Vancouver, B.C. - Bear Creek Mining (TSX Venture: BCM / BVL: BCM) (“Bear Creek” or the “Company”) is pleased to provide an update on the Feasibility Study (“FS”) for the Corani Silver-Lead-Zinc deposit, Puno, Peru. The FS is expected to be released by the end of Q1 2015 and will update and further optimize the November 2011 Corani FS, in which a deposit containing 270M ounces silver and 4.8 billion pounds of combined Lead and Zinc in Proven and Probable Reserves was described. The updated FS will establish an optimized reserve focusing on return on investment within a mine plan utilizing current metal price expectations, and optimized processing and construction designs that will lessen the project footprint. The updated FS is expected to produce significant savings in CapEx allowing a cushion for ramp-up and working capital requirements not included in the 2011 study. Most importantly, the FS will incorporate the following modifications:
- Testing has established that dry-stacking of the tailings is feasible, entirely eliminating the need for a conventional tailings dam. A significant CapEx reduction is expected as the tailings dam facility in the previous FS was $95M. Sustaining CapEx will also significantly decrease as tailings dam lifts will be eliminated. As a result of now utilizing filtration, OpEx is expected to remain constant or slightly increase.
- As a result of eliminating the tailings dam, the “South fresh water” dam and storage facility are no longer required, which represented a $30M CapEx in the 2011 FS.
- Back filling of the pit with tailings beginning in approximately Year 5 will further reduce OpEx.
- Re-sizing of the crusher and SAG mill is expected to reduce CapEx while maintaining the through-put capacity at 22,500 tpd.
- Project layouts, specifically waste dump and concentrator locations, have been modified to provide for shorter haulage distances. The new project layout is within the surface rights already purchased by the Company.
- Additional analysis of the metallurgical test work will facilitate planning the mine sequencing so that the best metallurgical performing ore is mined first with stockpiling of lower-recovery material for future processing. As a result, it is anticipated that metallurgical recoveries will exceed those forecasted in the 2011 FS.
Now that the above parameters have been determined to have a strong positive impact on the project performance, revised ore reserves and resources calculations, optimized mine sequencing, and collection of final equipment quotes are being completed for the final financial model. Importantly, the design and operating improvements are expected to require only a modification of the existing approved Environmental and Social Impact Assessment without public hearings as the enhancements are located within the previously approved project footprint. In addition, the modifications improve the final permitting timelines and mine closure processes primarily through the elimination of the tailings dam and the introduction of dry stacking of tailings followed by in-pit tailings disposal; practices that have been successfully implemented in similar mines in Peru.
Andrew Swarthout, CEO and President stated “We continue to be very encouraged by the conclusions from test work and optimization studies. Significant reductions in CapEx have been identified while maintaining the 22,500 tpd through-put with silver-base metals recoveries potentially better than those estimated in the previous FS. Overall CapEx is expected to remain in the range of the 2011 FS as the FS is intended to serve as a basis for a final decision by a financial institution to finance the development of the Corani project, and, as such, will include not only financing costs but post production working capital requirements, and a typical mine/concentrator ramp-up schedule. We are confident that Corani, as one of the largest undeveloped silver-base metal mines in the world, will be able to produce 14M opy silver at a negative cash cost per ounce silver (net of by-product credits for years one through five) and low quartile costs for LOM as indicated by the 2011 FS. The project will produce high-quality lead-silver and zinc concentrates during a period of depleting supplies of such concentrates. The completion of the Feasibility Study will describe a “shovel-ready” mining project for advancement into financing discussion and a one-year permitting timeline.”
SANTA ANA - In other news, the Company participated to a preliminary hearing called by the ICSID tribunal in January 2015, which addressed an agenda comprised of largely procedural matters. Following the preliminary hearing, the ICSID tribunal issued a Procedural Order No. 1 addressing the procedural issues discussed during the preliminary hearing. A summary of the tribunal’s material decisions follows:
- Bear Creek will submit its memorial on the merits containing a full set of its arguments, witness statements, expert witness statements and supporting documentation by May 29, 2015;
- The Government of Peru will have 130 days to prepare a counter-memorial respond to Bear Creek’s memorial and introduce objections to the jurisdiction of the ICSID tribunal (if any);
- Bear Creek and Peru will then each have the opportunity to submit another round of pleadings; and
- The final hearings before the ICSID arbitration tribunal will take place in Washington D.C. on September 8 - 14, 2016.
As indicated continuously since the rescinding of Bear Creek’s rights in 2011, the Company remains open to negotiating a settlement and willing to re-engage in discussions that took place before the GOP suspended talks in August 2014. Meanwhile, the Company is vigorously preparing its case for international arbitration.
JOSE MARIA GOLD PROJECT – As previously reported, BCM decided to seek an appropriate partner to advance this highly prospective district in order to preserve the Company’s cash. The Company is now pleased to report that an earn-in agreement has been completed with a private Peruvian gold producer to explore and develop this high-grade, gold-quartz vein system (see news release dated April 08 2014). The Company has signed a binding LOI with Analytica Mineral Services S.A.C. (“AMS”); a proven Peruvian tunneling contractor and gold producer. AMS will complete 2,000 meters of tunneling and cross-cuts in the vein systems within one year, at its sole cost, in order to earn a 51% undivided interest in the mineral concessions. AMS will also make its pro-rata share of the underlying option agreement payments totaling $115,000 in 2015 and $2.1M over the term of the 5-year option. Following AMS earning its 51% interest, the two parties will form a joint venture agreement with standard terms.
