Sabina Gold & Silver Corp.

Sabina Gold & Silver Corp.

November 12, 2009 09:20 ET

Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. Announces Update to Hackett River Preliminary Economic Assessment

Project continues to demonstrate robust economics IRR of 25.9%: 5% discounted NPV of $975M and $1.8B cash flow

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Nov. 12, 2009) - Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. (SBB) (TSX:SBB) is pleased to announce today the results of an updated 43-101 compliant Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") completed by PEG Mining Consultants ("PEG") on the Hackett River silver-zinc project in Nunavut, Canada.

The PEG PEA updates an original study released in 2007 completed by Wardrop Engineering Inc. ("Wardrop"). The new study incorporates more detailed information and considers changes in the project scope based on new developments at Hackett River including the new resource model and metallurgical recoveries announced earlier this year, along with different mining/operating methods, inclusion of near surface resources at the Jo Zone and updated commodity prices.

Hackett River is one of three Sabina projects in the Western Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, Canada and is situated approximately 75 km from tide water on the largely unexplored highly prospective Hackett River Greenstone Belt (HRGB). The HRGB is also host to Sabina's Back River gold project as well as its grass roots Wishbone claims. The combined properties total approximately 3,000 square km and provide Sabina with a strong land position in the region. This significant land position and its vast exploration opportunities, along with the advanced nature of the Hackett River project positions Sabina to have a strong influence on exploration and development of this highly prospective emerging district.


(all figures in CAD unless otherwise stated)

- The Net Present Value of the project is $975 million using a 5% discount rate and has an internal rate of return of 25.9% (both pre tax)

- Project generates cash flow of $1.8 billion (net of capital and operating costs) on revenues of $6.7 billion over life of mine

- A total of 59,618,000 tonnes of ore would be milled with life of mine average grades of 123.9g/t Ag, 3.98% Zn, 0.32% Cu, 0.55% Pb and 0.26g/t Au and would be extracted by open pit and underground over a mine life of 16 years

- Milling rate would run at full capacity of 12,000 tonnes per day (tpd) for years 1 - 10 (open pit), then reduce to 7800 tpd for years 11-16 (underground component)

- Open pit strip ratio would be 7.0:1

- Project produces three concentrates: zinc only, copper and lead. Silver and gold report to copper and lead concentrates.

- Average annual production of 13,044,000 oz of silverAg (years 1 - 10) and average annual production of 8,152,000 oz of silver (years 11 - 16)

- Metal price assumptions of: US$13.20 oz Ag, US$0.88 lb Zn, US$2.09 Cu, US$0.61 Pb, and US$880 oz Au.

- Capital costs of $1 billion (initial capital $668 million). Capital includes an all weather road and dedicated port facility at Bathurst Inlet.

- Payback period of 4.6 years from start of construction

"This new study is very encouraging," said Tony Walsh, President & CEO. "It gives us a foundation to build on for the project and for the region. Although already a robust project, there are still many opportunities to enhance project economics and scope. There is still significant opportunity to both expand the resource and find higher value mineralization, as demonstrated this year with the new discovery we made at the May Zone during a very short drilling campaign. Also, additional drilling along the margins of proposed open pits could have the potential to expand the near surface resource; for example hole SHR-09 -39 (previously reported September 24, 2009) which was drilled at Main Zone West to the north of all previous drilling and intersected 288 g/t Ag, 8.28% Zn, 0.90% Cu, 1.41% Pb, 1.29 g/t Au over 20.10 meters starting at a down hole depth of 4.30 meters. All deposits are still open to depth. Also, the bulk of costs are based on single source quotes in a remote location and there is an opportunity that these could improve as other Arctic projects come on line to better define actual costs and introduce competition to the north. In addition, the impacts of the high grade Back River gold deposit in proximity to Hackett River have not been considered in this study."

It is the Company's intention to exploit these opportunities fully prior to progressing towards finishing the pre-feasibility study.


