On January 17, 2022, Empress increased its royalty from 2.25% to 3.375% by paying an additional US$1M under the previously executed Royalty Purchase Agreement (executed April 21, 2021). The Royalty is on gold sales from the Manica project operated by Mutapa Mining & Processing LDA (MMP), up to a total of 95,000 oz of gold. Thereafter, the royalty percentages will be reduced to 1.125% and shall continue into perpetuity. The royalty is secured by a first ranking security interest in certain assets of MMP.
Manica is located in the Odzi-Mutare-Manica Greenstone Belt of Mozambique and comprises of several deposits on Xtract Resources Plc’s (“Xtract”) mining concession licence 3990C which includes four main deposits being Fair Bride, Guy Fawkes, Boa Esperanza, and Dots Luck. MMP and Xtract have entered into a collaboration and profit-share arrangement whereby MMP will build, finance and operate a carbon-in-leach (CIL) plant to process ore mined from Xtract’s concession.
Minxcon Pty Ltd (“Minxcon”), an engineering and consulting firm from South Africa, prepared a technical report (the “Technical Report”) entitled “NI43-101 Technical Report on the Fair Bride Gold Project, Mozambique, Mineral Resource Report“ dated February 1, 2021 by U. Egelmann B.Sc. (Zoo. & Bot.), B.Sc. Hon. (Geol.), Pr.Sc.Nat., MGSSA (a copy is available at www.sedarplus.ca under Empress’ profile). The Technical Report provides a Total Mineral Resource estimate for Fair Bride at a cut-off grade of 0.5 g/t. The Mineral Resource estimate is further subdivided into a Surface Minable Mineral Resource (“Open Cut Mineral Resource”) and an Underground Mineable Mineral Resource. A cut-off grade of 0.5 g/t was use for the Open Cut Mineral Resource and higher cut-off grade of 1.5 g/t was used for the Underground Mineable Mineral Resource.
A mineral reserve estimate was prepared for Fair Bride in 2016 as part of a SAMREC-compliant Definitive Feasibility Study (“DFS”). However, significant changes to the mine plan and strategy since the DFS mean this reserve estimate is no longer current and does not comply with the requirements of NI 43-101. MMP proceeded to exploit the Open Cut Mineral Resource at Fair Bride without updating the DFS or updating its mineral reserve estimate. A production decision without an updated feasibility study and mineral reserve estimate involves higher risks and uncertainties respecting the economic and technical viability of the project for MMP, and indirectly for Empress as a royalty payee, the nature and magnitude of which Empress is unable to assess.
MMP has advised Empress that it intends to mine and process the oxide and transitional ore at Fair Bride and other deposits on the Concession by installing a processing plant utilising a CIL process capable of processing up to 42,000 tonnes per month. An existing grinding circuit is already in place and MMP is advancing the engineering, fabrication and installation of the CIL plant and preparation work for associated infrastructure.
For additional information, please see MMP.