Northisle Announces Positive PEA for the North Island Project Which Confirms it is One of the Most Attractive Cu-Au Projects in Canada

Northisle Announces Positive PEA for the North Island Project Which Confirms it is One of the Most Attractive Cu-Au Projects in Canada

PR Newswire

VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 4, 2021

$1.1 billion NPV (8%) • 19.0% IRR • 22 year mine life • Opportunities for exploration and optimization

February 4, 2021 – All figures in C$ unless otherwise noted     
TSX Venture Exchange Symbol: NCX

Highlights

VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Northisle Copper and Gold Inc. (TSXV: NCX) ("Northisle" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that the positive results from a Preliminary Economic Assessment (the "2021 PEA") for its 100% owned North Island Project confirm it is one of the most attractive copper-gold porphyry projects in Canada.

The 2021 PEA is based on the Company's 100% owned Red Dog and Hushamu deposits and has been developed with a focus on processing a target of 600MT of mineralized material within estimated mineable pit shells. The PEA contemplates a low strip ratio open pit mining operation which incorporates a 75,000 t/d concentrator and is anticipated to produce a high-quality copper concentrate with a significant gold by-product as well as a high-grade molybdenum concentrate.

Key performance indicators are summarized in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Summary Project Metrics


Production

AISC

After-tax Avg.
Free Cash Flow

After-tax
NPV (8%)

After-
tax IRR

GHG Emissions
(kg CO2e/lb)


Cu

(mm lbs)

Au

(koz)

Cu Eq.

(mm lbs)

Cu
($/lb)

Cu Eq.
($/lb)

$ mm

$ mm

%

Cu

Cu Eq.












First 6 years average

112.1

111.8

177.5

$0.77

$2.01

321

1,059

19.0

0.66

0.41

Life of mine ("LOM") average

95.9

99.9

155.9

$0.90

$2.14

224












Note: Cu Eq. based on Base Case metal prices and includes molybdenum and rhenium. See Table 3 for details.

Sam Lee, President and CEO of Northisle commented, "I am delighted with the progress we have made in demonstrating that the North Island Project is one of the most attractive copper and gold development projects today. The 2021 PEA illustrates a significant improvement in the potential of the North Island Project. Copper and gold production increased materially resulting in a significant increase in NPV and IRR, while all-in sustaining costs remain in the first quartile and initial capital is modest for a long-life and significant copper and gold asset. The concentrate planned to be produced by the North Island Project is anticipated to be a premium product which would be highly attractive to global smelters. Furthermore, the significant gold production is anticipated to provide several options for lower cost capital financings.  We are excited to be advancing what we believe is one of the most attractive Canadian copper projects during the start of a new mining super cycle.

There exists a multitude of opportunities to develop a mine that is truly sustainable in all respects. We are excited to continue our consultation work with First Nations, local communities, governments, and key project stakeholders as we advance this important and compelling project. We have direct access to clean power in British Columbia that will drive our project towards becoming a lower carbon emissions operation. Over the coming months, we will continue to optimize key project parameters to create additional value for shareholders while focusing on reducing the impact of the North Island Project.

Exploration activities will also be reactivated in 2021 with an initial drill program focusing on three main areas: Red Dog, Pemberton Hills, and Hushamu.  Program objectives include increasing tonnage and grade for the North Island Project, confirming the existence of a larger, higher grade copper-gold porphyry system at Pemberton Hills, and exploring multiple targets over our vast 33,000 ha property.

Our leadership team is fully committed to realizing our vision of making Northisle Canada's leading sustainable resource development company."

The Company will host a conference call and webcast on Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:00 AM Eastern time (8:00 AM Pacific time). Details to access the call can be found below.

