Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
TSX : PGD

Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.

March 06, 2017 07:30 ET

Peregrine Diamonds Completes Internal CH-6 Open Pit and Underground Mining Study and Revises 2017 Work Program

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - March 6, 2017) - Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. (TSX:PGD) ("Peregrine" or "the Company") is pleased to announce that it has completed an internal concept study of a potential open-pit plus underground mining development at its 100% owned CH-6 kimberlite pipe at the Chidliak Diamond Project near Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. The study was completed in consultation with JDS Energy & Mining Inc. ("JDS"). The study has concluded there is the potential to substantially enhance the economics of the Chidliak Project by incorporating an underground mining operation below 260 metres of depth at CH-6, the current bottom of the open pit Inferred Resource defined in the August 2016 Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") (see below). As a result of this conceptual study, a drill program targeting this deeper kimberlite is planned to commence in June 2017 to expand the resource to depths up to 500 metres below surface. In addition to the resource expansion drilling, geotechnical work and environmental studies in the Chidliak Project area and proposed transportation corridor will continue.

CH-6 PEA AND OPEN PIT PLUS UNDERGROUND CONCEPT STUDY

JDS completed a positive preliminary economic assessment titled "Preliminary Economic Assessment Technical Report of the Chidliak Project, Nunavut, Canada" dated August 19, 2016 on a Phase-One open-pit only mining operation of the CH-6 and CH-7 kimberlite pipes.

The economics of a development at Chidliak are robust. Highlights of the 2016 Chidliak Phase-One, Open-Pit, Diamond Development PEA base case are:

  • Pre-tax Net Present Value (NPV) of C$743.7 million, at a 7.5% discount rate and a pre-tax Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 38.1%.
  • After-tax NPV of C$471.2 million, at a 7.5% discount rate and an after-tax IRR of 29.8%.
  • Total Life of Mine (LOM) pre-tax Free Cash Flow of C$1.31 billion.
  • After-tax payback period of two years, LOM of ten years.
  • Operating margin of 72%.
  • LOM average production rate of 1.2 million carats per year, peaking at 1.8 million carats per year.
  • Estimated pre-production capital requirement of approximately C$434.9 million, including C$56.7 million in contingency.

The PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred Mineral Resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them to be categorized as Mineral Reserves. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. There is no certainty that the PEA will be realized. All mine plan tonnes in the PEA are Inferred Mineral Resources.

The PEA concluded that the project was of sufficient merit to proceed to the Preliminary Feasibility Study ("PFS") stage. The key components of the recommended work program include:

  • Core drilling at CH-6 to better quantify the target for further exploration ("TFFE") and possibly convert that material to a Mineral Resource.
  • Bulk sampling of CH-6 to advance the resource to the Indicated level.
  • Engineering and geotechnical programs to better quantify process requirements and refine pit design.
  • Continued environmental monitoring and development of permitting management plans.

In December 2016, the Company engaged JDS to complete an internal, concept-level study on the project economic uplift that could be realized by developing the CH-6 kimberlite to a depth of 500 metres as a combined open-pit plus underground mining operation. The results of this study are excellent and have significantly changed the specifics for the 2017 work program. The study clearly demonstrates the benefit of focusing the 2017 program on proving the resource potential at CH-6 below 260 metres, the current bottom of the Inferred Resource in the PEA.

As a "concept study" does not conform with NI 43-101 requirements, the study, and its technical and economic details, cannot be publicly disclosed

CURRENT CH-6 TFFE

On April 7, 2016, the Company released updated independent estimates of TFFE for the CH-6 kimberlite below 260 metres of depth as shown in Table 1 below.

TABLE 1: CH-6 KIMBERLITE TFFE BELOW 260 METRES

Domain Depth
(metres below surface)
Low-case Tonnes (millions) High-case Tonnes (millions)
CH-6 KIM-L 260-380 1.27 2.40
CH-6 KIM-C 260-380 0.88 1.09
CH-6 TFFE 260-380 2.15 3.49

The KIM-L TFFE was estimated based on 112 metres of core logged as KIM-L in five vertical core holes extending below the 260 metre depth of the KIM-L resource, and on extrapolation to depth of the CH-6 pipe shell, which is well constrained at shallower depths. Vertical core hole CHI-050-11-DD24, drilled in August 2011, intersected KIM-L throughout the length of the hole to its terminal depth of 300 metres, and was sampled for caustic fusion diamond assay over the 266 to 299 metre depth range. Diamond recovery results are presented in Table 2.

