VANCOUVER, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - Great Basin Gold Ltd, ("Great Basin" or the
"Company"), (TSX: GBG; NYSE Alternext: GBG; JSE: GBG) announces the successful
erection of the permanent headgear at the Number 1 Vertical Shaft of its
Burnstone Project in the Mpumalanga Province, 80 kilometers from Johannesburg,
The Company's plan for the Burnstone Project is to access the
gold-bearing Kimberley Reef primarily by means of a decline while extraction
of ore and waste will occur via a shallow vertical shaft. Great Basin has
undertaken the decline shaft using employees instead of contractors. The
design, sinking, equipping and commissioning of the Vertical Shaft was
contracted to Grinaker - LTA Mining, a business unit of Aveng (Africa) Ltd.
Site preparation for the vertical shaft started in January 2008, and sinking
commenced in April 2008.
The 7.5-meter diameter Vertical Shaft is planned to be sunk to a final
depth of 501 meters, and is designed to allow for the extraction of 125,000
tonnes of ore and 55,000 tonnes of waste per month. It will also be equipped
for the transportation of personnel and material. Under the mine plan, an
additional 50,000 tons of ore per month will be mined later via a second
decline accessing Area 2.
The initial, pre-sink phase was completed by the end of 2008, having
reached a depth of 164 meters below surface. Preparations for the next main
sink phase, which is to take place at a faster rate of excavation, are now
underway and nearing completion. As part of these preparations, the permanent
headgear was erected, allowing for three temporary sinking winders to be
installed. The winder installations have been completed and two of the three
winders were licensed to operate as of January 7, 2009. The third Kibble
winder will be licensed by end of February 2009. These winders will be
replaced by a permanent winder arrangement near to the time of the completion
of the project.
Erecting the 45-meter high pre-assembled headgear was a complex process,
requiring detailed planning and precision in execution. The erection process
commenced on Saturday, January 17 and was completed on Monday, January 19,
2009 when the raker legs were installed.
Good progress has been made underground with drifts to access mining
blocks B and C, which are currently under development. The decline shaft has
also progressed to within 35 meters of intersection with the Kimberley Reef.
Mining from the decline and Block B is planned to commence in the March 2009
quarter and access to Block C is scheduled in the June 2009 quarter.
The Metallurgical Plant design is in its final stages and will be
completed by end February 2009. Some used equipment has been purchased for the
Burnstone facility. The mills have been subjected to non-destructive testing
to determine the level of refurbishment required. The Metallurgical Plant
commissioning is on track for completion by mid 2010.
The 2007 Optimised Feasibility Study (see Great Basin News Release dated
July 5, 2007) has been updated by Great Basin's in-house engineering and
financial team ("2009 Update") based on mineral resources announced in 2008
(see Great Basin News Release dated February 19, 2008) and mine planning by
Turgis Engineering. A number of the project plans remain as in the 2007
Optimised Feasibility, with other key parameters described below. A technical
report currently being finalized is expected to be filed on www.sedar.com
during February 2009.
The continued exploration has resulted in a 15% increase in proven and
probable mineral reserves to 30 million tonnes grading 4.2 g/t at a 4 g/t gold
cut-off(1), and increasing the planned number of ounces to be mined from 3.5
million to 4.1 million ounces over a mine life of 15 years. Capital
expenditure estimates have been updated to reflect the change in mine plan.
During 2008, the Company spent US$37 million (ZAR337 million) to develop
the mine and related infrastructure, bringing the total expenditure on the
Burnstone Project to US$54 million (ZAR490 million). The remaining required
capital necessary to bring the mine into commercial production is estimated at
US$124 million (ZAR1.1 billion).
Cash costs for mining and processing are estimated at US$303 per ounce
(ZAR88,000 p/Kg). At a long term gold price of US$750/oz, the Project has an
Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 33% and an after-tax Net Present Value (NPV)
of US$612 million using a 5% discount rate. Using the current gold price of
US$900/oz and R9.00 to the US Dollar, the analysis indicates an IRR of 43% and
an after-tax NPV of US$879 million.
The Company is in the process of negotiating a project funding facility
with a syndicate of South African Banks and is optimistic that the
negotiations will be successfully concluded this month, subject to execution
of final documentation.
Ferdi Dippenaar, President and CEO, commented: "Erecting the permanent
headgear and installing the associated infrastructure are important and
significant milestones as we will be able to continue with the fast sink,
lining and equipping of this shallow 501-meter vertical shaft. Despite
intersecting water on 164 Level as well as in the barrel during the
pre-sinking, the team managed to gain approximately 4 weeks on the scheduled
sinking program. Good progress is also being made with underground
infrastructure development with multiple access points to the deposit, which
should see Burnstone producing approximately 40,000 oz over the next year."