2021 PEA Summary
The 2021 PEA was prepared in accordance with National Instrument 43-101 ("NI43-101") by M3 Engineering & Technology Corp. ("M3") in conjunction with an updated mine plan prepared by John Nilsson, an updated Mine Waste Facility ("MWF") design prepared by Golder Associates Ltd. (Golder) and updated metallurgical testwork performance by SGS Canada Inc. ("SGS"). The team was led by Cam Brown, P. Eng. (Nova Scotia) on behalf of Northisle. The Company plans to file the complete 2021 PEA report on SEDAR at www.sedar.com within 45 days of this press release. The 2021 PEA updates the previously published study on the North Island Project, titled "North Island Copper and Gold Project, NI43-101 Technical Report, Preliminary Economic Assessment" and dated October 24, 2017 (the "2017 PEA"). Table 2 summarizes the key findings of the 2021 PEA.

Table 2: 2021 PEA Economic Highlights

Base Case Economics

Units

Pre-tax

After-tax





Net Present Value (NPV 8%)

$ millions

1,494

1,059

Net Present Value (NPV 8%)

US$ millions

1,121

795

Internal Rate of Return

%

21.7%

19.0%

Payback

Years

3.9

3.9

Initial Capital Cost

$ millions

1,442

Sustaining Capital Cost

$ millions

197





Economic Assumptions

Units

Base Case





Copper

US$/lb

$3.25

Gold

US$/oz

$1,650

Molybdenum

US$/lb

$10.00

Rhenium

US$/kg

$1,256

CAD:USD Exchange Rate

US$/C$

0.75





Financial Metrics

Units

First 6 years

LOM





Average Annual Revenue

$ millions

740

649

Average Annual Operating Costs

$ millions

340

301

Avg. Ann. Free Cash Flow (after tax)

$ millions

321

224





The 2021 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 categorized as mineral reserves.  There is no certainty that the project described in the 2021 PEA will be realized.  Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

Table 3 provides a summary of the key operating metrics from the 2021 PEA.

Table 3: 2021 PEA Operating Highlights

Operating Statistics

Units

Avg. First 6 years


Avg. LOM






Mine Life

Years


22


Tonnes Processed

KT

27,060


27,289

Strip Ratio

W:O

1.04


0.71

Production





Copper

mm lbs

112.1


95.9

Gold

koz

111.8


99.9

Molybdenum

klbs

2,726


2,954

Cu Eq.

mm lbs

177.5


155.9

Cash Cost – Cu with by-products

$/lb

$0.75


$0.81

Cash Cost – Cu Eq

$/lb

$2.00


$2.09

AISC – Cu with by-products

$/lb

$0.77


$0.90

AISC – Cu Eq

$/lb

$2.01


$2.14

By-products and Cu Eq. calculated at Base Case metal prices

Economic Sensitivity
Table 4 summarizes the after-tax sensitivities of NPV and IRR to metal prices.

Table 4: Economic Sensitivity to Metal Prices

Metal Prices

After- tax NPV (5%)

$ millions

After-tax NPV (8%)

$ millions

After-tax NPV (10%)

$ millions

IRR (%)






Spot Prices1

$2,116.4

$1,396.1

$1,049.0

22.3%

Base Case + 20%

$2,682.7

$1,833.7

$1,425.0

26.5%

Base Case + 10%

$2,182.6

$1,447.2

$1,092.9

22.8%

Base Case

$1,682.5

$1,059.4

$759.1

19.0%

Base Case – 10%

$1,180.2

$666.8

$419.3

15.0%

Base Case – 20%

$674.1

$265.4

$68.9

10.8%






 Note: Economic assumptions are detailed in Table 14

1.  Spot prices as of February 2, 2021.

Sustainability
Northisle intends to integrate a sustainable approach to mine development into every part of its corporate culture. This means that monitoring, disclosing, and improving on ESG performance is as critical as operating metrics.  As a result, Northisle has summarized preliminary sustainability metrics for the North Island Project in Table 5 below.

Table 5: Preliminary Sustainability Metrics

Sustainability Statistics

Units

LOM Total / Avg.




Direct local job creation (permanent)

FTE

450

Site Energy Consumption



Fuel (annual)

000s liters

21,000

Electricity (annual)

MWh

794,000

Energy Intensity

kWh/lb Cu

10.5

Environmental



Net water consumption

liters / lb Cu

99.6

GHG Emissions – Scope 1

kg CO2e / lb Cu

0.66

Total Material to MWF

MT

1,020

The above sustainability metrics were determined on a preliminary basis by referencing publicly available benchmarks for emissions related to key project energy sources. The selected metrics will evolve as the project is developed, to incorporate additional measures of ESG performance.

