Toronto-based Seabridge Gold has updated the prefeasibility study (PFS) for its KSM project, in northern British Columbia, with the new study showing a considerably more sustainable and profitable operation than its 2016 predecessor.
The new PFS consists of an all openpit mine plan that includes the Mitchell, East Mitchell and Sulphurets deposits only.
“We have redesigned KSM for an inflationary environment. The themes for this PFS are capital and energy efficiency,” says chairperson and CEO Rudi Fronk.
He reports that the mine plan is simplified to bring total capital down below 2016 estimates, despite inflation, by reducing sustaining capital.
“We have accomplished this by eliminating underground mine development which is deferred to future years. Important steps have also been taken to make the project less dependent on oil, especially diesel fuel, which is an inflationary hot spot and likely to remain so. We have done this by maximising the use of low-cost, green hydroelectric energy,” says Fronk.
The 2022 PFS envisages an openpit mine operation that is scheduled to operate for 33 years. Ore delivery to the mill is increased from an initial 130 000 t/d to 195 000 /d in the third year.
Over the entire 33-year mine life, ore will be fed to a flotation and gold extraction mill. The flotation plant will produce a gold/copper/silver concentrate for transport by truck to a nearby seaport at Stewart, for shipment to Pacific Rim smelters.
The KSM operation will produce an average of 1.4-million ounces a year of gold, 251-million pounds a year of copper, 3.8-million ounces a year of silver and 2.1-million pounds a year of molybdenum. Compared with the 2016 study, this is a 90% increase in average gold production, a 22% increase in copper production, a 36% increase in silver output and a 363% increase in yearly molybdenum production.
Total capital of $10.5-billion is reduced to $9.6-billion with increases from inflation and mill expansion being wholly offset by the elimination of block cave mining from the PFS plan.
The initial capital increases from $5-billion to $6.4-billion, primarily owing to inflation.