Artemis Gold Inc.’s (TSXV: ARTG) Blackwater Mine in central British Columbia remains on course and on budget.
The company announced on Thursday that it had completed 45 per cent of the construction and had spent $280 million of its originally proposed capital expenditure of $730-$750 million as of Sept. 30, 2023.
Artemis continued earthwork activities in infrastructure zones, clearing approximately 505 hectares of land and more than 90 per cent of the required access roads for Phase 1 construction are now functional. It has also made considerable progress in constructing the water management pond and Davidson Creek diversion.
The company devoted more than 440,000 man-hours to construction tasks through September 30, 2023, resulting in a zero Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) and an All Injury Frequency Rate (AIFR) of 138.97.
“Our workforce and construction activity at Blackwater returned to 100 per cent following the wildfire events in early Q3,” said Steven Dean, chairman and CEO of Artemis Gold. “We remain focused on a disciplined approach to development and remain on track for the first gold pour in H2 2024.”
Construction of the process plant made significant progress in several areas, including the mill building foundation preparation, reagents building and ball mill pedestals.
The construction of the run-of-mine (ROM) wall has exceeded 75 per cent completion by the end of September 2023 and is on track to be finished by the end of October 2023, with the commencement of ROM dump slab civil works scheduled shortly after.
Engineering and design are over 95% complete
Fleet assembly is expected to be sufficiently advanced by the end of the year, in preparation for pre-stripping and earthworks support in 2024. The construction fleet has grown to include 60-tonne and 100-tonne rigid frame haul trucks, as well as 150-tonne excavators, enhancing material movement capabilities in key areas.
Initial deliveries of the owner mining fleet are progressing well, with 400-tonne hydraulic backhoe excavators and three 240-tonne rigid frame haul trucks having arrived and currently undergoing assembly. The majority of the remaining fleet needed for operations will arrive primarily in the first half of 2024.
Engineering and design are over 95 per cent complete, while procurement has reached 96 per cent completion, with package awards nearing finalization. Key mechanical equipment, such as the primary, secondary, and tertiary crushers, along with dry screens, are at various stages of delivery. Wet plant vibrating screens, ADR plant, gravity concentrators, and intensive leach reactor are already on-site.
Major ball mill components, including the shell and head segments, were en route and expected to arrive in October. The electrical machinery control centre fabrication is finished and will undergo factory testing in early Q4 2023.
Contracts for explosives supply, mine fleet tire supply, and the assay laboratory are being finalized, while proposals for the oxygen plant and water treatment plants are in the final evaluation stages. Right-of-way clearing and the construction of a 135-kilometer 225-kilovolt transmission line are scheduled to commence in Q4 2023.
Artemis Gold has implemented a modest hedging program to secure returns on the capital invested in the early years of operations and to further reduce the risk associated with servicing the company’s project loan facility during the pay-back period.
So far, the company has entered into agreements to deliver 190,000 ounces of gold bullion between March 2025 and December 2027 at an average sales price of $2,851 per gold ounce, which is more than 40 per cent higher than the gold price assumption in the September 2021 Feasibility Study.
With Phase 1 fully funded and 45 per cent complete by the end of September 2023, it is conducting a study to assess the advantages of accelerating the Phase 2 expansion ahead of the schedule outlined in the September 2021 Feasibility Study. The company anticipates disclosing the findings from this study in early 2024.
“The return and ramp-up to full construction activities following the B.C wildfire event in Q3 2023 was a testimony to our disciplined and coordinated workforce and collaborative partners,” said Jeremy Langford, president and COO of Artemis Gold.
“Q3 2023 saw positive gains in efficiencies and productivity, with momentum building throughout the latter stages of the period. To date, the project remains within our guidance for initial capital expenditure and on track for first gold in H2 2024 as planned.”