Pershing Gold has received approval from the U.S. Bureau of Land (BLM) Management to expand the pit boundaries and deepen the planned pit at its project to restart operations on its Relief Canyon property in Pershing county, northwest Nevada. The Relief Canyon property was mined intermittently from the 1980s through 2009 and includes three open pits and a fully permitted and constructed heap-leach processing facility. Pershing Gold acquired the property in August 2011.

The BLM approvals include the Environmental Assessment and a new Plan of Operations for Relief Canyon redevelopment. A preliminary economic assessment of the project completed in June postulates production of 88,500 oz/y of gold over a 5.8-year mine life. Initial capital expenditure to redevelop the property, assuming an owner-operated mine fleet, is estimated at just $22 million. Initial capex principally includes costs to construct leach pad space for initial leaching operations, plant upgrades, optimization and relocation of the crusher facility, down-payment on equipment purchases for self-mining, and startup equipment and supplies.

Pershing Gold anticipated that it can achieve initial gold production within approximately six to nine months from an investment decision and obtaining full financing for the project.

Pershing Gold Chairman, President and CEO Stephen Alfers said, “Along with permitting expansion of the pit boundary and deepening of the pit, this permit modification increases permissible drilling areas, allowing the company to drill high-potential targets around the existing pits. The other key milestones on the path to production at Relief Canyon are a decision whether to utilize self or contract mining and obtaining full financing for the project.”

Pershing Gold’s landholdings cover approximately 25,000 acres that include the Relief Canyon mine asset and lands surrounding the mine in all directions. The land package provides the company with the opportunity to expand the Relief Canyon mine deposit and to explore for new discoveries on nearby lands.