Sabina Gold & Silver reported the results of second feasibility study of its Back River gold project in Nunavut, Canada. The new study considers a 3,000-mt/d operation based only on the project’s Goose property. A previous study announced in May called for a 6,000-mt/d operation mining both the Goose and the George properties, which are separated by a distance of about 50 km (E&MJ, June 2015, p. 15).

Sabina President and CEO Bruce McLeod said, “Both of these studies delivered very positive economic results, which demonstrate the optionality of these high-grade continuous deposits. The 3,000-mt/d feasibility study is the most compelling opportunity for Sabina in this current market environment. Utilizing higher cutoff grades, it would enable us to mine our initial open-pit reserves, while preserving opportunities for future underground expansion in the same deposits, along with other existing project resources not in the current mine plan.”

The 3,000-mt/d project would produce about 250,000 oz/y of gold as doré bullion during the first eight years of operation and would produce an average of about 200,000 oz/y over a mine life of 11.8 years. Production would derive from three open pits on the Goose property, all located within 3 km of the processing plant. Head grade to the plant would average 6.3 g/mt gold.

Life-of-mine cash costs of production are estimated at $534/oz. Initial capital for the project is estimated at C$415 million with sustaining capital of C$185 million.

Project development would include a marine laydown area (MLA) on Bathurst inlet. Both the MLA and Goose sites would have bulk fuel storage tanks, laydown yards, diesel power plants, maintenance shops, accommodation camps, water and domestic waste management facilities, and satellite communications. In winter, the two sites would be connected by ice roads. An existing all-weather airstrip is located at the Goose site.

The MLA would support seasonal staging and trans-shipment of construction and operational freight. Because access to the Goose property is seasonal, the types and capacities of the project infrastructure have been designed to store and transport the required yearly quantities of equipment, materials and supplies.

Buildings and facilities at the Goose site would be heated primarily by heat recovered from the power plant.

Sabina began formal environmental assessment for the Back River project in 2012 and is currently about 75% through the process. The company plans to file its Final Environmental Impact Statement to the Nunavut Impact Review Board in November, following which, after review by all intervenors, final public hearings are anticipated to be held in the first quarter of 2016.

Sabina anticipates receiving a project certificate from the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada during the second quarter of 2016. Receipt of this certificate is the most significant milestone in the project authorizations process in Nunavut.