Hackett River is one of the largest undeveloped silver - zinc volcanic massive sulphide ("VMS") deposits in the world with indicated resources totalling 43.6 million tonnes with diluted grades of 4.15% zinc, 129 g/t silver, 0.35% copper, 0.58% lead and 0.27 g/t gold. An additional inferred open resource totalling 16.0 million tonnes with diluted grades of 3.53% zinc, 111 g/t silver, 0.24% copper, 0.46% lead and 0.25 g/t gold is also contained at Hackett River. The resource breakdown is shown below:

Mill Feed Zinc Silver Copper Lead Gold
(tonnes x1000) % grams/t % % grams/t

Open Pit 26,459 4.43 126.53 0.41 0.60 0.29
Underground 17,176 3.71 132.16 0.24 0.55 0.23
------------ ------ ------- ------ ------ --------
Total Indicated 43,635 4.15 128.75 0.35 0.58 0.27

Open Pit 5,856 3.88 103.06 0.30 0.48 0.21
Underground 10,128 3.33 114.97 0.20 0.46 0.27
------------ ------ ------- ------ ------ --------
Total 15,983 3.53 110.60 0.24 0.46 0.25

Dilution varies between deposits due to geometry but averages 5% for the open pit and 27% for underground mining.

These resources are contained in four deposits on the property: The Main West Zone, the Main East Zone, the East Cleaver Zone and the Boot Zone. This study also incorporates mineralization from the newly discovered Jo Zone.

This PEA is preliminary in nature as it includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves at this time and as such there is no certainty that the preliminary assessment and economics set forth in the PEA will be realized. Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

New inputs for the current study include:

- the new and larger mineral resource and geological model incorporating the newly discovered JO Zone. The Boot, East Cleaver and Main zone resource models were calculated by AMEC in 2008 and validated by PEG Mining.

- more detailed and improved metallurgical data

- increased geotechnical data for pit slope design

- improved underground mining methods (sub level cave)

- many direct cost quotes for capital, freight, concentrate shipping, G&A and operating costs

- improved smelter payable calculations

- addresses underestimated items for the port/loading facilities, tailing, waste rock storage, and underground development costs

- Increased throughput from 10,000 tpd to 12,000 tpd

The 2009 PEA envisions a mine plan extracting 59,618,000 tonnes of ore milled at 12,000 tonnes per day (tpd) for the first 10 years and 7,800 tpd for years 11 - 16. The current plan incorporates both open pit and underground components with average life of mine grades of 123.9 g/t Ag, 3.98% Zn, 0.32% Cu, 0.55% Pb and 0.26 g/t Au.

According to the study, a discounted cash flow analysis of the Hackett River Project achieves a pre-tax net present value (NPV) of $975 million at a 5% discount with a pre-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of 25.9%.

Capital costs for the project total approximately $1 billion including initial capital of $668 million to achieve full production by year one. This capital also includes construction of a 96km long all weather road and a dedicated port facility at Bathurst Inlet. Payback for the project is 4.6 years from the start of construction.

The project generates $1.8 billion of cash flow (net of capital and operating costs) on total revenues of $6.7 billion.

Table 1 - Summary Project Economics
Case IRR CAD Millions
Base Case 25.9% $ 975
Recovery +10% 32.3% $ 1,365
Recovery -10% 18.9% $ 587
Metal Prices +10% 32.5% $ 1,377
Metal Prices -10% 18.6% $ 573
Capital + 10% 23.6% $ 902
Capital -10% 28.5% $ 1,048
Operating Costs +10% 21.8% $ 737
Operating Costs -10% 29.9% $ 1,213
Metal Prices - October 26, 2009 (Note1) 35.5% $ 1,589

Note 1: Exchange rate CAD 1.06: USD 1.00


The Hackett River operation would produce three concentrates; a zinc-only concentrate which represents 77% of the total concentrate by weight; and copper and lead concentrates which would contain the payable silver and gold. The copper and lead concentrates represent 23% of the total concentrate by weight and are valued at approximately four times the value per tonne of the zinc concentrate. The concentrate, once produced, would be trucked and stored at the port facility on Bathurst Inlet for summer shipping to smelters worldwide. Net smelter returns (NSR) for each concentrate (not including transportation to the smelter) are estimated as follows: zinc: 64.0%, copper 89.2%, and lead 86.0%. The copper and lead concentrates NSRs contain the by-product credits for silver and gold.

