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New Age Metals delivers New Positive Preliminary Economic Assessment of the River Valley Palladium Project

Press Release

June 29th, 2023 , Rockport, Canada – New Age Metals Inc. (NAM) (TSX.V: NAM; OTCQB: NMTLF; FSE: P7J) (“NAM” or the “Company” is pleased to announce the positive results of a new independent Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) prepared in accordance with NI 43-101 for the River Valley Project, a wholly-owned palladium-platinum-copper deposit located 60 km east-northeast (100 road km) of Sudbury, Ontario. This new PEA was developed by a group of independent consultants; namely P&E Mining Consultants Inc. (mining, scheduling, project economics); D.E.N.M. Engineering Ltd. (mineral processing and metallurgy); Knight Piésold Ltd. (tailings facility, water management, and rock mechanics); and Story Environmental (environment and community). The Mineral Resource Estimate upon which this new PEA is based was done by P&E in 2021.

PEA Highlights

  • Pre-Tax NPV(5%): $289M; After-Tax: $135M
  • Pre-Tax IRR: 16%; Post-tax IRR: 11%
  • Annual Production: 2.5 Mt of potential process plant feed at an average grade of 1.19 g/t PdEq and process recovery of 71.5%, resulting in an average annual payable Pd production of 47,400 oz.
  • Total Tonnes Processed over Life of Mine: 38.6 Mt/16 years
  • Pre-production Capital Requirement: $268.7M
  • Average Unit Operating Cost: $30.98/t
  • Assumed Metal Prices: US$2,150/oz Pd, US$1,050/oz Pt, US$1,830/oz Au, US$4.00/lb Cu
  • River Valley Process Feed: Treated in an on-site conventional sulphide flotation plant to produce a saleable PGM-enriched Cu concentrate to be transported off-site for smelting and refining.
  • Project Enhancement Opportunities: Increased metal recoveries and expanded Mineral Resources

Harry Barr, NAM Chairman & CEO, stated: “The PEA results released today are positive with a post-tax  NPV(5%) of $134 M CAD, an IRR of 11% and 16 years of palladium, platinum and copper production. Compared to the 2019 PEA, this 2023 PEA envisions a smaller, higher-grade operation with lower CAPEX, expanded underground mining and reduced open pit mining, and a much-smaller environmental footprint. These encouraging results are based on the 2021 Mineral Resource Estimate, which was produced in accordance with current CIM standards and guidelines, to provide feed to an on-site 2.5 Mtpa process plant. The next steps include targeting areas for drilling to convert Inferred to Indicated Mineral Resources, expanding current Mineral Resources, the discovery of new mineralized zones, and to testing of promising new technologies for improved metal recoveries, all for incorporation into future, more advanced economic studies.”

PEA Summary*

The site plan layout for the new River Valley PEA is shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. New PEA site layout plan for the River Valley Palladium Project.

Figure 1 shows five open pits and two underground portals that have been used in the engineering design of the Project, the proposed process plant site, low-grade stockpile, waste rock storage facilities, tailings storage facility, and site infrastructure. The Project as represented in Figure 1 has an area of 38.8 km2, which reflects a major reduction from the 126.5 km2 site plan area in the 2019 PEA.

The parameters of the PEA are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. PEA Summary Parameters

