Seabridge Gold Inc. [SEA-TSX, SA-NYSE] has released he results of a preliminary economic assessment study (PEA) for a potential copper-rich underground mine at its 100%-owned KSM project in northern British Columbia.
It said the 2022 PEA is a stand-along mine plan that has been undertaken to evaluate a potential future expansion of the KSM mine to the copper-rich Iron Cap and Kerr deposits after the 2022 updated preliminary feasibility (PFS) study mine plan has been completed.
The 2022 PEA is primarily an underground block cave mining operation supplemented with a small open pit and is planned to operate for 39 years with a peak mill feed production of 170,000 tonnes per day, demonstrating that KSM has multigenerational long-life mining potential with flexibility to vary metal output.
By contrast, the 2022 PFS plan is an open pit only plan with a 33-year life limited to the Mitchell, East Mitchell, and Sulphurets deposits. None of the mineral resources incorporated 2022 PEA mine plan have been used in the 2022 PFS mine plan.
Located in B.C.’s Golden Triangle region, KSM ranks as one of the world’s largest undeveloped gold projects as measured by reserves.
“KSM is really an entire district hosting a nest of potentially economic porphyry deposits with different characteristics,’’ said Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk. In our updated PFS, we focused on the gold-rich deposits because of their faster payback and the relative simplicity of an open-pit only operation,’’ he said.
“However, we are very mindful that a deep deficit in mined copper is projected to be on the horizon as the world electrifies and moves towards a net zero carbon future.”
“We therefore wanted to highlight KSM’s potential to contribute to addressing this need more fully than the mine plan contained in our updated preliminary feasibility study. We think this opportunity will be attractive to a prospective partner.’’
Seabridge shares were virtually unchanged on the news, easing 2.3% or 40 cents to $16.95 in light trading. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $28 and $14.28.
Measured and indicated resources at KSM are estimated at 5.4 billion tonnes grading 0.51 g/t gold, 0.16% copper, 2.4 g/t silver and 63 ppm molybdenum. That adds up to 88.3 million ounces of gold, 19.4 billion pounds of copper, 414 million ounces of silver and 742 million pounds of molybdenum.
The 2022 PEA envisages an underground mine plan starting with the development of an Iron Cap block cave mine supplemented with a small open pit at Kerr. Development of the Kerr block cave mine begins when Iron Cap development tapers off.
Under this plan, Kerr block cave mill feed starts six years after the start of Iron Cap mill feed. Mill feed delivery to the process plant is ramped up to 170,000 tonnes per day by year 12. Over the entire 39-year mine life, mill feed will be delivered by a flotation concentration mill circuit. The flotation plant will produce a gold/copper/silver concentrate and separate molybdenum concentrate for transport by truck to a nearby seaport at Stewart, B.C.