Table 2 - Concentrate Summary
Metal Unit Cu Con Zn Con Pb Con Total Rec.
Silver % 33% 0% 44% 77%
Zinc % 0% 92% 0% 92%
Copper % 75% 0% 0% 75%
Lead % 0% 0% 85% 85%
Gold % 55% 0% 0% 55%

Cu Con Zn Con Pb Con Moisture Losses
Con Grade % 24% Cu 56% Zn 51% Pb 6% average 0.3%


Open Pit Mining

The Project contemplates the two Main Zones, the Boot, the East Cleaver and the Jo Zones being mined with open pits. The Main Zone consists of two deposits, Main West and Main East, with the Main West Zone commencing operations as it contains the higher grade materials.

The Boot pit would also be mined early to facilitate subsequent underground mining there concurrent with East Cleaver. Main East would be mined last. The PEA contemplates an average strip ratio of 7.0 to 1. With a mine haul fleet consisting of 200 ton trucks, open pit mining will provide 100% of the mill feed or 4.3 million tonnes per year until year three when open pit mining will drop to 2.5 million tonnes per year through to year 11. Cost per tonne mined for life of mine directly from the open pit operations averages CAD $2.60./tonne including sampling and road crush preparation. In the later years of the mine life the open pit haulage trucks would be utilized to transport underground ore to the mill.

Underground Mining

Boot and East Cleaver are the two zones contemplated to have an underground component in the PEG PEA. A sub level cave (SLC) method would be utilized at the Boot deposit which would eliminate the need for fill in the mining cycle. Another benefit of this mining method is the ability to mine top down thus reducing the time between start of development and production. Underground mining is scheduled to begin in year +3 at a rate of 5,000 tonnes per day at an average an average operating cost of $23.25/tonne of ore.


Flotation would be used to produce a bulk copper/lead concentrate and a zinc concentrate. The copper would then be separated from the lead by a second flotation circuit. The majority of silver reports to both the copper and lead concentrates, while gold mainly reports to the copper concentrate. Milling cost is estimated to average $16.31 per tonne milled over the life of mine.


The Hackett mine is currently designed to have two infrastructure centers: one at the mine property and one at the port facilities on Bathurst Inlet. The mine and port would be joined with a 96 km long all-weather access road.

The mine site includes a camp including housing and recreational facilities, a mill building, a truck maintenance shop, administration and dry buildings, a fuel farm with one month's fuel storage capacity, a supply lay down area and a 44 megawatt diesel power house including 8.8 megawatt as backup or redundant power.

Port facilities consist of a dock for unloading containers and other goods, a fuel unloading and storage system, a concentrate storage building connected to a ship loading pier via conveyors, and a small camp for port personnel.

Earthworks include an all-season airstrip capable of landing of aircraft as large as a Hercules transport or 737 jets. The tailings pond and water treatment plant would be located at Joe Lake, with waste rock deposited upstream of the Main Zone pit in the Banana, Bat and Degaulle lakes basin and in Boot Lake and a portion of the Thigh Lake. A coarse ore stockpile and a low grade stockpile would be positioned near the mill.


Summary economics are outlined below in Tables 3-4. The project considers five payable metals in three concentrates coming from five open pits with at least two of the five pits transitioning to underground as stripping ratios approach underground mining costs. The project has a mining life in excess of 15 years. Construction, freight and concentrate shipping are tied to the shipping window, not a calendar year. Significant fixed components of the project include: a Hackett project dedicated road and port, processing complex at 12,000 tonnes per day, tailings and waste rock storage, process water supply, camp, airstrip and diesel generated power. The mining equipment and power plant at the mine would be leased and leasing costs are carried in the operating costs.

