The definitive feasibility study (DFS) at Aureus Mining’s (LON:AUE, TSE:AUE) New Liberty asset has outlined an "economically robust" gold project based on a flat gold price of US$1,400 an ounce.
Aureus added that the DFS has extensively de-risked the project from design, operational and environmental perspectives.
Capital and operating costs are estimated to a higher level of accuracy, the company said, while the DFS has increased the average production profile for the first six years of the life of the mine (LOM).
Based on a base case of a flat gold price of US1,400 an ounce, the New Liberty project in Liberia has a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of US$230mln, giving a pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of 29%.
The previous feasibility study based on a flat price of US$1,400 an ounce gave a pre-tax NPV of £225mln and a pre-tax IRR of 32%.
Using an average price of $1,400 an ounce over five years (assuming a sequence of average prices of US$1,600, US$1,600, US$1,500 and US1,300), the NPV rises from the US$234mln announced in the previous feasibility study to US$237mln, and the pre-tax IRR eases to 32% from 37%.
The study projects average annual gold production of 119,000 ounces over the first six years at an average grade of 3.6 grams per tonne (g/t), with total gold production over the eight year open pit LOM clocking in at 859,000 ounces, a 1.5% increase in the previous projection.
The LOM operating cash cost will average US$669 an ounce, using contract mining, which is 2.5% lower than the previous forecast.
The initial capital cost estimate has also gone down, declining 2.9% to US$136mln, excluding contingency costs.
Total revenue has been set at US$1.2billion and pre-tax cash flow of US$353 million is expected using a flat gold price of US$1,400 an ounce.
The proven plus probable reserve figure of 8.5mln tonnes 3.4 g/t for 924,000 ounces of contained gold, an increase of 1.6% on the previous feasibility study.
The share price, down around 17% in the year to date, lost a further 3% today. However, Shore Capital believes the market is completely overlooking the gold junior’s huge potential. “We continue to view Aureus as one of the top picks in the West African junior gold company sector,” said analyst Yuen Low.
John Meyer, of mining house SP Angel, added: “Improving the project economics has helped with project NPVs and approvals from the credit committee for the approval for the debt facility.
“Against the weaker price environment we expect this to be stress tested at lower gold prices with a US$1,250 an ounce being used as a base case.
“With funding arrangements in place and works started, the project is now well underway.”