Un update of the Wasamac strategic life-of-mine (LoM) plan has highlighted upside optionality for the development-stage project, with the future underground mine expected to produce nearly 50% more than previously planned.
The updated LoM plan, which TSX- and LSE-listed miner Yamana announced on Thursday, builds on the 2021 feasibility study and incorporates the results of several value-adding studies that were advanced throughout the first half of the year.
Extending the processing plant site through land acquisition and additional geotechnical drilling has allowed optimisation of the underground mine design and processing plant layout, the company stated. Using the revised mine designs, the mining sequence has been optimised to increase feed grades in the first two years, resulting in a faster production ramp-up to 200 000 oz in 2027 and up to 250 000 oz in 2028.
The ongoing mine design and sequence optimisations could position the Wasamac mine, in Quebec, with the option for a future incremental expansion from 7 000 t/d to 9 000 t/d in year three of operations, extending the gold production profile to 250 000 oz/y until at least 2030.
Positive infill and exploration drilling results indicate the potential for a strategic mine life of 10 to 15 years at 200 000 oz/y to 250 000 oz/y, compared to the LoM average of 169 000 oz/y in the feasibility study.
Yamana said the strategy to start production at 7 000 t/d, with a later incremental expansion, balanced the mining equipment fleet and workforce requirements while minimising any impact to the ongoing permitting process. The company thus continued to expect to receive the required permits to start project construction in mid-2024 and that the initial capital cost estimate from the feasibility study of $416-million also remained unchanged.
The improved production profile in the updated strategic LoM plan reduced costs, when compared with the feasibility study LoM average of $828/oz.
At the feasibility study gold price of $1 550/oz, the net present value would double assuming the strategic mine life is extended through 2036 at 9 000 t/d.
Wasamac increases the company’s footprint within the prolific Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. Together with the Odyssey project at Canadian Malartic, the optimised strategic plan increases the attributable sustainable strategic gold production platform to between 500 000 oz and 550 000 oz, with considerable upside, Yamana said.
Assuming a gold price of $1 550/oz, both the Wasamac and Odyssey projects were fully funded with no external capital required.