Blackwater gold project, Canada – update

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9th February 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor


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Name of the Project
Blackwater gold project.

Central British Columbia, Canada.

Project Owner/s
Artemis Gold.

Project Description
A feasibility study has shown several positive changes in the approach to the planned development of the Blackwater project, compared with the prefeasibility study (PFS) completed in 2020. 

Phase 1 throughput has been increased by 9%, from 5.5-million tonnes a year in the PFS to six-million tonnes a year in the feasibility study, with a larger crushing circuit providing greater operational throughput upside potential in the early years.

The accelerated Phase 2 involves an expansion to 12-million tonnes a year, ramping up to nine-million tonnes a year in Year 5, with full Phase 2 throughput expansion achieved in Year 6.

The increased production in years 1 to 5 supports a 29 % increase in average gold production over the first five years of operation, to 321 000 oz/y.

The Phase 2 expansion has been simplified and is to be achieved with only minor modifications to the existing Phase 1 crushing, stockpile and ball mill feed system. The second ball mill will operate in series with the Phase 1 mill. The rest of the plant circuits will be duplicated (gravity concentration, leaching, adsorption, elution and cyanide destruction) or expanded. Minor upgrades will be undertaken on some infrastructure to accommodate the increased throughput.

Phase 3 involves expansion to 20-million tonnes a year, ramping up to 15-million tonnes a year in Year 10, with full Phase 3 expansion achieved in Year 11.

The increased production in years 1 to 10 results in a 5% increase in the average gold production, to 351 000 oz/y of gold.

The Phase 3 expansion will require a new process line, from primary crushing to cyanide destruction, although a carbon elution circuit will not be needed, as the Phase 1 and 2 units will have sufficient capacity, with the lower ore-grades in Phase 3.  
Mining operations are proposed to cease in Year 17, with stockpiled ore rehandled and processed through the process plant in years 18 to 22. The decrease in mine life, from 23 years in the 2020 PFS to 22 years in the feasibility study, is a direct result of the increased throughput rate and production during the first ten years of the mine life in the feasibility study.  

Potential Job Creation
The total workforce at the Blackwater mine, including staff and contractors, surpassed 550 towards the end of December 2023.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
In the base case, the project has an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of C$2.15-billion and an internal rate of return of 32.1%, with a payback of 2.3 years. This compares with an after-tax net present value, at a 5% discount rate, of C$2.25-billion and an internal rate of return of 35%, with a payback of 2.2 years in the PFS.

Capital Expenditure
Between C$730-million and C$750-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Construction is expected to start in the second quarter of 2022, putting the project  on track to develop into a new tier-one gold operation in the first quarter of 2024.

Latest Developments
Phase 1 is crossing the halfway mark, and Artemis Gold is considering bringing forward the Phase 2 expansion of the mine.

The company is studying the benefits of advancing the expansion earlier than envisioned and will announce the results of the study later this quarter.

Phase 1 is 59% complete and about C$389-million of the guided initial capital expenditure (capex) of C$730-million to C$750-million has been spent.

Artemis has reported that the lag between the spend and percentage of completion is as planned and consistent with a typical project S-curve.

Artemis chairperson and CEO Steven Dean has said the company remains focused on a disciplined approach to development and remains on track for the first gold pour in in the second half of 2024.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
Ausenco Engineering Canada, with the support of Knight Piésold; Moose Mountain Technical; Allnorth Consultants; Lorax Environmental Services; ERM Consultants; and JAT MetConsult (feasibility study).

Contact Details for Project Information
Artemis Gold, tel +1 604 558 1107 or email

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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