DENVER, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Vista Gold Corp. (TSX & NYSE MKT: VGZ) ("Vista" or the "Company") today announced that it has completed a comprehensive analysis focused on optimizing the development plans for the Mt. Todd gold project in Northern Territory, Australia. After a thorough review, the Company has selected a two-phased strategy to achieve its development goals and economic objectives.
Stage 1 contemplates the construction of a 30,000 tonne per day ("tpd") project using a higher cut-off grade (0.5 g Au/tonne vs. 0.4 g Au/tonne used in all prior Vista analysis), with lower grade material to be stockpiled.
Stage 2 would involve an expansion to 45,000 tpd after payback of initial capital and contemplates a reduction in the cut-off grade to 0.4 g Au/tonne and the processing of stockpiled material from Stage 1.
This two-phased strategy enables the Company to minimize initial capital costs and further increase the average grade of material to the mill in the early years of the project to achieve the shortest possible payback period. It also provides the opportunity to achieve a 50% increase in project scale with modest additional capital expenditures to allow the Company to take advantage of Mt. Todd's large and growing resource base.Additionally, the Company announced that it intends to complete a preliminary feasibility study ("PFS") in the first quarter of 2013 that evaluates this development strategy. The Company expects to complete a feasibility study ("FS") for the project in the second quarter of next year. Vista's President and CEO, Fred Earnest, explained, "After a detailed review of development options, we have selected a strategy that optimizes cash flow during the initial capital payback period and also takes advantage of economies of scale and Mt. Todd's large resource. This review process and our continued resource development drilling success confirms our belief that Mt. Todd is a world-class deposit and capable of sustaining long-term, large-scale production. Our decision to first complete a PFS allows us to better communicate with the market and to more efficiently manage the environmental permitting process by making reportable information available at an earlier date." The original Mt. Todd PFS announced in January 2011 contemplated a 30,000 tpd project. As previously announced, the continued success from the Company's ongoing resource conversion drilling program led the Company to consider increasing the size of the process facilities ranging from 40,000 – 50,000 tpd to balance the significant increase in resources with an economically attractive project. Analysis of the recently completed resource model (results announced on September 4, 2012) has led the Company to conclude that a 0.5 g Au/t cut-off grade combined with a smaller, scalable plant have the potential to result in significantly better project economics. The Company indicated that the same consultants engaged in the evaluation of development options are already working on the PFS and will immediately thereafter work on completing the FS.