Pershing Gold ready to reopen Relief Canyon Mine

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By Kathrine Moore

PERSHING GOLD CORP. [PGLC-TSX] has completed the preliminary feasibility work required to bring the Relief Canyon Mine back into production. Pershing has in hand a positive preliminary feasibility study as of June 5th, and all the necessary permits required to commence operations at the open pit, heap leach, gold mine in Pershing County, Nevada. The Relief Canyon Mine is situated at the southern edge of the Pershing gold and silver trend along the Humboldt Range.

Jack Perkins, Vice President, Investor Relations for Pershing Gold, said there are a few things to take care of like moving the crusher and improving roads but much construction has been completed; the heap leach pads are 25% built out. He told Resource World, “Right now, what we are looking at is more of a sequence of events. The PFS, which we put out on June 5th, is in front of our board of directors for review. They have the task of making that production decision. If they do that, it will be from six to nine months to production – to be cautious, we believe 12 months is quite reasonable.

The board is currently evaluating financing opportunities to implement the PFS recommendations.”

The PFS came out with estimated initial CAPEX of about $24 million and as per Pershing Gold’s last financials they had no debt and just shy of $7 million in the bank. Perkins said, “We are looking at a pretty small number here to get this project over the line. So we are looking at debt, royalties, gold off-take agreements and gold loans as well as strategic investments.” He said because the number is relatively low, “I think you are going to likely see some combination of those. That is a key piece we need before that announcement can be made by the board.”

The NPV, IRR and Net Cash Flow assume pre-tax economics using US $1,250 per ounce of gold, US $16.75/oz of silver and a 5% discount rate. The company also reported upgraded mineral resource that includes NI 43-101 proven and probable reserves of approximately 635,000 ounces of gold and 1.6 million ounces of silver.

Highlights from the PFS include:

• Life of Mine 5.6 years
• Gold Production: 93,900 ounces
• Cash cost: $770 per ounce
• AISC: $802 per ounce
• Initial CAPEX: $23.6 million
• Sustaining CAPEX: $22.8 million
• Working Capital: $11.0 million
• Pre-tax NPV, 5%: $145 million, After-tax • NPV, 5%: $126 million
• Pre-tax IRR: 89%, After-tax IRR: 85%
• Pre-tax Net Cash Flow: $192.7 million, • After-tax Net Cash Flow: $167.7 million

The PFS anticipates that Relief Canyon’s three open-pit mines (North, South, and Light Bulb) would be mined as one pit. Perkins points out that, “We’ve got a 25,000-acre land package and we are drilling in the Pershing Pass area, south of the existing pits. We are drilling 3,200 feet with six holes in that area. This is exploration drilling. It is about six miles south of the existing pit, in the Black Jack area, so any satellite discoveries could potentially come into a near term production profile at Relief Canyon.”

In June, Pershing Gold announced that it entered into a Mining Sublease with Newmont USA Ltd. for the Black Jack property further consolidating the Antelope Springs mining district in the Pershing Pass area south of the Relief Canyon Mine. Under the terms of the Sublease, Pershing Gold has the exclusive right to prospect, explore for, develop, and mine minerals on these areas. The Sublease has an initial term of 10 years and may be extended by Pershing Gold.

Stephen Alfers, Chairman, CEO, and President of Pershing Gold said, “We are hopeful that the drilling at Blackjack will result in the discovery of satellite deposits on our 25,000 acre land position, which could extend the life of the entire project.”

“The thing that everyone should keep in mind,” concluded Perkins, “is that we have a project here that we have derisked significantly over the last few years; the PFS coming out is another significant derisking factor. We believe Relief Canyon may have the lowest initial CAPEX of any project of relative size in its peer group with very robust economics. We are just very excited to move this project forward as quickly as we can and we are looking forward to doing just that.”

Pershing Gold has 28,402,389 common shares outstanding, 2,725,092 shares of series E convertible preferred stock, 2,497,763 warrants, 1,035,337 restricted stock units and 1,794,453 stock options with a market cap of ~US $80 million.

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