The PEA includes indirect costs which average 27.5% and contingency costs which average 13.7%. Both are percentages of direct capital costs.

Table 3 Metal Price Assumptions
Base Case Metal Prices: USD CAD
Silver Ounce $ 13.20 $ 15.58
Zinc Pound $ 0.88 $ 1.04
Copper Pound $ 2.09 $ 2.47
Lead Pound $ 0.61 $ 0.71
Gold Ounce $ 880 $ 1,038
Exchange Rate $ 1.18 $ 1.00

Metal Prices - October 26, 2009:
Silver Ounce $ 17.10 $ 18.15
Zinc Pound $ 1.06 $ 1.12
Copper Pound $ 3.00 $ 3.18
Lead Pound $ 1.08 $ 1.14
Gold Ounce $ 1,041 $ 1,105
Exchange Rate $ 1.06 $ 1.00

Table 4 Project Summary and Assumptions
Key Assumptions Base Case
Annual ore production - life of mine average 3,500,000 t
Life of mine years 16
Overall stripping ratio 7.0
Annual metal recovered years 1 - 10
Silver 13,044,000 oz
Zinc 349,742,000 lbs
Copper 24,615,000 lbs
Lead 44,557,000 lbs
Gold 20,000 oz
Annual metal recovered, years 11 - 16
Silver 8,152,000 oz
Zinc 198,240,000 lbs
Copper 9,987,000 lbs
Lead 25,769,000 lbs
Gold 11,800 oz
Total processed tones 59,618,000 t
Overall process recovery:
Silver - into copper and lead cons 77%
Zinc - into zinc cons 92%
Copper - into copper cons 75%
Lead - into lead cons 85%
Gold - into copper cons 55%
Overall grade:
Silver 123.88 g/t
Zinc 3.98%
Copper 0.32%
Lead 0.55%
Gold 0.26 g/t
Payable metal, net of smelter payment
Silver 163,770,000 oz
Zinc 3,026,979,000 lbs
Copper 238,675,000 lbs
Lead 418,419,000 lbs
Gold 258,400 oz



The 2009 PEG PEA updates an original study released in 2007 completed by Wardrop Engineering Inc. ("Wardrop"). The Principles of PEG are familiar with the project due to their previous work experience. The new study extends mine life by two years and processes 22% more tonnage to recover 6% more silver, 6% more zinc, 8% more copper, 19% more lead and 16% more gold. In the 2009 study, a larger portion of the deposits would be mined by open pit methods and underground mining would be completed by ramp access thereby negating the need for a shaft. Economic parameters are improved significantly including a higher NPV, IRR and total cash flow.



There is still significant opportunity to both expand the current resource and find significant higher value mineralization. The recent discovery of the May Zone is one example that could impact the project in a number of ways including; to eliminate or lessen the reduction in throughput in year 11, defer the underground development thereby reducing early capital requirements or provide material for increased project throughput in the early years.

Stripping Ratio

The current open pits all have large portions of material classified as waste because of lack of drilling. Sabina had some success in 2009 defining mineralized intervals that would convert waste to resource within the pits as well as finding mineralization near but outside the current pit limits. Reducing the stripping ratios would improve operating costs and offer opportunities to defer the underground or increase throughput.


There may be opportunities to share portions of the financial requirements for infrastructure from either government and/or industry support for the road and port.


The remote location of the project and lack of current comparables has required the use of additional buffers to the capital and operating costs. The bulk of costs used are based on single source quotes in a remote location and will improve as other Arctic projects commence in 2010 which will better define actual cost and introduce competition to the North. Transportation represents a significant portion of the capital and operating costs and investigation into alternate sources for infrastructure items and consumables may represent significant savings.

Back River

The economic impacts of a high grade gold mine in proximity to Hackett River have not been considered in this study. Back River offers opportunities for project cost sharing, generation of cash flow to fund the Hackett River project (assuming the gold is mined first) and mitigation of cash flow interruptions caused by the necessity of stockpiling to meet the shipping season, etc.


