Aris ups stake in Colombia gold-copper project to 51%

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Aris Mining Corp. [ARIS-TSX, ARMN-NYSE] has acquired an additional 31% interest in the Soto Norte copper-gold project in Colombia, thereby raising its total ownership in one of the largest undeveloped underground gold projects in South America to 51%.

The company operates two mines in Colombia, the Segovia Operations and Marmato upper mine, which are expected to produce 230,000 ounces of gold this year. With expansion projects in progress, Segovia and Marmato aim to produce a combined 500,000 ounces of gold in 2026.

Aris also operates Soto Norte project, where environmental licensing is advancing to develop the new underground gold, silver and copper mine. In Guyana, Aris is advancing the Toroparu project, a gold/copper project.

Soto Norte is a feasibility-stage project with high grade mineral reserves, low capital intensity, low operating costs and district-scale potential.

In March, 2022, Aris disclosed results of mineral resource and reserve estimates and a feasibility study for the Soto Norte project. The feasibility study includes a 7,200-tonne-per-day capacity processing plant with average annual production of over 450,000 gold ounces over an 11-year production period at average all-in-sustaining costs of US$471 an ounce from a 5.0 million-ounce-reserve.

More recently, the company decided to undertake feasibility level work on a new smaller scale development plan that would include a reduced environmental footprint,  a smaller processing plant with a longer operating life, a flexible mining method to target higher-grade material earlier in the mine life, a paste backfill plant to minimize surface tailings storage requirements and replacing the 6.9-kilometre tunnel to connect the mine and processing plant site with an aerial ropeway, a material movement approach utilized in Colombia and other jurisdictions.

The project has probable mineral reserves of 24.8 million tonnes at 6.22 g/t gold, 34.4 g/t silver, and 0.18% copper, or 5.0 million ounces of gold, 27.4 million ounces of silver and 107 million pounds of copper.  Indicated mineral resources stand at 8.5 million ounces of gold. On top of that is an estimated 3.6 million ounces of inferred resources.

In return for the additional 31% interest, Aris issued 15.7 million shares to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi-based investment company Mubadala Investment Co. PJSC (Mubdala). The shares are subject to a 12-month hold period.

An additional 6.0 million shares will be issued to Mubadala on receipt of an environmental license for the Soto Norte gold project.

Mubdala is retaining a 49% stake in the project. Aris Mining will sole fund certain operating costs on behalf of the joint venture during the pre-licensing period.  Non-operating and project construction costs will be funded on a pro-rata ownership basis.

Meanwhile, on Friday Aris Mining shares eased 0.38% or $0.02 to $5.19. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $6.25 and $2.77.

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