VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 22, 2012) - Selwyn Resources Ltd. (TSX VENTURE:SWN) -
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Selwyn Resources Ltd. is pleased to announce results of an update to the October 7, 2011 ScoZinc Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") Report for the restart of the ScoZinc zinc-lead project in Nova Scotia, Canada. The PEA Update indicates excellent potential for a seven-plus years mine life. Provided that debt financing for the project can be obtained by the first quarter of 2013, pre-stripping would begin in the second quarter of 2013 and full operation in the fourth quarter of 2013. Although negotiations are in progress with potential financing parties, at this date no project finance agreement has been concluded.
The full text of the report, which meets National Instrument 43-101 standards, will shortly be filed for review on www.sedar.com.
Much progress has been made since announcing the acquisition of ScoZinc Limited on February 8, 2011. The recently completed update of mineral resources (see August 24, 2012 news release), indicates a 55% and 65% increase of Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources, respectively, and provides the basis for a revised mine plan and economic model. The new mine plan confirms a significant increase in mine life for the Main and Northeast pits.
Dr. Harlan Meade, President and CEO of Selwyn Resources Ltd. ("Selwyn") states: "The continued work by our team at ScoZinc has provided a strong mine plan and attractive economics for securing debt financing for the restart of the mine. Extending mine life and permitting the expansion of the Main pit are key factors in securing the needed debt financing. Selwyn's timing is also good as zinc and lead prices, as forecasted by Wood Mackenzie, are expected to commence an upwards climb early in 2013, as mine supply begins to tighten. It is a good time to move forward on the ScoZinc Project."
The Preliminary Economic Assessment report includes:
- 2,500 tonnes per day mill processing plan;
- Unit operating costs of $52.89 per tonne milled for the first five years ($42.31 per tonne milled for the life-of-mine);
- Mine and mill restart capital expenditures (CAPEX) of CAD $31.5 million (including $1.1 million in contingency and $3.3 million working capital);
- Base Case zinc and lead prices of US$1.10 and US$1.20/lb, respectively;
- Exchange rate of 1 Canadian dollar to 1 US dollar;
- Project pre-tax NPV of 8% of CAD $69.3 million (NPV of 5% - CAD $79.1 million);
- After Tax NPV of 8% of CAD $56.1 million (NPV of 5% - CAD $64.2 million;
- Project pre-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 63.3% and after-tax IRR of 57.8%;
- Zinc C1 or Direct cash cost of production (after deducting credits for lead) for the first five years is CAD $0.60/lb, to be optimized through ongoing studies; and
- Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the first five years of operations averages CAD $24.8 million per annum.
Caution: Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
Refined Mine Plan and Capital and Operating Costs
The PEA Update was completed by Selwyn and ScoZinc senior personnel responsible for mine restart and operations, with support from external industry consulting engineers. The PEA considers the sequential development of two open pit operations in close proximity to the existing mill. The zinc-lead mill feed will be processed by standard flotation methods to produce clean, high-grade zinc and lead concentrates. The economic evaluation is based on a mineral resource inventory from production records and the updated mineral resource technical report dated August 24, 2012 (see SEDAR filing dated August 24, 2012).
The ScoZinc mill has undergone significant refurbishment and improvements since Selwyn assumed ownership of the property in June 2011. Selwyn has undertaken more than $8 million in engineering, definition drilling, permitting, mill and mine infrastructure refurbishment, and surface rights acquisition. An additional approximate $27 million is required for additional refurbishment and modernization to increase the mill throughput to 2,500 tonnes per day, pre-stripping of waste material in the Main pit and other start-up costs. In addition, there is a requirement for approximately $4.4 million in contingency and working capital. Continuation of optimization studies are expected to further reduce cash operating and equipment costs, while additional drilling at the Northeast and Getty deposits could expand potentially mineable resources, lower strip ration and defer lower grade mineralization to later in the project's life.
