Who out there is excited to read about "overliner drainrock" and "Programable Logic Control" this holiday season? I sure am after following the progress at the Northern Vertex (TSX.V:NEE) Moss Mine in Arizona. The company is working hard to become a mid-tier gold producer and "continuing construction progress throughout this holiday season is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our team," as CEO Ken Berry says in a news release dated December 27, 2017.
You can see a photo from my site visit below, which shows the crushing plant, part of the leach pad, and Merrill-Crowe facility. Since I visited on December 22nd, they have finished placing overliner drainrock on the east part of pad, which is closest to crusher. Now, "The leach pad is ready to receive ore upon the commencement of crushing and agglomeration operations". That is an impressive task as it required them to lay down 4 million square feet of liner.
The crushing plant is the key thing to watch now and probably will be for years to come, as the fine grind required for the Moss Mine requires a competent team running the crushers. Wiring of the crushing plant is roughly 90% complete and the recent news release states that "full plant handover from construction to operations in mid-January 2018."
This has been the latest in a series of construction updates from Northern Vertex. I appreciate the technical detail they've shared over time. It is clear that things are getting very close. The air is thick with anticipation!
Look back to the prior construction update in November to see how quickly things are moving at site, particularly the leach pad. Major equipment was starting to arrive at site back in September. And just 6 months ago in June, many of the contracts were first announced.
Along the way through the second half of 2017, Northern Vertex managed to announce a new PEA for the Moss Mine, which doubles mine life to 10 years by extending resource along strike onto mining claims that are not part of the patented claim. This new plan estimates life of mine production for gold at 313,150 ounces and 360,750 ounces gold equivalent after including the silver.
Northern Vertex estimates the "Cash Cost net of Ag credits" to be US$283/ounce for the next 5 years and +150 thousand ounces. Some of that margin will go to repay debtors like Sprott Lending, but there will be free cash available to fund an aggressive regional exploration program the company announced with Perry Durning and Bud Hillemeyer in the Oatman District of Arizona. Watch out for a gift under the tree from Bud and Perry next year!