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Sandspring’s pre-feas moves another Guyana gold project forward

by Greg Klein

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A revised development plan has reduced initial capital expenditures for Sandspring Resources’ TSXV:SSP Toroparu gold-copper project in Guyana. A pre-feasibility study released late April 9 laid out the economics for a 16-year open pit operation.

Using a 5% discount rate, the base case forecasts a pre-tax net present value of US$992 million and a 27.2% internal rate of return. After taxes the numbers show a $691-million NPV and a 23.1% IRR.

Sandspring’s pre-feas moves another Guyana gold project forward

Sandspring incorporated last year’s discovery of a
satellite gold deposit into Toroparu’s pre-feasibility study.

The study cut the initial capex to $464 million from the $482 million estimated by the January 2012 preliminary economic assessment update. Contributing to the more optimistic figures is an estimated $37 million that would come from cyanide leach processing of saprolite gold ore prior to commercial production. By year three, cash flow should fund the $50-million expansion to a 22,500-tonne-per-day operation. Payback would come in 2.6 years. Average annual production over 16 years would be 228,000 gold ounces at a cash cost of $700 an ounce, with copper credits factored in. About 78% of production would go into doré bars, with the rest in concentrate.

The project’s reserves include a satellite pit 1.2 kilometres from Toroparu that was discovered in May 2012. Combining three types of ore—saprolite gold, fresh gold and fresh gold-copper—the reserves show:

  • a proven category of 29.78 million tonnes averaging 1.1 grams per tonne gold and 0.13% copper for 1.05 million gold ounces and 64 million copper pounds
  • a probable category of 97.33 million tonnes averaging 0.98 g/t gold and 0.1% copper for 3.06 million gold ounces and 147 million copper pounds.

Within the pit shell but outside the reserves are resources that use a 0.3 g/t gold cutoff to show:

  • measured and indicated categories totalling 90.24 million tonnes averaging 0.83 g/t gold and 0.06% copper for 2.42 million gold ounces and 112 million copper pounds
  • an inferred category of 124.34 million tonnes averaging 0.74 g/t gold and 0.04% copper for 2.97 million gold ounces and 111 million copper pounds.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Sandspring CEO Rich Munson said, “We are encouraged by recent approaches from third parties expressing interest in developing Toroparu jointly with Sandspring. Despite the expressions of interest, we recognize that funding a project of this scale is challenging in the current environment. We have therefore engaged Cutfield Freeman & Co, a leading independent advisory firm in the mining sector, to conduct a process to determine the options available for financing.”

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