The capital and operating costs included in the PEA were derived by estimating detailed costs for the mill refurbishment, updating the known historical operating costs from the open pit operations conducted by the previous operators (2007 to 2009) and recent detailed costs from equipment suppliers. The use of recent vendor quotes and historical operating data as a basis for the PEA is considered a more accurate approach than the methods used in a typical scoping study commonly undertaken for greenfield projects.
Metal Prices and Economic Sensitivity
The current outlook for zinc and lead prices is very positive with a widespread expectation of significant improvements in the latter part of 2013 as mine supply is expected to fall behind demand. Selwyn has selected a Base Case long term pricing of US$1.10 per pound zinc and $1.20 per pound lead; refer to Table 1, the November 2012 price forecast by Wood Mackenzie, a well-respected metal consultancy group based in London, of US$1.22 per pound zinc and US1.18 per pound lead for 2014. Significant price escalation is expected over the next several years, rising to US$1.73/lb for zinc and US$1.57/lb for lead in 2016. Based on the Base Case, the project demonstrates after tax NPV of 8% or CAD $56.1 million (NPV of 5% or CAD $64.2 million). The project pre-tax Internal Rate of Return is 63.3% and after-tax IRR of 57.8% based on the Base Case. Net Present Value is determined inclusive of the $10 million acquisition cost.
The sensitivity table given below provides some insight into project economics sensitivity relative to forecast changing market factors, including an alternative using Wood Mackenzie's November 2012 forecast of zinc and lead prices and "realized nominal" Treatment and Refining Charges (adjusted for price participation by smelters and inflation) for the period 2013 through 2020.
Furthermore, a 1% increase in both zinc and lead recovery would add approximately $1 million annually to EBITDA. Metallurgical testwork will commence shortly to explore this opportunity.
Completion of the revised mine plan and the re-costing of the restart of ScoZinc operations has significantly de-risked the ScoZinc Project: the new economic plan provides for increased mine life and less variable cash flow during the first five years of production. The improved economics together with some bullish outlook for zinc and lead prices in 2014 and beyond, provides a very positive environment for financing the restart of ScoZinc operations. In recent months, Selwyn has been advancing discussions with several debt providers. With the new restart plan and economics defined, Selwyn plans to advance these discussions with the view of completing a financing over the next few months. Preliminary discussions have been positive and Selwyn believes that it can secure reasonable cost debt capital to fund the restart of the ScoZinc Mine; however, no assurance of this can be given at this time.
Two conventional open pits are to be mined sequentially: Main and Northeast, each of which were optimized using MineSight software. Production scheduling is based on an average production rate of 877,800 tonnes per year (or 2,500 tonnes per day) into the mill over an average of 351 operating days per year. The average strip ratio for the life-of-mine is reduced to 13.4 to 1 (excluding pre-stripping which is included in the capital costs). Approximately 62% of the waste is readily removed without blasting, including soils that will be used for reclamation, and 22% of the waste is gypsum, which will be stockpiled for possible future sale. Mine dilution and mining losses are assumed to be 10% and 5%, respectively. In-pit diluted mineral resources are 6,394,000 tonnes grading 2.95% zinc and 1.55% lead.
Selwyn plans plant modifications including redesign and replacement of the crushing circuit, primary screen and concentrate filters. These modifications, together with improved plant availability, will allow average mill feed rates of 877,800 dry metric tonnes (dmt) per annum or 2,500 dmt per day. The projected feed grades for the first five years average 3.62% zinc and 1.85% lead (projected life-of-mine mill feed grades are 2.95% zinc and 1.55% lead). The projected metallurgical performance, based on historical data, provides for a zinc concentrate grading 57% zinc at 88% recovery and a lead concentrate grading 71% lead at 85% recovery. No deleterious minor elements are contained in the concentrates. The products are expected to be readily marketable, given their clean, high-grade nature.
