International Tower Hill Mines (TSE:ITH) (NYSE MKT:THM) Tuesday announced "positive results" from the metallurgical test work on its Livengood project in Alaska, yielding gold recoveries as high as 88 per cent.
The company said metallurgical studies have shown that gold recovery for the four main rock types that make up the majority of the Livengood gold resource, using gravity/whole ore Carbon-in-Leach (NASDAQ:CIL) recovery, will range between 77 and 88 per cent.
Notably, ITH said a "substantial portion" of the early production at Livengood is expected from the four rock types - Cambrian, Upper Seds Sunshine, Upper Seds Core Zone, Volcanics and Core Zone.
These rock types comprised about 70 per cent of the mineable resource described in the August 2011 preliminary economic assessment (PEA), it added.
"I am very pleased with the results of these extensive metallurgical tests completed over the last eight months which have validated and defined the overall gold recoveries on this exceptional gold deposit," said CEO Donald C. Ewigleben.
"This work has defined the milling flow sheet for the project as the company continues to focus on other overall project optimization aspects that could further enhance its development."
ITH's metallurgical study program included tests to first determine the gravity recoverable gold, and then the evaluation of two alternative mill flow sheets for the processing of the gravity tailing.
Based on the recent test program and related engineering tradeoff studies, the company said it has determined that a gravity circuit followed by a whole ore CIL circuit will be the mill flow sheet developed in its feasibility study, which is on schedule for release in the first half of 2013.
Test work was carried out on a large number of representative samples contained in 10,800 kilograms of mineralized rock, ITH noted, adding that metallurgical test work is ongoing to confirm recovery on the Lower Seds and Core Zone rock types.
The Lower Seds and Core Zone rock types will be encountered and processed later in the mine's life.
International Tower Hill Mines is focused on the rapid exploration and development of its Livengood gold project.
At the end of last month, the company updated shareholders on its progress at Livengood, noting that next year, it will focus on determining the most cost effective and feasible development path for the project, which has 933 million tonnes of measured and indicated resources at an average grade of 0.55 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, for 16.5 million contained ounces, at a 0.22 g/t gold cut off.
The company will also look to outline a staged funding strategy for the asset's development, and will implement an "aggressive" permitting path for the plan.
Key milestones for Livengood that have been outlined for a target of mid next year include finalization of a full spectrum of metallurgical studies, and major site engineering and environmental work, which is already largely complete.
The company has also made key land acquisitions as well as infrastructure and logistical assessments for integration into different development scenarios, and has made initial contacts for potential project financing.
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