TABLE 2: DIAMONDS RECOVERED BY CAUSTIC FUSION FOR CH-6 KIM-L (TFFE) FROM HOLE DD24

Geological
Unit
Depth
(m)
Sample
Weight
(kg)
Diamond count by sieve size (mm) Total
Diamonds
Carats
(+0.85
mm)
+0.106
-0.150
+0.150
-0.212
+0.212
-0.300
+0.300
-0.425
+0.425
-0.600
+0.60
-0.85
+0.85
-1.18
+1.18
-1.70
+1.70
-2.36
+2.36
-3.35
+3.35
-4.75
CH-06
(KIM-L TFFE)
266
to
299
40.2 36 16 10 7 5 3 1 1 0 0 0 79 0.04

The caustic fusion result is consistent with a coarse diamond size distribution within the KIM-L unit and with caustic fusion results for KIM-L from sampling within the current Inferred Resource. This fact, paired with the geological continuity identified within KIM-L throughout CH-6, emphasizes the importance of kimberlite below 260 metres being targeted by the 2017 drilling program.

The TFFE's identified above are conceptual in nature and are not Mineral Resources. It is uncertain whether further exploration will result in any of these tonnages being delineated as Mineral Resources.

2017 CH-6 WORK PROGRAM

The 2017 work program at Chidliak will now focus on three main objectives:

  • Expansion of the current Inferred Resource at CH-6 - through diamond core drilling of approximately 4,000-5,000 metres to further demonstrate geological continuity, establish pipe margin pierce-points and obtain spatially representative kimberlite samples for caustic fusion diamond assay. The main objective will be to increase the depth of a categorized resource from 260 metres to 500 metres. Caustic fusion results will be used to model diamond grade and grade distribution of the kimberlite to 500 metres.
  • Refine open pit geotechnical design parameters - as part of the 2017 drilling program, oriented HQ diameter core and other geotechnical data required to refine the open-pit parameters, particularly the pit slope angles, will be acquired. This data will enable assumptions regarding open pit design to be tested and further refined.
  • Advancing permitting - through continued environmental monitoring programs of the Chidliak Project area and the proposed transportation corridor.

The Company is currently working with Mineral Services Canada to finalize parameters for the 2017 drill program that would support robust future resource estimates. All necessary preparations to initiate this program, including equipment acquisition and camp preparation, were completed in 2016 and all permits have been obtained. The Company expects the microdiamond analyses to be completed in the third quarter of 2017 and anticipates an updated resource for CH-6 to be declared in the fourth quarter. If the resource at depths below 260 metres is of sufficient size and diamond grade, a new PEA outlining an underground mining operation for this material, in addition to the existing open-pit operation, could be completed in the first quarter of 2018. Total cost for the 2017 work program is estimated at C$7.5 million.

FINANCING FOR THE 2017 PROGRAM

The Company is in discussions with various parties regarding financing for the 2017 program and is confident such financing will be obtained. Detailed information will be provided if and when a financing option is selected by the Company.

QUALIFIED PERSONS

Mr. Gord Doerksen of JDS Energy and Mining Inc. is a Professional Engineer and an independent, external Qualified Person that consults to Peregrine. Dr. Tom Nowicki of Mineral Services Canada Inc., is a Professional Geologist and is Peregrine's independent, external Qualified Person for resource estimates. Dr. Herman Grütter, Peregrine's Vice President, Technical Services, is a Qualified Person and is responsible for the design of the Diamond Resource Development Program at Chidliak.

Mr. Doerksen, Dr. Nowicki and Dr. Grütter have reviewed this release and approve of its contents.

ABOUT PEREGRINE DIAMONDS

Peregrine Diamonds is a TSX-listed diamond exploration and development company with assets located in northern Canada and Botswana.

Peregrine's core asset is its' 100 percent-owned, 513,000-hectare Chidliak Project, located 120 kilometres from Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut where 71 kimberlites have been discovered to date with eight being potentially economic. A Preliminary Economic Assessment ("PEA") of a Phase 1 Diamond Development ("CP1D") has been completed. The PEA highlights that the CP1D represents a robust, high margin, ten-year, open-pit mining project with very attractive economics, including after tax NPV of C$471M, IRR of 29.8% and a two year payback. An Inferred Mineral Resource of 11.39 million carats in 4.64 million tonnes of kimberlite at an average grade of 2.45 carats per tonne has been defined for a portion of the CH-6 kimberlite. In addition, a Target for Further Exploration ("TFFE") of 2.34 to 3.75 million tonnes of kimberlite to a depth of 380 metres below surface has been identified at CH-6. An independent diamond valuation by WWW International Diamond Consultants of a 1,013 carat parcel of diamonds from CH-6 returned an average market price of US$213 per carat, and modeled prices that range from a minimum of US$162 per carat to a high of US$236 per carat, with a base model price of US$188 per carat (all using the February 24, 2014 price book). An Inferred Mineral Resource of 4.23 million carats in 4.99 million tonnes of kimberlite at an average grade of 0.85 carats per tonne has been defined for a portion of the CH-7 kimberlite. In addition, TFFE of 0.90 to 2.36 million tonnes for a depth range of 240-320 metres has been estimated for the CH-7 kimberlite. An independent diamond valuation by WWW International Diamond Consultants, of a 735.75 carat parcel of diamonds from CH-7 returned an average market price of US$100 per carat and modelled prices that ranged from a minimum of US$94 per carat to a high of US$155 per carat, with a base model price of US$114 per carat (all using the February 1, 2016 price book). A TFFE of 1.27 to 3.19 million tonnes to 250 metres depth has been estimated for the CH-44 kimberlite pipe.

