Seabridge Gold has reported the results of the first preliminary feasibility study (PFS) of its 100%-owned Courageous Lake gold project, located 240 km northeast of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. The study is based on 6.5 million oz of proven and probable gold reserves and predicts a 15-year mine life at an average production rate of 385,000 oz/y of gold. The study demonstrates that the project is economic at current gold prices, while offering substantial leverage to higher prices. Start-up capital costs, including contingencies of $187 million, are estimated at $1.52 billion.
The Courageous Lake PFS was prepared by Tetra Tech Wardrop and is based on a single open-pit mining operation with on-site processing. A base-case scenario was developed incorporating an estimated 91.1 million mt of proven and probable reserves at an estimated average grade of 2.20 g/mt gold feeding a 17,500-mt/d processing plant. Life-of-mine cash operating costs are estimated at $780/oz.
Seabridge has conducted five major metallurgical testing programs on Courageous Lake mineralization since 2003. The comminution process proposed in the PFS includes primary crushing by gyratory crusher, secondary crushing by cone crusher, tertiary crushing by high pressure grinding rolls, and final grinding by ball mills. The recovery process includes conventional flotation, flotation concentrate pressure oxidation, cyanidation, and gold refining circuits. Overall gold recovery is projected at 89.4%.
The current design incorporates a combination of diesel and wind-generated power, resulting in a projected power generation cost of C$0.184/kWh that is nearly 40% lower than power generation by diesel fuel alone. Seabridge is evaluating nearby potential hydro-electric sources that might also provide reliable, sustainable, and lower-cost clean energy and significantly reduce the requirement for diesel fuel at the site.
Seabridge Chairman and CEO Rudi Fronk said the company will continue to optimize the Courageous Lake project. “We believe the most cost-effective way to improve project economics is to add to reserves. We are now drilling some highly prospective targets that could be accessed easily by the operation proposed in the PFS,” Fronk said.