Metallurgical testwork is planned to investigate process revisions that could lead to increased mill recoveries. This work will be completed before the restart of operations and may result in further improvements to the mill to achieve an increase in metallurgical recoveries to levels attained in similar type zinc-lead deposits.
Concentrate Marketing and Transport
Based on historical concentrate data, Selwyn expects to produce readily marketable concentrates grading 57% and 71% for zinc and lead, respectively, with no penalties. Previous concentrate shipments from the ScoZinc Mine were shipped to Europe and Asia. Selwyn expects to confirm its marketing contracts not later than three months prior to production.
Current infrastructure provides a number of options for the shipment of ScoZinc's concentrate. The final concentrate shipment plan will be determined at a time closer to the commencement of production at the ScoZinc Mine. Proximity to port facilities, railway and highways provides very favourable transportation costs.
Excellent infrastructure is in place at the ScoZinc Mine. The mine has access to ample grid power and water supply. Paved roads lead to the mine property with nearby rail access. ScoZinc has its own storage and concentrate loading facility at Sheet Harbour with a capacity of 8,500 tonnes, or 1.5 times the expected shipment size.
Environment, Community Relations and Permitting
ScoZinc operations have enjoyed strong support from local communities and the Nova Scotia government. Permitting of the expansion of the Main pit to the southwest resulted in the granting of Environmental and Industrial Approvals in October 2011 and May 2012, respectively. Existing permits will need to be updated to reflect a project expansion including an increase in the size of the Main pit and the start-up of the Northeast pit in order to achieve the full seven-plus years projected in the PEA.
Staffing of the restart of operations is in progress, led by the General Manager and Operations Manager (see August 16, 2011 news release). The mine is expected to employ approximately 120 persons upon commencement of full operations in the fourth quarter of 2013. The immediate area provides a good source of skilled workers and many former employees remain interested in re-joining operations at ScoZinc.
The current mine plan and economic model do not include the Getty deposit. The current mine plan is expected to be updated following definition drilling of the near surface portion of the Northeast deposit and mine planning for the extraction, by underground mining methods, of high grade mineralization that lies beneath Gays River and lying between the Main and proposed Northeast deposit open pits. The surface drilling in the Northeast deposit is expected to convert Inferred mineral resources into Measured and Indicated categories. An expansion of Measured and Indicated in-pit mineral resources is expected to favourably impact the mine planning for the transition from Northeast deposit to the Getty deposit following the first 7 to 8 years of mining.
Similarly, the opportunity to add high grade mineralization from the mineralized zone beneath Gays River will provide an opportunity for blending of the higher grade mineralization with lower grade mineralization from the Getty deposit located northwest of the Main pit. Addition of the Getty deposit and expanded mineral resources in Northeast and underground deposits is expected to add more than 3 years to the current mine life.
Another near term opportunity to improve project cash flows is to increase metallurgical recoveries. The planned metallurgical work could confirm the potential for recoveries in the low 90s percent.
The extensive mineral claim holdings in close proximity to ScoZinc operations and the potential for district scale distribution of mineralization, provides a long term opportunity for the ScoZinc operations. Additional field investigation of the geophysical targets identified in the airborne survey undertaken earlier this year is in progress.
Selwyn Resources Ltd.
Selwyn's primary focus is the exploration and development of its properties that make up the Selwyn Project in the Yukon, which is being advanced by Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd, a company jointly owned by Selwyn and its joint venture partner Yunnan Chihong Canada Ltd. The known deposits at Selwyn Project have the potential for large-scale production, and to provide a secure supply of zinc and lead to meet the future needs of markets in Asia and beyond. The acquisition of the assets of ScoZinc Limited provides Selwyn with a second opportunity for growth and the potential for production revenues in 2012.
This news release has been reviewed and approved by Joseph Ringwald, P.Eng., Vice President of Mining with Selwyn Resources Ltd., a Qualified Person under NI 43-101.