International Tower Hill Mines Advances Livengood Gold Project Towards Potential Production Decision with Prefeasibility Study and Augmented Development Team
Thursday, December 9th, 2010
International Tower Hill Mines Ltd. (TSX: ITH, NYSE-A: THM) is pleased to provide an operational update at its Livengood Gold Project near Fairbanks, Alaska. To date, the Company has achieved key milestones in advancing the Livengood project’s pre-feasibility study (PFS) and adding key members to its development team.
– Awarding of major contracts for the Livengood pre-feasibility study;
– Continued augmentation of in-house development and permitting staff;
– Optimization studies for maximizing the value of the deposit and improving operational characteristics, inclusive of an oxide milling option which brings higher recoveries and greater reliability to the production plan;
– Continued drilling focused on advancing key development-related projects such as surface facility characterization, hydrology and metallurgy;
– Continued drilling focused on resource infill and step out work as well as the calculation of a new resource base with the addition of over 50,000 metres of new drilling in 2010; and
– Planning of a new district-scale exploration program for the potential discovery of new deposits along a 10-kilometre-long surface gold trend on the Company’s extensive 145 km2 Livengood land package.
Jeff Pontius, CEO of ITH, stated: “I am very pleased with the rapid advancement of the Livengood project toward our corporate goal of creating the next new mid-tier gold producer. The project is hitting its milestones as planned, and I am most encouraged by the excellent team we are assembling to take our Company through the pre-feasibility/feasibility stage and on to a potential production decision.”
– Over the past three months, the Company has awarded key contracts for the PFS to:
– FLSmidth Salt Lake City, Inc. of Salt Lake City, Utah, for metallurgical engineering and design of processing plants, and to act as the lead author for both the PFS final report and the resulting NI 43-101 technical report;
– Knight Piesold & Co. of Denver, Colorado, for direction of studies on site location, geotechnical characterization and design of waste rock storage, heap leach pad, tailings storage facilities, and water storage reservoirs;
– Mine Development Associates of Reno, Nevada, to perform mine engineering;
– SRK Consulting of Denver, Colorado, to perform pit geotechnical design, groundwater hydrogeology and rock geochemistry studies; and
– MTB Project Management Professionals, Inc. to support ITH in the management and integration of all studies.
Augmentation of Development Team
The Company has also strengthened its corporate and technical management structure with the following appointments:
– Carl Brechtel has been appointed as President, in addition to his position as Chief Operating Officer, in order to bring greater focus on the operating aspects of the Company. Jeffrey Pontius will continue as the Company’s CEO, focusing on corporate strategy and marketing.
– Karl Hanneman has been appointed as General Manager, Livengood Project, and has expanded the Fairbanks Project Management Team to include Richard Moses as Site Operations Manager, Keith Malone as Technical Services Manager, Chris Puchner as Chief Geologist and Denise Hertzog as Environmental Manager.
Carl Brechtel, newly appointed President and COO of ITH, stated “The PFS Team brings extensive experience in the major technical areas of mining project design and will make a major, positive contribution to the optimization of the Livengood Project. In addition, the Company has created a Fairbanks project group that has extensive operating and project development experience in Alaska and who are known and respected in the local community.”
Drilling Progress at Livengood
The Company’s Winter and Summer 2010 drill programs at Livengood are projected to reach 70,000 metres by the end of the year and will produce technical information for resource evaluation, hydrogeologic characterization, geotechnical characterization, metallurgical characterization and site condemnation. Key project development studies have been accelerated into the third and fourth quarters of 2010, with geotechnical characterization work being conducted through the winter season. Preparation of heap leach column tests was accelerated into the fourth quarter of 2010 due to early completion of PQ core drilling and excavation of a run-of-mine sample for large diameter column tests. The preparation of the leach columns is currently underway at McClelland Labs in Reno, Nevada.
In addition, the 2010 drilling has expanded the deposit at depth as well as to the southwest and the results will form the basis of an updated resource estimation projected to be released in the first quarter of 2011.
The Company has now moved drilling activities to a year-round basis in 2010 and will continue on this schedule in 2011. An extensive $2.5 million district-wide exploration program will be added to Livengood activities during 2011. This effort will be augmented with a district-wide 3-D Induced Polarization geophysical survey to aid in new deposit targeting. The main deposit exploration drilling efforts will begin in early February and focus on the western extension of the deposit as well as evaluation of the extent of the newly discovered deep zone announced last week (NR10-38).
Livengood Project Highlights
– Drilling at the project continues to expand the deposit, with the current estimated resource only representing a snapshot in time. The latest resource estimate (as at June 22, 2010) of 409 Mt at an average grade of 0.83 g/t gold (10.9 Moz Indicated) and 94 Mt at an average grade of 0.79 g/t gold (2.4 Moz Inferred), both at a 0.5 g/t gold cut-off grade, make it one of the largest new gold discoveries in North America.
– The Core and Sunshine Zones together account for most of the higher grade mineralization (Indicated Resources of 202 Mt at an average grade of 1.07 g/t gold and Inferred Resources of 40 Mt at an average grade of 1.06g/t gold, based on a cut-off grade of 0.70 g/t gold) and will form the basis for starter pit design work.
– The PFS will include work for processing alternatives to identify those that have potential to make significant positive impacts on project economics.
– The geometry of the currently defined shallowly dipping, outcropping deposit has a low strip ratio amenable to low cost open pit mining which could support a high production rate and economies of scale.
– No major permitting hurdles have been identified to date.
– The Livengood project has a very favourable logistical location, being situated 110 road kilometres north of Fairbanks, Alaska along the paved, all-weather Elliott Highway, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Corridor, and the proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline route. The terminus of the Alaska State power grid lies approximately 80 kilometres to the south.
– ITH controls 100% of its approximately 145 square kilometre Livengood land package, which is made up of fee land leased from the Alaska Mental Health Trust, a number of smaller private mineral leases and 115 Alaska state mining claims.
The Livengood Deposit is hosted in a thrust-interleaved sequence of Proterozoic to Palaeozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Mineralization is related to a 90 million year old (Fort Knox age) dike swarm that cuts through the thrust stack. Primary ore controls are a combination of favourable lithologies and crosscutting structural zones. In areas distal to the main structural zones, the selective development of disseminated mineralization in favourable host rocks is the main ore control.
Within the primary structural corridors, all lithologies can be pervasively altered and mineralized. Devonian volcanic rocks and Cretaceous dikes represent the most favourable host lithologies and are pervasively altered and mineralized throughout the deposit. Two dominant structural controls are present: 1) the major shallow south-dipping faults which host dikes and mineralization which are related to dilatant movement on structures of the original fold-thrust architecture during post-thrusting relaxation, and 2) steep NW trending linear zones which focus the higher-grade mineralization which cuts across all lithologic boundaries. The net result is broad flat-lying zones of stratabound mineralization around more vertically continuous, higher grade core zones with a resulting lower strip ratio for the overall deposit and higher grade areas that could be amenable for starter pit production.
The surface gold geochemical anomaly at Livengood covers an area 6 kilometres long by 2 kilometres wide, of which approximately half has been explored by drilling to date. Surface exploration is ongoing as new targets are being developed to the northeast and west of the known deposit.