%) Other infrastructure 26.6 27.4 (3%) Miscellaneous 18.0 20.0 (10%) EPCM and Indirects 43.2 48.9 (12%) Plant and Infrastructure Capital Cost 244.3 274.4 (11%) Plant and Infrastructure Contingency 37.4 42.0 (11%) Plant and Infrastructure Capital Cost including Contingency 281.7 316.4 (11%) Mining fleet 75.0 91.8 (18%) Total Pre-Production Capital Cost 356.7 408.2 (13%)
The Total Sustaining and Closure Capital over the LOM includes the mine closure costs and the development of the TMF. The reduction in the mine life means that the mining fleet does not have to be replaced resulting in a 78% reduction in sustaining capital for mining. A breakdown is set out in the table below:
Change 6.5Mtpa 8Mtpa between US$800/oz US$950/oz 8Mtpa and Sustaining and Deferred Capital Costs Pit Design Pit Design 6.5Mtpa (%) ------------ ------------ ------------ Mining 13.9 64.6 (78%) Process and Infrastructure excluding TMF 27.8 31.5 (12%) TMF 29.1 31.3 (7%) Closure costs 18.4 18.4 0% Total Sustaining and Closure Capital 89.2 145.8 (39%)
While the size of the processing plant in the 6.5Mtpa scenario is reduced by 19% on the 8Mtpa scenario, the estimate for the Total Pre-Production Capital Cost is only reduced by 13%. This demonstrates that while scale is important, its impact on Yaoure's capital requirement is relatively limited. However Amara believes there are a number of other avenues it can pursue in order to further reduce the capital and operating costs of the project, and these are listed in the optimisation opportunities section below.
The 6.5Mtpa scenario delivers a 9% decrease in LOM average total cash costs, including royalties and refining, to US$594 per ounce compared to the 8Mtpa scenario. All-in sustaining cash costs decrease by 10% to US$624 per ounce.
The operating costs are compelling due to the advantages offered by Yaoure's location, including low cost power, abundant water, a high quality road network and good local accommodation.
Change 6.5Mtpa 8Mtpa between US$800/oz US$950/oz 8Mtpa and Category Unit Pit Design Pit Design 6.5Mtpa (%) ----------- ----------- ----------- ------------ Mining(1) t mined 2.41 2.42 (0.4%) Processing(1) t processed 10.13 9.90 2% Other General and Administration t processed 0.72(2) 0.58(3) 24%(4)
1. Mining and processing costs include a portion of associated G&A representing US$1.16/tonne
2. US$1.03/t including freight and refining
3. US$0.85/t including freight and refining
4. 21% including freight and refining
Change 6.5Mtpa 8Mtpa between US$800/oz US$950/oz 8Mtpa and Category (US$/oz produced) Pit Design Pit Design 6.5Mtpa (%) ----------- ----------- ----------- Mining 305 352 (13%) Processing 217 232 (6%) General and Administration 15 14 (7%) Operating Cash Cost 537 598 (10%) Freight and refining 7 7 0% Royalties (and community fund) 50 50 0% Total Cash Cost 594 655 (9%) Sustaining Capex 30 36 (17%) All-In Sustaining Cost 624 691 (10%)
Economic Sensitivity Analysis
The 6.5Mtpa scenario is more resilient to lower gold prices than the 8Mtpa scenario, with a post-tax IRR of 25% at a gold price of US$1,100 per ounce, a 9% increase. The post-tax NPV of the smaller scenario remains robust at US$388 million. The economic analysis uses an average gold price of US$1,250 per ounce over the 10 year life.
6.5Mtpa scenario discount rate and gold price sensitivity
US$1,100 US$1,200 US$1,250 US$1,300 US$1,400 US$1,500 -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- Post-tax NPV (US$m) 5% discount 535 713 802 891 1,056 1,234 8% discount 388 538 613 687 826 975 10% discount 310 444 511 578 702 835 Post-tax IRR (%) 25 30 33 36 40 45
8Mtpa scenario discount rate and gold price sensitivity
US$1,100 US$1,200 US$1,250 US$1,300 US$1,400 US$1,500 -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- -------- Post-tax NPV (US$m) 5% discount 579 807 921 1,035 1,246 1,473 8% discount 406 594 688 782 957 1,144 10% discount 316 483 566 650 805 971 Post-tax IRR (%) 23 29 32 35 40 45
A number of opportunities for optimisation were generated by the PEA and it is expected that they will further improve the project economics by improving average head grades and reducing the overall strip ratio. They also have the potential to decrease the upfront capital requirement. These include selective mining of the CMA zone, staged development, process selection, equipment optimisation and project layout. Further details of these opportunities are included in the results of the Yaoure PEA announcement, dated 12 March 2014.
Mineral Resource Updates and Pre-Feasibility Study
In March 2014 Amara announced a placing and open offer which raised US$30.5 million. The net proceeds will allow Amara to conduct an in-fill drilling programme at Yaoure in 2014, deliver a PFS in Q1 2015, and then subsequently upgrade a portion of the Indicated resource to the Measured category in 2015, supporting a Bankable Feasibility Study ("BFS").
The 2014 Yaoure in-fill drilling campaign commenced in early April 2014 and is expected to be undertaken in two phases:
- Phase I: To target the 'information gaps' within the Mineral Resource area to increase the size of the Inferred resource
- Phase II: To upgrade the Inferred resources to the Indicated category to increase the level of confidence in the resource
In addition, geotechnical, hydro-geological and further metallurgical test work will be undertaken alongside further engineering studies and work on the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment to deliver the PFS.
