BISHOPSGATE, LONDON / ACCESSWIRE / December 1, 2020 / The Board of Directors of SolGold (LSE & TSX: SOLG) wishes to provide an update regarding the completion of the Pre-Feasibility Study ("PFS") at the Alpala Project on the Cascabel concession in northern Ecuador.
As reported on 30 September 2020, SolGold initially planned delivery of the PFS at the end of Q3 2020. However, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, SolGold had limited physical access to site in Ecuador for a number of months. Additionally, there were restrictions and limited staff at laboratories in Chile. These limitations resulted in delays in gathering and processing critical geotechnical data required to meet the original study plan and schedule.
The 30 September 2020 update also provided a summary of the status of the geotechnical evaluations and modelling as well as other critical activities required for completion of the PFS. While this work program is now nearing completion, various aspects will, however, continue to be further optimised following publication of the PFS.
Assessment of the new geotechnical information has necessitated a redesign of certain underground infrastructure to a location outside of the cave footprint, changes to the mine design and development, and mining production schedules. This work is nearing completion with preliminary financial modelling expected to be undertaken in December this year and be subject to reiterative optimisation.
In parallel, the project team is also assessing aspects of the Alpala Project which can be further investigated to improve the modelled financial performance of the proposed mine development.
It is expected that consideration of this additional optimisation work will be reported in an updated PFS prior to the final Feasibility Study.
As part of this additional optimisation work, the PFS team is also investigating:
· Improvements to metallurgy and the quality of metallurgical assumptions;
· Seismicity studies to refine design of the tailings dam and processing plant sites; and
· Sustainability improvements, including the option for hydroelectric power supply to Alpala.
This additional optimisation work is expected to increase the accuracy of current assumptions and deliver further value over the PFS outcomes.
The recently formed Alpala Project Committee, chaired by Non-executive Director Keith Marshall, is currently undertaking a review of the PFS work input components and the report drafting progress. The key objectives of this committee are to actively participate in setting the development strategy, provide advice, support effective decision making and monitor the staged development to achieve agreed outcomes relating to the Alpala Project.
The Apala Project Committee review is expected to be completed by the end of January 2021, followed by a recommendation to the Board. The Company plans to update the market on the PFS shortly thereafter.
This review by the Alpala Project Committee is leading practice and a key building block to further advance Alpala and transition the project to the next development phase.
By order of the Board
Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) Disclosure
Certain information contained in this announcement would have been deemed inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of the Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 until the release of this announcement.
Information in this report relating to the exploration results is based on data reviewed by Mr Jason Ward ((CP) B.Sc. Geol.), the Chief Geologist of the Company. Mr Ward is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, holds the designation FAusIMM (CP), and has in excess of 20 years' experience in mineral exploration and is a Qualified Person for the purposes of the relevant LSE and TSX Rules. Mr Ward consents to the inclusion of the information in the form and context in which it appears.
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SolGold is a leading resources company focussed on the discovery, definition and development of world-class copper and gold deposits. In 2018, SolGold's management team was recognised by the "Mines and Money" Forum as an example of excellence in the industry and continues to strive to deliver objectives efficiently and in the interests of shareholders. SolGold is the largest and most active concession holder in Ecuador and is aggressively exploring the length and breadth of this highly prospective and gold-rich section of the Andean Copper Belt.
The Company operates with transparency and in accordance with international best practices. SolGold is committed to delivering value to its shareholders, while simultaneously providing economic and social benefits to impacted communities, fostering a healthy and safe workplace and minimizing the environmental impact.
SolGold employs a staff of over 700 employees of whom 98% are Ecuadorean. This is expected to grow as the operations expand at Alpala, and in Ecuador generally. SolGold focusses its operations to be safe, reliable and environmentally responsible and maintains close relationships with its local communities. SolGold has engaged an increasingly skilled, refined and experienced team of geoscientists using state of the art geophysical and geochemical modelling applied to an extensive database to enable the delivery of ore grade intersections from nearly every drill hole at Alpala. SolGold has over 80 geologists on the ground in Ecuador exploring for economic copper and gold deposits.
About Cascabel and Alpala
The Alpala deposit is the main target in the Cascabel concession, located on the northern section of the heavily endowed Andean Copper Belt, the entirety of which is renowned as the base for nearly half of the world's copper production. The project area hosts mineralisation of Eocene age, the same age as numerous Tier 1 deposits along the Andean Copper Belt in Chile and Peru to the south. The project base is located at Rocafuerte within the Cascabel concession in northern Ecuador, an approximately three-hour drive on sealed highway north of the capital Quito, close to water, power supply and Pacific ports.