Opportunities
The PEA demonstrates the potential for further development of the North Island Project and indicates a number of additional opportunities for further study which may contribute to further enhanced value, including:

Next Steps
With the completion of the 2021 PEA, Northisle intends to continue to advance the North Island Project. Key next steps and milestones include:

Webcast Details
The Company will host a conference call on Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 11:00 AM Eastern time (8:00 AM Pacific time). Details to access the call live are as follows:

The webcast will be archived for 365 days following the call at the above-noted link and on the Company's website. The conference call will also be available for replay until Thursday, February 11, 2021. To access the replay, dial 1-416-764-7677 or 1-888-390-0541 and use Playback Passcode 784988# to hear the recording.

2021 PEA Details
The 2021 represents an update of the 2017 PEA, with the primary changes including updated recoveries, metal prices, operating and capital costs, and an updated mine plan. The study was prepared independently by M3 and incorporates results from independent metallurgical testing by SGS and MWF design by Golder, and mine plan developed by John Nilsson. The Company now intends to commence important work to prepare for initiation of a pre-feasibility study, while accelerating the exploration program throughout the property.

Mineral Resources
Mineral Resources for the Hushamu deposit were updated for the purpose of the 2021 PEA by incorporating 5 drill holes completed in 2017 which had not been incorporated in earlier estimates. These drill holes had the anticipated impact of converting several Inferred blocks into the Indicated category. In addition, the cut-off grade for the resource was revised to 0.10% which had the result of increasing tonnage in both Indicated and Inferred Resources while reducing grade.

Table 6: Combined Summary Resource Estimate

Category

Tonnes

% Cu

g/t Au

% Mo

g/t Re







Indicated






Hushamu

472,854,000

0.20%

0.23

0.008%

0.35

Red Dog

54,490,000

0.22%

0.31

0.004%

*

Total Indicated

527,344,000

0.20%

0.24

0.008%

0.31







Inferred






Hushamu

414,293,000

0.15%

0.18

0.006%

0.29

Red Dog

2,979,000

0.17%

0.25

0.002%

*

Total Inferred

417,272,000

0.15%

0.18

0.006%

0.29

Note: Resources shown at a 0.10% Cu cut-off grade.
* Not assayed

A complete summary of mineral resources can be found at the end of this release.

Mining
Preliminary mine designs have been developed for Red Dog and Hushamu deposits based upon Indicated and Inferred Resources. Resource models were imported to Minesight® mine planning software where a Lerchs Grossman algorithm was applied to an NSR model to determine possible pit limits.

The mine plan was developed to mine Red Dog concurrently with Hushamu in the early years of the mine life until Red Dog Resources were depleted. The assumed processing rate is 75,000 t/d; Red Dog contributes 24,000 t/d while in operation. The overall mining rate peaks at 64 million t/a in the initial years averaging 47 million t/a over the total mine life of 22 years. The effective strip ratio after stockpile reclaim was 0.71:1.

The mine is planned to be a conventional truck and shovel operation with electrified pit operations at Hushamu. Waste rock will be placed during construction and operation within the MWF.  A low-grade stockpile will be located at the pit rim on the northwest side of Hushamu. An overburden stockpile will be located adjacent to the low-grade stockpile for use in reclamation of the MWF at the end of the mine life.

Table 7: Key mining statistics

Metric

Units

Quantity




Mine life

Years

22

Milling rate

t/d

75,000

Strip Ratio

W:O

0.71

Total Tonnage Mined

MT

1,032.3

Total Mineralized Material Mined

MT

602.3

LOM Average Grades



Copper

%

0.18%

Gold

g/t

0.24

Molybdenum

%

0.008%




The total resources processed in the conceptual mine plan are shown in the following tables. The quantity of mineralized material was estimated and included in the mine plan using an NSR threshold approach, rather than a copper cut-off grade. The Hushamu Leached Zone (denoted LEA in Table 15 and Table 16) is excluded from the 2021 PEA mine plan.  Tonnages in the mine plan are summarized in Table 8 and Table 9 while mine operating costs are summarized in Table 10.