The Chidliak 2016 PEA is preliminary in nature and 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. Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. There is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.

The TFFEs identified above are conceptual in nature as there has been insufficient exploration to define a Mineral Resource. It is uncertain whether further exploration will result in any of these tonnages being delineated as Mineral Resources.

Peregrine holds eleven diamond prospecting licenses in Botswana that cover 661,330 hectares.

Peregrine also controls the 8,493-hectare Lac de Gras Project in the Northwest Territories, located approximately 27 kilometres from the Diavik Diamond Mine. The nine-hectare 72.1%-owned DO-27 kimberlite, located at Lac de Gras, hosts an Indicated Mineral Resource of 18.2 million carats of diamonds in 19.5 million tonnes of kimberlite at a grade of 0.94 carats per tonne and it is open at depth.

For information on data verification, exploration information and resource estimation procedures see the NI 43-101 technical reports entitled "Mineral Resource Estimate for the Chidliak Project, Baffin Island, Nunavut" and dated effective June 3, 2016 and "Peregrine Diamonds Limited DO-27 Diamond Project Northwest Territories, Canada NI 43-101 Technical Report" dated August 7, 2008 which are available on SEDAR and the Company's website.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation. All statements, other than statements of historical fact, that address activities, events or developments that the Company believes, expects or anticipates will or may occur in the future including, without limitation, statements relating to future management of the Company, proposed exploration and development programs, funding availability, anticipated exploration results, grade of diamonds and tonnage of material, resource estimates, anticipated diamond valuations and future exploration and operating plans are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements reflect the current expectations or beliefs of the Company based on information currently available to the Company.

Forward-looking statements are made based upon certain assumptions by the Company and other important factors that, if untrue, could cause the actual results, performances or achievements of the Company to be materially different from future results, performances or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Such statements and information are based on numerous assumptions regarding present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Company will operate in the future, including the availability and continuation of experienced leadership for the Company, the price of diamonds, anticipated costs and ability to achieve goals. Certain important factors that could cause actual results, performances or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to: receipt of regulatory approvals; anticipated timelines for community consultations and the impact of those consultations on the regulatory approval process; market prices for rough diamonds and the potential impact on the Chidliak Project; and future exploration plans and objectives.

Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results of the Company to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements and, even if such actual results are realized or substantially realized, there can be no assurance that they will have the expected consequences to, or effects on, the Company. Factors that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations include, among other things, uncertainties relating to continuity and availability of executive management, availability and cost of funds, timing and content of work programs, results of exploration activities, interpretation of drilling results and other geological data, risks relating to variations in the diamond grade and kimberlite lithologies; variations in rates of recovery and breakage; variations in diamond valuations and future diamond prices; the state of world diamond markets, reliability of mineral property titles, changes to regulations affecting the Company's activities, delays in obtaining or failure to obtain required project approvals, operational and infrastructure risk and other risks involved in the diamond exploration and development business. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made and, except as may be required by applicable securities laws, the Company disclaims any intent or obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or results or otherwise. Although the Company believes that the assumptions inherent in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and accordingly undue reliance should not be put on such statements due to their inherent uncertainty.

Contact Information

  • Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
    Mr. Eric Friedland
    Executive Chairman
    604-408-8880
    604-408-8881 (FAX)

    Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
    Mr. Tom Peregoodoff
    President and CEO
    604-408-8880
    604-408-8881 (FAX)

    Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
    Dr. Herman Grutter
    Vice President, Technical Services
    604-408-8880
    604-408-8881 (FAX)

    Peregrine Diamonds Ltd.
    Investor Relations
    604-408-8880
    604-408-8881 (FAX)
    investorrelations@pdiam.com
    www.pdiam.com