Assumptions
Palladium Price (Base case) US$/oz 2,150
Exchange Rate US$:CDN$ 1.35
Production Profile
Total Tonnes Processed 38,640,000
Process Plant Head Grade PdEq g/t 1.19
Mine Life (years) 16
Daily process plant throughput (tpd) 6,850
Palladium Process Plant Recovery (%) 71.5
Total Payable Palladium Equivalent Ounces 735,000
Average annual Palladium Production Ounces 47,400
Operating Costs ($ per tonne processed)
Unit Average LOM Operating Costs 30.98
Open Pit Mining Costs 12.63
Underground Mining Costs 60.61
Processing Costs 12.69
G&A 2.01
LOM Average Cash Cost US$/oz Pd 1,241
Capital Requirements
Pre-Production Capital Cost ($ M) 268.7
Sustaining Capital Cost (Life of Mine) ($ M) 163.0
Project Economics
Royalties (%) 3
Royalty Payable After $1.5M Buy Down to 1.5% ($ M) 35.4
Taxes (M $) 255.0
Pre-Tax
Cumulative Undiscounted Cash Flow ($ M) 599.0
NPV (5% Discount Rate) ($ M) 289.0
IRR (%) 16
Payback (years) 6.2
After-Tax
Cumulative Undiscounted Cash Flow ($ M) 344.0
NPV (5% Discount Rate) ($ M) 135.0
IRR (%) 11
Payback (years) 6.9

PEA operating costs and capital costs are presented in Tables 2 and 3.

Table 2. Operating Cost Summary

Operating Cost Unit LoM
Open Pit Mining Cost $/t mined 2.95
Open Pit Mining Cost $/t processed 12.63
Underground Mining Cost $/t processed 60.61
Process Cost $/t processed 12.69
G&A $/t processed 2.01
Unit LoM Average Operating $/t processed 30.98

Table 3. Capital Cost Summary

Development Capital Initial (Y-2, Y-1) ($ M) Sustaining ($ M) Total LOM                     ($ M)
Open Pit Development and Equipment 37.0 59.4 96.4
Process Plant 119.2 119.2
On-Site Infrastructure 17.4 17.4
Electrical Powerline 30.0 30.0
Tailings Management Facility 17.0 27.0 44.0
Owner’s Costs 10.0 10.0
Underground Mine Development 37.1 37.1
Reclamation Bond and Closure 16.3 16.3
Contingency 29.9 18.1 48.0
Total Capital 268.7 163 431.7

*This PEA was prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 (“NI 43-01”) Standards of Disclosure of Mineral Projects. It was prepared by P&E Mining Consultants Inc. with D.E.N.M. Engineering Ltd., Knight Piésold Ltd. and Story Environmental. Readers are cautioned that the PEA is preliminary in nature and includes Inferred Mineral Resources that are considered too speculative geologically to have the economic considerations applied to them that would enable them to be classified as Mineral Reserves, and there is no certainty that the PEA will be realized.  Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic variability. The Company plans to file the PEA Technical Report (“Technical Report”) on SEDAR at www.sedar.com within 45 days of the date of this press release. All currency is stated as CDN$ unless indicated otherwise.

Opportunities to Enhance Project Value

Two major opportunities to enhance Project value are: 1) improved metal recovery; and 2) increased Mineral Resources.

  1. Improved Metal Recoveries

HYDROMETALLURGICAL OPTIONS  The main focus of this PEA from a processing stand point is conventional milling and flotation with upgrading of the resultant copper concentrate to a marketable product. The final concentrate (copper and PGMs) would be shipped to specific smelters to treat the River Valley product as a part of the revenue stream.

As an alternative to shipping to smelters, pressure leaching and metal precipitation options to recover platinum group metals (“PGMs”), gold and base metals will be investigated. Several PGM deposits worldwide are currently being subject to hydrometallurgical testing as a potentially economic alternative to base metal smelters.

Alternative Flotation Applications. Conventional flotation of the River Valley material has thus far been unable to produce a high-grade marketable smelter concentrate for maximum net smelter returns.
The expected concentrate grades based on the recent testing at SGS Lakefield were detailed in New Age Metals press release dated August 9, 2022.

Preliminary scoping work has been completed on the River Valley material utilizing two flotation alternatives to produce a higher-grade rougher concentrate and also possible increases in PGM recoveries. The two technologies being investigated are the Woodgrove flotation and the Glencore (Jameson) cell techniques.

Rhodium Recovery & Marketability. Additional work in this area would be beneficial for the Project,
due to the high metal price of rhodium. The testwork recently complete showed the ability to recover rhodium in the final concentrate, albeit not at a saleable threshold grade for the smelters. Review of the rhodium mineralogy and process alternatives is recommended.