Table 8: Indicated Mineral Resources Included in the Mine Plan

Indicated Resources

ROM t x 1000

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

NSR ($/t)







Hushamu Starter Pit

83,530

0.24

0.27

0.007

22.76

Hushamu Phase 1 Expansion

96273

0.20

0.19

0.007

17.68

Hushamu Phase 1.5 Expansion

126,312

0.18

0.27

0.011

18.33

Hushamu Phase 2 Expansion

115,483

0.17

0.25

0.008

17.77

Red Dog

50,885

0.22

0.32

0.005

24.82

Total

472,483

0.20

0.25

0.008

19.54







 

Table 9: Inferred Mineral Resources Included in the Mine Plan

Inferred Resources

ROM t x 1000

Cu (%)

Au (g/t)

Mo (%)

NSR ($/t)







Hushamu Starter Pit

2,973

0.12

0.15

0.016

11.40

Hushamu Phase 1 Expansion

13,068

0.13

0.13

0.010

11.64

Hushamu Phase 1.5 Expansion

35,037

0.14

0.23

0.012

15.00

Hushamu Phase 2 Expansion

76,598

0.14

0.20

0.007

14.44

Red Dog

2,172

0.17

0.27

0.003

19.91

Total

129,848

0.14

0.20

0.009

14.33







 

Table 10: Mining Costs

Area

Unit Cost (C$/t mined)



Drilling

0.13

Blasting

0.35

Loading

0.24

Hauling

0.69

Support

0.49

Mine General

0.21

Total Mining Cost excl. equipment lease

2.11

Mine equipment lease

0.21



Note: totals may not add due to rounding

Processing
The 2021 PEA contemplates a concentrator and related facilities processing mineralized material at a nominal rate of 75,000 t/d through a grinding circuit comprised of a single SAG mill and two ball mills, flotation facilities and regrind facilities to recover copper and molybdenum concentrates for export. Gold reports primarily to the copper concentrate while rhenium reports primarily to the molybdenum concentrate. Processing costs are summarized in Table 11.

Table 11: Processing Costs

Area

Unit Cost (C$/t processed)



Salaries & Wages

0.50

Power

1.84

Liners

0.36

Grinding Media

1.03

Reagents

1.20

Maintenance Parts & Repairs

0.48

Supplies & Services

0.10

Total Processing Cost

5.52



Metallurgy
Additional metallurgical test work was undertaken in 2020 by SGS to target better recoveries of the principal minerals. M3 reviewed and interpreted the test work and incorporated the results into the process plant design criteria, flowsheet development, and process equipment selection. The design basis for the processing plant is 75,000 t/d or 27,375,000 t/a at 93% availability. Design mineral grades to the process plant are estimated at 0.18% copper, 0.24 g/t gold and 0.008% molybdenum with overall estimated recoveries of approximately 86.4% for copper, 46.8% for gold, and 59.5% for molybdenum.

Operating Cost Summary
A preliminary operating cost estimate was prepared for the North Island Project based on a 75,000 t/d mine/mill operation. Total site operating costs are summarized in Table 12.

Table 12: Total Site Operating Costs

Area

Units

Cost




Mining Cost1

$/tonne processed

$3.84

Processing

$/tonne processed

$5.52

G&A

$/tonne processed

$0.38

Water Treatment

$/tonne processed

$0.06

Total Site Operating Costs

$/tonne processed

$9.81




1.  Including leased mining equipment

Capital Cost and Infrastructure Summary
The capital cost estimate was developed by M3 using an EPCM project development approach. Golder developed a conceptual design for the MWF and provided estimated quantities of construction material required to construct the facility. M3 then estimated the associated initial and sustaining capital cost based on the quantities provided. The mine plan and associated mine initial and sustaining capital was prepared by John Nilsson using current equipment prices and leasing terms & conditions provided by the mine equipment procurement consultant retained by Northisle. The process facilities and other related facilities were designed and estimated by M3. The capital cost of these facilities was developed using budgetary quotes obtained for major process and infrastructure facility equipment requirements, and construction labour rates obtained from a BC contractor experienced in the scope and scale of the North Island Project.  The 2021 PEA capital cost estimate is summarized in Table 13 below. 

