Comstock Mining has amassed a considerable footprint of contiguous gold and silver acreage in Nevada's legendary Comstock District and was pleased to report today that completion of the sizeable Heap Leach facility (now five cells with all the setup done for another two cells) will amply support accrued ore production from the Lucerne West Mine.
In addition, considerable progress has been made to Lucerne, including site prep, ramp, and road construction. The three old cells of the heap leach have been leveled and reworked for stacking of material (up to the permit height of 105 feet) by the company's new 150 foot retractable Super Stacker (which should speed up overall ore processing time on-site as well), with material drainage slated to utilize a buried drip feed system that has been proven to be very environmentally friendly.
A robust three-layer barrier (consisting of a foot of compacted clay, the non-porous Bentomat® geosynthetic clay liner, and a layer of 80 mil plastic) contains all heap fluid and provides a channel to the process ponds. For added security, two feet of over-liner has been placed on top of the plastic to shield the system from contact with ore and a leak detection system was installed to spot any problems that may arise over time or from wear-and-tear damage. Total capital outlays for the heap leach and process pond were roughly $2.4M, with approximately half the expense going into requisite earthwork and the other half into materials like the Bentomat and plastic liners.
Local firm Cruz Construction (located just ten miles from the LODE site in the town of Mound House) was tasked with bringing in the over-liner material. The firm's Operations Manager for the Comstock Project, Kale Peery, cheered the hiring on of some 40 additional local persons to complete the hauling contract as a great opportunity for all those involved. Mach 4 Construction, LLC, out of Elko, in conjunction with Environmental Construction Company, located down in Reno, handled the rest of the construction tasks. The schedule set for completion of the expanded Merrill-Crowe (gold separation) Processing Facility, as well as the new Crushing Facility, looks good with early July posited for commissioning.
President and CEO of LODE, Corrado De Gasperis, hailed the company's Nevada suppliers for coming through in short order with all the particulars (while showing exemplary professionalism/safety constraints) and praised the dedicated efforts by Comstock personnel in executing the project alongside NDEP (Nevada Division of Environmental Protection) regulators. Citing the deliberate over-engineering over the project's standards in order to surpass established guidelines in the Water Pollution Control Permit, Gasperis boldly pointed to the coming summer months and assured investors that the company was on track for their first gold pour.
Gasperis indicated that the upcoming commissioning of the Merrill-Crowe Process Facility and the new Crushing Facility, as well as hiring on of additional personnel to support the processing activities (which should bring the company's staff to over 100), has helped to rapidly define LODE as a rising star in Nevada gold/silver mining. The sheer aggressiveness and competence with which the company has executed their regional strategy to date is enough to impress most investors, but the drive to validate qualified resources (at least measured and indicated) and reserves of some 3.25M gold equivalent ounces by 2013, alongside projections of 20k gold equivalent ounce annual production rates, has piqued the interest of even diehard sector bears.
Leaching cycle time is estimated at approximately 150 days and sufficient material will have accumulated for the Merrill-Crowe Process in roughly half the 60 days required for the majority of metal recovery to be completed by the leaching. That summer target for pouring looks solid and shareholders will be eager to receive updates as the commissioning and processing progresses.
There is a lot to like about LODE, which began its acquisition campaign back in 2003, motivated by a clear vision of the Comstock District's underlying potential. This activity by LODE has been a real boon to Storey and Lyon Counties, as the company has thus far put $18M into Northern Nevada. The company does indeed have an impressive acreage footprint of contiguous land in the heart of the Comstock District (consisting of the Dayton Resource Area, Northern Extension, Northern Targets, Occidental Area, and Spring Valley Area, in addition to the Process Area, and the Lucerne Resource Area).
For more information on today's report, or to learn more about Comstock Mining, please visit the company's website at: www.ComstockMining.com
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