Canadian company applies for large-scale gold licence

Another large-scale gold mine is set to open soon in Region Seven with the authorities processing the application by Canadian mining company Sand-spring Resources Limited for a Mineral Licence.

“ETK Inc/Sandspring recently made an application for a Mineral Licence which is currently being processed by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission,” Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud told Stabroek News. The company wants to produce 228,000 ounces of gold per annum from its proposed Toroparu Gold Project in Region Seven.

In his budget 2014 presentation in March, Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh said that the ETK/Sandspring project is also poised for further developmental works geared to production start up by 2015. The project is one of three large-scale mines including Troy Resources Limited and Guyana Goldfields who are set to open mines and begin gold production within the next year. “Collectively these injections of foreign direct investment are anticipated to increase production significantly, along with industrial and commercial linkages, which together bode well for Guyana’s economy on the whole,” Singh had said.

Sandspring is currently advancing its multi-million ounce Toroparu gold-copper deposit toward potential large-scale gold and copper production in 2015. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency granted an environmental permit for the development, construction and operation of a large-scale gold mine at Toroparu. In an updated pre-feasibility study for the Toroparu Gold Project last year, the company said that the results revealed an initial mine development of 4.1 million ounces of gold mineral reserve with a good production profile and bright economic outlook.

It added that the capital and operating cost estimates are US$501 million for capital expenditure and US$954 million over the 16-year life of the mine.

In a recent presentation to investors, the company had noted that it is construction ready and had a fiscal stability agreement and environmental permit in place while a Memorandum of Understanding was granted for development of a hydroelectric facility.

In April last year, government and CM Power Company, a subsidiary of Sandspring Resources/ETK Inc, inked a MOU for a feasibility study for construction of a hydropower plant at the Kumarau Falls on the Kurupung River. Prime Minister Samuel Hinds had said that the MOU gives CM the exclusivity to continue studying the site to develop plans to the point of going into construction.

“CM approached the government years ago to begin studying the development of a hydro plant that offers the potential to provide power at a lower cost,” he explained. The plant, which will cost an estimated US$300 million and will have a capacity of 65 megawatts, is expected to benefit not only the Bartica community but also smaller communities along the Essequibo River. It is projected to run for about 16 years, CEO of Sandspring Resources Rich Munson told Stabroek News at the time.

In its recent presentation, the company said that the upfront capital needed was US$464 million and it had raised 30% of this through stream financing with Silver Wheaton with a bankable feasibility study expected later this year. It noted too that the project was sufficient to support scaled development of the Kurupung hydroelectric facility.

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