Table 13: Capital Cost Summary

Area

$ million



Mine1

17.8

Pre-production

130.9

Process

1,235.4

Owner's Cost

57.9

Total

1,442.0



1.  Mine equipment is included primarily on a leased basis in the financial model.

The nearby town of Port Hardy is a main distribution centre for the north end of Vancouver Island. It has an airport with regular flights to Vancouver, a hospital, schools, and a college. The North Island Project is generally accessible for exploration purposes from Port Hardy through a network of logging roads.

BHP is in the process of reclaiming its historical marine load out infrastructure from its past-producing Island Copper Mine. The 2021 PEA contemplates the construction of a new marine load-out facility on the reclaimed site, which would be used to load concentrate onto ocean-going vessels for shipment to smelters in Asia. One of BC's largest wind farm complexes is situated adjacent to the northwest end of the property and the 138 KV power line connecting the wind farm to the main BC power grid passes immediately north of the North Island Project. The 2021 PEA contemplates connecting to the BC Hydro grid via the existing main substation near the highway into Port Hardy.

Economic Analysis
Economic evaluations were generated incorporating forecasts for economic inputs using the Base Case and Spot Price. The spot price case is based on prices as of February 2, 2021.  See Table 14 for the results of the economic analysis.

Table 14: Economic Analysis

Parameter

Unit

Base Case

Spot Price1





Copper Price

US$/lb

$3.25

$3.51

Gold Price

US$/oz

$1,650.00

$1,835.60

Molybdenum Price

US$/lb

$10.00

$10.03

Rhenium Price

US$/kg

$1,256.00

$1,256.00

CAD:USD Exchange rate

US$/C$

0.75

0.75

Average Annual Revenue

$ million

$648.6

$704.9

Economic Result (before tax)




Avg. Free Cash Flow

$ million

$277.1

$321.2

NPV (5%)

$ million

$2,296.9

$2,871.8

NPV (8%)

$ million

$1,494.3

$1,937.3

NPV (10%)

$ million

$1,109.9

$1,489.6

IRR

%

21.7%

25.5%

Payback

Years

3.9

3.4

Economic Result (after tax)




Avg. Free Cash Flow

$ million

$223.6

$256.7

NPV (5%)

$ million

$1,682.5

$2,116.4

NPV (8%)

$ million

$1,059.4

$1,396.1

NPV (10%)

$ million

$759.1

$1,049.0

IRR

%

19.0%

22.3%

Payback

Years

3.9

3.5





The 2021 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 allow them to be categorized as mineral reserves and there is no certainty that the preliminary economic assessment will be realized.  Mineral resources that are not mineral reserves do not have demonstrated economic viability.

Technical Report and Qualified Persons
A National Instrument 43-101 (NI 43-101) compliant technical report entitled "North Island Project PEA" prepared by the following Qualified Persons will be filed by the Company within 45 days of this release on www.sedar.com:

The Qualified Persons have reviewed and approved the scientific, technical, and economic information obtained in this news release.

About Northisle
Northisle Copper and Gold Inc. is a Vancouver based company whose mission is to become Canada's leading sustainable mineral resource company for the future.  Northisle owns the North Island Project, which is one of the most promising copper and gold porphyry deposits in Canada. The North Island Project is located near Port Hardy, British Columbia on a 33,149-hectare block of mineral titles 100% owned by Northisle stretching 50 kilometres northwest from the now closed Island Copper Mine operated by BHP Billiton. The Company recently completed a preliminary economic assessment which demonstrated the potential of the Red Dog and Hushamu deposits and is aggressively advancing its exploration and development program in 2021.

