First Vanadium Announces Positive Preliminary Economic Assessment for the Carlin Vanadium Project in Nevada

Vancouver, British Columbia--(Newsfile Corp. - May 11, 2020) - First Vanadium Corp. (TSXV: FVAN) (OTCQX: FVANF) (FSE: 1PY) ("First Vanadium" or the "Company") announces positive results on its Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for the Company's Carlin Vanadium Project located 6 miles south from the town of Carlin, Nevada in the United States. The PEA has been prepared by independent consultant Wood Canada Limited (Wood) in accordance with National Instrument 43-101. The PEA is based on the Mineral Resource Estimate outlined in the Company's Technical Report dated April 9, 2019. The PEA demonstrates positive economics for a large-scale open pit mining operation, with 16 years of Vanadium production and 4 additional years of acid/power sales.

Paul Cowley, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "The PEA crystalizes potential economics for the Company's vanadium asset and provides for design options and enhancement opportunities. Unit Operating costs averaging US$4.81/lb V2O5 in the first 10 years and US$5.17/lb V2O5 over Life of Mine are of significant note, and in the range of lower quartile operating costs of vanadium producers. We can see numerous opportunities to lower both Capex and Opex to benefit the vanadium asset which we will act upon to advance the project."

"With a positive PEA, the Carlin Vanadium Project becomes an even more important resource of a critical and strategic metal essential to protecting US national interests, particularly as the US looks towards vital future domestic sources of strategic metals which includes vanadium."

Paul Cowley continues, "In addition, the benefit of having both vanadium and a separate gold opportunity on the same property located within the world-famous Carlin Gold Trend is unique, broadens our opportunities and is another of our many strengths. With our goal to maximize on all our high-quality opportunities to enhance value for our shareholders, it is now time to bring our exceptional gold opportunity to the forefront with the aim to drill-test this summer. This drill program will be led by Ex-Newmont Regional Manager and proven mine-finder, Dave Mathewson who has found 6 gold deposits within 3-9 miles of the property."

PEA Highlights (US$ unless otherwise noted):

  • Life of mine (LOM) of 11 years of mining plus 5 years of stockpile feed, with 1.0 million tons annually of process plant feed at an average grade of 0.71% V2O5 and average process recovery rates of 78%, resulting in an annual average payable production of 11 million pounds of V2O5 flake
  • Project includes a 4 year extension post-mineral processing of stockpiles, selling sulfuric acid and energy exclusively from acid plant
  • Total payable production: 180 million pounds of V2O5 flake
  • LOM average cash operating cost per payable V2O5 pound: US$5.17/lb V2O5; US$4.81/lb V2O5 over the first 10 years
  • Pre-Production capital requirements: US$535 million
  • Undiscounted cash flow Pre-tax: US$356 million, Undiscounted cash flow After-tax: US$301 million
  • Pre-tax NPV (6%): US$56 million, After-tax NPV (6%): US$29 million
  • Pre-tax IRR: 7.9%, After-tax IRR: 7.0%
  • Pre-tax Payback period: 7.5 years, After-tax Payback period: 7.7 years
  • Assumed metal price of US$10.65/lb V2O5
  • Potential for up to 230 jobs at the peak of production

The preliminary economic assessment is preliminary in nature, and includes inferred mineral resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be categorized as mineral reserves, and there is no certainty that the preliminary economic assessment will be realized. Mineral resources are not mineral reserves and do not have demonstrated economic viability.

PEA Summary Results

The PEA parameters are summarized in Table 1. All currency is stated as US$ unless stated otherwise.

Table 1: PEA Summary Parameters

Assumptions
Vanadium Price (Base case) US$/lb V2O5$10.65
Production Profile
Total Tons (millions) Oxide Processed9.33
Total Tons (millions) Non-Oxide Processed 7.04
Process Plant Oxide Head Grade (% V2O5)0.65
Process Plant Non-Oxide Head Grade (% V2O5)0.79
Mine Life (years)16
Project Life (years) - Years 17-20 only selling Sulfuric Acid and Energy from Acid Plant20
Annual average process plant throughput (Mtpy)1.02
Vanadium Process Plant Oxide Recovery78.6%
Vanadium Process Plant Non-Oxide Recovery77.4%
Total Payable Vanadium (V2O5) Million Pounds 181.69
Average annual Vanadium (V2O5) Production Million Pounds11.40
Operating Costs
Unit Operating Costs (per ton processed)$56.79
Average Mining Costs (per ton)$2.30
Processing Costs (per ton Oxides)$27.59
Processing Costs (per ton Non-Oxide)$43.94
G&A (per ton processed)$2.01
LOM Average Cash Cost US$/lb V2O5$5.17
Capital Requirements
Pre-Production Capital Cost (millions)$535
Sustaining Capital Cost (Life of Mine) Excluding Salvage $64.7
Royalty and Option Exercise (millions) - (Included in Pre-Production Capital Cost) $5.9
Taxes
Taxes (millions) $78
Project Economics
Pre-Tax
NPV (millions) (6% Discount Rate)$56
IRR (%)7.9%
Payback (years)7.5
Cumulative Undiscounted Cash Flows (millions)$356
After-Tax
NPV (millions) (6% Discount Rate)$29
IRR (%)7.0%
Payback (years)7.7
Cumulative Undiscounted Cash Flows (millions)$301