2. Increased Mineral Resources

The distribution of the current Mineral Resources at River Valley is shown in Figure 2.

Major infill, expansion and exploration drill programs are planned to: 1) convert Inferred to Indicated Mineral Resources at the Lismer and Varley Zones; 2) expand current Mineral Resources at depth and along strike at the Dana South, Banshee, Lismer Ridge, Varley and Azen Zones; and 3) test targets and delineate mineralized zones that show potential for inclusion in future Mineral Resource modelling, particularly in the footwall to the River Valley Intrusion, as guided by geophysical survey and 3-D geological modelling results. The drilling programs are slated to commenced in H2 2023, subject to financing.

Figure 2. Distribution of pit constrained Mineral Resources at $15/t NSR cut-off. The priority mineralized zones for infill, expansion and exploration drilling are labelled red. Note that the Pine Zone is not exposed at surface.
M&I = Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources, Ind: = Indicated Mineral Resources, Inf = Inferred Mineral Resources.

PEA Details

Mineral Resources

The details of the 2021 updated Mineral Resource Estimate were announced in a Company press release dated October 5, 2021. The effective date of the updated Mineral Resource Estimate is September 14, 2021. At cut-offs of CDN$15/t NSR (pit constrained) and CDN$50/t NSR (out-of-pit), the Mineral Resource Estimate consists of: 89.9 Mt grading 0.54 g/t Pd, 0.21 g/t Pt, 0.04 g/t Au and 0.06% Cu, or CDN$47.58/t NSR in the Measured and Indicated classifications; and 94 Mt grading 0.35 g/t Pd, 0.16 g/t Pt, 0.04 g/t Au and 0.06% Cu, or CDN$31.69/t NSR in the Inferred classification. Contained metal contents are 2.3 Moz Pd+Pt+Au in the Measured and Indicated classifications and 1.6 Moz Pd+Pt+Au in the Inferred classification Table 4.

Notes:    Class = Classification, Meas + Ind = Measured and Indicated classifications.
1     Mineral Resources that are not Mineral Reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.
2.    The estimate of Mineral Resources may be materially affected by environmental, permitting, legal, title, taxation, socio-political, marketing, or other relevant issues.
3.    The Inferred Mineral Resource in this estimate has a lower level of confidence than that applied to an Indicated Mineral Resource and must not be converted to a Mineral Reserve. It is reasonably expected that the majority of the Inferred Mineral Resource could potentially be upgraded to an Indicated Mineral Resource with continued exploration.
4.    The Mineral Resources were estimated in accordance with the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), CIM Standards on Mineral Resources and Reserves, Definitions (2014) and Best Practices Guidelines (2019) prepared by the CIM Standing Committee on Reserve Definitions and adopted by the CIM Council.
5.    The Mineral Resource Estimate is based on US$ metal prices of $1,850/oz Pd, $900/oz Pt, $1,600/oz Au, $3.00/lb Cu, $16/lb Co, $6.50/lb Ni, $8,000/oz Rh, $18.50/oz Ag. The US$:CDN$ exchange rate used was 0.75.
6.    The NSR estimates use flotation recoveries of 80% for Pd, 80% for Pt, 80% for Au, 85% for Cu, 25% for Co, 90% for Ni, 80% for Rh and 65% for Ag and smelter payables of 80% for Pd, 80% for Pt, 85% for Au, 85% for Cu, 50% for Co, 90% for Ni, 80% for Rh and 65% for Ag.
7     The pit optimization used a mining cost of $2.25/t mined, combined processing and G&A costs of CDN$15/t, and pit slopes of 50º. The out-of-pit Mineral Resources used underground mining, processing and G&A cost of CDN$50/t.
8     Out-of-pit Mineral Resources were determined to be potentially extractable with the longhole mining method.

