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ASX-listed Theta Gold Mines has released a new optimised mine schedule for its Theta open-pit starter project that adds 40 000 oz of gold over the feasibility study released in May 2019.

The new mine schedule significantly improves the metrics of the project over the May 2019 feasibility study, has a reduced environmental footprint, reflects an increase in the production rate from 500 000 tpa to 600 000 tpa, includes the mining of several old mine waste rock dumps and increases the overall mine operational flexibility.

The Theta open-pit starter project includes the Columbia Hill deposit and part of the Theta Hill deposit within Mining Right 83 (MR83) in the Pilgrims Rest area of South Africa.

Waste Rock dumps of various sizes and from four main areas which were sampled by Rand Mines in the 1990’s are now included in the new mine schedule and add easy gold ounces for the planned mine operations.

The bulk of the waste rock dumps (75%) have been scheduled to be processed in the last year of the mine schedule and as such have limited effect on the payback period. The payback period has been reduced from 14 months in the May 2019 feasibility study to 8 months.

The optimised mine schedule has reduced initial overburden removal by mining smaller pits and also has improved revenue streams as a result of increased ZAR gold prices. The optimised study reflects strong project economics and commercial viability across a range of gold prices, while the new mine schedule significantly enhances all the project economics despite a reduction in the LoM grade.

Some of the salient details between the optimised study run at $1 500/oz compared with the May 2019 feasibility study base case at $1 257/oz include:

  • The IRR nearly doubling from 65% to 123%;
  • Mine life increases from 5 years to over 6.5 years;
  • EBITDA increases by $50 million over the LoM to $150 million; and
  • NPV increases by $35 million to $85 million.

READ MORE: Theta Gold Mines takes receipt of ball mill

The company continuous to honour its commitment to improving the project economics and expansion of the production profile. The team has delivered a new optimised mine schedule, completed a draft mining contract, delivered the mill to site and has initiated and received initial feedback as part of the plant construction contract which is all a clear demonstration that the project is moving forward.

Five-year plan unpacked

The company has a five-year plan, which targets four mine developments, Theta open-pit starter project (MR83 only), Theta open pit extension (MR341) and the Rietfontein and Beta 3 underground mines.

This four-mine strategy provides the company with a clear growth strategy at a combined open pit and underground resource of over 2.75 Moz with only the Theta project starter pit portion of this resource included in the optimised study.

READ MORE: Theta Gold Mines: Reawakening a gold giant

All ore is planned to be processed within the permitted TGME plant footprint area with the new 600 00 tpa CIL plant designed to be readily expanded to cater for 1.2 Mtpa of oxide ore with a modest capital expenditure and minimal operational down time. Expansions for the processing of underground ore can also be readily achieved within the footprint and tied into the new 600 000 tpa plant.

 “The new optimised mine schedule is a credit to the team and the work and energy put into the Theta Open pit Starter project has been rewarded. The new mine schedule demonstrates clear robust project economics, with more gold extracted and greater value for the shareholders,” says Theta Gold Mines chairman Mr Bill Guy.