VENEZUELA – Toronto-based CRYSTALLEX INTERNATIONAL believes that current reserves at its Las Cristinas gold project in Venezuela would automatically increase at least 10% if gold prices stay above US$400/oz. Speaking at the company’s annual meeting on June 24, COO Ken Thomas said the company has calculated proven and probable reserves of 333 million tonnes of ore grading 1.2 g/t Au for 12.8 million oz of contained gold at Las Cristinas, based on a projected gold price of US$350/oz.
However, if this price were raised to US$400/oz, then proven and probable reserves would increase to 387 million tonnes grading 1.1 g/t Au for 13.9 million oz. Gold prices stood at US$440.55/oz on the London Bullion Market on Friday afternoon. An updated reserve calculation for Las Cristinas, which will include the results of a further 5,500 m of infill drilling, should be ready in the first half of July.
Meanwhile, Crystallex’s CEO Todd Bruce said the company’s environmental permit is “imminent.” The permit is the final document needed before Crystallex can begin construction of the mine, which it hopes will begin production in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The company is currently doing everything it can to ensure the permit is granted soon, said Bruce. “There is not a day goes by that there is not some form of engagement, discussion [or] arm-twisting,” he said. “In addition we have mobilized all of our political lobbying resources to ensure nobody loses sight of the fact that while this job has to be done right, it also has to be done in a very timely fashion.”
Bruce quoted Venezuela’s basic industries minister Vctor Alvarez, who said the permitting is well on track and a “bureaucratic formality.”
Crystallex VP environment John Binns is currently in Venezuela holding discussions with officials engaged in the permitting process, Bruce added.
Capital costs for Las Cristinas are estimated at US$266 million for an initial 20,000 tonnes/day operation, Crystallex said previously. Las Cristinas is designed to produce 266,000 oz of gold annually, including 311,000 oz over each of the first five years.