Brucejack ramps up; Quartermain to retire
North of 60 Mining News – May 3, 2019
Last updated 9/25/2020 at 2:56pm
Pretium Resources Inc. May 2 reported that its Brucejack Mine in northwestern British Columbia produced 79,180 ounces of gold during the first three months of 2019.
While mill throughput has increased at Brucejack, the ore grades are lower compared to recent quarters.
During the first three months of 2019, the mill processed 295,122 metric tons of ore, or an average of 3,279 metric tons per day. The average grade of the ore fed into the mill was 8.7 grams per metric ton gold.
Pretium attributed the decrease in mill feed grade to mining through a lower grade area and processing immediately available stopes that meet the grade cut-off. The mill feed grade is expected to increase in the second half of the year.
In addition to expected higher grades, the company expects to increase mill throughput.
In December, Pretium received the provincial permits needed to increase the amount of ore fed into the mill at Brucejack to 3,800 metric tons per day, a roughly 40 percent increase over the 2,700 metric tons per day previously permitted.
Pretium estimates it will cost less than C$25 million to complete the minor mill upgrades needed to support the increased production. The company plans to minimize downtime by implementing these improvements during regularly scheduled maintenance shutdowns of the mill.
Pretium said the modifications required to sustainably process ore at the upgraded production rate are on schedule.
In support of the ramp-up, the company prioritized the increase in development rate to 1,000 meters per month and the access to a greater number of stopes to support the increased mining rate by year end.
As a result of increased mill throughput and rising grades, the company continues to expect to produce 390,000 to 420,000 oz of gold at Brucejack this year.
"We made significant progress in the quarter towards achieving our 3,800 tonnes (metric tons) per day production rate target at Brucejack and with increased accessibility from continued underground development, we have established a solid foundation for operating effectively at our higher target rate," said Pretium Resources President and CEO Joseph Ovsenek. "Both grade and tonnes are expected to be higher in the second half of the year and we remain on track to achieve 2019 guidance."
Quartermain to retire
Pretium also reported that Executive Chairman Robert Quartermain will be retiring at the end of 2019.
"We extend our thanks to Bob, for his leadership and vision that took Brucejack from an exploration project to a fully-fledged Canadian gold producer in just over nine years," Lead Director George Paspalas said, on behalf the Pretium board and management. "We have benefitted greatly from his wise counsel and his many contributions on our path as a company, and on behalf of all of us I wish him every success and enjoyment of his well-earned retirement."
The company's board of directors has undertaken a succession plan to ensure a smooth transition and will elect a new chair this year.
Quartermain indicated that in making the announcement at the company's annual general meeting on May 1, he wanted to give the board ample time to plan the transition prior to his retirement.
"I have had the great pleasure over the past nine years to work with the highly professional team at Pretivm in developing the Brucejack project into Canada's newest, profitable, high-grade gold mine. Brucejack has evolved as envisaged when Pretivm was launched in 2010, and as a major shareholder, I have full confidence in Pretivm's President and CEO, Joe Ovsenek, and the operating team that he has put together at the company, to continue to deliver value for all Pretivm shareholders from this premier gold asset," said Quartermain.