For more information on Northisle please visit the Company's website at www.northisle.ca.

On behalf of Northisle Copper and Gold Inc.

Nicholas Van Dyk, CFA
Vice President, Corporate Development and Investor Relations
Tel: (778) 655-9582
Email: info@northisle.ca
www.northisle.ca

This news release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any of the securities in the United States. The securities have not been and will not be registered under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "U.S. Securities Act") or any state securities laws and may not be offered or sold within the United States or to U.S. Persons unless registered under the U.S. Securities Act and applicable state securities laws or an exemption from such registration is available.

Cautionary Statements regarding Forward-Looking Information
Certain information in this news release constitutes forward-looking statements under applicable securities law. Any statements that are contained in this news release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are often identified by terms such as "may", "should", "anticipate", "expect", "intend" and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements relating to the anticipated timing of the 2021 PEA, anticipated 2021 PEA results, anticipated 2021 activities, the Company's plans for advancement of the North Island Project, including the potential use of existing infrastructure, expectations regarding the 2021 drill program; the Company's plans for engagement with Indigenous nations, communities and key stakeholders, and the Company's anticipated exploration activities. Forward-looking statements necessarily involve known and unknown risks, including, without limitation, Northisle's ability to implement its business strategies; risks associated with mineral exploration and production; risks associated with general economic conditions; adverse industry events; stakeholder engagement; marketing and transportation costs; loss of markets; volatility of commodity prices; inability to access sufficient capital from internal and external sources, and/or inability to access sufficient capital on favourable terms; industry and government regulation; changes in legislation, income tax and regulatory matters; competition; currency and interest rate fluctuations; and other risks. Readers are cautioned that the foregoing list is not exhaustive.

Readers are further cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations upon which they are placed will occur. Such information, although considered reasonable by management at the time of preparation, may prove to be incorrect and actual results may differ materially from those anticipated. Forward-looking statements contained in this news release are expressly qualified by this cautionary statement.

The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent the expectations of management of Northisle as of the date of this news release, and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Northisle does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as expressly required by applicable securities law.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

Table 15: 2021 Hushamu Resource Estimate – Indicated Resource

Mineral Domain

Tonnes

% Cu

g/t Au

% Mo

g/t Re







LEA

8,843,000

0.14

0.22

0.008

0.29

CMG-SCP-PRO

462,475,000

0.20

0.24

0.008

0.35

QFP

1,536,000

0.11

0.08

0.004

0.03

Total Indicated Resource

472,854,000

0.20

0.23

0.008

0.35







1.

Tonnages have been rounded to the nearest 1,000 tonnes so may not add up.

2.

Classification is compliant with the "CIM Resource Definition Standards, 2014"

3.

It is assumed that with continued exploration, most of the Inferred Resource could be upgraded to an Indicated Resource category.

Note: Resources shown at a 0.10% Cu cut-off grade.

 

Table 16: 2021 Hushamu Resource Estimate – Inferred Resource

Mineral Domain

Tonnes

% Cu

g/t Au

% Mo

g/t Re







LEA

2,169,000

0.13

0.18

0.008

0.26

CMG-SCP-PRO

410,265,000

0.15

0.18

0.006

0.30

QFP

1,859,000

0.12

0.10

0.005

0.15

Total Inferred Resources

414,293,000

0.15

0.18

0.006

0.29







1.

Tonnages have been rounded to the nearest 1,000 tonnes so may not add up.

2.

Classification is compliant with the "CIM Resource Definition Standards, 2014"

3.

It is assumed that with continued Exploration, most of the Inferred Resource could be upgraded to an Indicated Resource category.

Note: Resources shown at a 0.10% Cu cut-off grade.

 

Table 17: 2017 Red Dog Resource Summary


Tonnes

% Cu

g/t Au

% Mo






Indicated Resource

54,490,000

0.22

0.31

0.004

Inferred Resource

2,979,000

0.17

0.25

0.002

  Game, B. and Burt, P. 2017

  Note: Resources shown at a 0.10% Cu cut-off grade.

 

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