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Sheffield ups stage-1 Thunderbird CapEx by A$115M, drills 3 new zones at Dampier

Stage-one capital costs for Sheffield Resources Ltd.'s Thunderbird mineral sands mine in Western Australia increased by A$115 million to A$463 million after changes in scope and infrastructure ownership.

A bankable feasibility study completed in early 2017 estimated initial CapEx at A$348 million, with life-of-mine CapEx pegged at A$543 million.

Changes in scope include upgrades to throughput and stockpile management, and Sheffield Resources now plans to acquire various key infrastructure including power generation and accommodation facilities, shifting from an outsourced build-own-operate basis contemplated in the study.

The company said Oct. 19 that about 80% of the increase is expected to be funded by the previously reported A$95 million in debt facilities from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility board and that it is also progressing a US$200 million debt finance facility with Taurus Mining Finance. Both financings remain subject to definitive documentation.

Sheffield Resources expects Thunderbird construction to start in the first quarter of 2019, after recently securing key approvals for the development in Western Australia. The company is working to finalize an engineering, procurement and construction contract and a co-existence agreement with traditional landowners.

Initial zircon and ilmenite production at Thunderbird is anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The company also recently defined new mineralization at the Cold Duck, Porphyry Pearl and Cisco prospects at its nearby Dampier mineral sands project.

Sheffield Resources said Oct. 17 that recent regional exploration drilling returned highlights including 37.5 meters grading 3.56% heavy minerals from a depth of 1.5 meters at Cold Duck and 34.5 meters grading 2.64% heavy minerals from 58.5 meters at Cisco.

The 94-hole aircore program totaled 4,829 meters, with further results pending and heavy mineral assemblage test work planned later in 2018.

The company has so far identified eight zones of significant mineralization, together with the Thunderbird and Night Train deposits, along a 100-kilometer mineralized trend at Dampier.