The predominant contribution of Pd + Pt to the NSR value (86%) is particularly noteworthy, given the rarity of such primary platinum-group metal deposits in secure and established global mining jurisdictions. The Mineral Resource Estimate is sensitive to the selection of reporting NSR cut-off values for pit constrained Mineral Resources. At a cut-off of $CDN25/t NSR, pit constrained Mineral Resources are presented in Table 5.

Mining: OP & UG

The River Valley Project is planned to be mined by both open pit and underground methods. Initial mining would be by open pit at the northwest end of the Deposit, close to the proposed process plant site.
A series of five open pits would be mined, starting at Dana North Zone and progressing in a southeasterly direction to the Varley Zone. The Dana North Pit contains approximately half of the mineralized process plant feed. Higher grade underground mineralization is planned to be mined during production years two to seven, and will total approximately 3 Mt of process plant feed. The underground mining method is planned to be sublevel longhole stoping with cemented rock backfill.

The average open pit strip ratio is envisaged to be 3.4:1 over the life-of-mine. It is anticipated that a fleet of 90 t haul trucks, 10 m3 excavators, and 254 mm diameter hole rotary drills will be utilized, following industry standard conventional open pit mining techniques.

Mineral Processing

The new PEA annual process feed rate to the River Valley process plant will be 2.5 Mtpy (6,850 mtpd) of mineralized material. The process plant remains as previously designed to produce a single copper sulphide and PGM concentrate. The dewatered and dried concentrate would be hauled off-site for smelting.

Simplified process plant details are as follows:

  1. Run-of-Mine (ROM) to be crushed in a single primary jaw crusher to 150 mm sizing (380 mtph);
  2. SAG mill in closed circuit with a recycle pebble crusher and ball mill to produce flotation feed (310 mtph);
  3. Rougher flotation, regrinding of the associated concentrate, three-stage cleaning circuit to produce the final concentrate;
  4. Concentrate dewatering, filtering, drying for shipping to the smelter;
  5. Tailings thickening prior to pumping to the tailings management facility (TMF);
  6. Standard process water recovery would be from the associated thickeners and return water from the TMF area. Make-up water for the process would be from one the lakes on the Property; and
  7. Power for the facility will be provided by a dedicated 44 kV feeder line from Crystal Falls Transformer Station.
    Initial discussions with Hydro One (suppler and builder) have been completed regarding options, capital and $/kwh estimates.

Tailings & Water Management

Tailings Management. The Tailings Management Facility (“TMF”) would consist of a two-cell valley impoundment to provide safe and permanent storage for tailings for the first seven years of the mine life. The remaining tailings would be stored in the Dana open pit when it has been mined out. The TMF impoundment would be developed by constructing three embankments (North, Divider, and South Embankments) using the downstream construction method. The embankments will be constructed in stages to suit the tailings storage requirement throughout the first seven years of the mine life.

Thickened tailings slurry would be delivered to the TMF at a solids content of approximately 55% by mass. The tailings are expected to be non-acid generating. Inert waste rock and processed waste rock from open pit mine development would be used to construct the TMF embankment. The upstream face of the embankment would be lined with a 100 mil HDPE geomembrane overlying non-woven geotextile.
The geomembrane will be tied into bedrock along the upstream toe via a concrete plinth.

Water Management. Site contact water would be managed within sediment basins, the Water Management Pond (“WMP”), open pits, and the TMF. The sediment basins would collect runoff from the site infrastructure areas for sediment control prior to routing the collected water to the WMP immediately north of the TMF. The WMP would be used to temporarily store supernatant water from the TMF, contact water from site infrastructure, and inflows into the open pits and underground workings. The WMP would provide reclaim water to the processing plant. Excess water would be pumped to the water treatment plant and subsequently discharged to the environment.