 

Project Summary

The Carlin Vanadium Project is located 6 miles south of the town of Carlin, Nevada, and within the Carlin Gold Trend, Nevada's most prolific gold mining trend, dominated by Barrick and Newmont. The project possesses strong infrastructure being only 6 miles by road to a major highway, rail hub, power and skilled mining work force. The project is a near surface primary vanadium resource hosted in black shale, the largest highest-grade resource of its kind in North America.

Mining

The mine design is based on two objectives; firstly, to mine the highest grade in the oxides, followed by non-oxides, and secondly, once the whole deposit is mined, tailings produced by feeding the stockpiles would be stored in the pit. A drill, blast, load, and haul profile has been built into the model at an average cost of US$$2.30/ton, however, it may be possible that some of this material can be mined without drilling or blasting. This will be determined in subsequent studies. A total of 69 million tons of material will be mined over the 11-year life of the open pit, mined in phases. Maximum material moved in any one year will be 7 million tons. Nine million tons of oxide and seven million tons of non-oxide material with an average strip ratio of 3.22:1 will be moved over the life of the pit. The overall grade of the mined resource will be 0.71% V2O5 and will include a 6 million ton lower grade stockpile that will be processed when the pit is complete in years 12 to 16.

Metallurgy and Processing

The process plant is designed to produce V2O5 as a saleable product from two distinct material types that make-up the resource, oxide and non-oxide shales, using conventional equipment and conventional beneficiation and hydrometallurgical techniques. The Run-Of-Mine (ROM) oxide feed from the mine is attrition scrubbed and classified to produce an oxide concentrate. The Run-Of-Mine (ROM) non-oxide feed from the mine is crushed, ground, attrition scrubbed/classified and floated to produce a non-oxide concentrate. Both concentrates follow steps of acidulation, pressure oxidation, impurity removal, vanadium solvent extraction and precipitation as ammonium metavanadate (AMV). Finally, AMV is calcined to form V2O5 product. The overall recovery of V2O5 through the process flowsheet for oxide material is estimated at 78.6%. The overall recovery of V2O5 for non-oxide material is estimated at 77.4%.

Project Economics and Sensitivities

The economic results of the PEA are summarized in Table 2 on an after-tax basis. The sensitivities and the impact of cash flows have been calculated up to +/- 45% variations against the base case. Project economics include a 4 year post mineral processing extension, when only the acid plant is operating and producing sulfuric acid and energy for sale, which generate a contribution to the after-tax project economics of US$40 million to the cashflow and US$12 million to the NPV@6%.

Table 2: Project Economics After Tax - Sensitivity.

V2O5 Price Sensitivity

   

-45%

-30%

-15%

Base Case

15%

30%

45%

US$/lb V2O5

 

5.86

7.46

9.05

10.65

12.25

13.85

15.44

Cashflow After Tax

US$M

(507)

(222)

57

301

543

783

1,020

NPV@6% After Tax - Base Case

US$M

(457)

(286)

(121)

29

174

316

457

NPV@8% After Tax

US$M

(442)

(296)

(154)

(25)

100

222

343

IRR

%

0.00%

0.00%

1.43%

7.02%

11.71%

15.85%

19.63%

Capital Cost Sensitivity

   

-45%

-30%

-15%

Base Case

15%

30%

45%

Cashflow After Tax

US$M

538

459

379

301

226

150

60

NPV@6% After Tax - Base Case

US$M

243

172

101

29

(42)

(115)

(194)

NPV@8% After Tax

US$M

183

114

45

(25)

(94)

(166)

(241)

IRR

%

19.71%

14.03%

10.03%

7.02%

4.69%

2.78%

1.02%

Operating Cost Sensitivity

   

-45%

-30%

-15%

Base Case

15%

30%

45%

Cashflow After Tax

US$M

636

527

415

301

187

65

(68)

NPV@6% After Tax - Base Case

US$M

224

160

95

29

(38)

(110)

(186)

NPV@8% After Tax

US$M

141

87

32

(25)

(82)

(143)

(208)

IRR

%

13.04%

11.19%

9.21%

7.02%

4.61%

1.72%

0.00%


Further Project Enhancement Opportunities

The Company believes that there are numerous opportunities to enhance the Carlin Vanadium Project further through:

  • Expanding and defining, by drilling, additional oxide mineralization to the northwest end of the deposit, and additional non-oxide mineralization to the east and west of the deposit, all to the Indicated category thereby extending the processing period of high-grade resources beyond year 12 and deferring the processing of lower grade stockpiles;

  • More detailed process test work, engineering and project definition may reduce capital costs or contingencies;
  • Further testing of higher efficiency centrifuge separation that could reduce mass pull in pre-concentration stage and thereby reduce operating costs and improve recoveries;

  • Further testing of alternative technologies in solid-liquid separation to potentially reduce the size of the tailing facility, and IX and SX plants and thereby potentially reducing capital costs; and;
  • The PEA will make recommendations to enhance and advance the vanadium project, as a phased work approach to completing a Pre-Feasibility study, which would update the Project study to a higher level of precision.