Sabina will be preparing the 2010 exploration plan for Hackett River later this fall. Initial plans are for an aggressive program consisting of a combination of resource definition, resource expansion and exploration for new near surface deposits. This exploration will commence in late March 2010. There are significant opportunities to enhance the project as indicated above.

Quality Assurance

The followings are the Qualified Persons for the PEA update as defined under National Instrument 43-101:

Geology and mineral resources for Main, Boot Lake and East Cleaver, estimated by AMEC in 2008, were reviewed for the study by Pierre Desautels, P.Geo. of PEG Mining Consultants. The Jo Zone resource model was estimated by Todd McCracken, P.Geo. of PEG Mining Consultants Inc.

Mine planning and design aspects were developed by Gordon Zurowski, P.Eng. and Geoff Challiner, C. Eng., of PEG Mining Consultants Inc.

Previous metallurgical test work, completed in 2006 and 2008 was reviewed and the mill process and plant design work was completed by DRA Americas Inc. under the supervision of Andy Holloway, P.Eng.

Overall mine and port site infrastructure was conducted by Porcupine Engineering Services Inc. under the supervision of Mario Colantonio, P.Eng.

Geotechnical parameters pertaining to the open pit slopes and underground design criteria were conducted by BGC Engineering Inc. under the supervision of Warren Newcomen, P.Eng.

Project Management of the PEA study was conducted by Eric Harkonen, P.Eng. and Principal Project Manager/Mine Engineer of PEG Mining Consultants Inc. He is a Qualified Person under the terms of NI 43-101 and has reviewed the technical content of this press release and approved its dissemination.

Mr. John Wakeford, P.Geo, and Sr. Vice President Corporate Development of Sabina Gold & Silver Corp. is a Qualified Person under the terms of NI 43-101 and has reviewed the technical content of this press release and approved its dissemination.

The NI 43-101 technical report documenting these results will be filed on within 45 days of the news release.

SABINA GOLD & SILVER CORPORATION is a Canadian public mineral exploration and development company with assets at the Hackett River silver project in Nunavut and several projects in the Red Lake gold camp. The Company is well capitalized with approximately $45 million in cash and marketable securities at June 30, 2009.

Forward Looking Statements

All statements herein relating to the Preliminary economic assessment of the Hackett River Project and its impact on the Back River Project and the Wishbone project are forward-looking statements within the meaning of securities legislation of certain Provinces in Canada. These statements include all matters relating to the economics of the Hackett River Project, including the development of the project, the processing of ore at Hackett River, the infrastructure requirements and commercial sale of proposed concentrates. Forward looking statements are statements that are not historical facts and are generally, but not always, identified by the words "expects", "plans", "anticipates", "believes", "intends", "estimates", "projects", "potential" and similar expressions, or that events or conditions "will," "would", "may", "could" or "should" occur. Information inferred from the interpretation of drilling results may also be deemed to be forward looking statements, as it constitutes a prediction of what might be found to be present when and if a project is actually developed. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties which could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those reflected in the forward-looking statements, including, without limitation: risks related to fluctuations in metal prices; uncertainties related to raising sufficient financing to fund the planned work in a timely manner and on acceptable terms; changes in planned work resulting from weather, logistical, technical or other factors; the possibility that results of work will not fulfill expectations and realize the perceived potential of the Company's properties; risk of accidents, equipment breakdowns and labour disputes or other unanticipated difficulties or interruptions; the possibility of cost overruns or unanticipated expenses in the work program; the risk of environmental contamination or damage resulting from Sabina's operations and other risks and uncertainties, including those described in Sabina's Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 2008.

Forward-looking statements are based on the beliefs, estimates and opinions of Sabina's management on the date the statements are made. Sabina undertakes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements should management's beliefs, estimates or opinions, or other factors, should change.

This news release has been authorized by the undersigned on behalf of Sabina Gold & Silver Corporation.

Tony Walsh, President & CEO

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