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Exeter Resource (TSX:XRC; NYSE-MKT:XRA; Frankfurt:EXB) is fast-tracking development at one of the largest gold discoveries made in Chile in recent years. The wholly-owned Caspiche Project is located in the emerging world-class gold province of Maricunga, which hosts several important deposits held by the world’s major mining companies. Caspiche is a unique deposit which includes an oxide gold zone above a higher-grade gold-copper core.
Exeter is working to bring the project into the feasibility-stage by the end of this year in preparation for a production decision. Based on the 2014 Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA), which outlined a range of low-capex mining opportunities, the company is planning for staged production beginning with a modest-scale heap leach operation generating cash flow to fund larger scale open pit/underground mining of the gold-copper zone.
“Our ability in today’s market to focus on advancing the 1.7 million-ounce gold oxide open pit is sensible and achievable,” said Co-Chairman of Exeter, Yale Simpson. “Importantly for shareholders, with future elevated gold and copper markets, we believe the value of the very large Caspiche gold-copper inventory will be a strong value driver for Exeter. Caspiche is unique, representing one of only a few scalable development projects that is not yet controlled by a major company.”
Exeter initiated a feasibility-level work program in February 2017, which includes 6,000 meters of drilling and metallurgical test work. A large majority of the feasibility-level engineering work has been completed. Most importantly, the company has secured critical access to water supply through a water option agreement so that it can better fast-track the project while awaiting the Chilean government’s approval of its water rights application.
The world’s leading copper producer, Chile consistently ranks as one of the most mining-friendly nations in the world. The South American nation has a deeply rooted mining culture, large pool of skilled labor, and a stable government committed to transparent permitting processes.
Exeter Resource management and board members have a long track-record of success, and decades of experience in the mining industry. Exeter Co-Chairman Bryce Roxburgh was involved in the discovery of Caspiche as well as the Cerro Moro deposit in Argentina. Caspiche was spun out into Exeter Resource in 2010, and Cerro Moro was acquired by Yamana Gold via the takeover of Extorre Resouces for C$414 million in 2012.
Mark Smith, Senior Technical Advisor, has nearly four decades of experience in the design, construction and operation of heap leach facilities; most recently as heap leach design coordinator on the definitive feasibility study for the Coffee Gold Project in Yukon. He also has extensive experience in the Maricunga region of Chile including the Maricunga mine, Marte Lobo and Cerro Casale. Jerry Perkins, VP Development and Operations, has more than 40 years’ experience in mining and metallurgy, specializing in project development, feasibility studies and operations management.
- 100-percent control of advanced-stage, development-ready project with feasibility-level work underway and secured water supply.
- Unique gold oxide, higher grade gold-copper core, large scale gold-copper deposit.
- Measured & Indicated Mineral Resources: Oxides 1.7 million ounces of gold equivalent and Sulphides 37.9 million ounces of gold equivalent.
- The proposed project has a very low strip ratio (0.27:1) and favorable gold recoveries.
- 2014 PEA shows low CAPEX, strong economics.
- Share Structure: Management holds 10 percent; Institutional shareholders hold 35 percent; Sun Valley Gold largest shareholder with 14 percent.
- Stable mining jurisdiction of Chile.
- Managed by a team of industry experts with a track record of success; 3 significant discoveries in the past decade; Extorre (Cerro Moro, Argentina) taken over by Yamana Gold for C$414 million or C$4.26/share.
Key Project: Caspiche Project, Chile
The Caspiche Project covers 1,262 hectares in the Chile’s prolific Maricunga mineral belt and is one of the largest new discoveries in South America in the last decade. The property is located between Barrick and Kinross Gold’s Cerro Casale gold-copper deposit 10 kilometers to the south and Kinross Gold’s Maricunga Mine 15 kilometers to the north. Hoschild’s Volcan gold deposit lies 35 kilometers north northeast of the project.
Unique geology offers scalable options for development
The advanced-stage property hosts a gold-copper porphyry system with the potential to become a high-tonnage mining operation. The Caspiche deposit has an oxide gold surface zone and a high-grade gold-copper core within a low-grade envelope.
2012 Resource Estimate
The Caspiche deposit hosts an estimated 1.7 million ounces in gold equivalent within the oxide gold zone and 37.9 million ounces in gold equivalent within the sulphide gold-copper zone.
