On November 8, Vancouver-based Ventana Gold Corp. released the results of an initial, independent, NI 43-101 compliant mineral resource estimate and scoping study for its 100%-owned La Bodega gold project in northern Columbia. Subsequently, on November 17, the company reported Brazil’s EBX Group, which currently holds about a 20% interest in Ventana, had announced its intention to proceed with an unsolicited bid for all of Ventana’s shares. The EBX bid valued Ventana’s total equity at about C$1.5 billion. Ventana advised its shareholders not to take any action regarding the bid at that time.
The La Bodega project is located in a historic mining district about 400 km northeast of Bogotá. The project currently has an inferred mineral resource of 3.5 million oz of gold, 19.2 million oz of silver and 84.6 million lb of copper. The resource is located in two deposits, La Mascota, which accounts for about 80% of the total resource, and La Bodega, which accounts for 20%.
The scoping study outlines 14 years of underground mine life at a planned production rate of up to 7,500 mt/d. Contained metal production during the first six full years of operation would average 301,000 oz/y of gold, 1.4 million oz/y of silver and 6.9 million lb/y of copper at cash costs of $322/oz for gold, inclusive of silver and copper credits. Over the 14-year mine life, production is expected to average 220,000 oz/y gold, 1.2 million oz/y silver and 5.4 million lb/y copper at an average cash cost of approximately $364/oz. Start-up capital costs are estimated at $297 million.
Mining would be based on a sublevel stoping bulk mining method, with 20-m-high by 12-m-wide transverse panels. A total of six to eight panels would be active at all times to maintain the planned production rate. Paste backfill would be used to fill open voids. The mine would be accessed via a decline for personnel, material and equipment, and a 625-m vertical shaft for ore transport to the process plant on surface.
Mineral processing would be based on separate campaigns to treat La Mascota and La Bodega ores. Based on testing to date, a gravity circuit would recover approximately 24% of La Mascota gold. The remaining La Mascota ore would be treated in a flotation circuit to produce a copper-gold-silver concentrate for sale, followed by a leach circuit to extract the remaining gold from flotation tails. Metallurgical testing has indicated that 86% of the gold, 89% of the silver and 88% of the copper can be recovered from La Mascota ore.
La Bodega ore would be entirely processed in the flotation circuit to create a bulk flotation concentrate for sale. Recovery is expected to be 86% for gold, 89% for silver and 77% for copper.
Ventana is continuing to explore its properties, both from the surface and underground. Over the next year, exploration efforts will focus on extending La Bodega and La Mascota mineralization along strike and at depth. Ventana controls the mineral rights along 3.3 km of the mineralized strike extent.