Project adds 6.4 million gold reserve ounces in Chile, poised to be a cornerstone asset of Kinross
Kinross Gold Corporation (TSX:K; NYSE:KGC) (“Kinross” or the “Company”) today announced the results of a pre-feasibility study (“PFS”) for its Lobo-Marte project in Chile.
Lobo-Marte offers the potential of a cornerstone asset with attractive all-in sustaining costs1, 2 to enhance Kinross’ long-term production profile. The project adds a significant 6.4 million gold ounces, representing an approximately 25% increase, to the Company’s 2019 year-end mineral reserve estimates in a favourable mining jurisdiction. The reserve addition also increases Kinross’ reserve life index3 by approximately 2.5 years.
The PFS estimate includes total life of mine production of approximately 4.5 million Au oz., average cost of sales of $545 per Au oz.1, 2 and average all-in sustaining cost of sales of $745 per Au oz.1, 2 during a 15-year mine life, which includes 12 years of mining followed by three years of residual processing. The project has attractive grades and a low estimated strip ratio, in part due to historical stripping completed at the Marte pit.
The PFS contemplates an open pit, heap leach and SART (Sulphidization, Acidification, Recycling and Thickening) plant operation using rope conveyors and mining the Marte and Lobo deposits in succession. Kinross has previously used SART technology successfully in the region. Subject to a positive development decision, the PFS estimates Lobo-Marte project construction beginning in 2025, with first production expected in 2027. Production would commence after the conclusion of mining at the Company’s La Coipa project, which is located approximately 50 kilometres northwest of Lobo-Marte, and where the Company is continuing to explore opportunities to extend mine life.
“The Lobo-Marte project provides Kinross with an excellent, organic development option that has attractive all-in sustaining costs and offers substantial upside leverage to the gold price, without increasing project cost requirements and risk,” said J. Paul Rollinson, Kinross President and CEO. “The project represents a potential synergistic, long-term mine life extension in a favourable mining jurisdiction and delivers a significant 6.4 million ounce addition to our current gold reserve estimates, increasing the Company’s overall reserve mine life. As we move forward with the feasibility study for this longer-term project, we will continue to prioritize balance sheet strength and disciplined capital allocation.”
The Company plans to commence a feasibility study later this year, with scheduled completion in Q4 2021. The feasibility study is expected to provide the detailed engineering and project description required for permitting and submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment.
Strong upside to gold price
Lobo-Marte’s economics are leveraged to the price of gold, as the PFS mine plan and estimated net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) at various gold prices are based on pit designs using a $1,200/oz. gold price. Since the project also assumes the same pit designs at higher gold prices, the project is expected to realize upside value and increase margins at higher gold prices without having to increase stripping or cost estimates, thereby reducing risk and providing downside protection
The initial estimated capital cost for the project is $765 million, plus approximately $230 million in contingency. The estimated capital costs includes mine equipment, crushing and storage facilities, conveyors, and site utilities and infrastructure. Sustaining infrastructure costs are expected to average approximately $30 million per year over the life of the operation, while sustaining capitalized stripping costs are expected to average approximately $45 million per year over 12 years of mining7.
The go-forward decision on the project will depend on a range of factors, including the gold price environment and projections, expected economic returns, permitting, various technical and other considerations, Kinross’ capital priorities, and maintaining the Company’s balance sheet strength.
About Kinross Gold Corporation
Kinross is a Canadian-based senior gold mining company with mines and projects in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Mauritania, and Russia. Kinross maintains listings on the Toronto Stock Exchange (symbol:K) and the New York Stock Exchange (symbol:KGC).