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Skouries gold/copper project, Greece – update

Aerial view of Skouries gold project

Photo by Eldorado Gold

1st March 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Skouries gold/copper project.

Location
Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece.

Project Owner/s
Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Eldorado Gold Corporation (95%), and Aktor (5%).

Project Description
The gold/copper porphyry deposit is planned to be mined using a combination of conventional openpit and underground mining techniques. The mineral process facilities will produce doré and a gold/copper concentrate.

The project has total proven and probable reserves of 157.67-million tonnes grading 0.74 g/t gold and 0.49% copper. 

Mineral resources have been estimated at 289.28-million tonnes grading 0.58 g/t gold and 0.43% copper, with inferred mineral resources of 170.14-million tonnes grading 0.31 g/t gold and 0.34% copper.

Gold production has been estimated at 140 000 oz/y. Average copper production is estimated at 67-million pounds.

Skouries has been designed as a two-phase operation.

Phase 1 comprises a combined openpit and underground mine operating over ten years.

Skouries will be a conventional truck-and-shovel operation. The mining sequence will consist of drilling, blasting and loading, as well as the hauling of ore and waste materials for processing and waste disposal.

Phase 1 total mill feed is eight-million tonnes a year consisting of a nominal 5.5-million tonnes a year from the openpit mine, combined with 2.5-million tonnes a year from the underground mine. 

At the start of the mine life, during the initial two-year underground mine ramp-up, the openpit feed rate is 6.4-million tonnes a year to maintain the eight-million-tonne-a-year mill feed. 

During Phase 1, about 6.5-million tonnes of oxide ore will be stockpiled, to be rehandled for mill feed during Phase 2. Phase 1 will be completed at the end of the openpit mine life in Year 10.

Phase 2 consists of underground mining for a further 13 years. Sublevel open stoping has been confirmed as the most appropriate underground mining method for the project.

Phase 2 mine production, from Year 11 to the end of the life-of-mine (LoM) of 23 years, will be provided from the underground mine. Phase 2 mine development begins in Year 4 to allow for a seamless ramp-up from the Phase 1 production of 2.4-million tonnes a year. During the first three years of Phase 2, the mill feed rate of eight-million tonnes a year will be maintained by reclaiming oxide ore stockpiled during Phase 1 at 1.6-million tonnes a year. 

From Year 14, Phase 2 mill feed will be maintained at an average of 6.2-million tonnes a year, solely from underground mine production.

The materials handling strategy for Phase 1 is based on truck haulage of run-of-mine ore directly to the surface from the loading bays using the dual ramp system.

Phase 2 materials handling will involve the shaft hoisting of ore to the surface. Shaft hoisting is critical to allow for ramp-up to full production of 6.4-million tonnes a year from the Phase 1 production of 2.5-million tonnes a year. 

To hoist the material by shaft, underground crushing will be implemented. The design of the Skouries mine includes provision for remote mining technology, which has an impact on the cycle times of stopes and the productivity of equipment. This technology includes the teleremote operation of mechanised equipment by an operator located on surface or in a remote area of the underground mine.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
The project has an after-tax estimated internal rate of return of 19%, with a payback of four years.

Capital Expenditure
$920-million.

Planned Start/End Date
Production is expected in the third quarter of 2025.

Latest Developments
Eldorado Gold has increased the capital expenditure (capex) estimate of the project to $920-million; between the project finance facility and balance sheet, the project remains fully funded.

The company advanced to full construction in 2023 following the closing of a €680-million project financing facility with two Greek banks.

In addition, Eldorado completed a C$81.5-million strategic investment with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

After finalising key contracts, the capital cost estimate remained in line with the December 2021 feasibility study estimate. However, more recent and pending contracts incorporate labour rates and labour hours that are higher than the feasibility study estimate, resulting in the capex increasing from the initial $845-million.

Further, the time it took to negotiate key contracts has had a “modest” impact on the production schedule, the company has reported. Skouries is now expected to deliver its first copper/gold concentrate in the third quarter of next year, rather than the previously guided mid-2025.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
None stated.

Contact Details for Project Information
Eldorado Gold manager – investor relations Peter Lekich, tel +1 604 687 4018 or email peter.lekich@eldoradogold.com; or director – communications and government relations Louise Burgess, tel +1 604 687 4018 or email louiseb@eldoradogold.com.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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