Having fulfilled its earn-in requirements, SolGold is a registered shareholder with an unencumbered legal and beneficial 85% interest in ENSA (Exploraciones Novomining S.A.) which holds 100% of the Cascabel concession covering approximately 50km2. The junior equity owner in ENSA is required to repay 15% of costs since SolGold's earn in was completed, from 90% of its share of distribution of earnings or dividends from ENSA or the Cascabel concession. It is also required to contribute to development or be diluted, and if its interest falls below 10%, it shall reduce to a 0.5% NSR royalty which SolGold may acquire for US$3.5million.
Advancing Alpala towards development
The resource at the Alpala deposit contains a high-grade core which will be targeted to facilitate early cashflows and an accelerated payback of initial capital. SolGold is currently progressing its Pre-Feasibility Study and is fully funded through to development decision following the Net Smelter Royalty Financing with Franco-Nevada Corporation for US$100million. Franco-Nevada will receive a perpetual 1% NSR interest from the Cascabel licence area.
SolGold is currently assessing financing options available to the Company for the development of the Alpala mine following completion of the Definitive Feasibility Study.
SolGold's Regional Exploration Drive
SolGold is using its successful and cost-efficient blueprint established at Alpala, and Cascabel generally, to explore for additional world class copper and gold projects across Ecuador. SolGold is the largest and most active concessionaire in Ecuador.
The Company wholly owns four other subsidiaries active throughout the country that are now focussed on thirteen high priority gold and copper resource targets, several of which the Company believes have the potential, subject to resource definition and feasibility, to be developed in close succession or even on a more accelerated basis compared to Alpala.
SolGold is listed on the London Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange (LSE/TSX: SOLG). The Company has on issue a total of 2,084,113,494 fully-paid ordinary shares and 112,275,000 share options.
Quality Assurance / Quality Control on Sample Collection, Security and Assaying
SolGold operates according to its rigorous Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QA/QC) protocol, which is consistent with industry best practices.
Primary sample collection involves secure transport from SolGold's concessions in Ecuador, to the ALS certified sample preparation facility in Quito, Ecuador. Samples are then air freighted from Quito to the ALS certified laboratory in Lima, Peru where the assaying of drill core, channel samples, rock chips and soil samples is undertaken. SolGold utilises ALS certified laboratories in Canada and Australia for the analysis of metallurgical samples.
Samples are prepared and analysed using 100g 4-Acid digest ICP with MS finish for 48 elements on a 0.25g aliquot (ME-MS61). Laboratory performance is routinely monitored using umpire assays, check batches and inter-laboratory comparisons between ALS certified laboratory in Lima and the ACME certified laboratory in Cuenca, Ecuador.
In order to monitor the ongoing quality of its analytical database, SolGold's QA/QC protocol encompasses standard sampling methodologies, including the insertion of certified powder blanks, coarse chip blanks, standards, pulp duplicates and field duplicates. The blanks and standards are Certified Reference Materials supplied by Ore Research and Exploration, Australia.
SolGold's QA/QC protocol also monitors the ongoing quality of its analytical database. The Company's protocol involves Independent data validation of the digital analytical database including search for sample overlaps, duplicate or absent samples as well as anomalous assay and survey results. These are routinely performed ahead of Mineral Resource Estimates and Feasibility Studies. No material QA/QC issues have been identified with respect to sample collection, security and assaying.
Reviews of the sample preparation, chain of custody, data security procedures and assaying methods used by SolGold confirm that they are consistent with industry best practices and all results stated in this announcement have passed SolGold's QA/QC protocol.
The data aggregation method for calculating Copper Equivalent (CuEq) for down-hole drilling intercepts and rock-saw channel sampling intervals are reported using copper equivalent (CuEq) cut-off grades with up to 10m internal dilution, excluding bridging to a single sample and with minimum intersection length of 50m.
Copper Equivalent is currently calculated (assuming 100% recovery of copper and gold) using a Gold Conversion Factor of 0.751 (CuEq = Cu + Au x 0.751), calculated from a current nominal copper price of US$3.30/lb and a gold price of US$1700/oz.
True widths of downhole intersections are not well constrained. Drill hole one was inclined -55degrees towards the east, and the interpreted trend of the Cacharposa Intrusive Complex and its associated porphyry copper-gold mineralisation is subvertical, dipping approximately 85-90 degrees to the west. The true width of down-hole intersections reported are therefore expected to be approximately 55-60% of the down-hole lengths.
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SOURCE: SolGold PLC
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