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Hardrock advances on environmental permits

Greenstone Gold Mines has received approval for the environmental assessment of its Hardrock project in Ontario, Canada, from the province's minister of environment and climate change. The company expects to receive approval of its environmental impact statement from the provincial government in the first half of 2019.
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An historic headframe at Hardrock

With environmental permitting underway Greenstone, which is a 50/50 joint venture between Premier Gold Mines (TSX:PG) and Centerra Gold (TSX:CG), is working towards being able to make a build decision. A definitive agreement with Long Lake #58 First Nation was signed earlier in 2018 and GGM is continues to negotiate agreements with the other local indigenous communities.

A November 2016 feasibility study detailed a 14.5-year openpit mine life with a 27,000 tonnes a day mill throughput to produce an average of 288,000 ounces per annum of gold, with 356,000ozpa during the first four years, with an initial capital cost of US$962 million.

"Centerra will start some detailed engineering this year and will refine the economic model, so by year end we will be able to make a construction decision," Ewan Downie, president and CEO of Premier told Mining Journal.

Hardrock hosts 4.6 million ounces of gold in reserves at an openpit grade of 141.7 million tonnes grading 1.02g/t gold.

Premier is also looking forward to production growth at the South Arturo mine in Nevada's Carlin trend, in which it owns 40% with Barrick Gold as partner and operator.

The mine produced about 142,800oz gold and 50,000oz silver in 2017.

In 2018, production was from stockpiles as Barrick advanced development of various expansion opportunities, with production expected to ramp up in the second half of 2019.

"As Barrick builds the El Niño underground project, there will be a significant increase in production in 2020 for South Arturo towards 80,000oz," said Downie.

The partners are also continuing with the proof of concept of using fully autonomous trucks at South Arturo.

"The 2019 work programme aims to prove that we can increase throughout and reduce costs using fully autonomous trucks. If not, we will go back to manned trucks," Downie said.

The Premier boss also expects its Mercedes mine in Mexico to produce about 80,000oz in 2019 having overcome ore geometry issues.

"We had some challenges as we brought new deposits on line but the fourth quarter of 2018 was a good quarter and we expect to produce at 20,000oz a quarter going forward," he said.