TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 16, 2013) - Apogee Silver Ltd. ("Apogee" or the "Company") (TSX VENTURE:APE)(OTCQX:AGEEF) announces that Bolivia's Ministry of Environment and Water ("MMA y A") has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment ("EIA") for the Pulacayo silver and base metals project ("Pulacayo Project") in southwestern Bolivia. The approval of the EIA is the key milestone in the advancement of the project towards the construction phase.
Neil Ringdahl, President and CEO of Apogee, commented "We are very pleased about the approval of the Pulacayo Project by the Ministry of Environment and Water. This completes an extensive regulatory process and represents an essential step in bringing the Pulacayo Project to production. We wish to acknowledge the Pulacayo Cooperative and local communities for their valuable input and support, as well as the Bolivian authorities for their expeditious review and approval."
The EIA was submitted to the MMA y A on December 17, 2012. The submission was the result of over 30 months of technical studies and consultations, including a comprehensive water management plan, the feasibility study, archeological studies, flora and fauna studies, mine closure planning, social baseline studies, and results from two years of public consultations with local communities.
The approval of the EIA will allow Apogee, subject to the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals and sufficient funding, to begin mine and concentrator construction with a targeted production rate of up to 560 tonnes per day (tpd) at the Pulacayo Project. The recently published feasibility study (filed on www.sedar.com on March 1, 2013, subsequent to the original EIA submission) anticipated a buildup to a production rate of 1,000 tpd through two designed 500 tpd concentrator modules over three years. The Company believes it will be able to successfully modify this environmental permit at such time it exceeds 500 tpd, given that part of the current permit already incorporates a 1,000 tpd tailings storage facility and other mining infrastructure as designed.
Initial earthworks for the concentrator are completed and a 1.3 km access road from the Pulacayo concentrator site to the newly paved, government-funded, double lane Potosi-Uyuni highway has been built, significantly improving access to the Pulacayo Project. As part of the ongoing infrastructure improvements across Bolivia, another new, double lane, paved road connecting Pulacayo to Oruro via Uyuni is expected to be completed in early 2014. The entire 755 km access route to the port of Arica on the Chilean coast will then be completely paved. Additionally, a new national airport has been recently built at Uyuni, just 25 km from the mine. The airport currently hosts three commercial flights per day from La Paz and connecting flights to other parts of Bolivia, and it is understood that plans are underway to convert it into an international airport in the future.
A new government-funded electrical substation for the town of Uyuni is being constructed with sufficient capacity for the Pulacayo Project as well, only 27 km away from the mine. Previously, the Feasibility Study anticipated building a switching substation at Tazna, 61 km from Pulacayo and the construction of a 115 kV power line. Permitting activities for both options are already underway.
Apogee have a proven management team with demonstrated operational success in Bolivia: In 2011 and 2012 over 31,000 m of additional surface and underground exploration drilling was concluded at the Pulacayo Project, resulting in significant increases in the NI 43-101 resources (see press releases dated October 19, 2011 and September 28, 2012).
In May 2012, the Company announced the commencement of an independent feasibility study, and the subsequent positive result was disclosed in press releases on January 17, 2013 and March 1, 2013.
The Company has successfully conducted bulk underground trial mining activities at the Pulacayo Project, and transport of ore to Potosi for toll milling operations where silver recoveries of up to 86% were achieved (see press release September 13, 2012) despite operational difficulties and sub-optimal concentrator performance. Management believes this may suggest that higher recoveries are possible with lower transport costs, should the Company be able to construct its own concentrator as planned at site.
Supervisors and operators have been sourced from affected communities and trained in partnership with the Pulacayo Cooperative. Upon reactivation of the mine site, this workforce is readily available for project construction and production. The Pulacayo Project additionally obtained overwhelming approval from affected communities and stakeholders in a well-attended community consultation meeting held in December 2012 (see press release Jan 9, 2013).
In 2013, 291 tonnes of lead-silver concentrates and 377 tonnes of zinc-silver concentrates were successfully exported to the port of Arica, Chile to realize pre-production sales of over US$1.6 million to Trafigura PTE Ltd., demonstrating the Company's ability to obtain all the necessary export permits. In addition, from these sales the Company was able to remit tax revenues and royalties to the people of the Bolivia, including the Pulacayo cooperative.
Apogee continues to actively pursue financing partners and/or financing alternatives to provide the Company with the required capital to develop the Pulacayo Project.
About Apogee Silver Limited
Apogee Silver is a mineral exploration and development company focused on advancing its 100% controlled Pulacayo Project to production. Currently in its financing phase, this low capital and operating cost silver and base metals mine project is located in the prolific silver-producing Potosi district in southwestern Bolivia. The Feasibility Study (based on US$28 Silver) on the foundation phase of the project estimates an initial CAPEX of $55 million that will support a mining rate of 1,000 tonnes per day for 10 years at all-in costs (including capex, opex and sustaining capex) of $15.66/oz and cash operating costs of US$11.20/oz producing approximately 2,300,000 silver equivalent ounces (including base metal credits using base metal prices of US$0.86/lb for Pb & US$1.00/lb for Zn). This initial mine scenario features a pre-tax IRR of 47.1% and post-tax IRR of 32.1%. The Feasibility Study considers only approximately 49% of the silver ounces from the total Pulacayo Project mineral resource and the Company intends to expand its operation once in production. Additional mineral growth from exploration drilling on down-dip and strike defined targets adjacent to the current resource is also anticipated, and excludes the potential presented by the Paca resource just 7km away. Apogee is led by a proven management team with hands-on experience developing and operating mines in Latin America.
Apogee shares are listed on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV) under the symbol "APE", and on the premier tier of the U.S. Over-the-Counter market (OTCQX) under the symbol "AGEEF".
The technical information provided in this news release was reviewed and approved by Professor J.L. Porter (FSAIMM), a consultant to Apogee Silver Limited and a qualified person for the purposes of National Instrument 43-101.
On Behalf of Apogee Silver Limited,
|Neil T. Ringdahl||G. Scott Paterson|
|Chief Executive Officer||Chairman|
Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Information:
This press release contains "forward looking information" within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements, projections and estimates with respect to results of the feasibility study and the mineral reserve and resource estimate, the anticipated timing and impact of the proposed amendments to the Bolivian Mining Law, the future financial or operating performance of the Company, its subsidiaries and its projects, the ability to obtain financing and/or financial partners; and the impact of concerns relating to permitting, other necessary approvals, governmental and local community relations. Generally, forward looking information can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology 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". Estimates underlying the results of the feasibility study arise from engineering, geological and costing work of TWP Sudamerica, Mercator Geological Services, P&E Mining Consultants and the Company. See the technical report relating to the Feasibility Study for a description of all relevant estimates, assumptions and parameters. Forward-looking information is subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information, including but not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, geopolitical and social uncertainties; the actual results of current exploration activities; other necessary approvals from the Bolivian authorities or COMIBOL,; other risks of the mining industry and the risks described in the annual information form of the Company. Although the Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking information, there may be other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. There can be no assurance that such information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward looking information. The Company does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except in accordance with applicable securities laws.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release