The primary water management objectives include:

  • Provide temporary containment of the Environmental Design Flood (“EDF”) within the TMF basin during operations;
  • Provide temporary storage and conveyance of the Inflow Design Flood (“IDF”) via spillways from the TMF and WMP;
  • Maintain a small supernatant pond within the TMF basin by transferring runoff and supernatant to the WMP on an ongoing basis via pump barge and pipeline;
  • Collect and manage contact water via surface water management measures;
  • Maximize reclamation of contact water from the WMP to the process plant. This approach will minimize freshwater requirements and water discharge volumes; and
  • Treat and discharge excess supernatant water, mine water (pit and underground inflow), and contact water to the environment, as required during the mine life, via the wastewater treatment and discharge systems.

Environment, Community, ESG

Since the 2019 PEA, NAM has worked to reduce the proposed environmental footprint of the Rive Valley Project. The new 2023 PEA concept replaces open pit mining adjacent to Pine Lake with underground mining and significantly reduces the size of the Project’s remaining open pit mines. Therefore, the Project no longer requires the construction of dams within Pine Lake and eliminates the associated impact on fish and fish habitat. By extracting higher-grade material from underground, NAM would also reduce the rate of mining and processing for the Project. This modification would reduce the footprint of the process plant and waste rock areas, and reduce the size of the processing equipment, which in turn would reduce the carbon footprint of the Project.

The River Valley Project is situated on the traditional territory of Temagami First Nation and Nipissing First Nation. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Temagami First Nation in 2014 and amended in 2017. Temagami First Nation has assisted with the completion of baseline archaeological, surface water quality, groundwater, and hydrology studies and members of the community also participated in a site visit in September 2022. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Nipissing First Nation in
late-January 2022. In 2023, NAM anticipates that Nipissing First Nation will also participate in the Project’s ongoing baseline environmental data collection. Regular Project updates are provided to each of these communities.

The Project will be required to obtain numerous provincial and federal approvals and permits.
It is anticipated that the Project will be subject to both provincial environmental assessments and a federal Impact Assessment. The Project will proceed with a coordinated process to increase efficiencies and reduce duplication of effort during these assessments. However, the permitting for the Project will be less onerous now, than that for the much larger Project presented in the 2019 PEA.

NAM has developed an Environmental and Social Governance (“ESG”) Strategy and will prepare an ESG Sustainability Report annually to disclose and communicate ESG-related information to NAM’s stakeholders. The first ESG Sustainability Report is posted on NAM’s website. As outlined in its ESG Strategy, NAM is committed to managing and operating their assets in a manner that is protective of human health and safety and the environment. It is NAM’s policy to comply, in all material respects, with applicable health, safety and environmental laws and regulations.

Project Economics & Sensitivities

The economic results of the PEA are summarized in Table 6 on an after-tax basis. The sensitivities and the impact of cash flows have been calculated for ±20% variations against the base case.

Table 6. Project Economics Sensitivity

Project Sensitivity Analysis
Pd Price Sensitivity
% -20% -15% -10% -5% Base Case 5% 10% 15% 20%
US$/oz 1,720 1,828 1,935 2,043 2,150 2,258 2,365 2,473 2,580
NPV (CDN$ M) -31 12 55 95 135 174 217 252 295
IRR (%) 4 6 8 9 11 13 15 16 18
OPEX Sensitivity
% -20% -15% -10% -5% Base Case 5% 10% 15% 20%
Cost Per Tonne 25 26 28 29 31 33 34 36 37
NPV (CDN$ M) 213 193 174 154 135 115 95 76 56
IRR (%) 17 15 14 12 11 10 9 8 7
CAPEX Sensitivity
% -20% -15% -10% -5% Base Case 5% 10% 15% 20%
CAPEX (CDN$ M) 345 367 389 410 432 453 475 496 518
NPV (CDN$ M) 242 220 190 160 135 105 79 53 21
IRR (%) 16 15 14 12 11 10 9 7 6

The Project is sensitive to Pd recovery. A 20% increase in Pd recovery, possibly resulting from hydrometallurgical treatment, results in an increased after-tax 5% discount rate NPV of $250M and an after-tax IRR of 16%.

On behalf of the Board of Directors

“Harry Barr”

Harry G. Barr

Chairman and CEO

IBF5

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