*The economic analysis contained in the PEA is considered preliminary in nature. There is no certainty that economic forecasts outlined in the PEA will be realized.
- PAu and PCu are the Au and Cu prices (US$1,150/oz and US$2.50/lb, respectively), and RAu and RCu are the Au and Cu projected metallurgical recoveries, 65% and 85%, respectively for sulphide material and 78% for Au oxide material.
- AuEq (M oz) = resource tonnes * AuEq1
- PAu, PAg and PCu are the gold, silver and copper prices (1,250 US$/oz, 15US$/oz. and 2.75 US$/lb, respectively). RAu and RCu are the Au and Cu projected metallurgical recoveries based on a number of S % thresholds. For additional information see Exeter website or Sedar, Amended NI 43 -101 Technical Report on the Caspiche Project. Effective date April 30, 2014.
2014 PEA: three low-CAPEX development options
In terms of mining methods, the Caspiche deposit’s unique geology offers a variety of options. The 2014 PEA reviewed three potential development options, each of which is based on a low CAPEX/high margin approach that would generate cash flow to fund further development.
- Option 1 proposes a standalone, 30,000 tpd heap leach oxide gold project which is estimated to produce an average of 122,000 ounces of gold equivalent annually over a planned 10-year mine life, including 148,000 ounces of gold equivalent annually in the first five years.
- Option 2 proposes a 60,000 tpd open pit, heap leach oxide gold operation followed by expanded open pit mining (27,000 tpd) of the gold copper sulphide zone. Average annual production is estimated at 289,000 ounces of gold equivalent over a planned mine life of 18 years.
- Option 3 proposes a 60,000 tpd open pit, heap leach oxide gold operation transitioning to underground mining (27,000 tpd) of the higher-grade gold copper sulphide zone. Average annual production is estimated at 344,000 ounces of gold equivalent over a planned mine life of 42 years.
Oxide metallurgical test work
The 2014 PEA used conservatively estimated heap leach recoveries of approximately 80 percent, based on metallurgical test work on the oxide material at Caspiche. Exeter believes more recent metallurgical testwork results confirm the potential for increased recoveries and enhanced project cash flow. Notably, the high recoveries in the first six years of the mine plan correspond with the highest grades in the mine plan.
Fast-tracking production with staged approach to development
Exeter’s management believes the current economic environment calls for a conservative, staged approach to the development of the Caspiche deposit. The company is planning to advance the project to the standalone surface oxide gold zone operation outlined in option 1 to generate the necessary cash flow to advance development of the higher-grade gold-copper sulphide core.
Feasibility Study Underway
Exeter is now working toward a Feasibility Study to move the project through to a production decision. In Februray 2017, the company commenced a 6,000-meter drill program aimed at improving the definition of the known oxide gold heap leach mine plan and bring the confidence levels up to feasibility standards. The work will also include drilling and metallurgy to test material within the transition zone below the oxide and determine the potential to increase the resources amenable to heap leaching.
Securing water from diverse sources
Concurrent with the feasibility-stage activities, Exeter is also working to secure adequate water resources for the mine development at Caspiche. The company’s diverse strategy to securing water includes the large Peñas Blancas aquifer on the company’s water tenements; and a recently signed option agreement with Cleanairtech Sudamerica SA (CAT). Exeter is awaiting approval of its application to the Chilean government for water rights to Peñas Blancas.
The option agreement with CAT includes the supply of 50 liters per second (L/s) of desalinated water for escalated annual payments over four years totaling US$1.25 million. CAT is jointly owned by CAP S.A. and Mitsubishi Corporation. The 400 L/s CAT at Punta Totoralillo is located 120 kilometers from the Caspiche project. Permits and infrastructure are in place to expand operations at the desalination plant to 600 L/s.
Wendell Zerb, P. Geol.—President & CEO
Wendell Zerb has over 30 years’ experience in the mining/mineral resource sector. His technical experience includes senior positions in generative mineral exploration, development, and open pit and underground mining of base and precious metals. In the capital markets, he has previously served as Director, Research Analyst, Metals and Mining (Canaccord Genuity Inc.), Vice President of Research and Institutional Sales, and President and CEO of a wholly owned US subsidiary (PI Financial).
