PRECIOUS METALS

Bellevue boosts resource to 3Moz

Bellevue Gold has further increased the resource for its namesake mine near Leinster in Western Australia.

Bellevue boosts resource to 3Moz

Bellevue's total resource now stands at 9.4 million tonnes at 9.9 grams per tonne gold for 3 million ounces, up from 2.7Moz at 9.9gpt.

Resources have continued to grow at a rate of about 75,000oz per month, and there are still seven rigs on site drilling.

"We continue to be impressed by the company growing the resource base while holding the grade constant at circa 10gpt," Canaccord Genuity analyst Tim McCormack said.

Indicated resources have grown from 1.2Moz at 11gpt to 1.4Moz at 11gpt, and is up 34% overall since drilling was cut off in November for the stage one feasibility study.

It will form the basis of an upgrade to the current reserve of 690,000oz at 8gpt gold.

The updated resource will underpin the stage two feasibility study, due for release later this quarter.

The study was due to be released in June, but recent drilling outside the reserve at Deacon North/Marceline delivered some of the best intersections on the project to date, prompting a rethink.

The 2.2km-long Deacon structure now hosts resources of more than 1.3Moz at 10gpt, including indicated resources 690,000oz at 11.6gpt, and remains open.

Recently identified extensions to mineralisation are expected to add further ounces and due to the location, are expected to improve project economics.

The stage two feasibility study is now looking at an increase in the project throughput rate from 750,000 tonnes per annum to 1 million tonnes per annum for minimal additional cost.

The stage one feasibility study, released in February, outlined capital costs of A$255 million for a 7.4-year operation to produce an average 151,000oz per annum of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $1079 an ounce.

The study returned a post-tax net present value of $600 million and internal rate of return of 35%.

"This substantial resource increase means we have ticked an important box in our strategy to grow the forecast production rate by expanding mill throughput to 1Mtpa," Bellevue managing director Steve Parsons said.

"Given the surplus capacity built into the stage one feasibility study, we believe we can achieve this expanded throughput rate for minimal additional cost.

"This means we stand to generate increased free cashflow from the higher production rate and greater economies of scale, which in turn should increase the overall project economics significantly."

McCormack estimates $15 million in additional capex to expand the plant capacity.

"Modelling the increased throughput delivers a production profile of 180,000-200,000ozpa at an AISC of circa $1100/oz over the LOM, averaging 191,000oz over the first five years and 185,000ozpa over the LOM, representing an average increase of 15% versus our prior estimates," he said.

"This also improves the capital intensity of the project and drives improved ROIs."

Bellevue has received 12 indicative proposals for project financing.

"The strong outlook for the project is also demonstrated by the highly favourable indicative proposals we have received from lenders," Parsons said.

"We expect to compile a shortlist of lenders in coming weeks."

Bellevue had $116 million in cash and equivalents at March 31 and expects to place orders for long-lead items, including the ball mill and other non-processing infrastructure, this quarter.

BlackRock has been steadily lifting its stake in the company over the past three weeks, going from 10.6% at the start of June to 14.3% as of this week.

Bellevue shares were back over $1 this morning for only the second time since April. The stock rose as high as $1.035 this morning but last traded 0.5% higher at $1.005.

Canaccord has a speculative buy rating and $1.40 price target.

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