CHEYENNE, Wyo., April 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Gold Corp. (NASDAQ: USAU) (the "Company"), a gold exploration and development company, has released the following corporate update from its Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, George Bee:
Dear U.S. Gold Corp. Shareholders:
With the progress that we have been making, along with the increased attention and interest around gold and copper assets, we thought this would be a good time to provide our shareholders with an update. We are on track to accomplish our next two milestones at the CK Gold Project, located in southeast Wyoming. The CK Gold Project continues to be our top priority as we approach our big midyear 2022 objectives:
Permit to Mine Application. We have over 18 months of baseline data on fauna, flora, groundwater, surface water, meteorological conditions, air quality, and rock geochemistry. We continue with monitoring, and these data are being assembled into a permit application that describes our proposed mine and impacts which we believe would be heavily net positive for all concerned. We completed a wetlands survey and, as it relates to the footprint of the project, we are not under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers, meaning that our permit application will be handled solely by the authorities in Wyoming, led by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ).
We held a permit scoping meeting with WDEQ in October 2020 and had a follow-up meeting in December 2021, and now plan an April 2022 update in preparation for our permit submission midyear. At the April meeting, our team plans to show our hydrological and geochemical modeling that we believe demonstrates that the groundwater in and around the project will not be affected by our proposed operations. Additionally, we will be discussing the permit proposals for big game habitat impact mitigation, plans for mine closure, and the sources and use of water. Realizing that water is a precious commodity, we have designed into our plans, a dry stack spent material facility wherein we pressure filter water from the material after extraction of gold- and copper-bearing minerals so that the water can be recycled back into the plant.
We anticipate submitting a complete and well supported permit application that can be reviewed by the authorities expeditiously, allowing the company to quickly proceed to the next stage of development.
Engineering Study. Last year we published a prefeasibility study on December 1st; the full technical report is available on our website and can be accessed here. In February, we evaluated engineering firms to take the study to the next stage, announcing in March that Samuel Engineering, Inc. (SEI) of Greenwood Village, CO, had been awarded work on the next phase of engineering. SEI and our in-house team are assessing recommendations from equipment manufacturers with the aim of optimizing the plant equipment and layout. We anticipate that we should be able to tighten up the process plant footprint, eliminating the need for certain pieces of equipment, such as a pebble crusher and a bank of cyclones, thereby reducing the capital cost and optimizing the designs for the local conditions.
SEI is a company with extensive experience in Wyoming, and serving the resource sector in general, and we hope to capitalize on their experience. Additionally, we will look to benefit from the fact that the aggregate and many of the materials we need for construction naturally occur on-site. Employing local experienced contractors will help control development costs, avoiding transportation and offsetting some of the increases in fuel prices that we are all subject to. Inflation and supply chain delays are issues affecting the market and aspects that we are working on to ensure that the plant savings we hope to achieve are not eliminated.
A new look at concentrate sales is one aspect that has been encouraging for the project. The CK Gold Project will produce a high-value concentrate, something that looks like grey dust, with 20+% copper and 2-3 ounces of gold per ton. Initially, we considered the need to ship the concentrate overseas to achieve the highest sales prices. While transport overseas is still a possible sales avenue, overseas sales come with additional transportation charges and delays in payment. We have recently retained a concentrate marketing consultant with deep experience in both smelter operations and metals/concentrate trading, who believes that the North American smelters will be eager to compete for the concentrate the project would produce. Furthermore, clean concentrates with gangue elements that contribute to the flux needed for smelting are sought after to blend with poorer-quality concentrates from other smelter customers. We anticipate payable values between 96% and 97% for the gold and copper in the concentrate. We now plan to have concentrate shipped in 10-ton bulk bags, and those could be directed to one of a number of smelters by truck or rail.
The next phase of engineering is scheduled for completion midyear, and we are on track. While there will potentially be some escalation reflected in the study for consumer items, such as fuel, we will be evaluating the project economics at higher copper and gold prices than were used for the prefeasibility study at $1,625 per ounce of gold and $3.25 per pound of copper, which resulted in a 39.4% before-tax IRR for the project. We see the CK Gold Project as continuing to be a sound proposition with upside still to be factored in.
By way of a reminder, we are now building on the PFS with highlights that include:
- Mineral Resources – 1.58 million gold equivalent ("AuEq") ounces of Measured and Indicated (M+I) Resources
- An additional 0.357 million AuEq ounces of inferred resource
- M+I includes: Gold (1.110 million ounces) and Copper (280 million lbs)
- Mineral Reserves – 1.44 million AuEq ounces of Proven and Probable (P1 and P2) Reserves
- P1 and P2 includes: Gold (1.010 million ounces) and Copper (248 million lbs)
- 10-year Mine Life at 20,000 short tons per day process rate
- Average AuEq production: 108,500 ounces per year
- First 3 years: 135,300 AuEq ounces per year
- Initial Capital – $221 million
- Potential attractive financing terms from equipment suppliers and development capital sources
- 2-year payback
- Robust Economics – 39.4% IRR before tax and 33.7% IRR after tax
- NPV (5%): $323 million and $266 million, before and after tax, respectively
- All-in Sustaining Cost ("AISC") at $800 per AuEq ounce
- Assumes $1,625/ounce gold price and $3.25/lb copper price
- Highly leveraged to increasing metals prices
- Upside Potential
- Aggregate sales from mine waste rock, proven to be excellent quality
- FS level value engineering and plant optimization
- Ongoing metallurgical testing to enhance recovery of gold and copper
- Resource expansion potential at depth and to the southeast
- Permitting and Development
- Project footprint under the jurisdiction of Wyoming agencies
- Potential to submit mine permit application in 2022 with approval as soon as 2023
With significantly higher gold and copper prices, the PFS clearly outlined what we consider to be an economically attractive project that is now leveraged to the increases we see. Our entire team is committed to continuing to advance this opportunity to permitting and into production.
