Nevsun Resources Ltd. (TSX: NSU / NYSE MKT: NSU) today announces its 2013 outlook for planned gold and copper production from the Bisha mine in Eritrea. The Bisha mine, operated by Nevsun’s 60 percent owned subsidiary Bisha Share Mining Company (BMSC), is one of the highest grade open pit base metal deposits in the world and has a mine life in excess of 12 years.
Cliff Davis, Nevsun CEO commented, “Following a very successful 2012, Nevsun looks forward to starting up a world class copper concentrate production operation and continued expansion of its resources portfolio through generative exploration programs. Nevsun will also continue to actively evaluate potential acquisition opportunities.”
- Maintain top quartile safety performance at Bisha operations
- Execute on social and environmental commitments
- Complete successful transition to copper production in mid-2013
- Deliver copper expansion on budget
- H1 2013 – Produce 80,000 to 90,000 ounces of gold
- H2 2013 – Produce 60 to 80 million pounds of copper (for 2014 see below)
- Obtain expanded exploration rights and commence generative exploration
- Publish resource estimate for Northwest Zone and drill Hambok deposit
- Continue paying peer leading dividends
CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY:
Nevsun expects that BMSC will maintain top quartile safety performance at Bisha operations and work towards maintaining lost time injury rates that are less than North American mining industry average. The Bisha Training School, scheduled to be completed in March 2013, will enhance the skill sets and future job advancement opportunities for the Eritrean workforce. During 2013 BMSC is scheduled to complete ecological/biodiversity and reptile and amphibian assessment studies and Nevsun will publish the 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, Nevsun expects that BMSC will continue to enhance CSR program initiatives to reflect evolving international standards.
COPPER EXPANSION PROJECT:
Nevsun expects that BMSC will complete copper expansion project construction on time and on budget. As of the date of this news release, approximately 80% of the forecasted project expenditures of $125M had been spent, ordered or arranged.
On cessation of gold production in mid-2013, BMSC will commence copper concentrate production and optimization of the new facilities. During ramp up, BMSC plans to produce 60 to 80 million pounds of copper in concentrate in H2 2013 through processing nearly 900,000 tonnes of ore from Bisha Main pit averaging 5.2% copper feed grade. Based on the mine plan, the copper will be contained in 100,000 to 120,000 tonnes of concentrate exceeding 30 percent copper grades.
2014 will be a full year of copper production and is expected to be in the order of 200 million pounds of copper.
As previously disclosed, BMSC will conclude gold production during the first half of 2013 as reserves will be depleted. Prior to conclusion BMSC plans to produce 80,000 – 90,000 ounces of gold during the first half of 2013 through processing 800,000 tonnes of remaining oxide ores from Harena and Bisha Main pits at a combined 3.7 grams per tonne.
Nevsun expects cash costs per gold ounce will increase significantly compared with the first half of 2012 as a result of lower feed grades, longer haul distances, more mined material and more drill and blast consumables.
After the conclusion of gold production BMSC will de-commission and retain the carbon-in-leach plant so it can be put back into operation should Nevsun’s regional exploration efforts yield more oxide deposits.
Nevsun has expanded its exploration drilling program at the Northwest Zone as mineralization continues along strike to the northeast. The objective is to complete drilling and release an initial NI 43-101 resource in the second half of 2013. At the recently acquired Hambok deposit on the Mogoraib exploration license, Nevsun plans to commence drilling to confirm the historic resource, while updating the geological and resource models.
Nevsun will also drill test already identified high priority targets on the Mogoraib exploration license and new targets on the Bisha mining license. The new targets include mineralized extensions and potential separate clusters of volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposit on the existing Bisha mining license. Nevsun will continue efforts to expand the licensed exploration areas beyond the existing 143.9 km2.