Cecil Bond, CPA, CA —Chief Financial Officer
Cecil Bond has served various positions in a number of public exploration companies with activities in Canada, South America, Africa, Europe and Australia. Throughout his more than three decades long career, he has managed $700 million in transactions, including the sale of Extorre Gold Mines Ltd. to Yamana Gold in 2012 and successfully spinning it out of Exeter in 2010.
Jerry Perkins —VP Development and Operations
Mr. Perkins is a chemical engineer with over 40 years’ experience in the mining and metallurgy sector in technical, operational and corporate management positions in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, Australia, Africa, the UK, and Papua New Guinea. He specializes in mineral project development programs and feasibility studies, mine production and commissioning, test work / R&D programs, engineering and process design, operations management, and project development and optimization.
Mark E. Smith, M.Sc., P.E., P.Eng. —Senior Technical Advisor
Mark Smith has been involved in the design, construction, operations and closure of heap leach and tailings management facilities for 35 years. Most recently, he was senior reviewer and heap leach design coordinator on the Definitive Feasibility Study for Kaminak Gold’s (now Goldcorp’s) Coffee Gold Project, Yukon. Smith has extensive experience in the Maricunga region of Chile, through his involvement on Refugio (now the Maricunga mine), Marte Lobo and Cerro Casale.
Rob Grey—VP Corporate Communications
Rob Grey has 10 years’ experience in equity sales and 18 years’ experience in Investor Relations in the junior mining sector. He works directly with senior management and investor at the institutional and retail levels.
Matthew Williams, BASc in Applied Geology —Exploration Manager
Matthew Williams has more than 25 years of experience in mineral exploration, specializing in geological appraisal of base and gold metal mining projects in Australia, the Dominican Republic, W.A., Australia, Mexico, Nevada, USA, Panama, Argentina, and Chile. He served as Exploration Manager of the Don Sixto Project, Cerro Moro, and early activities at Caspiche.
Gonzalo Damond—Commercial Manager
Gonzalo Damond is an Industrial/Electrical/Civil Engineer with operational and managerial experience within significant multinational companies, including rail logistics between Argentina and Brazil, and intermodal operations for Chilean ports. He has managed the design, organization and commissioning of large distribution centers, and has substantial experience in purchase management, including the negotiation of supply contracts. Through these experiences, he has built constructive relationships with communities, clients, trade unions and Government authorities.
Matthew Dorman —Caspiche Study Manager
Matthew Dorman is a project manager with 30 years of international experience in the mining sector, specializing in technical due diligence studies. He has also managed the design and construction of gold mines in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Honduras, and of copper projects in Chile, Peru, and Kazakhstan.
Bryce Roxburgh, AusIMM— Co-Chairman
Bryce Roxburgh managed the exploration teams that discovered the Selwyn, Red Dome and Junction Reef ore-bodies in Australia, the Dinkidi ore-body in the Philippines, and the Don Sixto deposit in Argentina. He established Exeter in 2003 and subsequently discovered Caspiche in Chile and Cerro Moro (Extorre Gold Mines Ltd.) in Argentina.
Yale Simpson —Co-Chairman
Yale Simpson is an experienced, senior geologist, exploration manager and CEO of companies involved in precious metals projects in Australia, Africa, Eastern Europe and South America with particular expertise in strategic resource planning, financing and corporate communications.
Robert G. Reynolds —Director
Robert Reynolds has served in various positions responsible for corporate planning, finance and administration. He participated in the development of the Granny Smith and Kanowna Belle mines in Australia, and the Hartley Platinum Mine in Zimbabwe. Reynolds also served as Chairman of Avoca Resources until its merger with Anatolia Minerals Development in 2011.
Julian Bavin, BSc, MSc —Director
Julian Bavin gained his technical, operation and commercial experience in mineral exploration in South America, Australia, Indonesia, and Europe through his experience with the Rio Tinto Group. From 2001 to 2009, he identified the potential in a range of projects including the PRC potash and Altar copper/gold projects in Argentina, the Mina Justa, Constancia and La Granja copper projects in Peru, and the Amargosa bauxite project in Brazil.
John Simmons, CA —Director
John Simmons continues to manage an accounting practice in Australia, where he has extensive experience advising on taxation, strategic planning, financial management and general business. He maintains an active involvement in the mining industry though association with an operating mining company.