The metallurgical study will be incorporated into the Springpole prefeasibility study, which is scheduled for completion some time in 2019.
A secondary function of the M3 study will entail an attempt to improve gold recovery in the current whole-ore carbon-in-pulp (CIP) flowsheet, as suggested in the October 2017 preliminary economic assessment (PEA), and to optimise recoveries for the flotation flowsheet itself.
First Mining said on Monday it would continue to investigate a flotation process with leaching of the flotation concentrate. While the whole-ore CIP process was demonstrated as an appropriate process in previous testwork, the flotation route, if deemed feasible, could potentially result in savings in both operating and capital costs, as well as improved recovery.
"Launching this metallurgical study is a significant milestone that will improve our understanding of the processing options at Springpole," president and CEO Jeff Swinoga said.
"By determining the optimal flow sheet, we can move forward with a PFS for Springpole while we continue to advance the environmental assessment and permitting processes. By potentially increasing the estimated gold recoveries, we may be able to significantly improve the already attractive economics of Springpole."
Springpole currently hosts a National Instrument 43-101-compliant indicated resource of 139.1 million tonnes grading 1.04 grams per tonne (gpt) gold and 5.4gpt silver, containing an estimated 4.67 million oz of gold and 24.19 million ounces of silver. It also hosts an inferred resource of 11.4 million tonnes grading on average 0.63gpt gold and 3.1gpt silver, for 230,000 oz of contained gold and 1.12 million ounces of silver.
The news helped spur investor interest in the name on Monday, pushing the stock up nearly 9% to C49c, to bring the company's total market capitalisation to C$273.26 million.