The weak gold price has certainly been affecting gold miners, and Continental Gold (TSX:CNL,OTCQX:CGOOF) has been no exception. The company is down this year, and even put out a release on October 31 to clarify that a 28-percent weekly share price drop wasn't the result of any material change. However, things could be looking better for the company now that it has released the positive results of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for its Buriticá project in Colombia. The report considers an 18-year mine life for underground mining operations at Buriticá; life-of-mine production is estimated at 20,055,000 tonnes, with an average grade of 7.8 grams per tonne gold and 19.35 grams per tonne silver. Just over three-quarters of the mine's output will come from five master vein families for the first five years of production, and according to the company that will contribute to straightforward development early on. Buriticá's after-tax net present value (NPV) is set at $1.08 billion at a 5-percent discount for a comparatively low initial capital cost of $390.3 million. Investors are expected to see an after-tax internal rate of return (IRR) of 31.5 percent with a payback period of 2.8 years. Those figures are for a base-case gold price of $1,200, but given current prices, Continental did what many other gold miners have been doing these days and provided investors with a $1,000 gold price scenario as well. In that eventuality, Buriticá would still be relatively resilient. The project would have a $0.7-billion NPV at a 5-percent discount, an after-tax IRR of 24 percent and a payback period of 3.4 years. To be sure, Buriticá stands to offer decent returns, but Continental's Monday release focuses on the benefits for local communities as well. CEO Ari Sussman said in a statement that the mine will employ more than 500 people, and that the project's design "minimizes, as much as possible, the impact on local communities, while adhering to the highest standards for environmental protection, operating efficiencies and workforce safety."
What's next?Continental isn't done yet. The company already has a lot planned for next year. As Sussman stated, "[o]ur commitments for 2015 are to complete the outstanding permitting for the project and update both our NI 43-101 resource estimate and PEA, incorporating data received from underground development sampling and drilling completed by January 31, 2015." To be sure, it's encouraging for gold investors to see companies releasing technical reports and moving forward with projects despite the current market environment. Gold bugs will certainly be watching Continental Gold to see what other good news the company puts out. At close of day on Monday, shares of Continental were up just under 13 percent, trading at $2.27. Securities Disclosure: I, Teresa Matich, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. Related reading: Continental Gold is Down 28 Percent — What Happened? Continental Gold's Buriticá PEA Suggests $1-billion NPV, $390-million Capex, 31.5-percent IRR from Gold Investing News