Johan Oelofse, PrEng, FSAIMM, Chief Operating Officer for Great Basin is
a qualified person. He supervised the 2009 Update and has reviewed this news
President and CEO
(1) The mineral reserves are comprised of 27.6 million tonnes grading
4.27 g/t of proven reserves and 2.4 million tonnes grading 4.01 g/t
of probable reserves.
No regulatory authority has approved or disapproved the information
contained in this news release.
Cautionary and Forward Looking Statement Information
This release includes certain statements that may be deemed
"forward-looking statements". All statements in this release, other than
statements of historical facts, that address possible future commercial
production, bank loan arrangements, reserve potential, exploration drilling
results, development, feasibility or exploitation activities and events or
developments that Great Basin Gold expects to occur are forward-looking
statements. Although the Company believes the expectations expressed in such
forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, such
statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or
developments may differ materially from those in the forward-looking
statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from
those in forward-looking statements include market prices for precious metals,
credit availability, development and exploration successes, continuity of
mineralization, uncertainties related to the ability to obtain necessary
permits, licenses and title and delays due to third party opposition,
geopolitical uncertainty, changes in government policies regarding mining and
natural resource exploration and exploitation, and continued availability of
capital and financing, and general economic, market or business conditions.
Investors are cautioned that any such statements are not guarantees of future
performance and those actual results or developments may differ materially
from those projected in the forward-looking statements. For more information
on the Company, Investors should review the Company's annual Form 40-F filing
with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and its Canadian
jurisdiction filings that are available at www.sedar.com.
All information relating to the contents of the 2009 Update and to the
2007 Optimised Feasibility Study, including but not limited to statements of
the Burnstone project's potential and information such as capital and
operating costs, production summary, and financial analysis are forward
looking statements. The 2009 Update was prepared to quantify the Burnstone
project's capital and operating cost parameters and to determine the project's
likelihood of feasibility and optimal production rate. The capital and
operating cost estimates which were used have been developed based on detailed
capital cost to production level relationships.
The following are the principal risk factors and uncertainties which, in
management's opinion, are likely to most directly affect the ultimate
feasibility of the Burnstone project. The mineralized material at the
Burnstone project is currently classified as a measured and indicated
resource, and a portion of it qualifies under Canadian mining disclosure
standards as a proven and probable reserve, but readers are cautioned that no
part of the Burnstone project's mineralization is not yet considered to be a
reserve under US mining standards as all necessary mining permits and project
financing would be required in order to classify the project's mineralized
material as an economically exploitable reserve. Although work has been done
to confirm the mine design, mining methods and processing methods assumed in
the 2009 Update, construction and operation of the mine and processing
facilities depend on securing environmental and other permits on a timely
basis. Authorization has been received for mining. Additional permits, when
required, have yet to be applied for and there can be no assurance that
required permits can be secured or secured on a timely basis. Although costs,
including design, procurement, construction and on-going operating costs and
metal recoveries have been established at a level of detail required for a
feasibility study, these could be materially different from those contained in
the 2009 Update. There can be no assurance that these infrastructure
facilities can be developed on a timely and cost-effective basis. Energy risks
include the potential for significant increases in the cost of fuel and
electricity. The 2009 Update assumes specified, long-term prices levels for
gold. The price of this metal is historically volatile, and the Company has no
control of or influence on its price which is determined in international
markets. There can be no assurance that the price of gold will continue at
current levels or that it will not decline below the prices assumed in the
2009 Update. Prices for gold have been below the price ranges assumed in 2009
Update at times during the past ten years, and for extended periods of time.
The project will require additional financing. Although interest rates are at
historically low levels, there can be no assurance that debt and/or equity
financing will be available on acceptable terms. Other general risks include
those ordinary to very large construction projects, including the general
uncertainties inherent in engineering and construction cost, the need to
comply with generally increasing environmental obligations, and accommodation
of local and community concerns. South African mining tenure laws require that
significant economic ownership in Burnstone be held by historically
disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs) and for which ownership rights the
Company may not be significantly compensated. The Company has an agreement
with Tranter Gold (Pty) Ltd which represents the required interest by HDSA.
The economics of the Burnstone Project are sensitive to the US Dollar and
South African Rand exchange rate and this rate has been subject to large
fluctuations in the last several years.
For further information:
For further information: For additional details on Great Basin Gold Ltd.
and its gold properties, please visit the Company's website at
www.grtbasin.com or contact Investor Services: Tsholo Serunye in South Africa,
+27 (0)11 301 1800; Michael Curlook in North America, (888) 633-9332; Barbara
Cano at Breakstone Group in the USA, (646) 452-2334