NGEx continued to take advantage of opportunities to add value to Project Constellation by evaluating lower cost development options, testing the potential to recover gold from the oxide cap at Josemaría by heap leaching, and continuing baseline environmental studies.
Over the past few months, the Company evaluated the leach amenability of the oxide cap at Josemaría through a series of metallurgical tests and studies and explored whether this material is amenable to heap leaching. The oxidized leached cap at Josemaría contains approximately 450,000 ounces of gold within an Indicated resource of 43 million tonnes at an average grade of 0.32 g/t gold. This material was considered waste in the Preliminary Economic Assessment completed in early 2016 (the “PEA”) as no metallurgical testwork had been completed at that time. Preliminary results were received from column leach metallurgical testwork on material from the oxide cap and the results show good leach kinetics, with gold recovery ranging between 72% and 78%, depending on crush size, and indicate that leach recovery of gold from this portion of the resource is technically feasible.
The Company is actively working on building its project portfolio with a focus on copper-gold projects in Chile and Argentina and evaluating a number of exploration projects in Argentina for potential acquisition.
During the remainder of 2017, the Company will focus on advancing Project Constellation by continuing to optimize and de-risk the Project and explore options to advance the Project toward eventual development, including more active engagement with potential development partners or acquirers.
In addition, work is planned to explore the varied development options that the Project provides. Specifically, the Company will seek opportunities to add value, at modest costs, by:
- Evaluating high potential exploration targets within a few kilometers of the existing deposits and the proposed plant site;
- Continuing to look for opportunities to optimize the engineering studies;
- Continuing ongoing environmental baseline data collection surveys; and
- Exploring potential regional synergies and cooperative development plans with other regional operators to use spare capacity of processing plants and infrastructure, including port facilities. Innovative development concepts, such as those used at Teck & Goldcorp’s NuevaUnión Project, open up the potential for sharing infrastructure on a regional scale by connecting deposits via long distance materials handling systems.
The Company continues to pursue these de-risking opportunities and will seek to engage with potential partners to lay the groundwork for either the eventual development by the Company and its partners or through a sale to a third party. Efforts will be focused on exploring all potential development scenarios for Los Helados and Josemaria. In addition, the Company will continue to pursue opportunities to add high quality new copper-gold exploration projects to its portfolio.