Mineral Resource

The pit constrained Mineral Resource Estimate which formed the basis of the PEA, is set out in Table 3.

Table 3: Pit Constrained Mineral Resource Estimate for Carlin Vanadium Project- Effective January 31, 2019.

ClassificationCut-off (% V2O5)Grade (% V2O5)Tons (M)V2O5 lb (M)
Indicated 0.30.61524.64303
Inferred0.30.5207.1975
  • Mineral Resources are not Mineral Reserves. Mineral resources which are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability. There has been insufficient exploration to define the Inferred Resources tabulated above as an Indicated or Measured Mineral Resource. There is no guarantee that any part of the mineral resources discussed herein will be converted into a mineral reserve in the future.
  • The Mineral Resources in this estimate were estimated using the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), CIM Definition Standards for Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves (May 10, 2014), and Best Practice Guidelines adopted by CIM Council.
  • The mineral resources listed in Table 14-4 are confined within a Whittle Pit Shell with a 45⁰ pit slope and a strip ratio of 2.6:1 including all categories. The following parameters were used to construct the Whittle pit shell and to derive the mineral resource cut-off grade of 0.3% V2O5: Metal prices: US$12.50/lb V2O5 flake, Mining: US$2.50/t, Processing: US$52.50/t, G&A: US$1.50/t, Product Transport: $2.00/t, Process Recovery: 85%.
  • Contained pounds may not add due to rounding.

Qualified Persons and NI 43-101 Disclosure

The results of the PEA in this news release were prepared by Wood Canada Limited and SRK Consulting (U.S.), Inc., in accordance with the Canadian securities regulatory requirements set out in National Instrument 43-101, Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects ("NI 43-101"), and has been reviewed and approved by, as it relates to geology, sampling, drilling, exploration, QAQC and mineral resources: Dr. Bart Stryhas, CPG (SRK); as it relates to metallurgy, processing, plant Capex and Opex: Alan Drake, Eng.L. (Wood); as it relates to infrastructure: Paul Baluch, P.Eng. (Wood); as it relates to mine planning: Antonio Peralta Romero, P.Eng. (Wood); and as it relates to financial modelling and economic analysis: Susana Gonzales, P.Eng. (Wood). All are independent Qualified Persons ("QP"), as defined under NI 43-101.

Within 45 days from the date of this news release, the Company will file the PEA Technical Report on SEDAR.

The scientific and technical content in this news release that is not derived from the technical report has been reviewed and approved by Paul Cowley, P.Geo., a Qualified Person as defined by National Instrument 43-101, and President and CEO of the Company. This includes comments on the project's comparative cash operating cost.

About First Vanadium Corp.

First Vanadium has an option to earn a 100% interest in the Carlin Vanadium Project, located in Elko County, 6 miles south from the town of Carlin, Nevada and Highway I-80.

ON BEHALF OF FIRST VANADIUM CORP.

per: "Paul Cowley"
CEO & President
(778) 655-4311
pcowley@firstvanadium.com
www.firstvanadium.com

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

Forward-looking information

Certain statements in this news release constitute "forward-looking" statements. These statements relate to future events or the Company's future performance and include the Company's ability to meet its obligations under the Access and Mineral Lease Agreement and the conditions required to exercise in full its option to acquire the Carlin Vanadium project, for the project economics described herein to be realized, ability to obtain permits, that metallurgical samples may not be representative and stated recoveries may not be achievable, that the mine design is at a conceptual level and costs may change with additional design and engineering inputs. The metal price of V2O5 utilised in the study is based on market analyses by Roskill in 2018 and 2019 and a limited number of recent project studies. The assumed metal price is in the middle range of these projections. It is higher than the current market price. All such statements involve substantial known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results to vary from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties, they should not be read as guarantees of future performance or results, and they will not necessarily be accurate indications of whether or not such results will be achieved. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated due to a number of factors and risks. Although the forward-looking statements contained in this news release are based upon what management of the Company believes are reasonable assumptions on the date of this news release, the Company cannot assure investors that actual results will be consistent with these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof and the Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable securities regulations.

To view the source version of this press release, please visit https://www.newsfilecorp.com/release/55667

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