Lion One Metals has commenced the first phase of underground work programs for its high grade Tuvatu Gold Project on the island of Viti Levu. This phase includes dewatering and refurbishment of the existing decline which accesses mineralization targeted for development in the initial years of the proposed mine plan.
The company has previously conducted water inflow studies and has also recently renewed the dewatering licence it first received in 2011.
The second phase of proposed underground work includes development of a new western portal and 500 metre decline to be driven into the central mineralized zone of the Tuvatu resource.
Lion One’s managing director Stephen Mann says, “The existing underground infrastructure saves the company considerable time and capital expense and provides a great opportunity to extend mineralized zones, increase levels of confidence in the resource, and identify future underground drill targets. This short work program expedites site preparation and gives us a tremendous head start in the advancement of Tuvatu towards development and production.”
Prior to Lion One’s involvement in the Tuvatu project, previous owner Emperor Gold Mines of Australia undertook numerous technical studies in an effort to advance the development of Tuvatu. During this same period Emperor was an ASX-listed gold producer and was the owner and operator of the nearby Vatukoula gold mine.
Emperor commissioned numerous engineering studies utilizing its own expertise and that of recognized consulting firms such as Bateman Kinhill (for pre-feasibility, feasibility and process plant studies), Knight Piesold (for tailings dam storage facility studies), Sinclair Knight Merz (Environmental Impact Assessment), AMC (Geotechnical Assessment), Orica (drill and blast evaluation), Vigar and Associates (Geology and Resource Estimate), and a number of companies for metallurgical testwork (Ammtec, Metcom, Amdel). As part of those studies, Emperor also completed an underground decline to access a number of the identified mineralized structures, and for bulk sample analysis.
The existing underground infrastructure consists of a 3.5 x 3.5 metre exploration decline extending 600 metres to a depth of 250 metres below surface, with 1600 metres of total underground development including cross cuts, raises and drill stations. The existing decline was completed in 1998 and is accessed from a portal located on the northern portion of the Tuvatu resource, intersecting up to 14 of the lodes identified in Lion One’s 2014 resource estimate.
Lion One engaged AMC Consultants to undertake the mining and geotechnical aspects of the recently completed Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) for Tuvatu. The mine plan in the PEA indicates shrinkage stoping to be the recommended mining method for the steeply dipping veins of the Tuvatu resource.
Mineralization targeted in the first two years of the proposed mine plan can be accessed from the existing decline, and as a result, its immediate dewatering and refurbishment has been recommended to minimize development costs during the early stages of the project.
Surface work will be carried out by Lion One staff in Fiji, with the help of several domestic contractors. The development of the second decline will be undertaken using experienced miners within Fiji. The host rock in the resource area is primarily an impermeable biotite-monzonite intrusive and generally dry, and ground conditions have been rated as ‘fair to very good’.
The site is perfectly located, accessible by a good quality sealed and partly unsealed road and lies 17km from the company’s headquarters in Fiji, which is 1km from the International Airport in Nadi. The permanent Tuvatu camp site is fully equipped with power, water, communications, office facilities, and accommodations for work crews.