As well as increasing the size of the Mineral Resource, the first phase of drilling has the potential to reduce the overall strip ratio of the deposit (currently 4.9:1 in the 6.5Mtpa scenario) by converting waste to ore in the mine plan. Amara expects to release a Mineral Resource update following the completion of this phase in Q3 2014. The second phase of drilling will focus on upgrading the Inferred resources within the US$950 per ounce proposed open pit to the Indicated category by reducing the drill spacing from 100m x 100m to 50m x 50m. Amara expects to release a second Mineral Resource update following the completion of this phase in Q4 2014. This work will enable Amara to deliver a PFS for the project in Q1 2015.
In 2015, the Yaoure drilling campaign will focus on further upgrading a portion of the Indicated resources at Yaoure to the Measured category. This will entail reducing the drilling spacing to 25-35m x 25-35m and will further support a BFS for the project in H2 2015.
The PEA has been prepared by Amara with input from GeoSystems International Inc., which reported the Mineral Resource estimate, and AMEC plc, which reviewed the metallurgical work and proposed the engineering design and cost estimates for the process plant and associated infrastructure for the project.
Ian Jackson is a "Qualified Person" within the definition of National Instrument 43-101 and is responsible for the mineral processing and recovery methods upon which the PEA is based. He has reviewed and approved the relevant technical information relating to the recovery methods in this release. Mr Jackson (CEng, M IMMM) is Senior Process Engineer with AMEC plc.
Ciaran Molloy is a "Qualified Person" within the definition of National Instrument 43-101 having practiced for 34 years, and is responsible for the TMF and Heap Leach Pad Civil earthworks designs upon which the PEA is based. He has reviewed and approved the relevant technical information relating to civil design of these facilities. Mr Molloy, BSc (civil engineering), MIMMM, is a Technical Director with AMEC Ashford.
Bruce van Brunt is a "Qualified Person" within the definition of National Instrument 43-101 and is responsible for the mining schedule upon which the PEA is based. He has reviewed and approved the relevant technical information relating to the mining schedule in this release. Mr van Brunt (MSc Mining Engineering, Fellow AusIMM) is Amara's General Manager of Technical Services and Business Development.
Peter Brown is a "Qualified Person" within the definition of National Instrument 43-101 and has verified the data disclosed in this release with regards to the exploration conducted at Yaoure for Amara, including sampling, analytical and test data underlying the information contained herein, and reviewed and approved the information contained within this announcement. Dr Brown (MIMMM) is the Group Exploration Manager.
Mario Rossi is a "Qualified Person" within the definition of National Instrument 43-101 and is responsible for the estimation of the Yaoure Mineral Resource. He has reviewed and approved the relevant technical information relating to the resource estimates in this release. Mr Rossi (Fellow AusIMM, Member CIM, Member SME) is Principal Geostatistician of GeoSystems International, Inc.
About Amara Mining plc
Amara is a gold developer-producer with assets in West Africa. The Company generates cash flow through its Kalsaka/Sega gold mine in Burkina Faso. Amara is focused on unlocking the value in its development projects. At Yaoure in Côte d'Ivoire, this will be done by increasing the confidence in the existing Mineral Resource and economics at the project as the Company progresses it through to Pre-Feasibility Study and Bankable Feasibility Study. At Baomahun, this will be done by gaining an improved understanding of the exploration upside potential and underground opportunity. With its experience of bringing new mines into production and a project pipeline spanning four countries, Amara aims to further increase its production profile with highly prospective opportunities across all assets.
Assumption Unit Rate -------------- -------------- Gold price US$/oz 1,250 Discount rate % 8 Source of power - Hydro-electric Power cost US$/kWh 0.09 Corporate Tax Rate % 25 Community Fund % Revenue 0.5 Royalties Scale < =US$1,000/oz % 3 < =US$1,300/oz % 3.5 < =US$1,600/oz % 4 > =US$1,600/oz % 5 Tax Holiday Years 5
(1) The top 12 gold mines in Africa are as follows, ranked in order of 2013 production, with the exception of Yaoure, which is ranked by projected average LOM production:
2013 Gold Mine Country Owner Production ------------------------- -------------- -------------------- ----------- Tarkwa Ghana Gold Fields 632,200 Driefontein South Africa Sibanye Gold 603,600 Loulo Mali Randgold Resources 580,364 Ahafo Ghana Newmont Mining 570,000 Kloof South Africa Sibanye Gold 513,675 Geita Tanzania AngloGold Ashanti 460,000 Sukari Egypt Centamin plc 356,943 Mponeng South Africa AngloGold Ashanti 354,000 Yaoure (8Mtpa scenario) Côte d'Ivoire Amara Mining 325,000 Siguiri Guinea AngloGold Ashanti 315,000 Beatrix South Africa Sibanye Gold 312,550 South Deep South Africa Gold Fields 302,100 Yaoure (6.5Mtpa scenario) Côte d'Ivoire Amara Mining 279,000
Source: RMG Intierra database
For more information please contact:
Amara Mining plc
John McGloin, Chairman
Peter Spivey, Chief Executive Officer
Pete Gardner, Finance Director
Katharine Sutton, Head of Investor Relations
+44 (0)20 7398 1420
Peel Hunt LLP
(Nominated Adviser & Joint Broker)
+44 (0)20 7418 8900
GMP Securities Europe LLP
+44 (0)20 7647 2800
Farm Street Communications
+44 (0)7593 340 107