Silver Standard Resources agreed in early February to purchase the Marigold gold mine in northern Nevada from subsidiaries of Goldcorp and Barrick Gold for $275 million in cash. Goldcorp is 66.7% owner and operator of the mine; Barrick holds the remaining 33.3%. The transaction is expected to close in April.
The Marigold mine is an open-pit, heap leach operation at the northern end of the Battle Mountain-Eureka trend in Humboldt County, Nevada. The mine produced 162,000 oz of gold in 2013 and is expected to produce between 142,000 and 150,000 oz in 2014.
Silver Standard Resources is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. Upon closing of the Marigold transaction, it will become a two-mine company. It currently owns and operates the Pirquitas silver-zinc mine in Jujuy province, northern Argentina, which produced 8.2 million oz of silver and 27 million lb of zinc in 2013. The company also has two wholly owned, feasibility-stage projects, Pitarrilla in Mexico and San Luis in Peru.
Commenting on the Marigold purchase, Silver Standard President and CEO John Smith said, “This acquisition accomplishes our strategic goal of adding an operating mine in a well-established, low-risk mining jurisdiction. We retain our financial capacity to continue internal growth and expect improved corporate operating cash flow going forward as a result of our 2013 cost-restructuring program and the addition of the Marigold mine.”
The Marigold mine has been in continuous production since 1988. Ore is mined by conventional truck-and-shovel equipment and processed via a 40,000-mt/d, run-of-mine heap leach operation. The mine has consistently produced more than 140,000 oz/y at gold recoveries in excess of 70%. In 2012 and 2013, Goldcorp and Barrick invested more than $150 million to purchase new, larger mining equipment, which is expected to improve the efficiency of future mining operations.
As of year-end 2012, proven and probable Marigold mineral reserves totaled 294.5 million mt, grading 0.52 g/mt gold and containing 4.92 million oz of gold.
The mine currently employs 360 people, including contractors. Going forward, Silver Standard expects to develop a new life-of-mine plan for Marigold, targeting a lower strip ratio and higher grade, with the potential to reduce mining costs. An NI 43-101 technical report is expected in the third quarter of 2014 with an updated mineral reserves and resources estimate. A second NI 43-101 technical report, expected in the fourth quarter of 2014, is targeting a mine plan optimized for the current gold price environment.
Concurrent with the Silver Standard announcement, Goldcorp issued an announcement stating that the Marigold transaction was the result of a joint sale process whereby Goldcorp and Barrick invited multiple parties to conduct due diligence and put forth offers to purchase the mine.