Mr. Swarthout commented “This earn-in arrangement is very beneficial to BCM’s shareholders. While the Jose Maria District exhibits potential for high grade gold ore bodies, the exploration risk is quite high. The agreement with AMS allows significant exploration expenditures to be made by a qualified partner while Bear Creek maintains considerable exposure to any success; the same strategy employed on its La Yegua and Sumi joint venture agreements.”
All scientific and technical information contained in this news release has been reviewed and approved by Andrew Swarthout, P.Geo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, who is a “qualified person” within the meaning of National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-101”).
Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
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Cautionary Note regarding Technical and Scientific Disclosure and Forward-Looking Statements:
Please refer to the NI 43-101 technical report dated December 22, 2011 entitled “Corani Project, Form 43-101F1 Technical Report, Feasibility Study” available under the Company’s profile at www.sedar.com, as well as the Company’s news releases dated November 9, 2011 and January 4, 2012, for further details of the mineral reserves, mineral resources and the Feasibility Study in respect of the Company’s Corani project.
Cautionary Note regarding Forward-Looking Statements:
This document contains “forward-looking information” within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. This information and these statements, referred to herein as “forward-looking statements” are made as of the date of this news release or as of the date of the effective date of information described in this news release, as applicable. Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future performance and reflect current estimates, predictions, expectations or beliefs regarding future events and include, without limitation, statements with respect to: (i) modifications, if any, and timing of the ESIA; (ii) the planned development of the Corani project or any of the Company’s other projects, including the timing thereof, and (iii) preparation of a updated Feasibility Study, including the timing thereof. Any statements that express or involve discussions with respect to predictions, expectations, beliefs, plans, projections, objectives, assumptions or future events or performance (often, but not always, using words or phrases such as “expects”, “anticipates”, “plans”, “projects”, “estimates”, “envisages”, “assumes”, “intends”, “strategy”, “goals”, “objectives” or variations thereof or stating that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved, or the negative of any of these terms and similar expressions) are not statements of historical fact and may be forward-looking statements.
All forward-looking statements are based on the Company’s or its consultants’ current beliefs as well as various assumptions made by and information currently available to them. These assumptions include, without limitation: (i) the presence of and continuity of metals at the project at modeled grades; (ii) the capacities of various machinery and equipment; (iii) the availability of personnel, machinery and equipment at estimated prices; (iv) exchange rates; (v) metals and minerals sales prices; (vi) appropriate discount rates; (vii) tax rates and royalty rates applicable to the proposed mining operation; (viii) financing structure and costs; (ix) anticipated mining losses and dilution; (x) metals recovery rates, (xi) reasonable contingency requirements; and (xiii) receipt of regulatory approvals on acceptable terms and in the timeframes expected by the Company, including, without limitation, in relation to a modified ESIA or updated Feasibility Study, if any. Although management considers these assumptions to be reasonable based on information currently available to it, they may prove to be incorrect. Many forward-looking statements are made assuming the correctness of other forward looking statements, such as statements of net present value and internal rate of return, which are based on most of the other forward-looking statements and assumptions herein. The cost information is also prepared using current values, but the time for incurring the costs will be in the future and it is assumed costs will remain stable over the relevant period.
By their very nature, forward-looking statements involve inherent risks and uncertainties, both general and specific, and risks exist that estimates, forecasts, projections and other forward-looking statements will not be achieved or that assumptions do not reflect future experience. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements as a number of important factors could cause the actual outcomes to differ materially from the beliefs, plans, objectives, expectations, anticipations, estimates assumptions and intentions expressed in such forward-looking statements. These risk factors may be generally stated as the risk that the assumptions and estimates expressed above do not occur, but specifically include, without limitation, risks relating to variations in the mineral content within the material identified as mineral reserves and mineral resources from that predicted; variations in rates of recovery and extraction; developments in world metals and minerals markets; risks relating to fluctuations in the Canadian dollar relative to other currencies; increases in the estimated capital and operating costs or unanticipated costs; difficulties attracting the necessary work force; increases in financing costs or adverse changes to global market conditions and the terms of available financing, if any; tax rates or royalties being greater than assumed; changes in development or mining plans due to changes in logistical, technical or other factors, changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; risks relating timing and to receipt of regulatory approvals; adverse changes to government approval processes; the effects of competition in the markets in which the Company operates; operational and infrastructure risks; and the additional risks described in the Company’s Annual Information Form, annual financial statements and management’s discussion and analysis for the year ended December 31, 2013 and in the feasibility study entitled “Corani Project, Form 43-101F1 Technical Report, Feasibility Study” filed by the Company on December 22, 2011 filed on the SEDAR website in Canada (available at www.sedar.com). The foregoing list of factors that may affect future results is not exhaustive.
When relying on our forward-looking statements, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by the Company or on behalf of the Company, except as required by law.