Rubicon Minerals Corporation is pleased to announce that the construction of the Phoenix Gold Project in Red Lake, Ontario, Canada continues on schedule for projected initial production in mid-2015 and remains well-funded to completion. Underground development rates have improved significantly in October and November, to the point where the stockpiling of mineralized development material from the first planned stopes has begun.
"We are pleased to announce that underground development rates have significantly improved since September and we are realizing better productivity and cost savings," stated Michael A. Lalonde, President and Chief Executive Officer for Rubicon. "Our operations team began stockpiling mineralized material from underground stope development last week, ahead of schedule. One of the stopes being developed is a trial stope located between the 305- and 244-metre levels, which will utilize the Alimak longhole method. This trial stope will provide us with valuable information with regard to dilution, recovery, and productivity as we march forward to projected initial production in mid-2015. Underground stope development will accelerate in January as several new stopes are being developed."
The Phoenix Gold Project Development and Construction Update
Mill construction is on budget and on schedule. The Company expects that the mill will be fully commissioned in the second quarter of 2015. The drive train for the ball mill has been installed and aligned and the drive train for the SAG mill is currently being installed. The Knelson concentrators, which recover gold via gravity, are currently being installed. All structural steel in the mill, with the exception of the installation of the stairwells, is complete. The carbon-in-leach ("CIL") tank shells have been welded and the top rings and platforms are being installed. The paste plant filters and vacuum receivers have been placed and are ready to be installed. The construction of the refinery, mill thickener and cyanide destruction circuits are progressing as planned.
Rubicon has approximately C$27 million (as at November 30, 2014) of mill capital expenditures remaining to projected initial production.
Stockpiling, Underground Development and Construction
The Company began to stockpile mineralized material on surface from underground stope development on the 244- and 305-metre levels. Some of the stockpiled material will be fed to the mill during the commissioning phase and the remainder will be used for the projected production phase.
Underground development rates have improved month-over-month since September at an accelerated pace. The Company surpassed its monthly development target for November. Rubicon crews have exceeded productivity levels achieved by previous contractors, as they develop the 122-, 183- and 244-metre levels. The new contractors have also outperformed previous contractors, as they develop 305- and 610-metre levels, the 685-metre loading pocket and the vertical raises.
The trial stope will utilize the Alimak longhole method (horizontal holes), as recommended by SRK Consulting in the Preliminary Economic Assessment. This method does not require sublevel development between main levels, which the Company believes will reduce overall underground development requirements from the original plan. The Alimak longhole method also has the potential to increase productivity, reduce costs and speed up stope cycle time. See Figure 1 for a diagram of the Alimak longhole method.
As of November 30, 2014, Rubicon has completed 3,586 m of the planned 8,023 m (or 45%) of total underground development (lateral and vertical) at the 685-metre level and above. Overall underground development has tracked behind the original schedule by 948 m. Management believes it has identified approximately 430 m of off-ramp development that can be eliminated from the development plan. This, combined with the accelerated pace of development, is expected to bring the underground development back on schedule in the first quarter of 2015. Summary of the total underground development is displayed in Figure 2. There is approximately C$29 million (as at November 30, 2014) of total underground development capital remaining to the start of projected initial production.
Surface Infrastructure and On-Site Construction
The construction of the crushed ore bin, with a design capacity of 2,500 tonnes, has been completed. The tailings management facility ("TMF") is ready to receive tailings for up to a year of potential production and will have the capacity to handle two years of potential production in early 2015. Rubicon has approximately C$19 million (as at November 30, 2014) of on-site construction remaining to completion.