The Federation deposit hosts high-grade zinc, lead, and gold mineralisation and is located approximately 10km south of our Hera site. Project development will involve the underground mining of the Federation deposit for treatment through established processing circuits at our Peak and Hera sites.
The Federation deposit was discovered in April 2019. We moved swiftly to progress exploration and infill drilling, in conjunction with project evaluation and permitting applications, to enable production from this exceptional mineral deposit.
We released a Mineral Resource estimate for the Federation deposit in February 2021 and continued an extensive diamond drilling campaign, results of which underpinned a further Mineral Resource estimate update in July 2021. Further drilling provided greater confidence in the Mineral Resource classification which underpinned reporting of a Mineral Resource at 30 June 2022 containing 5.0Mt at 9.2% Zn, 5.4% Pb, 0.3% Cu, 0.9g/t Au and 6g/t Ag.
We expanded the Hera village in late 2021 to accommodate the additional workforce required for initial project development activities and commenced surface civil works in March 2022 for the underground exploration decline that commenced in September 2022.
A Scoping Study completed in March 2021 examined possible project development scenarios and supported the prompted commencement of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and targeted progression through the NSW regulatory approvals process. In mid-2022, the Federation Mine Feasibility Study (FS) confirmed a compelling mine development with investment highlights including:
- A maiden Ore Reserve estimate of 2.2Mt at 8.9% Zn, 5.3% Pb, 0.3% Cu, 1.4g/t Au and 6g/t Ag at 30 June 2022.
- Capital efficient development leveraging existing mills at the Peak and Hera sites.
- One of the highest grade base metals development projects in Australia. Precious metals credits add further value to the deposit.
- A strong initial development platform having a high potential to expand the deposit from additional underground and surface drilling.
- Expected delivery of early cashflow and rapid payback from prioritisation of higher value ore production and reduced capital spend.
Engagement with Registered Aboriginal Parties, who represent the Traditional Owners and other Indigenous stakeholders, identified the opportunity to change the project name to a more culturally sensitive identifier. Following a consultation process, we expect to announce a new project name when the mine is commissioned.
In March 2023, we were delighted to receive Development Consent from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Planning and Environment to develop Federation.
Aurelia took the opportunity to update the Federation Project scope, timeline and capital cost estimate in April 2023 to capture opportunities associated with the transition of the nearby Hera operation to care and maintenance. Compared to the October 2022 release of the Federation FS, several valuable project enhancements were identified, including:
Improved path to first production
- Updated mine design delivers earlier stope ore production.
- Initial ore trucked to the Company’s Peak processing plant which improves concentrate payabilities by producing separate zinc and lead concentrate products.
- Restart of the Hera process plant able to be delayed until capacity at Peak is fully utilised.
Lower capital expenditure compared to the FS
- Capital expenditure to first production stope ore lower at A$76M (FS: A$88M) and total growth capital lower at A$143M (FS: A$145M).
- Leveraging existing Hera mining assets and camp infrastructure lowers capital spend and de-risks execution.
- Improvements have more than offset the impact of industry wide capital cost inflation since FS.
- Deferral of project spend associated with tailings filtration and paste backfill plant.
Updated mine design improves efficiency and operability
- Optimised mine design reduces total development metres.
- Shallower decline gradient improves trucking efficiency.
- Figure-8 decline design provides better orebody strike coverage and improved infill drilling platforms.
A compelling base metals development project and significant Aurelia value
- Net Present Value (NPV7) of A$354M at spot prices (5).
- Total mill deed of 4.0Mt for 8-year initial production life; expected average annual steady state recovered metal production of 45kt zinc, 46kt lead, 1kt copper, 15koz gold and 39koz silver.
- ‘Long-term fundamentals for zinc remaining strong.
- Deposit remains open in multiple directions with substantial potential for Resource extension and conversion from planned underground and surface drilling.
Federation long section
- Zn-Pb-Cu-Au-Ag underground long-hole stoping with rock and paste backfill.
Mine life (2)
- Approximately eight years with 600ktpa maximum mining rate.
- Significant opportunities for multi-year extensions.
Estimated capital cost
- A$76M to first production stope ore and total growth capital of A$143M.
Maiden Reserve (June 2022)
- 2.2Mt at 8.9% Zn, 5.3% Pb, 0.3% Cu, 1.4g/t Au and 6g/t Ag.
Mineral Resource (June 2022)
- 5.0Mt at 9.2% Zn, 5.4% Pb, 0.3% Cu, 0.9g/t Au and 6g/t Ag.
- Site opex (including processing) of A$191/t (3)
(5,6) (Apr 23)
|NPV 7% real (pre-tax, ungeared)||A$157M||A$359M|
|IRR (pre-tax, ungeared)||34%||61%|
|Payback period (pre-tax)||3.1 years||1.7 years|
|Net project cashflow (pre-tax)||A$267M||A$551|
|Average annual EBITDA||A$67M||$A109M|
- Refer to ASX release 10 October, “Federation Mine Feasibility Study” for further details. This study was prepared by the Company which has concluded that it has a reasonable basis for providing the forward-looking statements and the forecast financial information included in that ASX release.
- Indicated mine life and any potential future life extensions are subject to receipt of approvals.
- Refer to ASX release 13 April 2023, “Federation Project Update” for further details.
- BBG Consensus metals and FX as at 10 March 2023 (average prices from FY24 to FY30) Zinc = A$3,782/t, Lead = A$2,802/t and Gold = A$2,171/oz.
- Spot price metals and FX as at 14 March 2023, Zinc = A$4,444/t, Lead = A$3,141/t and Gold = A$2,880/oz.
- Valuation date and decline development resumption date of 1 June 2023.