Artemis Gold Inc has provided an update on Q4 construction progress at the Blackwater mine in central British Columbia. The project remains fully funded, within the guidance for initial capital expenditure, and on schedule for first gold pour in H2 2024.
At December 31, 2023, overall construction was 59% complete, and approximately C$389 million of the guided initial capital expenditure of C$730 to C$750 million had been spent. It says the lag between the spend and percentage of completion is as planned and consistent with a typical project S-curve. By the end of Q4 2023, the company had entered into contractual commitments for C$615 million (or 84% of the lower end of the guided initial capital expenditure). The majority of the balance of uncommitted expenditures for the guided initial capital relate to owners cost and earthworks associated with mining pre-strip and construction of the tailings storage facility (TSF) and other civil structures.
Artemis Gold Chairman and CEO Steven Dean commented: “We remain focused on a disciplined approach to development and remain on track for the first gold pour in H2 2024.”
Earthworks continued in priority infrastructure areas, with approximately 640 hectares logged and cleared. All access roads needed for Phase 1 construction are now operable. Construction of the site water management facilities, including the water management pond, and Davidson Creek diversion, is well advanced. Work associated with the transmission line is progressing in accordance with the project schedule. Total major works hours worked up to December 31, 2023, surpassed 1.1 million hours with a zero LTIFR and an AIFR of 91.86.
Process plant construction progressed well on a number of fronts, including the mill building foundation preparation, reagents building foundations, ball mill pedestals, carbon in leach (CIL) and detox tank erection, advancement of the primary, secondary, and tertiary crushers structures, and the reclaim tunnel civil works. Hydro testing within the CIL tank area commenced.
Construction of the run-of-mine (ROM) wall and the initial ROM dump slab earthworks have been completed. The focus has now moved to concrete formwork to allow for the installation of the primary crusher ROM slab and crusher vault. Steel structures for the secondary and tertiary crusher and screening station have been advanced and installation of the crushing mechanical packages commenced in Q4. The erection of the mill building and installation of the ball mill also commenced in late Q4.
The construction fleet now includes 60 and 100 t rigid frame haul trucks and 150 t excavators, providing more material movement capability to key areas. Assembly and commissioning of the owner’s mining fleet is well advanced, including two 400 t Cat 6040 hydraulic backhoe excavators. Five Caterpillar latest generation 793 240 t rigid frame haul trucks have been delivered to site, four of which have been substantially assembled. The remainder of the fleet to support operations will arrive predominately across the first half of 2024. Fleet assembly is expected to be completed well before the commencement of pre-stripping, and equipment will be made available to support earthworks if needed.
At the end of December 2023, the Sedgman EPC contract work was 75% complete overall, with engineering, design and procurement substantially complete. Key mechanical equipment packages, including the primary, secondary and tertiary crushers, conveyor assemblies, dry screens, and ball mill are all on site and are in various stages of installation. The electrical machinery control centres are also in various stages of delivery and installation.
Key mining-related contracts have been executed with detailed mobilisation plans for production drilling services well advanced. In addition, equipment supply contracts have been awarded for the oxygen plant and water treatment plant. Q4 also marked the arrival onsite of the first delivery of the 225 kV transmission line conductor and poles.
The company’s staffing numbers surpassed 320 employees in Q4 2023, with approximately 20% of the team female and over 30% identifying as Indigenous. Approximately 50% of the development team is from the local region and over 80% are BC residents. The total workforce at the Blackwater mine, including staff and contractors, surpassed 550 towards the end of December.
With Phase 1 fully funded and 59% complete at the end of December 2023, a study to evaluate the benefits of advancing the Phase 2 expansion earlier than contemplated in the September 2021 Feasibility Study is progressing well. The results of this expansion study are expected to be released later in Q1 2024.
Artemis Gold President and COO Jeremy Langford commented: “The fourth quarter was highlighted by our workforce eclipsing one million hours worked without an LTI – an important achievement that reflects the hard work and commitment of our dedicated workforce. As we enter Q1 2024, our short-term priorities will be to further progress the TSF infrastructure areas, advance the construction of the 225 Kv transmission line and complete all essential concrete works within the process facility. In parallel with this the teams will look to progress the structural, mechanical, platework, piping and electrical construction activities within the process plant and electrical substation areas. Operations team members are scheduled to commence pre-production planning, which will prepare the teams for initial mining operations and plant commissioning.”