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Thor Explorations' Segilola high grade pit offers strong return on investment

The 100% owned project sits on a 27 sq km exploration licence containing a 17 sq km mining licence

Thor Explorations' Segilola high grade pit offers strong return on investment
Segilola is considered Nigeria’s most advanced gold project

Thor Explorations Ltd's (CVE:THX) Segilola open pit gold project in Nigeria is one that requires low capex and provides quick pay-back.

That's the view of analysts at Sprott Capital Partners, which point out that the property, 120 km on a tarred road from Lagos, also has potential further upside from underground mining.

So what is the project?

Segilola is a shovel-ready gold deposit in Osun State, Nigeria.

The 100% owned project is on a 27 sq km  exploration licence containing a 17 sq km mining licence renewed in 2016 for 25 years, when Thor took control.

Already Segilola boasts an indicated resource of over 550,000 ounces of gold grading 4.2 grams per ton, with a further 300,000 ounces inferred grading 4.7 grams per ton.

That was enough to hang an independent preliminary feasibility study on in the fourth quarter of 2017, the results of which looked favourable.

The study envisaged an average production rate of 81,000 ounces of gold per year for the first three years of the mine life at Segilola, falling thereafter to 47,000 ounces for the next four years.

Life of mine all-in sustaining costs were set at US$682 per ounce which allows for plenty of margin.

All-told, the post-tax net present value at an 8% discount rings in at US$119 mln, with the post-tax internal rate of return at 53%.

The study reckons US$71mln will be required to get it into production, supporting a post-tax 59% IRR (internal rate of return) and 1.5-year payback at US$1,300/oz gold.

Sprott notes that the company is aiming to complete a DFS (definitive feasibility study) in the fourth quarter this year for a first quarter 2019 build and mid-2020 production, with concurrent drilling of the 862,000 ounces at 4.4 g/t (grams per ton) resource to define high-grade underground-mineable shoots.

Grade is king..

Sprott analyst Brock Salier noted that globally there was a shortage of low capital intensity quick payback projects, hence Segilola's attractiveness.

"Segilola’s 4.2g/t pittable grade means even at 18:1 strip, AISC are only US$682/oz," he said, adding that combined with savings on the small mill, Sprott estimates free cash flow of US$75mln in the first two years, which  covers the capex hence the quick payback.

"Where it gets more interesting is that if the underground is viable, a key tenant of our investment thesis below, a reduced pit could see reduced strip (and potentially higher grade) accelerate payback even more, with a longer life also," highlights Salier.

And there's underground potential..

The firm's drilling is now following up high-grade hits in the hanging wall lode open at depth.

Assays include 3 metres (m) at 18.7g/t (grams per ton) gold and 2.6m at 15.6 g/t of the yellow metal in a southern shoot beneath the pit shell, and 2.3m at 8.45g/t in a northern shoot under an in-pit 3.6m at 24.8g/t.

Salier also notes that regional upside comes from four exploration licences over around 30km strike of 334 sq km of the schist-belt shear zones north of the Segilola project.

So what's it all worth?

Sprott's base-case discounted cash flow based on the pit-only PFS (prefeasibility study) gives an NPV (Net present value) with a discount of 8% at spot US$1,300 per ounce of US$141mln at build start

The quick build and low capex drives an impressive equity ROI (return on investment) of 45% per year, assuming no drilling success, it says.

Adding even 1mln tonnes at 8g/t in an underground would lift this to US$232mln or C$0.61per share with an ROI of 77%.

"While speculative only at this stage, the leverage to deep drill success is clear, giving a strong base case and stronger upside optionality," said Salier.

Thor shares currently stand at C$0.20 each.

Quick facts: Thor Explorations Ltd.

Price: 0.25 CAD

Market: TSX-V
Market Cap: $155.3 m

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