Titan Mining Corporation's primary asset is a group of seven 100%-owned high-grade zinc mines, the Empire State Mines, in St Lawrence County, New York. Over more than 100 years of previous operating history, the Empire State Mines produced an aggregate of 44 million milled tons at an average mill head grade of 9.4% zinc, equivalent to approximately four million tons of zinc metal. These past-producing mines include the Empire State Mine ("ESM") #4 mine which was placed on care and maintenance in 2008. A preliminary economic assessment technical report on ESM #4 mine was completed in 2017 (“2017 PEA”), and operations were restarted in early 2018.
At April 6, 2017, ESM #4 mine had a measured and indicated mineral resource of 2,158,000 tons at an average grade of 13.29% zinc containing approximately 574 million pounds of zinc metal, and an inferred mineral resource of 2,276,000 tons at an average grade of 13.37% zinc containing approximately 609 million pounds of zinc metal. Based on this mineral resource estimate and the assumptions in the 2017 PEA, ESM #4 mine was projected to have a pre-production capital cost of US$10.7 million, average throughput of 1,465 tons per day and average mill feed grade of 9.2% zinc over a mine life of eight years. The after-tax net present value at a discount rate of 8% (NPV8%) was estimated at US$150 million and the after-tax internal rate of return (IRR) at 121%, based on a zinc price of US$1.25/lb in Year 1, US$1.45/lb in Year 2, US$1.40/lb in Year 3, US$1.35/lb in Year 4, US$1.20/lb in Year 5, and US$1.05/lb in Year 6 through Year 8.
Based on the 2017 PEA, life-of-mine (“LOM”) average annual production was estimated at 80 million pounds of zinc in concentrate, average C1 cost at US$0.69 per pound of payable zinc and average all-in sustaining cash cost (AISC) at US$0.78 per pound of payable zinc, positioning the mine to generate significant margins over the expected mine life. Between Year 2 and Year 6, average annual production was expected to be approximately 100 million pounds of zinc in concentrate, at an average C1 cost and AISC of US$0.63 and US$0.69, respectively, per pound of payable zinc.
Following the completion of Titan Mining’s initial public offering (IPO) in October 2017, rehabilitation and refurbishment activities began at ESM #4 mine and the mill, in preparation for the restart of operations in early 2018. It was anticipated that production of zinc in concentrate would recommence approximately five months after completion of the IPO. Mill commissioning was completed and first ore was hoisted in late January 2018.
Based on the mineral resources outlined in the 2017 PEA for ESM #4 mine, throughput is expected to ramp up to a rate of 1,800 tons per day (tpd) by the first quarter of 2019. Titan Mining has a three-pronged strategy to drive cash flow growth and maximize the value of its properties by levering excess capacity and lowering costs:
- Fill the shaft (3,000 tpd; target 150 million pounds zinc/year) and extend mine life with near-mine mineral resource additions;
- Fill the mill (5,000 tpd; target 225 million pounds zinc/year) strategy supported by regional exploration; and
- Modernize the operation to improve efficiencies and lower costs
Titan Mining’s exploration targets include remnants at the Empire State Mines – historic mineralized material and pillars that may, if economic, extend the life of the mine and underpin an increase in production to 3,000 tpd, which is within the existing shaft capacity of 3,800 tpd. The historic mineralized material was "written down" by the previous owners of the Empire State Mines, as it was no longer considered to be economic. During previous operations significant tonnage was left in place as pillars for structural support. The remnants were not extracted due to the low commodity prices at that time, or because suitable mining methods and technologies were not yet available.
In April 2018, Titan Mining announced an increase in the mineral resources at ESM #4 mine. As of January 31, 2018, the measured and indicated mineral resource was 2,169,600 tons with an average grade of 13.27% zinc containing approximately 576 million pounds of zinc metal, and the inferred mineral resource was 5,416,100 tons with an average grade of 12.50% zinc containing approximately 1.35 billion pounds of zinc metal. An updated PEA was completed in the second quarter of 2018; the key difference from the 2017 PEA is an increase in inferred mineral resources, commencement of operations at the mine, and inclusion of the economic impact of U.S. tax reform, namely H.R. 1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The company plans to incorporate the additional mineral resources into a new LOM plan for ESM #4 mine.
Titan Mining continues to identify and evaluate near-mine and regional exploration targets. The company controls approximately 81,000 acres of mineral interests surrounding the Empire State Mines. If economic deposits are identified, there is potential to extend the mine life and to utilize spare capacity in the mill, which has a nameplate capacity of 5,000 tpd.