Northern Vertex Mining (CVE:NEE) provided Monday an update on its project development plans for its Moss gold-silver property in Arizona, with a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) expected this quarter.
“We have undertaken the target of putting the Moss Project into commercial production in an expedient but well executed manner by early 2014 and the “parallel track approach” is now being utilized to progress the company towards this target in a streamlined fashion," said president and CEO, Dick Whittington, who took over as chief of the company last November.
"The Preliminary Economic Assessment and the commencement of construction for the Phase I Pilot Plant by Q2 2013 are on track. We are also excited by the participation of local stakeholders at such an early stage and look forward to fruitful collaboration with them as we seek to create both shareholder value and community capacity in Mohave County.”
With regards to the PEA, CDM Smith Engineering of Arizona is on target to complete the the report by the end of March. This economic assessment, focused on phase I and phase II of the company's staged development process, will address expected cash flows, operating costs and capital costs as well as mine and processing designs and other related aspects.
Pending the outcome of the report, the company will initiate a feasibility study focusing on phase II, with a target production rate for this phase of 5,000 tonnes per day.
The three phase mine development plan, designed to move the project forward from conceptual design and test work to on-site pilot plant testing and then commercial operations, is moving forward on schedule, Northern noted.
The phased approach is expected to minimize initial capex and ensure technical and economic objectives are met for subsequent phases prior to proceeding with the plan.
The company also said Monday that two exploration programs are ongoing at the site, running at the same time as the mine development plan - the mine exploration and property exploration programs.
Extensive resource definition drilling is planned as part of the mine exploration program in the area surrounding the phase I and II open pit, as well as targets next to the initial open pit. Drill results, expected over the next few months and through the next two years, will be used to streamline the mine design for phase II.
The current NI 43-101 mineral resource estimate is 956,800 gold equivalent ounces in the measured and indicated categories, and 266,340 ounces in the inferred category.
More metallurgical test work is also underway, designed to improve on results from the initial analysis of bottle roll and column leach test work. The company said it is exploring "high pressure roll crushers and agglomeration as a means to unlock gold", which can then be recovered through traditional heap leach technology, leading to higher recovery rates.
These results will form a key component of the PEA report, and will be further tested through the phase I pilot plant operations phase, for which engineering, procurement and construction management are underway.
It said engineering for phase I is anticipated to move from a 30% completion rate to a 60% rate prior to the anticipated release of the preliminary economic report. The company is sending out official bid packages for mining contractors specifically for the pilot plant, but also for phase II operations.
With equipment procured and mining contractors secured, construction on the 90,000 tonne pilot, phase 1 quarry/leach pad could start at the end of the first quarter, or early in the second quarter, once all necessary permits are received and its board has approved the project.
The company expects that it will get final permit authorization for its phase I Acquifer Protection Permit this quarter, with the air quality permit also being reviewed.
Northern Vertex also noted that it has established a Moss project advisory council, made up of a "diverse group of local stakeholders", to facilitate open communications of its plans going forward.
In addition, the company has opened an office in Bullhead City, Mohave County, Arizona - just a 20-minute drive from the Moss site - and has increased the number of board members from four to six.
Earlier this month, Northern Vertex appointed exploration veteran Colin McKenzie to the role of GM of exploration. McKenzie has over 30 years of senior level experience on major exploration and business development projects in Canada and internationally. Most recently, he was involved in a gold exploration project in Papua New Guinea as COO with PNG GOLD Corp. (CVE:PGK).
The junior explorer closed a non-brokered private placement financing at the end of last year, with the offering being oversubscribed, raising total proceeds of $9.15 million. Another private placement financing is anticipated this quarter, to supplement funding for phase 1 of the business plan, and to fund the detailed design studies for phase 2.