“The Blackwater Gold Project continues to advance rapidly, with announcements on the preferred GMP contractors and lead project debt providers expected shortly,” said Steven Dean, Chairman and CEO. “Artemis remains on track to release the results of its Definitive Feasibility Study for Blackwater by mid-2021.”
According to an update posted on the company website Artemis has been conducting the following activities:
- ore grade control drilling to refine the detailed grade schedule and mine plan for the first year of production;
- metallurgical test work;
- geotechnical drilling as part of site preparation work;
- work advancing the guaranteed maximum price (“GMP”) proposals associated with the process plant and powerline; and
- a B.C. Hydro study.
- The work program in the first six months of 2021 is on track to culminate with the completion of the DFS on Blackwater by mid 2021.
Ore Grade Control Drilling Program
To date, the Company has completed approximately 22,500 metres of ore grade control drilling over 396 holes with a total of 7,376 samples prepared and dispatched for analysis to SGS Canada Inc. in Burnaby, B.C. The total program is expected to be completed by April for a total of approximately 35,000 metres of reverse circulation (“RC”) drilling planned.
Initial testwork at the laboratory focused on comparing conventional assay methods (Fire Assay and 4-Acid digestion) with the LeachWELL assaying method. Results to date have exhibited excellent repeatability between those assay methods. Approximately 1,794 assay results were received as at the end of February.
The RC ore grade control drilling program is focused on an area in the southwestern portion of the Blackwater pit, scheduled to be mined in year 1 of operations as per the Company’s 2020 Pre-Feasibility Study (“Blackwater Gold Project British Columbia NI 43-101 Technical Report on Pre-Feasibility Study” with an effective date of August 26, 2020, available on the Company’s website and on SEDAR at www.sedar.com) (“2020 PFS”). The Program is expected to provide up to 16 times higher data density than what was used for the Mineral Resource estimate incorporated into the 2020 PFS to allow optimization of grade selectivity and mine schedule for managing ore to be processed. This practice is expected to significantly de-risk mine performance, particularly in the initial years of production.
Metallurgical Test Work
As part of the ore grade control drilling program, the Company is also performing metallurgical testwork on the sampled RC material, which increases the Company’s metallurgical sample size by 1,794 samples to assess variability of gold and silver recoveries. Samples are subjected to the LeachWELL assay process with the grade of the residual tails fire assayed and compared with whole-material fire assay results in order to estimate net recoverable gold and silver. To date, the LeachWELL test work has returned an average gold recovery of 95.7% with an average silver recovery of 71.4%, which further supports the life of mine estimates for gold recovery of 93% and silver recovery of 65% estimated in the 2020 PFS.
A geotechnical drilling program commenced in November 2020 to support detailed design of the tailings storage facility and the freshwater reservoir for Blackwater. This program included downhole seismic surveys and was further in January 2021 to incorporate additional drilling within the proposed plant-site area. The company is please to announce the successful completion of the expanded program with 28 holes drilled for a total of 1,395m.
Artemis is working to secure GMP proposals for the processing facility and transmission line for Blackwater to reduce risk and mitigate the potential for capital cost and schedule overruns by entering into fixed-price contracts for these components of the initial construction capital costs. Final GMP proposals for the processing plant have been received and are being evaluated with the selection of a preferred bidder on the processing plant expected to be announced in March 2021. Once the preferred bidder is selected, Artemis will begin negotiations and finalize detailed engineering and commercial terms on a fixed-price Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) contract. The Company is targeting a final fixed-price EPC contract for the processing facility in Q3 2021. Further updates related to the powerline GMP will be provided in Q2 2021.
B.C. Hydro Study
A system impact study has been initiated with B.C. Hydro to determine the scope and cost of interconnection requirements for Blackwater. The preliminary results of the study are expected in April 2021 with a final study targeted for release in May 2021.