SSR tables study on Copler production scenarios, adds flotation circuit

Copler sulphide plant Credit: SSR Mining

Intermediate producer SSR Mining has released an independent ‘Master Plan study’ (CDMP20) for the company’s 80%-held Copler district in Turkey – the site includes a producing gold mine. The company has also published a reserve and resource update for the asset.

The latest document includes two production scenarios. The first is a feasibility-level ‘mineral reserve’ case, which includes a supplemental flotation circuit. The board has approved construction of this additional circuit, with start-up expected in the third quarter of next year.

The second scenario is a ‘preliminary economic assessment (PEA) case’, which includes development of the Ardich oxide deposit, which would involve a new open pit development, 6 km from the existing Copler pit.

The reserve case includes a 21-year mine life, producing an average of 266,000 gold oz. over the first five years, at all-in sustaining costs of US$865 per oz. over those five years. The associated net present value estimate, at a 5% discount rate, stands at US$1.7 billion. The scenario features increased sulphide throughputs from the flotation addition and resulting lower operating costs. The economic analysis is based on US$1,585 per oz. gold.

The PEA case, with a 22-year mine life, suggests average annual production of 306,000 gold oz. over the first five years, at average all-in sustaining costs of US$886 per oz. The incremental capital for development of the Ardich deposit is pegged at US$50 million, with a net present value estimate of US$2.2 billion, at a 5% discount rate.

Permitting and environmental impact assessment updates for Copler and Ardich are underway.

“We are pleased with the results of the updated Çöpler District Master Plan, which demonstrates long-term value and the significant organic growth potential of this world-class operation,” Rod Antal, SSR Mining’s president and CEO, said in a release. “The CDMP20 clearly outlines a potential path to sustaining ~300,000 oz. of annual production from the district for at least 10 years, the extension of the overall mine life to 20+ years at increased processing rates, and the generation of robust free cash flows over the mine life.”

According to the release, the PEA case is the first iteration of a potential development plan for Ardich. The flotation circuit addition would deploy latent capacity in the sulphide plant and make this plant less dependent on the chemical makeup of the ore. The circuit would upgrade sulphide material to fully use the grinding and pressure oxidation capacity of the autoclave.

The mineral reserve and resource update includes a 39% increase in total reserve tonnage, with a 22% increase in the gold content – the increase is mostly from a larger pit design at Copler. Total reserves now stand at 59.2 million tonnes, grading 2.11 g/t gold, 5.24 g/t silver and 0.02% copper. The reserve estimate is based on US$1,350 per oz. gold.

Antal also added that the exploration results from Ardich and the C2 Copler copper-gold porphyry target “continue to indicate the significant upside we see at Copler for years to come.” Ardich could be brought into production by 2023.

The Copler mine is currently extracting sulphide gold ore. This year, the 80%-owned site is expected to generate 310,000 to 360,000 oz. of gold, at mine site all-in sustaining costs of US$710 to US$760 per ounce. The mine, with (most recently) a 17-year life, has been in production since 2010. Ore is currently processed through either a heap leach or (for the sulphide material) through pressure oxidation.

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