Engineering & Mining Journal

FEB 2019

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 15 of 75

REGIONAL NEWS - LATIN AMERICA 14 E&MJ • FEBRUARY 2019 Sierra Completes Construction at Bolivar Mine in Mexico Ahead of Schedule Sierra Metals reported its expansion plans are on track for the Bolivar mine in Mexico. In July 2018, the company announced the results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) at Bolivar to achieve a sustainable and staged increase in mine production and mill throughput from 3,000 metric tons per day (mt/d) to 3,600 mt/d in the first quarter of 2019, and to 5,000 mt/d by mid-2020. Completion of the expansion included the installation of a refurbished mill, an electrical substation with 1,250 KVA of capacity, a secondary crusher and a hy- drocyclone cluster that allows for finer grind size optionality that is estimated to provide a 6% increase in copper recover- ies from 80% to 86%. The expansion was completed with zero lost time incidents. The company used local engineering firms and local qualified contractors and technicians for the expansion project, with Sierra Metals staff conducting most of the supervision. "We are very pleased with the progress made with our expansion plans at the Bo- livar mine," said Igor Gonzales, president and CEO of Sierra Metals. "With the early completion of construction at the Piedras Verdes Mill, we will deliver on our goal of a 20% increase in production from 3,000 mt/d to 3,600 mt/d, in the first quarter of 2019." The expansion at Bolivar represents the first of many exciting milestones for Sierra Metals in 2019, Gonzales ex- plained. "We also remain focused on our brownfield exploration program and the importance of continuing to add to our reserves and resources," Gonzales said. Feasibility Study Supports Almaden's Ixtaca Project A feasibility study of Almaden Miner- als' Ixtaca gold-silver project in Puebla state, Mexico, supports a project pro- ducing an average of 108,500 ounces per year (oz/y) of gold and 7.06 million oz/y of silver (203,000 gold equivalent oz) over the first six years of operations. The study and resulting mine plan in- corporate significant changes from an earlier prefeasibility study, including filtered dry-stack tailings, ore sorting, increased throughput, and an improved mine schedule. Collectively, the changes result in a reduced project footprint and improved economics. Initial capital to develop the project is estimated at $174 million. Conventional open-pit mining will extract proven and probable reserves totaling 1.39 million oz of gold and 85.2 million oz of silver. Mine life is estimated at 11 years. The project is planned as a typical open-pit mining operation, using contrac- tor mining. Initial production will ramp up to a mill feed rate of 7,650 mt/d, fol- lowed by an expansion to 15,300 mt/d from year five onward. Life-of-mine all-in sustaining costs, including operating costs, sustaining cap- ital, expansion capital, private and public royalties, refining, and transport, are esti- mated at $850/gold equivalent oz. Almaden has purchased the shutdown Rock Creek processing plant in western Alaska for dismantling and transport to the project site to process the Ixtaca ore. "We have advanced Ixtaca from our blind discovery in 2010 to its current po- sition as an outstanding inventory of pre- cious metals in a well-established mining jurisdiction with a very robust economic profile," Almaden Chairman J. D. Poliquin said. "Significant potential remains to in- crease resources through continued drill- ing of portions of the Ixtaca project that remain open, as well as other targets on this largely unexplored property. "In the meantime, we are looking for- ward to further developing this deposit through permitting and construction to demonstrate our commitment to modern, responsible mining and the potential for Ixtaca to be a strong economic engine for the company and the region in which it is located." Ixtaca is connected by 60 kilometers (km) of paved road to the industrial city of Apizaco, 120 km of paved road to the state capital of Puebla, and 170 km of paved road to Mexico City. Antofagasta Posts Record Copper Production in 2018 Chilean copper producer Antofagasta Minerals Plc ended 2018 on a high note exceeding its previously reported guid- ance. The company cited greater volumes mined at its operations as well as better ore grades at Centinela. In the fourth quarter, Antofagasta reported production of 220,000 metric tons (mt) of copper compared to 177,800 mt during the same period last year. That brought total production for 2018 to 725,300 mt, an increase of 3% over 2017. "We have continued to make progress in achieving operational improvements during 2018, and on this basis, we proj- ect a new production increase in 2019," said CEO Ivan Arriagada. With a few upgrades, the Bolivar plant now processes 3,600 mt/d. (Continued on p. 26)

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