Investigator Resources probes debt and equity options for $131 million capex Paris Silver Project

Investigator Resources (ASX:IVR) will likely seek to fund development of its Paris Silver Project with a 50:50 debt and equity split via a conventional financing deal.

Speaking to on the sidelines of the 2023 Gold Coast Investment Showcase this week, Managing Director Andrew McIlwain says the estimated $131 million capex project has a potential 7-year mine life and is expected to deliver life-of-mine (LOM) free cash (pre-tax) of between $487 million to $602 million. All-in sustaining costs (AISC) is poised to be about $17.45 an ounce.

McIlwain tells this news service the company is progressing with the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) at Paris, which is Australia’s highest grade primary silver project with 53 million ounces of silver and 98,000 tonnes of lead. The DFS is due in early 2024.

“We’ve got quite substantial exploration tenements in South Australia. Our attention has been drawn, obviously, to Paris. Paris will go into a quiet period during the permitting process. So, we’ve got silver-lead intersections 80 kilometres away. We’ll chase those up. We’re also earning into a tungsten project in the Northern Territory. It gives us a bit of diversification and it’s an easy start project that will be well supported by North Australian infrastructure, critical minerals funding and so on.

We’ve just done an extension and infill drill program, so we’ll have a new resource out by the end of the month that feeds into our evaluation. But importantly, we’re working on recovering the lead component out of the resource, which we’ve never worried about before. We just said, ‘let’s present this as a silver only project. If that works, can we add some steak knives to it with some lead’ – there’s $200 million worth of lead in the resource. So even if we get half of that out, it’s useful.”

The MD adds that Paris will be a simple open pit mine about 120m deep and the silver will be processed using conventional 3-stage crush and grind; cyanide leach; Merrill Crowe silver recovery, doré bars; and dry stacked tailings disposal.

He says silver is both a precious and an industrial metal in which demand is surging, however the market is not well understood compared to other precious metals such as gold. Investigator is looking to sell its product into a refinery with the company already in discussions with 2 domestic refiners.

“About half the silver gets used in jewellery and the other half gets used in industrial applications. And what’s happening now is every solar panel, every electric vehicle is consuming silver. So, the first year where there’s been a significant difference between supply and demand was last year, demand was up 16%. About 900 million ounces get produced around the world, and 1.2 billion got consumed last year. So that can’t go forever without the price changing.”

According to the Silver Institute, silver is the traditional store of wealth, it is the most electrically conductive metal, and is used in circuit boards and semiconductors. Every solar panel contains about 1 ounce of silver, whereas every electric vehicle (EV) contains about 2 ounces. Global demand for the metal was 1.21 billion ounces in 2022, up 16%. Solar panels and EVs are expected to add more than 200 million ounces a year from 2025.

On 14 June, Investigator reported it had completed the drilling and establishment of permanent bores for hydrological testing and groundwater modelling within and surrounding the Paris deposit footprint.

Comprising some 1,035m of drilling, Investigator reports 10 test bores and 3 monitoring bores have been established. These will be used to assess the production capacity of the ground water resources to support the Paris operations as well as predict the effect on the surrounding water table – a critical element in the advancement of the Paris Silver Project.

McIlwain adds: “The hydrological drilling recently completed at Paris has a twofold objective. Located in an arid environment, one of the key development aspects of the proposed project is the ability to confirm an adequate supply of water for operations. Secondly, we need to understand the extent and behaviour of the water table around the proposed Paris open pit.

 “…we need to understand the extent and behaviour of the water table around the proposed Paris open pit”

A series of pumping bores and adjacent monitoring holes have been drilled within, and around, the proposed Paris open pit, as well as at Hector – the previously identified potential source of process water – an area located approximately 10km to the east of Paris.

Analysis of the data and behaviour of these zones when tested will form a vital part of our planned submission to the state regulators for mining approvals, in addition to supporting our ongoing Definitive Feasibility Study.”

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Images: Investigator Resources Ltd
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Written By Adam Orlando Managing Editor Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Adam has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.