Kinross Gold has announced the results of a prefeasibility study for its Lobo-Marte project in Chile, which includes consideration of sulphidisation, acidification, recycling and thickening (SART) technology, as well as the use of rope conveyors.
The open-pit, heap leach operation would produce around 4.5 Moz of gold at average all-in sustaining cost of sales of $745/oz, according to the study. It would operate for 15 years, which includes 12 years of mining followed by three years of residual processing.
The initial estimated capital cost for the project is $765 million, plus around $230 million in contingency, Kinross said. The estimated capital costs includes mine equipment, crushing and storage facilities, conveyors, and site utilities and infrastructure.
The most interesting processing aspect is the use of a SART plant in the mine’s design. Kinross has previously used SART technology successfully in the region at its former-operating Maricunga mine, which BioteQ Environmental Technologies (now named BQE Water) installed.
The company also plans to use rope conveyors, such as those provided by Doppelmayr at the likes of Torex Gold’s ELG mine in Mexico.
Subject to a positive development decision, the study estimates Lobo-Marte project construction beginning in 2025, with first production expected in 2027. Production would commence after the conclusion of mining at the company’s La Coipa project (pictured), which is located some 50 km northwest of Lobo-Marte, and where the company is continuing to explore opportunities to extend mine life.
Back in February, Kinross announced it is proceeding with the La Coipa Restart project to mine the Phase 7 deposit. The La Coipa restart is expected to generate strong returns and produce a total of around 690,000 oz of gold from 2022 to 2024. The project plan includes refurbishing the existing process plant, camp and other infrastructure, as well as the mine fleet from the Maricunga operation that has recently been placed on care and maintenance.
The company plans to commence a feasibility study on Lobo-Marte later this year, with scheduled completion in the December quarter of 2021. The feasibility study is expected to provide the detailed engineering and project description required for permitting and submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment, Kinross said.
“The Lobo-Marte project provides Kinross with an excellent, organic development option that has attractive all-in sustaining costs and offers substantial upside leverage to the gold price, without increasing project cost requirements and risk,” Paul Rollinson, Kinross President and CEO, said. “The project represents a potential synergistic, long-term mine life extension in a favourable mining jurisdiction and delivers a significant 6.4 Moz addition to our current gold reserve estimates, increasing the company’s overall reserve mine life.
“As we move forward with the feasibility study for this longer-term project, we will continue to prioritise balance sheet strength and disciplined capital allocation.”