Dundee Precious Metals Inc.
TSX : DPM
TSX : DPM.WT
TSX : DPM.WT.A

Dundee Precious Metals Inc.

November 30, 2011 14:42 ET

DPM: New Krumovgrad Feasibility Study Confirms Low Cash Cost; 3.3 Year Payback; Annual Gold Production of 74,000 oz Over Nine Years

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 30, 2011) -

(All amounts have been expressed in US Dollars except where otherwise indicated)

Dundee Precious Metals Inc. (TSX:DPM)(TSX:DPM.WT)(TSX:DPM.WT.A) ("DPM" or "the Company") is pleased to report the results of the new definitive feasibility study ("FS") for the construction and operation of its Krumovgrad gold project (the "Project") in Bulgaria undertaken in cooperation with Lyntek Incorporated, Denver, USA, and Golder Associates, Montreal, Canada.

"We are pleased with the results of the new feasibility study on our Krumovgrad project which confirms the commercial and economic viability", stated Jonathan Goodman, President and CEO. "The Krumovgrad gold project has been designed to become a showcase for environmental responsibility, community relations and mine management that will allow us to create value for our shareholders and at the same time bring new economic opportunities into a great community," he added. "The recent approval of our EIA by the Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Waters, which includes pre-emptive execution, allows us to now move the project to the next stage of development by proceeding with the permitting process for the construction of the process plant, the integrated mine waste facility and the open pit mine."

Project Highlights 2015 - 2024 (1)
Average annual mine production 850,000 tonnes
Average annual concentrate production 11,500 tonnes
Average annual gold production 74,000 oz
Average annual silver production 35,000 oz
Total cash cost/tonne ore processed $38.11
Total cash cost per oz gold equivalent (2)(3) $404
Initial capital costs (4) $127.4 million
Sustaining capital
Closure and rehabilitation costs
$12.5 million
$13.5 million
Average annual EBITDA (3) $52.6 million
Item Life of Mine
Total gold production 663,641 oz
Total silver production 314,939 oz
NPV at a discount rate of 7.5%, after tax (3)(4) $165.3 million
Internal Rate of Return, after tax (IRR) (4) 31.0%
Payback Period, after tax 3.3 years
Mine Life 9 years
(1) Representative period. Based on current Mineral Reserves, the Project has a mine life of 9 years assuming an annual operating rate of 850,000 tonnes ore.
(2) Gold equivalent ounces includes silver ounces produced and sold converted to a gold equivalent based on the ratio of the average metal prices for the commodities.
(3) Assuming gold and silver prices of $1,250/oz and $25.00/oz, respectively.
(4) Excludes sunk capital.

Mineral Reserves and Resources

The estimated Mineral Reserves for the Project are presented in the table below. This reserve estimate has been determined and reported in accordance with Canadian National Instrument 43-101, "Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects," ("NI 43-101") and the classifications adopted by the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum Council in August 2000.

Krumovgrad - Mineral Reserves
0.6 g/t Au Cut-Off Grade
Gold Silver
Category Tonnes
(M)
Grade
(g/t Au)
Ounces
('000)
Grade
(g/t Ag)
Ounces
('000)
Proven 2.94 4.70 433 2.54 239
Probable 4.30 2.44 337 1.52 211
Total 7.24 3.36 781 1.93 450
(1) Stated Mineral Reserves are completely included within the quoted Mineral Resources.
(2) The rounding of tonnage and grade figures may result in some columns showing relatively minor discrepancies in sum totals.

The Measured and Indicated Resources reported below were used as the basis of the Mineral Reserve determination.

Krumovgrad - Mineral Resources
0.7 g/t Au
Cut-Off Grade
Gold (Au) Silver (Ag)
Category Tonnes
(M)
Grade
(g/t Au)
Ounces
('000)
Grade
(g/t Ag)
Ounces
('000)
Measured 3.25 4.9 511 3 273
Indicated 4.17 2.7 358 2 217
M&I 7.42 3.6 868 2 489
Inferred 0.29 1.3 13 1 10
(1) The rounding of tonnage and grade figures may result in some columns showing relatively minor discrepancies in sum totals.

Project Background

An FS was completed in 2005 (Feasibility Study, Krumovgrad Gold Project, Krumovgrad, Bulgaria, June 2005, Ausenco) based on the open pit extraction of ore at a nominal rate of 850,000 tonnes per year ("tpy") with a conventional hybrid carbon-in-leach process plant that produced gold/silver doré bullion in a plant approximately 1 km from the pit. That project also contemplated the disposal of mine waste in a large end tipped waste stack adjacent to the pit and tailings in a large, conventional tailings management facility approximately 2 km from the plant site. As a result of significant community and political opposition to the project as originally configured, in 2010 Balkan Mineral & Mining EAD ("BMM"), a subsidiary of DPM, commenced work on reconfiguring the project to:

  • Reduce and confine the overall project footprint by decreasing distances between project components and decreasing the footprint of each component;

  • Consider non-cyanide processing alternatives which were known to produce lower gold recovery but come with lower social, political and permitting risk;

  • Move toward best practice high density tailings disposal in a combined waste rock and tailings facility; and

  • Address community concerns relating to water supply, risk and economic benefits.

