VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Project developer Northcliff Resources is hopeful for a timely conclusion of the amendment process of the applicable metal mining effluent regulations, in consultation with all stakeholders and led by Environment Canada and Climate Change, for its Sisson tungsten/molybdenum mine, in New Brunswick.
The Vancouver-based Hunter Dickinson-linked company said that since receiving a positive federal environmental-impact assessment in June last year, the partnership has been engaged in advancing various key permits needed for the next stage of development.
“The company looks forward to completing the key permit requirements in a timely manner and, in the meantime, it will remain focused on the other activities required to move the project towards construction,” Northcliff CEO Christopher Zahovskis said in a statement.
The focus at Sisson currently is to optimise the operation and to reduce the capital and operating costs. The partnership is also now well advanced in its multi-year metallurgical optimisation programme, the company advised on Tuesday.
The objective of this metallurgical programme is to assess the potential to improve the grade of the tungsten concentrate produced by the proposed concentrator, while maintaining metallurgically optimal tungsten recoveries, Northcliff said.
The commodity prices for Sisson's products have recovered from their lows in 2015; ammonium paratungstate (APT) prices have recently traded at $330 per metric ton unit, according to London-based Metals Bulletin, with molybdenum prices reaching $12.50/lb, according to Platts Metals Daily. Mid- to longer-term fundamentals for tungsten and molybdenum remain robust, the company said, including price forecasts.
The Sisson Partnership, comprising Northcliff and New Zealand-based Todd Minerals, will invest an estimated C$579-million in the mine development that is expected to create 500 jobs during the construction phase and another 300 permanent jobs over the 27-year life of the mine.
In October 2013, Northcliff announced Todd as a financing partner for Sisson. Todd has completed a staged investment in 2014, and now has a 11.5% interest, with Northcliff holding the balance of 88.5% in the Sisson Partnership, which owns the Sisson project.
The provincial government estimates the project will result in C$280-million in mineral royalties to New Brunswick, as well as C$245-million in tax revenue over the life of the project.
In February, the province and six Maliseet First Nations reached an accommodation agreement to share a projected 9.8% of provincial royalty revenue that will be generated by the Sisson mine project under the Metallic Minerals Tax Act.
Northcliff in January 2013 completed a feasibility study for the project, which gave it a pretax net present value (NPV) of C$714-million at an 8% discount rate, an internal rate of return (IRR) of 20.4% and a 4.1-year payback on the initial capital expenditures of C$579-million, at long-term metal prices of $350/t for APT and $15/lb for molybdenum.
Sisson will be developed as an efficient bulk-tonnage operation and Northcliff said it intends to undertake value‐added processing of tungsten concentrates by building and operating Canada’s first APT plant at the project site, which would add significant economic value to the project.
After deducting tax, Sisson has a C$418-million NPV, which is equal to $5.40 per Northcliff share, based on 77.39-million outstanding shares, a 16.3% IRR and a 4.5-year payback on the initial capital expense.
Located 100 km north-west of Fredericton, the Sisson property hosts a 334-million-ton proven and probable mineral reserve containing 22.2-million metric ton units of tungsten trioxide and 154.8-million pounds of molybdenum at an $8.83/t net smelter return cutoff.