Vancouver – A positive Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) has been released for Bema Gold’s (BGO-T) Kupol gold-silver project located in the Chukotka region of northeastern Russia.
The company plans to develop Kupol as a high-grade gold-silver operation and is earning a 75% interest from the Government of Chukotka. A preliminary indicated resource of 2.6 million tonnes grading 22.3 grams gold per tonne and 232 grams silver per tonne (1.8 million ounces gold and 19.1 million ounces silver) has been identified. There is an additional inferred resource of 7.2 million tonnes of 18.4 grams gold and 243 grams silver (4.2 million ounces gold and 55.9 million ounces silver).
The PEA outlines an initial 12-year mine life with both open pit and underground operations. Pre-production capital costs are estimated at US$280.1 million.
The study recommends a 4,300 tonne-per-day open pit operation in years one and two processing 3,200 tonnes-per-day with stockpiling of lower grade ore. A combined open pit-underground-stock pile operation would run from years 3-7 continuing at 3,200 tonnes-per-day. Production would decrease in years 8-12 to 2,200 tonnes-per-day from underground mining.
Further drilling is required to upgrade the preliminary inferred resource figure to reserve status. Addressing this, Bema has initiated a 57,000-metre program of infill drilling and testing of the Kupol vein structure northwards and to depth. The company also plans an aircraft runway, surface preparation for processing facilities and procurement of equipment for planned construction in 2005.
Kupol is an epithermal vein system up to 30 metres in width hosting high-grade gold and silver mineralization. The system has been defined over 4 kilometres of strike length and remains open along strike and to depth.