Over the period 2005 to 2010 there were also a number of legislative changes which occurred as Bulgaria acceded to the European Union and its laws were harmonized with European law. These changes required that BMM also address the impact of the Project on bio-diversity and other matters in a different legal context.

The result is a completely redefined project and "de-novo" permitting process as described in the FS.

The Project

The proposed mine site is located at Ada Tepe, approximately 3 km south of the town of Krumovgrad in south-eastern Bulgaria. The Project objective is to extract ore from an open pit mine and treat the ore to produce a gold/silver concentrate. Two ore treatment rates have been considered, namely 850,000 tpy and 1,100,000 tpy. A treatment rate of 850,000 tpy is consistent with existing permitting applications and environmental submissions. A treatment rate of 1,100,000 tpy is potentially more attractive but would require a modification to BMM's Mining Concession and environment impact assessment ("EIA") permits. As a consequence, at this stage, the permitting and base business case remains the 850,000 tpy case.

The proposed process encompasses crushing and grinding of the run-of-mine ("ROM") ore followed by froth flotation to produce a gold/silver bearing concentrate. Tailings will be thickened to a paste of maximum solids content and disposed of in the Integrated Mine Waste Facility ("IMWF"), along with waste rock from the mine.

The Project comprises:

  • Process plant;

  • Deep Cone Thickener Facility;

  • Integrated Mine Waste Facility;

  • Open pit mine and haul roads; and

  • Ancillary buildings and access roads.

The engineering for the mine, process plant and infrastructure has been developed to support a capital cost estimate, as well as an operating cost estimate, to an accuracy of ±3.6%. The capital and operating costs consider the mining, processing, general administration costs and environmental implications and are in fourth quarter 2010 ("Q4 2010") United States Dollars (US$).

Life of Mine Production Assumptions
Item Through 2024
Total Quantity Ore Mined/Milled 7.2 million tonnes
Average Grades
Gold 3.36 g/t
Silver 1.93 g/t
Recoveries
Gold 85%
Silver 70%

Processing Facility

Ongoing project evaluation and the development of alternative methods of flotation and tailings handling facilitated a new approach being taken based on the use of flotation to produce a gold/silver concentrate. The proposed process encompasses crushing and grinding of the ROM ore followed by flotation to produce a concentrate. Flotation tailings will be thickened to a paste of maximum solids content and disposed of in the IMWF, along with waste rock from the mine.

Comprehensive testwork programs have been completed on samples representative of Krumovgrad ore types. The recent testing program, performed in 2009/2010 by SGS Laboratory in Lakefield, Ontario, was designed to supplement the extensive characterization work on the Ade Tepe deposit, completed in 2004/2005 and reported in the previous 2005 FS. The test program was developed to confirm the potential of both: (a) physical recovery processes (flotation and gravity) as the primary method of precious metal concentration; and (b) the ultimate integration of high-density (or "paste") settled tailings from the process into an overall waste deposition strategy with the mine waste.

These results were used as the basis for development of the process flow sheet, process design criteria, mass balance model and equipment sizing.

The key results of the testwork program were:

  • Confirmation that the gold and silver extraction results obtained (approximately 85% Au and 70% Ag) are achievable on a range of Krumovgrad concentrates;

  • Identification of process conditions and an overall process flow sheet which can deliver these extractions at optimal reagent consumptions; and

  • Confirmation of the process performance and design criteria of the key circuits.

Integrated Mine Waste Facility

The tailings storage location was revised to minimize land use and environmental footprint. The concept of a conventional slurry disposal facility, as proposed in the 2005 FS, has been replaced with an IMWF which will receive both the thickened tailings and the mine waste rock from the Ada Tepe pit. The concept of the IMWF is to place dewatered and thickened tailings into cells constructed from mine rock.

At the economic parameters used for this study (ie 0.6 g/t cut-off grade), 15 million tonnes of mine rock and 7.2 million tonnes of tailings will be stored within the IMWF during the life of the mine.

Permitting

Bulgaria's legal framework for conducting business has improved significantly since enactment of the Commerce Act in 1991. With the accession to the European Union in 2007, further positive changes are taking place in Bulgaria. While the legal and permitting requirements are both complicated and time consuming, the desire for change has created a collaborative environment for the government/regulatory agencies and the investor to work together to satisfy objectives of mutual benefit.

On November 23, 2011, the Bulgarian Minister of Environment and Waters signed a resolution approving the EIA for the Company's Project in Bulgaria. This approval includes pre-emptive execution and, while subject to appeal, allows DPM to advance the Krumovgrad project.

The Company is currently preparing a detailed development and implementation plan for the Project and site areas, which is also a prerequisite for issuance of a construction permit. The Project is fully compliant with all European safety and environmental directives and industry Best Available Techniques requirements.

