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Lundin Mining announces Eagle East feasibility study results and provides a project update

Published 11 April 2017

Lundin Mining Corporation has announced the results of a Feasibility Study, including an updated Mineral Resource estimate and a maiden Mineral Reserve estimate, on the high grade Eagle East nickel/copper mineralization, as well as provide an update on the project progress.

Highlights

  • The Feasibility Study demonstrates the viability of mining Eagle East as an extension of the current Eagle Mine with an incremental estimated post-tax net present value ("NPV") of $205 million at an 8% discount rate and an estimated internal rate of return ("IRR") of 47%. The estimated pre-production capital cost is $102 million.
  • Given the robust results of the Feasibility Study, the Company has approved the full development of Eagle East subject to the successful receipt of amendments to the mining permit.
  • An updated Mineral Resource estimate comprising 1.29 million tonnes classified as Indicated grading 5.2% Ni and 4.2% Cu and an additional 0.29 million tonnes of Inferred grading 1.7 % Ni and 1.4% Cu.
  • The Feasibility Study indicates that these Mineral Resources can be mined with no significant changes to the current mine, ore transport, mill, and tailings infrastructure.
  • Similar mining methods to Eagle are proposed and a maiden Probable Mineral Reserve of 1.54 Mt at 3.7% Ni and 3.0% Cu has been estimated. Mining of this Mineral Reserve will significantly increase nickel and copper production from 2020 and extend estimated mine life to at least 2023.
  • The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved the initial Eagle East access ramp development within the existing Eagle mine boundary. An application for a modification to the existing Part 632 mining permit to allow the mining of Eagle East, with a supporting Environmental Impact Assessment, was submitted in late March 2017 and a decision is expected prior to the end of 2017.
  • Eagle East exploration/access ramp development has progressed well since commencement in July 2016. At the end of Q1 2017, a total of 938 metres of centreline advance had been completed together with the purchase of additional mobile mining equipment and installation of mining infrastructure. Ongoing drilling has enabled a Probable Reserve classification, a mine plan update and improved forecast return on investment.

Mr. Paul Conibear, President and CEO of Lundin Mining stated, "The results of the Feasibility Study on Eagle East confirm robust project economics and demonstrate significant incremental value to our Eagle Mine operations. The successful permitting and development of Eagle East will extend the life of the operation to the continuing benefit of our shareholders, employees, and local economy. Early decline ramp development has progressed on schedule and within budget. We continue with exploration efforts to find additional mineable mineralization."

Mineral Resource Estimate

The Eagle East massive and semi-massive nickel-copper sulphide mineralization is located approximately two kilometers east and 600 m below the Eagle Mine deposit. Since discovery of the Eagle East mineralization in July 2014, over 108,000 m of diamond drilling have been completed in 96 holes to locate and define the deposit which now has dimensions of approximately 550 m long, 40 to 50 m high and 30 to 40 m wide. The estimation of Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resource is tabulated below. Exploration drilling is continuing at Eagle to systematically test the Eagle East conduit and deep peridotite and gabbro targets.

Feasibility Study

Following the robust results from the Preliminary Economic Assessment on Eagle East in June 2016, a Feasibility Study has now been completed refining and optimizing the development plans to a higher level of definition.

Access to Eagle East will be via a ramp initially spiraling down beneath Eagle Mine, making use of the existing mine infrastructure, then a twin ramp across to Eagle East followed by a further spiral section to the mineralization. The total centerline length of the ramp development is 6,669 metres. Ventilation and secondary egress will be provided by dedicated raises and the twin ramp system. Additional geotechnical studies have indicated that the same mining method as Eagle, transverse sub-level stoping with cemented rockfill, can be employed and the estimated Mineral Reserves are tabulated below. The existing mine infrastructure, power supply, temporary waste stockpiling and other facilities are expected to be sufficient to support the mining of Eagle East. All waste from the access ramp development will be temporarily stored and then used as backfill in both Eagle and Eagle East stopes.

Advanced metallurgical testwork programmes have demonstrated that the Eagle East mineralization has equivalent performance in terms of grinding and flotation to Eagle, and no issues are foreseen with processing the blended Eagle and Eagle East mineralization in the Humboldt processing plant. Eagle tailings are currently disposed of in the former Humboldt open pit and sufficient capacity exists for the additional tailings volume created by Eagle East. No other additional surface infrastructure is anticipated.

The Feasibility Study has assumed that the Eagle East access ramp initiated in July 2016 continues as described above and that initial ore production is achieved in the first quarter 2020. The high grade mineralization from Eagle East will be blended with the lower grade from Eagle, significantly increasing nickel and copper production and extending the estimated mine life until the third quarter of 2023. Total additional nickel and copper in concentrate is estimated at 47.1 and 46.0k tonnes respectively.

The estimated pre-production capital cost for Eagle East is $102.0 million, including a 9% contingency, with the majority of this expenditure for ramp access, ventilation raises, level development and new mine equipment and infrastructure. Mine operating costs have been estimated from the current Eagle contractor rates with allowances for the increased haulage distance, ventilation and dewatering requirements for Eagle East. Processing, mine to mill ore haulage and G&A costs are the same as the current Eagle operations.

The results of the Feasibility Study demonstrate the robust viability of mining Eagle East as an extension of the current Eagle mine with an incremental estimated post-tax NPV of $205 million at an 8% discount rate and an estimated IRR of 47% using long term metal prices of $7.50 and $8.00/lb Ni and $3.00/lb Cu. The forecast payback period is approximately 1.5 years from production start and the forecast average combined C1 cash cost during the combined Eagle and Eagle East production period is $0.49/lb Ni.

Permitting and Development Status

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved the initial Eagle East access ramp development within the existing Eagle Mine boundary. An application for a modification to the existing Part 632 mining permit to allow the mining of Eagle East, with a supporting Environmental Impact Assessment, was submitted in late March 2017 and a decision is expected by late 2017. While some additional permit modifications are required for the continued mining of Eagle, no other specific permits are required for the mining of Eagle East.

Development of the Eagle East access ramp by contract miners has accelerated since starting in July 2016. At the end of March 2017, total advance was 1,155 metres with 938 metres of centreline development in the ramp. Supporting ventilation, power and pumping infrastructure has been extended from the existing Eagle mine and new mine equipment on site to support the additional development. Total expenditure to date is approximately $7.5 million.



Source: Company Press Release