Additional Upside on the CK Gold Project
Beyond the 1 million gold ounces and 248 million pounds of copper contained in the proven and probable reserve category, we believe that CK Gold deposit has additional resources and a blue-sky exploration upside. We know the deposit is open at depth and to the southeast. We have intentionally completed our PFS technical study and pursued the next phase of engineering without efforts to incorporate additional resources. This decision was taken to conserve treasury by limiting exploration expenditures, thereby avoiding shareholder dilution, and with the objective of showing the value proposition around the reserves we know currently exist. However, the upside is potentially significant. You may access the recent video to understand the magnitude of the potential here. Several holes drilled in 2021 support the contention of mineralization beyond our current resource estimates. These results will be shared as they become available but stop short of a full evaluation to increase resources and reserves for now, until we get the initial project underway.
Regarding the aggregate potential and by way of a reminder from the last update, this passage, taken directly from our PFS, highlights the aggregate opportunity: "A unique feature of the CK Gold Project is its proximity to growing population centers and infrastructure, which may further offer opportunities to bolster revenue through the sale of waste rock as aggregate. Investigations have proven the non-mineralized rock to be of very good quality for aggregate products. Only a minor benefit for the aggregate potential has been recognized in this study, and more work is warranted to assess the full potential. To move bulk rock tonnages, some additional arrangements would need to be made, but there is more than 30 million tons of rock available that could retail, as crushed and clean aggregate, at between $16 and $18 per ton, and this potential value has not been fully captured in this study." For now, we are focused on the value creation centered around permitting the gold and copper operation. The immediate effect of having aggregate on site will be a reduction in construction costs for our processing plant; however we will continue to assess the upside of the project. Not only will we have a potential revenue source from rock already mined to support gold and copper production, but we also look to assess the net reduction in carbon emission by making this rock available to the market.
High-Potential Exploration Projects Primed for Discovery in 2022 and Beyond
US Gold has just completed two equity financings, the second of which was greater in gross proceeds and share price than the first, which shows solid support from our investors and provides a solid balance sheet. With greater financial resources available, we will review the potential to create value from our portfolio of exploration assets, either through a strategic partnership or judicious use of funds for exploration.
Corporate Operating Highlights
There are many attractive aspects of U.S. Gold Corp. First, we are one of the few exploration and development companies listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Second, we have a tight share structure, with just over eight million shares of common stock outstanding. Third and finally, we are proud to say that as of today, U.S. Gold Corp. currently has no long-term debt, with approximately $9 million of cash in treasury.
We continue to focus on moving all of our projects forward to enhance shareholder value. 2022 is already a busy year, with lots of value-creating catalysts for U.S. Gold Corp. On behalf of the entire management team and Board of Directors, we would like to thank you for your support as we continue to advance the company.
U.S. Gold Corp.
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
U.S. Gold Corp. periodically sends news via email to its shareholders and interested investors. If you would like to receive these communications, please sign up to receive U.S. Gold Corp. news releases at: http://ir.usgoldcorp.gold/
About U.S. Gold Corp.
U.S. Gold Corp. is a publicly traded, U.S.-focused gold exploration and development company. U.S. Gold Corp. has a portfolio of exploration properties. The CK Gold Project is located in southeast Wyoming and has a PFS technical report, which was completed by Gustavson Associates. Keystone and Maggie Creek are exploration properties on the Cortez and Carlin Trends in Nevada. The Challis Gold Project is located in Idaho. For more information about U.S. Gold Corp., please visit www.usgoldcorp.gold.
Certain statements in this shareholder letter are forward-looking within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as "will," "anticipate," "believe," "forecast," "estimated," and "intend," among others. Forward-looking statements include all mineral resource and mineral reserve estimates; projected mine life, initial capital and potential production; economic estimates, including NPV and IRR; process plant improvements; expectations regarding the concentrate that may be produced at the CK Gold Project; references to potential additional resources at the CK Gold Deposit; and the proposed timing for filing and approval of our mine plan permit. These forward-looking statements are based on U.S. Gold Corp.'s current expectations, and actual results could differ materially from such statements. There are a number of factors that could cause actual events to differ materially from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, risks arising from: the prevailing market conditions for metal prices and mining industry cost inputs; environmental and regulatory risks; the reasonability of the economic assumptions contained in the PFS; changes in interpretations of geological, geostatistical, metallurgical, mining or processing information, including interpretations of the information resulting from exploration, analysis or mining and processing experience; COVID-19 uncertainties; risks faced by junior companies generally engaged in exploration activities; whether U.S. Gold Corp. will be able to raise sufficient capital to develop the CK Gold Project and implement future exploration programs; the success or failure of future drilling programs; and other factors described in the Company's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and Current Reports on Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which can be reviewed at www.sec.gov. The Company has based these forward-looking statements on its current expectations and assumptions about future events. While management considers these expectations and assumptions to be reasonable, they are inherently subject to significant business, economic, competitive, regulatory, and other risks, contingencies, and uncertainties, most of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond the Company's control. The Company undertakes no duty to correct or update any information contained herein.
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SOURCE U.S. Gold Corp.
Released April 13, 2022