Capital Cost

The capital cost estimate reflects the initial capital cost, including an accuracy allowance of $4.6 million, sustaining capital, and closure and rehabilitation costs.

The updated FS and the related financial analysis include only incremental capital costs and excludes financing and sunk costs.

The table below is a summary of the estimated capital costs required to complete the Project.

CAPITAL COST ESTIMATE SUMMARY
Item Total ($M) (1)
Initial Capital Cost
Direct costs 94.23
Indirect costs 28.64
Accuracy allowance (3.6%) 4.60
127.40
Sustaining capital 12.50
Closure and rehabilitation costs 13.50
TOTAL CAPITAL - Life of Mine 153.50
(1) The capital cost estimate is expressed in Q4 2010 US dollars.

Operating Costs

Operating costs are based on the mining and treatment of 850,000 tpy of ore, producing an annual average of 74,000 oz of gold and 35,000 oz of silver, for the period indicated. Costs for the new facilities are based on Q4 2010 quotations for all materials and consumables.

SUMMARY OF ESTIMATED OPERATING COSTS
Item $/t ore
Processed
(1)
Mining costs 8.24
Processing costs 16.54
Tailings treatment costs 4.10
General & administration 4.68
Accuracy allowance 1.41
Royalty 3.14
Total Annual Cash Costs 38.11
(1) Average cash cost over 9 years.

Technical Information

The technical report prepared in support of the FS will be filed on Sedar at www.sedar.com by January 13, 2012. Investors should review the detailed information contained in the technical report for the key assumptions, parameters and additional information relevant to the matters discussed in this news release.

The technical information contained in this news release has been prepared in accordance with Canadian regulatory requirements set out in NI 43-101 and has been reviewed and approved by Dr. Julian Barnes, B.Sc.Hon., PhD (Geology), Technical Consultant, formerly Executive Vice President of DPM, and Dr. Simon Meik, B.Sc. Hon., PhD (Minerals Processing), Vice President, Processing, of DPM, both of whom are Qualified Persons as defined under NI 43-101 and not independent of the Company.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This news release contains "forward-looking statements" that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the future price of gold and silver, the estimation of mineral reserves and resources, the realization of mineral estimates, the timing and amount of estimated future production and output, costs of production, capital expenditures, costs and timing of the development of new deposits, success of exploration activities, permitting time lines, currency fluctuations, requirements for additional capital, government regulation of mining operations, environmental risks, unanticipated reclamation expenses, title disputes or claims, limitations on insurance coverage and timing and possible outcome of pending litigation. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "expects", or "does not expect", "is expected", "budget", "scheduled", "estimates", "forecasts", "intends", "anticipates", or "does not anticipate", or "believes", or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and estimates of management as of the date such statements are made, and they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any other future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among others: the actual results of current exploration activities; actual results of current reclamation activities; conclusions of economic evaluations; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be refined; future prices of gold, copper, zinc and silver; possible variations in ore grade or recovery rates; failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; accidents, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry; delays in obtaining governmental approvals or financing or in the completion of development or construction activities, fluctuations in metal prices, as well as those risk factors discussed or referred to in Management's Discussion and Analysis under the heading "Risks and Uncertainties" and other documents filed from time to time with the securities regulatory authorities in all provinces and territories of Canada and available at www.sedar.com. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results not to be anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Unless required by securities laws, the Company undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements if circumstances or management's estimates or opinions should change. Accordingly, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements.

NON-IFRS FINANCIAL MEASURES

This news release refers to estimated EBITDA, cash cost per tonne of ore processed and cash cost per ounce of gold because management and certain investors use this information to assess the Company's performance and also determine the Company's ability to generate cash flow for investing activities. In addition, management utilizes these metrics as an important management tool to monitor cost performance of the Company's operations. These measurements have no standardized meaning under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS") and may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies. These measurements are intended to provide additional information and should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for measures of performance prepared in accordance with IFRS.

Dundee Precious Metals Inc. is a well-financed, Canadian based, international gold mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of precious metals. The Company's principal operating assets include the Chelopech operation, which produces a gold, copper and silver concentrate, located east of Sofia, Bulgaria; the Kapan operation, which produces a gold, copper, zinc and silver concentrate, located in southern Armenia; and the Tsumeb smelter, a concentrate processing facility located in Namibia. DPM also holds interests in a number of developing gold properties located in Bulgaria, Serbia, and northern Canada, including interests held through its 51.4% owned subsidiary, Avala Resources Ltd., its 47.7% interest in Dunav Resources Ltd. and its 11.6% interest in Sabina Gold & Silver Corp.

Contact Information

  • Dundee Precious Metals Inc.
    Jonathan Goodman
    President & Chief Executive Officer
    (416) 365-2408
    jgoodman@dundeeprecious.com

    Dundee Precious Metals Inc.
    Lori Beak
    Senior Vice President, Investor & Regulatory
    Affairs and Corporate Secretary
    (416) 365-5165
    lbeak@dundeeprecious.com